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Real World Graduation, Question 90: Traffic Tickets

RealWorldGraduation_Question_90_Traffic_Tickets    <– PDF

A certain district lies along 25 miles of Highway U. S. 193, where the speed limit is 55 MPH throughout.  The police force in this district only issues speeding tickets based on radar readings, and the department regularly calibrates its equipment to make sure the readings are accurate.  It is also department policy to issue tickets only if the driver is more than 7 MPH over the speed limit (i.e., is considered speeding only if going more than 62 MPH).  Over the long run, the probability of getting a speeding ticket in this locality is 0.2 (meaning that over a long period of observations, 20% of people who are going faster than 62 MPH get tickets).

Consider the following situation. It is a Tuesday morning, after the rush hour.  The weather is clear and traffic is light in this locality on Hwy U. S. 193.  The police officers on duty at this time checking for speeders are 30% black male, 40% white male, 20% black female, and 10% white female, which is approximately the racial makeup of the force at most times.  A black woman in a foreign sports car was going 73 MPH in the 55 MPH zone.  What is the likelihood that she will get a speeding ticket?

a) 50%, because half the officers on duty are white

b) 100%, because she is driving a foreign car

c) Greater than 50%, because more than half the officers on duty are men

d) Either zero or 100%, depending on the race of the officer who sees her first

e) This question is illogical because everyone knows that black women never exceed the speed limit

(The answer is on p. 2 of the PDF.)

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Real World Graduation: Question 57: Talk Shows

RealWorldGraduation_Question_57_Talk_Shows  <– PDF

You are watching a talk show on TV. The host is conducting an interview with three guests.  Each of them, including the host, gives their view on the topic at hand.  You are trying to determine which of the four people on the show is most likely to be correct about the issue being discussed.  Which is the most efficient method to determine who is correct?

a) The host is correct because it’s their show, and they are not allowed to lie on TV

b) The person who looks most like a nerd is probably the smartest of the four, so they are most likely to be correct.

c) The most attractive person is probably correct because people like attractive people, and they likely were told the correct answer in advance.

d) If a government official is part of the discussion, then they are likely to be correct.

e) If a member of the clergy is part of the discussion, then they are most likely to be correct.

(The answer is on p. 2 of the PDF.)

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Barack H. Obama’s Legacy, Part 12

ObamaLegacyPart12 <– PDF

It would be easy to criticize Mr. Obama for his policy toward North Korea, but it would be likewise unfair.  His policy was to do the best he could to ignore Mr. Kim Jong-Un, the North Korean dictator, and not attempt to “negotiate” (which is to say, pay him off), as did Mr. Bush and Mr. Clinton.  Mr. Obama’s administration referred to his policy as “strategic patience”, which means to take a wait-and-see attitude on Mr. Kim’s actions, while attempting to use diplomatic means to influence China to in turn influence Mr. Kim.  As expected, as Mr. Bush and Mr. Clinton both found out, North Korea’s ultimate objective is to develop a credible nuclear force which (they claim) is only to serve as a deterrent to any invasion by the U. S. or South Korea.  They continued to develop nuclear arms, and set off several nuclear tests in 2013, despite diplomatic pressure from the Obama administration.  (They did so even in the face of an actual United Nation press conference during which the U. N. issued three formal harrumphs!  Mr. Kim is playing with fire now).  Whether Mr. Kim has intentions of conquering South Korea are not known, but it is reasonable to assume he will try to use his nuclear leverage to do so.  Mr. Obama either failed to realize or failed to accept the notion that Mr. Kim is not an independent actor.  Because the Stalinist economy of North Korea operates at a bare subsistence level, it is necessary for Mr. Kim to arrange for support from elsewhere, namely Communist China. China provides a great deal of military materiel, technical expertise, and food to North Korea.

Mr. Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, (in essence, dictator of China) is likely in complete control of Mr. Kim.  Mr. Xi had throughout the Obama administration resisted repeated calls for tighter sanctions or other measures to rein in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions on the grounds that he did not want to provoke a revolution in North Korea that would lead to many refugees crossing the border into China.  It is a patently absurd notion.  First, China certainly has the means to prevent all crossing of the Yalu River separating the two nations.  Secondly, with a population of 1.3 billion, it is hard to see how a few million more from North Korea would make any material difference; and besides, they are already trained slaves, easy to incorporate into China’s economy.  Third, there will never be a revolution in North Korea unless Mr. Xi orders it.  He will not order it so long as Mr. Kim remains his loyal puppet.  When Mr. Xi says ‘jump’, Mr. Kim asks “How high, what color, and how else can I serve you, Mr. Xi, my lord and master?”  One phone call from Mr. Xi and Mr. Kim, his family, and his regime will disappear from history. North Korea is allowed to exist because China finds it useful to have a client state capable of unnerving the U. S. and its Asian allies (South Korea, Japan, Australia, the Philippines, and sometimes New Zealand).  While North Korea’s antics keep the West off-balance, and unable to develop a coherent strategy against Eastern Asia, China does what it pleases elsewhere, especially in the oilfields of the Middle East and Africa.   Lastly, North Korea serves as a buffer state between China and South Korea.  Communist regimes have absolute power but also absolute paranoia.  Communist China needs a buffer state (like North Korea) to separate their nation from South Korea lest any notion of freedom leak over the border into China.

