Patterico's Pontifications


Smokers Have Lower IQs

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 10:00 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Via Hot Air, an Israeli study reports smokers have lower IQs than non-smokers:

“A study of 18 to 21-year-old men revealed that the IQs of smokers averaged 94 – seven points lower than non-smokers on 101.

IQ scores in a healthy population of young men fall between 84 and 116, but those who smoked more than a pack of cigarettes a day averaged just 90 between them.

Researchers in Israel took data from more than 20,000 healthy men before, during and after they spent time in the Israeli military.

About 28 per cent of their sample smoked one or more cigarettes a day, three per cent considered themselves ex-smokers, and 68 per cent said they never smoked.

Professor Mark Weiser, of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Psychiatry, said: “In the health profession, we’ve generally thought that smokers are most likely the kind of people to have grown up in difficult neighbourhoods, or who’ve been given less education at good schools.

“But because our study included subjects with diverse socio-economic backgrounds, we’ve been able to rule out socio-economics as a major factor.”

The study also measured effects in twin brothers – and in the case where one twin smoked, the non-smoking twin registered a higher IQ on average.

Prof Weiser said: “People on the lower end of the average IQ tend to display poorer overall decision-making skills when it comes to their health.

“People with lower IQs are not only prone to addictions such as smoking. These same people are more likely to have obesity, nutrition and narcotics issues.”



Hutchison to Remain in Senate

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 8:22 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison has announced she won’t resign from the Senate after all:

“On a personal level, this has been a most difficult decision, but after much deliberation, I have decided to complete the term to which you elected me. I will work alongside our great Texas congressional delegation to repeal and replace President Obama’s health reform, to stop cap and trade legislation and to cut the deficit the President is building that puts our economy in peril. I will continue to use my experience to try to stop this unprecedented expansion of our federal government and its intrusion in our private lives and in the public sector.

Throughout my years of public service, I’ve tried to do what it best for Texas. And what is happening in Washington today is not good for Texas.”

I’m glad Senator Hutchison made this decision. She’s a loyal Texan, a responsible leader, and I think her talents will be best used in the Senate. I commend her for doing this since I know it wasn’t her first choice.


NCAA Basketball: Butler vs ? (Update: Butler vs Duke)

Filed under: Sports — DRJ @ 6:11 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Butler did it: The Bulldogs knocked off Michigan State to earn a berth in the title game Monday.

Now the only question is whether their opponent will be West Virginia or Duke. UPDATE: Duke won and will face Butler in the final game.


Taking a Life

Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 6:03 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Last May, 52-year-old Katherine “Kim” Yarbrough killed her 62-year-old husband Lloyd as he lay bedridden with encephalitis, a condition he had suffered from for over 2 years. She also tried to take her own life:

”Katherine Yarbrough, 52, was charged with murder Thursday, accused of injecting her husband, 62-year-old Lloyd Yarbrough, with an overdose of prescription pills through his feeding tube, according to an arrest affidavit. She faces up to life in prison if convicted.

Although investigators initially believed that Lloyd Yarbrough’s death was from natural causes and that Katherine Yarbrough tried to kill herself afterward out of grief, Katherine Yarbrough made comments to investigators that made them think a crime had been committed, the affidavit said.”

She told police she was tired of taking care of Lloyd and knew he didn’t want to die:

”During a search of the home, officers found a note left to the couple’s son signed “Kim” — Katherine Yarbrough’s nickname, the affidavit said. In it, she apologizes to her son and says that “this is best in the long run” and that she hopes he can forgive her, the affidavit said.

A glass was found in Lloyd Yarbrough’s room with a white, powdery residue that appeared to have come from crushed pills, the affidavit said. In addition, a syringe similar to the one used to inject nutrients into Lloyd Yarbrough’s feeding tube was found in the trash with the same residue, the document said.

Detectives then interviewed Katherine Yarbrough at the hospital, where she admitted causing her husband’s death by injecting his feeding tube with an assortment of prescription pills mixed with water, the affidavit said.

