February 2, 2008

The American Conservative on McCain

From the February 11th issue of The American Conservative:

February 11, 2008 Issue

Paul for President

The Great Betrayal
The Arizona senator says our jobs are not coming back, the illegals are not going home, and we are going to have more wars.
by Patrick J. Buchanan

The Madness of John McCain
George W. Bush’s plan to remake the Middle East looked delusional—until his would-be successor began talking about his plan to reform the Middle East.
by Justin Raimondo

Presidential Pardon
Count on McCain to resurrect his amnesty advocacy as soon as the voters can be ignored.
by W. James Antle III

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

Theories about conspiracies theories

[Links fixed]
The Man Who Is Thursday offers "The Steve Sailer Rule of Conspiracies:"

Over the past couple years, Steve Sailer's writings on conspiracy theories (see below) have intrigued me. Like most educated Westerners I don't think much of conspiracy theorizing, but the examples Steve has given got me thinking. ...

More interesting though are some of Steve's other examples: the Mafia, the 90s Russian oligarchs, the Donmeh, the diamond business. What these all have in common is that they all involve closely knit ethnic groups or people with close family ties. To be precise, actual conspiracies tend to be found only among family members or, what amounts to the same thing, closely knit, endogamous ethnic groups. Therefore, in honour of Steve's abiding interest in family, I give your the Steve Sailer Rule of Conspiracies. So far as I know, Steve hasn't spelled this out explicitly, but I'll do it for him:

Click here to find out what Thursday proposes.

When you get back, I want to raise a related issue: the declining value of covert conspiracies relative to overt conspiracies.

Say we were sitting around in a dorm room in 1978 and I told you that each winter the world's richest men gather in an obscure village high in the Alps to discuss how to impose economic policies in their self-interest on the nations of the world.

You'd say I had seen too many paranoia thrillers like Three Days of the Condor, Parallax View, and Winter Kills. Surely, if this conspiracy existed, enterprising journalists like Woodward and Bernstein would expose it.

Then, I'd say, no, you don't understand: the rich guys invite Woodward and Bernstein to the meetings (well, maybe not Bernstein, he's not really important enough anymore). Journalists all compete with each other to be big enough celebrities to get invited to this meeting, where they and the rich guys can all bask under the TV lights in their mutually-reinforcing celebrityhood.

The secret is that there is no secret. In fact, everybody invited immediately notifies his publicist to spread the word that he's going.

And, you'd say, that's crazy! A conspiracy in plain view? Who ever heard of such a thing?

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

My Super Bowl Prediction

I realize I've been remiss in not giving you my Super Bowl prediction, so I've created a computer model taking into account Tom Brady's ankle, Eli Manning's performance under various weather conditions, and Randy Moss's fluctuating ego.

I predict an upset! The New York Giants will beat the Boston Patriots 14-1.

I hope you are satisfied.

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

February 1, 2008

The Wind from the South

The Washington Post reports on the latest Latin American trend from El Alto, a poor suburb of 650,000 at 13,300 feet, well above Bolivia's capital, the whimsically named La Paz.

But first, I can't resist digressing on La Paz's social topography. In contrast to many cities, such as Los Angeles, where the rich live in the hills above the plains, the rich in La Paz live at the bottom of a deep canyon, with the wealthiest neighborhoods down at 10,200 feet. In Bolivia's capital, social climbers try to claw their way to the bottom. WikiTravel writes:
"La Paz' geography (in particular, altitude) reflects society: the lower you go, the more affluent. While many middle-class paceƱos live in high-rise condos near the center, the really rich houses are located in the lower neighborhoods southwest of the Prado. The reason for this division is that the lower you go in the city, the more oxygen there is in the air and the milder the weather is. And looking up from the center, the surrounding hills are plastered with makeshift brick houses of those struggling in the hope of one day reaching the bottom."

