March 19, 2005

The Opportunity Society theory

Some Republicans support Social Security privatization because they believe that forcing individuals to own stocks will turn them into Republican voters.

From a historical and theoretical perspective, it seems likely that widespread stock ownership is probably good for Republicans when stocks go up, as in the 1920s, and bad for Republicans, when they go down, as in the 1930s.

Marilyn Monroe offered some acute advice to Republican strategists looking to lure in voters with mandatory stock ownership in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes:"

He's your guy when stocks are high,
But beware when they start to descend
It's then that those louses go back to their spouses
Diamonds are a girl's best friend.

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March 18, 2005

Sailer on "Golf Courses as Art"

Golf Courses as Art: My 3,000 word essay in the April 11th edition of The American Conservativesubscribers. I know, I know, nobody ever writes about golf course architecture for a general audience, but I've probably thought more about this topic than any other in my life, so you might find it interesting as I try to put it in a general perspective. An excerpt:

Golf course architecture is one of the world's most expansive but least recognized arts. Yet this curiously obscure profession can help shed light on mainstream art, sociology, and even human nature itself, since the golf designer, more than any other artist, tries to reproduce the primeval human vision of an earthly paradise.

Hidden in plain sight, golf courses are among the few works of art readily visible from airliners. Assuming an average of a quarter square mile apiece, America's 15,000 golf courses cover almost as much land as Delaware and Rhode Island combined.

Golf architecture philosophy isn't terribly elaborate compared to the thickets of theory that entangle most museum arts, but one thing all golf designers assert is that their courses look "natural." Growing up in arid Southern California, however, where the indigenous landscape is impenetrable hillsides of gray-brown sagebrush, I never quite understood what was so natural about fairways of verdant, closely-mown grass, but I loved them all the same.

Research since the early 80s shows that humans tend to have two favorite landscapes. One is wherever they lived during their adolescence, but the nearly universal favorite among children before they imprint upon their local look is grassy parkland, and that fondness survives into adulthood.

In one study, people from 15 different cultures were asked what they'd like to see in a picture. Then the researchers would paint the average of what they were told. Even though the scientists hadn't mentioned what type of picture it should be, the consensus in 14 of the 15 cultures favored landscapes. All over the world, people want to see grassland, a lake, and some trees, but not a solid forest. And they always want to see it slightly from above. In fact, they came up with terrain that looked rather like the view from the par 5 15th fairway at Augusta National, site of the Masters Tournament each April, where players must decide whether to attempt to fly the pond in front of the green below them with their second shots in the hopes of putting for an eagle.

The current theory for why golf courses are so attractive to millions (mostly men) is that they look like a happy hunting ground -- a Disney-version of the primordial East African grasslands. Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson, author of the landmark 1975 book Sociobiology, once told me, "I believe that the reason that people find well-landscaped golf courses 'beautiful' is that they look like savannas, down to the scattered trees, copses, and lakes, and most especially if they have vistas of the sea."

Tasty hoofed animals would graze on the savanna grass, while the nearby woods could provide shade and cover for hunters. Our ancestors would study the direction of the wind and the slopes of the land in order to approach their prey from the best angles. Any resemblance to a rolling golf fairway running between trees is not coincidental.

To create these pleasure grounds, top golf architects typically spend over $10 million per course, and because designers oversee the creation of multiple layouts simultaneously, a "signature" architect like Tom Fazio will end his career with his name on a few billion dollars worth of golf courses.

Famous works of "environmental art," such as Robert Smithson's monumental earthwork "Spiral Jetty" in the Great Salt Lake, are dwarfed by golf courses in extent and thought required. Among museum artists, only Christo works on a comparable scale, and his projects, such as his recent "Gates" in Central Park, are more repetitious. Nonetheless, Christo's "Gates," which re-emphasized the original landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead's lovely serpentine pathways, and his 1976 "Running Fence" snaking through the undulating grasslands of Marin County, offer some of the same visual pleasures of following alluring trails as golf architects provide.

The first problem limiting the acceptance of golf design as art is that to nongolfers a course can seem as meaningless as a Concerto for Dog Whistle. That a golf course allows people to interact with interesting landscapes without killing wild animals makes sense in the abstract, but not until you've driven a ball over a gaping canyon and onto the smooth safety of the green will the golf course obsession make much sense...

[Subscribe to The American Conservative]

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Greg Cochran on Bush vs. Napoleon

"Bush’s Napoleon Complex: What the French experience in Spain could teach us about Iraq" by Gregory Cochran in the March 28th edition of The American Conservative.

No two wars are ever the same any more than you can step on the same banana peel twice. That said, Napoleon’s invasion and occupation of Spain, from 1808 to 1814—the war that gave us the word “guerrilla” and was immortalized in Goya’s “Third of May,” the war that drained France’s army, smashed Napoleon’s reputation for invincibility, and left Spain thrashing like a broken-backed snake for decades—has striking similarities to our invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Both wars started under the influence of similar delusions. Napoleon thought that the Spanish would roll over and play dead as so many other European states had; he thought marching to Madrid and placing his brother Joseph on the throne would complete the subjugation of Spain. We pretty much thought the same: crushing Saddam’s army would be easy; we would then install a pro-American government (Ahmad the Thief) and have most of our Army home by fall.

The invasions went well, as expected, but in each case a tiresome guerrilla war broke out. The French eventually lost over a quarter of a million men in “the Spanish ulcer,” as Napoleon called it, while Iraq has tied down half of the Army and is costing us more than $75 billion a year. What went wrong? As it turns out, Boney and Bush made some of the same mistakes. [Subscribe to The American Conservative]

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Wolfowitz of Arabia

Wolfowitz of Arabia: Neocon's Secret Motivation Revealed

Is this the face that launched a thousand RPGs?

On the 684th and last page of T.E. Lawrence's eloquent memoir Seven Pillars of Wisdom comes the stunning statement that Lawrence actually had a secret reason for giving the Arabs their freedom and he's not going to tell the reader what it is:

"Damascus had not seemed a sheath for my sword, when I landed in Arabia, but its capture disclosed the exhaustion of my main springs of action. The strongest motive throughout had been a personal one, not mentioned here, but present to me, I think, every hour these two years. Active pains and joys might fling up, like towers, among my days: but, refluent as air, this hidden urge re-formed, to be the persisting element of life, till near the end. It was dead, before we reached Damascus." [Emphasis added.]

The clearest answer Lawrence ever provided was once, when asked why he had fought for Arab independence, he replied, ""Personal: I liked a particular Arab, and I thought that freedom for the race would be an acceptable present." This fits with the mysterious dedicatory poem at the beginning of Seven Pillars:

To S. A.

I loved you, so I drew these tides of men into my hands
and wrote my will across the sky in stars
To earn you Freedom, the seven-pillared worthy house,
that your eyes might be shining for me
When we came...

There are many different theories about who this was but the most plausible seems to be that this particular Arab was Selim Ahmed, nicknamed Dahoum, a teenage waterboy who had lived with Lawrence during his archaelogical digs in Syria before the war. He died before Lawrence's Arab army fought its way into Damascus.

The Washington Post now confirms rumors that Paul Wolfowitz, a prime architect of the Iraq Attaq but also the chief spokesmen for the Kumbaya wing of happy-clappy neoconism, has his own (heterosexual) Dahoum to inspire in him visions of liberating Araby:

Adding fuel to the controversy is concern within the [World Bank] staff over Wolfowitz's reported romantic relationship with Shaha Riza, an Arab feminist who works as a communications adviser in the bank's Middle East and North Africa department.

Both divorced, Wolfowitz and Riza have steadfastly declined to talk publicly about their relationship, but they have been regularly spotted at private functions and one source said the two have been dating for about two years. Riza, an Oxford-educated British citizen who was born in Tunisia and grew up in Saudi Arabia, shares Wolfowitz's passion for democratizing the Middle East, according to people who know her.

(What are the security clearance issues involving the pillow talk of the #2 man at the Pentagon?)

So, in case you were wondering what this crazy war was all about, I guess you can say, "It was all for love."

P.S., It would be interesting to know how far back this affair really goes. Wolfowitz was divorced in 2002. Wolfowitz was pushing to invade Iraq immediately after 9/11, 3.5 years ago. It wasn't quite as irrational as Feith's suggestion that we bomb Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina, but Eisenhower would likely have fired both on the spot for their obvious lack of judgment. On the other hand, Bush was apparently looking for an excuse to invade Iraq from day one of his administration, so perhaps Wolfowitz was just a yes-man telling the boss what he wanted to hear.

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The Democratic Dominos Go Askew in Latin America

The Tidal Wave of Capitalist Democracy is so ten years ago in Latin America, where leftism is on the rise again ... democratically, of course, while the pro-capitalists are reduced to searching for non-democratic means to prevent leftist from winning elections. In Mexico, Fox conspires with his former enemies in the PRI to find a technicality to prevent the leftist mayor of Mexico City, Lopez Obrador, from running for President in 2006 on the PRD ticket. In Venezuela, the Bush Administration backed a military coup that briefly overthrew the Fidelista president Chavez, until people power in the streets intimidated the military into saying, "Never mind."

As I pointed out in my review of "Hotel Rwanda,' when George W. Bush says "democracy" he actually means, in effect, is "Anglo-Saxonism:" rule of law, checks and balances, independent judiciary, a settled distribution of property, free speech, an open economy, habeas corpus, graciousness in defeat, the urge to compromise, gentlemanly treatment of women, etc.

But what people in oppressed countries hear when he says "democracy" is "majority rule," which is not the same thing.

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Why don't women write many good op-eds?

... asks Dahlia Lithwick, an editor at Slate:

I can also swear to the fact that as an editor, the number of pitches I receive from men outnumbers the pitches I see from women by several orders of magnitude. I can add, again purely anecdotally, that women largely send in pitches for reported pieces, and are far less inclined to frame a piece as an "argument"—which may prove Tannen's point that argument is not necessarily a comfortable or natural mode of communication for women (a phenomenon I observed in law school as well). This is, in short, an insanely interesting thought problem to which we are applying very little interesting thought.

Paul Newman put his finger on it when he said: In our family I make all the big decisions like what the official Newman Family stance is on nuclear disarmament, while my wife makes all the little decisions, like where we'll live and where'll we send our kids to school.

Women are simply, on average, more practical than men. They aren't as interested in big issues where they are unlikely to have much impact. They are more interested in how to improve their own lives and those of the people they care about.

I've spent enormous amounts of time standing around magazine racks in my life, and I can assure you that women almost never look at the prestige section where they group together "The Economist," "The New Republic," and "The National Interest," and other journals that don't have anything to do with your personal life. Attractive single women look at fashion and beauty magazines. Attractive married women look at expensive home decorating magazines.

Sure, women are interested in the lives of celebrities they don't know, but it's all more or less research for their own lives. If Jen can figure out how to get Brad back, maybe they can use her technique someday on their husbands.

The median woman's life is simply more important from a Darwinian perspective than the median man's life because women are the limiting resource in reproduction, so they can't afford to waste their lives on disinterested interests, like all those guys who submit op-eds to Dahlia Lithwick about, say, the Lebanese situation even though, in practical sense, Lebanon is irrelevant to their lives.

Now, back to round-the-clock Lebablogging!

