January 9, 2010

David Brooks: "Avatar" and "The White Messiah"

David Brooks in the NYT is peeved that "Avatar" isn't gung-ho about the U.S. military invading other countries and/or planets:

Every age produces its own sort of fables, and our age seems to have produced The White Messiah fable.

This is the oft-repeated story about a manly young adventurer who goes into the wilderness in search of thrills and profit. But, once there, he meets the native people and finds that they are noble and spiritual and pure. And so he emerges as their Messiah, leading them on a righteous crusade against his own rotten civilization.

Avid moviegoers will remember A Man Called Horse, which began to establish the pattern, and At Play in the Fields of the Lord. More people will have seen Dances With Wolves or The Last Samurai. ...

Avatar is a racial fantasy par excellence. The hero is a white former Marine who is adrift in his civilization. He ends up working with a giant corporation and flies through space to help plunder the environment of a pristine planet and displace its natives.

The peace-loving natives — compiled from a melange of Native American, African, Vietnamese, Iraqi and other cultural fragments — are like the peace-loving natives you've seen in a hundred other movies. They're tall, muscular and admirably slender. They walk around nearly naked. They are phenomenal athletes and pretty good singers and dancers.

The white guy notices that the peace-loving natives are much cooler than the greedy corporate tools and the bloodthirsty U.S. military types he came over with. He goes to live with the natives, and, in short order, he's the most awesome member of their tribe. He has sex with their hottest babe. He learns to jump through the jungle and ride horses. It turns out that he's even got more guts and athletic prowess than they do.

Along the way, he has his consciousness raised. The peace-loving natives are at one with nature, and even have a fiber-optic cable sticking out of their bodies that they can plug into horses and trees, which is like Horse Whispering without the wireless technology. Because they are not corrupted by things like literacy, cell phones and blockbuster movies, they have deep and tranquil souls.

The natives help the white guy discover that he, too, has a deep and tranquil soul.

True, but The White Messiah movie goes back even further, with Lawrence of Arabia (1962) being a particularly intelligent example.

(By the way, during WWII, anthropologist Carleton Coon was officially assigned by the O.S.S. to be the White Messiah of North Africa, Lawrence of Morocco, if the Germans transited Spain and landed an army behind the U.S. Army. Coon, the kind of two fisted brawler admired by barbarians, was to take to the hills and rally his friends in the Rif Mountain tribes to fight irregular war against the Germans.)

The Man Who Would Be King (1974) debunks the White Messiah fantasy from a Realist Right point of view anathema to neocons: Michael Caine smartly wants to conquer the Afghans and then get out while the getting is good, but idealistic Sean Connery wants to hang around and civilize the conquered Afghans. Bad idea, Sean!

There are more than a few White Messiahs in history, besides Lawrence. Latin American history abounds with White Messiahs. For example, Subcommandante Marcos, the mysterious and charismatic masked leader of the 1994 Chiapas Indian rebellion in southern Mexico, is the Mexico City college professor son of parents who were born in Spain. Originally, Mayan Indians were supposed to be the press spokesmen for this postmodern rebellion, but the Mayans failed to dazzle on the first TV announcement, so the tall white guy in the ski mask took over the airtime and became the face/mask of this movement for Indian rights.

The leader of the Shining Path guerillas in Peru was a white philosophy professor named Abimael Guzman.

Fidel Castro's father was born in Spain.

Che Guevara, who fought in Cuba, Congo and Bolivia, was a half Irish and half aristocratic Spanish Argentine. At the end of The Motorcycle Diaries, Che (played by Gael Garcia Bernal) experiences an epiphany: "We are a single mestizo race, from Mexico to the Magellan Straits." But, Che's father noted: "In my son's veins flowed the blood of the Irish rebels. Che inherited some of the features of our restless ancestors … which drew him to distant wandering, dangerous adventures, and new ideas."

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

Colby Cosh: "I love you, Mindy Jones"

Several commenters have wondered plaintively why so many women like the kind of Bad Boy who would never comment at high-brow blogs.

There's the converse phenomenon of high-brow bloggers like Colby Cosh who like a certain kind of Bad Girl -- entitled, indolent, self-indulgent, swayingly languid almost to the point of toppling over. Under the heading "I Love You, Mindy Jones," I found on Colby's site this December news broadcast from Oklahoma City about Mindy Jones, who steals an ambulance for a 50 mile joy ride ending in the front yard of an ex-boyfriend's house in some hick town in OK. The great thing is the segment starts with the multi-culti but 100% plastic Ken and Barbie anchors trying to make concerned frowny faces, cuts to the perky Reese Witherspoony local reporterette trying to cover up her Red State accent, and, finally, at 1:05 we get ten seconds of Mindy Jones:

Pretty Good Time Ambulance Driver - Watch more Funny Videos

who doesn't sound at all like the frantic trailer park loser you're expecting. She gives the impression that Daddy, of course, keeps a national firm of pit bull lawyers on retainer just to get her out of jams like this. She sounds like, I dunno, Katharine Hepburn on 'ludes in Bringing Up Baby? The frontrunner for the lead in The Sharon Stone Story? The second coming of Zelda Fitzgerald? The reincarnation of Tallulah Bankhead?

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

January 8, 2010

BBC: Human sacrifice on increase in Uganda

Remember that Atlantic cover story, Did Christianity Cause the Crash? Well, it looks like you can have the Gospel of Prosperity without the Gospel.

From the BBC:
Witch-doctors reveal extent of child sacrifice in Uganda

By Tim Whewell
BBC News, Uganda

A BBC investigation into human sacrifice in Uganda has heard first-hand accounts which suggest ritual killings of children may be more common than authorities have acknowledged.

One witch-doctor led us to his secret shrine and said he had clients who regularly captured children and brought their blood and body parts to be consumed by spirits.

Meanwhile, a former witch-doctor who now campaigns to end child sacrifice confessed for the first time to having murdered about 70 people, including his own son.

The Ugandan government told us that human sacrifice is on the increase, and according to the head of the country's Anti-Human Sacrifice Taskforce the crime is directly linked to rising levels of development and prosperity, and an increasing belief that witchcraft can help people get rich quickly.

At this point, I started wondering if our legs are being pulled by the BBC. Does Uganda really have an official Anti-Human Sacrifice Taskforce?

Or is this like that scene in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas where Hunter S. Thompson (a.k.a., Raoul Duke) and his 300 pound Samoan attorney, Dr. Gonzo, infiltrate the cop convention and horrify a nice Southern district attorney with tales of how us Malibu cops have to "go to the mat" with the bloodthirsty human sacrifice gangs kidnapping teenage girls out of McDonald's drive-thru windows on Pacific Coast Highway? From Terry Gilliam's screenplay:


DUKE sees GONZO at the bar -- talking to a SPORTY LOOKING
COP about 40 whose name tag identifies him as a DISTRICT

They're everywhere. Nobody's safe.
And sure as hell not in the South.
They like warm weather... You'd
never believe it. In L.A. it's out
of control. First it was drugs,
now it's witchcraft.

Witchcraft? Shit, you can't mean it!

The BARTENDER cleans his glasses, one ear straining for the

Read the newspapers.

Man, you don't know trouble until
you have to face down a bunch of
these addicts gone crazy for human

Naw! That's science fiction stuff!

Not where we operate.

Hell, in Malibu alone, these
goddamn Satan worshippers kill six
or eight people every day. All
they want is the blood. They'll
take people right off the street if
they have to.

Just the other day we had a case
where they grabbed a girl right out
of a McDonald's hamburger stand.
She was a waitress, about sixteen
years old... with a lot of people
watching, too!

