you shouldn't mention this around the feminist thought police, but women
often hate working for other women. While men compete for status
by including as many underlings as possible in their hierarchies, women
gain prestige by excluding the maximum number from their cliques.
Running Vogue, the most celebrated fashion magazine, might be the
ultimate in cliquishness, and Anna Wintour, who in 1996 became the
industry's first million dollar per year editor, is famously frosty
toward anyone beneath her in celebrityhood.
English journalist Toby Young tells the story of a Vogue
executive's teenage daughter interning at the office. Once, as the
intimidating editor bore down upon the awestruck girl in a hallway, the
stiletto heel of one of Wintour's Manolo Blahniks snapped, sending her
sprawling at the intern's feet. The teenager had been warned by her
mother that "under no circumstances was she to speak to Ms. Wintour
-- ever. Consequently, she gingerly stepped over Anna's prostrate form.
As soon as she turned the corner, she sprinted to her mother's office…
Had she done the right thing? Yes, her mother assured her. She'd done
exactly the right thing."
Wintour has erected a persona for herself that "glories in
self-created aristocratic solitude," like a character in a Camille
Paglia-directed revival of The Importance of Being Earnest.
Wintour resembles an earnest cross between Oscar Wilde's fashion-fixated
duo, Gwendolen, whose motto is, "In matters of utmost importance,
style, not sincerity, is the vital thing," and her Gorgon mother,
Lady Bracknell, who observes, "Style largely depends on the way the
chin is worn. They are worn very high, just at present."
on the Conservative Movement: Bramwell is the young lawyer recently
appointed by William F. Buckley to National Review's five-man Board of
Trustees just before Buckley's retirement. "I wanted somebody who
is very young and very talented," Buckley said.
"One likes to think in the long term."
the conservative movement in large part exists to promote intellectual
conformity. Few writers or scholars affiliated with the movement care to
risk their sinecures (or their institutions' funding) by disagreeing too
vociferously with the official movement position. Consciously or
unconsciously, right-wing writers instead tend to suppress thoughts that
may be deemed too eccentric or independent. Meanwhile, the movement
selects and promotes the careers of young writers whose primary
qualification consists of believing ab initio what the movement
tells them to believe. One should not be surprised, given this incentive
structure, if the movement has become increasingly bland,
notwithstanding the usual humbug about how intellectually superior the
Right is thse days. Blandness is part of the institutional design.
Second, those at the top of the conservative movement have wide
discretion to set its movement's official positions. Bedrock or founding
principles, whatever they may be, play very little role in determining
what policies the conservative movement will embrace. Whatever may be
said of the Bush administration's policies in Iraq, for example, they
were surely not deduced from immutable conservative principles.
Nevertheless, the signature achievement of the conservative movement in
the past decade has been to rally -- or, perhaps more accurately,
manufacture -- public support for the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
With just one or two changes in personnel, however, one could easily
imagine events turning out very differently. Reckless or prudent,
thoughtful or ignorant, the opinion-mongers at the top set the movement
line; the other constituents -- the donors, the directors, and other
writers and the consumers of opinion -- then accept and promulgate
whatever positions the movement tells them to.
By the way,
Bramwell had kind things to say
about me last year.
This paper studies the barriers to the diffusion of development across
countries over the very long-run. We find that genetic distance, a
measure associated with the amount of time elapsed since two
populations' last common ancestors, bears a statistically and
economically significant correlation with pairwise income differences,
even when controlling for various measures of geographical isolation,
and other cultural, climatic and historical difference measures. These
results hold not only for contemporary income differences, but also for
income differences measured since 1500 and for income differences within
Europe. We uncover similar patterns of coefficients for the proximate
determinants of income differences, particularly for differences in
human capital and institutions. The paper discusses the economic
mechanisms that are consistent with these facts. We present a framework
in which differences in human characteristics transmitted across
generations - including culturally transmitted characteristics - can
affect income differences by creating barriers to the diffusion of
innovations, even when they have no direct effect on productivity. The
empirical evidence over time and space is consistent with this
"barriers" interpretation. [More]
The fact is, financial success or failure in Hollywood is determined
less by anyone's skill to pick hits, or lack thereof, than by the random
nature of the universe. The typical patterns of randomness—apparent
hot or cold streaks, or the bunching of data into clusters—are
routinely misinterpreted and, worse, acted upon as if a new trend had
been discovered or a new epiphany achieved. And so, despite a growing
body of evidence that box-office revenue follows the laws of chaotic
systems, meaning that it is inherently unpredictable, the superstructure
of Hollywood's culture—that pervasive worship of who's hot and the
shunning of who's not—continues to rest on a foundation of
misconception and mirage....
When Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone bought Paramount Pictures in 1993,
he inherited Sherry Lansing as studio chief and decided to keep her on.
Until just a few years ago, that seemed brilliant, for, under Lansing,
Paramount won best picture awards for "Forrest Gump," "Braveheart"
and "Titanic" and posted its two highest-grossing years ever.
So successful was Lansing that she became, simply, "Sherry"—as
if she were the only Sherry in town. But Lansing's reputation soon
plunged, and her tenure would not survive the duration of her contract.
In mathematical terms there is both a short and long explanation for
Lansing's fate. First, the short answer. Look at this series of numbers:
11.4%, 10.6%, 11.3%, 7.4%, 7.1%, 6.7%. Notice something? So did
Redstone, for those six numbers represent the market share of
Paramount's Motion Picture Group for the final six years of Lansing's
tenure between 1999 and 2004. The trend caused BusinessWeek to speculate
that Lansing "may simply no longer have Hollywood's hot hand."
In November 2004, she announced she was leaving, and a few months later
Grey was brought on board.
How could a sure-fire genius lead a company to seven great years, then
fail practically overnight?...
Postdiction is less impressive than prediction. But as the final chapter
of Lansing's career shows, postdiction is how Hollywood does business.
Academic research provides an alternate theory of Lansing's rise and
fall: It was just plain luck. After all, a film's path from Lansing's
greenlight to opening weekend is subject to unforeseen influences
ranging from bad chemistry on the set to nasty competition in the
theaters, and even after the movie is in the can its appeal is difficult
to judge. So one could argue that what is farfetched is not the
comparison of Lansing's success and failure to the tossing of darts, but
rather the belief that a studio chief's taste can really matter. That's
not a popular viewpoint in Hollywood, but there are exceptions, such as
former studio executive David Picker, who was quoted in "Adventures
in the Screen Trade" as having admitted, "If I had said yes to
all the projects I turned down, and no to all the ones I took, it would
have worked out about the same."
Few people—including Lansing—wish to discuss it, but in Lansing's
case there's already evidence that she was fired because of the
industry's flawed reasoning rather than her own flawed decision-making.
It's too early to determine how Brad Grey is doing, because Paramount's
2005 films (and even half of 2006's) already were in the pipeline when
Lansing left the company. But if we want to know roughly how Lansing
would have done in some parallel universe in which she had not been
forced out, all we need to do is look at the data from last year.
With films such as "War of the Worlds" and "The Longest
Yard," Paramount had its best summer since 1994 and saw its market
share rebound to nearly 10%. That isn't merely ironic—it's one of the
characteristics of randomness called regression to the mean: In any
series of random events, an extraordinary event is most likely to be
followed, due purely to chance, by a more ordinary one. Thus an
extraordinarily bad year is most likely to be followed by a better one.
A recent Variety headline read, "Parting Gifts: Old regime's pics
fuel Paramount rebound," but one can't help but think that, had
Viacom had more patience, the headline might have read, "Banner
year puts Paramount and Lansing's career back on track." [More]
I've been a big
believer in screenwriter William Goldman's famous 1983 pronouncement
that "Nobody knows anything" about what films will be a
Certainly luck plays a huge role, but, on the other hand, talent does
too. Sherry Lansing during her unluckiest year would still be a much
better studio head than, say, I would be during my luckiest year.
"Talent" includes the ability to function on little sleep, the
self-confidence to make decisions quickly, the ruthlessness to step on
the dreams of a lifetime and the personal warmth to keep too many people
from hating you for it.
Something to keep in mind is that at the very top of the decision-making
pyramid, the big decisions are often the ones that the underlings
couldn't decide upon because they are too much of a toss-up. The
nobodies who get $150 to read screenplays throw out the vast majority of
movie ideas. The ideas that make it to Sherry Lansing's desk are the
ones that, objectively, are close to a coin flip, so it's not surprising
that no executive's batting average at the top is all that good.
Say that somebody has brought you this package to greenlight -- Steven
Spielberg to direct Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts in Dan Brown's next
bestselling thriller. Can't miss right? Unfortunately, the agents for
Spielberg, Pitt, Roberts, and Brown all know that too, so they want you
to commit to paying $70 million in above the line costs just for the Big
4, plus $110 million in production costs, plus $80 million in marketing,
for an investment of $260 million, not counting interest costs, which
will be in the tens of millions. Okay, now is it such a sure thing? Can
you make a profit on this? Well, now it's pretty much of a toss-up as to
whether it would pay-off or not, so any idiot who can flip a coin
probably wouldn't be all that much worse at making the go-no go decision
than Sherry Lansing would be. But the point is that this opportunity
would never be brought to any idiot, only to somebody with a long track
record of making things happen.
So, you can't be too young. But, you can't be too old either.
Analogizing from sports statistics, it's also apparent that even the
most talented have peak years and burn out eventually. (Frequently, an
individual's best years precede the peak of his fame by quite some
time.) Jobs like running a studio that require tremendous energy are
particularly hard to do past a certain age. Soccer players, for example,
tend to be washed up around 30. There's now much discussion over whether
31-year-old David Beckham is too old to continue to play for England. On
the other hand, he has the kind of specialized skill that serves an old
player well -- on free kicks, nobody can bend it like Beckham still can.
As you get older, you want to do a few things extraordinarily well
because you won't be able to do everything well.
Running a studio, however, is more the job for an energetic generalist
than an aged specialist. Lansing turned 60 in 2004, which is rather old
in the dog years of moguldom.
Bush Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors Greg Mankiw, for
example, has a hard time thinking about immigration without proudly
dragging in his four grandparents who immigrated from the Ukraine.
I see unskilled
Mexican workers coming into the United States to find better
jobs, I cannot see any difference between them and four Ukrainian
immigrants I know who came into the United States almost a century ago
to find better lives. Those four Ukrainians were my grandparents. So to
me, taking a hard line on immigration feels a lot like slamming a door
in the face of my grandmother."
Paul Krugman wrote this spring in his New York Timescolumn:
These economists obviously feel that the most important purpose of
future American immigration policy is to validate the admission of their
own grandparents at Ellis
Island a century ago. Apparently, they haven't been educated to
understand the strong emotions driving their preferences. Their
individualist perspective seems to be too limited to comprehend many
human motivations, especially political ones.
ad Absurdum of the Cheap Labor Obsession: Having expended much
energy explaining why importing cheap labor is so good for America, The
New York Times now applies the same "logic" to China, in what Dean
Baker calls "one of the most convoluted articles yet on
The world's most populous nation, which has built its economic strength
on seemingly endless supplies of cheap labor, China may soon face
Demographers also expect strains on the household registration system,
which restricts internal migration. The system prevents young workers
from migrating to urban areas to relieve labor shortages, but officials
fear that abolishing it could release a flood of humanity that would
swamp the cities.
