Friday, September 30, 2005

It's when you say one thing but mean a mother.

Granted, I'm really tired, but when I was glancing over the headlines this morning what I saw was "Bush nearing decision on next Supreme Court prick."

Friday, September 23, 2005

MSN Search Engine Rocks!

I'm looking over SiteMeter this morning, and saw that someone found this blog by searching "Marshall sucks" on the MSN Search Engine. Which is cool, although I'm somehow thinking they probably didn't have CJ Marshall in mind, but you never know. Turns out I'm the number one hit for that search on MSN, which makes me wonder what the hell is going on over at Microsoft and how they can ever hope to supplant Google as the premium search engine. Really.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Optimal reproductive strategies

Ampersand has a post up about teenage pregnancy and poor black girls. Most of it is accurate, it reflects what is current thinking in Anthropology (Human Evolutionary Ecology) concerning optimal reproductive strategies. The commentary in the post is a bit too racially specific, these principles apply to the poor in general, or to those living closer to the subsistence level in Third World countries. There were a few items addressed:

1) For teens raised in poor (and statistically more likely to be polluted) areas, with lousy food and lousy medical care, their health will probably peak at around ages 17-19. That makes the teenage years a much better time to give birth than later years. Among poor black girls and women, the infant mortality rate is twice as high among those who wait until their 20s to give birth as it is for those who give birth in their teens.

The health of the girls isn't particularly an issue, or I should say it's not an issue which is determinative here. The infant mortality comment is appropriate but slightly misdirected; infant mortality (in the U.S.) is higher among pregnant teens, but since it's much higher for the poor in general it benefits them to have more children to compensate, rather than necessarily having them at a younger age.

2) For those who will be relying on an extended family of older female relatives to help with childcare and support, it makes sense to give birth when mothers, aunts and older cousins are younger and more able to offer assistance. Furthermore, grandmothers may feel more obligated to offer extensive aid to their 16-year-old pregnant daughter than to their 26-year-old pregnant daughter.

That's mostly on the money, but should be expanded to include the grandmothers of the pregnant teens, who should still be around if we're following a multi-generational pattern of teen pregnancy. Another thing which should be added is that poor people are not going to have retirement funds or big pensions, so having more children earlier in life (and your children doing the same) provides a large family base to care for you when you're old.

3) For middle-class whites, the opportunity costs (aka “what you give up”) of early childbirth are enormous; college and early career-building are made much harder by a baby or two in tow. Furthermore, the odds of eventually getting married and having a healthy child in wedlock are very good for middle-class teens who wait until they’re women to marry and have children.

Right on the mark. This is telling when we see that the demographic most likely to obtain abortions is that of white, middle class teens. What abortion does in this instance is put middle to upper class women back on their optimal reproductive track when there is an accidental pregnancy; they can then have their 1-3 kids in their late 20's or early 30's, after they've been to college and established a career. This does not simply apply to whites, but any people of means regardless of race.

Another point I would make is that all of what I'm saying does not necessarily imply a conscious choice, or specific awareness of circumstances and serious thought as to the best course of action. Like any other animal, humans naturally tend to fall into reproductive patterns which will provide the most benefit, without necessarily devoting any thought to it.

I would also add that humans mature sexually in their teens, and that expecting sexually mature animals to not engage in sexual activities is, well, stupid. As modern humans we have extended the developmental curve for what we would term a successful transition to adulthood through things like higher education and career development, but we've generally failed to address in a meaningful way the fact that our sexual development has remained static. Birth control and abortion are the only means of realistically bridging the gap between sexual maturity (and sexual activity) and deferring childbearing until we're actually successful adults capable of giving them (and ourselves) a decent lifestyle in modern society.

Amanda asks "Can teen pregnancy ever be a rational choice?" I would suggest that for the poor it's the only rational choice, until they can be offered the same opportunities as the rest of society.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

What, they don't have a shredder at the National Archives?

"WASHINGTON - Federal officials are investigating how National Archives documents of interest to Indians suing the Interior Department were found discarded in a trash bin and a wastebasket."

I'm assuming that Federal officials are not investigating how the documents were discarded, but rather how they were found. No doubt heads will roll over this bit of incompetence. I would not be at all surprised to see Oliver North appointed Archivist sometime in the near future.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

First Lady Tackles Poverty? You've gotta be fucking kidding me.

You really can’t make this shit up. Madame Bush says there could be a silver lining to the Katrina disaster if the nation begins to deal with poverty and racism in different ways. I guess "they're poor/disadvantaged because they want to be or are plain stupid/lazy" doesn't have the same ring to it after tepid disaster response.

She says, “A large percentage of our population probably doesn't realize what inner cities are really like and has looked away from that.” You mean like your fucking husband and the 51 percent who voted for him?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Yeah, we're all about the justice.

Indian Country Today has an article about a brief written by John Roberts for the State of Alaska, which was engaged in litigation with Indian tribes, detailing how Roberts blatantly misrepresented a passage in United States v. Kagama in order to portray Indians in a negative light. Reversing the meaning of a passage in a decision which you're invoking as precedent? Makes you wonder exactly how far this casual approach to intellectual honesty goes.

The confirmation hearings have been interesting in that they've so far only demonstrated that Roberts is smarter (or at least better prepared) than the Senators questioning him, but now it seems that an additional level of meaninglessness has been achieved in that he seems to be as ethically challenged as the man who appointed him.

I also enjoyed the cheap thrill of validation I obtained in seeing Roberts characterized as an assimilationist (see the Kanye West post below).


I've been, like, totally sucking lately (in case you missed my post from a couple of days ago), but I checked sitemeter and apparently a few masochists have persisted in visiting regularly in spite of the total lack of activity. Thanks! You guys are all right, if you're ever in town you can sleep on my couch and drink my tequila (but stay away from my dog).

Monday, September 12, 2005

Kanye West, Harry Belafonte, what else does solid social commentary need?

I was really interested by Kanye West's remarks concerning Bush not caring about black people, if only because not many people have the weighty brass cojones to speak that stark a truth on live television. To be fair though, it would be more accurate to say that Bush does not care about all minorities, and poor white people. And even that is not entirely true; Bush is fine with minorities who have assimilated so thoroughly they are essentially indistinguishable from whites (in the dark). Alberto Gonzales, Colin Powell, and Condoleeza Rice spring to mind, which is where Harry Belafonte hit the nail smack on the head when he characterized Powell as Bush's house slave.

It's tragic when someone assimilates to the point that they are not only indistinguishable from someone historically rooted in the dominant culture, but no longer give a flying ratfuck about the group they've left; see Clarence Thomas. Welcome to the Republican version of equality: we'll have equality when everyone is the same (as them).

Yes, I suck.

I've been consumed with research and writing lately, to the point that I haven't had the will to do same in my spare time. Sorry, but you gets what you paid for. Send money and expectations can be upgraded accordingly. I'm trying to put something together in regards to the (fairly) recent Kennewick decisions, specifically describing how some scientists are functionally indistinguishable from Christian fundamentalists. Go read the history and relevant studies and be prepared to discuss in comments.