The BARTENDER keeps cleaning the same glass -- more and more

What happened? What did they do to

Do? Jesus Christ, man. They
chopped her goddamn head off right
there in the parking lot! Then
they cut all kinds of holes in her
head and sucked out the blood!

And nobody did anything?

What could they do? The guy that
took the head was about six-seven,
and maybe three-hundred pounds. He
was packing two Lugers, and the
others had M-16s.

They just ran back out into Death
Valley -- you know, where Manson
turned up...

Like big lizards. ...

They were all veterans.


Agog with the horrors of the story, the BARTENDER polishes
the glass -- faster and faster...

Yeh. The big guy used to be a
major in the Marines.

A major!

We know where he lives, but we
can't get near the house.

Naw! Not a major.

He wanted the pineal gland.


That's how he got so big. When he
quit the Marines he was just a
little guy.

Usually, it's whole families.
During the night. Most of them
don't even wake up until they feel
their heads going -- and then, of
course, it's too late.

The glass smashes in the BARTENDER's hand.

Happens every day. ...

DUKE turns to a WAITRESS with a warm smile.
Three more rums. Plenty of ice.
Maybe a handful of lime chunks.

Are you guys with the police
convention upstairs?

We sure are, Miss.

I thought so. I never heard that
kind of talk around here before.
Jesus Christ! How do you guys
stand that kind of work?

We like it. It's groovy.

The WAITRESS stares -- sickened -- at GONZO.

What's wrong with you? Hell,
somebody has to do it.

(whacks his fist on
the bar)
Hell, I really hate to hear this.
Because everything that happens in
California seems to get down our
way, sooner or later. Mostly
Atlanta. But that was back when
the goddamn bastards were peaceful.
All we had to do was to keep 'em
under surveillance. They didn't
roam around much... But now Jesus,
it seems nobody's safe.

(with a conspiratorial
You're going to need to take the
bull by the horns -- go to the mat
with this scum.

What do you mean by that?

You know what I mean. We've done
it before and we can damn well do
it again!

Cut their goddamn heads off. Every
one of them. That's what we're
doing in California.


Sure. It's all on the Q.T., but
everybody who matters is with us
all the way down the line.

We keep it quiet. It's not the
kind of thing you'd want to talk
about upstairs. Not with the press
around. ...

God almighty!
(muttering in a daze)
I don't think I should tell my wife
about this. She'd never understand.
You know how women are.

DUKE gives the DA a brotherly slap on the back.

Just be thankful your heart is
young and strong.

DUKE and GONZO leave the stunned DA -- staring into the
swirling ice in drink.

Apparently, however, yes, Uganda, unlike the real Malibu, does have an official taskforce to fight human sacrifice.

From The Guardian, 9/6/09:

Child sacrifice and ritual murders rise in Uganda as famine looms

Uganda has been shocked by a surge in ritualistic murders and human sacrifice, with police struggling to respond and public hysteria mounting at each gruesome discovery.

In 2008 more than 300 cases of murder and disappearances linked to ritual ceremonies were reported to the police with 18 cases making it to the courts. There were also several high-profile arrests of parents and relatives accused of selling children for human sacrifice.

In January this year the Ugandan government appointed a special police taskforce on human sacrifice and announced that 2,000 officers were to receive specialist training in tackling child trafficking with the support of the US government. Since the taskforce was set up there have been 15 more murders linked to human sacrifice with another 200 disappearances, mainly of children and young adults, under investigation.

"This year we have had more occurrences of people attempting to sell their children to witch-doctors as part of ritual ceremonies to guarantee wealth and prosperity," said Moses Binoga, acting commissioner of the anti-human sacrifice and trafficking taskforce.

Both police and NGOs are attributing the surge to a new wave of commercial witch-doctors using mass media to market their services and demand large sums of money to sacrifice humans and animals for people who believe blood will bring great prosperity.

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

January 7, 2010

NYT: "Law School Admissions Lag Among Minorities"

From the New York Times, an extremely typical news story. I'll let you decipher it, and will just point out that this new study is based on one of the same datasets as I used in my May 30, 2009 VDARE.com article last spring bringing together the most recent available scores for the Big Five postgraduate tests (LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, DAT, and GRE). Perhaps unsurprisingly, I reached different conclusions:
Law School Admissions Lag Among Minorities
by Tamar Lewin

While law schools added about 3,000 seats for first-year students from 1993 to 2008, both the percentage and the number of black and Mexican-American law students declined in that period, according to a study by a Columbia Law School professor.

What makes the declines particularly troubling, said the professor, Conrad Johnson, is that in that same period, both groups improved their college grade-point averages and their scores on the Law School Admission Test, or L.S.A.T.

“Even though their scores and grades are improving, and are very close to those of white applicants [not true], African-Americans and Mexican-Americans are increasingly being shut out of law schools,” said Mr. Johnson, who oversees the Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic at Columbia, which collaborated with the Society of American Law Teachers to examine minority enrollment rates at American law schools.

However, Hispanics other than Mexicans and Puerto Ricans made slight gains in law school enrollment.

The number of black and Mexican-American students applying to law school has been relatively constant, or growing slightly, for two decades. But from 2003 to 2008, 61 percent of black applicants and 46 percent of Mexican-American applicants were denied acceptance at all of the law schools to which they applied, compared with 34 percent of white applicants.

“What’s happening, as the American population becomes more diverse, is that the lawyer corps and judges are remaining predominantly white,” said John Nussbaumer, associate dean of Thomas M. Cooley Law School’s campus in Auburn Hills, Mich., which enrolls an unusually high percentage of African-American students.

Mr. Nussbaumer, who has been looking at the same minority-representation numbers, independently of the Columbia clinic, has become increasingly concerned about the large percentage of minority applicants shut out of law schools.

“A big part of it is that many schools base their admissions criteria not on whether students have a reasonable chance of success, but how those L.S.A.T. numbers are going to affect their rankings in the U.S. News & World Report,” Mr. Nussbaumer said. “Deans get fired if the rankings drop, so they set their L.S.A.T. requirements very high.

“We’re living proof that it doesn’t have to be that way, that those students with the slightly lower L.S.A.T. scores can graduate, pass the bar and be terrific lawyers.”

Margaret Martin Barry, co-president of the Society of American Law Teachers, said that while she understood the importance of rankings, law schools must address the issue of diversity. “If you’re so concerned with rankings, you’re going to lose a whole generation,” she said.

The Columbia study found that among the 46,500 law school matriculants in the fall of 2008, there were 3,392 African-Americans, or 7.3 percent, and 673 Mexican-Americans, or 1.4 percent. Among the 43,520 matriculants in 1993, there were 3,432 African-Americans, or 7.9 percent, and 710 Mexican-Americans, or 1.6 percent. The study, whose findings are detailed at the Web site A Disturbing Trend in Law School Diversity, relied on the admission council’s minority categories, which track Mexican-Americans separately from Puerto Ricans and Hispanic/Latino students.

“We focused on the two groups, African-Americans and Mexican-Americans, who did not make progress in law school representation during the period,” Mr. Johnson said. “The Hispanic/Latino group did increase, from 3.1 percent of the matriculants in 1993, to 5.1 percent in 2008.”

Mr. Johnson said he did not have a good explanation for the disparity, particularly since the 2008 LSAT scores among Mexican-Americans were, on average, one point higher than those of the Hispanics, and one point lower in 1993.

