The Permission State

Apparently, only old men recall anything about the Cold War. During the Olympics, commentators on NBC were calling the Soviet Union a pivotal experiment in human affairs. In fairness, they don’t hire smart people with work these things. They hire people with high verbal dexterity, able to sound natural while getting instructions from producers and directors. They are actors more than anything else.

Even so, the bad old days of Soviet communism have receded so far into the past, they exist only in the imaginary space. The people directing the commentators have only an academic understanding of the Cold War. Since NBC only hired far left-wing people, that means they only have an academic understanding for why they are supposed to defend communism. They don’t know why they believe these things, they just know they are supposed to so they cook up weird language to describe Bolshevism.

The real horror of the Soviet Union was not the gulags or the dreary aesthetic. The part that made American’s skin crawl was the idea of having to get permission from the state bureaucracy for everything. If you wanted to travel to another part of the country, you needed permission. If you wanted a car, you needed permission. Bureaucrats being what they are the answer was either going to be “no” or “yes but” and what followed was a nightmare. American’s like to believe they have free will and freedom.

The image of going down to the DMV to get permission for every decision in your life is still frightening to most Americans, despite the reality on the ground.. That’s what the average American could relate to and found monstrous. Decades after the Soviets are gone, many of the same people who were proud Cold Warriors now defend nonsense like this. Andrew McCarthy, a regular at Buckley’s old haunt, defends the surveillance state with the enthusiasm of a fanatic.

After seven years of litigation, two trips to a federal appeals court and $3.8 million worth of lawyer time, the public has finally learned why a wheelchair-bound Stanford University scholar was cuffed, detained and denied a flight from San Francisco to Hawaii: FBI human error.

FBI agent Kevin Kelley was investigating Muslims in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2004 when he checked the wrong box on a terrorism form, erroneously placing Rahinah Ibrahim on the no-fly list.

In a free country, the government is not ticking off many boxes. When they do make a mistake, it is easily found and corrected. It most likely has little or no impact on the citizen, more of a nuisance than a real inconvenience. The government is simply not doing enough to cast much of a shadow over the land. That was the state of things in America until fairly recent. That started changing after the war and has slowly crept us up to a place where most things require permission from the state.

In the permission state, the smallest mistake can take years and millions to correct. The lives of vast numbers of people can be thrown into turmoil. The state becomes a vast machine, in side which turn massive gears connected to other massive gears. Inside those gears lie smaller gears. It is how the state thinks it is good idea allow anyone other than diplomats to travel to the United States from Malaysia. It is how normal people end up on no-fly lists needing years to rectify.

Another feature of the permission state is the people working inside it, those wheels and gears, are immune from punishment for mistakes. Everyone inside feels a need to protect everyone inside, so they close ranks anytime there is public scrutiny of the system. As a result, any effort to fix problems because an Alice in Wonderland adventure into the bureaucracy. They also lie about what they are doing. In the late empire phase of America, a defining feature is non-stop perjury from government.

Welcome to the permission state.

Open Borders Religion

Eric Hoffer famously said, “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” There’s certainly a lot of truth to it, but he dismisses the religious aspects that carry through to the racket stage. Al Gore is making millions from the climate change racket, but he still believes it. The rest of the cult really believes it. There are plenty of movements run by cynical opportunists, but the congregation is still emotionally invested in the faith.

This post by Tyler Cowen is a good example.

In other words, we should keep on letting more people in until nativist bias dwindles away into the dustbin of history.  I say backlash will set in first, as  I have never met a truly cosmopolitan Volk, the cosmopolitanites least of all.  I would say Bryan has the moral high ground but not a practicable proposal.  Nonetheless we can and should favor less nativism and more immigration at the margin. 
Cowen is a bright guy and often litters his posts with nonsense as click bait. Still, one senses his attachment to open borders is so thoroughly detached from fact; it is now an article of faith. No amount of facts and evidence will dissuade him. Sure, he is cynically cashing in on it when he can, but he is a true believer. In the comments, you really see the fanaticism on display. A comment by dan1111 is a good example.