In the long run, there are three outcomes regarding North Korea.  The first is that China desires North Korea to conquer South Korea, thus drawing the U. S. into an Asian land war.  This attractive to China only if North Korea could do so quickly while not inflicting any casualties on U. S. forces in South Korea.  If the U. S. forces were to become trapped, they are handy bargaining tools by which China could promote an arbitration by the U. N., in which China gets whatever it wants, and China is seen as a peacemaker. Secondly, China may be using North Korea’s antics as a means to drive a wedge between the U. S. and its Asian allies, leading the U. S. to abandon South Korea and turn away from Asia in general.  That would allow China to become the dominant and uncontested power in the Southern Hemisphere.  A third possibility is that China allows North Korea to attack the U. S. directly, to which the U. S. will respond accordingly, and China will remain neutral.  This is highly unlikely, as it would put America at China’s doorstep, and would likely result in the U. S. turning Japan into a nuclear power, the situation the Chinese probably fear the most. In the long run, our main adversary is China, not North Korea.  Because it is too soon to tell what China actually wants, Mr. Obama’s policy of wait-and-see was probably correct.  I would say however, that Mr. Obama’s failure to identify the real culprit did not help our cause.

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Barack H. Obama’s Legacy, Part 11

ObamaLegacyPart11 <– PDF

It is no secret that Mr. Obama detests Israel and their Prime Minister Mr. Netanyahu.  Mr. Obama even went so far as to try to influence the Israeli election, seeking to oust Mr. Netanyahu (yet he complains about alleged Russian interference in America’s election).  Mr. Obama did however, find himself obligated by previous commitments to Israel made by his predecessors, and during his term, much as he wishes it were not so, the U. S. continued to supply Israel with arms and intelligence about the activities of Hamas and Hezbollah.

In my opinion, it is not possible for any Western force, military, economic, political, or otherwise, to arbitrate or resolve the problems of the Middle East.  Those issues date back to before the establishment of Israel (1948), before the British Mandate (1922) that created the political Middle East as we know it; prior to the conquest by the Ottoman Turks (1517); prior to the conquest by the Mongols (1258); prior to the “Crusades” (intermittently from 1096 to 1291); prior to the conquest of Arab lands by the Seljuk Turks (1055); and some of them prior to the establishment of Islam by Mohammed (622).  The Arab tribes fought the invaders; sometimes they joined the invaders, and when not dealing with them, they fought among themselves.  It is no more realistic for a Western power to resolve the hatreds and dissensions of the peoples of the Middle East than for a Buddhist monk to have mediated peace between the medieval Scottish clans.  The Arabs, Turks, Kurds, Afghans, Pakistanis, and Persians, comprising various tribes and Islamic sects, will have to fight it out for themselves.  The less we are involved, the better for everyone.  Either Islam goes back to what it was originally (as revived by al Qaeda and ISIS), or it is a private set of rituals and practices independent from civil society.  It is up to the established political and military forces in the region to resolve this on their own.

It seems to me then, that Mr. Bush’s policy, following President Wilson’s moronic mandate to make everyplace “safe for democracy”, was destined for failure. The people of the Middle East do not want democracy, nor do they want freedom (other than to kill their enemies, real or imagined); nor are they ready for it.  Mr. Obama, despite his protests to the contrary, continued Mr. Bush’s policy in many regards.

Mr. Obama’s policy of withdrawing from Afghanistan and Iraq was the correct policy: but he failed to anticipate the civil wars that would naturally result.  Then he went back on the policy, getting involved once more by sending U. S. forces there and initiating numerous drone strikes against ISIS.  Mr. Obama was correct to ignore the uprising in Iran in 2009; he was correct in ignoring the rebels in Syria.  He was wrong to announce a red line against the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and then doing nothing when Assad crossed it.  He was wrong when he allowed the nitwit Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to instigate the revolt against Libyan President Ghaddaffi and his ultimate removal.  The correct policy for the U. S. in the Middle East is to protect Israel as much as practical, and let the rest of them fight it out.  If that battle spills over onto U. S. territories, then, and only then, should the U. S. get involved, and in doing so, make the entire region a free-fire zone.  As Westerners, we are finding it difficult to treat Oriental peoples in terms they understand: brute force, tyranny, and death.  Mr. Obama’s policies failed because he wanted it both ways: to withdraw, but at the same time prevent the Arabs from doing what comes to them naturally.

Mr. Obama’s tilt toward Iran and the “nuclear deal” appears to have been done purely as a political claim of “having done something”; nothing was gained by it.

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