February 19, 2007

Lady tennis players, Obama as post-Teenybopper idol; cousin marriage

Around the Web:

- In Slate, economist Steven Landsburg reviews a study showing that female pro tennis players choke more (make more unforced errors on critical points) than do male pros. That women tend to be more at the mercy of their emotions hardly sounds implausible, but there could be a couple of other explanations: (A): Women pros tend to be younger; and (B) There may be less competition to be a female pro than a male pro, since so many women with good muscle tone would prefer to be dancers than athletes -- so, women tennis players are subject to less selective pressure, so negative traits like choking aren't as fatal to making it on tour.

- Obama as the new Justin Timberlake: In the Nation, a 24-year-old girl plants an 800-word big wet one on the handsome kisser of the junior Senator from Illinois.

- Stanley Kurtz on cousin marriage in the Middle East in National Review: Here's Part 1:

So to understand the kinship structure of a traditional society is to make sense of a good deal of life there. Unfortunately, our contemporary thinned-out notion of kinship has made it tough to recognize just how profoundly societies are shaped by variations in marriage practices. That’s why we’re far more comfortable making sense of the war on terror through the lens of a familiar phenomenon like religion, than in the light of something alien, like cousin marriage.

Part 2:

If we want to change any of this, it will be impossible to restrict ourselves to the study of religious Islam. The “self-sealing” character of Islam is part and parcel of a broader and more deeply rooted social pattern. And parallel-cousin marriage is more than just an interesting but minor illustration of that broader theme. If there’s a “self-sealing” tendency in Muslim social life, cousin marriage is the velcro. In contemporary Europe, perhaps even more than in the Middle East, cousin marriage is at the core of a complex of factors blocking assimilation and driving the war on terror.

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


Dog of Justice said...

On Obama -- Over ten years ago, you predicted in "Great Black Hopes" that:

"Beyond sales, in the next century black men should also be able to better exploit their leadership talent. 'Natural leadership' is practically synonymous with something black guys have in abundance: masculine charisma. This equation may sound unspeakably sexist, but whether it stems from The Backlash or human nature, it's time for black men to cash in on it.

White fears that other whites wouldn't follow black leaders slowed black advancement into leadership positions for decades. For example, no NFL team started a black at quarterback until into the 1970's, and the first black head coach didn't arrive until 1989. Yet, when given a chance, blacks have tended to exert impressive command charisma, even over Southern whites. The performance of black Army sergeants has been exceptionally encouraging. Their success implies that similar unscholarly black men should better be able to work their way up to comparable civilian positions in blue collar management. Unfortunately, affirmative action methodically lures many of these men into white collar careers where their scholastic shortcomings slam a 'glass ceiling' down upon their need to lead.

The apathy that too often drags down black males' job efforts stems partly from this systematic mismatching between those Big Man personalities that black America seems to specialize in (think of Charles Barkley or James Earl Jones), and the modest paper-fumbling billets that affirmative action campaigns pester black men into accepting. The U.S. Army has best exploited the African-American capacity for command, specifically because it doesn't toss affirmative action victims in over their heads academically.

At the high end, we are likely to see blacks, especially ex-jocks (of whom Congressman J.C. Watts, former Oklahoma quarterback, is the first), furnish the Republican Party with many leaders. David Robinson -- the NBA's 1995 MVP, and a handsome 7' tall Annapolis graduate -- is only the most obvious political thoroughbred in the making. Just as politically conservative Jews, who comprise a tiny fraction of the population, supply much of the GOP's intellectual firepower, black Republicans, no matter how few overall, will win an impressive number of elective offices within two decades."

I understand that you're annoyed that it's the Democratic Party rather than the Republican Party that currently appears to be benefiting from this. But your essentially monotone negative attitude toward Obama in your writing isn't very persuasive. Yes, many people have unrealistic expectations of what electing him to office would accomplish; but would it really be such a bad thing if there is a reality to compare those expectations to, as long as that reality is still substantially better than GWB's presidency?

If he would probably make a bad president, THAT'S a reason to vote against him -- but I haven't seen you make that argument! Until you've assembled it, cut Obama a bit more slack. He's just proving that you were right in 1996.

Anonymous said...

I am surprise that you have not commented on the Washington Post series at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

What the news articles have totally avoided mentioning is the problems caused by the location of Walter Reed in a totally black neighborhood, the majority black workforce at Walter Reed, and the failure of 8A minority set aside contractors at Walter Reed.

The Washington Post was written the stories as if the only people who work at Walter Reed at rich, white, Republicans.

Anonymous said...

Dog of Justice,

Republicans did nominate two blacks for Senate seats last fall (in OH and MD), but they lost.

Regarding Obama, he is far more articulate than J.C. Watts, but he is really a lightweight candidate for President. He was never seriously challenged for his Senate seat after the press sandbagged his Republican rival with embarrassing sealed divorce documents, and he has no executive experience.

BTW, here in NJ we have a black politician worth keeping an eye on: Corey Booker, the new mayor of Newark. He has an Ivy League education and has taken on a city that has long been a corrupt shit hole. Seems to me there's little chance he won't be able to improve it from this nadir.


Anonymous said...

Dave, there's an excellent documentary about Cory Booker's 2002 mayoral race called Street Fight that's well worth seeing if you get the chance.

Anonymous said...

Courtney E. Martin: Exhibit # 29,854 demonstrating why women's suffrage is folly.

She's practically writing Vox Day's columns for him.

Anonymous said...

Wow I had never heard of Vox Day, but he's good:

"When women began to enter the work force en masse in the latter half of the 20th century, the overall supply of labor increased, obviously. As per the iron law of supply and demand, over the last 60 years, this increase in supply has somewhat outstripped the growth in the economy and the attendant demand for labor, which is why real wages are still lower in 2005 than in 1973. Combined with the ever-increasing tax burden, this decline in real wages is why both husband and wife must now work when previously the husband's labor alone would have sufficed."

I never thought of that. What do people schooled in economics make of that argument??

Anonymous said...

Cousin marriage facilitating the spread of impenetrable Islamic gangs:

Diversity is our greatest strength!

Also, war is peace, freedom is slavery, etc.

Anonymous said...

"I never thought of that. What do people schooled in economics make of that argument?? "
Nothing in public, they'll lose their jobs if they say anything. But all I took was Principles, and it makes perfect sense to me.

As for abolishing woman suffrage...come on. Who does that anymore?

Anonymous said...

...this increase in supply has somewhat outstripped the growth in the economy and the attendant demand for labor, which is why real wages are still lower in 2005 than in 1973.

No, that's not the only reason why wages are lower now than they were when Mr. Nixon was president.

Other reasons for stagnant American wages are:

(1) increased immigration -- but that's not the only reason;

(2) Increasing global competition;

(3) Increasing scarcity of natural resources;

(4) The failure of some American industries, such as car manufacturing, to keep up with the competition. Why? That's a big topic. One might start by studying Ford Motor Co. under the descendants of Henry 1st.

(4) A profound change in sociology and technology, such that fewer middle class jobs per capita are being created in the Western world. "Middle class " is used in a broad sense here.

Why are fewer middle class jobs being created? Consider the commercial music industry. Electronic synths mixed with pre-recorded music can do the work previously done by a live orchestra of many musicians.

Another example: satellite radio is in the process of replacing terrestrial broadcasting, thereby making many broad-sense middle class jobs in radio redundant.

(5) The existence of American malefactors of great wealth who have no loyalty downward to their erstwhile middle class fellow Americans. Why? See (4) above for one reason why. Increased opportunities for making profits abroad are another reason.

Nationalism -- It's a middle class thing.

By the way, have you ever thought of the present wars in the Middle East as a Keynesian job creation program biased toward men who might otherwise be lacking upwardly mobile job opportunities at home? ;0

-- david.davenport.1@netzero.com

Anonymous said...

Regarding real wages, some of these comparisons don't take into account the cost of benefits. Many workers have received significant increases in overall compensation, but a lot of the increases have been absorbed by higher health care costs.

Another trend which doesn't get much attention is the income redistribution from middle class workers in the private sector to those in the public sector. I'm sure this is happening in a lot of high-tax states as well, but here in NJ taxes (mainly property taxes) keep climbing to pay generous salary and pension benefits for civil servants.

A couple of examples: the sales tax was just increased here to cover pension benefits of NJ state workers who retire with full benefits at age 55. Also, the average cop in NJ makes 100k+ per year with OT.

Railing against overpaid cops and school administrators may not have the same populist appeal as taking on overpaid CEOs, but those civil servants are taking a real bite out of the pockets of middle and upper class tax payers.


Anonymous said...

david davenport-

I don't think you've disproved the thesis that "working women keep real wages down" by listing other possible causes.

I'm assuming you have a background in economics: why is such an argument economically false? If economists were allowed to research such a thesis, would you be shocked if they found it to be correct, at least as a contributing factor to the problem of stagnant real wages?

Anonymous said...

Oh, I agree with you. More women working is one reason why wages haven't increased. The reasons I listed do not exclude the more women working reason. Let’s add it to the list.

As a cultural right winger who is also an economic determinist, I would tend to say that Women's Lib happened because the economic Zeitgeist created more service industry jobs appropriate for women, rather than women's liberation causing a change in the economic Zeitgeist.

Quentin, the only econ. Course I ever had was a bonehead undergrad course called Engineering Economics, which was basically a workout in calculating present or future value as a function of compounding interest.

Question for the group: how many people here agree with Benoit Mandelbrot that stock markets should be modelled with fractals?


Anonymous said...

As a cultural right winger who is also an economic determinist, I would tend to say that Women's Lib happened because the economic Zeitgeist created more service industry jobs appropriate for women, rather than women's liberation causing a change in the economic Zeitgeist.

I think Megan McArdle has identified the driving force -- that "Women in the house, other than those with small children, became economically useless to their families once labour-saving devices and modern food processing made 90% of their labour obsolete. So they went to work."

Anonymous said...

As for stock markets and fractals... while fractals may be an example of an simply defined "infinitely complex" structure, that does not imply the converse (that anything "infinitely complex" is a simply defined fractal).

Anonymous said...

Lamentations about wage stagnation here remind me of something Steve wrote elsewhere about Democrats: that many of them exude a 'faint whiff of personal failure'. I think the same could be said for the populist right.

Except for a few exceptional times and places (e.g., Detroit in the 1950's), it's always been a challenge to get ahead in America. There are still plenty of opportunities today, and you don't need to be an Ivy League grad to take advantage of them. Where I live, a cop married to a registered nurse can easily make $200k+ per year. At that level of income, they could max out their 401(k)/403(b)s, and have enough for a comfortable retirement and a legacy for their children.


Anonymous said...

"a cop married to a registered nurse can easily make $200k+ per year"

Jobs at the post office pay pretty well, too.

Hey, who says there's no economic future in America? You can pull down five figures as a "Diversity Consultant," so quit whinin' and start diversifyin'!

Anonymous said...

Er, I meant six figures. All the opportunities are making me dizzy!

Btw, re. the legacy for the children. What will the children do?

Anonymous said...

Cop = keeps "criminals" off the streets, at best. Produces nothing.

RN = wipes fannies and blood without infecting anyone else, at best. Produces nothing.

This is an economic future?

They could personally pull down more if they ran a Check Cashing facility or a whorehouse, but the difference to the economic health of the nation (and thus to their legacy) would be the same.

Dave and other atomizers would do well to look at the collective picture and at the long-range.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:50 PM:

Cop -- keeps criminals from robbing or killing productive people.

RN -- keeps productive people from prematurely dying of infections.

You telling us that doesn't contribute to a productive and desirable society?

Anonymous said...

A cop and an RN are service providers. They protect productive people (at best), but where are the productive people?

A nation consisting largely of cops, collectors, prison workers, check-cashers, defense industry workers, entertainers, temps, stock market speculators, "Diversity Consultants," advertisers, porn producers et al. is not economically viable.

Envision 30 years from now in America. Everything is booming. No manufacturing or high-tech or farms (that's largely overseas), but expanding wealth is everywhere. Down at the old manse, young William Blueblood the V looks up at his venerable rich grandfather and thanks him for this legacy. "Don't thank me, son," replies grandfather. "Thank the company." And he points up to a gold-lettered sign that reads....



Anonymous said...

No manufacturing or high-tech ...

But manufacturing and/or high-tech IS the defense industry(s).

Anonymous said...

Wimbeldon has just decided to elevate pay for women players to the level of the men. Of course, this is being presented as an achievement for women. However, no one is stating the obvious: female players are much worse than men. On quality of play, they deserve less. In terms of tv revenue, the acid test, where you have the sexy outfit/Kournikova factor, I'm not sure, but they probably deserve less. What is the lowest ranked male player who could beat the regular women's champions. 1,000? 2,000? Why isn't the headline: In Spite of Worse Play, Women's Pay to Equal Men's at Wimbeldon.

Anonymous said...

The Defense Industry does not produce wealth, it destroys wealth. Cf. Hazlitt's "Broken Window Fallacy."

Anonymous said...

You're right about the Defense Industry not creating wealth (in general).

What we really should be doing is hiring more cops in dangerous areas. They are middle class jobs, and reducing crime does increase wealth.

Bush has gutted the COPS program, which provided federal funds to hire cops in high-crime areas, which generally couldn't afford to hire enough cops, since high crime scares away business and people earning enough to pay substantial taxes.

If Bush wants to create middle class jobs and increase wealth, he should spend more money on the COPS program, giving more cops to the highest crime areas, and prime terrorist targets, such as New York City. Make COPS bigger than it was before.

Also, what are our new vets going to do after they get out of the army? Many will want jobs as cops. They can't all be postal workers, Department of Motor Vehicles clerks and web-page designers.


Anonymous said...

Middle East War as a Keynesian make work program for otherwise unemployable Americans???--I don't think so, not when you have the Army doing recruitment drives at "bilingual job fairs" and passing out nilly-willy "Yo Soy El Army" bumperstickers.