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March 17, 2005

"Jose Canseco, Hero"

"Jose Canseco, Hero" -- Novelist Michael Chabon, author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, expends 1,900 words on the NYT op-ed page to explain his hero worship of the ballplayer (whom a player's agent told me twelve years ago was "the Typhoid Mary of steroids"), without it ever occurring to Chabon that the reason he admires Canseco so much is precisely because Jose was loaded with synthetic masculine hormones.

While Chabon is more eloquent, his feelings are the same as those rhesus macaque monkeys who pay (in juice) to look at pictures of dominant male monkeys.

I used to think Chabon was dishonest. His novel about two Jewish teenagers in pre-WWII New York who invent a Superman-style character to express their opposition to Hitler, avoids all mention of the Hitler-Stalin pact of 1939-1941, which caused no end of conflict at the time of the novel in the Jewish Communist circles the story is set in, but is most conveniently forgotten today for purposes of demonizing McCarthyism. Chabon's novel also features another pet peeve of mine, the character who turns out to be homosexual despite having no traits at all that correlate with homosexuality.

But, perhaps I was wrong. Judging from this essay, Chabon, despite being wildly articulate, has no more self-awareness than those hero-worshipping monkeys.

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Whiteness Studies and the White Guy Gap

UPDATED: Whiteness Studies and the White Guy Gap: A reader writes:

First, I'm a white guy and a Democrat. Protestant and heterosexual too. Now that that's out of the way, I wanted to say that your article sounds very much like the kind of talk I hear in American Studies, the field where I'm earning a Ph.D. at the University of XXX. No question about it, AStudies is a left-dominated milieu, with lots of the identity politics that you say is acceptable and much criticism of people like me. The thing that may surprise you is that your interpretation

Now, you say that white pride dare not speak its name, but another point of view is that the name need not be spoken--whiteness is normative, it is a default category that tries to pass itself off as universalist. But there is no doubt--on the left in the academy, white is seen as ethnic, it is seen as a racial identity. I do find, in your article and in similar statements, the suggestion that we white men should somehow be entitled not to be criticized for our authority and power. of NASCAR and voting Republican is identical to the left-wing take on those activities, save for the political perspective of course. American Studies folks, by and large, do see NASCAR as an ethnic pride rally for whites, and do see the dominance of Bush and the Republicans as an assertion of white male solidarity.

No, what I said was, "Now, white men are probably the most tolerant and forbearing of any American group—they've been raised to take it like a man—but they are also only human." In your Midwestern state, for example, whites likely pay over 90% of the taxes that support your university and your Ph.D. program. Yet, while ethnic groups who contribute far less to the upkeep of your university insist upon ethnic cheerleading for themselves in programs like "African-American Studies," whites are expected to pay to be derided in your program.

That's quite remarkable. The only way to explain it is that the liberal settlement that emerged from the civil rights era is based on the notion that whites are not an ethnic group with their own ethnic interests. Instead, they are just The Majority, and they can afford to subsidize Minorities, because the cost per individual member of The Majority is limited.

In the long run, the liberal arrangement is threatened by immigration, since The Majority, who is supposed to subsidize Minorities, won't be a majority forever, and the cost per individual member of the the former majority will soar.

But, obviously, the liberal dispensation is also headed for big trouble if whites are considered no longer to be just The Majority but are instead considered to be just another ethnic group.

Indeed, you should point out to your professors that they should be careful what they wish for. No recognized American ethnic group puts up with subsidizing being insulted, and if your department succeeds in getting whites to think of themselves as an ethnic group, then continued taxpayer funding for your department would be threatened.

On the other hand, your professors aren't quite that dim. Indeed, they sense that they can profit financially from raising white ethnic consciousness. See, the more white ethnic activism they elicit, the more they can claim that they must be subsidized by the state to squash it by indoctrinating in whites the belief that they are the Evil Ethnicity, and therefore must pay to be insulted. It's another political perpetual motion machine.

And I didn't find any reflection on the unearned skin privilege that whiteness brings, in addition to some of the inconveniences you mention. No, I haven't had a problem-free life. But there are lots of things I simply don't have to worry about because I'm a white man. My identity does open doors for me, and I can't see why acknowledging that equals self-abasement.

It's not "unearned." It was earned for you by the hard work and self-discipline of your ancestors and relatives, whom you should learn to appreciate. If, say, you inherit a valuable house in a nice, crime-free white neighborhood, it was earned for you by the law-abidingness of other whites, such as your parents and your neighbors. The world today is a better place because they sacrificed and invested to provide privileges for their descendents.

Back in 2002, I wrote in VDARE about the "Whiteness Studies Status Game:"

White anti-white racism is a broadly fashionable attitude that extends far beyond loonies like Harvard Professor Noel Ignatiev, author of "Abolish the White Race" and "How the Irish Became White." I don't believe I've ever seen it formally explained, although Tom Wolfe's novels show it in action.

The usual explanations of what drives whites like Ignatiev are "white guilt" or "self-loathing." But does Ignatiev appear as if he personally feels guilt or self-loathing?

No -- he sounds like he's having the time of his life arguing that you should feel guilt etc. He comes across as an arrogant, hostile jerk who thinks the world of himself.

He wants to feel that he's better than other whites and to rub their faces in it. The bad guys in his book are Irish Catholics and Anglo-Saxon Protestants. Ignatiev himself is neither.

And this is typical, in my experience: whites who proclaim their anti-white feelings don't really care much about blacks or other minorities, pro or con. What they care about is achieving social superiority over other whites by demonstrating their exquisite racial sensitivity and their aristocratic insouciance about any competitive threats posed by racial preferences.

To these whites, minorities are just useful pawns in the great game of clawing your way to the top of the white status heap. Which, when you come right down to it, is the only game in town.