The fundamental reason for this is that white women miscarry frequently at very high altitudes -- a problem that is seen in a few places in Colorado as well, such as Leadville. Indian women are more likely to carry to term the higher about 10,000 feet you go.

This underlies the recent threat of the lowlying Bolivian lands north of Paraguay to secede. Their inhabitants tend to be white and mestizo, while the Altiplano is Indian and mestizo. The low country has the main natural resource, natural gas, but the Indians of the high plains have recently finally seized control of the government after 400+ years, and are trying to seize the natural gas wealth.

Anyway, lots of vibrant stuff is happening in Bolivia, which we ought to keep an eye on because these "principles, cultural values, norms and procedures" are slowly migrating here:

EL ALTO, Bolivia -- Tattered dummies look down on this city from street poles in barren squares, like scarecrows for anyone with bad intentions.

The dummies are meant to warn would-be thieves that if they try to rob anyone here, they could be hanged. Or lashed to a pulp. Or set on fire. Or buried alive.

"If there are cases in which people are caught in the act, why can't we take justice into our own hands?" asked El¿as Gomes, a community leader in an El Alto neighborhood where two accused thieves were burned alive by an angry crowd of residents in November. "We want the people of the neighborhood to be the ones to judge the crimes. Beyond the question of whether lynchings are good or bad, we want to be the ones to judge."

Determining who gets to judge criminals is a matter of national debate in Bolivia, where a draft constitution that has already won preliminary approval would make punishments doled out by indigenous leaders and tribal communities as legitimate as sentences handed down by the country's courts.

The proposal has invigorated communities such as this, where many residents maintain strong links to Aymara and Quechua indigenous traditions and few trust what they call the "ordinary justice" system of police, judges and courtrooms. ...

Valentin Ticona Colque, a vice minister in charge of communal justice in President Evo Morales's government, said such justice is less likely to be corrupt because it is administered by active members of the communities themselves, not by state-supported judges.

"When the community is involved and vigilant, it's difficult to corrupt the system -- almost impossible, in fact," he said.

According to one article of the draft constitution, decisions made under the communal justice system would be immune from challenge by any outside judicial system. The constitution does not spell out how justice should be dispensed but states that indigenous and campesino, or peasant, authorities "will apply their own principles, cultural values, norms and procedures."

Makes you want to book that lama trekking vacation through the Bolivian highlands, doesn't it?

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

McCain's five lost planes -- only two his fault

A reader writes:

It's quite true that McCain lost five jets in military service. However, that doesn't prove he did anything wrong. However, a close reading of how he lost five planes tells a quite interesting story. For reasons that will become clear, the story is best told in reverse order.

5. On Oct. 26, 1967 John McCain was shot down over Vietnam and ended up as a POW in North Vietnam. It was his 23rd mission over North Vietnam.

[It's hard to remember these days, when we lose so very few jets in combat (because we developed around 1980 the technology to blind the enemy by knocking out his ground radar while we control the aerial battlefield from Airborne Warning and Control System jets almost over the horizon) that we lost 3,322 fixed-win aircraft in the Vietnam war, perhaps the majority due to enemy fire.]

4. On July 29, 1967 his plane was destroyed by a missile accidentally fired by another plane waiting to take off. He barely survived. 134 sailors died that day. There is no evidence that McCain did anything wrong. The videos of the fires and explosions are astonishing. The first fire crew was wiped out by a bomb explosion and was replaced by volunteers in seconds. Subsequent explosions wiped out the replacement firemen. Tragically, the volunteers didn’t know how to fight a carrier fire and made the situation worse.

3. In 1965, he lost a plane flying home from the Army-Navy game due to mechanical failure. This was very common at the time. I once met a Vietnam pilot who lost a Phantom due to oil pressure failure. I asked what the consequences were. He said that his commanding officer was upset for 10 minutes and he had to fill out a form.

2. He lost a plane after hitting power line over the Iberian Peninsula. Presumably pilot era.

1. As a student pilot he lost a plane in Corpus Christi bay while trying to land.

The last 3 losses do not reflect adversely on John McCain. How about the first two? I would question whether any aviator whose name wasn’t McCain would have survived losing a plane as a student and then hitting power lines.

