June 22, 2007

Immigration bill update

First cloture vote likely Friday evening: This is the one to consider the immigration bill without holding hearings, while the second would be to shut off debate / amendments / filibuster. The Axis of Amnesty needs 60 votes to get past the cloture votes, but no more than 50 to win the final vote, so cloture is it.


Update: The Senate instead decided to go home for a four day weekend, with the first cloture vote rescheduled for Tuesday. I imagine that means they need to do more arm-twisting to shove it through, which I'm sure they are quite capable of doing without a public outcry.

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

Birth order is back

Lots of people are excited by the Norwegian study showing 2 or 3 point higher IQs for first-born than latter-born sons in the Norwegian army conscription test.

According to the paper "Explaining the Relation Between Birth Order and Intelligence" by Petter Kristensen and Tor Bjerkedal, the first scientist to notice the higher-level of accomplishment among first-born sons was ... you guessed it, Sir Francis Galton.

The Norwegians have a huge sample size to work with, so their result sounds pretty reliable (although the effect isn't that big, so it might not be generalizable to other countries). They appear to be comparing brothers to brothers within families, so that eliminates hereditary average genetic differences (assuming they are only looking at full, not half, brothers).

They also try to answer the Why question: is it because of social effects (e.g., first-borns get more alone time with Mom and Dad) or because of those obscure gestational effects such as the development of male hormone antibodies. So, they look at conscripts whose older brothers died as infants and find their IQs are almost as high as first-borns, arguing against the gestational wear and tear on mom argument.

I suspect there is a subtle problem with this that reduces the confidence level, besides the much smaller sample size. For the primary How Much question, they should be able to compare living brothers' IQ scores directly to each other. For the secondary Why question, however, they can't compare a younger brother's IQ scores to those of his older brother who died in infancy. They have to estimate what the dead brother's IQ would be based on various demographic factors. And that adds another level of uncertainty to their secondary finding that social factors are more important than biological ones.

Anyway, birth order is an interesting topic. It's kind of odd how it has been out of fashion to talk about it for some years, even though it doesn't seem to be all that politically incorrect. Here is my 1996 review for National Review of the last major book on the subject, Frank Sulloway's Born to Rebel.

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

June 21, 2007

Not related. Do you hear me? Not related!

From Fox News:

Police, Officials Insist Attacks on Drivers Not Related to Juneteenth Celebrations

Police and organizers of Juneteenth events in two cities are insisting that attacks against drivers — one of which left an Austin, Texas, man dead — have nothing to do with the crowds attending the celebrations.

On Tuesday, 40-year-old Austin resident David Rivas Morales was beaten to death in an attack near a Juneteenth celebration after the driver of the car he was riding in struck and injured a little girl.

In Milwaukee, police responded in riot gear to disperse the crowd at that city's celebration on Tuesday after a man was pulled from a car and beaten and an officer was injured trying to break up a fight.

"It doesn't seem to be a hate crime. It really seems to be a spontaneous act resulting from that collision with that child," said Austin Police Department Commander Harold Piatt. "We don't know if there were any words exchanged between the driver and the men to start with that escalated this to the assault."

"You just had a group of individuals that decided that they wanted to do something entirely different," said McArthur Weddle, president of Milwaukee's Juneteenth Day. "It's just sad that you have a few fools that got out of hand."

Video from a local news chopper, however, showed dozens of people immediately moving from the event to an attack on a car that left a 33-year-old man beaten.


To decode this lengthy article, which doesn't mention the words "black" or "African-American," you need to know that "Juneteenth" is a black pride celebration of June 19th, 1865 when the victorious Union Army declared Emancipation in Texas.

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

Birth order and IQ

A large Norwegian study finds a small effect.

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

Mayor Bloomberg for President?

Over on the VDARE.com blog, I try to help him out by suggesting a TV commercial he could run:

“This Message Paid For By Billionaire Golfers For Open Borders”

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

Diversity-speak as "happy talk"

A U. of Minnesota press release:

U of M study finds that Americans couch feelings about race in the 'happy talk' of diversity-speak

According to a new study by researchers in the University of Minnesota's sociology department, Americans are generally positive -- even optimistic -- about the word 'diversity,' but when asked, even those working in the field of race relations have trouble describing diversity's value and stumble when giving real life examples.

The desire to appear color-blind leads most Americans to prefer the standardized language of diversity-speak when addressing issues of race, rather than the other way around. The researchers conclude that American diversity-speak is a sort of 'happy talk,' an upbeat language in which everyone has a place, everyone is welcome and even celebrated.

The study takes its conclusions from a telephone survey of more than 2,000 households across the country and nearly 150 hour-long interviews with adults from a wide range of backgrounds living in Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles and Minneapolis/St. Paul.

The study found a majority of Americans -- cutting across race, class and gender lines -- value diversity, but their upbeat responses to the term contradict tensions between individual values and fears that cultural disunity could threaten the stability of American society. Also regardless of race, Americans' definition of diversity places white people at the neutral center and all other groups of people as outside contributors.

"The public debates and talk-show lamentations about immigration and political correctness leave many Americans to assume there's a big divide in the country between those who value diversity and those who reject it," said Doug Hartmann, associate sociology professor, who coauthored the study with graduate student Joyce Bell. "The fact is, most Americans value diversity - but they see it as a benefit with the potential cost of cultural disunity and social instability."

The study also found that most Americans use platitudes when describing diversity. "The topic of race lies outside the realm of polite conversation," said Bell. "Everyone in the study -- regardless of race, political affiliation and even level of rhetorical ability -- had real trouble talking about the inequities and injustices that typically accompany diversity in the United States."

The study will be published in a forthcoming issue of American Sociological Review and is part of the sociology department's American Mosaic Project, an ongoing project funded by the Minneapolis-based David Edelstein Family Foundation that looks at race, religion and cultural diversity in the contemporary United States.

Judging from how audiences laugh like mad at stand-up comedians who eschew diversity happy talk, everybody knows this is just hypocritical cant. Now, hypocrisy can be a useful social lubricant. When somebody asks you "How are you?" they want to hear you say "Fine, and you?" not "I don't know what's acting up more, my prostate or my hemorrhoids."

In the past, typically, happy talk was the style of the insecure middle of the social scale. Those who wished to be seen as above status concerns espoused frankness. In the 1920s, for example, H.L. Mencken made himself hugely popular with the cultural elite by waging erudite war on middle America's addiction to hypocritical happy talk. Sir Richard Burton was knighted by Queen Victoria three years after he translated the Kama Sutra.

A really odd thing about American culture today, however, is that as you go up the educational and social ladder, the more sanctimoniously hypocritical they tend to be about enforcing the code of diversity happy talk. It's quite curious.

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

Where are the famous old gay baseball players?

One of those dog-that-didn't-bark questions is why, despite the vast number of books written about baseball players, I have never heard of a single prominent player in history who sounded like he probably was homosexual. There are currently 750 major league baseball players. There must have been at least 10,000 major league ballplayers over the last 130 years

Two really obscure players -- Glenn Burke (who died of AIDS in 1995) and Billy Bean (not the celebrated "Moneyball" general manager of Oakland -- that's Billy Beane) -- came out of the closest, but that's it for admitted homosexuals in the history of big league baseball. (In contrast, AIDS claimed the lives of numerous male figure skaters).

But what about famous players? Maybe 1,000 ballplayers in history would be more or less "famous" and thus would be subject to constant reminiscences and research.

The only rumor I've heard about about a prominent player of the past being gay reflected desperation more than evidence. A New York gossip columnist claimed Sandy Koufax was gay, which would be a surprise to his live-in girlfriend (who is First Lady Laura Bush's old college roommate), his two ex-wives, and his neighbors in all the small, conservative rural towns the Jewish, Brooklyn-bred Koufax has chosen to live in in Idaho, Maine, North Carolina, and Oregon since he retired from the LA Dodgers in 1966. Koufax denounced the rumor, then had to put up with a lot of tsk-tsking about how backward baseball players are not to come out of the closet.

What about famous players who displayed traits that correlate to some degree with homosexuality? There aren't many.

For example, I looked up the life story of Earl Averill, one of the lesser Hall of Famers, who played centerfield for the 1930s Cleveland Indians. Why? Because he hadn't played baseball professionally until he was 24. Instead, among other jobs, he'd worked as a florist, a job with an above-average concentration of gay men. Maybe flower-arranging was his true passion and hitting a ball with a stick was just something he did to make money?

But, it appears that he'd been a florist mostly because he'd married young and he needed a sure paycheck. He and his wife were married for half a century and after he retired together they long ran the Earl Averill Motel in his hometown of Snohomish, Washington. His son Earl Jr. played in the majors, too. I can say with a high degree of certainty that Earl Averill wasn't gay.

Now, you are probably saying, "Okay, but what do we really know about individual ballplayers of long ago?" Actually, we know quite a lot. At least since Jim Bouton's 1971 bestseller Ball Four, there's been a big market for tell-all baseball books. Reporters constantly interview cranky old retired baseball players, who often love to gossip maliciously about their contemporaries.

Compare baseball to a more obscure sport, tennis.

In contrast, we know that the greatest tennis player of the 1920s, Bill Tilden, was a homosexual pedophile. He was arrested twice in the 1940s for corrupting minors and served a prison term, so it was in all the papers at the time. He is a minor character in Vladimir Nabokov's 1955 novel Lolita, where Bill Tilden is called "Ned Litam:"

"I tried to teach her to play tennis so we might have more amusements in common; but although I had been a good player in my prime, I proved to be hopeless as a teacher; and so, in California, I got her to take a number of very expensive lessons with a famous coach, a husky, wrinkled old-timer, with a harem of ball boys; he looked an awful wreck off the court, but now and then, when, in the course of a lesson, to keep up the exchange, he would put out as it were an exquisite spring blossom of a stroke and twang the ball back to his pupil, that divine delicacy of absolute power made me recall that, thirty years before, I had seen him in Cannes demolish the great Gobbert!"

Frank Deford, Sports Illustrated's top writer, wrote a frank biography of Tilden back in 1976 precisely because, as he wrote in SI at the time, so few famous male athletes are gay.

Also, Baron Gottfried von Cramm, the leading German tennis player of the 1930s, who played a famous match against American Don Budge in the 1937 Davis Cup, was so publicly flaming in manner that Hitler couldn't make up his mind whether to promote the tall blond von Cramm as the perfect Aryan hero or arrest him for his affair with a Jewish male actor.

I'm not saying there have not been any famous gay baseball players, but I am estimating that less than 1.0% of the top 1000 players of the past were homosexual.

Update: Commenters suggest a fairly prominent name in baseball history who sounds plausible, so if you are interested, check the comments.

June 20, 2007

NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg leaves GOP, perhaps preparation for 3rd Party White House run?

Can somebody explain to me why this guy is still a billionaire? I used to read many years ago about his business of renting computer terminals for the same price for which you could buy equivalent generic hardware outright. The big selling point (or renting point) of this 1970s-sounding business model was that was the only way you could get Bloomberg's proprietary content. I figured his business might last a couple of years longer than all the comparable ones out there before being wiped out by open standards approaches because his market was Wall Street traders, who have more money than God, so they weren't in a hurry to give up a system they were familiar with just to save their employers $10,000 each per year or so. But, I gather, he's not only still in business, he's still raking in the billions. What's the deal?

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


Anybody know how I can see the new Michael Moore health care documentary by this weekend (without being in NYC, where it's playing in one theatre)?

Here's my 2004 AmCon review of his "Fahrenheit 9/11."

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

"Why the elite press won’t think seriously about immigration"

My American Conservative article is now up:

La Raza’s Lapdogs
By Steve Sailer
Straight talk about immigration: another job Americans won’t do.

Here are some more excerpts:

1. An aversion to working with numbers is common among intellectuals and media types. For instance, it’s of some relevance to crafting immigration policy to know that 5 billion people live in countries with lower average per capita GDPs than Mexico. About a fifth of the 135 million people in the world of Mexican descent now reside in America, and another 40 million Mexicans tell pollsters they’d like to immigrate here. That suggests that if the Wall Street Journal editorial board had its way, and there were a constitutional amendment declaring, “There shall be open borders,” at least a billion foreigners would try to move here. At a minimum, this quick estimate suggests that the WSJ’s immigration views are mad. Yet these numbers are not at all well-known because few in public life have bothered to do the simple calculations required.

2. Views on illegal immigration may be the surest status symbol. A blithe attitude toward illegal immigration conveys your self-confidence that you don’t have to worry about competition from Latin American peasants and that you can afford to insulate your children from their children. Moreover, your desire to keep down the wages of nannies, housekeepers, and pool boys by importing more cheap labor advertises that you are a member of the servant-employing upper-middle class.

3. While libertarians enjoy displaying their feelings of economic superiority— their Randian confidence that they can claw their way to the top of the heap no matter how overcrowded it gets—liberals feel that laxity on illegal immigration shows off their moral superiority. Celebrating diversity has been promoted for a generation now as the highest imaginable ethical value, so the ambitious compete to be seen espousing most fervently the reigning civic religion and damning most loudly any heretics who dare to speak up. [More]

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

Tamar Jacoby's late ex-husband / heroin junkie / neocon extraordinaire

A reader points out that Tamar Jacoby, the leading spokesperson for the Cheap Labor lobby, married the legendary Eric Breindel in 1988, although the marriage famously didn't last long. (Here's the NYT's article "Miss Jacoby Is Affianced" and here's the wedding notice.)

Due to his personal magnetism, energy, and ambition, Breindel is an extremely important figure in the development of the neocon stranglehold on public debate in America, even though he's little known today outside of the NYC-DC axis. His funeral after his death in 1998 at age 42 from non-Hodgkins lymphoma was attended by all the Great and Good of the New York media and political elites of all political persuasions.

A 1998 New York magazine article called "The Connection Man" by Craig Horowitz explains:

'As a writer, Breindel was unexceptional, producing mostly the joyless prose of an ideologue. And as an ideologue, he was more effective working the back channels than he was at publicly taking issues and ideas into new territory. But Breindel understood power in a way few people do. He recognized early in his life that personality is more important than ideology. It's all about proximity and access. If you have someone's ear, you can make things happen."

Breindel, among much else, was crucial to the election of Rudy Giuliani as mayor of NYC in 1993 by persuading Rupert Murdoch to have the New York Post back Rudy in its attack-dog style rather than the Conservative Party candidate.

Despite his soaring New York success, however, the last thing Breindel would have expected -- given his unmistakable early promise -- was that he'd have to settle for a career as an editorial writer for a tabloid newspaper. The defining moment of his life, the episode that gives his story its tragic-heroic arc, occurred when he was 27. In the early months of 1983, after receiving a high-level security clearance from the FBI, Breindel went to work as Senator Moynihan's aide on the Senate Intelligence Committee. For someone interested in a career in government, it was a dream job. But on May 16, only eight weeks after he started, Breindel was arrested in the parking lot of a Washington, D.C., motel for buying five bags of heroin from an undercover cop. Two and a half grams for $150. The arrest report said he had tracks on his arms. He was a junkie.

It was, of course, a big story at the time. The coverage portrayed him as a "golden youth" -- Harvard Phi Beta Kappa, Harvard Law School graduate, doctoral candidate at the London School of Economics -- who had squandered his promise.

As Moynihan was vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Breindel had a heavyweight security clearance, so the revelation that he was consorting with heroin dealers was a much bigger deal than if he was an aide to the vice-chairman of Ways & Means. Breindel's Harvard roommate was Bobby Kennedy's son David, another druggie.

Breindel's life was the sum of his obsessions, and chief among them -- quite naturally, given his background [as the son of wealthy Holocaust survivors] -- was the fate of the Jews. It was the locus from which all of his other political positions flowed. He believed that most of the world's evil took place under totalitarian regimes, and from this came his obsession with communism. ...

But there was also an upside, a positive view provided by this prism through which he saw the world: his lack of cynicism about America. Unlike most of his contemporaries, he was the child of immigrants. America was the country that saved his parents. "In a strange way, he was a throwback," says the Observer's Peter Kaplan. "In his politics, in the quality of his thought, in the intensity of his passions and his delight in America. It was our parents' experience, not ours. We were dulled by the success of America and everything that came along with it. But he was experiencing this country the way people who are now in their seventies did 40 or 50 years ago." ...

When Breindel got to Harvard, his obsessions served him well. They were the foundation on which he built what would turn out to be the seminal relationships of his adult life -- those with Moynihan, Peretz, and Podhoretz.

After his arrest shattered his ambitions for high government office,

He continued to write the occasional piece, and he asked his friend Christopher Buckley to make contact for him at the New York Times. He'd written a piece about Whittaker Chambers that he wanted to get placed on the op-ed page.

Buckley hooked Breindel up with Tamar Jacoby, who was then the deputy editor of the Times's op-ed page. "As soon as we met, we knew there was something there," says Jacoby, whose most recent book is Someone Else's House, a look at race and the struggle to achieve integration in America. "He was smart, he was funny, and he cared about the same things I cared about. I knew he'd been through a lot, but that often makes someone stronger and more interesting. I fell in love with him, and his problems certainly didn't get in the way." ...

With her help, and recommendations from Podhoretz, Peretz, and Moynihan, Breindel landed a job writing for the editorial page of the New York Daily News...

Breindel and Jacoby decided to marry at the beginning of 1988, four years into their relationship. The wedding was at the Harvard Club, and the guest list was, of course, eye-opening. "We both knew a lot of people, and we took some mischievous pleasure in Elliot Abrams having to shake hands with Anthony Lewis and Norman Podhoretz having to shake hands with Bob Silvers," Jacoby says, laughing at the memory. "Eric and I joked about having to have different rooms to accommodate the various ideologies."

The relationship, which had always been combative, deteriorated not long after the wedding, and their split yielded one of the most often told and heavily embellished breakup stories in the history of New York's chattering class. The tale begins when Breindel and Jacoby embark on a two-week trip to Europe with Breindel's parents to visit the concentration camps. ... They were, in fact, in Europe with his parents when they decided to split up. They were in Hungary, not Poland, and she had always planned to stay on in Europe -- without Breindel -- to visit her sister in London. When she got home, the apartment was not empty, and Breindel was staying with his parents. Jacoby was, according to people who know her, extremely bitter and angry after their split. Still, the funeral was difficult for her. "When I married Eric, I had all kinds of expectations and hopes about life. I'm a different person now, but at the funeral I spent a lot of time thinking about those two people."

Even without the apocryphal rendering of the breakup, the cynical view is that Breindel chose women the same way he chose his friends -- based on who could help him the most. Tamar Jacoby was the right woman for him at the right time, and when times changed, he found Lally Weymouth, [Washington Post owner] Katharine Graham's daughter, far more useful.

A general lesson for our era is that cyberspace is far overrated as a way to influence events compared to personal contacts and behind the scenes machinations.

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

Speak of the Devil

The day after I accused sainted baseball statistics maven Bill James of intentionally ignoring the steroids outbreak of the 1990s in his 1,000 page 2001 book The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, the WSJ interviews James in his Fenway Park office (he's been a paid insider since 2002):

His theory on baseball and steroids may or may not be odd, but it is certainly not in vogue. "I don't know," he says, when asked if steroids account for the surge in home runs in the late 1990s. "Speaking globally . . . the reality is that there are many changes in the game which could cause batting numbers to jump. And no one really knows to what extent the increase is a consequence of steroids. I strongly suspect that the influence of steroids on hitting numbers is greatly overstated by the public." Other factors include ballpark dimensions and bat design. "I've never understood why nobody writes about it, but the bats are very different now than they were 20 years ago," Mr. James says, with different woods and finishes. "[Barry] Bonds's bats are still different from everybody else's," he notes.

He's being disingenuous. Of course lots of factors contributed to the home run surge, including all the recent retro-design parks that are built like old hitters parks such as Ebbetts Field. And everybody took up weightlifting, which is perfectly admirable as long as they don't use performance-enhancing drugs. (Honus Wagner was the greatest player of the first decade of the 20th Century because he was just about the only player of his era to lift weights.)

But we now know that many of the historic seasons of the the last two decades were drug-tainted, starting with Jose Canseco's 1988, when he became the first player to hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases, and including the late Ken Caminiti's MVP surge in the second half of 1996, McGwire's (and likely Sosa's) famous 1998 homer binge, Jason Giambi's monster MVP season in 2000, and Barry Bonds' surrealistic seasons in this decade. (Here's my 2004 American Conservative article on steroids.)

This wasn't a surprise. Thomas Boswell accused Canseco in a Washington Post column in October 1988 of taking steroids. A baseball agent told me in the early 1990s that Canseco was the "Typhoid Mary of steroids."

How can we be sure if any recent MVPs and Cy Young award winners were clean? Okay, skinny guys like Ichiro Suzuki and Jack McDowell, sure, and unimposing guys like Greg Maddux, and guys who didn't lift weights, like Ken Griffey Jr.. But for lots of the other guys, who knows?

James had to know that, say, Barry Bonds suddenly having in 2001 the greatest season (according to James' own Win Shares metric) since Babe Ruth his .393 in 1923 was ridiculous, new bat or not. But, making a stink about steroids wouldn't have done James' chances of getting hired by a big league team like the Red Sox much good.

I suspect that James was able to kid himself that using steroids was just like pitchers (such as Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry) throwing the spitball (which had been outlawed in 1920, a couple of decades before Perry's birth). Everybody knew Perry was throwing the spitter, but the baseball ethos is the opposite of golf, where players call penalties on themselves. In baseball, it's the umpires' job, not yours, to catch you cheating.

But steroids aren't spitballs. They have serious side effects on the players' health, and on their mood, which affects people around them. When, say, the Canseco twins beat up people in a nightclub in the throes of 'roid rage, that's not at all like the spitter.

By the way, I discovered in James' Historical Abstract a new explanation for Stephen Jay Gould's famous observation that in the early decades of baseball there was more disparity between the best players and the average player (although there have been a lot of super-spectacular seasons since 1993). Gould, being an intellectual, attributed it to intellectual disparities -- Wagner, Cobb, Ruth, etc. knew how to do things that other players didn't yet know how to do.

There's some truth to that. Ruth, for example, taught himself how to take a huge uppercut swing to hit home runs, which gave him a big lead over the rest of the league. Cobb pointed out that Ruth was allowed to get away with this because he was a pitcher -- if he'd been a hitter, his manager would have forced him to swing level to hit line drives like everybody else. But nobody cared what a pitcher did when fooling around in batting practice.

A few years earlier during the heart of the dead ball era, right-handed slugger Gavvy Cravath figured out how to hit opposite field home runs over the short right field fence in Philadelphia, hitting a record 62 in three seasons. Almost everybody knows how to hit opposite field homers today, but Cravath's breakthrough wasn't followed up on for decades.

Another reason for the disparity is that until Branch Rickey built the farm system, the proportion of the top players in the major leagues wasn't as high so the quality of the average player was lower. Cravath spent two of his peak years in the minors. Lefty Grove, maybe the greatest pitcher ever, spent five years playing for an independent minor league team in Baltimore. West Coast athletes often spent years in the Pacific Coast League -- for example, Joe DiMaggio spent three seasons from age 19-21 with his hometown San Francisco Seals when he was no doubt perfectly ready for the majors, as Ken Griffey Jr. was at the same age. But the Seals were an independent team, not a farm team, and thus didn't sell DiMaggio until they got a fair price.

But, a new reason I hadn't thought about before was that in the old days only superstars could afford to devote their offseasons to staying in shape (or just relaxing and getting recharged for the coming season). The average player had to get a job. When Ruth had a lousy 1925 season at age 30 due to hedonism, many observers assumed he was washed up. Instead, he hired a personal trainer and spent his winters tossing medicine balls around in a gym (or whatever it was they did back then for exercise). He came back to enjoy nine more spectacular seasons, including hitting 60 homers in 1927. If you spent October through February working in a mill or lifting crates on a loading dock, it was hard to compete in the summer with a superstar.

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

Good title, good article

In New York:

The Science of Gaydar
If sexual orientation is biological, are the traits that make people seem gay innate, too? The new research on everything from voice pitch to hair whorl.
By David France

My 1994 National Review article "Why Lesbians Aren't Gay," which lists three dozen traits where statistical differences among the sexual orientations are found, appears to have held up well over the years.

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

June 19, 2007

Abortion and wantedness

In the WSJ:

It's Not Enough to Be 'Wanted'
Illegitimacy has risen despite--indeed, because of--legal abortion.

And here's a graph I made up a few years ago during the Freakonomics controversy. Hard to see much evidence that legalizing abortion increased the "wantedness" of babies like Steven D. Levitt claims these days, now that he figured out he'd get in trouble if he mentioned that he originally attributed 39% of his theorized crime-fighting effect to the much higher abortion rate seen among blacks.

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

Bill James is NOT perfect!

I bought baseball statistical analyst Bill James's New Historical Baseball Abstract for $3.99, which is a pretty good deal for a 1,000 page book. Over 600 pages are devoted to ranking from #1 to #100 the top players at all nine positions. I was explaining to my wife that was way too many players, because when he gets past about #60, nobody has heard of these guys. To prove this, I randomly opened to the back of the second baseman section and started reading off names to prove to her how nobody had ever heard of any of these guys

"Like, who ever heard of #78, Juan Samuel? I mean, I guess I have -- fast, led the league in triples all the time when he was young, never took a walk, a disappointing career despite some tremendous skills. Or #79 Horace Clark? Well, he wore glasses for the Yankees 40 years ago. I had his baseball card. #80 Johnny Ray? Decent hitter but got slow..."

And on I went. While I was ranting about how much I hate #87 Jorge Orta because Lasorda pinch-hit him for Fernando Valenzuela in the 7th inning of the last game of the 1982 season with men on base and he grounded out weakly, likely a worse at-bat than Fernando would have managed, so Fernando had to come out and the reliever gave up a pennant-losing homer to Joe Morgan, I had a sudden revelation about my half-vast knowledge of baseball statistics: "Oh my God, I've wasted my life!"

Anyway, I had another revelation, like Sherif Ali's in "Lawrence of Arabia" when he realizes Awrence is not perfect. Bill James's book goes up through the 1999 season, after the McGwire-Sosa homer orgy of 1998, but as far as I can tell, the word "steroids" only appears once in its 1000 pages, in an afterword mentioning that Ken Caminiti had admitted his 1996 MVP season was due to drugs. I mean, I knew in 1993 that steroids were driving up batting statistics, so why didn't James? And if he did, why didn't he mention it?

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

June 18, 2007

Eric Alterman on Marty Peretz

Considering that columnist Eric Alterman recently got himself arrested at the Democratic candidate's debate, there's a bit of a pot-kettle aspect to Alterman's American Prospect article denouncing long-time New Republic boss Marty Peretz as "crazy." But he does a good job of explaining how Peretz's passionate ethnocentrism has damaged his magazine:

It is really not too much to say that almost all of Peretz's political beliefs are subordinate to his commitment to Israel's best interests, and these interests as Peretz defines them almost always involve more war. Ask yourself: Have you ever -- ever -- read an editorial in The New Republic that does not take the Israeli government's side in a dispute? ... Is it possible that Israel's leaders -- unlike every set of leaders that have ever ruled any nation -- are always right? And is it possible that for the first time in history, two nations -- one, a tiny, beleaguered state in the Middle East, surrounded by hostile countries, the other, a North American superpower, unmenaced on its borders and surrounded by friendly neighbors -- just happen to have interests that are identical in absolutely every situation?

Peretz insists that, yes, the interests of Israel and the United States are indeed identical. "Support for Israel," he claims, "is deep down, an expression of America's best view of itself." Which begs the question of just what "support" entails. For Peretz it has clearly meant support both for the Iraq war and, now, for yet another war against Iran. In a February 5, 2007, cover story entitled "Israel's Worst Nightmare," Israeli writers Yossi Klein Halevi and Michael B. Oren failed even to mention America's interest in going to war against Iran; they made their case purely on the basis of an allegedly existential and unavoidable threat to Israel.

Alterman points to the year 1967 as the turning point:

Peretz and [heiress] Farnsworth married in June 1967 -- coincidentally, the same month that the Six Day War transformed not only the Middle East but also American liberalism and American Jewry. For the left, the war's legacy became a point of painful contention -- as many liberals and leftists increasingly viewed Israel as having traded its David status for a new role as an oppressive, occupying Goliath. For many American Jews, however, most of whom previously kept their emotional distance from Israel, the emotional commitment to Israel became so central that it came to define their ethnic, even religious, identities. For Marty Peretz, who had been supporting various New Left causes, these two competing phenomena came to a head in September of that year when a "New Politics" convention that he largely funded collapsed amid a storm of acrimonious accusation, much of it inspired by arguments over Israel.

Lots of people love a winner. Similarly, Israel is never mentioned in long-time Commentary editor Norman Podhoretz's second autobiography until p. 323, when the 1967 war is won by Israel.

Indeed, I've argued jokingly that the lack of big-time college football teams in New York City and Washington D.C. has warped American foreign policy. Ultra-competitive men who, if they had grown up in Oklahoma, would be devoting their fortunes and energies to buying high school quarterbacks for the U. of Oklahoma Sooners, instead buy magazines and think tanks for Israel.

But, maybe that's not a joke ... So, please, would some hedge fund manager give NYU a quarter of a billion to start a Top 10 football team? Your country needs you!

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

Is the American public a sitting duck for the Axis of Amnesty's "clay pigeon?"

AP reports:

Only in the arcane world of the U.S. Senate could a quirky gambit known as a "clay pigeon" make the difference between passage of an important immigration measure and its death at the hands of opponents.

Democratic leaders hope the complex maneuver _ which makes use of the Senate's labyrinthine rules to insist on votes on amendments _ will frustrate conservatives' attempts to derail the embattled immigration bill, instead putting it on a fast track to passage next week.

In plain English, what this means is ... well ... Okay, I admit it, I am utterly baffled by what this means, other than that the Democratic leadership is amenable to playing Dr. Kevorkian to the GOP's suicide attempt.

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

David Frum replies at length here to my article on him.

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

"Bringing them out of the shadows"

As I've pointed out before, the priority of new immigration legislation should be to stop the situation from getting worse. But the media and the Kennedy-Bush Axis of Amnesty assumes the most crucial issue is"doing something" about the illegal immigrants currently here. Specifically, we must "bring them out of the shadows," as the cliche goes.


Can anybody document what bringing 2.7 million illegal immigrants out of the shadows into legality accomplished in 1986?

These amnestied illegals were preponderantly living in California, so we can look at California's experience. Did amnesty:

- Help California's standard of living? Well, from the standpoint of becoming a homeowner, California's combination of high cost of living and low median income now offers the second worst standard of living of any state in America, better than only isolated Hawaii.

- Improve California's schools? California, home to Silicon Valley, now battles states like Arkansas and South Carolina for the runner-up position at the bottom of the NAEP scores.

- Persuade the amnestied illegals' kids to stop spraypainting their tags all over every vertical surface in LA? Ever since Villaraigosa got elected mayor in 2005, the city has been swamped by gang graffiti.

- Stop more illegal aliens from coming to California? Yeah, right ...

So, why does Axis keep trying to yank our chains about the benefits of amnesty when it failed so spectacularly in the biggest state in the country?

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

June 17, 2007

David "Unpatriotic Conservatives" Frum

My new VDARE.com column:

The Axis of Amnesty Is Back, But So Is David "Unpatriotic Conservatives" Frum

By Steve Sailer

As Dr. Frankenstein used to say:

"It's alive!"

Just as I warned last week, the Kennedy-Bush-McCain Axis of Amnesty reanimated their patched-together monster in the Senate … although it's definitely not back by popular demand.

If this bill were a horror movie, it would be House of Wax II … and not a sequel to the Vincent Price original, either, but a remake of the recent Paris Hilton remake.

Or maybe:

Aliens 4
In Washington, no one can hear you scream.

We're going to have to scream loud enough this week before the crucial cloture votes to be heard even in Washington.

The politics of amnesty, however, would make a natural suspense thriller film:

Establishing Shot: Ted Kennedy drives a blushing Republican Party girl down a moonlit dirt road.

Cut to: His car lurches off a bridge.

Pan: Senator Ted swims away while the bubbles from the sunken car die out.

Amnesty is so unpopular these days that even President Bush's old speechwriter David Frum has lately gone on the immigration restrictionist warpath after years largely missing in inaction. In the June 25th National Review, Frum explains "How I Rethought Immigration" way back during the first Bush Administration of 1989-1993. (You can read it online here.)

Frum is wonderfully lucid writer—except, unluckily, on those topics that most engage his personal passions—so it's quite a fine article....

Still, while this is all well and good, it does raise the question: If Frum was so expert over 15 years ago, why was he essentially a no-show in the immigration debates back when his influence was at its peak in the first half of this decade?

(Hint: It's VDARE.COM’s fault!)


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

NYT closing gap with American Conservative: In the New York Times Magazine, Erica Goode, science editor of the NYT, writes about Robert D. Putnam's research on diversity and trust (which was the subject of my January 15, 2007 cover story "Fragmented Future" in AmCon):

Home Alone

For decades, students of American society have offered dueling theories about how encountering racial and ethnic diversity affects the way we live. One says that simple contact — being tossed into a stew of different cultures, values, languages and styles of dress — is likely to nourish tolerance and trust. Familiarity, in this view, trumps insularity. Others argue that just throwing people together is rarely enough to breed solidarity: when diversity increases, they assert, people tend to stick to their own groups and distrust those who are different from them.

But what if diversity had an even more complex and pervasive effect? What if, at least in the short term, living in a highly diverse city or town led residents to distrust pretty much everybody, even people who looked like them? What if it made people withdraw into themselves, form fewer close friendships, feel unhappy and powerless and stay home watching television in the evening instead of attending a neighborhood barbecue or joining a community project?

This is the unsettling picture that emerges from a huge nationwide telephone survey by the famed Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam and his colleagues. “Diversity seems to trigger not in-group/out-group division, but anomie or social isolation,” Putnam writes in the June issue of the journal Scandinavian Political Studies. “In colloquial language, people living in ethnically diverse settings appear to ‘hunker down’ — that is, to pull in like a turtle.”

In highly diverse cities and towns like Los Angeles, Houston and Yakima, Wash., the survey found, the residents were about half as likely to trust people of other races as in homogenous places like Fremont, Mich., or rural South Dakota, where, Putnam noted, “diversity means inviting a few Norwegians to the annual Swedish picnic.”

Goode's article reflects a lot of the usual class prejudices:

The public discourse on diversity runs at a high temperature. Told by one side, the narrative of how different ethnic and racial groups come together in schools, workplaces, churches and shopping centers can sound as if it was lifted from “Sesame Street.” Told by the other, it often carries the shrill tones of a recent caller to a radio talk show on immigration reform: “The school my kid goes to is 45 percent Mexican,” he said, “and I don’t see this as being a good thing for this country. Do we want to turn into a Latin American country?”

Obviously, anyone who would worry about this is the kind of radio talk show-listening racist loser who has to send his kid to a school that is 45 percent Mexican. The right sort of New York Times-reading person supports the minority outreach program at his child's school whose long term goal is to double the Mexican enrollment ... from two percent to four percent.

Diversity has clear benefits, [Putnam] says, among them economic growth and enhanced creativity — more top-flight scientists, more entrepreneurs, more artists.

As we can see from the way the 30 million Mexican-Americans have been sweeping the Nobel Prizes! Thank God lots of Mexicans have moved to New York City recently, or the place would have remained bereft of scientists, entrepreneurs, and artists, unlike vibrant creative communities like El Paso.

Aren't social scientists supposed to understand that correlation is not proof of causation? Clearly, the illegal immigrants (as well as the artists) follow the wealth-creating scientists and entrepreneurs, not the other way around.

But the diversity finding was so surprising that Putnam said his first thought was that maybe something was wrong with the data. He and his research team spent five years testing other explanations. Maybe people in more diverse areas had less political clout and thus fewer amenities, like playgrounds and pothole-free streets, putting them in a misanthropic mood; or maybe diversity caused “hunkering down” only in people who were older or richer or white or female. But the effect did not go away. When colleagues who heard about the results protested, “I bet you haven’t thought about X” — a frequent occurrence, Putnam said — the researchers went back and looked at X.

The idea that it is diversity (the researchers used the census’s standard racial categories to define diversity) that drives social capital down has its critics. Among them is Steven Durlauf, an economist at the University of Wisconsin and a critic of Putnam’s past work, who said he thinks some other characteristic, as yet unidentified, explains the lowered trust and social withdrawal of people living in diverse areas. But without clear evidence to the contrary, Putnam says, he has to believe the conclusion is solid.

Many decades ago, I used to run into Steve Durlauf of Burbank H.S. all the time at high school speech and debate tournaments, where he would beat me like a drum. I wasn't terribly good at forensics because I'm not that orally fluent, but even at what I was good at, Durlauf was much better. I don't know if he was the most successful debater in Southern California of his era, but he's the one who most deserved to be. He's just a lot smarter than me. And he's a nice guy, too.

So, why does Prof. Durlauf come out sounding kind of dim on this topic compared to me? Because political correctness lowers your effective IQ. Truths are connected to other truths, so if you are willing to follow the truth wherever it goes, you'll make a lot more progress than if you put up big "Can't Go There" signs in your own head.

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