July 2, 2011

DSK's side claims accuser a hooker

Laura Italiano reports in the tabloid NY Post:
Dominique Strauss-Kahn's accuser wasn't just a girl working at a hotel -- she was a working girl. 
The Sofitel housekeeper who claims the former IMF boss sexually assaulted her in his room was doing double duty as a prostitute, collecting cash on the side from male guests, The Post has learned. 
"There is information . . . of her getting extraordinary tips, if you know what I mean. And it's not for bringing extra f--king towels," a source close to the defense investigation said yesterday. 
The woman was allegedly purposely assigned to the Midtown hotel by her union because it knew she would bring in big bucks. 
"When you're a chambermaid at Local 6, when you first get to the US, you start at the motels at JFK [Airport]. You don't start at the Sofitel," the source said. "There's a whole squad of people who saw her as an earner." 
The woman also had "a lot of her expenses -- hair braiding, salon expenses -- paid for by men not related to her," the source said. ...
Sources also told The Post Strauss-Kahn's probers uncovered evidence that she was part of a pyramid scheme that targeted immigrants from her native Guinea. 
"We have people who have been victimized, who have claimed she ripped them off. Nice working people from her neighborhood," a source said. ...

A spokesman for the hotel union denied it placed the victim at the Sofitel. 
"These allegations are absurd," spokesman Josh Gold said. "She never registered at our hiring hall. We never sent her for a single interview. We absolutely did not place her at the hotel and we do not track tips." 

I have no idea what's true here, but I'm starting to wonder again about the Sofitel's management, which supposedly spent about an hour or so mulling over the situation before calling the cops. If you are the manager of a luxury hotel and one of your maids is working undercover, you really ought to know about it. I'd be interested in who the local management talked to in Paris. Sofitel is a huge French firm with lots of connections.

But all this conspiracy thinking is nuts. After all, the DA who perp-walked the potential French presidential candidate is just some local DA with no connections whatsoever to foreign affairs: Cyrus Vance Jr. What kind of hick name is that? Cyrus Vance? He sounds like he's from Dogpatch. Just a country boy from West Virginia.

Also, how is all this going to get spun to make it obey the Prime Directive that Diversity Is Good? "If only we had Open Borders, then everybody could be a legal immigrant. See, it's all the fault of racist nativists that immigrants get sucked into a life of fraud. If only those straight white male bigots in Arizona didn't make this crude, insensitive distinction between legal and illegal, then everybody in the world could be a legal immigrant in America, so there wouldn't be any fraud at all. Really, when you stop to think about it, the blame rests squarely on the shoulders of those who label some human beings -- but not other human beings -- as illegal. That's discrimination! And we all know that discrimination, noticing differences, is the worst thing in the world. End of discussion."

So, how much of an outcry will this story inspire in the MSM about the evident need to make the asylum process less vulnerable to abuse by foreign conpersons?

July 1, 2011

Now, that's fast service!

From Slate this afternoon:
Yale's New Jewish Quota 
The university's shameful decision to kill its anti-Semitism institute. 
 | THE SPECTATOR | Friday, 4:55 PM ET

Then, one minute later:
Left Behind 
Yale solved its anti-Semitism crisis, but a deeper problem remains. 
 | HISTORY LESSON | Friday, 4:56 PM ET

The folks I feel sorry for in this controversy over the study of anti-Semitism are the staffers at the Israeli government's Jewish People Policy Institute ("Action Strategies for the Jewish Future"), who last year issued the single most authoritative and relevant quote on how much the Jewish people currently suffer from anti-Semitism.

Think tankers live to get quoted in the papers, but the JPPI folks can't buy a quote in the American mainstream media, outside of the Jewish ethnic press.

In reality, the JPPI is one of most sensible, centrist, and moderate think tanks active in any field. The JPPI is currently headed by American diplomat Stuart E. Eizenstat, former chief domestic policy adviser to Jimmy Carter, and was previously headed by American diplomat Dennis Ross until he left to join the Obama Administration, where he is currently at the National Security Administration as (according to Wikipedia) "Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for the "Central Region" with overall responsibility for the region. That region includes the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Pakistan and South Asia."

In other words, the JPPI's chairmen have always been heavyweight Washington insiders who represent mainstream liberal Washington-Tel Aviv thinking.

Under the direction of first Ross and then Eizenstat, the JPPI staff, led by Avi Gil, chief of staff to the Israel Labour Party former foreign minister Shimon Peres, and Einat Wilf, who is in the Knesset in former Labour Prime Minister Ehud Barak's new centrist party, wrote a very interesting and intelligent book. It is called 2030: Alternative Futures for the Jewish People and you can download this 2010 book for free from JPPI's very helpful website JPPI.org.il. I gave it a glowing review here.

On p. 113 of 2030, the JPPI authors state that a "neutral" future for the Jewish people would be one in which anti-Semitism "Continues more or less as now, as a moral problem and an irritant, but not having any serious consequences."

Now, we can debate whether the Jewish People Policy Institute's assessment of anti-Semitism is accurate. I don't know. But I would certainly suggest that the JPPI's expertise should have a voice in the discussion.

But, when I go to look up on Google

anti-Semitism "not having any serious consequences"

I find six webpages.

Obviously, there will be seven shortly after I post this. But, you get the point. The American mainstream media ignores the poor JPPI as if they were the Elders of Zion, as if they were dreamed up by some Czarist anti-Semitic propagandist.

(By the way, in case you are wondering, they recently shortened their name and acronym from the unwieldy Jewish People Policy Planning Institute or JPPPI to the more convenient Jewish People Policy Institute or JPPI.)

How golf fans at St. Andrews heckle Tiger Woods

Scottish golf fans are among the most discerning fans in all of sports. Watching the British Open on TV can be disconcerting because what the crowd cheers and doesn't cheer depends upon subtle slopes in course that you can't see on 2-D television. The player on the right side of the fairway hits a shot that stops 40' from the flag and the crowd goes wild (because he managed to hold his shot on a green tilted sharply away from him). Then, the player on the left side of the fairway hits his shot to 20' and is greeted with tepid applause (because he should have gotten it closer).

The Swinger is a new roman a clef novel about golf superstar Hubert X. "Tree" Tremont by two Sports Illustrated writers who clearly enjoy being liberated from the shackles of Access Journalism. In it, a fan at St. Andrew's heckles the struggling, post-disgrace Tree:
“Ya canna pleh without the magic drugs, ken ya?”

The movie I talk about the most

I was looking at a list of some of the ridiculous number of movies I've reviewed over the last decade, and it occurred to me that the movie from the last ten years I wind up mentioning the most in non-movie-related conversations is ... Troy, the middlebrow big budget version of the Trojan Wars with Brad Pitt as Achilles, Sean Bean as Odysseus, and written by David Benioff. (Bean and Benioff reunited for 2011's Game of Thrones on HBO.)

The movie made $364 million outside North America, but only $133 million here, perhaps because American audiences found it too high-brow and alienating: Achilles is a jerk concerned only with achieving everlasting glory who doesn't pretend to be a regular guy the audience can relate to. (That we're sitting here 3200 years later watching Brad Pitt play Achilles would seem to suggest Achilles was on to something that we might not care to admit.) American critics on the other hand found it too lowbrow, because it didn't stick solely to the Iliad (more critics were English majors in college than anything else), but brought in crowdpleasers from non-Homeric sources, such as the Trojan Horse. (My view: of course you have to have the Trojan Horse in Troy.)

Why do I wind up bringing up this pretty good but not great movie all the time? Because the Trojan War is so central to Western literature, philosophy, and even math. For example, the joke in the opening scene where Brad Pitt faces off against a giant in single combat, then suddenly sprints toward his enemy like Usain Bolt and strikes him down, is an ironic  reference to Zeno's paradox of Achilles v. the Tortoise that asserts that Achilles could never overtake a Tortoise (or, in another version, than an edged weapon could never strike home).

Zeno assumed you've heard of Achilles' legendary footspeed. The Classical Greeks used examples like this from the Trojan War constantly, so they come up throughout highbrow Western Civilization.

But Achilles's 40-yard-dash time doesn't come up much these days ... except in this movie that, while it wasn't a giant hit, a huge number of people have, over the years, gotten around to seeing. And thus this middlebrow movie is a useful source for examples for explaining to people all sorts of different things. 

In general, a well-made middlebrow movie can be an excellent resource for maintaining a certain amount of highbrow cultural continuity. Middlebrowness tends to be greatly underrated.

Good advice for DSK from today's NBA stars

Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been locked up for a month and a half due to a DNA test. Here's some prudent wisdom he should heed, as passed on by Cameron Diaz's gold-digger in Bad Teacher:
Then the wedding to a rich patsy falls through, and so does her summer-vacation Plan B of ensnaring a Chicago Bull in a paternity suit. Once reluctantly back at school in the fall, she complains to an awestruck fellow teacher: “Did you know that all NBA players not only wear a condom, but then they take it with them?”

Asylum Fraud and DSK

Here's part of the letter from the district attorney's office to Dominique Strauss-Kahn's accuser's attorney explaining why they don't trust her anymore.
In an application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal dated I)eccmber 30, 2004, the complainant provided the United States Department of Justice Immigration and Naturalization Service with factual information about herself, her background and her experiences in her home country of Guinea. This information was in the form of a written statement attached to her application, and was submitted as a basis for her request for asylum. In her application, she certified under penalty of perjury that her written statement was true. In substance, the complainant's statement claimed that she and her husband had been persecuted and harassed by the dictatorial regime that was then in power in Guinea. Among other things, the complainant stated that the home that she shared with her husband was destroyed by police and soldiers acting on behalf of the regime, and that she and her husband were beaten by them. When her husband attempted to return to what was left of their home the next day, she stated that he was again beaten, arrested and imprisoned by police and soldiers. She stated that she also was beaten when she attempted to come to her husband's aid. In her statement, she attributed the beatings to the couple's opposition to the regime. She stated that during her husband's incarceration, he was tortured, deprived of medical treatment and eventually died as a result of his maltreatment. FoIlowing his death, according to her, she began to denounce the regime and finally fled the country in fear of her life, entering the United States in January 2004 to seek refuge (she has told prosecutors that she used a fraudulent visa). She repeated these facts orally during the course of her asylum application process.  
In interviews in connection with the investigation of this case, the complainant admitted that the above factual information, which she provided in connection with her asylum application, was false. She stated that she fabricated the statement with the assistance of a male who provided her with a cassette recording of the facts contained in the statement that she eventually submitted. She memorized these facts by listening to the recording repeatedly. In several interviews with prosecutors, she reiterated these falsehoods when questioned about her history and background, and stated that she did so in order to remain consistent with the statement that she had submitted as part of her application. Additionally, in two separate interviews with assistant district attorneys assigned to the case, the complainant stated that she had been the victim of a gang rape in the past in her native country and provided details of the attack. During both of these interviews, the victim cried and appeared to be markedly distraught when recounting the incident. In subsequent interviews, she admitted that the gang rape had never occurred. Instead, she stated that she had lied about its occurrence and fabricated the details, and that this false incident was part of the narrative that she had been directed to memorize as part of her asylum application process. Presently, the complainant states that she would testify that she was raped in the past in her native country but in an incident different than the one that she described during initial interviews.  

The asylum process tends to attract con-artists to America.
In the weeks following the incident charged in the indictment, the complainant told detectives and assistant district attorneys on numerous occasions that, after being sexually assaulted by the defendant on May 14, 2011 in Suite 2806, she fled to an area of the main hallway of the hotel's 28" floor and waited there until she observed the defendant leave Suite 2806 and the 28" floor by entering an elevator. It was after this observation that she reported the incident to her supervisor, who arrived on the 28" floor a short time later. In the interim between the incident and her supervisor's arrival, she claimed to have remained in the same area of the main hallway on the 28" floor to which she had initially fled. The complainant testified to this version of events when questioned in the Grand Jury about her actions following the incident in Suite 2806. The complainant has since admitted that this account was false and that after the incident in Suite 2806, she proceeded to clean a nearby room and then returned to Suite 2806 and began to clean that suite before she reported the incident to her supervisor. 

Do fancy hotels have hallway video cameras? It would seem like they should for security reasons, but, on the other hand, they would give the hotel blackmail material. So I couldn't say off hand. It sounds here like they may have had hallway cameras and that's what tripped her up? But if they did have footage, why did DSK spend 6 weeks locked up? I had assumed that the hallway video camera upheld the accuser's story, doubtful as it sounded, and that's why they perp walked him.
Additionally, the complainant has stated that for the past two tax years, she declared a friend's child in addition to her own as a dependent on her tax returns for the purpose of increasing her tax refund beyond that to which she was entitled . She also admitted to misrepresenting her income in order to maintain her present housing.

She was living in an AIDS charity. Does she have AIDS? Why do we let people with AIDS into the country?
Initially, during the course of this investigation, the complainant was untruthful with assistant district attorneys about a val-iety of additional topics concerning her history, background, present circumstances and personal relationships. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.

I'm not totally convinced that DSK was just a simple purchaser of a prostitution service, either. Maybe he felt entitled to more than he paid for, and the maid / part time pro felt sore about it and then decided to complain, but then realized she'd have to accuse him of being a full-blown rapist to keep her job.

So, who would you bet on to get deported first: DSK's accuser, Obama's Aunt Zeituni, or neither, ever?

DSK and Mark Sanchez

The apparent implosion of the rape case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn shouldn't have been too unexpected. That particular accusation always seemed fairly implausible. Moreover, in general, lots of celebrities are charged with rape every year, and a yet remarkable fraction of the cases disappear down the memory hole. A few, such as the Kobe Bryant case, make it to trial. (And Kobe was acquitted. Enough people hate the Lakers that the Kobe case isn't a non-event in America -- except in Los Angeles, where his winning a couple of more NBA titles in 2009-10 made him a fine, upstanding citizen again. ) Mike Tyson went to prison 20 years ago. I'm sure there have been a few others since, but not many.

A commenter says:
I think DSK's supporters got to [the accuser] and she is being paid a lot of money to throw the case.

Probably not, since she's supposed to be sticking to her story. Presumably, you could come up with a complicated plotline where she's being paid to make herself look dubious, but that's too complicated. 

Still, that kind of thing happens all the time with athletes. You read in the paper that some famous jock has been arrested for rape, and then you never hear anything about it again, until you read an interview with the guy years later, where he says something like, "I went through some hard times, some unfortunate incidents that I'm not proud of, but I think I've grown from them as a person," and you realize he's talking about the time the alumni boosters club paid off that coed. 

For example, at the peak of the NYT's hysteria over the purported Duke lacrosse rape case in 2006, I pointed out that three fairly prominent players in America's biggest sport, football, had been arrested for sexual assault just in the last week. One of them went on to become the starting quarterback for one of the NYT's hometown NFL teams. Last January with the Jets in the NFL playoffs, Emma Carmichael wrote for Deadspin:
Why No One Remembers the Mark Sanchez Rape Case 
But the media seem to have gone out of the way to be sympathetic to Sanchez, and it illustrates just how flimsy and manufactured an athlete's public image can be. The press went so far as to turn the rape allegation into your standard-issue bit of sports-world adversity schlock. After he was drafted, the New York Daily News ran a brief story that touched upon the 2006 incident: "In best of times, Mark Sanchez talks about worst day of his life." Sanchez is portrayed as a repentant, deserving young man who learned from a bad experience and became an NFL-caliber quarterback because of it. ... All people talked about regarding Sanchez — who, remember, had spent a night in jail on suspicion of sexual assault — was his poise. It's amazing what some good genes and a nice set of dimples can do for your rep. 
For all we know, Sanchez really was innocent and totally deserves the public image being crafted for him. But it's hard not to think that the fact he is a young, good-looking quarterback — one with a young Namath's charm and a gentle ancestral immigration story at a time of great anti-immigrant unease — made it all too easy to ignore the uglier stuff. There's a story everyone wants to tell about Sanchez, and his getting popped on a rape accusation doesn't fit.

Of course, Sanchez was a lusty lad of 19, while DSK was an old goat of 62, so that helps make it more memorable.

June 30, 2011

DSK accuser not proving credible

From today's NYT:
The sexual assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn is on the verge of collapse as investigators have uncovered major holes in the credibility of the housekeeper who charged that he attacked her in his Manhattan hotel suite in May, according to two well-placed law enforcement officials. 
Although forensic tests found unambiguous evidence of a sexual encounter between Mr. Strauss-Kahn, a French politician, and the woman, prosecutors do not believe much of what the accuser has told them about the circumstances or about herself. 
Since her initial allegation on May 14, the accuser has repeatedly lied, one of the law enforcement officials said. 
Senior prosecutors met with lawyers for Mr. Strauss-Kahn on Thursday and provided details about their findings, and the parties are discussing whether to dismiss the felony charges. Among the discoveries, one of the officials said, are issues involving the asylum application of the 32-year-old housekeeper, who is Guinean, and possible links to criminal activities, including drug dealing and money laundering.

Here's the beginning of my May 19th posting kicking around the DSK charges:
Is there enough evidence to convict Dominique Strauss-Kahn in court? I can't tell. Maybe on Friday at the Grand Jury hearing more will be revealed. I expected there to be more by now, though. 
From the outside, we have what looks like a He Said She Said case. The accuser is being kept anonymous, while the accused is the head of the International Monetary Fund. So, this being 2011, we naturally believe the accuser on the grounds that an anonymous person is likely more reliable than a famous international financial expert.  
In the case of this particular international financial expert, moreover, we have a long chain of rumors about him abusing women under his influence. DSK is an expert at misusing influence. On the other hand, a maid with a vacuum cleaner isn't somebody who thinks that maybe if she gives in to his advances, she'll get put in charge of the Portugal bailout.  
What facts have been revealed might be consistent with a variety of scenarios, none of which would reflect well on DSK. But not all of them would be consistent with outright stranger rape. For example, say he lays a few Benjamin Franklins on the table. Needing cash, the maid accepts them. A few minutes later, out in the corridor, she runs into her boss, who asks why her lipstick is a mess. Panicking about losing her job, she makes up a story about a naked presidential candidate jumping her and forcing her to make a mess of her lipstick.  
Well, maybe. And, keep in mind, that's probably the scenario that makes DSK look best (short of a gigantic movie-style conspiracy), which isn't very good. 

You know, as we saw with the Duke lacrosse case, on a personal level, it's generally a good idea to stay away from strippers and hookers. Yeah, it's unfair when they make up accusations against you, but, you're safest from phony rape charges when they haven't ever met you.

On a national level, it's generally not a good idea to let in to your country foreigners like this lady who seem only skilled at working the system. From today's NYT:
“It is a mess, a mess on both sides,” one official said. 
According to the two officials, the woman had a phone conversation with an incarcerated man within a day of her encounter with Mr. Strauss-Kahn in which she discussed the possible benefits of pursuing the charges against him. The conversation was recorded. 
That man, the investigators learned, had been arrested on charges of possessing 400 pounds of marijuana. He is among a number of individuals who made multiple cash deposits, totaling around $100,000, into the woman’s bank account over the last two years. The deposits were made in Arizona, Georgia, New York and Pennsylvania. 
The investigators also learned that she was paying hundreds of dollars every month in phone charges to five companies. The woman had insisted she had only one phone and said she knew nothing about the deposits except that they were made by a man she described as her fiancé and his friends. 
In addition, one of the officials said, she told investigators that her application for asylum included mention of a previous rape, but there was no such account in the application. She also told them that she had been subjected to genital mutilation, but her account to the investigators differed from what was contained in the asylum application.

Will they kick her out?

This is not going down in the history books as an impressive performance by either the prestige or tabloid presses. Back in May, there quickly emerged questions about why this woman was living in an apartment building for AIDS sufferers (I read it in the Daily Telegraph -- the Brits tend to be better at scandal than us), but then those questions just went away because ... I guess everybody really, really wants to find the real life Great White Defendant like we've seen on Law & Order for 20 years.

On the other hand, the stuff in this article doesn't prove DSK didn't do it either. We just have a doubtful-sounding story from a doubtful-sounding accuser.

By the way, the prosecutors say they haven't found any evidence that a political conspiracy was behind it.

Okay, here's the punchline

Remember the news story about the straight guy softball fanatics who almost won the Gay World Series by pretending to be homosexuals? I couldn't quite come up with the punchline that all my experience told me was out there somewhere. Fortunately, commenter NOTA has supplied it:
"You know, I bet the lesbian softball league never has this problem...."

Here's my 1994 National Review article on Why Lesbians Aren't Gay, which starts with softball.

Not The Onion

The Great and the Good are getting together in Aspen right now at the Aspen Ideas Festival to tell each other how good and great they are. Financial blogger Felix Salmon asks:
Will the world ever have open borders? 
My favorite bit in this video comes towards the end, when I ask Charles [Kenny] about the wonderful tweet he sent out last Friday, after the gay marriage bill passed the New York senate.
"One day we’ll see legal discrimination by *place* of birth as evil as discrim. by other features of birth –gender, orientation, color."

Ah, Twitter ... Helping elite opinion on immigration become ever more bumperstickerish.

Remember when conspiracy theorists used to get all worked up about the secret meetings of the Bilderbergers? Personally, I found the idea of senior bigshots like David Rockefeller, Henry Kissinger and Helmut Schmidt getting together in private to pull strings was reasonably reassuring. Thank God somebody knows what they are doing!

How naive I was ...

Now in the Davos Era, when much of this elite conspiring is done in public for self-promotion purposes, the terrifying truth becomes obvious: there is no Inner Party who actually knows how things work. There's no O'Brien or Mustapha Mond who can come on at the end of the dystopian novel to explain the sinister but logical and carefully thought through reasons for why things are the way they are.

Is there a single better question for determining whether someone has thought long and hard about how the world (and not just their own bailiwick where they made their bundle) really works (and exposes whose side they are on emotionally) than "Open Borders: Good Idea or Bad Idea for America?"

The single most effective school reform

Everybody in Washington is worked up over a WaPo article Young DC Principal quits and tells why about a public elementary school principal in an expensive white neighborhood, a white guy named Bill Kerlina, who quit after two years on the job. He's a white suburbanite True Believer:
Kerlina was also intrigued by then-Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee’s vow to close the black-white achievement gap. He joined a contingent of Montgomery educators who signed on with Rhee ...

The article is boring for awhile because it gingerly sidesteps around the racial stuff that's the point of most  article about DC schools, but normally, you have to read between the lines. Finally, at the end, we get to the good stuff: he was offended to discover that his bosses wanted him to work harder to persuade local white people to send their kids to the local public elementary school:
A few days before he quit, [Bill] Kerlina received his annual evaluation from Instructional Superintendent Amanda Alexander. It was a positive appraisal, school officials confirmed, and Henderson sent Kerlina a letter of reappointment. But Alexander raised a concern, he said: Why were there not more white families at Hearst? 

