want

fandom bracelet

(there should’ve been a GoT charm there [a dragon!]. not to mention a star trek one!)

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the war nerd on syria

this is a MUST READ! if you’re not a subscriber, the article in ungated for another ca. 10 hours from now (ca. 10 a.m. EST):

“Little Kerry and the Three Bad Options”

“Isn’t Assad a bad guy? Isn’t his regime evil? I don’t really understand those questions as well as everybody else seems to. The Alawites have reason to expect the worst, to stick together, and to fear Sunni domination. Those fears go way back to Ottoman rule.

“Under the Ottomans, Alawites were kaffir, ‘heretics.’ That meant, basically, ‘fair game.’ At the moment, there’s a lot of nonsense going around about how sweet and tolerant the Ottoman Empire was from people who read Said’s Orientalism, or at least got the gist from the back cover, and went from the old European cliché ‘Ottomans—evil’ to a new one, ‘Ottomans—good.’ It makes me tired, this binary crap. If you can’t handle anything more modulated than that, stick to tweeting ‘Miley Cyrus: Saint or Sinner?’

“Yeah, the Ottomans were occasionally considerate of minorities who had powerful connections abroad, like Western Christians (not Armenian, of course) or who performed useful state functions, like some Jews (not all) — but groups like the Alawites, without powerful foreign connections, huddled in the coastal hills hoping not to be noticed, were prey in the Ottoman view. The Alawites only survived by sticking together, fighting the Sunni when attacked, and above all, hoping not to be noticed. If the local authorities were kindly, they’d just be taxed to death for their heresy. If the Pashas were in a bad mood, troops would descend on Alawite villages and carry off all likely-looking women and children to be sold as slaves….

“The post-war years were full of wild experiments in the Arab world. The only constant was that military coups were the rule. Leaders came from the army — Nasser, Ghadafi, Saddam. So when an officer with coup-making skills happened to come from a tightly-knit community, he was almost sure to end up in charge. Saddam had his Tikrit clan in Iraq; Ghadafi had his academy buddies in Libya; Hafez Assad had his Alawite kin in Syria. The Alawites were perfectly placed to take advantage of this coup-centered polity. T. E. Lawrence said about them, ‘One Nusairi [Alawite] would not betray another, and would hardly not betray an unbeliever.’ With Alawite officers filling the armed services in Syria, it was inevitable that an Alawite would come to power, as Hafez Assad did in 1970. From that point, they did what they had to do to remain in power. When killing was necessary, they killed. And in Syria, it was necessary fairly often. But I don’t know of any records showing that the Alawites were particularly cruel by the standards of the time and place. In fact, from the start of their rule in Syria, the Alawites have tried, via Ba’ath Party secularism and a long-term attempt to make Alawite ritual and doctrine closer to Sunni norms, to integrate with their neighbors….

“Maybe I’m missing something. But what I think a lot of people like John Kerry are missing is what drove the Alawites’ grimmer measures: the simple fear of extinction. It’s a risk to go, as they did, from total obscurity to power in a place as fierce as Syria. Because when you fall, it won’t be to go back to Texas to paint puppies like Dubya. You and your whole tribe can reasonably expect massacres, mass rapes, ethnic cleansing, the works. When the Sunni revolted against Alawite domination in Hama in 1982, one of the slogans of the Syrian Ikhwan or Muslim Brotherhood was ‘Christians to Beirut, Alawites to the graveyard.’ The SAA dealt with the revolt by blasting rebellious neighborhoods with artillery, killing thousands….”

read the whole thing!

previously: syria and syrian tribes

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kandahar vs. levittown

the walled family compounds of kandahar

kandahar

…vs. the invisible boundaries of levittown

levittown

previously: there’s no place like home

(note: comments do not require an email. alex.)

guns and homicides

from brietbart (via drudge):

“Harvard Study: No Correlation Between Gun Control and Less Violent Crime”

“A Harvard Study titled ‘Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?’ [pdf] looks at figures for ‘intentional deaths’ throughout continental Europe and juxtaposes them with the U.S. to show that more gun control does not necessarily lead to lower death rates or violent crime.

“Because the findings so clearly demonstrate that more gun laws may in fact increase death rates, the study says that ‘the mantra that more guns mean more deaths and that fewer guns, therefore, mean fewer deaths’ is wrong.

“For example, when the study shows numbers for Eastern European gun ownership and corresponding murder rates, it is readily apparent that less guns to do not mean less death. In Russia, where the rate of gun ownership is 4,000 per 100,000 inhabitants, the murder rate was 20.52 per 100,000 in 2002. That same year in Finland, where the rater of gun ownership is exceedingly higher — 39,000 per 100,000 — the murder rate was almost nill, at 1.98 per 100,000….

