Saturday, June 23, 2007

Firstborns Get Dibs on Everything -- Even IQs

Research Finds Firstborns Gain the Higher I.Q. (NY Times)

Oh, the things I love about this article:

4. The way the article seems tailor-made to depress everyone who's not the eldest of their sibs. Can't you just hear a younger sib, now? F--- me, even my damn IQ is a hand-me-down!.
3. The "golly, we bet the results are the same for women, even though we only analyzed male subjects."
2. That adult attention as an infant is theorized as a factor, yet that doesn't explain men who become the eldest sib, and apparently smarter, to boot. Instead -- and this is my out-of-thin-air theory, thanks -- maybe being pushed to do, to sink or swim, in a pressure cooker that younger sibs don't get to the same degree, has a significant effect on IQ. Push comes to shove, you find yourself developing all sorts of necessary skills.
1. The fact that we measure intelligence w/such rough devices to begin with. I mean, honestly, how many kids' answers change to these dippy IQ questions, that have nothing to do with how smart they might actually be? (Something to bear in mind when asking yourself if these results really would be the same for men and women, given the patriarchy.) Look at the whole section in there on once-a-decade advancements v. genuinely revolutionary ideas:

Charles Darwin, author of the revolutionary “Origin of Species,” was the fifth of six children. Nicolaus Copernicus, the Polish-born astronomer who determined that the sun, not the earth, was the center of the planetary system, grew up the youngest of four. The mathematician and philosopher RenĂ© Descartes, the youngest of three, was a key figure in the scientific revolution that began in the 16th century.

Firstborns have won more Nobel Prizes in science than younger siblings, but often by advancing current understanding, rather than overturning it.

“It’s the difference between every-year or every-decade creativity and every-century creativity,” Dr. Sulloway said, “between innovation and radical innovation.”

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

This is deeply unsettling and disappointing

Scalia asks, ‘Are you going to convict Jack Bauer?’

Remember, in some legal circles, Scalia is considered one of the giants in conservative intellectual thought.

It’s likely that Scalia was using a cultural reference to prove a broader point about torture and the rule of law, but I’m not entirely sure what that point is. It seems to have something to do with Scalia’s apparent belief that those U.S. officials who commit torture deserve legal amnesty, just so long as the ends justify the means.

Just think, having this guy sitting on the Supreme Court was disconcerting before he started using fiction to rationalize torture.

I’ll spare you the tirade on why torture is morally indefensible, and why torture doesn’t provide useful information anyway, and why relying on fictional characters to justify real-life crimes is patently ridiculous, but will instead focus on two points.

First, Bauer-like scenarios don’t happen.


Second, Bauer-like scenarios offer the wrong lessons.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Ultimate Flip-Flop

Bishop Romney's Sadistic Anti-Abortion Counseling If you're too busy to read it: eyewitness testimony that Mitt Romney claimed to be pro-choice for political reasons only, when running for office in Mass. He lied, flat out, to get elected.

It's a great article for other reasons:

Suzan Mazur: How do you think Mitt Romney will do ultimately in the presidential race?

[Prof.] Judy Dushku: He’s got so much money. He’s publicly appealing and charming – more charming than McCain. And I think the Republicans will not tolerate a Guliani, so he has a very good chance. It depends on whether the Democrats can get their act together and present someone better.

Suzan Mazur: And he’s a good business man. But don’t you think the business model has gone as far as it can go in presidential politics? Isn’t it time for a switch to leadership that cares about more than business moguls and generals?

Judy Dushku: You’re talking to a Social Democrat who reads Paul Krugman and CounterPunch and thinks that it has all been downhill since the New Deal restraints on business and legal protections of unions and peoples’ rights. As a professor of government for over 40 years, I believe that we’ve never been in such terrible shape since the robber barons. The control of corporate money on America is a disaster and has led to the decline and fall of democracy.

Remember Abu Ghraib

Sy Hersh's story on General Taguba.

This is Appalling

Some group of Christian fundamentalists intend to honor their 'martyr', Paul Hill, by
reenacting his murder of Dr John Britton and James Barrett
at an abortion clinic.

They're going to celebrate the murder of two human beings. By reenacting it.

These people are sick.