When detectives asked her if her husband wanted to die, she said no.”

Lloyd’s obituary describes him as a woodworker by trade, and a woodworking artist and author of comic strips. He was a Vietnam vet, devoted father, outdoor lover, and story-teller. There was evidence Katherine had become overwhelmed with caring for Lloyd and despondent at losing the vibrant person he had been:

”After Lloyd Yarbrough’s death, Kim Yarbrough’s friends and her blog entries depicted a woman who was overwhelmed with depression from caring for her husband, who had encephalitis.

He could not walk, talk, swallow or perform basic functions.
She blogged about her frustrations with outside caregivers and a lack of a support system.

“I wonder if I will ever change Lloyd’s diaper without feeling the pain of what has been lost,” she blogged four days before his death. Two days before his death, she wrote, “Why should I keep living through all this?”

The murder charge came after Kim told police at the hospital that she killed her husband “because she was tired of taking care of him.”

Ten months later, the Travis County DA and Katherine have agreed to a guilty plea that, if the Judge approves, will drop the murder charge and sentence her to 10 years probation for intentional injury to a disabled person:

”Katherine “Kim” Yarbrough, 53, pleaded guilty to injury to a disabled individual, a first-degree felony punishable by up to life in prison.

Under the deal, prosecutors dismissed a charge of murder and will recommend a sentence of 10 years’ probation and 400 hours of community service at her April 23 sentencing, said Assistant District Attorney Amy Meredith. *** One of the conditions of probation, Meredith said, is that Yarbrough continue seeing her private therapist.”

I have no doubt that Katherine was depressed and couldn’t see another solution. I feel sympathy for her and understand why she did what she did. But would it have made a difference if the person she killed had been her 12-year-old child instead of her 62-year-old husband?


Why “Intentionalism” Is Not Always Compatible with the Rule of Law

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 2:34 pm

If a legislature passes a law that says one thing, but the legislature really meant something else, how should the law be interpreted? According to the plain language of the law? Or according to the intent of the legislature, even if it contradicts the statute’s plain language?

Adherents of “intentionalism” claim that the only legitimate interpretation of words is according to what the speaker intended. Any other interpretation is a rewriting of the text and can’t be considered a legitimate interpretation. Presumably, intentionalists interpreting a law would say that the intent of the laws’ ratifiers (i.e. the legislature) is always considered paramount.

But when it comes to interpreting statutes, a strict reverence for the intent of the legislature is not compatible with the rule of law. This is Justice Scalia’s view as well as mine.

Consider this example.

Assume you make $50,000 a year. The legislature passes a law imposing a hefty tax on “people making over $100,000 per year.” Since the law does not apply to you, by its plain terms, you do not pay the tax.

One day there is a knock at your door. It is a policeman, who places you in handcuffs for failure to pay the tax.

“But it doesn’t apply to me!” you say.

“Tell it to the judge,” says the cop.

So you do, resulting in the following dialogue.

The judge: “It is true that the plain language of the statute says that the tax applies only to people making over $100,000 per year. However, I have irrefutable evidence that the legislature intended to impose the tax on ‘people making over $10,000 per year.’ The legislative debates clearly show this.”

You: “But I didn’t listen to those debates. I’m too busy to watch C-SPAN constantly. All I did was read the law — and the law says it applies only to people making over $100,000 per year. I don’t make that much. It’s not fair to hold me responsible for paying the tax when the plain language of the statute doesn’t apply to me. That’s not reasonable. It’s not fair!”

The judge: “But you aren’t the speaker. In matters of interpretation, the intent of the speaker must be privileged. The only proper interpretation appeals to the speaker’s intent — or in this case, the ratifiers of the law, meaning the legislature. You are merely the audience, and we cannot privilege your intent. If I were to interpret the law according to your interpretation, I would be privileging the audience’s reasonable interpretation. That’s nothing but creative writing.”

You: “Interpreting $100,000 to mean $100,000 is creative writing?”

“Judge: Correct. I must interpret $100,000 to mean $10,000. It is the only legitimate interpretation. Bailiff, take this man away.”

This is why Justice Scalia argues that “legislative intent” is an improper focus for judges. For years I have owned a copy of “A Matter of Interpretation,” which is an essay by Justice Scalia on interpretation of language. Various scholars (such as Laurence Tribe) respond with commentary, and Justice Scalia responds to their points.

Justice Scalia famously rejects the concept of combing through legislative history for clues to legislative intent. This is his philosophy:

The text is the law, and it is the text that must be observed. I agree with Justice Holmes’s remark, quoted approvingly by Justice Frankfurter in his article on the construction of statutes: “Only a day or two ago — when counsel talked of the intention of a legislature, I was indiscreet enough to say I don’t care what their intention was. I only want to know what the words mean.” And I agree with Justice Holmes’s other remark, quoted approvingly by Justice Jackson: “We do not inquire what the legislature meant; we ask only what the statute means.”

These concepts come up in real-world situations, and Justice Scalia cited one. Congress once passed a law imposing a higher prison term on a defendant who “uses a firearm” in a drug trafficking crime. The defendant sought to purchase a large quantity of cocaine (which he presumably later intended to resell), and hoped to pay for the cocaine by bartering an unloaded firearm, which he showed to the drug seller. The Supreme Court said that the defendant “used a firearm” by showing the unloaded firearm to the drug seller. Justice Scalia dissented, saying that the plain meaning of “uses” could not possibly include the defendant’s actions.

It didn’t matter to Justice Scalia what Congress subjectively intended. The word “uses” could not be reasonably be interpreted by citizens (the audience) to include the defendant’s actions. Justice Scalia argues that textualism, with its inherent formalism, is necessary for the rule of law. “It is what makes government a government of laws and not of men.”

I agree with Justice Scalia, when it comes to statutory interpretation. The rule of law cannot require citizens to be governed by the subjective intentions of the men passing the laws, unless those subjective intentions are communicated to citizens in plain language that they can reasonably understand.

This view has broader implications for interpretation of language generally. Words mean things, and the plain meaning of language is not irrelevant. Pure intentionalists hold that words are imbued with meaning purely as a function of what the speaker intends and nothing more. This ignores the fact that effective communication involves two sides. Yes, there is value to appealing to the speaker’s intent. But if communication is to be a two-way street, there is also significance to be attached to how a reasonable audience, which is trying to ascertain the speaker’s intent, interprets the speaker’s plain language.

Otherwise, you could find yourself arrested for violating laws that, by their own plain terms, don’t even apply to you.

A NOTE ABOUT COMMENTS: Because threads about language have a strange tendency to degenerate into name-calling, this thread will have a special rule for comments. Comments are expected to be strictly about ideas, with absolutely no personal comments whatsoever. I am going to be very, very strict about enforcing this. Comments that do not follow this rule will be summarily deleted. Comments that blatantly violate the rule may earn the offending commenter a time-out or a ban.

I am eager to discuss the ideas discussed in this post, but I will not respond to arguments (made here or anywhere else) that contain the slightest hint of personal attack or mockery, whether directed at me or anyone else. “Justice Scalia (or Justice Stevens) is the idiot who decided Case x” is a good example of a comment that will be deleted.

UPDATE: Given my restrictive rules, I will even accept comments from banned commenters, as long as they follow the rules I have set forth. No personal digs, no matter how small.

Amnesty International Sides with Jihad

Filed under: International,Political Correctness,Terrorism — DRJ @ 2:25 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Amnesty International’s Secretary-General has endorsed “Jihad in self-defence”:

“Amnesty International (AI) Secretary-General Claudio Cordone has come under fire for defending jihad when it occurs in “self-defence” – a position many other human rights advocates believe “would gravely undermine the future of the human rights movement.”

Cordone’s comments came in response to a February 13 “Global Petition” to AI by human-rights and women’s -rights advocates protesting the suspension of Gita Sahgal, a senior AI official in London.

