April 22, 2006

More on black drownings

Why do young black males drown at rates 5 to 12 times greater than young white males: In response to my suggestion that, among other causes, greater body density of black males means they don't float as well, which makes them more vulnerable to drowning, a reader writes:

"Perhaps part of the explanation for the high rate of drowning about black children is less parental supervision. Compared to other groups, blacks do not watch their children as closely. Of course, much of that is due to father absence."

Another writes:

You may be right to suggest that blacks float less easily, therefore drown more readily.

But I can think of other plausible explanations. How about this: blacks drown more often because their lower IQ's (on the average, of course) make them less able to anticipate and judge the risks of swimming effectively. So the young ones venture into the deep- end too often, and the older ones too often leave the young ones alone in the pool.

As for a pattern of females drowning more frequently when they're young, well, that too may be due to factors other than leanness-helping-them-sink. Perhaps post-adolescent females stay out of the water because they don't wish to mess up their fancy hairdo's (on average blacks spend a greater proportion of their incomes on grooming than whites do). For that matter, even if older females are less lean, perhaps modesty keeps them out of the water (so they won't have to reveal pudgy figures) rather than blubber keeping them afloat.

Note that the IQ theory is *not* inconsistent with a low correlation between family income and child- drowning rate. Even though IQ is positively correlated with income, reversion to the mean suggests that high-income parents will have plenty of lower-IQ children at risk of drowning.

The lack of parental supervision suggestions seems upheld by some stats from an old Statistical Abstract I had at hand: the black accidental death rate is much higher, perhaps double, the white rate up through age 14, but after that (when parental supervision drops off and disappears), the black accidental rate is comparable to the white accidental death rate. So, the IQ theory might not be supported.

For all ages, the black male death rate for non-motor vehicle accidents was 29.3 versus 26.0 for white males, which is one of the smaller racial differences. For car crashes, the male death rates were almost identical between the races: 22.2 vs. 21.9. (However, blacks die more from other causes, especially homicide, so more don't live long enough to die accidentally, which means the black accidental death rate is somewhat understated.)

In summary, the black drowning rate seems high compared to other causes of accidental death, so the more-likely-to-sink theory remains plausible.

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

Around the web:

- American immigrant in Mexico Fred Reed praises Mexico's sensible approach to immigration in contrast to America's.

- Noah on Gideon's Blog responds (belatedly) to a posting by me on Jews and immigration.

- In Reason, Ronald Bailey defends the new Schering-Plough clinical trial of a Hepatitis C drug even though African-Americans are excluded from taking part.

- Dr. Stat considers high school dropout rates in the light of IQ. He suggests:

"I also advocate an intermediate diploma, say at the 10th grade level, which would give people who otherwise "drop out" a reasonable and achievable goal, and remove from them the stigma of being classified a "drop out" when there are jobs they are perfectly capable of doing. What is so magical about 12 years of school? For some people, 8 is enough, for others, 10 would be enough. Doing this would stem the tide of dumbing down the high school curriculum in order to get more and more people, who are not intellectually qualified, through 12 years of school."

- Case closed! Guilty as charged! The NYT's umpteenth story on the Duke lacrosse goat rodeo comes with this headline sure to induce confidence in the Durham DA's case:

Second Stripper From Duke Party Offers Account

Kim Roberts said she initially doubted the story of her colleague, but now she is not so sure.

Lead & Gold offers more:

The second "dancer" is on probation for embezzlement. She was arrested in March for parole violation. On the day that the indictments were handed up, the DA signed off on a reduction of her bond.

Now she is talking to PR firms:

"I'm worried about letting this opportunity pass me by without making the best of it and was wondering if you had any advice as to how to spin this to my advantage."

We need a new term for hate crime hoaxes. How about "Crying Wolfe"?

A reader responds:

I agree that we need a term for these media fueled fake hate crimes. But i'd hate to see a great writer-- and maybe the most acute observer of post-war America- tarred with the association. Might i suggest:

Level One: For the original accuser-- Doing the Tawana

Level Two: When the usual suspects start mau-mauing for the cameras-- Pulling a Sharpton

Level Three: When it erupts into a perfect media storm-- the Full Jackson

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

Churchill on his ancestor, John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough

A reader writes:

If any of your readers are tempted to read one book on that military history reading list, I would recommend Churchill's biography of Marlborough. It is the best book written by the only man who, so far in history, was both the Caesar and Cicero of his age. The Marlborough story is the only major work Churchill wrote when he was not doing several dozen other things, during his wilderness years in the 1930s.

But in writing about his famous ancestor, Churchill was doing a number of things all at once. He was showing the professional historians of his time, some of whom had criticized his earlier work, that he could compete with and better them at scholarly research and judicious interpretation of evidence. He was refuting an attack on John Churchill by the historian whom he otherwise adored and learned about writing from, Macaulay. He was giving not only a narrative of a long series of battles, but explaining why they turned out as they did. As a former soldier and future commander of armies, it was not enough for Churchill to simply describe Marlborough's tactics. He needed to understand why he won so decisively and consistently, which had to do with the early adoption by the British and Dutch armies of the new musket and bayonet, which gave these Protestant soldiers something like a six-to-one advantage over an equivalent number of French soldiers, as least for a while.

Marlborough was also the first Englishman to make his country great by leading a selfishly unstable coalition of countries in repelling a Continental tyrant, so Churchill was training himself for his role in World War II. And he was chronicling the sudden, almost accidental, development of the two-party system in the English Parliament. Since practical democracy in all countries works on a party system, Churchill was describing a decisive stage in the rise of democracy, first in England and America, then several centuries later across the world.

Running through the whole story is the theme of an astounding marriage, rare in any time and almost unheard of in Marlborough's day. The second volume ends with a line by the widowed Sarah Churchill about her dead husband that reminded me of Mary Tyrone's final line about her husband in "Long Day's Journey. . ."

You don't get much more than all that in two volumes.

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

Less body fat and denser bones

Reuters reports:

Drowning risk highest for black males

Swimming-pool drowning cases involve a disproportionate number of black boys and young adults, and public pools appear to be the primary danger zone, U.S. government researchers have found.

In one of the most extensive studies to look at the issue, investigators found that nearly half of the swimming-pool drownings they tracked occurred among African Americans - with males being at particular risk.

The findings, published in the American Journal of Public Health, not only confirm past research showing that a large number of young drowning victims are African American, but also identify where these deaths are happening.

Nationally, between 1995 and 1998, 51 percent of drownings among blacks ages 5 to 24 happened in a public pool. Most often, it was a hotel or motel pool. That stands in contrast to white children and young adults, 55 percent of whom drowned in a residential pool.

