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trying to see if Google will spider and catalog these very old
(2001-2002) blog items:
New Course by Royal Navy: A Campaign to Recruit Gays,"
reports Sara Lyall in the NYT:
LONDON, Feb. 21 - Five years after Britain lifted its ban on gays in the military, the Royal Navy has begun actively encouraging them to enlist and has pledged to make life easier when they do.
The navy announced Monday that it had asked Stonewall, a group that lobbies for gay rights, to help it develop better strategies for recruiting and retaining gay men and lesbians. It said, too, that one strategy may be to advertise for recruits in gay magazines and newspapers...
The new effort continues a pattern of changing official attitudes in the navy - once derided as running on rum, sodomy and the lash, in a phrase usually attributed to Winston
Sarah, I'm not sure how best to break this to you, but "rum,
sodomy, and the lash" appears to be the Royal Navy's new
official attitude toward what future British tars are expected to be
engaged in below decks.
rare essay worth reading on the WSJ's OpinionJournal.com site:
obituary for Hunter S. Thompson:
He proved to be one of those tall, rawboned, rangy young men with alarmingly bright eyes, who more than any other sort of human, in my experience, are prone to manic explosions.
younger generation, Michael Richard's Kramer on "Seinfeld" is
the model of the tall, rawboned, rangy man with alarmingly bright eyes.
were walking along West 46th Street toward a restaurant, The Brazilian
Coffee House, when we passed Goldberg Marine Supply. Hunter stopped,
ducked into the store and emerged holding a tiny brown paper bag. A
sixth sense, probably activated by the alarming eyes and the six-inch
rise and fall of his Adam's apple, told me not to ask what was inside.
In the restaurant he kept it on top of the table as we ate. Finally, the
fool in me became so curious, he had to go and ask, "What's in the
"I've got something in there that would clear out this restaurant
in 20 seconds," said Hunter. He began opening the bag. His eyes had
rheostated up to 300 watts. "No, never mind," I said. "I
believe you! Show me later!" From the bag he produced what looked
like a small travel-size can of shaving foam, uncapped the top and
pressed down on it. There ensued the most violently brain-piercing sound
I had ever heard. It didn't clear out The Brazilian Coffee House. It
froze it. The place became so quiet, you could hear an old-fashioned
timer clock ticking in the kitchen. Chunks of churasco gaucho remained
impaled on forks in mid-air. A bartender mixing a sidecar became a
statue holding a shaker with both hands just below his chin. Hunter was
slipping the little can back into the paper bag. It was a marine
distress signaling device, audible for 20 miles over water.
...Yet he was also part of a century-old tradition in American letters,
the tradition of Mark Twain, Artemus Ward and Petroleum V. Nasby, comic
writers who mined the human comedy of a new chapter in the history of
the West, namely, the American story, and wrote in a form that was part
journalism and part personal memoir admixed with powers of wild
invention, and wilder rhetoric inspired by the bizarre exuberance of a
young civilization. No one categorization covers this new form unless it
is Hunter Thompson's own word, gonzo. If so, in the 19th century Mark
Twain was king of all the gonzo-writers. In the 20th century it was
Hunter Thompson, whom I would nominate as the century's greatest comic
writer in the English language.
Wolfe's being a
little too kind to the dead: Thompson's reputation rests on one short
masterpiece, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, one solid,
innovative, but not all that funny book on the Hell's Angels, one major
article on the Kentucky Derby, bits and pieces of Fear and Loathing
on the Campaign Trail, and other miscellaneous matter. In terms of
prime pages, that's not much more than John Kennedy Toole's Confederacy
of Dunces by itself, or, for that matter, the funniest 400
pages excerpted from Wolfe's body of work. Compared to the lifetime
output of Wodehouse and Waugh, well, us colonials aren't in the big
Still, Thompson did
write Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and nobody else ever before
wrote anything like it in the history of the English language, and maybe
nobody will ever again.
