October 31, 2009

Let's get rid of the BCS

The President says we should get rid of the Bowl Championship Series that attempts to pit #1 v. #2 in the final bowl game of the year and go to playoffs.

I say we should go in the opposite direction. Get rid of the BCS but instead of a playoff, make the national championship even more mythical, the way it used to be. Emphasize conference championships and traditional conference vs. conference bowl games the way the Rose Bowl used to always match the champions of the Pac 10 and Big 10.

Why do we want a winner-take-all system in college football? Let each of the two dozen teams that win their bowl game go home happy.

The BCS system has damaged scheduling because colleges are all trying to go undefeated to be in the top 2, so the top teams schedule patsies at home for their non-conference games.

Moreover, winner-take-all encourages rich guys like Phil Knight (Oregon, which beat USC Saturday) and Boone Pickens (Oklahoma St., which lost to Texas) to waste fortunes trying to win national championships. We should be looking to decrease spending on college football, a zero sum activity. (This ties into my contention that conservative Red State zillionaires waste a lot of their charity giving on trying to beat other conservative Red State zillionaires at college football, when they could be giving the money instead to, say, me.)

Maybe we should have one Open Conference for twelve teams (USC, Texas, Florida etc.) divided into East and West divisions who play for an annual Open Championship. "Open" means minimal test score and grade standards for athletes: i.e., gladiators. If the best thing a kid can do in his life is play football, he shouldn't have to stop at age 18 just because he's dumb as a box of rocks.

On the other hand, schools that don't care about the student part of student-athlete, such as USC, shouldn't be competing with schools that do, such as Notre Dame.

If you impose test score standards on your football recruiters, you can still put together a decent offense (there are plenty of quarterbacks and offensive linemen who are legitimate C students or batter at state flagship universities), but you really can't compete on defense.

So, let everybody else besides the 12 regional powerhouses form conferences that set their own standards for recruiting and hire their own enforcement police for student athletes.

For example, when I was at Rice, I thought it would make sense to have a conference with Rice, Vanderbilt, Tulane, Georgia Tech, and, uh, well, I'm starting to run out of high-brow Southern schools that play Div I football, but you get the idea. It would be fun to have a football team composed of guys who on average project out to be say, at least the 20th percentile in the class in GPA. And if that reduces the quality of the scholarship athletes enough that a bunch of walk-ons get some playing time each year, all the better.

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

October 30, 2009

Are liberals or conservatives smarter?

Jason Richwine considers the evidence.

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

Daniel Dravot on nation-building in Afghanistan

From my September 26, 2001 essay on John Huston's movie The Man Who Would Be King, which was based on the Kipling short story.
Yet, if a war in Afghanistan does prove winnable, which it should, ought the U.S. to undertake a long-term benevolent occupation to attempt to turn that desolate land into a peaceful "normal country?" Huston's movie offers a skeptical perspective.

Initially, the two pirates' plan succeeds wildly. The pagans believe Daniel is a god, the son of Alexander. The high priests place the great Greek's crown upon his head and offer him a treasure room full of rubies and gold. All Daniel and Peachey need to do to become the two richest men on Earth is to fill their packs, wait four months for the snows in the Hindu Kush to melt, and then walk out.

While awaiting Spring, Daniel amuses himself by playing at being king. To the applause of his new subjects, he enforces peace, dispenses justice at traditional durbars, sets up granaries to insure against famine, and builds bridges to tie the country together.

When the passes finally open, Peachey learns to his horror that Daniel now feels too responsible for his people to grab the loot and run. The grandiose nation-building urge that in the 1990's helped inspire American interventions in Somalia, Haiti, and Bosnia has infected him. "A nation I shall make of it, with an anthem and a flag," King Daniel thunders. ...

Catastrophe ensues.

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

October 29, 2009

Why are we still there?

Nicholas Kristof opines in the NYT:
Dispatching more troops to Afghanistan would be a monumental bet and probably a bad one, most likely a waste of lives and resources that might simply empower the Taliban. In particular, one of the most compelling arguments against more troops rests on this stunning trade-off: For the cost of a single additional soldier stationed in Afghanistan for one year, we could build roughly 20 schools there.

It’s hard to do the calculation precisely, but for the cost of 40,000 troops over a few years — well, we could just about turn every Afghan into a Ph.D.

What's the old Heinlein saying?
Never try to teach a Pashtun tribesman to be a Ph.D. It wastes your time and it annoys the Pashtun tribesman.

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

H.L. Mencken Club Meeting this weekend

Friday thru Sunday at the Holiday Inn Conference Center at the Baltimore-Washington Intl. airport. At the moment, it looks like I'll be speaking Friday evening, Saturday afternoon, and Sunday morning.

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

October 28, 2009

Situational Awareness

Tony Perry of the LA Times reports:
As Marines train to deploy to war zones, there is daily discussion about how to detect and disarm the buried roadside bombs that are the No. 1 killer of Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Military researchers have found that two groups of personnel are particularly good at spotting anomalies: those with hunting backgrounds, who traipsed through the woods as youths looking to bag a deer or turkey; and those who grew up in tough urban neighborhoods, where it is often important to know what gang controls which block.

Personnel who fit neither category, often young men who grew up in the suburbs and developed a liking for video games, do not seem to have the depth perception and peripheral vision of the others, even if their eyesight is 20/20.

The findings do not surprise Army Sgt. Maj. Todd Burnett, the top enlisted man with the Pentagon-based Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, or JIEDDO, which conducted the study. He's made multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and ridden in more than 1,000 convoys and, on 19 occasions, been in a vehicle hit by a roadside bomb.

The best troops he's ever seen when it comes to spotting bombs were soldiers from the South Carolina National Guard, nearly all with rural backgrounds that included hunting.

"They just seemed to pick up things much better," Burnett said. "They know how to look at the entire environment."

Troops from urban backgrounds also seemed to have developed an innate "threat-assessment" ability. Both groups, said Army research psychologist Steve Burnett, "seem very adaptable to the kinds of environments" seen in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Video game enthusiasts are narrower in their focus, as if the windshield of their Humvee is a computer screen. "The gamers are very focused on the screen rather than the whole surrounding," said Sgt. Maj. Burnett (no relation to the research psychologist).

About 800 military personnel at Twentynine Palms and several other bases took part in a complex set of vision and perception tests, follow-up interviews and personality tests. Test subjects were asked to find hidden bombs in pictures, videos, virtual reality exercises and open-air obstacle courses, including on pitch-dark nights.

Although many of the findings remain classified -- lest the enemy discover what the U.S. has learned about its methods of burying and detonating the devices -- military officials agreed to discuss the eyesight portion of the study.

The study was completed in June, and its results are being circulated for peer review to researchers with security clearances. It took 18 months to carry out and cost $5.4 million.

After eight years of war and billions of dollars spent on electronic detection, the best technology for spotting improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, remains the sharp-eyed Marine, soldier or sailor.

Back in the 1960s, the Air Force officer qualifying exam had a 100 item Officer Biographical Inventory. The latter was a personality test that asked about "past experiences, preferences, and certain personality characteristics related to measures of officer effectiveness." It inquired into enthusiasm for sports and hunting, and was only vaguely correlated with IQ.

(A retired Air Force test psychologist told me that this section was later dropped because women did very poorly on it, and urban and suburban youths didn't do as well as country boys. "It was politically incorrect, but"—he recalled wistfully—"It was a predictor of success as an officer.")

As for the guys who defuse the roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan, the EODs, plain old IQ is one necessary factor. Kathryn Bigelow, director of last summer's fine Iraq movie The Hurt Locker, pointed that out in all the interviews she did.

Beaks: One thing I don't think people take into account with these guys is how highly intelligent they have to be to get assigned to a bomb squad unit.

Bigelow: That's an aspect that's very, very critical. You're invited into EOD [Explosive Ordinance Disposal] because you've scored on an aptitude test at a very high level. You're definitely a rare kind of individual. And to amplify what you're saying, you have to take into consideration that this is a volunteer military. So these are individuals who have an extremely high IQ and have chosen - after being invited into EOD - to take on the most dangerous job in the world.