Over all, Mr. Johnson said, it is puzzling that minority enrollment in law schools has fallen, even since the United States Supreme Court ruled in 2003, in Grutter v. Bollinger, that race can be taken into account in law school admissions because the diversity of the student body is a compelling state interest.

“Someone told me that things had actually gotten worse since the Grutter decision, and that’s what got us started looking at this,” Mr. Johnson said. “Many people are not aware of the numbers, even among those interested in diversity issues. For many African-American and Mexican-American students, law school is an elusive goal.”

Meanwhile, lawyer Mark Greenbaum complains in the LA Times that, by his estimate, there are 50% more law school grads each year than are needed to fill legal jobs:
From 2004 through 2008, the field grew less than 1% per year on average, going from 735,000 people making a living as attorneys to just 760,000, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics postulating that the field will grow at the same rate through 2016. Taking into account retirements, deaths and that the bureau's data is pre-recession, the number of new positions is likely to be fewer than 30,000 per year. That is far fewer than what's needed to accommodate the 45,000 juris doctors graduating from U.S. law schools each year.

Of course, a lot of people who graduate from law school never pass the Bar Exam, including about 40% of black law school grads and 53% of all blacks who start law school, according to Richard Sanders. I don't believe there is affirmative action grading on Bar Exams, so that test traps a lot of blacks who have taken out huge students loans to attend law school. Why is the NYT pushing for playing that kind of dirty trick on blacks who are even less likely to pass the Bar Exam?

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

Common Sense and IQ

Audacious Epigone has an important post looking at who has more common sense: people with high IQs or the masses. He uses the venerable General Social Survey, which since 1972 has been asking Americans questions like, "Is it ever okay for a policeman to strike a citizen?" He identifies 33 questions where he thinks that common sense suggests a pretty clear right answer. You'll probably disagree with him on a few items, but he's a very sensible person, so it's a good list.

Crucially, the GSS includes a 10 word vocabulary quiz, so Audacious can compare two groups (looking only at white people to take out the influence of race): the 5% who got all ten vocabulary questions right and the other 95%. A vocabulary quiz is by no means a perfect test of IQ, but it may well be the single best quick test (for native English speakers).

For example, 77% of the masses answered Yes to "Is it ever okay for a policeman to strike a citizen?" In contrast, 90% of those who got a perfect score on the vocabulary quiz said Yes.

My guess is that smarter people are, in general, able to rapidly think of more examples, and thus are more likely to think of a situation in which it would be okay for a policeman to strike somebody. We've all seen TV shows where somebody tries to grab one cop's gun and they grapple for it until the cop's partner smacks the bad guy with his night stick, preventing somebody from winding up dead. There's a positive correlation between scoring well on a vocabulary test and how rapidly and comprehensively you can access or invent examples to test rules.

Another factor is that people without excellent vocabularies tend to be hazier about the meaning of words. For example, lots of people might tend to conflate the word "citizen" with the common phrase "law-abiding citizen," and then reason: Why should a policeman strike a law-abiding citizen?

Whereas people with first-rate vocabularies have probably noticed that the phrase "law-abiding citizen" implies the existence of non-law-abiding citizens. (That's a big reason why vocabulary is often used in IQ tests, such as the Wechsler -- vocabulary tests draw upon not just memory, but also the logical power to draw distinctions between terms, as well as the ability to puzzle out meanings from context.)

Also, lower IQ people are more likely to have been struck by a policeman, so they are more likely to take the question personally.

Not all of these GSS questions are ideal tests of common sense. For example, whether you should agree or disagree with "Astrology is not scientific" (85% of smarties agree v. 71% off the masses) is not something most people can figure out for themselves. St. Augustine used the first recorded example of Twin Studies to debunk astrology by pointing out that, say, Jacob and Esau in the Old Testament were born under the same stars but had very different fates. But most people aren't St. Augustine.

For example, consider this possible question: "Is the belief that the tides are controlled from outer space scientific?" Well, obviously, common sense says that's just crazy talk. That's like astrology. The ocean is ruled from outer space? That's ridiculous. That's ... oh, wait ... never mind. (Galileo got it wrong, by the way, so don't feel bad.)

In that vein, here's another question: "Is the ancient belief that the human menstrual cycle of about 29 days is related to moon's cycle of 29 days scientific?" The theory is scientific in the sense that scientists have been arguing about it for as long as I can remember. Looking it up today on Wikipedia, it appears that the weight of evidence has lately been moving against the moon having a causal relationship and toward it being mere coincidence, but it doesn't appear to be settled by any means. So, common sense can't help much here.

Getting back on track, Audacious finds that out of 33 questions, high IQ people were more likely than the masses to be right (as he defines right) on 16 items, virtually equal on four, and more likely to be wrong on 13.

iSteve readers will not be surprised to learn that 12 of the 13 questions on which people with excellent vocabularies are more likely to be wrong than the average person involve our society's race and gender taboos:

Items for which the masses display more common
sense than the smarties do
Average difference between the intelligence of whites and
of blacks, measured in standard deviations.
Genes play a major role in determining personality.20.7%24.8%
Things for blacks in the US have improved over time.51.1%64.5%
It is better for a man to work and a woman to take care
of home.
Blacks do worse in life because of their innate inability to
learn as much as whites.
There should be more women in the US military than
there currently are.
Women should be assigned to military roles where
hand-to-hand combat is likely.
Poor schools are an important reason why there are poor
people in the US.
Whites are hurt by affirmative action policies that favor
It is a shame that traditional American literature is
ignored while other literature is promoted because it is
written by women or minorities.
Increased immigration makes it more difficult to keep
the US united.
Biological differences between men and women are
important in explaining why women are more likely to
take care of children than men are.
Because of science and technology, there will be more
opportunities for future generations.
So, the overall lesson is that a good vocabulary correlates with more common sense answers on random questions that aren't part of your society's status striving taboos.

The implications for public policy of this kind of educated stupidity, however, are dire.

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

Which sex is more self-absorbed?

I've been reading ESPN columnist Bill Simmons' humongous The Book of Basketball. Does this guy ever know a lot about the NBA. And, despite his Celtics bias, he really does work hard to come up with fair judgments.

You might well wonder why did he bother learning so much about the NBA? And, it's easy to come up with Psychology 101 explanations: for his whole life, all his relationships with other men -- his father and his friends -- have centered around watching and arguing about spectator sports.

But, ultimately, I suspect, Simmons just really likes knowing a lot about the NBA.

I was reminded of Simmons' very male brain while reading this prototypical post by Erika Kawalek on the Washington Post's XX, where female journalists let us know what's really on their minds:
The Dating Secrets of Canadian and European Women

Lauren, I agree with your take on the New York Observer's trend piece about New York women seeking, as you put it, "natural commitment-phile" European men. The women who were profiled were indeed young. Like you, my friends who are paired off but not married are not waiting for the guy to pop the question. It's an annoying article.

I want to emphasize something about the difference between the state of affairs for women in America and in the rest of the civilized world. The competitiveness people bring to "dating" and "closing the deal" here is underpinned by intense economic competition and the desire—increasingly, the necessity—for basic social and physical security. There is a secret amongst the Canadian and European women living in the Big Apple. I know this because I am Canadian and my closest girlfriend is French, and when we resident aliens get together we really tear up this country and how it treats its women. (Our dating lives are fine and always have been.) When we talk about dating or the possibility of having family, with a man or on our own or with—gasp!—a coven of like-minded women (why not?), the conversation is framed entirely by the fact that we can count on our native countries to look after us should we—for whatever reason—not be able to make ends meet stateside. Now, we should be able to secure decent futures for ourselves, with or without male partners: We have Ivy League degrees, speak multiple languages, are savvy and entrepreneurial. We are also a lot more calm about dating and mating than the American women we know, who seem plagued by contradictory forces.