By the way, are you
as sick as I am of gun nuts like Thompson and Kurt Cobain (whose three
biggest hits off Nevermind all mention guns) shooting themselves
and leaving a horrifying mess for their loved ones or servants to find
and clean up? I know you think it's your Second Amendment right and all
that, but, please, show a little consideration.
Hausman on how men and women think differently, complete with
convenient blue and pink bar charts. (Don't you hate how most other
contemporary social science graphs go out of their way to make
themselves difficult to read, with the blacks being denoted by white
bars, the whites by gray bars, and the Latinos by black bars, as in the
Thernstroms' last book? The graphmakers wouldn't want to reinforce the
stereotype that blacks are, uh, blacker than whites!)
address to the National Academy of Engineers, Patti admitted:
of the physical sciences bore me silly. Efforts to attribute my apathy
to "masculinist bias" in the curriculum amuse me no end...
Reinventing the curriculum will not interest me in learning how my
dishwasher works. It is a thing and things bore me. People are another
story. I find them fascinating.
Patti and I are on the same wavelength: I have a feminine mind in that I
am far more interested in people than machines, but I have an extremely
masculine categorizing / system-building mind in how I think about
One curriculum reform I've advocated for a long time is educating young
people that calculus isn't the only kind of math that is useful in the
real world. I was lousy at calculus, so I stopped taking math my
freshman year in college. Finally, my senior year I took a statistics
course and found -- "Voila, this is interesting. I can use this to
understand people rather than my dishwasher."
Now, most people who write about society are far more interested in
people than dishwashers, yet the Larry Summers brouhaha has exposed,
once again, the remarkable statistical innumeracy of our chattering
class. So, let's work harder to educated people in statistics.
himself, is obviously a stat-head who thinks, like me, in terms of bell
curves, as these excerpts from his much-denounced
speech indicate (Summers' methodology makes me wonder if he ever
locks his office door and reads La
Griffe de Lion):
The second thing that I think one has to recognize is present is what I would call the combination of, and here, I'm focusing on something that would seek to answer the question of why is the pattern different in science and engineering, and why is the representation even lower and more problematic in science and engineering than it is in other fields. And here, you can get a fair distance, it seems to me, looking at a relatively simple hypothesis. It does appear that on many, many different human attributes-height, weight, propensity for criminality, overall IQ, mathematical ability, scientific ability-there is relatively clear evidence that whatever the difference in means-which can be debated-there is a difference in the standard deviation, and variability of a male and a female population. And that is true with respect to attributes that are and are not plausibly, culturally determined.
If one supposes, as I think is reasonable, that if one is talking about physicists at a top twenty-five research university, one is not talking about people who are two standard deviations above the mean. And perhaps it's not even talking about somebody who is three standard deviations above the mean. But it's talking about people who are three and a half, four standard deviations above the mean in the one in 5,000, one in 10,000 class.
Even small differences in the standard deviation will translate into very large differences in the available pool substantially out. I did a very crude calculation, which I'm sure was wrong and certainly was unsubtle, twenty different ways. I looked at the Xie and Shauman paper-looked at the book, rather-looked at the evidence on the sex ratios in the top 5% of twelfth graders. If you look at those-they're all over the map, depends on which test, whether it's math, or science, and so forth-but 50% women, one woman for every two men, would be a high-end estimate from their estimates. From that, you can back out a difference in the implied standard deviations that works out to be about 20%. And from that, you can work out the difference out several standard deviations. If you do that calculation-and I have no reason to think that it couldn't be refined in a hundred ways-you get five to one, at the high end.
you know and I know exactly what he's talking about and why it makes
perfect sense because we think about people in terms of bell curves and
standard deviations all the time. but for most Harvard professors and
other people who lack useful mental tools for understanding the human
world, their mental processes didn't extend beyond a single word:
partly the problem Summers is up against is educational, but in large
part it's moral: Typical academics tend to believe, deep down, that God
made the universe just to boost the self-esteem of people like
themselves, and that anything that disturbs their egos therefore can't
possibly be true.
also brings up the massive
difference between male and female average tastes:
There may also be elements, by the way, of differing, there is some, particularly in some attributes, that bear on engineering, there is reasonably strong evidence of taste differences between little girls and little boys that are not easy to attribute to socialization. I just returned from Israel, where we had the opportunity to visit a kibbutz, and to spend some time talking about the history of the kibbutz movement, and it is really very striking to hear how the movement started with an absolute commitment, of a kind one doesn't encounter in other places, that everybody was going to do the same jobs. Sometimes the women were going to fix the tractors, and the men were going to work in the nurseries, sometimes the men were going to fix the tractors and the women were going to work in the nurseries, and just under the pressure of what everyone wanted, in a hundred different kibbutzes, each one of which evolved, it all moved in the same direction.
So, I think, while I would prefer to believe otherwise, I guess my experience with my two and a half year old twin daughters who were not given dolls and who were given trucks, and found themselves saying to each other, look, daddy truck is carrying the baby truck, tells me something.
gets lambasted for relying on anecdotal evidence about his daughters,
but you can see that it follows the massive,
multigenerational experiment of the kibbutzim, where feminist true
believers set up entire cultures to inculcate gender quality, and each
he doesn't address, but is particularly interesting is that a higher
proportion of math and mechanics-oriented women are likely to be
androgynous and/or lesbian. (Exemplified by the new UC Santa Cruz
supremo Denece D. Denton claiming to "speak truth to power" to
Summers while arranging for her lesbian lover to get a new $192k per
year job at taxpayer expense).
Also, Arnold Kling
has some sensible things to say about the Larry Summers brouhaha on
a new website called Harvard
Students for Larry.
of Racial Confusion and Complexity: Here are some of my 2002 UPI
articles on race:
Diva of Diversity: Halle Berry's Oscar Speech
Exactly Is Asian-American?
Name Game: Inuit or Eskimo?
Washington as an Afrocentrist Hannibal of Carthage?
Success of the Parsis Threatens Their Survival
Racially Tolerant Are the British?
New Understanding of Race:
1: Race Is Not So Black or
2: How White Is
the Average Black? How Black Is the Average White?
Part 3: What
Happened to Mexico's Blacks?
scores of quarterbacks: Here's a listing of top college
quarterbacks' scores on the NFL's mandatory Wonderlic test going all the
way back to Steve Young's 126. (A rough conversion system is a Wonderlic
score of 20 = 100, and each answer more or less adds or subtracts 2 IQ
points). If you ever wondered why Brian Griese is such an overachiever
in the NFL, take a look at his 138 IQ combined with having an Hall of
Fame QB as his dad. That guy understands playing quarterback.
S. Thompson, RIP -- I reread Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
for about the 7th time a few months ago. I didn't see any reason to
reassess my old judgment that it ranks with A Confederacy of Dunces
as the most laugh-out-loud-funny American book of the second half of the
20th Century. As a work of prose style, it is an indisputable
I realized, though, that I had never noticed before that nothing much
ever physically happens during the course of the book. Almost
everything of interest is just going on inside Thompson's violent,
paranoid mind. As a child, I was in Las Vegas perhaps the same week
Thompson was, and we may even have been at Circus Circus the same night
-- I remember the Korean Kittens trapeze act that he riffs on -- and I
suspect that to bystanders his outward behavior wasn't all that much
more outrageous than mine was.
