Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Bad Stripe Continues: Human Development Index

The largest contiguous area (8 states) of lowest-category development index is found in the Bad Stripe, and this tracks many other health, education and economic indicators (play with the map and data yourself.) One very ineresting mismatch: violent crime per capita absolutely does not track the Bad Stripe. Neither does property crime.

Gini coefficient is highest in the southern U.S. and California. Guess: different causes for the South and California. In California it's ongoing immigration from a developing country, and in the South it's a holdover from agriculture. It would be interesting to see this same map, but only for people born in the U.S. California would probably blend into the rest of the country, and the South would remain. Thesis topic if it hasn't already been done: relationship between caste-system agrarianism and high Gini, two centuries later, in multiple countries (India, slavery areas in the U.S., Russia's serf system, etc.) Countries could serve as their own controls by comparing parts of the country with similar agrarian output but different caste traditions.

Other interesting trend: western states have more women legislators in their state legislatures than eastern states. This seems to be true regardless of whether the states are left- or right-leaning. Why? That these states were founded later when women's suffrage was a reality or close to it, and that value was fixed in political habits through the generations? In any event it seems less strange in light of this to contemplate that Wyoming was the first state which gave the franchise to women.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The U.S. Plans to Build Its Own Great Firewall

The Federal government have decided we Americans aren't grown up enough to avoid hurting ourselves with all the dirty, confusing things on the Internet. So they're drafting legislation for our very own Great Firewall. Apparently our Congress thinks China is the "it" government and thinks your freedom of information should be curtailed just like the CCP. Read more here.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Good News From Burma: Now What About Liu Xiaobo?

Aung San Suu Khi has been released from house arrest, at least for now. This is good news. On a (nationally) selfish note, it also looks very good that it was done immediately after the big U.S. tour through the Pacific Rim.

It's interesting that the Chinese government is apparently not as confident as the Burmese government in its own ability to persevere if it releases and recognizes its own Nobel Prize Winner, Liu Xiaobo.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Most Useful Analysis of the 2010 Election So Far

"Transportation unions lost three seats...And the mining industry gained two new seats." I wish we always heard election results reported this way. From a great post at the always-excellent Open Secrets.

In other news, Jim DeMint (R-SC) says "You can't be a fiscal conservative and not be a social conservative." Is that right Jim? Why are these guys so interested in keeping fiscal conservatives from supporting them?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tibetan Buddhists Find Home on Montana Reservations

This jumped out to me because during the Tibet protests leading up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Americans were criticized as having our own oppressed "Tibetans": American Indians. That's why the immigration of Tibetan Buddhists to Indian reservations in the U.S. (particularly in Montana) is so rich. Something seems to be wrong with the Han-Tibetan, U.S.-Native American analogy, since we don't see too many Blackfoot or Navajo moving into China to practice their lifeways free from oppression.

These folks picked a great part of the U.S. to live in. The general awesomeness of Montana bears emphasizing.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

North Korean Documentary Screening in San Diego

If you're in San Diego, check out this event by UCSD Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) on Monday 15 November.

Where: UCSD Multipurpose Room (next to Yogurt World)

When: 8:00 pm, Monday 15 November

What: "Come watch a free screening of Hiding, a BRAND NEW documentary filmed in the summer of 2010.

"This 30-minute documentary will give you an inside look at the struggle North Korean refugees must face in China to find freedom. We will also be hosting DANNY LEE, a North Korean refugee saved through LiNK!

"This is a FREE event so make sure you come out and see LiNK in action!! Donations to reach LiNK@UCSD's goal of saving 3 refugees this school year will be accepted! Bring your friends for an evening of learning more of this humanitarian crisis!"

Friday, November 5, 2010

Politicians Won't Compete on Price

"Price" in this title is really a stand-in for "easily comparable attributes". Businesses hate when consumers can easily compare on price (same product or service with easy side-by-side comparison). That makes life much more difficult for competing businesses and tends toward a race to the bottom. This is why businesses do things like shrouding. It's also probably why some businesses have arrived at a "norm" of making you physically visit in order to get the price, or the real one at any rate. Sometime try calling a car dealership and getting a price out of them over the phone, and you're likely to get a firm "Why don't you come down and talk about it." I was once literally yelled at by the sales manager for doing this. Why? Once you've committed your lunch hour, or dinnertime or Saturday to shopping and you would have to drive 2 miles to go get the next price, chances are you'll be more easily worn down. has easily-compared position lists for the candidates, based on information the candidates supply. Perhaps not coincidentally, for every single major party candidate I looked up, it said: "[Name] refused to tell citizens where he/she stands on any of the issues addressed in the 2010 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests from Vote Smart, national media, and prominent political leaders." Many Libertarian candidates provided their positions. I didn't look up Green or other parties. It would be interesting hearing from a campaign staffer as to whether the campaigns' refusal to provide this information in easily comparable format is a deliberate form of position-shrouding.

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