See http://www.vietnamveteransagainstjohnmccain.com/cin_mccain_lost_five_u.htm

For some details. There are also a few books about McCain out there. See http://www.amazon.com/Nightingales-Song-Robert-Timberg/dp/0684826739

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

The media's infatuation with "momentum"

It's a little puzzling why the political press is always in such a rush to hurry along the nomination process, to declare various candidates dead and to designate others as sure things. After all, it's been January until a few hours ago. And even in this ridiculously front-loaded primary season, only 10% of the GOP delegates and 4% of the Democratic delegates have been awarded. Further, we're only four days away from Super Tuesday, when 23 states hold primaries, so you might think they'd wait until then. After all, this is the political press' quadrennial moment in the spotlight, so why would they want to declare it over?

But the press has continued to obsess over momentum, even though there hasn't been much on display. Four years ago, for example, the press rushed to declare Howard Dean dead and John Kerry the electable Democrat, and the Democratic voters went along with the storyline. So, how'd that work out for them? This year, voters haven't played along, but the press keeps trying to end the nomination process ASAP.

Partly, this momentum infatuation is due to the media's love of a narrative. But it also is driven by journalists' incentive structures. They get rewarded for making predictions, but aren't penalized for making wrong predictions.

I just have the wrong personality for this profession. I don't make many predictions (at least not the kind of predictions that people want to hear -- but I do make plenty of predictions that people find depressing and boring) because I hate being wrong about anything. For example, it was recently proven that one section of an article I wrote seven years ago was wrong. I wrote in 2000: "So, at this point, allegations [of steroid use] against [sprinter] Marion Jones remain mostly guilt-by-association." Ever since she confessed, it's eaten away at me that I was wrong about that.

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

Should Romney have dyed his hair gray?

As part of my intensive journalistic quest to discover why almost nobody is terribly enthusiastic about Mitt Romney, I finally watched three or perhaps even four minutes of a Youtube video of Romney making a speech.

As a speaker, he seems about as boring as most candidates. I didn't notice the Ned Flanders similarity that several readers have stated they see in him. His persona is not overwhelmingly masculine, but he's not deficient in that regard either.

But what I kept getting distracted by was trying to figure out how old he is. Romney looks like he's, what, 48? But it says on Wikipedia that he'll be 61 in six weeks. He's less than a year younger than George W. Bush, who reportedly takes good care of his health (at least since he stopped drinking 20 years ago), but who has aged a lot in his looks over the last 7 years. (Here's a picture of Bush this week.)

Romney's handlers claim he doesn't dye his hair. And nobody seems to mention "Romney" and "facelift" on the same web page. Maybe he just has good genes due to some Mormon eugenic magic.

For whatever reason, though, he looks like a damn male model. He resembles a model playing an executive in a fashion layout for a men's business attire chain, or the CEO bad guy in a movie on the Lifetime channel about children being poisoned by corporate toxic waste.

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

January 31, 2008


I finally saw (follow me closely here) the 2007 movie version of the 2002 Broadway musical version of the 1988 movie about a fat girl in Baltimore in 1962 who wants to be on a teen dance show on local TV.

And "Hairspray" is pretty good. 1962-style rock music wasn't as good as 1956 or 1965 rock music, but it works reasonably well in a musical. Indeed, many of the hits of 1962 were written by professional songwriters in Manhattan who grew up on Rodgers and Hammerstein, so the musical vocabularies were much more similar than they would become soon after. When roaring electric guitars came into fashion -- say, on the Kinks' 1964 single "You Really Got Me" -- popular music and Broadway started to permanently diverge since you couldn't hear the lyrics anymore. But the pre-British Invasion rock and roll sound wasn't incompatible with story-telling through song.

