October 14, 2006

What's missing?

Here are the first 188 words of former Congressman Gerry Studds' obituary in the New York Times. What's left out?

Gerry Studds Dies at 69; First Openly Gay Congressman

Gerry E. Studds, the first openly gay member of Congress and a demanding advocate for New England fishermen and for gay rights, died early Saturday at Boston University Medical Center, his husband [sic] said.

The cause was a vascular illness that led Mr. Studds to collapse while walking his dog on Oct. 3 in Boston. He was 69.

From 1973 to 1997, Mr. Studds (whose first name was pronounced GAIR-ee) represented the Massachusetts district where he grew up, covering Cape Cod and the barnacled old fishing towns near the coast. He was the first Democrat to win the district in 50 years, and over the course of 12 terms, he sponsored several laws that helped protect local fisheries and create national parks along the Massachusetts shore.

A former Foreign Service officer with degrees from Yale, he was also a leading critic of President Ronald Reagan’s clandestine support of the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. He staunchly opposed “Star Wars,” or the Strategic Defense Initiative, which Mr. Studds once described as “the Edsel of the 1980’s” — overpriced and oversold. [More]

"Protect local fisheries" -- that's definitely what leaps first to mind in these days of the Foley Follies when you hear the name "Gerry Studds"!

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

October 13, 2006

Vibrant Diversity

A reader, saying "Here's some diverse vibrancy for you" points me to a Washington Post article:

Liveliest D.C. Neighborhoods Also Jumping With Robberies

By Allison Klein and Dan Keating

Some of Washington's most vibrant neighborhoods, destinations for suburbanites, barhoppers and urban professionals, share a lesser-known distinction: They have the highest concentrations of holdups in the city. ...

Doug Bryant, 35, a technical recruiter, and his wife moved to Columbia Heights almost three years ago because it was vibrant and diverse. But after being around so much crime -- and getting attacked on the street by a young man last year -- they plan to move. "I don't like walking around here at night," he said. "And I don't mean midnight. I'm talking after 8."

Oddly enough, this is actually one case where the word "vibrant" isn't total hooey. Usually, they use "vibrant" as a code word when they can't think of anything else to say about poor black neighborhoods, because words like "bleak" and "ominous" aren't allowed, or poor Mexican neighborhoods, because they can't say "tacky" and "low-brow."

In this case, however, the area north of the White House actually is gentrifying as Matt Yglesias-types move in and is becoming more "vibrant" in the actual sense that people want to believe is true about a neighborhood. What people hope when they hear that a city neighborhood is "vibrant" (or any other cool sounding adjective) is that it means that pretty girls are out at night. That, when you get down to it, is the ultimate attribute of an urban neighborhood: attractive women. (For suburban neighborhoods, the ultimate feature is smart public schoolchildren.)

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

The bottom line on The Lancet study claiming 600,000 Iraqis have died violently in this war:

That number seems high to me. I really can't say, but it just feels excessive. But if you cut it in half to "only" 300,000, would I feel all that dubious? Probably not.

Here's the bottom line: I doubt that the Iraqi death toll has reached 600,000 ... yet. But the odds are awfully high that, sooner or later, it will.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

October 12, 2006

Solar power: A negative correlation

The Washington Post discusses a new "Clean Energy" program in Ontario, Canada, modeled on one in Europe, to subsidize homeowners who put solar panels on their roof. It never quite mentions that the sun only shines in Toronto for approximately 37 minutes per year. In contrast, the sun shines all the time in, say, Las Vegas or San Antonio, but who wants some hippie-dippie solar power scheme there? I suspect that there is a negative correlation between the political popularity of solar power in a particular locale and its physicality practicality.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Foley and Hastert

Is there something I'm not clued into about why all the Mark Foley scandal attention is directed against Speaker of the House Denny Hastert? I don't recall demands for Speaker Tip O'Neill to resign during the Gerry Studds scandal. Is there something about Hastert that everybody in DC knows, but they won't tell the rest of us? Yeah, I know he was a high school wrestling coach, but, I mean, really ...

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

UPDATED: Depressing News of the Day

British medical journal The Lancet estimates 655,000 "excess deaths" in Iraq in the first 40 months of the war. (Here's an easier to read version.) They attribute 600,000 to violence, with (conservatively) three-tenths of those due to Americans and allies. The violent death toll in the third year of the war is more than triple what it was in the first year.

Unnamed Iraqi interviewers did door to door surveys around the nation so that

... data from 1849 households that contained 12,801 individuals in 47 clusters was gathered. 1474 births and 629 deaths were reported during the observation period. Pre-invasion mortality rates were 5.5 per 1000 people per year (95% [Confidence Interval] 4.3–7.1), compared with 13.3 per 1000 people per year (10.9–16.1) in the 40 months post-invasion. We estimate that as of July, 2006, there have been 654,965 (392,979–942,636) excess Iraqi deaths as a consequence of the war, which corresponds to 2.5% of the population in the study area. Of post-invasion deaths, 601,027 (426,369–793,663) were due to violence, the most common cause being gunfire.

I'm going to ramble on this topic, because I think it's more useful to toss out various reality checks rather than to decide pro or con and then construct a polemical argument in favor of one side or the other. You can get those lots of other places. As I've thought about this, I've become a little more skeptical, but that's less important than showing some of the ways of approaching the problem of evaluating this study.

Upon hearing that huge number of excess deaths, I had hoped that heat-related deaths due to power outages and lack of air conditioning would have been the big killer, since they mostly kill old people without many years left to live in any event. The 1995 heat wave in Chicago, when the temperature peaked at 106 F and caused a blackout, killed something like 525 people in five days, but most of them already old and frail. It's regularly over 106 in Iraq all summer (the forecast for tomorrow, 10/13, is 99F). But I guess I was wrong. Perhaps Baghdad houses are built more appropriately for triple digit heat than Chicago houses?

A reader writes:

It is not even remotely plausible that 500 Iraqis died from violence every day since the war began without anyone really noticing more than a fraction. The same "study" concluded that over 200,000 Iraqis died in Falujah alone in 2004, than removed the number from the sample, because it was not possible. They nevertheless used the exact same method on the rest of Iraq to get the 655.000 figure now. Scientific?

What they did is ask a small sample "did anyone in your household die in this period" and extrapolate the number to the whole population (each death multiplied by about 2000, insurgents are clearly included). Now ask yourself:

1. Are Arabs generally honest and trustworthy sources? 2. Do Arabs generally define family/household the same way that Westerners do?

It was clear last time that the anti-americans surveyed in Falujah were lying to the surveyors, who got the result that half the population of 500,000 were killed in a few weeks of fighting(!). Strangely the 200.000 corpses in the small town were not noticed by the legions of journalists, not by sanitations workers. Is there any reason to believe this bias has not changed in this survey?

Okay, but the researchers excluded Fallujah in their 2004 study precisely because there were so many deaths there in 2004 (the Marines pretty much flattened it in November 2004) that it would be easy to accidentally come up with an unrepresentative sample of survivors that could then over-inflate the national total. So, the researchers' behavior in 2004 of excluding Fallujah, which then lowered the national death estimate, was erring on the side of caution, which should count in the researchers' favor.

Here is a little plausibility test, that no one else in the media will do for a new item too good to not be true. The deaths are roughly:

340,000 from gunshots
80,000 Allied air strikes
80,000 car bombs
80,000 other explosives

Now you can argue that no one reports the gunshots. But even in Iraq every major car bomb is reported. If we are to believe the Lancet study each day since the invasion 135 Iraqi civilians were blown up in a car bomb/explosion, day after day. But why does the American and Iraqi media only report a fraction of these deaths? The Brookings Iraqi index reports 8,300 death from multiple fatality bombings, compared to 160,000 for Lancet. Is the difference of 20-fold between reported deaths and their estimated deaths most likely due to underreporting from the media or bias in their survey?

You can also ask yourself how it is possible that allied bombing continued to kill 30-40,000 Iraqis from 2005, where there has been limited allied bombing. According to Lancet each day 50 civilians were killed by allied bombing, again day after day for two years, without anyone really noticing. Are these figures even remotely consistent with actual US bombings?

This study is just propaganda that uses scientific lingo to fool people.

Well, the researchers saw death certificates for the majority of reported deaths (501 out of 629):

The study population at the beginning of the recall period (January 1, 2002) was calculated to be 11 956, and a total of 1474 births and 629 deaths were reported during the study period; age was reported for 610 of 629 deaths, sex reporting was complete. During the survey period there were 129 households (7%) that reported in-migration, and 152 households (8%) reported out-migration. Survey teams asked for death certificates in 545 (87%) reported deaths and these were present in 501 cases. The pattern of deaths in households without death certificates was no different from those with certificates.

That renders unlikely my idea that the death toll could be highly inflated by interviewees counting additional dead guys who weren't exactly part of the interviewed household -- third cousin Ali who stayed with us a couple of times but mostly stayed with his parents, that sort of thing. But, presumably, there's only one death certificate.

It could be the interviewers were flat out lying, or that they chose particularly hard hit neighborhoods.

It could also be that the overall death rates are pretty accurate, but that the causes of death are not, with survivors attributing Ali's death to something more random (car bomb or air strike) when he was really shot.

Here's an AP article from 12/2005:

"The number of U.S. airstrikes increased in the weeks leading up to last Thursday's election, from a monthly average of about 35 last summer [of 2005] to more than 60 in September and 120 or more in October and November."

So, if say there have been two airstrikes per day and on average they killed ten each, that would be about 7,300 deaths by airstrike per year, or about 30% of the airstrike reported numbers in the Lancet study.

Perhaps in a culture with stringent codes of vengeance, it can be prudent for the survivors to attribute a relative's violent death to an unknown or inaccessible killer rather than to being shot by somebody in particular because the latter might require honorable men to avenge the death? Maybe wreaking vengeance on the US Air Force for killing a son is socially considered impossible so therefore not mandatory, while staging a revenge attack on the U.S. Army is considered right and fitting? That would incline a man to blame airplanes rather than soldiers for his son's death. I don't know, I'm just speculating.

What about U.S. small arms fire?

A US government report says that US forces are now using 1.8 billion rounds of small-arms ammunition a year. The total has more than doubled in five years, largely as a result of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as changes in military doctrine.

Estimating how many bullets US forces have expended for every insurgent killed is not a simple or precisely scientific matter.

John Pike, director of the Washington military research group GlobalSecurity.org, said that, based on the GAO’s figures, US forces had expended around six billion bullets between 2002 and 2005

“If they don’t do body counts, how can I? But using these figures it works out at around 300,000 bullets per insurgent. Let’s round that down to 250,000 so that we are underestimating.”

That six billion sounds too high for Iraq because we were using up a little under a billion bullets per year five years ago, presumably in training or as their "sell-by dates" expired. And some of that remaining billion per year now is fired off in Afghanistan. So we are probably using somewhere around 730 million rounds (to pick a number that's easy to work with) per year in Iraq, or 2 million per day. Let's say half of that is expended in additional training, so that is 1 million American bullets per day fired in anger in Iraq.

Oh, man, that is a big number. Our firepower is so huge these days. (On the other hand, here's a 2004 Army claim of using only 5.5 million bullets in Iran per month, but other services also use a lot of bullets, and the second half of 2003 and early 2004 were the Good Old Days of peace and harmony in Iraq. So, that's not radically off from an overall rate of a million per day.)

Does that million per day number make sense? If there are 150,000 troops there, that's only 7 bullets per day per soldier. If say, one out of 15 soldiers get in a clash every day, that would be about 100 bullets per soldier per fire fight. You can fire 100 bullets in, oh, ten seconds, but with an M-16 you'd have to reload fresh clips several times to fire 100 bullets, so you can't actually fire that fast, but certainly could do that in a minute or two. With a mounted machine gun like the M2 .50 Caliber, you can fire 550 bullets per minute, with an effective range of 2 kilometers, so it's pretty easy to kill bystanders many blocks away just by squeezing your finger for 10 seconds.

In WWII, an American estimate was 6,000 bullets per enemy hit (not killed). At a million bullets per day, that would be 160 Iraqi casualties per day. But we were using a lot of single shot M1s, so we were likely a lot more efficient back then compared to now when we just hose down the general area. But, on the other hand, we are doing more fighting in cities with normal daily life going on, while in France in WWII, civilians tended to flee from the front or hunker down in cellars. There's no front in Iraq.

In July, 2006, a bad month, there were about 1,200 IED bombings against Americans. How many Iraqis died on average in the minutes following each attack? I don't know, but, considering that Americans mostly venture around only in heavily armed convoys, I wouldn't be surprised if our soldiers on average killed several Iraqis in the moments of terror and rage following each bombing. I just don't know what typically happens, but the combination of adrenaline and automatic weaponry would suggest something fairly lethal would be normal.

Another way to look at it is that there were 38 Americans killed last July. At the roughly 50 to 1 local to American kill ratio estimated for the "Black Hawk Down" firefight in Mogadishu in 1993 (about 1,000 Somalis killed versus about 20 Americans), that would be 1,900 Iraqis, which is perhaps a quarter of the Lancet estimate for that month.

But the American death rate in Iraq is historically low relative to the wounding rate, due to armor, advanced medicine, and other factors. There were a total of 546 American causalities in July (38 deaths and 508 wounded). What's the Iraqi death rate per American casualty? A 14 to 1 ratio would add up to about 8,000 Iraqis killed in July by Americans. I have no idea if that is realistic.

The great majority of violent deaths were among male Iraqis, typically younger:

The male-to-female ratio of post-invasion deaths was 3.4 for all deaths, and 9.8 for violent deaths (all deaths: 144 female, 485 male; violent death: 28 female, 274 male). In general, deaths by age group followed the expected J-shaped demographic curve; however, by contrast, most deaths in males were in the middle age groups

That suggests that not too many civilians are getting killed in their own homes by bullets penetrating their walls. So, most of the people getting killed are the usual suspects: fighting-age men. Are they mostly insurgents or just guys hanging out on the street when an improvised explosive device went off or a sniper shot at a convoy and we responded by hosing down the neighborhood? I don't know.

Getting a representative sample for this study is obviously hugely difficult. It could be that the researchers gravitated to the most shot up neighborhoods, or that those families having suffered losses were most likely to talk to the researchers. On the other hand, it's equally easy to theorize that the opposite biases would be true -- researchers would stick to the least violent neighborhoods out of self-preservation urges and families whose menfolk were involved in this war of all against all would be least likely to speak to strangers, who might be connected to an opposing group. (Think of the scene in "The Departed" where the cops try to get the mother of a thief murdered by the Boston Irish mob to talk to them, but she won't.)

A reader points toward the this line in the report:

"In 16 (0·9%) dwellings, residents were absent; 15 (0·8%) households refused to participate."

Out of 1849 households surveyed, those seem dubiously low nobody-at-home and refusal rates. So, maybe they are just making up the data. Who knows ...

What's going on here is that the interviewers were supposed to go to 47 neighborhoods around the country and start interviewing until they tallied 40 households, which equals 1880 households. But they ended up with only 1849, which is 31 (16 not-at-homes plus 15 refusals) short of 1880. So, the question is whether the 31 households mentioned above comprise all the not-at-homes and refusals, which seems implausible, or are they just a subset? For instance, perhaps the interviewers finished up a day thinking they had 40 households but when they got home they found they'd miscounted and did only 39, so they marked one down as refused. Once again, who knows, but the study sponsors should provide an explanation.

Maybe what happened is that the interviewers didn't actually go much door-to-door at random, but instead arrived in a neighborhood, put the word out, and then either had people who wanted to talk to them come see them or were invited to the homes of people who wanted to see them. That might account for the very high % of people with death certificates available.

Or it could be that the interviewers got in contact ahead of time with neighborhood leaders to see if their presence would be welcome to reduce their chances of being killed. (That's not good random surveying hygiene, but are you going to blame them?) Then, in a neighborhood where the local big shot wanted their presence, he might have passed the word around to aggrieved families to get ready to tell their stories to the interviewers when they showed up. This could cause a bias upward in the number of deaths reported.

The more I think about the mechanics of carrying out the survey on the street without getting killed, the more I suspect that the Iraqi interviewers didn't actually implement the purely random survey design that the American professors from MIT and Johns Hopkins dreamed up for them. It would be nuts to to let luck determine which streets you'd choose, as the report claims they did. You'd want to only go where you knew you'd be safe. Then you'd tell the Americans you did exactly what they told you to do.

How that would bias the result, I don't know.

The overall point, however, is that nobody else appears to be doing this kind of study because it is so hideously dangerous, which ought to tell us something.

More analysis is necessary, but, after a few hours of kicking the tires, these numbers don't strike me as obviously implausible. I wouldn't put tremendous confidence in them either, though, due to the savage conditions under which this heroic effort was carried out.

If I had to guess, I'd say 600,000 deaths from violence was too high. But what if you cut that number in half, down to "only" 300,000? I can't say that sounds improbable. And will the death toll sooner or later to get to 600,000? That seems quite likely.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

October 10, 2006

American plot to sabotage Libya moves forward

You've probably been wondering why American intelligence agencies haven't been making much progress at hobbling our enemies, but here is good news: Our spooks have made a breakthrough ensuring that the next generation of Col. Gaddaffi's Libyan minions will remain as uneducated as all the past generations. From the NYT:

U.S. Group Reaches Deal to Provide Laptops to All Libyan Schoolchildren

The government of Libya reached an agreement on Tuesday with One Laptop Per Child, a nonprofit United States group developing an inexpensive, educational laptop computer, with the goal of supplying machines to all 1.2 million Libyan schoolchildren by June of 2008.

The project, which is intended to supply computers broadly to children in developing nations, was conceived in 2005 by a computer researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Nicholas Negroponte. His goal is to design a wireless-connected laptop that will cost about $100 after the machines go into mass production next year.

To date, Mr. Negroponte, the brother of the United States intelligence director, John D. Negroponte, has reached tentative purchase agreements with Brazil, Argentina, Nigeria and Thailand, and has struck a manufacturing deal with Quanta Computer Inc., a Taiwanese computer maker.

Udolpho explained why Maine's law equipping every schoolchild with a laptop was a bad idea and Glaivester seconded it:

Having substitute taught in Maine for a few months, I can confirm that most of what [Udolpho] assumes is happening - is, actually, indeed, happening exactly as he says.

Half the time in the classroom was spent making certain that students were paying attention to the lesson, and not to reading one-liners about Chuck Norris

At one point, some sort of security breach made it so that the school had to recall all of the laptops for a few weeks. Man, were things better for those few weeks.

In case you were wondering:

Before the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.
Chuck Norris doesn't read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.
There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of creatures Chuck Norris has allowed to live.
Outer space exists because it's afraid to be on the same planet with Chuck Norris.
Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.
Chuck Norris is the reason why Waldo is hiding.
Chuck Norris counted to infinity - twice.
There is no chin behind Chuck Norris’ beard. There is only another fist.
When Chuck Norris does a pushup, he isn’t lifting himself up, he’s pushing the Earth down.
Chuck Norris is so fast, he can run around the world and punch himself in the back of the head.
There is no such thing as global warming. Chuck Norris was cold, so he turned the sun up.
Chuck Norris can lead a horse to water AND make it drink.
Chuck Norris doesn’t wear a watch, HE decides what time it is.
Contrary to popular belief, America is not a democracy, it is a Chucktatorship.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

More on Martin Scorsese

From my review of "The Departed" in the upcoming American Conservative:

Although Scorsese is a favorite of intellectuals, his films, when they work, leave the critic without much to analyze other than why they work so well. A quarter century ago, staggering out of Scorsese's most awe-inspiring effort, "Raging Bull," a friend turned to me and, overwhelmed but genuinely puzzled, asked, "But … what was that about?" You could say "Raging Bull" was "about" masculinity, but Scorsese didn't present a theory of it for you to argue over. He simply showed you the distilled essence of masculinity.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

"Diversity Our Strength"

I, Ectomorph keeps getting better and better. Here's his musings on the new city seal of Toronto:

Toronto, where new residents arrive every minute from all over the world, is professedly in love with "diversity". The city's motto is actually "Diversity our strength". This sounds like a lot like the United States' motto "E pluribus unum" (Out of many, one) or the City of Winnipeg's motto "Unum cum virtute multorum" (One with the strength of many), except that it's dumbed down into English and, more importantly, it leaves out any mention of a "one". In this town, it's basically E pluribus whatever...or, perhaps (at best) E pluribus ethnic restaurants.

In case you don't believe me, here's Toronto's recently devised device:

The various elements of the design are intended to symbolize our diversity in various respects, although (curiously) the old colonialist coat of arms that was junked in favour of this actually dared to depict diversity in human form, represented 50% by women in non-traditional roles (Britannia militaristically bearing her shield) and 50% by visible minorities (an impressive native Indian warrior). But for now we'll have to make do with the diversity of a beaver and a bear, drawn the same size to symbolize the modern Torontonian's unfamiliarity with animals other than raccoons, pigeons and shih-tzus. [More]

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Robert D. Putnam solves all the problems caused by diversity

From another Financial Times article about Harvard political scientist Robert "Bowling Alone" Putnam's study on the correlation between ethnic diversity and lack of trust in American locations:

That is a depressing picture. But Prof Putnam, a liberal who sometimes seems to shrink from the impact of his own findings, insists there are ways of avoiding it.

To illustrate, he tells the story of his eight-year-old granddaughter, Miriam, whose father is Puerto Rican and who was brought up for the first few years of her life in Puerto Rico, then moved to an American school. She came home one day to ask her mother “what’s a Hispanic?” Told it was some one of Latin American origin, she asked, “am I a Hispanic?”

Prof Putnam says: “Miriam was learning how US society draws lines. Not for any sinister reasons, it just creates a category called Hispanic to describe people. But it’s a social construction, and it can be deconstructed.”

The Hispanic category was quietly invented by Nixon's OMB in 1973, but disinventing it would be vastly more difficult since large amounts of affirmative action goodies come with it, and thus the beneficiaries have financial incentives to smear as "racist" anybody who calls for ending it. Is Putnam calling for elimination of the Hispanic category and the end of preferences for ex-Hispanics? If he is, he's not doing it very loudly.

He points to the “melting pot” period of early 20th century America, a time when all kinds of people came to the US – Irish, Italians, Germans, Swedes, Jews. “The picture that they all, after a little friction, got on and that Jews taught the Irish how to dance the hora, was mainly wrong,” he says. “It was more like "Gangs of New York”. It changed very slowly, but it did change.

It changed mostly during the long period after the mid-1920s when mass immigration was cut off.

“I think we can do a lot to push change along more rapidly. The US military is one example. There was a lot of racial tension around the time of the Vietnam war. Now, polls show that US military personnel have many more friendships across ethnic lines than civilians. And that was deliberate. If officers were told they wouldn’t make colonel if they were seen to discriminate, they changed.”

So, to increase trust across ethnic lines, Putnam is calling for imposing martial law? That's flippant, but I'm tired of people pointing at the military and saying, "Look, everybody gets along there so everybody should get along outside the military," without ever examining exactly what the military does to achieve a reasonable level of racial harmony. I explored that question in some detail in a 1995 National Review article "Where the Races Relate," but I don't see anybody has learned anything from it over the last decade. And, in 1995, I missed the single most important tool the military uses: IQ tests to determine who is eligible for admission. By keeping out low IQ individuals, the military has closed much of the Bell Curve gap among the races.

Another anecdote: “From the 1920s onwards, almost all American humour was Jewish humour. And it was referred to as such. Now, you wouldn’t think of describing Woody Allen as a Jewish comedian. It’s just humour. It’s become American”.

Nobody thinks to describe Woody Allen as Jewish? Huh?

More subtly, it's incorrect to describe American comedy since the 1920s as "almost all" Jewish. While the Jewish influence is very large, Woody Allen's hero Bob Hope immigrated from England when he was four. The dominant comedians of late night television -- Johnny Carson, David Letterman, Jay Leno -- aren't Jewish.

Here's an English list of 50 top comedians to provide some date from a 3rd party view of the subject. The 18 Americans on the list (including English immigrants Hope, Charlie Chaplin, and Christopher Guest and Canadian immigrant Mike Myers) are made up of 10 gentiles and 8 Jews. (Chaplin, by the way, probably wasn't Jewish. He was likely Gypsy on his mother's side. Robin Williams is from a wealthy WASP family -- his father was a high-ranking auto company executive. Myers is English, not Jewish -- "Coffee Talk" is based on his mother-in-law, not his mother.) That proportion sounds about right, with Jews having a plurality but not a majority in American comedy.

In an oblique criticism of Jack Straw, leader of the House of Commons, who revealed last week he prefers Muslim women not to wear a full veil, Prof Putnam said: “What we shouldn’t do is to say that they [immigrants] should be more like us. We should construct a new us.”

More generally, it's annoying to me that the level of intellectual discourse about diversity remains so insipid. For over a decade, I've been writing about (A) How to ameliorate the problems caused by diversity and (B) How amelioration is costly, unpopular, and far from 100% effective, so we should not aggravate the problems with more mass immigration. Yet, as this issue becomes ever more pressing, the quality of discourse is declining, precisely because of the increasing political power of "the diverse" means that accurate discussions of the topic are punished.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Fun with Statistics!

From the comments section on Greg Mankiw's blog, a true believer attempts to refute Robert D. Putnam's research that ethnic diversity correlates with lower levels of trust:

This paper claims that the correlation between trust and homogeneity disappears once you control for democracy, corruption and equal protection.

What's next? Perhaps:

This paper claims that the correlation between mortality and bubonic plague disappears once you control for sudden death.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Gideon's Blog on war with Iran

Noah posts only rarely, but it's worth the wait. Here's an excerpt:

2. China. The United States has a massive interest in integrating China into an international system, in enabling China to emerge as a great power without feeling the need to become a "revisionist" power. We failed in this regard with Japan in the 1920s and 1930s, with consequences that are well-known. If we fail with China, the consequences could be considerably worse. The Chinese leadership has for some time been consciously stoking Han nationalism as a way of building support for a regime that no longer espouses socialism in any meaningful sense of the word, and that has been tainted by massive corruption. We have to maneuver carefully between the Scylla of making the regime feel threatened from without and the Charybdis of making the regime feel like there's a power vacuum for it to occupy. Right now, I fear our foreign policy is achieving the worst of both worlds: making China worried about our intentions and unimpressed with our abilities. War with Iran would substantially increase Chinese perceptions of America as a threat. If the war achieved success levels similar to our Iraqi adventure, it would also deepen their contempt for our abilities.

Moreover, precipitate American action in Iran would lead to a reassessment in a variety of minor Asian capitals as to the relative dangers of American or Chinese patronage. Who would want to be the Turkey of East Asia when America decides to target North Korea, or Burma, or some other state? That's going to be a question asked in Bangkok and Seoul and Jakarta and Manila, and China is poised to reap the benefit any time the answer is, "not us!" [More]

A reader replies:

If I were Chinese, with one of those famously hefty North Asian IQs, I think I would reach exactly the opposite of Gideon's conclusions from the Iraq war. I think I would notice that 1) the high tech American military can slice like butter through much larger formations of more primitive militaries, but 2) America is not very competent at transforming non-Western societies into democracies and 3) America is far too gentle to put down violent resistance of even a tiny number of rebels and 4) the American people have no stomach for occupying a country against the resistance of even a small minority of its people.

Now, 1) means that if China is thinking of any aggressive moves, they could be in for some nasty surprises, and 3, 4, and 5 mean that there is no chance, zip, nada, phi, the null set, of America ever trying to invade or occupy even a sliver of so massive a country as China.

All of which is, I think, what we want them to understand.

But then I am not Chinese.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Cheap labor is expensive for America in the long run

As Ben Franklin pointed out in 1751, the social basis for the superior American way of life -- what later became known as the American Dream of a vast middle class of prosperous home owners -- has been based on high wages and cheap land, which are due to America's enduring lack of labor relative to the abundance of land.

This had the side effect of encouraging American inventiveness. Clever farm boys who were good with their hands, such as Henry Ford, eventually made America the world's industrial giant.

In recent years, though, it has become a journalistic cliché that cheap labor is "good for the economy." The truth is that cheap labor discourages inventiveness.

New machines alter agriculture's future
By Dennis Pollock / The Fresno Bee
(Updated Sunday, October 1, 2006, 7:05 AM)

In a green bean field near Fowler, hundreds of metal fingers on a machine are doing what 66-year-old Joe Santellano's fingers did decades ago when he harvested beans in the San Jose area.

They're picking the beans and sending them into a box — their first stop before being hauled to Sunnyside Packing in Selma.

Santellano and Todd Hirasuna, field representatives with Sunnyside, watch the machine make its way through the field. It's the first time they have used it.

They sort through the harvested beans and wince at those that have snapped.

Broken and misshapen beans will be culled from what is sold to retailers.

A broken bean," Hirasuna says, picking one up. "That's a necessary evil."

But most are in perfect condition.

Plagued by rising costs for labor and worker shortages, the packinghouse bought the $28,500 harvester this year.

The irony: Bean harvesters have been in use for about 30 years elsewhere in the United States. Simple geography — the proximity to a huge, low-cost labor force in Mexico — virtually had kept them out of California fields until now. [Emphasis mine.]

Severe spot-labor shortages, crackdowns on illegal immigration and planned increases in the minimum wage have opened California's doors to existing machinery, fostered research and development to meet niche agricultural needs and taken talk of orchard robots out of the realm of science fiction...

Growers shied from the expense in days past, Stich said.

"But now, there is a serious question of whether the labor will be there," he said...

This year's raisin harvest is nearly 70% complete, and for the first time in years, labor needs did not become an issue, said Glen Goto, who heads the Raisin Bargaining Association. He cited two reasons: At least 40% of the crop is mechanically harvested, and grape yields may be down as much as 30%...

Countries where low-cost labor is in short supply have been in the machine-farming vanguard. Australians and Italians, for example, pioneered using machines to prune grapevines, said Maxwell Norton, a University of California farm adviser for Merced County...

Selma grower Bill Chandler said he saw pickers in apple orchards standing on moveable platforms instead of ladders in Spain.

The practice could be spreading into California. For the second time this year, a grower of pears used the platform technique in Lake County, where thousands of tons of the fruit were left to rot this year because of a worker shortage.

Rachel Elkins, a UC farm adviser for Lake and Mendocino counties, said the self-propelled platform, which rolls through the orchard on wheels, is being evaluated by the Agricultural Ergonomic Research Center at UC Davis and others for productivity, fruit quality, costs and other matters.

An advantage of the platform approach, Elkins said, is that it could broaden the pool of workers, adding some who are unable or unwilling to wrestle with long ladders in the orchards. Moreover, it may cut down on workers' compensation claims.

In other words, fewer injured workers.

Agricultural economist William Bailey points out in Farm Week:

"American agriculture faces intense global competition. The effect of encouraging the continued use of inexpensive immigrant labor may have the unintended consequence of reducing the competitiveness of American agriculture."

This is especially true for the ultra-labor intensive farms of California, a state second only to Hawaii in cost of living in this country. To compete with overseas growers, it doesn't make much sense for California farms to follow a labor intensive strategy because the cost of living in California is so high.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

"The most disturbing piece of research I have read about recently"

says Harvard economist Greg Mankiw, who must have rather tame research reading habits. (Via ADC and Mangan's). From the Financial Times, an article about the "Bowling Alone" guy:

Study paints bleak picture of ethnic diversity
By John Lloyd in London

A bleak picture of the corrosive effects of ethnic diversity has been revealed in research by Harvard University’s Robert Putnam, one of the world’s most influential political scientists.

His research shows that the more diverse a community is, the less likely its inhabitants are to trust anyone – from their next-door neighbour to the mayor.

This is a contentious finding in the current climate of concern about the benefits of immigration. Professor Putnam told the Financial Times he had delayed publishing his research until he could develop proposals to compensate for the negative effects of diversity, saying it “would have been irresponsible to publish without that”.

The core message of the research was that, “in the presence of diversity, we hunker down”, he said. “We act like turtles. The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined. And it’s not just that we don’t trust people who are not like us. In diverse communities, we don’t trust people who do look like us.”

Prof Putnam found trust was lowest in Los Angeles, “the most diverse human habitation in human history”, but his findings also held for rural South Dakota, where “diversity means inviting Swedes to a Norwegians’ picnic”.

When the data were adjusted for class, income and other factors, they showed that the more people of different races lived in the same community, the greater the loss of trust. “They don’t trust the local mayor, they don’t trust the local paper, they don’t trust other people and they don’t trust institutions,” said Prof Putnam. “The only thing there’s more of is protest marches and TV watching.”

Oddly enough, although Putnam claims he suppressed publishing his research for years, I wrote about his study in VDARE.com way back in 2001:

I lived in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood, which is on the lakefront about six miles north of the Loop. Uptown boasts of being the most linguistically diverse square mile in America. Supposedly, 88 different languages are spoken there (or maybe 110, depending on who is telling the story).

For someone like myself who is fascinated by human biodiversity, Uptown is wonderfully educational. Just don't call it a community. Being an unneighborly sort myself, that was OK with me. Fortunately, most people are less anti-social.

When my wife and I first moved in, she helped start a neighborhood drive to repair the ramshackle little park across the street. To get the City of Chicago to agree to help, we'd need to raise matching funds and sign up volunteer laborers. This kind of Robert D. Putnam-endorsed civic activity proved strikingly difficult in Uptown, however, precisely because of its remarkable diversity.

The most obvious problem: it's hard to talk neighbors into donating money or time if they don't speak the same language as you do.

The second problem: the high crime rate. The affluent South Vietnamese merchants from the adjoining Little Saigon district on Argyle St. had scant interest in sending their kids to play in a park that would also be used by black kids from the local housing project. The Asians were generally scared of the much bigger and more raucous African-Americans.

Third problem: inter-immigrant hatreds. The Eritreans and Ethiopians are slender, elegant-looking dark brown people with thin Arab noses. They appear identical to the American eye. But their compatriots back home in the Horn of Africa were fighting a vicious war.

Fourth problem: a lot of the immigrants came from countries where only a fool trusted his neighbors, much less the government. If the South Vietnamese had been less clannish and more ready to sacrifice for the greater good from 1965-1975, as their militaristic North Vietnamese enemies did, they'd be lousier restaurateurs. But they'd probably still have their own country.

Fifth problem: the fundamental difficulty in making multiculturalism work, namely, multiple cultures. Getting Koreans, Russians, Mexicans, Nigerians, and Assyrians (Christian Iraqis) to agree on how to landscape a park is not impossible. Yet it's certainly far more work than fostering consensus among people who all have the same picture in their heads of what a park is for.

For example, Russian women like to sunbathe. But Latin American women want to stay in the shade, since their culture discriminates in favor of fairer-skinned women. So do you plant a lot of shade trees or not?

In the end, the middle class, English-speaking, native-born Americans (mostly white, but with plenty of black-white couples) did the bulk of the work.

And, after that struggle, everybody seemed to give up on trying to bring Uptown together for civic betterment.

Here's the LA Times article I noticed five years ago:

Love Thy Neighbor? Not in L.A.
Community: Angelenos are among the least trusting, according to a national survey by a Harvard researcher.
By PETER Y. HONG, L.A. Times Staff Writer

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

October 9, 2006

Those Damn WAMs

White American Males make up about 1.6% of the world's population, but they are 6 for 6 in the Nobels this year. They just keep coming up with lots of good ideas, undermining the self-esteem of everybody else. Don't they know how insensitive that is?

Physiology and Medicine: Andrew Z. Fire and Craig C. Mello
Physics: John C. Mather and George F. Smoot
Chemistry: Roger D. Kornberg
Economics: Edmund S. Phelps

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

An Automation PAC?

A reader writes:

What is the pro-immigrant segment of business? Restaurants, hotels, farmers, mortgage lenders, etc. Who are low-IQ immigration's natural enemies? Companies that make labor-saving machines, or products and services that are in higher demand when unskilled labor is expensive. Roomba, you mentioned automated car washes, I don't know any of the manufacturers, I really don't know who else, but maybe they should organize a PAC, it'd be in their long-term interest to increase the demand for machines. Any company that makes agricultural machines must be hurt by immigration. Talk-up turning jobs Americans "won't do" into jobs that no one will have to do. It sounds progressive, not racist. After all, better to make people think that everyone will have either a machine (like a dishwasher) or easy access to a machine (like an automatic car wash) on days without mexicans than feeling they'd have to do it themselves, or even more terrifying, have to deal with black people going in and out of their neighborhoods

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

"The Departed:"

From my upcoming review in The American Conservative:

As American filmmaking has hit the doldrums, the best Chinese-language movies, such as "Hero" and "2046," have come to rival in quality anything recently made in America. Now, the most critically-celebrated American director, Martin Scorsese ("Taxi Driver" and "The Aviator"), has directly taken up the Chinese challenge. "The Departed" transplants to Boston the subtle, laconic 2002 Hong Kong cops-and-gangsters thriller "Infernal Affairs" about a crook who infiltrates the police while an undercover detective worms his way into his mob.

I'm proud to report the Americans have won the face-off. As fine as "Infernal Affairs" is, "The Departed" is an order of magnitude more entertaining. Our boys triumph the same way we did in World War II -- by throwing everything, including the kitchen sink, into the fray. The loquacious "Departed," which ends up a sort of brutal action tragicomedy, might be overstuffed, but it's certainly overwhelming.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer