December 21, 2013

Nicholas Wade's 2006 "Before the Dawn"

A lot of commenters are interested in long-time NYT genetics reporter Nicholas Wade's upcoming book on race and genetics: A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History.

So here's my review of Wade's 2006 book Before the Dawn in VDARE.

All we have to do to fix the planes / schools is put the best pilots / teachers in the worst situations

Lockheed XFV Salmon, 1954
It's a truism of the Education Reform movement that all we have to do to fix the schools is to put the best teachers in front of the worst students. Unfortunately, due to white racism and white privilege or something, the best teachers somehow keep getting assigned to the schools with the best students. 

The Pentagon has often been tempted to think analogously -- all we have to do to make our worst aircraft actually work is to put our best pilots in them. 

Consider the example of Lockheed's 1950s vertical take off and landing fighter, the XFV, which could theoretically convert any warship into an aircraft carrier. 

McDonnell XF-85 Goblin parasite fighter, 1948
Or McDonnell's 1940s "parasite" mini-fighter, which was designed to be carried in the bomb bays of the slow B-36 nuclear bomber and then released over the Soviet Union to do battle with Red interceptor jets. The B-36 was an early Cold War heavy bomber with immense range and capacity useful in dropping nuclear bombs on sites deep within the Soviet Union. But even in a streamlined version with all the defensive guns removed and four jet engines added to the six propeller engines, it was a sitting duck for Soviet jet interceptors. 

YRF-84F launching from B-36
No American fighters had the range to accompany the B-36, so the Air Force came up with the bright idea of the "parasite fighter," which would hitch a ride with the B-36 until it was time to fight. The Pentagon commissioned the XF-85 mini-fighters that could fit inside the B-36 until it's time for a dogfight. Won't Ivan be surprised when a tiny fighter jet pops out of the big fat prey!

The Air Force also tried hauling an F-84 fighter-bomber externally under the B-36 to provide protection and/or fly ahead to drop a nuclear bomb whose shockwave the B-36 would be too slow to get away from.

All these concepts had similar fundamental problems: Taking off was a challenge that could likely be managed, but landing / reattaching a short range fighter in a vast hostile expanse (the ocean or Soviet airspace) was both essential and extremely tricky. 

A successful modern VTOL like the British Harriers comes back down where it took off by diverting its jet blast downward so the pilot is facing forward and can see the surface below him. But Lockheed wasn't close to that technology in the 1950s, so it proposed landing rather like parallel parking a car: the pilot's seat faced straight up into the sky, so the pilot just had to look over his shoulder a lot and carefully gauge how high he was off the deck. Test pilots spent some time trying to back down onto clouds for practice, but found the prospect of landing backwards on a deck rolling up and down on the waves to be daunting. 

Similarly, the various attempts to mate the B-36 back up with their parasite fighters proved very, very hard. Outstanding fighter pilots could sort of pull it off in smooth weather.

So, one solution to these problems would be to take the Navy and Air Force's absolute best pilots and assign them to these daunting challenges. But the problem with that was that all these concept fighters were slower than the enemy's conventional fighters they were supposed to dogfight with, so the attrition rate among America's best pilots would have been horrific, both in combat and accidents.

But even that assumes you could get the best pilots to volunteer to fly underpowered death traps.

You can get many of them to volunteer in peacetime to be test pilots and risk their lives over Edwards AFB or Area 51 in the latest brainstorms.

But the best pilots prefer to go to war flying the best all-around planes. In the movie Top Gun, for example, Tom Cruise flies an F-14 Tomcat, a highly successful Navy fighter with a high chance of shooting down the enemy relative to the F-14's chance of being shot down or crashing due to the difficulty of flying it. The Top Gun school was built on the premise of giving the most promising pupils the best teachers and assistance, which is how basically all successful educational institutions in history have operated from the days when Socrates taught Plato and Plato taught Aristotle.

The analogy to the basic assumptions of educational reform -- all we have to do is make the best teachers teach the worst students -- seems pretty obvious. The Pentagon could have ordered its best pilots to fly the Salmon and the Goblin in combat, but it would soon have started to run out of its best pilots.

December 20, 2013

Nicholas Wade's: "A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History"

Next spring, the New York Times' genetics correspondent Nicholas Wade will publish:
A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History  
Release date: May 6, 2014  
Drawing on startling new evidence from the mapping of the genome, an explosive new account of the genetic basis of race and its role in the human story

Fewer ideas have been more toxic or harmful than the idea of the biological reality of race, and with it the idea that humans of different races are biologically different from one another. For this understandable reason, the idea has been banished from polite academic conversation. Arguing that race is more than just a social construct can get a scholar run out of town, or at least off campus, on a rail. Human evolution, the consensus view insists, ended in prehistory. 
Inconveniently, as Nicholas Wade argues in A Troublesome Inheritance, the consensus view cannot be right. And in fact, we know that populations have changed in the past few thousand years—to be lactose tolerant, for example, and to survive at high altitudes. Race is not a bright-line distinction; by definition it means that the more human populations are kept apart, the more they evolve their own distinct traits under the selective pressure known as Darwinian evolution. For many thousands of years, most human populations stayed where they were and grew distinct, not just in outward appearance but in deeper senses as well. 
Wade, the longtime journalist covering genetic advances for The New York Times, draws widely on the work of scientists who have made crucial breakthroughs in establishing the reality of recent human evolution. The most provocative claims in this book involve the genetic basis of human social habits. What we might call middle-class social traits—thrift, docility, nonviolence—have been slowly but surely inculcated genetically within agrarian societies, Wade argues. These “values” obviously had a strong cultural component, but Wade points to evidence that agrarian societies evolved away from hunter-gatherer societies in some crucial respects. Also controversial are his findings regarding the genetic basis of traits we associate with intelligence, such as literacy and numeracy, in certain ethnic populations, including the Chinese and Ashkenazi Jews. 
Wade believes deeply in the fundamental equality of all human peoples. He also believes that science is best served by pursuing the truth without fear, and if his mission to arrive at a coherent summa of what the new genetic science does and does not tell us about race and human history leads straight into a minefield, then so be it. This will not be the last word on the subject, but it will begin a powerful and overdue conversation.

A Military-Industrial Complex Christmas

I'm not sure what I'm aiming at you in this picture -- perhaps the controller for my new wire-guided tank (the big tank, not the little tank to the left of the tree).

A few days ago, we mulled over the musical question raised by Sudden Death of Stars: What Is Winter Good For? Yet the answer is right there on the cover of their new single: me getting presents. 

So as part of my Christmas fundraiser, I'd like to focus today on readers who have donated in the past, but not yet in 2013. I appreciate your past generosity; and look forward to more!

I want to thank everybody who has contributed so far to my latest quarterly iSteve fundraiser. It's very encouraging to wake up to donations.

Here are some options for donating:

First, you can make a tax deductible contribution via VDARE by clicking here. You can use credit card or check (please put my name on the memo line of any checks).

Second, you can make a non-tax deductible contribution via credit card at WePay by clicking here

Third: You can mail a non-tax deductible donation to:

Steve Sailer
P.O Box 4142
Valley Village, CA 91607-4142

Thank you for your support

World War G and the Military-Industrial Complex

Boeing F/A-XX concept
America's Global War of Terror has been a huge moneymaker for Washington's Beltway, but it's starting to get a little old. Looking to the future, why not a replay of a tried and true honeypot: an arms race with Russia? 

Granted, the Russkies are still years from getting their F-22 competitor Sukhoi T-50 into military service, but America's F-35 program is such a boondoggle of incompetence and corruption that it's almost as if it were intended to give the Russians and Chinese time to catch up and turn this back into a ballgame.

But to justify lots more spending we need some reason to be angry at the Russians. They don't have 53,000 tanks pointed in the general direction of the Fulda Gap anymore, so the pretext isn't immediately obvious.

Good question ...

I know, gays! 

And Ukrainians, although they're kind of boring ... 

Hey, there must be some Ukrainian gays! Somebody get to work on this pronto.

