Monday, December 07, 2009

Genetics win out

It is obvious that life experiences have some influences on us. Chinese kids grow up speaking Chinese, for instance. But genetics are also powerful and the latest research indicates that they do to a remarkable extent overwhelm environmental influences. Environmental handicaps tend to fade in importance as we get older. Abstract of the latest paper on the heritability of IQ below:
The heritability of general cognitive ability increases linearly from childhood to young adulthood

By C M A Haworth et al.

Although common sense suggests that environmental influences increasingly account for individual differences in behavior as experiences accumulate during the course of life, this hypothesis has not previously been tested, in part because of the large sample sizes needed for an adequately powered analysis. Here we show for general cognitive ability that, to the contrary, genetic influence increases with age. The heritability of general cognitive ability increases significantly and linearly from 41% in childhood (9 years) to 55% in adolescence (12 years) and to 66% in young adulthood (17 years) in a sample of 11 000 pairs of twins from four countries, a larger sample than all previous studies combined. In addition to its far-reaching implications for neuroscience and molecular genetics, this finding suggests new ways of thinking about the interface between nature and nurture during the school years. Why, despite life's 'slings and arrows of outrageous fortune', do genetically driven differences increasingly account for differences in general cognitive ability? We suggest that the answer lies with genotype–environment correlation: as children grow up, they increasingly select, modify and even create their own experiences in part based on their genetic propensities.

Molecular Psychiatry


Palin speaks in D.C.

Sarah Palin gave an 11-minute speech before Washington’s Gridiron Club at its Winter Dinner. Politico billed it as: “a moment somewhat akin to Karl Marx touring the New York Stock Exchange or Charles Darwin lecturing at a creationists’ convention.” Um, the Gridiron Club is supposed to be peopled by journalists. Her co-star was Congressman Barney Frank. Gridiron officials expected a big turnout. She does that a lot.

The remarks are off the record, so naturally Politico leaked like a sieve. Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Tribune also broke the silence. As did Andrew Malcolm of the Los Angeles Times. From their leaks, I offer this:

Her book has no index so that people can check to see what page they are on in her book. Politico said she provided one: “A: Alaska, media not understanding it, page 1-432. B: Biased, Page 1-432.”

Other lines: “If the election had turned out differently, I could be the one overseeing the signing of bailout checks and Vice President Biden could be on the road selling his book, ‘Going Rogaine’.”

And this line: “It’s good to be here though, really, in front of this audience of leading journalists and intellectuals, or as I like to call it, a death panel.”

And: “Sometimes you just got to trust your instincts. And when you don”t, you end up in places like this.”

And: “You betcha. Who talks that way?”

And: “At least now I can put a face to the newspapers I do read.”

And on Frank: “And I’m the controversial one?”

And a dig at John McCain’s campaign staff: “The view is so much better inside the bus than under the bus.”

And on campaign manager Steve Schmidt: “If I need a bald campaign manager, I guess I’m left with James Carville.”

And the line about seeing a picture of the president and China’s president Hu Jinato and being told, “Hu’s the communist.”

Palin: “I thought he was asking a question.”

And her alternative title for her autobiography: “How to Look Like a Million Bucks for Only $150,000.”

And the line of the night (or what was reported so far) on her hotel room: “I could see the Russian Embassy.”

Self-effacing humor works best.



In defense of Sarah Palin & conservative women

Is chivalry dead? Have we conservative men allowed political correctness to prevent us from treating women the way we instinctively know we should? When my three brothers and I started dating, my dad instructed us. "You take good care and return her home the way you found her". Following dad's instruction made us feel good about ourselves. We felt like men.

It is time we conservative guys start acting like men and defend our women folk (a little cowboy lingo). Since her acceptance speech as McCain's VP nominee, attacks on Sarah Palin have been vile, extremely vicious and beyond the pale. Even Palin's family including her 14 year old daughter were targeted for destruction by an, dare I use the "E" word, evil media. The Left's hatred of Sarah Palin is good vs. evil. Palin's book tour is pouring gasoline on the Left's "destroy Palin at any cost" fire.

Governor Palin positively represents motherhood, marriage and traditional Christian values. The Left appears to despise any and all things so wholesome.

