August 10, 2013

U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Pro-Immigration Image

To promote increased immigration and lower wages, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has come up with this terrifying logo:

Why is TV cooler than movies these days?

There are a lot of reasons for the decline in Cool Factor of movies relative to television, but this new Wall Street Journal article updates the numbers behind a big contributor that I identified in Taki's Magazine four years ago. From the WSJ:
Hollywood Takes Spanish Lessons As Latinos Stream to the Movies 
In the past few years, Hispanics have become some of Hollywood's best customers. Though 15% of Americans over the age of 12 are Latino, they accounted for 25% of all movie tickets sold in the U.S. in 2012, according to a Nielsen Co. study. The average Hispanic moviegoer went to nearly 10 films in the year, compared with just over six for whites, African-Americans, and Asian-Americans. 
... The new industry focus comes at a critical time for the movie business, which is desperate for good news in the domestic market. Attendance at theaters has declined 10% in the past decade, according to industry data, while home entertainment spending is off more than 17% from its 2004 peak.

"The U.S. is a mature theatrical market," says John Fithian, chief executive of the National Association of Theatre Owners trade group. "But unlike any other, we have a growing population and the fastest-growing part of that population, Hispanics, also happen to be the most enthusiastic moviegoers. That's good news for the future of our business."

The impact upon the quality of films and the quantity of quality films influenced by the Mexicanization of the American audience is rather like the widely discussed effect of globalization: famously, explosions translate into any language, witty dialogue less so. But, as Hispanics become a massive pillar in the domestic audience, explosions play better here, too.

For example, the Academy Awards gave the latest Best Picture to Ben Affleck's "Argo" largely to encourage the production of more mid-budget flicks aimed at middle-aged, educated, white Americans (like the Academy voters). "Argo" was a fine movie, but it's hard to imagine it winning Best Picture in past eras when Hollywood made a similar quality movie for grown-ups about once a month rather than as a once a year exception that proves the rules.

In contrast, television, especially subscription channels, can rope in smaller but highly articulate predominantly white audiences for shows like Downton Abbey and Mad Men.

Let me point out the peculiar aspect of white flight from increasingly Mexicanized things: it's seldom talked about as much as white flight from black things. The media is constantly full of discussions of whether or not whites are listening to enough black music or giving blacks enough Academy Awards. This kind of thing strikes white people as fun to argue over.

In contrast, white people's declining interest in all things Mexican or even Mexican-influenced is almost never mentioned. It's not a conspiracy of silence, however. It's a conspiracy of boredom.

Pew: "Integration without blacks in NYC neighborhoods"

From the Pew Research Center:
Sign of things to come? Integration without blacks in New York City neighborhoods 
New York City has always been a trendsetter for the rest of the country in art, fashion and cuisine. Now two researchers have documented a new demographic trend in the Big Apple that they suggest may be a glimpse of the future for other large American cities. 
Researchers Ronald J.O. Flores and Arun Peter Lobo call it integration without blacks. In the past 40 years they found nearly a three-fold increase in the share of integrated New York City neighborhoods with a mix of whites, Hispanics and Asians but few, if any, blacks. 
At the same time, the share of integrated neighborhoods in which blacks comprised at least 10% of the residents fell by about a third, Flores and Lobo reported in the latest Journal of Urban Affairs. 
The result, they wrote, is an “emerging black/non-black color line, where Asians and Hispanics are increasingly aligned with whites while distancing themselves from blacks.” 
Using Census data, the researchers analyzed shifts in integration patterns in 2,111 New York City census tracts between 1970 and 2010. This period marked an explosive period of demographic change in the city: During that time the share of whites-nearly two-thirds of the population in 1970-fell by about half to roughly 33%, while the proportion of blacks remained relatively stable at about 23%. At the same time, the city’s Hispanic population doubled to 28% and the Asian share grew more than six fold to 13%. 
The researchers used census tracts as proxies for neighborhoods. They defined an integrated neighborhood as one in which whites comprised more than 10% but less than 70% of all residents while some mix of blacks, Asians or Hispanics comprised the remainder. 
Within these integrated neighborhoods, they identified those that were “integrated, with blacks” And those that were “integrated, without blacks.” In order to be defined as neighborhoods that were integrated with blacks, African Americans had to make up at least 10% of the residents in the census tracts. Those labeled integrated without blacks contained fewer than 10% blacks. 
Since 1970, Flores and Lobo found that the proportion of “integrated, without blacks” neighborhoods nearly tripled from 13% to 37% in 2010. At the same time, the share of “integrated, with blacks” areas fell from 22.4% to 14.9%. The biggest changes were in neighborhoods where minorities made up at least 70% of the residents, which grew dramatically, and those where whites were the clear majority, which plummeted as a share of all census tracts.

This pattern is hardly new in some places outside of New York: it was common in Southern California a generation ago. But it is interesting to see it playing out in New York City. 

My guess is that in a half century or so, African-Americans will look back in wonder from their current residences in Section 8 podunkvilles at the fact that a century before they heavily inhabited the great liberal cities of America, that they used to live in large numbers on Manhattan, in the nation's capital, a few miles from the beach in L.A., along the lakefront in Chicago, near downtown Boston, and even in San Francisco! It will seem strange in 2063 that back in the early 21st Century, the synonym for black music and black radio stations was "urban."

Here's an alternative possibility, however: if crime can be brought down even further in the Surveillance State, maybe African-American neighborhoods will become more attractive to white gentrifiers, even if they can't push all the blacks out.

By the way the top graph showing the steady rise in NYC's Asian population reminds me of something a New York reader told me awhile ago. She says that while today it seems inevitable that Jews like her will more or less dominate New York City politics forever, she looks around and sees an ever-growing number of Chinese competently inhabiting New York. Maybe, she says, in a half century New York will be a Chinese-dominated city?

August 9, 2013

Informative logo for Open Borders movement

The Open Borders movement is looking for a logo, so here's one that would help them get the impact of Open Borders across vividly:
C'mon, Open Borders guys, you always feel as if the media, while sympathetic, doesn't give you enough attention. By encapsulating one obvious effect Open Borders would have (the extinction of the Jewish State), this logo would get your message lots of attention.

Dr. James Thompson's Richwine / rich wine challenge

Four months ago, James Thompson made a challenge to the Ana Marie Cox-types hounding Jason Richwine out of work:
“So here is the challenge: a bottle of fine French wine sent to the first person who can show that Hispanic/Latino American intelligence and scholastic ability is on the same level as European American intelligence and scholastic ability. Data please.”

