December 30, 2006

The War Nerd gets the Christmas Spirit

Writing last week, before the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia:

So here's my positive helpful hint, to the men who have the power. We have a great chance right now to see how to settle Iraq, and all we have to do is let the Ethiopian Army invade and occupy Somalia in force. In fact we have to insist that the Ethiopians go in full force. Right now they're doing it CIA style, maybe 8000 troops with one foot sort of flirtatiously over the Somali border. That's no use to us at all. We need them to occupy the entire country so we can use it as a no-cost lab to see what works.

Because as soon as Ethiopian troops are in the streets of Mog, all Hell will break out. And when it does, we have to make it clear to the Ethiopian elite (which is actually Tigrayan at the moment) that they have a free hand. And we want to see that hand develop RSI from machete chops. We want those trigger fingers to ache. We want those shoulders to get bursitis from AK recoil syndrome (ARS, leading cause of complaints in the Horn of Africa).

The guys running Ethiopia killed 500 people in their last election campaign, when they were being democratic. Let's see what they can do with an armed, Islamic population in rebellion against them. We won't lose a man. We just keep the ammo and propaganda support comin' and they'll do the rest. We'll see whether going all-out in Iraq would actually work or not. (And by the way, that's not as "obvious" as amateurs think. Large-scale massacres are not easy, and they often backfire. The logistics alone are scary, and the effect on enemy morale can be very dangerous. Frankly, I don't think any genocide-based strategy short of nukes can solve our little Mesopotamian jock-itch at this point, but after a few months of Ethiopian hijinks in Mog, we'll know for sure.)

There. How's that for being positive? I feel all proud and Xmas-time, like a mass grave with red and green lights all over it. [More]

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Guess what's missing from this Slate Top 10 list?

The Bill of Wrongs:
The 10 most outrageous civil liberties violations of 2006.
By Dahlia Lithwick

Yeah, you guessed it: DA Mike Nifong's Hunt for the Great White Defendants in the Duke Lacrosse Frame-Up is a no-show. You see, the long-running pattern of hate crime hoaxes victimizing white male college students is nothing compared to, say, #8 on Lithwick's List, the Bush Administration "Slagging the Media."

In recent news, the hoax continues to implode. Nifong dropped the rape charges but is pressing on with other felony charges. Meanwhile, the North Carolina State Bar is investigating Nifong for ethics violations. And now the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys has asked him to recuse himself from the case.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Has anybody ever read an interesting Letter to the Editor in the New York Times?

It's easy to criticize the NYT for political correctness, but if the Grey Lady's letters column is representative of what the paying subscribers actually believe, the NYT's journalists are practically Fred Reed by comparison.

By the way, that John Tierney is leaving the barricaded NYT Op-Ed page for the open-to-the-Internet Science section of the newspaper, where he'll have a column and a blog, is good news. The Science page, with Nicholas Wade as the genetics reporter, is already the paper's strongest suit, and Tierney will liven it up.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 29, 2006

Charles C. Mann replies about 1491

I read your blog fairly often so was quite surprised to see you talking about my book. I'm sorry you thought I was being "slippery" in not specifying more often when I was talking about the area north or south of the Rio Grande. You probably saw an artefact of my struggle with terminology. Problem is, the way we divide things up now (splitting the area north of Colombia into North America and Central America) doesn't fit very well with how things were then, when you had a bunch of related, highly urbanized societies in a region extending from about the Honduras-Nicaragua border to the American SW, and then everything else. In earlier drafts I tried saying when referring to the not-as-urbanized places something like "the area north of the Rio Grande except for the Southwest," but this was shouted down by my editors. I tried not using that kind of label as much, and hoping the reader would catch on to what area I was talking about, but obviously that didn't work for you. My apologies .

No, I should apologize. I was rushing to feed the blog beast after a spell of computer troubles and I posted something quick and dirty about an impressive book that Mr. Mann had clearly worked on for years, a topic where experts hold conflicting views, which he rightly refused to oversimplify.