As workers become scarcer and more expensive in the increasingly
affluent cities along China's eastern seaboard, the country will face
growing economic pressures to move out of assembly work and other
labor-intensive manufacturing, which will be taken up by poorer
economies in Asia and beyond, and into service and information-based
The horror, the
First, at present China has, what, 400 or 500 million people in what you
could call the modern economy of factories, which leaves another 800 or
900 million people knee deep in rice paddies and the like, doing the
same jobs in roughly the same ways as their great-grandparents. China
has so much under-utilized labor that it has "internal
migration" controls to keep 'em down on the farm. Obviously, for
decades to come, the solution to any labor "shortage" in the
booming coastal regions is to let more inland farmers move to where the
Second, in the long run, China will likely follow Singapore in making a
transition from factory work to "service and information-based
industries," which, if you are Chinese, is a good thing: white
collar jobs are, on the whole, nicer than blue collar jobs.
wasn’t that long ago that I learned my economics, but back then this
was THE POINT of economic development. Countries wanted to have more
good paying jobs relative to the size of their population so that people
would not be forced to take the bad paying jobs. I am not quite sure
what theory of economic development the Times has where a lack of people
in low-paying jobs is a problem. (Maybe we can make Times reporters do
Just about everything else in the piece is equally incoherent. It gives
us the warning of the rising ratio of retirees to workers. But let’s
toss in some arithmetic. China’s per capita GDP is growing at more
than 8 percent annually. This means that in a decade, per capita income
will have more than doubled. Suppose the tax burden was raised by 10
percentage points to cover the higher ratio of retirees to workers, this
would leave the average worker more than 80 percent better off (assuming
that income growth is distributed in proportion to current income, a
very big assumption). What is the problem?
Wrong with the Democrats?" A brief excerpt from my upcoming
article in the July 31st issue of The American Conservative:
Democrats esteem themselves as more socially prestigious than
Republicans, their electoral prospects are undermined by the faint whiff
of failure that many Democratic voters exude, the impression that they
resent their country and compatriots because they haven't quite
fulfilled their own potential.
Surveys going back to 1972 have consistently found that more Republicans
than Democrats consider themselves to be "very happy." In a
2005 poll, the Pew Research Center discovered that fifty percent more
Republicans than Democrats rate themselves as "very happy,"
and that "if one controls for household income, Republicans still
hold a significant edge." Indeed, Pew reported that their multiple
regression analysis of what makes people content showed that "the
most robust correlations of all those described in this report are
health, income, church attendance, being married and, yes, being a
Republican. Indeed, being a Republican is associated not only with
happiness, it is also associated with every other trait in this
While it may (or may not) be admirable of liberals to want to
"comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable," it's also
hardly unreasonable for voters to assume that the party whose members,
on the whole, better manage their own lives could better manage the
George W. Bush
and Hoyt Thorpe: The best fictional portrait of George W. Bush so
far is Hoyt Thorpe, the mean, drunken fraternity boy in Tom Wolfe's
"I Am Charlotte Simmons." He's a bad boy, but also, if you
knew you were going to get in to a fight, somebody you'd want as your
Bush is the Peter Principle version of Hoyt Thorpe: a good guy to follow
in a drunken campus brawl, but, unfortunately, not a good guy to have as
the decisive battle of the Mexican Revolution, has its own flavor too,
with all the gory comedy of the First Bull Run mixed up with the
anti-fun, hard lessons of WW I trench warfare. Best of all, it's about a
confrontation between the ultimate macho cavalry leader, our old friend
Pancho Villa, and one of the most underrated generals in history, a
cool-headed, very un-Mexican dude named Alvaro Obregon. It's the
ultimate clash of brawn vs. brain, charisma vs. machine guns. Three
guesses who won."
So, what's wrong
with the Democrats? I'm working on an article about why Democrats
have such a hard time exploiting GOP incompetence in governing. Any
Update: Here's a new idea I haven't seen before:
worst thing that could happen to the Democrats is if Geo Bush announced
that he was really 1/4 black."
Request for help
with my hypothesis about voting, income, and education: Can anybody
with access to General Social Survey data or the like help me out with
testing my theory that Republicans tend to have higher standards of
living per level of educational credential while Democrats tend not to
make as much money as their education levels predict?
Here's a graph using fictitious data that I just made up off the top of
my head to give you an idea of what I think is happening. The vertical
axis is income in thousands and the horizontal axis is educational level
from 1 to 5, with 1 as high school dropout, 2 as high school graduate, 3
as some college, 4 as college graduate, and 5 as some postgrad.
Republicans are represented in red, Democrats in blue. I am betting that
more Republicans fall above the best fit line, more Democrats below
To make this
analysis simpler, I'd recommend looking just at non-Hispanic
The biggest problem with this analysis is the huge cost of living
differences around the country, with, for example, California 44% over
the national average and Texas 11% below it. White Democrats tend to
live in higher cost of living locations, so their standards of living
are lower than their raw incomes would indicate.
One way to reduce this problem is to look just at a single state with
fairly consistent cost of living within the state. Texas might be the
likeliest bet because it offers a big sample size of respondents, it's
the most urbanized state in the country, and its big cities (with the
possible exception of Austin) are not terribly expensive (in contrast,
Illinois or New York are pretty rural/small townish except where they
are extremely megalopolitan).
Another way is to adjust every individual for his state's cost of living
differences. Here's the ACCRA
table on cost of living by state that's updated for corporations
legend advises Japanese to grow taller if they want to win the World
(AFP) - Coach Zico bade farewell to Japan with a warning that the
Asian champions, who were humiliated in the World Cup, face an uphill
battle making up for their physical shortcomings.
The Brazilian legend, who is now looking for jobs at European clubs,
regretted that no Asian countries, barring Australia, advanced in the
"It is very disappointing that all the Asian teams failed to reach
the next round, but when you compare the teams with those who reached,
the difference is apparent," Zico told his final news conference
Monday as Japan's coach.
"No matter who their coaches are, it is up to the players. Unless
they try to catch up with top teams in the world mentally and
physically, it will be very difficult in the future as well."
Zico said that Asians, and particularly the Japanese, would always be
hurt by their small stature compared with other nationalities.
"Even in the future Asian qualifying rounds for the World Cup,
Japan will face a lot of long crosses from behind whenever they play a
team which has a height advantage," Zico said.
"The forwards of those teams are usually 190cm tall. Those of Italy
and the Netherlands are also tall. When they find it is difficult to
connect a ground pass, I'm sure they will send long crosses like
researchers are finding that vocational interests are primarily the
products of genetics and unique, or nonshared, environmental factors,
with shared family experiences holding less sway. The research may
indicate why some individuals are predisposed to careers in engineering.
It might also explain the high occurrence of autism in the families of
This tends to be
more true of middle class white Americans than of other people and
places. If you got switched at birth into, say, a potter subcaste in
India, you'd probably grow up to be a potter, even if your genetic
strong suit was, say, selling real estate.
"Charlton explained to Discovery News that humans have an inherent
attraction to physical youth, since it can be a sign of fertility,
health and vitality. In the mid-20th century, however, another force
kicked in, due to increasing need for individuals to change jobs, learn
new skills, move to new places and make new friends.
"A `child-like flexibility of attitudes, behaviors and knowledge'
is probably adaptive to the increased instability of the modern world,
Charlton believes. Formal education now extends well past physical
maturity, leaving students with minds that are, he said, `unfinished.'
"The psychological neoteny effect of formal education is an
accidental by-product -- the main role of education is to increase
general, abstract intelligence and prepare for economic activity, he
explained. ... "But formal education requires a child-like stance
of receptivity to new learning, and cognitive flexibility."
"People such as academics, teachers, scientists and many other
professionals are often strikingly immature outside of their strictly
specialist competence in the sense of being unpredictable, unbalanced in
priorities, and tending to overreact."
"Charlton added that since modern cultures now favor cognitive
flexibility, `immature' people tend to thrive and succeed, and have set
the tone not only for contemporary life, but also for the future, when
it is possible our genes may even change as a result of the
A striking change
in our society is visible by looking at the extras in 1930s movies vs.
today. What's apparent is that men in the past tried to look older than
they actually were, while men today try to look younger. This is clear
from the stars -- Keanu Reeves, Brad Pitt, and Tom Cruise are all at
least as old today on the calendar, but not in looks, as Humphrey Bogart
was in the "The Maltese Falcon" -- but everybody back then,
apparently, was trying to look wiser and more mature than they
Maybe Charlton is talking through his hat, but it's an idea that
deserves some consideration.
For example, attending high school wasn't all that common in America
until the Depression, when high school was used to warehouse teens to
keep them from competing for jobs with heads of households. (That's an
undiscussed pre-requisite for the success of the GI Bill's college
students after WWII -- the GI generation was the first to attend high
school in huge numbers.)
Why is there no
videogame criticism? I haven't really been keeping up with the
latest videogames since, oh, Ms. Pac-Man, so sometimes I worry that I'm
totally out of touch with the most vibrant art form of our age. But most
of the time, I feel fine about my obliviousness. A reader writes to
assure me that I'm not missing much:
there a market or audience for real videogame criticism? Really good
criticism isn't that easy, unlike reviewing, and I think it takes more
space than a lot of review/preview magazines will give. So I would think
there needs to be enough people who are willing to pay for criticism
that is more than just "reviews" in order for it to really
appear, or at least enough to make an encouragingly-sized audience.
And I'm not sure the audience for games, huge though it is, constitutes
that kind of audience or market.
1) Videogames are more addicting than other entertainment forms like
movies or music. For some people they seem to be like drugs:
There may be something about them that makes their appeal different from
other forms of art, whether highbrow or lowbrow or whatever, but that
has some similarities to other forms of recreation, like exercise or
socializing or drugs. So I wonder how much of the audience is interested
in criticism any more than those other forms of recreation inspire
2) As your reader said, games are very difficult to make—they take
years and cost a lot, and experimentation is risky, so they're at least
as artistically constrained as big budget tentpole studio films. A lot
of the more artistically-inclined designers have been dropping out of
the business or thinking publicly about doing so.
3) There's a resistance among gamers and reviewers to too much
"movie" in a game, as in if we wanted to watch a movie, I'd
watch a movie, skip the story and get to the game. So even if the
writing in a game is good—very, very, very rare—it's not generally
welcome unless it's also light. So that's another restriction on
narrative artists, that leaves critics less to work with.
4) They're loooong. Reviewers (as opposed to critics!) regularly
complain if a game is any less than 20 hours. Whereas they consider a
game that's more than 20 hours, and has superficial tweaks to justify
second and third playthroughs, to be a healthy package, rather than to
be bloated and having worn out the good parts with too much filler,
which is what it almost always is.
Most of the millions of people who fill out the industry's huge market
probably don't finish many games. This reduces interest in them as an
5) Good critics tend to be well-versed in their form--they've seen tons
of movies or heard tons of records or read tons of books. The comparable
stance for a game critic today would be to have been playing them for at
least two decades or so, across many expensive platforms from different
companies, with most games taking way longer to become "versed
in" than movies or records or even books... And unlike the other
forms, it's not easy to go back and revisit or learn about ones you've
missed--those platforms may be unavailable. So the pool of people who
really know what they're talking about or can potentially know what
they're talking about might be smaller than other fields, reducing in
turn the number who are also good writers.