I didn’t create American society; I just happened to be born in America. It’s not clear to me that I have any more “right” to enjoy the benefits of this society than people who happened to be born in China or Ghana or Canada.

Also, underlying this is the assumption that a society contains some finite amount of benefit that will be used up or diluted if more people are allowed entry. When in fact, it is possible that these additional people could be contributing to the society and increasing the benefit to everyone.

At the heart of every believer is self-loathing. They don’t join a cult, mass movement or ideological cause because they are self-confident individualists. They are attracted to these things out of self-loathing. They hate themselves and by extension their ancestors and those who are like them. They seek to swap out their identity for that of the group or movement. This guy hates the part of himself called “American.” Therefore he hopes America gets transformed into something else, thus obliterating that which he despises about himself. He is the western equivalent of the suicide bomber. Only through self-annihilation can he be free. Taking the rest of us with him is his service to humanity.

In truth, I’m giving this guy far more credit that is warranted. In my observation, the fanatic is not terribly introspective. They may spend a lot of time in some form of struggle session, but they have a huge blind spot, which is the mirror. The lack of self-awareness is staggering at times. In this case, dan111 is most likely engaging in a pubic display of piety. The point of which is to get positive feedback from his coreligionists, which Brian Donahue, another fanatic, promptly supplies. On-line, you often see the ritualized call and response you see in Southern Baptist churches.

There’s another aspect that I think makes open borders enthusiasm a religion. They always demand you prove them wrong to their satisfaction in accordance with their preferred rules of debate. This is a common tactic in cults. The Left used to do this with homosexual marriage. “Why shouldn’t they be allowed to get married?” was a way of putting the burden of proof on the opponent, by making homosexual marriage a moral default. All of a sudden, the radical is defending moral order.
In the case of open borders, they start with, “Why should we restrict immigration?” as if that question has never been addressed. This is like stealing first base. Then they steal second and third base as well, by asserting “Since immigration increase labor efficiency and makes society more prosperous, how can limits on immigration result in positive economic growth?” Finally, they eliminate the cultural arguments by claiming opposition to open border is just a new form of racism, thus anathematizing the issue.
A comment from a guy calling himself QWERTY gets to the heart of the matter.

Caplan never explains to us why immigration is so important. Why the rights of travelling opportunist are more important than the rights of the people who have created a society.

It is not at all clear why everybody should always have a right to go to another society to enjoy what other people have created.

Nope and they never will.

The Robot Future?

To the skeptic, futurism is more annoying than instructive. The reason is the futurist is very rarely right about what comes next. Every once in a while, one of them gets something right, but it is always chance. Nassim Taleb is a good example. He became famous for “predicting” the financial collapse at the end of the last decade. Since then he has been on radio, TV and the internet making predictions. None of them have panned out. He’s a smart guy, but he is not a fortune teller, despite acting like one.

What futurists tend to get right is the stuff everyone gets right. For example, mortality rates are 100% over time. Predicting that someone or something will eventually end is not a worthwhile prediction. On the other hand, if you can accurately predict the day someone will die or some trend will reverse, that has value. To date, no one has been able to do that. Similarly, no one has been able to predict the future with a degree of accuracy that is useful. Nothing ages quicker the predictions about the future.

These days, futurists are all in on the robot future. Jobs will go away, except for the smart fraction who will run the robots. The rest of humanity will be on reservations guarded by and tended to by robots. It’s a version of Brave New World, except the robots lower classes will be replaced with robots. The custodial state will resemble a giant day care center with Mary Poppins being made of titanium alloy.

Some go further and think the smart fraction will be replaced by artificial intelligence that will quickly outstrip its human masters. The future then truly becomes a robot future as the robots, presumably, will snuff out the human population or enslave it. After all, if we think we suck as a species, the super-smart robots will surely know it and respond accordingly. Why would the robots perpetuate mankind, when they agree that people are the worst? These futurists, it seems, have a suicide wish.

It is easy to be skeptical about these things. The reason is all past predictions of the future have been hilariously wrong. A standard gag is to dredge up one of these predictions from some prior age and post it on-line. In the 1950’s computers were going to take over the world. OK, that’s right. The trouble is they imagined them to be the size of houses, looking more like space ships than what we have today. The futurists at the dawn of the microprocessor revolution were completely blind to miniaturization.

That’s the thing with the robot future. It skips past the giant obstacle in the way of reaching anything close to it. That is, humans hate fixed rules. We will never tolerate, for example, robot classroom instruction. We could turn over large swaths of college admissions, for example, to robots right now. Kids take a test and are placed according to their IQ and preparation. Instead we do the opposite and deliberately undermine efforts to do so. After all, we can’t have racist robots running admissions.

A better example is the law. We know with an exacting degree of certainty what the writers of the American Constitution intended when they wrote the document. We know the arguments for and against each section. We know what the men who adopted it thought of the provisions. For instance, we know exactly what they intended with the takings clause. Yet, that’s not how the learned men in robes decided a decade ago in the Kelo versus New London Connecticut.

The law, which is how we organize ourselves, will never be robot driven. The reason is we will never permit it. We like changing the rules when it suits our purposes. The Second Amendment is a case in point. The Founders were abundantly clear on the gun issue. They wanted a society where the citizens possessed the weapons of war, in order to be the ultimate check on state power. That means citizens have an unassailable right to own and carry the weapons one expects a solider to carry.

Despite this indisputable fact, we continue to wrestle with accepting this. States refuse to abide by the rules and courts, on occasion, enforce the rules. A robot built by lawyers would kill itself due to the infinite contradictions in its code. Or, it would be forced to kill all of the lawyers trying to get around black letter law. That would be a glorious result, for sure, but that’s why the lawyers will never allow it. The robot future can only happen if it includes a human future better than one without robots.

Instead of a robot future we will get something else. Laws will be passed to limit the use of automation in many areas of life. New ways to tax those that use automation to reduce costs will “level” the playing field. This will give their human intense competitors the emotional lever to use on customers. “Buy from us! We’re 100% Robot Free!” Just as genetically modified foods have come under assault, robots will face the same challenges. Until the robots can wipe us out, they have no future.

Is Kevin Williamson Headed Our Way?

By our way, I mean the into the race realism camp.The answer is most certainly no, as he likes his pay check, but he flirting with dangerous ideas of late. Unsaid in the this post is that he obviously read and probably still reads Steve Sailer, who made some unfortunate observations about New Orleans once. This essay by Williamson has some observations that are the sorts of things that got Sailer hurled into the void. First he gives the standard lines conservatives are allowed to say about economics.

Economists have many different models explaining how economic growth happens. And though the relative merits of those models are hotly contested among economists, as are the relative weights that should be assigned to many variables, a few factors keep turning up: productivity, capital accumulation, population growth, and technological progress. (Those are the basis of the Solow-Swan model of growth.) While government policy certainly has an effect on those factors, they generally operate at some remove from it: You cannot simply pass a law mandating greater productivity or technological innovation. You can encourage your population growth by (for example) liberalizing your immigration rules, which will probably work if you are New Zealand or the United States but not for Rwanda or Haiti, or a sparsely populated rural community in the United States. Policy can encourage capital accumulation, but it cannot ensure it. We have invigorating political fights about the tax code and stimulus spending, and those are important fights to have, but many of the most important factors driving economic growth are beyond direct political control.

