April 16, 2011

L.A. Schools Boss Uncovers Baffling Mystery in Chinatown

John Deasy, formerly of the Gates Foundation, took command yesterday as Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District. The LA Daily News reports on today's front page:
Speeding from one campus to another on Friday, Deasy peppered teachers and principals with questions about their strategies to improve academic programs, taking breaks between classroom stops to check his iPhone - admittedly his one addiction. 
At Castelar Elementary in Chinatown, Deasy congratulated administrators on their high state test scores and their clean campus. Then he questioned staff on how they were addressing the achievement of Latino students on campus, who are underperforming compared to their Asian peers. "I read the data before coming ... tell me what you're doing about it," he asked. 
Castelar's school coordinator, Sal Sandoval, said he appreciated the tough questions. "Of course it's a little intimidating, I mean he is our boss, but it's great to see how much he knows about our school," Sandoval said.

I'm as stumped as John Deasy is. Whoever heard of a school where Asians outscore Latinos on average? Clearly, it can't have anything to do with, say, the Latino students' parents. As we read in that new bestseller, Battle Hymn of the Jaguar Mother by Harvard Law professor Amy Chavez, Latino parents are notorious for relentlessly pushing their children to study.

At first, I was going to recommend that Superintendent Deasy drop everything else to investigate the Castelar Conundrum. But, on second thought, perhaps some mysteries are not meant for human minds to unravel. This school's unique results could even be the result of a sinister conspiracy that goes all the way to the top, a plot far too deep and dangerous for John Deasy to probe.

Forget it, Jack. It's Chinatown.

What the Libyan rebels need

A reader points out an irony of Obama's War:
These Libyan rebels need a white messiah, that charismatic person able to lead them to victory: e.g., T.E. Lawrence, Orde Wingate, Brooks Rajah of Sarawak, Homer Lea.

Those persons still exist? NOT sure.

Not to mention, the white messiahs of Avatar, Dances with Wolves, and The Last Samurai, all of whom David Brooks was so upset over in 2009.

The Rising Threat of Nigerian Military Might

In "The Spending Debate," Matthew Yglesias frets:
Large, regionally significant states such as China, India, Brazil, and Nigeria are growing faster than we are putting pressure on military hegemonism.

The most plausible scenario I can come up with in which Nigeria puts pressure on American military hegemonism is if President Obama falls for an email scam asking him to trade three aircraft carrier groups and a Trident sub in return for the $164,351,983.00 that has been confidentially deposited in his name at the National Bank of Lagos.

But I don't think that's going to happen.

Kaus goes there

Mickey Kaus writes:
Jay Cost: “Obama is just plain bad at politics” I think Cost’s on to something, though a) there are worse things than being bad at politics, even in a president; b) it doesn’t mean Obama won’t be reelected (or that I won’t vote for him); c) Cost’s examples aren’t wildly compelling. (Every president says a few dumb things, And let’s see if Obamacare gets repealed, now that Paul Ryan has said its basic structure is OK for seniors.) 

Well, you don't have to be all that great at politics in an absolute sense, you just have to be better than the opposition, especially when the opposition keeps getting disqualified. Obama has contested seven elections in his career, from the election for Harvard Law Review supremo onward, one of which he lost badly (to Bobby Rush in 2000). In three of them, his chief opponents were driven off the ballot by, once, Obama contesting the opponents' signatures, and, twice, by seamy divorce records being opened. So, maybe that's proof of his political genius.
Cost would have been on stronger ground if he’d waited to hear Obama’s waste of a deficit speech; d) Cost doesn’t go into why Obama managed to get to the top of politics without being all that good at it. The answer is distressingly obvious: Obama’s the biggest affirmative action baby in history.  When other pols are trying, failing, learning, while climbing up the middle rungs of the ladder, he got a pass; e) He’s the second president in a row to get a pass–George W. Bush, after all, didn’t exactly have to fight his way through a 64-team bracket. He was a legacy exception. And, come to think of it, he wasn’t that good at politics either. …

People should read the hagiographic The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama by David Remnick, the editor of the New Yorker, and count the number of powerful people who told Remnick that the first time they met Obama, their reaction was: He should be President! Then compare this to Obama's actual record of accomplishment, as reported in The Bridge, such as all the brilliant legal articles he wrote that led to him being offered tenure by the U. of Chicago Law School, all the landmark cases he won as a discrimination lawyer, all the public school students whose test scores rose due to the $100,000,000 he handed out as Chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, all the jobs he helped people get as a community organizer, and so forth. (Remnick does devote pp. 164-169 to the asbestos Obama helped get partially removed.)

April 15, 2011

Do private schools assess teachers by value added testing?

Measuring teachers by how much value they add to their students' tests scores is an idea that I advocated back in the last millennium, and has since become the state of the art conventional wisdom, and, now, it is being implemented into universal law in Colorado, all without anybody actually showing it does a whole lot of good. Dana Goldstein has a funny article in the American Prospect, "The Test Generation," about what that actually means in the classroom:
On exam day in Sabina Trombetta's Colorado Springs first-grade art class, the 6-year-olds were shown a slide of Picasso's "Weeping Woman," a 1937 cubist portrait of the artist's lover, Dora Maar, with tears streaming down her face. It is painted in vibrant -- almost neon -- greens, bluish purples, and yellows. ... 
The test asked the first-graders to look at "Weeping Woman" and "write three colors Picasso used to show feeling or emotion." (Acceptable answers: blue, green, purple, and yellow.) Another question asked, "In each box below, draw three different shapes that Picasso used to show feeling or emotion." (Acceptable drawings: triangles, ovals, and rectangles.) A separate section of the exam asked students to write a full paragraph about a Matisse painting. 
Trombetta, 38, a 10-year teaching veteran and winner of distinguished teaching awards from both her school district, Harrison District 2, and Pikes Peak County, would have rather been handing out glue sticks and finger paints. The kids would have preferred that, too. But the test wasn't really about them. It was about their teacher. 
Trombetta and her students, 87 percent of whom come from poor families, are part of one of the most aggressive education-reform experiments in the country: a soon-to-be state-mandated attempt to evaluate all teachers -- even those in art, music, and physical education -- according to how much they "grow" student achievement. In order to assess Trombetta, the district will require her Chamberlin Elementary School first-graders to sit for seven pencil-and-paper tests in art this school year. To prepare them for those exams, Trombetta lectures her students on art elements such as color, line, and shape -- bullet points on Colorado's new fine-art curriculum standards.

Studies prove that Yale graduates with high-paying jobs tend to have stronger opinions on the merits of Picasso v. Matisse than do high school dropouts in prison, so, logically, that proves that we can't start lecturing children too young on Matisse and Picasso, because if they don't go to Yale, they're bound to go to jail.

Anyway, the question I have about measuring public school teachers through value-added testing is this: How many private schools do that? We have thousands of private schools in America, but I can't recall ever hearing of one that regularly uses these now fashionable value-added assessments to measure teachers. Why not?

April 14, 2011

What's best way to sell a really used car?

I'm finally going to sell my semi-legendary 1998 Accord, and I'm looking for advice on the best way to sell a car that, in looks, isn't up to even the "Fair" rating at the bottom of Kelly Blue Book. The car, a V6, still goes like a bat out of hell with remarkable acceleration, but it looks like the Rat Patrol drove it across North Africa a half dozen times (and lost more firefights than they won). Half the paint is worn off and there are about a dozen dents, large and small. 

April 12, 2011

Fernandomania No Mas

From my Taki Magazine column:
With the Census Bureau announcing this spring that the number of Hispanics in America has surpassed 50 million—a large majority of them of Mexican background—it’s worth remembering the “Fernandomania” that swept the country 30 years ago. 
America held only 15 million Hispanics when Fernando Valenzuela, a 20-year-old rookie Los Angeles Dodgers baseball pitcher from Mexico, started the 1981 season with eight straight wins, five of them shutouts. (In contrast, the 2010 Dodgers chalked up only four shutouts over 162 games.) Whenever Fernando pitched, attendance would soar as Latinos and others rushed to the ballpark to cheer on the uniquely charismatic phenom. ... 
I recount this ancient history because it illuminates the curious question of why there are so few Mexican superstars today in any branch of American popular culture other than boxing. Sure, there are stars—actress Eva Longoria of Desperate Housewives, third baseman Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and others of similar wattage—but why so few superstars, especially in contrast to African-Americans?

Read the whole thing there.

GOP takes dead aim on own foot

From the LA Times:
President Obama will call for shrinking the nation's long-term deficits by raising taxes on wealthier Americans and requiring them to pay more into Social Security, drawing a barbed contrast with a Republican plan to save money by deeply slashing Medicare, Medicaid and other domestic spending. ... 
Democrats hope to repeat the experience of 2005, in which President George W. Bush's proposal to privatize parts of Social Security proved to be a staggering miscalculation that cost his party heavily in the next year's election. They think voters will not accept a Republican proposal put forward by Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) that would replace guaranteed Medicare benefits with a limited voucher.

You know, Republican Congressmen, you are back in the majority in the House now in large part because a whole bunch of older white people got worried in 2009-10 that, having paid taxes for Medicare for decades, Medicare would now suddenly get whittled down by this black liberal guy to pay for health insurance for a whole bunch of younger and not so white people who aren't very related to them. 

You probably consider the motivations of your own 2010 voters to be, at minimum, zero summist -- Don't these old white bigots understand the Magic of the Market? -- and probably racist. So what if this implicit white coalition that came together to defend Medicare is your party's main chance for political survival? Old white people are creepy!

Hey, some of your 2010 voters abandoned the GOP in 2006 after Bush announced in 2005 that he wanted to take Social Security, which they had paid for for decades, and hand it over to the tender ministrations of Wall Street. (How'd that work out for you, anyway?) But you probably consider those voters who didn't trust Wall Street with their Social Security to be more or less raving anti-Semites, too, so who wants their votes?
And beginning in 2022, Ryan would privatize the Medicare program by giving seniors a subsidy to help them shop for commercial insurance.

Let's throw together tax subsidies, incredibly complicated health insurance products, customers who are going senile, and corporations staffed by bright MBAs with spreadsheets. What could possibly go wrong? 

I can't think of anything I'd rather spend my declining years doing than engaging in an ongoing battle of wits with MBAs with spreadsheets on their own turf over my health insurance. (And I am an MBA with a spreadsheet. I used to be a bright one, too, but I'm already too old to try to outsmart pros who devote their careers to outsmarting civilians like me.) 

April 11, 2011

"Libyan rebels reject African Union peace plan"

Today, from Reuters:
Libyan rebels reject African Union peace plan 
BENGHAZI, Libya | Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:01pm EDT 
(Reuters) - Libyan rebels rejected an African Union peace plan on Monday because it did not address their main demand that Muammar Gaddafi quit and because it proposed reforming a ruling system they want removed. 

This is a ceasefire plan put together by Jacob Zuma of South Africa and other African leaders.
"The African Union initiative does not include the departure of Gaddafi and his sons from the Libyan political scene, therefore it is outdated," rebel council head Mustafa Abdel Jalil told a news conference in Benghazi. 
Earlier on Monday, Muammar Gaddafi accepted the African initiative to put a stop to fighting in Libya, including a ceasefire. ... "

Who, exactly, is calling the shots in America's war with Libya? I thought Obama said we started this war at the UN's mandate, which was not supposed to be about regime change? But now, Lord Humongous here says regime change is nonnegotiable, and he's got several dozen armed pickup trucks at his disposal, and that makes him the embodiment of democracy, so we'd better listen up.
[Rebel council head] Abdel Jalil said he had raised the issue of Gaddafi's use of African mercenaries with the delegation [from the African Union]: "We let it be known to the delegates that there exist mercenaries that came from African and Arab countries.

As I said weeks ago, the most likely way this will play out is that Obama will drop bombs on Libya until Gaddafi is gone, while the press will fly air cover for Obama.

A request for pro bono legal help

From the Los Angeles Times:
An authorized biography about Apple visionary Steve Jobs will be published in early 2012, it was announced Monday. The book will be called "iSteve: A Book of Jobs." 
Jobs, 56, is cooperating with his biographer on the project. The book, to be published by Simon & Schuster, is being written by Walter Isaacson, head of the Aspen Institute and a former executive at Time and CNN. He's previously tackled genius Albert Einstein ("Einstein: His Life and Universe"), founding father Ben Franklin ("Benjamin Franklin: An American Life") and powerful diplomat Henry Kissinger ("Kissinger: A Biography"). 
"This is the perfect match of subject and author, and it is certain to be a landmark book about one of the world's greatest innovators," Simon & Schuster Publisher Jonathan Karp said in a statement. 
The Associated Press reports, "Isaacson has been working on the long-rumored biography since 2009 and has interviewed Jobs, members of his family, colleagues at Apple and competitors." 
The book has been thought to be in the works since February 2010, when the New York Times wrote that Isaacson had been invited by Jobs to tour his childhood home.