To give you the latest Wall Street - Washington - City of London - Brussels perspective on why Russia is intolerable -- because it's intolerant! -- here's former executive editor Bill Keller's NYT column from earlier this week. 
Russia vs. Europe 
The world needs Nelson Mandelas. Instead, it gets Vladimir Putins. As the South African hero was being sung to his grave last week, the Russian president was bullying neighboring Ukraine into a new customs union that is starting to look a bit like Soviet Union Lite, and consolidating his control of state-run media by creating a new Kremlin news agency under a nationalistic and homophobic hard-liner...
Putin’s moves were not isolated events. They fit into a pattern of behavior over the past couple of years that deliberately distances Russia from the socially and culturally liberal West: laws giving official sanction to the terrorizing of gays and lesbians, the jailing of members of a punk protest group for offenses against the Russian Orthodox Church, the demonizing of Western-backed pro-democracy organizations as “foreign agents,” expansive new laws on treason, limits on foreign adoptions. 
What’s going on is more complicated and more dangerous than just Putin flexing his political pecs. He is trying to draw the line against Europe, to deepen division on a continent that has twice in living memory been the birthplace of world wars. It seems clearer than ever that Putin is not just tweaking the West to rouse his base or nipping domestic opposition in the bud. He is also attempting to turn back 25 years of history. 
“Putin wants to make Russia into the traditional values capital of the world,” said Masha Gessen, author of a stinging Putin biography, an activist for gay and lesbian rights and a writer for the Latitudes blog on this paper’s website. 
What, you may wonder, does Russia’s retro puritanism have to do with the turmoil in the streets of Kiev, where Ukrainian protesters yearning for a partnership with the European Union confront a president, Viktor Yanukovich, who has seemed intent on joining Putin’s rival “Eurasian” union instead? More than you might think. 
Listen to the chairman of the Russian Parliament’s International Affairs Committee, Alexei Pushkov, warning that if Ukraine joins the E.U., European advisers will infiltrate the country and introduce “a broadening of the sphere of gay culture.” Or watch Dmitry Kiselyov, the flamboyantly anti-Western TV host Putin has just installed at the head of a restructured news agency. Kiselyov recently aired excerpts from a Swedish program called “Poop and Pee,” designed to teach children about bodily functions, and declared it was an example of the kind of European depravity awaiting Ukraine if it aligns with Europe. (Kiselyov is also the guy who said that when gay people die their internal organs should be burned and buried so that they cannot be donated.) 

Hyping the specter of World War G is going to make some people a whole lot of money.

Keller is a Bloombergian centrist, a Voice of Responsible Opinion. So just remember if this struck you while reading it as hysterical and irresponsible in a 1913 kind of way of taking excessive umbrage at other Great Powers, well that just shows what an extremist weirdo you are.

"American Hustle" and "Inside Llewyn Davis"

American Hustle -- David O. Russell's magnum opus, a comedy about all things Late Seventiesish on the Atlantic Seaboard, including AbScam and the Science Oven: very entertaining.

Inside Llewyn David -- The Coen Brothers' semi-comedy about a grumpy folksinger trying to make a living in 1961 Greenwich Village. Not a crowdpleaser like American Hustle, but wonderfully lucid.

1999 CIA bombing of Chinese embassy in Belgrade

On May 7, 1999 a U.S. B-2 stealth bomber dropped five precision bombs on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia/Serbia. Later, the U.S. would announce that it had been intending to blow up a warehouse or maybe an office building, but definitely a different structure; but, you know, kids these days just can't read maps. Or the fog of war. Or something. Eventually, CIA director George Tenet admitted that the Chinese embassy was the lone target the CIA had picked out during the entire NATO bombing campaign. But of course it was all just a big mistake, and they had really sent the B-2 all the way from Missouri to blow up something down the street.

The Chinese government was hopping mad, but also a little tight-lipped. 

At the time, I figured it had to do with the Serbs shooting down an F-117 stealth fighter about six weeks earlier. I had assumed that the feared, efficient Serbian secret police had immediately assumed control of the high-tech wreckage and were auctioning it off in one piece to a summit conference of international malefactors, kind of like in the opening scene of The Naked Gun. After all, the ruthless totalitarian efficiency of the Serbian government had to be why America was bombing the heck out of some place that I could never quite pinpoint on a map of Europe: because they hate freedom.

Looking into it, however, I see that what actually happened to the wreckage was that part of the downed stealth fighter had been immediately carted away by a Gypsy scrap metal dealer. That morning local girls posed all over the rest of it for pictures (punching holes in the wings with their stiletto heels), and pretty much everybody in the neighborhood hacked off a souvenir. Eventually, some curators from an airplane museum in Belgrade arrived and organized a human shield of civilians to keep NATO from dropping a bomb on it. The museum eventually put chunks of the plane on display, and its gift shop sold postage stamp-sized pieces of the F-117 to 2,000 visitors as mementos.

Like I said, they must hate freedom.

About six weeks later, the Chinese embassy goes kablooey. But of course that was just an accident. And a coincidence. An accidental coincidence.

From the Daily Mail in 2011:
But the plot thickened last month when Qiansao, a Hong Kong Chinese-language magazine, published a series of essays written in retirement by former Chinese President Jiang Zemin.  
In the magazine the 85-year-old former premier, who stepped down in 2004, says that the Chinese Embassy was sheltering Serbian intelligence personnel when it was bombed and that the Americans had been able to monitor Serbian military electronic communications coming out of the building. 
But just as importantly, Jiang Zemin also added that Milosevic had instructed agents to hand over to the Chinese navigation gear, part of the tail engine exhaust and thermal panels from Vega 31. The Chinese media reported that the pieces of the aircraft were picked up by cargo aircraft and flown to Beijing.

Supposedly, the retired Chinese supremo considered his attempt to outflank Russia by cozying up to Milosevic, in retrospect an obvious loser, as one of his two big mistakes in office.

As you'll recall, Chinese-American relations got tense after that, including a Chinese fighter bumping into an American P-3 in 2001. But then 9/11 came along and this stuff was mostly forgotten.

December 19, 2013

Old tech in aerospace

Consider three levels of classroom technology:

The second doesn't do much that the first can't do, but dry erase markers are more convenient than chalk, so whiteboards are replacing 18th Century technology blackboards (but some teachers still prefer chalk due to the nicer smell, or whatever). 

Electronic smartboards can do more than either, but to get their full theoretical benefits they need a lot of systems integration that almost never gets done. So, some teachers make excellent use of their expensive Smartboards and others don't use them much at all and would prefer to just have 1960s technology whiteboards.

One thing I wanted to add to my article on the Education-Industrial Complex was that out of the three famous Skunk Works planes I mention in the article -- the 1950s U-2, the 1960s SR-71, and the 1970s F-117 -- the one that is still in service is the oldest and least technologically sophisticated: the U-2 that CIA put into service in 1957. It's basically a glider with jet engines. They keep upgrading the electronics in it and the more recent ones are somewhat redesigned while keeping the same basic shape but that's about it. It's cheap and very serviceable in situations where the folks being spied on don't have top notch SAMs or don't want to irritate the U.S. all that much by shooting it down. It was called the TR-1 for awhile, but they've gone back to the famous name -- why let Bono have it all to himself? It is currently intended to stay in service through 2023.

Here are some other famous old planes still in service with the U.S. military:

B-52 heavy bomber -- Introduced into service in 1955. Currently intended to stay in service into 2040s.

C-130 Hercules turboprop cargo plane -- in service since 1957. My father worked on this some when I was young, although my impression is that it didn't need much fixing. Mostly, they've just developed a remarkable number of specialized versions for different tasks.

KC 135 -- Refueling tanker (Boeing 707) since 1957

T-38 trainer -- Since 1961

P-3 Orion turboprop patrol plane. This subchaser has been in service since 1962. My dad worked on this a lot when I was a kid. It's modeled on the Electra passenger liner that became obsolete when jets came along, but it has been ridiculously useful has a high miles per gallon watchdog plane.

C-5 giant cargo plane -- in service since 1970. My dad flew down to Georgia to help out on this troubled project. Its development was enormously expensive and controversial in its day, but the ability to fly main battle tanks around turned out to be strategically crucial, so it's still here.

F-15 fighter -- since 1977

A-10 Warthog ground attack jet -- since 1977, although the Air Force has been trying to get rid of it since roughly 1978; but the lowly groundpounders like it. Supposed to be replaced by the F-35 Flying Panacea. Good luck with that.

F-16 fighter -- since 1978

This list divides fairly well into planes that were state of the art when introduced (e.g., B-52, KC-135, C-5, and F-15) and ones that were trailing tech even when new (e.g., C-130, T-38, P-3, A-10). The F-16 seems the only middling plane on the list of the enduring.

My father also spent years toiling on trying to make the F-104 Starfighter, which had been ultra-state of the art in the 1950s (twice the speed of sound), less lethal to its poor pilots. After Air Force pilots had grown terrified of it, the Lockheed brass "persuaded" the West German defense minister to buy it in the 1960s, so my dad had to work a lot of long nights trying to figure out how to keep what had been originally intended as essentially a high-altitude kamikaze interceptor to shoot down Soviet nuclear bombers in case of WWIII from killing so many West German pilots who had been sold it as an all-purpose low level all-weather fighter-bomber, a sort of A-10 Warthog with 7-foot wings.

The exceptionally brave Italian Air Force kept flying the F-104 until 2004. My father once asked an Italian air force general what their secret was since the West Germans were always complaining about how often their pilots crashed the F-104: "Why don't you crash?"

"Oh, we crash," the Italian general replied. "We just don't complain about it."

The state of the art progressed incredibly rapidly in aircraft design in the middle half of the 20th Century, but not all that much since then. (Stealth was a radical innovation at first, but with the computing power available now it's becoming easier to incorporate it into a conventional plane: recent stealth planes such as the F-22 don't look as weird as the Stealth Fighter.)

Some of that slowdown in innovation is that wars are winding down, so why bother working hard? 

Another reason is fundamental technological change such as missiles replacing aircraft. Back in the 1970s, Kelly Johnson originally objected that the stealth fighter was a waste of time since the future belonged to missiles. Ben Rich (whose brother was a sit-com writer) replied that "They call them missiles not hittles because you'll still need a pilot for a long time." But that was 38 years ago. Piloting airplanes, especially fighters (notice the F-117 was called the Stealth Fighter even though it didn't have any weapons for fighting other aircraft -- the "F" was chosen to attract the best pilots to fly such an awkward and dangerous plane), is still a glamor job and we'll likely keep it up for a long, long time, but there isn't as much urgency to get better at manned flight today.

A third is the decline in competition. Lockheed today is a giant oligopoly that bought up most of its competitors.

A fourth is that physical limits involving speed versus fuel consumption were banged up against pretty quickly in the early decades of the jet age. Everybody makes a big deal about Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier in 1947, but supersonic flight has mostly been a dead end due to excessive fuel use and sonic booms. Yeager's feat remains a big deal not because we want to fly faster than sound very often but because flying almost as fast as sound is a very good thing, so breaking the sound barrier proved definitively that you could get close to the sound barrier.

Fifth, systems integration becomes more, not less trouble as you get more systems. The nightmarish F-35 roll-out is now largely hung up on software:
Pentagon officials ... cannot say when Lockheed will deliver the 8.6 million lines of code required to fly a fully functional F-35, not to mention the additional 10 million lines for the computers required to maintain the plane. The chasm between contractor and client was on full display on June 19, 2013, when the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester, Dr. J. Michael Gilmore, testified before Congress. He said that “less than 2 percent” of the placeholder software (called “Block 2B”) that the Marines plan to use has completed testing, though much more is in the process of being tested. (Lockheed insists that its “software-development plan is on track,” that the company has “coded more than 95 percent of the 8.6 million lines of code on the F-35,” and that “more than 86 percent of that software code is currently in flight test.”) Still, the pace of testing may be the least of it. According to Gilmore, the Block 2B software that the Marines say will make their planes combat capable will, in fact, “provide limited capability to conduct combat.” What is more, said Gilmore, if F-35s loaded with Block 2B software are actually used in combat, “they would likely need significant support from other fourth-generation and fifth-generation combat systems to counter modern, existing threats, unless air superiority is somehow otherwise assured and the threat is cooperative.” Translation: the F-35s that the Marines say they can take into combat in 2015 are not only ill equipped for combat but will likely require airborne protection by the very planes the F-35 is supposed to replace.

It will be interesting to see whether Google's plan to develop driverless cars turns out to be a quick fix or turns into a long ordeal like fighter development these days. Google doesn't hold itself to very high reliability even in old tech like Search: I frequently look up my old articles, and Google frequently loses them. The next time I look, however, it has found them. That's okay, it's a free service and it's not a big deal that it works 80% of the time and fails 20% of the time. (Alternatively, Google succeeds more than 80% of the time for most writers, but it's out to get me, which I would hardly be surprised by.)

But do I want to risk my life on the freeway to Google's hit or miss attitude? We'll see.

PISA: Students with iPads score worse

From a Danish newspaper via Google Translate:
Pisa: iPad pupils perform worse than their peers 
By Thomas Klose Jensen 
PISA survey from 2012 shows that students who have access to an iPad, both at home and at school, get lower grades than their peers who do not have access to one. 
Equally interesting is the fact that the students who have access to iPads in school, but do not use them, also score higher than the active iPad pupils.

Convergence in the meaning of "autism"

A perpetually scary question is: What if something is going increasingly wrong medically with large numbers of people and we just don't have the conceptual tools to notice the trend? About a decade ago it was common to worry about an increase in autism, but since then it seems like it has become accepted that we shouldn't worry about that because that's maybe just a matter of changing definitions on diagnosis and insurance forms.

But then again maybe the increase was real, and we just couldn't count it? It would be pretty horrifying if 50 years from now we realize that there was an autism epidemic and it had some simple cause that we could have fixed, but we didn't do anything about it because we couldn't deal with the methodological issues of agreeing upon a definition of autism. 

So, it's worth talking about the history of thinking about autism.

A British doctor writes:
'Autism' has changed meaning since I was at medical school. Then it was about a severe type of mental retardation - the kids did not talk, but rocked back and forth head banging etc; and seemed not to regard other people as people but as-if inanimate - did not react to loud noises etc. The autism bit was simply the lack of human reactions but mostly these kids were simply severely mentally handicapped, although they tended to look 'normal' and like their parents (not syndromal like Downs) .  
Nowadays, Asperger's syndrome has radically re-shaped the perception of autism - Asperger's was never mentioned 35 years ago but was revived by Uta Frith of London University and her disciples. And of course here we are talking about people with high intelligence, advanced language - but who are relatively uninterested in socializing, socially clumsy etc (probably a majority of the people, men, in maths, physics, etc).  
Both of these get called 'autistic' on the basis of a 'autistic spectrum' which supposedly connects them - but I don't see any connection whatsoever between a silent mentally handicapped kid head-banging in a cot year on year, and Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory...

Europeans were ahead of Americans in autism research.

My very vague impression is that the American conception of autism has followed the opposite course: that if you go back far enough, the American stereotype was of autistics as moderately functioning with perhaps some savant capabilities, but extremely annoying: e.g., Dustin Hoffman's Oscar-winning role 25 years ago in Barry Levinson's "Rain Man."

My recollection is that Hoffman's now-often criticized depiction was widely accepted in 1988 as realistic. (By the way, Hoffman's performance remains theatrically mesmerizing. Recently, I was walking past a TV showing "Rain Man" and found myself standing there several minutes later, still agog at Hoffman's bag of tricks.)

I may be totally wrong about this, but my impression is that in America since then the term "autism" has spread to all forms of non-cooperative mental retardation. A lot of this is driven by checkboxes on forms. If I had a severely difficult child and I heard I could now get more help if I checked the "autism" box, I definitely would, whether or not my child behaved like the 1980s American stereotype of an autistic.

So, Europeans started out with a picture in their heads of autism as severe retardation and have spread toward including Asperger's, while Americans started out with a picture in their heads of autism as severe Asperger's and have since spread toward including severe retardation.

I guess that's scientific progress.

Black immigrants

Via Marginal Revolution, here's a paper by Alison Rauh:
Convergence Between Black Immigrants and Black Natives Across and Within Generations

Traditionally, black immigrants to North America were bright African college students like Barack Obama Sr. or middle class mulatto West Indians like Malcolm Gladwell's mom.

(Another issue is regression toward the means among immigrants. The first immigrants from Africa in the 1960s and 1970s tended to be bright students like Barack Obama Sr., but they tended to pave the way for more mediocre family members like the President's Uncle Omar and Aunt Zeituni.)

