March 11, 2006

Barry Bonds and Steroids

Sports Illustrated runs an excerpt from a book by reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams documenting seven-time baseball MVP Barry Bonds' performance enhancing drug regimen. It's all pretty much what you'd expect from my American Conservative article "Out of the Park" from two years ago, but what's new is that the authors have found (based on interviews with Barry's ex-mistress) that the direct cause of Barry starting to cheat was the intense jealousy he felt about the humongous hoopla over Mark McGwire's 1998 breaking of Roger Maris's homerun record, when it should have been obvious that McGwire was a juicer. (Indeed, late in the season a reporter found a vial of steroid precursor in McGwire's locker).

Toward the end of the 1998 season, Stephen Jay Gould wrote a celebratory op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about how the homer competition between McGwire and Sammy Sosa had restored the innocence to the game, yada yada. I sent Gould a fax suggesting that there was nothing innocent about it, that the explanation for their soaring totals was that they were breaking the law by using steroids. Gould never replied.

According to the article, Bonds never used anything stronger than a protein shake before the end of the 1998. Bonds was certainly the best all-around ballplayer of the 1990s, winning three MVP awards from 1990-1993 when he was in his later 20s.

His father, Bobby Bonds, had been a remarkable talent, with an almost unprecedented combination of speed and power, but teams had had a hard time figuring out how to use him. Moreover, Bobby was an alcoholic and chain-smoker, so his output fell off rapidly after he hit 30.

Barry inherited his father's power and speed, and avoided his failings. Bobby struck out almost twice as much as he walked, and Barry started his career with a similar pattern, but by 1996 was walking twice as much as he struck out.

Without performance enhancing drugs, Barry was one of the top 20 players of all time, and had a shot at the career top 10. Up through age 33, during which Barry was clean of steroids,, the most similar career to Barry's was that of Frank Robinson's, one of the greatest players of all time. Still, Barry's godfather was Willie Mays who was even better than Robinson. And Barry's career was following the normal path -- he'd peaked at age 27-28 in 1992-93 -- and he was now in his biologically inevitable decline phase.

At age 34 in late 1998, his stats remained terrific, but his body was slowly deteriorating, and lesser players like McGwire and Sosa were cheating to steal the limelight from him. He entered a home run hitting contest.

Moreover, Bonds is an anti-white racist, and the adulation for the cheating McGwire who is white, was driving him crazy.

On that trip [to McGwire's St. Louis in May 1998] Bonds began making racial remarks about McGwire to Kimberly Bell [his girlfriend]. According to Bell he would repeat them throughout the summer, as McGwire and Sammy Sosa, the buff, fan-friendly Chicago Cubs slugger who also was hitting home runs at an amazing rate, became the talk of the nation.

"They're just letting him do it because he's a white boy," Bonds said of McGwire and his chase of Maris's record. The pursuit by Sosa, a Latin player from the Dominican Republic, was entertaining but doomed, Bonds declared. As a matter of policy, "they'll never let him win," he said.

As he sometimes did when he was in a particularly bleak mood, Bonds was channeling racial attitudes picked up from his father, the former Giants star Bobby Bonds, and his godfather, the great Willie Mays, both African-American ballplayers who had experienced virulent racism while starting their professional careers in the Jim Crow South. Barry Bonds himself had never seen anything remotely like that: He had grown up in an affluent white suburb of San Francisco, and his best boyhood friend, his first wife and his present girlfriend all were white. When Bonds railed about McGwire, he didn't articulate who "they" were, or how the supposed conspiracy to rig the home run record was being carried out. But his brooding anger was real enough, and it continued throughout a year in which he batted .303, hit 37 home runs, made the All-Star team for the eighth time and was otherwise almost completely ignored. The home run chase, meanwhile, transfixed even casual fans, in the way that a great pennant race used to do in the old days.

He started using steroids after the 1998 season, but had trouble with injuries.

If Bonds had any doubts about continuing to use performance-enhancing drugs, they were eliminated just before the start of spring training in 2000, when he went to Cashman Field in Las Vegas to compete in the Big League Challenge, a charity home run derby broadcast on ESPN. Jose Canseco dominated the event. He hit 28 bombs in the last round, while Bonds didn't even make the finals. At one point Bonds saw Canseco take off his shirt: 255 pounds, seemingly not an ounce of fat, just gleaming, chiseled power.

"Dude," Bonds said. "Where did you get all that muscle?"

In the early 1990s, a friend, whose brother was a major leaguer and who is a player's agent himself, told me that Canseco was the "Typhoid Mary of steroids." Wherever he went, guys started imitating his use of steroids.

Bonds got more sophisticated in 2000 and had an excellent but not unbelievable year. Then, with the help of a world class steroid cheater, he went on a four year tear. As I blogged in 2004:

From the age of 36 through 39 he went on a four-year tear averaging 257 [on the Adjusted OPS statistic, which is the single best measure of productivity], which is better than Babe Ruth's single best season (1920) of 255, when he was 25. Ted Williams had a 233 when he was 38 but his surrounding seasons weren't too close to that. Bonds' last four seasons include the three best offensive seasons in the history of baseball. That just ain't natural.

Not surprisingly, steroids made Barry, who was never a nice guy, a nasty son of a gun. His girlfriend kept her old answering machine tapes with his diatribes on them in a drawer in case she ended up like Nicole Simpson. By the way, Barry told his white girlfriend that he had to get married to keep from losing all custody of his kids from his first marriage, and that he had to marry a black woman for the sake of the media, but that wouldn't affect their relationship.

One interesting detail is that Barry had never been "buff" before the drugs. A three time MVP, a man who had averaged more than 36 homers per year from 1990-98. So, that may something about athletes who are buff.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

March 10, 2006

What would Google's stock price be if they ever smarten up about advertising?

Google's stock market value is ridiculously high as it is, but their algorithm for choosing ads to display here is terminally stupid. Today, this page was graced with a recruiting ad for the Young Communist League, presumably because I'd written a nostalgic punk rock posting that mentioned The Clash and Gang of Four.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

High class cousin marriage

A reader writes:

Cousin marriages were extremely common among European aristocrats and royals. After the House of Hapsburg split into the Spanish and the Austrian branch, it was customary that a scion of the Spanish Hapsburgs would marry a cousin from the Austrian branch. Charles II, the last Hapsburg king of Spain and whose death in 1700 led to the War of Spanish Succesion, had only 6 great-great-grandparents. Not surprisingly, he was not the fittest and healthiest person that ever lived.

The poor king was so inbred that he was mentally retarded, had the protruding lower "Hapsburg Jaw" so badly he couldn't chew, and was sterile and/or impotent. His death without issue led to the huge war between England and France in which John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough, won the famous victory of Blenheim in 1704. For more on the Hapsburgs, see this late 1999 essay awarding them the title of "Best Hideously Inbred Royal Family of the Millennium."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Why are Americans getting more anti-Muslim?

