And Away We Go

It’s time for Part 2 of Kim’s Amazing 2017 Sabbatical.

As you read this I’ll be in the hands [sic] of the TSA again.

Think they’ll like my t-shirt? I had it made for just such an occasion.
Back:

Front:

 

 

Define “Powerful”

Britain’s Daily Express just ran an article ranking the various countries’ passports in terms of what they term “power” — which for them means the number of foreign countries to visit without requiring an entry visa of some kind.

American passport holders have less power to travel visa-free compared to countries such as Germany, South Korea and the UK, having dropped down one tier in the Arton Capital passport index rankings since 2016.

Austria, Switzerland and Singapore rank with the above at or near the top of the list; we’re about fourth or so, because there are quite a few countries which require us to get a visa prior to arrival — India, as I once discovered for myself, being one.

And a lot of times, this is simply retaliation when we impose a visa restriction on their country:

Earlier this month, Turkey removed the visa-free status to the US after a row with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
US passports could be set to get weaker still, as the European Parliament voted to end visa-free travel for Americans back in March this year.
The vote came after Trump refused to allow visa-free travel to members of five EU countries: Croatia, Cyprus, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.

Last time I looked, we still don’t need a visa to go to France for less than a 90-day period, which is good because I’m going to France for a week later on in the year and I’m damned if I would submit to their bureaucratic rigmarole just for that.

I once estimated that the average U.S. citizen will spend about $10,000-$12,000 (excluding airfare) over a two-week vacation trip to Europe. I am pretty sure that were the EU to make things more difficult for us to travel there, a number of people (myself included) would simply decide to go somewhere else — and thus spend our highly-prized U.S. dollars in a place where we’re apparently more welcome.

Which brings me back to the issue of “power”. Being able to visit a country without a visa does not fit my definition of power. This does.

If a citizen of a country is kidnapped or otherwise harmed when traveling in a foreign country, do you think the wrongdoers would feel more comfortable knowing that the victim is Singaporean (to pick one of the top passports at random), or an American?

Put even more simply: is there a risk that the Singaporean military would send a drone strike to snuff out the bad guys?

To me, that’s the real power of a passport: whether you can mess with your visitors with impunity, or whether you may get some more visitors from a Special Forces team in response.

So how does that make the U.S., U.K. and Germany (to name but three countries with bad-ass special forces) look now?

Of course, given the state of affairs right now, U.S. citizens face added insecurity when they travel because Muslim assholes look on us as high-visibility targets — so in that regard, we’re worse off than the South Koreans. Frankly, though, as long as Americans avoid traveling to places we’re warned about by the State Department, we do just fine. (And for those idiots who just have to spend their vacation in Yemen or Syria, you deserve everything you get.)

Right: I’m off to finish packing.

5 Worst Halloween Costumes

For the ladies:

  • The Honorable Member:

 

  • Best Presidential Candidate Evah:

 

  • Emmy Winner:

 

  • Speaker Of The House:

 

  • Manchester pop concert souvenirs:

…and for the gentlemen:

  • Serial Molester:

 

  • Serial Molester (option 2):

 

  • Director-Rapist:

 

  • Girly-man Cyclist:

 

  • Olympic Gold Medalist:

 

Your suggestions in Comments, as usual.

 

 

 

Unaffected

A youngin asked me the other day what changes I’ve noticed in my personality as I’ve got older. The principle one, I told him, is that as I’ve got older, I’ve begin to care less and less about more and more. Here’s an example.

So apparently Facebook does ugly things to conservative Facebookers (or whatever they’re called).

I don’t care, because I don’t have a Facebook account, nor will I ever surrender that much control, to anybody. This is why I have a private blog: I can post anything I want, say anything I want, and as long as I don’t murder anybody, I’ll be fine*.

If my hosting service were to suspend my account, I’d go somewhere else (I’ve had several offers to host this site for almost no money), and if my blogging software were to be disabled, I’d just build my own blog from scratch — done it before, was too lazy to do it again this time. Anyone remember this?

…or this?

…or this?

Hand-built. And I can do it all again, if I have to. In the meantime, I’ll stick to this:

And I don’t care about traffic, or pageviews or any of that crap either. BobbyK once told me that this site has about 10 percent of the traffic of my older one, and I don’t actually care. I seek neither validation nor popularity. I do what I do, and people can agree with me, disagree with me, ignore me, or whatever. Hence: splendid isolation.

As I look back, my whole purpose in life has been to deny control of that life to others, and I’m too old to change that purpose now. So fuckem.


*I should point out that since the death of Senator Teddy The Traitor Kennedy, the odds of me being arrested for murder have fallen precipitously. Still, every time I see a chair, duct tape and a baseball bat in the same room, I get flashbacks.

Not Science

An Initial Association Test (IAT) purports to signal whether the testee (I nearly wrote something else) displays an inherent bias against something or someone. It’s called “science” (mostly by the charlatans who dreamt it up) but it isn’t, as the redoubtable Heather MacDonald writes in City Journal:

There is hardly an aspect of IAT doctrine that is not now under methodological challenge.
Any social-psychological instrument must pass two tests to be considered accurate: reliability and validity. A psychological instrument is reliable if the same test subject, taking the test at different times, achieves roughly the same score each time. But IAT bias scores have a lower rate of consistency than is deemed acceptable for use in the real world—a subject could be rated with a high degree of implicit bias on one taking of the IAT and a low or moderate degree the next time around. A recent estimate puts the reliability of the race IAT at half of what is considered usable. No evidence exists, in other words, that the IAT reliably measures anything stable in the test-taker.

And it gets better:

But the fiercest disputes concern the IAT’s validity. A psychological instrument is deemed “valid” if it actually measures what it claims to be measuring—in this case, implicit bias and, by extension, discriminatory behavior. If the IAT were valid, a high implicit-bias score would predict discriminatory behavior, as Greenwald and Banaji asserted from the start. It turns out, however, that IAT scores have almost no connection to what ludicrously counts as “discriminatory behavior” in IAT research—trivial nuances of body language during a mock interview in a college psychology laboratory, say, or a hypothetical choice to donate to children in Colombian, rather than South African, slums. Oceans of ink have been spilled debating the statistical strength of the correlation between IAT scores and lab-induced “discriminatory behavior” on the part of college students paid to take the test. The actual content of those “discriminatory behaviors” gets mentioned only in passing, if at all, and no one notes how remote those behaviors are from the discrimination that we should be worried about.

In other words, the stats don’t add up, and the subject of the test (racial bias) cannot be established beyond cooking the numbers and faulty projection.

Sound like global warming theory.

If you read the whole piece — it’s long, like all City Journal articles — what will strike you the most (as it did me) was not the bullshit of the IAT, but the degree to which the IAT has become embedded in government and the corporate world.

This is yet another reason why I could never find employment in today’s business world: not only would I refuse to take the test, but I’d also pour scorn on the whole process, loudly. Exit Kim, on Day One at Global MegaCorp, Inc. And I wouldn’t even get a chance to be fired for complimenting some harpy on her outfit, or for carrying my 1911 into the office.

But I digress.

Once again, as with global warming “science”, this whole IAT thing smacks of people having a theory (people are prejudiced / the Earth is over-heating because of SUVs), then creating the pseudo-science underpinning to support and prove the theory. So it’s complete bullshit, just like Glueball Wormening. (Of course, the appearance of “Harvard” in the credentials of one of the IAT’s developers should have been a warning to everyone.)

I should also remind everyone that Heather MacDonald is a statistician, not just a journalist. Hers is the scientific method; what those other two tools are doing is selling snake oil.

Wanting Equality, Getting Equality

While I hate the idea, I nevertheless applaud this little announcement:

The Pentagon says the country should stick with mandatory registration for a military draft, and it advocates a requirement for women to sign up for the first time in the nation’s history.
The recommendations are contained in a Defense Department report to Congress that serves as a starting point for a commission examining military, national and public service.
Congress ordered the Pentagon report, and the office of the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness completed it in the early months of the Trump administration.
Currently, only male citizens and residents age 18-25 are required to register, for a pace of about 2 million each year.
Women, whom the government has never ordered to sign up, would add 11 million to the Selective Service System database “in short order,” the report says.

To paraphrase Mencken, equality is the theory that women know what they want, and they deserve to get it good and hard.