I would say, though, that you're not quite right about Cahokia. Cahokia was by far the biggest of the mound cities of the SE and Mississippi Valley, but there were many thousands of these places--ten thousand is the estimate I've heard most often. Most of them probably held 3-10,000 people, so they weren't huge places. It's as if the moundbuilders went straight past urbanization to suburbanization, skipping the cities and going right to the strip malls. A lot of these places are just a few miles apart, and presumably would have had maize fields between, exactly the sort of situation that most urban historians think would have led to cities.

The other thing is... ten thousand of these places. If you do the math, 3K x 10K = 30M = far more than the total number of people supposed to be north of the Rio G (<20m).>

Another interesting topic would be the population of California Indians -- how dense can a population in a pleasant climate but fairly dry get without agriculture? We know the Northwest Indians were pretty thick on the ground due to fish, even without farming, but California Indians didn't leave a lot of relics behind.

I would argue with you a little that urban life was MORE feasible in the New World than the old because of the lack of pathogens. A lot of archaeologists think that it was LESS feasible because of the lack of draft animals, which made communications and infrastructure-creation much harder. It seems to me that the situations were so different that it's hard to make useful comparisons. Mesoamerica was almost freakishly urbanized, with some geographers claiming it was the most urbanized place on Earth in 1000-1400. But the second most urbanized place was China, which was absolutely swimming in disease. You can look to Africa for insight, as you do, but the situation is muddy. In Sub-Saharan Africa you certainly had major cities--Great Zimbabwe, Ingombe, Mbanzakongo, Loango. But there weren't as many packed in as Mesoamerica, that's for sure. A good book on this is Chris Ehret's Civlizations of Africa.

The Yucatan Peninsula is a horrible place -- not just hot and humid, but the limestone soil means that water sinks into the ground almost immediately. It's completely flat, with no rivers or lakes, and covered with low scrubby trees about 15 feet tall. Looking out the back window of a hotel room on a beautiful beach in Cozumel, I had a hard time shaking the feeling that I was an astronaut in some Twilight Zone episode who had landed on a planet where the beach was wonderful, but the rest of the planet was just a cheap backdrop slapped together in some alien movie studio. And yet the Mayans built extraordinary urban centers like Chichen Itza and Tikal on this unpromising landscape, while North American Indians, blessed with a temperate climate and rich soils, rarely created cities.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Inbred dogs, faddish Japanese:

Here's an interesting NYT article that reminds me of the kind of articles I wrote when I was a reporter. It ties a lot of my themes together, and discreetly leaves unspoken but subtly implied the question of whether the national tendency of the Japanese to all hop on the exact same bandwagon at the exact same time, such as these overly inbred dogs, might not be related to the genetic and/or cultural homogeneity of the Japanese.

Japan, Home of the Cute and Inbred Dog

TOKYO, Dec. 27 — Care for a Chihuahua with a blue hue? Or how about a teacup poodle so tiny it will fit into a purse — the canine equivalent of a bonsai?

The Japanese sure do. Rare dogs are highly prized here, and can set buyers back more than $10,000.

But the real problem is what often arrives in the same litter: genetically defective sister and brother puppies born with missing paws or faces lacking eyes and a nose. There have been dogs with brain disorders so severe that they spent all day running in circles, and others with bones so frail they dissolved in their bodies. Many carry hidden diseases that crop up years later, veterinarians and breeders say.

Kiyomi Miyauchi was heartbroken to discover this after one of two Boston terriers she bought years ago suddenly collapsed last year into spasms on the living room floor and died. In March, one of its puppies died the same way; another went blind.

Ms. Miyauchi stumbled across a widespread problem here that is only starting to get attention. Rampant inbreeding has given Japanese dogs some of the highest rates of genetic defects in the world, sometimes four times higher than in the United States and Europe.

These illnesses are the tragic consequences of the national penchant in Japan for turning things cute and cuddly into social status symbols.

But they also reflect the fondness for piling onto fads in Japan, a nation that always seems caught in the grip of some trend or other. “Japanese are maniacs for booms,” said Toshiaki Kageyama, a professor of veterinary medicine specializing in genetic defects at Azabu University in Sagamihara. “But people forget here that dogs aren’t just status symbols. They are living things.”

Dogs are just one current rage. Less consequential is the big boom in the color pink: pink digital cameras, pink portable game consoles and, yes, pink laptop computers have become must-haves for young women. Last year, it was “bug king,” a computer game with battling beetles.

A number of the booms in Japan, including Tamagotchi — basically a virtual pet that grew on a computer screen — and the fanciful cartoon characters of Pok√©mon, have made their way across the Pacific and swept up American children, too. The affection for fads in Japan reflects its group-oriented culture, a product of the conformity taught in its grueling education system.

But booms also take off because they are fueled by big business. Companies like Sony and Nintendo are constantly looking to create the next adorable hit, churning out cute new characters and devices. Booms help sustain an entire industrial complex, from software makers to marketers and distributors, that thrives off the pack mentality of consumers in Japan.

The same thing is happening in Japan’s fast-growing pet industry, estimated at more than $10 billion a year. Chihuahuas are the current hot breed, after one starred in the television ads of a finance company. In the early 1990s, a TV drama featuring a Siberian husky helped send annual sales rocketing from just a few hundred dogs to 60,000; sales fell when the fad cooled, according to the Japan Kennel Club. The breed took off despite being inappropriately large for cramped homes in Japan.

The United States also experiences surges in sales of certain breeds, and some states have confronted “puppy mills” that churn out popular breeds by enacting “puppy lemon laws” that prevent breeders from selling diseased animals. But in Japan, the sales spikes are far more extreme, statistics show.

The kennel club says unethical breeders try to cash in on the booms, churning out large volumes of puppies from a small number of parents. While many breeders have stuck to healthy mating practices, the lure of profits has attracted less scrupulous breeders and led to proliferation of puppy mills.

Some veterinarians and other experts cite another, less obvious factor behind widespread risky inbreeding in Japan’s dog industry — the nation’s declining birthrate. As the number of childless women and couples in Japan has increased, so has the number of dogs, which are being coddled and doted upon in place of children, experts say. In the last decade, the number of pet dogs in Japan has doubled to 13 million last year — outnumbering children under 12 — according to Takashi Harada, president of Yaseisha, a publisher of pet industry magazines.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The NYT is catching up to on how to raise IQ in the 3rd World

The Times runs its second article of 2006 on how micronutrient fortification can help reduce the problem of low IQs in the Third World, equaling the number ran in 2004 (see here and here):

Malnutrition Is Cheating Its Survivors, and Africa’s Future

SHIMIDER, Ethiopia — ... Yet almost half of Ethiopia’s children are malnourished, and most do not die. Some suffer a different fate. Robbed of vital nutrients as children, they grow up stunted and sickly, weaklings in a land that still runs on manual labor. Some become intellectually stunted adults, shorn of as many as 15 I.Q. points, unable to learn or even to concentrate, inclined to drop out of school early.

There are many children like this in the villages around Shimider. Nearly 6 in 10 are stunted; 10-year-olds can fail to top an adult’s belt buckle. They are frequently sick: diarrhea, chronic coughs and worse are standard for toddlers here.

Most disquieting, teachers say, many of the 775 children at Shimider Primary are below-average pupils — often well below. “They fall asleep,” said Eteafraw Baro, a third-grade teacher at the school. “Their minds are slow, and they don’t grasp what you teach them, and they’re always behind in class.”

Their hunger is neither a temporary inconvenience nor a quick death sentence. Rather, it is a chronic, lifelong, irreversible handicap that scuttles their futures and cripples Ethiopia’s hopes to join the developed world. “It is a barrier to improving our way of life,” said Dr. Girma Akalu, perhaps the nation’s leading nutrition expert. Ethiopia’s problem is sub-Saharan Africa’s curse.

Five million African children under age 5 died last year — 40 percent of deaths worldwide — and malnutrition was a major contributor to half of those deaths. Sub-Saharan children under 5 died not only at 22 times the rate of children in wealthy nations, but also at twice the rate for the entire developing world. But below the Sahara, 33 million more children under 5 are living with malnutrition. In United Nations surveys from 1995 to 2003, nearly half of sub-Saharan children under 5 were stunted or wasted, markers of malnutrition and harbingers of physical and mental problems.

The world mostly mourns the dead, not the survivors. Intellectual stunting is seldom obvious until it is too late.