6) When you get down to it, most games are about committing some sort of
act of violence! And a lot of the remainder are still about visceral
action. Other forms, such as movies, can certainly cater to that
impulse, but the lack of variety in what, fundamentally, videogames are
about is really pretty amazing when you think about it. Again, less to
work with for a critic…
3" (AKA, "The Return of the Teeming Freaks Return"):
A reader writes:
you see X-Men 3? It has a theme that fits squarely in your wheelhouse --
namely the sort of pretzels people tie themselves into when discussing
inherent, group-based biological differences. The plot is about a
treatment that cures mutants. This is treated as purely evil, and any
mutant who wants the treatment as a victim of self-hating bad faith. Yet
there are some mutants whose mutations are clearly pretty horrible
(there's one girl whose name I forget who will kill anybody she
touches). Nobody in the movie makes the third-grade suggestion that the
mutants with good mutations keep them, and the ones with bad mutations
get rid of them. This is just the reductio of the basic premise of the
series, which is that the mutants are at the same time godlike supermen,
and oppressed victims.
& Conquered By Scott McConnell A visit to Syria, Israel, and Palestine reveals the
barriers—physical as well as political—to Mideast peace.
Breaking By Joe W. Guthrie A soldier finds that training the Iraqi army is an unwinnable
Border Bargaining By W. James Antle III As the House and Senate negotiate an immigration bill, will amnesty
Bleeding-Heart Libertarian By Steve Sailer Can we aid the poor and shrink the welfare state? That’s Charles
Murray’s $10,000 question.
Monumental Mistakes By Peter Wood Elaborate memorials are often less about honor than ostentation. Unfinished Business By Stewart Nusbaumer A traffic accident ignites an anti-American powder keg in Kabul.
Losing Liberties Left and Right By Doug Bandow and Michael D.
Ostrolenk Advocates of limited government should look to their left.
The Mild, Mild Midwest By Steve Sailer Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” hits the silver
A Tale of Two Tyrants By Lee Congdon
June 1941: Hitler and Stalin by John Lukacs
18th wedding anniversary speech on NRO: On Gideon's Blog,
really want to hear Steve Sailer's comment on David
Frum's dvar torah on parshat shelach. If you get
at least halfway down, you'll figure out why.
really want to hear Mrs. Frum's comment on Mr. Frum's speech on the
occasion of their 18th wedding anniversary. I bet it was something like,
"David, that first part was very sweet, but WHAT THE HELL DID THE
REST OF IT HAVE TO DO WITH OUR MARRIAGE?"
Frum, in case you are wondering, is the former Bush speechwriter who
made up 2/3rd of the term "Axis
of Evil," which was perhaps the most disastrous phrase in the
history of American diplomacy. In early 2002, following 9/11 and the
quick expulsion of the Taliban from power, American prestige and power
were at historic heights. Unfortunately, the 2002 State of the Union
address claiming, preposterously, that Iraq, Iran, and North Korea
formed an "axis" began to persuade observers around the world
that the people running American foreign policy were either liars or
unbalanced or both, a conclusion that subsequent events have done little
Anyway, Frum's wedding anniversary speech
is worth reading to get a sense of the strange mental atmosphere of the
- "The Color of Crime 2005" is now available online
(Adobe PDF format).
- "How Racial
Preferences Backfire" is Stuart J. Taylor's summary in the
National Journal of Richard Sanders big study of the ill effects of law
school quotas. Sanders report itself can be downloaded here.
And here's an analysis
of the Texas Bar Exam results by race:
Do the differences in bar exam passing rates and scores among
racial/ethnic group correspond to the differences in their admissions
credentials and law school grades?
Yes. We found that on the average, the applicants in different
racial/ethnic groups performed as well on the bar exam as would be
expected on the basis of their law school admission credentials and law
on the decline of the middle class neighborhood.
Blowhard asks, "When I look over the many comments that
accumulate on my various postings about immigration policy ... what
puzzles me far more than the question "How can anyone fail to
succumb to the brilliance of my arguments?" is another question
entirely: "Why are so many Americans so very shy about expressing
- Tyler Cowen's latest, and perhaps lamest, argument
for massive Hispanic immigration. In another posting, this on his
favorite things Swiss, Tyler, who is exquisitely cultured, admits,
"These days I find Paul Klee repetitive." Perhaps someday
Tyler will explain why he favors the lumpenproletarianization of
American culture by a flood of Latin Americans with 5th grade
- Dennis Dale at Untethered
gives us a taste
of what "Repo Man" might have looked like if written and
directed by Marcel Proust. Then, shifting gears, he has his
way with the "Baja 500," the economists who signed that
"open letter" on immigration.
Kelly reviews Ken Loach's Cannes-winning IRA 1922 movie "The
Wind that Blows the Barley."
- New Englanders have the best vocabularies among white people,
according to the GSS, says Half
Chaos reports on a DNA study that finds little evidence for the
popular idea that New Mexico's Spanish-American (i.e., pre-Mexican
independence) settlers (e.g., Linda Chavez's and Sen. Ken Salazar's
Spanish-speaking ancestors arrived in what's now the American Southwest
about 400 years ago) included a sizable crypto-Jewish element.
Yet, in the narrow Hegelian/Marxist sense in which Fukuyama used the
term "History," he was correct. The big controversy of the
20th Century—socialism vs. capitalism—was effectively over. Pure
socialism was dead. Capitalism had survived, but not laissez-faire.
From now on there would be markets, but with government
Unfortunately, many commentators are still living in the past. They
think basic ideology is still the big issue—the free
market vs. socialism.
Well, history hasn't ended, but it has moved into a new stage. Regulated
capitalism has won, so most of the political struggles in the future are
not going to be about the old boldface big ideas like nationalizing the
means of production, but about thefine print.
Contra Fukuyama, there will never be a ceasefire in this struggle
between the clever and the clueless. The Age of Ideology is over but the
Age of the Fine Print is upon us.
For instance, back in 1996 when the California legislature unanimously deregulated
electricity market, few in public life bothered to read the fine
print because the ideological principle of deregulation seemed so
historically inevitable at the time. Well, it turned out the devil was
definitely in the details. The only people who mastered the minutiae
were the traders at Enron
and other such firms, who raped
California out of billions.
A basic strategy for the crafty to make money is privatizing profits and
socializing costs. To do this, they use tame politicians and journalists
to help them hand their costs of doing business off to the public.
(Economists, when they aren't blinded
by ideology, call these costs "externalities.")
post-Cold War globalization, the Age of Ideology gives way to the Age of
Ethnology. The big question changes from the (Platonic) policy-oriented
“what form of state is best?” to the (Leninist) political-oriented
“whose group rules the state?"
It's pretty clear that cultural identity now trumps political economy in
determining the great questions of statecraft. The equity of civil
society and the efficacy of state polity depends as much upon the
citizenry’s individual natures as it does upon the civitas’
Cultural identity issues are typically unmentionable in normal ethical
language since they essentially boil down to grabs for power and money
by rival gangs/tribes. That is one reason why cultural theory is so
unintelligible – if its assumptions and conclusions were stated in
plain language people would laugh or throw-up.
The Secret of
Soccer: From my article "One World Cup: Soccer Gives American
Elites the Chance to Celebrate Nationalism in Other Countries, Not
Ours" in the 7/17/06 issue of The
American Conservative (not online):
soccer is usually extolled or derided as a Eurosport -- Tom Piatak calls
it "the metric system in short pants" -- it is actually
another triumph of Anglo-Saxon culture. Sports have been played all over
the world for all of history, but 19th Century Britain and its offshoots
possessed a genius for self-organization. The Victorian emphasis on fair
play created enough trust for local sportsmen to be able to cooperate
nationally. Most of today's major spectator sports, such as baseball,
basketball, track & field, ice hockey, boxing, cricket, tennis, and
golf, were formalized by English-speakers in the 1800s.
Soccer, rugby, and American football evolved out of medieval English
mass mêlées in which the livelier lads of rival villages would
celebrate Shrove Tuesday by trying to propel an inflated pig's bladder
past the other mob. In England, soccer became the gentleman's game
played by thugs and rugby the thug's game played by gentlemen...
Tellingly, one place where soccer is not terribly popular is in
Britain's cultural offspring. Being equally blessed with cooperative
creativity, Canadians instead devised ice hockey and Australians
developed Aussie rules football.
Similarly, Americans didn't need to import soccer or rugby because we
could cultivate our own variant. American football was adopted by the
Republic's commercial classes and refined into the most perfect sport
for television the world has known. While soccer remains hamstrung by
the need to keep the game affordable in the Third World, Americans could
adopt costly innovations such as separate offensive and defensive units
that make the football far more exciting than soccer, where tired
players often visibly dog it on the field.
In summary, Americans play soccer (at least until we grow coordinated
enough to try other sports), but we don't watch it on TV. Quite
possibly, we've found the world's best way to deal with soccer.
A reader comments:
proving the theory in the title of your article, the diversity office of
my company has made watching the world cup a “diversity” event,
where it will be shown on televisions in the workplace (usually on
business news) and they are supplying noisemakers and flags for us to
root for teams. We are “encouraged” to get into the games by
bringing in foods, artifacts, etc. Each part of the firm roots for a
team, and as they are eliminated, the losing groups join the winning
groups. I really have no idea what this is supposed to accomplish,
something about sensitivity/awareness, but I think your point about
elites wanting to celebrate other people’s nationalism is basically
critic leaps to her death from lesbian lover's luxury apartment
building: After Nancy Hopkins, the second leading lady of last
year's Larry Summers Brouhaha was Denice D. Denton for daring to
"speak truth to power," as Denton modestly described her
contribution to silencing Summers for heresy about gender differences.
Francisco Chronicle reports today:
Santa Cruz Chancellor Denice D. Denton, who had come under fire for her
housing perks and helping her partner obtain a UC job, died today after
jumping off the roof of the 42-story apartment building where her
Denton, 46, died at 8:17 a.m. after jumping from The Paramount apartment
building on Mission Street. A guest at a nearby hotel reported the jump,
Denton's mother was in the building at the time of her death, police
Denton may have been living in the 42-story building, police said. Her
partner, Gretchen Kalonji, has an apartment in the building, according
to a San Francisco directory listing. Calls to the apartment's phone
number were not immediately returned.
A Web site for The Paramount claims it is the tallest luxury rental
apartment building in San Francisco.
Denton had been provided a 2,680-square-foot home on the UC Santa Cruz
campus, the subject of a story
in a Chronicle series this spring examining perks and pay in the UC
Before she moved into her University-provided house on campus in 2005,
she asked for dozens of improvements -- everything from a new fence for
her dogs to new wiring, speakers, amplifier and CD player for a built-in
sound system, according to university documents.
In all, a $600,000 upgrade was made to the home, though it is not clear
how many of the improvements were at Denton's request. Denton's annual
salary is $282,000.
As a result of that and other spending disclosed in the press, UC
President Robert Dynes tightened rules for renovation projects at
university-owned homes and the offices of top executives.
In 2005, UC unions protested the hiring of Kalonji, a former University
of Washington professor of materials science, into a $192,000 UC
management position. UC also provided Kalonji, then Denton's partner of
seven years, a housing assistance allowance of up to $50,000.
Denice D. Denton was celebrated for standing up to Summers to, in her
words, "speak truth to power." This heroic tableau of the
humble, no-doubt-discriminated-against woman engineering professor
daring to defy the mighty male university president lost some luster
when it emerged that Denton was UC Santa Cruz's chancellor-designate at
$275,000 annually. One college supremo attempting to intimidate another
one into not mentioning inconvenient facts is not what most people
visualize as speaking truth to power.
makes me sick,' said Mary Higgins, an administrative assistant at UCSF
and statewide president of UC's clerical union, which did not get a
raise this year. 'It is a violation of the public trust and it is just
more of the same.'"
