Japanese Military in China

It won’t make the splash that Sichuan Earthquake Relief would have (until both governments scuttled the idea), but the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Forces Destroyer Sazanami is visiting Guangdong Province this week. As the New York Times article notes, the last time the naval flag of the Rising Sun was flown in China was under more hostile circumstances.

One of my first blog posts was noting a US warship that visited Vietnam. The Japanese Navy’s visit to China is equally strange for many, but equally good news for the future.

If we can’t kill them, why not cure them?

So because of a few men in robes, we can’t kill those who torture and rape children.

It’s unlikely we can convince them that child rape is a bad idea. Probably as hard as “curing” homosexuality. (I don’t think sexual orientations are easy to change.)

So now that we can create mice with Asian hair, and we know personal DNA samples change over a lifetime anyway, why not direct that change in a way that can cure people and turn criminals into good citizens?

Bonus points if you can give a good reason that doesn’t rely on time travel (believing we can give someone back lost time), analogies to the National-Socialist German Workers Party, or revenge.

North Korea Endorses Bush III (Barack Obama)

The Chosun Shinbo, North Korea’s newspaper in Japan, has endorsed Barack Obama for President.  The best part about this short story is how the realization that Obama stylistically tracks no one so much as George W. Bush is spreading:

DPRK Studies » Blog Archive » North Korea Endorses Barrack Obama
It’s quite understandable that North Korean leadership would prefer Obama over McCain, considering – from statement he has made, data on his website, and information from the CFR – he actually has a grasp of the issues in play over concerning North Korea and will not appease them. This is, ironically, an area where Obama would pretty much continue a Bush policy.

Of course, as Bush II’s policy on North Korea has been unstable, there’s no reason to think Bush III will hold any firmer a line.  More probably, John McCain’s embrace of westernizing countries (Vietnam, etc.) and antagonism to tired dictatorships (Iran, etc.) rightfully spooks Pyongyang.

Intelligence Did Not Matter Much

A recent post by Gene Expression has mind-opening implications, if you read closely:

Gene Expression: Selection, drift, disease and complexity, all rolled into one….
I would have to say that the distributions here are not totally surprising based on other things we know, this is an empirical confirmation to a great extent of rules-of-thumb which many hold because of the theoretical and experimental insights of a century. For example, it is well known that complex-traits which exhibit a continuous distribution and are highly heritable tend to have weak fitness implications. Conversely, Mendelian diseases are usually classified as diseases for a reason! Additionally, the authors find that diseases which are expressed dominantly, that is, one copy results in the disease, have lower values of Dn/Ds, than those which express recessively so that two copies are necessary. This is what we would expect from the fact that when low frequency alleles which only express as homozygotes are segregating within the population randomly most copies are carried within heterozygotes who are not subject to selection; in other words, there is little purification of these genes unless their frequencies are very high as per Hardy-Weinberg. To make the difference between complex-disease loci and Mendelian ones more concrete, think of it in a non-disease context. Height is a quantitative trait, while eye color seems quasi-Mendelian. HMGA2 is a height locus which explains 0.3% of the variation within a population for the trait in question, while the region around OCA2 seems to account for 75% of the variation in blue-brown eye color. In addition the region around OCA2 may have been subject to selection and this selection may explain the difference in eye color across populations. It seems unlikely that we’ll find strong signatures around height loci that explain the variation of height across populations.

General intelligence is a complex trait that has a continuous distribution and is highly heritable.  So, for that matter, do political orientation and personality.  Thus, it is likely that general intelligence, personality, and political orientation did not do much for your ancestors.

Your ancestors were winners, because unlike the vast majority of humans who ever lived, they spawned offpsring who are still alive today.  But the secret of their succeess was probably something other than how quick they were.

Doing Artsy Stuff Isn’t “Creativity”

I’ve talked about creativity before, in the context of the OODA loop, purposeful practice (a form of metacognition that is the opposite of “flow”), and mental illness. Another part of creativity is being recognized as useful by the field of a domain. If you invent a new type of hot water heater, that is being creative. If you’re chess technique allows you to rise in international chess competitions, that’s creativity. If you cure cancer but don’t tell anyone, that’s just wasting your time.