How to raise their children is a source of debate among black immigrant parents. The American entertainment industry has profitably promoted the most dysfunctional traits of African American men as the essence of Keeping It Real.

Attorney General Eric Holder's Barbadian parents raised him in a West Indian middle class enclave in New York and tried to minimize his contact with African Americans. Barack Obama was sequestered out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles from the nearest vibrant black community of any size. 

Seems to have worked pretty good!

One difference between the West Indies and West Africa is that I'm not aware of much caste-like behavior in West Africa, while it's blatant in the West Indies:

Malcolm Gladwell wrote an interesting chapter in his besteller “Outliers” about how hard his mulatto middle class Jamaican direct ancestors strove to avoid regression to the mean by only marrying fair skinned spouses. Various aunts and great-aunts couldn’t resist sexy black men and their descendants fell out of the middle class, while Malcolm’s mom married a white mathematician, and now Malcolm’s a famous author.

(Of course, reading Malcolm’s explanation of his ancestors’ successful mating strategy for producing a Malcolm Gladwell is like reading the Declaration of Independence translated into Newspeak: uh, crimethink! I mean, racism!)

In contrast, in West Africa polygamy tends to break down caste formation. For example, I had a good friend from Cameroon when I was at UCLA. He came from a very well-educated family -- eight of the nine children had advanced degrees from Western universities, and two of his brothers were in Cameroon's cabinet. But, he planned upon a life of gerontocratic polygamy, adding each decade another wife up to a limit of four concurrent wives. That kind of quantity of wives makes it hard to emphasize quality in choosing them, and makes it hard to invest heavily in each child.

Here's Rauh's conclusion:
8 Conclusion 
This paper adds to the existing literature on three dimensions. First, it lays out the fact that black immigrants have become a large part of the black population in the last decades. Second, it demonstrates that the characteristics of immigrant blacks are very different from those of native blacks. Third, it determines how much immigrants blacks converge to native blacks across and within a generation. To put these patterns into perspective, they are compared to those of other races/ethnicities. The share of black immigrants among the black population in the US has increased from 1% in the 1970s to 11% in 2011. Black immigrant males’ earnings and wages are higher than those of native blacks but the premium is small once we condition on being employed. Employment, education, incarceration, and marriage outcomes confirm that we are dealing with two completely different subsets of the population. Black immigrants are much more likely than native blacks to be employed, married, highly educated and not incarcerated. 
In summary, first generation black immigrants undoubtedly have better labor market outcomes than black natives. They directly pass on some characteristics such as high human capital investments to the next generation. The transmission of labor force attachment seems to be weaker, suggesting that the second generation is converging to natives. Black immigrants do not only converge to black natives across generations but also within a generation. For Asians and Hispanics, earnings premia decrease monotonically with age of immigration. For blacks, the earnings-age of immigration profile is upward sloping for those immigrating before the age of 15. Convergence across generations is mostly driven by low-educated second generation blacks that drop out of the labor force in greater numbers than low-educated first generation immigrants do. Similarly, convergence within a generation is driven by the fact that black first generation immigrants who arrive at an early age have a weaker labor force attachment than immigrants who arrive in the US when they are older. A social interactions model with an assimilation parameter that varies by age of immigration helps explain this phenomenon for men. When making their labor force participation decision, male immigrants generally place more weight on the characteristics of natives the earlier they immigrate.

Basically, the second generation of black immigrants do okay unless they don’t get much education (i.e., aren’t very bright). Then the males are in danger of not participating in the (legitimate) work force, just like African American males.

I may be interpreting this wrongly, but it appears that black males who were born abroad do worse the younger their parents brought them here. For example, if you arrive at 17, you aren’t that likely to join the Bloods or Crips to deal crack. It just seems stupid.

But if you arrive at age 2 and you grew up your whole life hearing from the other boys at school about the Bloods or Crips, well, if you want to prove your manhood, you join their local gang affiliate at age 13.

But maybe I’ve got this backwards.

Dr. Rauh seems to blame the age effect on accent, with white people positively discriminating in favor of foreign black accents. Could be.

But of course the stereotype that a black with a prissy-sounding Anglo-Nigerian accent is probably a grad student type who won’t mug you is, according to all the evidence Dr. Rauh assembles, a pretty accurate one. Whereas a jet black youth who tries to have an accent like some gangsta from Compton probably isn’t a grad student type. If he sounds like a gangsta during a job interview, maybe that’s what he wants to be.

Lots of other good stuff in this paper by Dr. Rauh.

December 18, 2013

Why so much retardation among Somalis in Minnesota?

The New York Times featured an article on the high rates of "autism" among Somalis in Minnesota, but noted that it seemed different from the similarly high rates of autism among Minnesota whites because none of the Somali "autistics" had IQs over 70. 

In other words, it's not like Ludwig Wittgenstein or Glenn Gould-style autism, it's severe retardation. 

Retardation is also common among Pakistani immigrants in the English Midlands, due largely to high levels of cousin marriage. 

What about Somalis in Minnesota? From Wikipedia's article on "Cousin Marriage:"
A bill to repeal the ban on first-cousin marriage in Minnesota was introduced by Phyllis Kahn in 2003, but it died in committee. Republican Minority Leader Marty Seifert criticized the bill in response, saying it would "turn us into a cold Arkansas."[112] According to the University of Minnesota's The Wake, Kahn was aware the bill had little chance of passing but introduced it anyway to draw attention to the issue. She reportedly got the idea after learning that cousin marriage is an acceptable form of marriage among some cultural groups that have a strong presence in Minnesota, namely the Hmong and Somali.[113]

Somalia doesn't show up in A.H. Bittles' tables on Consang.Net, but here are some studies of cousin marriage in other cultures not hugely dissimilar:

37.8% first cousin marriages, Pangani - Household 503 Tanner (1958) (Muslims) survey 

61.4% Nubia 1967/68 Household 611 D1C,1C,1 1/2C,2C  Badr (1972) (Fadetchi) survey

62.0% Nubia 1967/68 Household 757  D1C,1C,11/2C,2C Badr (1972) (Kenuzi) survey 

69.8% Nubia 1967/68 Household 414 69.8 D1C,1C,11/2 C,2C Badr (1972) 
(Arabs) survey 

63.6% All-Nubia 1967/68 Household 1,782 63.6 D1C,1C,11/2 C,2C Badr (1972) 

44.2% Gezira 1969/74 Household 2,999 44.2 1C 0.0028 Ahmed (1979) survey 

18.3% Khartoum - Blood donors 345 18.3 1C,2C Saha & El Sheikh (Nilotes) (1988) 

 45.7% Khartoum - Blood donors 302 45.7 1C,2C Saha & El Sheikh (Negroids) (1988) 

55.2% Khartoum - Blood donors 4,186 55.2 1C,2C  Saha & El Sheikh (Arabs) (1988) 

52.0% All- - Blood donors 4,833 52.0 1C,2C Saha & El Sheikh Khartoum (1988)

Burkina Faso
65.8%  North - Household 308 65.8 1C,2C Hampshire & (Fulani) survey Smith (2001) 

David Brooks' literary gimmick and "Life of Julia"

In his 2011 quasi-novel The Social Animal, David Brooks used a literary device that I'd never seen before: the book tracks two fictional characters from birth to old age, but, as Brooks explained:
"The story takes place perpetually in the current moment, the early twenty-first century, because I want to describe different features of the way we live now …"

I recently asked where Brooks got this ploy. Surely some other author has used this. So far, nobody has come up with an antecedent. However, a commenter points out a likely influence of Brooks' approach:
John Mansfield said... 
"Life of Julia had this quality, the one about the woman who advanced from childhood to old age, assisted at each stage by the Obama administration."


Obama is a Brooks fan. Brooks' The Social Animal came out about a year before the Obama campaign's Life of Julia website debuted in the first half of 2012.

NYT: Minnesota ends, Somalis hardest hit

A new study finds that in Minnesota white and Somali children have catastrophically high rates of autism. Here's how the New York Times covers it:
Study Links Autism and Somalis in Minneapolis

A new study found that white children and Somali children living in Minnesota both suffer from a disabling form of autism at a higher rate than the national average. 
A long-awaited study has confirmed the fears of Somali residents in Minneapolis that their children suffer from higher rates of a disabling form of autism compared with other children there. 
The study — by the University of Minnesota, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the research and advocacy group Autism Speaks — found high rates of autism in two populations: About one Somali child in 32 and one white child in 36 in Minneapolis were on the autism spectrum. 
The national average is one child in 88, according to Coleen A. Boyle, who directs the C.D.C.’s Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. 

According to Wikipedia's account of Census data, the Somali population of Minnesota numbers about 25,000. The Census reports that Minnesota's non-Hispanic white population is 4,430,000, or 177 times larger. In contrast, the Somali autism rate is 1/8th higher. Thus, there are a couple of orders of magnitude more white autistics than Somali autistics in Minnesota. But who gets the headline?
But the Somali children were less likely than the whites to be “high-functioning” and more likely to have I.Q.s below 70. (The average I.Q. score is 100.) 

"Autistic" has become something of a catch-all phrase for many kinds of retardation other than the more friendly varieties, such as Downs Syndrome. These days it often doesn't mean super-nerdy Temple Grandin-types, but instead just children who need lots of help.
The study offered no explanation of the statistics. 
“We do not know why more Somali and white children were identified,” said Amy S. Hewitt, the project’s primary investigator and director of the University of Minnesota’s Research and Training Center on Community Living. “This project was not designed to answer these questions.” 
The results echoed those of a Swedish study published last year finding that children from immigrant families in Stockholm — many of them Somali — were more likely to have autism with intellectual disabilities. ...
Black American-born children and Hispanic children in Minneapolis had much lower autism rates: one in 62 for the former and one in 80 for the latter. ...
All the autistic Somali children in the study had I.Q. deficits, Dr. Hewitt said. ...

The implication is that the Somalis have more severe autism than the whites, which could well be true. Alternatively, it could be that whites have more real Temple Grandin-style autism while Somalis have more catch-all retardation, or that Somalis have IQ deficits in general.
Autism rates vary widely across the 14 communities the C.D.C. follows, Dr. Boyle says. Alabama has low rates, while Utah’s and New Jersey’s are high. ... 

New Jersey has traditionally offered excellent social services for autistic children. I know a family with multiple autistic children who seriously considered moving there for that reason, so its high numbers may be a recruitment effect rather than the result of all its chemical refineries or whatever.
Generally, says Michael Rosanoff, a director of public health research for Autism Speaks, white children are the most likely to have an autism diagnosis, but that may be because they are more often sent to diagnostic specialists. 

Or, then again, maybe not. Nobody seems all that sure. But who has time to investigate whether Minnesota's white children having an autism diagnosis rate 2.44 times the national average is a real problem when there are Somalis to worry about who have autism at 2.75 times the national average?
Somali parents in Minneapolis have complained for years that many of their children had autism symptoms — failure to speak, reluctance to look others in the face, screaming and repetitive behaviors. 
At onetime, 25 percent of the children in local special education classes were Somali, while Somalis represented only 6 percent of the student body. While some children back home had the same problems children everywhere do, parents said, autism was so unfamiliar that there was no Somali word for it until “otismo” was coined in Minnesota. 

It's not like Shakespeare used the word "autism" frequently.
“I feel good, actually,” Idil Abdull, a Somali mother of an autistic child who was one of the first to demand an official investigation, said when she heard the results. “I was afraid they were going to say, ‘We don’t see anything.’ And we know that our kids can’t talk. 
“Autism is silencing the kids of a nation of poets,” continued Ms. Abdull, who has spoken about the issue at the United Nations. “Whether it’s something in our genes and you add it to Minnesota snow or what, I don’t know, but something’s triggering autism. My dad taught me to recite poetry at age 4, and my kid is 11 and he can’t say two sentences. It’s heartbreaking.” 
Dr. Hewitt and Mr. Rosanoff say they want to see more research comparing Somali children with autism to those without, including intelligence testing and genetic workups.  

The utilitarian notion of the greatest good for the greatest number has been turned on its head over the years without anybody specifically explaining why.

Will New York become a Chinese city?

From the NYT:
Chinese Reshape New York’s Immigration Mix 
The city’s immigrant population has reached 3.1 million, led by a tremendous growth in the Chinese population. 
Dominicans have been the largest immigrant group in the city since 1990 and currently number about 380,200 residents. But the Chinese, who have held the No. 2 spot for that period, are now close behind, with 350,200. While the Dominican population has grown about 3 percent in the past decade, the Chinese population has grown by 34 percent. China was also the single largest source of legally admitted immigrants in New York City from 2002 to 2011, said the report, which was largely based on Census Bureau data as well other federal and city administrative data. 
“China seems to be surging,” Mr. Salvo said. The data, he added, “points to China ultimately becoming the largest source of immigrants to New York.” 
Much of the Chinese immigration, the demographers found, is driven by asylum petitions. More than 40 percent of all Chinese immigrants who were legally admitted in New York between 2002 and 2011 received asylum.

Asylum from what? From having less money than they'd like?
Still, the rate of growth among the Chinese pales in comparison to the Mexicans. In the past decade, the Mexican population has surged by 52 percent, the largest spurt of any group, vaulting them over the Guyanese and the Jamaicans and moving them into third place among the largest foreign-born group in the city.

In the long run, you've got to bet on the Chinese over the Mexicans for taking over New York City. There are a lot more Chinese, they're better at making money, and they like crowded urban life, while Mexicans prefer exurbs, hate public transportation and love large private vehicles, and despise apartment buildings in favor of houses with yards. (In all of the NYT's Carlos Slim-financed hollering for more Mexicans, they've worked very hard to not notice that in a lot of ways related to preferred lifestyle, Mexicans are South Texans.) In contrast, the Chinese supposedly have a word to describe the perfect ambiance of a restaurant: hot, crowded, and noisy.

December 17, 2013

My new Taki's column: Education-Industrial Complex

From my new column in Taki's Magazine:
During the Vietnam War, a famous protest bumper sticker read: 
It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber. 
But these days, spending on quick fixes for education is approaching levels similar to the military-industrial complex. For example, Los Angeles school superintendent John Deasy plans to pay Apple a billion dollars to furnish every student with an iPad and software (some of which hasn’t gone through the formality of existing yet). 
While the Air Force’s notoriously expensive B-2 Stealth Bomber program cost $45 billion from 1979 to 2004, the LAUSD iPad rollout, if scaled up to the entire country, would total about $75 billion. 
That’s a lot of Rice Krispies Treats. 
A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon we ought to be talking about real management. Unfortunately, the education industry approaches aerospace-sized projects with more starry-eyed optimism than is prudent for a bake sale, much less a war.

Read the whole thing there to see what lessons we can learn for education reform management from a successful military innovation: the invention of stealth technology.

My single is dropping

Here's the cover picture of the new single "What Is Winter Good For?" by the French rock band Sudden Death of Stars. The song is pretty good! You can buy it on vinyl here. By the way, that's me, c. December 25, 1964-67, about to fire a warning shot over your head if you take one step closer to my presents while Topper, my Cocker Spaniel, bites you on the calf.

(By the way, I'd appreciate it if anybody can narrow down the year for me. Here's a less tightly cropped version of the photo that displays even more of my loot. So, if you are an expert on mid-Sixties boys' toys, please give it a look.)

That reminds me that one thing winter is good for is giving me presents, such as money. 

I want to thank everybody who has contributed so far to my latest quarterly iSteve fundraiser. It's very encouraging to wake up to donations.

Here are some options for donating:

First, you can make a tax deductible contribution via VDARE by clicking here. You can use credit card or check (please put my name on the memo line of any checks).

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Steve Sailer
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To explain the title of my post "My single is dropping:"

Handle's Haus on Edward Luttwak on China

Handle's Haus is a relatively new blog of heavyweight analyses. Currently, he has up an extremely in-depth review of strategist Edward Luttwak's “The Rise of China vs. The Logic of Strategy.”
Extremely long-term strategizing involves so much complexity and uncertainty that one cannot conceive of goals in anything but large generalities.  Luttwak is, very reasonably, highly materialistic on this score, and says that Grand Strategy is largely about trying to maximize the resources and various forms of capital under the sure command of future decision makers, but even more importantly the relative advantage one has over one’s potential rivals.  It’s worth it to take oneself down a notch if it takes your adversary down two.  But the positive side of the coin of Grand Strategy involves economic growth, a large and high quality population, the accumulation of lots of cutting-edge military hardware and advanced intelligence capabilities, and the right set of international alliances. 
So, you might simplify greatly and say that Grand Strategy is, “Make Decisions So As To Be As Much Stronger Than Your Competitors As Possible In The Future”.  Doing that, and assuming everyone else is also trying to do that, is very Realpolitick. 
But there’s a catch that is similar to what Heartiste says about super-alpha Paul Walker, “Rules governing human interaction break down and recombine into strange new polarities, nearly the inverse of the laws that regulate most biocommerce between the sexes.” 
Likewise, Luttwak contends that at the higher levels of Grand Strategy the logic of ‘get big or get stomped‘ reverses paradoxically.  If you pursue military agrandizement so monomaniacally and consistently with realpolitick that you start to seriously threaten your neighbors and competitors then, if they are smart enough and act in time, you will provoke them into forming an alliance of resistance dedicated to doing whatever is necessary short of nuclear war, but including crushing your economy, to prevent you from getting big enough to dominate.  Luttwak says that the ‘realists’ are in fact fooling themselves with a delusion in regards to imagining themselves as actors with ‘free will‘ and that the sequence of international power politics is much more deterministic as all the actors are in fact, “… trapped by the paradoxes of the logic of strategy, which imposes its own imperatives …” 
In other words, pursuing the action of rapid and massive growth in your military capabilities ends up being counterproductive in that it stimulates reactions by your counterparties which will  lower your overall competitiveness.  Trying to get ahead one notch encourages your competitors to get ahead two notches.  Of course, if you [are] able to get so big, so fast, while those counterparties fail to summon their will and organize, then you pass a tipping point and really do get to dominate and stomp.  The resistance-of-rivals-to-your-expected-future-power graph is a bell curve, running from indifference to near-conflict but then back to resignation and acquiescence or even effective subservience. 
What characterizes the realm of strategy is the impossibility of achieving straightforward results by straightforward action, because others exist and others react in between the two. 
But short of that, the ideal thing to do for an emerging great power (China, in this case) would be to artificially suppress your military aggrandizement and try to influence perceptions about your country in the direction of ‘friendly’, ‘trustworthy’, ‘peaceful’, ‘non-confrontational’, ‘cooperative’ and especially ‘non-threatening’ growing out of ‘objectively not interested in domination because not interested in military power’. 
Then the people that could stop you will be lulled into just ignoring you as you are able to devote all your resources grow your economy to colossal proportions.  All butter, no guns.  And then, after you’ve built your Mt. Everest of butter, you can use it later to buy yourself a world-class regionally-dominating military in short order, too quickly to be stopped.  And then you can stomp and dominate with it.  Suckers! 
That’s what you could do, but the bottom line of Luttwak’s book is that China is making a huge unforced error in this regard by not doing this, and in fact, doing the opposite.  China is pursuing a Realpolitick National Strategy of ‘get stronger fast’ (it’s no coincidence that Kissinger’s latest book, ‘On China‘, is a collection of flattery over growth which encourages them to do this) at the expense of more subtle Grand Strategy considerations, ‘but be careful not to provoke your counterparties into reaction’. 
China is doing it wrong in two ways, especially since a well recognized ‘behavioral shift’ in 2008 coinciding with the Global Financial Crisis.  First, it is growing its Armed Forces rapidly, with impressive annual military budget increases that sometimes even exceed their stellar pace of economic growth. 
 Second, in what Luttwak calls its ‘Premature Assertiveness’, China has pursued very obnoxious, aggressive, and confrontational policies with regard to territorial, maritime, and airspace disputes with other nations in the region.  It constantly makes stubborn and uncompromising maximal claims over everything ,and it has taken risky and threatening actions over every trivial pile of rocks in the ocean that ever had a Chinese subject sing a poem in which he dreamed about stepping foot there or maybe just fishing in the general vicinity. 
Contradicting the conventional wisdom as to its ‘purely commercial’ rationale, it does this whether or not there is actually any indicated of hydrocarbon reserves nearby, which emphasizes the military and regionally hegemonic motives of behavior. 

One other thing that has changed since 2008 or so is the new assumption that oil or gas might be found anywhere. Look at the change in attitude toward North Dakota: from "Maybe we should give it back to the bison; after all, Richard Florida's Creative Class is never going to move there, so what hope does North Dakota have for economic development?" to the current situation in which the New York Times runs frequent articles on the theme of "North Dakota: Threat or Menace?" out of a sense that the last thing NYT subscribers want is Another Texas.

So it now seems like a good idea to have as much territory as possible, because who knows when it will be profitable to frack the seabed around some rocks sticking up above low tide that you had the foresight to claim back in the day. 

The return of the economic importance of possessing sheer territory has the potential to increase military tensions in a world that had been getting pretty stable as the business logic of military conquest had been ever more widely seen to be a sham, just like Norman Angell said in The Great Illusion a hundred years ago.

David Brooks: "The Thought Leader"

David Brooks is back in the NYT after a sabbatical and has a column in his best style: Tom Wolfe-Lite social satire. And it makes use of the gimmick he invented for his didactic novel "The Social Animal" in which the main character ages but the era he lives in remains perpetually right now. His book seemed rushed by the demands of his other duties, but I still think this idea of writing about one character who lives perpetually in the present but whose perspective changes as he ages is an extremely promising one that other writers should consider exploiting.
The Thought Leader 

Little boys and girls in ancient Athens grew up wanting to be philosophers. In Renaissance Florence they dreamed of becoming Humanists. But now a new phrase and a new intellectual paragon has emerged to command our admiration: The Thought Leader.

The Thought Leader is sort of a highflying, good-doing yacht-to-yacht concept peddler. Each year, he gets to speak at the Clinton Global Initiative, where successful people gather to express compassion for those not invited. ...
Many people wonder how they too can become Thought Leaders and what the life cycle of one looks like. 
In fact, the calling usually starts young. As a college student, the future Thought Leader is bathed in attention. His college application essay, “I Went to Panama to Teach the Natives About Math but They Ended Up Teaching Me About Life,” is widely praised by guidance counselors. ... 
Not armed with fascinating ideas but with the desire to have some, he launches off into the great struggle for attention. At first his prose is upbeat and smarmy, with a peppy faux sincerity associated with professional cheerleading. 
Within a few years, though, his mood has shifted from smarm to snark. There is no writer so obscure as a 26-year-old writer. So he is suddenly consumed by ambition anxiety — the desperate need to prove that he is superior in sensibility to people who are superior to him in status. Soon he will be writing blog posts marked by coruscating contempt for extremely anodyne people: “Kelly Clarkson: Satan or Merely His Spawn?” 
Of course the writer in this unjustly obscure phase will develop the rabid art of being condescending from below. Of course he will confuse his verbal dexterity for moral superiority. Of course he will seek to establish his edgy in-group identity by trying to prove that he was never really that into Macklemore. 
Fortunately, this snarky phase doesn’t last. By his late 20s, he has taken a job he detests in a consulting firm, offering his colleagues strategy memos and sexual tension. By his early 30s, his soul has been so thoroughly crushed he’s incapable of thinking outside of consultantese. It’s not clear our Thought Leader started out believing he would write a book on the productivity gains made possible by improved electronic medical records, but having written such a book he can now travel from medical conference to medical conference making presentations and enjoying the rewards of being T.S.A. Pre. 
By now the Thought Leader uses the word “space” a lot — as in, “Earlier in my career I spent a lot of time in the abject sycophancy space, but now I’m devoting more of my energies to the corporate responsibility space.” 
The middle-aged Thought Leader’s life has hit equilibrium, composed of work, children and Bikram yoga. The desire to be snarky mysteriously vanishes with the birth of the first child. His prose has never been so lacking in irony and affect, just the clean translucence of selling out. 
He’s succeeding. Unfortunately, the happy moment when you are getting just the right amount of attention passes, and you don’t realize you were in this moment until after it is gone. 
The tragedy of middle-aged fame is that the fullest glare of attention comes just when a person is most acutely aware of his own mediocrity. By his late 50s, the Thought Leader is a lion of his industry, but he is bruised by snarky comments from new versions of his formerly jerkish self. Of course, this is when he utters his cries for civility and good manners, which are really just pleas for mercy to spare his tender spots. 
In the end, though, a lifetime of bullet points are replaced by foreboding. Toward the end of his life the Thought Leader is regularly engaging in a phenomenon known as the powerless lunch. He and another formerly prominent person gather to have a portentous conversation of no importance whatsoever.  ... 

As a literary format for fictional social satire, Brooks' method where the main character ages but society doesn't has some major advantages for both author and reader. The most natural genre for novelists is the lightly fictionalized autobiographical novel, but what it was like to grow up in, say, Westchester County in the 1980s isn't necessarily all that galvanizing a subject matter in 2013, especially for somebody of satirical bent: hair metal bands really aren't that funny anymore. They've been done. We're more interested in the author poking fun at what's going on right now, but an autobiographical character can only live in 2013 for a year.

So, Brooks' invention is to write an autobiographical novel always set in the eminently satirizable present.

The traditional alternative for a The Way We Live Now satirical novel is to invent a bunch of realistic characters of different ages and different backgrounds and have them interact in a well-crafted plot. But, that's hard work. Wolfe, for example, only was fully successful at it in The Bonfire of the Vanities. Hence, this Brooks method has promise as a genre that shouldn't demand as much talent and time from the author as traditional ones.

I presume somebody else in the long history of literature did this before Brooks, but off the top of my head, I can't think of who.

December 16, 2013

Steve and friend

I want to thank everybody who has contributed so far to my latest panhandling drive. It has been most encouraging.

Today, I'd like to focus upon readers who have never contributed. Please just try it once.

Here are some options for donating:

First, you can make a tax deductible contribution via VDARE by clicking here. You can use credit card or check (please put my name on the memo line of any checks).

Second, you can make a non-tax deductible contribution via credit card at WePay by clicking here

Third: You can mail a non-tax deductible donation to:

Steve Sailer
P.O Box 4142
Valley Village, CA 91607-4142


Texas coach out after failing to recruit accused rapist

U. of Texas football coach Mack Brown has resigned. Manny M. Escam writes:
I’m a University of Texas alum and bleed orange and have always supported Mack Brown as HC. However, even I know he did the right thing in passing the torch to someone else. One thing that will always stick in my mind is this: What do the last 4 Heisman Trophy winners (Jameis Winston, Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton) have in common? They all wanted to play for TEXAS, but Mack & Company were not interested. Either they were not recruited at all, and if they were, they were deemed low-profile recruits for positions other than QB at TEXAS.

The other thing they have in common, excluding Griffin (who appears to be a decent guy even though everybody now thinks he's a terrible person because his leg still hasn't healed from the horrific injury he suffered in a Redskins playoff game last year), is that Winston, Manziel, and Newton have all had serious brushes with the law.

Football coaches get paid millions of dollars per year to find and slide large, scary men onto campus alongside the thousands of coeds.

Is media coverage of intelligence testing really less accurate than 29 years ago?

In James Thompson's graph of Rindermann et al's new survey of psychometric experts' opinion of the accuracy of media outlets, the blue bars represent current ratings on a 1-9 scale. In contrast, the yellow bars represent similar ratings in the 1984 Snyderman and Rothman survey of experts. Seven media sources appeared in both the 1984 and 2013 studies: WSJ, NYT, Time, NPR, Washington Post, Newsweek, and commercial TV networks. All seven were rated roughly one point lower than 29 years ago.

(It's unfortunate that Fortune magazine doesn't appear in the chart: Back in 1984, Daniel Seligman's "Keeping Up" column in Fortune was outstanding. I can recall it occurring to me one day in the early 1990s while driving to work down Lake Shore Drive that Seligman's successor ought to be me.)

Has the accuracy of coverage declined over the last 29 years, as the graph suggests? I'm leery of drawing comparisons over time. It's the usual problem that social science instruments are pretty good at easy comparisons -- e.g., the quality of this blog vs. that of commercial networks -- but the kind of trend questions that everybody likes to obsess over -- Are things getting better or worse? -- require more methodological care.

Thinking back to my own memories 1984, I can't really come to a conclusion.

Consider the career of Charles Murray. In 1984, when he published Losing Ground, he didn't think much of IQ and therefore didn't know much about it. Over the next decade, he educated himself. But when he and the distinguished psychologist Richard Herrnstein proposed publishing The Bell Curve, Murray was dumped by his think tank. On the other hand, AEI snapped him up.

The New Republic published a big summary article on their book by Herrnstein and Murray in 1994, but it turned out that only publisher Marty Peretz and editor Andrew Sullivan didn't hate it. Fifteen staffers demanded to publish rebuttals, most of which were embarrassing. This suggests to me that back in the 1980s and 1990s passions were high , but the blanket wasn't so suffocating. My impression is that Peretz and Sullivan were kind of surprised that their staffers were such dopes on this subject.

My impression is that there are a few main differences between now and 1984.

- First, we have 29 years more of the accumulation of evidence of all types. And mostly things look pretty much as they did in 1984, just more so. It's a lot harder to argue today in good faith that Real Soon Now everything will be different, so the urge to crush dissenters and to control the past is even stronger.

- Second, back in 1984 the Orwellian practice of rewriting the past was only getting going. Stephen Jay Gould's bestseller The Mismeasure of Man was just three years old and hadn't yet been assigned to a generation of college students.

Obviously, Gould was in over his head in writing about intelligence testing. But he had a malign genius for appealing to modern college graduates' worst instincts. He grasped that what people want is not arguments based on data, but to be told who are the Bad Guys and who are the Good Guys: the professional wrestling version of the history of science. It's best to attack people who can't defend themselves and don't have any friends left to defend them. Thus, Gould got a lot of mileage out of smearing Samuel George Morton, who died in 1851. It was a brilliant innovation.

- Second, the last time Americans in general were interested in testing from a patriotic perspective was Post-Sputnik. There was a huge effort then to find and mobilize talent to out-think the Soviets.

And, guess what? It worked.

In 1984, the post-Sputnik era was a fading but still live memory. Today, it might as well be the bimetalism debate behind The Wizard of Oz.

- Third, neoconservatism has long since petered out as a dynamic interested in investigating domestic issues from a social science perspective. Back in the day, Norman Podhoretz and Martin Peretz commissioned a lot of intelligent articles on intelligence. But nobody with adequate funding has come along to replace the old neocons and neolibs who actually knew something.

- Fourth, media accuracy should have improved since 1984. We now have this thing called the Internet that let's you look stuff up without going to the library.

Hotbed of racists uncovered: Minnesota schoolteachers

One of the weirder aspects of our never-ending War to Sniff Out Racists is that many of the accused witches are nice liberal anti-racists themselves. For example, what percentage of Minneapolis-St. Paul public schoolteachers voted for Obama? Maybe 75%, right?

Well, they still smell racist. Just look at 'em. And we can prove they're evil because Data.

