February 15, 2014

German exhaustion

Because we English-speakers won the Big One, we don't pay much attention to Germans anymore, although that wasn't true of Americans in the past such as Mark Twain. But the Germans still have much influence upon us. It was only recently, for example, that I noticed how much of the 1960s hippie movement was derived from earlier German sources.

Many fin de siècle Germans were indefatigably obsessed with their exhaustion, which they tirelessly combated with strenuous new "life reform" regimens. Anna Katharina Schaffner writes in the Times Literary Supplement on "German Burnout:"
Martynkewicz marshals an impressive range of evidence to establish that numerous German bourgeois and bohemians living around the turn of the twentieth century felt physically and emotionally drained by the demands of what they perceived as an ever more complex modernity. Perceptive case studies include the “tired colossus” Otto von Bismarck, the diet-obsessed Friedrich Nietzsche, the sharp and ascetic Cosima Wagner, the depressed Protestant Max Weber, and the fitness fanatic Franz Kafka, as well as Gustav Meyrink, Thomas Mann, Rainer Maria Rilke and many other key figures of German modernism. 
Rilke’s famous dictum “Du mußt dein Leben ändern” ["You must change your life"]

I liked on the Larry Sanders show when Hank the sidekick says thankfully to guest Jeff Goldblum: "Jurassic Park ... that movie ... changed my life."
neatly sums up the resolute attempts of these characters to counter their exhaustion-related disease by subscribing to various tenets of Lebensreform (lifestyle reform). It is one of the many strengths of this fine study that the intricate connection between these salvation-promising reform movements and exhaustion is so cogently demonstrated: Martynkewicz shows that the fin de siècle did not just produce exhaustion, but also saw the advent of numerous strategies to counter and even to prevent its effects. “In times of weakness and illness”, he writes, “the longing for salvation and redemption, as well as for saviours, spiritual guides, prophets, trainers and dieticians, multiplies.” Among the prophets we encounter are the naturopath Ernst Schweninger, whose allegedly miraculous regime was said to have transformed the “obese and miserable dotard” Bismarck into a strong and “elastic” young man; the raw food advocate and deviser of Bircher muesli, Max Bircher-Benner; his colleague Heinrich Lahmann; and the endocrinologist Eugen Steinach, who performed and popularized dubious and later discredited rejuvenation operations. 
Other practices that were frequently mobilized to counter exhaustion include nudism, vegetarianism, macrobiotics, gymnastics, yoga, gardening and expressive dancing. Martynkewicz discusses the thriving sanatorium culture (famously satirized in Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain), as well as a phenomenon called “Europe-fatigue”, manifest in an escapist idealization of the Orient’s exotic otherness, as seen, for example, in Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha. Das Zeitalter der Erschöpfung goes on to engage with a range of famous declinist thinkers such as Oswald Spengler and, above all, Nietzsche, who articulated a sense of “belatedness” and bitterly complained about the decadence, degeneracy and weakness of their contemporaries.

I suspect you could add Hitler to that list as a late fin de siècle figure unflagging in his worries that race-poisoning was exhausting the Germans.

Of course, from the perspective of other times and places, late 19th and 20th century Germans seem notably inexhaustible. 

And that pretty much uses up my mental energy on the subject. Time to go watch some TV.

New York Times = Daily Mail when Whites Behave Badly

From the front pages of DailyMail.co.uk and NYTimes.com.

The Daily Mail specializes in police blotter stories, while the New York Times abstains from them ... unless it's a white guy victimizing a black. Then, a local story from a thousand miles away becomes Front Page News in the NYT.

The wind is at the back of Open Borders

From Marginal Revolution:
The Moral Is the Practical 
by Alex Tabarrok on February 15, 2014  
Tyler concedes the moral high ground to advocates of open borders but argues that the proposal is “doomed to fail and probably also to backfire in destructive ways.” In contrast, I argue that the moral high ground is tactically the best ground from which to launch a revolution.  
Contra Tyler, the lesson of history is that few things are as effective at launching a revolution as is moral argument.  ...
In more recent times, civil unions have gone nowhere while equality of marriage has succeeded beyond all expectation. The problem with civil unions, and with the synthetic and marginalist approach more generally, is that even though it offers everyone something that they want, it concedes the moral high ground–perhaps there is something different about gay marriage which makes it ok to treat it differently–and for that reason it attracts few adherents. ... 
The moral argument for open borders is powerful. How can it be moral that through the mere accident of birth some people are imprisoned in countries where their political or geographic institutions prevent them from making a living?

Personally speaking, my children's births weren't accidents. In general, the higher the proportion of non-accidental births in your community, the better.
Indeed, most moral frameworks (libertarian, utilitarian, egalitarian, and others) strongly favor open borders or find it difficult to justify restrictions on freedom of movement. As a result, people who openly defend closed borders sound evil, even when they are simply defending what most people implicitly accept.

Alex is referring to me sounding evil. His link goes to Bryan Caplan saying:
Think about it like this: Steve Sailer's policy views are much closer to the typical American's than mine.  Compared to me, he's virtually normal.  But the mainstream media is very sweet to me, and treats Steve like a pariah.  I have to admit, it's bizarre.

Only in your dreams ....

From the New York Times:
Football’s Loving Culture 
... The very nature of football, focused as it is on strength, virility, grace and manly bonding, has an obvious homoerotic component for those who play and for those who watch. 

As I pointed out in 1994 in "Why Lesbians Aren't Gay," the existence of popular gay sex fantasies about manly men who are actually secretly gay -- "How could they resist each other? I couldn't!" -- isn't actually evidence that they are gay.

Tragically, we have a lot of real data about male homosexuality by profession from AIDS deaths in the 1980s and 1990s. There was at least one among former NFL players (and there are rumors about at least one more who died young), but there are a lot of former NFL players. In contrast, there aren't many famous male figure skaters but a high proportion died of AIDS, such as both the 1972 and 1976 Olympic gold medalists. (See the 11/17/92 article in the New York Times: "AIDS deaths tear at figure-skating world.")

A lot of gay males might fantasize about being effeminate skaters like Jason Brown or Johnny Weir, but not about being with them. It's more fun for them to fantasize about all the homoerotic energy there must be in the team shower with Antonio Cromartie.

February 14, 2014


From the University of North Carolina Daily Tarheel:
Vagina Monologues will be performed this weekend in Spanish and English 
By Breanna Kerr | The Daily Tar Heel 
Two women who have never met are performing in this year’s bilingual production of “The Vagina Monologues” for the same reason: to encourage women to embrace their bodies. 
“Don’t be afraid to say the word ‘vagina’ anymore!” said junior Ashleigh Curry, the narrator in the English production of Eve Ensler’s famous play. ... 
“We forget about the vagina — all of us — but ‘The Vagina Monologues’ has a way of putting it up in your face,” she said.

Tyler Cowen tries to arbitrate between Bryan Caplan and me


To dissuade Bart from attempting a foolhardy leap, Lisa Simpson takes him to the hospital to see the ruined body of his hero, professional daredevil Lance Murdock:
Lisa: My brother's gonna jump Springfield Gorge on a skateboard. 
Lance Murdock: Could you leave me with the kids, please? Let me start by saying ... good for you, son! It's always good to see young people taking an interest in danger. Now a lot of people are going to be telling you you're crazy, and maybe they're right.  But the fact of the matter is: 
Bones heal.   
Chicks dig scars.   
And the United States of America has the best doctor-to-daredevil ratio in the world!

Big genetic atlas paper

Nicholas Wade reports in the NYT:
Tracing Ancestry, Researchers Produce a Genetic Atlas of Human Mixing Events 
By NICHOLAS WADE    FEB. 13, 2014

... Now, geneticists applying new statistical approaches have taken a first shot at both identifying and dating the major population mixture events of the last 4,000 years, with the goal of providing a new source of information for historians. 
Some of the hundred or so major mixing events they describe have plausible historical explanations, while many others remain to be accounted for. For instance, many populations of the southern Mediterranean and Middle East have segments of African origin in their genomes that were inserted at times between A.D. 650 and 1900, according to the geneticists’ calculations. This could reflect the activity of the Arab slave trade, which originated in the seventh century, and the absorption of slaves into their host populations. 
The lowest amount of African admixture occurs in the Druse, a religious group of the Middle East that prohibited slavery and has been closed to converts since A.D. 1043. 
Another mixing event is the injection of European-type DNA into the Kalash, a people of Pakistan, at some time between 990 and 210 B.C. This could reflect the invasion of India by Alexander the Great in 326 B.C. The Kalash claim to be descended from Alexander’s soldiers, as do several other groups in the region.

A lot of things peoples say about themselves aren't completely made up.
The genetic atlas of human mixing events was published on Thursday in the journal Science by a team led by Simon Myers of Oxford University, Garrett Hellenthal of University College London and Daniel Falush of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. Having sampled genomes from around the world, they found they could detect about 95 distinguishable populations. 
Though all humans have the same set of genes, their genomes are studded with mutations, which are differences in the sequence of DNA units in the genome. These mutations occur in patterns because whole sets of mutations are passed down from parent to child and hence will be common in a particular population. 
Based on these patterns, geneticists can scan a person’s genome and assign the ancestry of each segment to a particular race or population. 
The team led by Dr. Myers has developed a statistical technique for identifying the chromosomal segments with particular precision. This enables them to perform a second feat, that of assigning a date to the one or more mixing events that have affected a population. 
... One of the most widespread events his group has detected is the injection of Mongol ancestry into populations within the Mongol empire, such as the Hazara of Afghanistan and the Uighur Turks of Central Asia. The event occurred 22 generations ago, according to genetic dating, which corresponds to the beginning of the 14th century, fitting well with the period of the Mongol empire.

... Dr. Myers and his colleagues have detected European ancestry that entered the Tu people of central China between the 11th and 14th centuries; this, they surmise, could be from traders traveling the Silk Road. 
They find among Northern Italians an insertion of Middle Eastern DNA that occurred between 776 B.C. and A.D. 550, and may represent the Etruscans, a mysterious people said by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus to have emigrated from Lydia in Turkey. 

The Etruscans apparently turned into the Tuscans (e.g., Florence). They've always had a lot of style.
The Myers group has posted its results on a web page that records the degree of admixture in each population. The English, however, known to be a rich medley of Celts with invaders such as the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Danes and Norwegians, carry the notation “No strong evidence of admixture.” Dr. Myers said his method cannot yet detect genetic mixing between very similar populations, as was the case with the English and their invaders from Scandinavia and Northern Germany.
Dienekes has more here:
While reading this study, it is important to remember its limitations. Two are immediately obvious: (i) admixture events can only be detected for the last few thousand years, as this method depends on pattern of linkage disequilibrium which decays exponentially with time due to recombination, and (ii) detection of admixture seems to depend on the presence of maximally differentiated populations from the edges of the human geographical range; for example, the Japanese appear unadmixed even though they are clearly of dual Jomon/Yayoi ancestry. On the other hand, the method does detect the admixture present in the San at a similar time scale. 
The case of Northwestern Europe appears especially striking as none of the populations from the region show evidence of admixture. This may be because the mixtures taking place there (e.g., between "Celts" and "Anglo-Saxons" in Great Britain) involved populations that were not strongly differentiated. Alternatively, population admixture history may have preceded the last few thousand years and is thus beyond the temporal scope of this method.
Here's a companion website.

February 13, 2014

Why so few above average black QBs?

Here's a graph from a gigantic Deadspin compilation on the subject of black NFL quarterbacks. It's of the distribution of quarterback seasons by yards per pass attempt (which is probably the single best traditional statistic for assessing passing performance) versus that season's league average. White quarterbacks are distributed in a bell curve, while there are a lot of fair to middling black quarterbacks, but a clear shortage of ones more than 5% better than the league. 

This chart doesn't include running yards, which blacks are better at compiling. So, the two groups are more similar in overall effectiveness. But it does deflate the not implausible assumption that blacks ought to be better passers because they are more dangerous runners, so the defense have to look out for the QB taking off downfield.

My guess would be that the game has gotten so sophisticated that it's now hard to become a consistently well-above average NFL passer if you haven't been focused on passing and nothing much else since you were about 13 years old. 

And that sort of means that you need your Dad coaching you or hiring QB tutors for you, instead of just listening to your coach. Your coach's conflict of interest is that he needs to win this weekend's game more than he needs to develop you as an NFL pocket passer. Most black guys who have played quarterback in the NFL were just about the best runners on their high school teams. So, if you want to leave the pocket, put the ball under your arm and run to victory, well that's okay with your coach even if it develops habits in you incompatible with being a Manning/Brady in the NFL. (Among other things, it's not fair to your teammates to prioritize your development over the team winning.)

I don't know that that's true, but it seems like something that could be tested with enough high school data.

Demographics behind Winter Olympics advertising

Here's a question about the Winter Olympics: what percentage of competitors don't have at least one parent who is big into some winter sport?

Part of the appeal of the Winter Olympics to advertisers is that a huge number of moms watch it, in part because they like seeing the successful products of nice families who engaged in a lot of (not inexpensive) family fun together.

The commercials are so mom-oriented that they can drive viewers crazy, although marketers seem to be doing a little better job this time of preparing variations on the commercials instead of just repeating the same one over and over. (I can still almost repeat the 1972 Summer Olympics Irish Spring soap commercial word for word -- of course, that was the plan. Now that I think about it, I probably have some Irish Spring soap in the closet today, right next to the Ricola cough drops I've been buying since watching 500 repetitions of their Swiss alpenhorn ad (1:03) on CNN during the Gulf War.)

For example, above is a long Kellogg's breakfast cereal commercial about teenage ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson. First, she explains that there's no such thing as "a recreational ski-jumper," and then her father explains that his longest ski jump was only 60 meters. Then we learn that she first got into ski-jumping as a child because her brother did it.

And here is Sarah's Visa credit card commercial with voice-over by Amelia Earhart that's another in a long line of what I call Patriotic Feminist advertising:
You see, among American corporations, there has long been a huge demand for Feminist Barrier Shattering to incorporate into TV commercials. The problem is that almost all the barriers were shattered a long time ago. Fortunately, there are a few obscure holdouts, such as ski-jumping, that can be still hunted down and slain with great publicity. Some European ski-jumping muckety-mucks were quoted worrying publicly about lack of depth of competition among women, women getting badly injured, and, privately, about anorexia, which has been problem among male jumpers. 

There's nothing that Corporate America loves more than American women challenging European sexism, as the periodic women's national team soccer fads have demonstrated.

One reason for this sounds paradoxical: female athletes in obscure sports, the ones that aren't part of public school sports programs like basketball, almost always have fathers in their lives, at minimum paying a lot of bills, and often living out their sporting ambitions through their daughters.

In contrast, daughters of today's much valorized Single Moms tend to be more focused upon becoming as much like Kim Kardashian as possible.

And, though they'd never ever admit it in so many words, advertisers aren't all that interested in the Single Mom market because they have less money to spend.

[This is the point where I got thrown off track by looking up skier Julia Mancuso's family background.]

The sweet spot for advertisers is married women with children whose husbands make six figures.

So the Winter Olympics are ideal for advertisers because so many of the sports are the kind that affluent families partake of.

But a problem for advertisers is that they really, really like to put at least one African American into each ad, no matter how improbable, but sports that draw from prosperous intact families seem kind of racist to blacks. So if that black speedskater from Chicago doesn't hurry up and win something, advertisers are going to be hurting for the 2018 winter games. But they'll come up with something.

The actual details of these inspiring Patriotic Feminist stories where enlightened Americans overcome Norwegian sexism aren't important. For example, Sarah Hendrickson did indeed have a horrible crash awhile ago and has yet to fully recover. (Olympians get drug tested more than NFL players, so they don't make as fast recoveries as football players have recently been doing: e.g., Lindsey Vonn isn't at these Olympics more than a year after her big injury.)

And, if you watch the VISA commercial of Hendrickson's stick figure flying, it's pretty clear that she's got some kind of anorexia-like problem that's interfering with her recovery from her knee injuries (just like those horrible sexist Europeans said).

Of course, as we saw during the 2012 Summer Olympics, nobody notices nuthin' about how odd various celebrities look.

Summer Olympians tend to be ultraspecialized in shape, except for the occasional pole vaulter or decathlete. Because the competition is less fierce for the Winter Olympics, at least for now the athletes tend to be more good-looking sportsmen and sportswomen in the old-fashioned mode. Which advertisers don't mind.

Skier Julia Mancuso's drug kingpin father

A Mancuso family reunion
at Lake Tahoe *
I was working on a theory about the family background of American Winter Olympians, and decided to look up Julia Mancuso (b. 1984), who has won more medals than any other American woman ski racer. The NBC profile of her said she has always spent a lot of each year in Hawaii ever since she was a child. She appears to have a couple of dozen relatives and friends with her who have taken time off from whatever it is they do to fly to Russia to root her on. So, I decided to look up her family background on Wikipedia:
Mancuso of Italian descent, was born in Reno, Nevada, and grew up in the Lake Tahoe area as the middle of three sisters, between older sister April and younger sister Sara. Her father, Ciro Mancuso, was arrested and convicted of running a $140 million marijuana smuggling operation when Julia was five years old.[17] Her parents divorced in 1992, and her mother said that Julia "took everything out on the slopes."[17] After his release from prison in 2000, Julia and her father became close.[17] 
Ciro Mancuso's welcome home party *
Mancuso's sentence was greatly reduced because of his cooperation with the government in cases against other alleged organization members and Mancuso's lawyer Patrick Hallinan. As a result of his assistance to the government, Mancuso was allowed to keep $5 million in proceeds from his trafficking business.

Her father Ciro Mancuso was a prominent enough drug dealer to get his own Wikipedia page:
The son of immigrants from Italy, Mancuso was a real estate developer before venturing into the lucrative narcotics business. His smuggling operation began in the late 1960s, when he teamed up with a group of college friends from Tahoe Paradise College. At first, they only sold marijuana at their college, but soon the business grew. ... Mancuso soon realized that there was more profit to be made selling cocaine and integrated it into his marijuana operation. 
It took the government twelve years to build a case against Mancuso.[3] Anthony White, assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada, brought charges against Mancuso in 1990 and it was hailed as one of the largest drug conspiracy cases in state history. The indictment alleged that Mancuso used a multi-state cocaine and marijuana smuggling operation to buy ranches, mountaintop retreats, beach-front estates and anything else he might want.[4]
Ciro and Uncle Fredo discuss Mancuso family business
Mancuso was sentenced to nine years in prison on June 27, 1995[5] His sentence was greatly reduced because of his cooperation with the government in cases against other alleged organization members and Mancuso's lawyer Patrick Hallinan.[1] As a result of his assistance to the government, Mancuso was allowed to keep $5 million in proceeds from his trafficking business.[6] Hallinan was subsequently acquitted of obstruction of justice and drug conspiracy charges.[7] Mancuso's property in Hawaii was seized by the federal government and sold; the $800,000 proceeds were forwarded to the California and Nevada law enforcement agencies that pursued him.[8] 
His daughter, Julia Mancuso, is a current member of the U.S. Ski Team. She won the gold medal in the giant slalom at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy,the silver medal in the downhill at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, and the bronze metal in the women's combine event at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. After his release from prison in March 2000,[9] Ciro Mancuso again became involved in Julia's skiing career.[10] Father and daughter have maintained a close relationship, and she credits him with helping her in her ski career, particularly when it comes to setting her up with a trainer in Maui.[11] He was in the crowd cheering his daughter to victory as he and other relatives waved their "Super Jules" flags.[12]
I'm not sure how I'm going to fit that into my upcoming theory, but I couldn't resist passing it on.  

* Just kidding: the photos are stills from The Godfather, Part II.

Maybe that wasn't the ultimate Slate headline

Instead, how about this new one?

Up'Ards v. Down'Ards

Like the World Cup, much of the appeal of the Olympics as a spectator event comes from nationalism. Despite numerous predictions over the decades that in the future athletes will compete for the corporations they endorse, there has been almost zero development in the direction of Team Nike v. Team Coke contests. Nobody would watch.

Territorialism remains the dominant emotional impulse among spectators. (For example, in golf the chief spectating evolution over the last generation has been the rise of the America v. Europe Ryder Cup team event.)

On the other hand, the desire for victory is so great that spectators will typically accept as their representative any talented ringer who dons the local colors. hbd chick points out that practically nobody on either Super Bowl team came from anywhere near the cities they represented. 

As I get older and the male urge to pick a side, any side, diminishes, my interesting in cheering for hired gladiators falls away. The last time I fanatically rooted for a local pro team was a couple of decades ago when a good friend's younger brother was the leader of the team. 

In the last decade, I got interested in local high school football again. But my interest fell away as recruiting increased among San Fernando Valley teams. For example, my old high school wound up with a quarterback who lived 40 miles away in Claremont in the far San Gabriel Valley, requiring his parents to drive 160 miles per day to deliver him to this top football program. Out in the countryside, that wouldn't seem too outlandish, but in a metropolis of 17 million people, it's a little much.

As you get older, the sheer number of people you've met continues to increase and you come to be more interested in the web of connections. (For example, lyric poets tend to evolve into social novelists as they age.) But the structures of modern American sports (e.g., the pro drafts almost completely randomize players geographically) militate against that.

hbd chick goes on to say:
what DOES make sense to me (as far as any sports game could) are sporting events built around real groups — groups of people that have some sort of ties to one another: 
- ashbourne’s royal shrovetide football match where the game is between the town’s “up’ards” and “down’ards,” i.e. individuals actually born in the town to the north or the south of the local river.

From Wikipedia:
The Royal Shrovetide Football Match occurs annually on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday in the town of Ashbourne in Derbyshire, England. Shrovetide ball games have been played in England since at least the 12th century from the reign of Henry II (1154–89). The Ashbourne game also known as "hugball" has been played from at least c.1667 although the exact origins of the game are unknown due to a fire at the Royal Shrovetide Committee office in the 1890s which destroyed the earliest records.[1][2][3][4] One of the most popular origin theories suggests the macabre notion that the 'ball' was originally a severed head tossed into the waiting crowd following an execution.[5] ... 
The game is played over two days on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, starting each day at 2.00 pm and lasting until 10.00 pm. If the goal is scored (in local parlance, the ball is goaled) before 5.00 pm a new ball is released and play restarts from the town centre, otherwise play ends for the day. Despite the name, the ball is rarely kicked, though it is legal to kick, carry or throw it. Instead it generally moves through the town in a series of hugs, like a giant scrum in rugby, made up of dozens if not hundreds of people. When the ball is goaled, the scorer is carried on the shoulders of his colleagues into the courtyard of The Green Man Royal Hotel, and into the small bar, known as the Boswell Bar.[31] 
The two teams that play the game are known as the Up'Ards and the Down'Ards (local dialect for "upwards and downwards"). Up'Ards traditionally are those town members born north of Henmore Brook, which runs through the town, and Down'Ards are those born south of the river. Each team attempts to carry the ball back to their own goal from the turn-up, rather than the more traditional method of scoring at/in the opponents goal. There are two goal posts 3 miles apart, one at Sturston Mill (where the Up'Ards attempt to score), the other at Clifton Mill (where the Down'Ards score). ... 
The actual process of 'goaling' a ball requires a player to hit it against the mill stone three successive times. This is not a purely random event however, as the eventual scorer is elected en route to the goal and would typically be someone who lives in Ashbourne or at least whose family is well known to the community. The chances of a 'tourist' goaling a ball are very remote, though they are welcome to join in the effort to reach the goal. When a ball is 'goaled' that particular game ends.
The game is played through the town with no limit on number of players or playing area (aside from those mentioned in the rules below). Thus shops in the town are boarded up during the game, and people are encouraged to park their cars away from the main streets.

Does anybody remember the name of P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves story in which Bertie gets roped into taking part in one of these kind of ancient village ballbrawls?

February 12, 2014

Post: No diversity at Winter Olympics

From the Washington Post:
Whiter than ‘Downton’ 
Mike Wise 
COLUMN | No matter where he finishes, U.S. speedskater Shani Davis remains an unfortunate exception at the Games.
SOCHI, Russia — COLUMN | Don’t listen to your friends back home saying the Winter Olympics are just for white people who like the cold and vacation in Aspen. This is the most inclusive Winter Games ever. Why, there are Caucasians here from almost 88 different nations. 

East Asians are Caucasians, diversitywise.
Bada-bing! I’ll be here all week. 
Actually, I will be here the next 10 days. And in that time, I will encounter no more than a dozen people of African American descent. They are the same ones I see over and over. 
Speedskater Shani Davis, Lolo Jones and the U.S. women’s bobsled team, NBC correspondent Lewis Johnson and about three other black journalists ... 
Maybe it’s because I lived in the District for eight years. Maybe it’s because I spent my formative years in a real melting pot: rural Oahu, Hawaii, where diversity in ethnicity and culture are part of island life. Maybe I’m just used to seeing and feeling comfortable being around a variety of people, many of whom don’t look like me. 
Whatever, this place is whiter than an episode of “Downton Abbey.” ...
Sochi is one of the most multinational cities in Russia. There are ethnic Russians, about 70 percent of the population, Armenians, Ukrainians, Georgians, Greeks, Circassians, Belorussians, Tatars and Jews — which create roughly a, oh, 100 percent Caucasian stew. 
Now, you are reading this and thinking one of two things: What’s with the white guilt, son? Or, What does race have to do with the greatest athletes in the world competing in their chosen disciplines, most of which just happen to be contested against other Caucasians? 
Look, I don’t care about the color of the competitors. And I don’t think the paucity of black or Hispanic athletes should cheapen any gold medal, as if somehow this were a cold-war Olympics that didn’t include some of the greatest sporting nations. 
The fact is, despite Vonetta Flowers becoming the first black person to become a Winter Olympic gold medalist as a bobsledder in 2002, despite Davis becoming the first male African American to win individual gold in 2006, there hasn’t been a whole lot of carryover. 
Like golf waiting forever for the Tiger Woods Factor to kick in, the USOC and other nations are still waiting for that next wave of racial diversity in the Winter Games. 
I do wonder what an athlete like Davis thinks when he shows up at the Games. It’s one thing to understand your chosen sport has international competitions in Norway and the Netherlands and that almost all of your competitors will be white. It’s another thing to show up on the world stage and see that hardly anyone in any sport looks like you. 
Aside from the large contingent of Asian athletes

But they don't count.
and a smattering of Jamaican bobsledders and Tongans, the Opening Ceremonies’ Parade of Nations is as white as a von Trapp family reunion. ...
Is it more troubling for the Winter Games to be the province of the white or of the rich? 
Winter sports are on the average much more expensive than outdoor American stick-and-ball sports. But one of the greatest misconceptions about any of these competitions is that the athletes by and large came from affluent, privileged backgrounds. 
I’ve seen and heard too many stories of financial struggle and hardship to buy that. Without benefactors and major sponsorship, most U.S. athletes aren’t here. 
But speaking from a purely egalitarian view

In contrast, the racial make-up of the Super Bowl champs is an example of diversity and egalitarianism and all those good things.
it would be nice to see a country like the United States have its Winter Olympic team someday more accurately represent the diversity of its population — if only because more people would care, watch, read and give someone such as Shani Davis the attention and love he and his sport deserve. 
Otherwise, these Games are going to continue to resemble the inside of a giant snow globe, forever powdery white.

Forever hideously powdery white -- Fixed that for ya.

By the way, in 1913 Russian newspapers discovered that there was a village of 500 black Africans living near Batumi in Russian Abkhazia, a couple of hundred miles south of Sochi.

Here's the Wikipedia page on Afro-Abkhazians.

The ultimate Slate headline

From Slate

Why is Belgium so bad at the Olympics?

One of the oddities of Olympic history is how little Belgium cares. Not having ski mountains, it's not too surprising that they don't do well at the Winter Olympics. But, fellow lowcountry neighbor Netherlands (which as about 50% more people) is quite good, especially at the Hans Brinker sports:

Belgium: Winter Olympics: 5 medals
Netherlands: Winter Olympics: 96 medals

The Summer Games medal totals aren't all that different:

Belgium: Summer Olympics: 142 medals
Netherlands: Summer Olympics: 266 medals

But the Belgians won 36 of those medals at the 1920 Antwerp Summer Olympics. 

From 2000 onward, Netherlands has completely outdone them:

Belgium: 21st Century Winter Olympics: 0 medals *
Netherlands: 21st Century Winter Olympics: 35 medals

Belgium: 21st Century Summer Olympics: 7 medals
Netherlands: 21st Century Winter Olympics: 83 medals

* This may or may not include medals Belgium has won at the current Winter Olympics (if any): nobody seems to have updated Belgium's Olympic medals Wikipedia page. But that's sort of my point.

There are no doubt a lot of reasons for this, but I suspect (off the top of my head) that a big one is that Belgium isn't a nation. It emerged as a Catholic agglomeration and was formalized in 1839 by the Great Powers to be an intentionally weak neutral country on the boundary between Romance-speaking and Germanic-speaking Europe.

Many of Britain's most famous battles in history (e.g., Waterloo) have been fought in Belgium or very nearby (Agincourt, the Somme).

That's why pan-European institutions like the E.U are so often headquartered in Brussels. 

It's been a rich place for a thousand years -- the rivers of northwestern Europe provide excellent soil and transport. But the Flemish-speakers and the French-speakers don't get all that excited by the nationalism of the Olympics. With the decline in religious identity, there's not much to hold Belgium together except that foreign elites want it to exist.

Up to a point, Lord Saakashvili

From the New York Times:
Czar Vladimir's Illusions 

NEW YORK — As the Winter Olympics begin in Sochi, a close Russian ally in Ukraine is suppressing and shooting pro-democracy protesters. 
One could be forgiven for thinking that the hour of triumph for autocrats and the retreat of democrats is at hand as the world gathers to celebrate the shining rule of Czar Vladimir. 
But do the Sochi Olympics really prove that President Vladimir V. Putin’s model of oil-fueled authoritarianism is the only one that can bring happiness and prosperity to Russia and the region?

Though my country, Georgia, has almost no oil, it might hold the answer....
When Russia was bidding to be host of the Olympics, it had enthusiastic Georgian support, as we believed holding the Games in Sochi would enhance chances for peace and improve relations. Instead, several months after the Kremlin won its bid to host the Olympics, Russia invaded Georgia. 

Up to a point, Lord Saakashvili. You started the 2008 war, in the fundamental sense of sending your tanks in a sneak invasion across the de facto boundary, after which you were promptly whomped by the surprised Russians.

You could argue that since the South Ossetian territory you invaded was part of the Republic of Georgia under the USSR, that you had the right to do that. But that would be like Anwar Sadat arguing that when he started the Yom Kippur War in October 1973 by crossing the Suez Canal and invading the Sinai, which Israel had occupied in 1967, he was being invaded by Israel. Instead, Sadat's view was, "Hell, yes, we started this war. We're proud of it."

Of course, the big difference was that Egypt's feat of arms in winning the first battle of the Yom Kippur War -- getting across the heavily fortified Suez Canal and destroying hundreds of Israeli tanks -- really was an impressive feat of arms. The national pride that beating the Israelis in one battle engendered in Egypt, even if it the war went badly for them after that, gave Sadat psychological space to make a deal with the Israelis at Camp David and get the whole Sinai back.

In contrast, the initial Georgian invasion against the small South Ossetian militia and a couple of dozen Russian "peacekeepers" was unimpressive and failed to achieve all its objectives. The subsequent flight back home when the real Russian army arrived through the Roki Tunnel under the Cacausus was humiliating. [I go over the underlying geographic realities behind this war in my new Taki's column.)

... As a result, Mr. Putin’s fate might well be decided in the cold streets of Kiev rather than on the balmy slopes of Sochi. 
Mikheil Saakashvili was president of Georgia from 2004 to 2013. He is now senior statesman at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Meet the new liberal theory on race

Same as the old liberal theory on race ...

In Slate, an extremely self-confident youngish white guy named Tanner Colby is writing a long series about how he started to reading up on race a few years ago and had the revelation that everything his fellow liberals know about race is wrong, and all that's leading up to him revealing his New Solution to the Race Problem in a future article. 

For example, Colby explains, affirmative action is bad for blacks because it was started in 1969 by Richard Nixon who assume -- Can you believe it? -- that blacks tend to be good at sports and Asians good at math.
The Massive Liberal Failure on Race

Part 2: Affirmative action doesn’t work. It never did. It’s time for a new solution. 
By Tanner Colby  
In 2009, I attended the NAACP’s 100th annual convention at the Midtown Hilton in New York. Not just the centenary celebration for the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, this was also the group’s first convention under our newly inaugurated black president. The theme of the week’s events was to pay homage to the great civil rights victories of the past while at the same time defining a new mission for the next century. But on the night NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous took the stage for his big speech, when the subject turned to affirmative action, he didn’t sound like he was charting a new course so much as doubling down on the orthodoxy of the past. “The only question about affirmative action,” Jealous declared, “isn’t whether or not we need the hammer. The only question is whether or not the hammer is big enough!” 
The line was met with thunderous applause. At the time, this didn’t really stand out to me, because, like a lot of well-intentioned but minimally informed white liberals, I believed in affirmative action. I didn’t have terribly strong convictions about it, but given America’s history it generally seemed like “the right thing to do.” That was five years ago. Then, in the course of writing a book about the history of the color line and our efforts to erase it, I took a closer look at the origins of affirmative action, and its results. Having done so, I’m a believer no more. 
In part because of recent Supreme Court cases like Fisher v. Texas, the current national conversation about affirmative action has focused mostly on its use in college admissions, but my focus here will be on affirmative action in the white-collar workplace, the failure of which I observed up close during my years in the advertising industry. Race-conscious policies in college admissions and corporate hiring are different creatures, with different pros and cons, but I came to see that they also share some common, troubling flaws. 
When I think back now to the rousing applause affirmative action earned at that Hilton ballroom, I can’t help but wonder why, 45 years down the line, liberals like Jealous are still so fervently devoted to a program so plainly inadequate and ill-conceived from the start. Having botched the effort to integrate American schools through the overzealous misuse of an otherwise valuable instrument, the school bus, the left’s second great blunder on race was pinning the economic fortunes of black America on affirmative action. 
... That Richard Nixon was racist is well beyond dispute—he believed that, moral objections to abortion aside, the practice was justified in the case of mixed-race pregnancies. When giving instructions to the aide who scheduled his appointments and photo ops, Nixon said the Oval Office calendar should have “just enough blacks to show that we care”—setting a precedent for Republican racial engagement that stands to this day. But Nixon wasn’t just racist in the sense of thinking blacks inferior; he was racist in the sense that he subscribed to an actual taxonomy and hierarchy of race—the idea that different groups possess inherent qualities. Asians are smart and industrious. Jews are crafty but lack moral fiber, and so on. When the first wave of studies were published purporting to show that blacks have lower IQs than whites, Nixon, in a conversation with domestic aide Daniel Patrick Moynihan,

What Colby is fumblingly referring to is not the first test results showing racial differences in IQs, but UC Berkeley professor Arthur Jensen's 79-page metanalysis "How Much Can We Boost IQ and Scholastic Achievement?" of tests and intervention programs designed to Narrow the Gap in Harvard Education Review. Nixon thought this topic so central to understanding how America works that he assigned his top domestic aide, the famous Democratic social scientist Daniel Patrick Moynihan, to keep him updated on the science in the debate.
said he “couldn’t agree more” with the findings. The president was quite generous on the subject of what black people were good at: “Athletics isn’t a bad achievement. You look at the World Series. What would Pittsburgh [presumably, the 1971 team with an outfield of Willie Stargell, Al Oliver, and Roberto Clemente] be without a hell of a lot of blacks?” But he was far less charitable when it came to black talent in other areas: “… when you get to some of the more shall we say profound, rigid disciplines, basically, they have a hell of a time makin’ it. … In terms of good lawyers, even though a lot of them go to law schools, I mean, it is not really their dish of tea.”
.... But to judge from the rhetoric that still surrounds the issue, most progressives are nowhere near ready to admit the truth: that the liberal establishment pinned the economic hopes of the civil rights revolution on a program set up by a president whose racial philosophy was based on the idea that blacks make great athletes and Asians are good at math.

Whereas in 2014, we are so much better informed than Nixon, Moynihan, and Jensen were over 40 years ago. We've had 45 years of experience that proves them wrong, wrong, wrong. For example, here's a picture showing the many the Asians who play on the 2014 Super Bowl-winning Seattle Seahawks defensive unit:
Seriously, Tanner is just the latest in a common pattern. Some youngish white person gets interested in the topic of race and quickly decides that All Those Idiots in the Past got it wrong and he can come up with a much better policy solution (which Tanner promises to unveil Real Soon Now). Maybe he really will come up with a brilliant breakthrough.

But it's hardly encouraging that he can't even imagine questioning the conventional wisdom's strongest roadblock to thinking constructively about race policy: the underlying assumption that it can't possibly be true that blacks tend to be better at athletics and Asians better at math.

February 11, 2014

Sailer: The Borders of Empire

The notch is La Brèche de Roland, a 9,199 foot pass in the Pyrenees
From my new column in Taki's Magazine:
I was wondering why Russia chose to hold its Winter Olympics in the Black Sea beach resort of Sochi, which is almost as far south as you can get in that notoriously northern land. 
And that got me thinking about borders in general. African governments are always complaining that they inherited unnaturally straight national boundaries from colonial administrators who didn’t take into account the complicated ethnic realities on the ground. But does anybody know the ideal way to draw borders to maximize peace and prosperity? 
It turns out that the locations for the Winter Olympics offer some insights into this long-standing question.

Read the whole thing there.

I've always been a topography nerd, but I'm becoming even more of one as Americans become more oblivious to the influence that the shape of the land has had upon them. The Founding Fathers, especially Washington who was a surveyor and real estate developer, were obsessed with geography.

The return of the homer press

From the comments:
NOTA said... 
The anti-Russia PR campaign in the prestige media reminds me a great deal of the anti-France campaign around and right after the Iraq invasion. Remember cheese eating surrender monkeys, freedom fries, and "rifle for sale, never fired, only dropped once?" 
The pattern here appears to be that countries that resist our foreign policy adventures then become a kind of acceptable target in various bits of our media. I'm sure this isn't overtly coordinated anywhere, but media people are presumably pretty good at inferring which way the wind is blowing....

This represents a major change in my lifetime. From, say, the Tet Offensive of 1968 to Iran-Contra sputtering out in the summer of 1987, oppositionalism to American foreign policy was always somewhere between the avant-garde and the default position for the American media. For example, constantly in the early 1980s, Time would have Strobe Talbott thunder about how Reagan was going to blow up the world if he didn't start being nicer to the Soviets. 

This is not to say that oppositionalism was uniform or monolithic. (For example, Henry Kissinger was highly glamorized, but partly that was, as Kissinger writes in his memoirs, a media calculation that making Kissinger look better made it easier to overthrow the hated Nixon because the public could be reassured it would still have Dr. K's deft hand on the foreign affairs tiller to provide continuity.)

But having been 9 years old in 1968 and 28 in 1987, it's been pretty surprising for me that the American media has pretty much gone back to the way it was in 1942-1967 when the press looked to the government for what line to take on foreign policy. But that's probably the natural state of affairs and what needs explanation is the skeptical, oppositional perspective that I grew up assuming was the automatic order of things.

Instead, the natural state of affairs is that people who are good with words write the kind of things that people with large budgets want them to write.

What if there is terrorism at the Olympics?

You can sense an almost palpable hope among many influential Americans for a terrorist incident at the Winter Olympics to ruin the Russkies' fun. Let's try to game plan what would happen next.

1. If there is a terrorist attack, then Twitter would probably explode with Americans saying, "Ha-ha, Russians, you had it coming!"

2. Russians will hear about the most offensive American comments and take offense.

3. Within a few days, it will emerge that the terrorists had a few-degrees-of-separation connections with the CIA or the National Endowment for Democracy or the like, and/or NATO candidate Georgia, and/or shadowy Russian government agencies. Or all three.

For instance, the Winter Olympics are taking place very close to what's officially the territory of Georgia, but has been ruled by the Russian-supported breakaway Abkhazians for a couple of decades. 

If you think I'm crazy that a little Internet searching would probably find some kind of link between terrorists and government officials of at least one country, consider the Boston Marathon bombing of last March. It turned out that the Bomb Brothers are in this country as refugees more or less because their Uncle Ruslan used to be married to Samantha Ankara Fuller, the daughter of the former top CIA troublemaker in the region, Graham Fuller. And then the FBI shot dead Ibragim Todashev, Tamerlan Tsarnaev's purported accomplice in an alleged earlier terrorist triple murder on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. But it turned out that Todashev was granted refugee status in the U.S. even though his father is a high official in Putin's puppet government in Ramzan Kadyrov's Chechnya.

What does it all mean? Probably ... just Chechens acting Checheny. 

But then I'm the kind of horrible unAmerican stereotyper who thinks racistly that just because Pushkin, Lermontov, Tolstoy, and Solzhenitsyn were fascinated by the brave craziness of the Chechens, that young male Chechens really do feel some sort of cultural influence to act crazily brave.

4. Many Russians would then interpret these kind of weird connections to the Sochi terrorists as evidence of an American conspiracy, perhaps related to the on-going American conspiracy in Ukraine, which Victoria Nuland says the U.S. has spent $5 billion upon since 1991. (It's statistically likely that spending that kind of money over that many years on the fringes of Russia buys America a little bit of contact with whoever turns out to be, say, a brother-in-law's uncle of just about anybody who might blow up the Olympics.)

5. Americans, who are well trained to reject the entire concept of conspiracies, will interpret Russian interest in these links as proof of Russia's innately malignant conspiracy-theorizing transphobic whateverism that's doomed by the inevitable scientific workings of History to be overwhelmed by the triumph of democracy and gay rights, just as 31 consecutive state referendums voting against gay marriage were eventually overwhelmed by Democracy! So, many Americans will explain on Twitter, maybe we ought to bomb the Russkies just on general principles.

6. War actually won't break out. These days, war is so costly that it's stupid. Like Robert Gates in 2008 when Georgia invaded Russian-supported territory, Chuck Hagel doesn't want a war with Russia on his watch.

7. Other countries will observe these events with intense interest. Consider the nearby Turks, who, being Turks, are unlikely to conclude that any such events were just random bad luck. 

I would imagine that Imam Gulen in the Poconos will argue to his enigmatic cabal of followers in the Turkish police that engineering this black eye for Putin just proves that the Americans are the puppetmasters, so we Gulenists are right to accept the support of Uncle Ruslan's ex-father-in-law and other elements in the American deep state while we establish our networks inside Turkey's security forces and America's charter schools. 

But what will Prime Minister Erdogan think? He may conclude that this shows he better get even more with the program with Washington. Or it may convince him that he needs to ally with Iran and Russia against the insolent hyperpower. Who knows?

8. In the long run, police investigation would probably prove that the terrorist attacks really were mostly due to random young male hormones; but by then the world will have ratcheted over one more notch toward a lousier future.

So, my fellow Americans, can we just tone down the Russia-hatred a bit for two weeks?

A plea for peace

Eric S. Margolis writes:
Day by day, we see growing rancor between the US and Russia. Most of it is unfair criticism and childish spats, but the overall effect is creating the basis for war fever. The same bickering, cheap criticism and manufactured anger created the psychological basis in Britain for the utterly catastrophic World War I. Three years later, it was repeated in the United States to whip up anti-German fever. 
The US media is barraging Russia and Putin with a drumfire of negative stories. The Sochi Olympics have come in for relentless, petty attacks and low-minded carping. 
Anyone who knows Russia should be in awe that the normally bumbling, disorganized Ruskis managed to get their Olympic sites finished more or less on time – and that they still remain standing. Russians usually lose a lot of early battles, but they usually end up winning wars. 

Considering the Russian track record of stuff happening, I was very pleased that during the opening ceremony they didn't drop that little girl they had flying on wires around the stadium.

But, artistically, when your country can lead off its performance with Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, well, respect. (Here's an opera lover's website of videos and critiques of all opening ceremonies, but not yet Sochi.)
So what if Russia spent billions on the Sochi Olympics. Who is Washington to criticize Moscow after pouring over $2 trillion into the stupid wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and now Syria, with nothing to show but huge debts, armies of refugees, and graveyards? 
America’s national security establishment – what used to be known in Britain as imperialists – is now turning its guns on Russia, aided by the US corporate media. Vlad Putin’s Russia has re-emerged as America’s number one enemy. 
Muslims are out. At times, the Cold War seems to be inching back. The US narrowly escaped a dangerous military clash over President Barack Obama’s intemperate rush to war over Syria. 
Nuclear powers must not indulge in such school-yard squabbles. World War I, whose 100th anniversary comes this fall, began just this way. 
Putin’s Russia is no Utopia, but do we really want angry, expansionist Russians again on our eastern borders? Better they focus on Olympic games and shopping sprees. Unlike us, they have not started any wars lately.

February 10, 2014

The Seinfeld - David - Baron Cohen axis of comedy

In Britain, much of television consists of panels of comedians joking about some topic. From Jezebel:
BBC Bans All-Male Panel Shows, But Will That Help Female Comedians?

Meanwhile, in the U.S., from Autoblog:
... funnyman Jerry Seinfeld hosts a web series called Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. As you might not know, white men have been the guests on 20 of the 24 episodes that have aired so far: Seinfeld has made the java run with female comedians Tina Fey and Sarah Silverman and black comedians Mario Joyner and Chris Rock. The question is: does it matter? And if it does matter, why? 
During an interview on BuzzFeed Brews, host Peter Lauria asked Seinfeld about the predominance of white male guests on the show, having noted the Internet commentary about it and been asked by his Twitter followers to pose the question. Seinfeld responded first with a softball, "People think it's the census or something, that it's got to represent the actual pie chart of America - who cares? Funny is the world that I live in." Then he went further, saying, "I have no interest in gender or race or anything like that," and that he feels the positions of those who have watched his show and commented on the race and gender breakdown of his guests are "anti comedy" and "more about PC nonsense than 'Are you making us laugh or not?'"

I bring this up just to make the obvious point that Seinfeld and, even more so, Seinfeld co-creator Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm are, in identity politics terms, right of center shows. In today's world, where the biggest sin is Noticing Things, it's almost tautological that masters of "observational comedy" are going to be inveterate Noticers.

Seinfeld and David represent the center-right of American Jewish culture, while the much misinterpreted Sacha Baron Cohen brings some of the crude ferocity of Israel's increasingly right-trending culture to global humor. (He's British but his grandmother lives in Israel.)

Initially, Baron Cohen was of course assumed to be a nice liberal merely making fun of dumb Bush voters in 2006's Borat, but 2009's Bruno and 2012's The Dictator unsettled the commentariat. The Dictator was not well-received during a year of elite worries that "Islamophobia" might derail the re-election of Barack Hussein Obama.

Something I've only vaguely been aware of before is how much behind the scenes overlap there is between Seinfeld / Curb Your Enthusiasm and Baron Cohen's movies. 
These scenes from a 2012 episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm are clearly a riff on Baron Cohen's gay Nazi Bruno in a pint-sized American child version. The message is the same, too: Fashion Is Flamingly Fascist. (There's a lot of historical evidence for that, by the way.)

One obvious connection is that the director of Bruno, as well as Borat and The Dictator, is Larry Charles, who was a major writer-producer during Seinfeld's formative years, and played a similar role on Curb

Similarly, the team of Jeff Schaffer, David Mandel, and Alec Berg have written for Seinfeld and Curb, and co-wrote The Dictator with Baron Cohen, and Schaffer had a writing credit on Bruno. (Schaffer's sit-com The League about a fantasy football league is pretty funny, too.)

Swiss citizenism v. American racialism

The Swiss popular vote to end its half-decade experiment with allowing unlimited immigration from European Union countries (of which Switzerland is not a member) had multiple causes. One is that the EU has kept expanding eastward into low wage countries. On January 1, residents of Romania and Bulgaria became eligible to move to any EU country (and therefore Switzerland, too). 

Romania and Bulgaria are home to a lot of poor people, most of them not particularly troublesome except from the usual impact of driving down wages and raising housing costs. 

But some -- the Roma -- are unwelcome anywhere they go. If you were a Romanian official, wouldn't you want to put on a slideshow for your Gypsy residents (whose neighborhoods resemble Borat's hometown -- it was filmed in a Romanian Gypsy village) about the glories of life in gleaming Switzerland?

And now the E.U. is, under pressure from the U.S., gesturing toward letting in 45 million very low wage Ukrainians. The E.U. doesn't really want to do that, but Davos Man is angry and emotional right now, and is looking to pick a fight with Russia over Ukraine, so Washington and NATO might pressure the E.U. into doing something very stupid.

More generally, Switzerland is probably the most famously beautiful country in the world, so its residents aren't happy with the steadily rising population. Of course, in America, we know that Switzerland would look much better if it were transformed into the set from "Her" or "Elysium." If you don’t believe me, just ask Matthew Yglesias or Ed Glaeser. Admit it: unless you grew up in barn, all those cows are just creepy. And those peasants with pitchforks … 

Many in America can't understand why the Swiss aren't as enthusiastic about importing their co-ethnics to better battle for ethnic domination within Switzerland as American minorities are said to be. For example, the largest number of non-Swiss in Switzerland are Italians, but the Italian-speaking canton voted strongly to crack down on immigration from Italy.

Here in the U.S., Marco Rubio and Luis Gutierrez are celebrated in the media for agitating for more Hispanic immigration. In 21st Century America, race/ethnic loyalty is held to trump ties of citizenship (unless the race is white and the ethnicity is pre-Ellis Island, in which case race/ethnic loyalty is unspeakable).

The Swiss, in contrast, put much value on what I call Citizenism. A Swiss Italian is expected to value the welfare of his fellow Swiss citizens more highly than his fellow Italian co-ethnics. And they do. In contrast to the U.S. where the federal government constantly absorbs powers allotted under the Constitution to the states, the Swiss keep much of government power at the level of the cantons, which are mostly monolingual. 

This lowers the urge to wage Elect a New People campaigns. If Italian citizens pour into Italian-speaking Ticino the way Mexicans pour into California, it doesn't give Italian ethnic Swiss all that much more power nationally the way it it perceived as giving Hispanic ethnic (although non-Mexican) politicians such as Rubio more power.

But Swiss voters are highly nationalistic about a few important policies.

Moreover, Swiss voters understand the law of supply and demand well. More immigration from Italy into Italian-speaking Ticino drives down wages for Italian speakers and drives up land prices. Why is that good Swiss Italian citizens and their children?

Huge News

Huge news from the NYT:
LeanIn.org and Getty Aim to Change Women’s Portrayal in Stock Photos 

SAN FRANCISCO — There is the businesswoman, wearing a suit and glasses and holding a briefcase. There is the mother, smiling as she pours milk into her children’s cereal bowls at the breakfast table. There is the multitasker, holding a laptop in one hand and a baby in the other. 
These stock images are familiar to anyone who has seen an advertisement or flipped through a magazine or brochure illustrating working women and families. And their ubiquity is hurting girls and women by feeding into old-fashioned stereotypes, says Sheryl Sandberg, the Facebook executive who has become an advocate for women achieving leadership roles. 
To try to remedy the problem, Ms. Sandberg’s nonprofit organization, LeanIn.org, is to announce on Monday a partnership with Getty Images, one of the biggest providers of stock photography, to offer a special collection of images that it says represent women and families in more empowering ways. 
Nancy M 2 hours ago 
Now THIS is how to change the status quo!!! Get the big guys with a platform to lead the way and in images no less. Brava. If women realized...

Bryan Caplan: "What the Swiss Vote Really Shows"

From EconLog:
What the Swiss Vote Really Shows 
Bryan Caplan 
The Swiss just passed a referendum to restrict immigration from the EU.  Tyler thinks this shows that open borders is a hopeless cause.  When immigration gets too high, public opinion naturally turns against immigration. ...
But there's a major problem with Tyler's story: Swiss anti-immigration voting was highest in the places with the least immigrants!  This is no fluke.  In the U.S., anti-immigration sentiment is highest in the states with the least immigration - even if you assume that 100% of immigrants are pro-immigration. 
The natural inference to draw, then, is the opposite of Tyler's: The main hurdle to further immigration is insufficient immigration.  If countries could just get over the hump of status quo bias, anti-immigration attitudes would become as socially unacceptable as domestic racism.  Instead of coddling nativism with gradualism, we can, should, and must peacefully destroy nativism with abolitionism.

And, you’ll notice, not only are the Swiss having second thoughts about Inviting the World, for centuries they have failed to shoulder any of the burden of Invading the World. 

I say, this unacceptable Swiss majority vote just proves that it's time to put Victoria Nuland and the rest of the Kagans in charge of having the National Endowment of Democracy pay for a Color Revolution in Switzerland. There are probably some bored soccer hooligans in Switzerland who wouldn't mind a grant to camp out downtown for the Swiss Spring and battle the riot police in the name of Democracy.

And if that doesn’t work, well we tried to destroy nativism peacefully, but there are limits to our patience. So, let the drone strikes begin.

P.S., in the comments at Marginal Revolution, Paolo explains:
You are forgetting how small Switzerland is. Nearly the entire country is in commuting distance of the main centres Zurich, Basel, Geneva, or the secondary centres St.Gallen, Winterthur, Berne, Lausanne, Lugano, Neuenburg. 
That Yes vote regions are where people are living who were pushed ever further away from the centres due to huge rise in housing costs. A lot of those rural-semi rural areas have had very high population growth rates in the last 10 years due to the influx of commuters looking for affordable housing space. Both the expansion of the rail net and the real estate price inflation in the centres have been big drivers of this trend. 
The yes vote in those regions are both disgruntled commuters unhappy with being priced out of the centres and locals unhappy with the flood outsiders. 
As to the No vote of the centres, that’s no surprise. How can afford to live in the centres these days? Either people living in (subsidised) social housing or people earning enough to pay 4000+ CHF in rent or a million+ CHF to buy a flat. The first group aren’t really feeling the price pressure and tend to follow the Social Party and Union paroles, while the latter by definition belong to the winners of the current situation who can afford to pay those prices. 

"How Single Motherhood Hurts Kids"

Kay S. Hymowitz of the Manhattan Institute presents some common sense in the NYT:
How Single Motherhood Hurts Kids 
The last few weeks have brought an unusual convergence of voices from both the center and the left about a topic that is typically part of conservative rhetorical territory: poverty and single-parent families. Just as some conservatives have started talking seriously about rising inequality and stagnant incomes, some liberals have finally begun to admit that our stubbornly high rates of poverty and social and economic immobility are closely entwined with the rise of single motherhood.

But that’s where agreement ends. Consistent with its belief in self-sufficiency, the right wants to see more married-couple families. For the left, widespread single motherhood is a fact of modern life that has to be met with vigorously expanded government support. Liberals point out, correctly, that poverty rates for single-parent households are lower in most other advanced economies, where the welfare state is more generous.  
That argument ignores a troubling truth: Single-parent families are not the same in the United States as elsewhere. Simply put, unmarried parents here are more likely to enter into parenthood in ways guaranteed to create turmoil in their children’s lives.

Fifty years ago, American liberals noticed that high welfare payments and low public criticism of unmarried parental couples weren't immediately destroying Stockholm, so they figured it would make perfect sense in Milwaukee.
The typical American single mother is younger than her counterpart in other developed nations. She is also more likely to live in a community where single motherhood is the norm rather than an alternative life choice. 
The sociologist Kathryn Edin has shown that unlike their more educated peers, these younger, low-income women tend to stop using contraception several weeks or months after starting a sexual relationship. The pregnancy — not lasting affection and mutual decision-making — that often follows is the impetus for announcing that they are a couple.

Guys, do not trust your girlfriend to take care of the contraception. She has her own agenda.

I wonder what percentage of these "unplanned" pregnancies have to do with women getting tired of dieting to look hot. Okay, I've got a guy interested in me, kind of, but now I'm hungry all the time. If I go off my diet, he'll probably dump me for that skinny skank Amber. But nobody can blame me for eating for two if I'm pregnant. So I'll kill two birds with one stone: I'll permanently reel him in by having him be my babydaddy and I can get off this diet. So stuff happens, you know? The Miracle of Life.
Unsurprisingly, by the time the thrill of sleepless nights and colicky days has worn off, two relative strangers who have drifted into becoming parents together notice they’re just not that into each other. Hence, the high breakup rates among low-income couples: Only a third of unmarried parents are still together by the time their children reach age 5. 
Also complicating low-income single parenthood in America is what the experts call “multipartner fertility.” Both divorced and never-married Americans are more likely to repartner and start “second families” than Europeans, but the trend is far more common among unmarried parents. According to data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study at Princeton and Columbia Universities, over 60 percent of low-income babies will have at least one half sibling when they are born; by the time they are 5, the proportion will have climbed to over 70 percent. 

Obviously, this data should be broken out by race. My guess is, however, that working class whites are slowly drifting toward black norms as criticizing anything associated by disparate impact logic with blackness becomes increasingly unspeakable.
All of this would be of merely passing interest if it weren’t for the evidence that this kind of domestic churn is really bad news for kids. The more “transitions” experienced by a child — the arrival of a stepparent, a parental boyfriend or girlfriend, or a step- or half sibling — the more children are likely to have either emotional or academic problems, or both. (My own research indicates that boys, especially, suffer from these transitions.) 
Part of the problem is that a nonresident father tends to fade out of his children’s lives if there’s a new man in his ex’s house or if he has children with a new partner. For logistical, emotional and financial reasons, his loyalty to his previous children slackens once he has a child with a new girlfriend or wife.

New girlfriends/wives show remarkably little female solidarity toward the idea of their man turning over a big chunk of his paycheck to ex-girlfriends/wives.
Nor is it likely, from the overlooked child’s point of view, that a mother’s new boyfriend or husband can fill the gap. There’s substantial research showing that stepfathers are sometimes worse than none at all. 
These realities help explain the meager results of government marriage promotion programs. It doesn’t make much sense to encourage, much less pressure, a couple with no shared history, interests or deep affection to marry. At any rate, given the prevalence of multipartner fertility it’s not clear, as one scholar asked in a paper, “who should marry whom.” 
But those same realities raise serious doubts about the accept-and-prop-up response to single-parent families. Increasing government largess could actually incentivize, or at least enable, parental choices that everyone admits are damaging to kids.

Universal pre-K, for example, offers a sort of taxpayer-subsidized nap time for welfare moms to rest up so they can hit the clubs harder in the evening and create more little net tax consumers / Democratic voters.
So where does that leave us, policy-wise? Liberal critics of marriage promotion are probably correct that there are only limited steps government can take to change the way low-income couples meet and mate. But that doesn’t mean the status quo is the way things have to be. Not so long ago, the rise of teenage motherhood seemed unstoppable. Instead, over the past two decades adolescent births have declined to record lows.

And abortion rates have dropped as well.
Researchers believe the decline was caused by a combination of better contraceptive use and delayed sexual activity. Both were grounded in a growing consensus — including by the policy makers, educators, the public and teenagers themselves — that having a baby when you are 16 is just a really bad idea.

As I've been saying for years, you can see just in reading government statistical reports that the government is out to get teen pregnancy (even if the teen is a married 19-year-old high school graduate) but is completely neutral on post-teen out-of-wedlock births.
It’s not impossible that Americans could reach a similarly robust consensus about having children outside of a committed relationship, which in the United States, at least, tends to mean marriage. But despite the growing list of center-left writers willing to admit that single motherhood is complicit in our high levels of poverty and inequality, that consensus still seems a long way off.

Single motherhood generates Democratic votes, now and in the next generation. See "Life of Julia."
Kay S. Hymowitz, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor at City Journal, is the author of “Marriage and Caste in America: Separate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age.”