So far, the data has not been forthcoming.

Richwine: "Why can't we talk about IQ?"

Jason Richwine has finally found an outlet willing to publish his response to the tidal wave of ignorance that cost him his job. From Politico:
“IQ is a metric of such dubiousness that almost no serious educational researcher uses it anymore,” the Guardian’s Ana Marie Cox wrote back in May. It was a breathtakingly ignorant statement. Psychologist Jelte Wicherts noted in response that a search for “IQ test” in Google’s academic database yielded more than 10,000 hits — just for the year 2013.

Read the whole thing there.

From Drudge, a new flag

National blankness

At Rhymes with Cars & Girls, commenter Crimson Reach suggests this as the perfect logo for Open Borders:
We can combine the spirit of the white flag, the empty country, and the bubble by submitting this as the logo.

Along these lines, here's Richard Hell and the Voidoids' "Blank Generation."

Caplan on Sailer

Economist Bryan Caplan is a cheerful but humorless soul, so he's upset that my readers have been having fun with his Open Borders logo contest, and he projects his anger upon those having a laugh at his expense.

But Caplan does make a good point: Out of all the intellectuals in the country, when it comes to thinking about immigration (and perhaps race and a few other crucial topics), I'm the most sane, sensible, moderate responsible grown-up, which makes me widely hated. In contrast, Caplan's Open Borders views on immigration are self-evident lunacy, which makes him far more respectable. As Caplan says, "I have to admit, it's bizarre."

Caplan writes:
Citizenists strike me as extraordinarily angry people.  But I have to admit: If I were them, I'd be angry too.   
Consider their intellectual situation: Every orthodox moral theory - utilitarianism, Kantianism, egalitarianism, libertarianism, wealth maximization, Rawlsianism, Christianity, and Marxism for starters - straightforwardly endorses open borders, or something close.  Yet almost everyone in the First World strongly opposes this policy.  The moral theory of citizenism, in contrast, does not straightforwardly endorse open borders.  Indeed, combined with suitably misanthropic descriptive views, citizenism handily justifies the strict immigration restrictions that most First Worlders know and love. 
So why the anger?  Because even though people love the implications of citizenism, they wince at the doctrine itself, and stigmatize its adherents.  Adherents of orthodox moral theories, in contrast, enjoy respect and approbation.  Americans in particular want to have their cake and eat it, too. 
 They certainly don't want their country "invaded" by Latin American immigration.  But when a citizenist articulately justifies their anxiety, the typical American feels like the citizenist is too racist to acknowledge, much less endorse.
Think about it like this: Steve Sailer's policy views are much closer to the typical American's than mine.  Compared to me, he's virtually normal.  But the mainstream media is very sweet to me, and treats Steve like a pariah.  I have to admit, it's bizarre. 
Still, if I were a citizenist, I wouldn't be that angry.  Relative to the open borders alternative, the U.S. border is already virtually closed.  (Disagree?  Tell me what annual immigration would be under open borders, and compare this to what we currently get).

If I were a citizenist, I'd be grateful that the status quo approximately equals my favorite policy.  Sure, it's frustrating when people flip out at you for forthrightly justifying the policies they already support.  But what's more important: Getting the respect you feel you deserve, or getting the policies you think are morally right?  

I'm very happy that the electorate agrees far more on immigration policy with me than with Bryan Caplan.

As for my influence, I've been writing a long time, and I'm stoic about the fact that my influence works through labyrinthine laundering processes, where my ideas eventually show up in more sonorous forms on the op-ed page of the New York Times weeks or months or years after I publish them. Eventually, I expect to be recognized as The Guy Who Figured Out the Answers to Some of the Hard Questions, but I don't expect that to happen before I'm very old. Such is the way of the world ...

On the other hand, the media conventional wisdom considers Bryan's extremism to be admirable, if perhaps a little too forthright for the peasants at the moment. Unfortunately, it's not a good idea to blithely assume that elites won't get what they keep shouting for, no matter how stupid it is. To update for the 21st Century H.L. Mencken's apothegm on democracy, “Mediacracy is the theory that the elites know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” 

The problem is that there can be a lot of collateral damage when sanity is considered unmentionable in elite discourse.

My 2009 review of Neill Blomkamp's "District 9"

Here's the opening to my long 2009 review in Taki's Magazine of the sci-fi movie District 9, directed by Neill Blomkamp, whose Elysium opens today:
... Yet, few Americans (except the black critic Armond White, who has made himself wildly unpopular with fanboys of District 9 by pointing out the film’s strikingly caustic portrayal of black Africans) seem to grasp writer-director Neill Blomkamp’s subversive perspective, even though the exiled Afrikaner keeps giving interviews more or less spelling it out. 
The American press constantly refers to District 9 as an “apartheid allegory,” but the 29-year-old Blomkamp was ten when Nelson Mandela was released. Blomkamp’s press statements can hardly be more explicit that the movie is largely a post-apartheid parable about illegal immigration and Malthusian despair. 
In fact, Blomkamp is personally a victim of the gradual ethnic cleansing of southern Africa. Rampant crime under the new black government drove his family from Johannesburg to British Columbia in 1997. 
But Americans just don’t get it because they haven’t paid attention to South Africa since 1994, when Nelson Mandela was elected President and then They All Lived Happily Ever After. Blomkamp told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Everybody in North America thinks of South Africa for white oppression of the black majority.” Yet, 15 years later, “what we’re not familiar with is this screwed-up Johannesburg setting.” 
Just as 1981’s Road Warrior, with Mel Gibson as Mad Max, memorably re-imagined the defining Australian experience of living on an empty continent, District 9 symbolizes the lesson of Afrikaans history: on an increasingly full continent, the weak can eventually triumph over the strong by outbreeding them. 
Much of District 9 is a video game-style shoot-‘em-up complete with the predictable teaming up of the rebel human hero and the single smart, nice alien hero (the Mandela stand-in) to battle the evil corporation. 
Nonetheless, what gives the film its distinctive ferocity is its bitter Malthusian wisdom distilled from the Afrikaner diaspora. History may be written by the winners, but some of the most bracing fiction—for example, Disgrace, the 1999 novel about gang rape in the new South Africa by J.M. Coetzee, the Nobel laureate who fled to Australia in 2002—is written by history’s losers, such as the Afrikaners.

Read the whole thing there.

By the way, here is a review of literary heavyweight (The Great Railway Bazaar) Paul Theroux's The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari, a trip through South Africa, Namibia, and Angola by Marian Evans in The American Renaissance. Like his mentor, Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul, Theroux is something of a misanthrope, so adjust accordingly when reading Theroux.

August 8, 2013

A map of the Open Borders world

MissingMy Manners explains a new entry in the Open Borders logo contest:
This one symbolizes all the wonderful global diversity that would accrue from open borders.

The press is gearing up for the Next Big Thing

From top center of the front page on

An Open Borders logo / doormat

Harry Baldwin's suggestion for the Open Borders Movement's logo contest.

Cory Booker is a piker: Adrian Fenty takes pole position to become Silicon Valley's own Tame Black President

Yesterday, the news broke about how Silicon Valley interests were buying themselves into the good graces of Cory Booker, candidate for the Democratic nomination for Senator from New Jersey and potential Presidential contender (although perhaps more plausibly as a Republican), by starting up a social media firm for him. Obama's had Wall Street's back, so Silicon Valley wants its own pro-plutocrat black President.

"Summer 2015, I'll be back in
Fast & Furious 7!"
Today, though, we learn that Adrian Fenty -- the former Washington D.C. mayor who endeared himself to white gentrifier journalists (but not to black voters) by hiring Korean-American dragon princess Michelle Rhee to fire black teachers -- has a much better plan for using Silicon Valley lucre to get rich enough to buy his way into Presidential Timberhood. He's doing it the old fashioned way: wooing a rich widow. From the Washington Post:
Adrian Fenty and his ‘budding romance’ with Laurene Powell Jobs, billionaire widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs 
By The Reliable Source, Published: August 8 at 7:29 pm
Looks as if Adrian Fenty took the phrase “Go West, young man” to heart — and has done very well for himself. 
Last year, the former D.C. mayor scored a plum job with Andreessen Horowitz, one of Silicon Valley’s hottest venture capital firms. Now we’ve learned that Fenty is dating Laurene Powell Jobs, the billionaire widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. 
The two met at a Houston education conference in 2011 and bonded over a shared passion for school reform. In February 2012, Fenty joined the board of College Track, a non-profit college prep program for underserved students co-founded by Powell Jobs. 
“Adrian Fenty is one of our country’s great advocates for education reform,” she said in a statement when he joined the board. “His sense of urgency and record of accomplishment is unparalleled.” 
The College Track  board position led to his job as a special adviser at Andreessen Horowitz. He met co-founder Marc Andreessen at a College Track event; Andreessen’s wife is a close personal friend of Powell Jobs. 

Mr. Andreessen and Mrs. Arrillaga-Andreessen were also involved in Cory Booker's pseudo-startup.
"Because she's rich, not blonde."
Sources tell us the relationship began as a friendship and blossomed into a “budding romance” around the time Fenty and his wife, Michelle, formally announced their separation in January. The Fenty marriage had been rumored to be on the rocks for months; there’s no indication that Powell Jobs had any role in the split. (The divorce is close to completion but not yet finalized.) 
If you don’t know much about Powell Jobs, 49, you’re not alone. While the world obsessed about all things Apple and Steve Jobs, his wife of 20 years deliberately maintained a very low profile. When Jobs died in October 2011, the businesswoman and mother of three inherited an estate of about $10 billion — mostly Apple and Disney stock — making her one of the richest women in America.
"Sure, from somewhere, Steve's looking up, and he's
not happy about Adrian and me. But who cares, he's dead,
and I put up with his infinite irrational demands long enough."
In other potential Tame Black Presidential Timberhood news, Kevin Johnson (former NBA point guard, ceremonial "mayor" of Sacramento, and superstar on the Education Reform panel discussion circuit) married Michelle Rhee.

"I support Open Borders"

"We support Open Borders"

Leroy Krune's logos for Open Borders

On the Facebook page for the Open Borders logo contest, Leroy Krune submits:
This is my first attempt at a logo, it represents the spirit of open borders, with new people of color who are happy and work together and the dying older people who are angry and selfish. 
I am going to make another one because I was worried that this one was too complicated for people to copy on a sign.
Here is my other idea, which is more simple and shows a house with an open door, because open borders is about inviting in your neighbors, and the person upstairs is excited to meet new friends.

"You maniacs, you supported Open Borders!"

"We demand Open Borders"

"I love Open Borders"

Yet another Open Borders logo

Submitted by Andres Roca at the Open Borders logo contest Facebook page.

Song titles from the Kurt Cobain catalog appropriate for the Open Borders Movement:

"Come As You Are"
"All Apologies"
"Rape Me"

Another entry in the Open Borders logo contest

The Open Borders folks are offering $200 to anybody who comes up with a simple logo that could be easily reproduced on a white sheet to express the essence of their movement. 

I came up with a quite simple logo yesterday, but one of my anonymous commenters tops that with the perfect suggestion: an image with a universal message yet won't tax the artistic talents of even the most talentless Open Borders fanatic: don't put anything on the white sheet

An example in action:

If you want to get fancy, you can trim your white flag into the shape of the contiguous 48 states of the USA:
But, why bother? 

As a palate-cleanser, here's Black Flag performing their early 1980s song about the effects of opening borders (lyrics here):

My entry in the Open Borders logo contest

Bryan Caplan and his friends at Open Borders are sponsoring a logo contest:
The Open Borders movement seeks a symbol that embodies the spirit of free migration. To achieve that goal, we are sponsoring a logo contest. The winner of this contest will get $200 and their design will become the official logo of the Open Borders web site. 
The goal: Create a simple logo, like the peace sign, that represents free migration. 
How to enter: Go to the Open Borders Logo Contest Facebook page and post your image. Join the group and send me a message so I can add you. Then, you can post. 
The criteria for selection: We seek something that is simple and powerful. Think of an image that a person with little artistic skill could paint on a sign or banner. 
Who will choose the winner: The Open Borders website editors and the contest sponsors (Bryan Caplan and myself). 

Here's my entry:

August 7, 2013

Any good sources on the Amish?

I want to write about the Amish, but I've noticed that most of what I thought I knew about them isn't quite right. For example, I long assumed they had a rule that they wouldn't use technology not mentioned in the Bible, but that doesn't seem to explain their rules well at all.

Does anybody know of some insightful studies of the Amish, especially focusing on population, economic, and marital questions?

Brunos don't have to do diversity

Bruno with fashion accessory (video)
From the NYT:
Fashion’s Blind Spot
Five years ago, the fashion industry faced a reckoning over the startling lack of diversity among the models on major designer runways. Reacting to complaints that many shows and magazines included nothing but white models, Vogue, in its July 2008 issue, featured a substantial article that asked, in its headline, “Is Fashion Racist?”...
And since then, almost nothing has changed. 
The New York shows are as dominated by white models as they have been since the late 1990s, roughly at the end of the era of supermodels. Jezebel, a blog that has been tracking the appearance of minorities in fashion shows since the debate erupted, noted that the numbers are hardly encouraging. After a notable increase in 2009 that followed extensive news media coverage, the representation of black models has remained fairly steady until this year, when they accounted for only 6 percent of the looks shown at the last Fashion Week in February (down from 8.1 percent the previous season); 82.7 percent were worn by white models. 
In Europe, where Phoebe Philo of Céline, Raf Simons of Dior and many others have presented entire collections using no black models at all, the opportunities have been even less favorable for minorities. 
Iman and her hubby, Lucifer Jones
“There is something terribly wrong,” said Iman, one of the most iconic models in the world, who later created a successful cosmetics company. Her experience in the fashion scene of the 1980s and ’90s, when designers like Calvin Klein, Gianni Versace and Yves Saint Laurent routinely cast black models without question, was starkly different than that of young nonwhite models today, when the racial prejudice is all but explicitly stated. The increased appearance of Asian models over the last decade, for example, is often described specifically in terms of appealing to luxury customers in China. 
“We have a president and a first lady who are black,” Iman said. “You would think things have changed, and then you realize that they have not. In fact, things have gone backward.”

My guess is that one reason for this trend away from black models is that global wealth is shifting away from America and Europe to Asia and some other places such as Brazil. Rich Asians and Latin Americans tend to find whites much more glamorous and appealing-looking than they find blacks. The rest of the world is a lot more racist than the North Atlantic.

Another reason is that fashion's gay mafia tend to be -- in their aesthetic tastes, feelings of superiority, and cruelty -- pretty much Nazis. (I finally made it through Bruno by Sacha Baron Cohen, who worked as a fashion model after college, and that's basically his point about gay fashionistas. If only Hitler had been allowed into art school ...)

Gay fashion designers barely even pay lip service to the dogmas of equality, so they never thought the rules of diversity applied to them. And for the last several years, they've been hearing constantly about what huge victims they are, so that's just made them even more self-centered and self-indulgent.

Similarly, gay men discriminate like mad in the fashion business against women who want to get into the field, but it's not a big deal because of Who? Whom?

Translating "Fiat Citizenship" into economicsese

My Taki's Magazine article "Fiat Citizenship" points out that the Schumer-Rubio plan to print up millions of documents for "the undocumented" is similar in principle to the Weimar Republic's plan in 1923 to print up trillions of marks. A reader translates my point that politicians love nickel and diming the public for the sizable benefit of lobbies into proper economicsese:
Nice article. "This willful ignorance isn’t surprising because politicians love giving big handouts to small numbers of people by nicking a small amount from big numbers of people." In Economics terminology/buzz words: politicians love doling out 'concentrated benefits with diffuse costs.' The low cost incurred by any single individual creates a 'collective action problem.' The same predicament was addressed in tort law by allowing class action lawsuits.

So, you can use this jargon when addressing economists. Of course, these days they are more devoted to adding to the wealth of their paymasters than of understanding how things work, so don't expect to induce much comprehension in them.

Amazon Art v. Sears Roebuck's Vincent Price Collection of Fine Art

Popular -- not fine -- art
Amazon now peddles fine art by name brand artists online.

That reminds me that from 1962-1971, Sears sold art (typically prints) by famous artists, including Rembrandt, under the aegis of the cultured horror movie legend Vincent Price.

The retired Sears executive who taught my Marketing 101 course at UCLA's MBA school in 1980, George Struthers, was the man who signed the horror movie star to the deal. 
Vincent Price Collection of Fine Art 
Sears label
In 1962, ...Sears set out to end this isolation by merchandising art throughout the country, in a presentation from which pictures could be readily purchased to enrich American homes. Vincent Price was approached to take charge of this program. Price, although well-known by the public as an actor, was also known in the international art world as a collector, lecturer, former gallery-owner and connoisseur who spent a dozen years studying art at Yale, the University of London and other art centers abroad. 
Price was given complete authority to acquire any works he considered worthy of selection. He searched throughout the world for fine art to offer through Sears. He bought whole collections and even commissioned artists, including Salvador Dali, to do works specifically for this program. 
At first, the idea of a large merchandising organization, such as Sears, maintaining a serious, top-quality art collection met with skepticism. But the public - and the artists themselves - soon learned that Sears would not compromise with good taste or artistic quality. 
On October 6, 1962, the first exhibit and sale of "The Vincent Price Collection of Fine Art" took place in a Sears store in Denver, Colo. Original works of the great masters - Rembrandt, Chagall, Picasso, Whistler and more - as well as those of the best contemporary artists at the time were offered for sale in this first exhibit and throughout the program's existence. 
Items ranged in selling price from $10 to $3,000. Sears customers could also purchase items on an installment plan for as little as $5 down and $5 a month. 
Each work in the program was guaranteed as an original work of quality, just as Sears offered quality guarantees on its lawnmowers and TVs. The program was an instant success. So many pictures were snatched up the first day that an emergency shipment had to be flown in lest the walls be bare the next day. 
P. 370 of Sears Catalog
The program expanded in the weeks that followed, adding exhibits in 10 additional Sears stores including Hartford, Conn., Harrisburg, Penn., San Diego, Calif., Evansville, Ind., Madison, Wis., and Oklahoma City, Okla. After the successful exhibition and sale of these first 1,500 pieces, the program was expanded nationwide to all of Sears stores throughout the country, bringing original works of fine art to the American public in unprecedented quantity and quality. 
Works from the collection were also offered for sale through a special catalog in 1963 and 1964. In 1966, the Sears Vincent Price Gallery of Fine Art was opened in Chicago, Ill., providing a mass audience for talented, but less well-known, young artists. The collection also held temporary exhibits in several hundred communities throughout the country and permanent galleries operated in several cities. 
By 1971, when the program ended, more than 50,000 pieces of fine art passed through a constantly changing collection into American homes and offices.

Professor Struthers said Sears had a good run with it, but eventually had to call it off because by the 1970s, the price of the quality of art that Vincent Price was willing to put his name behind had inflated to way out of the range of Sears shoppers.

How authentic were these pieces? In the page from the Sears catalog above, the signed and numbered Picasso lithograph of a bull for $560 seems plausible, but the $800 Picasso oil painting of 12 square feet in a gold leaf frame sounds a little too good to be true if you are expecting Pablo to have personally put every daub of paint on a canvas coming out of his atelier.

