The more things change…

They ask “God, can you imagine if this were published today?”.

Yeah, these days it would have a picture of Saddam or Bin Ladin, and some anti-Islamist (or perhaps simply anti-Muslim/anti-Arab) epithet.

But wait, there’s more!

Fortunately popular media isn’t pushing the “war on terror” the way it did real wars.

The 335 Year War…

Historical trivia at its best…

On 17 April 1986 a remarkable event occurred in the Isles of Scilly – something overlooked by history books and the Guinness Book Of World Records – the longest war in history was ended.

War was declared in 1651.

In 1985, local historian-come-Chairman of the Council, Roy Duncan, decided to look into the rumours that “Scilly was still at war with the Netherlands”. When he asked the Dutch embassy in London, they said that the rumour was accurate. Cllr. Duncan decided to invite the Dutch ambassador in London, Jonkheer Huydecoper, to the Islands in order to sign they treaty.

The treaty was signed on 17 April 1986, 335 years after it was declared.

via a post on RASSF

r- versus K-selection in politics.

Via a guest-blogger posting on Bitch.Ph.D, we get an link to Affordable Family Formation–The Neglected Key To GOP’s Future

The key reason why some states vote Republican, I’ve found, can be summed up in the three-word phrase:

Affordable Family Formation.

In parts of the country where it is economical to buy a house with a yard in a neighborhood with a decent public school, you’ll generally find more Republicans.

You’ll find less in regions where it’s expensive.

It’s a stereotype that a mortgage, marriage, and babies tend to make people more conservative.

But it’s a true stereotype.

Emphases his; links removed. Goes on to show a set of demographics which correlate reasonably strongly between Republican-leaning and Democratic-leaning states… cost of living, “years married”(*) , and total fertility rate (**). All of these could be a sign that he’s right that “a mortgage, marriage, and babies tend to make people more conservative.”

But personally, I think this is a case of confusing correlation with causation — and that, especially in combination, the lifestyle choices these imply are often the result of a conservative social world view. To stretch a metaphor early marriage and a high total fertility can be taken as a human choice for a sort of r-selection

Similarly, late marriage (generally following greater personal development) and fewer children (with consequently more time and effort put into raising each), can be taken as a sort of K-selection… and oddly enough, this sort of lifestyle tends to correlate with social liberals. Add in other, unrelated lifestyle choices that correlate, and these you can see where the geographic factor comes in.

Now, obviously these analogies aren’t perfect: I know a fair number of social liberals who paired up relatively young, and a modest number with large families… and there are social conservatives who marry late and have small families. And social issues don’t always correlate perfectly with one’s voting, even if they often do. But I do think that the author of that piece manages to put the cart before the horse in assuming that those factors drive or even help determine one’s views/lifestyle/cultural orientation, rather than being signs driven by it.

(* for 18-44 y/o white women, a particularly silly measure given the cut-off age, IMO: it mainly measures age at first marriage, not the actually divorce rate… which as we’ve seen is lowest in some very blue states)
(** here’s that “white women” thing again. Do you think this guy may have race issues?)

“You’ve heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates…?”

Finish the line, and you’ll describe these guys: “Sith” Fans Maimed in Lightsaber Mishap

The Force–let alone common sense–was definitely not with them.

Two British Star Wars fans sustained critical injuries after constructing their own lightsabers from fluorescent light tubes filled with liquid fuel.

On the disconnect between Congress and real people…

From Stephan’s blog: I’m running for congress. its got great benefits

Yes congress people pay into SS fund.
Members of Congress under FERS contribute 1.3 percent of their salary into the FERS retirement plan and pay 6.2 percent of their salary in Social Security taxes.

but they don’t tend to collect SSI.
Because federal employees have great pension and other benefits.?
Because they tend to get lucratic jobs in the private sector often as lobbyists immediately after leaving office?
Again, maybe?
Because 1 in 4 house representatives and 1 in 3 senators is a millionaire?
Hmmm? Getting warmer.
All of the above and they tend to be well paid professional business owners who have other options.

Do I think that whether they are or aren’t paying into the system would have a great deal to do with their decisions on SS?

Do I think that being rich might?

Go read the rest.

Reason to be less pessimistic…?

Monday’s NYTimes column by Paul Krugman:

After November’s election, the victors claimed a mandate to unravel the welfare state. But the national election was about who would best defend us from gay married terrorists. At the state level, where elections were fought on bread-and-butter issues, voters sent a message that they wanted a stronger, not weaker, social safety net.

I’m not just talking about the shift in partisan alignment, in which Democrats made modest gains in state legislatures, and achieved a few startling successes. I’m also talking about specific issues, like the lopsided votes in both Florida and Nevada for constitutional amendments raising the minimum wage.

Since the election, high-profile right-wing initiatives, at both the federal and state level, have run into a stone wall of public disapproval. President Bush’s privatization road show seems increasingly pathetic. In California, the conservative agenda of Arnold Schwarzenegger, including an attempt to partially privatize state pensions, has led to demonstrations by nurses, teachers, police officers and firefighters – and to a crash in his approval ratings.

(quote fixed)

Part of a big mess of to-read links this morning. Via The Sideshow, with a lot of good stuff today.

The mark of a true gentleman.

Opinion: A Gentleman Never Discloses…

I must say, the quality of discourse in this country has taken a sharp plunge of late, not only among the ruffians and ne’er-do-wells from whom one expects coarse speech, but among gentlemen of letters and esteem. I have, with my own ears, several times in the past week, heard the elder sons of prominent families introduce into mixed company subjects formerly reserved for private discussion among gentlemen. It pains me even to raise this point, but following a string of recent events, there is no question that the adage bears repeating: A gentleman ought never to disclose…

Go see the rest. (Warning, explicit content.)

From the Onion, via a post on DBA

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