Archives for May 2012

Legal, But Neither Safe Nor Rare

Jaw-dropping and chilling video, by way of The Daily Caller, of a Planned Parenthood counselor in Texas advising the undercover patient on how to get an abortion because the baby would be a girl.

It’s well established that sex-selective abortions in Asia result in skewed sex ratios there. One would be naive to think that all Asian immigrants to the U.S. leave those cultural attitudes behind. Sex-selective abortion, distressingly, is practiced in the United States as well, mainly by those of Asian descent (and one hopes it’s just a tiny minority of them). It’s most apparent when looking at the statistics of third births. Following is excerpted from a study at the University of Connecticut Health Center:

Results: The male to female sex ratio from 1975 to 2002 was 1.053 for Whites, 1.030 (p < 0.01) for Blacks, 1.074 (p < 0.01) for Chinese and 1.073 (p < 0.01) for Filipinos. From 1991 to 2002, the sex ratio increased from 1.071 to 1.086 for Chinese, 1.060 to 1.074 for Filipinos, 1.043 to 1.087 for Asian Indians and 1.069 to 1.088 for Koreans. The highest sex ratios were seen for third+ births to Asian Indians (1.126), Chinese (1.111) and Koreans (1.109).

Conclusion: The male to female livebirth sex ratio in the United States exceeded expected biological variation for third+ births to Chinese, Asian Indians and Koreans strongly suggesting prenatal sex selection.

The above-mentioned video refers to an Economist cover story from two years ago that laments the abortion-induced gender imbalance in Asia.

Two thing about that article. On the plus side, give The Economist credit for presenting a topic that you would rarely or never see presented by another publication or news outlet comprised of (presumably) mainly pro-legalized-abortion reporters and editors.

On the minus side, The Economist flatly states in the article, “For those such as this newspaper, who think abortion should be “safe, legal and rare” (to use Bill Clinton’s phrase)….”

But that’s a contradiction in terms. You’d think that editors, of all people, would recognize and avoid such oxymorons. If you think abortion should be legal, then you can’t expect that it will be rare – just as if you raise the speed limit to 75 mph you can’t expect that people won’t drive that fast. Before 1973, most unwanted children were given up for adoption, which is why one meets a lot more adopted children who were born in America before 1973 than after. After 1973, most unwanted children have been, to use the euphemism, terminated.

The Economist – and Bill Clinton – must think abortion is reprehensible if they think it should be rare. But if they really want it to be rare then they have to support making it illegal. I guess wanting to have it both ways fools themselves into helping them sleep better at night.

As for wanting abortion to be safe, by definition it’s not safe. That’s like saying killing should be safe. Oh sure, legalized abortion may make things safer for the mother who wants to carry out the killing, but as noted above, when you legalize abortion, you make the practice much more common. That means far more human lives are subject to terribly unsafe living conditions when the abortion doctor comes ‘a calling.

Two Oceans

If you look out at the ocean, you’re actually looking out at two oceans. One is an ocean of water, the other is an ocean of air.

Yes, we live in an ocean all right – what we call the atmosphere. It’s not as heavy as water, but it’s heavy nevertheless – with a total weight of something of the order of 5.7 quadrillion tons. Here at the bottom of the air ocean, there are 14.7 pounds per square inch pressing down on us – just like at the bottom of the water ocean, where the weight is greatest. Just as you can feel water as you rush your hand through it, you can feel air as you do the same. And just as fish can swim through water, birds can “swim” through air, and humans can do so using technology.

I was always bummed out as a kid that I couldn’t fly just by flapping my arms. But little did I realize that I could fly – through water. That’s what fish do thanks to their fins. You could say they’re flying instead of swimming. Meanwhile the bottom-dwelling sea animals are walking on the land – i.e. the ocean floor – just like we’re walking on the bottom of the ocean of air.

It is said that our evolutionary ancestors evolved in the ocean of water, and then evolved to adapt to air. So we actually come from both oceans.