Unfortunately, it appears even some on our side (conservatives) have bought into the media's "she is not too bright" portrayal of Palin. When Obama says we have 57 states and other faux pas, the sycophant media circle the wagons around him by saying he was tired or simply misspoke. Meanwhile, every word out of Palin's mouth is viewed through the template that she is stupid. Who amongst us could withstand such harsh scrutiny?

Well, I am standing up for my awesome conservative sister, Gov. Palin. She has the right stuff to get our country back on track. I love how Palin boldly, without apology, challenges the concept of government run health care, the global warming/climate change scam and her desire to drill for oil to make us energy independent. Talk about backbone. Could Sarah Palin be the reincarnation of John Wayne and Ronald Reagan? No, I do not believe in reincarnation; just having a little fun. My point is despite what the snobby elites -- conservative and liberal -- think, Sarah Palin is a powerful force to be reckoned with and is great for America.

We the people are so sick of namby pamby "middle of the road speak" focus group-tested candidates. "Don't say this because you will offend this crowd and don't say that because you will offend the other." For crying out loud, just say what you mean and mean what you say. Show us voters who you are. These are the kind of candidates we voters are longing and tea partying for. And this is why Sarah "what you see is what you get" Palin is a rock star!

I believe strong women inspire men to be strong. They are not offended when we open the door for them, carry their heavy packages and mind our conversation around them. Or has such behavior from men become too "Andy and Mayberry" for our secular progressive crude culture? Trust me, I am not a prude, but radical feminists have diminished women's power in our society. I was raised to believe that a real man treats women with a level of respect. Nobody is allowed to "dis" your momma, wife or your sister.

Sarah Palin is a breath of fresh air; a woman using the God-given power of her femininity to be a mom, a wife and govern a state. Awesome. I would be honored to say, "Yes, Madam President"....

The Left deceptively call their pro abortion movement a pro choice movement. If choice is their issue, why are radical feminists so offended when a woman chooses not to have an abortion? They have a weird anti male (particularly white male) and family agenda. Outrageously, a feminist leader said "all sex is rape". These angry bitter women have a distorted view of the world.

Then along comes Sarah Palin; happily married, a happy mom and effective governor. Feminists should regard Sarah Palin as their hero; a shining example of women's liberation enjoying success in both words, family and career. But instead, the Left seeks to destroy her. Palin is too happy, too good, too pretty, too effective, and most intolerable, too powerful.



The Beck phenomenon

Many authors adorn the covers of their books with flattering recommendations from notable reviewers. Not Glenn Beck, whose latest bestselling diatribe, Arguing With Idiots, proudly sports a range of slurs from some of the many critics of his right-wing radio chat show.

“Glenn Beck is an idiot,” declares Discover magazine. He is “a lying sack of dog mess”, says Whoopi Goldberg, the Hollywood actress. He is “Satan’s mentally challenged younger brother”, adds Stephen King, the novelist.

After almost 30 years working in radio and television, Beck has this year emerged from the apocalyptic hubbub of American conservative political chatter to become a fully fledged cultural phenomenon. It is not only his verbal pyrotechnics that have entranced his growing audience — he is possibly the only crewcut Mormon in America who once claimed to have smoked marijuana every day for 15 years.

Beck has claimed that America’s first black president had “a deep-seated hatred for white people”.

The White House accused Fox News of “undertaking a war” against Obama. Yet even Beck’s critics acknowledge that he is not a conventional foe and, far from being a Republican stooge, he sometimes espouses startling views. “Not all Democrats are idiots,” he notes in his latest book. He says he is not a “partisan zombie” and declares that “being an idiot has nothing to do with your party affiliation”. Unlike most of his listeners he has a soft spot for Hillary Clinton.

Mostly, though, he has made his fortune by giving voice to a growing sense of frustration that the much-vaunted president of hope and change has delivered neither; and that a sycophantic media dominated by liberals has failed to be tough enough on Obama.

Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska, has declared herself a big fan of Beck. In polls of listeners to his programmes, she is the overwhelming favourite for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Palin, the surprise choice as Senator John McCain’s running mate last year, was asked last month if she would spring a similar surprise by considering Beck as her 2012 running mate. The idea is not as far-fetched as it may seem — Beck recently adopted a more active political profile and is touring the country encouraging voter registration. Palin’s reply was: “I don’t know, we’ll see.”

