Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Monday, January 30, 2006

Upcoming COTV
Written by: Beck

I somehow managed to volunteer INCITE to host this week's Carnival of the Vanities. Management of the Carnival has passed into the hands of Zeuswood, so helping him out by hosting this week seemed like the least I could do.

At any rate, if you'd like to submit a blog post to the Carnival, email it to Ideally, your submission will include Blog Name, Post title, Post author, Permalink, and a brief Summary. If you want a trackback ping, be sure to include a trackback URL in the submission. Get your submissions in by Tuesday midnight or they may well get left off. Only one submission per blog please.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Seems about right
Written by: Beck

Cue the circus music.

In other news, today marks the Chinese New Year. We're going into the Year of the Dog, which is supposed to be bad luck for me, a Year of the Dragon child. Inasmuch as I'll be turning thirty this year, that sounds just about right.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Linking friends
Written by: Beck

A friend of mine has started a blog in order to track his reading of the entire Harvard Classics book list. A quick look at the list should give you an idea of just how epic a task that really is. So if you have the inclination, feel free to check out Poor Dudley's Almanac.

Goldstein is on f'n fire
Written by: Beck

Just click here and start reading. If the first post is too weird for you, fear not, the rest are all current events kinda blogging.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Written by: Beck

I've been guest-blogging at Classical Values this week, as its primary writer, Eric Scheie, is on vacation. Checkitout.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Sean Penn, Martyr
Written by: Dave

Sean Penn has revealed that he is having difficulty quitting smoking while dealing with the stress of living under the Bush administration.

Now don't scoff - it actually makes sense. You wouldn't ask a soldier to quit smoking while he was on a combat tour, would you? Then how could you ask Sean Penn to quit smoking now while he's constantly surrounded by peace-hating Americans? Why Bush's goons are probably hot on his trail as I write this.

Sure, he could play it safe, escape from this imperialist prison we call America, and go live with one of his third world dictator buddies (well not Saddam anymore). But no, he continues to tough it out, fighting the stress, dodging the slobbering Americans, and invoking his moral superiority over us at every possible moment, even at the personal expense of not being able to quit smoking. Indeed, he is putting his life on the line for his principles.

I think I am going to tear up. I mean we haven't seen this sort of bravery and self sacrifice in the face of oppression since Dietrich Bohnhoeffer, or maybe Ann Frank. We can only hope that Penn, faced with this horrible stress, and having only the consolations of his large fortune, freedom of speech, and safety and security, can survive long enough to teach us all what a horrible country we live in.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Random thoughts on demography
Written by: Dave

Some random, hastily articulated and contemplated thoughts on demography:

1. Only a cultural change can bring back high fertility rates to the West

Some people argue that the best way to encourage fertility in declining Western populations is to create economic conditions that make child bearing easier, i.e., if it's easy to afford more kids, people will have more kids. I don't think I buy it.

Standard of living is a relative concept. For instance, what we think of us adequate personal space is different than it was 50 years ago, when a 2000 SF house was considered huge. A society's conception of a high standard of living is set by those without children. As a society's wealth increases, couples with one or no children will accumulate more material wealth and personal space, setting a higher expectation for a good quality of life (material that is).

As a result, even though a family with several children might now enjoy a higher standard of living than they would have enjoyed with only one child twenty years ago, they will still perceive child bearing as a difficult economic sacrifice, because they see children as preventing them from enjoying the material comforts the smaller families enjoy.

Consequently, there is really no way to create the economic conditions which will renew high rates of fertility - only a cultural change can do so. Either that, or a large scale wealth transfer from childless couples to families that evens out the material imbalance, but that raises all sorts of sticky issues.

2. The Rape of the Sabines, and the Thais, Vietnamese, etc

The Rape of the Sabines, although a legend, was based on a common reality. Societies often rob other societies of their women to make up for their own shortages. This still happens today in Africa on a large scale.

It's a favorite theory of many that China will have to go to war in 15-30 years because the gender gap between boys and girls (17 million and growing in the under 15 population) will have resulted in a hot headed excess male population, prone to crime and violence, that needs to be diverted to other pursuits.

Well why stop there? If you're going to have a war fueled by demographic imbalances, why not fix the imbalance while you're at it. If China ends up invading Taiwan, Vietnam, etc, why not bring some of the girls back to China and fix up the lonely boys with nice slave wives. Not a bad way to motivate the troops either, especially considering that a nationwide female shortage is a great way to build up sexual frustration and misogyny.

3. American urban areas will become increasingly unaffordable for families

As more and more couples choose to remain childless, and homosexuality becomes a more and more accepted lifestyle, urban life will become increasingly difficult for families to afford.

Childless couples don't need space and convenience as much as families do. They can also afford to indulge inconvenient political beliefs that don't make economic sense for their communities. For instance, if you're a trendy young couple in San Francisco for instance, you don't want a WalMart in your neighborhood, you don't want any new residential development, you like your expensive boutique shops, you don't mind obscene art displayed on the streets, etc, etc. Most significantly, perhaps, you don't mind living in and paying for an overpriced tiny apartment, because it's worth the cost to live in a trendy, hip neighborhood with lots of authenticity and character.

But this becomes a self perpetuating cycle of childlessness. As the conditions in the city become less and less conducive to child rearing, residents must either choose the city or a family. As a result the city becomes increasingly filled with childless couples, who can afford to indulge government politicies that are even more innapropriate for families, and who can afford to pay for increasingly unnaffordable housing and other daily necessities. Thus you end up with San Francisco, which is now actually losing population, even though it remains a highly desirable place to live.

It's too bad, because they're are a lot of great things about city life.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The psychology of superstition in a nutshell
Written by: Beck

If you have watched the news at all in the past two days, you are no doubt aware of the tragedy which occurred in a West Virginia coal mine not too long ago in which 12 miners were killed. There was one survivor. At first, however, it was reported that there were 12 survivors and only 1 death.

When people thought that 12 had emerged alive, they gave praise and thanks to God.
John Casto was at the church when the false report arrived and later, the terrible news. After the first report, "they were praising God," he said. And after the second "they were cursing."

One of those gathered at the church was Lynette Roby, who said the scene turned quickly to mayhem upon the announcement.

People began screaming, "You lied to us!" and "Hypocrites!" before charging officials, Roby said, further describing the church as "a mob scene." Police intervened, she said.
And when they found out that 12 were dead, they blamed human officials.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Happy New Year post
Written by: Beck

Happy New Year!

What do you mean it's already January 3rd? I didn't have THAT much to drink...

Contact The Author:

John Beck

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