And the ocean of air – like the ocean of water – is the ultimate life force. It holds our oxygen. It generates the water cycle. It blocks out the sun’s harmful radiation. It prevents us from dying of extreme heat during the day and extreme cold at night. This “thin blue line” is what distinguishes our planet that’s teeming with life, from the desolation and lifelessness of the other planets of the solar system, and probably of the trillions of other planets throughout the universe. (If there are trillions of stars there’ve got to be at least that many planets orbiting them.)

So next time you go to the beach to look out at the beauty of the ocean, be sure to appreciate the beauty of both of them.

Some Beach

Attention atheists: since in your view there’s no heaven or afterlife to look forward to, perhaps your goal is to live life to its fullest in order to achieve the closest thing you can to heaven on earth.

Have I got the thing for you.

Go jogging on the ocean beach in your bare feet. Do it close enough to the water so that the surf and foam from the crashing waves rush around your feet and ankles. And go in the early morning before the crowds come.

That’s what I did a couple of times this past Memorial Day weekend, at Bethany Beach in Delaware. And I’ve gotta tell ya, I was wondering if that’s what heaven is like.

If you’re not a jogger, going for a walk along the beach in your bare feet in the early morning, letting the surf rush around your feet and ankles, will give you nearly the same effect.

Eat The Whole Seed

Quick: What is “bran”?

I bet you said a type of breakfast cereal, like raisin bran or bran flakes. That’s what I would have said up until a few days ago. Actually bran is the outer skin of the grain – i.e. a grain of wheat, a grain of rice, grain of corn, or grain of oat. Grain, by the way, is synonymous with “seed”.

And the bran of the seed is something you should be eating. In most grain-based foods, the bran along with the “germ” (the seed’s embryo) is stripped away during the processing, leaving only the endosperm or the seed’s food supply. But when you strip away the bran and the germ, you’re stripping away a lot of the nutrients. Click here for details.

No, stripping away the bran and the germ isn’t some evil plot carried out by the multinational corporations. It’s something that the multinational corporations, along with the mom-and-pop shops before them, do and did because that’s what people have always wanted. After all, wouldn’t you prefer French toast made with white bread rather than whole wheat bread?

Sometimes richer isn’t always better. In the Orient, brown rice has been associated with poverty; it’s simpler to process. The middle and upper classes generally consume white rice because they prefer the taste and texture thereof.  But they’ve been depriving themselves of the beneficial health effects of brown rice, which contains the bran and the germ. A similar situation has held true in the West. In days of old, grist mills refined grains down to flour consisting of just the endosperm because that’s what people wanted. It was a more expensive process, so mainly just the middle and upper-income classes could afford it. Ironically that often resulted in worse health among the upper classes. Captains of ships would come down with health conditions that the sailors avoided, because the sailors were eating foods made from the less-expensive whole grain flour.

Whole grain is just that – all of the grain: the bran, germ and endosperm. Ironically, because our food processing infrastructure is tailored toward non-whole-grain foods, whole grains today are usually (but certainly not always) more expensive.

Whole-grain foods include brown rice, oatmeal, breakfast cereals containing the word “bran” in their names, buckwheat pancakes, and other foods with “whole grain” or “whole wheat” written on their labels.

So avoid the fate of the middle and upper class people of the Orient, and don’t deprive yourself of whole grain foods.

Urban Should Not Mean High Crime & Poverty

In China and elsewhere, many apparently think that the more urban the area, the safer the area.

A lawsuit against the University of Southern California over the violent crime deaths of two Chinese graduate students alleges that, given that the online application says the school is in an urban area, school officials should have known that the Chinese would interpret that to mean a safe area.

First of all our hearts go out to the slain Chinese students and their families. As far as the lawsuit, it’s silly. When applying to a college it’s prudent to find out the crime statistics of the surrounding area. A simple Google search will do that. Moreover I’ve been to China and have spent lots of time around Chinese, yet never got the impression that the Chinese associate “urban” with “safe”, as far as crime goes. And to be sure, I just asked a Chinese whether, prior to coming to America, she associated urban with more crime or less crime. She said more crime. Besides, there are 38,000 students at USC. If two of them fall victim to violent crime, that means you have a 1 in 19,000 chance of the same. Those odds are probably a lot safer than most places.