So this article is somewhat off-base:

Why Do Men Share Their Creative Work Online More Than Women? | Scientific Blogging
A recent Northwestern University study has a surprising results – substantially more men are likely to share their creative work online than women even though both genders engage in creative activities at essentially equal rates.

As it confuses artsy-stuff (making music, taking photographs, etc.) with creativity. Certainly artsy-stuff can be a form of practice, therapy, or good old recreation. Perhaps it can lead to creativity one day when you share it with others. But if you sit on it, you’re enjoying yourself, not being creative.

Bush III’s “Days of Media Mockery”

While I’ve been fascinated by Obama’s backflips on issues such as public finance, warrentless wiretaps, and (most importantly) trade, I’ve stayed away from his stupid new logo. Some issues make fun of themselves:

Obama campaign drops seal on podium – Examiner.com
WASHINGTON (Map, News) – After days of media mockery, Barack Obama has decided to stop using a presidential-looking seal that his campaign designed and affixed to his podium on Friday.

Journalists said the seal, which features an eagle clutching arrows and an olive branch, smacks of arrogance. John McCain’s camp had a field day, calling the seal “laughable, ridiculous, preposterous and revealing – all at the same time.”

The seal was conspicuously missing from Obama’s lectern when he spoke to a group of women in Albuquerque on Monday. Not surprising, given how much grief Obama took from a normally laudatory press corps after unveiling the seal at an appearance in Chicago on Friday.

“What a bizarre and dumb idea,” railed NBC political director Chuck Todd. “It really feeds the arrogance narrative.”

The Bush II metaphor is when George W. began naming his cabinet early the morning after the November 2000 election, when the result was still disputed. I would say more, but Obama’s behavior is ridiculous enough as it is. So instead I’ll conclude on with this link on narratives.

The Audacity of Political Calculation, Part III

And also, free trade.

From CNN Fortune:

“Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified,” he conceded, after I reminded him that he had called NAFTA “devastating” and “a big mistake,” despite nonpartisan studies concluding that the trade zone has had a mild, positive effect on the U.S. economy.

Props to Eddie of Hidden Unities, who first warned me that I shouldn’t listen to Obama’s words, but rather expect him to do what he needed to do to win.

I get less worried about Barack “Bush III” Obama by the minute!

The Audacity of Political Calculation, Part II

For all those who support a strong executive when it comes to national defense, Obama’s flip-flop in support of Bush’s FISA bill is good news. As “Bush IIII” begins embracing the issues that made us support “Bush II,” many of our fears of an Obama presidency as anything more than a return of the left-of-center Clinton Establishment are being calmed:

The Weekly Standard
Over the weekend, bloggers were buzzing about yet another flip flop from Barack Obama: He now will support the House FISA compromise bill, even though he didn’t back in February.

Obama said he will support the FISA compromise, which Politico’s Ben Smith explains “offers retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies who helped the government listen in on American citizens–which Obama says he’ll fight to remove from the legislation–and expands legal wiretapping powers. Obama praises it for restoring a legal framework and judicial oversight to the process.” He claims that he will “try” to strip telecom immunity from the bill.

The Washington Post’s Paul Kane notes that “Obama sought to walk the fine political line between GOP accusations that he is weak on foreign policy–Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called passing the legislation a ‘vital national security matter’–and alienating his base.” But bloggers on both sides of the aisle just think that Obama is a typical opportunist politician.

If this holds up, it makes FISA (essentially, allowing warrentless wiretaps) the second great betrayal by Obama of his liberal base in recent days, following up on his move to break the campaign finance system. What both FISA reform and abandoning his pledge to have a public-financed campaign have in common, of course, is that Obama faced a choice between his power and his vow, and chose his power.

If Obama is elected President, perhaps his “third Bush term” won’t be so bad after all!