I'm sorry, but I've been doing business under the name "iSteve" since the 1990s, both at iSteve.com and at iSteve.blogspot.com. The name iSteve is essential to my business strategy of having a unique and unmisspellable term for search engines, since my last name is easily confused with a common word ("sailor") and easily misspelled ("sailor," "saylor," "seiler, "sayler," etc.). The bottom of my iSteve.com homepage reads:
Entire iSteve.com website Copyright Steve Sailer 1990-2007

I shall defend my iSteve brand and intellectual property against infringers, especially a well-known billionaire like Mr. Jobs. I do not shoplift the creations of Mr. Jobs, of Mr. Isaacson, and of Simon & Schuster without paying for them, and I expect the same from them.

If you are a lawyer with expertise in this area, and would like to do some pro bono work for me, please email me.

Your tax dollars at work

Mickey Kaus points to this Chris Moody article at the Daily Caller:
If you’re one of the millions of Americans still looking for a job, the federal government is hiring, and (especially for the unemployed) the pay is excellent. While private sector job growth creeps along at a snail’s pace, the roster of available federal jobs is booming. The Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs needs someone to run the Facebook page for the Dept. of the Interior and they’ll pay up to $115,000 a year. 

You know, when people ask me why I haven't got my own Facebook page, now I have an excuse: I'd like to, but I just can't afford to pay somebody $115,000 per year. (I don't even want to think about how much the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Twitter guru is costing us.)
In Washington, D.C., there are more than 1,000 openings this month alone ... a $155,000-a-year gig at the Peace Corps to ensure the agency is complying with Equal Opportunity Employment standards; and a similar job at the Dept. of Transportation that promises nearly $180,000 a year.

No salary is too high to pay to keep white people from hogging all the great Peace Corp gigs digging ditches and catching weird tropical diseases (like this ex-Peace Corps volunteer I know who got sick in Nepal 35 years ago and who doesn't appear to have recovered from it yet).

Mickey comments:
That’s what’s so annoying about all the calls from respectable Beltwayish opinion leaders to stop cutting the non-defense discretionary budget and focus on entitlements, because ‘that’s where the big money is.’ From one perspective, this is a rational argument. That is where the big money is. From another perspective, it looks like a tacit conspiracy of Washingtonians not to sacrifice the jobs of any of their friends, or the local economy, by any kind of actual slimming down (of the sort a private company in similar straits would have undertaken years ago).  … In effect, the respectable ”pivot to entitlements” position says,”we’re going to cut Social Security checks and Medicare for mid-income old people to save the jobs of $180K equal opportunity officers at the DOT.” 

Amy Chua's daughter accepted by Harvard

From AOL News:
It looks like the iron-fisted tiger mother's hard work paid off: Her 18-year-old daughter has been accepted at Harvard.

In contrast, deer dad Andrew Ferguson, author of Crazy U., didn't want to reveal where his son wound up after getting turned down by a lot of private colleges, so he just modestly called it Big State University. (It's easy to deduce from details in the book, however, that his BSU is one of the more prestigious of all public universities, but I won't violate the kid's privacy by naming it. Please don't bother posting guesses in the comments.)

Allow me to reiterate that it's basically nuts to publish a memoir in which your currently teenage children are major characters. Ferguson's version of his two kids is much less revealing than Chua's, but, still, don't do it.

Disparate impact discrimination against U.S. citizens?

Has the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ever sued employers over their disparate impact discrimination against American citizens?

By definition, H-1B visa hiring constitutes 100% disparate impact discrimination against American citizens. A decade ago, American citizen Dana A. Rothrock filed a complaint with the EEOC pointing out that he couldn't get hired for a computer job at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which was using H-1B visas to hire Filipinos and other foreign nationals, since he was an American.

On May 28, 2003, the EEOC explained that they were rejecting his complaint because [here and here]:
While Title VII does not prohibit citizenship discrimination per se, citizenship discrimination does violate Title VII where it has the "purpose or effect" of discriminating on the basis of national origin. 
Employment discrimination against a national origin group includes discrimination based on a group of people sharing a common language, culture, ancestry, and/or other similar social characteristics. American is not a national origin group as defined by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as amended. ... 
Roberto Coronado
Federal Investigator

Shouldn't the EEOC's official motto be "Who? Whom?"