Thus, the big front page package on Sunday's Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
In Minnesota, race drives school labels, discipline 
Star Tribune Updated: December 15, 2013 - 9:25 PM 
The little yellow buses line up every morning outside Harrison Education Center in north Minneapolis, discharging dozens of teenagers to a high school no parents choose for their child.  
Classrooms are kept locked at all times. Fights and suspensions are common. No one has graduated in a couple of years. 
The school is where Minneapolis sends special education students with the worst behavior problems, kids who typically failed everywhere else they went. 
Administrators say the high school is supposed to be a temporary stop for students to learn self-control before going back to a less restrictive setting. 
But few ever leave. And nearly 90 percent of the students are black. 
Discrimination in the way students are labeled and disciplined has plagued special education across the country for decades, but a Star Tribune review of state and federal enrollment records shows that the problem is especially acute in Minnesota.  ... 
Similarly, black students account for 13 percent of special-ed enrollment but more than 40 percent of discipline measures. 
Minneapolis and St. Paul have been cited twice by state officials for suspending or expelling a disproportionate number of disabled black students since the state started tracking such data in 2009.  
The federal Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating Minneapolis’ discipline record. 
“This is at a crisis level,” said Liz Keenan, who oversees special education programs in St. Paul. “We can’t keep ignoring the fact that racially driven practices are occurring every day in school systems that are not benefiting our kids of color. … We can’t keep saying we didn’t know when we have the data right in front of us.” ...
In Minnesota, she said, mostly white educators decide who has a disorder and who doesn’t. ... 
St. Paul administrators have decided to confront the problem, and this fall, the district moved about 270 EBD [Emotional or Behavioral Disturbance] children out of their self-contained “learning centers” and into mainstream classes. The move affected 19 schools across the district, including seven elementary schools. 
That change in approach came after the district slashed suspensions of black students by 25 percent last year, well above its target of 10 percent, said Michelle Walker, CEO of St. Paul schools. Walker said the key was holding teachers and other school workers accountable for “their role in escalating the incident.” ... 
But the approach has polarized the district, leaving many teachers unhappy. They say the switch has compromised the quality of instruction and jeopardized the safety of students and staff members.  
“I have never been assaulted more in my entire career,” said one St. Paul teacher, who joined colleagues to protest the switch at a union meeting.  
Teachers at Hamline Elementary cite problems: A first-grader was slapped in the face by a newly mainstreamed EBD student; a disabled kindergartner took advantage of looser controls and ran away; nearly half of students in one class are EBD, causing frequent disruptions. 
Craig Anderson, Hamline’s principal, acknowledged the transition has been rough. He said it was too ambitious to think that every EBD student could handle a mainstream class all the time, and he agreed it was a mistake to put 11 kids with behavioral problems in a fifth-grade classroom. 
But he said his teachers, and most of his students, are making the adjustment. “This is the right thing to do. The kids are proving time and again that they can do it.” 
The transition dominated a St. Paul school board meeting in early December. Several board members said they had been inundated with calls and e-mails from teachers questioning the new approach. 
Board Member John Brodrick, a former teacher, said his impression was that moving so many EBD children into mainstream classes “is not working.” 
Administrators refused to back down, noting that 80 percent of the children who made the switch have been able to spend most of their time in the classroom. 
“The adults are the ones who are struggling,” not the kids, Frost Lake Principal Stacey Kadrmas said. ... 
Federal officials first notified Minnesota about that issue in 2010, concluding that the state’s ratio for defining unequal treatment was “too high.” At the time, a school district could face consequences only if minorities were disciplined five times as often as whites or dominated a disability category, such as EBD, by a ratio of 5-1. Under Minnesota’s rules, a district also has to be cited three years in a row and must have practices that caused the problem. 
Minnesota lowered its ratio to 4-1 in 2011. That remains among the highest thresholds in the country, according to a report this year from the Government Accountability Office. At least six other states use a similar ratio. 
By contrast, Louisiana regulators require action when racial groups are identified for special education at twice the rate of other students in any given year. They recently demanded changes in 73 school districts, according to the GAO.

You know, maybe there's a difference between white people in Lake Wobegon and white people in Louisiana? At least that's my impression from listening to Prairie Home Companion and Born on the Bayou. (Yes, I know CCR was from the San Francisco Bay.)

The Economist finally discovers the GOP's Marriage Gap (but for women only)

My November 2012 graph showing the GOP's
singles problem isn't just with unmarried women:
it's 77% as bad with unmarried men.
The marriage gap 
Republicans should worry that unmarried women shun them 
Dec 14th 2013 | From the print edition

THE slow decline of marriage is upending American politics. In the 2012 presidential election, unmarried women accounted for nearly a quarter of all votes cast. Their votes went decisively to Barack Obama, by 36 percentage points. 
You might not think that a group that runs from not-yet-married college students to inner-city single mothers and divorced professionals had much in common. Yet unmarried women are spectacularly loyal to the Democrats—if they vote, which many do not. (Widows are outliers, voting more like married women.)

My graphs group widows/widowers with the married under the logic that widowhood is an inevitable byproduct of marriage.
The “marriage gap” dwarfs the sex gap, by which women as a whole have long favoured Democrats: Mr Obama beat Mitt Romney by a less dramatic 11 points among female voters. 

There are minor differences between my graphs and the numbers The Economist reports because my graphs use the larger Reuters-Ipsos American Mosaic national online panel of 40,000 voters compared to The Economist's use of the exit poll of 25,000, which didn't invest in having adequate coverage in 20 states it considered uninteresting, such as giant Texas. But, the two big polls were in general agreement.
Like boffins squabbling about quantum physics, some political types wonder whether “unmarried women” amount to a discrete voter block at all, or whether the label merely sweeps up various left-leaning slices of the electorate: ie, younger voters, poorer ones, more secular Americans and non-whites. That would be no more than an interesting metaphysical question, but for three big and inter-related developments. 
First, unmarried women are one of America’s fastest-growing groups, leaping from 45m in 2000 to around 53m today—making them, in theory, a larger block of eligible voters than blacks and Hispanics put together (though in reality the groups overlap). 

Second, Democrats—notably the Obama crowd—have found ways to map the electorate with unprecedented precision, using everything from polls and doorstep canvassing to commercial consumer databases. In the Dark Ages (ie, before 2008), campaigns might have blanketed majority-black city blocks or mostly-Democratic neighbourhoods with appeals to register and vote, while saturating the airwaves with paid advertising. That wasted time and money on those who always vote anyway, those who never vote, and those who (gasp) might vote Republican. Now the talk is of target “universes”: focusing resources on those who need just a nudge to come out and vote the right way. 
It turns out that two principal campaign tasks—persuading swing voters, and turning out loyal but sporadic supporters—are made far more efficient if marital status is added to the mix, alongside such markers as sex, race, income and geography. That holds equally true when buying advertising alongside the right TV shows, and when leafleting selected homes in specific streets. Nationally, Page Gardner, a voter-registration expert, has crafted models that allow unmarried women to be found with great accuracy. Conservatives are still playing catch-up. 
In November’s election for governor of Virginia—a race won narrowly by Terry McAuliffe, a Democratic fundraiser and member of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s inner circle—fully two-thirds of voters chosen for special attention by Democratic get-out-the-vote teams were unmarried women, says Michael Halle, a McAuliffe campaign guru. Unmarried women voted for Mr McAuliffe by a thumping 42 percentage-point margin over his Republican rival, Ken Cuccinelli, arguably handing him victory. (Married women backed Mr Cuccinelli by nine points.) 
For an explanation, consider a third big development: the Republicans’ embrace of policies and slogans that might have been laboratory-crafted to upset and unite different types of unmarried women. ...

A more accurate way of thinking about this is that the Democrats know that they can trawl online through the public utterances of hundreds of miscellaneous Republican candidates nationwide, then sic their pet national news media outlets to carpet bombing the public with an orchestrated campaign of umbrage over what some Republican somewhere said.
Pragmatic Republicans know the party needs to tone down its social conservatism. But even so, it may struggle with singletons. Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster, says single women of differing races, ages, classes and religiosity are united by a sense of fending for themselves. That makes them more likely to favour a strong role for government as a safety net.

"Fending for themselves" < > "strong role for government as a safety net," but never mind logic.

I bring up this article to show how hard it is for anybody to step outside the dominant Who? Whom? Narrative of our times in which vast exercises in power are used to redefine their beneficiaries as the sainted Powerless.

The GOP's marriage gap is 77% as large among men as among women, which suggests the GOP's problem is less women than singleness. But, practically nobody notices that because everybody is so inculcated in thinking in terms of Good Guys and Bad Guys.

Single women are, by Narrative definition, Good Guys.

Single men are ... well, ambiguous at best. They are men, so they are by that definition by Bad Guys. Their singleness could be spun either way, but mostly there are a lot of single ladies out there who want single men to put a ring on it. On the other hand, single men do vote strongly for Obama. It's a puzzlement, so it's best just to completely ignore single men because they don't fit conveniently into Narrative categories of Good v. Bad.

Moreover, the policy recommendations that flow from these perspectives (the GOP's problem is single women versus the GOP's problem is single people) are opposite. The Economist, representing the dominant mindset, thinks the GOP should strive harder to make single motherhood even more socially acceptable than it is now, which, presumably, would lead to even more single women. But they are natural Republicans. Oh, except they are not.

My suggestion, in contrast, is that the GOP should finally notice that it's time to try policies for making marriage more affordable.