That’s the standard product from Conservative Inc. Their’s is a fight lost long ago, but they are still allowed to wear their uniforms and have parades once in while so they wave the flags of free market capitalism. Then we have this:

But there is a critical variable that is at least partly within the direct control of government: the quality of government. The quality of government — its honesty, competence, reliability, and predictability — has an effect on most of the important economic variables. And not just government itself, but other institutions with the power to shape public life, such as unions and large firms. Quality is something outside of and different from policy specifics, which is why similar policies often produce wildly different outcomes in different polities: Single-payer health care in Bahrain turns out to be very different from single-payer health care in Canada. A high level of government-enforced union involvement has been catastrophic for the U.S. automotive industry but not for the German automotive industry, which is a lot less of a mystery than it seems when you account for the fact that the UAW is not IG Metall, GM is not Audi, and the U.S. government is not the German government.

Guess what else is different? That’s right. Ingolstadt is full of Germans while Detroit is full of non-Germans. It is a lot easier to have a sane government when your smart fraction invented large chunks of Western Civilization. When your smart fraction is barely capable of running a small-time drug den without killing one another, you’re probably getting a government that reflects that fact.

There is no way to put a happy face on this fact: Critical American institutions are of shockingly low quality. Corruption is a part of that: At No. 19 on the Transparency International rankings, the United States is tied with Uruguay. Its transparency score of 73 is far behind where you want to be, among such category leaders as Denmark, New Zealand, Sweden, and Finland (91, 91, 89, and 89, respectively). We lag well behind our Canadian neighbors and such important international competitors as Germany. Our overall standing is not terrible, but it does not place us among global leaders, either. Moderation in the pursuit of honesty is no virtue.

There’s an elephant in the room here. Kevin is a bright guy and he must surely know it, but he likes living an easy life so he avoids stating it directly. Further, he surely knows his readership knows it too. Perhaps Kevin Williamson is deliberately doing the dog whistle thing. On the other hand, the blinkered way these guys see the world can never be discounted. it’s possible he has described the elephant in the room without actually noticing it. Some people never notice what’s going on around them.

Ramblings on the Ruling Class

Every society goes through periods when its ruling class can no longer police itself. The Founders of America recognized this problem and designed a political system that would turnover a little more frequently than what they saw in Europe. For example, the typical king was on the throne for a couple of decades. According to this site, which seems authoritative, the typical British monarch hung around for 21 years.

Even when you drop out long serving monarchs and the short timers, you’re looking at a two decade reign. Most likely, Britain has had fewer violent changes of power than other countries, but that could be wrong. The French had a long run of peaceful transition. The Germans were at the other end as far as length of reign. Even so, most subjects could expect to serve maybe two monarchs in their lifetime.

Hereditary rule has some obvious problems. No matter how well the ruling elites police their own, you can still end up with a lunatic on the throne. Charles VI reigned for 42 years, despite thinking he was a wolf and made of glass. Christian VII of Denmark stuck around for over four decades, despite having an obsession with his penis. He jerked off so much it effected his health. He also would slap people for no reason and insisted on playing leap frog with visiting dignitaries.

When there is no system to prevent a lunatic from gaining power, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a few lunatics in power. When you have no way to remove them you either get some long serving lunatics or you get a lot of assignations. A system that requires the occasional assassination of the ruler invites all sorts of intrigue and paranoia. Every king has to assume he is surrounded by potential assassins. It is just a terrible way to police the ruling class.

Representative democracy is a cure for that. Even if you cannot prevent a lunatic from gaining office, his term will end soon enough. In theory, the churn of office holders will allow the ruling elite to sideline a nut before they get into office. If one slips by, then he can be removed in the next election. It’s not perfect, as the fickleness of voter’s means a good ruler could be turned out over something silly. But, everything is trade-offs, so not having a lunatic in charge comes with the risk of losing a good ruler on occasion.

Up until the 20th century the system worked pretty well in America. There was no way to be a career politician, unless you were wealthy. Most office holders either got rich first or inherited their money. Getting office without having got rich was extremely difficult. It was a pretty good system until socialism came along. The Founders could not imagine a sprawling welfare state with highly paid, semi-permanent office holders in charge of it. But, that’s what Progressives gave us.