It's not clear why young African Americans, males in particular, are more likely than other racial groups to drown. But the new findings point to the places where prevention efforts are most needed, according to the investigators, led by Dr. Gitanjali Saluja of the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Hotel and motel pools, they point out, often lack lifeguards. So it's vital for children to always have an adult with them.

The study findings are based on federal data for 678 swimming-pool drownings among 5- to 24-year-olds between 1995 and 1998.

Overall, three-quarters of the victims were male, and black males were at greatest risk. Their rate of drowning was anywhere from 5 to 12 times higher than that of white males, depending on the age group. Hispanic males were also at greater risk than whites, but the difference was much smaller.

Among females, African Americans had a higher drowning rate through the teen years. White and Hispanic females had similar rates at all ages.

Researchers have speculated that the higher drowning risk among African Americans has to do with income; lower-income families are less likely to be able to afford swimming lessons. However, Saluja's team found that the racial discrepancy persisted even when they factored in income. More research, they say, is needed to understand the underlying reasons.

The researchers lacked information on whether drowning victims had ever had swimming lessons, but they point out that pediatric experts recommend that all children age 6 and older learn to swim.

Clearly, wealth and thus exposure to swimming pools plays a role in this, but the much lower rates of drowning among Hispanic males than among black males argues for a more sophisticated view of the problem. Further, blacks don't spend that much time at motels and hotels, so the high rate of black male drownings there needs explanation.

I've long argued that nature and nurture work together here. Blacks tend to have denser bones and black males, when young and in good shape, lower body fat percentage. Fat is lighter than water and thus helps you float. Muscle is heavier than water and thus helps you sink. You don't need to be able to float easily to swim (lots of Olympic swimmers are denser than water), but it makes it harder and scarier to learn to swim. And that's one reason more black youths don't learn to swim.

The pattern of black females having higher drowning rates than white females through the teenage years, but not afterward would fit this body fat model too.

For example, Michael Jordan, who stayed at 3% body fat his whole NBA career, has spent plenty of time around fancy swimming pools, but he hasn't learned how to swim. Us old crocks will also remember how during the swimming race in the first Superstars trashsport competition on ABC in 1973, the great boxer Joe Frazier damn near drowned.

With the pool season rapidly approaching, make sure your kids know how to swim.

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

April 21, 2006

The most famous sports team in the world?

The most famous sports team in the world? A reader writes:

Check out Google hits for "Duke lacrosse". They are topping 22,000,000, more than for "Dallas Cowboys" or "Manchester United" or "New York Yankees". lol... Is the Duke lacrosse team now the most famous sports team in the world?

News reports should come with labels that say:

"Warning: This news item represents basically the exact opposite of how the world actually works. We are making a big deal about this incident because it is a Man Bites Dog story that is interesting only because it is so unusual. If you rely on stories like this for useful information about the real world to help you live prudently and profitably, you will be sorry."

Obviously, a big reason the media (e.g., the NYT, which seldom deigns to give much coverage to local crimes, has run almost 20 articles on this North Carolina brouhaha) are gleefully repeating the allegations by the drunken black stripper / car thief that she was gang-raped by white athletes is because white-on-black gang rape is vanishingly rare in the United States. (In the FBI's annual National Crime Victims Survey, none of the approximately 10,000 black women surveyed from 2001 to 2003 reported being victims of a white gang rape.) In contrast, black-on-white gang rape is, apparently according to the NCVS, a much more than daily occurrence in this country (although small sample sizes for gang-rapes make it hard to be definitive about the size of the ratios). White-on-black single rapist crime, while not unknown, averages only 900 cases per year according to the FBI survey of victims. In contrast, there are 15,400 black-on-white single rapist crimes per year, according to the NCVS.

There should also be a sticker that says:

"Warning: Accusations against white male college students of race-based hate crimes frequently turn out to be hoaxes perpetrated by either minorities or by leftist whites. But we in the press don't consider this to be news, so you probably haven't heard of it."

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

April 20, 2006

I could see this one coming:

Right after Hurricane Katrina, a reader pointed out to me that New Orleans would no doubt wind up a Latino-dominated city, full of the illegal aliens brought in to rebuild it on the cheap. I replied to him in an email on 9/6/2005:

And then I'm sure we'll read all about how right and fitting it is that New Orleans is a Hispanic city because, uh, Spain ruled it for 20 years in the 18th Century. And who cares about Louis Armstrong and Tennessee Williams and Jelly Roll Morton and John Kennedy Toole, viva la Raza!

Not surprisingly, George Mason U. economist-aesthete Tyler Cowen, now a New York Times columnist, has now argued just that in Slate. In the course of asserting the wisdom of his plan for turning much of New Orleans into a vast, Latin American-style shantytown favela, Cowen writes:

For starters, cheap housing might be one means of inducing migrants—many of them Latino immigrants—who have come to the city for temporary construction jobs to stay. And as low-cost laborers settle in the city, they'll boost economic activity and pay taxes, thereby attracting corporations, service suppliers, and entrepreneurial small businesses. It would be fitting if New Orleans were rebuilt, both physically and culturally, by Latin and Caribbean immigrants. After all, the city has long been influenced by Hispanic and Caribbean settlers.

The next day in "Bienvenido, Nuevo Orleans," he returns to his beloved topic of la reconquista:

"Still, as Latinos put down roots, these cultural outposts will continue to pop up. As they do, Latinos will be restoring a time-honored Hispanic influence to New Orleans. The Spanish ruled the city from 1762 to the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. During this time, Louisiana grew from fewer than 7,500 people to about 50,000. The so-called "French Quarter" of New Orleans draws more on Spanish than French architecture. Creole cuisine derived jambalaya from African sources but also from paella. The use of paprika, meat pies, and red beans—all local staples—comes from Spanish sources as well, often through the mediation of the colonial New World. The early 20th-century New Orleans port made much of its money dealing in Central American coffee and bananas. Might a new influx of Hispanic influence bring comparable benefits in the future?"

Tyler is a very sharp guy, and most of the time he's admirably upfront about laying all his cards on the table. But his Hispanophilia is so pronounced that he ends up deluding even himself about immigration. Consider the mindless emotionality of his objection on his Marginal Revolution blog to building a fence along the Mexican border: "Get the picture? Hispanamerica is coming, like it or not. Let's deal with it constructively." If that's the best he can come up with, I'd hate to hear his solution to the problem of prison rape!

So, can you see the fast one he's pulling here in his New Orleans' essays? The traditional Hispanic influence on New Orleans was both Spanish from Spain and mulatto from the Islands, but not mestizo from the Mainland, like 95% of the illegal aliens moving into New Orleans. This Mexican and Central American influx will not transform the city into anything resembling the New Orleans that contributed so much to world culture. but instead eventually turn much of New Orleans into Van Nuys East.

I know you like Latin American art, Tyler, but you're kidding yourself that massive illegal immigration is making American life more culturally sophisticated. This is a fallacy held by many who live in the D.C. area like you do, with its unusually diverse sources of immigration. If you want to see the real future your cheerleading is helping bring on, come out and visit the vast, dreary monocultural proletarian barrios of northern Orange County and eastern San Fernando Valley.

In terms of creativity, the Mexican contribution to American culture might well be in decline. Mexicans traditionally have had some good visual talents. Remember the gorgeous "lowrider" customized cars that Mexican-Americans invented in the 1950s? Well, I haven't seen anything like a lowrider on the streets of Southern California in years. The car-customization culture of Southern California is today dominated by two non-Hispanic impulses:

- the vulgar pimp-my-ride black-invented style centered around buying expensive but cheezy accessories (much of the work on the pimpmobiles is performed my Latino mechanics, but the aesthetic is African-American and store-bought) or

- the Asian "rice rocket" style of subtly enhancing the performance of inexpensive little Japanese imports, which is at least more tasteful than the black style, but is kind of dull.

The old Mexican-American lowrider look, however, is unfortunately long gone from the streets of LA.

Cowen enumerates the cultural benefits of his plan for making New Orleans into a giant favela:

Shantytowns might well be more creative than a dead city core. Some of the best Brazilian music came from the favelas of Salvador and Rio. The slums of Kingston, Jamaica, bred reggae. New Orleans experienced its greatest cultural blossoming in the early 20th century, when it was full of shanties... Katrina rebuilding gives the city a chance to become an innovator once again.

Question: What is different about the population of, on the one hand, Salvador, Rio, Kingston, and the old New Orleans and, on the other hand, Van Nuys in the San Fernando Valley and the future New Orleans that Tyler looks forward to?

Right, the four places he lists that have contributed heavily to popular music are all quite African in population. In contrast, the New World Indian contribution to world music is minimal -- the lovely Peruvian flute music featured in Simon and Garfunkle's "El Condor Pasa" is one of the rare exceptions. Mexican pop music, for instance, is basically vulgarized Cuban music. The Mexican folk song "La Bamba" is named after a district in Angola! I write this in sorrow -- 20 years ago my favorite band was Los Lobos from East LA, but where are their successors?

Tyler's carrying out a sleight-of-hand common in Open Borders arguments. The unspoken but obvious underlying message is so often: "Mexicans are better than blacks." So, illegal aliens are praised for being harder working, less crime prone, and more family-oriented than ... well ... cough ... than you-know-who. In other words, Mexicans are more restrained than African-Americans, which tends to be true, relatively-speaking.

Okay, but then the Open Borders crowd turns around and assures us that Mexican illegal immigrants are making our culture more "vibrant" with their wonderful musical creativity yada yada. The assumption here is that all them colored folks -- black, brown, yellow, whatever -- got natural rhythm.

Well, it doesn't work that way. There are tradeoffs in this world. A group's accomplishments tend to be intimately related to its shortcomings. For instance, blacks win the Heavyweight Boxing Championship of the World a lot and lead the NFL in rushing all the time, and blacks make up a disproportionate fraction of muggers. They are both manifestations of blacks tending to be big, strong, fast, and aggressive, which are physical traits useful both in professional sports and in street crime. All this is probably related to higher average black levels of testosterone and/or testosterone receptors.

In contrast, East Asians have very low crime rates and high economic productivity, but don't produce many charismatic cultural figures. Mestizos tend to fall between blacks and East Asians on a lot of traits. But they tend to be not very productive creatively in the U.S. in proportion to their vast numbers, perhaps because they are drawn overwhelmingly from the less talented people of Mexico and Central America, the failures who couldn't make it at home.

A reader writes:

Los Lobos (or their successors) have been displaced because the new immigrants would rather listen to "Los Tigres del Norte"...

I recall going to see my first Los Lobos show in Chicago in the mid-1980s. The streets around the concert hall were jammed with Mexican immigrants in cowboy hats. But when we got to the show, it turned out all the Mexicans were going to the "Grupo Latino" night at the dance hall next door featuring mariachi bands from Mexico, and the Los Lobos fans were the same upper middle class white kids who would have turned out to see Talking Heads or Lou Reed.

Indeed, the monotonous, culturally deprived California of twenty-forty years ago produced the X, the Go-Gos, the Blasters and on and on. And Los Lobos should be included in these. While obviously influenced by their background, they were a genuinely American, working class band.

Right. X mentored the Blasters, and the Blasters mentored Los Lobos. But that kind of cross-ethnic cultural fertilization has declined in LA due to the overwhelming preponderance of Latinos.

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

How to Rig an Immigration Poll, Part 2

In an email, the insightful Audacious Epigone pointed out that in my recent VDARE.com assault on rigged questions about immigration, I had flat-out missed the worst survey research sin committed by the contrivers of the April 13th LA Times poll. I overlooked the LAT's biggest feat of sleight-of-hand because I concentrated too much on the biased wording of the individual proposals, rather than on the bigger picture.

The LAT offered respondents the following "three proposals" and asked whether they supported or opposed each one (in other words, the proposals were not mutually exclusive). See if you can spot how they contrived the grouping of the questions to artificially lower the amount of immigration restrictionist support.

1. "Create a guest-worker program that would give a temporary visa to noncitizens who want to legally work in the U.S."

2. "Allow undocumented immigrants who have been living and working in the U.S. for a number of years, with no criminal record, to start a path to citizenship."

3. "Fence off hundreds of miles of the border between the U.S. and Mexico and make it a felony to enter illegally."

Yet, are there really just three proposals here?

No, there are four:

1. Guest-worker program
2. Amnesty
3A. Fence
3B. Felony

The two pro-immigration proposals were made independent of each other, while the two anti-immigration proposals were linked together with the logical operator "and." The word "and" is the opposite of "or" -- you're only supposed to answer "Support" for #3 if you favor both the fence and the felony.

Thus, if you supported the guest-worker program but not the amnesty, or vice-versa, you'd still be counted by the LAT as supporting one of the first two proposals for increased immigration. But if you supported the fence but not the felony, or vice-versa, you'd be logically forced to answer "oppose" to the combined proposal.


Also, In Slate.com, Mickey Kaus comments on my original VDARE.com article on the poll here (page up once you get there).

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

A much-needed blog

Economist Dean Baker has started Beat the Press to critique economics reporting, which has been particularly awful during the immigration debate. He writes:

One of the great absurdities in the debate over immigration policy is the frequently repeated claim that the U.S. economy is generating more “low wage” jobs than can be filled by the domestic workforce. This line has been endlessly repeated in news stories on the issue.

Quick trip back to econ 101: recall the concepts “supply” and “demand.” What makes a job a “low wage” job? In econ 101 world, a job will be a “low wage” job if the supply is high relative to the demand. When there is insufficient supply, then the wage rises. My students didn’t pass the course if they couldn’t get this one right. Econ 101 tells us that there is not a shortage of workers for low wage jobs; it tells us that there are employers who want to keep the wages for these jobs from rising.

Immigration has been one of the tools that have been used to depress wages for less-skilled workers over the last quarter century. Many of the “low-wage” jobs that cannot be filled today, such as jobs in construction and meat-packing, were not “low-wage” jobs thirty years ago. Thirty years ago, these were often high-paying union jobs that plenty of native born workers would have been happy to fill. These jobs have become hard to fill because the wages in these jobs have drifted down towards a minimum wage that is 30 percent lower than its 1970s level.

In response to this logic, the “low wage” job crew claims that if the wages in these jobs rose, then businesses couldn’t afford to hire the workers. It’s time for more econ 101. Businesses that can’t make money paying the prevailing prices go out of business – that is how a market economy works. Labor goes from less productive to more productive uses. This is why we don’t still have 20 percent of our workforce in agriculture.

So the economic side of the debate over immigration is a question about employers wanting access to cheap labor.

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

Request for advice:

A reader writes:

"One thing many conservative websites discuss is the lack of military history taught to young people nowadays, and I agree. What's a good place to start for those of us who are victims of the modern educational system? Can you or one of your many readers recommend a good introductory text?"

A reader responds:

I currently teach AP European history, and have taught AP US in the past. The military-free content described is pretty accurate, although battles are fair game so long as they have a significant political or diplomatic impact, or if they served as the turning point (Waterloo, Stalingrad, Midway, etc.) of a particular war. However, you will never find questions on the exam about a particular general's tactics or the fine details of a noteworthy battle. Consequently, textbooks which are popular for use with AP courses (although all are "college-level", some seem to be more used at the high school AP level than in college survey courses.) often reflect that tendency. John Merriman's History of Modern Europe is one exception; its excellent WWI and WWII chapters are amongst the lengthiest in the entire (1,400+ page) book, and the book is replete with interesting military anecdotes. I don't necessarily think the lack of military history is a conscious decision on the part of the College Board, as they develop the course to reflect the predilections and attitudes of the equivalent courses taught in colleges, which are themselves the ones that are often consciously anti-military. I would also hasten to add that state standards on the teaching of history reflect the same tendencies.

As for your reader's question as to book suggestions: I would recommend Archer Jones' The Art of War in the Western World, Millet and Maslowski's For the Common Defense: A Military History of the United States of America, The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War, and essentially any book John Keegan has ever written.

AP teachers are judged more rigorously than most teachers because the percentage of their students who pass the AP test is fairly public knowledge, and the parents of their students tend to be the wealthiest, smartest, and most demanding parents at the school. So, they teach to the test. AP classes can be rather joyless experiences since teachers often worry they don't have time for classroom discussions. AP teachers would prefer not to go into detail about any one battle because if they choose the wrong battle and it never shows up on the test? Yet, battles are the hinges of history and nobody should be able to claim to be educated in history without having studied at least one battle in detail.

So, it's really up to the College Board to pick a single battle and make that The Battle for the purposes of the AP test and thus of AP classes. Fortunately, for the study of U.S. History, there's really only one reasonable contender for the role: Gettysburg.

For European History, there are several possibilities, but Waterloo would seem like the best choice. The main worry I have about studying Waterloo is that it's too benign, too much like an Ali-Frazier heavyweight championship bout rather than part of a war: Europe's two greatest generals finally meet, for one day on one square mile of battlefield, commanding armies armed with exactly the same technology, with virtually no civilian casualties, and then everybody goes home for 99 years of peace.

Others suggest:

- I'd suggest The Reader's Companion to Military History. It's a reference work, but it's very readable, has top-notch contributors, and you can learn quite a lot just by randomly opening it and reading entries.

- Good beginner text: The Wars of America by Robert Leckie.

When I say beginner, I mean beginner. The text is directed toward the "young adult" market--my uncle gave it to me as a Christmas present when I was in 9th grade. Written from a traditional and patriotic perspective (i.e. the central hero of the Revolutionary War is George Washington---not some unknown black man or harpy).

Just about anything by John Keegan, though my favorite is The Face of Battle.

Victor Davis Hanson's Carnage and Culture is very, very, good.

- It's odd that the two best contemporary military writers (for newcomers at least) are each others archnemesis-- Victor Davis Hanson and your old friend The War Nerd.

Vic Hanson is sort of like a nonfiction version of Mark Helprin--- writes wonderful books and idiotic columns. He has a couple of books that in several chapters per campaign, break down famous battles. Good stuff.

- Your reader might try Churchill's best book, his biography of his ancestor the Duke of Marlborough, which is terrific military and political history. I'm not a military man, but for me this book crystallized a far-reaching point: In whatever arena, intelligence consists of seeing clearly what confronts one, rather than being guided by common opinion, prejudice, mere caution, etc. (But beware that the book starts slowly. I suggest skipping the first volume if one grows impatient.)

- For a good introduction to military history go to Osprey Publishing website. Choose a book that interests you and start reading. I have a bias for British Military History but Osprey Publishing has books on every country and era of military history.

- The movie Zulu is a good introductory "text".

-The US Marine Corps has long had an official reading list and requires all members to read a set of books at their "intellectual" (rank) level. Kind of a great books program for the military. It's considered the core cannon. Google for "Commandant USMC reading list":

Official USMC list

Heinlein's Starship Troopers used to be the first book for privates but not anymore.

- By J.F.C. Fuller is one of the best general histories of warfare. He always includes the political, social, and economic reasons behind the wars. Sophisticated but highly readable. His highly un-PC political views may be the reason this three-volume series doesn't get more mention. But it's still in print.

Jerry Pournelle highly recommends Edward S. Creasy's Victorian classic Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World.

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

April 19, 2006

The feminization of high school

I've been pointing out that the College Board severely underemphasizes military history on the AP U.S. history, which reflects a feminine bias in our high schools. Jay P. Greene of the Manhattan Institute has a new report out, Leaving Boys Behind: Public High School Graduation Rates, showing that only 70% of 9th graders graduate from high school within the expected four years, 65% of males, 72% of females. For whites, the graduation rates are 74% for boys and 79% for girls. For blacks, it's 48% for boys and 59% for girls. For Hispanics, its 49% and 58%.

Boy, that overall Hispanic graduation rate of 53% sure makes you feel good about our current immigration system and the plans that the American ruling class has to speed up even more our intake of Latin American peasants.

Here's an NYT article with a little bit about the controversy over dueling methodologies for calculating graduation rates, although not enough to come to a conclusion about which is better.