White people are pushing African-Americans out of D.C. for sometime now, but the sticking point has been when the kids are ready for school: Do you pony up exorbitant private school fees or move to suburbs like Fairfax and Montgomery County whose public school systems are welcoming to talented white kids? The awfulness of the black-dominated public schools in D.C. hasn't kept the white population from growing, but has kept it largely childless or rich.
The question is sensitive in the D.C. system, where only about a third of students attend neighborhood schools. It is especially sensitive in affluent and largely white areas of Northwest Washington. At Hearst, 70 percent of the 241 students come from outside the neighborhood. Most are African Americans. 
D.C. officials say they simply want more neighbors in neighborhood schools. But Kerlina took offense at Alexander’s question, which implied that as a white male, he should have been more successful at recruiting. The next day, in an e-mail to Alexander that he wrote but decided not to send, he laid out a taxonomy of Northwest parents in an effort to show the hurdles to recruiting more neighborhood families. 
The well-to-do private school families, “the majority” in the neighborhood, he wrote, were a lost cause. “I have not courted them and do not plan to do so, since they will never consider DCPS,” Kerlina wrote.  
Next were those afflicted with what he called “Murch and Eaton envy,” a reference to two much-in-demand Northwest elementary schools. He told Alexander that six in-boundary families had enrolled at Hearst for the fall but pulled out when slots at Eaton and Murch opened up. 
“I have been working with these families but it’s hard to change a culture of thoughts and ideas,” he wrote. 
Finally, he wrote, there were families with racial prejudices. He said this conclusion came from a series of conversations he had with prospective neighborhood parents “that delicately asked about the number of out-of-boundary families and made reference to the ‘diversity’ of Hearst.” 
“They will never come to Hearst because of the number of out-of-boundary black families,” he wrote. 
One way to lure neighboring families — restricting the number of out-of-boundary seats — would be a “horrible mistake,” Kerlina wrote, as “the diversity at Hearst is what makes it a great school.” 

Presumably, Hearst is a black-dominated school, so getting some more local white families to send their kids would, technically speaking, increase the diversity. But we all know that "diversity" doesn't mean diversity, it means, black, NAM, nonwhite, or just plain good
He offered another solution: Move the school toward “inquiry-based learning,” stressing group activities, hands-on projects and student curiosity. It’s standard practice, he said, at the private school across 37th Street NW. 
“The reason people spend [more than $30,000] a year to send their children to Sidwell is because they believe in inquiry-based learning,” Kerlina wrote. “DCPS does not — the approach is too scripted and doesn’t allow for students to think outside of the box.”

Well, I don't think that's the only reason people pay a lot of money to send their kids to school with the President's children. I don't even think that's the only reason the President pays $60,000 to send his children to school with the children of people who pay that kind of money to send their children to school with the President's children.

But there is one reason, and it's not something for which there is any obvious solution even if the DC school district wasn't corrupt, indolent, and incompetent. Rich white smart people tend to like more free-form education for their kids. On the other hand, what seems to work best for most black children is KIPP-style boot camp drilling on the fundamentals. This has been a continuing source of tension within, for example, the Berkeley school district. The white parents tend to be Berkeley professors and the like who live in the hills, and they prefer progressive "inquiry-based learning" for their kids. The black parents who are active in the Berkeley schools (obviously, not a large number, but people who deserve respect and solicitude) tend to be strivers who scraped together enough money to get their kids out of the Oakland school district by moving to the flatland of Berkeley, and they want for their kids the 3Rs, discipline, order, and bourgeois values. They have ambitions for their children like enlisting in the Army that are incomprehensible to white Berkeleyites like Rick Ayers of Berkeley H.S.

The most practical solution for public school reform is to break up big city school districts into small districts that compete for young, education-oriented families. Big city districts like DCPS or LAUSD have a monopoly on public schools in the city, so they aren't under much pressure to provide a good product. Small districts like New Trier (Wilmette, IL) or Arcadia (San Gabriel Valley, CA) know that young families moving to the suburbs have a lot of different suburban school districts to choose from, so they better be on the ball. And they don't have to be all things to all people. Arcadia, for example, has been taken over by Tiger Mothers, so its one medium-sized pressure cooker public high school now has 30 National Merit Semifinalists per year.

I sent my son to an LAUSD middle school in pleasant Sherman Oaks that turned out excellent. See, in the 1990s, the school's students had gotten so bad that, after a middle school student killed a neighbor, the locals, affluent white upper middle class people tired of being murdered by middle schoolers -- tried to get the school shut down. In desperation, LAUSD did something very unusual -- it assigned an outstanding principle to the school and let him do whatever he thought best. He put in place all sorts of programs to lure in middle class and above parents. The one complaint I have had is that my son's homeroom and science teacher, Mr. L., was so charismatic -- he had come quite close during his 1990s movie career to making the jump from villain's right hand man to leading man in Hollywood action movies (at the climax of one well-known 1990s sci-fi movie, my son's teacher fights a famous movie star for about five minutes until the hero finally chops his head off and then, for good measure, blows my son's teacher's head up with a nuclear bomb, causing my son to comment: "Well, no sequel for Mr. L." -- that every teacher he's had since has seemed a little deficient on the Teacher Awesomeness scale.

So, much of the motivation behind all these charter schools is an attempt to outmaneuver the system. But, it's a drag trying to constantly outmaneuver the system, especially if you have two or more kids. Say you get your first kid into a really exclusive program but then your second kid doesn't qualify? The nicest thing is to know that you can always send all of your kids to the local well-managed public school that reflects the nice demography of where you live. People in places like NW DC and urban Portland are increasingly figuring out how to solve the problem of keeping people they don't like out of living in their neighborhoods. So, why shouldn't they have their own school districts so they can afford to have families? Similarly, why shouldn't the better black neighborhoods in D.C. have their own district?

More Orientalism, Please

Ever since Edward Said's 1978 book Orientalism, nice Westerners aren't supposed to incorporate Middle Eastern motifs in their artworks, because that's racist. Or Orientalist, it's all about the same thing in the post-modern academic killjoy mind. Here, for example, is Rick Ayres, brother of Bill Ayres and recipient of a million clams from the Gates Foundation, denouncing Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific for Orientalism. (The Anglican Said had a different definition of Orient in mind, but no mind.)

In 18th Century Europe, however, Turkish Janissary military band music was wildly popular. Haydn's paternal grandparents were among the few survivors when their town was pillaged by the Turk in the 17th Century, but after the Turkish defeat in 1683 outside of Vienna and the peace treaty of 1699 removed the Turkish threat, a fad grew up for Turkish military music. Most of the percussion instruments in the symphony orchestra came from the Turkish music craze of the 18th Century -- e.g., in Haydn's 100th or Military Symphony, there's the hilarious intrusion of percussion instruments about 1:30 seconds into this video of the second movement, and from 4:40 onward in the rollicking finale
My favorite recent work of musical Orientalism is Led Zeppelin's 1975 song Kashmir, especially the 1994 live recording by Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, a Western orchestra and an Egyptian ensemble. This 9 minute video begins after the "I am a traveler through both time and space" opening verse, which is good because the instrumentalists are in better form than Plant's vocal cords. The Egyptian combo builds tremendous tension toward end, which Plant and Page resolve startlingly and satisfyingly.

