Sunday, December 21, 2014
Will Xmas carols defeat the Left?
Just a small initial point: Is my use above of "X" to represent Christ disrespectful? It is not. It is in fact very respectful indeed. The Gospels were written in Greek and the first letter of Christ's name in Greek is the letter Chi -- which is normally written the same as our letter X.
And Greek letters are not exactly unknown in educated circles to this day. Statisticians, for instance, will all be familiar with the statistic "Chi squared" -- a way of testing the statistical significance of frequencies.
And there are still some of us who work their way through the New Testament in Greek. I actually own three recensions of the Greek New Testament: Griesbach, Westcott & Hort and a 1958 revision of Nestle. So my very occasional excursions into the original Greek are well supported.
And the early Christians made much use of Chi. They used it to represent Christ and closed one end of it to make it look like a fish when they were being persecuted. So the use of Chi has a most honorable background.
And to this day, some Christians (mostly Anglicans in my observation) do still use a fish to represent their faith.
But I did not intend this post to be about ancient Greek so let me get on to the small but perhaps important point that I originally wanted to make:
When I first visited California in the mid-70s I arrived, for some long-forgotten reason, in early December. So I was delighted to have Xmas carols piped at me from any retail outlet that I entered. I gather that that pleasant world is long gone now, however. Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer and Frosty the Snowman are about it these days -- which must be very boring.
And the Left have some logic behind their suppression of Xmas carols. Most of the carols are very devout. They in fact largely tell the basic story of Christianity: That Jesus was God incarnate. I guess that people rarely pay full attention to the words of songs but to the extent that they are exposed to Xmas carols, people will learn rather a lot about basic Xian doctrine. The sheer beauty of the traditional Xmas carols will often get them past Leftist censorship.
And there are even hints of long-lost scholarship in the carols. "Gloria in excelsis Deo" and "Adeste fidelis", for instance, may open up the world of Latin for some. And the perspective that conveys could indeed be transformative.
And the frequent mentions of Israel in the carols should make it clear that Israel is forever the land of the Jews
Some medical news is so crazy that I just have to laugh
An excerpt below from a newspaper report of some experiments. The report was headed: "Is Ibuprofen the key to a longer life? Study finds it may provide 12 extra years of good health". The idea that you can generalize from yeast cells, worms and flies to human beings is of course absurd. Even mouse studies often don't generalize to people. Human beings are an unusually long-lived species so already have in their makeup most things that can prolong life
To those with a headache, it already works miracles. But ibuprofen could also hold the key to a long and healthy life. In a series of experiments, the popular painkiller extended the life of yeast, worms and flies by around 15 per cent.
What is more, the extra years were healthy ones.
In human terms, this would equate to an extra 12 years of good quality life. Put another way, people would be in good health for longer.
In one of the experiments, worms given ibuprofen throughout life were healthy for longer.
UPDATE: Ibuprofen actually SHORTENS human life -- a little
Painting the Picture of Male Unemployment
The New York Times summed up what conservatives have said for years -- government welfare disincentivizes work, the social fabric of our nation is strongest when fathers head the household, and flooding the labor market with low-skilled and low-educated individuals through illegal immigration is bad for Americans currently out of work.
Seriously. Yes, they did.
Painted on the debate canvas is a recognizable face -- the unemployed male during his prime working years. The Times' piece declared, "Working, in America, is in decline. The share of prime-age men -- those 25 to 54 years old -- who are not working has more than tripled since the late 1960s, to 16 percent." Perhaps the most important sentence in the report, however, is this: "Many men, in particular, have decided that low-wage work will not improve their lives, in part because deep changes in American society have made it easier for them to live without working."
Welcome to Barack Obama's America.
The palette of metaphorical colors used by the Left to cast this grim, but real, image ranged from the gray of "foreign" competition and "technological advances," to the pale pink of a massive list of government programs that include safety-net welfare and job training, to the cyanotic blue of men avoiding marriage and fatherhood.
The pronouncement that "foreign competition" harms the workforce -- in this case, unemployed males, 85% of whom were without a college degree -- is spot on. Hence, the absurdity of allowing Obama's amnesty to stand. His action will permit five million illegal immigrants to compete in the already flooded low-skilled labor market. The ones hurt most are young blacks, but blacks are such dependable Democrat constituents that Obama knows he can get away with it.
As for that 85% of those surveyed who don't hold a four-year degree, the availability of job training and educational attainment is vast. In 2011, the Government Accountability Office estimated that nine federal agencies housed 47 separate job training and educational programs.
The obvious question has to be asked: Which is easier to get, 99 weeks (just five weeks short of two years) of unemployment checks, or to enroll in an education program to obtain a certificate in training and finish a four-year degree?
An individual must stay competitive in a tightening labor market. Refining and advancing education and skills is no longer a K-12 proposition. Frankly, individuals can't even expect a four-year degree to keep them competitive absent some special circumstance or highly specialized field.
There are ample options to obtain the training and education necessary to grow into technologically driven occupations. Parents, guidance counselors, existing employers and the government must be consistent in message -- be a lifetime learner to stay employed. But that's not the easy road; unemployment and food stamps are.
The New York Times observed other societal changes, such as that "the decline of marriage ... means fewer men provide for children." The traditional family places worth on the roles of a father as spiritual leader, model in his work ethic and character, and his responsibility to meet the needs of his family. But with so-called "progressive" change in the definition of marriage, the American male is ... liberated.
Finally, there's an element the NYT didn't mention: shame.
Reach back into records and appreciate that in the 1903 annual report of the U.S. Bureau of Labor an able-bodied adult who was not working was documented as "Idle." Further, this "idleness" was categorized "by causes." Drunkenness, accident, strike, unable to get work, slack work, and bad weather were among 64 identifiers that captured the reasons for unemployment.
Today, it's not your fault if you drop out of high school or college; it's not your fault if you miss the opportunity to get additional education and training offered at work; it's not your fault you never save a penny, but have the latest electronics available. You see, when you're a victim of the big-bad system, there is no shame.
The Left -- and some of the "moderate middle" -- offers a life portrait of just under two years of unemployment checks, an opportunity to join the almost 50 million on food stamps, with hope that the government will increase the minimum wage on occasion to assist in one's embrace as a member of the underclass. Mediocrity is the message for the masses.
By contrast, the Right paints a picture of innovation and competition with individuals who pursue skills training and education, who embrace technology and competition. The painting frequently includes a spouse and family to strengthen and support, and a male head-of-household who has the ability to dream and imagine a better day for his family. Yet, that portrait is only completed by the individual, not by the nanny state. It's a picture of Liberty.
Now, you pick your palette: pale pastels or bold colors.
Americans are 40% poorer than before the recession
The Great Recession is officially over, but Americans are still 40% poorer today than they were in 2007, the year before the global financial crisis.
The net worth of American families — the difference between the values of their assets, including homes and investments, and liabilities — fell to $81,400 in 2013, down slightly from $82,300 in 2010, but a long way off the $135,700 in 2007, according to a new report released on Friday by the nonprofit think-tank Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C.
“The Great Recession, fueled by the crises in the housing and financial markets, was universally hard on the net worth of American families,” the report found.
There is also a dramatic disparity in net worth between races. The median net worth of white households was $141,900 in 2013, down 26% since 2007. It declined by 42% to $13,700 over the same period for Hispanic households and fell by 43% to $11,000 for African-American households. One theory for the wealth gap: White households are more likely than other ethnicities to own stocks directly or indirectly through retirement accounts, the Pew report said.
The wealth of most Americans has stood still. In November 2014, the average weekly wage was $853 versus $833 for November 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But things are improving somewhat when it comes to housing. Nationwide, only 8% of borrowers have homes that are underwater as of October 2014, down from a peak of 35%, or 18 million homes, in February 2011, according to Black Knight Financial Services in Jacksonville, Fla., which tracks mortgage performance. But 8% still impacts 4 million homes.
Stagnant wages and rising property prices don’t bode well for first-time buyers without wealthy parents. The homeownership rate for non-Hispanic white households fell to 73.9% in 2013 from 75.3% in 2010, Pew found, and fell to 47.4% in 2013 from 50.6% in 2010 for minorities. It takes an average of 12.5 years to save up a 20% down payment — the usual requirement by banks — with a personal savings rate of 5.6%, according to real-estate firm RealtyTrac.
Should Profiling Be Banned?
By Walter E. Williams
Last week, the Obama administration announced new curbs on racial profiling by federal law enforcement. Before deciding whether this is good or bad policy, we might try to develop a description/definition of racial profiling or any other kind of profiling.
A good definition of profiling in general is the use of an easily observed physical characteristic as a guess for some other, difficult-to-observe characteristic. The reason people profile is that information is costly and they seek methods to economize on information costs. One way to do that is through profiling.
Imagine a chief of police in a city where there has been a rash of automobile hubcap thefts and he's trying to capture the culprits. Should he have his officers stake out and investigate residents of senior citizen homes? What about spending resources investigating men and women 40 or older?
I would imagine that he would have greater success in capturing the culprits by focusing most of his resources on younger people — and particularly on young men. Doing so would more likely lead to the capture of the culprits because hubcap theft is a young man's game. My question to you is whether you'd bring charges against the police chief because he used age and sex profiling — and didn't investigate seniors and middle-aged adults.
Some years ago, a Washington, D.C., taxicab commissioner, who is black, issued a safety advisory urging D.C.'s 6,800 predominantly black cabbies to refuse to pick up "dangerous looking" passengers. Cabbies in D.C. and other cities often bypass black males for fear of robbery or of being taken to an unsafe neighborhood. We seriously misunderstand the motives of a taxi driver who racially profiles and passes up a black customer if we use racism as the sole explanation for his behavior.
The reality is that race and other behavioral characteristics are correlated, including criminal behavior. That fact does not dispel the insult, embarrassment, anger and hurt a law-abiding black person might feel when being stopped by police, being watched in stores, being passed up by taxi drivers, standing at traffic lights and hearing car door locks activated, or being refused delivery by merchants who fear for their safety in his neighborhood.
It is easy to direct one's anger at the taxi driver or the merchant. However, the behavior of taxi drivers and owners of pizza restaurants cannot be explained by a dislike of dollars from black hands. A better explanation is they might fear for their lives. The true villains, to whom anger should be directed, are the tiny percentage of people in the black community who prey on both blacks and whites and have made black synonymous with crime.
There's little-noticed racial profiling in medicine. Some racial and ethnic groups have a higher incidence of mortality from various diseases than the national average. Mortality rates for cardiovascular diseases are approximately 30 percent higher among black adults than among white adults. Cervical cancer rates are almost five times higher among Vietnamese women in the U.S. than among white women. The Pima Indians of Arizona have the highest known diabetes rate in the world. Prostate cancer is nearly twice as common among black men as it is among white men.
Would one condemn a medical practitioner for advising greater screening and monitoring of black men for cardiovascular disease and prostate cancer or greater screening and monitoring for cervical cancer among Vietnamese-American women or the same for diabetes among Pima Indians? It surely would be racial profiling — using race as an indicator of a higher probability of some other characteristic.
God would never do profiling of any sort, because God is omniscient. We humans lack that quality and must depend upon sometimes-crude substitutes for finding out things. By the way, my attempting to explain profiling doesn't require one to take a position for or against it any more than the attempt to explain gravity requires one to be for or against gravity
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Posted by JR at 1:43 AM