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

More on the AP U.S. History Test:

A reader writes:

Your correspondents are absolutely right about AP history. I took both AP history classes that were offered in my high school--AP American and AP European--and I don't remember learning about one battle. It was all political and social history, with scant references to actual battles. Of course this bored me and my friends silly. We wanted blood, honor and steel and they gave us the progress of women's rights in the nineteenth century. Waterloo? What's that? Let's talk about universal suffrage instead. Most teenage boys are War Nerds but they gave us Home Ec. on a global scale.

I cannot help think about how this affects our current ability to run the new American empire in the Middle East. Our best and brightest kids are educated without any knowledge about how wars are fought and won. How on earth are they supposed to understand the Iraqi insurgency much less develop a way to deal with or defeat it? I'm 33 years old, so it's not as if this is a new thing. We have a couple of generations of Americans who are ignorant about the real wars our country fought.

Another reader points out the Princeton Review appears to be exaggerating in its know-it-all smart-aleck style when it says "no military history:"

There might be a little exaggeration in the tales of "no military history" APs I took mine in 99 and although I cannot say that our education was especially rigorous in this area I remember taking DBQ questions based on the island hopping strategy against Japan in WWII and another in a practice exam about the immediate and long term foreign policy effect of our atomic bombs on Russia. We didn't cover strategy in regards the Civil War but we learned to associate slogans and catchphrases with certain battles - "turning point" etc... etc.

In the official 54 page College Board guide to the Advanced Placement U.S. History test, the word "war" comes up 42 times, but "battle" zero times.

At Everything2.com, there are a couple of pertinent comments by recent test-takers.

- What they won't be about: Military history will never be the subject of a multiple-choice question. (Caveat scholasticus: On the 2002 AP exam, one of the questions asked which Revolutionary War battle convinced the French that the rebels were deserving of French aid. This is military history, but it's military history in a greater context, so they thought it was fine. You have been warned.)

- There might be one or two military history questions, but they'll be fairly obvious, asking you to explain why Washington won the war (He kept his army intact) or what we did during Vietnam.

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

"When Diversity Adds Fairness" or "When Blacks Help Blacks:"

The LA Times writes:

When diversity adds fairness

The question still plagues many Angelenos: Would the verdict of the racially charged Rodney King trial have been different if the jury had not been predominantly white?

The question that still plagues me is would O.J. Simpson be in prison rather than on the back nine if clueless feminist prosecutor Marcia Clark hadn't tried to pack the O.J. jury with women, thus allowing wily defense attorney Johnnie Cochran to pack the jury with black women.

Although social scientists say juries usually manage to produce defensible verdicts, researchers have now found that more diverse juries — specifically ones that include black and white members — are more likely to share information, make fewer errors in evaluating the facts and perhaps reach fairer verdicts than all-white juries. The study, conducted with mock jurists, was published in this month's issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology...

The mock jurors were then shown a 30-minute video summary of the trial of a black defendant charged with sexual assault. The prosecution presented testimony from two victims, neither of whom could identify the assailant's face, though one could describe a scar on his torso. The core of their case was forensic evidence from semen and hair at the crime scene that were consistent, but not a definitive match, with the defendant. The defense focused on the lack of eyewitness evidence and unreliable methods used by the lab that did the DNA analysis...

In addition, 50% of the participants on the all-white juries said the defendant was guilty before deliberations, while only 34% of the whites in the diverse groups made that judgment.

In other words, this study proves that if you are black, the more blacks you have on your jury, the better the chance you have of beating the rap. I think we all already knew that from the O.J. case, and from common sense.

Sommers' study did not include an all-black jury. That was partially due to the racial makeup of the area, he says, but also because he chose to focus on the most common categories of jury composition. "In most jurisdictions in the country, black jurors are the minority," he said. "That is the typical experience for black jurors."

Nor did Sommers' study include a case where the black defendant was clearly guilty, as in the O.J. case. I wonder why?

What this test was definitely designed not to consider was if you are white, how much worse are your chances with more blacks on the jury? That's a crucial question in the Winston-Salem DA's hunt for the Great White Defendants on the Duke lacrosse team. (La Shawn Barber is providing close coverage of the case.)

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

April 18, 2006

The Advanced Placement U.S. History Test for non-Boys

A reader writes:

Your reference to the AP US History test excluding all military history took me back to my high school. In 10th grade I took "Honors World History;" not an AP class (those were only offered to Juniors and Seniors), but intended for those who were on an eventual AP track. My 10th grade teacher had a whole unit on WWII, and it certainly wasn't the PC pap that would leave a kid with the impression that the only things that happened between 1939 and 1945 were Rosie the Riveter and the Japanese internment. We learned about honest-to-goodness battles and one week even had an assignment where we had to design an alternative to the Allies' North African campaign!

I came up with some nonsense about attacking Vichy France's "soft underbelly" with an amphibious landing across the Mediterranean - cut me some slack, I was 15. The point was that it was an assignment that actually tried to get us to think about history and war in way that didn't leave out the actual war.

By contrast, when I took AP US History the next year, the material on the Civil War failed to mention even one significant fact about an actual battle. Phrases like "Pickett's charge," "the Wilderness," "Little Round Top," "Battle of the Crater" and the like were never mentioned. Much focus was given to the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers, the first black unit.

The AP class was based on a nationalized standard, since there was a test you could teach to. The Honors class was much more up to the whims of the inidividual teacher. I was lucky enough to get an old guy. He retired that year.

So, the great majority of the future verbal elite of America study no American military history during high school. Besides benefiting girls over boys, one purpose of this exclusion is to reduce the politically incorrect surplus of white male heroes in American history. Thus, Ulysses S. Grant is merely a bored and lackadaisical President, not the unflappable commander who turned terrified recruits into a victorious army during the desperate fighting at Shiloh in April 1862, or who conjured up an extraordinary strategy for capturing Vicksburg.

And what of the only man ever promoted on the battlefield by Grant, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, that peerless combination of modesty and valor, the college professor from Maine who might personally have saved the Union during the crisis at Little Round Top in the Battle of Gettysburg? Well, who needs to know about him these days?

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

Is this the My Name Is Earl House?

Is this the My Name Is Earl House? While this ramshackle residence may look like it was nailed together by Jason Lee's white trash TV character from random slabs of discarded industrial materials ("corrugated aluminum metal siding, plywood, glass and chain-link fencing"), he'd picked up alongside the highway while serving a drunk & disorderly sentence (click on the image to see a larger picture that does it even more justice), this apparent shantytown eyesore is actually the famous Gehry House. It is the home in pricey Santa Monica of the most celebrated American architect, Frank Gehry, designer of UFO-crash museums and concert halls from Bilbao to downtown LA.