and Tom Wolfe were always lumped together, but Thompson's journalism was
almost always about what was going on inside his own head, while Wolfe,
despite his trademark white suit, remained far in the background, seldom
mentioned in his own work, except in coy lines like "Carol Doda
turned toward a man in a Borsalino hat." As a sober, industrious,
deeply sane man, Wolfe's career achievement towers over Thompson's, but Fear
and Loathing in Las Vegas might be the best book either of them
Toward the end of Wolfe's Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Wolfe
pointed out that the hippie movement of the 1960s had two sides to it:
the vegetarian pacifist Maharishi meditation side and the All-American
crank-it-up-to-400-horsepower and let's-take-this-show-on-road side of
Ken Kesey, whose novels were heavily influenced by superhero comic
books. Thompson, of course, with his love of Harley-Davidsons, Smith
& Wessons, and the NFL (that's what Thompson and Nixon talked about
during their one interview), came out of the tradition of All-American
1,000,000th visitor to iSteve.com! I don't know who you are, but
Monday will see the 1,000,000th "unique visit" to
iSteve.com since I started using Sitemeter, but I can't remember how
long ago that was. (So, maybe we should just forget I ever mentioned
the current pace, I should be able to get a million visits in 2005
alone, but I'd really like to go for, say two million. So, if you can
spread the word, I'd appreciate it.
aggressive atheist will convert first: Hitchens or Dawkins? Various
people, including Orrin
Judd, have suggested that the most likely resolution to Christopher
Hitchens' intense hatred of Roman Catholicism will be his conversion to
that religion, although I suspect Hitchens is more likely to convert to
the Judaism of his maternal
ancestors. He already has taken to visiting synagogues on his
an article in the Times
of London by Bryan Appleyard suggests that atheist cheerleader
Richard Dawkins will someday convert to Anglicanism:
[Dawkins] is one of the strangest men I’ve ever known. We go back a
long way. Our relationship started well, descended into hate-hate,
recovered somewhat to love-hate and, latterly, has drifted into
He is a highly strung, frequently petulant man. I’ve seen him storm
out of an amiable dinner because he didn’t like the music and I’ve
heard of him muttering to his companion, when a lady cleric entered the
room, that dog collars are always a sign of low IQ. But when relaxed, he
is charming, deferring politely to opinions with which he disagrees and
displaying a conscientious desire to understand.
On these occasions, he has the air of an eager-to-please country vicar,
an air enhanced by the discreet serving of tea by his wife Lalla Ward
and further emphasised by the large, rectory-like house they now occupy
just outside Oxford city centre.
Dapper as ever in jacket, chinos and boat shoes, and looking 20 years
younger than he actually is (63), this time he greets me with warm
familiarity. Things are looking up. The rectoryness of the house
vanishes inside. It is beyond the reach of any vicar I know —
beautifully and expensively decorated and furnished with a vast
flat-screen television in the living room.
Dawkins has done well for himself. He is endowed by Charles Simonyi,
formerly of Microsoft, as Oxford’s professor of the public
understanding of science and his books leap off the shelves.
...But the importance of Dawkins, though based on the brilliance and
popularity of his writing, is mostly to do with what he represents. He
is Darwin’s enforcer. Darwin discovered evolution through natural
selection, but, a quiet man with a religious wife, he did not engage in
the ensuing public debates. Dawkins does, combining evolutionary theory
with anti-Bush, left-wing politics, expressed through the occasional
article but mostly through pithy, angry letters to newspapers.
Dawkins is the supreme meta-establishment thinker, the eloquent defender
of the dominant but seldom expressed world view of our time —
aggressive atheism and secularity, soft leftism, scientism and faith in
progress. To his fans, he is reason incarnate. And so if Dawkins says
George W Bush is an idiot, which he frequently does, then Dubya must,
rationally, be an idiot. But, in fact, reason has nothing to do with it.
“I’m not particularly proud of being visceral, but I am admitting
it. My attacks on George Bush have nothing to do with science or the
scientific method. I just can’t stand the man’s style, the way he
swaggers and struts and smirks and the way he looks sly and deceitful
and the way Americans can’t see it. I’m irritated by the way they
think he’s just a regular guy you can have a drink with.”
Anti-Americanism keeps intruding in the new book. There is a very
irrational paragraph on nuclear strategy that stoops to lampooning
Bush’s pronunciation — “nucular” — and even an anti-foxhunting
footnote which, I point out to him, is utterly illogical. He agrees.
"Oh, okay, fair enough. But I’ve always been against foxhunting.