Imagine some pathetic white pride activist grabbing your lapels and demanding,

"Did you know that Euro-Americans invented the airplane? [You nod.] Oh, you did? Well … did you know that Euro-Americans invented the golf cart? Huh? Huh, did you know you that?"

Well, duh, everybody knows -- whether or not they're crass enough to mention it -- that over the last 500 or 600 years, whites invented pretty much everything worth inventing. (And, of course, a lot that wasn’t.)

For his encyclopedic Modern Mind: An Intellectual History of the 20th Century, Peter Watson interviewed 150 scholars from around the world about who was responsible for the great innovations. Watson recounted that

"…all of them—there were no exceptions—said the same thing. In the 20th century, in the modern world, there were no non-western ideas of note."

Maybe this is a little unfair to the Japanese, whose Just-in-Time manufacturing was hugely important. And to some nonwhites in the West who came up with good ideas like jazz. Overall, though, the dominance of whites is just so hugely apparent that it's in bad taste to talk about it.

Cheerleading for Euro-Americans seems as pointless as cheerleading for men would be. It's mildly interesting that a woman invented Liquid Paper whiteout fluid (namely, Bette NesmithPost-It Notes is not interesting—because we all know that men invent more or less everything.

Similarly, liberal whites definitely don't want to be seen as competing against minorities. They think it would look undignified to worry about unfair competition from affirmative action-boosted blacks, or illegal immigrants. Publicly favoring quotas shows the world that you don't care about being forced to meet higher standards than minorities. You and yours will hurdle any requirements with IQ points to spare. Graham, a secretary and the mother of Mike Nesmith of The Monkees). But the fact that a man invented

This white liberal mindset is much more condescending toward minorities than that of, say, Sam Francis—who takes minorities seriously and thus wants a level playing field. [More...]

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March 16, 2005

The Fundamental Problem with Privatization

Privatizing government activities makes lots of sense in theory, but it often fails to work out so hot in practice. A friend explained why recently by noting that while companies can make modest profits by fulfilling the terms of rigorous contracts drawn up by government officials, a more profitable strategy is often for the private firm simply to corrupt those government officials who hand out the contracts.

This doesn't mean that privatization can never work, it just means that it's best carried out by politicians who don't trust private firms and thus are particularly clever about drawing up systems to prevent corruption. Libertarian ideologues are particularly ill-suited for managing the privatization programs they advocate since they tend to be suckers.

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Following once again in the footsteps of Robert S. McNamara

Following once again in the footsteps of Robert S. McNamara, Paul Wolfowitz, having gotten us into a land war in Asia, has now been named by President Bush to head the World Bank.

Also, Wolfowitz signed a deal to make a tell-all confessional documentary in 2027 with director Errol Morris to be entitled "The Bog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Paul D. Wolfowitz."

And in late-breaking news, Bush named Christopher Hitchens to be Ambassador to the Vatican. "Hey, Popester," Bush crowed while announcing the appointment of the fanatical hater of Mother Teresa and supporter of the Iraq War, "I hear you aren't breathing too good. So, suck on this!"

In further efforts to simultaneously cheaply please his white guy supporters by driving foreigners crazy while sending the neocons who helped get the U.S. into the Iraq war as far from Washington as possible, Bush appointed Douglas Feith, the #3 man in the Pentagon, to be the new Dalai Lama, while naming Larry Franklin, currently under FBI investigation for his role in leaking Pentagon secrets to the American-Israel Political Action Committee, as lead tenor at the La Scala Opera House in Milan, Italy.

Also, Richard Perle, former chairman of the Defense Policy Board, was slated to become head chef at La Tour D'Argent in Paris, but could not be contacted because he was vacationing at his chateau in the South of France. Rumors that Elliott Abrams would step in as the goalie for Manchester United and that Scooter Libby would take over as Queen of the Mardi Gras in Rio de Janeiro remain unconfirmed.

In other news, Bush named as Wolfowitz's replacement as #2 man at the Pentagon actor Robert Blake, saying, "We didn't think Baretta would be available, but when you have a chance to hire a man of action who isn't slowed down by petty rules, you've gotta go for it." Also, Bush noted that UN Ambassador nominee John Bolton's replacement as head of arms control at the State Dept. will be Ted Nugent. "He only eats meat he kills himself, so The Nuge obviously has steady control over his firearms," noted Bush. "And besides, that week in 1974 when I was up for 87 hours straight, I played nothing but "Cat Scratch Fever" on the eight-track, so this is my way of showing my appreciation to a great American."

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After Gay Marriage, Slavery Reparations

Ideal Karl Rove Issue for exploiting the White Guy Gap: Slavery Reparations -- A reader writes:

My great hope is that Democrats turn reparations into an issue in 2012 and/or 2016, much like they did with gay marriage last year. That should, heh heh, shall we say, weaken their chances to win.

Come on, Dems, you can do it. Rep-rep-reparations! Heck, it should convert even some Asians and Latinos to Republicanism.

Better watch out what you wish for.

I suspect that Karl Rove is right now trying to figure out how to move reparations from a fringe issue into the mainstream. Of course, even though gay marriage did the GOP a lot of good, you just know that all that voting for Republicans won't actually stop the gay marriage juggernaut, and we'll end up deleting the words "husband" and "wife" from the law books, too, just like in Ontario. Rove's candidates benefit from you being mad, so the more the Diversity Industry wins on substance, the more Karl's clients win in the voting booth. Funny how that works.

So, if slavery reparations become a big deal, then we'll probably elect in a landslide young George P. Bush, because we'll have to prove that just because we're angry about reparations, we're not racists. And we'll still end up paying through the nose for reparations. Or, maybe, Karl will engineer a solution where instead of the reparations that his candidates have prospered by denouncing, the country will just double the amount of affirmative action. Funny how that works.