The Washington Post reports:

Negative Perception Of Islam Increasing: Poll Numbers in U.S. Higher Than in 2001

As the war in Iraq grinds into its fourth year, a growing proportion of Americans are expressing unfavorable views of Islam, and a majority now say that Muslims are disproportionately prone to violence, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The poll found that nearly half of Americans -- 46 percent -- have a negative view of Islam, seven percentage points higher than in the tense months after the Sept. 11, 2001,

Now, why would that be? Well, running through my head is that song from Rodgers & Hammerstein's "The King and I" in which Deborah Kerr sings to Yul Brynner's dozens of children:

Getting to know you,
Getting to know all about you.

Perhaps, the more that Americans pay attention to Muslims, the more that they get on our nerves.

But, James Taranto, the WSJ Editorial Page's online editor and a fervent advocate of invade-the-world-invite-the-world, won't fall for such a simple, obvious explanation, not when he can wield Occam's Vegematic to slice and dice his way to his predetermined conclusion: It's the anti-American American media's fault!

But how could it be that Americans are more hostile to Islam today than they were in the immediate aftermath of an Islamist massacre in New York? Our sense is that the media's antiwar bias is feeding the public's anti-Muslim bias. By relentlessly focusing on the bad news in Iraq and playing down the good, journalists perpetuate an image of the Muslim world as a hostile, uncivilized place.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

March 9, 2006

Cousin marriage in Appalachia?

Cecil Adams's "Straight Dope" column had a good piece on that popular stereotype:

3. Is inbreeding unusually common in Appalachia? Here's where things get murky. Although the public and many social scientists have long assumed that isolated hill folk often marry their cousins, and some certainly do (ask the Fugates), research on the subject is pretty thin. The most comprehensive look I've found is a 1980 paper ("Night Comes to the Chromosomes [etc]," Central Issues in Anthropology) by Robert Tincher, who at the time was a grad student at the University of Kentucky. Having dug through 140 years' worth of marriage records in a remote four-county region of eastern Kentucky, Tincher argues that (a) yeah, cousin marriage happens in the hill country, but (b) rates vary widely from place to place and even among families in a given district, and (c) it isn't conspicuously more prevalent than in a lot of other places. Point (c) isn't all that persuasive; Tincher's numbers show that as late as 1950 inbreeding was well above what could be accounted for by chance--married couples on average were approximately third cousins. However, the rate had dropped sharply since the peak after the Civil War, when the average couple were somewhere between second cousins and second cousins once removed. What's more, the rate fell quickly after 1950--no doubt due to postwar prosperity, urbanization, and so on--and by 1970 was no higher than you'd likely find in the general population.

According to, a study of 107 households in Beech Creek, Kentucky in 1942 found that 18.7% were first or second cousin marriages. (Second cousin marriages are a lot less genetic trouble than first cousin marriages, but if one community keeps doing them over and over again, problems can pile up.) In contrast, about half of Iraqis are married to first or second cousins, with first cousins marriages being more popular.

One similarity between old hillbillies with their Hatfield and McCoy feuds and modern Iraqis with their hundreds of militias and insurgent organizations is that cousin marriage generates a lot of clan loyalty, since the same person can play two or more roles (e.g., nephew and son-in-law, or great-nephew and grandson).

The difference is that hillbillies were engaging in cousin marriage mostly because of the difficulties of transportation in the mountains, while in flat Iraq, they are marrying their first cousins because that is socially prestigious.

I imagine the proliferation of the automobile in the hollers after WWII was the key factor in reducing cousin marriage. In the mountains, it's hard to go courting long distances away. A great-grandfather of my wife's was considered a true romantic in his village in the Apennines of Italy because he wooed and won a girl from the town 1,500 feet lower down the mountain, which made for a hard walk back after every date.

Americans are much queasier about cousin marriage than just about any other society. For example, wild man rock-and-roller Jerry Lee Lewis was crucified in the 1950s for marrying his second cousin twice-removed, which is genetically a fairly remote risk for extra birth defects. (There were, however, exacerbating circumstances -- it was the 23-year-old Jerry's third marriage already; his bride was only 13 (and still believed in Santa Claus); and, like Jerry's second marriage, it was bigamous -- he hadn't waited around for either divorce to become final.) In contrast, the impeccably high bourgeois Charles Darwin married his first cousin, a Wedgwood, to the approval of all.

Here's a pro-cousin marriage website.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Revising the art canon

The NYT has an article on the new edition of the popular textbook Janson's History of Art, in which lots of the pictures have been changed. The article focuses on the dropping of the iconic "Whistler's Mother" (a.k.a., "Arrangement in Grey and Black") for the great American painter James Whistler's less famous (but, in my uneducated opinion) more beautiful "Symphony in White No. 2." One art history instructor offers an interesting New Yorker Cartoon Test of what they should be teaching:

"I can see the reasons, artistically, for dropping Whistler's mother," said Mickey McConnell, an instructor who until recently taught a survey course at the University of New Mexico and has used Janson for years. "But it's become so well known, such a part of the culture. What if there's a cartoon in The New Yorker that uses it as a reference? Younger students aren't going to know what it's talking about."

I'm a particular fan of New Yorker cartoons. Think of all the nervous people over the years sitting in dentists' or doctors' waiting rooms to get their teeth drilled or hear the results of their cancer tests who have found distraction by flipping through the pages of The New Yorker, glancing at the cartoons. So, any fracturing of the culture that leaves people saying "Huh?" to New Yorker cartoons and thus laying the magazine down and going back to fretting about that irregular-shaped mole is to be deplored. (I'm also impressed by how New Yorker cartoons don't exist to flatter New Yorker subscribers that they are morally and politically superior to the vast red state masses, like, say, Malcolm Gladwell's more recent articles do.)

That's how traditions work. You need some common denominators, even if they aren't perfect. It seems obvious to me, for example, that of two French painters born in 1839-40, Cezanne and Redon, that the lesser-known Redon created much lovelier works, while Cezanne was bogged down by his basic ineptitude. Cezanne could never master perspective.

I also like the bizarre happy ending to Redon's life story. He was a depressed man who worked solely in black and white, drawing disturbing pictures of things like plants with human heads. Suddenly, at age 55, he cheered up and started painting in luminous color, quickly developing a prodigious talent as a colorist.

But eventually Cezanne and his friends persuaded the world that his failure to master the central artistic skill of the last 450 years, perspective, was actually a triumph, if you only were sophisticated enough to understand. And that's the way it goes -- Cezanne really is more important to study than Redon.