The Great Buildings website elucidates the the greatness of the Gehry House thusly:

"With the original house almost intact formwise, Gehry, in effect, lifted back the skin to reveal the building as layers, with new forms breaking out and tilting away from the original, to create a forerunner of the Deconstructionist spirit of the eighties. It is almost an idea of 'wrapping' à la Christo, but where Christo seeks through a veil to transform the original to a new sense of being and meaning, Gehry rather produces a discontinuous juxtaposition where one system collides with another resulting in, to quote Bernard Tschumi, a 'super position or disjunctive disassociation.' Where Johansen assembles technological-like elements freely seeding dialogue through the combination, Gehry, through collaging, also basically (but with a different aesthetic) derives an approach to design from the methodology and respect for construction and its architectonic potential as a form maker and space generator."


Can you imagine living across the street and having to look at this every day?

The problem with Westside of LA architecture in general is too much creativity and individualism. While there are some good buildings, there are almost no good streets, because neighbors won't cooperate to subordinate their own tastes to a general "theme with variations" for the entire street. So, you find a lot of streets of dueling fantasies: one movie mogul got the guy who designed the sets for The Ten Commandments to whip him up a a little pharaoh's palace, while the studio executive next door took the concept of an ivy-covered cottage in the English countryside and blew it up to 12,000 square feet, and on and on down the block.

When I was a young man, I used to like the look of LA because, visually, it was the funniest city in America (although Las Vegas probably has taken that title away), but my taste for irony has declined. The eclectic local architecture drove Nathanael West to dreams of destruction in The Day of the Locust: "But not even the soft wash of dusk could help the houses," he wrote. "Only dynamite would be of any use against the Mexican ranch houses, Samoan huts, Mediterranean villas, Egyptian and Japanese temples, Swiss chalets, Tudor cottages, and every possible combination of these styles that lined the slopes of the canyon."

Still, while the usual expensive Westside street is a stylistic hodge-podge, the typical individual house is at least trying to be attractive, unlike Gehry's rigid digit of a house flipping off the neighbors.

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

The upper middle class vs. the working class

A reader writes:

In reading your post on Cynthia Tucker’s column (and then the rest of her column) there is one point that bothered me. She says:

"The pay was hardly exorbitant — $6 an hour. But it seemed reasonable for unskilled labor."

As a teenager I spent my summers stacking hay, chopping weeds, and performing other jobs in the fields of west Texas for similar wages. My buddies and I were hired by the day or week by local farmers in much the same way as Ms. Tucker found workers. This was in the 1980’s. What bothers me is that after 20 years the same wage for unskilled labor is considered “reasonable” by a member of the educated class. Considering the increases in housing and energy costs since then (as your later posts demonstrates) means unskilled day laborers are making a much lower real wage than 20 years ago. I know illegal immigration contributes to the problem. If you have 15 young guys sharing an apartment then they can work for much less, but I don’t think that’s the whole story.

I think, and I think Ms. Tucker’s attitude demonstrates, that culture may play a large part in this problem. I’m now a member of the so-called suburban educated class, but most of my family is still among the working poor. The things I hear from some colleagues and neighbors are beyond belief. Your statement about the upper middle class despising the working class is an understatement. They believe they have a right to $50 a day maid and yard service, and that Americans who won’t work themselves to death and take abuse for those wages are lazy bums who don’t deserve even modest dignity. I’ve heard things said about the working class that these same bleeding hearts would never speak of any other group.

What I wonder is this: Are the educated classes so far-removed from the working classes and so contemptuous of them that they’ve deliberately decided to exclude the native working class from the system? Are open-borders and other destructive policies being pursued so that the “betters” don’t have to deal with the rabble? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the cultural side of this.

Well, these attitudes aren't brand new. In Robert A. Heinlein's 1957 sci-fi novel The Door into Summer, the hero, inventor of a robot that does household chores, says:

"Housewives were still complaining about the Servant Problem long after servants had gone the way of the mastodon. I had rarely met a housewife who did not have a touch of slaveholder in her; they seemed to think there really ought to be strapping peasant girls grateful for a chance to scrub floors for fourteen hours per day and eat table scraps at wages a plumber's helper would scorn. That's why we called the monster Hired Girl—it brought back thoughts of the semi-slave immigrant girl whom Grandma used to bully."

I'm reminded of how much the White House servants and guards hated the upper-middle class Clintons, compared to how much they liked the upper class Bushes (41, not 43).

The old Northeastern upper class was raised to have servants, and they tend to know how to treat them. Moreover, in a society of hereditary privilege, there is little expectation that a Bertie Wooster will be a superior individual to a Jeeves. He just happened to have chosen his parents more wisely. Bertie didn't earn the master's role and Jeeves' didn't fall into the servant's lot in life through his own shortcomings. Those are just the places in life they were born into. If they carry out their fate-assigned roles in the time-honored fashion, they both will be satisfied.

The modern meritocratic Baby Boom upper-middle class, in contrast, had little experience with servants growing up. Furthermore, its ideology of egalitarian informality mixed with meritocracy is ill-suited to a master-servant relationship, and often reacts to it in a toxic fashion. Yale Law School grads like Bill and Hillary believe that they are better than other people, including their servants, because they are smarter. But they don't allow themselves to admit they are smarter because they chose their genes more wisely. That would be racist! So,, as good liberal meritocrats, they believe they earned their smartness. No wonder their servants despised them.

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

April 17, 2006

More No Child Left Behind corruption: The test scores of Shunta' get shunted aside:

Thanks to multiple readers for sending me this new AP article:

AP: States Omit Minorities' School Scores

States are helping public schools escape potential penalties by skirting the No Child Left Behind law's requirement that students of all races must show annual academic progress.

With the federal government's permission, schools deliberately aren't counting the test scores of nearly 2 million students when they report progress by racial groups, an Associated Press computer analysis found.

Minorities — who historically haven't fared as well as whites in testing — make up the vast majority of students whose scores are being excluded, AP found. And the numbers have been rising.

"I can't believe that my child is going through testing just like the person sitting next to him or her and she's not being counted," said Angela Smith, a single mother. Her daughter, Shunta' Winston, was among two dozen black students whose test scores weren't counted to judge her suburban Kansas City, Mo., high school's performance by race.

Under the law championed by President Bush, all public school students must be proficient in reading and math by 2014, although only children above second grade are required to be tested.

Schools receiving federal poverty aid also must demonstrate annually that students in all racial categories are progressing or risk penalties that include extending the school year, changing curriculum or firing administrators and teachers.

The U.S. Education Department said it didn't know the breadth of schools' undercounting until seeing AP's findings.

I'm not sure whether to quote Captain Renault or Private Pyle, but certainly their reactions to this news would be similar: "I'm shocked, shocked" and "Surprise! Surprise!"

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

Why boys are less and less interested in school, Part MXXVII

From The Princeton Review's Cracking the AP U.S. History Exam:

Here's some good news. The [Advanced Placement] U.S. History Exam doesn't ask about military history. You will never see a question on the AP exam like the one below:

XX. Union general Ulysses S. Grant was intent on capturing Vicksburg, Mississippi because ...

Can't have anything on the test that boys find interesting and girls don't, even if it was really important. On the other hand, questions about hideously dull 19th Century battle-axe feminists who were rightfully ignored until the formation of Women's Studies Departments in the 1970s are crucial to understanding American history.

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

The Joys of Elderly Tourette's Syndrome: Lee Iacocca on the Bush Administration

The older you get, the harder it is to keep from blurting out exactly what you think. That's not much fun for the people around you, but it sure can be fun for readers. Here's 81-year-old former Chrysler boss Lee Iacocca in an interview (not online) in Calabasas, a glossy local lifestyle magazine that for some reason I get for free, apparently on the severely mistaken assumption that I could afford a single thing that has ever been advertised in it:

Q. "What sort of CEOs do you think George W. Bush and his administration make?"

Lee Iacocca. "I make speeches for the Washington Speakers Bureau, get $75,000 for 30 minutes, and all I ever say is, "Here's what management is about. Hire good people and set some basic priorities and objectives" Well, let's see how George Bush qualifies. The people that surround him are just friends, and I think most of them just schmucks, because I know a lot of them. Who runs the country? Cheney, is getting old and sick and had this hunting accident. And "Rummy," Rumsfeld, whom I know real well -- they've been together forever, and they run the country. They had Condoleezza Rice for lunch. I don't know what she's got on Bush, but, boy, he believes in her. Other than those three, the mastermind of them all, the boy genius, is Karl Rove -- slime bucket that he is. You've got to know him to see how slimy he is."

And here are 82-year-old Senator Ernest Hollings's parting views of the Bush Administration.

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

Jesus's Jewish wit

In an insightful review of the Gnostic "Gospel of Judas," Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker says:

"One of the unnerving things about the new Gospel is that Jesus, who never laughs in the canonic Gospels, is constantly laughing in this one, and it’s obviously one of those sardonic, significant, how-little-you-know laughs, like the laugh of the ruler of a dubious planet on 'Star Trek.'"

Your Lying Eyes points out, however, that the Gospel of John has quite a few instances of wit. Humor is highly dependent on surprising changes of reference, and so it tends to have a short half-life as the surprises get incorporated into the culture and are thus no longer surprising to those who come along later. That's why acting companies have to work frantically to milk any laughs out of Shakespeare's plays today, and Lenny Bruce's routines from less than 50 years ago fall flat. So, it's hardly surprising that even an acute observer like Gopnik could overlook the humor in the New Testament.

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

Exxon boss' $400 million golden parachute

ExxonMobil supremo Lee Raymond has retired with a payout of something like $400,000,000 (I can't begin to make sense of all the details of his package, so it might really be more or less), including a check for $98,400,000 instead of annual pension payments. But, hey, this was only 1.1% of Exxon Mobil's $36,000,000,000 profits last year. Mr. Raymond worked for Exxon for 43 years, so his retirement package is less than $10 million per year, which seems quite fair. And his annual pay in 2005 of something like $50,000,000,000 was only 0.13% of profits. Quite a bargain!

And, since Mr. Raymond was responsible for orchestrating the vast global conspiracy that drove oil prices so high last year in order to generate Exxon Mobil's colossal profits, he clearly deserves every penny. Oh, wait a minute ... he testified to Congress that he didn't have anything to do with oil prices being so high. So, then, what exactly did he do to deserve this? Did he outcompete his rivals? Well, it sounds like his main accomplishment was merging Exxon with Mobil in 1999, which isn't exactly outcompeting them. Why did the Clinton Administration approve the merger of Exxon and Mobil in 1999? Were they going to both go out of business if they didn't merge?

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

Did Malcolm Gladwell's bestseller The Tipping Point help get us into Iraq?

Novelist Walter Kirn writes:

For Iraq, I blame the managers, of course, but I also blame their reading lists. More than once, while predicting victory, Donald Rumsfeld has used the magic words "Tipping Point." This new pop formula for achieving vast results from relatively limited efforts has turned out to be one disastrous abracadabra. Saddam goes, they all go. We don't need a huge army. Iraq is ready for democracy -- just give it a strategic nudge. The entire Middle East will follow.

Behind every failed war is a failed metaphor (remember The Domino Effect, the Vietnam-era version of The Tipping Point?) that mesmerized its masters into waging it, kept them waging it once they started losing it, and immobilized them with disbelief when it turned back into intellectual smoke. From business-section bestseller to Pentagon battle-plan. Only in America. And it was a phony, decrepit notion to start with, despite being updated for today's executives and cleverly remarketed to every no one who ever dreamed of being a someone by working at home, in his or her spare time. The idea that one straw can break the camel's back, that one well-placed lever can move the world, that one added particle can bring on "critical mass" is the delusion that wears a thousand faces. It's the manic creed of the assassin: fire a single bullet, alter history. The principle rarely works when applied on purpose, but because it quite often works by accident (or seems to have worked, when viewed in retrospect; Henry Ford built his Model T and, presto, freeways!) it never loses its appeal.

What's next? The Freakonomics war? The Six-Sigma attack against Iran? The Blink campaign against global terrorism? Capturing Osama the Warren Buffett Way?

Despite getting an MBA and spending 18 years in corporate America, I seldom could read more than the first chapter of any business bestseller. Most good new management ideas can be described in a magazine article. An entire book will turn out to be either egregiously padded out, or too complicated to implement.

Gladwell, however, has perfected a new technique in which he makes millions by offering content-free advice to business people. In Gladwell's world, all they have to do to get rich is to make the right decision. Blink, for example, tells us to go with our gut reactions -- but only when they are correct! When your instantaneous feelings turn out to have been wrong, well, then you should have used a complex, formal analysis process.

You may be wondering what this "tipping point" is. Well, you see, and follow me closely here, Gladwell's theory is that rising trends, such as crime rates or sneaker sales, tend to go up until they reach a "tipping point," and then they go down. Or vice-versa. Or sometimes they reach a tipping point and then they go up even faster. Or down even faster. But you can be quite confident that, sooner or later, something or other will happen.

In truth, the Domino Theory proved moderately accurate -- when South Vietnam collapsed, so did the anti-Communist regimes in Cambodia and Laos. Then followed a half decade of Soviet successes in the Third World around the world. You can think of it as the Bandwagon Effect. People like a winner and so they tend to go with the flow of whoever seems to be winning.

The flaw in the Domino Theory turned out to be that the Third World just wasn't very strategically important. The subsequent Communist triumphs in Cambodia, Laos, Mozambique, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and Afghanistan turned out to be bad for the inhabitants of those countries, but basically a big waste of time and energy for the Kremlin. Probably the only thing that could have saved the Soviet Union was a massive armored push south to capture the oil fields of the Persian Gulf.

Meanwhile, capitalism was proving its superiority over communism in places that do matter, like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong with beneficial reverberations around the world.

The real example of the Domino Theory in action was Eastern Europe in 1989-1991. The problem with applying that analogy to the Middle East is that Eastern European nations had one big problem -- they were tyrannically ruled by the Soviet Communist party. In contrast, Middle Eastern nations have no end of problems.

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

Are Mexican illegal immigrants compatible with Blue State norms?

A tax accountant writes:

One other thing about taxes and illegal aliens. The folks they are letting in, they are not going to be smart enough to actually comply with our complex tax laws and other regulatory obligations. So there is going to be an increase in the flouting of those laws. They also will not see the need of such regulatory burdens - why should they care about the environment, zoning laws, etc.

This is an important paradox. Liberal Blue State whites look down upon conservative Red State whites as low IQ morons incapable of functioning in a complex sophisticated society -- look at the vast popularity of the State IQ Hoax with which millions of Democrats have consoled themselves for their losses at the polls.

Liberal whites also view illegal immigration as a great way to stick it to those horrible conservative whites -- for example, here's James Wolcott of Vanity Fair giving us the view from the Conde Nast Building on illegal immigration -- but aren't they really sticking it to themselves?

For example, I kind of like the LA Times. It's fairly smart and very serious and high-minded, the ultimate non-tabloid. As Mickey Kaus complains, it's a boring newspaper, completely unrepresentative of the lurid mess that is Los Angeles, but, then, I'm a rather serious and high-minded reader, so I like it more than if it were the kind of "Uncle Tortures Tot with Hot Fork" tabloid that would be more appropriate for the population of 21st Century Los Angeles.

Obviously, by championing illegal immigration over the years, the newspaper has been destroying its own readership, by helping drive out middle class, literate, English-speaking Angelenos. The immigrants who are replacing them find it a snooze, if they can even read English, or read anything at all. Eventually, the LA Times will be read only by the wealthy living in the Hollywood Hills. But at least the LA Times will have stuck it to conservative white people! And isn't that what ultimately matters in the great status war among white Americans?

My impression is that Mexican immigrants assimilate more readily into white Texan culture, with its populist animus against high-falutin' high-brow norms, than they do into Blue State cultures.

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

Cynthia Tucker notices real life

As opinion editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and a syndicated columnist, Cynthia Tucker is one of the more important black women in the pundit business. Her 4/16/06 column is interesting because she actually notices that there is a connection between daily life and political issues, which is extraordinarily rare among the chattering classes. Of course, the question of how she could grow up to reach this position in life without having previously noticed the world around her is worth asking:

Idle black men, tragically, aren't just a stereotype

The black men I know best are all hard-working, accomplished professionals. They include my brother, a physician, and my buddies — lawyers, college professors, political consultants, journalists. I live in an insular world of middle-class affluence, rarely stumbling into the troubled universe of marginalized underachievers.

Until recently. After a contractor walked off the job, I was assigned the task of helping my mother find laborers to help complete her new house in my hometown, Monroeville, Ala., a small place with a declining textiles industry. The assignment led me into an alternative universe of black men without jobs or prospects or enthusiasm for hard labor.

My younger sister, an architect, appointed her Mexican-born father-in-law, an experienced carpenter (and American citizen), the new general contractor. I was to find men willing to help him paint, lift, scrape, fill, dig. The pay was hardly exorbitant — $6 an hour. But it seemed reasonable for unskilled labor. So I looked among unemployed high school classmates, members of my mother's church and men standing on nearby street corners.

The experience brought me face to face with every unappealing behavior that I'd heard attributed to idle black men but dismissed as stereotype. One man worked a couple of days and never came back. One young man worked 30 minutes before he deserted. Others promised to come to work but never did.

This story is hardly an academic overview. The evidence is anecdotal. But it jibes with the treatises I've read that portray a permanent underclass of black men with criminal records and low educational attainment, with multiple children and little cash.

These are men who can no longer count the military as an option because it doesn't want them. The armed forces seek high school graduates with decent reading and math skills to operate high-tech gizmos. By some estimates, the unemployment rate among black male high school dropouts in their 20s is 72 percent, while the comparable rate among young, uneducated white men is 34 percent, and among Latinos, 19 percent.

How did this happen? I cannot remember seeing such large numbers of idle black men when I was growing up. (Indeed, the unemployment rate in my hometown is higher than it used to be.) Is this the consequence of a dying manufacturing base that has stranded men who otherwise would have had jobs with decent wages and good benefits? And does the wave of illegal immigrants further marginalize uneducated black men?

Go to any construction site and count the black men among the menial laborers. You won't see many. [More]

Every adult American thinks about real estate a lot. And real estate is intimately connected with issues like crime, race, immigration, education, IQ and so forth. Yet, it's quite unusual for a pundit to mention connection between his or her personal experience with real estate and social issues.

To reach a high position in American life, it doesn't pay to waste time associating with a wide range of your fellow human beings. You are much better off spending as much time as possible schmoozing other ambitious people who can help you out. It pays to adopt whatever conventions they exhibit in terms of what you are supposed to talk and write about. And, for highly verbal people like journalists, it's safest if you train yourself never even to think about anything you aren't supposed to express.

The amusing thing is that most people in the academic and media elites, in the rare moments when they notice the profound disconnect between how they live their lives and the ideas they profess in print, feel not guilt over their hypocrisy, but self-satisfaction over their high-mindedness. As I wrote in The American Conservative about the debate over illegal immigration:

"How do they keep winning? The articulate and affluent who profit from illegal immigration look down their noses at anyone who wants to reduce it. They don’t debate dissenters; they dismiss them. Their most effective ploy has been to insinuate that only shallow people think deeply about immigration. The more profound sort of intellect, the fashionable imply, displays an insouciant heedlessness about the long-term impact of immigration.

"Yet the well-educated and well-to-do aren’t expected to subject their own children to the realities of living among the diverse. They search out homes removed by distance or doormen from concentrations of illegal aliens—although not so far that the immigrants can’t come and clean their houses tax-free. As our Ascendancy of the Sensitive sees it, that their views are utterly contradicted by how they order their daily lives is proof not of their hypocrisy but of how elevated their thinking is."

Somewhat similarly, I once noticed when talking to a famous scientist who had decided to write academic articles about race that this person essentially never noticed anything about reality that didn't appear in a refereed academic journal (i.e., something that could be cited in one's own papers). This is an extremely efficient attitude for generating papers of one's own, but it seemed a tad limiting.

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