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March 15, 2005

80,000 Clams of Aesthetic Enjoyment

Dave Barry on Plop Art:

Like many members of the uncultured, Cheez-It consuming public, I am not good at grasping modern art. I'm the type of person who will stand in front of a certified modern masterpiece painting that looks, to the layperson, like a big black square, and quietly think: "Maybe the actual painting is on the other side.''

I especially have a problem with modernistic sculptures, the kind where you, the layperson, cannot be sure whether you're looking at a work of art or a crashed alien spacecraft. My definition of a good sculpture is "a sculpture that looks at least vaguely like something.'' I'm talking about a sculpture like Michelangelo's David. You look at that, and there is no doubt about what the artist's message is. It is: "Here's a naked man the size of an oil derrick.''

I bring this topic up because of an interesting incident that occurred recently in Miami... Dade County purchased an office building from the city of Miami. The problem was that, squatting in an area that the county wanted to convert into office space, there was a large ugly wad of metal, set into the concrete. So the county sent construction workers with heavy equipment to rip out the wad, which was then going to be destroyed.

But guess what? Correct! It turns out that this was NOT an ugly wad. It was art! Specifically, it was Public Art, defined as "art that is purchased by experts who are not spending their own personal money.'' The money of course comes from the taxpayers, who are not allowed to spend this money themselves because (1) they probably wouldn't buy art, and (2) if they did, there is no way they would buy the crashed-spaceship style of art that the experts usually select for them.

The Miami wad is in fact a sculpture by the famous Italian sculptor Pomodoro (like most famous artists, he is not referred to by his first name, although I like to think it's "Bud''). This sculpture cost the taxpayers $80,000, which makes it an important work of art. In dollar terms, it is 3,200 times as important as a painting of dogs playing poker, and more than 5,000 times as important as a velveteen Elvis.

Fortunately, before the sculpture was destroyed, the error was discovered, and the Pomodoro was moved to another city office building, where it sits next to the parking garage, providing great pleasure to the many taxpayers who come to admire it.

I am kidding, of course. On the day I went to see it, the sculpture was, like so many pieces of modern taxpayer-purchased public art, being totally ignored by the actual taxpaying public, possibly because it looks -- and I say this with all due artistic respect for Bud -- like an abandoned air compressor.

So here's what I think: I think there should be a law requiring that all public art be marked with a large sign stating something like: "NOTICE! THIS IS A PIECE OF ART! THE PUBLIC SHOULD ENJOY IT TO THE TUNE OF 80,000 CLAMS!''

Also, if there happens to be an abandoned air compressor nearby, it should have a sign that says: "NOTICE! THIS IS NOT ART!'' so the public does not waste time enjoying the wrong thing. The public should enjoy what the experts have decided the public should enjoy.

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More of My Old Articles

Did Pim Fortuyn Have It Coming?

Black Illegitimacy Rates Decline, Others Rise

Los Angeles and the Apocalyptic Imagination

Is Bin Laden a Postmodern Transnationalist?

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The White Guy Gap in Sculpture

"Meeting of Minds:" I expected some people to object to my assertion in my article "The White Guy Gap" that a major reason for the current success of the GOP is that " liberals are now paying the price for decades of insulting white men." But nobody seems to want to argue that insulting white men qua white men is not an important part of modern liberalism.

I was reminded of that when looking at a new piece of "plop art" called "Meeting of Minds," which was plopped next to a public golf course and paid for by the taxpayers of Denver According to the artist:

The upright head depicts the profile of an African-American woman looking out to the adjacent North Denver neighborhood. The second head, with the profile of a generic [i.e., white] male, appears to be sinking into the ground.... The female is a profile of a beautiful African-American woman. A computer was used to help make an exact copy of an African-American models’ face... The profile of this head shows a stronger and more distinct personality than the generic head that it compares to. Inside of her head are iconic figures in all different shapes and sizes. There are tall, short, thin, and heavy figures... All of these figures symbolize the diversity of the neighborhood and the world... The figures in her head are arranged in a disordered fashion. This design symbolizes that people have many different interests and desires, and are all going different ways. Yet, these figures, are contained in a circular form that shows we are all part of the same world and unified, at least in this country, by the democratic system of government. This head celebrates diversity and symbolizes a progressive way of thinking.

The second more generic head appears to be sinking into the ground. The figures inside of this head are again iconic male and female figures but here they are all the same and arranged in straight rows. This symbolizes an old way of thinking or narrow mindedness. This head, sinking into the ground, symbolizes a way of thinking that is hopefully disappearing.

Oddly enough, or perhaps not so oddly, the artist himself, Mr. Douglas Kornfeld, does not appear to be either female or black. But then, as I explained, the reason white guys are so resented is because they are "the people who get most of the big things done in this country," even, in the case of Mr. Kornfeld's 16-foot tall heads, big things that aren't worth doing.

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The New York Times and Me on Race

The New York Times has been sound on the existence of race for a few years: Many were amazed that the NYT dared publish Tuesday's long op-ed "A Family Tree in Every Gene" by Armand Marie Leroi emphasizing the validity and usefulness of race as an important scientific concept.

But, the NYT has been strong on the reality or ace for some time. Two years ago, I wrote on VDARE:

A Couple of Wild-Eyed Wackos: Me and the New York Times

By Steve Sailer

While many journalists write about race, I'm widely considered beyond the pale because I frequently write about it from a scientific perspective. My approach is seen as prima facieNational Review’s Jonah Goldberg and David Frum both announced that they were shocked, shocked that I often "concentrate on genetic questions," as Jonah put it.