Sahgal was suspended after the Sunday Times of London reported she believed Amnesty’s collaboration with former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzem Begg “fundamentally damages” the group’s reputation.

In a letter sent to senior AI officials, Sahgal charged that Amnesty has mistakenly aligned itself with Begg and his organization Cageprisoners, which calls itself a human-rights organization working to “raise awareness of the plight of prisoners” held in the war on terror.

According to the Sunday Times, the prisoners it championed have included “Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, and Abu Qatada, a preacher described as Osama Bin Laden’s ‘European ambassador.’ ”

Begg and Cageprisoners are also reported to have developed a relationship with Anwar al-Awlaki, the Al Qaeda cleric who endorsed the failed Christmas Day plane bombing near Detroit and who became a confidant of Nidal Malik Hasan, charged with carrying out the Nov. 5 Fort Hood massacre.”

“Everything in moderation,” including tolerance.


Had a Bad Day?

Filed under: Obama,Politics — DRJ @ 2:19 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

It could have been worse. You could have been at the North Carolina health care speech given by Barack “The Great Elaborator” Obama:

“Even by President Obama’s loquacious standards, an answer he gave here on health care Friday was a doozy.

Toward the end of a question-and-answer session with workers at an advanced battery technology manufacturer, a woman named Doris stood to ask the president whether it was a “wise decision to add more taxes to us with the health care” package.

“We are overtaxed as it is,” Doris said bluntly.”

Here’s how the Washington Post reporter summarized part of Obama’s answer:

“He then spent the next 17 minutes and 12 seconds lulling the crowd into a daze. His discursive answer — more than 2,500 words long — wandered from topic to topic, including commentary on the deficit, pay-as-you-go rules passed by Congress, Congressional Budget Office reports on Medicare waste, COBRA coverage, the Recovery Act and Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (he referred to this last item by its inside-the-Beltway name, “F-Map”).
Halfway through, an audience member on the riser yawned.”

Still, Doris and the yawners were lucky — at least their harangue was free (sort of). These 150 Boston Democrats paid $30,400 each for just 23 minutes of Obama talk at two separate events:

“Despite a long day, the president was chipper in both places, convivial, joking over….

…Joe Biden’s recent effing remark talking education and still celebrating the healthcare legislation, despite its apparent new political damage to his party. Obama also made fun of such polls, saying he’s got them in the White House too but doesn’t follow them, like every other president who has people who follow them for him.

Obama spoke for about 23 minutes, which works out to about $1,322 per minute per couple. He did some reminiscing about the primary campaign and called this year’s election outlook “hard.”

For a lot less money donors could have heard Biden admit to another recent party fundraiser near Baltimore that, well, yes, as a matter of fact, Democrats in Congress will take a hit come November’s midterm elections. Joe did predict the party would maintain its congressional majorities in both houses.

And, as per the agreed upon talking points for the next several weeks, Biden blamed the souring political climate for Democrats not on the unpopularity of the healthcare bill but on Obama’s big success in 2008, electing members, he said, “in districts where Democrats have no business having congressmen.”

So, if you’re one of those, Joe sends his %&*)#@ regards.”

Andrew Malcolm said that last part, not Biden. But it sounds like something Biden might say.


“Racism at the Capitol” Timeline

Filed under: Politics,Race — DRJ @ 1:48 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Doug Ross posts a timeline of reports of racism at the Capitol during the health care debate on March 20. He concludes:

“Democrats in Congress wanted to provoke a racial incident. That’s why their media drones started tweeting word of the incident just seconds after their walk began.

And a state-run media complex — as liberal as the day is long — acted either as ignorant dupes or as complicit accomplices (take your pick) to market the scam.

From all appearances, this entire incident appears to have been scripted by Democrat representatives to provoke a racially divisive incident. But because the Tea Party movement is freedom-loving, it embraces all races, creeds, religions and colors. Because the freedom tent is the biggest tent of all. And the tyranny tent gets smaller by the day.”

I agree. Democrats staged an event and the media pimped it.


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