July 27, 2007

Cable Broadband Question

Time-Warner provides me with fine cable modem Internet service during the day and evening, but about ten o'clock each night for the last few weeks, reliability falls apart, with intermittent outages all night long. The support desk claims that this is because their signal to my house is too strong after other users call it a day (and, implicitly, if I'd just go to bed like a normal person I wouldn't be having this problem). It's easy for my computer to sip from the firehose when everybody else is sipping too, they say, but not when I'm drinking alone (metaphorically speaking). They want to send a man to put a device on the box where the cable comes into the house that would reduce the signal strength.

Does this make any sense? If not, how should I fix it?

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

July 26, 2007

Harry Potter

A Story of Race and Inheritance? Dana Goldstein at the American Prospect is irked that the Harry Potter books (not to mention Lord of the Rings) are full of sexism, racism, and hereditism:

Harry Potter and the Complicated Identity Politics

J.K. Rowling subtly critiques, yet ultimately hews to, a fantasy script dependent on stereotypes culled from real-life racism.

Gosh, I'm so astonished that the most popular children's literary work of our time reflects deep human archetypes about sex, family, and inheritance. I can't imagine why feminist ideology hasn't been able to produce anything remotely as appealing to kids. It must be society's fault. If only feminists and multiculturalists were given more control over the education system, children's interests could be social-engineered into perfection!

(My old essay "KidTV: A Guide for the Perplexed" explains why the things children like are so politically incorrect.)

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

Tom Piatak v. Christopher Hitchens

"Hitchens' Hubris:" In a review in Taki's magazine, Tom Piatak goes after Christopher Hitchens' bestseller God Is Not Great hammer and tongs in one of the few impolite reviews Hitchens has received.

The widespread notion in America that Christopher Hitchens is a Major Thinker is a puzzling one. I have to imagine that much of the reception he gets on this side of the pond is due to the naiveté of us Colonials about British journalists. Hitchens has the Fleet Street knack for being able to churn out publishable prose fast and fluently despite spending a lot of time in fashionable watering holes getting well-watered, in which condition he conducts publicized feuds with other well-watered British personalities. Few American hacks can long function like that. But an ability to type while nursing a hangover does not make Hitchens the second coming of John Stuart Mill.

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

NYT readers can't get enough IQ blather

Here's what seems like the 87th New York Times article of the last month on that single study in Norway finding a slightly higher average IQ for oldest brothers:

Separated by Birth


The eldest children in families tend to develop higher I.Q.’s than their siblings, researchers are reporting. Skip to next paragraph Enlarge This Image Kelly Blair

— The Times, June 22

LIZ So ... how not surprised were you when you learned that science has now officially declared older children to have higher I.Q.’s than their unfortunate younger siblings? [More]

I'm starting to wish the NYT would go back to treating IQ as That Which Must Not Be Mentioned if it would just get them to shut up about this one IQ study...

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

July 25, 2007

Our brilliant leaders:

Two continuing themes here at iSteve.com are that

1. Liberals think they are better than the average person because:

- They believe everybody is equal

- They have higher IQs.

2. The members of America's political overclass aren't as smart as they think they are.

Illustrating these two points nicely, a reader points to this bit from the Concord Monitor about Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden, who chairs the important Senate committee on Foreign Relations:

When Joe Biden was running for president in 1987, he held an event in Claremont. [Local man Frank] Fahey asked Biden about his academic credentials, Fahey's wife, Jean, confirmed yesterday. Biden proceeded to challenge Fahey to compare IQs: "I think I probably have a much higher IQ than you do," said Biden, who proceeded to tout his academic accomplishments (graduating in the top half of his Syracuse University College of Law class).

Beyond the irritated nature of Biden's response, his answer was incorrect: Newspaper reports at the time showed that in his final year of law school, Biden was ranked 76th in his class of 85. Biden eventually dropped out of the 1988 presidential race amid charges of plagiarism. His Claremont comments were broadcast on C-SPAN.

Biden is hardly along among Presidential candidates. John McCain graduated fifth from the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy. Rudy Giuliani scored 1073 on the SAT.

The point is not that book smarts are utterly crucial to being President, but that we have an enormous country, so why can't we find some multitalented people -- who have both the personality to get elected and the intelligence to do the job -- to be President? Is that too much to ask?

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

July 24, 2007


Publication is scheduled for October for

Abraham's Children: Race, Identity, and the DNA of the Chosen People
by Jon Entine

Here's my interview with science writer Entine about this book from several years ago.

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

Nice work if you can get it

From Mahalanobis on energy trader genius Brian Hunter, who lost $6 billion betting on natural gas for Amaranth:

As he lost $6B, one would think that is punishment enough, but he does seem to be getting away with murder, in that he put on a really large calendar spread on oil, bet big and personally pocketed around $75mm in 2005, then lost $6B and got no bonus the next year on the same dumb trade. That annualizes at $37.5mm/year, not bad. As a further reward, some Middle Eastern investors are giving him $650mm for his next venture (he lost $6B? Brilliant!).

This seems to reflect a general tendency among incentive structures for the extremely well-paid, whether Wall Streeters, CEOs, movie stars, or athletes: heads you win, tails you don't lose.

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

Study: "Night People" More Anti-Social

Well, all I can say is that we night people would be a lot more cheerful and well-rested if society would stop waking us up with early afternoon phone calls.

Here's the Reuter's article.

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

Who has "the greatest computer set-up of all time?"

according to Reihan Salam's accurate assessment on American Scene?

Click here to find out. Unfortunately, the non-energy-draining part of this Apple aficionado's office resembles mine, just with a vaster footprint (both physical and carbon-emitting).

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

Mexican Machismo

In 1979, I took a tour boat around Acapulco. The guide, a local lady, pointed at a house on top of the cliff overlooking the ocean and proudly announced: "The home of movie estar Yon Wen!"

After about five minutes, I finally figured out that "Yon Wen" was John Wayne.

The great cowboy actor was probably the most prominent Mexicophilic American of the 20th Century. All three of the Duke's wives were from Latin America (Panama, Mexico, and Peru), and he loved making cowboy moves in Durango in Mexico, which looked a lot more like the Old West than anyplace in modern America. The movie closest to his heart, 1960's "The Alamo" (which he produced and directed in an era when movie stars seldom did either), was highly sympathetic to the Mexicans.

As I mentioned in "Sunday in the Park with Jorge," I'm ambivalent about Mexican machismo. I admire it in some ways, but not as much as John Wayne did.

One of the oddities of mass immigration from Mexico, however, is that, when praising the magic of diversity, almost nobody in liberal white America ever expresses any John Wayne-like appreciation for the stark Mexican sex role divide. The whole concept that Latin culture exaggerates natural sex differences just doesn't seem to register in the mainstream media. Diversity is supposed to overcome stereotypes, not reinforce them, so bringing in more Mexicans must be a victory for feminists.

What's even weirder is that the diversicrats are right on the political impact of this. Mass immigration from Mexico ultimately pushes power into the hands of the nanny state and the feminist establishment because Mexican immigrant dysfunction justifies huge numbers of government and foundation jobs for social workers. Further, macho Mexican-American politicians and activists find their white allies on the feminist-aligned left. For example, LA's strutting mayor Antonio Villaraigosa long worked for the ACLU and has one of those silly gender-equal surnames combining his last name (Villar) with his long-suffering wife's (Raigosa).

By the way, a reader writes:

I've spent a lot of time working with Mexicans and spent a lot of time in Mexico. Your observations are right on the mark. I've always thought that the Mexican practice of the "Pinata" at kids birthday parties was typically "mexican" and particularly dangerous to boot. A blinfolded kid wildy swinging a baseball bat at a paper mache' donkey filled with candy while a whole bunch of kids wait just feet away to rush in and capture the candy........That is if the kid swinging the bat stops swinging the bat when the candy starts to fall out of the Pinata. I'm sure there has been plenty of cracked skulls and concussions as a result of that mexican funfest. But, hey!, que lastima! pobrecito! Traiga la nina al cuarto emergencia donde hay muchos gringos medicos. Todo es libre, tambien! (What a pity poor thing. Just take him to the emergency room where there are lots of American doctors. It's all free too!)

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

July 22, 2007

My new VDARE.com column

Sunday in the Park with Jorge

At the big Hansen Dam Recreation Center in the northeast San Fernando Valley last Sunday afternoon, a couple of thousand people were gathered to picnic. This was no special occasion, just a normal Sunday.

The crowd was virtually 100% Latino -- before I arrived with my family, a friendly African-American guy selling funnel cakes was the sole non-Hispanic. While we are constantly lectured about the wonders of "diversity," Mexicans seem to prefer ethnic homogeneity and monoculturalism. Indeed, the scene was identical to ones taking place a thousand miles to the south, and the picnickers couldn't be happier about that....

Neoconservative commentators frequently assume that Mexican immigrants will automatically assimilate into American culture because our way of life is just so much more wonderful. In reality, however, Mexican culture is mature, stable, deeply rooted, and highly appealing to Mexicans. ...

The idea that Mexican immigrants will gladly give up Mexican culture wouldn't make much sense to the people in Hansen Dam park. They were having a lot more fun than gringos would have.

About a dozen small bands were blaring mariachi music, creating a festive (if clashing) sound track. Horseback riders wove in and out among toddlers. Vendors sold South-of-the-Border specialties such as watermelon chunks covered with hot sauce.

Of course, the reason for much of the fun at Hansen Dam was that the LAPD has apparently given up trying, under sheer weight of numbers, to enforce any of those maricon American laws.

I'm not even talking about immigration laws, but about the kind of health, safety, and environment rules that are the pride of American liberalism. In contrast, Fred Reed, the curmudgeonly columnist who recently moved to Mexico because America has gotten too regulated for his rugged individualist tastes, would have had a great time.

One of the conundrums of modern politics is that lax immigration enforcement is importing a vast class of people who hold many of the proudest accomplishments of modern American liberals in contempt, on those rare occasions when the illegal immigrants even notice them. Mexicans bring with them a macho culture, which has its strengths and weaknesses, but they aren't strengths that liberals admire when found in white Americans.

... Say you're sitting around in the park with your brand new cowboy hat on, pounding back a few cervezas, and it occurs to you that since you have got the hat, you should get the horse to go with it. What could make more sense than going for a horseback ride through a crowded park full of tiny children?

Well, at Hansen Dam, you're in luck!

In the American part of America, renting a horse has gotten expensive and time-consuming because liability insurance is so steep -- riding is quite dangerous, as the sad fates of Christopher Reeve and Cole Porter attest.

But at Hansen Dam on weekends, there are horse-owners around everywhere who will rent you a horse, few questions asked. They don't have signs advertising their business because what they are doing is illegal, so you have to ask (in Spanish, of course).

If one of the many toddlers about happens to stumble under the hooves of your mount and get trampled, well, that's tragic, but who could have foreseen such bad luck?

About 50 feet from where we were sitting, two young men started punching each other as hard as their state of inebriation would allow. Their friends swarmed in and separated them, trying to get the hotheads to calm down. But every few minutes, one would slip free from the restraining hands and attack his rival again. This was quite entertaining, but the fourth time the fight flared up, I got concerned that eventually somebody might pull out a gun.

So, we took off, gingerly dodging the drunk drivers in the parking lot. ...

In summary, there's much about Mexican culture I like. Ultimately, though, while Mexico is a nice place to visit, I wouldn't want to live there.

I shouldn't have to. That's what having separate countries is for. [More]

I shouldn't have to. That's what having separate countries is for. [More]

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

Sarkozy's new government advises the French to think less

In the NYT, Elaine Sciolino explains "New Leaders Say Pensive French Think Too Much." "Pensive" isn't the right word, since it implies the French have unexpressed thoughts, but it is pretty funny:

In proposing a tax-cut law last week, Finance Minister Christine Lagarde bluntly advised the French people to abandon their “old national habit.”

France is a country that thinks,” she told the National Assembly. “There is hardly an ideology that we haven’t turned into a theory. We have in our libraries enough to talk about for centuries to come. This is why I would like to tell you: Enough thinking, already. Roll up your sleeves.”

To graduate from college in France, you have to pass a test that consists of writing a three hour essay on a philosophical topic such as "Being or nothingness: which is more ineffable?" I may have a few details wrong about this, but the general point is that the ability to philosophize fluently off the top of one's head at great length is a status marker that shows you are a college graduate and thus important to cafe flirtation. Michael Blowhard explained:

Hard though it is for an American to believe, the French wake up in the morning and look forward to a full day's-worth of Being French. ...French philosophy is, IMHO, best understood as a cross between a hyperrefined entertainment form, and an industry for the supplying of fodder for cafe-and-flirtation chatter. Take French philosophy straight and you're likely to wind up doing something stupid like destroying a department of English, or maybe even ruining your own life. The French would never make such a mistake; after all, nothing -- not even philosophy -- can distract them from the pursuit of Being French. In fact, part of Being French is enjoying philosophical chitchat, the more fashionable the better. We may not have much patience with it, but the French love the spectacle of radical posturing. We tend to engage with the substance of a radical position. For the French, this kind of attitudinizing is enjoyed. It adds spice to life; it's sexy intellectual titillation... French philosophy? Well, it gives the French something sophisticated-seeming to say (and to gab about) as they go about the genuinely serious business of Being French.

The NYT continues:

Citing Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America,” she said the French should work harder, earn more and be rewarded with lower taxes if they get rich.

Ms. Lagarde knows well the Horatio Alger story of making money through hard work. She looked west to make her fortune, spending much of her career as a lawyer at the firm of Baker & McKenzie, based in the American city identified by its broad shoulders and work ethic: Chicago. She rose to become the first woman to head the firm’s executive committee and was named one of the world’s most powerful women by Forbes magazine.

So now, two years back in France, she is a natural to promote the program of Mr. Sarkozy, whose driving force is doing rather than musing, and whose mantra is “work more to earn more.”

Certainly, the new president himself has cultivated his image as a nonintellectual. “I am not a theoretician,” he told a television interviewer last month. “I am not an ideologue. Oh, I am not an intellectual! I am someone concrete!”

But the disdain for reflection may be going a bit too far. It certainly has set the French intellectual class on edge.

“How absurd to say we should think less!” said Alain Finkielkraut, the philosopher, writer, professor and radio show host. “If you have the chance to consecrate your life to thinking, you work all the time, even in your sleep. Thinking requires setbacks, suffering, a lot of sweat.”

Indeed, sweat is pouring from my brow as I try to think up something smarter to say about this than "Indeed."

Bernard-Henri Lévy, the much more splashy philosopher-journalist who wrote a book retracing Tocqueville’s 19th-century travels throughout the United States, is similarly appalled by Ms. Lagarde’s comments.

“This is the sort of thing you can hear in cafe conversations from morons who drink too much,” said Mr. Lévy, who is so well-known in French that he is known simply by his initials B.H.L. “To my knowledge this is the first time in modern French history that a minister dares to utter such phrases. I’m pro-American and pro-market, so I could have voted for Nicolas Sarkozy, but this anti-intellectual tendency is one of the reasons that I did not.”

Mr. Lévy, who ultimately endorsed Mr. Sarkozy’s Socialist rival, Ségolène Royal, said that Ms. Lagarde was much too selective in quoting Tocqueville and suggested that she read his complete works. In her leisure time. ...

Here's Garrison Keillor's well-known review of BHL's insufferable American Vertigo.

Indeed, the idea of admitting one’s wealth, once considered déclassé, is becoming more acceptable. A cover story in the popular weekly magazine VSD this month included revelations that just a few years ago would have been unthinkable: the 2006 income of leading French personalities ($18 million for soccer star Zinedine Zidane, $12.1 million for rock star Johnny Hallyday, $334,000 for Prime Minister François Fillon, $109,000 for Mr. Sarkozy).

Johnny Hallyday is 64 years old. How do you make $12 million per year when you are 64 as a rock star, especially one who is utterly unknown in the English-speaking world? I guess maybe the reason is that M. Hallyday is the only French rock star. Perhaps an emphasis on rationalism prevents the French from developing rock stars more often than once every 40 years?

And do you want to guess that Mr. Sarkozy lived a little better than $109,000-worth?

Still, the French devotion to Cartesian rationality has served the French fairly well. The French don't score any higher in IQ than Americans or other Europeans, but they sometimes seem to think things through better than others do, as in nuclear power or health care. Unlike the Marines, the French tend to believe that there are two ways to do anything: the wrong way and the right way, which should be the French way.

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

Making the San Fernando Valley more vibrant

The eastern half of the San Fernando Valley has had a big influx in just the last few years of people from a big swath of the planet running from, roughly Moscow to Yemen. Lots of them are good eggs, but a few have definitely made the place more, uh, colorful. For example, there was this gang who kidnapped and murdered five fellow ex-Soviet immigrants from a luxurious house in the hills of Encino.

And now, from the LA Times:

Yana Kovalevsky made a colorful entrance. Not long out of the hospital, she hobbled into her neighborhood Starbucks for an interview on a purple-and-pink-striped cane. A blond-and-brown-streaked wig roosted on her head.

Under the wig, her scalp was a patchy landscape. A traumatic shedding had left the locks that once cascaded to her elbows struggling to regrow.

She needed the cane because a nerve-pinging disorder that somehow combined pain and numbness had turned her legs to rubber.

Last February, during a visit to their native Russia, Kovalevsky, a 27-year-old North Hollywood social worker, and her physician mother became critically ill from the effects of thallium. Their ordeal made worldwide headlines because thallium is a rare poison usually associated with political assassins and murderous inheritance seekers, not with the likes of Yana and Dr. Marina Kovalevsky.

It remains unknown how they came to ingest the tiny but potentially lethal amounts of the heavy metal. Among the other unanswered questions is who targeted them and why — if the poisoning was intentional, as mother, daughter and their doctors now believe. ...

A decade and a half before they were poisoned, the Kovalevskys had been an unheralded part of another international story — the emigration of Soviet Jews. They had followed Marina's brother Dr. Leon Peck, a fellow physician, to the United States. Peck had been a refusenik for 10 years before he received a visa to leave Russia in 1988. The Kovalevskys got out in 1991, settling in Los Angeles and then moving to Louisiana, where Marina, 50, completed a medical residency. They returned to California, where Marina established a family practice out of a West Hollywood storefront.

She is now back at work and has declined to be interviewed, pleading for privacy. Yana said her mother's reticence hardened after FBI agents investigating the poisoning queried her about the Russian American medical community, which has been a focus of insurance fraud inquiries.

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