And that's why the editors of books like Janson's aren't as powerful in the long run as they, or the New York Times, think they are. As I explained while reviewing Charles Murray's Human Accomplishment, which uses Janson's and other reference books to rank the most eminent artists and scientists:

Can we trust these data? The scholars upon whom Murray relies have their personal and professional biases, but, ultimately, their need to create coherent narratives explaining who influenced whom means that their books aren’t primarily based on their own opinions but rather on those of their subjects. For example, the best single confirmation of Beethoven’s greatness might be Brahms’s explanation of why he spent decades fussing before finally unveiling his First Symphony: “You have no idea how it feels for someone like me to hear behind him the tramp of a giant like Beethoven.”

In Paul Johnson’s just-published and immensely readable book Art: A New History, you can see how even this most opinionated of historians must adapt himself to the judgments of artists. Much of the book’s entertainment value stems from Johnson’s heresies, such as his grumpy comment on Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: “No one ever wished the ceiling larger.” Still, Johnson can’t really break free from conventional art history because he can’t avoid writing about those whom subsequent artists emulated.

For example, Johnson finds Cézanne (who ranks 10th in Murray’s table of 479 significant artists) painfully incompetent at the basics of his craft. Yet, Johnson has to grit his teeth and write about Cézanne at length because he “was in some ways the most influential painter of the late nineteenth century because of his powerful (and to many mysterious) appeal to other painters …”

Of course, that doesn't mean the new editors of Janson aren't trying to manipulate the history of art for political ends:

"The new book adds many more women, and for the first time, decorative arts are included. And it uses art much more as a way to discuss race, class and gender. In the introduction, on pages that once used Dürer and Mantegna to examine the concept of originality, Chris Ofili's "Holy Virgin Mary" — a painting that rested on clumps of elephant dung and created a furor when it was shown in Brooklyn in 1999 — is used to talk about differences between Western and African ways of seeing."

In response to this calculated insult to the Blessed Virgin, Irish Catholic officers in the New York Police Department rioted, setting the headquarters of publisher Pearson Prentice Hall on fire, and the Irish Catholic-dominated New York Fire Department refused to put out the fire in the blasphemers' building.

Oh, wait, no ... never mind. None of that happened. I was thinking of somebody else.

They can wedge a lot of old women painters into the new edition of Janson, but they won't fit into into a coherent story because the great painters weren't influenced by them. But that's one of the standard by-products of diversity worship in the schools -- history ends up getting taught less and less as an interesting story of cause and effect, and more and more as just a random list of names and dates chosen for quota purposes rather than for playing an important role in the tale.

Nonetheless, there is a possibility that traditionally cause-and-effect histories might be unfair to highly talented female painters and writers. As I wrote in my review of Human Accomplishment:

Still, Murray’s rankings may be slightly unfair to female artists because they are less likely to have brilliant followers. My wife, for example, was incensed that Jane Austen finished behind the lumbering Theodore Dreiser and the flashy Ezra Pound. Yet, these men probably did have more influence on other major writers. That’s because subsequent famous authors were mostly male and thus less interested than the female half of the human race in Austen’s topics, such as finding a husband.

A reader adds:

I have a soft spot for "Arrangement in Grey and Black" because of Rowan Atkinson's line about it in the Mr. Bean movie. Mr. Bean has fraudulently presented himself as an art expert and so is required to give a lecture on the painting, despite knowing nothing about it, or anything. He improvises the theory that the painting is great because it depicts "an ugly old bird" who, nonetheless, Whistler "thought the world of."

It took a very talented art history teacher to evoke my first real appreciation for the Mona Lisa when I took his class in 12th grade, since the thing had been completely squeezed, by ubiquity, of any wonder or freshness for me up to that point.

One of my favorite recurrent themes in The Atlantic Monthly are its profiles of extremely famous (but stodgy-sounding) old writers, artists, and performers. They explain why they are so famous: they were radical innovators, but we've forgotten that because everybody has adopted their breakthroughs. For example, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, who had seemed like they had old and not-with-it forever, were, in their day, the first singer and comedian, respectively, to understand and exploit the full power of the microphone and amplification. Before Crosby, singing on stage had been an athletic feat, but Der Bingle, who certainly had the pipes to carry on in the old stentorian style, realized that the microphone meant that you could adapt a tone of conversational intimacy.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Thanks, Blowhards

Michael of 2Blowhards writes:

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.

So, let me review the four ways to contribute:

[1.] Peter Brimelow writes:

We 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; or fax 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.

Click Here to PayLearn MoreAmazon Honor SystemYou don't need to have a PayPal or Amazon account already to donate, just a credit card. (Or you can E-mail me and 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!

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Read almost the whole thing

One of the Instaclichés of blogging is "Read the Whole Thing." In the case of veteran economics pundit Robert J. Samuelson's new Washington Post column on immigration, however, that's a worthy statement (except for maybe the weak last paragraph):

Build a Fence -- And Amnesty
By Robert J. Samuelson Wednesday, March 8, 2006;

It's time to build a real fence or a wall along every foot of the 1,989 miles of the U.S.-Mexican border. There can be only two arguments against this approach to keeping out illegal immigrants: (1) it won't work -- possible, but we won't know unless we try; or (2) we don't want it to work -- then, we should say so and open our borders to anyone but criminals and terrorists. Either way, we need more candor in our immigration debates. Now is the time, because Congress is considering its first major immigration legislation in years.

In 2005 the Border Patrol stopped 1.19 million people trying to enter the United States illegally; 98.5 percent of them were caught along the southern border. Of those who got through and stayed (crude estimate: some 500,000 annually), about two-thirds lack a high school education. Even a country as accepting of newcomers as the United States cannot effortlessly absorb infinite numbers of poor and unskilled workers. Legal immigration totals 750,000 to 1 million people annually, many of them also unskilled.

I do not like advocating a fence. It looks and feels bad. It's easily stigmatized as racist. It would antagonize Mexico. The imagery is appalling, but it beats the alternative: a growing underclass and social tensions. Moreover, a genuine fence would probably work. The construction of about 10 miles of steel and concrete barriers up to 15 feet high in San Diego has reduced illegal crossings in that sector by about 95 percent since 1992, reports Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), a supporter of a U.S.-Mexico fence. Sure, there will be tunnels and ladders. But getting in will be harder. Policing will be easier.

We also need to stiffen employer fines for hiring illegal immigrants. Businesses should have to check prospective workers against computer databases with Social Security numbers, passports or immigration documents. Now employers only have to inspect physical documents, which are easily forged. Even these lax rules are widely flouted and poorly policed. In 2004 the Department of Homeland Security cited only three employers for possible violations, says the Government Accountability Office. With an estimated 10 million to 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States, that's mighty slim.