As a self-conscious era of 19th Century Romanticism, Page especially recognized that Orientalism is composed of Western desire as much as Eastern truths, and rather fantastic desire at that. That's why the mystic epic they wrote about a slog through a parched desert [they got the idea for the song in Morocco] is named after a lush valley near the Himalaya ... Plant and Page are clever gents; they could find Kashmir on a map. Such a "mistake" tells us that their core myth is not the wisdom of the East, but the heretical imagination of the West, an imagination that finds itself in transport.

Kashmir was a rarity for Led Zeppelin. Most of their myth-making energies were turned West, however: Tolkien and other English folksiness, Vikings, Delta blues, San Francisco hippiedom, and Sunset Blvd. hedonism.

June 29, 2011

More straight white guys

From the New York Times:
The five ballplayers summoned before a protest committee at the Gay Softball World Series stood accused of cheating. Their alleged offense: heterosexuality. 
Inside a small room, surrounded by committee members and other softball officials, the players said they were interrogated about their sexual orientation. Confusion reigned. According to court records, one player declined to say whether he was gay or straight but acknowledged being married to a woman. Another answered yes to both gay and heterosexual definitions. A third asked if bisexual was acceptable and was told, “This is the Gay World Series, not the Bisexual World Series.” 
Ultimately, the committee ruled that three of the five were “nongay” and stripped the team of its second-place finish. 
That decision, at the 2008 competition near Seattle, provoked a federal lawsuit against the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance, which governs the softball World Series, and compelled the alliance to change its rules.

Be a hot Muslim SWPL lesbian on the Internet or an ultra-competitive ballplayer in the Gay World Series, what can't a straight white guy do when he really sets his mind to it?

"Disparate Impact Realism"

Here's the abstract of a new law review article:
Disparate Impact Realism 
Amy L. Wax
University of Pennsylvania Law School
William & Mary Law Review, Forthcoming  
In Ricci v. DeStefano, 129 S. Ct. 2658 (2009), the Supreme Court recently reaffirmed the doctrine, first articulated by the Court in Griggs v. Duke Power Company, 401 U.S. 424 (1971), that employers can be held liable under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act for neutral personnel practices with a disparate impact on minority workers. The Griggs Court further held that employers can escape liability by showing that their staffing practices are job related or consistent with business necessity. 

In the interim since Griggs, social scientists have generated evidence undermining two key assumptions behind that decision and its progeny. First, the Court in Griggs noted the absence of evidence that the selection criteria in that case (a high school diploma and an aptitude test) were related to subsequent performance of the service jobs at issue, and expressed doubt about the existence of such a link. But research in industrial and organization psychology (IOP) has repeatedly documented that tests and criteria such as those at issue in Griggs (which are heavily “g”-loaded and thus dependent on cognitive ability) remain the best predictors of performance for jobs at all levels of complexity. Second, Griggs and its progeny rest on the implicit assumption, reflected in the so-called 4/5 rule, that fair and valid hiring criteria will result in a workplace that roughly reflects the representation of each group in the background population. Work in psychometrics and labor economics shows that this assumption is unjustified. Because blacks lag significantly behind whites on measures of cognitive ability, most valid job selection criteria will have a substantial adverse impact on this group. The combination of well-documented racial differences in cognitive ability and the consistent link between ability and job performance generates a pattern that experts term “the validity-diversity tradeoff”: job selection devices that best predict future job performance generate the smallest number of minority hires in a broad range of positions. Indeed, the evidence indicates that most valid screening devices will have a significant adverse impact on blacks and will also violate the 4/5 rule under the law of disparate impact.  
Because legitimately meritocratic (that is, job-related) job selection practices will routinely trigger prima facie violations of the disparate impact rule, employers who adopt such practices run the risk of being required to justify them – a costly and difficult task that encourages undesirable, self-protective behaviors and may result in unwarranted liability. To alleviate this burden, the article proposes to adopt a new regime of “disparate impact realism” that abandons the 4/5 rule in favor of sliding scale ratios pegged to measured disparities in group performance and the selectivity of particular positions. Alternatively, the disparate impact rule should be repealed altogether. The data indicate that pronounced differences in the background distribution of skill and human capital, not arbitrary hurdles imposed by employers, are the principle factor behind racial imbalances in most jobs. Moreover, blacks lag behind whites in actual on-the-job performance, which indicates that employers are not unfairly excluding minorities from the workforce but rather bending over backwards to include them. Disparate impact litigation, which does nothing to correct existing disparities and distracts from the task of addressing them, represents a cumbersome, misplaced effort that could better be directed at the root causes of workforce racial imbalance.

"Bad Teacher"

From my movie review in Taki's Magazine of the hit comedy with Cameron Diaz playing a bad teacher:
The second least glamorous job in showbiz is teaching schoolchildren. It’s standup comedy for the risk-averse. The government employs truant officers to make sure you have an audience, and they can’t fire you if you’re not funny. 
For years, resentment of teachers has been mounting. Public-school teachers have health insurance and pensions, but they still can’t get American students to outscore Koreans. If only they’d work harder! 
Idealistic young teachers willingly sweat for their students, but once they have kids of their own, their priorities change. Hence, the most common solution that societies have come up with to get their educators—such as Jesuits, nuns, and Eton schoolmasters—to care passionately about other people’s children has been celibacy. (Of course, celibate teachers sometimes wind up caring a little too passionately for their charges.)

Read the whole thing there to find out the (slightly bowdlerized) least glamorous job in showbiz.

June 28, 2011

Stress and schizophrenia

From Nature News
City Living Marks the Brain: 
Epidemiologists showed decades ago that people raised in cities are more prone to mental disorders than those raised in the countryside. But neuroscientists have avoided studying the connection, preferring to leave the disorderly realm of the social environment to social scientists. A paper in this issue of Nature represents a pioneering foray across that divide. 
Using functional brain imaging, a group led by Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg of the University of Heidelberg's Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, Germany, showed that specific brain structures in people from the city and the countryside respond differently to social stress (see pages 452 and 498). Stress is a major factor in precipitating psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. 
The work is a first step towards defining how urban life can affect brain biology in a way that has a potentially major impact on society — schizophrenia affects one in 100 people. It may also open the way for greater cooperation between neuroscientists and social scientists. "There has been a long history of mutual antipathy, particularly in psychiatry," says sociologist Craig Morgan at the Institute of Psychiatry in London. "But this is the sort of study that can prove to both sides that they can gain from each others' insights." 
Meyer-Lindenberg works on risk mechanisms in schizophrenia, and previously focused on the role of genes. But although a dozen or so genes have been linked to the disorder, "even the most powerful of these genes conveys only a 20% increased risk", he says. Yet schizophrenia is twice as common in those who are city-born and raised as in those from the countryside, and the bigger the city, the higher the risk (see 'Dose response?').

The article goes on to describe some brain scan experiment in which a lovely young science lady with lots of dark hair and dark eyes "scolds" subjects while they do arithmetic, which sounds like something out of an Austin Powers movie. I can no more make sense of brain scan experiments than I can make sense of recipes so I won't comment on the experiment.

But, there are a few problems with attributing schizophrenia to "stress." The first is that "stress," while it definitely exists, can be used as one of those all-purpose hand-waving explanations. That doesn't mean that it's wrong, but I tend to have a prejudice against it.

The second is that schizophrenia is so catastrophic from a Darwinian point of view -- it ruins the lives of roughly 1% of the population, but generally not until after their families have almost fully invested in their upbringing -- that it deserves some careful explanation.

