August 17, 2013

Anybody know what all the ex-Sovs are doing in L.A.?

From the WSJ:
Mall Owners Woo Hispanic Shoppers

PANORAMA CITY, Calif.—On a recent Sunday, Spanish-speaking families swarmed the Panorama Mall here in the outskirts of Los Angeles for an afternoon of Latino entertainment. 
"We come for the mariachi, then we eat something and go shopping," said Gloria Mesina, visiting the mall with her daughter, Viviana, and her granddaughter, Brisa. 
That is music to the ears of José Legaspi, a real-estate broker who joined forces with the mall's owner, Macerich Co., MAC -2.17% to revitalize the shopping center by targeting Hispanics. 
The partners are among an emerging crop of commercial-property investors responding to the same demographic reality that has rocked the political landscape: the rise of Hispanics. 
Hispanics accounted for more than half the population growth between 2000 and 2011; Latinas have more children than non-Hispanics; Hispanic households that earn $50,000 or more are rising at a faster clip than total U.S. households. Their households outspend other groups on beauty products *, food and apparel, according to Nielsen Co.

* Not getting much for their money, apparently.

This Panorama City mall in the WSJ article has been a largely Mexican dump for decades.

But the weather is nice in Panorama City in the middle of the San Fernando Valley (last couple of weeks, the August highs have been mostly in the 80s with low humidity), so my guess is that in the very long run, Panorama City won't stay Mexican.

Filipinos (who work in huge numbers at the Kaiser Permanente medical center in Panorama City, where my late father was a patient), Armenians in Valley Village to the South (who put up those amazingly hostile security fences topped by lethal finials), and other ex-Soviets are likely to push Mexicans out of the middle of the San Fernando Valley. 

Nobody talks much about ex-Soviet Bloc immigrants, but they aren't scared of Mexicans. 

Nobody even seems to know what the ex-Soviet newcomers are doing in the San Fernando Valley. A dumpy 2-bedroom apartment in Valley Village costs about $1700 per month rent, so they must be making money somehow, but the L.A. Times doesn't cover the question and the ex-Sovs aren't the kind to volunteer information.

My nephew from small town Illinois was staying with us for a few months. He played soccer once a week with a Mexican team and twice a week with a Russian team. The Mexicans were friendly (they called him "Hollywood" because he's the kind of blonde, squared-jawed lad that used to be common in Los Angeles back when Robert Redford and Don Drysdale were baseball teammates at Van Nuys H.S. just down Van Nuys Blvd. from Panorama City.) 

The Russians, in contrast, were foreboding and stand-offish. They called him "Red Pants" because he wore red gym shorts, and that's about as far as their concern for any non-Russian went. I kept asking him what all these Russians do for a living, but they never gave him a clue. Overall, I think that was for the best. I told him if the Russians ever suddenly turned friendly and asked him to give them a ride while they ran into the bank ("Keep motor running, Red Pants!"), don't do it.

I've theorized that a lot of these ex-Sovs are the boyfriends / "managers" of pretty Eastern European girls who are trying to be actress / model / whatevers in Hollywood. But that's pure speculation on my part. The Russians are not talking and nobody is asking. I suspect we don't want to know.

Where the Los Angeles Mexicans will go is an unanswered question (a neighborhood near you, probably). But I suspect in the long run LA won't look like it does in Elysium. There are too many peoples in this world more formidable than Mexicans to let Mexicans have this superb climate. If Americans don't want California enough to keep it, lots of others folks will.

What movie directors tend to be like

Here's a profile of Peter Berg, a not hugely distinguished but often competent director (e.g., Hancock and Friday Night Lights -- he's FNL author Buzz Bissinger's cousin) and actor (he was Linda Fiorentino's mark in The Last Seduction). He's currently directing Mark Wahlberg in Lone Survivor, a true story about SEALs fighting Taliban in Afghanistan.

Berg is fairly representative of contemporary filmmakers in a variety of ways: e.g., he comes from an upscale mixed Christian-Jewish background. And, like so many directors, he's a macho guy who loves the U.S. military, boxing, and football. 
Berg had been trying to make “Lone Survivor” for five years. “I’m a patriot,” he said. “I admire our military, their character, code of honor, belief systems. I lived with the SEALs, their families, went to their funerals. I went to Iraq. Did you ever see anyone killed? I did.” Berg is infatuated with heroes, military, sports and, sometimes, because of his teenage years, misfits.

It's partly the personality demands of directing -- a film crew consists of a large number of people who need ordering about, many of them beefy guys who lift machinery for a living. And it's partly the subject matter of current movies -- blowing stuff up. So, you end up with authoritarian personalities as directors.

But, it ought to be rather obvious that one consequence of this is that the creative people in movies and the nice liberal dweebs who explain what their movies are about to us aren't always in sync. The NLDs seldom notice, however.

On another note, here's an interesting description of the real SEALs who are technical advisers on Berg's film, which pretty much matches what Zero Dark Thirty showed:
The SEALs stood off by themselves, eating standing up, in silence. They were ordinary-looking men in baseball caps, T-shirts, jeans. Many of them were big, well over 6-foot-2, 230 pounds. Wahlberg was 5-foot-8, maybe 155 pounds. Yet he looked more like a SEAL than they did, at least a film version of a SEAL. 
Berg said that what defines SEALs is their “extraordinary competitiveness. It’s not that they’re stronger or more violent, it’s that if you ask them to throw rocks at a hill, they’ll do it until they drop. It’s about will.” I asked how they were adjusting to helping make a movie. “They’d prefer to be anonymous,” he said. “They don’t covet attention. They even resist a project that glorifies them.”

Okay, terrorists, try to figure out which SEAL is which
That's exactly how Zero Dark Thirty portrayed SEALs: as a bunch of major league first basemen-sized guys who are hard to tell apart. As SEALs, Kathryn Bigelow cast Chris Pratt, the first baseman in Moneyball, plus a whole bunch of guys who look like Chris Pratt. I thought this haziness of identity was to confuse and depress Al Qaeda terrorists looking for clues about whom to take retribution upon, but maybe that's just what SEALs are like.

It's interesting that commandos tend to be such big men these days. Other military specialties often aren't. For example, Marine drill instructors are not generally tall, imposing figures like Lou Gossett Jr. in An Officer and a Gentleman. Instead, they tend to be wiry bantamweights whose knees can stand up over the years to all the running that boot camp recruits and their DIs must do.

But, SEALs tend to be tall and wide, probably due to all the gear they must carry.

The Pentagon is currently working on whetherthey can have the first female SEALs by Obama's last year in office. If SEALs tended to be Mark Wahlberg-sized, this would still be a bad idea, but since the ideal SEAL is built more like Liam Neeson, this women SEALs plan is that much more derisible.

August 16, 2013

Yglesias counts up Jewish Fed chairmen

In Slate, Matthew Yglesias counts up Federal Reserve Chairmen by religious ethnicity:
Christopher Mahoney, a former vice chairman of Moody's, has a piece arguing that Protestants will never understand monetary policy because their moralistic worldview makes them incapable of accepting that monetary stimulus offers a real life free lunch. He suggests that we leave this to the Catholics and Jews. 

I can't say that the inflation-fighting record of Catholic countries like Argentina is all that hot (although that has mostly improved in recent decades).

The stereotype I have in my head is that the German and Swiss central bankers are all Protestants, but is that true? There are plenty of Catholics in Germany and Switzerland, but they generally get assumed to be Protestants when thinking about the Protestant Work Ethic.
Now it looks to me like in real life we've never had a Catholic Federal Reserve Chairman.

That's interesting.
But if we look at Jodi Beggs' data on annual inflation by Fed chairman, we can see that the Chosen People have not done very well at monetary matters in practice. Of the men on this list, five—Meyer [appointed by Hoover], Burns [appointed by Nixon], Miller [? - appointed by Carter], Greenspan [appointed by Reagan], and Bernanke [appointed by Bush]—have been Jewish.

Was G. William Miller, the widely criticized Fed Chairman under Carter in 1978-79, actually Jewish? His name comes up as Jewish a lot on anti-Semitic conspiracy theory websites, but he sure sets off my WASPdar. If he was Jewish, he'd rank up there with golf writer Herbert Warren Wind and maybe Southern belle songbird Dinah Shore in assimilatedness:

Consider his New York Times obituary.
George William Miller was born on March 9, 1925, in Sapulpa, Okla., but grew up in Borger, Tex., where his parents hoped in vain to cash in on the discovery of oil in the Texas Panhandle. 
He graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., in 1945,

Maybe the picture I have in my head of the Coast Guard Academy being like the Naval Academy in its yachty WASPiness, only more so, is wrong, but I don't much evidence for that:
... After graduating at the top of his law school class at the University of California, Berkeley, he joined the Wall Street firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore in 1952.

Cravath didn't have a Jewish partner until 1964.
But in 1956, he joined Textron, based in Providence, R.I., as an assistant secretary. Within four years he was president of the company ... 

Textron was a conglomerate run by Royal Little, nephew of Arthur D. Little, the famous consultant. It had a lot of defense, aerospace and industrial divisions. It sounds pretty Protestant to me.
... Mr. Miller is survived by three sisters: Catherine Spiller and Myra Fowler, of Amarillo, Tex., and Mabel Wade, of Bedford, Va.; and two brothers, Othneil and Dee, both of Amarillo.

So, four of the six Millers make their homes in that center of Jewish culture and life, Amarillo. Othneil Orrick Miller and Dee Deane Miller, both graduates of SMU law school, remain licensed attorneys in Amarillo to this day. I don't know which name -- Othneil Orrick or Dee Deane -- sounds less Jewish. So, I'd strongly bet against G. William Miller being Jewish.

Yglesias getting this wrong isn't a major mistake; it just goes to show how it is hard to find authoritative information on the Internet about something as obviously interesting as the ethnicity of Federal Reserve Chairmen. Because the Fed chairmen for the last 27 years have been Jewish, and that streak is likely to reach 32 years straight by 2018 because all three candidates that Obama is publicly considering to replace Bernanke are Jewish, it's not a topic that you are supposed to know anything about. For example, the term "Jew counting" is used, according to Google, almost solely by liberals at Slate, the Washington Post, ThinkProgress, and so forth to furiously denounce anybody doing what liberals do all the time with categories like "white male."


Yglesias goes on:
Eccles [appointed by FDR] was Mormon. The rest were Protestant. And sorry to say it but Meyer, Burns, and Miller are the worst chairmen we've had. Meyer allowed years of deflation and depression. Burns and Miller both refused to curb inflation. 
Greenspan and Bernanke are both mixed bags. ... 
But the real heroes of American central banking are Protestants—Eugene Black [appointed by FDR] who knew when to inflate and Paul Volcker [appointed by Carter] who knew when to disinflate. William McChesney Martin [appointed by Truman] I would say ranks alongside Greenspan as a bit of a mixed bag. 

Okay, but Miller was a dud, and he appears to have been a Prod.

Could U.S. rebuild manufacturing by not exporting fracked gas?

Dow plant in Freeport, TX
uses cheap American gas
Here's a fascinating NYT story about hands-on economic policy that doesn't involve the abstractions of macroeconomics. In short, should the U.S. start to quickly export its new wealth of natural gas to the manufacturing giants of Asia, or should the feds restrict natural gas exports to rebuild our manufacturing base by nurturing an American advantage in manufacturing that requires cheap power?
Foreseeing Trouble in Exporting Natural Gas 
MIDLAND, Mich. — As Dow Chemical’s chief executive, Andrew N. Liveris has made himself into something of an outcast among his fellow business leaders.
The reason? He is spearheading a public campaign against increased exports of natural gas, which he sees as a threat to a manufacturing renaissance in the United States, not to mention his own company’s bottom line. But many others say such exports would provide far more benefits to the country than drawbacks, all part of a transformation that promises to increase the nation’s weight in the global economy. 
The debate has grown personal. In the words of Charif Souki, an energy industry executive promoting a new natural gas export facility, Mr. Liveris is both “self-serving” and a “hypocrite.” 
Now it seems that one constituency where Mr. Liveris had gained a sympathetic ear, the federal government, may also have turned against him. Last week, the Energy Department approved another planned project to export natural gas, the second such proposal it has accepted since May. 
The battle over natural gas exports reflects just how starkly the nation’s economic landscape is being reshaped by newfound energy supplies — much of the discoveries in the form of oil and gas being freed up by unconventional methods like horizontal drilling combined with hydraulic fracturing. 
As environmentalists and industry advocates debate the merits and risks of fracking, as the practice is frequently called, its consequences are increasingly visible. Last week, the government reported a sharply improved trade balance for June, largely because of lower oil imports. 
By 2020, new oil and gas production could increase the country’s economic output by 2 to 4 percent beyond what it otherwise would be, add as many as 1.7 million jobs and perhaps reduce the bill for energy imports to zero, according to a report by the McKinsey Global Institute. 
... To nurture the nation’s good luck, [Liveris of Dow] says, the government needs to plan an energy policy that carefully balances the interests of the oil and gas companies that want to freely export natural gas with those of industries like Dow Chemical that fear that an export boom could outpace domestic gas supplies and bring higher energy prices. 
An Australian by birth and citizenship, Mr. Liveris has emerged as the principal opponent of unfettered natural gas exports.  
... After spiking in the last decade, natural gas prices in the United States have hovered between $3 and $4 per million B.T.U.'s this year. That is down from a high of $12 before the recession, and a fraction of what it costs in Asia and Europe.

The last time I bought some propane and propane accessories for my barbecue grill, the price had fallen 30% from last year.
That price differential is one reason exports are so appealing for domestic energy companies, who are willing to spend billions to build export facilities to ship liquefied natural gas in tankers in the hopes of selling it overseas. 
On the other hand, cheap domestic supplies mean Dow — one of the biggest private consumers of natural gas in the country — and other chemical companies are now paying much less than their foreign competitors for the raw material they turn into products like plastic, raising profit margins. It could also bring back jobs to the United States as manufacturers that use natural gas for energy benefit, Mr. Liveris says, although that renaissance is just in its infancy. 
... In an interview, Ken Cohen, an Exxon Mobil vice president, said that having a major business leader like Mr. Liveris supporting “protectionism” is so incongruous that “it’s almost like man bites dog.” 

Isn't it weird how "protectionism," which, prima facie, sounds okay -- "protect" is good, right? -- has become an invective? But knowing that "protectionism" is a swear word is the symbol that you got at least an A- in Econ 101: You remember that Protectionism Is Bad. (Remembering about supply and demand, however, is wholly optional in status terms: if you want to be taken seriously as a pundit, never point out that "Shortages of Farmworkers" or "Shortages of Programmers" are, in economics terms, gibberish.)
... But there is increasing pressure to move more quickly, because Canada is planning to build a few export terminals on the Pacific Coast, which could compete for Asian markets. 
In the United States, roughly 15 proposed gas projects await regulatory approval; if all were approved they could export the equivalent of more than a third of the domestically consumed natural gas. Along with an expected future increase in natural gas consumed by vehicles and industry, such an export boom would undoubtedly push prices up. 
... Not surprisingly Mr. Liveris has become a lightning rod among economists and business leaders, particularly those in the oil and gas drilling business, who say he is espousing protectionism merely to promote the interests of his own company. 
“He is coming across as a hypocrite and a self-serving person,” said Mr. Souki, chief executive of Cheniere Energy, which won the first permit to export gas, from its Sabine Pass, La., terminal. “He wants free trade for everything he manufactures but no free trade for anybody else.” 
Mr. Liveris concedes that the interests of his company coincide with his views. But he says that as the chief executive of Dow Chemical he also represents the interests of energy consumers at large, and he understands better than most what high gas prices can mean for the economy. 
He says he remembers the impact of escalating domestic natural gas prices between 2001 and 2005, when the company was forced to cancel plans to build a $4 billion chemical plant in Texas. 
“I’m protecting my shareholders,” he said, adding that $5 billion to $6 billion in new Dow Chemical investments were depending on the continuation of low gas prices “and not repeating the ‘01-to-'05 movie.” 
“What would make that repeat movie occur?” he asked rhetorically. He pointed to his native Australia, which he said exported 90 percent of its gas. That has caused, he said, “the collapse of the manufacturing sector — and, by the way, the retail sector’s paying through the nose. We’re paying Japanese electricity prices in Australia, yet Australia is gas-rich.” 

When natural resource exports drive up the price of your currency too high to make your manufacturing or tourism affordable, that's known as the Dutch Disease, which refers, interestingly enough, to a post-war Netherlands boom in natural gas drilling.

Now, Australia has a lot of natural resources per capita, so Australia's decision to concentrate on serving the Chinese economic dragon can make sense, even at the expense of an unbalanced economy. America still has a fair amount of natural resources per capita, too, although Senators Schumer and Rubio are working hard on solving that problem.
Dow Chemical has assembled a list of more than 120 manufacturing projects, representing investments of $100 billion, that are being planned or are already under construction in the United States at least partly because of lower gas prices. 
The beginnings of the manufacturing renaissance Mr. Liveris imagines for petrochemicals, fertilizers, steel, aluminum, pulp paper and cement can be seen at its giant complex of plants in Freeport, Tex., the largest of its kind in the world. 
The complex is a wonder of chemical engineering that has 6.5 million miles of pipe, employs more than 8,000 people and consumes enough electricity to power a city of three million people. And it is growing bigger. 
The company is investing $4 billion to build a ethylene plant to manufacture a vital building block for adhesives, plastic packaging and sealants; a propylene plant that will produce a chemical used to make mattresses, toys and shampoo; a chlorine plant; and a herbicide plant. More could come — if prices for natural gas, the vital feedstock for all the chemicals, remain low. 

Peter Schaeffer told me a few years ago that one area where America retains a comparative advantage is in giant scale manufacturing -- off-shore oil rigs, huge turbines, that kind of thing. These vast chemical plants might fall in that area, too.
Mr. Liveris says that he also favors free markets, but that energy, like defense and food, requires special care to protect the national interest. Exporting natural gas is fine, he says, but not at the price of importing it back in the form of goods made with cheap gas elsewhere. 
“The paint ingredients need the paint can,” he said. “The paint supply chain needs trucks. The trucks go to warehouses. Warehouses go to retail. I’m not importing finished goods. I’m making them in the United States of America.” 

I'm in over my head here, but my vague hunch would be that the U.S. should not rush to export its new natural gas bonanza by shipping it to the Chinese, but should instead use it to capture a larger share of more value-added businesses than just natural resource exports.

One reason is that I'm not in that big of a hurry to use up the newly available domestic energy supplies. The future is long, the supply of fossil fuels is, ultimately, finite, and alternative energy sources are not making edifying progress -- witness the shuttering of the San Onofre nuclear power plant on the Pacific next to Camp Pendelton after 50 years.

Nor at present does there seem to be any particular strategic reason to go for the quick bux: it's not like Washington must, say, goose the domestic economy in the near term to show Third World peasants that Capitalism is better than Communism. And, while the economy, is bad at present, it's not horrible. So, we seem to be at a point where we can take steps for the long term national interest, rather than just do whatever is easiest in the short term.

Moreover, slowing the exploitation of frackable resources a few years until domestic industry can make better use of them, rather than just sell it to China as fast as possible, ought to allow technical improvements in domestic fracking to make it less environmentally dubious.

My point is not that the U.S. should follow one macro-strategy or another regarding the new era of energy, but that we should have an open national debate on this topic, without one side being able to close off discussion by hissing "protectionist" as if that were a one-word trump card.

August 15, 2013

Art forger exploited

The forger of this fake Rothko only received
about 1/1,000th of the $8.3 million it sold for
Forgery is the most intellectually interesting aspect of modern art, so back in May I posted on the hilarious case of the huge scandal that took down the prestigious Knoedler gallery in Manhattan. Now, a few details about the gifted forger have surfaced:
For 15 years, some of the art world’s most established dealers and experts rhapsodized about dozens of newly discovered masterworks by titans of Modernism. Elite buyers paid up to $17 million to own just one of these canvases, said to have been created by the hands of artists like Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell.

But federal prosecutors say that most, if not all, of the 63 ballyhooed works — which fetched more than $80 million in sales — were painted in a home and garage in Queens by one unusually talented but unknown artist who was paid only a few thousand dollars apiece for his handiworks. 
Authorities did not name or charge the painter and provided few identifying details except to say he had trained at a Manhattan art school in a variety of disciplines including painting, drawing and lithography. He was selling his work on the streets of New York in the early 1990s, they said, when he was spotted by a Chelsea art dealer who helped convert his work into one of the most audacious art frauds in recent memory.

It sounds like the poor forger got less than 1% of the proceeds, while the middle-woman that discovered him made $12.5 million and the two galleries made much more than that. 

That's the real scandal. In the art forgery business, it's obviously not what you know, it's who you know.

This whole Egypt thing not really working out

Israel's covert commenters

The Israeli broadsheet Haaretz reports:
Prime Minister's Office recruiting students to wage online hasbara battles 
PMO and national student union to create covert units at universities to engage in diplomacy via social media; unit heads to receive full scholarships.

Hasbara is a Hebrew term meaning anything from "explanation" to "advocacy" to "propaganda," depending on your political alignment.

Although this Israeli system has been widely rumored to be operative for years, my first thought was that this didn't sound very cost-effective. After all, plenty of people, some of them quite talented writers, like to comment for free.

On the other hand, this should allow the Netanyahu government to systematically identify and evaluate its verbalist supporters at an early age, and then reward the ones it likes most.

For example, back in 1969, Richard Nixon and his chief domestic advisor, the brilliant Democratic social scientist Daniel Patrick Moynihan, had numerous long talks about how to detach some of Moynihan's New York intellectual friends from leftism. It didn't prove all that hard for Nixon and Moynihan to conjure neoconservatism into being: just flatter some of these poor ink-stained wretches that you care about their ideas, invite them to meet with high officials, arrange for sinecures for some, give others awards and advisory posts, and so forth.

Similarly, the CIA had long subsidized the magazine Encounter to wean European intellectuals away from loyalty to Moscow. Writers aren't all that expensive.

And it's even cheaper to do this kind of thing at the junior varsity level with students. It would thus seem like a clever idea for any political organization with some spare cash.

Another question is whether subsidizing online comments works on people who aren't in on the game. A recent study suggested that thumbs up signaling worked on outsiders, but not thumbs down. Still, I suspect that tossing out accusations of anti-Semitism is an effective method with Americans of implanting the idea: Better not go there.

Stop and frisk and diminishing marginal returns

Here's an excerpt from an article by the NYT's mostly pro-cop reporter Joseph Goldstein about the decision against Mayor Bloomberg's stop and frisk policy in New York City. I haven't read the 195-page decision, but it sounds kind of incoherent (at least in Goldstein's not hugely sympathetic retelling), even though I have some sympathy for the decision.
Police Dept.’s Focus on Race Is at Core of Ruling Against Stop-and-Frisk Tactic 
In the process, Judge Scheindlin coined a term, “indirect racial profiling,” to explain how the department’s reliance on data indicating that black men committed a disproportionate amount of crime led to what she saw as violations of the Constitution. 
How the judge came to this decision was revealed over the course of a 195-page opinion, released on Monday. 
One witness claimed to have heard Mr. Kelly say that the stop-and-frisk tactics were intended to frighten minority men into leaving any guns they owned at home. A precinct commander described “the right people” to stop, with a reference to young black men. And a statistical analysis of millions of police interactions revealed that few people subjected to stop-and-frisk methods had been engaging in wrongdoing. 
These three items of evidence were central to Judge Scheindlin’s conclusion that the Police Department has a policy of conducting stops “in a racially discriminatory manner.” 
In particular, the statement attributed to Mr. Kelly, as well as the phrase about the “right people,” served as the lens through which the judge interpreted a mountain of data about 4.4 million police stops. That data showed that stops overwhelmingly involved black and Hispanic people and that the people stopped were rarely found to be engaging in criminal activity. 
Judge Scheindlin found that the department operated on the notion that black and Hispanic people were the right people to stop — a theme, she wrote, that was evident in statements made by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg out of court, and in directives made by commanders during station house roll calls. 
The judge repeatedly cited testimony by the onetime highest ranking uniformed member of the department, Joseph J. Esposito, who was asked about the reasons for some stops. At one point, Mr. Esposito explained: “Well, who is doing those shootings? Well, it’s young men of color in their late teens, early 20s.” 
It was a similar sentiment that Judge Scheindlin detected in a recording of a deputy inspector exhorting a subordinate to conduct more stops. 
That meant stopping “the right people at the right time, the right location,” the deputy inspector, Christopher McCormack, said. Pressed on what he meant, he noted that black teenagers and young men were behind some crimes being committed in his precinct. 
At another point, Judge Scheindlin noted that Mr. Kelly had said, according to a state senator who was present for the conversation, that young black and Hispanic men were the focus of the stops because the commissioner “wanted to instill fear in them, every time they leave their home, they could be stopped by the police.”  

A key point is that New York City, with its income tax on rich people, can afford to pay cops to get in the face of shifty-looking people far more than most cities can. Without acting in an overtly discriminatory manner, NYC can afford to show its blacks and Latinos who is boss. If they find that awareness of who is top dog in New York these days depressing and want to move somewhere in America less affluent, well, Mayor Bloomberg wouldn't mind if they remembered, like the crack dealer at the end of Clockers who grabs a bus for Atlanta, that the Port Authority Bus Terminal is open 24/7.
Mr. Kelly had filed an affidavit denying that he made such a statement, but the judge credited the account of the state senator, Eric Adams, who testified during the trial. 
The city offered explanations for the statistics on millions of stops that so troubled Judge Scheindlin. The low arrest rate of people stopped reflected the fact that officers were proactively stopping criminals before they had a chance to go through with their crimes, according to city lawyers. And minorities were disproportionately stopped because they lived in the same high-crime neighborhoods where the police deployed many of its officers. 
But Judge Scheindlin was not swayed by those arguments. She concluded that the low arrest rate meant that the people who were being stopped were rarely the criminals the police sought; all they had in common was the color of their skin. 
“The city adopted a policy of indirect racial profiling by targeting racially defined groups for stops based on local crime suspect data,” she wrote.

Perhaps the way to logically unsnarl this is to think hard about the distinction between relative and absolute differences in stops. We're not supposed to think about differences in crime rates by race, so most of the more sophisticated thinking on the subject has been limited to pointing out that blacks are more prone to commit crime, while the unsophisticated gasp in shock. 

But, let me try to take this to another level and explain arithmetically why a realist like me has been uncomfortable with the disparate impact of Bloomberg's huge intensification of stop and frisk.

To help, let me make up some stylized numbers. Let's say that under Giuliani, the average young black man in New York city gets stopped once every 4 years and the average young white man gets stopped once every 40 years. Moreover, let's assume that that 10 to 1 racial ratio is reasonable considering differences in crime rates and so forth.

Then, under Bloomberg, the mayor and the police chief figure that, heck, New York is rich, so let's quadruple the number of stops. Now the average young black man is stopped every single year and the average young white man every ten years. The racial ratio remains the same ten to one, so how can anybody logically object to what Bloomberg is doing compared to what Giuliani did? The relative proportions remain the same, right? 

Okay ... but, think about the change in absolute rather than relative terms. Under Bloomberg, the number of stops a young black man can expect to endure per year has increased by 0.750 stops annually (from 0.250 to 1.000). For young white men, however the increase is only 0.075 stops (from 0.025 to 0.100). 

While these increases of 0.75 incremental stops for blacks divided by 0.075 incremental stops for white still give the same old relative racial ratio of 10 to 1, it's worth noting that 0.75 minus 0.075 gives an absolute increase in stops for blacks relatives to whites of .675 stops per year, which might be considered a serious quality of life degradation for young black men.

So, perhaps the question ought to be: rather than focusing on the reasonableness of the relative rates of blacks and whites being stopped and frisked, perhaps the focus should instead be on the absolute overall levels of stop and frisks. In other words, under any reasonable system, blacks are going to be stopped and frisked a lot more often than whites; but given the expectation of diminishing marginal returns, is the absolute number of stops and frisks under Bloomberg too high for the pain it inflicts on blacks relative to the gains in reduced crime?

The problem for the judge, however, is that Americans are much more comfortable with judges making decisions about relative matters (e.g., make sure blacks are treated fairly relative to whites) but not absolute matters (e.g., how much stopping and frisking to do). On the other, Americans aren't comfortable thinking hard about racial differences in crime rates, so handwaving is probably good enough.

More fundamentally, it's not all that clear that marginal returns diminish that fast. The NYC homicide rate keeps going down. It could be that, beyond the numbers about guns taken away and the like, stop and frisk may have slammed home a psychological shift away from the criminal energies unleashed during the civil rights era back to a more orderly and authority-fearing culture that preceded the 1960s. But, that's speculative.

Facial Profiling

I have been negligent in keeping up with my reality TV viewing lately, but a current hit is apparently "Duck Dynasty" about a hirsute clan in Louisiana that has gotten rich in the duck call business.
NYC Hotel Kicks Out ‘Duck Dynasty’ Star After Confusing Him For Homeless Man 
WEST MONROE, La. (CBS Houston) — A New York City hotel kicks out one of the stars of “Duck Dynasty” after an employee thought he was a homeless man. 
Appearing along with his family on “Live with Kelly and Michael” Wednesday morning, Jase Robertson described the incident. 
“The first thing that happened to me at the hotel was I got escorted out,” Robertson said, joking that it was a “facial-profiling deal.” 
Robertson said that the hotel employee simply didn’t know who he was.

“I asked where the bathroom was and he said, ‘Right this way, sir.’ He was very nice,” Robertson explained. “He walked me outside, pointed down the road and said, ‘Good luck.’” 
Robertson continued, “So I circled back around and my wife said, ‘What happened?’ and I just said I just got kicked out.” 
Robertson took it in stride and didn’t blame the employee for the incident. Robertson continued to stay at the hotel despite the incident.

Kumar, former Obama aide, defends stop-and-frisk

Kal Penn, the Indian-American star of Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and two-time aide to President Obama (seriously), is getting denounced for tweeting support for Mayor Bloomberg's stop-and-frisk policy. The movie star called out "activist judges" and defended his anti-crime position by citing his being robbed at gunpoint in Washington's Du Pont Circle in 2010:
Chris Williams @CWmsWrites
I can't wait for you to be a victim of stop and frisk. Then, maybe you'll change your tune. 
Kal Penn        ✔ @kalpenn
lol well already been a victim of violent crime. It's a sound policy and we need to stop trying to get rid of it

The Atlantic writer scoffs at this erstwhile liberal hero:
But as Penn's tweets suggest, stop-and-frisk needn't be legal or sound to work as a placebo for worried city dwellers. 

A couple of observations:

- Crime victims are the least recognized identity / interest group around. You are allowed to laugh at their victimization because they are mostly just random people who got unlucky. They're like lefthanders -- organized baseball discriminates like crazy against left-handed catchers, but nobody cares because lefties are largely randomly distributed around the population. So they don't have other ties, such as kinship, to tie them together politically and allow them to achieve what Jonathan Haidt calls "sacralized" status.

- Indian-Americans have a tiny street crime rate, and that's widely understood by urban cops, so they, on the whole, benefit from harsh anti-crime policies like stop-and-frisk. They seldom get stopped and they benefit from the decline in violence. 

That raises the question: If blacks and Hispanics are encouraged to condemn stop-and-frisk as being bad for blacks and Hispanics, why are Asian-Americans discouraged from supporting stop-and-frisk as being good for Asian-Americans? 

I think one answer is because the dominant media mindset includes a subliminal awareness of how rickety the diverse Obama Coalition actually is. The only way to hold together demographic fringe groups like blacks, Mexicans, Asians, gays, single moms, white liberals, and so forth is to encourage resentment of the core of the country. 

Thus, for the most famously ardent Asian Obama-supporter in the country -- a man who scaled back his successful Hollywood career to serve Obama in Washington -- to step off the reservation and suggest that the crime problem isn't just white rural gun nuts, to imply that the crime problem is partly the fault of blacks and Hispanics for committing so many crimes, well, that's the kind of heresy that the hivemind immune system immediately sends its antibodies after.

This immune response idea may help explain one reason why the media doubled-down on George Zimmerman.

An oppressed Hispanic of America's Bad Old Days: Bebe Rebozo

Bebe gets a hand from Dick
This 1970 Life Magazine cover story "Bebe Rebozo: President Nixon's best friend" demonstrates the hatred and discrimination suffered by any and all Hispanics back in the bad old days before the Nixon Administration created the Hispanic category of affirmative action beneficiaries.

We must pass the Schumer-Rubio bill and then elect Marco Rubio President as apology and reparation for what his people, the Rebozos of the world, suffered at the hands of American racism.

August 14, 2013

A multiracial yin-yang symbol for L.A.

Harry Baldwin submits a cool multiracial yin and yang symbol, suitable for Los Angeles uses: Starting with the black sector on the bottom and going clockwise, we see the Great Wave off Compton, the Palos Verdes Parrot, the East LA Eagle, and a scared looking Ku Klux Bunny. Like so many such logos, this one has the unfortunate tendency to be transforming before our eyes into a scything swastika.

Matt Damon on Blomkamp's inspirations

A few more quotes from insiders on Neill Blomkamp's movies, showing how far off the critical consensus is.

Matt Damon in the Miami Herald on Elysium's open borders dystopia and on District 9's inspiration in Zimbabwean illegal immigrants. 

Matt explains that he should play a Los Angeleno in 2154, even though the future LA population appears to be 99% mestizo (the extras are from the slums of Mexico City, where the L.A. scenes were shot). The only exceptions are Matt, the delicate-looking Diego Luna, the son of Mexico's top set designer, who looks kind of like an Albrecht Durer self-portrait, and two Brazilian actors, the brains of the gangsters, Wagner Moura (Elite Squad), and the nice nurse, Alice Braga (niece of Sonja Braga of The Two Husbands of Dona Flor). 
“In terms of the ethnicity of the people left behind on Earth, [director] Neill [Blomkamp] wanted to suggest that the borders of the entire Western atmosphere [?] were all porous now. There was no point in having borders because there were no resources anywhere. So you end up with all these languages spoken and all these different ethnicities. There are a lot of Latinos, but there are a lot of white people, too. More than anything, it was about economic deprivation. There is nothing left on the planet, and we’re all trying to scratch out our existence. He wanted to create the feeling that we’re all in this soup together.” 

So, under no borders, all those brown people will still need a white hero to lead them, like in Lawrence of Arabia on down. The reporter writes:
Like Blomkamp’s debut film, 2009’s Oscar-nominated District 9, an allegory about apartheid, Elysium lays out its social commentary early and clearly, then sets out to give the audience a breakneck ride. The movie’s prime objective is to entertain, not preach, so it’s only after the end credits have rolled that you start contemplating its exploration of class differences and the importance of universal health care. 

Okay, except that Damon goes on to explain to the oblivious interviewer what District 9 was really about:
“Neill doesn’t aspire to make message movies,” Damon says. “I’ve thought more about the themes in District 9 than I would have if it had been a straight-up movie about Zimbabwe and refugees from South Africa. The aesthetic of science-fiction makes it really interesting and cool, but it’s also ripe for meaning and interpretation. You sit and reflect on it. It sits with you longer, I think.”

Blomkamp on the distinctly post-aparthed inspiration for District 9:
I was asking black South Africans about black Nigerians and Zimbabweans. That's actually where the idea came from was there are aliens living in South Africa, I asked "What do you feel about Zimbabwean Africans living here?" And those answers — they weren't actors, those are real answers...

Blomkamp being interviewed by the Wall Street Journal:
WSJ: “Elysium” takes on topics of class, health care, and immigration. What prompted you to address these issues? 
Blomkamp: I don’t know if “addressing issues” is the right way of putting it, because if you go about things with the mindset where you wake up one morning and go, “I’m going to address this important political issue,” you shouldn’t be making popcorn blockbuster films. ... 
I think growing up in South Africa, and then moving to Canada, I’m just genuinely interested in the difference between the first world and the third world, immigration, and how the new, globalized world is beginning to operate. All of those things run through my mind a lot.

Having read all these interviews with Blomkamp, who isn't the most seamlessly articulate guy in the world (at least not in English), his recurrent tic is that whenever he brings up a topic -- Malthusianism, transhumanism, immigration, etc. -- that he knows the interviewer will automatically interpret differently than he does, he just says he finds the subject "interesting."
WSJ: Do you think of this film in terms of First World vs. Third World rather than 1% vs. 99%?

Blomkamp: They’re not exactly the same. The 1% lexicon of phrases and terminology is incredibly American. That’s very specific to America. This film isn’t really that. It’s much more international. The 1% is a catchphrase that is thrown around at the moment. You could go back to the feudal ages and you have people living in castles and you have a thousand serfs on your land that were considered your property. This is nothing new at all. That kind of separation between power and wealth and then the working class, the poverty-stricken class, has been around for millennia. What’s happening now with this globalized planet is there are other ingredients being mixed into that. The way that those population groups move, like how Africa is predominantly poverty-stricken, and North America predominantly has money — whether America is in a recession or not isn’t the point, the point is the glass of America appears a lot fuller than the glass of Africa. As those reservoirs of wealth equalize, the pockets of wealth diminish and the poorer areas increase in wealth, a lot of really interesting stuff happens. Part of that is the rich try to preserve what they have more, while the poor want wealth more at the same time. The movie is really about that.


From my movie review of Elysium in Taki's Magazine:
Elysium, another science-fiction fable from young Boer refugee Neill Blomkamp about the horrors of mass immigration and nonwhite overpopulation, isn’t terribly amusing to watch. But at the meta level, the career of Blomkamp, whose mother dragged the family off from Johannesburg to Vancouver after a 17-year-old friend was shot dead by black carjackers, is one of the funnier pranks played on the American culturati’s hive mind in recent decades. 
I’ve read over a hundred reviews of Blomkamp’s two movies, and virtually no critic has noticed that he does not share their worldview. 
Not at all. 
... Much like Blomkamp's District 9, an allegory inspired by Zimbabwean illegal immigration to Johannesburg, Elysium is another Malthusian tale about open borders, set in a dystopian 2154. By then, Los Angeles has been completely overrun by Mexicans, who have turned it into an endless, dusty slum that looks remarkably like urban Mexico today. (Blomkamp filmed for four months in Mexico City.)

Read the whole thing there.

And here's the end of the Wired profile of Blomkamp that is the most insightful piece I found:
The director finds it unfortunate that observers are already drawing parallels between Elysium and the Occupy movement, a phenomenon that he says wasn’t even a consideration. Blomkamp identifies as neither liberal nor conservative, which doesn’t stop people from ascribing all sorts of agendas to him and his films. The focus group comments for an Elysium test screening bear this out: “Some people said, ‘This guy’s a racist!’ and other people, ‘He’s a liberal!’ It’s like, well, which is it?” 
It’s a good sign, in his view, that the film provokes such disparate reactions. But he doesn’t care for the idea that by making two Big Theme movies he’s bound to be branded a political filmmaker. “That would be the worst calamity of my career,” Blomkamp says. Though given that he’ll soon be back shooting in Johannesburg, it’s easy to imagine worse calamities. Around his neck, tucked under his T-shirt, Blomkamp wears a talisman bearing the Latin phrase Dominus custodiat unum (“May God bless you and keep you”). It’s a gift from Tatchell (his wife), intended to keep him from getting shot on return trips to his homeland. 
He’d better hold on to it. Within six years, Blomkamp hopes to buy a skyscraper, maybe 40 or 50 floors, in downtown Johannesburg—a place to stay when he’s in town. He insists it’s not such a crazy dream; since the crime rate skyrocketed downtown in the late ’90s, so many high-rises went vacant that they can now be had for a relative pittance. He envisions the building as his own version of Blade Runner ’s Tyrell Corporation headquarters. 
It sounds a lot like his own little version of Elysium, I point out. “Exactly,” he says. “That’s exactly what I want.”

Blomkamp is likely referring to the Ponte City skyscraper, because one of the last shots in District 9 is of Ponte City (the oval skyscraper with a "Vodacom" sign on the top). The Wikipedia article on the building points out the symbolism:
Ponte City is a skyscraper in the Hillbrow neighbourhood of Johannesburg, South Africa. It was built in 1975 to a height of 173 metres, making it the tallest residential skyscraper in Africa. The 54-story building is cylindrical, with an open center allowing additional light into the apartments. The center space is known as "the core" and rises above an uneven rock floor. Ponte City was an extremely desirable address for its views over all of Johannesburg and its surroundings. 
Core of Ponte City filled up with five stories of trash.
During the 1990s, after the end of apartheid, many gangs moved into the building and it became extremely unsafe. Ponte City became symbolic of the crime and urban decay gripping the once cosmopolitan Hillbrow neighborhood. The core filled with debris five stories high as the owners left the building to decay. There were even proposals in the mid-1990s to turn the building into a highrise prison.[2]

Buying Ponte City would be a massive rigid digit by Blomkamp.

A South African friend explains:
Ponte always had an interesting history.

In the old South Africa, it used to be a staging post for immigrants - white ones as it was in a whites area. But it was always a place people got out of as soon as possible. Ifyou watched the recent Judge Dredd movie, Ponte City's structure and atmosphere was very much like the castle of hell portrayed in the film.
The building had such an oppressive atmosphere and symbolic presence (on top of the ridge that is the watershed between the atlantic and indian oceans) that it was a magnet for people wanting to commit suicide by throwing themselves of the highest floor into the core. Access was very easy and little security.

After the fall of apartheid it became a magnet for immigrants from the rest of Africa. The crime lords moved in and now it is too dangerous to go there to commit suicide and has fallen off the public (white) imagination except for the cocacola and Vodacom(mobile) adverts placed on the top of the tower. 
To the white imagination the centre of town is a black hole..a place like hell with a sign written above it abandon all hope ye who enter here. (i've been a few times to art galleries that are still situated there ….but most people think we are crazy to do that..maybe I am) 
There are a number of attempts by (mostly jewish) entrepreneurs to revive areas in the town centre aided by our ever incompetent town council, but it has not captured the (white) public imagination.
Washington DC in 2505 in Idiocracy
Los Angeles in 2154 in Elysium
By the way, I haven't seen anybody mention Elysium's several references to Idiocracy.

Elysium sign similar, but not as funny
The most obvious are the discouragingly incompetent name-signs on the outside of hospitals. But Blomkamp's buddy Sharlto Copley, as the bad guy South African mercenary, uses at least one catch line from Idiocracy, and may have used more; but I could barely understand a sentence he said.

Elon Musk's Hyperloop: Why LA to SF?

Inventor Elon Musk has proposed building a compressed air Hyperloop that would get commuters from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes for $20. Sounds good to me!

Except that -- assuming his breakthrough technology works as promised, which is a rather big assumption -- why in the world would you build it first between L.A. and S.F.? The Transverse Ranges between the San Fernando Valley and Bakersfield are just a maze of rugged country. You would not want to be shot through a twisting tube at 600 mph.

Moreover, it takes forever to get anything big built in California, for environmental, seismic, political, and real estate reasons.

Instead, it would make more sense to link two cities on flat ground with light environmental regulation. Dallas and Houston come first to mind: the fourth and fifth biggest metropolitan areas, each with over six million residents, both separated by lots of nondescript land.

Or, Miami and Orlando might make sense.

Illinois is particularly flat, so Chicago would connect well to St. Louis or Minneapolis.

The ultimate goal might be a network tying together the flattest parts of the country, from Minneapolis to the Gulf Coast. This might actually give Republicans in Congress a policy they could back to reward their natural supporters -- people who live in flat inland Red State places.

August 13, 2013

Symbols of sense, balance, maturity, and intelligent moderation

Because contemporary Western thought has dumbed itself down into a branch of marketing, the dopey Open Borders logo contest inspired me to look for a few enduring symbols representative of unfashionable anti-extremist thinking. 

Off the top of my head:
The classic Chinese taijitu or yin and yang symbol. I particularly like the representation of Diversity in Moderation. A dot of dark exists within the light, and a dot of light within the dark. In contrast, in 21st Century ideology, since we know that Diversity Is Good, then More Diversity Must Be Better. What could be more beautiful than complete diversity?
Oh, wait, that's boring and much less beautiful than the yin-yang symbol. In fact, it's not diversity anymore, it's just homogeneity ... But who could have predicted that?

My next choice is almost as well-known. Unfortunately, Raphael's The School of Athens is not particularly easy to paint on a protest sign to indicate what you are fighting for: 

Our nonnegotiable demand:
Platonic idealism and Aristotelian realism!

Here's an image I've never seen used symbolically, but it has promise:

Sincere Open Borders logos: half-baked swastikas

As I pointed out yesterday, most of the Open Borders logos that have survived the mass deportations look like underdone or surreptitious swastikas, with their Rotating Juggernaut of Doom common denominator. Some combination of the Cross and the Swastika seems to be a common motif in Open Borders logo, which is, well, interesting, to say the least: perhaps the Open Borders ideology is something of a cross between Christian universalism and Nazi let's-blow-up-the-world radicalism? Or maybe swastika-like imagery just looks awesome to the kind of adolescent male intellects who make up the truest true believers in Open Borders?
As a commenter points out, the above image is a modernized version of the Arrow Cross of the Hungarian party of national socialism, which ruled that unfortunate land in 1944-45.

It's worth noting that this rotating swastika-like look has appealed to the Indo-European mind for thousands of years. So the Open Borders boys are just part of a long skein, vastly predating Hitler, of guys who thought it looks cool. 

Before 1871, this image was known in Europe by its Greek name gammadion. But, with the advance in scholarship into the roots of the Indo-European family of languages that had been kicked off by the great philologist Sir William Jones in a 1786 address in Calcutta, the ancient Sanskrit word svastika became more popular in the West.

By the way, Jones was the first to propose an ancient Aryan invasion of India, an idea that remains controversial. Yet, Jones' notion of prehistoric Proto-Indo-European-speaking steppe warriors conquering India and Europe elegantly accounts for much about the linguistic and cultural history of the western two-thirds of Eurasia. (In 2010, Cochran and Harpending updated Jones' concept by suggesting that a genetic mutation offering lactose tolerance may have given the Proto-Indo-European people their competitive edge in warfare. And here's Razib Khan's post explaining the very latest genetic study of the Aryan invasion of India. The invaders of India seem to have the most in common ancestrally with "Georgians and other Caucasians," such as, say, Chechens.)

This Aryan Invasion theory was particularly admired in the first half of the 20th Century, leading Persia to change its name to Iran, and helping inspire Hitler's dreams of conquering much of the world: thus, his choice of the svastika as the symbol of his ambitions. (By the way, is the ancient svastika a reference to the rotating spokes of the wheels of the horse-drawn carts that gave the Aryan invaders such a huge military advantage in mobility? Sounds plausible, but most obvious-sounding etymologies turn out to be completely wrong.)

As we all know, however, Hitlerism was caused by Sir Francis Galton and other Darwinists / eugenicists / evolutionary theorists / statisticians. (Of course, St. Charles of Darwin was wholly untainted by his cousin's ideas). 

But, why isn't linguistics and archaeology also tarred by Nazism? Clearly, Hitler's artistic side was immensely influenced by the study of languages that led to Jones' theory of Aryan conquest. So why aren't linguists today constantly denounced for their role in causing the Holocaust in the same way that, say, IQ researchers are denounced?

Granted, Jones was a giant of British empiricism, but then so was Galton. Today's molders of the conventional wisdom about who was responsible for Hitler seem to find Galton's central place in the British tradition to be more of a feature than a bug. 

So, Jones' time on the pyre may come, too. A future Stephen Jay Gould may be even now working on his prose style, with the goal of demonizing the study of languages. After all, Sir William Jones recognized patterns, and what's more evil than pattern recognition?

Barzun: "The Public Mind and Its Caterers"

From Chapter 2, "The Public Mind and Its Caterers," in Jacques Barzun's 1959 book The House of Intellect:
"The world has long observed that small acts of immorality, if repeated, will destroy character. It is equally manifest, though never said, that uttering nonsense and half-truth without cease ends by destroying Intellect."

My upcoming movie review of Elysium documents a bizarrely widespread case of this.

Higher IQ people "just better" at getting away with being prejudiced

From the Daily Mail:
Being more intelligent does not stop people being racist – it simply makes them better at covering it up. 
A study found that they were just as likely to be prejudiced as their less educated peers but did not act on their feelings.

Or, more accurately, did not naively express their beliefs, while still acting upon them. In contrast, the intelligent are more likely to send their children to, say, Sidwell Friends School than to a D.C. public school.
Researcher Geoffrey Wodtke examined the attitudes of more than 20,000 white respondents from a society-wide survey.

He then looked at how their cognitive ability, or how they processed information, was shown in their attitudes to black people. 
They were also asked about  policies designed to counter racial bias. 
Mr Wodtke, of the University of Michigan, said: ‘High-ability whites are less likely to report prejudiced attitudes and more likely to say they support racial integration in principle.

‘There’s a disconnect between the attitudes intelligent whites support in principle and their attitudes toward policies designed to realise racial  equality in practice.’

For example, four years after demanding that the term limit law preventing Michael Bloomberg from a third term as mayor be ignored, New York City liberals are shocked, shocked to discover today that racial profiling has been going on under Bloomberg.

But who could have known? If anybody had told us that millions of blacks and Latins were being stopped and frisked in New York, we would have done something about it. It's not like we wanted to make the point to blacks and Latins about who is in charge in New York and if they don't like it, well, there are Greyhound buses leaving from the Port Authority terminal every few minutes. No, it's just that, uh, there weren't enough studies being done on stop and frisk over the last decade for us to notice!
He said that in housing, nearly all whites with advanced cognitive abilities agreed that ‘whites have no right to segregate their neighbourhoods’. 
But, added Mr Wodtke, nearly half were content to allow prejudicial practices to continue rather than support laws to open up housing to ethnic minorities. 
He said the study showed racism and prejudice were not simply a result of low mental ability. 
Instead, they result from the need of dominant groups to ‘legitimise and protect’ their privileged social position over other social groupings. 
More intelligent citizens ‘are just better’ at this, added Mr Wodtke at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association. 
In modern America, ‘this means that intelligent whites say all the right things about racial equality in principle but they just don’t actually do anything that would eliminate their privileges’. 
Mr Wodtke warned: ‘Any effort to point out or eliminate these privileges strikes them as a grave injustice.’

August 12, 2013

Open Borders promises to reduce cranial capacity 50%

One proposed logo that wasn't deported when the Open Borders Logo contest closed its borders is this one showing how open borders will make us all like Siamese Twins with only one brain for every two bodies, so you won't have to do anymore of that pesky thinking for yourself.

It's also interesting how many of the (sincere) Open Borders logos are, like this one, stillborn swastikas. The Rotating Juggernaut of Doom look is highly attractive to the ideological male mind, no matter what conceits it chooses to publicly endorse.

Villaraigosa to edify Harvard

That living embodiment of the Mexican-American talent shortage, former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, has been looking for paying gigs since leaving office last month, but now Harvard has come through:
LOS ANGELES ( — Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will be a “visiting fellow” this fall at Harvard, the Ivy League school announced Monday. 
Villaraigosa will serve the short stint in the university’s Institute of Politics alongside Mitt Romney, former U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis, and Massachusetts area Sen. Mo Cowan, among others. 
In July, the former mayor was hired part-time as a Strategic Advisor for the Banc of California.

There, the 60-year-old will “advise on the development of a community banking strategy focused on expanding home ownership, financing entrepreneurs and small businesses, and investing in communities through education and service,” the company said in a statement.

The "expanding home ownership" part is pretty funny considering that Villaraigosa doesn't own a home or any other assets, other than a small rental property in Moreno Valley.
In addition to his role at the bank and Harvard, Villaraigosa receives an annual pension of more than $97,000 from the City of Los Angeles.

Yeah, but much of that goes in alimony.

It's not a total coincidence that Harvard is located 3,000 miles from Los Angeles. Antonio Villaraigosa, deep down, is still basically Tony Villar, a juvenile delinquent straight out of the lowrider scenes in American Graffiti. But, there's so little other Mexican-American talent out there that he is credibly considered a future Governor of California and was made chairman of the 2012 Democratic convention that renominated Obama.

Oprah: A victim of Shopping While Black or of Shopping While Fat?

Just about the biggest news story in the world in recent days has been how Oprah Winfrey was the victim of racism (conveniently enough, just when she needed to promote her return to movies in The Butler, about black White House servants). Oprah accused a store clerk in Switzerland of racism for not getting down a $38,000 handbag for her to inspect.

I'm always fascinated by how often Stalin is vindicated in his observation that something bad happening to one person is a tragedy while it happening to a million is a statistic. For example, 500,000 black and Latin young men getting stopped and frisked annually for the last decade in New York City is a statistic that has mildly troubled some of the more sensitive souls in the New York elite, but hasn't really been much of a story even locally, much less nationally, while Oprah not getting shown a $38,000 handbag is Breaking Global News. It's like the vast outpouring of sympathy that greets the President of the United States whenever he recounts how his grandmother wanted a ride to work one day. You might think that being black in America has, on net, been good for Obama or Oprah, but that's not a widespread impression. 

More generally, human beings feel sorrier for immensely privileged people than they do for nobodies like shopgirls and grandmas.

Little noted in the hubbub was that Oprah has a long history of complaining about being racially abused while shopping. From Wikipedia's article on Shopping While Black:
In 2001, Oprah Winfrey told Good Housekeeping magazine about how she and a black companion were turned away from a store while white people were being allowed in, allegedly because she and her friend reminded the clerks of black transsexuals who had earlier tried to rob it.[17]

Personally, if anybody thought I looked like a transsexual robber, I'd stay quiet about that, or at least leave out the detail about me looking like a transsexual. (But it's just that kind of prejudice I'm exhibiting that is the reason the media is gearing up for its post-gay marriage offensive for transgender rights.)
And in 2005, Winfrey was refused service at the Parisian luxury store Hermès as the store closed for the evening, in what her spokesperson described as "Oprah's 'Crash' moment", a reference to the 2004 movie about racial and social tensions in Los Angeles.[18]

Unlike the rest of the press, however, the Daily Mail went and asked the latest store clerk to be accused of racism by Oprah what she thought of Oprah's charge:
'Oprah's a liar': Sales assistant in Swiss racist handbag row denies telling TV host that she could not view item because she couldn't afford it 
Sale assistant said she feels 'powerless' after the racism accusations  
Oprah Winfrey claimed assistant refused to show her a handbag because it was 'too expensive'  
Speaking anonymously, shop worker said claims were 'absurd' 

The sales assistant who refused to show U.S. talkshow billionaire Oprah Winfrey a luxury handbag costing nearly £25,000 claims the superstar lied about what happened in the luxury Swiss boutique where she works. 
Speaking anonymously to Sunday newspaper SonntagsBlick, the Italian bag lady said she felt 'powerless' and in the grip of a 'cyclone' after Winfrey went on TV in America to claim she had been the victim of racism. 
Winfrey was in Switzerland in July when she walked into the Trois Pommes boutique in Zurich looking for a handbag to match the outfit she was going to wear to old friend Tina Turner's wedding.  
She claims the sales assistant refused to show her the black crocodile leather bag because - seeing a black woman - she automatically assumed she would not be able to afford it. 
Now the saleslady has hit back, stating: 'I wasn't sure what I should present to her when she came in on the afternoon of Saturday July 20 so I showed her some bags from the Jennifer Aniston collection. 
'I explained to her the bags came in different sizes and materials, like I always do. 
'She looked at a frame behind me. Far above there was the 35,000 Swiss franc crocodile leather bag.   
'I simply told her that it was like the one I held in my hand, only much more expensive, and that I could show her similar bags. 
'It is absolutely not true that I declined to show her the bag on racist grounds. I even asked her if she wanted to look at the bag.

'She looked around the store again but didn't say anything else. Then she went with her companion to the lower floor. My colleague saw them to the door. They were not even in the store for five minutes.' 
She emphatically denied ever saying to Winfrey: 'You don't want to see this bag. It is too expensive.  You cannot afford it.'
The saleslady went on: 'This is not true. This is absurd. I would never say something like that to a customer. Really never. Good manners and politeness are the Alpha and the Omega in this business. 
'I don't know why she is making these accusations. She is so powerful and I am just a shop girl.   
'I didn't hurt anyone. I don't know why someone as great as her must cannibalize me on TV.   ...
'I didn't know who she was when she came into the store. That wouldn't have made any difference if I had."

Sounds like the clerk didn't want to go through the trouble of getting down a ridiculously overpriced bag that almost nobody ever buys, compounded with the sin of Not Recognizing Oprah.

If the clerk is telling the truth, Oprah is putting words in her mouth. On the other hand, the clerk doesn't claim to have gotten down the bag, so it's likely that something in her manner discouraged Oprah, who is not the world's most easily discourageable person. 

It's also possible that the clerk was unenthusiastic about going the extra mile for Oprah not because she is black, but because she is fat. Oprah has some of the world's best makeup and lighting people working for her, so she normally looks fine on TV and on the cover of her O magazine, but when she's too rushed for the full treatment, she definitely doesn't look like she can afford a $38,000 handbag. (My guess is that Zurich boutiques do occasionally see black women who can afford such things, typically the wives of African dictators in town to visit their money at their Swiss banks.)

At ultra-high end luxury boutiques, the greatest sin is Shopping While Fat. Handbags that cost $38,000 are bought, I would guess, almost exclusively by Social X-Rays, who look upon shopping alongside fat people as potentially contagious, in terms of social status and perhaps even biologically. Thus, shop clerks frequently give the cold shoulder to the fat to encourage them out the door.

But being prejudiced against the fat is a far frontier that will have to wait its turn for condemnation until after all the last bunkers of prejudice against gays and transgenders are finally routed. (And of course, the most virulently prejudiced against the fat are gay men, so it will require some tricky spinning to avoid mentioning that.)

For Oprah's self-esteem, being the victim of Shopping While Black is much better than being the victim of Shopping While Fat. In the U.S., she enjoys 100% facial recognition among the kind of people who work in boutiques, so here nobody ever does anything other than pander to her every wish. But in Europe, she's not all that widely known, so she occasionally gets treated like other 200-pound women get treated at luxury goods stores.