Let the Voting Rights Act Expire

Bigotry Beneath the Fog,” by Eugune Robinson, Washington Post, 23 June 2006, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/22/AR2006062201466.html (from MyDD).

My old nemesis, the Voting Rights Act, took a powerful blow because of wily House Speaker Dennis Hastert

Speaker Dennis Hastert was ready to move forward with a feel-good, election-year extension of the landmark 1965 act that guaranteed voting rights for African Americans disenfranchised by Jim Crow law and custom in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina and Virginia. In 1975 the act was expanded to cover Alaska, Texas and Arizona, where citizens with limited command of English — Latinos, mostly — were being treated as if they were black folks in the South.

Hastert understood that reauthorizing the act would be useful in efforts to convince voters that the Republican Party as presently constituted is just ultraconservative, not actually racist. But Hastert was sandbagged by fellow Republicans who rebelled in a private caucus meeting Wednesday. The renewal probably could have won easy approval on the House floor, since Democrats would have voted for it, but Hastert’s policy is to not bring out any bill that lacks majority support from Republicans, so he had no choice but to yank it.

This is great news.


I’ve written before on the unAmerican nature of the Voting Rights Act, so I won’t belabor those point now. Suffice it to say that the VRA attacks both democracy and the complex adaptive system we call the United States.

What’s interesting to me is the line that it is Hastert’s policy is to not bring out any bill that lacks majority support from Republicans.. If this is true, it means that the same philosopher which makes the Speaker stall on immigration reform also makes him stall on renewing the VRA (hopefully leading, of course, to the VRA’s expiration in 2007).

Given the choice between pushing immigration reform package against the Republicans in the House, or stopping the VRA with the Republicans in the House, I choose stopping the VRA. America’s greatness lies, partly, in her rule-set, her protection of the fifty united States as they try this and that, evolving their way to fitness. We need workers, but ultimately the ratio of capital and labor is a quantitative benefit to the United States, while the nationalist straitjacket of the VRA is a qualitative loss.

So quality over quantity, and sinking the VRA over reforming immigration this year, if it comes to that.

Thank you Dennis Hastert. You made the right call.

Abusive Stereotypes

“it’s remarkable that more parents don’t kill their annoying and conflictual teenagers, sinc ehte natural impulse is to want to do so. According to this picture of human psychology, we all have the inclination to throttle the screaming infant on the plane, but only its parents are sufficiently besotted by love for the despicable creature ‘to tenderly alleviate its distress,’ rather than silence it permanently.” (Buller 411-412)


Topic: Cognition
“conceptual categories come from two mental processes. One of them notices clumps of entries in the mental spreadsheet and treats them as categories with fuzzy boundaries… the other mental process looks for crisp rules and definitions and enters them into chains of reasoning.” (Pinker 203) (really? is this the same as the logical-analogical reasoning divide?)
“language can be pressed into service as one of the media used by the brain for storing and manipulating information.” (Pinker 209)
“it is a mistake to think that raw images are downloaded into our minds… Rather, they are labeled and linked to a vast database of knowledge. which allows them to be evaluated and interpreted in terms of what they stand for. Chess masters, for example, are famous for their ability to remember games in progress, but their mental images of the board are not raw photographs. We know this because when a chessboard is sprinkled with pieces at random, chess masters are no better at remembering the arrangement than amateurs are.” (Pinker 216) (This reminds me of my note that “building [internal connections] is like database normalization, like chunking. My instructor for that class studied young chess masters extensively).

Topic: Discrimination
“People’s stereotypes are generally consistent with the statistics, and in many cases their bias is to underestimate the real differences between sexes or ethnic groups.” (Pinker 204)
“Stereotypes can be downright inaccurate when a person has few or no firsthand encounters with the stereotyped group, or belongs to a group that is overly hostile to the one being judged.” (Pinker 204-205) (obvious SysAdmin implications)
“When people are distracted or put under pressure to respond quickly, they are more likely to judge that a member of an ethnic group has all the stereotyped traits of the group.” (Pinker 205) (reminds me of Kurzban’s work on competing coalitions)
“The good news is that when the facts do change, people’s stereotypes can change with them.” (Pinker 206) (SysAdmin application: it’s easier to change stereotypes than worldviews)
“stereotypes are least accurate when they pertain to a coalition that is pitted against one’s own in hostile competition. This should make us nervous about identity politics…” (Pinker 206)