Third, it's not at all clear to me that we stress out more over stuff that wasn't around during the evolutionary past. Lots of people stress out over snakes and spiders, but people seem to get fairly used to, say, driving 75 mph on the Ventura Freeway. A few weeks ago, I got a cell phone call from some family friends who had a flat tire on the freeway, so I drove over to stand upstream from them and glare at drivers while they were changing it by the side of the freeway. From that perspective, a few feet from cars roaring past, the entire idea of driving on the freeway seems like utter madness. I drove home very slowly on surface streets. But the next day I was driving 75 mph down the Ventura Freeway with no more thought in my head than: "How come I didn't like Led Zep as much in the 1970s as I do now? Black Dog is awesome!"

Fourth, if city life correlates with schizophrenia, why stress instead of infection as a potential cause? Disease burden was such a problem for city dwellers until quite recently that, for example, sub-Saharan Africa had very few cities. People in Africa had to live spread out in small villages or they'd get sick and die.

Matthew Yglesias Self Parody Edition

Workhorse liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias reads through my stuff all the time, then responds on his own blog in one of three ways:

- He'll often write the next day about a subject I've raised, but instead of focusing on the juicy stuff that interests me, will figure out some dry, technocratic, politically correct angle that won't get him in trouble.

- Being a logical person, he often responds to my reductio ad absurdum arguments by endorsing absurdity. For example, after I pointed out that a global Gallup Poll found that 165,000,000 adults in foreign countries said that they wanted to emigrate and America was their first choice, which obviously shows the craziness of the Open Borders dogma endorsed by lots of Washington pundits like Yglesias, he responded by calling a couple of times for 165,000,000 more immigrants. 

(This fits into a larger psychological issue troubling Yglesias: having grown-up in lovely, cultured Greenwich Village, but now living in violent, black-dominated D.C., he finds himself homesick for Manhattan [a perfectly natural feeling for a 30-year-old: most people imprint on where they lived during adolescence]. But rather than move home to lower crime Manhattan, where he'd be happier, he instead campaigns obsessively to turn the rest of America into Manhattan through massive immigration and building high-rises and making parking expensive. That, at least, would have the effect of pushing out of the big, expensive cities the African-Americans who beat him up in an anti-white hate crime in May -- after which poor Matt immediately blamed D.C.'s lack of population density!)

- He responds to my pointing out that much of the push for immigration is due to absurd Jewish paranoia about a white gentile majority oppressing them by saying But That's a Good Thing. For example, he normally posts a half-dozen items a week about how They Do It Better in Northern Europe, but today he's worked up over a progressive Dutch proposal for more humane treatment of animals. That's because requiring animals to be sedated as they are slaughtered would inconvenience devout Muslims. It's a slippery slope, you see. If you let those backward, vicious Dutch blonds get away with animals rights, the next things they will try to crack down upon are clitoridectomies, polygamy, honor-killing, wife-beating, gay-bashing, and arranged marriages of adolescent daughters to their first cousins back in the Old Country for purposes of immigration fraud.

Fortunately, in America, the right sort of people dominate discussion. Yglesias writes:
Something that’s definitely nice about the United States is that, though our political culture is hardly unaffected by bigotry or oft-violent nationalism, I’m pretty confident this would never fly here. The equivalent version of the opposition from Christian Democrats on ground of religious freedom would be much more robust, and secular Americans who couldn’t care less about the details of halal butchery still have an appropriate conception of ourselves as a potentially oppressed minority.

Diversity trumps even progressivism. Why? Because massive immigration from backwards cultures, even of Muslims, is self-evidently Good for the Jews. How do we know that? Because the gentiles, who are The Real Threat, think it's Bad for Them, so that's all the proof you need to know.

Ballplayers and age

Michael Sokolove is becoming my favorite sportswriter by combining the standard up close and personal reporting with the kind of big picture data synthesis that I prefer. He has a new article about New York Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter on his 37th birthday and the larger topic of aging in sports. 

Jeter, who signed a contentiously-negotiated 3-year $51 million contract in the offseason so he would get his 3000th hit with the Yankees, the only team he's ever played for, is a pretty terrible ballplayer this season, slightly worse than a generic "replacement-level" journeyman. Yet, that's kind of heartening in that it shows that Jeter, who has seemed like a class act during his long and remarkably consistent career, isn't juiced to the gills. (I'd add that Ichiro Suzuki, who is also 37, also appears to finally be in decline, too.)

That doesn't mean that Jeter never touched any steroids or HGH during his career, but, at minimum, if he did, he didn't let it go to his head like so many stars who flagrantly abused the stuff. 

Sokolove writes:
The mythology is that old-time players, who did not lift weights and knew nothing about nutrition, had mercilessly short careers. And that today’s players, who condition themselves year-round — often with the help of private trainers, the most up-to-date scientific methods, nutritionists and massage therapists — play longer and have more years of peak performance. It makes sense. It’s also not true. 
With more rigorous drug testing, a typical baseball career is beginning to look again as it did throughout the game’s history. Journeymen players stay in the game until their early- or mid-30s, and all-star-level players maybe a couple of years beyond that. A handful of superstars retain enough skills to make significant contributions into their late 30s. Those with the most talent almost certainly lose their skills at the same rate as lesser players, but they stay in the game for a long time because 85 percent of a superstar is still a very good player. 
The rotund, hard-living Babe Ruth was a productive player until age 39. Older baseball fans remember Willie Mays’s sad last years with Mets, when he was past 40 and couldn’t play anymore, and may assume that he hung on far too long. But at age 40, while still playing for the San Francisco Giants, Mays led the league in on-base percentage and stole 23 bases. 
Even the game’s greatest players, though, cannot defy biology. However long they play, their best seasons occur when they are still strapping young men in all their fast-twitch glory. 

Sokolove is being a little dogmatic. We've seen evidence of ballplayers in the past who extended their primes into their thirties by working out. Slugging shortstop Honus Wagner peaked in 1908 at age 34, probably because he lifted weights. Ruth got himself a personal trainer after his bad 1925 season and worked out during the winters, so he had his famous 60 homer season in 1927 at age 32.

What about more recent examples of late resurgences?

I could list some, but one of my readers has a theory that the impact of steroids on famous American sports statistics can be traced way, way back before Jose Canseco's 40-40 season in 1988. All those great seasons from the 1970s, 1960s, or even late 1950s that you think of as shining examples of a more innocent age? All on the juice, he asserts. After all, we know Olympic shotputters and the like were using steroids in the later 1950s, so why not professional athletes? 

QB John Hadl has said that the San Diego Chargers strength coach was handing out steroids in the locker room in 1965. Or how about The Juice? O.J. Simpson went from a pretty good high school player in 1964 to the most exciting college football player since Red Grange in 1967. How'd that happen? (When Ken Kesey read about O.J.'s little run-in with the law in 1994, he said: That sounds like a combination of cocaine and steroids.)

Growing up on the West Coast in the 1960s and 1970s, I assumed, like most people, that the outstanding performance of West Coast athletes was simply part of the general shift of money and talent to California. Maybe, but maybe there was also a Venice Muscle Beach / Hollywood / Castro Street gay / Olympic track & field steroids connection to West Coast pro athletes going on. 

I dunno. 

We do know that baseball players were using uppers by the early 1960s to be alert for ballgames. Having just brewed a pot of coffee to churn out this posting, however, I'm not feeling all that censorious about that. 

June 27, 2011

Lack of extradition treaties

As I wrote in VDARE a few years ago, in 2006 I served on the jury of a trial in downtown L.A. that sounds like I made it up: an Iranian immigrant used car dealer was so crooked that he'd been banned from the used car racket. So, he started another used car lot, but had his brother-in-law sign all the legal forms claiming to be the sole owner and operator. Then the brains of the operation collected $4 million in sales tax but sent only $2 million on to Sacramento. He used the other $2 million to build a Persian Palace in San Clemente filled with, in the words of South Park in their parody of 300, the kind of gold-plated crap that only a Persian would think is cool. Eventually, state auditors kept asking why the dealership sold all of its used cars for only half the market price, so the Mr. Big fled back to Iran, leaving the brother-in-law to stand trial as the legally responsible party. But the idiots on an L.A. jury, half of them immigrants, couldn't grasp what had happened, so he went free on a hung jury.

That got me to thinking about extradition treaties. The lack of an extradition treaty between the U.S. and the home country of immigrants is an incentive to engage in crime. Not surprisingly, the U.S. can't get crooks back from Iran. But what about other countries that were not always threatening to bomb? So, I looked up which countries America doesn't have an extradition treaty with. (In movies, crooks were always running off to Rio because for a long time Brazil didn't have an extradition treaty with the U.S., but now, apparently, we do.)

From Wikipedia:
The United States maintains diplomatic relations, but does not have extradition treaties with the following countries: 
Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Armenia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, the Central African Republic, Chad, China, Comoros, Congo (Kinshasa), Congo (Brazzaville), Croatia, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Macedonia, Madagascar, Maldives, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Samoa, São Tomé & Príncipe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Slovenia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vatican, Vietnam, and Yemen,.[citation needed] [boldface mine]

Holy cow, no wonder the state is broke. That's like half the non-Mexican population of L.A., and about half the small businessmen.

The U.S. really, really ought to have an extradition treaty with Armenia. America did an excellent job turning the pre-1924 Armenian immigrants into solid citizens, but we're not doing so good with the latest wave of Armenian immigrants. There is plenty of human capital there, but we're just letting them abuse us because, compared to the old days, we are weak and stupid. Letting Armenians run scams in America and then scamper off to Armenia when the heat starts to catch up with them is like having a German Shepherd that's not housebroken. 

The Hot White Defendant beats the rap

It's always fun to look at the LAPD's Most Wanted list, in part because very few people on it look like the Great White Defendants on TV crime shows. Most of the real life Most Wanteds look like this guy on the left: i.e., Extremely Bad TV.

However, five years ago, I pointed out in a post entitled "The Hot White Defendant" that it did have one eminently televisable Most Wanted on it, 
Vannessa X, 5'9" and 125 pounds: 
The suspect is articulate and claims to work in fashion design. The suspect dresses in very expensive looking clothes and speaks with a French accent. The suspect speaks five languages fluently: English, French, Italian, Thai and Spanish. The suspect can also speak some Arabic. The suspect is known to frequent the following areas: The Fairfax District in Wilshire and Hollywood Areas; Hollywood; Ocean Front Walk in Pacific Area; and West Hollywood.

A reader pointed out that she's probably about 1/4 Thai.

Today, I received an email from a law office
My office represents Vanessa X. Ms. X was the subject of your blog entry on May 7, 2006, entitled “The White Hot Defendant.”  
Actually, my post was called "The Hot White Defendant" (a reference to Bonfire of the Vanities), but I kinda like your version better.
In your blog entry you discuss Ms. X's fugitive status.  In August, 2007, Ms. X appeared before the Los Angeles Superior Court. The grand theft charges against Ms. X were dropped due to lack of evidence linking her to any of the crimes committed.  
Unfortunately, she is still being affected by the unsubstantiated charges as whenever her name is entered into the Google search engine, your blog entry comes up in the first five hits.   This has greatly limited Ms. X's ability to gain employment as all potential employers that search her name think she is a wanted fugitive.

I am writing this email to request that you remove your entry regarding Ms. X's fugitive status so that she can move past that unfortunate period in her life.

Always happy to be of service. In fact, let me offer some career advice: Miss X should contact Cameron Diaz's people about selling the rights to her life story in case the star of Bad Teacher wants to follow up her momentum with more sociopath roles. Alternatively, I'd probably rather watch Miss X in Bad Teacher 2 than Cameron Diaz.

Update: A couple of things about the LAPD's Most Wanted list: It's not totally demographically representative of of who commits crimes in L.A.. Instead, it's representative of who doesn't get caught, which is dominated by immigrants in part because they are a lot more likely to flee the country and stay Wanted. In contrast, African-American homeboys aren't all that common on the Most Wanted list because, having nowhere to go, they tend to get caught.

Also, these aren't necessarily recent crimes. I recognize a lot of these people from when I wrote my post a half decade ago. For example, there's a blonde guy on there named Torvald wanted for a kidnapping at gunpoint from 18 years ago. Presumably, he's disappeared back to Norway or wherever.

June 26, 2011

NBA Draft 1st Round: 6 overseas whites v. Jimmer

In the first round of the NBA draft last week, we saw the same pattern as we've seen over the last decade in the NBA: a large majority of the top white guys grew up in foreign countries. Six of the seven white guys who went in the first round were from foreign countries. Jimmer Fredette of BYU, the collegiate scoring champ and player of the year, went 10th, winding up in Sacramento, while three overseas whites went ahead of him in the top 10.

Similarly, of the nine active white players who are in the NBA top 50 in career win shares, eight grew up abroad.

On the other hand, in the second (and last) round, four American whites (Kyle Singler, John Leuer, Josh Harrellson, and John Diebler) were picked versus three foreign whites. So, overall, out of the 14 whites drafted, nine were foreign and five were American.

This is a pattern that needs some explanation.

One short term reason for the 2011 draft is the Nowitzki Effect. A foreign white was the Finals MVP, so a couple of weeks later, lots of teams are looking for foreign whites.

But, long term, I can see two plausible explanations for this pattern: the first would be that star basketball players are merely genetic freaks with culture having no effect So, because there are more whites outside the U.S., there are more white genetic freaks from outside the U.S.

The second is that we are witnessing a classic example of disparate impact discrimination against whites within U.S. basketball. 

It's a nature-nurture question. How important is it for NBA stardom that there are more white guys outside the U.S. versus how important is that U.S. culture is more basketball-centric? 

One way to think about this is to look at the substantial success in the NBA of people from the two most basketball-centric cultures in Europe: ex-Yugoslavia. For example, out of the nine foreign whites drafted in 2011, four were from the ex-Yugoslavian republics, two from Lithuania, one from next-door Latvia, one from Turkey, and one from the Czech republic.

Ex-Yugoslavia and Lithuania have been outstanding at basketball as far back as I can recall. They have been highly over-represented, which suggests that nurture plays a role (although, those two places are pretty tall on average, which might be why they took to basketball so avidly).

In contrast, much of the Europe isn't well represented in the NBA: the British Isles (the only NBA player I can think of was John Amaechi, but he was awful, although that was because he was gay and hated sports), France (Tony Parker being the exception that validate the tendency  -- his father was a black American playing ball professionally in Europe), the Low Countries (7'4" Rik Smits being the best illustration of sheer height triumphing over a culture's lack of basketball orientation), Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Scandinavia, etc. 

In contrast, the Mediterranean countries have been crazy about basketball for a generation or two, although they weren't well represented in the NBA because they weren't that tall until the last couple of decades and because their leagues could pay decent money, especially Italy's league, to keep talent close to home. Ex-Yugoslavia and Lithuania were tall, crazy for basketball, and poor, so they;ve been disproportionately represented in the NBA. 

Taking all that into account, my expectation would be that there would be about as many top white Americans as top white foreigners. There used to be, but there haven't been for a decade or more. This suggests that tall white guys in America (e.g., 6-9" John Isner, now playing at Wimbledon) have been turning against basketball. 

Getting the joke

My new VDARE column looks at a number of recent news stories, such as the illegal immigrant reporter (from where, exactly?), the Mexican national soccer team's "home game" against the U.S. at the Rose Bowl, and so forth, that are pretty funny if you get the joke.