Denton had a powerful defender in the woman scientist who had formerly
headed UC Santa Cruz. M.R.C. Greenwood praised UCSC's
two-for-the-price-of-three deal for the lesbian academics as the cost of
gender diversity: UCSC "should be commended for attracting and
hiring two very qualified female engineers."
Greenwood herself had just moved up to provost of the UC system, at
$380,000 per year, almost $100,000 more than the man she replaced.
Moreover, she had quietly brought with her a female scientist friend
from Santa Cruz to fill the novel post of "Executive Faculty
Associate to the Provost."
The black hole
of contemporary culture: This seems like a particularly uncreative
time in contemporary culture, with most of the traditional arts arousing
little excitement: E.g., Name three painters younger than David Hockney.
The New York Times recently announced the results of a poll of the best
novels of the last 25 years, and practically all the winning writers
were born in the early 1930s. Perhaps architecture has a little buzz
right now, although most of the architects winning critical hosannas
seem meretricious to me, but, overall, the high culture fields seem
pretty somnolent. The popular culture of the 20th Century also seems to
be treading water. Movies are okay, but certainly not getting better.
Popular music, after three generations of extraordinary stylistic
innovation, seems stuck, with most of the styles that were in place by 25
years ago remaining dominant today. Television ads are glitzier than
ever, but so what? This is a good decade for hour long TV dramas, but a
weak period for half-hour TV comedies. And so forth...
So, where is the creative talent going? The most obvious candidate is
into video games. But video games, at present, seem particularly
ill-suited for cross-fertilization with other media. The lack of quality
video-game criticism is particularly striking. John Scalzi at Whatever
offers an exhaustive explanation of why there isn't yet much videogame
writing that would be interesting to anybody other than somebody
considering buying the game. (Via 16
A reader writes
problem with video games is the difficulty of making them. The software
industry as a whole is very immature, relative to its potential, and
from what I can see this is even more true of video games. The technical
demands of making video games are so great that artists stay away in
droves, at least in terms of where they can have an impact on
storytelling. Very few people are going to have the motivation or the
ability to impact the storytelling aspect of gamemaking until the
technical hurdles come (way) down. Right now, like water, innovation in
gamemaking is seeking its easiest path, which is graphics. Until
photorealism, then NPR (non-photorealistic rendering) are mastered,
they're going to suck up all the effort an innovation. In other words,
good storytelling is still a looooooong way off, at least as anything
approaching an industry standard.
(ironically, the geometric increases in graphics have made artists a far
bigger part of the process, but only visual artists, so we get prettier
and prettier vast wastelands of content free of any human feeling)
Until then, you're not going to see any real criticism because frankly,
there's nothing to criticize. I gave up on video games a few years ago
because I live in an area that doesn't get broadband. Without broadband
multiplayer online games are a no-go, and without multiplayer action
games video games are largely a wasteland (because AI doesn't sell like
graphics, ergo the state of AI in games today is absolutely pitiful).
I don't think the requirements of gamemaking today (elite coding) leave
much room for artistic or creative genius. Until, as that article's
author suggests, there are some standard platforms for gamemaking that
allow creative types to elbow technical types out of the way and infuse
some art into gamemaking, it's going to resemble auto manufacturing far
more than it does filmmaking; ergo, you get reviewers, not critics.
My info is all a few years old, but yes, when I was into games finding
honest reviewers was very difficult. In my experience game reviewers are
shameless shills, though I wouldn't go so far as to call them all
corrupt; they're fanboys, generally, goofballs with stars in their eyes
who are incapable of objectivity and generally really do like every
piece of crap game that comes along.
"When a Man
stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes
anything." As I mentioned in my review of "The Da
Vinci Code," this most famous of all G.K. Chesterton quotes doesn't
appear to have actually been said by Chesterton in its current lapidary
form. A reader points me toward one source in one of Chesterton's Father
Brown detective stories:
part of something I've noticed more and more in the modern world,
appearing in all sorts of newspaper rumours and conversational
catchwords; something that's arbitrary without being authoritative.
People readily swallow the untested claims of this, that, or the other.
It's drowning all your old rationalism and scepticism, it's coming in
like a sea; and the name of it is superstition.' He stood up abruptly,
his face heavy with a sort of frown, and went on talking almost as if he
were alone. 'It's the first effect of not believing in God that you lose
your common sense and can't see things as they are. Anything that
anybody talks about, and says there's a good deal in it, extends itself
indefinitely like a vista in a nightmare. And a dog is an omen, and a
cat is a mystery, and a pig is a mascot, and a beetle is a scarab,
calling up all the menagerie of polytheism from Egypt and old India; Dog
Anubis and great green-eyed Pasht and all the holy howling Bulls of
Bashan; reeling back to the bestial gods of the beginning, escaping into
elephants and snakes and crocodiles; and all because you are frightened
of four words: 'He was made Man'.'
Liz Smith quotes me again: From her NY
CODE: Here's a thought from the American Conservative film critic Steve
Sailer: "In the climax to 'The Da Vinci Code,' we discover that one
of the characters is Jesus' last living descendant. This . . . hooey is
superstition of the grossest sort. Consider how genealogy actually
works. Go back 80 generations (2,000 years), and your family tree has a
septillion slots to fill. If Jesus had any living descendants today, he
would have millions of them. The only way there could be just one
surviving heir is if the family had relentlessly inbred so incestuously
that the latest Merovingian would have three eyes."
Good grief, more
Sabbateans! A reader in Istanbul writes about the crypto-Jewish
ethnic group, descended from followers of the apostate false messiah
Shabbetai Zevi, who make up a big chunk of modern Turkey's secular
a Turkish saying that goes: "When a madman meets another madman, he
hides his stick". It means that people - especially people of
extreme nature - tend to inspire reasonable behavior in each other.
Seems like our "Muslim fundamentalists," in their craze to
discover conspiracies in the way Turkey has been steered in the last
century, hit upon something quite significant with their research into
the Donmeh. They were among the most relentless and instrumental, though
by no means the sole, element in unearthing this.
But whenever their opinion leaders meet with alleged members of the
Sabbetaians in the media - either the TV or the write-ups on the
Internet - the discussion becomes remarkably sober, well-reasoned, and
empirically grounded. Using micro-demographic techniques like census
records, marital bondings and family genealogies, cemeteries,
residential areas, common private schools, enterprises with certain
connections, etc., they have aggregated quite a clear picture now of
I imagine most
readers are heartily sick by now of my obsession with the Donme,
the secretive ethnic group descended from followers of a Jewish false
messiah who apparently make up much of the secular
elite of Turkey, but it strikes me as reasonably important for
Americans to understand more about how Turkey works:
the rest, click the "Permalink" below ...]
downside to privatization: The Becker-Posner blog is discussing
a deal to sell the Indiana Toll Road for $3.8 billion. An overlooked
cost to privatization is that privatization saps the quality of government employees if the more ambitious can quit and go into identical jobs in the profit-making sector.
the rest, click the "Permalink" below ...]
"Rock 'n' Roll" huge hit on London stage: Ben
Brantley writes in the NYT about Tom Stoppard's new play blending
the Czech Spring of 1968 and Pink Floyd:
what was that old nonsense about Tom Stoppard as all head and no heart?
Mr. Stoppard's exciting new play of immutable passions and mutable
politics, "Rock 'n' Roll," which opened last week at the Royal
Court Theater here and has become the hottest ticket in town, is so
flush with feeling that it never seems to stop trembling."
identified with Sir Tom (for example, his list of favorite writers --
Waugh, Nabokov, and Macaulay -- is quite similar to mine), seeing myself
as his less intelligent, lazier, and even more emotionally shallow
doppelganger. So, I'm happy to see him still on top of his game at age
68. It gives me hope.
nail in the coffin of the Freakonomics theory that abortion cut crime:
When I pointed out to Steven D. Levitt in 1999
that not only did crime not drop among the first cohort born after the
legalization of abortion, but that the age 14-17 homicide rate hit its
historic peak in 1993-94, his defense was, in effect, well, okay, but
that's only at the national level. If you had run a massive
econometric study at the state level, like I did, you'd see my theory is
Last fall, economists Christopher Foote and Christopher Goetz finally
reran Levitt and Donohue's original state-level analysis and found
Levitt had made two
fatal technical mistakes. When those flubs were corrected, his
entire claimed effect disappeared. (Of course, by then, Freakonomics was
the publishing sensation of the year and Levitt had signed deals with
ABC and the New York Times, so he cried all the way to the bank.)
Levitt & Donohue's response was to present a new data set,
which they claimed validated their original theory.
Now, two economists have analyzed their new data and here's the
beginning and the end of their brief paper:
Angela K. Dills Department of Economics, Clemson University
Jeffrey A. Miron Visiting Professor of Economics, Harvard University
Donohue and Levitt (2001) (DLI) consider the hypothesis that U.S.
legalization of abortion in the early 1970s caused much of the decline
in crime in the 1990s. Foote and Goetz (2006) (FG) show, however, that
one key result in DLI contained a coding error; dummies for state-year
interactions were inadvertently omitted from the regressions. FG
demonstrate that correcting this error, along with estimating the
regressions using arrest rates rather than arrest levels, suggests
virtually no effect of legalized abortion on crime.
Donohue and Levitt (2006) (DLII) acknowledge the coding error and agree
that correcting the mistake and using arrest rates suggests no effect of
legalized abortion on crime. DLII argue, however, that use of an
improved abortion measure and an instrumental variable revives or even
strengthens their original result...
Our conclusion is that the kind of analysis considered in Table VII of
DLII does not suggest a quantitatively important effect of legalized
abortion on crime. The best case for such an effect is the IV results in
columns (6) and (7); these imply that abortion legalization explain
24-25.9% of the 1991-1998 decline in violent crime and 7.1-8.1% of that
in property crime. None of these coefficients is statistically
significant at conventional levels, however, and the results in column
(8) suggest they rely on an implausible mechanism relating abortion to
require large proof, and after seven years, Levitt hasn't come close to
meeting the burden of proof.
By the way, you can download the latest version of Ted Joyce's paper here.
wonderfulness of earplugs: I want to plug earplugs, which have made
my life better. I work better and sleep better because of them. They
also make airline travel less awful. You can buy a big jar of 100 orange
foam ones for about $10, which should last you a year. If you have to
work in a cubicle,
what are you waiting for?
A reader writes:
we're doing plugs (pun intended), these days I find Flents' Quiet Please
white foam plugs, which claim only a 29 rating, much better than the
Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, crypto-Jewish? Conspiracy
theories were quite prestigious in the 1970s, but ever since the release
of Oliver Stone's 1991 movie "JFK," the elite cultural
atmosphere has turned strongly against them.
And yet, there really have been lots of secret societies, cabals, covert
activities, and the like down through history. For example, the history
of Italy since WWII can't be adequately explained without reference
to the Mafia, Operation Gladio "leave-behind" cells, the
P2 Masonic Lodge, and secret CIA funding of the anti-Communist parties,
not to mention all of the Communist conspiracies on the other side.