Neither has taken up my offer to publicly debate the topic. But that seems to be their point: some entire subjects are just so far beyond the boundaries of polite discussion that all a dignified pundit need do is point and squeal in horror.

After all, who else besides me reports on the genetics of race?

Well, the New York Times is who.

For several years now, the newspaper of record's distinguished correspondent Nicholas WadeNature, then moved to the top American scholarly periodical, Science, before going to the NYT. He is the author of Life Script: How the Human Genome Discoveries Will Transform Medicine and Enhance Your HealthNew York Times Books on Genetics, The Brain, Archaeology, Language and Linguistics, Fossils and Evolution, and the like. He is clearly the most important genetics reporter in the United States.

Below are excerpts from a dozen of his NYT articles. I hope calling attention to this major aspect of Wade's work doesn't get him fired. But he definitely has the science on his side.

Much of Wade’s work is clearly driven by a concern for improving humanity's health. He fears that the "Race Does Not Exist" crowd will condemn sick people to death by keeping doctors from learning what treatments are appropriate for each patient’s genes. (Last year, the New York Times Magazine printed a fascinating article by Sally Satel, "I Am a Racially Profiling Doctor," making a similar point.).

Click here for the rest of the article including numerous excerpts from Wade's NY Times articles.

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Indian nutritional superstitions

India vs. China, Again: An Indian writes that to become internationally competitive in sports, India should emulate China by picking out weak sports with little competition:

Looking at what events suit us best and focusing resources on that. Wasting tons of money on the 100m dash which no Indian is ever going to win in a million years is dumb.

The other thing to do is improve nutrition. But to do that they would have to overcome more superstition about food than ever existed in the rest of the world combined. There's a funny saying about Indians and Chinese. India and China are neighbours. Yet, the Chinese eat anything that moves and Indians fret about Onions and Garlic.

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March 14, 2005

Maryland U.S. Senate Candidate Kweisi Mfume's real name is ...

Frizzell Gray. With Snoop Dogg's "-izzle" slang so popular these days, maybe Kweisi will change his name back to Frizzell to appeal to the youth vote.

Here's a bio:

Born Frizzell Gray, Mfume grew up in a West Baltimore home with an abusive stepfather as the oldest sibling with three younger sisters... To survive the raw deal he was given, Gray turned to the streets of Baltimore where he dropped out of school, worked odd jobs, and began associating with street gangs. By the time he was 22, Frizzell Gray had fathered five children out of wedlock. Five. He could have given up on life and immersed himself in crime, drugs and substance abuse. Instead, he rolled up his sleeves and got busy.

Sounds like he was pretty busy before then, too.

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Double Ungood Crimethink from India

"Are Indians Born Losers" asks the Times of India:

MUMBAI: One hears the groan every four years: only one Olympic bronze medal for one billion people...

Experts blame sociological and genetic factors for our sports-deficient culture.

From the Indian thrifty gene to our finer bone structure, from our cereal-rich diet to vitamin-deficient status, doctors like Shashank Joshi blame "Indianness" for our droopy sporting history.

"It's a question of biology," says Dr Anoop Misra from the New Delhi-based All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). An expert in metabolic activity, he was approached by a British researcher to study India's poor sporting performance vis-a-vis that of the white and African populations.

"If the study had materialised, we would focus on the growth hormone as a factor for poor performance in sports," he says. He points out that "any athletic effort requires muscle power in terms of bulk and oxygenation capacity". And – you guessed it – Indians don't have enough of this.

"Ethnic Africans are natural sportsmen as they have muscular bulk," he says. This, in effect, puts paid to Indian hopes in the boxing arena or even the 100-m dash.

Dr Shashank Joshi, endocrinologist with Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai, blames the thrifty genes that Indians have developed following bouts of famine and epidemics over the years. "As a genetic conservation mechanism, our genes learnt to hoard fat in order to survive," he says.

But the thrifty genes are now making Indians living in a zip-zap-zoom urban milieu susceptible to obesity and more-fat-less-muscle creatures. "Indians have 33 per cent body fat compared to 25 per cent in Caucasian or African ethnic groups," says Joshi, who is studying the metabolic activity of ethnic groups in India.

I'm not convinced that India will never amount to much in sports, but they are remarkably bad in right now in everything other than cricket. Of course, they don't seem to care very much either, so it's not that painful.

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Parent Power Finally Exerting Itself in Universities?

Jinnderella, generalizing from the case of the U. of Colorado, where the college president recently resigned under the weight of the on-going scandals involving the running-amok football team and the pseudo-Indian conman Ward Churchill, suggests that the balance of power in a buyer's market for higher education is finally shifting over to the tuition-payers -- i.e., the parents. Also, the Internet makes it easier to keep track of what's going on at the university, and harder for frauds to hide.

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March 13, 2005

NYT: "A Family Tree in Every Gene"

Excellent NYT Op-Ed arguing that Race Does Too Exist, which sounds like a summary of my writings (complete with emphasis on the Andaman Islanders):

A Family Tree in Every Gene
The idea that human races are only social constructs has been the consensus for at least 30 years. But now, perhaps, that is about to change.

His conclusions are pretty much exactly the same as mine, even using many of the same examples. In blue are links to my articles where Leroi (of the U. of London) appears to have found much of the material for his fine essay, with much of the rest coming from GNXP:

One of the minor pleasures of this discovery is a new kind of genealogy. Today it is easy to find out where your ancestors came from - or even when they came, as with so many of us, from several different places. If you want to know what fraction of your genes are African, European or East Asian, all it takes is a mouth swab, a postage stamp and $400 - though prices will certainly fall.

