A link I haven't hit in months provided wonderful news: Sunshine survived the surrender by US President Obama of her country to ISIS. The young woman was a child when she started to blog about life in a war zone (Mosul). Wish her well.


Not Really Education-Related

Two libertarian-oriented sites (Samizdata, Bizzyblog) and one feminist/socialist blog (the name of which I cannot remember) banned me for, ostensibly, arguing in favor of population control. Two socialist/atheist sites (Internet Infidels, International Skeptics) banned me, Internet Infidels for protesting a moderator's use of a banned insult ("racist") in response to my "what do you mean 'we', paleface?" and International Skeptics for modifying and reposting a comment that the Climate discussion moderator had deleted. In the latter case I suggested that one of their fair-haired children ("Trakar") had "stepped on his dick" when he (Trakar) disputed a comment that a climate scientist on his side of the argument had made. For the second time I tricked Trakar into disputing an argument from his side by representing it as my own. I thought that the moderator's objection was the coarse language, so I reposted the comment without the crude language. The moderator still took offense. Both Trakar's response and the moderator's response look tribal to me. Mark Kleiman's blog "The Reality-based Community" banned me for mentioning too often that contributors had participated in Ezra Klein's Journolist. One feminist/hippie-spiritualist blog, "Mahablog" (which smells of patchouli and probably thinks that quartz crystals cure herpes) banned me for defending (with quotes from John Kerry, John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, etc.) the proposition that Bush II told the truth (as the CIA presented it to him) abut Iraq's WMD.  JayMan banned me from his HBD blog for disputing his argument that parents make no significant  non-genetic contribution to their children's success. JayMan is very much worth reading. Mahablog has a thoughtful analysis of how the Clinton campaign bought  and then crashed the Democratic Party. 

Funny thing: although they should take greatest offense to my materialist, pro-abortion views, no Christian site has banned me.

P.Z. Myers issues the latest ban: "Buh-bye, Malcolm Kirkpatrick! Not a fan of racist creationist climate-change-deniers around these parts." He omitted "homophobic, sexist, Zinovievite running dog lackeys of American imperialism".

Myers and I crossed tracks perhaps ten years ago when I disputed his contention that the taxpayers of Minnesota could cut administrative costs with school district aggregation. I observed that, across the US,  costs rise and performance falls as school districts increase in size. That is a verifiable fact (well, statistical generalization). That governments realize economies across nationalized industries (e.g., "bend the (health care) cost curve downward") is an article of unshakable faith to the socialist faithful. That dispute over Minnesota district costs ended when Mike Antonucci (The Education Intelligence Agency) somehow noticed the discussion and took my side.

The latest ban followed these comments:
When Our Institutions Fail Us
(10. Malcolm)
(Tuttle): “The livelihoods of so many [astronomers and astrophysicists] are tied directly to funding that is controlled now by an erratic leader …”
That was your first mistake. I can see a decent “public goods” case for the search for Earth-crossing asteroids and the study of sun-like stars. Otherwise, why not let non-State organizations fund space research?
(Tuttle): ” … We have elected someone who doesn’t believe in climate change.”
Seems to me it’s the people who suggest that Earth’s climate would be stable absent anthropogenic CO2 who “don’t believe in climate change”.
(Myers): “His team is lead by Steve Bannon, a notorious racist, anti-semite, and misogynist.”
Evidence? Accusations by SPLC don’t qualify. Genuine –quotes– from Bannon or convictions for bias crime qualify.
You will find nothing like that.  
(11. Malcolm)
Question for all you proudly pro-science people: Do you exempt from natural selection the human nervous system in the last 100,000 years? Do you take as axiomatic that regional varieties of human cannot, axiomatically cannot, vary in nervous system function? If so, why?
(13. Malcolm)
“Steve Bannon, a notorious racist …”.
Defined by use, in modern American English, “racist” means “Caucasian who disagrees with a socialist”.
"Creationist"? How did Myers deduce that? I made an explicitly evolutionary argument for divergence of regional varieties of human.
"Climate-change denying"? Exactly backwards. As  I indicated, geological evidence of past climate change is an element of the AGW skeptics' case against the anthropogenic CO2-induced climate change hypothesis.
Let me tell a story.

Perhaps twenty five years ago, as I sat nursing a beer in the UH Manoa Garden bar and studying a chess game out of a book, a young man whom I did not know asked if he might join me and follow along. We went through a few games and I invited him to join me and two of my friends for beer and chess in our regular Friday meeting. He did. The new guy, Damon, worked as a computer-literate sub for one of those temporary help agencies like Manpower, Kelly Girl, and Altris. Chris studied Physics. James, the best chess player in our group, maintained machinery in a hotel. Sometimes my ex, Mae. would sit with us. Sometimes James' friend Dave would join us. Dave would occasionally play, but he wasn't our strength. Chris, Damon, and I were about 1700 to 1800 USCF at the time. James was much better. 2000+, I'd guess. He was in the game against Judit Polgar once in a tournament game until his position fell apart around move 25. I wouldn't last past move 15.