It turns out, of course, that most of the secrets are pretty mundane. My
late father-in-law, a 32nd degree Mason, liked to say that he couldn't
tell any outsiders the secret protocols of the Masons because it might
be fatal to them.
"Because if you told them, you'd have to kill them?" I asked.
"No, because if they heard what we really do, they might die
the rest, click the "Permalink" below ...]
It's a Borges
Borges Borges Borges World (Sometimes): I have a taste for tales
that sound like bizarre fictions made up by Jorge Luis Borges but are
actually true. My favorite is the story of the shocking
discovery that economist John Maynard Keynes made when he purchased
a trunk full of Isaac Newton's papers.
Another true story worthy of Borges is the False Messiah, Sabbatai Zevi.
One of the major figures in Paul Johnson's A History of the Jews
is the 17th Century mystic Sabbatai
Zevi, a bipolar ecstatic from Smyrna who, with the help of his
brilliant publicity agent Nathan of Gaza, declared himself the redeemer
of the Jews. His claims caused wild excitement in Jewish communities
throughout the world. But when Sabbatai Zevi (there are alternate
spellings such as Shabbetai Zevi and Shabbtai Tzvi) traveled to
Constantinople in 1666, the Ottoman Sultan threatened him with death
unless he performed a miracle or converted to Islam. He chose the
Now that might have been the end of the cult, but Nathan of Gaza was no
ordinary PR flack. Johnson writes (p. 268-272):
was an outstanding example of a highly imaginative and dangerous Jewish
archetype which was to become of world importance when the Jewish
intellect became secularized. He could construct a system of
explanations and predictions of phenomena which was both highly
plausible and at the same time sufficiently imprecise and flexible to accommodate
new events when they occurred. And he had the gift of presenting his
protean-type theory, with its built-in capacity to absorb phenomena by a
process of osmosis, with tremendous conviction and aplomb. Marx and
Freud were to exploit a similar capacity...
The apostasy was transformed into a necessary paradox or dialectical contradiction.
Far from being a betrayal, it was in fact the beginning of a new mission
to release the Lurianic [Kabbala] sparks which were distributed among
the gentiles and in particular in Islam... It meant descending into the
realm of evil. In appearance he [Zevi] was submitting to it, but in
reality he was a Trojan Horse in the enemy's camp. Warming to his task,
Nathan pointed out that Zevi had always done strange things. This was
merely the strangest -- to embrace the shame of apostasy as the final
sacrifice before revealing the full glory of the messianic triumph...
Nathan quickly provided massive documentation in Biblical, talmudic and
a result, the Shabbatean movement, sometimes openly, sometimes in
secret, not only survived the debacle of the apostasy but continued in
existence for over a century.
But is there an
equally Borgesian sequel to this sequel? Are the Shabbateans, also known
as the Donmeh or
Dönme or Doenmeh, still around today? The Israeli newspaper Haaretz
reported in 2002:
professor not descended from Genghis Khan after all: You
probably heard the story of how Bryan Sykes's genealogical DNA testing
firm Oxford Associates had declared mild-mannered accounting professor
Thomas R. Robinson to be the direct male-line descendent of Genghis
Khan. It was pretty amusing because in Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's
Guide to the Galaxy there was a Mr. Prosser who was "a
direct male-line descendant of Genghis
Khan, though intervening generations and racial mixing had so
juggled his genes that he had no discernible Mongoloid characteristics,
and the only vestiges left in Mr. L. Prosser of his mighty ancestry were
a pronounced stoutness about the tum and a predilection for little fur
the rest, click the "Permalink" below ...]
"No, really, I won't. I very much want to get across and I'd be
awfully grateful if you'd carry me."
Eventually, the frog agrees. He swims across with the snake on his back.
When they get to Iowa, the snake crawls off and says, "Thank you
very much. If there's anything I can ever do for you, please let me
Puzzled, the frog says, "I don't get it. I was sure you were going
to bite me and we'd both drown. Why didn't you?"
The snake replies, "Because it's the Middle West."
Just as Brazil, soccer's dominant nation, has been the "Country of
the Future" for, roughly, ever, the quadrennial arrival of another
month-long World Cup reminds us that, for Americans, soccer is the Sport
of the Future and it always will be.
Every four years Americans get lectured that the World Cup is the
biggest single-sport competition on Earth and that we'll no doubt be
hopping on this global bandwagon Real Soon Now...
Lately, though, a soccer-crazed fraction of our postnationalist verbal
elite has switched tactics and now imply that Americans will never get
excited about soccer as a spectator sport because we just don't deserve
"the beautiful game." ...
This World Cup in Germany offers the soccerati the opportunity to flaunt
their cosmopolitanism as they elucidate the exhilarating subtleties you
likely missed in that Croatia-Japan nil-nil draw because you prefer
native pastimes such as baseball, basketball, or, God forbid, NASCAR.
The "celebrate diversity" folk want America to become
athletically homogenous with the rest of the world. To them, the tepid
American response to the World Cup is evidence of our bigotry, our
xenophobic failure to get with the global program. As Kevin Michael
Grace says, their slogan would be "One people, one world, one
sport," if they weren't so freaked out by all the host country fans
waving German flags. Ironically, while the World Cup is an occasion for
globalist preening in the U.S., in the rest of the world it's a prime
locus for jingoism...
Soccer is by no means a bad sport to play. It's fun, good exercise,
cheap, and, unlike basketball or football, it doesn't help to be 7-feet
tall or 300 pounds. In fact, soccer shares many virtues with hiking, but
there are no hiking hooligans and nobody calls you a chauvinistic boor
if you don't watch Sweden v. Paraguay on TV in the World Hiking Cup.
the Pixar animators do everything imaginable to infuse the cars with
personalities, automobiles still prove ill-chosen vehicles for two hours
of anthropomorphizing. In particular, Luigi and Guido, the
Italian-stereotype Fiats working at the Pirelli tire shop, suffer from
the autos' lack of hands with which to gesticulate vociferously. A more
subtle deficiency of this kids' movie is that there are no kids in the
factory-built world of "Cars."
And then there's the fanatically precise scenery. One of Jorge Luis
Borges's funnier conceits was the fictional Chinese emperor so adamant
about his imperial cartographers' providing more detail that he
eventually had them draw a map of China exactly as large as China
itself. "Cars" is similarly unclear on the concept of artistic
abstraction. Back in 1995's "Toy Story," John Lasseter's
computer graphic techniques were charming in their creative
simplification and exaggeration of reality. Now, the technology has
evolved to where -- through a prodigious expenditure of talent, time,
and money -- the CGI desert in "Cars" looks virtually as
photorealistically genuine as the actual desert in, say, the modestly
budgeted "Road Warrior" -- and, therefore, almost as pointless
as the emperor's 1:1 scale map.
IQ Study: Over on GNXP, Darth Quixote offers a thorough
analysis of a small (38 cases) but impressive French study of the
impact of adoption on IQ at age 14. Bottom-line looks roughly like:
Nature 60 - Nurture 40
This is a larger role for environment than several American adoption
studies have found, but this French effort put a lot of work into
getting around the "restriction of range" problem (they seldom
let people in the bottom ranks of society adopt children). They found 8
kids who were the biological children of professional class parents but
were raised by farmers or laborers.
Heredity seems to have more impact on the most g-loaded parts of IQ.
know this is not really scientifically rigorous, but I thought you might
find it interesting. And, no, I didn't pay for it! I took the Tickle
IQ test for fun and several days later got an email saying I could
get further analysis for free if I look at a couple of ads.
These Tickle state
rankings (below) look pretty reasonable to me as estimates of the
average non-Hispanic white IQ by state (I presume white people are the
main market for online IQ tests, although I may be wrong), with scores
boosted by about 10 points due to self-selection and/or grade
inflation (I presume most people who take the test want to get a
3-digit score. I'm reminded of when John
Derbyshire asked Charles Murray to help him interpret the score he'd
gotten on a free IQ quiz. Murray replied waspishly, "You took a
heavily advertised, free, seven-minute IQ test and you want me to tell
you what that says about your intelligence? Haven't you answered your
own question already?") [For
the rest, click the "Permalink" below ...]
contribution to statistics & genetics: Many people can't see
beyond John Podhoretz's oafish exterior and thuggish behavior, such as
Weiss an email entitled "Look Out!" that read only
"We know where you live!" Yet, his contributions to world
culture include being responsible for the invention of the word "Podenfreude,"
which was coined by his coworkers at the Washington Times to describe
their delight in their weekly ritual of gathering around in JPod's
absence and laughing while one of them read aloud his sublimely awful
Nor do many people realize that Podhoretz, the scion of a distinguished
intellectual family, has contributed to the further development of a
trend in statistical analysis initiated by Francis Galton by being the
world's greatest living exemplar of "regression beneath the
LESSONS OF THE ASHKENAZIM. Groups
by Steven Pinker
Post date 06.15.06 | Issue date 06.26.06
My grandparents were immigrants from Eastern Europe who owned a small
necktie factory on the outskirts of Montreal. While visiting them one
weekend, I found my grandfather on the factory floor, cutting shapes out
of irregular stacks of cloth with a fabric saw. He explained that by
carving up the remnants that were left over when the neckties had been
cut out and stitching them together in places that didn't show, he could
get a few extra ties out of each sheet of cloth. I asked him why he was
doing this himself rather than leaving it to his employees. He shrugged,
tapped his forehead, and said, "Goyishe kop," a term of
condescension that literally means "gentile head."... [More]
To read the rest,
you have to go through free registration.
Lacrosse Brouhaha: Predictably, the case is imploding, but DA Mike
Nifong, even though he used his witchhunt to win re-election, has yet to
withdraw his indictment of the three Great
White Defendants. The question now is whether anyone -- the DA, the
accuser, the Duke administration, or the media minions who hyped this
case as proof of white racism -- will suffer the slightest punishment
for their actions.
Don't count on it. As you'll recall, Al Sharpton's career has not
exactly suffered for his role in orchestrating the Tawana Brawley hoax.
In response to my last blog post, Steve Sailer posed the following
question in the comments:
abortion rate among whites fell from 19 in 1991 to 11 in 1999, according
to the Alan Guttmacher Institute of Planned Parenthood. Should we thus
soon expect an upturn in crime rates among white 14-17 year olds?
is a great question. And the answer—no, we likely shouldn’t expect
an upturn in crime—may surprise you. [More]
and unskilled Hispanic immigration supporter Tyler Cowen writes on his
Marginal Revolution blog about two Mexican villages he’s visited in
the state of Guerrero, a good one and an awful one, then affirms his
hope that Mexican immigration to the U.S. will turn out like the good
village. I respond by asking some obvious questions, here.
Scientific Inquiry in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave,
Part 426: Bruce Lahn's discovery last fall of two genes apparently
related to brain development that have been under recent selection (here's
my blog posting on it) was quantitatively overwhelmed by Bob
Moyzis's HapMap analysis last December of 1,800 genes, no doubt hundreds
of which are related to cognition, that have been under different
selection pressures on different continents over the last 50,000 years.
Nicholas Wade of the New York Times didn't have a chance to cover
Moyzis's paper when it came out, so much of the attention remains on
Lahn's earlier work.
I talked to this WSJ reporter for about an hour six weeks ago when he
was researching this article, as I mentioned in my review
of Nicholas Wade's Before the Dawn.
