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December 16-31, 2004 Archive



Clint Eastwood's lady boxer movie Million Dollar Baby: From my American Conservative review, now available to electronic subscribers:


In reality, women's boxing is a pseudo-feminist trashsport that briefly flourished in the 1990s when impresario Don King noticed that Mike Tyson fans got some kind of weird kick out of preliminary catfights between battling babes.

Traditionally, society objected to women brawling because (to paraphrase the answer the shady doctor in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" gives to the question of whether his memory erasure technique can cause brain damage), "Technically speaking, boxing is brain damage."

If a man gets his head caved in during some pointless scrap, well, some other man will just have to step in and do double duty carrying on the species. But, women are the limiting scarce resource in making babies, so each woman lost lowers the overall reproductive capacity.

That kind of proto-sociobiological reasoning is unthinkable today, yet that hasn't brought about a feminist utopia. Instead, men employ gender equality slogans to badger women into doing things guys enjoy.

Still, female fisticuffs have faded recently due to the supply side problem of finding enough low-cost opponents for the handful of women stars. While the number of male palookas who will fight for next to nothing in the hope of becoming Rocky Balboa is ample, managers needing fresh meat for their female champs to bash frequently have to hire hookers and strippers to take dives -- and working girls don't work for free.

"Million Dollar Baby" simply ignores all this and asks you to believe that women's boxing today is a thriving duplicate of the men's fight game of a half century ago, which allows Eastwood to make a 1955-style boxing movie.

This offers some almost-forgotten payoffs, but Eastwood doesn't have the courage to make a genuinely out-of-fashion film.


The rest of my review will be on newsstands in a week or so.




Three Cheers for Ah-Nold -- Last November, 153 Congressional and legislative seats in California were being contested in the election. Not a single one changed from one party to the other due to the extreme gerrymandering in place to protect incumbents. Gov. Schwarzenegger has announced that he's sick of this and wants an independent panel of retired judges to draw district boundaries in the future. 


Ah-Nold is on the side of Truth, Justice, and the American Way because gerrymandering has gotten increasingly accurate due to advances in computer technology allows incumbents to protect themselves from fluctuations in the will of the people.


Here's an interview I conducted with the man who is perhaps the leading academic expert on gerrymandering, Dan Polsby of George Mason U.






Why did Germans outfight Americans, man for man, in 1944-45? Bloggers like Brad DeLong are up in arms that British war historian Max Hastings has a new book out making the point that the outgunned German army fought very well after Normandy.

The only problem is that Hastings is right.

The evolutionary psychologists Richerson and Boyd have written extensively about the reasons for the slightly greater man-for-man effectiveness of German soldiers in WWII (all else being equal, according to Dupuy, 100 German soldiers were roughly equivalent to 120 British or American soldiers).

This is not to denigrate the Yanks and Brits, who fought awfully well, especially compared to, say, the Italians. It's just when compared to the Germans that noticeable differences are apparent. It's like saying that Arnold Palmer wasn't quite as good a golfer as Jack Nicklaus: undeniable, but hardly an insult to Arnie. It's the same reason it's asinine to feel superior to the French for only going 1-2 against the Germans from 1870-1940. 

Richerson and Boyd largely attribute the difference to the paradoxical fact that relationships between officers and enlisted men in the WWII German army were more egalitarian (and even quasi-democratic) than in the American army. You'll note that after Eisenhower, most of the Presidents for the next three decades were ex-Navy officers -- it's largely forgotten today in the nostalgic glow with which all aspects of the Greatest Generation are bathed, but enlisted US Army soldiers tended to return from WWII with much more resentment of stuck-up Army officers than Navy sailors came back with resentment of we're-all-in-this-together-boys Navy officers. 

As evolutionary psychologists, Richerson and Boyd argue that the German army did a better job of reproducing the conditions conducive to small group cohesion and espirit de corps among hunting and raiding parties during the "era of evolutionary adaptiveness." One notoriously self-destructive technique used by the American army in WWII and Vietnam was to rotate new men into established units as individuals. The Germans, in contrast, had men who trained together fight together, and thus they stuck with their platoon mates better than the randomly assembled American units did.

There is no automatic reason a dictatorship should be better than a democracy at organizing an army in this more effective fashion. It was just an accident of history, partly having to do with Germany losing WWI and thus being more serious about reform, partly with the Versailles Treaty's limitation of the new German army to 100,000 men (so most of the enlisted men between 1919-1933 were seen by the high command not as cannon fodder but as officers-in-waiting, who would move up to officers when the hated Versailles limitation was overthrown), and partly because of Hitler's lower-middle class animus against the old aristocracy that wouldn't let him become an officer despite his four years of courageous service in WWI. 

The U.S. Army learned a lot from having to fight the Germans and improved in the decades afterwards.

On the other hand, you could argue that an ideologically radical autocracy, like Hitler's (or Napoleon's), could be better at rooting out aristocratic mindsets among the officer class than would a more easy-going society with a representative government. 

Certainly, Napoleon's troops tended to show higher espirit de corps than did the enlisted men from the aristocratic parliamentary country of Britain, in part precisely because Napoleon favored careers open to talent, allowing obscure soldiers to rise through their own genius to become Marshals. 

Similarly, after Stalin murdered much of the established talent in the Soviet Union in 1937-1938, he had to become very open to promoting talents like Zhukov and Ustinov just to survive. Of course, over time a new aristocracy develops (e.g., Napoleon promoted his siblings to be submonarchs under him), and the late Soviet-style sclerosis sets in if the autocracy endures. So, a democracy is likely to have a better track record for meritocracy in the long run, but in the short run a ruthless autocrat can unleash a huge amount of untapped energy in his country, which helps explains how bad guys like Napoleon, Hitler, and Stalin can prove so frightening.



More reasons the U.S. Army has improved: A recent Atlantic Monthly article by Robert D. Kaplan quotes a colonel on how much the Army has improved during his couple of decades of service. He attributed much of the improved relations between officers and men to the recent spread of evangelical Christianity, and the consequent decline in drinking. Since officers and men are not allowed to drink in the same room, back in the days when most free time was devoted to drinking, the ranks almost never came in contact off duty.

Today, officers and men share more in common. I'd also add that since the downsizing of the military in 1992, the IQ gap between officers and enlisted has shrunk: For the last dozen years, about 65-70% of new enlistees score over the national average on the IQ test the military gives all applicants for enlistment. Only about 1% of new enlistees have scored below the 30th percentile (around 90 on the usual IQ scale), so officers and enlisted people can now communicate in a more egalitarian fashion than in previous eras. I don't believe that the IQs of officers have gone up as much -- the average SAT scores of West Point cadets are now lower than, say, U. of Illinois freshmen.

By the way, you've probably heard of how awful was the quality of enlisted personnel in the late 1970s, but you've probably never head of the most direct cause: the "misnorming" fiasco. The military's norms for scoring applicant's entrance tests results on the new ASVAB (the 10 subtest exam of which four are the highly g-loaded IQ-like tests used in The Bell Curve) were wrong (too easy), and thus the military let in many applicants from 1976-1980 that they would have rejected if they had known how stupid they really were.


The Reagan-era reforms, such as higher pay, more Be All You Can Be recruiting advertising, and more patriotism brought in a higher quality of soldier, but for several years in the late 1970s, the military couldn't figure out why its new recruits were so much more incompetent on average than the recruiters said they would be.




The Andamanese and Human Biodiversity Conservation:  




Reports remain confused about the fate of the pygmy negritos of the Andaman islands, hit hard by the tsunami, especially the uncontacted tribe on North Sentinel Island, but this almost-eyewitness account sounds promising:


"Our helicopter pilot who flew over [North Sentinel] island told me that he has seen several groups of Sentinelese on the beach and that when he dropped food packets they threw stones at the helicopter."


That sure sounds like the Sentinelese we (don't) know and love! When somebody offers to help them, they try to kill him. That attitude has kept them free of Eurasian diseases all these millennia. 


That great picture of a steatopygous Andaman mom and how she carries her toddler around is now on-line here. There's another tremendous picture in Coon's Living Races of Man (1965) (buy it here): a portrait of a young pygmy negrito couple of Little Andaman Island, his arm lovingly around her shoulders, the joy in each other's company radiating outward. It's as happy a picture as you'll ever see. This photo is now on-line here



That's the point about human biodiversity studies: differences and similarities.


There's a book from 2003 about the Andamanese: "The Land of Naked People : Encounters with Stone Age Islanders" by Scientific American staffer Madhusree Mukerjee.



Reports remain uncertain about the fates of the wild tribes of stone age pgymy negritos on the Andaman Islands, close to the epicenter of the earthquake that was the source of the killer tsunami. Here are long articles from the UK Independent, the BBC, and the UK Guardian, and from MSNBC.


Also struck hard were the Mongoloid Nicobarese tribesmen of the Nicobar archipelago south of the Andamans. There is a modest amount of information about them here. Here's a Thursday afternoon update on the ugly situation in the Nicobars.


If any good could come out of this disaster, it would be to make the world more aware of the importance of human biodiversity conservation. Virtually nobody in the media gave a damn about the Andamanese until this week. The health disaster that outside contact has inflicted on the Jarawa tribe of Andamanese pygmy negritos over the last half dozen years by exposing them to the outside world's germs was almost completely ignored.