From Blue State to Red State via Section Eight

The problem with being poor in 21st Century America is not that you can't buy enough food or even buy enough flat screen TVs, it's that you can't afford to not live around other poor people. But, the government has a plan to solve that problem. From the Washington Post:
Housing vouchers a golden ticket to pricey suburbs 
By Stephanie McCrummen, Published: June 26 
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It was clear that Liza Jackson’s luck had changed when she drove her pearl-white Dodge sedan, the one with the huge pink plastic eyelashes over the headlights, into Pinebrook, an eight-year-old subdivision where residents tend to notice cars with huge pink eyelashes. 
“There goes the neighborhood,” one homeowner said when she heard that her potential new neighbor had a federal housing voucher known as a Section 8. 
But Jackson could well be Pinebrook’s salvation, a means by which landlords can rent an empty, crime-magnet of a house to a tenant with a steady, government-backed check. 
From Jackson’s point of view, the dismal housing market appeared as a glorious reversal of fortune: Fresh swaths of suburbia were opening up to the very people it has so often excluded. 
She had seen one house, and now she rolled up to another, a tan three-bedroom with red shutters. She got out and looked around, a vaguely glamorous vision crossing the grass in a long, leopard-print dress. She peeked into the windows, making out what appeared to be vaulted ceilings. 
“Dang,” Jackson said approvingly. 
She put the house, a foreclosure turned rental, on her list of possibilities. ...
But as housing prices keep slipping and the economy remains shaky, there’s been another shift as more landlords view the approximately 2 million American families with a Section 8 voucher — which essentially subsidizes fair-market rent for people who can’t afford it — as among the best ways to fill an empty house. 
“It’s guaranteed money,” said David Benham, who owns several rental properties and is a founder of the Benham REO Group, which sells bank foreclosures to investors in 35 states. “It has a great accountability program with the renters. I love Section 8. I wish every one of my properties was Section 8.” 
So for a group of Americans previously blocked from certain neighborhoods by “not in my back yard” politics, high prices and a lack of rental options, this is a minor bonanza. Those with a Section 8 voucher, a key federal program for the poor, are a fraction of those who need it; waiting lists are full and years long. But they are a lucky fraction. In the recession-era economy, the voucher is becoming a golden ticket to almost anywhere, a point hardly lost on Liza Jackson, whose cellphone was now ringing Lil Wayne. 
“Yes?” she said, answering in the prim manner she described as her “white voice.” “I had called about the four-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath? Yes. Liza. Like Minnelli.” 
Jackson and her daughter Sheena, 24, were saying goodbye to a cramped two-bedroom townhouse in Honolulu, a city she described as “not all it’s cracked up to be, if you’re black,” and “all high maka maka,” which is Hawaiian slang for unduly expensive. 
Jackson had planned the move for months, perusing rentals on Section 8 Web sites that offer everything from chic new condominiums in Miami to four-bedrooms in Phoenix, Las Vegas and Atlanta. Jackson decided on Charlotte, where she could get more square footage for her family, which included Sheena, Sheena’s 5-year-old son, Shamahrie, and her two dogs, Coco Chanel and Mamacita. She saved up from her job as a baker, shipped the car and booked a room at a cheap hotel off the Billy Graham Parkway. 
Now it was early June, and she and Sheena were at a briefing at the Charlotte Housing Authority office, a normally dreary place that was bustling like a booming real estate firm. 
By 8 a.m., more than two dozen hopeful people were streaming in, having taken overnight buses from New York, Baltimore, New Jersey and elsewhere, where they lived in public housing, or run-down neighborhoods, or places they hoped to escape. 
“I want to be around all this fresh air,” said Evelyn Lifsey, who was moving from a Staten Island public housing project. “My moving truck is on standby.” 
A housing counselor ended the briefing by handing out a list of Zip codes. 
“These are areas with better amenities, more jobs, better schools,” she said, encouraging people to scout them. 
Jackson received a folder with her voucher, a prized possession that people spend years on waiting lists to acquire. Jackson’s was $1,032, possibly more if utilities were included or if she found a place in a pricier Zip code. Her contribution was about $200 a month.... 
“I don’t want to live in some ghetto,” Jackson said in the brawny tone of her native Boston, and it seemed she would not have to. Soon, she and Sheena were zipping down Interstate 85.
It was a sunny afternoon in Charlotte, an ambitious city of mirrored skyscrapers and green suburbs whose last big wave of house hunters was full of bank employees, high-tech workers and other professionals. 
Now there was Jackson, who receives unemployment, and Sheena, who gets child support for Shamahrie. Riding along, they fielded calls from agents, some of whom seemed quite eager. ... 
If she was cramped in Honolulu, here she had higher standards. At least three bedrooms. Hardwood floors, preferably. An open kitchen. 
They wound their way to the first address, which turned out to be the sort of Section 8 offering typical of the boom years: a small, 1970s-era brick number with dirt patches in the front yard. 
“I’ll put ‘[Heck] no’ next to this one,” Jackson said, making a note. 
She hit the gas, passing two young men in shorts and tank tops. 
“Uh-oh, street punks,” Jackson said, further disqualifying the area. 
... They pulled into Linda Vista, a winding maze of 2,000-plus-square-foot homes. 
“This is quiet livin’,” Jackson said, rolling along. “I’d hate to see something ghetto in here.”

Just wait ...

To Wither and Die in L.A.

Los Angeles County, by far the country's most populous at about 10,000,000 people, consists, from south to north of the Los Angeles Basin, then the side by side suburban San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys, then the mighty San Gabriel Mountains, and then the dusty, windy high desert. The climate deteriorates the farther north you go in LA County because you get farther from the Pacific.

The high desert communities of Palmdale and Lancaster were once places where aerospace engineers could find big backyards for their big families. But the good jobs dried up and LA County has been exporting its poor blacks and Hispanics to the high desert via the Section 8 rental voucher program. The high desert communities have been trying to slow the onslaught, and that has LA County, which is who is trying to dump the NAMs in the desert in the first place, crying racism!

From the LA Times:
L.A. County looks into alleged racism in Antelope Valley housing-subsidy crackdown 
The county had been paying half the cost for Section 8 investigators in Lancaster and Palmdale. Supervisors postpone that funding after civil rights groups say the probes are biased against low-income minorities. 
Los Angeles County supervisors opted Tuesday to postpone additional funding for a subsidized housing enforcement program in Lancaster and Palmdale and called for an investigation into charges that the Antelope Valley cities are using the program to discriminate against low-income ethnic minorities. 
The county had been contributing half the cost of extra investigators in the two cities to ensure that landlords and tenants comply with the regulations of the federal Section 8 housing voucher program. But a lawsuit filed in federal court by the NAACP earlier this month charged that Lancaster and Palmdale are waging an "unrelenting war" against blacks and Latinos who receive public assistance. 
The lawsuit alleged that the cities conduct unfair surprise "compliance checks" of Section 8 residents, the majority of whom are black and Latino. Housing inspectors were often accompanied by armed Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies, and overzealous enforcement had cost as many as 200 local minority families their federal housing assistance each year in the Antelope Valley, the suit charged. 
At Tuesday's board meeting, Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, whose district includes the Antelope Valley, made the motion to put off the decision to renew funding for the program until after county housing officials investigate the allegations. 
Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said he was disappointed by the board's decision. He told supervisors that the Antelope Valley had been inundated by the county's poor and lacked sufficient social services to handle their needs. 
"This really isn't about race," Parris said. "Since the beginning of time kings have sent their poor into the desert and they have sent them there to wither and die. That is exactly what's going on today."

Here's my 2008 short story about renting to Section 8 tenants in the high desert.