From the front page of today's Wall Street Journal:
Dr. Lahn Connects Evolution In Some Groups to IQ; Debate on Race and DNA
'Speculating Is Dangerous' By ANTONIO REGALADO June 16, 2006; Page A1
CHICAGO -- Last September, Bruce Lahn, a professor of human genetics at
the University of Chicago, stood before a packed lecture hall and
reported the results of a new DNA analysis: He had found signs of recent
evolution in the brains of some people, but not of others.
mention the genocide!" -- I noted below that New
Republic editor Franklin Foer's 26 page chapter on the Ukraine in
his soccer book manages to mention the Jewish Holocaust but not the
Ukrainian Holocaust (or Holodomor). A reader points out that this
isn't even the Foer Family record for for most pages written about the
Ukraine without any mention of the recent
unpleasantness of 1932-33:
you may know, Franklin Foer's brother, Jonathan Safran Foer, wrote a
popular novel, Everything
Is Illuminated, since made into a movie, about a young Jewish
fellow named Jonathan Safran Foer who visits the Ukraine to find the
Ukrainians who sheltered his grandparents from the Nazis. The premise
was based on real life, though Jonathan never found them.
The Laws of
Economics v. the Law of Economists: Not content with co-owning a
popular blog, Marginal
Revolution, and having a gig as a New York Times columnist, George
Mason U. economist Tyler Cowen has been promoting massive Hispanic
immigration through op-eds in Slate,
Times, and now the Washington
Post, in a piece of sophistry on Hispanic assimilation entitled
In, Moving Up." Cowen wants to Hispanicize
America because he likes Latin American cuisine
but readers of his blog know that, although editors seem accept him as
an expert on immigration, until very recently he didn't actually know
much of anything about the effects of immigration on the U.S., and that
all of his research in recent weeks has been devoted to developing
talking points for his preconceived bias.
Out and Tap Someone By James Bovard If the Bush administration is telling the truth when it says that no
innocent Americans’ phones are tapped, we must all be guilty.
New Democrat By W. James Antle III James Webb was Reagan’s Navy Secretary—and now wants to be
Virginia’s Democratic senator. Prophets in Their Own Land By Michael C. Desch Analyzing the smear campaign against scholars who question U.S.
policy toward Israel
Dynasty Through Diversity By Steve Sailer Why Bush wants to import 66 million immigrants
The Blog Ate My Life By Diana Moon Blogging behind enemy lines
The Church of Dan Brown By Steve Sailer Ron Howard’s “Da Vinci Code”
the Ukrainian Holocaust: In downtown LA, I noticed a bronze
plaque in the civic plaza that reads
memory of 7,000,000 Ukrainians, victims of Russian communism, who lost
their freedom, property and life by order of the Soviet government
during 1932-1933 genocide by starvation in Ukraine. -- Dedicated by
the Genocide in Ukraine Commemorative Committee, Los Angeles.
I presume the
number 7 million on the plaque was chosen by Ukrainian-Americans to one
(million) up the 6 million dead of the Jewish Holocaust, but what was
the real number?
Rock 'n' Roll
is the new play by Sir Tom Stoppard. It is said to combine, in some hard
to predict Stoppardian fashion, the stories of both Pink Floyd's
acid-casualty Syd Barrett and of Czechoslovakia between the Soviet
invasion of 1968 and the Velvet Revolution of 1989.
By my count, that makes Rock 'n' Roll Stoppard's ninth play to
deal, disapprovingly, with Eastern European Communism.
extended families, the cash culture, and corruption: I recently
spent a couple of weeks on jury duty in a tax fraud case involving an
extended family of Iranian immigrant used car dealers, which turned out
to be a horrendous fiasco of justice. It's rather astonishing I was
allowed on the jury because the case confirmed much of what I've been writing
about all decade about how vulnerable Western societies, with their
nuclear family values that have made them successful polities, are to
exploitation by immigrants from parts of the world with extended family
values. The same nepotism and in-group morality that makes their home
countries so dismal that they leave, also gives the immigrants them
large advantages at cheating us naive Westerners in our countries. I
won't say more now about my jury duty because I'll write about it at
length later, but I was reminded of it by this news story from the UK Guardian
that I briefly mentioned in my new
as politically contrasting as David
Goodhart, editor of the fine British centre-left journal Prospect,
Salter, the perceptive rightist political scientist, have argued
that immigration undermines the welfare state by sapping solidarity
among fellow citizens. [For
the rest, click the "Permalink" below ...]
The Future Looks
Dumberer: The 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress
scores are now out for eighth
grade Science, and the cutting edge state of California, home of
Silicon Valley and Cal Tech but also of millions of illegal aliens,
ranks second worst out of the 44 states measured, ahead of only
Mississippi. In California, only 18% of eighth graders scored at the
Proficient or Advanced levels, versus 27% nationwide.
and Alva Myrdal were the intellectual parents of the Swedish welfare
state. In the 1930s they came to believe that Sweden was the ideal
candidate for a cradle-to-grave welfare state. First of all, the Swedish
population was small and homogeneous, with high levels of trust in one
another and the government.
Keep a close eye
on your heirs during 2010: Half
Sigma points out:
wise members of Congress have determined that the estate tax will be 45%
in 2009, 0% in 2010, and then 55/60% in 2011 and years after. Clearly,
the best year to die is 2010. By dying in 2010 a rich person essentially
doubles the amount of money his heirs will receive.
I predict that there will be a mysterious increase in deaths among the
very wealthy in 2010.
a decade, Charles Murray publishes massive data-driven volumes such as Losing
Ground (1984), The Bell Curve (1994), and Human
Achievement (2003). In between, he pens smaller, more philosophical
books such as In Pursuit: Of Happiness and Good Government (1988)
and What it Means to Be a Libertarian (1997).
In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State is Murray's
latest little work. Only 127 pages (not counting the elaborate
appendices), it offers a striking combination of futuristic policy
wonkery and Murray's old-fashioned notions, derived from Aristotle,
Jefferson, and his own small-town upbringing, of how people can lead a
good life. "Happiness is lasting and justified satisfaction with
one's life as a whole," he writes.
Having demonstrated in Losing Ground that the Great Society
poverty programs degraded the poor (a tour de force that ultimately led
to the successful welfare reform of 1996), but having also documented in
The Bell Curve that not all of our fellow citizens are cut out to
thrive in the highly libertarian society that he would ideally prefer,
Murray now offers in In Our Hands a "Plan" for a
generous but radically simplified welfare state. He suggests abolishing
all transfer programs, including Social Security, and replacing them
with a single grant of $10,000 to each adult.
I discussed his new book with him via e-mail:
Q. Is this your follow-up to The Bell Curve, where you
documented that some people are just unlucky about their endowment of
A. You're the first person to ask that question. Yes, it is a
libertarian's compromise with the realities documented in The Bell
Curve. The dynamics that the Plan will set in motion are ones that
create the "valued places" that Dick Herrnstein and I talked
about in the final chapter of The Bell Curve. In effect, I'm
saying to the left, "You get to have big government in terms of
spending, if you'll give me small government in terms of the
government's ability to stage manage people's lives." ...
-- Is this a good time to declare victory and leave?
reveals the four-letter-word that explains
why WASP realists lost control of America's foreign policy.
The Mild, Mild
Midwest: From my review of the new film version of Garrison
Keillor's public radio variety show "A Prairie Home Companion"
in the upcoming issue of The
most of us, acting our age requires an awkward improvisation for which
we've tried to avoid preparing. Garrison Keillor, however, has always
had the soul of a 63-year-old, and now that he's finally attained that
age on the calendar, he's the Grand Master at it.
The Mark Twain of Minnesota has at last made a movie out of his
"Prairie Home Companion," which he's been broadcasting live
for two hours every Saturday, 32 weeks per year since 1974, when he got
the inspiration while writing a profile of Nashville's Grand Ole Opry
for The New Yorker. The low-key film version is merely a
fictionalized rendition of his show, with lots of unfashionable old
songs like "Frankie & Johnnie" and a little backstage
drama about how after tonight's performance the series is being shut
down by a soulless Texas corporation.
In a bit of Blue State humor, such as it is, one Minnesotan gripes,
"Don't make fun of Texans just because they talk funny, their eyes
don't focus, and the flesh is rotting from their bones." Keillor
used to write an advice column in Salon, in which his primary
message was "to bust loose." Good counsel, I'm sure, for the
gentle souls who look to Garrison Keillor as a role model, but perhaps
not a reliable general worldview.
Minnesotans like Keillor tend to be politically liberal because they are
so personally conservative by nature and nurture that they can't imagine
anybody else might need to be restrained by law or tradition. The more
hell-raising Texans, in contrast, take a less softheaded view.
IQ and Infant
Mortality: The Audacious
Epigone is starting to transcend his overly humble screen name. He
offers an interesting look at many factors that correlate with Lynn and
Vanhanen's national average IQ figures.
By the way, now that Richard Lynn's new book summarizes 620 IQ studies,
about 3.5 times more than his last book, somebody should look into
coming up with a new, improved table of national average IQs.
de pire by David Orland is back -- Sophisticated coverage of
immigration issues with a Francocentric orientation. It reminds me of
what Christopher Caldwell could be doing if he wasn't trimming his sails
to get into the NYT.
Left has traditionally assumed that human nature is so malleable, so
perfectible, that it can be shaped in almost any direction.
Conservatives object, arguing that social order arises not from rational
planning but from the spontaneous order of instincts and habits.
Darwinian biology sustains conservative social thought by showing how
the human capacity for spontaneous order arises from social instincts
and a moral sense shaped by natural selection in human evolutionary
The World's Most
Gullible Country Contest: Who fell the hardest for the dopey yet
soporific movie version of "The Da Vinci Code?"
Because "The Da Vinci Code" was released almost simultaneously
around the world, it's relatively simple to calculate which countries blew more of their available money on this
nonsense. All we have to do is compare the film's box office haul through
its first two weekends across 56
countries versus each country's Gross Domestic Product
to award the coveted title of the Nation Most Easy to Fleece. [For the rest, click the
"Permalink" below ...]
Sigma: This is turning into a quite good blog
in a low key sort of way. The author applies a statistical-orientation
to a variety of issues that are poking their heads up now and then in
the news, and sometimes comes up with new angles.
through Diversity: Why the Bush Administration is so adamant about
amnesty" is my new article in the June 19th issue of The
American Conservative (subscribe here).
Here's an excerpt:
President's patent insincerity about controlling illegal immigration has
catalyzed the realization among a rapidly growing number of
conservatives that the Bush Administration's governing principles, such
as they are, are at best only superficially conservative. Their common
denominator is a lack of what Edmund Burke emphasized as a key
conservative virtue: prudence.
The foreign, domestic, and economic policies of President Bush can be
- Invade the world
- Invite the world
- In hock to the world
As far as Grand Strategies go, this is not the most seamless. There are
palpable contradictions in combining pugnacity abroad with welcoming
tens of millions of foreign newcomers at home while borrowing hundreds
of billions from overseas to fund our budget and trade deficits. [For
the rest, click the "Permalink" below ...]
Negligence: The Senate Immigration Bill: With a few honorable
exceptions, such as Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the U.S. Senate's
performance over the last week and a half was a textbook example of
legislative negligence. Today, Thursday, the Senate is expected to vote
for a 614 page bill that is estimated to increase legal immigration over
the next two decades from 19 million to 66 million, and yet few Senators
appear to have taken time to study the bill and crunch the numbers.
parody: Alex Tabarrok, author of that "open
letter" of economists retailing all the hoariest sentimental
tripe about immigration, now explains on his Marginal Revolution blog
the reason that so many economists don't like to think hard about
immigration: the moral superiority of economists!