And the best thing about the latest version of "Hairspray" is that it's mostly music, with spoken dialogue taking up only a small fraction of the whole movie.

Because it's a musical, and a story originally written by John Waters, they had to gratuitously gay it up. Because that's what people expect from musicals these days -- gratuitous gayness -- which is why musicals are so much more popular now than in the B.G.G. (Before Gratuitous Gayness) era. So they had John Travolta play the heroine's mom, and he does a good job. Travolta doesn't play Edna Turnblad like a drag queen, but more like a nice middle-aged fat lady. Unfortunately, his voice is too low. (Can't they digitally raise the pitch of a voice these days? If not, he could have just spoken his dialogue slowly and then they could have played it back faster, Alvin & the Chipmunks-style.)

Anyway, the hard-hitting controversial message of the movie is that civil rights is good. And that's because black people are better dancers than white people. Evil is represented by the bigoted villainess Velma von Tussle (Michelle Pfeiffer), the producer of the Corny Collins dance party show, who only lets one day of the week be Negro Day on the show. And she allows the white kids on the show to only do traditional boring WASP dances like the rumba, cha-cha, and tango. But when the spunky heroine gets interviewed on the show, she shocks Velma by saying, when asked to tell the TV audience a little bit about herself:

Tracy Turnblad: Well, I watch the Corny Collins show everyday and I do nothing else! ... I also hope to be the first female president... or a Rockette!
Corny Collins: As your first act as president, what would you do?
Tracy Turnblad: I'd make every day Negro Day!

And, when it comes to dancing, that, indeed, is what happened. Starting in the 1960s, white Americans, who used to dance all the time, started sitting on their couches and watching blacks dance on TV. Before the Black Pride era, whites would take lessons to learn how to dance. White people are good at taking lessons.

They would especially take lessons in Latin American dance styles like the ones that Nazi vixen Velma von Tussle has the white kids on the show doing. But American pop culture got de-Latinized during the 1960s, so white people stopped dancing as improvisatory African-American dancing became the fashion. But white people aren't good at making up their own dances. So, they got embarrassed because they weren't as cool as blacks, and they went and sat down.

Fortunately, we have professional dancers to celebrate for us this great stride forward in "Hairspray," which we can now watch from our couches.

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

Greatest athlete of all time?

While discussing the historic dominance of golf and tennis by Tiger Woods and Roger Federer, I mentioned that the greatest statistics in any sport appear to be held by the mid-century Australian cricket player Donald Bradman. Other commenters suggested Wayne Gretzky, but one mentioned English darts champion Phil Taylor.

Yet, if we're going to talk about darts, how about Marion Tinsley, who won every single one of the thousands of checkers tournaments he competed in from 1950 to 1995? Indeed, over that stretch, he only lost seven games.

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

Amateurism: Scotland vs. England?

Why was tennis, which didn't allow professionals to play at Wimbledon until 1968, so much more persnickety about amateurism than golf, whose British Open has been "open" to golf pros since its start at Prestwick in 1860? Was it a cultural difference between aristocratic England (tennis) and tight-fisted Scotland (golf)? Or what?

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

West Point's Goats

My mentioning that John McCain finished 894th out of 899 in his class at the Naval Academy has led to irate responses that most great leaders do about as well as McCain academically.

I couldn't say for sure, but I found this interesting interview in Failure Magazine with James S. Robbins, author of "Last in Their Class," about the careers of those West Point cadets who were The Goat -- the traditional moniker of those finished last in their graduating class.

The two most famous Goats were the two Georges: George Armstrong Custer of Custer's Last Stand and George Pickett of Pickett's Charge on the final day of Gettysburg, from which the Confederacy never recovered.

Q. At West Point, has there been any relationship between class rank and career success?

A. I never ran across a formal study, but there is folklore about that—that it's always the people from the middle and below who make the best officers and leaders. Now you sometimes find people who graduated at the top and went on to greatness—like Robert E. Lee was second in his class. Or Douglas MacArthur, for example. But frequently you find people like Dwight Eisenhower, who graduated somewhere in the middle of his class and said, "If anybody saw signs of greatness in me while at West Point they kept it to themselves." Or Ulysses S. Grant, who was in the middle of his class. And then all the people I profile in the book, who were from the bottom or near the bottom, who themselves did great things.

