February 18, 2012

How good was Jeremy Lin in college?

Why was Jeremy Lin undrafted coming out of the Ivy League? Well, he wasn't really that great in college. He was definitely one of the top players in the Ivy League his junior and senior years, but he was never Ivy League Player of the Year. (Sidenote: the President's brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, won that honor twice.) 

Lin's college statistics are good, but nothing special: Senior year: 16.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.5 apg. His shooting percentage of .519 sounds good by NBA standards, but it's nothing special for future NBA stars, who routinely crush mortal competition their last year in college. Lin's percentages: .519 field goal, .341 3-point, and .755 free throw were all fine, but hardly eye-popping. He led the league in steals, which is a sign of quickness and floor sense, was second in assists, but only sixth in assists to turnover ratio.

Lin's senior year, the Ivy League award winner, unanimously, was Randy Wittman, who led Cornell to the third round of the NCAA tourney, with upsets of #5 and #4 seeded teams. Where is Wittman now? He's playing professionally ... in Poland. Must be bias against Wittman ... except his father Rick Wittman is now in his third NBA head-coaching gig, this time with the Washington Wizards.

Generally, Ivy League Player of the Year winners don't make it in the NBA. Matt Maloney in 1995 was the last to have much of an NBA career, once scoring 26 in a playoff game. 

So, Lin looked like a very good all-around player, but with little statistical evidence that his game would translate to the next level. When I was at Rice, one year our best player was a senior named Elbert Darden, who averaged 20.1 ppg., and was honorable mention All American. He was a good guy, on and off the court. Back then, they used to have seven rounds to the NBA draft (now they have only 2, right?). He wrote a letter to the NBA saying, "Please don't waste a draft pick on me, I'm going to seminary school to be a minister," which he did.

Anyway, I suspect Ivy League basketball has slowly gotten a lot better over the years, due to the Ivy League's role as the gatekeeper to Wall Street jobs, which have gotten so much more remunerative than any other career. If you've got a good head for numbers, why not go Ivy League now that Ivy League financial aid is so lavish? So, Ivy stats shouldn't be discounted as much as in times past.

With Lin, he tended to post big numbers against big name out of conference opponents, then recede somewhat in league play. With the best players in the Ivy League sticking around for four years to get their valuable diplomas, in contrast to big time college ball where one and done is the norm for top talent, the quality of Ivy League regular season play might now be a lot higher than is assumed.

Before the best players could go to the NBA early, conference play was hard because the same players met year after year. For example, the 1969 UCLA Bruins, with senior Lew Alcindor / Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (the future all time NBA scoring leader) leading them to a third straight national championship, was one of the best teams ever. Going into the last conference home and away series against USC, they were 84-1 with Alcindor, losing only to Elvin Hayes in the Houston Astrodome when Alcindor was hurting. But USC took them to overtime at Pauley, then beat them the next night at the Sports Arena. How? Well, the Trojan players had been thinking a long, long time about how to beat Alcindor and the Bruins. Similarly, by his fourth year, Lin's Ivy League opponents probably had better ideas about how to defend him than the Lakers had.

Also, keep in mind that Lin wasn't really a point guard in college, he was more like a Best Player on the Team guard, like a Harvard version of Michael Jordan. He didn't have any success in the pros until he was the best player on the team again due to problems with the Knicks.

I think the weird thing with Lin is that everybody still expects him to be a good role player and teammate because he's Chinese, and everybody is tired of self-centered black players like Carmelo Anthony. In the post-Obama age, lots of people have gotten tired of waiting for their dividend from electing Obama in terms of better black behavior, so they are seizing upon this Chinese guy as a role model to show up blacks with his team-oriented play.

But the evidence so far is that Lin does best, like against the Lakers, in Gimme the Damn Ball and Get Out of My Way situations. As a basketball talent, he's less like Derek Fisher and more like Allen Iverson.

February 17, 2012

Telegraph: "The plot to create Britain's super race"

From The Sunday Telegraph:
The plot to create Britain’s super race 
In 1940, Yale University gave 125 children of Oxford academics refuge from the Nazis. Jonathan Freedland reveals how leaders of the eugenics movement may have planned to repopulate a devastated Britain with a 'superior’ breed of human. 
By Jonathan Freedland 7:00AM GMT 12 Feb 2012 
At first glance, it is an utterly benign and heart-warming story, a tale of child-rescue and salvation, of friendship across the ocean at a time of war. And for those involved, especially the children sheltered from Hitler’s bombs by one of America’s most prestigious universities, it was no more complicated than that: an act of altruistic, life-saving generosity. 
And yet this story might have a twist, a suspicion that somewhere behind this deed of great kindness lurked a darker motive. 
The story – which forms the backdrop of my new novel, Pantheon, published under the pseudonym Sam Bourne – begins in the mid-summer of 1940, with Britain isolated and alone against the Nazi menace.  
... That was certainly the fear among the fellows and dons of Oxford in June 1940, as they received an unexpected letter from their counterparts across the Atlantic at Yale. It came from a new entity calling itself the Yale Faculty Committee for Receiving Oxford and Cambridge University Children and it offered nothing less than a haven an ocean away. 
While plenty of British children had already been evacuated from the cities to the countryside, this was an offer on an altogether different scale – the promise of complete escape from the war in Europe. Children who went to America would evade not only the Luftwaffe’s bombs but the dread prospect of German invasion. 
... In the end, the parents of 125 Oxford children decided to say yes to Yale. 
... Among them was five-year-old Juliet Phelps Brown, now Juliet Hopkins, whose parents were convinced that Britain was about “to become a province of Germany” and who could not countenance living in such a place: “How could academics live with people who burned books?” 
... In this, they were not so unique. By one estimate, some 5,000 children sought refuge from the war in the US, with another 6,000 fleeing to Canada. 
... Officially, the Yale sojourn was the product of what Ann Spokes – now Ann Spokes Symonds, long-time chronicler of the evacuation and still active as a historian – refers to as the fellowship of scholars, “the camaraderie between educated people” that connected two great universities. Yale simply empathised with Oxford’s plight and wanted to help. 
But others suspect that is not the whole story. Juliet Hopkins had such fond memories of her time at Yale, she went back there to do postgraduate work, initially staying with her old foster family. Still, she is among those who have long nurtured a suspicion, not about the families who opened their homes to the sons and daughters of strangers, but about the organisers of the Yale effort. Put bluntly, they wonder if their rescue was motivated in part by an idea that today makes most of us shudder: eugenics. 
In the pre-war period, the belief that society should strive to breed a better quality of human stock was utterly mainstream, on both the Left and Right, in both Britain and America. 
Eugenics, one of whose leading evangelists was Charles Darwin’s son Leonard, saw the human race as no different from any other animal: just as a farmer raising livestock seeks to breed more of the strong and weed out the weak, so human society should aim to do the same. 
According to the eugenicists, whose number in pre-war Britain included some of the luminaries of the age – Bertrand Russell, George Bernard Shaw, William Beveridge, John Maynard Keynes, Marie Stopes and others – those deemed superior in intellect and of greater moral worth should be encouraged to have more children; those branded inferior should be urged, or even coerced, to have fewer children or none at all. 
Could this kind of eugenic thinking have prompted Yale’s decision to offer a haven to those Oxford children? Was Yale hoping to save the offspring of the British academic elite, protecting those 125 children because it saw them as a future leadership class especially deserving of preservation? Is it true that, as Hopkins puts it, “They wanted to save the gene pool”? 
It is striking that Yale’s offer was made exclusively to the children of Oxford and Cambridge. Note the words used by Dr John Fulton of Yale Medical School, a prime mover behind the effort, who declared that his rescue committee hoped to save “at least some of the children of intellectuals before the storm breaks”. 
... Crucially, eugenics was not just mainstream in pre-war Yale, it was, in the words of Gaddis Smith, Emeritus Professor of History at Yale and the author of a forthcoming history of the university, “red hot”. 
... Meanwhile, Smith describes Yale’s president until 1937, James Angell, as “a fanatic eugenicist in the worst meaning of that word”. According to Angell, who wrote an introduction to Leonard Darwin’s What is Eugenics?, “Modern medicine, unless combined with some kind of practicable eugenic program, may result in an excess of feeble and incompetent stock.” In other words, pre-war Yale was in thrall to an idea that today strikes us as horribly close to Nazism. 
Smith is candid that the university was then also “notorious as a bastion of anti-Semitism”. The professor has seen documents that show there was some discomfort at the discovery that one of the Oxford mothers was “a Jewess”. 
This, then, was the intellectual climate of the campus in which the Oxford evacuation plan was hatched. 
Even without an explicit statement of intent, it seems hard to believe eugenics did not play a key part in the decision to protect those 125 “children of intellectuals”, thereby deeming their lives more worthy of saving than the lives of those other British children who would have been lost. 
Once Pantheon was completed, I sent an early copy to Juliet Hopkins. She discovered there something she had never known before – that Ellsworth Huntington, the man who had taken in her brother, her mother and her, the man she still remembers as a kindly, grandfatherly figure so generous he insisted his two British foster children be educated privately at his expense, was not only the Professor of Geography at Yale. He was also a past president of the American Eugenics Society. 
And so, seven decades later, the suspicion lingers on. 
'Pantheon’ by Sam Bourne is published this Thursday (Harper Collins, £12.99 )and is available from the Telegraph bookshop at £11.99 + £1.25 p&p. To pre-order, call 0844 871 1516 or visit books.telegraph.co.uk

Jonathan Freedland / Sam Bourne is a columnist for the Guardian and the Jewish Chronicle.

From the dust cover promotional copy of Pantheon
The darkest secrets of World War II… finally revealed. 
Europe is ablaze. America is undecided about joining the fight against Nazism. And James Zennor, a brilliant, troubled, young Oxford don is horrified. He returns one morning from rowing to discover that his wife has disappeared with their young son, leaving only a note declaring her continuing love. 
A frantic search through wartime England leads James across the Atlantic and to one of America’s greatest universities, its elite clubs and secret societies – right to the heart of the American establishment. And in his hunt for his family, James unearths one of the darkest and deadliest secrets of a world at war…

Spoiler alert: The darkest secret of WWII (and of a couple of decades after that, as well), apparently, is that Ivy League and Seven Sisters freshmen had their pictures taken naked as part of a study of whether body shape could be used to predict behavior. (There is, or was, a naked picture of Hillary Clinton at Wellesley in some dusty archive somewhere. John Derbyshire wrote about William Sheldon's study in 2002.) It all had something to do with eugenics and since we all now know that eugenics=Hitler, it's, therefore, the darkest secret of WWII.

In a sane world, some friend of Jonathan Freedland would have laughed out loud at him when he recounted the plot for his upcoming thriller and said, "Oh, come on, Jonathan: eugenics, Yale, Nazis, elite WASP secret societies, Darwinists, shiksas being talked into taking their clothes off for dubious reasons: this sounds like a Mel Brooks parody of tired Jewish obsessions and neuroses." 

But in our world, nobody dares laugh and explain to poor Mr. Freedland that his fixations are amusingly shopworn and stereotypically Jewish, so we keep hearing this kind of hilariously stupid stuff over and over.

Judge Blink and the new "Blink" theory of disparate impact

As you may recall from Malcolm Gladwell's bestseller Blink, you should always trust your instantaneous assessment of any situation. Except when you are wrong. Or, when you are right but are politically incorrect. A big part of Blink was devoted to implicit association tests that determine if one is subconsciously more likely to associate words like "crime" with a picture of, say, OJ Simpson than of, say, Peyton Manning. Or something like that.

Oddly enough, Judge Robert Blink has been assigned a huge employment discrimination trial based on the Blink theory that whites can't help being subconsciously evil to blacks, as shown by implicit association tests (and by nothing else).  
Denied jobs, blacks in Iowa test new bias theory 
By RYAN J. FOLEY | Associated Press – 2 hrs 55 mins ago 
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — In a case closely watched by civil rights activists, an Iowa judge will soon decide whether to grant thousands of black employees and job applicants monetary damages for hiring practices used by Iowa state government that they say have disadvantaged them. 
Experts say the case is the largest class-action lawsuit of its kind against an entire state government's civil service system, and tests a legal theory that social science and statistics alone can prove widespread discrimination. 
The plaintiffs — up to 6,000 African-Americans passed over for state jobs and promotions dating back to 2003 — do not say they faced overt racism or discriminatory hiring tests in Iowa, a state that is 91 percent white. Instead, their lawyers argue that managers subconsciously favored whites across state government, leaving blacks at a disadvantage in decisions over who got interviewed, hired and promoted. 
Judge Robert Blink's decision, expected in coming weeks, could award damages and mandate changes in state personnel policies or dismiss a case that represents a growing front of discrimination litigation. 
"Whenever there is a case like this that goes to trial, it's of interest to all of us," said Jocelyn Larkin, executive director of the Impact Fund, a Berkeley, Calif.-based nonprofit that supports employment discrimination lawsuits and has followed the case. ... 
University of Washington psychology professor Anthony Greenwald, an expert on implicit bias who testified on behalf of the plaintiffs, said the decision will be important nationally because similar cases against corporations have usually been dismissed or settled before trial. 
Scholars and employment lawyers have shown a growing interest in implicit bias in the last several years, after Greenwald and other scientists developed the Implicit Association Test to test racial stereotypes. Their research found an inherent preference for whites over blacks — in up to 80 percent of test-takers and among many people who do not consider themselves racist. 
The theory hit a legal obstacle last year when the U.S. Supreme Court disqualified a class-action lawsuit against Wal-Mart's pay and promotion practices for women. The court found the class was too broad and failed to challenge a specific hiring practice as discriminatory. 
Lawyers defending the state have cited that decision in asking Blink to dismiss the case. But the high court's decision did not specifically reject the theory of implicit bias, and dissenting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that such claims can be allowed. 
Class attorney Thomas Newkirk said the science and other evidence that shows disadvantaged groups such as blacks face employment discrimination in subtle ways "is becoming overwhelming." 
"Clearly, the problem is not in Iowa alone, but we believe Iowa is the exactly the right place to ask society to take control of this important issue fairly for all races, and to seek a better future for all as a result," said Newkirk, who was recently honored by the Des Moines chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for his work on the case. 
During a monthlong trial last fall, experts called by the plaintiffs' lawyers testified that blacks are hired at lower rates than whites with similar qualifications and receive less favorable evaluations and lower starting salaries. 

If Iowa is only hiring the cream of the crop of black applicants, shouldn't the black hires be performing better, not worse, than the white hires? Or maybe they are but their evaluations are worse because everybody is so unconsciously biased. After all, Science is the art of creating unfalsifiable theories. It's discrimination turtles all the way down.

In its most prominent recent exercise in hiring, the state of Iowa voted for Obama over McCain 54-45, but they were just doing that to cover up. We can tell.

By the way, seriously, Iowa has few but bad blacks. In 1997, Iowa had the highest black incarceration rate among the 50 states. Liberal north central states with strong safety nets like Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, tended to attract the last and worst Southern blacks to leave.

A strange story

Here's an odd story from the BBC:
'Stolen' $9m jewels found in drawer 
Red faces over 'missing' jewels 
Five years after their disappearance, jewels thought stolen from the wife of the US ambassador to the Netherlands in 2006 have been found in the Hague. 
Dawn Arnall realised her 7m euro (£5.9m; $9.3m) gems were missing months after staying in a Dutch hotel. 
Unknown to her, the jewellery had been found and was held for safekeeping by the hotel, AFP reports, before being given to an employee as unclaimed. 
The employee, assuming the items were costume jewellery, forgot about them. 

Must be tasteful looking if everybody assumed they had to be costume jewelry.
Only after she recently found them in a drawer and took them to a jeweller for valuation did their true worth emerge. 
They were then handed in to police and have since been returned to the US. 
Mrs Arnall, whose husband Roland was the US ambassador to the country prior to his death in 2008, had received an insurance payout for her loss.

What adds interest to this was that subprime billionaire Roland Arnall, whom Bush had appointed Ambassador to the Netherlands for raising $12 million for him, who was the biggest donor to Arnold Schwarzenegger and, before him, Gray Davis, who co-founded the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the brow-beating Museum of Tolerance, was the founder of a couple of the biggest and worst subprime boiler rooms, Ameriquest and Argent. Previously, he had founded the notorious Long Beach Mortgage, which Washington Mutual bought.

In 2006, Arnall paid a $325 million fine to settle a lawsuit brought by 49 state attorneys general. Yet, Congress approved his nomination as ambassador. (Overall, states performed somewhat better in regulating subprime than feds, who mostly egged them on. The states were operating, on average, under older laws, while the feds were operating mostly under the U. of Chicago-style consensus that emerged over the last generation or so.) Here's Arnall's obituary by E. Scott Reckard of the L.A. Times, who covered subprime in real time better than anyone else. Roland invented the "stated income loan," which did so much to help people realize the American Dream.

His widow Dawn is being sued by his brother for $47.6 million. The brother claims that Roland claimed he was strapped for cash because of the $325 million fine.

I've never been tempted to write detective novels, because I have the world's worst criminal mind. I couldn't invent a scam to save my life. But, this jewelry discovery sounds like it would make a good opening chapter in a mystery.

In general, here we are five years down the road from the first subprime collapses, such as that of New Century Financial in February 2007. Has anybody tried to fictionalize the SoCal subprime scam artists yet?

More "Daily Mail" Awesomeness

From the World's Leading On-Line Newspaper:
Did Yale University plan to create an intellectually superior race of children to repopulate Britain after World War Two? 
Yale University only offered children of Oxford and Cambridge university staff an evacuation to the U.S. 
One evacuee has raised questions about the experience asking did they want 'to save the gene pool?' 
Yale's president James Angell was 'a fanatic eugenicist in the worst meaning of that word' 
Yale University has been accused of trying to create a super race of British children during War World Two, it emerged today.

The Daily Mail takes this kind of thing personally. If this nefarious eugenicist plot had succeeded, how many readers would the Daily Mail have left these days? How many footballers' wives would there be to feature in its pages?

By the way, Wikipedia doesn't say anything about Yale President Angell, a psychologist of the John Dewey school, being a eugenicist or not, but it does say this:
James Rowland Angell was born on May 8, 1869, in Burlington, Vermont. He was born into one of the stellar academic families in American history. His father, was the president of the University of Vermont. He was the youngest of three children, with an older brother and sister. When Angell was two years old, his family moved to Ann Arbor so that his father could take up the presidency of the University of Michigan. His maternal grandfather, Alexis Caswell, was a professor of Mathematics and Astronomy at, and later president of, Brown University. He was also a charter member of the National Academy of Sciences. His brother Alexis Caswell Angell became a professor of law of Michigan, and later a federal judge. His sister's husband, Andrew C. McLaughlin, was head of the history department at Michigan. His cousin, Frank Angell, founded psychology laboratories at Cornell and Stanford Universities.

Granted, he had retired as president of Yale two years before WWII broke out, but still, with a family background like that, I think we must judge James Angell Guilty! of at least having eugenicist suspicions. And once you admit that crime, well, the whole breeding a race of superchildren thing pretty much follows automatically.

I think the Daily Mail should get together with New York Times and conduct the Neo-Nuremberg Trials of all the arch-criminal eugenicists who didn't get tried at Nuremberg: you know, Francis Galton, Karl Pearson, Ronald Fisher, J.M. Keynes, Winston Churchill, George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, the Webbs, Teddy Roosevelt, Alexander Graham Bell, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Harold Laski, Hans Muller, Margaret Sanger, Gifford Pinchot, William Shockley, Louis Terman, William D. Hamilton, and, Mr. Big himself, Charles Darwin. Dig 'em up and give 'em the hanging they deserve.

Who are the truly insane?

A factsheet from Mind, a big mental health NGO in the U.K., laments the inability of the Welsh Assembly to legislate racial equality in mental health:
Both past and recent research suggests that some groups – notably Black Caribbean, Black African and other Black groups – are over-represented in psychiatric hospitals. [7] 
The high number of African Caribbean people being diagnosed with schizophrenia is well documented, with some studies reporting between two to eight times higher rates of diagnosis compared to the White population. [8] 
The ‘Count me in’ census was introduced in England in 2005 and designed to support the Department of Health’s five year action plan ‘Delivering Race Equality in Mental Health Care’. The census also aimed to support the Welsh Assembly Government’s ‘Raising the Standard: Race Equality Action Plan for Adult Mental Health Services in Wales’. Key goals were to reduce rates of admission, detention and seclusion among black and minority ethnic groups.

I like how the Welsh Assembly, a rather new and ill-defined governmental body, rather than make a priority out of, say, filling potholes, decides to solve a problem that no other government has solved.
Unfortunately the figures show that these goals have not been achieved. [9] 
Data from the 2005 ‘Count me in’ census showed that men from Black and White/Black mixed groups had the highest rates of admission to psychiatric hospitals. They were three or more times likely than the general population to be admitted. Women from the Black and mixed White/Black groups were two or more times likely than the general population to be admitted to psychiatric hospitals. Unfortunately, figures from the later surveys, including the 2009 ‘Count me in’ census, suggest the situation is still the same. [10] 
White British, Chinese and Indian men were less likely than the average population to be admitted according to figures from all the five Count me in census reports. [11] 
Men from Black Caribbean, Black African, and other Black groups were more likely than other groups to have been detained under the Mental Health Act 1983. The figures follow the same pattern in all the ‘Count me in’ reports from 2005 to 2009. [12] 
Studies have shown that Irish people have higher rates of mental illness than the general population. [13] The Irish are often overlooked because they are White. Yet studies have found that Irish-born people living in the UK have a higher rate of suicide than any other minority ethnic group living in the country. [14]

Yes, let's ignore the decisions of doctors, cops, and the patients and their families themselves in favor of endorsing the Standard Social Science Model of the impossibility of underlying inequality existing. Having more black male psychotics and schizophrenics wandering the streets is a small price to pay for how much more sanctimonious we will feel after publicly kowtowing to the SSSM.

The ultimate tool in marketing

The Atlantic has a long article "How Your Cat is Making You Crazy" on an old Cochranian bug-a-boo: germs that take over the volition of their hosts and make them do stuff that passes along the germ but don't do the host any good, to put it mildly, like making mice attracted to cats.

The crazy cat lady syndrome where a woman ends up with dozens of cats might have something to do with viruses in the cats colonizing her mind and telling her to provide lots of hosts for themselves.

That seems like the ultimate frontier in advertising and marketing. Who knows? Maybe Apple bioengineered a virus that makes people crave shiny Apple products?

February 16, 2012

The Vietnamese non-Jeremy Lin

Why do some things become media sensations and others don't? For example, in the 1998 Cotton Bowl against UCLA, Texas A&M linebacker Dat Nguyen, born in a refugee camp in Arkansas, put on one of the greatest defensive performance I've ever seen in college football. UCLA won, but an L.A. Times headline read: "Nguyen Simply a Blur to UCLA Blockers: Smallish Texas A&M linebacker sets record with 20 tackles, 15 solo." He was a striking player to watch because his legs didn't look long enough to get him where he needed to go, but, somehow, he usually got to the ballcarrier ahead of his ten teammates. Watching the game, you couldn't help thinking, "A few more men like him, and South Vietnam wouldn't have lost the war."

The next season, Nguyen was a consensus All-American, won the Bednarik and Lombardi trophies for best player in college football outside the glamor positions. He still holds Texas A&M's career record with 517 tackles. The all-time NCAA record is 545 tackles. 

He was drafted in the 3rd round by the Dallas Cowboys, became starting middle linebacker (the central position on defense) in his second season, and by 2003 was second team All Pro. A neck injury ended his career after 7 years, but he was quickly hired as an assistant coach by the Cowboys, and is now an assistant coach at A&M.

In other words, Nguyen enjoyed sustained levels of achievement that Lin is years away from. (I don't want to sound like Mr. Negativity about Lin, but it's not all that astounding that a point guard on a mediocre team can rack up a lot of points over a limited number of games if he chooses to shoot a lot and his shot is falling. Heck, Nate Archibald did it for 2 straight seasons in the early 70s. For example, Nguyen's college stats, playing in a tougher conference, are much better than Lins' were playing in the Ivy League.)

But, there was never much, if any, media circus around Nguyen. To be precise, he got the amount of press coverage suitable for being possibly the best defensive player in college football in 1998, plus additional coverage for the novelty factor of his being Asian. Yet, the Nguyen story never really grabbed the interest of the public like the Lin story has. For example, his name hasn't come up much over the last couple of weeks. Outside of Vietnamese-American and Texas football circles, he seems forgotten. Why the difference in public reactions? Why no Nguyensanity?

- College Station, TX is a long way from Madison Square Guard? Okay, but the Dallas Cowboys are not usually an overlooked team.

- Texas A&M isn't Harvard?

- Football players wear helmets with faceguards?

- Offense over defense?

- More Asian-Americans in the U.S. than 10-15 years ago?

- Vietnamese less important than Chinese?

- Basketball statistics more understandable to casual fans than Nguyen's huge number of tackles? 

- Today's Internet even more fad-friendly?

- Although the names rhyme, Lin looks easier to pronounce than Nguyen?

Are Brazilian immigrants Latinos?

I can never keep straight whether Brazilians are supposed to be Hispanic/Latino or not -- and therefore a legally protected class eligible for affirmative action and disparate impact discrimination lawsuits. That's because the U.S. government is woozy on this question. Brazilians don't speak Spanish so they can hardly be said to be Hispanic, but they are from Latin America, so maybe they are Latino?

The 2010 Census said:
“Hispanic or Latino” refers to a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race

Okay, so Brazilians are from "South or Central America," but they aren't from "Spanish culture or origin." There's no logical AND in the definition that says they have to be "Spanish culture" but it's kind of implied.

So, it's a mess. But, after all, there are only 195,000,000 people in Brazil, so why should the U.S. government bother to make up its mind before even more get here? After all, we can all predict that once enough Brazilians are in the United States to make up a sizable political bloc and they realize the advantages of being a protected class, they will be definitively defined as entitled to all the preferences currently going to Latinos. That's how things work in the U.S. As Christopher Caldwell said in a slightly different context:
"One moves swiftly and imperceptibly from a world in which affirmative action can't be ended because its beneficiaries are too weak to a world in which it can't be ended because its beneficiaries are too strong." 

Update: I found an essay from the always helpful Pew Hispanic Center on "Who Is Hispanic?" Basically, it comes down to shamelessness:
Here’s a quick primer on how the Census Bureau approach works.
Q. I immigrated to Phoenix from Mexico. Am I Hispanic?
A. You are if you say so.
Q. My parents moved to New York from Puerto Rico. Am I Hispanic?
A. You are if you say so.
Q. My grandparents were born in Spain but I grew up in California. Am I Hispanic?
A. You are if you say so.
Q. I was born in Maryland and married an immigrant from El Salvador. Am I Hispanic?
A. You are if you say so.
Q. My mom is from Chile and my dad is from Iowa. I was born in Des Moines. Am I Hispanic?
A. You are if you say so.
Q. I was born in Argentina but grew up in Texas. I don’t consider myself Hispanic. Does the Census count me as an Hispanic?
A. Not if you say you aren’t.

(No, I didn't make that up. Let me take a moment once again to salute the Pew Hispanic Center, which is about ten times better than they would have to be.)

At present, not many Brazilians in the U.S. say they are Hispanic/Latino. That would be a good reason to emphasize the word "Hispanic" over "Latino," since the former probably turns off Brazilians. We are not miserable Hispanics, we are proud Lusitanics!

Anyway, I bring Brazilians up because the Economist had an article on race in Brazil, "Affirming a Divide." Whether or not Brazilians are Hispanics, they share a lot of cultural traits with Latinos: namely, they are racist as hell. It's just not old American-style one drop anti-black racism. Instead of a color line, they have a color continuum, which allows practically everybody to discriminate enthusiastically against somebody a little darker or woolier-haired than themselves. You can even hope to rise up the color continuum. Ambitious Brazilians can get their hair relaxed, stay out of the sun, maybe use one of those scary-sounding skin bleachers like Sammy Sosa did, and, voila, they are whiter than they used to be. Similarly, if sisters can be racially different in Brazil is one is fairer and straighter-haired. And if not you, then perhaps you can marry a fairer person so your children will be fairer. And even if you can't do that, perhaps one of your children will look whiter just due to random genetic luck. So, there is always hope for social advancement!

Not surprisingly, this works as a pretty effective Divide and Conquer strategy for the whites who run Brazil. Thus, only over the last decade has the Brazilian government begun gingerly experimenting with race and class-based affirmative action, and still does very little in the way of suing for discrimination.

Also, not surprisingly, it's easy to cheat the new quota system in Brazil: get a tan, get your hair permed, and maybe you'll get in under a quota. They are supposed to have panels to inspect people who claim to be black enough to qualify for a quota. That would make a fun Brazilian reality TV / makeover show: You could follow two groups: a bunch of blackish people trying to lighten up to get past the velvet rope at a fancy nightclub, and a bunch of whitish people trying to darken down to win quota spots at a university.

February 15, 2012

Long reviews of "Coming Apart"

Here are some reviews of Charles Murray's new book:

F. Roger Devlin in The Occidental Quarterly

Andrew Gelman on his stats blog

Thomas Edsall in the NYT.

David Frum at the Daily Beast.

Foseti at Foseti.

February 14, 2012

What We Talk About When We Talk About Contraception

From my new column in Taki's Magazine:
What has the recent hubbub over “contraception” really been about, deep down? On the surface, it’s all maneuvering for the 2012 election, but the passions unleashed, especially on the liberal side, suggest motivations that are more inchoate than tactical. 
Few topics are more important than the quantities and qualities of future human beings. But the question of whom the government nudges to reproduce (or not) is a subject you are no longer supposed to discuss thoughtfully, so it mostly flares up as anger.

Read the whole thing there.

Are Daddy Issues hereditary?

US filmmaker Sean Stone, son of Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone, converted to Islam on Tuesday in Iran, where he is making a documentary, he told AFP.

As I've mentioned before, over the decades, as the rest of the world has come to hate Oliver Stone, I've grown fond of him. And now I look forward to another generation of Stones carrying the torch of Having Issues on a grand scale.

Inequality in California

The price of Apple stock recently broke the $500 per share barrier. 

Heather Mac Donald has an article in City Journal on California's Demographic Revolution that gives a pretty sophisticated look at what's going on out here outside the glittering coastal region: not much.

The good news: the latest Hispanics youths are learning English, they aren't committing as many crimes as their predecessors, and aren't very politically ambitious on the whole. The bad news: they aren't studying very hard, aren't showing much in the way of smarts, aren't starting many businesses, aren't participating much in Silicon Valley, are voting steadily Democratic, are using a fair amount of welfare, aren't generating all that much tax revenue, aren't getting married, and so forth and so on. 
Moreover, their fields of academic concentration are not where the most economically fertile growth will probably occur. At California State University in 2008, just 1.7 percent of master’s degree students in computer science were Mexican-American, as were just 3.6 percent of students in engineering master’s programs. The largest percentage of Mexican-American enrollment in M.A. programs was in education—40 percent—despite (or perhaps because of) Mexican-Americans’ low test scores. 
The future mismatch between labor supply and demand is likely to raise wages for college-educated workers, while a glut of workers with a high school diploma or less will depress wages on the low end and contribute to an increased demand for government services, especially among the less educated Hispanic population. U.S.-born Hispanic households in California already use welfare programs (such as cash welfare, food stamps, and housing assistance) at twice the rate of U.S.-born non-Hispanic households, according to an analysis of the March 2011 Current Population Survey by the Center for Immigration Studies. Welfare use by immigrants is higher still. In 2008–09, the fraction of households using some form of welfare was 82 percent for households headed by an illegal immigrant and 61 percent for households headed by a legal immigrant.

From an oligarchic point of view, Mexicans make a pretty untroublesome hewer of wood and drawer of water class, in the short run. 

Charles Murray interviews black guy from Onion

Here's Charles Murray taking Onion digital editor Baratunde Thurston's "How to Be Black" quiz and having Thurston take Murray's "How Thick Is Your Bubble?" quiz.

Thurston, by the way, is a graduate of Sidwell Friends and Harvard.

Here's Murray's complex way of scoring his quiz. (I think Murray's first question is his worst: asking you to estimate what percentage of your adult neighbors had college degrees when you were a kid is too hard. Maybe Tom Wolfe or Edith Wharton kept track of that when they were ten, but I didn't. But the quiz gets better.)

You can see what score I got in my American Conservative review of his book:
To illustrate the degree of social insulation that the people who read serious nonfiction books like Coming Apart have engineered for themselves, Murray has crafted an amusing survey on “How Thick Is Your Bubble?” Questions include “During the last month, have you voluntarily hung out with people who were smoking cigarettes?” “Since leaving school, have you ever worn a uniform,” and “During the last year, have you ever purchased domestic mass-market beer to stock your own fridge?” 
That last one stumped me since I buy Anheuser-Busch Natural Light, a cheap sub-mass-market product aimed at college kids—on campus, Natty Lights are known as “frat water”—and solitary imbibers who like their modest amount of alcohol without all that tiresome beer flavor. I emailed the author to learn how I should score my answer, but after a lengthy exchange, we concluded that anybody whose first reaction is to contact Charles Murray to discuss one’s taste (or lack thereof) in beer was kind of missing the point of his survey.

Read my whole thing there.

By the way, have you noticed how The Onion is seldom as funny about race as they are about other topics? It's almost as if they were scared. In contrast, here are some videos from the new Comedy Central sketch comedy show Key & Peele, such as Key in Black Hawk Up, about how black people are not all that stoic about their fear of heights. Or Peele in Yo Mama Has Health Problems.

I saw Keegan-Michael Key at the Groundlings in West Hollywood in December in "The Black Version" where they take movies like Die Hard and improvise what a black version would look like. Key is extraordinary, although his range can detract from the basic appeal of "The Black Version" concept: for example, he decided to make Alan Rickman's terrorist character into an evil French Canadian and riffed on French Canadianness at length with great inventiveness, although the audience would have preferred him to riff on African Americanness. (Both Key and Peele are middle class mulattos with white moms.)

By the way, mamas don't let your babies grow up to be comedians. "The Black Version" is something of a hit in live improv in L.A., which means that about 95 people were in the audience for the Groundlings show with five fine veteran sketch comedians (two of them familiar from long runs on MadTV, a director, three musicians, plus a lighting/sound guy. We paid $14 per ticket from Groupon (no drink minimum). You do the math. 

February 13, 2012

Was Beowulf an empty nester?

HBD Chick has had some great posts. Here's one on French anthropologist Emmanuel Todd's seven types of family systems:

This is enormously complicated just for Europe alone. That's one problem with cultural anthropology that isn't really the anthropologists' fault: the subject matter is endlessly convoluted. (Of course, cultural anthropologists don't help by resisting all attempts at reductionism.)

So let's just focus on the yellow area, home to what Todd calls the "absolute nuclear family:"
1. Absolute Nuclear Family:  
a. Spouse selection: Free, but obligatory exogamy.  
b. Inheritance: Indifference - no precise rules, frequent use of wills.  
c. Family Home: no cohabitation of married children with their parents.  
d. Representative Nations, Peoples, Regions: Anglo-Saxon world, Holland, Denmark.  
e. Representative Ideology: Christianity, Capitalism, `Libertarian' Liberalism, and Feminism. 

For example, being an empty nester is a popular goal in Anglo-Saxon cultures, while striking lots of other peoples as sad and lonely.

The yellow area (southern Norway, Denmark, coastal Netherlands, England and Edinburgh) corresponds closely to the old Anglo-Saxon lands. (I don't know about Brittany, though). And, indeed, this is the system dominant in what Todd calls the Anglo-Saxon countries today. One interesting question is: When did this start? I don't think it's visible yet in Beowulf, but I could be wrong. But it seemed to get going close to 1,000 years ago.

All this ties into Tory Cabinet minister David Willetts' portrait of the Deep Structure of being English:

"Instead, think of England as being like this for at least 750 years. We live in small families. We buy and sell houses. … Our parents expect us to leave home for paid work …You try to save up some money from your wages so that you can afford to get married. … You can choose your spouse … It takes a long time to build up some savings from your work and find the right person with whom to settle down, so marriage comes quite lately, possibly in your late twenties. "

The long-standing English aversion to arranged marriages reflects this distinction. It's noteworthy that Shakespeare and his English audience sided with Romeo and Juliet against their kinfolk. Willetts theorizes:
"A small, simple family structure not driven by the need to pass on an inheritance or to sustain ties with brothers and cousins in a clan can be more personal, intense, and emotional—a clue to England's Romantic tradition."

Willetts points out that most other languages have "specific words for particular types of uncles, grandparents, and cousins", but the English apparently never needed to develop these terms. As far back as 1014, he says, Bishop Wulfstan of London "expressed regret that vendettas were not what they used to be as family members just would not join in". (In contrast, the more clannish Scots kept alive kin-spirit, transmitting it down to their Scots-Irish descendants, such as the Hatfields and McCoys who waged a famous feud in Appalachia.)

Safe American Home

From the AP:
Associate Justice Stephen Breyer of the United States Supreme Court was robbed by a man armed with a machete while vacationing on the island of Nevis in the West Indies last Thursday ...
now they got the sun, an' they got the palm trees
they got the weed, an' they got the taxis
whoa, the harder they come, n' the home of ol' bluebeat
yes i'd stay an' be a tourist but i can't take the gunplay 
i went to the place where every white face is an
invitation to robbery
sitting here in my safe european home
i don't wanna go back there again

Joe Strummer, The Clash, "Safe European Home," 1979

Ross Douthat gets the Charles Murray book's biggest oversight

To avoid inflaming his liberal critics, Charles Murray specifically states that he won't talk about illegal immigration in discussing the state of changes in the white working class over the last 50 years. Fortunately, Ross Douthat in the NYT points out how unrealistic this is:
Third, if we expect less-educated Americans to compete with low-wage workers in Asia and Latin America, we shouldn’t be welcoming millions of immigrants who compete with them domestically as well. Immigration benefits the economy over all, but it can lower wages and disrupt communities, and there’s no reason to ask an already-burdened working class to bear these costs alone. Here the leading Republican candidates have the right idea: We should welcome more high-skilled immigrants, while making it as hard as possible for employers to hire low-skilled workers off the books.

This aside, the debate over the white working class has have been a little surreal, with Murray, who grew up in Newton, Iowa and clearly retains a natural degree of loyalty, and who now lives in a rural town, is being attacked for insensitivity to the white working class by NYC-DC pundits who wouldn't live amongst the white working class if you paid them to.

I see the shapes,
I remember from maps.
I see the shoreline.
I see the whitecaps.
A baseball diamond, nice weather down there.
I see the school and the houses where the kids are.
Places to park by the fac'tries and buildings.
Restaunts and bar for later in the evening.
Then we come to the farmlands, and the undeveloped areas.
And I have learned how these things work together.
I see the parkway that passes through them all.
And I have learned how to look at these things and I say,


I wouldn't live there if you paid me.
I couldn't live like that, no siree!
I couldn't do the things the way those people do.
I couldn't live there if you paid me to.

I guess it's healthy, I guess the air is clean.
I guess those people have fun with their neighbors and friends.
Look at that kitchen and all of that food.
Look at them eat it' guess it tastes real good.

They grow it in the farmlands
And they take it to the stores
They put it in the car trunk
And they bring it back home
And I say ...


I say, I wouldn't live there if you paid me.
I couldn't live like that, no siree!
I couldn't do the things the way those people do.
I wouldn't live there if you paid me to.

I'm tired of looking out the windows of the airplane
I'm tired of travelling, I want to be somewhere.
It's not even worth talking
About those people down there.

David Byrne, Talking Heads, "The Big Country," 1978

My review of Charles Murray's "Coming Apart"

From my review of Charles Murray's Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 in The American Conservative:
In 1950 my wife’s uncle, the son of a West Side of Chicago ditch digger, won a scholarship to MIT. Back then it was unusual enough for anybody from Chicago to go all the way to Massachusetts for college that the local newspaper printed a picture of him boarding the train for Cambridge. By the 1960s, however, the spread of standardized testing had helped make it customary for elite universities to vacuum up larger and larger fractions of the country’s cognitive talent. The long-term implications of this momentous change are quantified in Charles Murray’s new book on the evolving American class system, Coming Apart.
The book pulls together strands of his thought going back three decades, a period during which Murray has been the model of a public intellectual. Striving to reconcile contrasting virtues, Murray has displayed a dazzling gift for sophisticated data analysis while remaining devoted to making his books as broadly comprehensible as possible. He’s a social-scientific elitist and a civic egalitarian; a libertarian and a communitarian; a truth-teller and a thinker of the utmost judiciousness. 
Not surprisingly, none of these strengths have made the co-author of The Bell Curve terribly popular, especially because in the 18 years since the publication of that infinitely denounced book about the growing stratification of America by intelligence not much has happened to prove it in error. In 2012, it looks like it’s Charles Murray’s world and we’re just living in it. 
Murray isn’t hated for being wrong but instead for authoritatively documenting the kinds of things that everybody uncomfortably senses are true. 

Read the whole thing there.

February 12, 2012

The solution for unwanted statistics

Earlier, I was whining about how the CIA no longer bothers to update its fascinating table in the CIA World Factbook on countries' military expenditures as a percent of GDP. For example, the U.S. number still says, comically, "2005, est." Heckuva job, CIAie!

There's another federal website featuring unpopular data that would be too embarrassing to delete, to which the feds have found a similar solution: just let it wither on the vine by never updating it. That's the Bureau of Justice Statistics' page on Homicide Trends. It's still there, but the latest data is for 2005. I started looking at it when debating Steven Levitt in 1999, and it was annually updated with each year's new numbers. But, now, it doesn't appear to have been updated in a half decade.

I'll just paste the top part of this Justice Department webpage right here:

Trends by race

Racial differences exist, with blacks disproportionately represented
among homicide victims and offenders

In 2005, homicide victimization rates for blacks were 6 times higher
than the rates for whites.

To view data, click on the chart.
For more information about racial patterns in violent victimization
see Key Facts at a Glance.

In 2005, offending rates for blacks were more than 7 times higher
than the rates for whites

To view data, click on the chart.
Homicide Offending by Race

The genius behind this is that if the Obama Administration simply deleted it, Rush Limbaugh would have a field day. But by never updating it, it's increasingly not news. It's so far out of date that it gives the news media an excuse to ignore it. Who knows what could have happened since 2005? Maybe whites have higher homicide rates than blacks today. Who can say? So, best to just ignore the whole subject until the feds post some newer numbers, whenever that might be.

P.S., You can find the Homicide Offending by Race graph extended out through 2008 by downloading this PDF, and then paging down to p. 11. What could be more convenient? Apparently, PDF is the hot new technology sweeping aside outmoded HTML. It's so much easier to cut and paste!

Tiger Mom and Eagle Dad

The Daily Mail has a looong story on the Chinese businessman who makes his 3-year-old kid run around in the snow in his underpants in New York as part of his "Eagle Dad" parenting style. 
If all goes to plan, it will get him into a top university by the age of ten. 
The father himself revels in the name Eagle Dad. He said: ‘Like an eagle, I push my child to the limit so he can learn how to fly.’ 
However, He Liesheng concedes that his techniques have strained his marriage, saying: ‘His mother just wants him to be a normal boy but I want him to be exceptional.’ ... The result, Mr He claimed, is that his son had an impossibly high IQ score of 218 when he was tested at the age of 36 months.

One of the innovations that makes the Daily Mail of London such an awesome online newspaper (it recently passed the New York Times in readership) is that they understand that there's no reason for a length limit to online stories. It used to be that tabloid papers like the Daily Mail had short articles, but now it has more long stories.

If the New York Times has a reporter talk to a news source for 30 minutes, they'll use maybe one minute as the perfect quote. That's what editors are for! But if a Daily Mail reporter talks to a news source for 15 minutes, they'll post 5 or 10 minutes worth of stuff. If they take 20 pictures, they'll post six of them. After all, there's no real opportunity cost.

And if you want to read about some deplorable Chinese father tormenting his kid, then you probably want to wallow in the topic.  So, why not just dump everything in the reporter's notebook into the posting?

"Five Myths about Whites"

Charles Murray writes in the WaPo's "5 Myths" format:
5. White Americans are yesterday’s news. 
You don’t need to see a young black family in the White House to understand that American demographics are changing. In the 2010 census, non-Latino whites made up 64 percent of the population, down from 69 percent in 2000, 76 percent in 1990 and 80 percent in 1980. In 2011, non-Latino whites for the first time constituted a minority of children under age 2 — the harbinger of a nation in which whites will be a minority. That’s no myth. 
Yet, 45 of 50 governors and 96 of 100 U.S. senators were still non-Latino whites in 2010. Whites also were 92 percent of the directors nominated for Academy Awards between 2000 and 2011. They were 96 percent of Fortune 500 chief executives in 2011. The numbers are similar for other influential positions in U.S. society. At least for now, the rhetoric about the fading role of whites in American life outruns reality.

The Best Director Oscar nominees make up one of those lists that are good for counting. Everybody would agree: that's a pretty good job. So, Best Director nominees comprise one list of 21st century Alpha Dogs. And, Hollywood's not some redoubt of right-wing racists, right? As Murray writes in his new book: "The liberalism of the film industry is openly proclaimed by its top stars, producers, and directors," which he documents with the following inarguable footnote: "Source: almost any Academy Awards show."

Plus, Best Director nominations are open to people from all over the world. The first nonwhite Best Director nominee was Hiroshi Teshigahara for Woman in the Dunes in 1965. Obviously, the Academy is biased toward people working in America or Britain, and/or working in English, but not always.

On the other hand, directing movies is one of those really good jobs where the affirmative action runs out. It's like CEO: it's hard to file a disparate impact discrimination lawsuit against a business enterprise over a position where the sample size is one. Not surprisingly, therefore, CEOs and movie directors aren't that sympathetic to lesser whites' complaints about quotas.

In general, there isn't much affirmative action in Hollywood. Screenwriting is about as equally white as directing. Even film crews around L.A., for example, are islands of white unionized blue collar workers (with jobs fairly hereditary) in a Latino sea. It would be amusing to see a Democratic Administration sue Hollywood for disparate impact discrimination, but, for some reason, that almost never happens.

Murray's 92 percent white among Best Director nominees is kind of lowballing the white percentage for the last 60 Best Director nominees (assuming the Coen Brothers count singly). We're talking about a single American-born NAM, Lee Daniels for Precious. Then we've got Taiwan-born Ang Lee with two nominations. So, that's 3 out of 60 or five percent non-white.

After that, it's the usual niggling over who isn't quite white. Everybody else looks pretty white to me: Fernando Meirelles of Brazil (City of God) looks like Ken Burns. Terrence Malick (Tree of Life), who is half-Assyrian Christian, cast Brad Pitt to play his dad. Pedro Almodovar is a Spaniard from La Mancha. I'd say the man from La Mancha is pretty Euro. My favorite moment in Michel Hazanavicius's cute The Artist is when his 1927 hero escapes Bolshevik secret policemen and flies off from the Soviet Union, triumphantly shouting (on a title card) "Long Live Free Georgia!" So, I'd say he's pretty Caucasian. (No, my guess was wrong, he's not Georgian, he's Jewish from Lithuania.) Alejandro González Iñárritu of Mexico City (Babel) looks like a Hungarian friend of mine.

I would guess Murray is counting González Iñárritu as a Latino, but he's different from, say, Robert Rodriguez, who is tall and white-looking, too, but at least comes from a big family in San Antonio where the NAM concept makes sense. Picking some banker's son from Mexico City like González Iñárritu and declaring him to be non-white is kind of applying contemporary American ideas to a different culture. I mean, was Jorge Luis Borges nonwhite? I'm a Big Tenter when it comes to how many people I want in the tent with me not getting racial/ethnic preferences from the government and how few are outside getting them or thinking that they ought to get them.

So, I come up with 95% white (and 97% male - one female nominee is the daughter of an earlier Best Director Oscar winner and the other was married to a Best Director winner). Whatever the precise percentage is, it's really high. You can argue over individual cases (where's Wong Kar-Wai or Guillermo del Toro?), but it's not like Spike Lee got ripped off by not being nominated for She Hate Me or Rodriguez for Machete.

P.S. I suspect that Murray's 92% comes from using the 2000-2011 Academy Awards show years rather than the 2000-2011 release years, which would then include M. Night Shyamalan for his 1999 movie The Sixth Sense. As a Big Tenter, I would like Shyamalan in the Unpreferred Caucasian tent with me, but the Reagan Administration saw it differently in 1982 when they took South Asians out of the Caucasian category and put them in with Orientals (now renamed Asians) so they could get minority business development low-interest loans and preferences on government contracting.