Da Vinci Code, women, and Catholicism: One of the more curious
aspects of the cult of The Da Vinci Code is the lack of
skepticism about novelist Dan Brown's contention that Catholicism was a
vast plot to steal from women the feminist freedoms they had enjoyed
under "the pagans" who worshipped "the
First, pagans didn't worship the Goddess because if they had, they
wouldn't have been pagans, they would have been monotheists. Like his New Age
feminist sources, Brown is a slave to the intellectual prestige of
monotheism. Let's face it, real Greco-Roman paganism, as described in,
say, Homer, has a tawdry People magazine Jennifer Aniston vs.
Angelina Jolie battle over Brad Pitt quality to it. So, a bunch of
goddesses get reduced down to the Goddess because monotheism just seems
Second, Brown, with all his talk of "the sacred feminine," is
being intentionally hazy about what pagans have tended to mean by it:
i.e., fertility goddesses.
commits the unpardonable: He's read the Senate immigration bill
and crunched the numbers! Senator Jeff
Sessions (R-AL) has distinguished himself as the Senate's leading
statesman over the last two weeks for the simple reason that he has read
the 600+ page Hagel-Martinez Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act and
done the math. He has delivered a number of well-informed, carefully
on the subject. John O'Sullivan calls him "a
hero of commonsense in this debate."
For this public service, he is today smeared by the Washington
Post's top political reporter Dana Milbank:
when I wrote computer users' manuals, I'd try to break up the forbidding
slabs of my pedantic prose by employing an EZ-2-Read Question &
Answer format. Watching the similarly structured "The Da Vinci
Code," I couldn't help musing about how my tome, "The HP
LaserJet Code," would have turned out as a $125 million summer
Tautou (beseechingly): How do I print in Times Roman? Tom Hanks (decisively): Insert the serif font cartridge. Audrey (frantically): But the printer's not doing anything! Tom (with steely resolve): Try plugging it in.
sat through "The Da Vinci Code," I'm confident that Audrey and
Tom would have delivered my lines with more believability,
personality, and sexual tension than they managed to muster for
screenwriter Akiva Goldsman's didactic dialogue.
Morality: Bolsheviks were excused from the requirement to follow
traditional ethics because the ends justified the means. Similarly,
supporters of illegal immigration believe that ordinary morality, such
as not telling bald-faced lies, don't apply to them because they are
fighting for diversity, tolerance, and against nativism and racism.
Thus, we see that the shocking behavior by President Bush and Senator
Hagel that I documented in Bush
Administration Announces Bush Lied about "Temporary Workers"
Being Temporarypassing almost without negative comment.
Hey, they are on the side of the angels, so what's a little lying to the
American people compared to sticking it to the "political lowest
common denominator," as Sen. Hagel referred to the Republican
the not-so-shocking climax to "The Da Vinci Code," we discover
that one of the characters is the last living descendent of Jesus and
This "Holy Blood" hooey is superstition of the grossest sort.
Consider how genealogy actually works. Go back 80 generations (2000
years), and your family tree has one septillion slots to fill. If
Jesus had any living descendents today, He'd have millions of them.
Almost the only way there could be just one surviving heir is if the
dynasty had relentlessly inbred so incestuously that the latest
Magdalenian would have three eyes.
This Slate article
by Larry Hurtado on how
the New Testament came together is good.
VDARE.com blog item: Over on the VDARE.com
blog, I celebrate one of my iSteve readers' contributions to the
reader at a big trucking firm wants to know what kind of testing could
they do of truck-driving employment applicants to get a higher
percentage of drivers who won't get in accidents, won't get lost, won't
fail to call in when they are late and so forth. And what could they get
away with under EEOC guidelines (they are well over the 15 employee
limit where anti-discrimination guidelines begin to take effect)?
concept of the "fiction-absolute:" In Wolfe's recent Jefferson
Lecture, he wrote:
individual adopts a set of values which, if truly absolute in the
world--so ordained by some almighty force--would make not that
individual but his group . . . the best of all possible groups, the best
of all inner circles.
I only wish Wolfe
had come up with a catchy name, which he, the coiner of "radical
chic," "the Me Decade," and "the Right Stuff,"
is certainly capable of. A reader writes:
Wolfe's "fiction-absolute" structure of the mind has
tremendous explanatory power. [For
the rest, click the "Permalink" below ...]
[a liberal] denigrates evolutionary psychology, what they really mean is
"I thought the whole point of evolution was just to deny God. I
didn't think it was actually supposed to tell us anything."
I don't know of any writer working today who does a better job of opening up dicey but pressing topics in humane and informed ways than Steve Sailer. Year after year, Steve has been bravely playing the role of the guy who's the first to bring up and examine loaded subjects -- subjects that I have a strong hunch we'll be hearing much more about in coming years. It's a heroic performance he has been putting on. (Steve's latest column is a topnotch example of his hefty and daring work.)
Needless to say, it's also an approach to a writing career that is probably pretty thankless in financial terms. Meanwhile, the cautious corporate journalists who take up the subjects Steve initially raised are doing very well for themselves indeed, thank you very much. Which makes it all the more important that those who value Steve's work show their appreciation. Steve is running one of his occasional fund-raising drives right now. If you enjoy and learn from Steve's writing, and especially if you're grateful that he's out there taking the big risks, please visit his website, click on the PayPal button, and send him a donation.
want to commission Steve to begin a major project, separate from his
columns, the results of which will be published in longer pieces,
working towards a possible book. The topic: the implications of modern
discoveries in the human biodiversity area for the survival and success
of the American nation. Donations to this project will be tax-deductible.
You can make credit card contributions here;
credit card details here; you can snail mail checks made out
to "Lexington Research Institute" and marked on the memo line
(lower left corner) “Biodiversity/ National Project” to the usual address:
Lexington Research Institute
P.O. Box 1195
Washington CT 06793
Now, if tax
deductibility isn't relevant to you (e.g., you live outside the U.S.),
you might find it simpler to donate directly to me through [2.]
Paypal or [3.] Amazon, or [4.] just email me and I'll
email back my Post Office Box address.
don't need to have a PayPal or Amazon account already to donate, just a
credit card. (Or you can E-mail
I'll send you my P.O. Box number.)
Paypal and Amazon charge $0.30 per transaction and 2.9% of the total, so
I only get to keep 41% of a $1 donation, but 96.8% of a $100 donation!
vs. Steve Sailer in NBC's "Roguish Charm Smackdown:" I was
on the NBC Nightly News for 15 seconds tonight, right after George
Clooney. With the benefit of that kind of one-on-one comparison, I'll be
waiting for leading man offers to pour in from Hollywood producers.
Clooney's getting raves for growing a beard and adding 30 pounds to play
his role in "Syriana," but, hey, I did both of those things years
before he did...
Last time (I
hope, but doubt): Here's my updated, refined summary
of this week's Freakonomics Fiasco that includes the three iSteve
blog entries below on the debunking of the Levitt abortion-cut-crime
theory. Nothing new for regular readers, but if you're looking for
something to link to, it's the best overall single page on the current
status of the controversy.
Eugenicist: Few word strings bring Google search hits faster than
"Jodie Foster lesbian," (enquiring minds want to know!) but,
as I've been pointing out for years, what's more interesting about
Foster is her long-standing fascination with alternative forms of
the rest, click the "Permalink" below ...]
Ethnicity: Much of the confusion in modern American intellectual
discourse would be cleared up if pundits would adapt my definitions of
race and ethnicity, which I've designed to fit the way the U.S. Census
Bureau uses the terms.
- A racial group is a partly inbred extended biological family.
- An ethnic groups is one defined by shared traits that are often passed
down within biological families -- e.g., language, surname, religion,
cuisine, accent, self-identification, historical or mythological heroes,
musical styles, etc. -- but that don't have to be.
The difference is perhaps easiest to see with adopted children.
the rest, click the "Permalink" below ...]
No, not Hurricane
Katrina. That could have been much worse. Back in the 1990s, my
friend Rob Brennan wrote an unpublished novel called Category 5
about a ferocious hurricane that strikes New Orleans at the worst
possible angle. Katrina, in contrast, was a Category 4 hurricane and hit
New Orleans only a glancing blow.
No, the perfect storm was actually the combination of social and
governmental incompetence at local, state, and federal levels—and
unmentionable racial reality.
Conservatism Down" by Austin Bramwell of the National
Review Board of Trustees is now up on The American Conservative
website. My favorite paragraphs:
a loose network of what John O’Sullivan has called “evolutionary
conservatives” attempts to understand politics in light of genetic
science. Unlike many conservatives, evolutionary conservatives remain
undaunted by the apoplectic reaction of liberals to Charles Murray’s
Bell Curve and Dinesh D’Souza’s End of Racism. Steve Sailer, for
example, the most talented evolutionary conservative, writes with rigor
and imagination on such scabrous topics as race, IQ, voting patterns,
and national identity. Though other writers treat these ideas as taboo,
perhaps because they seem to undermine American ideals of equality and
self-reliance, evolutionary conservatives pride themselves on preferring
truth to wishful thinking.
in NYT on the Sailer Theory of the evolution of golf's appeal:
Was golf the modern version of Pleistocene hunting on the savanna? The
notion had already occurred to devotees of evolutionary psychology, as I
discovered from reading Edward O. Wilson and Steve
Sailer. They point to surveys and other research showing that people
in widely different places and cultures have a common vision of what
makes a beautiful landscape - and it looks a lot like the view from
golfers' favorite tees....
The Return of the
Second iSteve.com Panhandling Drive! Lots of readers have asked
where the Panhandling Drive went. Well, after I collected less than 2%
of what Andrew Sullivan would consider an adequate fundraising campaign,
Amazon.com automatically informed me I couldn't collect anymore for 28
days, for reasons that remain inexplicable. So, here now is a PayPal
button. You don't need to have a PayPal account already to donate, just
a credit card. (Or you can E-mail
send you my P.O. Box number.)
[To read the rest, click the "Permalink" below ...]
The Internet Age is a reader's dream, but it can also be a
writer's nightmare because it is so hard to get paid in an age when
everybody expects "content" to magically appear for free.
Moreover, my blogging and more formal articles are never going to
support a lucrative amount of advertising since my natural audience is
quite elite. (As Fry explained on Futurama, the economics of mass
media are: "Clever things make people feel stupid and unexpected
things make them feel scared.") Nor are the big money boys
enthusiastic about supporting an independent thinker who isn't a team
I don't just provide opinionizing. Over the last year, I broke the
following stories that required extensive statistical analysis:
Sailer has boiled down the explanation for why some states
become red and others become blue to three
simple words. ("God" is not one of them.) ... His
equation sure works
for San Francisco. ... 6:01 P.M.
It's bad enough for the WSJ's pollsters to ask a fraudulent
question. But for the WSJ reporter then to announce the results
support the real legislation the newspaper was afraid to ask about in the
first place is such an exquisite refinement on run-of-the-mill dishonesty
that it would require the imagination of a Dante to dream up an
Does immigration-fueled diversity decrease or increase government
spending? The unfortunate truth: diversity appears to lead to the worst of
both worlds: less spending on honest programs benefiting those who need
it, and more on ethically-dubious giveaways to those who don't.
The fact that they support massive immigration means that are more moral
than you. So they don't have to obey the basic rules of morality. They can
lie, mislead, and twist the truth with a clear conscience. Why? Because
they are better than you.
The Senate's "temporary" worker program wouldn't even succeed at
turning illegal immigration from Mexico into legal immigration. Instead,
it would bring in Southeast and South Asian workers, many of them Muslims,
while encouraging continued illegal immigration from South of the Border.
"Every assistant D.A. in the Bronx … shared Captain Ahab's mania
for the Great White Defendant. For a start, it was not pleasant to go
through life telling yourself, 'What I do for a living is, I pack blacks
and Latins off to jail.'"
A common stratagem, I've found, is to assume that IQ differences matter
only if they are genetic in origin. Since no decent, civilized,
right-thinking person could possibly believe that racial differences in IQ
have any genetic basis, then racial and national differences in average IQ
can't possibly exist. Except — whatever their cause, they do exist and
The lack of accountability and integrity in the mainstream press is
striking. A pundit, once established, can apparently propagate nonsense
catastrophic to America for years without paying any career price for his
incompetence or bad faith.
Post-modern cultures might well be eventually pushed aside by whichever groups of religious fundamentalists
— Mormons, Orthodox Jews, Wahhabi Islamists — best succeed in motivating their followers to have lots of children.
The genetic science is progressing so fast that we'll know soon enough—perhaps
two decades to be rock solid certain. We know which way the scientific
wind is blowing right now, but even if we ignore that, wouldn't the
prudent action be to wait a couple of decades, to restrict immigration and
refrain from utopian foreign adventures, until the science is in?
Minutemen, United Farm Worker staffers under the command of Chavez’s
brother Manuel patrolled the Arizona-Mexico border to keep out illegal
aliens. Unlike the well-behaved Minutemen, however, Chavez’s boys
sometimes beat up intruders.
Danes and Muslims don't agree on the basics of social organization and
don't want to live under the same rules. That shouldn't be a severe
problem. It's what separate countries are for. But due to mass
immigration, it is in fact becoming a huge stumbling block.
Perhaps in a saner society, then, we would have less need for Leonard Sax's engaging combination of popular science exposition and advice guidebook,
Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex
Differences. But parents as well as professors could benefit from it now.
What the DNA researchers are uncovering as they scrape away the blather of
the Goulds and Diamonds is a world we already more or less know, the one
we all live in every day. The human race has its flaws. But the truth
about ourselves is not so horrible that we must be shielded from it by
self-appointed sages who get rich fabricating falsehoods.
On November 1, 1950, two immigrant gunmen tried to assassinate
President Harry Truman in the name of Puerto Rican independence. They
might well have succeeded if not for one of the great acts of individual
heroism of the last century.
Embarrassingly for The Economist, two days before Christmas came a
landmark paper by Robert Moyzis, Eric Wang, et al. that listed 1,800 genes
that have been under varying selection pressure in Africa, Europe, or East
Asia over no more than the last 50,000 years.
The odds of major anti-Semitic attacks in this country unfortunately rise
rapidly farther out into the future, as immigration brings in more
anti-Semites—which is one reason I work to cut back on immigration.
evidently hopes his new book "The Undercover Economist" joins
the apostolic succession of 2005's pop social science bestsellers that
began with Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink." Just as the hugely
popular "Freakonomics" by economist Steven D. Levitt and
journalist Stephen J. Dubner flaunted a front-cover blurb from Gladwell,
"The Undercover Economist" splashes Levitt's "Required
reading" tribute over the title.
In that harbinger of the American future, Southern California, once the
Promised Land of the middle class, unskilled labor has become so plentiful
that now a common weekend sight is people who are paid to stand on corners
and try to catch your eye by randomly wiggling brightly colored
directional arrows, typically pointing to real estate open houses. It's
the 21st Century equivalent of the Depression-era advertising practice of
hiring unemployed men to walk around wearing sandwich board signs saying
"Eat at Joe's." And it's just as depressing.
A recent BBC documentary revealed that 55 percent of married Pakistanis in
Britain are wed to first cousins! That's even a little higher than the
inbreeding rates seen in Pakistan—probably because Muslims in Europe use
cousin marriage as an engine of immigration fraud.
A push-pull policy could be very effective in getting Muslims to go away. European countries should combine the push of a crackdown on welfare and crime with the pull of a buy-out offer. Returning to the Old Country with a sizable nest egg would be alluring to many who haven't assimilated into the European middle
It has become a journalistic cliché that keeping down working class wages
through illegal immigration is "good for the economy" -- as if
the American economy exists for its own sake as opposed to existing for
the good of American citizens.
All September, ever since the New Orleans Nightmare became evident on
September 1st, the hysteria built among the political and media elite over
which of them would crack first and mention the elephant in the living
room: that blacks have higher average crime rates. Finally, it has burst
forth in a spasm of irrational and self-righteous denunciations of former
Education Secretary William J. Bennett.
The tragic conundrum is that the young men who could most benefit from serving a hitch in the Army, the decent but not too bright 18-year-olds who are on the knife-edge between getting their act together and falling into a lifetime of drugs and crime, are the ones least likely to
make Armed Forces' cognitive cutoff of having an IQ of 92 or above.
The great thing about truths is that they are causally connected to all
the other truths in the world. If you follow one truth bravely, it will
lead you to another. In contrast, lies, ignorance, and wishful thinking
are dead ends.
"More than 40 percent of Mexicans in a new survey would opt to
immigrate [sic] to the United States and more than 20 percent of them
would enter this country illegally given the opportunity, a study released
Today, almost one-fifth of all ethnic Mexicans live in the U.S. Almost
five billion people (4,976 million to be precise) live in countries where
the average per capita gross domestic product is lower than Mexico's mean
Sperm banking may sound derisible. But it's a heartrendingly serious
matter to those who have the misfortune to need the industry's services.
About one million Americans alive today were conceived with donor sperm.
Another 30,000 are born every year.
"I have a pretty broad conception of what "art" and "culture" can mean:
Even so, I was taken up short when I read Steve Sailer's American Conservative article on
golf course architecture as art. Silly me, I'd never given the topic a moment's thought. Yet there it is: landscape architecture, full of aesthetic qualities, there all around us, and in popular use. I'll take an eye-opener like Steve's piece over yet another run-through of conventional aesthetic theory any day."
"'It would be hard to overstate how politically incorrect this paper
is,' said Steven Pinker, a cognitive scientist at Harvard, noting that it
argues for an inherited difference in intelligence between groups. Still,
he said, 'it's certainly a thorough and well-argued paper, not one that
can easily be dismissed outright.'"
Mickey Kaus wrote on Slate.com: "Steve Sailer has boiled down the explanation for why some states become red and others become blue to three simple words. ("God" is not one of them.) ... His equation sure works for San Francisco. ..."
Did legalizing abortion in the early ’70s reduce crime in the late ’90s by allowing “pre-emptive capital punishment” of potential
troublemakers, as Steven D. Levitt argues in Freakonomics? Or did the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, by outmoding shotgun weddings, adoption, and respect for life, instead make more murderous the early ’90s crack wars fought by the first generation of youths to survive legalized abortion?
From Rove's point of view, this all makes a certain amount of twisted sense. The more insults get piled upon white men by the immigration-driven growth of the diversity industry, the more motivated they are to practice identity politics of their own through the Republican Party.
I tried to explain the Larry Summers brouhaha to my wife, but she stumped
me with a simple question: "Why did Summers give in so fast and
promise, in effect, to make it harder for our sons to someday get hired
there? What's the President of Harvard so scared of?"
And, sure, booms and bohemians tend to correlate, but who really attracts whom to a
metroplex? Do the engineers and salesguys actually pursue the gay art dealers and immigrant restaurateurs, or are Dr. Florida's footloose favorites more likely to follow the money generated by the pocket-protector boys?
Bush carried the 19 states with the highest white fertility (just as he did in 2000), and 25 out of the top
26. In sharp contrast, Kerry won the 16 states at the bottom of the white
fertility list. Background data and graphs, along with reader responses, here.
The troubled exit poll that claimed that
Bush won 44% of Hispanics is not just inconsistent with the real
world, it's inconsistent even with itself, due to systematic inflating
of Hispanic votes for Bush.
Bush's scores on the Air Force Officer
Qualifying Test have been briefly mentioned in the press. But nobody
before now has fully explained what they mean. And, even more important,
this is first article to publish Kerry's score on the Navy's Officer
Qualification Test. The two tests aren't perfectly comparable. But they
provide no evidence that Kerry is smarter. If anything, Bush is smarter
In Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown,
Samuel L. Jackson comes home to find Bridget Fonda lying on the couch,
smoking dope, and giggling at the TV. Disgusted, he tells her that
marijuana will rob her of her ambitions. "Not if your ambition is to get high
and watch TV," she replies.
To open up the black box, I've created a table
displaying virtually all the information Lynn and Vanhanen provide on each
IQ study they used—not just the overall national IQ averages you've seen
The UN reported on 3/25/04: "Few
outside specialist circles are aware of the scale and severity of vitamin
and mineral deficiency, or of what it means for individuals and for
nations. It means the impairment of hundreds of millions of growing minds
and the lowering of national IQs… And it means the large-scale loss of
national energies, intellects, productivity, and growth."
Our society suffers from the "Yale or
jail" myth. We tell all American kids that if they don't graduate
from college, they are doomed. They too often take that to mean they might
as well start dealing crack right now.
the distant past, a man who dressed stylishly and enjoyed art, theater,
and sophisticated music would have been praised as a
"gentleman," but today his sexual orientation is automatically
called into question.
The Iraq Attaq wasn't about
democratizing the Middle East. It was about racial-religious revenge. Some Arabs
Muslims blew up the World Trade Center, so we blew up some Arab Muslims. Mission
by Steven Pinker for inclusion in The
Best Science and Nature Writing 2004. About half of all married
people in Iraq are married to their first or second cousins -- is this one
reason nation building and democracy are so difficult in Arab
race exist?" After years of debate over this crucial question, only
limited progress has been made because neither side possesses a useful
definition of "race." So, here is my General Theory of Race.
This is probably my single most important contribution to contemporary
strong correlation between IQ and the wealth of nations demonstrated by
Lynn & Vanhanen is of world-historical importance. From now on, no
public intellectual can seriously claim to be trying to understand how the
world works unless he takes IQ into account.
published on Sept. 26, 2001 before the first American air strikes, this
analysis of the wonderful 1975 Sean Connery movie argued that the Taliban
could be beaten fairly easily, yet nation-building in Afghanistan is
likely to prove difficult. Was I wrong?
John Derbyshire, columnist for National Review
Online, commented on this long essay: "Every once in a while I read
something that makes me feel I ought to give up commentary altogether.
This was one such. Why isn't Steve Sailer nationally famous? Rhetorical
question--I know, I know..."
highly controversial article that revolutionized how Republicans think
about their electoral future. "If
Dubya had garnered 57% instead of just 54% of whites, he would have
cruised to an Electoral College landslide of 367 to 171."
is a 'race'? It is essentially a lineage, a family tree. A racial group is
merely an extremely extended family that inbreeds to some extent. Thus,
race is a fundamental aspect of the human condition because we are all
born into families."
Black Athletes triumph by toiling intensely at those
games where they tend to enjoy not just cultural, but also physical and mental
edges over whites. This suggests a new, pragmatic view of racial differences.