My point is the same as in 2004 when the candidates were George W. Bush (1206 SAT score [old style] and 77 / 100 GPA at Yale) versus John F. Kerry (76 / 100 GPA at Yale two years before in similar courses, and no SAT reported but a slightly lower score on the Naval officers qualifying exam than Bush got on the Air Force officers qualifying exam -- i.e., both had IQs in the 115 to 125 range): can't this country of 300,000,000 do better? Sure, being a screw-off in college and being not super-bright doesn't necessarily disqualify you from being a good President, but why do we have to take chances? We don't for jobs like captain of a Trident submarine.

Similarly, what large organizations have Obama and McCain ever managed in their lives? Is McCain going to suddenly learn the art of management at age 72?

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

Tiger Woods and Roger Federer

Tiger Woods has always focused on breaking his idol Jack Nicklaus's record of 18 major championships. He currently has 13. By this age, Nicklaus had 9, so that would put Woods on pace for 26. To put that in perspective, consider Hank Aaron's career home run record of 755 (ignoring Barry Bonds for the moment). For Woods to win 26/18ths as many majors as Nicklaus would be roughly the equivalent of somebody coming along and hitting 1091 homers, which would require somebody to come up to the major leagues at age 19 and average 40 homers per year through age 45, then come back at 46 and hit 11 more.

Yet, Woods has a worthy contemporary competitor -- not on the golf course, but on the tennis court. Swissman Roger Federer, who won't turn 27 until August, has won 12 Grand Slam titles. If he stays hot, he could overtake Woods, at least for a few years.

There are four Grand Slam tournaments each year -- Australian, French, Wimbledon, and US -- so they are a fair comparison to golf's four major championships.

The tennis record for most Grand Slam victories is 14 by American Pete Sampras, who is now retired. Federer (born 8/8/81) is almost exactly 10 years younger than Sampras (born 8/12/71), and by early 1998, Sampras had won 10 of his 14 Grand Slam victories. So, if Federer maintains the same pace as Sampras, he'll win about 17 Grand Slam titles.

That Nicklaus holds the golf record with 18 while Sampras holds the tennis record with only 14 mostly shows how much better Nicklaus was than all other golfers before Tiger, whereas it's not at all clear who was the best tennis player before Federer. The top ten tennis players in terms of major championship victories have won 102, while the top 10 golfers have won 96, so the two sports are directly comparable.

Tennis players get old much faster than golfers, but major titles are easier to win in tennis for superstars at their peaks than in golf. That's probably due to four factors:

- Tennis tournaments are seeded with the best player playing the worst player in the opening round, so success begets success in tennis, whereas almost all professional golf tournaments are at stroke play, so everybody starts equally.

- Luck plays a greater role in golf than in tennis due to smaller sample sizes. A typical golf tournament consists of about 270 strokes over four days, whereas a single five set match in tennis might require about many points (five sets times nine games per set times six points per game equals 270), and, say, three times that many strokes.

- Luck also plays a greater role in golf than in tennis because you play against the course, not against the other player, so the superior man can't directly beat down the inferior man.

- The age window at which tennis players are a distinct threat to win major championships starts closing rapidly after age 30 or so, compared to about 40 for golfers, so a smaller fraction of all the tennis players alive at any one point in time are serious contenders to win.

So, all this means that Woods vs. Federer is a very fair comparison, and should motivate both men.

After Woods passes Nicklaus and Federer gets too old, however, Woods can motivate himself by setting his sights on the athlete with perhaps the most dominant statistics in any sport, Australian cricketeer Don Bradman.

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

Tiger Woods and Barack Obama

Barack Obama has been compared to Tiger Woods so many times (Google finds 290,000 pages where they are both mentioned, although no doubt a large fraction are "And in other news" references rather than direct comparisons) that many people no doubt assume, unconsciously, that Obama possesses the same traits as Woods. We've seen countless commentators, for example, simply assume that Obama, like Woods, identifies as biracial, when the opposite is true for Obama.

Many folks also seem to assume that Obama possesses Woods' bulletproof psyche. Golf isn't exactly a tough sport physically, but its emotional and cognitive demands are high. And Tiger's consistency makes even Jack Nicklaus, whose ability to focus and block out distractions intimidated everybody in his day (other than maybe Lee Trevino), look like Britney Spears. In contrast, if Obama's 1995 autobiography is to be believed, he has a rather fragile, depressive personality.

The Woods Halo Effect may well benefit Obama even more this year because Woods is now 32, which was the peak age in Jack Nicklaus's career. In 1972, Nicklaus made a strong effort to become the first golfer since Bobby Jones to win the Grand Slam of major championships, winning the Masters and US Open before losing the British Open by a stroke when Trevino chipped in on the next to last hole. Woods won the first tournament he entered last weekend by 8 strokes, and he believes the Grand Slam is achievable.

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

January 30, 2008

Voter awareness

A reader writes:

On the subject of voter ignorance, one of the great revelations to me has been the research tending to show that the voters most likely to keep an open mind about candidates are also the most ignorant. Conversely, voters who have acquired the most political information are also the most partisan and ideological which, on reflection, is not surprising, since its their partisanship that inspires them to acquire political knowledge in the first place. Hardly anyone seeks out knowledge for the (boring) purpose of making an informed voting decision.

Only when you look at ignorant voters do find people who arent so cabined by their ideological or partisan loyalties that they will consider voting for any candidate. So, it is not only possible but probable that the voters who went for McCain have no idea what McCain actually stands for. They probably, as you suggest, use a heuristic like McCain is the maverick candidate and thats what we need right now. Little do they know that McCain actually wants to extend Bushs failed policies.

All this was set forth in Philip Converses extraordinary paper The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics. I cant find it online, but heres a fair summary: http://www.brucesabin.com/nature_of_belief_systems.html.

The typical undecided voter is not like Mickey Kaus in 2000, who argued with himself on his blog back and forth for ten days in a row before finally deciding to vote for Gore.

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

Why is McCain perceived as the anti-Bush?

Greg Ransom writes:

If we take a look at the Florida exit polls, we see that Romney handily defeated McCain 35% to 31% among GOP voters who have a positive opinion of the Bush Presidency. But McCain crushed Romney 2-1 among those voters who are not satisfied with the Presidency of George W. Bush. This huge negative on Bush vote provided McCain with his comfortable victory margin over Romney in Florida.

Swell, but, why? How does McCain differ from Bush on the big issues of:

- invade the world
- invite the world
- in hock to the world?

Hasn't the Bush White House been more or less favoring McCain for the nomination for the last year or so?

Will McCain, who finished 894th out of 899 at the Naval Academy and who lost five jets, return competence to the White House? To paraphrase Oscar Wilde (and, no, Oscar was never a fighter pilot), to lose one plane over Vietnam may be regarded as a heroic tragedy; to lose five planes here and there looks like carelessness.

More seriously, what's the largest organization that McCain has ever managed? And how did he do at it? And is he suddenly going to learn how to be an excellent manager at age 72?

I'm not looking forward to having to choose between one politician who can't be criticized because he was a POW and to question him is to not support the troops and another candidate who can't be criticized because he's black and the perpetually fragile self-esteems of 40 million African-Americans are assumed to depend upon everybody saying nice things about him. The point is not that McCain and Obama aren't fine fellows, it's that in a country of 300,000,000, we ought to expect the Presidential candidates to be worthy individuals and that yet they still must undergo corrosive analysis.