Bleak as that may sound, the outlook for malnourished children in sub-Saharan Africa is better than in decades, thanks to an awakening to the issue — by selected governments, anyway. South Africa provides nutrient-fortified flour to 30 million of its 46 million citizens. Nigeria adds vitamin A to flour, cooking oil and sugar. Ethiopia’s government hopes to iodize all salt by year’s end. United Nations programs now cover three in four sub-Saharan children with twice-a-year doses of vitamin A supplements.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 28, 2006

King George II allies with Prester John, Christian King of Abyssinia, to thrash the Musselmen

The Bush Administration has revived the grand strategy of the Crusaders -- to link up with Prester John to mount a a two front attack on the Islamic world. From the NYT:

Opponents of Islamists Seize Somali Capital

Troops from the transitional government, along with Ethiopian soldiers who had been backing them up, poured into Mogadishu from the outskirts of the city.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 27, 2006

Another job Americans just won't do

The logical implications of Bush's Invade the World / Invite the World strategy continue to unfold:

Military considers recruiting foreigners
Expedited citizenship would be an incentive
By Bryan Bender, Globe Staff | December 26, 2006

WASHINGTON -- The armed forces, already struggling to meet recruiting goals, are considering expanding the number of noncitizens in the ranks -- including disputed proposals to open recruiting stations overseas and putting more immigrants on a faster track to US citizenship if they volunteer -- according to Pentagon officials. ...

The idea of signing up foreigners who are seeking US citizenship is gaining traction as a way to address a critical need for the Pentagon, while fully absorbing some of the roughly one million immigrants that enter the United States legally each year.

The proposal to induct more noncitizens, which is still largely on the drawing board, has to clear a number of hurdles. So far, the Pentagon has been quiet about specifics -- including who would be eligible to join, where the recruiting stations would be, and what the minimum standards might involve, including English proficiency.

In the meantime, the Pentagon and immigration authorities have expanded a program that accelerates citizenship for legal residents who volunteer for the military. And since Sept. 11, 2001, the number of immigrants in uniform who have become US citizens has increased from 750 in 2001 to almost 4,600 last year, according to military statistics.

With severe manpower strains because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and a mandate to expand the overall size of the military -- the Pentagon is under pressure to consider a variety of proposals involving foreign recruits, according to a military affairs analyst.

"It works as a military idea and it works in the context of American immigration," said Thomas Donnelly , a military scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington and a leading proponent of recruiting more foreigners to serve in the military.

Hey, it worked out great for the Roman Empire in the Fifth Century. Or we could buy slave soldiers like the Egyptians did with the Central Asian mamelukes. Of course, the mamelukes eventually overthrew the government and ruled for centuries, but that would be a small price to pay for continuing our neocon foreign policy adventures.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

NYT pretty much admits Duke lacrosse team was framed

From another news story buried over the pre-Christmas weekend by the newspaper that did more than any other to facilitate DA Mike Nifong's travesty of justice:

DNA Witness Jolted Dynamic of Duke Case

DURHAM, N.C., Dec. 23 — The moment that may have changed the course of the Duke lacrosse rape case came in a packed courtroom two Fridays ago.

On the stand at a pretrial hearing was Brian W. Meehan, director of a private laboratory that performed extensive DNA testing on rape kit swabs and underwear collected from a stripper only hours after she said that she had been gang-raped by three Duke lacrosse players after performing at a team party in March. Mr. Meehan’s tests on the swabs and underwear had detected traces of sperm and other DNA material from several men.

But his tests had found something else, too: none of that DNA material was from the three players, or any of their teammates.

Mr. Meehan had promptly shared this information with Michael B. Nifong, the Durham district attorney. Yet his summary report — the one that would be turned over to the defense — mentioned none of this.

It was an awkward omission that Mr. Meehan struggled to explain under withering cross-examination from defense lawyers. At one point, he was forced to admit that the incomplete report violated his laboratory’s own protocols.

Finally, a defense lawyer asked Mr. Meehan if the decision not to report complete test results was “an intentional limitation” arrived at between him and Mr. Nifong. “Yes,” Mr. Meehan replied.