Here's Price's daughter's* description of her father's business partnership with Sears. Price said this was his chance to democratize art collecting for the American public by putting to use all the tricks he'd learned over the years to scrimp when buying decent quality art. That attitude seems incredibly foreign to art collecting today, which is dominated by the conspicuous consumption of the ultra-rich with almost everybody else having lost interest in the subject.

Here's the training film Vincent did for Sears salesmen:
Yeah, I know what you are wondering, but Price had a child by each of his first two wives, and a third wife (no children).

Sticking the boot into Bloomberg again

Over the years, I've given Michael Bloomberg a hard time. Why? Well, the billionaire New York City mayor who likes to claim that he has "the seventh-largest army in the world" seems like a worthy foe.

One of Bloomberg's boasts has been that, based on rising test scores, he had fixed the New York City public schools: a few years ago, 82% of NYC students scored proficient or advanced in math! 

This braggadocio contributed to his political foes in Albany deciding to toughen the tests, with predictable results. From the NYT:
At their peak, in 2009, 69 percent of city students were deemed proficient in English, and 82 percent in math, under less stringent exams. After concluding the tests had become too easy, the state made them harder to pass in 2010, resulting in score drops statewide. ... Last year, ... 47 percent of city students passed in English, and 60 percent in math.
This year, New York State revamped the tests even more radically. ... 
In New York City, 26 percent of students in third through eighth grade passed the state exams in English, and 30 percent passed in math, according to the New York State Education Department. 

Kevin Drum points out that on the federal NAEP test, NYC is down slightly relative to the average big city over the last few years.
Statewide, 16 percent of black students and 18 percent of Hispanic students passed English exams, compared with 40 percent of white students and 50 percent of Asians.

There must be something uniquely peculiar about New York since the test score hierarchy turned out to be Asian: white: Hispanic: black. Who has ever seen that ranking before?
The exams were some of the first in the nation to be aligned with a more rigorous set of standards known as Common Core, which emphasize deep analysis and creative problem-solving. ... 

By the way, does anybody have an informed opinion on Common Core tests, which are currently slated to go into operation in another 44 states?

No Comment

From the NYT:
Diversity and ‘Doctor Who’ 

BELGRADE LAKES, Me. — YOU could hear the sighs of disappointment spreading across the nerd-universe on Sunday when the BBC announced, with much fanfare, that the Scottish actor Peter Capaldi would be the new star of “Doctor Who.”

For those readers who did not get beaten up in high school, “Doctor Who” is a beloved British sci-fi series about a character called the Doctor — a Time Lord who travels through space and time to battle evil. Thanks to a clever plot twist, the Doctor is able to regenerate into a new body whenever a mortal would die (or whenever an actor grows tired of the gig). As a result, the role has been played by 11 different men since the show went on the air in 1963. The current Doctor, Matt Smith, is stepping down this Christmas, and many fans had hoped that this time, a dozen cycles in, the Doctorship would finally go to a woman. 
Mr. Capaldi is a capable actor, and come his debut, I’ll be right there with my teenage boys, drinking Mountain Dew and cheering him on. But imagine if we were cheering for Helen Mirren instead, or for the comedian Miranda Hart, or for Emma Watson, the former Hermione Granger. If the Doctor can regenerate into any form, it seems, oh, just a little dispiriting, that time after time he invents himself as a white British male. 
As the news rolled out, I was reminded of the sinking feeling I had back in 2005, when the Vatican introduced Joseph Ratzinger as the new pope. No one, of course, expected a female pope, but after the long years of John Paul II’s sad decline, plenty of Catholics were hoping for at least a breath of fresh air. Benedict XVI may have been a lot of things, but fresh wasn’t one of them. It’s too soon to know about the new Pope Francis, but his recent comment about homosexuality (“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”) certainly got my attention. 
Maybe it was the election of Barack Obama that made it seem, fleetingly, as if there were no more glass ceilings, for offices from president to pontiff. While the president’s golden aura has dimmed considerably since 2008, the fact that an African-American occupies the highest elected office in the country remains a source of pride. Whether the 45th president is a woman (Hillary Rodham Clinton?) or a Latino (Marco Rubio?), it still feels, on a good day, as if we’ve entered a time when there are fewer limits on what men and women can aspire to. 
As a transgender woman, I was incredibly proud when, in 2010, Amanda Simpson became one of the first transgender people appointed by a president to an administrative position (a senior technical adviser in the Bureau of Industry and Security). In 2008, Joy Ladin became the first openly transgender professor to teach at Yeshiva University. While I have no skills in either industry or security, and I can barely explain the differences between Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, Ms. Simpson and Ms. Ladin’s accomplishments meant the world to me. Their triumphs felt, in a small way, as if they belonged to me, too. 
Still, I suspect that some institutions continue to view diversity as they view cholesterol — there’s a good kind and a bad kind. I attended a meeting of college department heads some years ago in which I, among other campus leaders, was urged by a dean to recruit faculty members from more “underrepresented groups.” I had to ask: “What kind of diversity are we talking about? Are you really telling me you want more transgender men and women?” There was, unsurprisingly, a little ripple of laughter in the room, as if the very idea of a community needing more people like me was amusing. The dean, to his credit, said: “Yes. We want everybody.” 
My grandfather, James Owen Boylan, never lived to see an Irish Catholic become president. But his great-grandchildren live in a world where an African-American is president and a pope speaks of gay people with what sounds like compassion. That’s progress. 
But unlike presidents or popes, we may not get that many more chances at a glass-shattering Doctor. According to long-held Doctor Who mythology, the character’s 13th regeneration could be his last. A few years back, the BBC overturned that theory, suggesting that the character is immortal. Regardless, even the most die-hard fans can’t expect the show to last forever. As the producers think about whom they want to take on the role next, they should keep in mind the way people’s hopes are lifted when they see someone breaking the glass ceiling, even when it’s for something as seemingly trivial as a hero on a science-fiction program. Equal opportunity matters — in Doctor Who’s universe as well as our own. 
Jennifer Finney Boylan, a professor of English at Colby College, is the author of “Stuck in the Middle With You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders.”

A Confederacy of Whores v. D.A. King

The New York Times profiles former contributor D.A. King:
National Push by a Local Immigration Activist: No G.O.P. Retreat 
ATLANTA — He says the United States is filling up with immigrants who do not respect the law or the American way of life. He refers to Latino groups as “the tribalists,” saying they seek to impose a divisive ethnic agenda. Of his many adversaries, he says: “The illegal alien lobby never changes. It’s the Wall Street wing of the Republican Party joining forces with the Chamber of Commerce, the far left and the Democrats in an effort to expand cheap labor and increase voting for the Democratic Party.”

As Jonathan Swift might have said if he were alive today: "When a true patriot appears in the nation, you may know him by this sign, that the whores are all in confederacy against him."
D. A. King, who quit his job as an insurance agent a decade ago to wage a full-time campaign against illegal immigration in Georgia, is one reason this state rivals Arizona for the toughest legal crackdown in the country. With his Southern manners and seersucker jackets, he works the halls of the gold-domed statehouse, familiar to all, polite and uncompromising. 
Now, like other local activists around the country, he is looking beyond Georgia to stop the House of Representatives from following the Senate and passing legislation that would open a path to legal status for illegal immigrants. 
As lawmakers return to their home districts for the August recess, advocates like Mr. King are joining forces with national groups that oppose legalization and favor reduced immigration for an all-out populist push. ...
The zeal of militants like Mr. King is a problem for the House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio, and other Republican leaders, who are hoping to steer their divided caucus to pass a House version of legislation to fix the broken immigration system, which could include legal status for those who lack it — though probably not citizenship. 
Mr. King’s “respectful but firm” message for the speaker, he said in an interview, is that “any vote for legalization would be a matter of very great consequence for the people who voted for conservative congressmen from Georgia.” 
Mr. King says his wrath grew slowly, beginning in the 1990s with a feud with Mexican neighbors who disrupted the quiet of his leafy street. In Mr. King’s account, they parked fleets of run-down vehicles on their lawn and at one point housed 22 people in a jerry-built warren of rental rooms in the basement. 
He took the neighbor to court over code violations, and the conflict boiled for seven years until the family moved away. 
A visit in 2004 to the Southwest border convinced Mr. King that the country was facing “what was easily described as an invasion.” Returning to Georgia, he made common cause with the struggling father of a teenage boy killed in a car accident by a reckless driver who was an illegal immigrant. He named his organization the Dustin Inman Society, after the boy. 
... He nonetheless spared little in his description of Senator Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican who was one of the authors of the Senate bill, calling him a “smarmy and dishonest” turncoat. During the Senate debate, Mr. King designed and paid for thousands of bumper stickers as well as three large billboards along a commuter highway near Atlanta. 
“Help us stop RubiObama amnesty!” one big sign read, with President Obama’s name joined by his hallmark red-white-and-blue letter to that of Senator Rubio.
His billboards instructed drivers to call a senator from Georgia, Johnny Isakson. Mr. Isakson, who supported a comprehensive bill in 2007, voted against the Senate legislation this year. 
In Georgia, Mr. King has not been afraid to take on many adversaries, including the farmers and growers, business organizations, labor unions and Latinos. A big-shouldered former Marine, he often shows up with his own placards at rallies called by his opponents — just to let them know he is watching. 
“I was taught that we have an American culture to which immigrants will assimilate,” Mr. King said. “And I am incredibly resentful that’s not what’s happening anymore.” 
Mr. King, 61, runs his one-man operation from the small guest room of his home on a tree-shaded cul-de-sac in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta, equipped with an aging desktop computer and a chair that he acknowledges “needs a new coat of duct tape.” He lives on small donations, and to keep it all going he spent down his savings, ran up his credit cards, refinanced his house three times and “sold the stock my grandmother left me.” 
... Mr. King wants a lot more enforcement before the House does anything else on immigration. He sees the Senate bill as a scheme by Democrats to create legions of new government-dependent voters for their party. He feels certain House Republicans will ultimately reject it. 
“The tribalists will not make any difference with any Republican who has enough sense to get on an airplane every Monday and fly to Washington,” Mr. King said. 
... But Jerry Gonzalez, a Latino leader in Georgia who is one of Mr. King’s oldest rivals, pointed to new demographics that House lawmakers would have to consider. The number of registered Latino voters in the state grew to 184,000 in 2012 from 10,000 a decade earlier, with more than 200,000 legal immigrants eligible to become citizens. 
“If the Republican Party gets stuck with D. A. King and his extremist xenophobic narrative, they are setting themselves up for future failure,” said Mr. Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, or Galeo. 
Iron-Eyes Boehner,
chief of the Oompa-Loompa tribe

Louis XIV had inscribed on his cannons "The final argument of kings." Electing a new people is the final argument of the confederacy of whores. And absolutely none of them feel the slightest shame about importing ringers to win American elections.
One worrisome sign for Mr. King is that his donations are not increasing. But he is forging ahead, putting up new billboards on Georgia highways — and planning one with the face of John Boehner.

How is George Zimmerman white and this guy isn't?

Nonwhite Hispanic

In Reality TV news, the Hollywood Reporter announces a major breakthrough for diversity:
ABC Names First Non-White 'Bachelor' 
The next Bachelor has been revealed, and he represents a milestone for the ABC reality show. 
Host Chris Harrison announced Monday night that former Bachelorette suitor Juan Pablo Galavis will star in the next edition of ABC's The Bachelor.
Nonwhite Hispanic's mom

An ABC spokesperson confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that the fan favorite -- a 32-year-old former soccer player from Venezuela now living in Miami -- will become the first non-Caucasian Bachelor or Bachelorette in franchise history.
There have been a total of nine Bachelorettes; Juan Pablo is the 17th Bachelor in 18 seasons, as Brad Womack starred on the show twice. 
While the franchise has featured a handful minorities as suitors -- African-American Will Reese also appeared on Desiree Hartsock's season, which just wrapped Monday night -- ABC and producer Warner Horizon TV have previously been accused of violating racial discrimination laws. 
A group of Nashville residents led by Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson brought a class-action lawsuit last year, alleging that the roles of the Bachelor and Bachelorette on the hit reality series have failed to feature non-white cast members and that civil rights law "plainly prohibits whites from refusing to contract with African Americans because of their race." 
The defendants pointed to the First Amendment as a bar against such claims. In October, a federal judge agreed and threw out the lawsuit. 
White Hispanic
Juan Pablo had been one of 25 men competing for Desiree's hand during the most recent season of The Bachelorette. He is a single father to a 4-year-old girl named Camila.

A reader asks, "How is this guy white and George Zimmerman isn't?"

Silicon Valley wants its own tame black President

With Barack Obama having Wall Street's back over the last five years (i.e., virtually no prosecutions for the events leading up to 2008), it's only natural that Silicon Valley leaders have been thinking about getting their own tame black President, too: namely, Cory Booker, a former Stanford football player, whose job as mayor of Newark makes it easy for him to hit the national broadcasts out of New York City. 

I haven't paid too much attention to Booker, but he seems like a more energetic and prepossessing personality than Obama, so the notion seems plausible that in a country with a large demand for black Presidents but a small supply of plausible ones, Booker would be worth investing money in.

Booker, a Democrat, is Plutocrat Friendly. In 2012 he even attacked the Obama campaign's attacks on Mitt Romney's private equity fortune, which the Romney campaign greatly appreciated.

A never-married 44-year-old, Booker is vaguely rumored either to have a white girlfriend in Brooklyn or to be gay. (Wikipedia has up a picture of him with his arm around Oprah's Friend Gayle, who is described as Booker's "long time friend" -- Oprah, by the way, is affiliated with Waywire). So it will be interesting to see what he does on the matrimonial front.

The NYT reports:
Mr. Booker personally has obtained money for the start-up, called Waywire, from influential investors, including Eric E. Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman. A year after its debut, Waywire has already endured a round of layoffs and had just 2,207 visitors in June, according to Compete, a Web-tracking service. The company says it is still under development. 

In June, I got more well over two orders of magnitude more unique visits.
Yet in a financial disclosure filed last month, Mr. Booker, 44, revealed that his stake in the company was worth $1 million to $5 million.

Woo-hoo! My 100% stake in iSteve must be worth a couple of orders of magnitude more than Booker's fractional stake, right? I mean, it's simple arithmetic. Oh ... except, I'm not Presidential Timber. Never mind.
Taken together, his other assets were worth no more than $730,000. 
That revelation, with just a week left in Mr. Booker’s campaign for the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate, shows how a few tech moguls and entrepreneurs, many of them also campaign donors, not only made a financial bet on the mayor’s political future but also provided the brainpower and financing to help create a company that could make him very rich. 
Waywire has also provided jobs for associates of Mr. Booker: the son of a top campaign supporter and his social media consultant, who is now on his Senate campaign staff. 
The company has a goal: making it easy to “collect, curate and share” videos from across the Web. But much about its operations and Mr. Booker’s role as chairman appears ill defined. 
Mr. Booker declined to answer questions about the details of Waywire’s finances, including what percentage of the company he currently owns. A spokesman said Mr. Booker had invested some of his own money in the company but refused to say how much. 
... The value of his shares could rise significantly, analysts say, should the company outrace competitors now puzzling over how to let users sift through the billions of Web video clips to find those that they want to watch. “Curation is the next big thing to happen to video,” said James L. McQuivey of Forrester Research.

Off topic, but I only vaguely get this whole "curation" mania. I don't recall dreaming when I was a little boy that I would grow up to be a museum curator. I was more into my Classic Comics about Frank "Bring 'Em Back Alive" Buck, a famous zookeeper who had many adventures capturing tigers and king cobras. Is "curation" like the urge to create a mix tape in order to try to inflict your musical tastes on others?
Mr. Booker has made a national reputation in seven years as the chief executive of Newark, New Jersey’s largest city and one of the country’s poorest. But his involvement in founding, financing and promoting a private business highlights the significance of his other constituency in the tech industry, which is seeking a bigger voice in national policy in Washington. ...
This spring, the widow of Steve Jobs, Laurene Powell Jobs, and the power couple Marc Andreessen and Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen held a fund-raiser for him.
And as a social media enthusiast, with more than 30,000 Twitter posts, Mr. Booker has cast himself as an ambassador between the high-tech world and his beleaguered city. His aides noted that he had leveraged his relationships to Newark’s benefit, including a pledge of $100 million to the city’s schools from Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder. 
... Ms. Ross suggested in an interview that she saw in Mr. Booker a kindred social media spirit. She said she has wondered how the civil rights movement might have been different had the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had access to Twitter. 
... There is no question, however, that Mr. Booker’s star power has brought attention: Mr. Booker impressed an audience at the South by Southwest conference in March in Austin, Tex., in which he touted Waywire as a way to empower the politically disenfranchised. Other celebrity connections have helped the company: Waywire has put Andrew Zucker, 14, the son of Jeff Zucker, president of CNN, on its advisory board and given him stock options.

Andrew Zucker is politically disenfranchised because he won't be able to vote for four more years, so it's only right and fitting that he get some stock options.

August 6, 2013

Fiat Citizenship

From my new column in Taki's Magazine:
In the immigration debate, the conventional wisdom is that the solution to millions of “undocumented workers” is for the government to print up documents for them. ... 
Unfortunately, while people can learn from painful experiences, we’re not very good at drawing analogies. It ought to be readily apparent that Marco Rubio’s push to print up documents for millions of undocumented illegal aliens and tens of millions of new immigrants is similar to the discredited Juan Peron / Salvador Allende / Robert Mugabe school of economic management by printing up more money.

Read the whole thing there.

Zuckerberg's big immigration speech

The Daily Mail reports:
'Immigrants will be the job creators of tomorrow': Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg goes public with backing of immigration reform 
Made his remarks at San Francisco screening of documentary by activist and journalist Jose Antonio Vargas 
Disputed the notion that Silicon Valley leaders are just trying to secure more H1B visas for high-tech workers 
He said U.S. needs to embrace immigrants if it is to get ahead economically 
He has been teaching entrepreneurship classes and is saddened by limited further education opportunities for his students without documentation 
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke out publicly for the first time on Monday in favor of immigration reform, an issue he's been working on behind the scenes for several months. 
The 29-year-old billionaire made his remarks in San Francisco at the debut screening of 'Documented,' an autobiographical documentary by activist and journalist Jose Antonio Vargas.

Jose Antonio Vargas is the first Mexican illegal alien the media has been able to discover in many years of trying with adequate journalistic / self-publicizing talent. Not surprisingly, he's gay. More surprisingly, the Establishment couldn't even find an actual Mexican. Vargas is Filipino.
Wearing his trademark hoodie and sneakers, Zuckerberg disputed the notion that he and other Silicon Valley leaders are just trying to secure more H1B visas for high-tech workers. 
'This is something that we believe is really important for the future of our country - and for us to do what's right,' Zuckerberg told several hundred attendees, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. 
Zuckerberg and his former Harvard University roommate Joe Green recently founded the organization to advocate for a pathway to citizenship for nearly 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

... The Facebook Inc. founder said he first became aware of the need to change the immigration system while volunteering to teach a class on entrepreneurship at a Menlo Park school. Many of the students had been brought into the U.S. illegally.
'No matter where they were born, (these students) are going to be tomorrow's entrepreneurs and people creating jobs in this country,' he told the audience. 

Granted, their legal uncles and great-uncles who have been living in California for generations haven't done much in Silicon Valley, but everything is going to change right now. After all, what do I, Mark Zuckerberg, personally want more than more competition? If only they were legalized, Mexican illegal aliens will kick my ass in the tech marketplace, and what do I like more than losing money?
Of Jewish extraction, Zuckerberg's interest in immigration stems from the fact that his own great-grandparents arrived as immigrants via Ellis Island, to America, coupled with his experience teaching entrepreneurship at an after-school program. ... 
'My great-grandparents came through Ellis Island.  
'My grandfathers were a mailman and a police officer.  
'My parents are doctors. I started a company.  
'None of this could have happened without a welcoming immigration policy, a great education system and the world’s leading scientific community that created the internet.' 

See, I'm not making this up about Ellis Island Schmaltz.
At the top of the website it explains in bite-sized facts just why immigration is important to the future of America and reminds users that: '40 per cent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children'

Fortune 500 firms? Where were they immigrants from? Aberdeen?
and that '57% of engineering grad students are immigrants. Many will have to leave if we don’t pass comprehensive immigration reform.'
Zuckerberg also called for higher standards and accountability in schools and increased focus on learning about science, technology, engineering and maths.
Today's knowledge and ideas-based economy, the 28-year-old Harvard dropout wrote, is very different from the economy of the 20th century that was based on natural resources, industrial machines and labor.

So, let's legalize the illegals so they can start inventing lots of new high tech.

Great art projects: The Modigliani Heads

As art techniques and technology developed over the centuries, the emphasis in art appreciation has shifted from celebrating the making of beautiful objects, which are now commonplace, to celebrating the conceiving of clever art projects. Admired art projects tend to comment upon art and/or be disturbing.

Of course, there is one type of unsettling art project that comments upon art that the art world is uncomfortable with, but that I find most interesting.

From a 1984 People article:
When the project began in July, it had the makings of a treasure hunt. That was when dredging started in the fosso reale ("royal ditch"), a junk-strewn canal in Livorno, Italy. Commissioned by the city council at a cost of $35,000, the dredge was sifting through seven feet of mud, in search of several sculpted stone heads. As legend told it, the heads had been deep-sixed 75 years ago by a hometown boy, the artist Amedeo Modigliani [1884-1920], in a fit of pique over his friends' criticism of the works. ... 
In her favor was the fact that only 26 Modigliani sculptures are known to exist. That is the more surprising because Modigliani, most readily recognized for his portraits of languid, long-nosed women, loved sculpting above all else. III health (he died in 1920 at 35 of tuberculosis and the effects of alcohol and hashish) forced him to trade his chisel for a brush. Thus the unearthing of additional sculptures would be a major event in the international art world. It would be especially important to Italy, which possesses few of his paintings and not one of his sculptures.  
Durbé's goal was to find the works in time for the 100th anniversary of Modigliani's birth this year. Many problems had to be solved. For instance, might the dredge's metal claws harm the sculptures? (The answer: rubber covering over the tips.) Work finally got underway on July 17. 
As hundreds looked on, the canal began to surrender an array of artifacts: several guns, a rocking horse, bicycles and fittings for a complete bathroom. At 9 a.m. on July 24 the first carving was found, then, eight hours later, a second. A third was retrieved August 9. Slightly smaller than the others, it measured 15 by 11 inches. When Durbé saw them, she wept.  
Art experts rushed to Livorno. Critic Cesare Brandi called the find "very important and certainly Modiglianis." Jean Leymarie, director of the noted French Academy in Rome, pronounced them "a resurrection." The sculptures, dubbed Modi 1, 2 and 3, were disinfected and cleaned. Numbers 1 and 2 were promptly added to the show Durbé had mounted in the Livorno museum for the Modigliani centenary. The works were reputedly insured for nearly $1.5 million. The city was euphoric.  
The joy, alas, was short-lived. Six weeks later the Italian weekly Panorama ran an article entitled The Livorno Hoax, in which three university students confessed to carving Modi 2 and throwing it into the canal. They said they made it in two afternoons, using a chisel, a screwdriver and a Black & Decker electric drill, copying the design from an illustration in Durbé's museum catalogue. They had chips of stone and photos to prove it. The boys claimed it was just a prank. "We thought, 'Why not help them find something?' " explained one. "It's not our fault so many people made a mistake."  
Durbé was incredulous. She called the students "puppets being manipulated by someone," perhaps the Mafia or a political group. The critics supported her. The boys disputed that notion in a three-hour television special during which they created yet another fake "masterpiece."  
Oh, well, the canal had yielded two other Modiglianis, right? Wrong. Last month a Livorno dockworker (and ex-art student) named Angelo Froglia revealed himself to be the perpetrator of Modis 1 and 3. His purpose: "To reveal the false values of art critics and mass media." Compounding the insult, Froglia not only had a videotape of himself at work on the carvings but also provided a recipe for faking a Modigliani head: Find an old paving stone. Chip it about a bit, then marinate in Livorno mud, scouring powder and hydrochloric acid. Cook the stone slowly on a hot grill. Throw it in the Livorno canal late at night. Leave stone—and art critics—to stew until ready.  
Feeling well roasted, the critics admitted they had been carried away by the euphoria in Livorno. "We love Modigliani too much," said one. "This led us to betray ourselves." In the end the embattled museum curator salvaged only one small consolation. Because of the controversy, the exhibit attracted more than 40,000 visitors during its 10-week run, earning the museum and the city a $35,000 profit over the cost of dredging. "I don't feel at all diminished by this affair," Durbé says bravely. "I fought for this and I would do it again." 
Actual Modigliani head

In fairness, a lone critic at the time vociferously doubted the dredged-up heads' authenticity and said that if they truly had been made by Modigliani, they were so bad that he was right to have thrown them in the canal.

So, the art world is really not all one big hoax. There actually are people who know what they are talking about, and most famous artists are quite skilled.

But, hoaxes and forgeries may well be the most interesting art projects going on in the art world in recent decades. But they appeal more to philosophers (e.g., the late Dennis Dutton) and to the People-reading public than to the big money art world, which find them distasteful and undermining. It's crucial to them for their rich clients not to worry much about whether their latest purchase is a genuine saint's relic artwork by a famous artist.