Obama Administration's cutting edge of job-killing

From the Houston Chronicle on the Obama Administration's assiduous efforts to make it harder for employers to hire good employees:
P. David Lopez, general counsel for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, was in Houston recently to speak before a conference about race discrimination and his agency's efforts to take on large-scale, nationwide investigations. ... 
Q: What are the big, cutting-edge discrimination issues facing the EEOC?
A: We're going through difficult economic times right now. It's important to us to identify discriminatory hiring practices and policies that are excluding people unlawfully from the workplace. 
I think the EEOC is in a unique position to do that. We're able to look at the patterns within a particular employer in a way a private individual isn't. You often don't know why you weren't hired. We can examine an employer's reasons and try to identify if there were any hiring screens. 
We have a race discrimination case out of Chicago (that involved) a contracting company for custodial services. They had a predominantly Eastern European and Latino workforce and the (lack of) representation of African-Americans compared to the availability was statistically significant. They were using either word-of-mouth recruitment practices or relying on certain ethnic press. 
We resolved it for $3 million and approximately 550 people benefited - the people who applied but weren't hired. The consent decree requires the company to actively recruit African-Americans. The whole goal is to make sure it doesn't happen again. 
Another case we filed is a nationwide challenge to criminal arrest and conviction screens. We challenged that as having a disparate impact against African-Americans and Latinos. That is still pending in Baltimore. 

I watched some of The Wire, and thank God the Obama Administration is cracking down on employers discriminating against criminals in Baltimore. These companies will make much higher profits once the Obama Administration forces them to overcome their bias against Baltimore convicts. Who wouldn't want to hire Baltimore's crooks? Didn't President Obama say Omar, the gay gunman, was his favorite character on The Wire? I don't want to be guilty of insider trading, but you should buy Baltimore real estate now, because, obviously, employment in Baltimore is going to boom once the Obama Administration stops all this irrational discrimination against Baltimore's armed robbers and murderers. Who wouldn't want to be an employer in Baltimore once the Obama Administration is in charge of your hiring policy?

Oh, now I notice that this case is "nationwide." The case is pending in Baltimore merely because the Obama Administration just wanted a jury of Wire characters. So, good times are here again ... nationwide!
Another one was filed in Ohio and we're looking at the use of credit reportsto screen out applicants. We allege it has a disparate impact against African-Americans.
Credit checks and criminal screens (were big) in the '70s and '80s and sort of disappeared but with the new economy, employers are adopting these types of employment screens. That is something that has generated a lot of interest at the EEOC. 
Q: Why are more employers using credit scores and criminal convictions to weed out job applicants? 
A: My speculation is that employers are in a position to generate much more interest in jobs and they're looking for shorthand ways to screen applicants. If we're able to establish disparate impact, then it's the employer's burden to demonstrate the hiring qualification is job-related. 
(Employers) say it relates to honesty and performance. But that's where most of the litigation and discussion has centered - whether these screens can really be job-related and a business necessity. 
Q: With so much information available online about virtually everyone, how much checking should an employer do before making a hiring decision? 
A: I think they need to be very cautious doing online background checks. 
There is the potential that if employers do that, certain classes of individuals will be scrutinized more heavily and you'll only look at the Facebook pages of certain applicants. There are potentially disparate treatment implications in doing that.

Speaking of fighting discrimination, shouldn't the Obama Administration be filing disparate impact lawsuits based on job applicants having Facebook v. MySpace pages?

April 10, 2011

Andrew Ferguson's Deer Dad

From my new VDARE.com column:
Andrew Ferguson’s witty and wistful new memoir, Crazy U: One Dad’s Crash Course in Getting His Kid into College, stands in obvious contrast to Amy Chua’s bumptious bestseller, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Between them, the two books nicely illustrate the stately but steady decline of the white upper middle class, of which Ferguson is a sterling representative, in the face of Asian competition for the commanding heights of American society.
Ferguson’s book could be called Wry Observations of the Deer Dad. The gentle satirist comes across as the anti-Chua as he describes what he learned from his family’s 18-month struggle with college admissions mania. The fair-minded Ferguson seems observant, skittish, respectful of his son’s individuality and preferences, slightly passive, and, in the multi-generational long run, dead meat for the tigers of this world. 
Crazy U. is not really a how-to guide. Instead, the questions that interest Ferguson most have less to do with helping his son get ahead than with the Big Picture issues of why getting into college has become so frenzied and whether these changes are good for society. 
Chua, on the other hand, just wants her progeny to win.

Read the whole thing there.