The courtroom, packed to standing room capacity with supporters of the players — who have always said they were innocent — erupted with applause. [More]

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 26, 2006


I've seen just about all music biopics, like "Ray," "Walk the Line," "Great Balls of Fire," and the Temptations TV miniseries. Much of the appeal of the genre lies in all the personal connections between the future legends before they became famous. For example, the Supremes started out as a sort of ladies auxiliary of the Temptations, back when they were all in high school in Detroit.

The downside of music biopics is typically the lack of compelling drama. The young prodigy receives a quick lesson in how to sell a song from a crafty old mentor, then becomes a superstar by his or her early 20s, so there's not much left to do than show the ensuing struggle with "inner demons," which almost always turn out to be boring old drugs and/or alcohol (although Kevin Spacey's unfairly dismissed Bobby Darrin-biopic "Beyond the Sea" featured a bum ticker in the place of an addiction).

In contrast, "Dreamgirls" is the fictionalized version of the Supremes, and there's a lot to be said for making stuff up. Founding Supreme Florence Ballard's decline after Motown Svengali Berry Gordy makes the thinner-voiced (i.e., whiter-sounding) and skinnier Diana Ross the lead singer is a lot more compelling when the writers give Florence an Aretha Franklin-sized vocal talent. And it works even better because former American Idol contestant Jennifer Hudson really does have Aretha-quality pipes.
By the way, you might be as confused as I was until I looked it up this morning about all the (well-deserved) hype about Jennifer Hudson being a sure thing for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. I kept asking "But didn't Jennifer Hudson win the Tony as Best Actress in the Broadway version of 'Dreamgirls' when it opened 25 years ago? Isn't she too old for this role by now?" It turns out that that Jennifer H. was the similarly talented (and large) Jennifer Holliday.

This is a near perfect example of Sailer's Law of Similar Initials Confusion, as illustrated by the doctors who didn't believe I could have Whooping Cough in 2002 because they confused the disease with the nearly extinct Whooping Crane, which is a bird. Similarly, we've recently discovered that seemingly few in power in Washington can tell the Shi'ites and the Sunnis apart (they're all S's to them). And, I suspect, an awful lot of Americans supported the Iraq invasion to get back at Iran for seizing the hostages in 1979.

Anyway, "Dreamgirls" is quite a success, but within the limitations of the post-"Cabaret" era of musicals. This is an era of great female singers, but not of great songwriters. Even "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" turns out to be more of a showcase for Holliday/Hudson than a song you'll hum on the way out of the movie theatre.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

News to Save for Christmas Day when Nobody Reads the Paper:

Boy, the Establishment really wants amnesty and guest workers, but they sure don't want you to know they do. From the NYT:

Bipartisan Effort to Draft Immigration Bill

By RACHEL L. SWARNS WASHINGTON, Dec. 25 — Counting on the support of the new Democratic majority in Congress, Democratic lawmakers and their Republican allies are working on measures that could place millions of illegal immigrants on a more direct path to citizenship than would a bill that the Senate passed in the spring.

The lawmakers are considering abandoning a requirement in the Senate bill that would compel several million illegal immigrants to leave the United States before becoming eligible to apply for citizenship.

The lawmakers are also considering denying financing for 700 miles of fencing along the border with Mexico, a law championed by Republicans that passed with significant Democratic support. Details of the bill, which would be introduced early next year, are being drafted. The lawmakers, who hope for bipartisan support, will almost certainly face pressure to compromise on the issues from some Republicans and conservative Democrats.

Still, the proposals reflect significant shifts since the November elections, as well as critical support from the Homeland Security Department. Proponents said the prospects for such a measure, which would include tougher border security and a guest worker plan, had markedly improved since Nov. 7. The Senate plans to introduce its immigration bill next month with an eye toward passage in March or April, officials said. The House is expected to consider its version later. President Bush said last week that he hoped to sign an immigration bill next year.

The major lawmakers drafting the legislation include Senators Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, and John McCain, Republican of Arizona, along with Representatives Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, and Luis V. Gutierrez, Democrat of Illinois. The four met this month, and their staffs have begun working on a bill. “I’m very hopeful about this, both in terms of the substance and the politics of it,” said Mr. Kennedy, the incoming chairman of the Senate Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship Subcommittee.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer