January 12, 2013

Daily Kos: "Racism Has a New Name: HBD"

Over at Daily Kos, somebody calling himself Erasmussimo (not a bad nom de blog, by the way) has posted a long takedown of the study of Human Biodiversity: "Racism Has a New Name: HBD."

Surprisingly, it's not at all that bad. 

Poor Erasmussimo must feel himself teetering on the edge of the rabbit hole because he includes praise for realists all the way from Edward O. Wilson and Steven Pinker to HBD Chick. Fortunately, his hatred for that awful "Steve Sailor" * guy helps him keep his feet thoroughly on the ground of respectability.

If anybody from Daily Kos has furtively ducked over here to find out what all the crimethinking is about:

Here's a 13 minute video interview with me on "What is HBD?"

And here are my Frequently Asked Questions lists on Race and IQ.

* The reason I came up with "iSteve" back in the 1990s is because so many people get wrong the spelling of either my first name ("Steven," not "Stephen" as in Stephen Jay Gould -- why did his Marxist dad name him after the most notorious robber baron of the 19th Century, anyway?) or last name ("Sailer," not "Sailor" or "Saylor" or "Sayler" or "Seiler" or whatever). It was more reasonable for me to change to something easy to remember how to spell when searching on Alta Vista or Yahoo than for me to expect everybody else to remember how to spell my name.

P.S. I appreciate commenters who have taken the time to give Erasmussimo's real name, but I won't approve them because I don't like to out anybody. So, if you were planning to write a long comment on the subject, let me point out that nobody will read it except me. (This is not to imply that I don't like hearing gossip about who is really whom, but I try not to pass it on.)

Can you guess the missing word in the NYT's "Stagnant Pay" article?

The top left story at NYTimes.com today is:
Amid Debate on Taxes and Debt, the Issue of Stagnant Pay 
The debt-ceiling debate is unlikely to alter one major factor contributing to income inequality: stagnant wages.
.... Wages have fallen to a record low as a share of America’s gross domestic product. Until 1975, wages nearly always accounted for more than 50 percent of the nation’s G.D.P., but last year wages fell to a record low of 43.5 percent. Since 2001, when the wage share was 49 percent, there has been a steep slide. 
... Some economists say it is wrong to look at just wages because other aspects of employee compensation, notably health costs, have risen. But overall employee compensation — including health and retirement benefits — has also slipped badly, falling to its lowest share of national income in more than 50 years while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share over that time. 
Conservative and liberal economists agree on many of the forces that have driven the wage share down. Corporate America’s push to outsource jobs — whether call-center jobs to India or factory jobs to China — has fattened corporate earnings, while holding down wages at home. New technologies have raised productivity and profits, while enabling companies to shed workers and slice payroll. Computers have replaced workers who tabulated numbers; robots have pushed aside many factory workers.

Uh, I can think of another cause, which drives up supply of labor, which, ceteris paribus, drives down pay. But then I'm not a conservative nor a liberal economist, who appear to have both sworn a sacred oath to never mention the I-Word except in happy-clappy contexts.
“Some people think it’s a law that when productivity goes up, everybody benefits,” says Erik Brynjolfsson, an economics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “There is no economic law that says technological progress has to benefit everybody or even most people. It’s possible that productivity can go up and the economic pie gets bigger, but the majority of people don’t share in that gain.” 
From 1973 to 2011, worker productivity grew 80 percent, while median hourly compensation, after inflation, grew by just one-eighth that amount, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research group. And since 2000, productivity has risen 23 percent while real hourly pay has essentially stagnated. 
Meanwhile, it’s been a lost economic decade for many households. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, median income for working-age households (headed by someone under age 65) slid 12.4 percent from 2000 to 2011, to $55,640. During that time the American economy grew more than 18 percent. 
... MANY economists say the stubbornly high jobless rate and the declining power of labor unions are also important factors behind the declining wage share, reducing the leverage of workers to demand higher wages. Unions represent just 7 percent of workers in corporate America, one-quarter the level in the 1960s.

Calling the ghosts of Cesar Chavez and Samuel Gompers: perhaps, if you guys weren't dead, you could enlighten the NYT and the economics profession why massive immigration is bad for the negotiating power of unions....
It is often thought that college graduates can escape these unfortunate wage trends. But college graduates — hit by the bursting of the tech bubble in the late 1990s and then by the deep recession — have been hit hard, too. Seventy percent of the nation’s college grads have had their after-inflation hourly wages decline since 2000, according to the Economic Policy Institute, with the typical graduate experiencing a 3.1 percent decline. 
Jared Bernstein, who served in the Obama administration as executive director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, said many steps should be taken to increase labor’s income share, including raising the minimum wage, pushing down the jobless rate, enacting laws that make it easier for workers to unionize and increasing wage subsidies for those on the bottom.

But don't mention the I-word!
Steven Greenhouse is a reporter on labor and workplace issues for The New York Times, and author of “The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker.”

January 11, 2013

France invades Uqbar / Kush

As I more or less figured last April, today in the Washington Post we read:
French ground forces intervened Friday to help the sagging Malian army as it battles advancing Islamist fighters, opening a new and unexpectedly direct front in the confrontation between the West and al-Qaeda-allied guerrillas. 
... “We have chased the army out of the town of Konna,” Sanda Abou Mohamed, a spokesman for the Ansar Dine militia, told the Associated Press by telephone from the Islamist-held city of Timbuktu. But others reported late Friday that Mali’s forces had retaken the city.

Konna lies about 45 miles north of Mopti, the northernmost headquarters for Malian government military operations. French officials expressed fear that the Islamist forces, if they continue their advance, could capture Mopti and from there push forward to Bamako, the capital, more than 300 miles to the southwest.

Reading about strategically located Mali is little like reading the intentionally eye-glazing encyclopedia description of the land of Uqbar in Jorge Luis Borges' "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius:"
We read the article with some care. The passage recalled by Bioy was perhaps the only surprising one. The rest of it seemed very plausible, quite in keeping with the general tone of the work and (as is natural) a bit boring. Reading it over again, we discovered beneath its rigorous prose a fundamental vagueness. Of the fourteen names which figured in the geographical part, we only recognized three - Khorasan, Armenia, Erzerum - interpolated in the text in an ambiguous way. Of the historical names, only one: the impostor magician Smerdis, invoked more as a metaphor. The note seemed to fix the boundaries of Uqbar, but its nebulous reference points were rivers and craters and mountain ranges of that same region. We read, for example, that the lowlands of Tsai Khaldun and the Axa Delta marked the southern frontier and that on the islands of the delta wild horses procreate. All this, on the first part of page 918. In the historical section (page 920) we learned that as a result of the religious persecutions of the thirteenth century, the orthodox believers sought refuge on these islands, where to this day their obelisks remain and where it is not uncommon to unearth their stone mirrors. 

You can read here John Updike's bravura description of the fictional country of Kush in his 1978 novel The Coup. He modeled it on a number of Sahelian countries much like Mali. Kush is probably most like Niger, which is sort of the New Hampshire to Mali's Vermont, or maybe Chad, which would be like Maine.

If I had a trillion dollar platinum coin ...

... I’d just lose it in the couch cushions.

Is statistical reasoning too novel for contemporary humans?

In a post below, I quote a bit from David Brooks of what is considered sophisticated modern thought. As an example of "serious discrimination" and "racism," he reports:
Both blacks and whites subtly try to get a white partner when asked to team up to do an intellectually difficult task. ... Clearly, we should spend more effort rigging situations to reduce universal, unconscious racism.

It's possible that Brooks is being satirical here, although there's no evidence that his commenters notice the absurdity. 

In general, I suspect that our moral reasoning methods just haven't caught up to the vast advances in statistical reasoning over the last couple of centuries. 

David Brooks: "we should spend more effort rigging situations" to make blacks appear smarter, less dangerous

David Brooks writes in the New York Times:
Sometimes the behavioral research leads us to completely change how we think about an issue. For example, many of our anti-discrimination policies focus on finding the bad apples who are explicitly prejudiced. In fact, the serious discrimination is implicit, subtle and nearly universal. Both blacks and whites subtly try to get a white partner when asked to team up to do an intellectually difficult task. In computer shooting simulations, both black and white participants were more likely to think black figures were armed. In emergency rooms, whites are pervasively given stronger painkillers than blacks or Hispanics. Clearly, we should spend more effort rigging situations to reduce universal, unconscious racism.

Now that I think about it, this could be a deeply encoded anti-racial quota argument. I suspect Brooks might be thinking vaguely about the recent book by Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor Jr., Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It's Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won't Admit It.

But, that wouldn't make any sense combined with the violence statement. And the implication that Emergency Room Indian doctors and Filipino nurses are conspiring to inflict needless pain on NAMs is just kind of out there. What is this a reference to, anyway? Are a higher percentage of NAMs who go into emergency rooms trying to cadge free drugs while a higher percentage of whites have, like, actual broken arms? But my assumption was that white people were the big prescription pain pill addicts, so I'm just baffled...

We used to have a two-word explanation for things we didn't like: "evil spirits." But now, in a case of Occam's Razor in Action, we have a one-word explanation: "racism."

January 10, 2013

188 Oscar nominations: Any Mexican-Americans finally honored?

This morning 188 individual Academy Award nominations were announced. Oscar nominees run the gamut from just about the most famous people in the world to a fair number of Southern California technicians whom you've never heard of but who have, by the norm of the average American worker, really good jobs. Thus, today's names range from Daniel Day-Lewis as Best Actor nominee for Lincoln down to 15 sound mixers.

As a long-time student of both the Vibrant New Face of America and of dogs that don't bark, I've been fascinated by how few of the vast number of Mexican-Americans* ever get nominated for Oscars and how nobody ever notices. 

* I'm defining Mexican-Americans as somebody of sizable Mexican ancestry who was either born here or at least spent at least some of his youth in the U.S. Thus, Anthony Quinn -- born in Mexico, but raised mostly in L.A. -- counts. Guillermo del Toro -- raised in Mexico as the son of an automobile company CEO, only coming to America as a trained professional from the Mexican entertainment industry -- doesn't count. He's Mexican, not Mexican-American.

The last Mexican-American nominated in any of the glamor categories such as acting, screenwriting, or cinematography (and that's stretching the word "glamor" pretty far) was Edward James Olmos for 1988's Stand and Deliver.

But, what about the technical categories?

Looking through today's endless list, I see a few Spanish surnames, but they turn out to be born in Barcelona or Chile. 

Finally, I get to one possibility: Jose Antonio Garcia, one of the three sound mixers on "Argo." Garcia has been working on Hollywood productions since being a boom operator on "Tales from the Crypt" in 1980s. No information is available on where he was born or raised. (There are a lot of other Jose Garcias out there, which makes searching difficult.)

He occasionally works on movies by elite Mexico City directors, such as "Y Tu Mama Tambien," suggesting he speaks Spanish and has a work permit for Mexico. In La Opinion, the Los Angeles Spanish language newspaper, the headline reads (translated): "Mexican Jose Antonio Garcia competes for Oscar." So, I'd give about fifty-fifty odds that he grew up in Mexico, and isn't a Mexican-American. But, he could be Mexican-American, too.

Anyway, the point is that this pattern helps explain the popularity of Mexican immigration among American elites: Having a vast number of Mexican-Americans around lowers wages at the low end but doesn't produce any noticeable competition for elites or their kids at the high end.

Disparate impact? What's that?

January 9, 2013

No Country for Young Men

According to a new report, compared to 16 other rich countries, the U.S. does great in life expectancy for codgers, but bad in life expectancy for everybody below 80, and is last compared to other nice places for people below 55.

More on "Zero Dark Thirty"

A few more reflections on Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal's movie about the hunt for Osama bin Laden:

- Were secrets leaked to the filmmakers? Maybe, but I didn’t learn much I didn’t already know. Bigelow is an artist who tends toward abstraction over informativeness, so, as with most of her soldier/CIA/submariner films (unlike, say, Tom Clancy soldier/CIA/submariner movies), Thirty isn’t broadly enlightening. 

- Since the first half hour of the film consists of a CIA Ph.D. abusing an Al-Qaeda accountant while Jessica Chastain’s heroine looks on, does this mean that torture is effective? Beats me. It’s naïve to assume that any element of this movie is unspun. Every insider who talked to Boal had an agenda. 

- The film's casting of actors to play SEAL Team Six appears to be intentionally confusing. Almost all the commandos are depicted as beefy, bearded, and visually interchangeable. The publicity shot above might be deliberately taunting in its indistinctiveness. The two main commando characters are played by Chris Pratt (the generic-looking big American white guy who played the first baseman in Moneyball) and another actor who looks like Chris Pratt. Any would-be terrorist who sees Thirty Dark Zero looking for clues as to the individual identities of the Americans who killed bin Laden will likely emerge more confused than when he bought his ticket.

As I mention in my review, I suspect the filmmakers might be playing a similarly-intentioned but opposite trick in casting the memorable-looking redhead Jessica Chastain as CIA analyst "Maya" (called "Jen" in ex-SEAL Mark Bissonette's book).

Asian-American philanthropy

One of the unspoken goals of the American Establishment (e.g., universities and foundations) is to use Asian status-seeking to SWPLize them into white American norms before Asians take over the world, which seems like a decent idea.

The NYT reports, although without much in the way of data:
Members of a new class of affluent Asian-Americans, many of whom have benefited from booms in finance and technology, are making their mark on philanthropy in the United States. They are donating large sums to groups focused on their own diasporas or their homelands, like the organization that held the fund-raiser, the Korean American Community Foundation. 
And they are giving to prestigious universities, museums, concert halls and hospitals — like Yale University and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The institutions, in turn, are increasingly courting Asian-Americans, who are taking high-profile slots on their governing boards. 
SungEun Han-Andersen, a Korean immigrant who runs two family foundations and is on the boards of the New York Philharmonic and Boston University, said the philanthropic impulse was for the first time becoming deeply rooted within her circle of Korean acquaintances. 
“I don’t have to ask for funds twice, because they’re beginning to understand,” Ms. Han-Andersen, a former management consultant and concert pianist, said.
Pradeep Kashyap, an Indian immigrant and former senior executive at Citibank, described this shift as “the journey of becoming American.” 
“They see their mainstream American peers giving and they say, ‘I’m going to do that,’ ” said Mr. Kashyap, vice-chairman of the American India Foundation, one of the largest and most successful of the new Asian philanthropies. 
The growth in philanthropy by Asian-Americans parallels a surge in the Asian population in the United States. From 2000 to 2010, according to the Census Bureau, the number of people who identified themselves as partly or wholly Asian grew by nearly 46 percent, more than four times the growth rate of the overall population, making Asian-Americans the fastest growing racial group in the nation. 
Lulu C. Wang, a money manager and philanthropist in New York, and her husband, Anthony Wang, established themselves in the vanguard of this new wave of Asian-American philanthropy when they donated $25 million to Wellesley College, her alma mater, in 2000. 
“With this new display of philanthropy, there are many more who are looked at with great interest by these boards,” said Ms. Wang, who was born in New Delhi and is of Chinese descent, and now sits on the boards of the Metropolitan Museum, Columbia Business School and other institutions. 
Another Met trustee who is Chinese-American, Oscar L. Tang, said, “There’s a group of us who all know each other and support each other in this tendency.”
Among Mr. Tang’s contributions have been major gifts to Phillips Academy Andover, including a donation of $25 million in 2008, and Skidmore College, as well as the Met. 
Asian cultures have a strong tradition of philanthropy in the broadest sense, though it has usually involved donations to relatives, neighbors, churches and business associations. Many Asian immigrants have not immediately embraced the Western-style practice of giving to large philanthropic institutions, organizers said. 
“The reaction is: ‘Why should we give money to a third party?’ ” said Cao K. O, executive director of the Asian American Federation, a nonprofit group in New York City established in 1989 that manages a community fund. 
The American India Foundation emerged in response to an earthquake in the Indian state of Gujarat in 2001. Mr. Kashyap said the organization had sought to dispel some deeply ingrained cultural suspicion among Indians about “the credibility of institutions,” a holdover from India, where, he said, institutional transparency and accountability have historically been weak. 
The foundation raised more than $7 million this fiscal year for nonprofit groups in India, much of it through six major galas, each in a different American city. 
The Korean American Community Foundation grew out of a gathering of a group of influential Korean-Americans in New York in 2002. Unlike the American India Foundation, it decided to channel money back into the diaspora and help compatriots in New York. 
The myth that Asians are a “model minority” had created a blind spot that obscured social problems among Korean immigrants, including poverty, homelessness, mental illness and the unmet needs of the elderly, said the foundation’s executive director, Kyung B. Yoon. 
“In some ways for immigrants, the better off you become, the more disconnected you become from your community needs,” said Ms. Yoon, a former news correspondent for Fox who was born in South Korea and moved to the United States when she was 6. 
“We grew up with this idea that success is the more distance you can create between yourself and the pack,” Ms. Yoon said. “But it’s really about how much of the pack you can bring along.” 
At first, the group found little traction among Korean immigrants. So it focused on the so-called 1.5 generation — those, like Ms. Yoon, who had moved to the United States as children — and among those born in the United States to immigrants. 
Since its founding, it has raised more than $7 million, disbursing about 50 grants to organizations. 
Dien S. Yuen, a philanthropy consultant focusing on Asian-American giving, predicted that the surge in philanthropic activity among Asians was “only a beginning.”

My personal experience is that South Asians, with their traditions of giving alms, tend to be more generous than East Asians, but that is based on a very small sample size: my older son lived in a nice new dorm that, halfway through the year, was named after a South Asian donor, and my younger son enjoyed a nice new library at his high school that was named after a South Asian donor

January 8, 2013

"Zero Dark Thirty"

My review of the Get Osama movie in Taki's Magazine.

Frum: From the Century of the Common Man to the Century of the Clever Man

David Frum has a good column on how what's good for the right half of the Bell Curve isn't always good for the left half:
In 1943, Vice President Henry Wallace published a book celebrating the coming "century of the common man." That century did not last very long. We have transitioned instead into the era of the clever man and clever woman. We have revised our institutions, our programs, our rules in ways that offer profitable new chances to those with cultural know-how -- and that inflict disastrous consequences on those who are overwhelmed by a world of ever-more-abundant and ever-more-risky choices. 
We're not going to uninvent the no-money-down loan. Universities that receive applications from all over the planet cannot finance themselves like an old-fashioned state land-grant college. But we need to recognize that modern life is becoming steadily more dangerous for people prone to make bad choices.

Top of the Pops: Johan Karl Schuster, Łukasz Gottwald, Wouter De Backer, and other pale males

As commenters have been pointing out, the songwriters of today's most popular pop hits tend to have names that sound like they were cribbed from the New Grove Dictionary of classical composers.

I like to take found lists assembled by other people for other purposes and look up their demographic backgrounds on Wikipedia:

ASCAP bragged last November:

"According to Billboard magazine, the top songwriters - all ASCAP members - from the past three months are:

Shellback / Johan Karl Schuster
"Shellback (Maroon 5's "One More Night," Taylor Swift's "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together")

From Wikipedia:
Johan Karl Schuster, better known by the stage name Shellback, is a Swedish songwriter, record producer and musician. ... Julius kept sending Schuster's indierock/deathmetal demos to Max [Martin], who became curious about what it would sound like if Schuster would make pop music.

Harris / Wiles
"Calvin Harris (Rihanna's "Where Have You Been," Scissor Sisters' "Only the Horses")
Adam Richard Wiles (born 17 January 1984), better known by his stage name Calvin Harris, is a Scottish DJ, singer, songwriter, and record producer. [Unfortunately, Wikipedia neglects to mention whether or not Harris/Wiles is related to Andrew Wiles of Fermat's Last Theorem. They don't look all that different.]

"Max Martin (Katy Perry's "Wide Awake," Taylor Swift's "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together")
Martin Karl Sandberg (born 26 February 1971), known professionally as Max Martin, is a Swedish music producer and songwriter. ... Martin grew up in Stenhamra, Ekerö Municipality, a suburb of Stockholm

"Savan Kotecha (One Direction's "Live While We're Young," Maroon 5's "One More Night")

Savan Kotecha is an Indian-American from Texas who made himself an honorary member of the Swedish songwriting mafia by spending six years in Sweden and marrying a Swedish girl.

"Dr. Luke (Rihanna's "Where Have You Been," Ke$ha's "Die Young")
Łukasz Gottwald (born September 26, 1973), better known as Dr. Luke, is an American songwriter, record producer, and remixer. ... Luke was born in Westerly, Rhode Island[4] to an architect father and an interior-designer mother, but spent much of his formative years in New York City.

Cirkut / Walter
"Cirkut (Katy Perry's "Wide Awake," B.o.B.'s "Strange Clouds")
Henry Russell Walter, known professionally as Cirkut, is a Canadian music producer and songwriter based in Los Angeles, California. 

"Greg Kurstin (Pink's "Blow Me One Last Kiss")
Gregory Allen "Greg" Kurstin (born May 14, 1969)[2][3] is an American songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. 

"Luiz Bonfa (Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know")
Luiz Floriano Bonfá (often seen as Luis Bonfá) (October 17, 1922 – January 12, 2001) was a Brazilian guitarist and composer. He was best known for the compositions he penned for the film Black Orpheus.[1]

However, Gotye, the adapter of the Brazilian jazz guitarist's tune into a current hit, is:
Wouter "Wally" De Backer (born 21 May 1980), also known professionally by his stage name Gotye (pronounced /ˈɡɔːti.ɛə/), is a Belgian-Australian[1] multi-instrumental musician and singer-songwriter. The name "Gotye" is derived from "Gauthier", the French equivalent of "Walter" or "Wouter". 

Here's Gotye's video, which emphasizes that he is, indeed, an extremely pale male.

There are a variety of ways of thinking about this phenomenon.

This could just be a matter of who you know, based in sizable measure on knowing Max Martin, who has been a major figure in what's normally a fad-driven business for a long time now.

Or, if you look at the last 500 years, the European continent produced the vast majority of music still known today, while its English-speaking periphery was peripheral in music. In the 20th Century, however, the English-speaking world came to dominate popular music. But in the long run, the future, like the past, may belong to the Euros, although they may need more vibrant-looking frontpersons.

It could be that changes in music technology have put the music crafting advantage back in the hands of white guys who are good at being creative while sitting alone in a room with precision devices.

Academic specialties by sex

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a fun interactive graphic of the sexes of the authors of a couple of million academic papers going back to 1665. For the last 20 years, the most male dominated field studied is math, then operations research, then philosophy, and economics. In philosophy, the most masculine subfields include space and time and set theory, and the most feminine moral philosophy. 

In general, women researchers find living things more interesting, especially young living things.

Especially feminine subfields include sociology of gender, anthropology of dance ethnology, cognitive science of early childhood development, pollution and occupational health of cancer risk, and mycology of yeast.

The single most masculine subfield in the study is the mathematics of Riemannian manifolds.

The usual way to think about this is that this represents a crisis. Steps Must Be Taken to smash the glass ceiling holding women down in Riemannian manifolds so that they can bring their valuably diverse insights to solving Riemannian manifolds, whatever those are. The sacred goal of Diversity requires homogenizing every field of intellect!

On the other hand, my view (being a Larry Summers-like thought criminal) is that children and other living things are important, and I'm glad that smart women are working enthusiastically on subjects that they find fascinating.

In contrast, luring would-be dance ethnologists into studying Riemannian manifolds is just going to waste the time of the current Riemannian manifold experts and annoy the natural dance ethnologists. And bribing smart female cancer researchers to go instead into Riemannian manifolds strikes me -- somebody who had cancer back in the 1990s and is greatly appreciative of the work of cancer researchers, male and female -- as not a win-win proposition for society as a whole.

January 7, 2013

Notre Dame v. Alabama

The last time the U. of Notre Dame played for the college football championship was back in 1988. Over the decades, Notre Dame has, probably more than any other school, used football to benefit academics. 

Back in 2004, the golden dome's old golden boy Paul Hornung got fired from his radio job for advocating that Notre Dame lower admissions standards for black football players after the New York Times sportswriters denounced him as racist. For those trying to keep score at home, it's simple: being for lowered admissions standards for blacks is racist, but (as in the Supreme Court's upcoming Fisher case) so is being against them.

I did some research then on Notre Dame football recruiting, which I'll share because it's full of numbers that you don't see much of in sportswriting:

From John Steigerwald in the Valley News Dispatch:

The average SAT score of an incoming Notre Dame freshman is 1,360 [out of 1600]. The average SAT score for black high school students in 2003 was 857. The average SAT score for a white high school student in 2003 was 1,026. [Actually, those scores are for college-bound seniors. For all seniors, the averages would be lower if everybody took the test ... not to mention, all the high school dropouts would drive the averages down even lower.] The average SAT score for Notre Dame football players in 1997 (I couldn't find results from more recent years) was 899. So, Notre Dame has had lower standards for all football players for quite a while.

See if you can find a perennial Top-10 Division I football program in this list: Stanford, Northwestern, Duke, Vanderbilt, Rice, Virginia, Oregon State, SMU, Pacific, Wake Forest. That's the list of the programs with the 10 highest SAT scores.

Notre Dame ranked 12th on that list. The University of Miami ranked 80th with an average SAT score of 803. Ohio State was 69th at 818. Do you think Notre Dame would be adding more white players or more black players if its average SAT scores dropped 200 points and was ranked below Miami? Would the increase in wins be proportionate to the drop in SAT scores?

Paul Hornung knows that Notre Dame has a lot of black players, but he also knows that his alma mater has limited itself to taking black players whose academic records predict an ability to do Notre Dame work. Notre Dame work is a lot tougher than Miami work. According to the average SAT scores of players -- black and white -- Miami is recruiting players -- black and white -- who are below average students. Notre Dame is recruiting black players who are better than average students. Hornung would like to see Notre Dame be a little less picky because he knows that would result in better players -- black and white -- and more wins.

Isn't it striking that if you use facts and logic in writing about race in sports, you wind up at the Valley News Dispatch, but if you just make up self-contradictory bilge, you get to work for the New York Times?

Some more data, this time from Phil Arvia in the Southtown Economist (notice a pattern here?):

According to the 2003 Racial and Gender Report Card compiled by Richard E. Lapchick for the Institution for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida, the NFL in 2002 was 65 percent black, 33 percent white and 2 percent other. WSCR's Doug Buffone checked the first 64 picks in the last NFL draft and said on the air Thursday that 52 of those players were black. In the last Pro Bowl, 38 of the 44 starters were black.

And Brian S. Wise in Intellectual Conservative has some inside sources on how Notre Dame won its last national championship back in 1988:

Having been born and raised in South Bend has allowed me the chance to accumulate a few sources inside Notre Dame’s football program over the years; one was unavailable for this column, another told me that the things people should know are generally those they aren’t supposed to know at all. For example, that academic exceptions have been made when it mattered most, especially under Lou Holtz between 1986 and 1990. Todd Lyght (cornerback), Tony Rice (quarterback), Raghib Ismail (wide receiver), Bryant Young (defensive lineman) and Jerome Bettis (running back) are just five examples of very good players admitted with less than stellar academic backgrounds. All but Rice played in the NFL, they all managed to graduate. The point is that if the University truly had standards set in stone – as it suggested in a press release Wednesday – none of those players, and in that I mean none of them, would have ever been admitted.

Said my source, “If Tony Rice’s transcript and SAT scores were brought into the admissions office today, they would be set on fire.”

Quarterback Rice is said to have been one of only two "Proposition 48" athletes ever admitted to Notre Dame (i.e., he had to sit out the 1986 season because he couldn't meet the Prop. 48 standards). Under Proposition 48, student athletes were required to have a minimum SAT score of 700, or an ACT score of 17, and a minimum GPA of 2.0 in at least 11 courses in core classes, according to the NCAA Web site. Rice scored a scintillating 690. According to the anti-SAT Fairtest organization:

NCAA data on student-athletes' academic performance prior to the 1986 implementation of Prop. 48 reveal the discriminatory impact of these rules. The data, reanalyzed by the McIntosh Commission on Fair Play in Student-Athlete Admissions, show that had Prop. 48 been in effect in 1984 and 1985, it would have denied full eligibility to 47% of the African American student-athletes who went on to graduate, but just 8% of the white student-athletes. More recent NCAA research shows that the test score requirement disqualifies African American student-athletes at a rate 9-10 times the rate for white students.

More good stuff on ND recruiting from Return to Glory by Alan H. Grant:

During Lou Holtz's 11-year reign, the Irish came within two games of winning two more titles after 1988. Holtz had come in and done exactly what he had been asked to do: restore the power of the football program. But for the folks up top, whose priorities were slowly shifting back to academic pursuits, that was just about enough. For Holtz, the beginning of the end came in 1995. Coming off a 6-5-1 season, Holtz tried, unsuccessfully, to convince the admissions department to embrace a fleet "precocious" kid named Randy Moss. At the time, Moss was the West Virginia high school player of the year in both football and basketball, and he had committed to come to Notre Dame. But after Moss had been in several fights at school and was arrested for kicking a student who he mistakenly believed had written racial slurs on a desk, Notre Dame withdrew its commitment to him.

Had it been 1985 rather than 1995, things may have been different. But that trophy from 1988 still maintained a pretty fresh glow, so the admissions department decided it could do without Randy Moss...  [Moss, of course, went on to be one of the greatest receiving talents of all time, but also one of the biggest jerks in the NFL.]

Notre Dame isn't the only university concerned with its image. There's a certain status that accompanies any scholastic university with successful sports teams. Take Duke University for instance. Some folks in Durham, North Carolina, swear that there's a vested interest in keeping the performance of the school's football team well below that of its storied basketball team. There's a reason for that. To field a good hoops team, you need just two or three excellent players. Schools like Duke, and Stanford for that matter, can dominate on the hardwood without visibly compromising their academic integrity. But football demands more than two or three bodies. It demands at least 50 guys who can compete with anyone in the country. And with 117 schools on the Division I-A level, all vying for those same players, it's just a fact that you can't routinely sign enough guys to fill your team without sacrificing some of your academic standards.

In other words, if you field a consistently dominant football team, your school's "meathead factor" is raised exponentially. Therein lay the rub for Notre Dame. They wanted it all. They desperately wanted to compare themselves to Duke and Stanford in the classroom, but they also wanted to be like Nebraska and Miami on the football field. Bob Davie had repeatedly said that what Notre Dame was asking him to do -- compete for the national championship with players who were held to a higher academic standard than their opponents -- was impossible. This was the same struggle that had plagued Notre Dame football for decades. It made the position of Notre Dame head coach one of the most demanding in college football.

It would be interesting to know what compromises Stanford has made over the last four years to become a football powerhouse.

January 6, 2013

Finally ...

The New York Times quotes an expert:
“It’s shocking to hear anyone in the United States considering a solution that would make it seem more like Colombia.”

In Guatemala, riding a public bus is a risky business. More than 500 bus drivers have been killed in robberies since 2007, leading InSight Crime, which tracks organized crime in the Americas, to call it “the most dangerous profession on the planet.”  

Wow, finally, somebody is allowed to point out that all this immigration from Latin America isn't, all else being equal, making America more like America, it's making America more like Latin America, and that's not a good thing.

Oh ... sorry ... this isn't an article about illegal immigration, which, as we all know, is impossible for the government to stop. The undocumented workers will just get 51 foot ladders to climb over any 50 foot fence, as the Obama Administration's Secretary of Homeland Security pointed out.

No, this is an op-ed about how we need more gun control laws so we aren't like Latin America. All we have to do about the 300 million or whatever guns in the U.S. is pass a few more laws and, hesto presto, problem solved.

Except, as the essay mentions, Latin America has tons of gun control laws:
THOUGH many of these [Latin American] countries have restrictions on gun ownership, enforcement is lax. According to research by Flacso, the Guatemalan Social Science Academy, illegal guns far outnumber legal weapons in Central America.

But, these examples of the failures of gun control in Latin America are irrelevant because, presumably, we all know that Latin Americans are, to be frank, incompetent screw-ups.  Never mind the failures of Latin Americans, all we have to do is pass more gun control laws, because we can totally stop illegal guns. We're the United States of America, not some banana republic. We've got SEAL Team Six.

In contrast, Latin American illegal immigrants are impossible for the United States government to stop, but not because "enforcement is lax." Instead, it's because the Latin American undocumented workers are so insanely, unstoppably competent that they're like cyborgs from the future in a James Cameron movie, only with 51' ladders.

But, that's great, because America needs more vibrancy. Only that will stop these racist redneck bitter clingerers from murdering everybody with their guns.

The global top selling albums of all time

Bill Wyman, the rock critic not the retired Rolling Stones bassist, has a list of global sales of albums compiled by French music sales nerd Guillaume Vieira:

1. Michael Jackson, “Thriller”: 66,200,000
2. Soundtrack, “Grease”: 44,700,000
3. Pink Floyd, “The Dark Side of the Moon”: 44,200,000
4. Whitney Houston et al., “The Bodyguard”: 38,600,000
5. The Bee Gees at al., “Saturday Night Fever”: 37,200,000
6. The Eagles, “Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975”: 36,900,000
7. Bob Marley, “Legend”: 36,800,000
8. Led Zeppelin, “IV”: 35,700,000
9. AC/DC, “Back in Black”: 35,700,000
10. Shania Twain, “Come on Over”: 35,400,000
11. Michael Jackson, “Bad”: 34,700,000
12. Soundtrack, “Dirty Dancing”: 33,300,000
13. Dire Straits, “Brothers in Arms”: 33,200,000
14. Alanis Morissette, “Jagged Little Pill”: 33,200,000
15. Fleetwood Mac, “Rumours”: 33,000,000
16. The Beatles, “1”: 32,400,000
17. Pink Floyd, “The Wall”: 31,900,000
18. ABBA, “Gold”: 31,400,000
19. Guns N’ Roses, “Appetite for Destruction”: 30,800,000
20. Simon & Garfunkel, “Greatest Hits”: 30,700,000
21. Queen, “Greatest Hits”: 30,600,000
22. Celine Dion, “Let’s Talk About Love”: 30,300,000
23. Michael Jackson, “Dangerous”: 30,200,000
24. Celine Dion, “Falling into You”: 30,200,000
25. The Eagles, “Hotel California”: 30,000,000
26. Bruce Springsteen, “Born in the U.S.A.”: 29,100,000
27. Metallica, “Metallica”: 28,900,000
28. Meat Loaf, “Bat Out of Hell”: 28,700,000
29. Soundtrack, “Titanic”: 28,500,000
30. The Beatles, “Abbey Road”: 28,300,000

Let's see, I own the Bob Marley, the Dire Straits, the Beatle's "1", the Springsteen, and the Meat Loaf. There are lots of of stuff I wouldn't mind owning such as the Eagles, Simon Garfunkel, Fleetwood Mac, Zep, and "Abbey Road."

When I moved to Chicago in 1982, I sold some of my albums to a used record shop. Interestingly, the owner was very offended that I wasn't keeping James Brown "Live at the Apollo" which he gave me a good price for. But he refused to buy or even take for free my Queen albums. He said his bins were full of Queen albums that nobody wanted. Obviously, much has changed in the view of Queen.

Every single album on the list is primarily in English, even the Celine Dion and ABBA stuff made by a French Canadian and Swedes. Wyman asks his source about a non-Anglosphere breakout:
What about China or India, I asked—could a Jackson-size phenom emerge from either country, each with a population far bigger than that of the United States? 
Definitely nothing crazy happening in China and India. Despite massive number of inhabitants their markets are pretty weak, similar to Australia or lower. 
In the golden age of the nineties, some local acts reached sales of three or four million in China, like their “local Michael Jackson” Jacky Cheung, with “The Goodbye Kiss” (arguably the best-selling album ever in continental Asia), and around two million in India, but those are the best-selling albums ever there.

The Anglosphere remains dominant in pop culture.