Topic: Reproduction
“the average reproductive value of infants is lower than that of pubescent teens.” (Buller 350-351)
“parental care [may be] just an instance of the broader phenomenon of selection for aiding kin.” (Buller 355) (the chapter argues strongly against this, noting that fathers may love children to gain favor with mothers)
“parents should feel deeper love for offspring who exhibit phenotypic cues of high reproductive value than for those who exhibit phenotypic cues of low phenotypic value… parental love [may serve] to inhibit a parent’s tendencies or impulses to react violently when a child piques the parent’s anger” (Buller 356) (later, the chapter argues that the better interpretation is that adults naturally don’t injure children]

Topic: Abuse
“children aged from birth to age four living with a single genetic parent were 12.5 times more likely to be victims of maltreatment than similarly aged children living with both genetic parents. Children up to age four living with a gnostic parent and a stepparent, in contrast, were 40.1 times more likely to be victims of maltreatment than children living with both genetic parents.” (Buller 362) (methodological attacks on this study are later in the chapter. I’m not transcribing similar notes from the study for this reason)
“genetic fathers were vastly more likely to commit suicide after killing their children, and significantly more likely to kill their wives in the same violent incident, than were stepfathers [who] typically kill their children in impulsive, violent rages, whereas genetic fathers typically kill their children in premeditated acts of deliberately wider scope than mere filicide.” (Buller 366)
“the rates of physical abuse of children living with two unrelated adoptive parents were significantly lower than the rates of physical abuse of children living with both genetic parents.” (Buller 380)
“if [adoptive parental kindness] were true, adoptive parents should also be loathe to invest in the unrelated children that they adopt.” (Buller 383) (confuses adaptive with adapted, unless the EP theory is right expect for a different sequence for the theory of parental attachment)
“overall, fathers invested more in… stepchildren from current relationships [than in] genetic children from previous relationships.” (Buller 391-392) (this may be just “out of sight, out of mind, in sight, in mind”)
“from 1655 to 1939, in two German communities… illegitimate children whose mothers subsequently married men who were not their genetic fathers died in infancy at a rate that was approximately six times greater than that of illegitimate children whose mothers subsequently married their acknowledged fathers [and the researchers] were unable to find any explanation other than ‘maternal manipulation'( infanticide or severe neglect) [and this may be because] single mothers who do not go on to marry the fathers of their illegitimate children have greater lifetime reproductive success if their illegitimate children die and they marry another man” (Buller 397)
“children of single mothers suffer a greater risk of physical abuse than children living with married genetic parents.” (Buller 398)
“children younger than three suffer a dramatically elevated risk of being abused by a genetic mother if they live with a stepfather.” (Buller 399)
“[in one study of deaths] 206 (or 47 percent) were coded as having an undetermined manner.” (Buller 403) (a section on possible widespread underreporting of murder follows)
“Physical violence toward children could… be the result of some atypical condition in the engine of the mind.” (Buller 412)

Topic: Pedophilia
“sexual abuse and physical abuse appear to be different phenomena with different underlying causes… intrafamilial child sexual abuse is generally not accompanied by physical abuse.” (Buller 372)
“stepfathers who coresided with their stepdaughters during the first three years of their stepdaughter’s lives were no more likely to sexually abuse their daughters than genetic fathers… caring for for very young [children may trigger] a mechanism that inhibits the subsequent development of sexual desire…” (Buller 373)

Topic: Definitions
General Formula [of Love] – The strength of A’s love of B will tend to be proportional to the product of B’s reproductive value and B’s relatedness to A.” (Buller 350)
discriminative paternal solicitude — motivational mechanisms that cause parents to be discriminating with respect to how and to whom they provide parental care and solitude.” (Buller 349)
inclusiveness fitness [is] the sum of direct and indirect components of fitness.” (Buller 353) (so includes assisting nephews, etc)
theory of parental attachment [states] mothers go through a three-stage process of attachment to their children. The first is one of assessment… of the child and how its qualities and present circumstances combine to predict its prospects… the establishment of an individualized love… a feeling that her child is uniquely wonderful and worthy of devotion… a gradual deepening of parental love, which occurs over the course of many years… process of paternal attachment.. begins with a post-natal assessment of phenotypic resemblance between father and child” (Buller 368-369) (abuse patterns reflect the mother’s progression– young children are abused more often than older ones — but not the father’s)
evaluator apprehension or evaluation apprehension [means] that people respond to interviews and surveys with answers that they believe will meet with interviewer approval and avoid interviewer disapproval.” (Buller 387)
stereotype originally refered to a kind of printing plate… in 1922.. Walter Lippmann [in] Public Opinion… fretted about the difficulty of achieving true democracy [when people’s] concepts of social groups were… mental pictures that are incomplete, biased, insensitive to variation, and resistant to disconfirming information.” (Pinker 201)
euphemism treadmill… invent new word for emotionally charged referents, but soon the euphemism becomes tainted by association…” (Pinker 212)