Between them, Beck and Palin dominate America’s right-wing conversation but he was not always so eminent. His career encompasses an only-in-America arc that includes bouts of alcoholism and drug abuse, a late turn to redemptive religion and several family tragedies.

Beck was 15 when his mother’s body was discovered in the waters of Puget Sound in Washington state. His parents had divorced. Beck would later claim his mother committed suicide, but other accounts referred to a boating accident.

Seven years earlier, Mary Beck had given her son a record set entitled The Golden Years of Radio. Beck has written that the birthday gift had “an immediate and lasting impact . . . I was mesmerised . . . how radio could create pictures in my head”. Moving to his father’s home near Seattle, Beck took a part-time job at a local radio station, beginning an odyssey that would turn him first into a disc jockey, then into a chat show host. His early rise was fuelled mostly by beer and cocaine.

By the time Beck reached Kentucky in the mid-1980s, he was by his own admission drinking heavily, snorting coke and contemplating suicide. “I’m only alive today because a) I’m too cowardly to kill myself and b) I’m too stupid,” he wrote.

It was in Kentucky that the first signs emerged of the rabid super-patriot that Beck would become. After the bombing in 1986 of a Berlin nightclub frequented by US soldiers — an attack blamed on President Muammar Gadaffi’s Libya — Beck repeatedly played a song called Gadaffi Sucks. Listeners hailed him for “standing up for America”.

Mostly, though, he was falling down drunk. After stops in Phoenix, Houston and New York, his former manager described him as “out of control”. His marriage was failing, he was mixing recreational and prescription drugs. In Phoenix he had joked on air about his wife being pregnant and invited listeners to guess the sex of the child. The jokes stopped after his daughter was born with cerebral palsy.

Yet somehow he managed to clean himself up. In 1994 he began attending meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. Five years later he embraced the Mormon religion and acquired a supportive second wife. As he honed his talent for mischievous commentary, he rose through news radio ranks to his high-profile berth at Fox.

Obama’s early stumbles have proved a boon for Beck’s career. Broader dismay at the president’s perceived failings has re-energised an otherwise moribund Republican party, propelling it to eye-catching victories in state elections in Virginia and New Jersey last month.

Yet many Republicans remain concerned that the Beck-Palin axis of antagonistic populism may prevent the party attracting middle-of-the-road voters who swung to Obama last year, but are disillusioned and potentially ready to swing back. “We have to decide whether we want to be a debating society or a broad-based, centre-right governing coalition,” said Senator Lamar Alexander, a moderate Republican from Tennessee.

Beck and Palin scoff at critics who claim they are damaging Republican chances by scaring off moderate voters and previously sympathetic Latinos. They dismiss such theories as the kind of political game-playing that got America into a mess in the first place. The stage is set for a long strategy debate as Republicans seek a much earlier return to the White House than seemed possible a year ago. The only certain outcome is that Beck will be sitting at his microphone, urging conservatives to action. “It’s time to find our teeth and sharpen our teeth — and we’re going to do it,” he promised.




I probably should mention that I have put up a few things on my Paralipomena blog lately. A lot of what I put up there is history of one sort or another, as history is a great interest of mine -- as I think it should be for any conservative. History is a very large topic, however, so one has to specialize. My main interest is 19th and 20th century British and German history and I still have only very partial knowledge of that.

LibertyPhile notes that even readers of Britain's Leftist Guardian overwhelmingly approved the Swiss vote to ban Muslim minarets in that country.

There is an interesting video here about the extent of Muslim activism in Britain.

British PM snubbed by soldiers' 'curtain' protest: "Gordon Brown was snubbed by badly injured Afghan veterans when they closed curtains round their beds during a hospital visit and refused to speak to him. More than half the soldiers being treated at the Selly Oak hospital ward in Birmingham either asked for the curtains to be closed or deliberately avoided the prime minister, according to several of those present. The soldiers, who have sustained some of the worst injuries seen in Afghanistan, described his visit as “opportunistic” and a “waste of time”. Furious about equipment shortages and poor compensation for their injuries, one soldier said: “It is almost as if we are the product of an unwanted affair ... he has done nothing for us.”

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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