Reading this bit of nonsense from Lamar Alexander, who is still alive and still in office, suggests we have entered one of those times when the elites can no longer police their ranks. He is a senator from a sensible state, which means he can be a pest on a national scale. Such an important job should be filled by someone with a stake in the success of the state and its people. Instead it is filled with a lifetime seat warmer who probably lives in Northern Virginia. He takes his vacation to the state he theoretically represents.

It is not a handful of wackos here and there. If some states or regions were struggling to find competent men to staff the elected posts, it would be self-correcting. That’s not the case. It appears to be a problem almost everywhere. Florida has a career criminal in the House. They also have a paranoid schizophrenic. Massachusetts has a sociopath with an imaginary family tree as one of their Senators. You could spend all day listing Congressmen and Senators who are completely nuts or just plain grifters.

The nuts appear to be a minority, but the grifters and sociopaths are probably a majority all elected officials at this point. It is not just the legislature. The ruling class of America has very little in common with Americans. These people look sort of like the people they claim to represent, but they may as well be space aliens. They live in a different world from their citizens and they have alien ideas about the nation.

I think a good starting point of any reform program is to accept the rule that if you have never had a job, you are not an American. That disqualifies you from office. Term limits has been discussed for a long time and it sounds good until you take a look at how the elites operate. The office holders are the tip of the iceberg. The important bit is under the waterline. That’s the vast bureaucracy that ruthlessly enforces the rules, the administrative and managerial class that formulates the rules and the vast army of lobbyists and think tanks who provide the elected officials with marketing material.

So, how is it that Americans have allowed things to degrade to this point? Part of it is fanatics wake up every morning with a plan to advance the cause. Normal people wake up every morning with more pedestrian thoughts in their heads. Another is the natural evolution of a ruling class is to tend to the walls of the castle. They are always looking to secure their position. Over time, they tinker with the rules, change the laws, alter the contract so they face less pressure. Their position becomes unassailable.

The solution, of course, is for the public to revolt and hang all of these people. It’s not that the next group will be better quality. It’s that they will operate with the knowledge they could be hanged at any moment. Perhaps installing a gallows outside the door of the House. Every poll has to pass through the shadow of it on the way in and out of the building. They say the prospect if imminent death focuses the mind.

More Fraud Book

Facebook sent a notification to all of their users about a new feature. They report 200 million clicked on the link to make a video. That’s a lot of people, but only a fraction of their claimed user base. Given the feature requires very little from the user, they cannot claim that the other one billion users just lacked the time to do it. In other words, 200 million is probably their active user base.

How “sticky” those users are is debatable, but the volume of active users is consistent with other on-line results. People forget that Facebook did not invent social media. It was around for a couple of decades before FB came along. As a result we have a lot of data on it. The people claiming to know about this stuff lack the institutional memory to think about these earlier efforts at social media, but it exists.

Message boards, bulletin boards and so on are a lot like talk radio. That is, you have many more passive users than active users. Talk radio knows they have roughly one caller for every 100 listeners. They also know that the set of possible callers has a subset of regular callers that follows the Pareto principle. That’s how they can tell how many people are listening to a show. If the lines are lit up, they have a big audience.

Message boards will have 90% of their posts from five percent of users. About 10% of users visit daily. The rest drift by weekly and monthly. Back when sites like Scout and Rivals were looking for investors, they would claim user counts that were technically true, but not reflective of active users or paying customers. The ratio was 10:1 free accounts to paying accounts. That’s a different metric, but it reinforces the larger point.

There’s another thing with Facebook. How long are the users on-line? When I had an account, I’d check in most mornings with my coffee. Three minutes later I was reading another site. Mobile users are on the site for brief clips throughout the day, but not enough to be called active users. A billion users logging in for thirty seconds a day is not much of user base when you revenue depends on them clicking your ads.

Add to this the click farm stuff and you have to wonder if Facebook is not one giant confidence game. Even if that is too strong, how in the world can you justify a $165 billion market cap for an ad engine touching 200 million worldwide? Many of those “users” are living in huts or are children with no money of their own. How many are just robots that click on everything? The quality of those clicks count for everything.