I was brought up in the country on a farm and throughout my childhood we
were passionately against foxhunting and we always refused to allow the
hunt to cross the boundaries of the farm.”
The intrusion of these irrationalities — combined with the
peculiarities of his character — indicate that the dominant image of
Dawkins in the public mind as the patron saint of contemporary reason is
wrong. In reality, outside evolutionary theory, he is as much driven by
prejudice, faith and conviction as the rest of us. Some — notably the
late Stephen Jay Gould — have argued that the same is true within
Dawkins’s evolutionary theory. His “selfish gene ” approach is, to
his critics, little more than a thought experiment that distorts and
simplifies the complex reality it aspires to define.
All of this, to me at least, makes the human reality of Dawkins much
more interesting than the public persona. Even his anti-religiousness is
not quite what it seems. His language is steeped in the vocabulary of
Anglicanism. I once offered a bet that he would be converted on his
deathbed but found no takers. Dawkins assures me I would lose. I’m not
Kinsley - Estrich fracas: A couple of weeks ago, the LA Times op-ed
page, now edited by Michael Kinsley, published an essay by Charlotte
Allen of the Independent Women's Forum making the excellent point
that there are fewer heavyweight women intellectuals around today than
before feminism, with Camille Paglia being probably the only woman
worthy of being on the short list of top thinkers of the day. Allen
My point was that we don't have many women public intellectuals these days - the likes of Hannah Arendt, Mary McCarthy, Gertrude Stein or the recently deceased Susan Sontag - because most credentialed women nowadays would rather be feminist ideologues than tackle larger issues.
Estrich, who is best known for her dismal management of Michael
Dukakis's campaign against George H.W. Bush in 1988, had a good old
fashioned hissy fit, accusing Kinsley of sexism.
new Washington Examiner
has the subsequent exchange
of emails between Estrich and Kinsley:
my letter or else
From: Susan Estrich
To: Kinsley, Michael
Subject: RE: my letter to the editor
am sending over my
letter this morning. It is very, very temperate. It is signed by
approximately 50 women, among them some of the most powerful women in
town, from Nancy Daly Riordan to Lynne Wasserman to Katherine Spillar to
Carol Biondi to Dolores Robinson etc. etc. etc. ... [Personally,
I've never ever heard of a single one of the 49 women on her list --
Steve.] Everyone is
assuming it will be published on Sunday. I honestly think it will be a
bigger deal if you don't publish it, and Drudge and Newsmax and the rest
do, than if you simply publish it, and start adding more women from
Southern California to your mix (today's tally, 3 men, 1 Washington
woman late of Time, no women from Southern California...)
I really do hate to be doing this. I counted e-mail after e-mail that I
sent and was totally ignored. I can't tell you how much I wanted to help
quietly. If this is what it takes, so be it. My friend Barbara Howar
told me she got a call yesterday from Bob Sipchen about writing for the
Sunday section and I was delighted. How easy can it be ... That's all.
You want thoughtful conservatives ... I have a great conservative former
Harvard student who tells me she's been desperate to get a piece
published and she gets consistently turned away. She lives in Pasadena
... I've got so many names for you of good women who live right here,
care about this community; Carla Sanger, who created LA's BEST, tells me
she can't get a piece in; I have women writing to me who have submitted
four piece and not gotten the courtesy of a call - and they teach gender
studies at UCLA ...
Anyway, the piece runs 500 words, and the signatures another 100. Since
I have my own mimeograph machine, I can do a column today... but as I
have every day, I would like nothing better than to work with you to
declare victory. Otherwise we'll have a new website, www.latimesbias.org
up by tomorrow [As of Sunday, it's
still "under construction]...
try to push me around girlie
From: Kinsley, Michael
To: Susan Estrich
Susan - We don't run letters from 50 people, and we don't succumb to
blackmail. So we won't be publishing your letter. I would actually like
to run an essay by you in our Outside the Tent column (the one Mickey
kicked off a few weeks ago), but even that would look like blackmail if
we did it now. So that's out too, for the moment.