Also, the very existence of the Andamanese, with their remarkable physical features, was an affront to prevailing norms of political correctness that demand that we "celebrate diversity" without actually noticing diversity. As I wrote in VDARE


"The men average 4'-10" and 95 pounds. The women have such pronounced "steatopygia" that a mother who needs to carry her toddler on her back will have the child throw his arms around her neck and stand on her remarkably protuberant, gravity-defying buttocks. (Unfortunately, Carleton Coon's you-gotta-see-it-to-believe-it photo of this is not on line.)"


UPDATE: That great picture is now on-line here. There's another tremendous picture in Coon's Living Races of Man (1965), a portrait of a young pygmy negrito couple, his arm lovingly around her shoulders, there joy in each other's company radiating outward. It's as happy a picture as you'll ever see.


We never miss anything until it's almost gone. Well, now that the last purely wild Andaman tribe, the Sentineli (a.k.a., Sentinelese, Sentenelese, or North Sentinel Islanders -- nobody knows what they call themselves), might be gone, the world has finally noticed that they existed in the first place.


Here's an excerpt from my 2002 interview with George H.J. Weber, founder of Andaman.org.


In an era when we are routinely encouraged to celebrate diversity, perhaps no group of humans on Earth is more diverse yet less celebrated than the tiny but fierce Pygmy Negritos of the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean. They provide some of the best examples of what modern humans were like when they first emerged out of Africa dozens of millennia ago.

Wildlife biodiversity conservation is a hugely popular cause today, but little thought is given to preservation of human biodiversity, nor to protection of the few remaining Stone Age cultures. Yet, the Andamanese Negrito tribes have been decimated by contact with the modern world and its germs. Fortunately, one remaining tribe on isolated North Sentinel Island continues to drive off outsiders with swarms of arrows.

George H. J. Weber, a Swiss businessman and independent scholar, is the founder of the Andaman Association and creator of the encyclopedic andaman.org Web site, which is the leading source for information on these almost unknown but fascinating people...


Q: What's been happening to the Jarawa tribe in the Andamans?

A: In the last few years ago, the Jarawa tribe has largely given up its old hostility toward all outsiders. The result was predictable: a large number of diseases have struck and violent crime is on the rise. The latest reports received privately speak of 50 percent infection rate with Hepatitis B among Jarawas (only a few months ago it was said to be 30 percent). Other diseases are rampant and one official has carelessly let slip that there is AIDS among the Jarawa. Officially, of course, all is well.

You had better heed local advice when meeting with Jarawa. Thanks to grossly incompetent government policies in the past, you are likely to meet them on the Andaman trunk road where they will hijack your bus and not be satisfied with a handshake, but instead will demand goodies -- or else. Such is progress in the Andamans.

Q: Why are Andamanese so vulnerable to the outside world?

A: They have been isolated from other people for a long time and have never had a chance to develop resistance against outside diseases. The Andamanese do have a limited immunity against malaria (a very ancient human scourge), but the common cold or an ordinary flu, let alone pneumonia, measles or venereal diseases, can be deadly to them.

Q: What's special about the North Sentinel Islanders?

A: They are the only Andamanese group that is today still as isolated as all the Andamanese were in the past. That they live on a coral-fringed island in stormy waters has protected them until now from those do-gooders who would "bring them into the mainstream of Indian society," as the nationalist phrase has it. For just what this expression means in reality, the Jarawa situation provides an all too clear illustration.

Q: Is their future safe?

A: "Missions of friendship" to the Sentineli have started only a few years ago. Just as with the Jarawa, most were junkets for visiting VIPs, camouflaged by being called "scientific." They were hurriedly aborted after the Jarawa catastrophe burst over the guilty administrators at Port Blair, the main city of the Andamans. At the moment, the Sentineli are left alone again and all development plans have been put on ice. May they long remain there.


UPDATE: There's also a book from 2003 about the Andamanese: "The Land of Naked People : Encounters with Stone Age Islanders" by Scientific American staffer Madhusree Mukerjee.




Jerry Orbach, RIP: The 69-year-old actor, whose Det. Lennie Briscoe character on "Law & Order" was one of the most thoroughly likable in the history of television, died today of prostate cancer at 69. He was also a representative of a dying breed: the heterosexual Broadway musical song and dance man. The Tony Award-winner originated the role of the narrator in The Fantasticks and the tap-dancing sleazy lawyer in Chicago. As the enchanted candlestick in Disney's animated classic Beauty and the Beast, he sang the showstopper "Be Our Guest."




A detailed extension of my Marriage Gap theory of Red vs. Blue: Down in Australia, Darvin Hansen gives a detailed analysis of my finding that Years Married (especially, although not solely, for whites) correlated to an extraordinary degree with Bush's share of the vote in 2000 and 2004, and adds some new data.




"Societies don't die by accident - they commit ecological suicide" says an article trumpeting Jared Diamond's new book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed:


Diamond studies four ancient societies across space and time: Easter Island in Polynesia, the native American Anasazi tribe in what is now the southwestern United States, the Maya civilization in Central America, and the isolated Viking settlement on the coast of Greenland. Although diverse in nature and context, these four societies experienced what Diamond calls "ecocide," unintentional ecological suicide.


Contra Diamond, in reality, most societies down through history died because they were conquered. Generally speaking, not suicide, but homicide was the fate of most extinct societies.


Diamond cites the Maya, but I cite the Aztecs and the Incas. He cites the Anasazi, but I cite the Cherokee, the Sioux, and countless others. He cites the Easter Islanders, but I cite the Maoris, the Tasmanians, the Australian Aborigines, the Chatham Islanders (exterminated by the Maori), and so forth. He cites the Vikings in Greenland, but I cite the Saxons in Britain and the Arabs in Sicily, both conquered by the descendents of the Vikings. We can go on like this all day. 


Diamond used to be a terrific independent thinker, as shown in his 1993 book The Third Chimpanzee (indeed, many of my examples come from this book). But he sold out to political correctness, most profitably, in his bestseller Guns, Germs, and Steel


Here's my review of GG&S from National Review in 1997:


Diamond is not content, however, to merely write the history of the last 13,000 years. He also claims that his evidence is of great political momentuousness because it shows that no ethnic group is inferior to any other: each exploited its local food resources as fully as possible. For example, after the Australian Outback explorers Burke and Wills exhausted their Eurasian-derived supplies, three times they had to throw themselves on the mercy and expertise of the local Stone Age hunter-gatherers. These Aborigines, the least technically advanced of all peoples, may not have domesticated a single Australian plant in 40,000 years, but in 200 years down under scientific whites have domesticated merely the macadamia nut. Farming only pays in Australia when using imported crops and livestock.

But, are indigenous peoples merely not inferior? In truth, on their own turf many ethnic groups appear to be somewhat genetically superior to outsiders. Diamond makes environmental differences seem so compelling that it's hard to believe that humans would not become somewhat adapted to their homelands through natural selection. And in fact, Diamond himself briefly cites several examples of genetic differences impacting history. Despite military superiority, Europeans repeatedly failed to settle equatorial West Africa, in part because they lacked the malaria resistance conferred on many natives by the sickle cell gene. Similarly, biological disadvantages stopped whites from overrunning the Andes. Does this make Diamond a loathsome racist? No, but it does imply that a scientific-minded observer like Diamond should not dogmatically denounce genetic explanations, since he is liable to get tarred with his own brush.

The undeniability of human biodiversity does not prove that we also differ somewhat mentally, but it's hard to imagine why the brain would differ radically from the rest of the body. Consider the fable of the grasshopper and the ant. The ant's personality traits -- foresight and caution -- fitted him to survive his region's predictably harsh winters. Yet, the grasshopper's strengths -- improvisation and spontaneity -- might furnish Darwinian superiority in a tropical land where the dangers are unpredictable.

Like many, Diamond appears to confuse the concepts of genetic superiorities (plural) and genetic supremacy (singular). The former are circumstance-specific. For example, a slim, heat-shedding Somalian-style body is inferior to a typically stocky, heat-conserving Eskimo physique in Nome, but it's superior in Mogadishu (and in Manhattan, too, if, you want to become a fashion model and marry David Bowie, like Somalian supermodel Iman). In contrast, genetic supremacy is the dangerous fantasy that one group is best at everything. Before the European explosion began in the 15th Century, it seemed apparent that no race could be supreme. Even the arrogant Chinese were periodically overrun by less-cultured barbarians. The recent European supremacy in both the arts of war and of peace was partly an optical illusion masking the usual tradeoffs in talents within Europe (e.g., Italian admirals were as inept as English cooks). Still, the rise and reign of Europe remains the biggest event in world history. Yet, the era when Europeans could plausibly claim supremacy over all other races has been dead for at least the 60 years since Hitler, of all people, allied with Japan.

The historian who trumpets the political relevance of his work must consider both the past and the future, which Diamond fails to do. Surprisingly, ethnic biodiversity is becoming more important in numerous ways. Until recently, one's location and social position at birth closely constrained one's fate. But, as equality of opportunity grows, the globalized marketplace increasingly exploits all advantages in talent, including those with genetic roots. Pro sports offer a foretaste of the future: many are resegregating themselves as ethnic groups increasingly specialize in those games they're naturally best at. In summary, Diamond may prove a better guide to the last 13,000 years than the to next 13.