Elizabeth Warren 1.0

Wendy Davis the adventuress from Texas that is the Left’s new hero. She came to fame when she filibustered a bill in the legislature that would ban abortions after 20 weeks. It was a publicity stunt that allowed her to catch lightning in a bottle with the national media. Like all modern politicians, she has little in the way of qualifications, other than a dogged determination to remain in public view. That means creating a fantasy biography that attempts to turn a parasitic life into heroic tale of struggle.

Davis is trying to parlay her 15 minutes of fame into a national political career, but even politics has some standards. A mediocrity with a good personality can go places in politics. A mediocrity that reminds you of your first ex-wife better have another skill. Like the music business, politics is full of one-hit wonders, who have that summer of success, but can never follow it up with a second hit. That appears to be the story arc of Wendy Davis, as she struggles to find a way to remain in the media.

Interestingly, Progressives remain committed to her, even though her ridiculous backstory has been revealed to be less than authentic. They are trying to carry on as if that truth has not been revealed. This piece in the NY Times on her reads like it was written by Hollywood. The writer carefully weaves Davis’s thin resume into the conventional narrative about the modern super woman so popular with feminists. By the end, though, the writer is forced to confess the obvious.

Meanwhile, the reality of Davis’s achievements were all around me as I drove back to my hotel, along a route that took me through her old City Council district, where few people probably spent much time wondering about what personal sacrifices went into the building of this bridge or that residential tower. What had once been a languid cow town was now a sleek city where folks still un-self-consciously stroll around in cowboy hats. Davis played a notable role in the integration of what Fort Worth had always been with what it was becoming. It struck me as a pretty good campaign theme. But perhaps it wasn’t good enough: It was impersonal, unrelatable and technocratic, a nice tale for a Texas Democrat to promote on the way to a landslide loss, just as the state’s last Democratic candidate for governor, former Mayor Bill White of Houston, did in 2010.

Instead, Davis had reassured voters with a near-perfect narrative: a portrait of herself as modern-day Supermom, a woman who existed only in our imaginations.

Reality says Wendy Davis could have stayed at Harvard and not a single Texan would have noticed. Her life is inconsequential. Crediting her with the growth of Texas is like crediting my cat with the building of the Pyramids. At least there are pictures of cats in those pyramids. It reveals the hollowness of feminism in particular and Progressivism in general. Modern feminism is just unicorn hunting, as there is not escaping the realities of biology. As a result they are forced to rely on narrative, rather than reality.

That’s why Davis can be looked at as the predecessor of Lizzy Warren. Like Davis, Warren has no real accomplishments. In the case of Warren, she married well and that opened doors in the academy. her fake back story about being an Indian completed the puzzle. Like Davis, Warren is just a story designed to fit into the Progressive narrative, not a real person doing real things. Even her Senate run was just a story manufactured by the local media. Warren was just playing a role.

Science at the Gate

The 21st century is going to look a lot like the 17th century in that the organizing faith will be under constant assault from new thinking. In 1500, the ruling and intellectual elites of the western world believed in God and accepted the Church. By 1550, the Church was under assault as the Protestant Reformation spread through central Europe. The prevailing orthodoxy was under assault on all sides.

Fifty years later the schism within the Church was challenging the prevailing secular order in Europe. The Thirty Years War was kicked off in 1618 and by the end of the century, the world was an entirely different place. The jostling between the people of Europe was no longer about Christendom. It was about nationalism. More important, Christianity was no longer the organizing faith of western societies.

The Enlightenment swept away the old religion and offered up a range of secular replacements. Various forms of socialism, like Marxism, Fabian socialism and Bolshevism, were more than political or economic movements. They may have started with the material, but they ended with the spiritual. They became civic religions that would attempt to fill the role of the Church. Politics would become the public ceremony for the new religion. This is especially true of liberal democracy.

If you look around, the firm belief in the malleability of man is all around you. Test prep courses and materials promise to improve your scores on IQ tests. Americans are bankrupting themselves in pursuit of education. Billions are spent on health regimes that promise to make fat people thin and ugly people attractive. Behavior modification is so deeply ingrained in our culture we hardly notice it.

Economics, the closest thing we have to witchcraft in America, is entirely based on the belief you can make people do anything with the right incentives. The military is putting women in combat units, despite the obvious physical and psychological problems. Disparity of outcomes between races and the sexes are proof of bad behavior, not natural differences in talent. Mentioning black crime, of course, is as heretical as claiming, in 15th century France, that the Pope was a Jew.

All of this depends on a fundamental denial of science. Jacobinism, the mother culture of every left-wing movement, is a rejection of nature and therefore a rejection of science. Later movements bolted on science here and there as a marketing ploy, but the Left is by its nature, anti-science. It has to be. If you allow that some parts of the human animal are beyond the reach of social planners, you open up the possibility that large parts of humanity cannot be altered by social structure.

If the debate shifts from what should be done to what can be done, then the debate about what ought to be done changes as well. In a world where humans are infinitely malleable, what ought to be done is limitless. In a world where humans are the product of the mating decisions of their ancestors, what ought to be done is bounded by the limits of the human condition. Trying for make college scholars out of low-IQ people with poor impulse control becomes as immoral as torturing the mentally ill.

Science is slowly undermining the claims of these secular religions. On the one hand, we have evolutionary biology, which is telling us immutable truth about humanity. On the other hand, we have genetics, which is making a steady assault on the tenets of Standard Social Science Model. This piece in the Telegraph tells us that science may have found a gene that determines intelligence. We know these genes exist. The question is how many and how much each one influence the general intelligence.

They found that, on average, teenagers carrying a particular gene variant had a thinner cortex in the left cerebral hemisphere, particularly in the frontal and temporal lobes, and performed less well on tests for intellectual ability.

The genetic variation affects the expression of the NPTN gene, which encodes a protein acting at neuronal synapses and therefore affects how brain cells communicate.

Their findings suggest that some differences in intellectual abilities can result from the decreased function of the NPTN gene in particular regions of the left brain hemisphere.

Although the genetic variation identified in this study only accounts for an estimated 0.5 per cent of the total variation in intelligence.

However, the findings may have important implications for the understanding of biological mechanisms underlying several psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, autism, where impaired cognitive ability is a key feature of the disorder.

To sensible people, this may not sound ground breaking, but it is the sort of ripple that knocks over buildings down the line. If IQ is a matter of genetics, IQ tests can no longer be dismissed. Similarly, as behavior is linked to specific proteins, or the lack of them, whole swaths of social science fall into the category of witchcraft. If humans are not infinitely malleable, then 300 years of political theory goes out the window. At some point, there is the Galileo moment, when the old faith no longer has meaning.

Posted in IQ

The (g)A(y) Team

This is hilarious. It has long been assumed that Manti Te’o is gay. The reason is pretty simple. If you are a world famous football player on a college campus, you can get all the girls you want. These days, even loser males get laid. The fact that Te’o preferred an imaginary woman over the real women all around him leads to the obvious conclusion. I don’t recall anyone offering up proof, but that’s the argument. The fact that the gay guy’s agent is running with it and saying his client would fit right in is too funny.

“I think the Chargers would be a great fit for [Sam], especially considering the way that they handled the Manti Te’o issue,” Barkett said Monday in a phone interview with the U-T. “It seemed to blow over very easily once the first game had happened. I think that’d be a great spot for [Sam] to land. And he’d be close to us.”

Te’o, who started 13 games this past season despite a persistent foot injury, repeatedly said that his Chargers teammates did not address the hoax with him.

I think this will be interesting to watch. The culture warriors have not had much success destroying the play on the field of the big sports. The best they have done thus far is attack the youth leagues, but the pros have been immune. The need to win and keep an audience is too powerful so far. As a result, football is bloodless in its treatment of talent. If you’re good you get paid. If you are trouble you get cut loose.

“He definitely will be addressing the media. We’re just trying to figure out what the best forum is for doing that.”

Sam, an All-America defensive lineman, led the SEC with 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss last season, helping Missouri reach the SEC championship game.

Many draft projections see Sam as a middle-round pick, with some saying he could go as high as the third round with a possible position switch to outside linebacker. Sam is rated the No. 12 outside pass-rusher in the draft by ESPN Scouts Inc.

It remains to be seen how long ESPN can keep the story alive. They have a weird fascination with homosexual men that even out-weirds the NYTimes. Sports fans are a weird bunch, in that they will tolerate anything from players, as long as they help the team win, so the gay stuff will not matter to them probably. On the other hand, sports fans can easily abandon the sports media, if the sports media embraces this sort of degeneracy. ESPN better be careful with the gay agenda stuff.

Bad Noticing

The Danika Patrick story is coming to an end, but the usual suspects are hoping to squeeze one more drop of juice from the story. Patrick was always a marketing ploy by NASCAR to draw in suburban viewers. The new people running stock car racing are ashamed of their fans, they want new and better fans, which is why they hired Patrick as a driver. Richard Petty had the gall to point out the obvious, thus causing the usual suspects to rush to the little waif’s aid.

When it comes to Danica Patrick, the Petty family just can’t seem to pass on the subject without causing a caution flag.

This time, however, it was “The King” — NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty — who took some swipes at Patrick when asked Sunday whether she would ever win in the Sprint Cup Series.

“If everybody else stayed home,” Petty told reporters at the Canadian Motorsports Expo. “If she’d have been a male, nobody would ever know if she’d showed up at a racetrack.

“This is a female deal that’s driving her. There’s nothing wrong with that, because that’s good PR for me. More fans come out, people are more interested in it. She has helped to draw attention to the sport, which helps everybody in the sport.”

That’s being polite, Patrick is in NASCAR because she is a women, but not a gross looking lesbian. She is not very good at driving a race car. If she was male, she is somewhere in the lower ranks hoping to catch a break. Probably by now she would have had to quit, as the dream would be over. Admittedly, I’m not a fan of the sport, but I’m pretty sure the point is to win once in a while, something she has never done.

Patrick finished 27th in the Sprint Cup standings during her rookie season, driving the No. 10 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing. Her highlight came in the season-opening Daytona 500, where she finished eighth after becoming the first woman to win the pole for that event.

That is her only top-10 finish in 46 races at NASCAR’s highest level. Before that, she amassed seven top-10 finishes and one pole in 60 races over four seasons in the Nationwide Series.

However, Patrick is one of the most successful female auto racers in history. Patrick is the only woman to win a major open-wheel race, finishing first in a 2008 IndyCar Series race in Japan. She has six top-10s in the Indy 500 and was third in 2009, the best finish ever for a woman in that historic event.

I suppose that’s something. Somewhere there is a midget claiming to be the best midget basketball player in history.

Petty has commented on Patrick’s involvement in NASCAR before, saying in 2006 that “I just don’t think it’s a sport for women. And so far, it’s proven out. It’s really not. It’s good for them to come in. It gives us a lot of publicity, it gives them publicity.”

His son — former driver and TV analyst Kyle Petty — has been more outspoken through the years about Patrick’s involvement, calling her a “marketing machine” and “not a race car driver” as recently as this past June.

“Danica has been the perfect example of somebody who can qualify better than what she runs,” Petty said on Speed TV last year. “She can go fast, but she can’t race. I think she’s come a long way, but she’s still not a race car driver. And I don’t think she’s ever going to be a race car driver.”

There’s no reason why females can’t race competitively, but there have been few female race car drivers. The one exception is drag racing, where there are several top female drivers. The reason is drag racing is not personal competition. The drivers really compete against themselves and their machine. They are not outwitting one another or engaged in a test of wills. regular car racing is a test of people, so that’s why women have had so little success and why Patrick is just a public relations ploy.