Doctor Science Knows

Monday, May 04, 2009

Today at ObiWi

Keeping track of my comments at Obsidian Wings today:

In hilzoy's post on demographic trends:

But just wanted to point out that people have kids for many reasons, and in some countries, it's because no one else will take care of you when you're old.
Speaking as a biologist, I actually think that this is more often the case than not, and it's one of the most distinctive features of human demographics: most people (across societies and over the long course of history and pre-history) do not have offspring to reproduce, but for social security.

I *do* basically agree with Slart and Jes, that falling birthrates are *not* a global problem. The falling Russian birthrate discussed in that World Affairs Article would not IMHO be a "problem" if they were not due to factors like "mortality levels for women in their twenties ... have been rising, not falling, in recent decades."

Eberstadt drops this absolutely crucial demographic factor into his discussion, but then resolutely doesn't talk about it for the rest of the article. He talks about increased deaths from cardiovascular disease -- but surely that's not hitting women in their 20s. He talks about alcohol poisoning (traditionally a problem for older males) and has a vague discussion about "injuries". Could that lump under the carpet be women killed by drunken and/or stressed men?

At hilzoy's post on Cheney's character:

John Dean in Conservatives Without Conscience used Robert Altemeyer's The Authoritarians to classify Cheney as a "double-high authoritarian": someone who scores high on measures of Right-Wing Authoritarianism (RWA), and also high on measures of Social Domination. Such people are extremely dangerous. RWAs tend to have a stronger-than-normal fear response: an intrinsically frightening event like 9/11 will feel *even more* frightening to a RWA.

What has struck me recently, as more and more of Cheney's actions come to light, is how *incompetant* he is compared to Nixon. He may have been Nixon's apprentice, but he doesn't seem to have learned anything at all about how to actually achieve things, neither in terms of politics (getting people on your side) nor of administration (e.g. the Iraq war planning). But Nixon wasn't a true Double-High Authoritarian -- he never felt comfortable as the Number One Guy in Charge, Shut Up and Listen to Me, and that discomfort meant that he could do un-Cheneylike things like change his mind and go to China, or push through the Clean Air and Water Acts.

Cheney has, as far as I can tell, accomplished absolutely nothing but misery.

At publius' post on the Oklahoma Republican Party platform (comments include LOLarious accounts of various state parties' wacky hijinks):

On the internet I tend to use lgbt, but since I mentally pronounce it "legib′it", it's not really appropriate (or comprehensible) in airspace. What I want to say out loud is "queer", but that's *also* proved a source of confusion, so I just fall back on "homosexuals" when I want to be moderately clear and moderately inclusive without spending too many syllables on it.

later ..

In the UK, it's pronounced ell-gee-bee-tee, FWIW.

That tends to be standard in the US, too, but I find it tongue-tangling. Do you say "ell-gee-bee-tee" in your mind, or "legibit", or something else?

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