I don't want a fight any more than you say you do - and we are both
pissed off today. So I suggest we wait a few weeks (say, three) and then
let's talk about an Outside the Tent. (It would be subject to the usual
editing, of course - but not to dull your point, since the whole purpose
of this column is criticism of the Times.) Or if you'd rather write a
letter to the editor in two or three weeks, please write it and sign it
yourself. You can say in the text that it is endorsed by whatever number
dare you accuse me of blackmail
From: Susan Estrich
To: Kinsley, Michael
You owe me an apology. NO one tried harder to educate you about Los
Angeles, introduce you to key players in the city, bring to your
attention, quietly, the issues of gender inequality than I did - and you
have the arrogance and audacity to say that you couldn't be bothered
reading my emails, spending time in the city where all of us are raising
our families ... and then we should stop our efforts because you're
I am not engaged in blackmail, and I find that Suggestion to be highly
offensive and insulting, and I am certain the many prominent women who
have signed the letter would also agree. Far from being "pissed
off," I believe I have conducted myself with admirable restraint
because of our past relationship and my honest concerns for your health.
I am not aware of any policy against jointly signed letters, nor has one
been pointed out to me. You were quite aware of what I was doing, and to
spring the policy this morning is bad faith, short and simple.
I was told that in order to have a letter published Sunday, it had to be
submitted by today. My suggestion that your publishing it would be
better (for you too) than my having to go outside somehow constitutes me
blackmailing you is so outlandish that it underscores the question I've
been asked repeatedly in recent days, and that does worry me, and should
worry you: people are beginning to think that your illness may have
affected your brain, your judgment, and your ability to do this job. The
fact that you were not in Los Angeles all week hardly helps matters, nor
does the fact that you don't return phone calls. You are making things
worse for yourself.
My point wasn't blackmail, Michael, it was that if you prefer me to
conduct this discussion outside your pages, and make it into an even
bigger fight, that makes you look even more afraid and more foolish, and
angers every woman who signed a temperate letter that you are now
refusing to publish. So be it. I now have powerful businesswomen and
community leaders, professors and developers and talent agents and
managers and journalists, students at the high school, college and law
school level, and teachers involved in this effort. For the young women,
I hope it's a lesson in how you can make change happen if you're willing
to stand up to people who call you names, and reach out to other women,
and not get scared and back down. If you recall, I wrote a book about
that, called Sex and Power. It's what I have spent my whole life doing.
The older I get, the clearer I am about all of our obligations to make a
contribution during the brief time we have on this earth. Add that to
the commitment those of us who have signed this letter share towards the
community that is our home, where we are raising our children, living
our lives, trying to deal with the real problems this city faces (not
shrunken female minds), and the idea that I would somehow say STOP now
because Michael is pissed off and has offered me some onetime column
down the road when he's not mad anymore is just absurd; it would make a
mockery of everything I stand for.
Do the right thing for your sake ...
it I am taking my ball and going home<]b>
From: Kinsley, Michael
To: Susan Estrich
Susan - Your mischaracterizations of what I wrote to you are farcical,
as anyone can plainly see from reading the whole string. But your
references to "concern for [my] health" are disgusting.
Consider my invitation to write for the Times when things calm down
rescinded. John Carroll [the LAT's
Summers should hire Kinsley to respond to his feminist critics for him.
All of Summers' groveling and apologizing have just made them scent fear
and pile on further. At least Kinsley's having fun, although I'm sure
he'll give in and set up a hidden gender quota eventually.
NYT finally tells some truth about Africa: One of my recurring
topics is that sub-Saharan family structures tend to be radically
different from the Europeans ones that most educated Americans are
familiar with (and that African-Americans have tended to be poised in
between). The New York Times finally gets around to discussing African
family structures because they've figured out how to give the topic a
feminist slant in "AIDS and Custom Leave African Families Nothing:"
are two reasons why 11-year-old Chikumbutso Zuze never sees his three
sisters, why he seldom has a full belly, why he sleeps packed
sardinelike with six cousins on the dirt floor of his aunt's thatched
One is AIDS, which claimed his father in 2000 and his mother in 2001.