Fewer jobs and genuine border control ought to curb illegal immigration. Good. Naturally, there's another point of view. It is that the United States needs more unskilled workers to fill jobs native-born Americans won't take. One solution is to admit more unskilled workers legally. By this view, Hispanics are assimilating economically and culturally as fast as some groups in the past.

Perhaps. But common sense and available evidence suggest skepticism. If there are "shortages" of unskilled American workers, the obvious remedy is to raise their wages. A Texas roofing contractor testified to Congress that he couldn't get enough roofers at $9 an hour. Okay, increase it to $10 or $12. Higher wages will bring forth more workers. Perish the thought. Business groups, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, clamor for more guest workers. That's a euphemism for cheap labor. These business groups seem unperturbed by extravagant increases in chief executives' pay. But they're horrified by anything that might raise the wages of maids, waitresses, laborers or gardeners.

As for assimilation, it's true that millions of Hispanic families are moving into -- and reshaping -- the American mainstream. But average trends look less encouraging. Since 1990 about 90 percent of the increase in people living below the government's poverty lines has come among Hispanics. That has to be mainly immigrants and their U.S.-born children. In a report, the Pew Hispanic Center notes:

· Residential segregation is increasing. In 2000, 43 percent of Hispanics lived in neighborhoods with Hispanic majorities, up from 39 percent in 1990.

· The median net worth of Hispanic households is about 9 percent of that of non-Hispanic whites (net worth is what people own minus what they owe).

· Only about a quarter of Hispanic college students graduate compared with about half for non-Hispanic whites.

[More - Read the Whole Thing]

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

March 8, 2006

Cousin Marriage in Action?

The Times of London (not necessarily the most reliable source for science news) claims:

Walking on all fours with the ancestors
By Sam Lister

FIVE brothers and sisters who can only walk naturally on all fours are being hailed as a unique insight into human evolution, after being found in a remote corner of rural Turkey.

Scientists believe that the family may provide invaluable information on how Man evolved from a four-legged hominid to develop the ability to walk on two feet more than three million years ago.

A genetic abnormality, which may prevent the siblings, aged 18 to 34, from walking upright, has been identified.

The discovery of the Kurdish family in southern Turkey last July has triggered a fierce debate. Two daughters and a son have only ever walked on two palms and two feet, with their extended legs, while another daughter and son occasionally manage a form of two-footed walking. The five can stand up, but only for a short time, with both knees and head flexed.

Some researchers claim that genetic faults have caused the siblings to regress in a form of “backward evolution”. Other scientists argue more strongly that their genes have triggered brain damage that has allowed them to develop the unique form of movement.

Assuming this isn't a hoax (which is certainly possible), it looks like another case of Middle Eastern cousin marriage in action:

The siblings, who live with their parents and 13 other brothers and sisters, are mentally retarded, as a result of a form of cerebellar ataxia — an underdevelopment of the brain similar to that in cystic fibrosis. Their mother and father, who are themselves closely related, are believed to have passed down a unique combination of genes resulting in the behaviour.

A quick check of the invaluable finds that the three studies of Kurdish populations all show that about 3/8ths of their marriages are between first or second cousins.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Post-punk rock of 1978-1982

Slate runs a discussion between their frequently boneheaded critic Stephen Metcalf and Simon Reynolds, the English author of Rip It Up and Start Again, a history of what they call post-punk, but what everybody back in the old days called New Wave. It's actually fairly good. Metcalf is insightful about some of the identity politics behind punk and post-punk -- that white musicians were attempting to come up with something that wasn't just another development of a style invented by blacks. The two of them can't really come up with a common denominator of what this highly fertile era was for, but they are good on what it was against. Metcalf writes:

Punk rock, you argue, burned hard, burned fast, and burned out quick: The Ramones debuted in '76, their hopped-up, rootsy, retro-garage sound hopped quickly across the pond, the Pistols and the Clash hit big, and by the summer of 1977, the whole thing was already a wearisome cliché. In 1978, the Pistols "auto-destructed," as you put it, and the Clash (this is me now) turned into an FM-friendly classic rock band. (I would say, to their credit; and would love to hear what you think of the London Calling period.)

That was roughly my view in 1978 when I was reviewing records for the Rice U. newspaper (although the Clash's London Calling, certainly the greatest album of the era, is perhaps more world music, avant la lettre, than classic rock). Metcalf continues:

A quick list of bands that were postpunk, or had roots in postpunk, would include the Talking Heads, U2, Gang of Four, Devo, the B-52s, Joy Division, the Cure, Public Image Ltd., Echo & the Bunnymen, the Specials, the Human League...

If I trace out the influence correctly, and in its broadest terms, postpunk's first contribution to pop was its refusal to hew to the old guitar-based formulas of rock 'n' roll. The '80s synth sound comes out of postpunk, as does an angular, choppy, anti-blues style of guitar-playing that now dominates rock 'n' roll (cf Franz Ferdinand, Interpol, the Libertines). You describe the new sound beautifully, so let me let you:

Rather than rama-lama riffing or bluesy chords, the postpunk pantheon of guitar innovators favored angularity, a clean and brittle spikiness. They shunned solos, apart from brief bursts of lead integrated with more rhythm-oriented playing.

The sound was self-consciously new; the attitude, meanwhile, was very anti-hippie, anti-'60s, anti-peace and love (as punk had been), but also anti-'70s druggy malaise.

My teenage son listens to KROQ, the "new rock" station, just like I did from 1977-1982, and the music sounds about the same as in 1982, which I never expected back then. The synthesizers of 1982 are seemingly gone, and most of the girl singers other than Gwen Stefani have been banished, but the guitar rock of 2006 sounds an awful lot like the guitar rock of 1982. Popular music changed so incredibly rapidly for most of the 20th Century that in 1982 the idea that it would hardly change at all in the next quarter century was unthinkable.

To me, it's weird that my son listens to my opinions on his generation's rock music with respect. When I tell him that his new album by The Libertines, their 2003 release Up the Bracket, sounds good enough to be from 1978, he takes that a lot better than if my father had told me in 1978 that my Talking Heads album "More Songs about Buildings and Food" sounded like it was from 1951.

Much of what pop music is for is to allow teens to try out different personae as they try to identify with different stars. The New Wave era emphasized quite a few different personae, such as the lovable loser (The Ramones), the smart tough guy (The Clash), the fop (various British synthesizer bands like Duran Duran), and the nerd (Devo and Talking Heads). The nerd turned out to be most important in the long run, as the spread of computer technology liberated him from audio-visual club geekdom.

When I was at Rice, a science-engineering school full of nerds, Devo and Talking Heads were liberating for the students. Although Black people had gotten bored with rock and roll about two decades before and moved on to other things, mainstream rock was still trying to keep it the same just in case black people ever came back to reclaim their music. It was like South Pacific cargo cultists waiting for John Frum to come back.