Yet there is nothing very fundamental about the concept of the major continental races; they're just the easiest way to divide things up. Study enough genes in enough people and one could sort the world's population into 10, 100, perhaps 1,000 groups, each located somewhere on the map. This has not yet been done with any precision, but it will be. Soon it may be possible to identify your ancestors not merely as African or European, but Ibo or Yoruba, perhaps even Celt or Castilian, or all of the above.

The identification of racial origins is not a search for purity. The human species is irredeemably promiscuous. We have always seduced or coerced our neighbors even when they have a foreign look about them and we don't understand a word. If Hispanics, for example, are composed of a recent and evolving blend of European, American Indian and African genes, then the Uighurs of Central Asia can be seen as a 3,000-year-old mix of West European and East Asian genes. Even homogenous groups like native Swedes bear the genetic imprint of successive nameless migrations.

Some critics believe that these ambiguities render the very notion of race worthless. I disagree. The physical topography of our world cannot be accurately described in words. To navigate it, you need a map with elevations, contour lines and reference grids. But it is hard to talk in numbers, and so we give the world's more prominent features - the mountain ranges and plateaus and plains - names. We do so despite the inherent ambiguity of words. The Pennines of northern England are about one-tenth as high and long as the Himalayas, yet both are intelligibly described as mountain ranges.

So, too, it is with the genetic topography of our species. The billion or so of the world's people of largely European descent have a set of genetic variants in common that are collectively rare in everyone else; they are a race. At a smaller scale, three million Basques do as well; so they are a race as well. Race is merely a shorthand that enables us to speak sensibly, though with no great precision, about genetic rather than cultural or political differences.

But it is a shorthand that seems to be needed. One of the more painful spectacles of modern science is that of human geneticists piously disavowing the existence of races even as they investigate the genetic relationships between "ethnic groups." Given the problematic, even vicious, history of the word "race," the use of euphemisms is understandable. But it hardly aids understanding, for the term "ethnic group" conflates all the possible ways in which people differ from each other.

Indeed, the recognition that races are real should have several benefits. To begin with, it would remove the disjunction in which the government and public alike defiantly embrace categories

Second, the recognition of race may improve medical care. Different races are prone to different diseases. The risk that an African-American man will be afflicted with hypertensive heart disease or prostate cancer is nearly three times greater than that for a European-American man. On the other hand, the former's risk of multiple sclerosis is only half as great. Such differences could be due to socioeconomic factors. Even so, geneticists have started searching for racial differences in the frequencies of genetic variants that cause diseases. They seem to be finding them.

Race can also affect treatment. African-Americans respond poorly to some of the main drugs used to treat heart conditions - notably beta blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors. Pharmaceutical corporations are paying attention. Many new drugs now come labeled with warnings that they may not work in some ethnic or racial groups. Here, as so often, the mere prospect of litigation has concentrated minds.

Such differences are, of course, just differences in average. Everyone agrees that race is a crude way of predicting who gets some disease or responds to some treatment. Ideally, we would all have our genomes sequenced before swallowing so much as an aspirin. Yet until that is technically feasible, we can expect racial classifications to play an increasing part in health care.

The argument for the importance of race, however, does not rest purely on utilitarian grounds. There is also an aesthetic factor. We are a physically variable species. Yet for all the triumphs of modern genetics, we know next to nothing about what makes us so. We do not know why some people have prominent rather than flat noses, round rather than pointed skulls, wide rather than narrow faces, straight rather than curly hair. We do not know what makes blue eyes blue...

There is a final reason race matters. It gives us reason - if there were not reason enough already - to value and protect some of the world's most obscure and marginalized people. When the Times of India article referred to the Andaman Islanders as being of ancient Negrito racial stock, the terminology was correct. Negrito is the name given by anthropologists to a people who once lived throughout Southeast Asia. They are very small, very dark, and have peppercorn hair. They look like African pygmies who have wandered away from Congo's jungles to take up life on a tropical isle. But they are not... that many, perhaps most, scholars and scientists say do not exist.

Happily, most of the Andamans' Negritos seem to have survived December's tsunami. The fate of one tribe, the Sentinelese, remains uncertain, but an Indian coast guard helicopter sent to check up on them came under bow and arrow attack, which is heartening.

Or maybe it's just parallel evolution, like how pygmy negritos and pygmies look a lot alike, but don't seem to be closely related to each other. It didn't require any unique brilliance on my part to come up with my ideas, mostly just perseverance and honesty.

Let me add a couple of things to Leroi's attack on Lewontin's Fallacy. I wrote back in 2000 in "Seven Dumb Ideas about Race:"

Dumb Idea #6: Most variation is within racial groups, not between racial groups. Two members of the same race are likely to differ from each other more than the average member of their race differs from the average member of another race.

Sure, but so what? No single human category can account for a majority of all the many ways humans differ from each other. Try substituting other categories like "age:" "Most variation is within age groups, not between age groups." Yup, that's true, too. But, it doesn't mean that Age Does Not Exist.

You often hear that between-group racial differences only account for 15% of genetic variation. This number comes from a 1972 study by Richard Lewontin of 17 blood types, comparing variation between continental-scale races and between national-scale racial groups (e.g., Swedes vs. Italians). Now, blood types are, I suppose, important, but they hardly represent all we want to know about human genetic diversity. Certain other traits are known to be more racially determined -- the figure for skin color, not surprisingly, is 60%. What the overall number is for all the important genes remains unknown.

Still, let's assume that Lewontin's 15% solution is widely applicable. That's like going to a casino that has American Indian and African American croupiers, and 85% of the time the roulette spins are random, but 15% of the time the ball always comes up red for Indian croupiers and black for the black croupiers -- pretty useful information, huh?