“And when the study focuses on intentional deaths by looking at the U.S. vs Continental Europe, the findings are no less revealing. The U.S., which is so often labeled as the most violent nation in the world by gun control proponents, comes in 7th — behind Russia, Estonia, Lativa, Lithuania, Belarus, and the Ukraine — in murders. America also only ranks 22nd in suicides.

“The murder rate in Russia, where handguns are banned, is 30.6; the rate in the U.S. is 7.8….”

oops. =/

so, the official gun ownership rate in russia is low. could there be a large cache of illegal guns out there? still — much higher homicide rates in eastern europe than in western.

here’s a table from the report for you to enjoy:

european gun ownership and murder rates

and here are some bits about my favorite little country that could:

“A second misconception about the relationship between firearms and violence attributes Europe’s generally low homicide rates to stringent gun control. That attribution cannot be accurate since murder in Europe was at an all‐time low *before* the gun controls were introduced. For instance, virtually the only English gun control during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was the practice that police patrolled without guns. During this period gun control prevailed far less in England or Europe than in certain American states which nevertheless had — and continue to have — murder rates that were and are comparatively very high….

“Stringent gun controls were not adopted in England and Western Europe until after World War I. Consistent with the outcomes of the recent American studies just mentioned, these strict controls did not stem the general trend of ever‐growing violent crime throughout the post‐WWII industrialized world including the United States and Russia. Professor Malcolm’s study of English gun law and violent crime summarizes that nation’s nineteenth and twentieth century experience as follows:

‘The peacefulness England used to enjoy was not the result of strict gun laws. When it had no firearms restrictions [nineteenth and early twentieth century] England had little violent crime, while the present extraordinarily stringent gun controls have not stopped the increase in violence or even the increase in armed violence.

“‘Armed crime, never a problem in England, has now become one. Handguns are banned but the Kingdom has millions of illegal firearms. Criminals have no trouble finding them and exhibit a new willingness to use them. In the decade after 1957, the use of guns in serious crime increased a hundredfold.’

“In the late 1990s, England moved from stringent controls to a complete ban of all handguns and many types of long guns. Hundreds of thousands of guns were confiscated from those owners law‐abiding enough to turn them in to authorities. Without suggesting this caused violence, the ban’s ineffectiveness was such that by the year 2000 violent crime had so increased that England and Wales had Europe’s highest violent crime rate, far surpassing even the United States….

“[T]he conclusions of the premier study of English gun control. Done by a senior English police official as his thesis at the Cambridge University Institute of Criminology and later published as a book, it found (as of the early 1970s), ‘Half a century of strict controls…has ended, perversely, with a far greater use of [handguns] in crime than ever before.’ The study also states that:

‘No matter how one approaches the figures, one is forced to the rather startling conclusion that the use of firearms in crime was very much less [in England before 1920] when there were no controls of any sort and when anyone, convicted criminal or lunatic, could buy any type of firearm without restriction….

hmmmm. i wonder what’s different about england now as opposed to back then?

read the whole report here [pdf] — you really should, because it’s chock-full of info. (harvard is certainly proving to be quite the den of politically incorrect thinking, isn’t it? (~_^) )

edit: see also Guns & Homicide, Map Form from jayman.

previously: outbreeding, self-control and lethal violence and what pinker missed

(note: comments do not require an email. don’t forget your gun safety!)

spain: regional income per capita + pisa scores

just making a point.

and that is that there is a very low correlation between regional differences in income and pisa scores in spain (regional income per capita index taken from here [pdf], pg. 4 – i took a simple average of the provinces in each autonomous community to get the income per capita index figures for each autonomous community. sorted by reading scores, highest to lowest, because that’s what i did last time — don’t remember why):

spain - pisa scores and income per capita 02

this is opposed to, interestingly, the strong correlation between latitude and regional differences in pisa scores in spain (see previous post for more info on sources):

spain - pisa scores and latitude

that is all! (^_^)

previously: northern vs. southern spanish iq, redux

(note: comments do not require an email. ¡olé!)

match made in heaven(?)