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

"Mad Men"

My Wednesday Taki's Magazine column on the TV serial "Mad Men" is up.

Read it at Taki's and comment about it below.

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

October 27, 2009

Jews v. Episcopalians on IQ

A reader writes:
According to the National Longitudinal Study of Youth 1997, the average IQ of Jewish youngsters is 111.3, and Episcopalians 110.3.

Other groups include.
Catholic 101.5
Mormons 103.0
Atheist 105.4

Jews are less than half as likely as the average to join the military, whereas Episcopalians are only slightly below average in enlistments.

Along those lines, here's a 2002 article I wrote on the demographic breakdown of the U.S. armed services personnel based on what religion they choose to have stamped on their dog tags.

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

Episcopalians v. Jews on IQ

One commenter makes the point that on some tests of intelligence measures, Episcopalians outscore Jews.

The evidence is mixed.

Inductivist looked at the average scores on the ten word vocabulary test included in the General Social Survey and found:

Mean IQ for whites

Episcopalian 109.9
Jews 109.0
Lutheran 107.4
Mormon 105.7
Presbyterian 102.3
United Methodists 101.8
Southern Baptists 98.0
Assembly of God 94.5
Pentecostal 92.2

In the post-Civil War period, it was common for ambitious young men flocking to New York to make it big in business to convert to Episcopalianism. That way older business leaders who were Episcopalians could see you were in church every Sunday. A lot of the converts were coming from post-Puritan religions such as Congregationalism, or from Methodism. So, Episcopalianism became very upper class. That's why some upper crust boarding schools have Catholic-sounding names like "St. Paul's" -- Episcopalianism is Anglicanism (i.e., Church of England) which, due to Henry VIII, was Catholicism minus the pope and plus divorce.

Arthur Hu
has the 1990 average SAT scores by religion and by race. Note that scores averaged about 100 points lower than today before "recentering" in mid-1995. The two letter prefixes refer to race (Wh = white, AS = Asian, Al = All, etc.). In this, white Episcopalians barely outscored black Unitarians, and were 60 points behind Jews.

Race Religion             Number   Math + Verbal SAT
Wh Unitarian 1,745 1073
Wh Quaker 894 1037
Wh Judaism 25,600 1030 * Jewish Avg
Al Quaker 1,009 1029
As Hindu 4138 1029
Al Judaism 27,374 1026
As Presbyterian 3195 1022
As Angelican 197 1019
Al Hindu 4,741 1012
Wh Hindu 82 1004
As No Pref 17987 1001
As U Methodist 662 998
Wh Mennonite 952 990
As Unitarian 49 986
As Episcopal 444 983
Wh Chistian Sci 830 979
Wh No Pref 99,076 979
Al Mennonite 1,063 974
As Methodist 1108 973
As Quaker 25 973
Wh Mormon 6,400 972
Wh Episcopal 19,555 970
As S Baptist Conv 332 966
Af Unitarian 64 966 *Top Black
Al No Pref 137,305 963
Wh Luth Missouri 8,038 963
Wh Un Church of Christ 7,066 962
As Wesleyan 32 960
Al Luth Missouri 8,624 959
Al Episcopal 22,109 957* Episcopal
Wh Presbyterian 32,019 956
Wh Angelican 1,765 956
Al Chistian Sci 989 955
Al Presbyterian 37,353 955* Presbyterian
Al Un Church of Christ 7826 951
Wh U Methodist 23,470 949
Al Mormon 7,594 948
Wh Other 20,125 947
Wh Lutheran in Am 23,380 943
As Christn Reformed 298 943
Wh No Answer 44,397 942
Al U Methodist 26,037 939
Wh Afr Methodist 144 939
As Total 70739 938* Asian Avg
Wh S Baptist Conv 14,165 938
Al Lutheran in Am 25,020 937
Wh Total 688,933 934* White Avg
As Lutheran in Am 471 931
As Un Church of Christ 253 930
Al S Baptist Conv 15,729 929
As Judaism 218 925
Wh Christn Reformed 2,235 924
As Baptist 3003 924
As Islam 2184 923
I presume this isn't the complete list. It's probably missing about the bottom half of the scores if the 1990 White Average was 934 and the list peters out at merely 923.

And here's a 2002 report on high SAT scoring groups from Gene Expression:
Average SAT score by religion for 2002, average ~1000, about 40% of each students take it
Unitarian-Universalists 1209
Judaism 1161
Quakers 1153
Hinduism 1110
Mennonite 1097
Reformed Church of America 1097
Episcopal 1096
Evangelical Lutheran Church 1094
Presbyterian Church (USA) 1092
Baha'i 1073

As one reader pointed out, Midwestern-centered faiths get a boost from the ACT effect -- the closer you are to Iowa, home of the ACT, the less likely you are to take the SAT unless you are an ambitious sort who is thinking of going to college on the coasts. So, Iowa has just about the highest average SAT scores in the country because only top students in Iowa take the SAT.

And, no, I don't know where Catholics are in the 1990 list. Another one of Hu's Rules is that Catholics are usually average in everything.

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

Just because you're a hypochondriac ...

... doesn't mean people aren't trying to sneeze on you (to adapt Henry Kissinger's observation on his paranoia). Mickey Kaus writes:

Shouldn't doctors give patients waiting to see them little hand-held beepers or vibrating devices like those some crowded restaurants give you when you're waiting for a table? That way you could wander around nearby instead of staying in the unventilated waiting room filled with coughing, sneezing people.

Mickey has been one of the few voices in the health care debate bluntly expressing how a lot of us feel deep down: Why, yes, I do want vast amounts of money spent on my personal health care.

Also, everytime I go for a walk, I end up debating with myself another one of Mickey's health/safety views:

Just realized that pedestrians should always go around intersections counterclockwise. Otherwise left-turners get you. You're welcome.

What do you think?

Absolute Value

From one of the many Anonymice in the comments:
If the financial collapse of September 2008 taught us anything, it's that there isn't a whole lot of difference between having a very large positive net worth and having a very large negative net worth - it's the absolute value of the thing which determines whether you have access to the corridors of power.

P.S. Glaivester points out that people who have a billion in assets and a billion in debts have a net worth of zero, but are still a lot more influential than people with neither. So, maybe the formula should be to add the square of the assets to the square of the debts?

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

October 26, 2009

Obama's played 24 rounds of golf in office

You hear all the time about Obama playing basketball, but he's also enjoyed a sizable amount of time indulging in a less cool sport. From Mark Knoller of CBS's Twitter:
  1. And by my count it's Obama's 24th round of golf since taking office. Today he's at Ft. Belvoir in Va.
  1. Today - Obama ties Pres. Bush in the number of rounds of golf played in office: 24. Took Bush 2 yrs & 10 months.

(Bush decided to give up playing golf in 2003 as a symbolic sacrifice for being a wartime President.)

I've managed to squeeze in two rounds of golf so far this year, but I guess the President has more time on his hands.

This is by no means a record for a President. Bill Clinton's goal for his last year in office was to break Dwight Eisenhower's Presidential record of a little over 100 rounds in a year in his final year. But since a round of golf and all the ancillary activities takes about six hours, this seems like rather a lot for a first year President.

From Don Van Natta Jr.'s February 2009 article in Golf Digest:

For Obama, golf was appealing because he believed the game would help him connect with his colleagues in the state Senate as well as his constituents in far-flung places like downstate Illinois. Much to his surprise, he soon fell hard for the game's charms. Friends say he became as devoted to golf as he is to his beloved basketball. "Basketball and golf are his one-two," Marvin Nicholson says. "Now, he wants to play all the best courses: St. Andrews, Pebble Beach, Bethpage Black.

"He usually shoots in the mid-90s, sometimes the low 90s," Nicholson says. "He'd be better if he could play more. . . . He's pretty long off the tee . . . very good around the greens, a real good short game. The clubs that give him the most trouble are his long irons . . . or he'd shoot around 90 pretty consistently."

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

Changes in Forbes 400 from 1987 to 2009

The Forbes 400 is the most fun of the many rankings published by magazines these days, because individuals rapidly ascend and descend due to changes in fortune. In contrast, most of the other lists are forced to generate some excitement by arbitrarily changing their standards. For example, the US News and World Report list of top universities would be wholly stagnant if they didn't constantly shuffle their rules. For example, one year Cal Tech suddenly vaulted to #1, because the editors had changed the rules to benefit Cal Tech. The next year, Cal Tech had dropped considerably because the rules were changed again. Similarly, Golf Digest's Top 100 Golf Courses list has always featured Pine Valley as #1, except for brief periods when they fiddle with the methodology.

But the Forbes 400 is fun each year, because people really do rise and fall while the methodology stays the same. For example, casino king Sheldon Adelson came out of nowhere to peak at #3 in 2007, but is now down to 26.

But that turnover makes comparisons of two separate years a little tricky because different sectors come in and out of fashion. Nonetheless, comparing Nathaniel Weyl's ethnic breakdown of the 1987 Forbes 400 to one based on Jakob Berkman's work on the 2009 Forbes 400 seems reasonable. Race / History / Evolution Notes has the 1987 and 2009 figures here.

For example, Italians are up and Armenians are down. (Keep in mind that these are just estimates, and there are lots of complications in the way of coming up with perfect counts.)

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

October 25, 2009

"Why Are Jews Liberals?"

I review Norman Podhoretz's new book here in VDARE.com.

Comment upon it below.

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

British government elects a new people

From the Daily Mail:

Huge increases in immigration over the past decade were a deliberate attempt to engineer a more multicultural Britain, a former Government adviser said yesterday.

Andrew Neather, a speechwriter who worked in Downing Street for Tony Blair and in the Home Office for Jack Straw and David Blunkett, said Labour's relaxation of controls was a plan to 'open up the UK to mass migration'.

As well as bringing in hundreds of thousands to plug labour market gaps, there was also a 'driving political purpose' behind immigration policy, he claimed.

Ministers hoped to change the country radically and 'rub the Right's nose in diversity'. But Mr Neather said senior Labour figures were reluctant to discuss the policy, fearing it would alienate its 'core working-class vote'.

On Question Time, Mr Straw was repeatedly quizzed about whether Labour's immigration policies had left the door open for the BNP.

Writing in the Evening Standard, Mr Neather revealed the 'major shift' in immigration policy came after the publication of a policy paper from the Performance and Innovation Unit, a Downing Street think tank based in the Cabinet Office.

The published version promoted the labour-market case for immigration but Mr Neather said unpublished versions contained additional reasons.

'Earlier drafts I saw also included a driving political purpose: that mass immigration was the way that the Government was going to make the UK truly multicultural.

'I remember coming away from some discussions with the clear sense that the policy was intended - even if this wasn't its main purpose - to rub the Right's nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date.' The 'deliberate policy', from late 2000 until 'at least February last year', when the new points-based system was introduced, was to open up the UK to mass migration, he said.

Mr Neather defended the policy, saying mass immigration has 'enriched' Britain and made London a more attractive and cosmopolitan place.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the Migrationwatch think tank, said: 'Now at least the truth is out, and it's dynamite. Many have long suspected that mass immigration under Labour was not just a cock-up but a conspiracy. They were right.

'This Government has admitted three million immigrants for cynical political reasons concealed by dodgy economic camouflage.'

The chairmen of the cross-party Group for Balanced Migration, MPs Frank Field and Nicholas Soames, said: 'We welcome this statement which the whole country knows to be true.

'It is the first beam of truth that has officially been shone on the immigration issue in Britain.'

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

Arnold Palmers

My kid has started insisting on stopping at the Arco station to buy an "Arnold Palmer." That's a half lemonade and half iced tea beverage that, back in the 1960s, Arnie "invented" -- i.e., he requested a bartender in Palm Springs mix it up for him, and onlookers started asking for the "Arnold Palmer drink."

This product comes in a big can slathered in pictures of Palmer.

Man, is there any kind of pro sport where growing old is kindlier than golf? Arnie is 80 years old. He hasn't won a major championship since 1964. Yet, he still rakes in millions in endorsements.

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