Okay, okay, was my feeling, the blues had been great, but we'd all heard those same riffs a million time. So, when "Devo" did their robotic demolition of the Rolling Stones's "Satisfaction," the message was that you didn't have to pretend anymore that you were cool like Mick Jagger, that you weren't what Norman Mailer praised as a "White Negro." You were a white nerd instead and that was who you were.

Talking Heads were a funk band, but they were also the whitest band in the world. When they covered Al Green's "Take Me to the River," they, unlike everybody since Elvis, weren't trying to sound black. They weren't trying to sound like the Rev. Al. He's got soul, but David Byrne had his own kind of white geek soul.

Metcalf makes some insightful remarks about the difference between British and American culture. A lot of it comes down to the degree of male preening permissible.

One thing we're missing and likely will never locate in American culture is the great U.K. tradition of heterosexual wimpiness that runs from at least Keats ...If you're an American, the very ideas of "literate, playful, witty, camp" conjure up a gender indeterminacy that makes many American males squeamish ... As someone imprisoned within a bizarrely testosterone-addled culture, it seems to me that the hermetically sealed universe of grad student twee ... does have a larger significance.

What Metcalf is getting at here is the influence of the aristocratic tradition in Britain, as seen in, say, Brideshead Revisited. (Much of William F. Buckley's glamour stemmed from his importing English styles of upper class boyish narcissism and charm.) As I wrote in "Decline of the Metrosexual" in The American Conservative:

The aristocratic and religious arts that make up the high culture of Western Civilization were part of a thousand year project to restrain and redefine the unbridled masculinity of all those Conan the Barbarians who poured into the old Roman Empire at the beginning of the Dark Ages. The aptly named Vandals and their cohorts were slowly converted into knights, who were supposed to know not only how to fight, but also how to appreciate the finer forms of music, painting, sculpture, theater, dance, conversation, and dress...

We Americans claim to be a classless society, so the social pressures to study the traditional aristocratic arts were always less in America, and are declining even more. Ballet schools, for example, need male dancers to partner all the little girls who want to be ballerinas, but they've given up on finding enough American boys. Instead, they try to recruit lads from immigrant families from more class-ridden lands that are attracted to the old snob appeal of ballet.

In contrast, white Americans tend to assume that anyone who acts dandyish must be a homosexual (assuming they are not black -- African-Americans males are of course seen as so masculine that they are free to be almost as narcissistic as possible, to sing in falsetto voices, to wear purple, or whatever, until they get completely out of control Michael Jackson-style) rather than a social climber, so we don't get as much of it as in Britain.

Metcalf continues:

I think one reason I prefer the brand of epicene rock ... a friend has labeled, hilariously, "sissycore" is, in addition to being a committed sissy, I prefer it to rock's more masculinist ideal.

I must confess that I liked it all, the heterosexual wimpiness of The Cure, with "In-Between Days" as my all time favorite of theirs, and the political machismo of The Clash, exemplified by "Death or Glory." Joe Strummer of The Clash was so masculine that he refused to write lyrics about girly stuff like personal feelings and, well, girls. Joe was like a very intelligent, very tough 10 year old boy who thought his older brother used to be cool until he discovered girls and now he just likes stupid squishy stuff.

This, as you deftly point out, often slid into a romance with fascist imagery during the punk and postpunk era—at one point or another, the Clash, the Pistols, the Ramones, Pil, and Joy Division all played with swastikas or related imagery. This co-existed with a powerful streak of fringe leftism that animated punk and postpunk, though the contradiction is easy enough to account for: Both were responses to a drastic spike in U.K. unemployment in the late '70s that created an avid culture of dead-enders in search of an extreme politics. All the poses of the '60s were suddenly considered not only suspect but revolting; and this led to some pretty extreme posturing.

Definitely. Leftist punk rockers doth protest too much. It is, of its nature, a far, far rightist-sounding music. The freikorps ex-soldiers in Germany after WWI who went around beating up Communists would have loved punk. (It's not a coincidence that the song that launched the punk era was the Ramones's "Blitzkrieg Bop.") Metcalf continues:

Now I think we can begin to piece together an idea about the English mainstream and the American mainstream. The American mainstream revives itself almost always on the backs of the legacy of Jim Crow. For the black experience, of course, is where innovation meets commercial success in American music history, from Satchmo and Ellington and Billie Holiday, to Miles and Coltrane and Sly and George Clinton and Prince and Chuck D. So familiar are we in my country with this maneuver, that when a band like Pere Ubu expands into a sound so completely outside the tradition of jazz, soul, funk, it boggles our mainstream tastes completely.

Unfortunately, the remarkable musical innovativeness of blacks seems to have ground to a halt with the invention of rap at the end of the 1970s. I don't know why. Perhaps blacks do their best work when they feel the pressure to impress whites. Nowadays, white people just want blacks to show off their worst -- "You Know It's Hard Out Their for a Pimp"" -- and blacks give whites the hip-hop minstrel show they want.

Of course, nobody else is doing much innovating in music either.

Which brings us to one final topic: authenticity. I wonder if you could talk more about how odd that dialectic is in the postpunk movement. After all, authenticity was rescued from a set of petrified counterculture clichés by bands that trampled all over the twin paradigms of authenticity—the hey, man, that singer-songwriter, he speaks to my soul of folk—and the endless attempts by white middle-class teens to appropriate the attitudes of blacks.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

March 7, 2006

Is there a post-Housing Bubble illegal immigrant crime wave coming?

The Financial Times reports:

US illegal migrants up almost 500,000 a year
By Edward Alden in Washington

The number of illegal immigrants in the US has continued to grow by nearly half a million each year in spite of US efforts to increase security at the country’s borders, according to a survey released on Tuesday.

The study, by the Pew Hispanic Center, said that the population of unauthorised migrants reached between 11.5m and 12m last year, accounting for nearly a third of the foreign-born population in the US. That number is up from roughly 8.4m in 2000...

In reality, that number could be even higher. The Pew Hispanic Center has a liberal bias (although it is admirably more honest than most institutions on immigration issues).

The Pew survey underscored the substantial presence of illegal workers in the US labour market. It estimated about 4.9 per cent of the US labour force, or 7.2m workers, was composed of unauthorised migrants.

So, about 40% of "undocumented workers" aren't workers. Interesting. And that's not counting "the 3.1 million children who are U.S. citizens by birth living in families in which the head of the family or a spouse was unauthorized," who get turned into automatic American citizens by the current (but dubious) interpretation of the 14th Amendment.

Nearly a third of those work in service occupations, 19 per cent in construction and 15 per cent in production, installation and repair jobs.

Since only 49% of illegal immigrants are adult males, according to Pew, that would suggest that three-eighths of male illegal immigrant workers are in construction, which is perhaps the most boom-and-bust sensitive sector of the economy. In this decade, very low interest rates and very high home housing prices have driven a construction boom.

But what happens when the Housing Bubble inevitably deflates?

A reader writes:

"Here’s something to contemplate – something I have not seen mentioned. It is perhaps not widely appreciated that when a recession hits the residential construction industry, the layoffs are not just 10 or 20% of the labor force, but more like 80%. ... What will the laid off illegal immigrants do? Go home? Probably not. They will not be able to get jobs in the U.S. There is really only one option: crime."

I'm not sure. The linkage between periods of unemployment and high crime rates is uncertain. But I'm definitely not reassured.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

It all ends in tears

In response to the SF Chronicle article "Gays brokenhearted over 'Brokeback' loss; S.F. crowd gets quiet, some cry as 'Crash' wins Oscar," Mean Mr. Mustard adds:

Remember when suggesting that women and men might have divergent biologies giving rise to different mental and behavioral predispositions was liable to cause certain hardy feminist academics to faint in a Victorian stereotype of female fragility?

Well, a number of gays were apparently pulling for "Brokeback Mountain" to win the Best Picture award. That support seemed to stem from the movie's message, implicitly asserting that homosexuality is an otherwise meaningless personal trait equally likely to exist among stoic, hypermasculine, strong-and-silent rustics as it is in emotive devotees of musical theatre.

The fact that the Academy voters seemed to have not bought entirely into the notion that gays aren't any more effeminate or less masculine than the average man immediately caused them to collapse in paroxysms of hysterical grief.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Sally Satel and Virginia Postrel

Psychiatrist Sally Satel, author of PC, M.D.: How Political Correctness Is Corrupting Medicine and other books, has had such severe kidney trouble that she needed a kidney transplant.

Virginia Postrel, author of The Future and its Enemies, wrote on her Dynamist blog:

Last fall, my friend Sally Satel wrote about the issue in general and her own search for a kidney donor. Between the time she wrote the article and the time it appeared in the NYT, I heard about her situation and volunteered as a donor. Our tissues turned out to be unusually compatible for nonrelatives and, when her Internet donor dropped out, I moved from backup to actual donor. We have our surgeries tomorrow morning.

Now, Virginia writes:

My operation went extremely smoothly. Hers took longer than expected, because a little bit of the kidney was spasming, making it hard for the surgeons to attach the blood vessels. Worse, a couple hours after surgery she started hemorrhaging and had to go back into surgery--an unusual and dangerous complication. Fortunately, she came through OK and is gradually recovering.

I am now out of the hospital and doing fine, recuperating at a friend's nice DC crash pad. I'm a bit weak and not as mobile as usual, but I'm off pain medication and more normal than not.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Supreme Court defers to military again

The Supreme Court unanimously upholds a law cutting federal funds to universities that, in the name of gay rights, ban military recruiting on campus. Mean Mr. Mustard explains the general pattern:

Indeed, the military seems to be one of the last few areas of national life on which the Court has exercised real restraint in making pronouncements. I'd guess that this bespeaks something of a realization on their part that their judgments about social and political issues traditionally left to less distant and more easily checked authorities really are just as ill-considered and liable to muck up the works as critics have been saying for years.

And so it seems they're perfectly content to, say, wreck the economy by disallowing consideration of general intelligence for hiring purposes or contribute dramatically to the likelihood of racially motivated riots, murder and rape in prison by telling state officials that they're not allowed to segregate prisoners by race (and any suggestion that imprisoned racial groups will disproportionately fight amongst themselves is just ignorant prejudice on the part of these guards and administrators who, after all, only have decades of experience working in prisons). A pretty good non-legal, layman's diagnosis of the Court's biggest and most consistent flaw would probably be something like, "They stick their nose in where it doesn't belong."

However, despite all that energetic and poorly-informed meddling, the Court has been unusually conscientious about not making similarly ideological and unrealistic diktats with regards to the military, an organization that, for instance, relies heavily on IQ-like tests to accept or reject enlistees and to classify them for occupations. Why is this?

It seems to me that they're aware of the fact that it's the military's long tradition of having to deal with the ugliest and uncomfortable realities of life that protects and sustains the ability to hold on to the social and intellectual niceties and fictions that top-tier law academics and Supreme Court jutices believe (because, darn it, it would just be so nice if they were true).

Fictions such as: men and women are the same; all groups of people have the same average predilections and capabilities as any other; IQ and the tests used to measure it are meaningless. All of these statements are taken as a matter of course in the classroom at any top law school. All of them are also demonstrably wrong. The Supreme Court has set policy and precedent based on the truth of these statements throughout American life, but not in the military.

America, not least through its military power, has created something of a nice cushion for itself from the brutal realities of the outside world that would so quickly shatter those shibboleths mentioned above. It gives us the ability to banish from our minds (or at least from most public and much of private discourse) the certain unpleasant facts with which Nature, that hideous bitch goddess, has left us.

A reader adds:

I believe that the basic principal at work is the famous phrase of Justice Robert Jackson. “The Constitution is not a suicide pact.” Without the military to defend the Constitution it is a worthless scrap of paper...

The US Army by its very nature cannot operate within the constitution and the bill of rights. Base commanders have powers over speech that no civilian authority would dare exercise. I experienced this first hand as a junior officer. I watched the military police rip political bumpers stickers off soldiers’ vehicles at the order of the commander. These were civilian cars owned by soldiers and parked on the base. They were mostly enlisted men. Most officers would not have dared. Keeping active duty soldiers out of politics has been a long standing Army practice with reasons too obvious to mention. A couple of local ACLU lawyers tried to put up a fuss but no judge would support them.

By the way, a similar but somewhat weaker attitude exists toward civil police powers. The famous or infamous Miranda ruling created a false impression. A careful study shows that even the Warren court tended to defer to the police. For a while in the 1970’s and 1980’s the lower courts forgot this principal, but the rising crime rate brought most of them back to reality. Even judges have children and like to walk the streets safely.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

New York Times finally catches up to on the HapMap:

Just before Christmas, an important study came out by Robert Moyzis, Eric Wang, et al. entitled "Global landscape of recent inferred Darwinian selection for Homo sapiens" [PDF]. It lists 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. It was based on the revolutionary HapMap study of genetic differences among Yoruban Nigerians, Utah whites, and Japanese & Chinese East Asians. I wrote it up on my blog and in, but because the indispensable Nicholas Wade didn't cover it in the NY Times (I'm guessing he was on Christmas vacation), almost nobody else in the American media paid it much attention, other than a small number of bloggers in my Links list.

Fortunately, Wade is now splashing in the NYT a new study by a different team using HapMap data:

Still Evolving, Human Genes Tell New Story

Providing the strongest evidence yet that humans are still evolving, researchers have detected some 700 regions of the human genome where genes appear to have been reshaped by natural selection, a principal force of evolution, within the last 5,000 to 15,000 years.

The genes that show this evolutionary change include some responsible for the senses of taste and smell, digestion, bone structure, skin color and brain function.

Many of these instances of selection may reflect the pressures that came to bear as people abandoned their hunting and gathering way of life for settlement and agriculture, a transition well under way in Europe and East Asia some 5,000 years ago.

Under natural selection, beneficial genes become more common in a population as their owners have more progeny.

Three populations were studied, Africans, East Asians and Europeans. In each, a mostly different set of genes had been favored by natural selection. The selected genes, which affect skin color, hair texture and bone structure, may underlie the present-day differences in racial appearance.

The study of selected genes may help reconstruct many crucial events in the human past. It may also help physical anthropologists explain why people over the world have such a variety of distinctive appearances, even though their genes are on the whole similar, said Dr. Spencer Wells, director of the Genographic Project of the National Geographic Society.

The finding adds substantially to the evidence that human evolution did not grind to a halt in the distant past, as is tacitly assumed by many social scientists. Even evolutionary psychologists, who interpret human behavior in terms of what the brain evolved to do, hold that the work of natural selection in shaping the human mind was completed in the pre-agricultural past, more than 10,000 years ago.

"There is ample evidence that selection has been a major driving point in our evolution during the last 10,000 years, and there is no reason to suppose that it has stopped," said Jonathan Pritchard, a population geneticist at the University of Chicago who headed the study.

Dr. Pritchard and his colleagues, Benjamin Voight, Sridhar Kudaravalli and Xiaoquan Wen, report their findings in today's issue of PLOS-Biology.

Their data is based on DNA changes in three populations gathered by the HapMap project, which built on the decoding of the human genome in 2003. The data, though collected to help identify variant genes that contribute to disease, also give evidence of evolutionary change.

The fingerprints of natural selection in DNA are hard to recognize. Just a handful of recently selected genes have previously been identified, like those that confer resistance to malaria or the ability to digest lactose in adulthood, an adaptation common in Northern Europeans whose ancestors thrived on cattle milk.

But the authors of the HapMap study released last October found many other regions where selection seemed to have occurred, as did an analysis published in December by Robert K. Moysis of the University of California, Irvine. [More]

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Not from The Onion, amusingly enough:

Gays brokenhearted over 'Brokeback' loss; S.F. crowd gets quiet, some cry as 'Crash' wins Oscar - Wyatt Buchanan, SF Chronicle

The single-word title of the film that won best picture at the Academy Awards Sunday night, beating "Brokeback Mountain," could perhaps best describe the mood at the end of San Francisco's premier Oscar night party. Moments before, when "Brokeback's" Ang Lee won for best director, the packed house at the Academy of Friends AIDS fundraising gala at the Concourse Exhibition Center erupted in wild cheering.

But as Jack Nicholson announced the best picture award for "Crash," a film that received nowhere near the media attention of the cowboy love story, the crowd went quiet. Some booed, and others cried. This was supposed to have been the big "gay" year at the Oscars, with "Brokeback," "Capote" and "Transamerica" all vying for major awards. Many saw "Brokeback" as a kind of great gay hope for best picture.

"I felt like 'Brokeback Mountain' was a film that brought Americans together over issues of homophobia," said Grant Colfax, who hugged and wept with his partner, Rod Rogers [is that his real name?], as the final award of the night went to a movie that instead explored issues of race. Although Colfax said he liked "Crash," he called it a safe choice.

Others were less diplomatic. "I think that's an absolute horror," said Brad Bruner, who is a leader in the Golden State Gay Rodeo Association. "It's an outright sign of homophobia in our country. ('Crash') won no awards before this. It makes me sick."

Overall, the films with gay themes and characters fared moderately. No actors won Oscars for performances in "Brokeback Mountain," and Felicity Huffman did not win for her portrayal of a transgender female in "Transamerica," but Philip Seymour Hoffman did score with his performance in "Capote," a film based on the life of gay writer Truman Capote.

That win meant Hoffman beat out Heath Ledger's character in "Brokeback Mountain," although many people at the event, which raised $500,000 for HIV and AIDS community services, said Hoffman deserved the honor.

Despite the lack of success for "Brokeback Mountain," which won just three of the eight awards for which it was nominated, cowboy hats and western wear were high fashion at the party. A movie poster signed by the actors and director sold for just over $2,800 in a silent auction, though the listed value was "priceless."

Gala attendees, who paid at least $200 a ticket, could get their picture taken with Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhall look-alikes in front of a mountain backdrop.

Caralee Schmitt, who attended the event with her husband, marveled at the cowboy couture on display Sunday, which she had never seen growing up in Bozeman, Mont. "My father was a cowboy, but not at all like these kind of cowboys," said Schmitt, who lives in South San Francisco.


My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

March 6, 2006

"Crash" wins Best Picture Oscar

"Crash" reminds me of the 1986 comedy "Soul Man," in which rich white jerk C. Thomas Howell paints his skin black to qualify for an affirmative action scholarship to Harvard Law School. The first half of "Soul Man" was a wonderfully irresponsible satire on race, while the boring, preachy second half said, "Just kidding! We take it all back. Race is nothing to joke about. Do you hear me? Nothing! Why can't we all just get along?"

To call "Crash" an unfunny "Soul Man" seems like faint praise indeed, but it was still my favorite of the five Best Picture nominees, which says a lot about what kind of year it was.

Of "Crash," Ross Douthat said it was "like 'Triumph of the Will' for Unitarians."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

American Muslim fertility

A reader writes:

"After reading your VDARE article, I was curious how high the total fertility rate (number of babies per woman) among American Muslims is. The General Social Survey gives a small Muslim sample: they average 4.8 children."

Why am I not reassured by this news?

(That sounds higher than I'd expect, though -- perhaps the small sample size makes it unreliable?)

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

My new column:

"The Return of Patriarchy:"

Philip Longman, a nice liberal affiliated with the nice liberal New America Foundation, has written a politically incorrect article that's getting a lot of deserved attention: The Return of Patriarchy in the March-April edition of Foreign Policy magazine. It endorses, without mentioning it by name, much of Pat Buchanan's 2001 book on falling birthrates, The Death of the West.

Longman's thesis is:

"Across the globe, people are choosing to have fewer children or none at all. Governments are desperate to halt the trend, but their influence seems to stop at the bedroom door. Are some societies destined to become extinct? Hardly. It’s more likely that conservatives will inherit the Earth. Like it or not, a growing proportion of the next generation will be born into families who believe that father knows best." ...