The New York Observer article briefly mentions the benefits of social democracies:
But what makes the European hunks so commitment-happy—a phase that typically takes many New York men until their 40s to reach? ... Maybe it’s the surplus of E.U. benefits—free day care, health care, and tax benefits even for unmarried couples—that makes the possibility of contented ménage a more realistic proposition at an earlier age.

I'm always baffled that women here don't demand the same benefits on which we Canadian and European women rely. It would make dating and mating a lot easier, that's for certain. American family values? Where are they?

The calculus of long-term committment is just different when your country guarantees the basic necessities of an advanced civilization. When your government provides you, as they do in Canada and in Europe, with health care that is unlinked to a job or "productivity," subsidized prescription drugs, child care, free education through graduate school, and, finally, old-age pensions with visiting nurses if you need them to retain your health and a modicum of dignity. Marriage, ultimately, is about family, however you shape it. I sometimes don't blame men here for being lame or commitment-phobic. They're probably terrified of failing as providers or co-providers.

Erika Kawalek is a New York-based journalist and author of the forthcoming fashion chronicle, Ragpicker.

There's a germ of an interesting idea in there, but it's very hard to come to grips with it without getting distracted by the humorlessness of Ms. Kawalek's self-absorption and subjectivity.

From an evolutionary point of view, I suspect, unmated women pretty much have to be self-absorbed and subjective. Choosing a mate is so crucial to the female sex that giving yourself all these undignified self-esteem booster shots and avoidance of self-awareness could be helpful for a New Yorkerette like Ms. Kawalek in closing the deal for a high-value New York husband.

Granted, it's hard to take humorless women seriously. Yet, Jane Austen had a sense of humor, and she died a spinster, so who's laughing now?

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

January 6, 2010

Chicago considering scrapping police tests

From the Chicago Sun-Times (thanks to the readers who sent this in):
Police may scrap entrance exam
'OPEN UP THE PROCESS' | Union chief: It's 'too stupid to be true'


The Chicago Police Department is seriously considering scrapping the police entrance exam to bolster minority hiring, save millions on test preparation and avert costly legal battles that have dogged the exam process for decades, City Hall sources said Tuesday.

If the process is opened to everyone who applies and meets the minimum education and residency requirements, Chicago would be virtually alone among major cities. Most cities have police entrance exams -- and for good reason, experts say.

"A background check and a psych [exam] alone will not eliminate some people who should not be there," said Brad Woods, who ran the Personnel Division under former Chicago Police Superintendents Phil Cline and Terry Hillard.

Calling an application-only process a "step backward" and the "wrong way to go," Woods said, "When you lower your quality, you will get poor police service and more complaints. ... Whenever you make it easier to be the police, you're doing the citizens and the Police Department a disservice."

Charlie Roberts, who ran the training division from 1995 to 1999, noted that there are "eleven tracks" recruits must go through in the police academy, including the law and the municipal code.

"If you don't give someone at least a reading comprehension test, can you just put them in and risk the possibility of having so many of them fail? That could get quite expensive," Roberts said.

"We were getting people with 60 hours of college credit who were reading at a third-grade level. What do you think you'll get if you have no screening process?"

Human Resources Department spokesperson Connie Buscemi acknowledged Tuesday that the Daley administration has been exploring other "options" since last fall, when a "request-for-proposals" for companies interested in preparing an on-line police entrance exam was cancelled.

The last police entrance exam was held on Nov. 5, 2006.

"We wanted to try to develop something on-line to allow the city to accommodate members of the U.S. military who are on active duty. But, we didn't get any responses that met our needs. No one said they could administer an on-line exam" and guarantee its integrity, Buscemi said.

This is a legitimate need, although I doubt if it has much to do with dumping testing. Hiring tests in Chicago are typically given on a single day every few years, with copies of the test delivered written by outside consulting firms delivered to the test site by armored car. Otherwise, insiders will get a look at the test ahead of time and alert their nephews and in-laws to what's on it.

One problem with this system is that if you are a Chicagoan stuck on active duty in Iraq on the day of the test, you are out of luck getting hired as a Chicago fireman or policeman for years to come. And since the EEOC's Four-Fifths rule doesn't apply to military enlistment tests, such as the heavily g-weighted AFQT, Chicago is missing out on its most promising source of future policemen and firemen. But if Chicago offered the test online at the same time it was being given in Chicago, who would proctor the test-takers in the middle of the night in Iraq and Afghanistan?

That's an interesting question, but it's a complete sideshow for what's really going on. Post-Ricci, the politicians can't fudge the results as much, so now they want to get rid of the test.
"We're [now] reviewing our options on how to administer the police application process."

Other sources confirmed that the police entrance exam could be scrapped altogether "to open up the process to as many people as possible." A final decision could be made later this week.

Fraternal Order of Police President Mark Donahue said the idea "sounds too stupid to be true." "You need a testing process. ... You need to be very concerned about the very limited information you would get from just a screening and application process," Donahue said.

Something that is completely overlooked but that is totally obvious when you stop to think about it is that civil servant unions, who are always demonized by Republicans, are one of the few effective forces actively working against affirmative action in big cities. The head of the union always has some name like "Donahue," and union policies work to keep older white civil servants from being fired in the name of making the government work force "look more like Chicago." This is particularly true for teachers unions, whose leaders all remember when black politicians got local control of New York public schools in the Ocean Hill neighborhood in the late 1960s, and immediately fired hundreds of Jewish schoolteachers and hired blacks to replace them.

Hiring and promotions in the Police and Fire Departments have generated controversy in Chicago for as long as anyone can remember.

The criticism reached a crescendo in 1994 after a sergeants exam produced just five minority promotions out of 114.

The test was the first to be administered by the city after "race-norming" -- the practice of adjusting scores on the basis of race -- was ruled unconstitutional.

In November 2005, City Hall announced plans to offer the police entrance exam a record four times the following year -- and for the first time on the Internet -- after an unprecedented outreach campaign that bolstered the number of minority applicants to 34 percent black, 24 percent Hispanic and 26 percent women.

More than two years later, black ministers told newly-appointed Police Supt. Jody Weis that, if he was serious about re-establishing trust between police and the black community, he should start by hiring and promoting more African Americans.

NBCChicago adds
And as of last year, one in four patrol officers were African-American, but just one in 12 Lieutenants were of color.

Let me point out that, to get around the EEOC's Four-Fifth's Rule, Chicago has already almost completely emasculated its police and fire tests, in order to make the disparity between white and black passing rates (as innumerately measured by the feds) less than one-fifth. Chicago's last fire and police tests were passed by 85% of the people who walked in off the street. What's the point of even giving a test so easy that people at the fifth percentile among whites pass?

So, why not give up on testing completely? That's the logical implication of the EEOC's Four-Fifth's Rule.

As Steve Farron pointed out in The Affirmative Action Hoax, honest racial quotas would be better than abolishing testing. You'd at least get the smartest of each race.

Considering that Barack Obama taught "Racism and the Law" (not, by the way, "Race and the Law") at the University of Chicago and litigated disparate impact lawsuits in Chicago, somebody might want to ask the President of the United States his opinion on this subject.

But don't count on that ever happening.

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

January 5, 2010

The President of Guatemala

One issue for the Los Angeles Police Department is getting accurate racial identifications from witnesses. It's particularly hard for distant bystanders to distinguish some Latin Americans from Middle Easterners and West Asians. For example, here's a picture of the president of Guatemala, Alvaro Colom Caballeros.