Only 7 of those 13 years have gone by, but I'd have to say I'm way ahead of Diamond at this point in forecasting the diverging paths of economic development around the world: I was specifically thinking about South Indian programmers and Chinese manufacturing engineers.




What if all athletes took equal amounts of steroids? Many libertarian-inclined commentators have proclaimed that rather than try to ban steroids, sports leagues should "simply" allow all athletes to take a "moderate" dose. 


Of course, this is utterly impractical. It's hard enough to ban steroids, but from the perspective of surviving legal challenges from penalized athletes, it's much more effective to have a blood test rule that says one-molecule-and-you're-nailed than one that specifies X parts per gazillion ... because that opens the door to endless arguments over statistical margins of error. Further, it would just increase the amount of steroids that cheaters would take to even more dangerously high levels, with bizarre illnesses and girlfriends thrown down staircases in 'roid rages increasing concomitantly. If everybody was taking steroids in 1996, how big a dose would Ken Caminiti have taken? He probably would have survived only two years instead of eight after his steroid-fueled MVP season.


Still, a  reader has some interesting observations about the effects of this hypothetical system where everybody took the same amount:


Steroids do not uniformly affect people. So the effect of universal use of equal amounts would not be no effect, as you suggest. Rather, it would be relatively helpful to people with lower levels of (natural) steroids, who would benefit relatively more from a given dose. It would be relatively hurtful to people with higher levels, who'd benefit relatively less.

This may well help white and Asian athletes compete relative to black athletes, if natural hormone levels are among the factors leading to black dominance on the athletic field. Sports allowing fixed doping levels might become whiter. A whiter sport might have many ramifications from the business POV. I'd guess that MLB would jump at it, although, clearly the racial angle will have them running scared so they'd find some other public justification.

I'd suggest that part of the attraction for some commentators to steroid use in the bigs is that it makes their fantasies of big-league play (for themselves, or their sons, perhaps) seem more reasonable, since they know themselves to be relatively low-T. Allowing the proliferation of such fantasies might well be in the interest of MLB.

Equal-but-nonzero steroids might also allow women to compete. It also may open the door to separate-but-equal thinking - that is, women might be competitive if the various sport-governing bodies allow them to use more steroids than men. (This seems farfetched on first reflection, but the more I think about it, the more logical it seems from my understanding of the leftist mindset.)

Also, one group in particular that has naturally lower levels of steroids are older men. Bonds is an example - sabermetricians find that baseball players on average peak about 28 or 29 (in terms of stat-production), yet he's still kicking ass pushing 40. Allowing equal levels of steroids would have the effect of prolonging the careers of some players, making them more competitive vis-a-vis young men who've naturally got plenty of juice but less skill. I've certainly heard the DH rule praised for its side-effect of keeping in play old and beloved (but slow) players. Juicing the game might have a similar effect - again, good for MLB even if bad for the players collectively.


Much of this already happens. For example, females get a bigger bang per buck of steroids because they have fewer natural male hormones than do males. That's why, as I pointed out in a National Review article "Track and Battlefield" in 1997, the East German sports-industrial complex was able to dope their female sprinters into beating our black lady sprinters, but they failed completely at doping their male sprinters into beating our black men. 


Similarly, doping has allowed some clunky white guys to make it to the major leagues: as I pointed out in The American Conservative last spring, Jason Giambi's brother Jeremy is a good example of kind of slow white guy who couldn't make it without steroids.


Still, if everybody doped the same amount, there wouldn't be be all that much change, as we see with Bonds. Not doping (presumably), he was the best player of the 1990s. Doping, he is the best player of the 2000s.


Similarly, Florence Griffith-Joyner was the fastest clean 200m woman in the world at the 1984 Olympics and 1987 World Championships, but she finished second to suspiciously muscular women both times. So, she showed up looking like Wonder Woman in 1988 and made a joke out of the Seoul Olympics. 


A lack of doping tests allowed doped women to artificially narrow the gender gap in Olympic running events from 1976 through 1988, although the difference was not huge -- about 10% to 20% of the gender gap in speed.


Also, you could also argue that the randomness of current cheating adds to the drama of modern sports: For example, a Greek man wins the 200m dash in the 2000 Olympics and his girlfriend gets the silver in the 100m dash. After four years as the toast of Greece, with millions of Greeks pointing to their performances as proof that the best blacks aren't innately faster on average, the pair try to fake a motorcycle crash to avoid the drug test at the 2004 Athens Olympics in their home country. Now, that's interesting!


Think how exciting it would be if Tiger Woods showed up on the PGA tour in January as massively muscular as Barry Bonds (attributing the change to his new bride's family recipe for Swedish meatballs) and started driving Par-5s and holing putts for double eagles. TV ratings would triple! Golf writers would make a fortune with articles about how Tiger added 200 yards to his drives by changing where the Vs in his grip point. 


Anyway, this whole discussion is theoretical, because there is no feasible system for having everybody take just a little steroids. It's a joke of an idea.




Did the Andamanese pygmy negritos survive the tsunami? The Times of India speculates on the fate of the most isolated uncontacted stone age tribe in the known world, the North Sentinel Islanders in the Andaman chain, northwest of Sumatra:


An enormous anthropological disaster is in the making. The killer tsunami is feared to have wiped out entire tribes — already threatened by their precariously small numbers — perhaps rendering them extinct and snapping the slender tie with a lost generation. Officials involved in rescue operations are pessimistic, but still keeping their fingers crossed for the Sentinelese and Nicobarese, the two tribes seen as bearing the brunt of the killer wave. The bigger fear is for the Sentinelese, anthropologically the most important tribe, living on the flat North Sentinel Island. Putting their population at about 100, officials say no body count is possible as the tribe had remained isolated.

The Shompens, Great Andamanese and Jarawas are expected to have fared better as they live on comparatively higher grounds. But their small number could be working against them.

The Great Andamanese were just about gone due to the introduction of outsides disease when the English and Indians came in the 1850s. The Jarawa thrived in the jungle until they began coming into town about five years ago, and immediately started dying of pneumonia. The North Sentinelese are on their own island, protecting them from germs, and continue to drive off interlopers with showers of arrows.


North Sentinel Island is surrounded by reefs that keep shipping away. Whether that would be enough to stop the tsunami, I couldn't stay. Presumably, the inhabitants have been there a loooong time, suggesting, perhaps, that they've survived tsunamis before. We can only hope.


In happier times, I interviewed George Weber, founder of Andaman.org


UPDATE: A new report:


Ongi, Sentinel, Jarwa tribes in Andamans are safe Wednesday, 29 December , 2004, 01:23 New Delhi: The aborigines in Andaman and Nicobar Islands -- Ongi, Sentinel and Jarwa tribes -- are safe, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Tuesday.

While the Ongi people escaped the Tsunami disaster as they located at slightly higher places, the inhabiting Sentinel and Jarwas have not not been affected by the tidal waves, Mukherjee, who visited the Islands along with Congress President Sonia Gandhi, told reporters. Describing as highly exaggerated reports about the casualties suffered in the Islands, Mukherjee said a joint secretary in the Home Ministry has been asked to camp there to oversee relief and rehabilitation operations. He also said that no date has been firmed up for the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the disaster zones.


Well, that sounds promising, but whether the minister has solid information or is just telling people not to assume the worst remains to be seen.




British vs. French ex-Empires: As I discussed below, one of the most popular papers in recent economics was "Law and Finance," which argued that countries whose legal systems derive from the British common law provide more protection of outside shareholders than countries with French-derived law codes. Over time, however, this useful little insight has bloviated into a general explanation for the wealth and poverty of nations, illustrating the tendency of modern economists to not see what is in front of their noses.


A reader writes:


I'm curious to hear how they compare the relative performance of Taiwan and Singapore, both with Chinese populations, the latter with a British legal heritage and the former without such a heritage, but with almost identical GDPs per capita today. There is clearly some benefit to be derived from *not* being ruled by mainland China, but it seems to matter rather less *who* colonized you (at least, between Britain and Japan).

I'm also curious to hear how they compare the relative performance of Malaysia and Thailand. Their economic performance is fairly similar (Malaysia is a bit ahead) but Thailand was never colonized at all. (Thailand, by the way, is about 14% ethnic Chinese, not so wildly different from Malaysia's 24%.)

It's interesting to look at the list below of countries in Africa, their former colonial masters, and GDP per capita (PPP method, from the CIA factbook), ranked by GDP per capita:

Country                  Colonial Power     $GDP per Capita
South Africa            Britain                 10,700
Botswana                Britain                 9,000
Namibia                 Britain (prev German)   7,200
Tunisia                 France                  6,900
Libya                   Italy                   6,400
Algeria                 France                  6,000
Gabon                   France                  5,500
Swaziland               Britain                 4,900
Egypt                   Britain                 4,000
Morocco         France                  4,000
Lesotho                 Britain                 3,000
Equatorial Guinea       Spain                   2,700
Ghana                   Britain                 2,200
Guinea                  France                  2,100
Angola                  Portugal                1,900
Zimbabwe                Britain                 1,900
Sudan                   Britain                 1,900
Mauritania              France                  1,800
Cameroon                France (prev German)    1,800
Gambia                  Britain                 1,700
Senegal                 France                  1,600
Togo                    France                  1,500
Uganda                  Britain                 1,400
Cote D'Ivoire           France                  1,400
Rwanda                  Belgium                 1,300
Djibouti                        France                  1,300
Chad                    France                  1,200
Sao Tome & Principe     Portugal                1,200
Mozambique              Portugal                1,200
Benin                   France                  1,100
Burkina Faso            France                  1,100
Central African Repub   France                  1,100
Kenya                   Britain                 1,000
Liberia                 USA (sort of)           1,000
Mali                    France                  900
Nigeria                 Britain                 900
Zambia                  Britain                 800
Guinea-Bissau           Portugal                800
Madagascar              France                  800
Niger                   France                  800
Ethiopia                        Italy (sort of)         700
Eritrea                 Italy                   700
Comoros         France                  700
Congo, Dem Republic     Belgium                 700
Congo, Republic         France                  700
Burundi                 Belgium                 600
Tanzania                Britain (prev German)   600
Malawi                  Britain                 600
Sierra Leone            Britain                 500
Somalia                 Italy (and Britain)     500

You can find pairings that look like they support the Legal Affairs contention and pairings that look like they refute it. Ghana (fmr British) is doing better now than Togo, Benin or the Ivory Coast (all fmr French). But Nigeria and Sierra Leone (both fmr British) are doing substantially worse than Cameroon and Guinea (both fmr French). And Senegal (fmr French) and the Gambia (fmr British) look pretty much identical. Algeria (fmr French) and Egypt (fmr British) each have Arab populations, lots of sand and some oil. But Algeria is doing better economically in spite of the fact that it's been more politically unstable of late, and the fact that Egypt has the canal and massive American support. The bottom four basket cases on the list, in economic terms - Tanzania, Malawi, Sierra Leone and Somalia - were all at least partly colonized by Britain.

Britain's most successful former colonies in sub-saharan Africa are South Africa, Botswana and Namibia, plus Swaziland and Lesotho, which were never precisely colonies. South Africa dominates the economy of the region, and it is only 75% black African. Namibia is 87% black African and Botswana's stats are not usefully broken out (they count white in the category "other" and I don't know what else is in that category; "other" is 7% of the country). So it's plausible to attribute the outperformance of this entire region to South African exceptionalism, which is surely related to the exceptional racial breakdown of the country. Of the next batch - Ghana, Zimbabwe, Gambia and Uganda - none has a non-African population above 2%. Meanwhile, the most successful French former colonies in sub-Saharan Africa are Gabon, Guinea, Cameroon, Senegal and Togo. Gabon is 1% French, but 11% "other Africans and Europeans" and it has a tiny population, so maybe it's an outlier and we should discount it [It's just an oil spigot country.] The next four countries have non-African populations of well under 2% - smaller, on average, than the four British successes. And their average GDPs are pretty similar:

Country         Colonial Power       Non-African %      Total Populat     GDP per Capita (USD)

Ghana                   Britain                 <1%                     20.8mm                  2,200
Guinea                  France                  <1%                     9.3mm                   2,100

Zimbabwe                Britain                 <2%                     12.7mm                  1,900
Cameroon                France                  <1%                     16.1mm                  1,800

Gambia                  Britain                 1%                      1.6mm                   1,700
Senegal                 France                  1%                      10.9mm                  1,600

Togo                    France                  <1%                     5.6mm                   1,500
Uganda                  Britain                 1%                      26.4mm                  1,400

Do you see a pattern here? I don't.

Looks to me like the French legal heritage works about as well as the British if you compare otherwise similar countries.




Bluest State Blues: Among the 50 states, Massachusetts ranked 50th in Bush's share of the vote, 50th in Average Years Married among younger white women, 49th in white fertility, and 50th in lack of housing price inflation. Not surprisingly, the AP reports:


BOSTON - Massachusetts was the only state in the nation to lose residents in 2004, U.S. Census data shows. The state lost an estimated 3,852 people ... in the last year, despite continuing growth in immigration to the Bay State, the Boston Sunday Globe reported.

Paul E. Harrington, an economist at Northeastern University's Center for Labor Market Studies, attributed the fall to a stagnant job market. He said the decline could be an ominous sign for the state. "Population loss is a pretty fundamental number," he said.

Offsetting the trend is a boost in foreign immigrants, Harrington said, who are counted by the Census but often don't show up in job or unemployment data. That suggests that these workers are being paid under the table, which could create "long-term economic growth problem," he said.

The population of the country swelled by almost 3 million, to nearly 294 million, from July 2003 to July 2004, the Census Bureau reported in its annual population estimates last week.




Reggie White, RIP: The New York Times obituary of the great NFL defensive lineman and minister says:


"White created a stir in March 1998 with a speech to the Wisconsin State Assembly. In it, he referred to homosexuality as "one of the biggest sins in the Bible" and used ethnic stereotypes for blacks and whites."


In reality, the Reverend White's much-denounced "ethnic stereotypes" speech was one of the more thoughtful celebrations of racial and ethnic diversity in recent years. Across Difficult Country quotes the most vilified section of White's speech in context:


Why did God create us differently? Why did God make me black and you white? Why did God make the next guy Korean and the next guy Asian and the other guy Hispanic? Why did God create the Indians?

Well, it's interesting to me to know why now. When you look at the black race, black people are very gifted in what we call worship and celebration. A lot of us like to dance, and if you go to black churches, you see people jumping up and down, because they really get into it.

White people were blessed with the gift of structure and organization. You guys do a good job of building businesses and things of that nature and you know how to tap into money pretty much better than a lot of people do around the world.

Hispanics are gifted in family structure. You can see a Hispanic person and they can put 20 or 30 people in one home. They were gifted in the family structure.

When you look at the Asians, the Asian is very gifted in creation, creativity and inventions. If you go to Japan or any Asian country, they can turn a television into a watch. They're very creative. And you look at the Indians, they have been very gifted in the spirituality.

When you put all of that together, guess what it makes. It forms a complete image of God. God made us different because he was trying to create himself. He was trying to form himself, and then we got kind of knuckleheaded and kind of pushed everything aside.


I attempted a more elaborate description of black advantages, the ones that can't be measured by IQ tests, in my 1996 National Review article "Great Black Hopes" and in this long book review of Arthur Jensen's The g Factor called "The Half-Full glass," in which I declared myself a "Reggieist."



Colonialism's Surprisingly Weak Impact: Colby Cosh writes:


"'Using sophisticated mathematical models, a group of four economists has proven...'--well, the stunningly obvious: that the best thing a country can possibly do for its economy (and probably its general well-being) is to go back in time and get itself subjugated good and hard by the British Empire."


Yet, this doesn't seem that stunningly obvious to me: e.g., Zimbabwe (Where the joke du jour is, "Q. What did we have before candles? A. Electricity"), Burma, Iraq, Nigeria, Sudan, Pakistan  ... Maybe these are exceptions that prove the rule, but the rule is starting to look awfully shaky.

In an article in Legal Affairs by Nicholas Thompson about this theory advanced by "Rafael La Porta of Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes of the Yale School of Management, Andrei Shleifer of Harvard's economics department, and Robert Vishny of the University of Chicago's business school" begins:


MALAYSIA AND INDONESIA COULDN'T BE CALLED TWINS, but they might be called siblings. The adjacent Southeast Asian nations possess similar natural resources and their citizens speak similar languages and follow similar strains of Islam. But Malaysia's economy is prospering while Indonesia's is floundering. Malaysia's stock market is far more vibrant than its neighbor's, and its average resident is three times richer...

Another explanation lies in the countries' legal systems, however. Malaysia was a British colony and its legal system is based on the common law: the set of rules, norms, and procedures that has guided the legal system of England and the British Empire for about nine centuries. Indonesia was a Dutch colony and its legal system derives from French civil law, a set of statutes and principles written under Napoleon in the early 19th century and imposed upon the lands he conquered, including the Netherlands.

According to research published by a group of scholars beginning in 1998, countries that come from a French civil law tradition struggle to create effective financial markets, while countries with a British common law tradition succeed far more frequently. While the scholars conducting the research are economists rather than lawyers, their theory has jolted the legal academy, leading to the creation of a new academic specialty called "law and finance" and turning the authors of the theory into the most cited economists in the world over the past decade. 


C'mon, the main reason Malaysia is better off than Indonesia is because about a quarter of Malaysia's population are Chinese, who, according to Malaysia's former President Mahathir Mohamad, are smarter and harder working than the indigenous "bumiputras." Mahathir set up a clever system of affirmative action for the majority that keeps them from rioting against the Chinese while not burdening the more productive group so much that they all leave Malaysia. In contrast, as Amy Chua pointed out in World on Fire, Indonesia is only 3% Chinese, and the ruling Suharto family climbed in bed with the Chinese businessmen, so that when the Suhartos were overthrown in 1998, the Chinese were attacked in populist pogroms, many fled to Chinese-run Singapore, and the new "democratic" government nationalized $58 billion worth of Chinese-owned businesses, with the usual disastrous results for the economy.

Just by spinning the globe, it's easy to see that the correlation between the colonizer's legal system and the ex-colony's economic success is relatively faint. It's quite possible that in the esoteric area of financial markets law, the British heritage is more useful than that of the Code Napoleon, but, obviously, that's merely the icing on the cake of prosperity.

Obviously, a far more important factor is ideology. Vietnam did poorly up until about a dozen years ago, not because it was a former French colony but because it had a Communist economy. Ever since it turned to capitalism, it has grown quickly. Similarly, despite its continuity in common law judicial philosophy, India did not thrive after gaining independence from Britain in 1947 because it also inherited the Fabian socialism dominant in Britain at the time. On the verge of economic collapse in 1991, India began liberating its economy and has grown steadily ever since.

Overall, it's striking how little impact colonialism, despite all the intense emotions it engendered, has had on the post-colonial world. Consider Japan's ex-colonies: South Korea and Taiwan are success stories, while North Korea is a disaster. Similarly, a half century of American rule did not leave the Philippines with an economy has dynamic as America's, or even as it neighbors in the region.

Paul Johnson pointed out that colonialism was an intensely visual process, manifesting itself, for example, in painting the map of the world in the red of the British empire, but much of its impact was on the surface.

A less publicized factor that has become even more important since the collapse of communist ideologies 15 years ago rendered the ideological playing field a lot more level appears to be IQ. Something that strongly correlate with level of prosperity is national average IQ. In their 2002 book, "IQ and the Wealth of Nations," veteran academics Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen estimated, from studies published in scientific journals, the average IQs for 81 countries. Despite the large amount of noise in this IQ data, they still found a strikingly high correlation coefficient of 0.73 between average IQ and average GDP per capita.

It's important to point out that all the obvious problems with estimating average national IQ -- such as obtaining nationally representative samples and finding culturally unbiased tests -- work to lower, not increase, the correlation with average per capita income. So, the correlation between income and the "true" average national IQs is likely even higher than 0.73.

And it's not like there's nothing we can do about national IQ -- UNICEF issued a report early this year, "Vitamin & Mineral Deficiency: A Global Progress Report," spelling out two steps that could raise 3rd world national average IQs: put iodine in salt and iron in flour or other staples. That helped eliminate "cretinism" and similar medical problems lowering intelligence in the industrialized world a few generations ago.

Of course, nobody picked up on this report in the press, because that would require talking about IQ.




The American Prospect Can't Stand the Heat and Wants Everybody Else to Get Out of the Kitchen: After publishing Garance Franke-Ruta's smear of me, The American Prospect is now threatening legal action against anybody who "reproduces" an old article accusing her of racism. You've really got to read this to believe their hypocrisy. 


At the time I wrote,


"I must confess that my eyes glazed over while reading about Franke-Ruta's and The American Prospect's alleged high crimes and insensitivities against Latinos. What I saw of it before nodding off seemed no more persuasive than what she wrote about me.

On the other hand, as Across Difficult Country asks, why should the benefit of the doubt be extended to Franke-Ruta if she won't extend it to me? Good question. It's often those who live in the glassiest houses who are most inclined to throw stones to distract from the fragility of their own abodes. 

Well, it being the Christmas season, I shall give Franke-Ruta the benefit of the doubt anyway. 


The Winds of Change blog is flabbergasted by the whole deal.


Speaking of glass houses,, although Franke-Ruta wrote some obnoxious and absurd things about me (my response is at http://www.iSteve.com/04DecA.htm#smear ), she shouldn't be silenced for her own political incorrectness.

In further defense of Franke-Ruta, let me point out that she is sometimes quite a bit more honest than most liberals about issues like race and crime. For example, in a 2002 review of Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine," she attacked the movie for roughly the same reason I did in my "Baby Gap" article ( http://www.amconmag.com/2004_12_20/cover.html ).

She wrote:


"My beef with Moore is this: He has managed to make a movie about gun violence in America -- where 53 percent of the gun murder victims are black -- without interviewing a single black victim of gun violence, or even asking black community leaders, who have spent decades successfully trying to combat the problem, for their insights. Instead, to explore a phenomenon that has devastated inner cities and is a horror primarily in urban areas -- nearly 70 percent of gun murders take place in cities, according to U.S. Deaprtment of Justice statistics -- Moore has made a movie that takes as its focal point the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colo., a type of crime (five or more victims) that represented one-tenth of 1 percent of murders that year and that occurred in a white, prosperous, suburban community...

"Young black men ages 14-24 make up only 1 percent of the U.S. population but around 15 percent of the murder victims. Nor are Moore's suburban white gun owners, no matter how ridiculous their fears, the reason that black Americans were six times more likely to be murdered than whites in 1999, and seven times more likely to commit homicides."


Personally, I think The American Prospect could use more of the kind of honesty Franke-Ruta is showing in the two paragraphs I quoted above.

What she appeared to be doing by attacking me in such a frenetic and irrational manner is the old trick that when the wolves of political correctness are closing in on the sleigh, throw somebody even more politically incorrect to the wolves to distract them. "When they came for Steve Sailer, I led them to him," etcetera etcetera

Obviously, I don't appreciate her ploy, but I certainly don't think it's in American political discourse's best interest for her to be devoured by the politically correct either.




A Christmas Song Decline Theory: I like pop classic Christmas songs, such as "Winter Wonderland" or "Chestnuts Roasting Over an Open Fire" for a lot of reasons, including that Christmas is one of the few time of the year when singing in public is tolerated these days. So, like a lot of people lately, I've been wondering why there haven't been any new hit Christmas songs in many years. One of my reader theorized that this is because many of the Christmas standards that were written in the golden age of secular pop Christmas songs between 1934 and 1958 were written by Jews (e.g., Irving Berlin's "White Christmas)," but modern Jews find it ignominious to write Christmas songs anymore. (The reader, in case you were wondering, is Jewish.) "As a great Jewish songwriter sang, 'It ain't me, babe,'" she wrote to me.


That's an interesting theory, and it would be sad if it were true. It probably also wouldn't be, as they say, good for the Jews,  because Jews like Irving Berlin helped transform Christmas from purely a Christian holiday into one that was also a secular American holiday, promising peace on earth for men of good will ... of all backgrounds.


I wanted to test this theory, but since nobody of any background is writing good Christmas songs anymore, it's hard to see if the ethnic balance has changed. (Indeed, it's hard to come up with an objective list of good songs of any kind from recent years -- e.g., the recent Rolling Stone magazine top 500 songs list only included three from the last half decade -- two by Eminem and one by Outkast).


However, we live in an an age that still produces some decent Christmas movies -- 2003's "Elf," for instance, hardly compares to "It's a Wonderful Life" (but then what does?), yet it's still a modest delight. The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles reports:


Both are written and directed by persons of the Jewish faith. “Elf” is directed (Jon Favreau), written by (David Berenbaum) and has stars (James Caan, Edward Asner) who are Jewish — a rare trifecta, particularly for a Christmas film — a feat that parallels the success of the 1954 “White Christmas” (Michael Curtiz, Norm Krasna and Danny Kaye, respectively).


Favreau, by the way, is Italian on his father's side and Jewish on his mother's side, and says he "keeps a Jewish home."


2002's "Santa Clause 2" was a funnier film than you would expect and made a deserved pile of money because it featured G-rated jokes that adults enjoyed. It's director, Michael Lembeck, is Jewish, as would appear to be some of its many writers.


Nor is it just the better sort of Christmas movie that features heavy Jewish involvement: I haven't seen this year's "Christmas with the Kranks" and "Surviving Christmas," so I'll skip over evaluating how good they are, but they both appear to have lots of Jews working on them in key creative roles.


(On the other hand, Robert Zemeckis, director of this year's slow-motion Christmas hit "The Polar Express," is, to the surprise of many, of Polish Catholic background. And the big three behind 2000's "How The Grinch Stole Christmas," Dr. Seuss, Ron Howard, and Jim Carrey, are not Jewish.) 


So, it looks like Jews in the film industry are still quite happy to make secular Christmas movies. This analogy therefore, doesn't support my reader's theory about the decline of Christmas songs. We'll just have to keep looking elsewhere.




Steroid Rationalizations: A baseball blog called The Hardball Times writes:


Unlike, I suppose, pretty much everyone, I don't consider steroid abuse to be cheating at baseball. It's cheating at working out, it's probably cheating other players out of playing time in some instances, and it's certainly cheating those players and teams out of money -- but it's not cheating at baseball. The positive effects of steroids are the same as exercise, just dramatically increased. When you take steroids, the ball doesn't jump over the fence on a bunt. Foul balls don't suddenly curve fair, and you can't suddenly hit any ball anywhere at any time. It makes you a better hitter, but you could achieve the same results with actual hard work. The results in the gym are a fraud, the results on the field are not, because the other team will be able to ascertain very quickly your physical attributes, and play you accordingly.


Exactly how can other teams play Barry Bonds accordingly? By buying their outfielders seats in the bleachers? 


And how could anyone achieve the same results as Barry "with actual hard work?" After the age of 35, Barry has enjoyed the three greatest offensive seasons in baseball history. By taking steroids, Barry can work out and more often than anybody who isn't taking steroids.


I've noticed that in the blogosphere, unsophisticated libertarianism and hero-worship of manly athletes frequently combine to turn bloggers into saps for steroid-abusers. Look how many bloggers have endorsed the idea that, well, we shouldn't ban steroid use, just limit it to a safe, moderate amount. 


What a stupid idea that is! The whole point of using steroids in baseball is not to use the same amount as your competitors, but to use more. If you all just used the same moderate amount, you'd all be better off using none at all. If they implemented that rule, then to get an advantage, you'd have to take the kind of massive jolts that the late Ken Caminiti started taking in mid-season 1996. (Soon, Caminiti came down with terrible depression when not full of steroids, which led him to self-medicate by smoking crack, which led to his recent death in the gutter at age 41.)


Further, if they allowed any level of steroids, it would make it vastly harder to catch cheaters, since each time they caught anybody it would end up in an endless court suit over whether they actually had the illegal 101 parts per zillion in their blood stream or the legal 100 parts per zillion. Now, all they have to prove is you had a single one of these illegal molecules in your bloodstream ... and it's still hard to win the court fights today. 




What is Rove really up to? A reader passes on an interesting interpretation of why Bush and Rove want to flood the country with an unlimited number of foreign guest workers at the minimum wage. They know it won't generate votes for Republicans, but that's not the intention. The goal is to destroy the unions, which are major sources of funds and organizers for the Democratic Party, by providing a nearly-infinite supply of strikebreakers. 


A historical analogy: Cesar Chavez's United Farm Workers union was able to significantly raise the wages of stoop laborers in the 1960s and 1970s because the Eisenhower Administration deported about a million illegal immigrants back to Mexico. Growers fought back against the UFW by sending buses to Mexico and sneaking strikebreakers over the border, so infuriating Chavez that he volunteered his union staffers to the Border Patrol as auxiliary vigilantes. However, the 1982 economic collapse in Mexico sent millions of illegal immigrants northward, crushing wages. Now, the UFW is a dried husk and Chavez, bizarrely, is celebrated as the patron saint of the reconquista, even though he used to turn in illegal immigrants to the INS. 


Yet, the number of workers who are in private sector unions has shrunk down so low that this obsession of Rove's seems outdated. Certainly, private sector unionism hardly saps the strength of the economy to the same extent as it did in, say, Harry Truman's day, when a big part of the President's job was trying to head off or settle massive strikes. Increasingly, unionized workers are government employees, who typically are protected from illegal immigrants by laws requiring government jobholders to be citizens.


The AFL-CIO favors a less radical version of the Karl Rove Amnesty Plan, suggesting that they view the political impact of KRAP very differently than Rove does. The unions see two benefits. First, amnesty increases the number of potential union members by bringing illegals out of the shadows. Second, by threatening to destroy American wage levels, KRAP will increase desperation among workers and make them turn to the unions for protection from guest workers, just as the unions first became hugely powerful during the Depression when the supply of labor was far greater than the demand.


I can't say whether Rove or the AFL-CIO is right about the political impact of KRAP, but that there's disagreement between the two most interested parties shows how much Bush and Rove just like to roll the dice more than they like to figure the odds, as shown by invading Iraq and by how they made it easier for Arab Muslim terrorists to hijack airplanes in the first 8 months of 2001 as part of their pursuit of the (almost nonexistent) Arab Muslim vote. 


So far, Rove's claim to be a genius is that Bush got elected by a -0.5% margin and got re-elected by less than 2.5% of the vote -- pretty thin evidence that Rove's the infallible seer of politics. A better interpretation is that Rove is an inveterate gambler who has slipped through by the skin of his teeth so far.




While we waste our time and treasure in Iraq: David Barboza reports in the NYT:


DATANG, China - You probably have never heard of this factory town in coastal China, and there is no reason why you should have. But it fills your sock drawer.

Datang produces an astounding nine billion pairs of socks each year - more than one set for every person on the planet. People here fondly call it Socks City, and its annual socks festival attracts 100,000 buyers from around the world.

Southeast from here is Shenzhou, which is the world's necktie capital. To the west is Sweater City and Kid's Clothing City. To the south, in the low-rent district, is Underwear City.

This remarkable specialization, one city for each drawer in your bureau, reflects the economies of scale and intense concentration that have helped turn China into a garment behemoth. On Jan. 1, a new trade regime will end the decades-old system of country-by-country quotas that divide the world's exports among roughly 150 countries. Now, China is banking on its immense size and efficient operators to grab an even larger share of the world's clothing orders. 


The garment industry has traditionally been the first rung up on the ladder of industrialization, from England in the 1760s onward. If China monopolizes the garment trade, however, that will foreclose the first step up for the poorest countries in the world. However, we'll be able to buy lots of cheap socks at Wal-Mart (at least until the Chinese tire of propping up the rapidly becoming less almighty dollar), and I guess that's what's really important.



More of the Derb's Christmas Classics: To the tune of "Let It Snow!":

Let Them Grow!

The steroid abuse is frightful
But the games are so delightful!
Since the ball players thrill us so —
Let them grow! Let them grow! Let them grow!

Now Giambi and Bonds are admitting
There's more than just skill to their hitting,
And baseball is just a freak show —
Let them grow! Let them grow! Let them grow!




Whatever happened to redheads? A reader writes:


I'm a redhead and always get discouraged from keeping my natural hair color when I constantly hear "blondes vs. brunettes". It makes me feel invisible and I question if men just aren't attracted to redheaded women. After reading your article though it seems that blondes and redheads are clumped into the same category? I was wondering why that is?


Good question. I just watched Rosanna Arquette's meandering documentary "Searching for Debra Winger," in which aging Hollywood actresses kvetch about how they don't get any good roles after they hit 40 (The title comes from Debra Winger, a big star in her late twenties with "An Officer and a Gentleman" and "Terms of Endearment," who walked away from The Industry just before her 40th birthday.). The movie could have been called "29 Blondes and Whoopi Goldberg."

Yet, redheads were a very big deal in American popular culture (songs, movies, television -- Lucille Ball never made it big until she dyed her hair red) for much of the 20th Century and then something happened, maybe in the 1960s. 

Perhaps it had something to do with Americans paying more attention to racial minorities. Just as the differences between Irish vs. Italians seemed less important after the rise of interest in the 1960s in blacks made black vs. white seem ever so more important than Irish vs. Italians, then differences in hair color among whites might have seemed less important. So, blondes simply became a general symbol for the kind of hair colors that whites can have naturally, but other groups can't.

Or maybe it had something to do with the fad in the 1960s and 1970s for women to get tanned. Since blondes can tan and redheads can't (to generalize wildly), blondes were more fashionable in that era than redheads. We've gotten over that fad for tanning, but for some reason, the emphasis on redheads never returned, even though a lot of leading actresses are redheads today (due to Hollywood's strong desire for leading ladies to be fairer skinned than their leading men).

By the way, when Arquette hunts down Debra Winger in what looks like her plush retirement, she's wearing her hair bright red, and it looks great.

Despite the paucity of starring roles for actresses over 40, all the ladies in the documentary seemed to be still living in the lap of luxury. These days, it doesn't seem like many ex-stars are hurting financially. A big reason is that the LA real estate market has been booming for most of the last 29 years, so even if you blow all your ready cash, you still have the house in Beverly Hills that's worth $4 million dollars more than you paid for it. So, you can move to a $2 million dollar house in Santa Monica, then sell that when it goes to $4 million, and so on.

Also, if you are a leading lady, you can marry a rich man. So, I'm not shedding too many tears for the 29 blondes.


Regarding the natural history of redheads, they appear as far away as the Middle East and the Canary Islands, but the farther west you go in Northern Europe, the more common they are. Western Ireland has a remarkable number -- I'd guesstimate 30% are redheads in County Kerry on the Atlantic. In contrast, blondes get more common as you go north in Europe (typically, golden blondes in the west, ash blondes in the east). 


My theory is that both redheads and blondes are sexually selected for in women because they are more noticeable, which women generally want to be. Blonde hair reflects the most light and red hair is the most eye-catching of colors. 


However, there are downsides to both. Redheads seem to be associated with very low melanin skin, which can cause big problems when the sun is bright. Redheads get more common the farther out in the Atlantic you go because the skies are more overcast, so the chance of a bad sunburn is less. In contrast, blondes tend to tan better, so they are more common more inland where the weather is less misty. On the other hand, while highly reflective hair makes blonde women hard to ignore, it can be work against blonde men who are hunters or warriors by making them visible from a long way off. (You used to be able to spot the formerly ultra-blond golfer Greg Norman from an enormous distance off at tournaments from the sun glinting off his hair.) So, blonde hair isn't very common where the sun is high in the sky because blonde men then tend to lose the element of surprise.



Apparently, William Safire doesn't want us to miss him when he's gone: That would seem to be the most charitable explanation for his latest column, "Wave of the Future." Not to be outdone, the WSJ op-edsters feature a column by that George Washington of Iraq, Ahmad Chalabi. Meanwhile, for American soldiers in the real Iraq that Safire and Chalabi helped lie us into, horror.



Question: How do I make money off my red-blue findings? Clearly, I've uncovered more than any other investigator about the great public question of the season: Why are red states red and blue states blue? 

But how do I make any money off this? Lectures? Consulting? Today, is my 46th birthday and I'm getting pretty depressed looking at my earning prospects. Any suggestions?



Red-Blue Housing War Stories:


Your point about the difference between housing-price trends in Northwest DC and DC's eastern provinces is certainly true. Chevy Chase, DC, is child-friendly in a lot of ways, and there are plenty of kids here among the couples who can afford the prices of both homes and private schools. But the neighborhood is basically a land of $50,000 houses sitting on $500,000 lots. The two-income families huddle together in the $50,000 houses, while their dogs get to play in the $500,000 lots. Plus, the dogs get walked every morning and will see their owners early each evening, since the commute to downtown jobs is so short. I think we must have the happiest dogs in America.

But apart from the natural expense of living downtown in cities, there has been some artificial destruction of livable places in a lot of American cities. Washington has lost something like 40 percent of its total population since the 1950s. It is not, overall, a congested city, with insufficient land for more affordable residences. There are huge tracts to the east that have been partly deserted and rendered uninhabitable for middle-class whites and blacks, by crime, lousy schools and rent controls on new apartments. This is the general tendency of liberal places to render themselves more liberal by making themselves even more dysfunctional.

Maybe another reason parents with kids don't like to live in dense cities is the heavy traffic on all the surrounding streets, which can be very risky for younger children. However, when kids reach their teenage driving years, the city is probably less risky, since you can walk or take the bus most places.


The increased traffic is bad for bikes, so kids these days expect to get driven everywhere, which is another stress of parenting.



New Blogs: Over on the Links list to the left, I've highlighted in red some blogs I've recently added. Check them out.


Also, The Ambler, Kevin Michael Grace, is back in business. I had nice phone call from him tonight during which he told me many amusing and horrifying stories about the music industry. You know how sometimes you hear a great old song on the radio and you think to yourself: "Isn't it wonderful that the songwriter who composed that song is still getting paid royalties by ASCAP or BMI for bringing that thing of beauty into the world"? Well, don't. The odds are that the royalties aren't going to the songwriter but to some music industry creep who ripped the artist off because he was young and eager. I was please to hear, however, that Elvis Costello, while never a huge star, at least managed to hold on to the cash flow from what he created.



Don't get greedy! In my latest VDARE column, I bragged that LaboratoryotheStates.com found that my Average Years Married among white women measure correlated with Bush's share of the vote not just at the extraordinarily high r = 0.91 level (r-squared = 83%) I reported for a linear equation, but at a bizarrely high r = 0.95 (r-squared = 90%) when you take the log of the statistics. A reader writes:


Beware log-log plots; they almost always make correlations look better than they should. You can correlate almost anything log-log. Try taking a shotgun pattern in a target and plotting it log-log. You can sometimes wind up with a nice linear plot.I'd be more comfortable sticking with your puny (!) .91.


I have to admit that I can't think of any reason the log correlation would be more realistic than the linear one. Any thoughts?



More reports from the trenches of the red-blue housing inflation gap:


One point I think I think is really understated, is the degree to which the Children vs. City Lifestyle is really made at a conscious level by people in their late twenties and early thirties. Do I give up the Met and theater or move to a place where my kids will have their own bedrooms?



By the way, as a resident of Massachusetts, I've seen and lived through the housing price hyperinflation. In the past two years, we've seen countless friends leave because of the combination of wanting to raise a family and wanting to live in a nice neighborhood and house. And these are very smart, educated and successful people that are leaving: lawyers, people with Masters degrees, successful corporate managers. The common thread is: young, not yet home owners, starting to have kids and not a lot of capital built up yet. Most are moving back to where they grew up -- not only is housing cheaper, but you get the grandparents to help out. We know people that bought but with an income from two professionals and then had kids. A few of the mothers have indicated that they would like to stay home (a reversal of plans) with the baby, but can't -- they wouldn't be able to then afford the mortgage. The solution is just what you found.



Dave Barry on Red-Blue:


The nation suffered a wound during the recent presidential election as a result of the rift between the red states - defined as "states where 'foreign cuisine' pretty much means Pizza Hut" - and the blue states, defined as "states that believe they are smarter than the red states, despite the fact that it takes the average blue-state resident 15 minutes to order a single cup of coffee."... 

And as Americans, we must ask ourselves: Are we really so different? Must we stereotype those who disagree with us? Do we truly believe that all red-state residents are ignorant racist fascist knuckle-dragging NASCAR-obsessed cousin-marrying roadkill-eating tobacco-juice-dribbling gun-fondling religious fanatic rednecks; or that all blue-state residents are godless unpatriotic pierced-nose Volvo-driving France-loving left-wing communist latte-sucking tofu-chomping holistic-wacko neurotic vegan weenie perverts?

Yes. This is called "diversity," and it is why we are such a great nation - a nation that has given the world both nuclear weapons and SpongeBob SquarePants.

And so today I am calling upon both sides in the red-blue rift to reach out. Maybe we could have a cultural-exchange program between red and blue states.

For example, a delegation from Texas could go to California and show the Californians how to do some traditional Texas thing such as castrate a bull using only your teeth, and then the Californians could show the Texans how to rearrange their football stadiums in accordance with the principles of "feng shui" (for openers, both goalposts should be at the west end of the field).

Or maybe New York and Kentucky could have a college-style "mixer," featuring special "crossover" hors d'oeuvres such as bagels topped with squirrel parts.



Final Results: Ruy Teixeira links to Michael McDonald of George Mason University and shows that Bush's win was a little narrower than the 3 points, 4 million votes we had assumed:


Bush 62,008,619 (50.74%)

Kerry 59,012,107 (48.29%)

Total (all candidates) 122,212,577

(Turnout Rate among eligible: 59.9%)

Margin of Victory: 2,996,512 (2.45%)


Judging from both 2000 and 2004, the Democratic candidate will pick up several tenths of a point after everybody stops paying attention and the conventional wisdom ossifies about how big the margin was.



An order of magnitude worse than 9/11? What are the odds that Vioxx, Celebrex, and any other arthritis medicines might have killed ten times more Americans than Osama bin Laden?




The 3rd Secret Behind Why Red States Are Red: My new VDARE column reveals the third factor behind Bush winning a high share of a state's votes: low inflation in housing prices. Bush carried the 26 states with the least inflation in home prices between 1980 and 2004, while Kerry won the top 14 states with fastest growing housing prices. 



Note that, tellingly, in second place as an indicator of GOP predilection, in between Years Married and Total Fertility, is the growth in housing prices between 1980 and 2004. The correlation coefficient is -0.82. The negative sign means that the more housing prices have risen, the more Democratic the state was.

For example, housing prices in Massachusetts, the most Democratic state in the 2004 election, rose 516%, the highest home inflation in the country. In Utah, the most Republican state, house prices were up only 162%.

Expensive housing retards family formation, which helps the Democrats. Rising housing prices transfer wealth from young people to old people.

Importing more foreigners, as the Bush Administration suicidally wants to do, drives up the price of homes by increasing demand. That makes it harder for young voters to start down the road to homeownership, marriage, babies—and committed Republicanism.



Question: How do I make money off my red-blue findings? Clearly, I've uncovered more than any other investigator about the great public question of the season: Why are red states red and blue states blue? 

But how do I make any money off this? Lectures? Consulting? Today, is my 46th birthday and I'm getting pretty depressed looking at my earning prospects. Any suggestions?



All Politics Is Local: Red and Blue Housing Prices Version: A reader writes:


It's interesting to see your column played out in real life. Here in Anchorage Alaska we have two bedroom communities on opposite sides of the fence. To the south-east we have Girdwood. It's a boutique community centered around a ski resort. Housing is expensive and people there are very liberal (Kerry won the town 70%).


To the North-west we have Wasilla. It's a kind of frontier community, nothing was there 40 years ago, but now it is the fastest growing town in Alaska. Housing is cheap. And the voters...very conservative. Bush won 74% or so.


Anyway, it's a very good comparison since the other factors (race, age, location, etc) are nearly identical.



Tom Wolfe's Portrait of the President as a Young Frat Guy: The main villain in Wolfe's "I Am Charlotte Simmons" is a fraternity brother named Hoyt Thorpe, whose depiction offers a lot of insights into the molding of George W. Bush. Which is interesting because Wolfe voted for Bush. He may be a jerk, but when foreigners are out to kill you, you just might want to be led by a jerk, assumes Wolfe.


More roman a clef aspects of "Charlotte Simmons:" The family background of the President of Dupont, Frederick Cutler III, from an ultra-assimilated Jewish family in the diplomatic corps, appears modeled on John Kerry. 


Dupont basketball coach / demigod Buster Roth, whom the Jewish faculty members, such as Jerry Quat, quickly determine is German, not Jewish, would be modeled on Polish Catholic Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K).


JoJo Johansen, the only white starter on the Dupont team, is probably inspired by Duke's JJ Redick, although Redick's skills as a shooting guard are closer to JoJo's white roommate Mike.


Also, I'm surprised by how many people don't figure out that the college in "I Am Charlotte Simmons" is obviously primarily Duke, where Wolfe's daugther Alexandra graduated in 2002. Are there any other schools with 1490 average SATs and national championship basketball teams and a social scene dominated by fraternities and sororities? Here's a Duke geology professor listing 14 similarities. I was also struck by his response to the denunciations of the realism of Wolfe's portrayal of elite college students:


How real is Wolfe's Duke? For that slice of the Duke undergraduate body that is represented by Wolfe, I'd say it's very real. I've been at Duke for 14 years now. This is my last year. Every year for the last several years, I've gone on a week-long field trip with Duke students. I've gotten to know Duke students pretty damn well. And about 30 percent of them bear an uncanny resemblance to Wolfe's Duke. The language that they use fits Wolfe's dialogue to a T. The ugly attitudes expressed by them in conversation fit the attitudes described by Wolfe. Wolfe's Duke is a dead on accurate description of about one-third of Duke's student population.



Need your advice: I want to finally get myself a statistics package so I can stop doing multiple regressions in Excel. What's your advice on SAS, SPSS, STATA, etc.? Low price and ease of learning are high priorities.



"A Series of Unfortunate Events" -- I don't have much to say about the new Jim Carrey movie based on the bestsellers for kids by "Lemony Snickett" about three orphans who mock-grimly triumph over a hostile world that's a cross between Dickens and The Addams Family. I took three 12 year old boys who had all read the books and they all liked the film version but weren't blown away. 


I too thought it was decent; but it needed one more surprise climax.  It ends rather like "Jurassic Park III," where the main characters are flying off to safety in military aircraft, and you figure, "Okay, it looks like the movie is coming to an end, but of course the helicopters are going to be suddenly attacked by enormous bloodthirsty flying pterodactyls right about  ... NOW ... no, wait, ... NOW ... no? ... huh, they're really making us wait for the surprise ending ... hey, why are the credits starting? ... why are the lights coming on in the theatre? ... why'd everybody go home? ... I demand my Pterodactyl Attack!"



"Why the Sailer Stomping Now?" asks a reader and I try to provide an answer over at the VDARE blog.



"The Battle Hymn of the Multicultural Republic"

(Apologies to Julia Ward Howe from John Derbyshire)

Mine eyes have never noticed any difference at all —
Black, brown, or white; gay, bi, or straight; or thin or fat or tall;
Male, female, or transsexual — they’re constructions soci-al:
We must celebrate each one.
Glory, glory, there’s no difference!
Yet still, we’d better give some preference.
To enrich our own learning experience,
Till critical mass is here.




Contemporary Christmas Classics: There's strong feeling in favor of The Pogues' "Fairy Tale of New York" from 1987, a duet between poor Shane MacGowan (about whom Colby Cosh acerbically notes, "He's been enjoying the last six months of his life for the last 15 years") and and even poorer Kirsty Macoll, about a drunken Irish immigrant:


It was Christmas Eve babe
In the drunk tank
An old man said to me, won't see another one
And then he sang a song
The rare old mountain tune
I turned my face away
And dreamed about you


He tries to to patch things up with his spitfire girlfriend by bringing up all the good times they'd shared, which sound like they took place in 1953:


Sinatra was swinging,
All the drunks they were singing
We kissed on a corner
Then danced through the night

The boys of the NYPD choir
Still singing "Galway Bay"
And the bells are ringing out
For Christmas day


It's not coincidental that this, possibly the greatest of all recent Christmas songs, explicitly refers to the music of mid-century Manhattan when Tin Pan Alley, and its Christmas song-writing minions, was at its peak.


UPDATE: A reader points out:


"And then he sang a song 
The rare old mountain tune"

That should be:

"And then he sang a song 
'The Rare Old Mountain Dew'"

"The Rare Old Mountain Dew" is an old Irish folk song covered by among others, the Dubliners in the sixties/seventies (not the current "New Dubliners") and was also covered by the Pogues with the Dubliners collaborating. Shane is at his peak vocal talent on the track.

It's a trivial correction, but the lyric adds resonance to the time and place atmosphere of New York in the late forties / early fifties when the Irish were still very much an "ethnic group."


Other nominees include: 


Father Christmas - Kinks 
2000 Miles - Pretenders 
Christmas Must Be Tonight - Robbie Robertson 
Merrry Christmas, Darling - Carpenters 
Light of the Stable - EmmyLou Harris 
The Rebel Jesus - Jackson Browne 
Christmas Wrapping - Waitresses
Christmas With the Family - Robert Earl Keene
Christmas in Hollis - Run DMC
Christmas at the Zoo - Flaming Lips


And here are John Derbyshire's updatings of Christmas and other songs, such as "The Seven Days of Kwanzaa," "God Rest Ye Merry Democrats," and the admittedly unChristmasy Gilbert & Sullivanesque "I Am the Very Model of the Modern Homosexual:"


I am the very pattern of a modern homosexual:
I wear a suit and tie, I am impeccably respectable;
I live out in the suburbs with my partner, who’s a blogger; we 
Are very nearly ready to commit to strict monogamy. 
We party, but we always beg the neighbors to excuse the noise 
Of after-midnight dancing to the music of the Pet Shop Boys. 
We’re active in the local church, which is of course Episcopal
 — ‘Piscopal — ‘Piscopal — 
We help out with the youth group — I assure you there’s no risk at all!

(All) They help out with the youth group, he assures us there’s no risk at all.

You needn’t fear we’ll turn your kids, the whole thing is inborn, you see. 
It’s nothing we can help, so disapproval is just bigotry. 
My hair is cropped, my goatee’s trimmed, my lisp is undetectable; 
I am the very model of a modern homosexual!

(All) His hair is cropped, his goatee’s trimmed, his lisp is undetectable; 
He is the very model of a modern homosexual!

My HIV I manage with a handy pharma-copeia; 
With modern medications now we gays are in Utopia! 
I shoot up with testosterone and work out till my limbs are sore; 
My voice is deep, my chest is broad, I’m butch-er than a stevedore.
You’ll just have to get used to us, adjust the laws to suit our needs;
To take another attitude from adherence to worn-out creeds 
Would mark you as intolerant! a basher! and a criminal!
Criminal! — Criminal! — 
We’ll slander and defame you and you’ll find support is minimal.

(All) They’ll slander and defame you and you’ll find support is minimal.


I wonder which testosterone-shooting, Pet Shop Boys-loving, Derb-hating individual the Derb was thinking of when he penned this? Nobody springs to mind. I guess this question will just have to go down in literary history as one of the great unsolved mysteries.


Getting into the mood of this holiday season, a reader adds:


I always vote Log Cabin and you know that I’m no liberal.
They’re always soft on Muslims and they don’t do things Imperial.
Old Abe he slept with men, you know, and smote Southerners most biblical.
He could have been the model for the modern homosexual!

(ALL) Old Abe he slept with men, you know, and smote Southerners most biblical.
He is an inspiration for the modern homosexual!




Contemporary Christmas Classics: There's strong feeling in favor of The Pogues' "Fairy Tale of New York" from 1987, a duet between poor Shane MacGowan and Kirsty Macoll, about a drunken Irish immigrant:


It was Christmas Eve babe
In the drunk tank
An old man said to me, won't see another one
And then he sang a song
The rare old mountain tune
I turned my face away
And dreamed about you


He tries to to patch things up with his spitfire girlfriend by bringing up all the good times they'd shared:


Sinatra was swinging,
All the drunks they were singing
We kissed on a corner
Then danced through the night

The boys of the NYPD choir
Still singing "Galway Bay"
And the bells are ringing out
For Christmas day


It's not coincidental that this, possibly the greatest of all recent Christmas songs, explicitly refers to the music of mid-century Manhattan when Tin Pan Alley, and its Christmas song-writing minions, was at its peak.


Other nominees include: 


Father Christmas - Kinks 
2000 Miles - Pretenders 
Christmas Must Be Tonight - Robbie Robertson 
Merrry Christmas, Darling - Carpenters 
Light of the Stable - EmmyLou Harris 
The Rebel Jesus - Jackson Browne Christmas Wrapping - Waitresses
Christmas With the Family - Robert Earl Keene
Christmas in Hollis - Run DMC
Christmas at the Zoo - Flaming Lips


And here's John Derbyshire's updatings of Christmas and other songs, such as "The Seven Days of Kwanzaa," "God Rest Ye Merry Democrats," and the the admittedly unChristmasy Gilbert & Sullivanesque "I Am the Very Model of the Modern Homosexual:"


I am the very pattern of a modern homosexual:
I wear a suit and tie, I am impeccably respectable;
I live out in the suburbs with my partner, who’s a blogger; we 
Are very nearly ready to commit to strict monogamy. 
We party, but we always beg the neighbors to excuse the noise 
Of after-midnight dancing to the music of the Pet Shop Boys. 
We’re active in the local church, which is of course Episcopal
 — ‘Piscopal — ‘Piscopal — 
We help out with the youth group — I assure you there’s no risk at all!

(All) They help out with the youth group, he assures us there’s no risk at all.

You needn’t fear we’ll turn your kids, the whole thing is inborn, you see. 
It’s nothing we can help, so disapproval is just bigotry. 
My hair is cropped, my goatee’s trimmed, my lisp is undetectable; 
I am the very model of a modern homosexual!

(All) His hair is cropped, his goatee’s trimmed, his lisp is undetectable; 
He is the very model of a modern homosexual!

My HIV I manage with a handy pharma-copeia; 
With modern medications now we gays are in Utopia! 
I shoot up with testosterone and work out till my limbs are sore; 
My voice is deep, my chest is broad, I’m butch-er than a stevedore.
You’ll just have to get used to us, adjust the laws to suit our needs;
To take another attitude from adherence to worn-out creeds 
Would mark you as intolerant! a basher! and a criminal!
Criminal! — Criminal! — 
We’ll slander and defame you and you’ll find support is minimal.

(All) They’ll slander and defame you and you’ll find support is minimal.


I wonder which fan of the Pet Shop Boys the Derb was thinking of when he penned this?



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