Sometimes, after the bar closed, the party would move to the house I shared with Mae and another renter, Catalina. We would play until I crashed (I'm an extreme morning person). They would be asleep on the couch and on the carpet when I arose. Then we would go to breakfast at some coffee shop and then go to the beach or for a hike.

I enjoyed talking politics with Dave and Damon. Chris and James were not much interested. Dave used to hang with his friends in the Revolutionary Communist Party at an off-campus cafĂ©, The Bread Line. One day Dave told me that his communist friends had advised him to avoid that racist, Malcolm Kirkpatrick. I asked "toward which race am I supposedly hostile?" and he answered "every one but your own". I did not bother to answer. They might as well have said "he's eight feet tall".  Mae is Japanese. Catalina is African-American. Damon is African-American. James is Japanese/Chinese. Chris is Chinese/Hawaiian/Caucasian. Dave and I were the only Caucasians in the group.

Let me tell another story.

I shared for a year the rent on a house on St. Louis Heights Drive with a gay friend. Two of my friends, a Math professor and a Public Health professor, are gay rights activists. Three of my friends died of AIDS. I visited one, Robert, in the hospital during his last stay. I changed the bedpan when the nurse was busy elsewhere. The stool was slimy and watery. Mae visited Robert some days later and she told me that Robert asked how my contest with the Hawaii DOE was going. May we all go out with as much class.

Between 1996 and 2006 I ran for Board of Education every election cycle, sometimes for the Honolulu District seat and sometimes for the Oahu at-large seat. One year the issue of including sexual orientation as a category protected from hate speech (section 19, Student Code of Conduct) arose. At a public forum a reporter raised the question to the panel of candidates. When the mike came to me I said "I don't want to minimize the harm that verbal abuse can inflict but it seems to me if you live in a democracy and you believe in free speech you have an obligation to grow a thick skin".  A few seats down the line another candidate agreed. The Honolulu Advertiser reported that candidate's agreement, but did not credit me with the initial answer. I was by then a non-person to The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, The Honolulu Advertiser, and The Honolulu Weekly .

Some organizations send to all candidates a standard questionnaire. One year the issue of same-sex marriage appeared. I opposed (and still oppose) same-sex marriage; it's a court-imposed tax increase on married heterosexual couples and all unmarried taxpayers. My Math Professor friend endorsed my candidacy in a newsletter. It wasn't personal; it was strategy. As the non-incumbent, I would have less power from accumulated seniority (not that the Hawaii DOE performs marriages). The fact that he knew me personally was unrelated to his argument. My Public Health Professor friend told me that the question "What about that bigot, Kirkpatrick?" arose among his activist friends and he told them "We've been neighbors for thirty years and I never got any of that off him." Verdict for the accused. Case closed.

Why do they do this? Myers, for example,  might say "Malcolm Kirkpatrick endorses laissez faire capitalism because he pulls down $20 million per year as  CEO of a multinational corporation with an annual revenue stream in the billions" and the refutation would be immediately obvious. Would I wear these  clothes and drive this beat-up truck if I were wealthy? Better to suggest some invisible thought crime: racist, sexist,  creationist, climate denying homophobic free market ideologue.  

Perhaps it works on people who have no access to contrary information, but ...
(a) it makes the accuser look like a fool or a liar and a bully to the accused, such as Trump voters who have had it up to here with Political Correctness and know that the intrusive welfare State is bankrupt.
(b) It makes the accuser look like a fool or a liar and a bully to any outside observer who can read. Backtrack to the comments that set Myers off. Creationist? Obviously not. Climate-change denying? Obviously not. Racist? On what evidence?

Related: Robin Hanson, Overcoming Bias, "Careful Who you call Racist".

Again, why do they do this? Some HBD blogger suggested a phenomenon he called "boiling off" to explain cult devotion. Whatever it takes to accept, say, membership in the Amish community varies between individuals. "Amishness" is heritable. As the less faithful fall away, the devout reinforce the faith by endogamy. Perhaps the strategy is instinctive. Myers, while often reasonable on questions biological, has a foul mouth. His cult may shrink as his foul mouth and patently absurd arguments (e.g., college professors are "lower-middle class") drive wavering members away, but the fraction that remains becomes, by the distillation process, increasingly devout.