Joseph Wambaugh's LAPD novels going all the way back to The New Centurions 40 years ago, always have an Ambiguously Latino character. In the latest one, Hollywood Moon, the witness reports on the half-Honduran / half-blonde young man list him as Mideastern, which slows down the investigation.

Actually, I'm lying to you. The picture you see is really the president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh. I think it's the mustache that throws you. (Instead, here are pictures of the president of Guatemala, who looks more like I'd expect the mayor of Budapest to look.)

In other pictures, the President of Yemen looks a little more Horn of African, like a somewhat more Caucasian version of the late emperor of Ethiopia. (Here's one with GW Bush for comparison.) Once you know he's from Yemen, the gestalt kicks in and you notice the more Arab aspects in a bunch of his photos.

Similarly, few people say, "Funny, you don't look Mexican" to Carlos Slim [Salim], the richest man in Mexico, even though he's Lebanese by descent. Slim looks more or less like rich Mexicans look.

The part-Maori character actor Cliff Curtis has made a nice living playing Latin American and Arab characters. In the movie within a movie of the 1940s period piece, The Majestic, Curtis plays ham actor Ramon Jamon playing "The Evil But Handsome Prince Khalid." Once you know he's a New Zealand Polynesian, it's obvious that's what he is, but until you know that, he can play either Latin American or Middle Eastern.

Now, you may say, "But doesn't that just prove that profiling can't possibly work? All Al-Qaeda has to do is recruit a Maori suicide bomber and get him elected president of Guatemala!"

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


The New York Times has an article about how African-Americans now make up only 34% of the population of Harlem (i.e., northern Manhattan).

In 2005, Jonathan Tilove pointed out that the number of American-born blacks in New York City has been falling since 1979. By the middle of the last decade there were 36% more black women than black men alive in New York city.

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

Israeli security v. disparate impact

A person writes:

The Israeli security model is (as noted in the article) more about the passenger than their baggage. This approach is both effective, time-consuming, and "racist": the profilers have a conversation with each passenger; as I'm an Israeli Jew, I always get the abbreviated treatment -- focusing more on where my bags have been since I've packed them. As a foreigner, you get a much more in-depth grilling. As a Muslim? They want to know your shoe size, and then a whole 'nother screener comes over and asks you everything all over again, just to see that you keep your story straight. Like they say in the article, the conversations they have are not so much about what you say as how you say it. The screeners are taught to iterate a few levels deep into your story and see that it doesn't break down under scrutiny.

Naturally, this process supposes that A) the threat is foreign and mostly limited to one ethnic/religious group, and B) screeners have this sort of time.

In the US, racial profiling is... unpalatable, and if each passenger / family got even a perfunctory 1-minute Q&A session with a TSA security officer, the system would crash. The US is dealing with a larger threat profile, and a whole different order-of-magnitude of traffic.

A lot more domestic travel in the U.S., whereas a high percentage of flights out of Ben Gurion are international, which can afford higher quality security people.

2. The security screener's job: manpower, training, history

Normally these are intelligent men and women, usually students or twentysomethings, who pass a series of exams and then pass a several-month course. The hours are craptastic but the pay is decent, and a lot of students prefer it to shiftwork or waitressing. Passing the course is difficult but not arduous, and in the end you are really being taught guidelines on interrogation and then set loose to use your judgment -- if you have a red flag to raise, then you just call over a senior screener who has more years of experience.

The reality is that there are few enough openings that the program can be selective. I'd say, as a generalization, screeners here possess above-average intelligence, whereas your average TSA screener seems to be a working stiff, blindly following some not-too-complex screening algorithm in a three-ring binder. The number of screeners requisite for staffing all of the US airports precludes the TSA from exclusively employing screeners with the ability to make "judgment calls". There just aren't enough smart people with the desire to work a screener's job in the US.

Of course, that's exactly why computerized profiling is more necessary in the U.S.

Bush's Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta crusaded in 2001 (and after!) to drive ethnicity and religion out of the computerized profiling systems, and to make sure that airport personnel weren't even unconsciously more suspicious of Arabs and Muslims.

We'd be safer if we just went back to how the Clinton Administration did it: include "Arab" and "Muslim" in the profiles.

.... In the end, the system here relies on quality manpower, trained to employ their judgment of whether or not a given person constitutes a risk. In the US, "subjective" is merely a synonym for "pending lawsuit".

It also helps that Israel self-consciously exists for the benefit of the majority, while in the U.S. over the last 50 years, the tendency has been to automatically suspect the majority.

Reader Thomas comments:
Of course we don't look at the person. The belief that one person is somehow any different from any other person is the gravest sin in our civic religion.

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

How they do security at Ben Gurion airport

Basically, Israeli airline security consists of Larry David-style suspicious staring into everybody's eyeballs (although that never seems to work for Larry, because everyone else on Curb Your Enthusiasm is even stronger willed than he is).

Commenter Cordelia points to this excellent article from the The Star of Toronto:
What Israel can teach us about security
At Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, screening is done in 30 minutes. The key? Look passengers in the eye

... "It is mind boggling for us Israelis to look at what happens in North America, because we went through this 50 years ago," said Rafi Sela, the president of AR Challenges, a global transportation security consultancy. He has worked with the RCMP, the U.S. Navy Seals and airports around the world.

"Israelis, unlike Canadians and Americans, don't take s--- from anybody. When the security agency in Israel (the ISA) started to tighten security and we had to wait in line for – not for hours – but 30 or 40 minutes, all hell broke loose here. We said, `We're not going to do this. You're going to find a way that will take care of security without touching the efficiency of the airport.'"

Despite facing dozens of potential threats each day, the security set-up at Israel's largest hub, Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport, has not been breached since 2002, when a passenger mistakenly carried a handgun onto a flight. How do they manage that?

The first layer of actual security that greets travellers at Ben Gurion is a roadside check. All drivers are stopped and asked two questions: How are you? Where are you coming from?

"Two benign questions. The questions aren't important. The way people act when they answer them is," Sela said.

Once you've parked your car or gotten off your bus, you pass through the second and third security perimeters.

Armed guards outside the terminal observe passengers as they move toward the doors, again looking for odd behaviour. At Ben Gurion's half-dozen entrances, another layer of security is watching. At this point, some travellers will be randomly taken aside, and their person and their luggage run through a magnometer.

"This is to see that you don't have heavy metals on you or something that looks suspicious," said Sela.

You are now in the terminal. As you approach your airline check-in desk, a trained interviewer takes your passport and ticket. They ask a series of questions: Who packed your luggage? Has it left your side?

"The whole time, they are looking into your eyes – which is very embarrassing. But this is one of the ways they figure out if you are suspicious or not. It takes 20, 25 seconds," said Sela.

Lines are staggered. People are not allowed to bunch up into inviting targets for a bomber who has gotten this far. ...

Five security layers down: you now finally arrive at the only one which Ben Gurion airport shares with Pearson – the body and hand-luggage check.

"But here it is done completely, absolutely 180 degrees differently than it is done in North America," Sela said.

"First, it's fast – there's almost no line. That's because they're not looking for liquids, they're not looking at your shoes. They're not looking for everything they look for in North America. They just look at you," said Sela. "Even today with the heightened security in North America, they will check your items to death. But they will never look at you, at how you behave. They will never look into your eyes ... and that's how you figure out the bad guys from the good guys."

The goal at Ben Gurion is to move fliers from the parking lot to the airport lounge in 25 minutes tops.

And then there's intelligence. In Israel, Sela said, a coordinated intelligence gathering operation produces a constantly evolving series of threat analyses and vulnerability studies.

"There is absolutely no intelligence and threat analysis done in Canada or the United States," Sela said. "Absolutely none."

But even without the intelligence, Sela maintains, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab – who allegedly tried to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day – would not have gotten past Ben Gurion's behavioural profilers.

So. Eight years after 9/11, why are we still so reactive?

Sela first blames our leaders, and then ourselves.

"You can easily do what we do. You don't have to replace anything. You have to add just a little bit – technology, training," Sela said. "But you have to completely change the way you go about doing airport security. And that is something that the bureaucrats have a problem with. They are very well enclosed in their own concept."

So, airport security in Israel is handled much like immigration in Israel: for the benefit of the majority.

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

Is the NBA rigged?

I got Bill Simmons' The Book of Basketball for Christmas. If you read the countless footnotes, it has lots of interesting stuff: who's gay, which superstars were on cocaine in the 1970s-80s (although which weren't probably would have been a more concise list), and how Simmons' American-Born All-Time All White team (starters: Bill Walton, Larry Bird, Rick Barry, Jerry West, and John Stockton), chosen at Malcolm Gladwell's request, would do against his All-Time All Black team (starters Bill Russell, Moses Malone, Julius Erving, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson):
The blacks might be too loaded: I can't imagine Kobe-Oscar-Kareem coming off the bench. ... Check out the Whites again. Barry is the only prick on the team. Their passing skills would have been off the charts. ... For a 7 game series, the blacks would be a -400 favorite because of the hypercompetitive Russell-Jordan-Magic trio. But you know what? I'd bet on the whites at +350 if only because of the odds. You don't know how much this kills Jabaal Abdul-Simmons [his name for his black alter ego]. Footnote 86 on p. 537

I suspect Simmons' Boston Celtics bias is getting the better of him here: his [American] All-Time All-White team has six Celtics out of ten players: Bird, Walton (1986 Celtics), John Havlicek, Dave Cowens, Kevin McHale, and Bob Cousy. (Pete Maravich was the 10th man.) Much of Simmons' enthusiasm for his All White team comes from the "unstopability" of his second string center, McHale, who only twice started over 70 games in a season (while Walton never started more than 65). His white big men were exquisite, but exquisite doesn't last long in the NBA. Plus, the only white guy in history who would have had a chance at keeping Jordan from scoring at will was the young Bobby Jones.

Simmons also picks out an All Foreigner team with starters Hakeem Olajuwon, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, and Drazen Petrovic. I think the really interesting figure there is Arvydas Sabonis, the 7'-3" Lithuanian who didn't get to the NBA until he was 30, but who in winning the 1988 Olympic gold medal looked like Bill Walton, if only Walton were bigger and had a deadly outside jumper.

But, on p. 345, slightly less than halfway through this immense book, Simmons writes in Footnote 98, in reference to a bad call in favor of the New York Knicks in the 1994 playoffs:
98. A shady call and more evidence that the NBA was determined to get New York in the '94 Finals. Let's just say that from 1993 to 2006, the NBA may have dabbled in pro wrestling tactics a little. I tried to sweep it under the rug in this book because that's what people do when they're in love with someone: they lie for them. And I love the NBA.

That's not much, but at least that's more than Bill James put into his 1000-page Baseball Historical Abstract of 2001 about steroids.

How plausible is Simmons' implication? Imprisoned NBA ref Tim Donaghy claims he made a bundle off betting using his knowledge of other ref's biases and David Stern's directives. (He claims he didn't fix games he bet on himself, but that sounds dubious.)

On the other hand, considering that San Antonio, a minor league TV market, has won four NBA titles over the last dozen years, it can't be completely rigged.

What else can be rigged besides refereeing? Trades? The Los Angeles Lakers always seem to come up with crucial players out of trades (while the Los Angeles Clippers never do).

How does the NBA compare for honesty to the NFL, MLB, and the NHL?

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

Now that Obama has approved airport profiling ...

... of travelers from 14 countries (13 of them heavily Muslim), will progressives retract all the dumb arguments they've made over the years about how profiling can't even work in theory?

Probably not.

The New York Times hosts a debate over profiling:

The Obama administration has announced that it will subject citizens of 14 countries, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, to intensive screening when flying to the United States (the rule will also apply to those passing through those countries). This means treating people differently depending on where they come from or what passports they hold.

Does it make sense to concentrate security efforts on more limited populations — through profiling, behavioral or otherwise? Is profiling effective, compared to other strategies?

The first contributor says:
Bruce Schneier is a security technologist and author of several books on computer security, including “Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World.”

Terrorists can figure out how to beat any profiling system.

There are two kinds of profiling. There’s behavioral profiling based on how someone acts, and there’s automatic profiling based on name, nationality, method of ticket purchase, and so on. The first one can be effective, but is very hard to do right. The second one makes us all less safe. The problem with automatic profiling is that it doesn’t work.

Terrorists don’t fit a profile and cannot be plucked out of crowds by computers. They’re European, Asian, African, Hispanic, and Middle Eastern, male and female, young and old. Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab was Nigerian. Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, was British with a Jamaican father. Germaine Lindsay, one of the 7/7 London bombers, was Afro-Caribbean. Dirty bomb suspect Jose Padilla was Hispanic-American. The 2002 Bali terrorists were Indonesian. Timothy McVeigh was a white American. So was the Unabomber. The Chechen terrorists who blew up two Russian planes in 2004 were female. Palestinian terrorists routinely recruit “clean” suicide bombers, and have used unsuspecting Westerners as bomb carriers.

In reality, as sportswriter Damon Runyon said, "The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that's the way to bet."
Without an accurate profile, the system can be statistically demonstrated to be no more effective than random screening.

Actually, the link says the opposite, as I'll show below.
And, even worse, profiling creates two paths through security: one with less scrutiny and one with more. And once you do that, you invite the terrorists to take the path with less scrutiny. That is, a terrorist group can safely probe any profiling system and figure out how to beat the profile. And once they do, they’re going to get through airport security with the minimum level of screening every time.

Sure, as long as Al-Qaeda can recruit Mexican grandmothers to be suicide bombers as readily as it can recruit young men with Muslim names.

As counterintuitive as it may seem, we’re all more secure when we randomly select people for secondary screening — even if it means occasionally screening wheelchair-bound grandmothers and innocent looking children. And, as an added bonus, it doesn’t needlessly anger the ethnic groups we need on our side if we’re going to be more secure against terrorism.

A recurrent theme of mine is how the demand for denial of average IQ differences spills into seemingly unrelated issues, like airline security, causing widespread intellectual stultification. The modern liberal mind thinks in black-and-white Manichean terms, rendering it unarmed for dealing with a probabilistic universe.

It's hard to deal with liberal arguments because they tend to be so Gladwellian in their mental rigidity. Here we are, more than eight years after 9/11, and this "expert" picked by the NYT for his wisdom can't imagine any profiling system smarter than he is.

Schneier seems to be assuming that profiling means that 100% of attention would be devoted to people in category X and 0% to people in category Y. The weird thing is, that's common among progressives. They really just don't get it. The conventional wisdom is a form of unilateral cognitive disarmament.

He's like a pitching coach who tells a baseball pitcher, "Your fastball is above average, your slider average, and your change-up below average, but if you only throw your fastball, they'll expect it, so you should choose your pitches randomly, throwing one-third of each."

Obviously, when stated in those terms, it's easy to see the fallacy: there are superior methodologies in-between all fastballs and total randomness. If your fastball is relatively more effective than your other pitches, you want to throw relatively more fastballs. But you still want to "mix 'em up," as every pitching coach from Babe Ruth League onward as told pitchers.

Why can't Americans be as smart about public policy as they are about sports?

Thus, if you read the article Schneier links to behind his phrase "statistically demonstrated," you'll find it's merely a debunking of a braindead "100% fastballs" profiling method:

Press then examines the effect of what he terms a strong profiling strategy, one in which a limited set of screening resources is deployed solely based the risk probabilities identified through profiling. It turns out that this also works poorly as the population size goes up. "The reason that this strong profiling strategy is inefficient," Press writes, "is that, on average, it keeps retesting the same innocent individuals who happen to have large pj [risk profile match] values."

The very next paragraph of the article linked to by Schneier explains that non-braindead profiling is the best method:

According to Press, the solution is something that's widely recognized by the statistics community: identify individuals for robust screening based on the square root of their risk value. That gives the profile some weight, but distributes the screening much more broadly through the population, and uses limited resources more effectively. It's so widely used in mathematical circles that Press concludes his paper by writing, "It seems peculiar that the method is not better known."

Peculiar, indeed. But as Napoleon supposedly said, "Never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by incompetence."

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

January 4, 2010

Obama: Profile Nigerians

The Obama Administration has now announced there will be extra checks on passengers from 14 countries, 13 of them with large numbers of Muslim:
Nigeria has criticised new security measures for passengers flying to and from the United States as unfair and said they amounted to discrimination against 150 million people.

The US government has announced that travellers from 14 countries, including Nigeria, are to be subjected to extra checks including body pat-downs, after a young Nigerian was accused of trying to blow up a US jet on Christmas Day.

But Nigeria Information Minister Dora Akunyili said that Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, did not have a history of terrorism and such a move could not be justified.

"It is unfair to include Nigeria on the US list for tighter screening because Nigerians do not have terrorist tendencies," Ms Akunyili said.

"It is unfair to discriminate against over 150 million people because of the behaviour of one person."

The Nigerians have a point. Nigerians have certain notorious tendencies, as your Spam email folder attests, but blowing themselves up to kill Americans has not been notable among them. America has been quite popular in West Africa over the last decade -- America has higher approval ratings in black Africa than any other large portion of the world.

There have been intermittent clashes between Muslims and Christians within Nigeria for decades, but it has seldom spilled over out of the country.

It would make more sense to focus on Nigerians with Muslim names than Nigerians in general. A Nigerian named Goodluck Jonathan is probably not an Al Qaeda recruit, so patting him down all the time would be a waste of limited security resources.

If Barack Hussein Obama can't propose profiling people with Muslim names, who can?

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

Final NFL statistics: Diversity

Let's take a look at the final 2009 NFL statistics. As you'll recall, there was a huge hub-bub in the media in the 1990s and 2000s about the need for more black quarterbacks.

And yet, in the long run, it has turned out to be that black quarterbacks are represented in the NFL at about their share of the American population, not close to their share of the NFL population, as sportswriters insisted was only logical.

Now, you might think that this evidence that blacks and whites appear to be fairly equal on a per capita basis in talent for the top job in American sports would be celebrated by the press as a triumph for diversity and equality, but nobody seems to be paying any attention to it. Hmmhmmhmm, it also might make you suspect that when people say they are for "equality" and "diversity" they aren't being sincere.

There are a lot of different ways to rate quarterbacks. The official "passer rating" includes yards per attempt, completion percentage, touchdown percentage, and interception percentage (but not yards gained rushing, yards lost being sacked, and fumbles). The average passer rating has been slowly going up over time. In 2009 it was 81.3 versus 75.1 in 1999, 73.3 in 1989, and 67.8 in 1979. (After a strong start in 2009, it faded as bad weather set in and wound up marginally lower than 2008's 81.5. But there were more outstanding quarterbacks this year, with five over 100 versus only one last year.)

Among the 32 NFL quarterbacks who averaged at least 14 pass attempts per game in 2009, the highest passer rating belonged to Drew Brees of New Orleans, followed by 40-year-old Brett Favre of Minnesota, who looked like he was going to give us another late season flurry of interceptions, but then righted ship and finished with an impressive 33 touchdowns to only 7 interceptions.

Six black quarterbacks were among the 32 busiest. Donovan McNabb of Philadelphia once again proved the best, finishing 12th in the league in passer rating. Three black quarterbacks wound up around the median -- Jason Campbell of Washington at 15th, veteran David Garrard of Jacksonville at 17th, and, revitalizing his career, Vince Young of Tennessee at 18th. Considering the amount of competition for the job, you've got to be pretty good to be about the average NFL starting quarterback.

Josh Freeman, a 21-year-old in Tampa Bay, had a predictably dire rookie season at 30. And third-year man JaMarcus Russell was last at 32. (A white quarterback named Derek Anderson of Cleveland was significantly worse than Russell -- including getting to start the next three games after going 2 for 17 on October 11 -- but Anderson didn't quite have enough pass attempts to make the cutoff.)

So, there was one somewhat above-average black starting quarterback in McNabb, three average ones, and two well below average ones.

Obviously, a quarterback's statistics are heavily dependent upon his supporting cast, but 2009 was hardly anomalous. In 2008, for instance, black quarterbacks ranked 13th, 14th, 19th, 20th, and 26th.

The peak year for black quarterbacks was 2003, the year of the Rush Limbaugh brouhaha, when black quarterbacks ranked 1st, 3rd, 7th, 16th, 21st, 24th, 26th, and 32nd. But that now appears to have been a bit of a fluke. Black quarterback talent seems to be proportional to black representation in the overall population, not to the black representation in the NFL as was widely assumed by pundits denouncing Limbaugh.

What about that 2009 New York Times Idea of the Year that "Black Quarterbacks Are Underpaid" because nobody recognizes their enormous rushing contributions? Well, David Garrard did lead quarterbacks in rushing in 2009, but only with 323 yards.

And black quarterbacks tended to get sacked a lot, with Campbell, McNabb, and Garrard in the top 10 in Sacked Yards Lost. Only Vince Young seemed to combine rushing offense with ability to avoid being sacked. And Garrard, Campbell, McNabb, and Freeman were in the top 10 in most fumbles.

The Era of the Black Rushing Quarterback (a.k.a., the Quarterback of the Future) seems to be more or less over. That doesn't bode well for the NFL career of U. of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, a white running quarterback who might have had the greatest college career ever. The NFL just grinds up running backs -- here's LaDainian Tomlinson's yards per carry average from age 27 through 30: 5.2, 4.7, 3.8, 3.3. So, combining the two roles of quarterback and running back mostly seems to physically beat down athletes before they are old enough to learn how to play quarterback effectively in the NFL.

On the rushing side, Chris Johnson of Tennessee dominated, with 2006 yards. In terms of Diversity!, there is almost zero diversity when it comes to running with the ball in the NFL, not that the media care in the slightest. As far as I can tell, the white guy with the most rushing yards was Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers in 63rd place with 316 yards.

One thing you notice looking at pictures is that NFL runnings are black not just in the sense of sociological self-identification but in terms of skin tone (e.g., I checked out Frank Gore's picture because that's not clearly a black name like, say, LaDainian Tomlinson). When you get down to 44th ranked Justin Fargas of Oakland, you finally come upon an African-American who is probably at least half white. (His Caribbean dad, Antonio Fargas, played "Huggy Bear," the pimp-informant on Starsky and Hutch, and I believe his mother is white. Fargas went to my old high school. I showed up for my 20th reunion Homecoming game at halftime, but he was already done for the night with four touchdowns -- Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be NFL running backs.)

Among receivers, overall, there was more diversity than among running backs. Whites and Hispanics are fairly well represented at tight end (e.g., Dallas Clark of Indianapolis caught 100 passes for 1106 yards and Tony Gonzales of Atlanta had his 11th straight season with at least 750 yards), but few other teams are following New England's lead in giving non-black non-tight end receivers a lot of playing time. Yet, Wes Welker, a New England receiver who is listed as a wide receiver although the term slot receiver would be more accurate, had an outstanding year despite missing 2.5 games. He led the league in receptions with 123, and was second in total yardage (1348) and in first downs (71).

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


In yet another example of the workings of the bipartisan wisdom that “Because we must invite the world (it’s unthinkable not to), we therefore must invade the world to be safe,” Washington has responded to Nigerian Underwear Bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s fizzled attempt to blow up a plane headed to Detroit on Christmas by escalating American involvement in Yemen.

Senator Joe Lieberman declaimed, “Iraq was yesterday's war, Afghanistan is today's war. If we don't act preemptively, Yemen will be tomorrow's war.”

President Barack Obama sent General David Petraeus to Sana, the medieval capital city of Yemen, more than 7,000 feet up in the densely populated but isolated highlands of that remote country, to help coordinate America’s role in the Yemeni government’s war on its rebels.

The logic of invite the world, invade the world is simple: Because we are so helplessly vulnerable to Muslim terrorists flying to the U.S. and blowing stuff up, we must tighten American hegemony over the entire Muslim world, even unto the highlands of Yemen, until they learn to stop resenting us.

The bombings of Muslim countries will continue until Muslim morale improves!

Yet, before getting bogged down in another high altitude, tribal Muslim country, one of even more negligible strategic significance than Afghanistan, perhaps we could step back for a moment and ask: Do we really have to invite the world? Did we have to wave Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab onto that Detroit-bound plane with a friendly, non-discriminatory smile?

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

January 3, 2010

My VDARE.com column on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab

From my new column on VDARE.com:
We have it on the authority of John Brennan, Obama Administration counterterrorism advisor appearing on the Fox TV network today, that there was “no smoking gun” that should have alerted US intelligence agencies to the attempted Christmas Day suicide attack.

So that’s OK, then!

I mean, who could have guessed?

Who could have imagined that somebody named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab would try to blow up a plane headed to Detroit on Christmas Day?

And how could we expect airline security to notice Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was smuggling a bomb onto the plane when there were all those grandmothers and little children to search?

Who could possibly have known?

I mean, besides his dad, the chairman of the board of one of Nigeria’s biggest banks, who told the U.S. embassy in Lagos on November 19 to watch out for his Muslim radical son.

I’m not sure I want to know how the Underwear Bomber’s father made his fortune in Nigeria. But, clearly, he’s the kind of man who should be taken seriously when warning about his own son’s extremism.

Two days after terrorism attempt, Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano told ABC News, the “system has worked really very, very smoothly".

Two points stand out:

- More than eight years after 9/11, we still don’t have an effective computer system for tracking potential terrorists trying to board airplanes.

(Recall how President Obama has been boasting for a year about how his administration is going to cut medical spending by spearheading a computer system to track all your health information. What’s your over-under date on when that gets finished? I’ve got dibs on 2033.)

- It’s increasingly obvious that neither Bush nor Obama has wanted an effective airport security system.

Effective security would impose a “disparate impact” on guys with names like “Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab” (or, for that matter, “Barack Hussein Obama”). Both Presidents actively worked against profiling and disparate impact. Why? Because noticing patterns is just plain wrong.

Stupidity is our strength!

Since September 11, 2001, whenever somebody with a name like Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab commits terrorism, I’ve been writing virtually the same article about the American ruling class’s pathological prejudice against profiling.

How big a calamity is it going to take to make them wake up, stop randomly dissipating prevention efforts, and instead focus on those most likely to commit terrorism?

For example, look at this typically hysterical reaction to retired Lt. General Thomas McInerney’s recent advocacy of profiling: Former Lt. General "Goes There": Calls for all Muslim men between 18-28 to be strip searched, by Joseph Marhee, Examiner, January 3, 2010. (“McInerney is deliberately using inflammatory and incendiary proclamations to incite hostilities. It is simply unacceptable and irresponsible for someone of his public profile to advocate such blatantly unconstitutional and socially dangerous rhetoric into the mainstream.” Yawn).

In contrast, naïve Nigerians have tended to assume that of course their countryman’s shame will bring more suspicion and searches down upon themselves. Thus Nigerian vice president Goodluck Jonathan lamented: "A Nigerian has created an additional problem for us by wanting to blow up an aircraft … That means that those Nigerians who travel out of this country will be subjected to unnecessary harassments and searches."

How unworldly the vice president of Nigeria is! Goodluck Jonathan simply isn't aware that in 21st century America, it’s considered shameful to notice such patterns. Learning from the past is simply inappropriate.

I've come up with a couple of new air security policy recommendations in the later part of the article.

Read the whole thing there and comment upon it below.

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

Meryl Streep at 60

At age 60, Meryl Streep has become the most commercially consistent actress in Hollywood. Having started out largely as a screen tragedian, Streep appears to be having a blast these days making movies like Mama Mia and the Devil Wears Prada. She'll get her 16th Oscar nomination for Julie and Julia for her ridiculously entertaining Dan Ackroyd-ish impersonation of chef/giantess Julia Child.

In Julie and Julia, the usually amusing Amy Adam gets stuck with the disastrous role of a contemporary ninny of a blogger -- Which genius decided blogging was a cinematic career? -- whose boring modern life only serves to annoyingly keep Streep off-screen for half the movie. In general, you don't want to take a role playing a contemporary character in a film with extensive flashbacks to pre-1960s people -- modern characters are too casual to make the kind of imposing impression that old time characters can make. But you especially don't want to play opposite Meryl Streep as Julia Child.

Movie stars tend to emerge from tumultuous upbringings. (For example, I don't know how many current stars spent a couple of years living in hippie communes as children.) Streep, in contrast, has always seemed like the supremely professional product of a proper upbringing. This perhaps made her less sympathetic when she was young in a sort of Jack Nicklaus-Peyton Manning way, but she's enjoying the benefits of an improbably long career today.

Streep by the numbers:

15 Oscar nominations (and counting)
4 children
1 husband
0 rehabs

(Here's Woody Allen publicly lecturing Scarlett Johansson a couple of years ago on how she ought to imitate Meryl Streep's life, not Lindsay Lohan's.)

Streep might even get a 17th Oscar nomination for her middle aged lady fantasy movie "It's Complicated," a kind of Philadelphia Story "comedy of remarriage" for women of a certain age.

Depression-era movies about rich people, like Philadelphia Story, are known as "white telephone movies" because only millionaires could finagle a non-black telephone out of the Bell monopoly back then. Perhaps the contemporary equivalents made by Nancy Meyer (writer director of the aptly named What Women Want with Mel Gibson) could be called Viking range movies because they are heavy on high-end kitchen appliance porn.

The last 60ish leading lady to be on top of the box office was, I'm guessing, 250-pound Marie Dressler, who was born during the Johnson Administration (the Andrew Johnson Administration). Most very early talkies are close to unwatchable, so Dressler is remembered today mostly for 20 seconds with Jean Harlow in 1933's Dinner at Eight.

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