Daniel Larison of The American Conservative notes:
The arbitrariness of the Libyan intervention has been one of its defining features, but what hasn’t been emphasized enough is its potential to subvert any and all norms governing relations between states. The principle of state sovereignty is something that could only be seen as a major problem by people who have enjoyed so many decades of general peace. Instead of being satisfied with the relative lack of international warfare, interventionists have to keep finding new reasons to initiate wars, and at some point this disrespect for other states’ sovereignty may end up affecting allies more significant than Georgia. Believing that it is acceptable and even mandatory to attack another state on account of its internal conflicts is truly dangerous. It is a constant invitation for the U.S. to enter conflicts it has no reason to join, and it creates an opening for many other governments to exploit when it suits them. In practice, such interventions make it harder for small and weak states to preserve their territorial integrity, and it invites larger and stronger states to exploit their neighbors’ weaknesses and divisions to their advantage.

I would add that the whimsicality of three of America's last four wars -- Serbia, Iraq, and Libya -- increases America's need to stay unquestionably #1 in the world militarily, at our vast expense. Our policy has been: We're #1, so we can start wars with other sovereign states as long as they are, at minimum, unpopular. In contrast, Switzerland's traditional policy -- We won't attack you, but if you attack us, we will defeat you -- doesn't require Switzerland to be #1, just strong enough to make invading Switzerland unprofitable for other countries. 

Moreover, the Swiss policy is generalizable like the Golden Rule: don't starts wars with other countries, and they shouldn't start wars with you. In contrast, post-Cold War America acts like it believes in the "Golden Rule:" he who has the gold, makes the rules. 

But are we always going to have the gold?

After all these subsequent willy-nilly wars, the Kuwait War of 1991 now seems, in retrospect, a model of statesmanship. Saddam started the war by conquering Kuwait, and George H.W. Bush had reasons of principle (we don't like aggression across state lines) and pragmatism (we don't want fewer members of OPEC better cartelizing oil), and we were able to sign up three dozen other countries to accompany us.

But, what happens when someday China is #1? Will they draw their lessons from Old Bush or from Young Bush or Obama?

Moynihan's Law of the Mexican Border in Action

USA Today reports:
Washingtonians are the nation's most well-read citizens, but they're reading less these days. And so, it appears, are city dwellers everywhere. 
That's according to the latest findings of an annual study of the United States' most literate cities, which ranks the "culture and resources for reading" in the nation's 75 largest metro areas. The study examines not whether people can read, but whether they actually do.

Top of the list:

1 Washington, DC  
2 Seattle, WA  
3 Minneapolis, MN  
4 Atlanta, GA  
5 Pittsburgh, PA  
6 San Francisco, CA
7 St. Paul, MN  
8 Denver, CO  
9.5 Portland, OR  
9.5 St. Louis, MO

A combination of yupscale, precipitation, and old robber baron cities with ample old-fashioned infrastructure.

Bottom of the list:

59 Riverside, CA  
60 Houston, TX  
61 Los Angeles, CA  
62 San Antonio, TX  
63 Henderson, NV  
64 Fresno, CA  
65 Mesa, AZ  
66 Glendale, AZ  
67 Santa Ana, CA  
68 Long Beach, CA  
69.5 Corpus Christi, TX  
69.5 El Paso, TX
71 Arlington, TX
72 Anaheim, CA
73 Bakersfield, CA
74 Aurora, CO
75 Stockton, CA

Heavily black cities like Detroit and Memphis do mediocre on these rankings, but not awful, while Atlanta's is excellent.

L.A.'s performance is just disgraceful (coming in 9 spots behind Las Vegas), considering the gigantic number of professional writers in town. L.A., for example, has been a capital of genre fiction for seven decades. Consider the year genre fiction had in L.A. in 1939: Raymond Chandler publishes his first novel, The Big Sleep, while Robert A. Heinlein publishes his first sci-fi stories. Or 1941: James M. Cain publishes Mildred Pierce, while Ray Bradbury publishes his first paid story. (Of those four, only Cain was in L.A. to write for the movies.)
"What difference does it make how good your reading test score is if you never read anything?" asks researcher Jack Miller, president of Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Conn. "One of the elements of the climate, the culture, the value of a city is whether or not there are people there that practice those kinds of behaviors." 
The study, based on 2010, looks at measures for six items — newspapers, bookstores, magazines, education, libraries and the Internet — to determine what resources are available in each city and the extent to which its inhabitants take advantage of them. 
Now in its eighth year, the study finds little to celebrate. Were Washington's top score in 2010 applied to the 2004 rankings, for example, the city would land at No. 7.