Interesting Stuff on the Web: 11/30/09

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/30/science/earth/30agency.html?th&emc=th

A government agency that is either corrupt or ineffective.  Doesn’t that describe most of the government?  The only good thing about government is that it occasionally protects us from the even greater danger of big business… that is when it’s not in bec with big business.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703499404574557583017194444.html?mod=djemEditorialPage#articleTabs%3Darticle

Here is another depressing article.  It’s criticizing global warming science.  There might be some truth to what the article claims, but I have my doubts.  It comes off sounding like conspiracy theorizing and political spin.  Republicans have been attacking science for years.  Given a choice between the GOP and scientists, I’d trust the latter any day.  Yes, corruption and bias can be found in all organizations, but at least science has a methodology of weeding it out over time.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/29/AR2009112902014.html

On a slightly happier note, here is a criticism of the constant bickering and polemics of conservatives (for example, see previous article).  The Republican Jim Leach (from Iowa) makes a stand against the divisive factors influencing the Republican party during a time when other Republican politicians are afraid to demand intelligent and fair discussion of real issues.  Most Republicans seem to think that attacking others with embittered rants and name-calling will somehow distract the public from the failure of Republican policies and the party’s lack of vision.  Sadly, they’re wrong and in all honesty there are probably other Republicans like Leach who know the GOP has lost its way.

I really loved this comment to the article because it concisely states many facts.  This commenter is apparently very informed as she even mentions the “crush of people pounding on the glass walls of an office where votes were being counted, all identified as tax paid republican congressional staffers, brought down to pretend to be Florida citizens”.  American democracy was nearly dealt a death blow the day Bush jr was “elected”.

dutchess2 wrote:
It didn’t happen overnight.

I remember when Ronald Reagan made the centerpiece of his campaign one of hatred for other Americans, his war on poor black women he called welfare queens…AND GOT ELECTED FOR IT!

I can remember when this country financed its own wars, a super highway system, and its own Great Society with safety nets for its citizens because people paid a fair share of taxes.

I can remember when republicans mounted hate campaigns for people who were not as religious as they, veterans, women who wanted equal rights, Native Americans to get Thune elected, Hispanics, blacks, whole administrations when the POTUS would not even meet with leaders of black organizations. I can remember when Ohio’s Bush Partner was also the Secretary of State, people in black precincts waiting 8 hours to vote, some had to give up and pick up the kids or get to work, denied their vote. I can remember the felon’s list in Florida. I can remember the whole of a state government turned to denying its people’s vote because the republican candidate was his brother; I can remember a crush of people pounding on the glass walls of an office where votes were being counted, all identified as tax paid republican congressional staffers, brought down to pretend to be Florida citizens; I can remember when the supreme court decided that George Bush would be ‘irreparably harmed’ if the votes were counted….because as appointees of his father, they knew he would lose. I can remember a terrible scathing report that John McCain fathered a black child, that his wife was a druggy, and that he was damaged goods for his five years in captivity – a whispering campaign from George Bush and the so called men of God who used their phone banks to spread rumors behind McCain’s back.

No, several generations of republicans have turned their backs on the voters, subscribed to the fringe elements, and spewed hate.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/29/AR2009112902935.html?wpisrc=newsletter&wpisrc=newsletter&wpisrc=newsletter

The only thing that Republicans like to attack more than Democrats is other Republicans.  At least, the Republicans are amusing in their paranoid demand for “purity”.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/30/opinion/30douthat.html?th&emc=th

Generational cohorts respond differently to economic hard times.  It’s interesting the reasons for why generations respond conservatively or liberally.

http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1245/gen-next-squeezed-recession-most-see-better-times-ahead

The young generation have been hit the hardest by economic difficulties.  For this reason and others, they’re very liberal on most issues.  However, it’s hard to determine the overall view.  The younger generation isn’t more liberal on the issue of social safety nets which is quite telling as that is a rather central issue which personally impacts them (or will in their immediate future).  Also, they strongly believe the government is effective in regulating (and surprisingly GenX strongly believes this as well as compared to the older generations).  But even so they’re the least Republican of the present generational cohorts.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/generation-next/demographic/climate_09-18.html

The younger generation is more convinced of global warming.  That is important to keep in mind.  As they inherit the older generations problems, the younger generation is the only demographic that has a vested interest in caring about the future of the evironment.  Also, I always wonder about the young generations optimism.  Will it hold up as they age?  Growing up as a cynical GenXer, I have a hard time relating to such hopefulness about the future.

http://people-press.org/report/300/a-portrait-of-generation-next

This is an overview of the young generation.  The following quote stood out to me.

More than two-thirds see their generation as unique and distinct, yet not all self-evaluations are positive. A majority says that “getting rich” is the main goal of most people in their age group, and large majorities believe that casual sex, binge drinking, illegal drug use and violence are more prevalent among young people today than was the case 20 years ago.

The negative self-evaluation doesn’t sound correct.  As far as I know, the statistics are actually very low for these kinds of behaviors.  I do specifically remember that teen sex rates are lowest they’ve been in a while, and I do recall seeing data about this generation being non-violent.  I also remember an article discussing how this generation has accepted their parents assessment of them that they’re self-centered, but the actual data show that they’re more focused on others than their parents.  They value family more, they value their peers more, they value cooperation and egalitarianism, they’re politically active, and they volunteer at high rates.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/patchworknation/#

The PBS Patchwork Nation is an insightful way to look at US demographics. 

I live in Johnson county, IA which PBS labels as Campus and Careers.  This type of community is more liberal and secular than most of the country.  Such communities are scattershot across the nation, only found in around half of the states, and they don’t represent too many large areas of population.  Highly educated populations aren’t the norm in America.  Johnson County has a population that is almost entirely highschool graduates with half of the population as college graduates.  I’ve read in the past that this community is the highest educated per capita in the US. 

Johnson County is a cluster of similar communities in Eastern Iowa, Southern Wisconsin, and Western Indiana which all are clustered around many such communities in Illinois.  Illinois has more such communities than any other state.  We Midwesterners are the hub of America’s liberal education.  Actually, the whole NorthWestern sector of the US has the highest concentration of these secular and liberal communities and for whatever reason. 

The Evangelical South (including many of the Bible Belt strongholds) is largely lacking in these communities (I went to highscholl in SC and they have none).  There is a large swath West of central US that is almost entirely empty of secular liberalism (and I presume this correlates with these areas being largely rural with low levels of higher education).  This wasteland (of rural religious right?) starts with many of the Southern states (most obviously Texas and it’s neighbors) curves up through Mormon territory and ends with many of the states bordering Canada.

Another interesting thing the map shows is that the West coast has few of these liberal and secular communities, but the ones they have are very large communities.  The West Coast intelligentsia prefer to group together in high concentrations whereas the Midwestern/Northeastern intelligentsia prefers to be spread out in smaller communities.  I wonder if that implies that the smaller scattered communities are more integrated with the populations that they’re a part of.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/indepth_coverage/science/dna/timeline_flash.html

This last link has no relation to the other topics I was reading about, but it intrigued me.  I like this map showing the migration of the human species.

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