@the battle of kandahar in the 1880s, we’ve got the afghanis (the pashtuns?) vs. the 92nd (gordon highlanders) regiment of foot.

pashtuns vs. highlanders?! good lord.

kandahar: 92nd highlanders storming gundi mulla sahibdad:

Kandahar_92nd_Highlanders

(note: comments do not require an email. 92nd gordon highlanders at edinburgh castle, 1846.)

thomas aquinas on too much outbreeding

in addition to being concerned about too much inbreeding and how that might hinder the building a christian society here on earth, thomas aquinas also worried about the effects of too much outbreeding.

from his Summa Theologica [pg. 2749]:

“The degrees within which consanguinity has been an impediment to marriage have varied according to various times…. [T]he Old Law permitted other degrees of consanguinity, in fact to a certain extent it commanded them, to wit that each man should take a wife from his kindred, in order to avoid confusion of inheritances: because at that time the Divine worship was handed down as the inheritance of the race. But afterwards more degrees were forbidden by the New Law which is the law of the spirit and of love, because the worship of God is no longer handed down and spread abroad by a carnal birth but by a spiritual grace: wherefore it was necessary that men should be yet more withdrawn from carnal things by devoting themselves to things spiritual, and that love should have a yet wider play. Hence in olden time marriage was forbidden even within the more remote degrees of consanguinity, in order that consanguinity and affinity might be the sources of a wider friendship; and this was reasonably extended to the seventh degree, both because beyond this it was difficult to have any recollection of the common stock, and because this was in keeping with the sevenfold grace of the Holy Ghost. Afterwards, however, towards these latter times the prohibition of the Church has been restricted to the fourth degree, because it became useless and dangerous to extend the prohibition to more remote degrees of consanguinity. Useless, because charity waxed cold in many hearts so that they had scarcely a greater bond of friendship with their more remote kindred than with strangers: and it was dangerous because through the prevalence of concupiscence and neglect men took no account of so numerous a kindred, and thus the prohibition of the more remote degrees became for many a snare leading to damnation.”

(^_^)

previously: st. augustine and st. thomas aquinas

(note: comments do not require an email. summa theologica)

linkfest – 08/27/13

New data reveal extent of genetic overlap between major mental disordersgwas study**: “[T]he overlap was highest between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder; moderate for bipolar disorder and depression and for ADHD and depression; and low between schizophrenia and autism. Overall, common genetic variation accounted for 17-28 percent of risk for the illnesses.” (**that’s redundant, isn’t it? sorry.)

Common genes may underlie alcohol dependence, eating disorders“In a study of nearly 6,000 adult twins, researchers found that common genetic factors seemed to underlie both alcoholism and certain eating disorder symptoms—namely, binge eating and purging habits, such as self-induced vomiting or laxative abuse. Genes appeared to explain 38 percent to 53 percent of the risk of developing those disorders.”

Multiple Genes Manage How People Taste Sweeteners

As Humans Change Landscape, Brains of Some Animals Change, Too“A new study suggests that the brains of several small mammals, including those of the little brown bat, have grown bigger as humans have altered the animals’ living conditions.” – ruh roh.

African genes tracked back“[The researchers] saw signs reflecting two waves of migration: one about 3,000 years ago, of non-Africans entering east Africa, and a second one 900–1,800 years ago, as east Africans migrated to southern Africa and brought non-African genes along with them…. Because of this two-step migration, some Khoe-San groups who were thought to have been genetically quite isolated actually carry 1–5% non-African DNA….”

Study Says Oldest Known Human Y-Chromosome Branch Dates to 338,000 Years Ago – h/t michael anissimov!

Genetic Research Suggests Indian Caste System Began 1,900 Years Ago – h/t david pinsen! – and speaking of castes: Caste outside of India: black blacksmiths from steve sailer.

Handaxe design reveals distinct Neanderthal cultures“Two cultural traditions existed among Neanderthals living in what is now northern Europe between 115,000 to 35,000 years ago…. [T]wo separate handaxe traditions or designs existed – one in a region now spanning south-western France and Britain – the other in Germany and further to the East.”

The Behavioral Ecology of Chimpanzee War and Liberal Peace“[V]iolent aggression among humans and chimps is a flexible natural propensity that tends to be stronger in males than in females, and the expression of that propensity depends on the social circumstances that determine the relative costs and benefits of violent fighting.” – @darwinian conservatism.

Breast feeding, intelligence, and confounded researchers – from dr. james thompson.

Two Failures to Replicate High-Performance-Goal Priming Effects

Babies learn words before birth“Brain responses suggest infants can distinguish distinct sounds from altered versions.”

Women and eye color“There is…a sex difference, with women having a more diverse palette of eye colors.” – from peter frost.

Are atheists mentally ill? – via mr. mangan, esq.