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

Election commentary

I guess I'm supposed to provide some primary punditry ... hmmhmhh ... Okay, in the Florida primary, the winner was McCain and the big loser was former frontrunner Giuliani who skipped all those earlier primaries so he could concentrate on Florida, with all its ex-New Yorkers. And he still got only about 15% of the vote.

So, are all the neocons who got jobs in the Giuliani campaign, like N. Podhoretz, Frum, Rubin, going to jump ship and join the McCain campaign? A lot of them supported McCain back in 2000. And will they be greeted with open arms by the McCain campaign, or will they be told they're losers -- as shown by the Giuliani steamroller -- and should stay away. My guess is the former, mostly because neocons are harder to kill than Rasputin. No matter how often everything they touch turns to ashes, they, personally, pop right back up with nice new sinecures in influential institutions.

Also, can somebody explain exactly what the difference is between McCain and Giuliani? They both are invade-the-world, invite-the-world, in-hock-to-the-world guys, just like Bush. So, why is McCain doing well and Giuliani is in the tank? Is it just because McCain showed up in the first few primaries while Giuliani was off acting like he had something better to do than run for President? Perhaps Woody Allen was right and 90% of success is showing up.

And do voters have any idea what anybody really stands for? I'd like to use Giuliani's flop as a weapon against the neocons -- The voters rejected your man overwhelmingly, proving that your World War IV policies are bankrupt! -- but I have this vague hunch that practically nobody who voted in Florida knew that Giuliani had thrown his lot in with the World War IV crowd anyway. (And the folks who vote in primaries are the hard core public affairs junkies compared to the crowd that turns out in November!)

And what exactly is the deal with Romney? I don't watch TV much other than American Idol, so I've never seen the man say one word. When he speaks, is there something about him that makes people just not like him? On magazine covers, he looks like a distinguished President, and his resume makes him sound like the least likely to screw up royally of all the current candidates in either party. But I've almost never seen anybody anywhere express any warm feelings toward him. Does he just get on people's nerves or what?

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

January 28, 2008

Help me fill out my list of best movies of 2007

Each January, an organization called American Film Renaissance asks me to vote in their poll on the best movies of the previous year. This year they want my top 5 numbered from 1 (best) to 5 (fifth best).

Last year I voted for "The Lives of Others" about the Stasi in East Germany, but it didn't make their overall top 5 because not that many people had seen it yet. This year it's not eligible because it was screened for a week in December 2006 in NY and LA for Academy Award consideration (and it beat out Pan's Labyrinth for the Best Foreign Film Oscar.

(For Best Documentary of 2006 I voted for "Idiocracy.")

So I don't really have a frontrunner in mind for 2007.

Please feel free to recommend your favorites released in 2007 in the Comments.

Here, by the way, are their previous winners:

Master & Commander, The Passion of the Christ, Cinderella Man, and The Pursuit of Happyness.

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

"Apes or Angels?"

From my new VDARE.com column:

Apes or Angels? Creationism and Race Denial

By Steve Sailer

The pioneering German sociologist Max Weber coined a useful term: "status symbol."

This refers not just to the distinctions in clothes and furniture lovingly catalogued by novelists such as Tom Wolfe. There are also status symbols in the realm of ideas.

Perhaps the two doctrines currently most de rigueur for entry into intellectual polite society:

1. That humanity evolved from lower animals according to the process of natural selection outlined by Charles Darwin.

2. That humanity has not evolved any patterns of genetic variation corresponding to geographic ancestry … well, none other than the obvious ones that we can all see.

These two concepts are directly contradictory, as former UCLA professor of science education Cornelius J. Troost points out in his new book Apes or Angels? Darwin, Dover, Human Nature, and Race. Troost's title refers to how the British politician Benjamin Disraeli wittily rejected the first proposition in his day: "Is man an ape or an angel? My Lord, I am on the side of the angels."

Yet, the two doctrines, self-annihilating as they may be, are tests of sanctity among the self-righteous of our day. [More]

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