August 13, 2011

Rattling the Tip Cup 2

Well, we got off to a good start with the Summer 2011 iSteve fundraising drive, with some very generous donations, but then things slowed down when I didn't post an ask for a day. It turns out, remarkably enough, that if you want people to give you money, you have to ask them.

So, if you haven't donated yet during this drive, please consider it.

You can send me an email and I'll send you my P.O. Box address.

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Enoch Powell's speech

Here are a few extracts from Enoch Powell's infinitely demonized April 20, 1968 speech, delivered two weeks after the Martin Luther King riots in northern American cities.
The supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils.

In seeking to do so, it encounters obstacles which are deeply rooted in human nature. One is that by the very order of things such evils are not demonstrable until they have occurred: At each stage in their onset there is room for doubt and for dispute whether they be real or imaginary. By the same token, they attract little attention in comparison with current troubles, which are both indisputable and pressing: whence the besetting temptation of all politics to concern itself with the immediate present at the expense of the future. Above all, people are disposed to mistake predicting troubles for causing troubles and even for desiring troubles: “if only”, they love to think, “if only people wouldn't talk about it, it probably wouldn't happen”. Perhaps this habit goes back to the primitive belief that the word and the thing, the name and the object, are identical.

At all events, the discussion of future grave but, with effort now, avoidable evils is the most unpopular and at the same time the most necessary occupation for the politician. Those who knowingly shirk it, deserve, and not infrequently receive, the curses of those who come after. ... 
In fifteen or twenty years, on present trends, there will be in this country 3 1/2 million Commonwealth immigrants and their descendants. That is not my figure. That is the official figure given to Parliament by the spokesman of the Registrar General's office. There is no comparable official figure for the year 2000, but it must be in the region of 5-7 million, approximately one-tenth of the whole population, and approaching that of Greater London.
Of course, it will not be evenly distributed from Margate to Aberystwyth and from Penzance to Aberdeen. Whole areas, towns and parts of towns across England will be occupied by different sections of the immigrant and immigrant-descended population. 
... Nothing is more misleading than comparison between the Commonwealth immigrant in Britain and the American Negro. The Negro population of the United states, which was already in existence before the United States became a nation, started literally as slaves and were later given the franchise and other rights of citizenship, to the exercise of which they have only gradually and still incompletely come. The Commonwealth immigrant came to Britain as a full citizen, to a country which knows no discrimination between one citizen and another, and he entered instantly into the possession of the rights of every citizen, from the vote to free treatment under the National Health Service. Whatever drawbacks attended the immigrants—and they were drawbacks which did not, and do not, make admission into Britain by hook or by crook appear less than desirable—arose not from the law or from public policy or from administration but from those personal circumstances and accidents which cause, and always will cause, the fortunes and experience of one man to be different for another's. ...
For these dangerous and divisive elements the legislation proposed in the Race Relations Bill is the very pabulum they need to flourish. Here is the means of showing that the immigrant communities can organize to consolidate their members, to agitate and campaign against their fellow citizens, and to overawe and dominate the rest with the legal weapons which the ignorant and the ill-informed have provided. 
As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding. Like the Roman [i.e., , I seem to see “the River Tiber foaming with much blood”. 
That tragic and intractable phenomenon which we watch with horror on the other side of the Atlantic but which there is interwoven with the history and existence of the States itself, is coming upon us here by our own volition and our own neglect. 
Indeed, it has all but come. In numerical terms, it will be of American proportions long before the end of the century. Only resolute and urgent action will avert it even now. 
Whether there will be the public will to demand and obtain that action, I do not know.
All I know is that to see, and not to speak, would be the great betrayal.

Now, it's not clear from this speech (although perhaps it is from others) that Powell feared what historian David Starkey called a couple of nights ago "intercommunal violence" of the Bombay-Hindus-whomp-on-Muslims type seen in the opening of Slumdog Millionaire. Powell's focus was evidently the black American riots of 1965-1968, which weren't all that intercommunal, although there was some animus against Jewish and other nonblack shopkeepers. They were more "political shopping," with Civil Rights as an excuse for looting sprees, much like this week's riots.

More on David Starkey

Not surprisingly, more rage has been directed this week by the British media at an English historian for what he said than at all the rioters for what they have done. 

From the Daily Mail:
Historian David Starkey remained defiant last night after provoking a race storm by claiming the recent riots happened because too many young white people had ‘now become black’. 
The broadcaster was branded a racist yesterday after an appearance on Friday night’s Newsnight programme, when he blamed the riots on a ‘violent, destructive and nihilistic’ gang culture, which he said was being embraced by many white and black people. 
He stunned his fellow guests on the BBC2 show, writer Owen Jones and black author and broadcaster Dreda Say Mitchell, by placing the blame for the riots squarely with a form of black male culture that he said ‘mitigated against education’. ... 
Fellow broadcasters, politicians and members of the public criticised his remarks on Twitter and other social networking sites yesterday, and some even predicted that his television career was now ruined. 
Piers Morgan, the chat-show host and Mail on Sunday columnist [a judge on America's Got Talent on this side of the pond, and author of three volumes of his own memoirs], tweeted: ‘RIP David Starkey’s TV career. And good riddance. Racist idiot.’ ... 
In a surprise move, the BBC’s  business editor, Robert Peston, joined the chorus of disapproval, tweeting: ‘David Starkey’s nasty ignorance is best ignored not worthy of comment or debate.’ As a BBC employee, Mr Peston would normally be expected to be impartial about the channel’s output. ... 
Dr Starkey last night denied he had said anything racist and said he stood by his comments, reiterating  that in times of economic and political crisis, ‘plain speaking’ was needed. 
He told The Mail on Sunday: ‘I said until I was blue in the face on the programme that I was not talking about skin colour but gang culture. A large group of whites have started to behave like blacks. I think that is the most unracial remark anyone can make.’ 
Dr Starkey caused further outrage on Newsnight by claiming that if people listened to David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham, on the radio, they would assume he was white. 
He added last night: ‘David Lammy does sound white, so does [MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington] Diane Abbott, because they’ve had a white cultural experience. It’s one of the reasons they don’t have any street credibility. They have no contact with the young.’ 
In an obvious reference to the phone-hacking scandal, Dr Starkey said that critics like Piers Morgan should concentrate on ‘their own legal difficulties’.

Who is rioting?

An anonymous iSteve commenter has gone through a gallery of surveillance camera photos of rioters posted by the Birmingham, England police department and attempted to work out what the press hasn't been in a hurry to report. Granted, a lot of the pictures are pretty fuzzy, and most of the hoods are wearing hoods, but here are his estimates (feel free to go to the link and compile your own estimates):
Looking at those pics of rioters and toting them up in a spreadsheet - the demography is 60% Black, 35% White, 5% South Asian. 
Demography of the city of Birmingham (where the shots are sourced from) is - " 70.4% of the population was White (including 3.22% Irish & 1.49% Other White), 19.5% British Asian, 6.1% Black or Black British, 0.52% Chinese, 2.9% of mixed race and 0.63% of other ethnic heritage." 
So merging mixed race and Black, we have a per capita representation level of White - 0.5, Black (amalgamating Black and Mixed race in the American fashion) - 6.7 and South Asian - 0.25 (assuming they are all Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, those would have a rep of around 0.35). 
Now since the demographics are younger around ethnic minorities and older among Whites, I'd say that it probably normalizes to age around 6-8x White representation level among Blacks and a 1/4x White representation level among South Asians (and you could take it as 1/2 White representation level among Muslims, if you assume they're all Muslims, and correspondingly assume 0 Hindu representation). 
Of course, the totals as a whole might be Blacker or Whiter depending on how the other areas work out - I'd guess them to wash out at least somewhat Blacker and less White and South Asian, considering London is where the main action is at.

So, blacks 6-8X versus whites sounds about like the usual racial ratio in crime rates seen in America.

There's a lot of evidence that young white Brits commit more assaults and burglaries than young white Americans, but the ratios are not gigantically different.

Also, it seems like the white crime rate is much worse in Britain than in America because serious white youth crime has largely vanished from major cities in America, while it's concentrated in big cities in Britain. For example, in 2010, I looked through 2,600 homicides in Los Angeles County over a few recent years, and off the top of my head, I can recall seeing only one white-on-white youth homicide in a parking lot at night that didn't involve Armenians or other white immigrant groups. (That one was in exurban Stevenson Ranch). But, just because young white men in the biggest American cities tend to be middle class or higher these days, and stay well away from violent crime, doesn't mean that's true all across America.

We think of riots in the U.S. as being race riots and thus as being segregated, but that's probably not quite as true as it seems. For example, when my future wife in April 1968, after Martin Luther King was murdered, looked out her window on the ghettoizing west side of Chicago and said, "Look, Mom, free TVs! Let's get one!" a majority of the neighbors lugging TVs down the street were white. Same for the yuppies who looted coffeetable books of Impressionist paintings from Chicago's best book store on Michigan Avenue after the Bulls won in 1992.

In general, the term "race riot" can be misleading because there have been very few intercommunal mass riots in the U.S. in recent decades. We've had black v. middleman minority riots, as in blacks v. Koreans in L.A. Perhaps Crown Heights where blacks attacked Hasidim 20 years ago (and the Democratic candidate hasn't won any of the five mayoral elections in NYC since).

Something to keep in mind is that English riots tend to be less deadly than the worst American riots. The official death toll in South Central LA in 1992 was over 50, in Detroit in 1967 over 40 (and a reader whose father was an emergency room doctor in Detroit during the riot says his father told him the actual death toll was significantly higher), and in Watts in 1965 over 30. I presume that the large number of guns in America make a difference.

So, lots of American riots are, like these in London, "political shopping." But they tend to be more segregated because they are more dangerous, so whites who wouldn't mind playing smash and grab for a night or two tend to stay home because they don't want to risk getting shot by black rioters or by cops.

"Career-ending moment"

A popular historian in England named David Starkey, who is a kind of David McCullough-type who makes television series about the Tudors, was on a British TV talk show last night (see video here), and now he's in trouble for saying out loud what everybody realizes is true, and therefore all sorts of tension builds up over whom will be the first to say it on TV. Nothing makes people madder than saying what's obviously true.

These are Ali G Riots, with blacks in the cultural vanguard and idiots of other races following their example of what's cool. (Here's the classic interview with Andy Rooney, who along with Donald Trump was just about the only celebrity in America who didn't try to help Ali G along.) The riots are a triumph of multiculturalism over white racism, something that Enoch Powell never foresaw.

From the Guardian:
David Starkey claims "the whites have become black" 
Historian provokes storm of criticism after remarks during a televised discussion about the riots on BBC2's Newsnight 
The historian and broadcaster David Starkey has provoked a storm of criticism after claiming during a televised discussion about the riots that "the problem is that the whites have become black". 
In an appearance on BBC2's Newsnight, Starkey spoke of "a profound cultural change" and said he had been re-reading Enoch Powell's rivers of blood speech. 
"His prophesy was absolutely right in one sense. The Tiber did not foam with blood but flames lambent, they wrapped around Tottenham and wrapped around Clapham," he said. "But it wasn't inter-community violence. This is where he was absolutely wrong." Gesturing towards one of the other guests, Owen Jones, who wrote Chavs: the Demonisation of the Working Classes, Starkey said: "What has happened is that a substantial section of the chavs that you wrote about have become black." 
An outcry on Twitter began with the Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn asking the BBC: "Why was racist analysis of Starkey unchallenged? What exactly are you trying to prove?" A spokesman for Newsnight said: "I think that [presenter] Emily Maitlis very robustly challenged David Starkey. 
Jones told the Guardian he believed Starkey's comments were "a career-ending moment". He said: "He tapped into racial prejudice at a time of national crisis. At other times, those comments would be inflammatory but they are downright dangerous in the current climate. "I fear that some people will now say that David Starkey is right, and you could already see some of them on Twitter. I am worried about a backlash from the right and he will give legitimacy to those views in the minds of some." 

Don't you love how nakedly careerist young journos are these days? And how they don't even pretend that jobs in the media are about free expression, but instead admit that they are about controlling speech?
On the programme, Starkey said: "The whites have become black. A particular sort of violent destructive, nihilistic gangster culture has become the fashion and black and white boys and girls operate in this language together. 
"This language which is wholly false, which is this Jamaican patois that has been intruded in England and that is why so many of us have this sense of literally of a foreign country." 
The historian and broadcaster, whose historical documentaries on Channel 4 about the Tudors established him as a household name, went on to name-check Tottenham's Labour MP: "Listen to David Lammy, an archetypal successful black man. If you turn the screen off so that you are listening to him on radio you would think he was white." 
He was challenged by Mitchell, who ridiculed his theories about the speech patterns of young people. "You keep talking David about black culture. Black communities are not homogenous. So there are black cultures. Lots of different black cultures. What we need to be doing is ... thinking about ourselves not as individual communities ... as one community. We need to stop talking about them and us.

Don't you love how to the Guardian this ineffectual sputtering of cliches is conclusive demolition?

Always back up your laptop

In decades past, when the Los Angeles Times was flush with cash, it was an extremely serious newspaper. Now that it's broke, the newspaper has started to notice that L.A. is the funniest city in America:
Beverly Hills police blew up an aspiring screenwriter's laptop and script when investigating a suspicious package Thursday morning on Rodeo Drive. The screenwriter, who was not identified, apparently left his briefcase -- with the computer and script inside -- unattended at a talent agency office. 
Beverly Hills Police Lt. Tony Lee said police, not knowing what was inside the briefcase, detonated it as safety precaution. 
Lee said the owner was distraught when he learned what happened to the briefcase. 
The case was found near the intersection of Rodeo Drive and Little Santa Monica Boulevard. Several streets were closed and nearby businesses were being evacuated, causing traffic jams in the area.

Reminds me of the time a robot from the Maryland police bomb squad was going to throw my new business cards into the Chesapeake Bay under the assumption that they were a letter bomb to Margaret Thatcher from the IRA.

August 12, 2011

Summer Panhandling Drive

It's time to shake my tin cup again and ask you to help me stay in business as a writer. I believe I provide good value. 

While I'm tooting my own horn, I want to call attention to my book reviewing. I've got a review coming out shortly of former Mexican foreign minister Jorge Castaneda's book on how to fix Mexicans' national culture. I don't think any other reviewer is currently reading public intellectuals' books as carefully as I do. 

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How much ruin in a nation?

Back in 2005, I offered a half dozen explanations why the white crime rate in Britain is higher than the white crime rate in the U.S. (at least outside of homicide, where our huge number of guns makes crime less frequent but more deadly). You can read it here.

It's Ramadantime in Merrie Olde England

Simon in London makes a point:
I'm surprised no one has drawn the link between Ramadan and the lack of Muslim rioters. Ramadan makes them extra-religious for the month, so they are more likely to riot for Islamic reasons (eg cartoons) but less likely to riot for Nikes & plasma TVs.

August 11, 2011

Tom Wolfe on 1966 San Francisco riot

From Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers:
Whites were still in the dark about the ghettos. They had been studying the "urban Negro" in every way they could think of for fifteen years, but they found out they didn't know any more about the ghettos than when they started. Every time there was a riot, whites would call on "Negro leaders" to try to cool it, only to find out that the Negro leaders didn't have any followers. They sent Martin Luther King into Chicago and the people ignored him. They sent Dick Gregory into Watts and the people hooted at him and threw beer cans. During the riot in Hunters Point, the mayor of San Francisco, John Shelley, went into Hunters Point with the only black member of the Board of Supervisors, and the brothers threw rocks at both of them. They sent in the middle-class black members of the Human Rights Commission, and the brothers laughed at them and called them Toms. Then they figured the leadership of the riot was "the gangs," so they sent in the "ex-gang leaders" from groups like Youth for Service to make a "liaison with the key gang leaders." What they didn't know was that Hunters Point and a lot of ghettos were so disorganized, there weren't even any "key gangs," much less "key gang leaders," in there. That riot finally just burnt itself out after five days, that was all.

Columns I haven't read

From the Washington Post:

Behind Britain’s riots

Behind Britain’s riots
What do the looters want?

I dunno ... Loot?


From New Scientist:
Stone Age toe could redraw human family tree 
10 August 2011 by Colin Barras 
ON THE western fringes of Siberia, the Stone Age Denisova cave has surrendered precious treasure: a toe bone that could shed light on early humans' promiscuous relations with their hominin cousins. 
New Scientist has learned that the bone is now in the care of Svante Pääbo at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who revealed the first genetic evidence of interbreeding between ancient humans and other hominins (New Scientist, 30 July, p 34).
There are tantalising hints that the find strengthens the case for a third major group of hominins circulating in Eurasia at the same time as early humans and the Neanderthals. It might possibly even prove all three groups were interbreeding (see diagram). 
The Denisova cave had already yielded a fossil tooth and finger bone, in 2000 and 2008. Last year, Pääbo's DNA analysis suggested both belonged to a previously unknown group of hominins, the Denisovans. The new bone, an extremely rare find, looks likely to belong to the same group. 
It is a very exciting discovery, says Isabelle De Groote at London's Natural History Museum. "Hominin material from southern Siberia is rare and usually extremely fragmentary." 
The primitive morphology of the 30,000 to 50,000-year-old Denisovan finger bone and tooth indicates that Denisovans separated from the Neanderthals roughly 300,000 years ago. At the time of the analysis, Pääbo speculated that they came to occupy large parts of east Asia at a time when Europe and western Asia were dominated by Neanderthals. By 40,000 years ago, Homo sapiens was also moving around much of the region. But the Denisovans remain known only from the finger and tooth fossils - not enough information to formally assign them to their own species. 
That may change with analysis of the newly discovered toe bone. 

I hear a rumor that the pygmy negritos of the Philippines might be in the news by the end of the year or so.

Times have changed

It's worth keeping in mind that when Obama announced his candidacy for President in February 2007, there was plenty of money. Lots and lots of money. All Obama had to do as President, he figured, was not be as big a screw-up as George W. Bush. How hard could that be?

Black flash mobs and the Obama Effect

Why are some African American youths using Twitter to form flash mobs to loot stores? Why are some playing "knockout king" using, among others, white liberal bloggers' heads as punching bags? 

My assumption would be: because they can. 

Others, however, seem more shocked. They ask: Wasn't voting for Obama supposed to stop this kind of thing?

Yeah, well, maybe. Or maybe the rationalizations for Obamamania weren't quite as foolproof as they had seemed back in 2007-08.

Who burned all those cars outside Paris in 2005?

Remember all those car-burnings in Paris suburbs that peaked in 2005? Did we ever get a straight story on whether the rioters were mostly North Africans or sub-Saharan Africans? The American press assumed the former, and that therefore the car-be-ques were a Muslim thing, but there were hints that this was more like a U.S. riot.

Did anybody ever answer that question, or is this one of the many topics best not brought up?

August 10, 2011

Concern Trolling is good

A few days ago, I pointed out how the feds had delayed raiding the Postville, Iowa slaughterhouse for employing illegal immigrants from 2000 to 2008 because of a worry that the owners might be friends of Sen. Joe Lieberman. But, as I noted, that's hardly unique to Friends of Joe. The 1986 immigration compromise was effectively gutted by employers (typically in the food business, broadly defined) calling their favorite members of Congress about getting the feds to back off enforcing the law.

Now, here's a new Washington Post column making the same claim about some new Republican congressman. Obviously, Dana Milbank is engaged in concern-trolling the Tea Party, but, so what?
How Rep. Austin Scott betrayed his Tea Party roots 
By Dana Milbank, Published: August 10 
Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia, a Tea Party favorite and president of the House Republicans’ freshman class, got off to a slow start as a legislator but finally introduced his first bill last week.
His draftsmanship should please the people who chant “read the bill” at political rallies, because H.R. 2774 is only one sentence long. In its entirety: “Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Legal Services Corporation Act is repealed.” 
This one sentence says a great deal about Scott, because it is a transparent attempt by the young lawmaker to defend a company in his district that discriminates against U.S. citizens in favor of Mexican migrant workers. Scott introduced the bill abolishing Legal Services exactly three days after it became public that Legal Services had won a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determination that Georgia’s Hamilton Growers “engages in a pattern or practice of regularly denying work hours and assigning less favorable assignments to U.S. workers, in favor of H2-A guestworkers.” Hamilton also “engages in a pattern or practice of discharging U.S. workers and replacing them with H-2A guestworkers,” the EEOC determined. 
In a broader sense, Scott’s bill gets at what has long troubled me about the Tea Party movement: It is fueled by populist anger, but it has been hijacked by plutocrats. Well-intentioned Tea Party foot soldiers demand that power be returned to the people, but then their clout is used to support tax cuts for millionaires. They rally for tougher immigration laws, but then their guy in Washington helps corporations to fire U.S. workers and hire foreign nationals. 
During his successful campaign to unseat moderate Democrat Jim Marshall, Scott ran a tough-on-immigration message. ... 
Legal Services took their case (one of three active cases it has against big growers in Scott’s district), and on July 29, it put out a news release announcing victory. (Settlement negotiations are underway.) 
On Aug. 1, Scott introduced his bill. 
If Scott were true to his Tea Party roots, he would have told the growers to get lost. He would have trumpeted the case as evidence that Americans are willing to do the dirty jobs that businesses claim only foreigners will do. As one of the American plaintiffs put it: “We worked hard at our jobs and really wanted the work, but Hamilton didn’t want Americans to work in their fields.” 

For some background on the H-2A program, here's Stand with Arizona. Growers in Georgia have been claiming that the state's new anti-illegal immigration law means we're all doomed to starvation.

Milbank's accusation against the Congressman sound perfectly plausible to me in a post hoc ergo propter hoc way, although in a half hour of dredging around the web, I can't find much of anything at all on this case, just an August 5, 2011 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article.  

The AJC article says: "An EEOC spokesman in Washington declined to comment on the case, citing federal privacy laws." I can't find anything original on this case posted by the EEOC, Georgia Legal Services, or the Legal Services Corp. In particular, I can't find online the original source for the quotes in the AJC article.

It's almost as if you weren't supposed to know about this unless somebody figured out how to put some appropriate partisan spin on it.

August 9, 2011

"Rise of the Planet of the Apes"

From my movie review in Taki's Magazine (a publication that just keeps getting better and better):
Summer blockbuster movies often allow the popular imagination to engage metaphorically with topics that aren’t discussed honestly on the editorial page—topics such as IQ, race, and heredity. ...  
Rise of the Planet of the Apes comes from a less naïve age. The husband-wife team of Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver have concocted a well-tooled origins story. ... They dismissed Ronald Reagan’s assertion in Bedtime for Bonzo that “environment is all important” and “heredity counts for very little.” In contrast to liberal 20th-century beliefs, Rise of the Planet of the Apes assumes that apes are held back by genetically low IQs. (Sure, that’s part of why chimpanzee culture is so atrocious, but they’re also impulsive and selfish. They don’t see much reason to teach any discoveries they make to their fellow apes: Hey, we're chimps, not chumps.) 
James Franco plays a San Francisco geneticist searching for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease by testing an IQ-boosting drug on laboratory chimps. ... Franco’s genetic engineering turns out to be the first effective No Chimp Left Behind program.

Read the whole thing there.

And here is Elvis Nixon's post on "What Rise of the Planet of the Apes Is Really About."

White knights and crime v. technology

Here's edited video from the many new security cameras recently installed on a bus in North Philadelphia. It's a little slow to get started, but then gets quite entertaining. 
The back story before the video starts is that the mother shown getting off the bus had spanked her child, which led to a verbal protest from the fellow with a shaved head and a beard in a reddish brown t-shirt. The mother then got on her cell phone and called for some backup to meet her at the bus stop to help her, as Dave Chapelle would say, in keeping it real.

Apparently, nobody was badly injured, although the chivalrous six fired a total of 13 shots in the general direction of the man in the reddish brown shirt.

The psychology is interesting. Evidently, the insulted mother called the brother of the father of her baby, who then recruited a bunch of relatives and friends to help him defend the honor of his brother's baby mama's childrearing techniques. Students of altruistic and nepotistic urges might want to diagram out the most distant linkage between the insulted woman and the least connected man involved. I don't know what they are exactly, but they might be something like "My half-cousin's uncle's brother's baby mama got dissed, so do you wanna help us kill the guy?" Sounds like a plan!

Those are some family values.

The other angle is the advance of technology versus crime. This bus was recently upgraded with an amazing number of security cameras. So, it's probably not a good idea anymore to stage a semi-automatic rifle assault on a bus in broad daylight in North Philadelphia. On the other hand, maybe the lesson is that you should put on hoodies and bandanas before attempting to hit the broad side of a bus with an assault rifle. Not all technological advances require criminals to undertake high-tech countermeasures.

In related crime and information technology news, The Guardian reports:
London riots: police to track rioters who used BlackBerrys 
Research In Motion vows to cooperate with police after claims BlackBerry Messenger helped organise violence 
Police investigating those responsible for the London riots will be able to track down and arrest them based on their BlackBerry Messenger communication with others who took part.

Riots in England

Philip Johnston writes in The Telegraph:
If Britain today jailed the same ratio of people relative to the number of the most serious offences – burglary, robbery and violence – as it did in 1954, there would not be 80,000 behind bars, but 300,000. It may well be true, as penal reformers maintain, that there are some people in jail who ought not to be; but by the same token, there are an awful lot who should be who aren’t.

I'm reminded of Danny Boyle's fine 2004 film Millions about a family that moves into a new suburban development in England. One interesting (and no doubt realistic) aspect is the fecklessness of the British police. An ineffectual-looking copper with an intellectual's beard addresses a neighborhood meeting (dialogue roughly remembered):
Bobbie: "Christmas is coming so it's a statistical certainty your house will get robbed. But that's what we're here for!" 
Subject: "To prevent robberies or to catch the criminals?" 
Bobbie: "Neither, of course. But after you do get robbed, we will give you your official victimization number so you can file a claim with your insurance company."

The last time I was in England was in 1994. I recall having lunch at an office park in a suburb of Oxford -- about the safest-looking environment imaginable -- and local co-workers spent their entire lunch telling me about their cars getting stolen. 

Like the British government in Anthony Burgess's 1962 dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange, the British Government has gone for largely technocratic techniques to fight crime, such as huge numbers of surveillance cameras. These appeared to have been making some progress in recent years, but they are obviously vulnerable to being overwhelmed by mobs taking the simple precaution of wearing bandandas over their faces.

As for the racial composition of the rioters, the press has obviously been reluctant to provide impressions. Presumably, the core are black, with lots of whites joining in -- a testament to the greater degree of black-white amity in England than in America. There were major Muslim riots in 2001 in the north of England, but I can't tell about these yet.

Here's what I wrote for UPI a decade ago about press coverage of 2001 riots in Northern England:
News coverage of the recent race riots in Northern England has been highly confusing to American readers. Many of us have had a hard time deciphering even such basics as which racial group has been doing most of the rioting. So, here is a quick guide to understanding who the rioters have been. 
The first problem faced by readers is the elite press' aversion toward publishing unpleasant facts about people of non-European descent. Just as the New York Times had been reluctant last April to use the word "rioting" to describe Cincinnati's large-scale African-American rioting, the Times was squeamish about making clear to its readers that most of the criminal acts in Bradford, Burnley, and other English industrial cities has been committed not by whites, but by what the British call "Asians." 
For example, nowhere in New York Times' reporter Sarah Lyall's July 8th story on the Bradford brouhaha, "Race Riot in Another City in Northern England Is Worst So Far," does she ever directly say that Asians made up the main mob. One might think that when reporting on a race riot, the identity of the race doing most of the rioting would be the single most important fact. Yet, a reader of this account in America's "newspaper of record" would have had to be alert enough to connect clues in two separate paragraphs to get a hint of this essential detail. 
Since then, an organization of Bradford's Asian businessmen has taken out an ad in a local newspaper apologizing to the community on the behalf of the law-abiding majority of Asians for the actions of some violent Asian youth. 

Guardian: "Intelligence tests highlight importance of genetic differences"

From The Guardian:
Intelligence tests highlight importance of genetic differences 
DNA study links variations in intelligence to large numbers of genes, each with a small effect on individual brainpower 
Genetic differences between people account for up to half of the variation in intelligence, according to a study of more than 3,000 individuals.

Here's the abstract:
General intelligence is an important human quantitative trait that accounts for much of the variation in diverse cognitive abilities. Individual differences in intelligence are strongly associated with many important life outcomes, including educational and occupational attainments, income, health and lifespan. Data from twin and family studies are consistent with a high heritability of intelligence, but this inference has been controversial. We conducted a genome-wide analysis of 3511 unrelated adults with data on 549 692 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and detailed phenotypes on cognitive traits. We estimate that 40% of the variation in crystallized-type intelligence and 51% of the variation in fluid-type intelligence between individuals is accounted for by linkage disequilibrium between genotyped common SNP markers and unknown causal variants. These estimates provide lower bounds for the narrow-sense heritability of the traits. We partitioned genetic variation on individual chromosomes and found that, on average, longer chromosomes explain more variation. Finally, using just SNP data we predicted ~1% of the variance of crystallized and fluid cognitive phenotypes in an independent sample (P=0.009 and 0.028, respectively). Our results unequivocally confirm that a substantial proportion of individual differences in human intelligence is due to genetic variation, and are consistent with many genes of small effects underlying the additive genetic influences on intelligence.

August 8, 2011

"An Interracial Fix for Black Marriage"

Ralph Richard Banks, a black Stanford Law professor, suggests in the WSJ in "An Interracial Fix for Black Marriage" that
Black women confront the worst relationship market of any group because of economic and cultural forces that are not of their own making; and they have needlessly worsened their situation by limiting themselves to black men. I also arrived at a startling conclusion: Black women can best promote black marriage by opening themselves to relationships with men of other races.

In the half decade or so after my 1997 article Is Love Colorblind, in which I sort of made a similar suggestion, I received lots of long emails from black ladies discussing these topics. From what I learned from these missives, I would predict that this isn't going to happen because, overall, black girls like black guys. A lot.


The 1986 illegal alien amnesty was supposed to be one prong of a two part compromise strategy: amnesty illegal aliens already here, but enforce workplace hiring to prevent more from coming. The amnesty went off on a massive scale, but enforcement seldom happened: big employers tended to have politician friends who warned off federal enforcement agencies. It's the kind of corruption that the press hasn't shown much interest in, because That's Racist!

Now, Tom Leys writes in the Des Moines Register about Postville, Iowa, one of the more notorious examples in the country because of a journalist with the Joycean name of Stephen Bloom's 2003 book Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America.

Leys writes:

Federal authorities could have spared Postville a great deal of upheaval if they had gone ahead with a planned 2000 immigration raid there instead of waiting nearly eight years to deal with a blatant case of illegal hiring, a retired federal agent says. 
Estela Biesemeyer said last week that she and other immigration agents were poised to raid the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in late summer 2000, but their bosses canceled the action because of fears it might affect the presidential election. 
Agency administrators were concerned about political blow-back from the raid, because they had heard the plant's owners were friends with U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, she said. Lieberman was the Democrats' vice presidential candidate that year. 
The result of the cancellation, she said, was that the kosher meatpacking plant was allowed to expand dramatically, hiring hundreds more illegal immigrants. By the time authorities launched a huge raid there in 2008, the plant was Postville's dominant economic support, and its ensuing bankruptcy threw the town into a tailspin. 
Rumors have long swirled that immigration officials knew about the plant's illegal work force but put off action for years. Confirmation came this summer in "Train to Nowhere," a book about immigration written by former Des Moines Register reporter Colleen Krantz. 
Biesemeyer's former boss told Krantz about the 2000 raid being canceled abruptly, though his recollection of the exact timing and motive differs from Biesemeyer's. 
Biesemeyer was the supervising agent in Des Moines for the Immigration and Naturalization Service and its successor, Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She retired in 2008, a few months after scores of federal agents charged into the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant and arrested nearly 400 workers in what was then the largest such raid in U.S. history. 
Most of the arrested workers were Guatemalans or Mexicans, who served five months in prison before being deported. Hundreds more workers who avoided the raid fled town. The incident made national waves, and local leaders said it devastated the area's economy. 
Biesemeyer, who lives in Indianola, said she was in charge of organizing the 2000 raid. Agents had gathered from around the country and search warrants were ready to go when the action was canceled the day before it was to happen, she said. "I was shocked that at the last minute they scrubbed it." 
If the raid had gone through as planned, it probably would have caused much less disruption than the 2008 raid, because Agriprocessors was a much smaller operation than it would become, Biesemeyer said. She said agents in 2000 expected to arrest about 100 Agriprocessors workers, most of whom were from eastern Europe.  ... 
She saw no indication that Lieberman asked anyone to scrub the raid. But she said her supervisors were concerned that the raid could affect the election, and they didn't want the agency to get involved in a political mess. She said she never understood why they didn't resume the plan after the election was over. 
Immigration agencies were reorganized in 2003, with most of the workplace enforcement duties transferred to the new Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. 
Shawn Neudauer, a spokesman for ICE, said last week that he couldn't comment on "outrageous statements" Biesemeyer might make as a private citizen. He said he doubted any records from the 2000 incident still existed, because they involved the defunct INS. "When federal agencies go away, they really go away," he said. 
A spokeswoman for Lieberman said the senator never intervened in the matter, and she said his staff doubts he ever had contact with the Rubashkin family, which owned Agriprocessors.

This kind of thing is hardly unique to putative friends of Joe Lieberman. It's especially common in rural states with politicians who are friends of big growers; and most big farmers are not Lubavitchers.

But, this kind of corruption just hasn't been a big story with the press.

IQ paper due Tuesday

Keep an eye out on Tuesday for a new study of IQ genetics from Ian Deary and others.

Israel is winning battle of the cradle

From my column:
There’s been a major outbreak of economic populism among Israel’s Jewish voters over the rising cost of living. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was rapturously received on Capitol Hill in May, has seen his domestic polls drop. He has admitted "a populist wave is sweeping the country."

Read the whole thing there.

August 7, 2011

Murdoch / Pellicano: Somebody else finally notices

Because I'm old, have a decent memory, and did okay on those analogy questions that used to be on the SAT, my frequent response to current news story X is: "X, which everybody thinks is the biggest news story since Noah's Flood, is a lot like Y, which everybody has forgotten about by now, and which nobody paid all that much attention to even when it was happening." Or, X is like Y in some other intriguing fashion.

For example, in my July 12th column in Taki's Magazine, I compared and contrasted the Murdoch voicemail hacking whoop-tee-doo in London to the forgotten Pellicano wiretapping scandal involving countless A-listers in Hollywood (and even some in Washington). 

Generally speaking, my dialogue with the world goes like this:
Me: "Hey, X is kinda like Y."
The World: [Blank stare]
Me: "No, really, if you stop and think about it, X has a lot of similarities to Y. And the differences between X and Y are interesting and informative, too."
Lone Representative of the World: "Oh, come on ... If X really were like Y, wouldn't somebody else have noticed?"

Now, Christine Pelisek of Newsweek / The Daily Beast has fleshed out this idea by going to the prison in Big Springs, TX and interviewing private eye Anthony Pellicano about what he thinks of the Murdoch scandal. (Pelisek is a self-made dynamo on the L.A. crime reporting scene, who did impressive work on the seemingly cold Grim Sleeper serial killer case.)
Hollywood Hacker Breaks His Silence 
by Christine Pelisek 
Long before the Murdoch empire’s phone-hacking scandal, Anthony Pellicano was the private eye that stars feared (and used) most. In his first interview since going to prison, he reveals new details on spying for Schwarzenegger, clearing Cruise's name—and why he dumped Michael Jackson. 
... On this 106-degree summer day, Pellicano has agreed to his first sit-down interview since going to prison in 2008. His case has long since disappeared from the front pages, replaced lately by the News of the World quagmire that has tarred Rupert Murdoch, David Cameron, and Scotland Yard. The way Pellicano sees it, the British phone-hacking scandal is kid stuff. “I was way ahead of my time,” he says. What’s the big deal about some tabloid hijacking Hugh Grant’s voicemails? “If Murdoch’s name wasn’t involved, would there be a story? If someone wiretapped Britney Spears, no one would care. The story is, did Murdoch know people were doing this? Did he condone it? I strongly believe he had no idea.” 
Pellicano claims never to have lent his services to any of Murdoch’s newspapers, and says he met the mogul only once, “but it had to do with Judith Regan,” his former longtime friend, who was fired from News Corp.’s HarperCollins in 2006. (Regan says she never introduced the two men.) “If News of the World called,” he says hypothetically, “I would ask the editor, ‘Why would you want me to do that? Are you stupid?!’ The guy at News of the World was just getting leads for stories.” Pellicano boasts that “I was the top of the ladder. Just to talk to me it cost $25,000. These guys were stringers who worked with reporters to try to get information on a celebrity!”

Rick Perry is a quick learner

If you are a potential Republican Presidential candidate, you are likely to get your college transcript and/or test scores leaked to the press. For some reason that doesn't seem to happen to Democratic candidates. 

For example, everybody in the media could just tell that John Kerry had higher grades at Yale than George W. Bush. In 1999, The New Yorker printed Bush's GPA (77, a C+) and SAT score (1206, about 1300 post 1995. But nothing came out about John F. Kerry except a cryptic page in his data dump of military records recounting his scores on the Naval Officer Qualifying test in 1996. In 2004, I pointed out they were even lousier than Bush's on the Air Force Officer Qualifying test in 1968. When asked about my analysis by Tom Brokaw, Kerry replied that he must have been out drinking the night before. In 2005, however, it emerged that Kerry's grade point average at Yale was a 76.

While President Obama's grades and test scores are carried around in the nuclear code football chained to an Air Force officer's wrist (just kidding, nobody knows where they are), Texas Gov. Rick Perry's Texas A&M transcript has already been leaked, and he hasn't even announced he's running. It makes for pretty good reading. For example, Perry got a C in Phys. Ed. his fall semester of his sophomore year, but by his spring semester, he was all the way up to a B. So, he's a quick learner.