Nevertheless, I could see how someone from another country could be unaware that in the United States, urban and especially inner city are associated with higher crime. That’s because in many other countries, inner city is not necessarily associated with higher crime.

We Americans take it for granted that inner city means high crime. But in fact, the inner city is not a “natural” place for crime. We artificially made it that way – “we” meaning American federal, state, and especially local governments and the people who voted them in. To borrow from something I wrote before:

“The areas of high concentration of poverty are determined largely by the location of subsidized housing.” The federal decision long ago to locate subsidized housing projects in America’s inner cities prompted many lower-income people – and criminals who tagged along with them – to relocate there or to stay there.

To drive home the point, in France, certain suburbs are associated with high crime.

“A similar thing happened in France decades ago, when authorities decided to erect its subsidized housing projects in the outer suburbs of Paris. They were a magnet for poor immigrants, and they are where many of the rioting youth now live. Unemployment is as high as 50 percent in some neighborhoods.”

So there’s a “pull effect” created by government programs like subsidized housing. There’s also a “push effect” created by government policies, pushing out businesses and responsible citizens through such measures as a higher minimum wage compared with the surrounding communities, higher taxes on businesses and individuals, and a tortuous system of licenses and regulations. As noted here, a business owner tried for years to get a license to set up shop in New Orleans, to no avail.

Of course, in America these days, it’s not just the inner city anymore that’s crime-ridden. It’s suburbs too. Take my own metro area. Several decades ago the University of Maryland College Park was in a county – Prince George’s – that was just as safe as practically anywhere else. But now the crime rate is higher in Prince George’s County compared with D.C.’s Virginia suburbs.

That’s because of the push effect and pull effect described above. Maryland and D.C. are bastions of the Democratic left. I think of all of those liberal/left professors at the University of Maryland College Park, and how their workplace is surrounded by what their politics have wrought. They provide the anti-intellectual firepower for the liberal/left agenda that’s implemented by the nation’s federal, state, and especially local governments.

The result? Driving businesses away, pulling criminals in, and making the area less safe for human habitation.

NPR’s Peter Overby: Reporting the Left’s Side of the Story but Not the Right’s

If one comes across blatant bias and shirking of journalistic responsibility on the occasional occasions when one does listen to NPR, imagine how much bias and irresponsibility a dedicated listener must be exposed to.

I fall into the former category of listeners. The other day I came across a story by NPR’s “Power, Money and Influence” reporter Peter Overby on a recent American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) conference. With a job title like that, it’s a good bet that Mr. Overby isn’t going to treat those he disagrees with fairly. And in this recent story, that certainly was the case. He reported on the left’s recent campaign against ALEC for its support of voter I.D. laws “which Democrats say are meant to keep minorities and young voters from casting ballots in November.”

OK, so listeners hear from Overby why the left doesn’t like voter I.D. laws (which, by the way, is hogwash). But does Overby ever mention why the right likes voter I.D. laws, which is because such laws help reduce voter fraud?

Nope, not a peep of that.

So listeners hear from Overby the left’s stated reason for disliking voter I.D. laws, but never hear from Overby ALEC’s stated reason for liking voter I.D. laws. Overby could have made a simple and short mention of “voter fraud” in order to inform listeners of ALEC’s rationale for supporting voter I.D. laws. But he conspicuously left that out.

And that’s a downright shirking of journalistic responsibility. It crosses over into propaganda.

I’m thinking of the young people listening, like high-school and college students who are just becoming politically aware, and how deceived they are being. They hear stories like that from Mr. Overby, and lacking exposure to alternative viewpoints, think the only reason organizations support voter ID laws is racism – “to keep minorities and young voters from casting ballots in November.”

Abolish the taxpayer subsidy for NPR now.