How Personality Affects Fertility: Men’s and Women’s Personalities Linked to Likelihood That They Will Have Children“Men with neurotic personality traits are having fewer children compared to previous generations…. It also found that men who are extraverted and open tend to have more children, while women who rank as conscientious on personality tests tend to have fewer children, although these findings were constant across generations.” – study done in norway. – via hbd bibliography.

Human brains are hardwired for empathy, friendship, study shows

Kinship or Citizenship? – steve sailer reviews mark weiner‘s The Rule of the Clan.

There is no hope of democracy in the Middle East“Most people, in other times and other places, have lived in societies more like Game of Thrones than Borgen, clannish rather than democratic, where people feel their loyalty and duty is towards other members of their extended family or religious community. To get people to work in the best interests of strangers so that you accept their authority when they get more people into the polling booth than you, is an achievement, not a natural state…. Egypt is an ancient civilisation but it is a clannish society….” – from ed west. (^_^) see also: Ed West interview: debating the ‘illusions’ of a diverse society.

Whence Afro criminality? – @thosewhocansee.

Steven Pinker, Science, and “Scientism”“In reality, the issue here is not whether this imaginary ‘science’ object exists and, assuming it does, whether it is ‘good’ or ‘evil.’ It is about whether we should be empowered to learn things about the universe in which we live or not. The opponents of ‘scientism’ typically rail against such things as eugenics, Social Darwinism, and the atomic bomb. These are supposedly the creations of the ‘science’ object. But, in fact, they are no such thing.” – really good stuff @helian unbound. via hbd bibliography. also from h.u. (he’s on a roll this week): Of Ingroups, Outgroups and Ideology.

The Arab Spring has failed because constitutional democracy needs nation-states – via ed west. see also: Egyptian Mirages from thomas sowell – “However widespread the desire to be free, it is wholly different from a desire to live in a society where others are free.” – yup.

How the light gets out – re. consciousness: “…the attention schema theory. It says that awareness is not something magical that emerges from the functioning of the brain. When you look at the colour blue, for example, your brain doesn’t generate a subjective experience of blue. Instead, it acts as a computational device. It computes a description, then attributes an experience of blue to itself. The process is all descriptions and conclusions and computations. Subjective experience, in the theory, is something like a myth that the brain tells itself. The brain *insists* that it has subjective experience because, when it accesses its inner data, it finds that information.”

Notes from Beijing: About That Chinese Social Contract“The traditional Chinese social contract was not a compact between individuals and the state, but a compact between Chinese society as a whole and the state…. Self interested calculations of rational individuals coolly weighing their economic and political interests never really seemed to be part of the program.” – from t. greer.

Fragile and Dangerous – Men with Borderline Personality Disorder – from staffan.

23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert – 20 out of 23. (*^_^*) (no way i could give a talk to an audience of 500. No. Way.) – classic link: Caring for Your Introvert.

Genomic Differences Found in Types of Cervical Cancer“…the spectrum of cancer-related gene mutations in the two main subtypes of cervical cancer — adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. In tests on 80 cervical tumor samples, the investigators found high rates of mutations in two genes: PIK3CA and KRAS. While PIK3CA mutations appeared in both subtypes, KRAS mutations were found only in adenocarcinomas.”

US behavioural research studies skew positive“US behavioural researchers have been handed a dubious distinction — they are more likely than their colleagues in other parts of the world to exaggerate findings, according to a study published today.”

Neolithic chefs spiced their food“Mineral grains from garlic-mustard seeds found in 6,000-year-old cooking pots.” – mmmmmmm!

Denmark’s historic claim to the Faroes in doubt as archaeologists find proof that islands were inhabited before arrival of first Norse colonists“Discovery indicates existence of sea-faring northern Europeans before Vikings.”

bonus: Birds know road speed limits“Crows, house sparrows and other species judge when to flee the asphalt by average traffic rates rather than an oncoming car’s speed.”

bonus bonus: Beetles eat greedy offspring Edinburgh University research finds“Burying beetles occasionally punish young who nag for food by eating those who pester them most…. It encourages the larvae to plead more honestly according to how hungry they are and not try to outdo their siblings by pestering their mother for food.” – so there!

bonus bonus bonus: Saudi Arabia’s War on Witchcraft“A special unit of the religious police pursues magical crime aggressively, and the convicted face death sentences.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Bacteria can cause pain on their own“Microbes caused discomfort in mice by activating nervous system, not immune response.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: World’s first pocket calculator goes up for auction: ‘Exceptionally rare’ 17th century machine made of wood could fetch £100,000

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Oldest globe to depict the New World may have been discovered

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: An update to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

(note: comments do not require an email. faroe islands craziness!)