Longman rightly points out that religious and ideological differences affect fertility. But the arrow of causality also runs in the opposite direction—people who get married and have several children tend to become more socially and politically conservative for the sake of their children. ...

So Longman shouldn't ignore the impact of economics on marriage and fertility—what I call "Affordable Family Formation." There's more the government can (and should) do about the cost of housing and the cost of good schools than about religious beliefs.

My theory that affordable family formation drives marriage and fertility was anticipated in 1751 by Benjamin Franklin in his landmark Observations concerning The Increase of Mankind:

"For People increase in Proportion to the Number of Marriages, and that is greater in Proportion to the Ease and Convenience of supporting a Family. When Families can be easily supported, more Persons marry, and earlier in Life."

A quarter of a millennium ago, Franklin explained the virtuous cycle connecting low land prices, high wages, marriage, and children:

"Europe is generally full settled with Husbandmen, Manufacturers, &c. and therefore cannot now much increase in People… Land being thus plenty in America, and so cheap as that a labouring Man, that understands Husbandry, can in a short Time save Money enough to purchase a Piece of new Land sufficient for a Plantation, whereon he may subsist a Family; such are not afraid to marry;… Hence Marriages in America are more general, and more generally early, than in Europe."

As Ben might have expected, I found that:

"Bush carried the 20 states with the cheapest housing costs, while Kerry won the 9 states with the most expensive… The Mortgage Gap has been growing. Bush was victorious in the 26 states with the least home price inflation since 1980. Kerry triumphed in the 14 states with the most (according to the invaluable Laboratory of the States website)."

So, what can Republican government do to help preserve the traditional American patrimony of high wages and affordable land prices (and, in turn, help itself by creating new family values voters?) Franklin offered a sensible answer, which is even more logical now. Restrict immigration. As old Ben asked:

"[W]hy should the Palatine Boors [Germans] be suffered to swarm into our Settlements, and by herding together establish their Language and Manners to the Exclusion of ours?"

Good question. [MORE]

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Here's the CIA World Factbook's

ranked list of babies per woman by country. It's depressing reading. At the top of the list are Niger (7.55 babies per woman), Mali (7.47), Somalia (6.84), Afghanistan (6.75), Uganda (6.75), Yemen (6.67), Burundi (6.63), and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (6.54). Do you notice a pattern here -- like you wouldn't want to live in any of those countries? (For an alternative view from a man who liked what he saw, blurrily, in Africa -- see the article "Soused Africa" in Modern Drunkard Magazine.)

In contrast, the nationalities that have contributed the most per capita to world civilization are mostly toward the bottom of the list, like Japan (1.39) and Italy (1.28).

Does this portend well for the future?

The world average is 2.60, half a baby above the replacement rate.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"Soused Africa" from Modern Drunkard Magazine

When I was a kid, Africa was in. He-men loved it for the safari big game hunting, and liberals were sure it was going to be a huge success as soon as it decolonized. Now, everybody in the West just finds it depressing and tries not to think about it. So nobody here knows anything anymore about important topics like African family structures and the fact that women do most of the work in Africa, even though African ways of life obviously keep popping up to a noticeable degree among African Americans. But nobody in America is supposed to notice any connection between African American culture and African culture (the black blank slate theory -- African Americans suddenly emerged tabula rasa in 1619.)

Fortunately, here's a sober on-the-spot account of daily life for some men in Southern Africa. P.J. Tobia reports from Malawi:

At first blush, this place seems gripped in pandemic suffering. A closer look reveals the true nature of southern Africa: It is a drinker’s paradise. Hundreds of miles of beaches with names like Monkey Bay and Candy Beach line the eastern coast of Mozambique and the enormous Lake Malawi, providing the perfect setting for canoeing, fishing, and drinking the hot days away. Homemade liquors and bottled beers are available at almost every roadside shack, some conveniently attached to rest houses where one can sleep off a particularly frightening bender in a cheap, clean bed. Pocket change will buy a round for the entire bar and, of course, the police have never, and I mean never, heard of a Breathalyzer.

Women do almost all the daily work in southern Africa: cooking, finding food, raising children, and tidying up around the hut, which leaves men free to spend the day pursuing more amiable interests, like drinking until they can barely stand or form sentences.

And because the possibility of finding a job is laughable and property ownership largely hereditary, there is no expectation that the people of this region become clock-punching cubicle drones or slaves to a mortgage. While they lack the amenities we Westerners couldn’t imagine living without—such as hot, clean water, electricity, or a life expectancy greater than 35 years—they do have the luxury of being able to relax with good friends and a few dozen drinks every single day of the year.

And, boy, do they drink. From the rooster’s first call to the hour when night descends—or until they collapse from drinking in the sun, which in that part of the world can burn like a death ray—Africa’s heaviest drinkers have it pretty good in both lifestyle and beverage selection...

No matter what you call it or how you make it, these home-brewed liquors are the respite of Joe Africa, not only allowing escape from the crushing poverty that defines his existence, but adding an opulence unheard of in the so-called modern world—the ability to consume alcohol guilt free, all day, every day.

This is not to say that everybody in the region is a dedicated boozehound. I met a lot of folks who never touch the stuff. Nice girls aren’t found in bars, and there are plenty of Muslims in Africa. But in some of the rural areas there is a multi-faceted culture of drinking that underscores life...

The best part about all of this is that these guys are able to sit around long enough to get drunk on a drink [millet beer] that has almost no alcohol content. For one thing, their wives know exactly where they are, whom they are with, and what they are doing, and don’t have a big problem with it...

In short, the drinkers of Africa have it made. Sure, they have no healthcare, the literacy rate is among the lowest in the world, and December through March is the “famine season,” but they can drink and hang with their friends pretty much all day... What rural African regions lack in material wealth, infrastructure, and modern conveniences, they more than make up for in drunken leisure time. Even in places where basic human rights are a fairly new concept, a culture of drinking prevails, bringing happiness to a long-suffering people...

Throughout southern Africa, people are able to lead the kind of lives that we in the West can only imagine. They drink as much as they like, as often as they like, and no one—save for the odd azungu [white] missionary—will say a word to object. Sure, they need more food and medicine, but we have both those things in abundance, and how happy are we?

Africa is not perfect. But to the drinking man, it comes pretty damn close.

My vague impression is that most parts of black Africa had access to some kind of alcohol going back several thousand years, so most blacks have evolved at least some resistance to the kind of catastrophic alcoholism that afflicts American Indians, Eskimos, Australian Aborigines, and other peoples whose ancestors had no experience with alcohol until the last dozen generations or so. I suspect, most blacks are similar to Northern Europeans in ability to handle liquor -- not as well adapted by natural selection as Mediterranean peoples who have been drinking wine for 10,000 years, but not as ill-suited as most New Worlders and Islanders.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer