October 12, 2007

Pink palms

Here's a question that everybody has wondered about at least once since they were six years old, but I've never heard an answer for: why do black people have pink palms and soles? Is it also true of other darkskinned peoples like Melanesians?

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

Why Thatcher won

The old British Labour Party suffered a fundamental conflict of interest as a governing party:

- As the Government, it was supposed to run the nationalized industries in the interest of the nation;

- But as the Parliamentary representative of the labour unions, including the huge unions at the bloated and money-losing nationalized industries, it was supposed to help unions extort as much in wages and goldbricking as possible from management (i.e., the Labour Government) and shareholders (i.e., theoretically, the British people).

The result was economic chaos: inflation, strikes, blackouts, garbage heaped up in the streets, bodies left unburied, etc.

By privatizing many nationalized industries and by taming union power in the battle with Stalinist union boss Arthur Scargill's coal miners in the mid 1980s, Thatcher made possible Tony Blair's New Labour Party that, freed from this fatal contradiction, has done so well for itself with the voters.

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

October 11, 2007

Jena Six football star back in jail

Mychal Bell, the All-State football star at the center of the Jena Six brouhaha, was today sentenced to jail for 18 months for his four previous convictions. See, stomping an unconscious kid wasn't part of his various probation deals that had allowed him to stay out of juvenile hall and on the football field for Jena H.S. in 2006:

'Jena 6' Teen Mychal Bell Back in Jail

The Associated Press

JENA, La. -- A teenager at the center of a civil rights controversy was back in jail Thursday after a judge decided the fight that put him in the national spotlight violated terms of his probation for a previous conviction, his attorney said.

Mychal Bell, who along with five other black teenagers is accused of beating a white classmate, had gone to juvenile court Thursday expecting another routine hearing, said Carol Powell Lexing, one of Bell's attorneys.

Instead, after a six-hour hearing, state District Judge J.P. Mauffrey Jr. sentenced him to 18 months in jail on two counts of simple battery and two counts of criminal destruction of property, Lexing said.

He had been hit with those charges before the Dec. 4 attack on classmate Justin Barker. Details on the previous charges, which were handled in juvenile court, were unclear.

We know that in one of those earlier "ajudications" (juvenile justicese for "convictions") the 5'-10", 185 pound fullback /middle linebacker (100 yards rushing and 12 tackles per game as a junior) who was being recruited by mighty LSU, was found guilty of punching a 17 year old girl in the face.

Is anybody other than the original small town reporter Abbey Brown and sportswriter Jason Whitlock ever going to realize that this isn't a story about poor oppressed sharecroppers getting lynched, it's a story about football stars who were coddled for years, until they finally went too far, because small towns in the South are crazy about high school football?

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


The new sequel to the Oscar-nominated 1998 film "Elizabeth," with Cate Blanchett as the Tudor Queen, "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," features Clive Owen as Sir Walter Raleigh, who legendarily laid his cloak across the puddle for Elizabeth to walk across. In this movie, Sir Walter Raleigh is shown defeating the Spanish Armada by setting fire to English ships and having them blown into the midst of the vast Spanish Navy.

Wouldn't you love to read a transcript of the story conference where, no doubt, some producer sprang on the screenwriter, who had spent months doing research, the idea that it would really simplify the story if Sir Francis Drake, the actual conquerer of the Armada, and Sir Walter Raleigh were simply combined into one character named "Sir Walter Raleigh." I bet he said something like, "After all, everybody reads about Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh in World History class in high school, but who can remember which one was which? All anybody can remember in their names is the 'Sir' part at the beginning and then they stop paying attention."

In 400 years, Hollywood will probably make a movie set in late 20th Century America in which a character named Michael Jordan moonwalks his way to slam dunks while singing "Billie Jean."

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

More bang for your buck

Harvard's endowment generated another 23% return on investment in the year ending in June 2007, so, along with new gifts, the university's endowment has reached $34.9 billion, up from about $7 billion just twelve years ago.

In other words, Harvard doesn't need any more money. But, it will keep getting more money, because everybody loves a winner.

Donors should realize that they get a bigger bang for their buck by donating to think tanks -- literally, in the case of the American Enterprise Institute, which was the epicenter of the Iraq Attaq whooping, and is trying to be the same thing for Bomb Bomb Iran.

Here's an excerpt from the American Enterprise Institute's press release on the retirement of their head, Christopher DeMuth:

"AEI grew from a budget of $7.7 million in 1987 to $23.6 million in 2006. AEI has operated at a surplus of revenues over expenses throughout his tenure, with an average annual surplus of more than $1 million. The Institute was $9 million in debt when Mr. DeMuth arrived; today its net asset balance is $76 million, with additional outstanding financial pledges exceeding $60 million."

So, $76 million is just a little over 1/2000th of Harvard's $35 billion. Now Harvard has lots of things that AEI doesn't have, but, let me ask you this: Does it have its own war?

I rest my case.

What would be even more efficient than donating to a think tank, however, would be personalized patronage. For example, how many people in America are rich enough to pay Greg Cochran enough money so he could stop engineering state of the art telescopes for a living and concentrate on his research, scientific and strategic? And maybe enough for him to hire a bright young local lad, such as Thrasymachus, as an assistant?

Similarly, the operating deficit of political magazines and webzines is a drop in the bucket compared to the vast amount flowing to Ivy League colleges, but with much more impact on the world.

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

America's Destiny: Apocalypse or Planetary Archonship?

American politicians and federal officials are still trying to get straight in their heads that confusing Shia vs. Sunni thingie, but it turns out that the Middle East has a whole bunch of living religions that aren't exactly part of Islam, Christianity, or Judaism.

Sure, we've all heard of the Samaritans in Israel, the mysterious and pugnacious Druze of Lebanon, the heretical Alawites who rule Syria, the Lucifer-worshipping Yezidis of Kurdistan, the millions of angel-worshipping Alevi of Turkey, and the Donme, the crypto-Jewish followers of the False Messiah who wield much influence in modern Istanbul.

But according to this NYT oped "Save the Gnostics," in 2003 there were also 50,000 Gnostics, known as Mandaeans, who lived in Southern Iraq. They revere Adam, Noah and John the Baptist, and reject Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. Wikipedia informs us, "While they agree with other gnostic sects that the world is a prison governed by the planetary archons, they do not view it as a cruel and inhospitable one." So, they've got that going for them, which is nice...

Wait a minute, did that just say "planetary archons?"

A planetary archon, it appears, is a demiurge, in-between humans and God, who created and rules the world, and does a pretty bad job of it. (It's basically the same idea as John Tierney's recent NYT article hypothesizing that our universe is just a simulation game, like World of Warcraft, being played by some superintelligent computer geek somewhere.) The point of the Gnosis or secret knowledge is to get around the layers of bureaucracy in the middle and talk directly to God.

But now thanks to America spreading democracy to Iraq, the Gnostics are being persecuted by the Shia Muslims and are fleeing to Syria. Whether they blame their fate on America or on a planetary archon is not specified. (Better not mention this term to Bill Kristol or he'll make it the basis of his whole political platform and worldview. The Weekly Standard will run cover stories on "America's Destiny: Apocalypse or Planetary Archonship? We Must Choose Now!")

Meanwhile, at GNXP, Razib chips in with "Obscure Middle Eastern religious cults - part n," in which he unveils the million or so people in Iran who are called various names: Yarsan/Yaresan, Kakeyi, Ahl-e Haqq or Ahl-i Haqq. They believe in reincarnation.

In the comments on GNXP, tommy asks about the Shabak near Mosul, who appear to be sort of like the Yazidis, but also like kind of Muslims, except they drink alcohol and have their own sacred book, written in Turkoman. The Sunnis are beheading them in large numbers.

Are we totally sure we knew what we were getting into over there?

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


Ever since Dave Barry retired from writing columns, I haven't been keeping up with the post-modern art scene in London, "which, as far as I [Dave] can tell, exists mainly to provide me with material," such as the Turner prize for the empty room with lights going on and off, or the tragic tale of Damien Hirst's rearrangement of some trash on the floor into an "installation" that the janitor unknowingly swept up and threw away.

Nevertheless, the British art world has soldiered on even without its most apt chronicler, creating art than allows the semi-literate hacks at the Daily Mail to sound like Dave:

Three women have been hurt by falling into Tate Modern's latest installation - a crack in the floor.

At 548 feet long, up to three feet deep and 10inches wide, it zigzags the length of the Turbine Hall and has been described as a highly original work of art. …

One young woman had to be dragged out by friends after falling into the crack in the floor but was otherwise unharmed.

A few minutes later, another visitor to the gallery, who thought the crack was painted, also fell in - this time injuring her wrist.

One observer said: "Instead of art imitating life, here it's threatening life."

Colombian artist Doris Salcedo's work Shibboleth, nick-named Doris's crack, is the latest controversial installation in the Tate's massive Turbine Hall.

But one onlooker said: "We saw the first victim, a young woman who went into it with both feet up to just below her knees. She had to be dragged out by her friends.

"As we watched to see whether she was okay, an older woman deliberately stepped on it, lurched forward and landed on the ground. She told us she thought the crack was painted on the floor."

The installation cost about £300,000 and took more than six months to complete…

The crack is said to represent the division [divisive?] problem of integrating immigrants into European society.

And, yes, I'm not making this up.

Here's Barry on "plop art:"

Dade County purchased an office building from the city of Miami. The problem was that, squatting in an area that the county wanted to convert into office space, there was a large ugly wad of metal, set into the concrete. So the county sent construction workers with heavy equipment to rip out the wad, which was then going to be destroyed.

But guess what? Correct! It turns out that this was NOT an ugly wad. It was art! Specifically, it was Public Art, defined as "art that is purchased by experts who are not spending their own personal money.'' The money of course comes from the taxpayers, who are not allowed to spend this money themselves because (1) they probably wouldn't buy art, and (2) if they did, there is no way they would buy the crashed-spaceship style of art that the experts usually select for them.

The Miami wad is in fact a sculpture by the famous Italian sculptor Pomodoro (like most famous artists, he is not referred to by his first name, although I like to think it's "Bud''). This sculpture cost the taxpayers $80,000, which makes it an important work of art. In dollar terms, it is 3,200 times as important as a painting of dogs playing poker, and more than 5,000 times as important as a velveteen Elvis.

Fortunately, before the sculpture was destroyed, the error was discovered, and the Pomodoro was moved to another city office building, where it sits next to the parking garage, providing great pleasure to the many taxpayers who come to admire it.

I am kidding, of course. On the day I went to see it, the sculpture was, like so many pieces of modern taxpayer-purchased public art, being totally ignored by the actual taxpaying public, possibly because it looks -- and I say this with all due artistic respect for Bud -- like an abandoned air compressor.

So here's what I think: I think there should be a law requiring that all public art be marked with a large sign stating something like: "NOTICE! THIS IS A PIECE OF ART! THE PUBLIC SHOULD ENJOY IT TO THE TUNE OF 80,000 CLAMS!''

Also, if there happens to be an abandoned air compressor nearby, it should have a sign that says: "NOTICE! THIS IS NOT ART!'' so the public does not waste time enjoying the wrong thing. The public should enjoy what the experts have decided the public should enjoy.

Anyway, this is quite a testimony to the sheer power of momentum in human affairs. When I was a kid back in the 1960s, Life Magazine frequently brought the news of the latest cutting edge innovations going on in New York galleries to us middlebrows out in the hinterlands. In the 1970s, highbrow skeptics of contemporary art, such as Tom Stoppard in "Travesties" and Tom Wolfe in "The Painted Word," emerged.

In the three decades since, the two Toms's view -- that this kind of thing is a joke, and an increasingly unfunny, indeed boring, one -- has come to be almost universal. Nobody seems to pay any attention anymore to contemporary gallery art except to mock it, and yet ... the money keeps rolling in. $600,000 to create a 185-yard-long pedestrian hazard? Sure, why not?

Presumably, this all has to do with status displays. Before photography, creating images was difficult, so they were scarce and expensive, their creators admired, and their best works housed in special temples. But now we are awash in images in our own homes, yet the aura surrounding museums endures, so that whatever their management chooses to display on their walls -- or, in this case, in their floors -- retains prestige, even though everybody knows it's a joke.

Over the years, the joke, such as it is, has become increasingly meta: the joke is that there's no more joke. It was pretty funny 90 years ago when Marcel Duchamp made a urinal his entry in an art show because art was supposed to be high and venerable. (According to Wikipedia, "Duchamp's Fountain was voted the most influential artwork of the 20th century by 500 selected British artworld professionals.") But jokes depend upon surprise, and nothing anybody does anymore inside a museum is at all surprising, so they are now all unjokes, which, I guess, is the metajoke.

But nobody cares.

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

October 10, 2007

The American Conservative, 10/8/07

Latest online issue:

October 8, 2007 Issue

Sycophant Savior
By Andrew J. Bacevich
General Petraeus protects official Washington from its greatest fear: admitting it was wrong.

Fire Fight
By Paul W. Schroeder
The conflagration in Iraq won’t be extinguished until the American arsonist departs.

War Whisperers
Kelley Beaucar Vlahos
Americans will vote for a new president, but the same Beltway apparatchiks will be guiding our foreign policy.

Surge Protectors
By Philip Weiss
More to Freedom’s Watch than meets the eye

Slip Sliding Away
By James Howard Kunstler
The mortgage collapse presages a broader meltdown.

Mutiny in the Valley
by Michael Brendan Dougherty
Hudson Valley Minutemen

From Russia, Without Love
By Steve Sailer
Viggo Mortensen in “Eastern Promises”

Rose Garden of Good and Evil
By Tom Piatak
A Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency by Glenn Greenwald

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

Damn white males keep benefiting humanity

The three hard science Nobel prizes (Physics, Chemistry, and Medicine/Physiology) have now been announced for 2007 and white males (six out of six in this case) continue to oppress the rest of humanity by discovering and inventing stuff.

The hard science Nobels are remarkably untainted by the Diversity Cringe. The judges just seem to feel, "Hey, we're the Nobel Prize guys. The N.o.b.e.l. Prize. We don't have to degrade ourselves for political reasons, so we won't." It's striking how few other prestigious institutions feel that way.

From 2000 through 2007, there have been 61 hard science Nobel Laureates, and one was a woman (Linda B. Buck in Medicine in 2004), or 1.64%. Since 1965, women have made up 2.13% of the hard science Laureates (6 out of 282), compared to 2.50% (6 out of 240) before then.

If this downward trend continues, I expect Larry Summers will have even more speaking engagements canceled.

They don't hate you for being wrong, just for being right.

Note, some of the recent winners have been pretty elderly, so somebody enterprising could go through the Nobel lists and make up a table of Laureates by decade of birth and see what the trend is when looked at that way. Of course, with just 6 out of the last 282 hard science Laureates being women, there's just not a lot there to work with.

From the Comments:

C. Van Carter said...

Speculations about women's cognitive abilities are obviously a greater impediment to scientific achievement than spending four years living on the streets as a child while your mother is in Dachau.

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

Mexican presidential candidate wins Berlin 17-mile marathon

I've long argued that the LA Times should carry more news from Mexico, since it's not just relevant, but likely to be more colorful than the "What Next for the Law of the Sea Treaty?" thumbsuckers the newspaper traditionally specialized in. Maybe they're taking me up on my suggestion:

Former Mexican presidential candidate Roberto Madrazo made headlines in Germany, eight days after winning the Berlin Marathon in his age group.

"The Fastest Man of Mexico," said Monday's Berliner Zeitung newspaper, referring to the 55-year-old Madrazo's race time of 2 hours, 40 minutes and 57 seconds.

Unfortunately for Madrazo, it was a sarcastic jab. He was disqualified Monday by race officials after an investigation showed that the computer chip he carried went undetected at checkpoints along about a third of the 26.2-mile course. Madrazo appeared near the end of the race and was declared the winner of the "men's 55-and-over" category.

"We're disqualifying him," said a race spokeswoman Tuesday.

Marathon officials said there was no record of Madrazo crossing race checkpoints between the 12.4-mile and 21.8-mile course markers. A race video showed him bundled up in a windbreaker, hat and sweatsuit as he crossed the finish line, arms outstretched in an apparent victory salute. His weary opponents, meanwhile, soldiered past in shorts and singlets. ...

The paper found he ran the first half of the race at his normal pace. But over the more than nine miles missing from the computer record, Madrazo would have had to run faster than the world record holder to finish in his winning time.

The cheating allegation drew many wry comparisons here to the modern world record of seven decades during which Madrazo's Institutional Revolutionary Party managed to dominate elections. ...

Madrazo would not comment on the disqualification or the race, spokeswoman Addy Garcia said Tuesday.

"At this moment he holds no public office, and he is just like any other Mexican who doesn't have to give an explanation to anyone," she said.

Madrazo finished third in the July 2006 presidential election after being dogged by allegations that he had profited from a lifetime of public service under the PRI, as the former ruling party is known.

The PRI candidate Carlos Salinas won the 1988 Presidential election over the leftist candidate when "the computer went down" in the middle of the vote count. When it came back up, whaddayaknow? Salinas had come from behind to take the lead! So, the computer must have gone down during the crucial midsection when Madrazo made like a 25-year-old Kenyan.

The idea of a hailing a taxi for the middle section of the race is not exactly a new strategy in marathoning. In the most hilarious footrace ever run, the 1904 St. Louis Olympics marathon, among many other bizarre incidents, Fred Lorz cramped up halfway through, so he got in a cab and rode to the stadium to see the runners enter. And, hey, why pay for a ticket when I could just jog right in? Oh, look, they're all cheering for me! Well, those nice folks in the stands would sure be disappointed if I told them I wasn't really in the race anymore, so I'll just play along for the moment ... . At least that's how Fred made it sound after he was revealed to be a fraud just before he received his gold medal. But Senor Madrazo's ploy doesn't even meet that smell test. It's not like there was a vast throng cheering as the first guy in the 55+ bracket straggled in with a bunch of younger runners a half hour after the winner.

A reader writes: "I guess he felt that, 'Going through the checkpoints legally takes too long! I just wanted to have a better life!!'"

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

October 9, 2007

The Offshore Islanders

This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

I wonder if Britain and Japan both benefited from being "offshore islanders" (the title of Paul Johnson's idiosyncratic and fascinating 1972 history of England, back when he was a leftist patriot). The stability of Britain is quite remarkable -- there are old deeds and other legal documents still on file from many centuries past, ready to be consulted if a question of exactly where the boundary of a piece of property rests. Perhaps not being invaded since 1066 meant the evolution (whether cultural or genetic) of middle class traits could proceed quickest there because the settled distribution of property allowed for fair competition.

A reader in what has been, more than anywhere else, the crossroads of the world -- Istanbul -- writes in response to my review of Gregory Clark's A Farewell to Alms that living in the historic center of all the action has its downside:

As erudite as Max Weber and his theory of the Protestant work ethic is (maybe; haven't read him much other than in short extracts), he seems he was lacking a very crucial, fatally crucial model for social science: the Darwinist paradigm of game-theoretic racing/survival conditions.

Somebody has to whisper in the ears of modern social "scientists" with their confused paradigms: it's not that religion suddenly got hold of Europeans -- the religion which Freud wrongly identified as the suppression of natural desires to create a neurotic bourgeois personality -- and the "stifling" work ethic was born and thus capitalism.

It's that the "beta" layers of society who already had "religion" in their genes, and therefore were not "neurotic" or "oppressed" or anything by it, who therefore had the right attitude for creating prosperity -- a combination of thriftiness, mutual respect of rights, cooperativeness, hard work, and tons of creativity -- outlasted the rest of the suckers who ate or killed themselves out of the gene pool.

This itself can explain the root causes of practically all the problems that the rest of us suckers are suffering from. To you, an American, it may be rather hypothetical, but to me, as a "turd" worlder, it is crystal clear: if we had these qualities only at twice the present levels, you'd see us reach Korean levels of productivity. But, alas, as the ultimate dumping ground of every imaginable race around the old world, as the crossroads where every bully ethny that got to be anybody met with each other, as the genetic junkyard of practically the last two millennia, we didn't stand a chance, did we?

Isolation? What isolation? Never heard of the word before, sir!

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

"A Farewell to Alms:" My VDARE.com review, Part 1

Here's my new VDARE.com book review. The second part will run next Sunday night.

A Farewell to Alms: Why Did the Industrial Revolution Happen Where it Did?

By Steve Sailer

An ambitious and provocative new book by University of California at Davis economic historian Gregory Clark, A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World, attempts to explain two huge questions:

Why did one part of the human race finally break out of the "Malthusian trap"—in which growth in per capita income is washed away by subsequent population growth—namely England, at the end of the 18th Century, through rapid and sustained technological advance?

And why did the prosperity made possible by the Industrial Revolution successfully spread to some countries but not to others?

In the process, Clark offers a stunning rebuke to economists:

"God clearly created the laws of the economic world in order to have a little fun at economists' expense. In other areas of inquiry, such as the physical sciences, there has been a steady accumulation of knowledge over the past four hundred years. … In economics, however, we see instead that our ability to describe and predict the economic world reached a peak around 1800. In the years since the Industrial Revolution there has been a progressive and continuing disengagement of economic models from any ability to predict differences of income and wealth across time and across countries and regions."

In other words, economists were closer to understanding the wealth of nations in 1776 when Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations than they are today.

The pioneering economic works of Smith and Thomas Malthus (1798) accurately described the world before the Industrial Revolution that was just getting underway then with the employment of the steam engine in cotton mills. By 1817, when David Ricardo was pessimistically propounding what later came to be known as "the Iron Law of Wages," England was moving in a new, liberating direction unexpected by economists.

In the modern world, a shortage of cheap labor turned out to be a blessing rather than a curse. The future belonged to countries with high wage, high quality work forces.

But the prestige of the economists and their Scroogeonomic emphasis on cheap labor was so great that Britain didn't even effectively outlaw the use of five-year-old boys as chimney sweeps until 1875.

Clark's book idiosyncratically combines the strengths and weaknesses of both economists and historians.

Although economists were long the butt of angry jokes, the improvement of the economy after the early 1980s has raised their prestige and self-confidence. As shown by the three million copies sold of Steven Levitt's Freakonomics, economists are the hot academics of the moment, the glamour professors, just as cultural anthropologists were back in Margaret Mead's heyday in the 1950s.

The strong point of economists is that they believe in "theory" in the same sense that hard scientists do—as a tool for simplifying our understanding of reality and for making more accurate predictions. (In contrast, professors of English literature use the word "theory" to mean the hateful mumbo-jumbo that they wield as a barrier to entry to their otherwise appealing profession—a barricade of bad writing that repels many of the huge number of people who love good writing and would otherwise want to be English professors.)


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

October 8, 2007

Q. How do you know it's Autumn?

A. When the media starts its annual round of credulous stories about how crops are going to rot in the fields because of not enough cheap illegal alien labor so we need a bigger Guest Peasant program to alleviate the looming shortage/crisis.

NorCal Farmers: 'We Don't Have Enough Workers'

Produce May Rot In Fields

Farmers in and around the Bay Area are starting to feel the pinch from tighter border security and visa requirements, NBC11's Daniel Garza reported Monday. Some farmers told Garza they expect some of their fields to remain unpicked. Some said they believe their fields will end up filled with rotting produce. The Bush administration has learned of the possible loss of millions of dollars for thousands of farmers throughout the country, and is attempting to loosen visa requirements for workers.

I took a comprehensive look at this genre of annual news story exactly one year ago today in VDARE.com during the Great Pear Crisis of 2006: "Pearanoia." As you have no doubt noticed, nobody in America has eaten a pear in over a year. Larry Ellison bought the last pear in the world at a Sotheby's auction in June and keeps it on display in a crystal vault at Oracle headquarters.

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

Columbus Day

Why is American food getting spicier? asks economist/foodie Tyler Cowen.

This is not a short term trend. Spices from the tropics were always a luxury item to medieval Europeans, and now their descendants can afford more of them.

Spicy plants are more common at lower latitudes because spices are anti-parasite poisons evolved to protect the plant from the teeming variety of parasites found more in year-round warm climates than in wintry climates. (Also, biodiversity is greater in the tropics due to more specialization because of milder seasonal swings). Thus, cuisines get blander the farther north you go (as Garrison Keillor's jokes about Norwegian cooking show), in part because there are so few spicy plants growing at latitudes where winter kills off most parasites for them.

Thus, 15th Century Europe's equivalent of the space race of the 20th Century was to find shipping routes, both eastbound and westbound, to the Spice Islands of the East Indies to bring back peppers so that meat could be preserved longer against parasites.

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

The Game of Nations

Here's an interesting story in Esquire from last summer about the big plans the Pentagon has for Africa. See, we're going to go to Africa and kill people and break things at the same time we paint their schools! Pretty innovative, huh? What could possibly go wrong?

The Americans Have Landed

A few years ago, with little fanfare, the United States opened a base in the horn of Africa to kill or capture Al Qaeda fighters. By 2012, the Pentagon will have two dozen such forts. The story of Africa Command, the American military's new frontier outpost.

By Thomas P.M. Barnett

The reality has been that not much happens in Africa that affects the outside world. Is that going to change? Maybe. Barnett has a complicated demographic theory about why Africa will soon transform from the rather lackadaisical place described by Modern Drunkard magazine as "a drinker's paradise" into a seething inferno of Al Qaeda-led suicide bombers out to destroy America. See, in Barnett's theory, all the countries that are "connected" to each other via trade and communications always get along, but the unconnected ones off on their own are trouble. (I guess that's why isolated Paraguay caused the world so much more trouble in the 20th Century than centrally-located Germany.)

Okay, maybe, although I suspect that even though we assume that Somalians are obsessed with America, the reality is that life in Somalia is full of interest, thank you very much, and they don't really think much about us except when we get in their faces. But, maybe I'm wrong.

Still, will painting their schools really make them like us more? If they care so much about having painted schools, wouldn't they paint them themselves? Didn't Ben Franklin explain that doing people favors just makes them resent that you can do them favors? (Instead, have them do you favors, which will make them like you more.)

Will having our soldiers roar around African locales in Black Hawks pointing .50 caliber machine guns at the locals -- in between the school painting -- really win the hearts and minds of the local youths? Aren't they instead going to resent the fact that we get to roar around their neighborhood but they don't get to roar around ours? Maybe that will plant the idea in their young men's heads that they should come to America and do some roaring here just to show us we're not so tough after all?

Wouldn't it be easier for all concerned just to not let them through Customs at JFK?

Sorry, I forgot. Since our leaders have invited the world, we have to invade the world. It's that simple.

One interesting point Barnett raises without quite making it is that when it comes to charity work, American soldiers tend to be better liked by the Third World locals than dweeby NGO volunteers (except when our soldiers kill their kin, which they remember unto the seventh generation):

Team leader of Team B/413th Civil Affairs Battalion, McKnight is an instantly likable fellow. He's a balding bear of a guy whose uniform is a Cubs cap and a bike-messenger bag, and he comes off like a good high school football coach. And he did coach at a school in an unglamorous part of Miami. "Suburban kids didn't need me because they've already got parents," he says. ...

Civil affairs promised him the most remote locations with the neediest clients. Now sitting across from me at a seedy Internet café located in the sweltering waterfront of Lamu, Kenya, an ancient seafaring port, McKnight downs a huge beer in a single gulp and leans back, flashing his gap-tooth grin like Vince Lombardi. He's been in country for almost six months now and has put in repeated requests to extend his tour of duty, to no avail. "I'll probably get me something deep in South America next," he says.

McKnight in his element is a superb intelligence gatherer (or what they call in spycraft "human intelligence"). We took a long tour of Lamu's labyrinthine back alleys, where the carved wooden doors mark the homes of some of the world's oldest slave traders, and the open sewers reek. I'm holding my nose while McKnight presses the flesh of every shopkeeper we pass, most of whom warmly yell out his name in greeting. He's like some muzungu running for office on Lamu's south side: exchanging gossip, asking how business has been lately, needling them for details about this or that local issue.

Most of the Third World, especially the Horn of Africa, is a man's world, and they like a man's man better than a more sensitive soul.

That's why some of the best anthropologists have been two-fisted brawlers, like Napoleon Chagnon and Carleton Coon. The latter's autobiography recounts a lot more fistfights, some of them quite brutal, than is common in the memoirs of Ivy League professors. Coon's specialty when wearing his cultural anthropologist hat was "the wilder whites" -- mountain tribes in Northwest Africa and the Balkans. They thought Coon was a helluva guy. In fact, in the OSS in WWII in the Mahgreb, Coon's highest priority was to be ready to become "Lawrence of Morocco." If Franco had let the Nazis came down through Spain and wipe out from the rear the Anglo-American army that was fighting Rommel, Coon's assignment was to disappear into the Rif Mountains and rally the tribes to fight the Germans.

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

October 7, 2007


For Columbus-related reasons, my weekly VDARE column will be up Monday night rather than the usual Sunday night. I'll be reviewing Gregory Clark's ambitious A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World.

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

Immigrant relative/spouse sex ratio map

A reader writes:
This might interest you.

I collected data from the new DHS site's immigration statistics division for the years 2003-2006 on the gender of immigrants who were admitted as 'immediate relatives of U.S. citizens'. As a practical matter, the majority of such immigrants are the SPOUSES of U.S. citizens (who may or may not be native-born Americans). Although DHS very unhelpfully stopped collecting separate statistics for spouses, parents, and children in 2003, I did my best to cut out adopted orphans which would skew the ratio for some important countries such as Russia, China, and Korea, which I did for 2003, 2005, and 2006 (2005 had defective data which included only about half of adopted orphans).

The upshot of all this is that doing this seems to show nicely how attractive the men versus the women of a given nation are!

Brendan Gordon

Click on the map to see the full size version. The key reads that Navy Blue countries have over 3 times as many female relatives of American citizens being brought into America as males. Medium Blue countries are 2x. At the other end of the scale is Dark Red.

I haven't looked into this in detail, but it looks pretty plausible. I suppose it could be skewed by arranged marriages, such as all the arranged cousin marriage that bring Pakistani boys to Britain to marry their cousins. Another thing that could skew it is citizens bringing in non-spouse relatives, such as widowed moms and sisters. This would be especially high for countries that mostly send men to America as pioneering immigrants.

And it would be interesting to look at the sex ratio of foreign adoptions, since prospective American parents are very interested in how well their future child will do in the American marriage market.

But, it's a good start.

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

Irony Deficiency

From The New Republic, here's a review of Mearsheimer & Walt's book The Israel Lobby. Jeffrey Goldberg's review, which begins by drawing an extremely long analogy between Osama bin Laden and the two college professors, is headlined:

The Israel Lobby is an Act of Intimidation.

That's a joke, right? Somebody, please tell me that's a joke.

Goldberg writes:
"It represents the most sustained attack, the most mainstream attack, against the political enfranchisement of American Jews since the era of Father Coughlin."

I hear that 31 states have already voted to pass the 28th Amendment to take the vote away from Jews. It's practically a done deal. The only thing that can stop it are vast contributions to Jewish lobbies. Better get your checkbooks out now or the Cossacks will be riding through Shaker Heights.

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