Also, it's crucial to put Lewontin's 85-15 finding in a comprehensible perspective by comparing it to family relatedness, which we are all familiar with. (Racial groups are, by definition, partly inbred, so the degree of relatedness within a racial group can be comparable to the degree of relatedness within a small extended family.) I wrote in VDARE last year:

Take race denier Richard Lewontin's famous 1972 finding that only 15% of genetic variation is among population groups. This is always interpreted in the popular press to mean that, because there is more genetic diversity within racial groups than between them, therefore (non sequitur alert!) RACIAL DIFFERENCES DO NOT EXIST!!!...

Henry Harpending, a genetic anthropologist at the U. of Utah, says the variation between groups is even lower, more like 12.5%, so let's use that.

What Harpending discovered, and anthropologist Vincent Sarich (UC Berkeley) confirmed, is that Lewontin was using Sewall Wright's way of calculating relatedness, and you need to about double it to make it equivalent to Hamilton's way. So, 12.5% times two is 25%, which is the degree of relatedness between an uncle and his nephew…which, after all, is where the word "nepotism" comes from!

In other words, on average, people are as closely related to other members of their subracial "ethnic" group (e.g., Japanese or Italian) versus the rest of the world as they are related to their nephew versus the rest of their ethnic group.

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VDARE: The White Guy Gap

"The White Guy Gap" - My new VDARE column - An excerpt:

I was long baffled by the enormous, ever-growing popularity of the NASCAR stock car racing circuit. Why is watching Chevies go around and around … and around some more … so incredibly popular?

Finally, some readers pointed out that the answer was staring me in the face: because white American guys always win. Heck, the drivers are almost all British-Americans with a sprinkling of German-Americans like the Earnhardts.

In short, NASCAR is an ethnic pride festival for the one group of people who aren't supposed to hold ethnic pride festivals.

After that, I started to notice that some other institutions were in the business of providing covert identity politics for people who aren't allowed to practice identity politics publicly. Indeed, that perspective provided a novel answer to a couple of questions that a lot of people are asking:

"Why do Republicans win so much these days? But why do they then so seldom use their power to do anything recognizably conservative?"

Admittedly, this new theory is more subjective than my recent quantitative articles in and The American Conservative explaining the 2004 red state - blue state gap: "The Baby Gap," "The Marriage Gap," "The Mortgage Gap," and, underneath it all, "The Dirt Gap."

I guess you can call this one the White Guy Gap.

I suspect that liberals are now paying the price for decades of insulting white men. White males make up about one third of the population, but the problem with white guys, from a liberal perspective, is that they happen to be the people who get most of the big things done in this country. That's just unfair, no, that's downright evil of them.

Now, white men are probably the most tolerant and forbearing of any American group—they've been raised to take it like a man—but they are also only human. So, when they finally do get mad, they are a formidable force.

And, increasingly, the Republican Party has become a covert exercise in identity politics for white men. A peculiarly ineffectual exercise because of the Republican determination to camouflage this fact by promoting policies that obviously do white men no good.

Because white men are, on average, the best team players, the best organizers, and the best managers in America, the Republicans are now consistently beating the Democrats in the blocking and tackling departments of politics, even when the Democrats are closer to objectively correct on issues like the Bush Administration lying the country into the War in Error. The GOP can draw on more—and more motivated—white male talent. ..

There's nothing unnatural about the people who keep the country running wanting to have a large say in running the country. The problem, though, is that white male identity politics is the self-love that dares not speak its name.

So, many Republican white males studiously avoid endorsing policies that would actually help white male Republicans, such as immigration restrictions. [...More]

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My 2003 Articles on Iraq Attaq & Public Opinion

My 2003 Articles on Iraq Attaq & Public Opinion: Here are six articles I wrote while the shooting was going on in the spring of 2003 about public opinion. The first two are probably the most perceptive:

Why No Dancing in the Streets of Iraq?

Questions for Postwar Polls

Which Groups Support the War?

How Interested Is the Public in the War?

Support Up in Fighting Allies

If the War in Iraq Bogs Down...

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Real-Life Babes Not as Buttkicking as in Movies

Larry Auster has the full story on the tragic / Onion-quality-funny incident of the 6'-1" 200 pound defendant who shot up an Atlanta courtroom after overpowering the 5' grandmother assigned to guard him and stealing her gun. "“Women are capable of doing anything men are capable of doing,” the D.A. proclaimed after the killings when questions were raised about having women guard bad dudes. See VFR for more.

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"Millions" -- A family movie from director Danny Boyle of "Trainspotting" and "28 Days Later" has lots of interesting elements and, overall, works well. A very religious little boy, who talks to saints, finds a duffel bag with over 100,000 pounds in it. A not-so-great trainrobber wants it back. He wants to give it to the poor and his cynical big brother wants to spend it. Lots of visual razzle-dazzle from the director. I'm not sure if kids under 12 will be able to follow it.

One interesting (and no doubt realistic) aspect is the fecklessness of the British police. An ineffectual-looking copper with an intellectual's beard addresses a neighborhood meeting (dialogue roughly remembered):

Bobbie: "Christmas is coming so it's a statistical certainty your house will get robbed. But that's what we're here for."

Subject: "To prevent robberies or to catch the criminals?"

Bobbie: "Neither, of course. But after you do get robbed, we will give you your official victimization number so you can file a claim with your insurance company."

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"In My Country"

John "Deliverance" Boorman directs Juliet "The English Patient" Binoche and Samuel L. "Every Other Movie Made" Jackson in a story of the New South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Despite the big names involved, it's a dud.

Jackson is grating as an obnoxious Washington Post reporter and Binoche is atrocious as a sensitive Afrikaaner poetess weeping over the sins of her people -- one of the worst performances I've seen in a long time. When they start an affair, several black ladies got up and walked out of the screening. They didn't miss much.

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