The other is his father's nephew, a tall, light-complexioned man whom
Chikumbutso knows only as Mr. Sululu.
It was Mr. Sululu who came to his village five years ago, after his
father died, and commandeered all of the family's belongings -
mattresses, chairs and, most important, the family's green Toyota
pickup, an almost unimaginable luxury in this, one of the poorest
nations on earth. And it was Mr. Sululu who rejected the pleas of the
boy's mother, herself dying of AIDS, to leave the truck so that her
children would have an inheritance to sustain them after her death.
Instead, Chikumbutso said, he left behind a battery-powered transistor
"I feel very bitter about it," he said, plopped on a wooden
bench in 12-by-12-foot hut rented by his maternal aunt and uncle on the
outskirts of this town in the lush hills of southern Malawi. "We
don't really know why they did all this. We couldn't
Actually, the answer is simple: custom. Throughout sub-Saharan Africa
the death of a father automatically entitles his side of the family to
claim most, if not all, of the property he leaves behind, even if it
leaves his survivors destitute.
In an era when AIDS is claiming about 2.3 million lives a year in
sub-Saharan Africa - roughly 80,000 people last year in Malawi alone -
disease and stubborn tradition have combined in a terrible synergy,
robbing countless mothers and children not only of their loved ones but
of everything they own...
The tradition is rooted in the notion that men are the breadwinners and the property of a married couple represents the fruits of the man's labor. Women may tend the goats and plant the corn, but throughout the region's rural communities they are still regarded as one step up from minors, unable to make an economic contribution to the household.
When the husband dies the widow is left essentially to start over, much
like a young girl, presumably to search for another husband. Since the
children typically remain with the mother, her losses are also theirs.
The degree to which men control household property varies from country
to country and tribe to tribe.
In matrilineal tribes, children are considered descendants of the
mother, and the family typically lives in the mother's village. Should
the husband die, the widow typically keeps the house and land, plus
items judged to be women's essentials like pots, pans, kitchen utensils
and buckets, according to studies by Women and Law in Southern Africa.
Her in-laws collect the more valuable belongings, like bicycles, sewing
machines, vehicles and furniture.
Most tribes are patrilineal, meaning that children are considered the
father's descendants and men are viewed as the owners of all of the
property. Here, a new widow's situation is truly precarious. Her in-laws
may allow her continued access to her home as long as she does not
remarry. But if she wants to move away, she leaves bereft of all
Alternatively she may be forced to marry one of her husband's relatives
to keep her property. Or she may simply be driven out altogether.
NYT's feminist angle isn't terribly illuminating here since this
particular case involves a man discriminating against his son in favor
of his nephew. So, let me explain the reasons behind this system, since
it seems bizarre to us for a man not to want his estate to go to his
widow and children. We wouldn't think of providing for our nephews
before our children, but in Africa that is not uncommon. Why do
Africans act like that?
The U. of Utah anthropologist Henry Harpending, who lived with various
African tribes for 42 months, recounts that once, when he was about to
set out on a dangerous journey through lion country, his worried hosts
asked him, "To whom should we send your property in case you are
"Uh, to my wife, of course," Henry replied, puzzled.
"To your wife!" the tribespeople exclaimed, aghast.
"Why don't you want your property to go to your family
By "family," they meant Henry's birth family rather than his
So, why, relative to the temperate world, is there less paternal
investment in tropical Africa and more investment in siblings' children?
The simplest explanation is because husband's enjoy less certainty of
paternity. That, not coincidentally, is the same reason there is so much
AIDS -- because African husbands are less likely to do what it takes to
keep their wives sexually faithful, such as working hard to provide for
them. So, they get cuckolded a lot. In turn, they don't put much effort
into providing for their wives' children, since the odds that they are
also their own children are not all that high.
This logic all makes perfect sense, but it goes a long way toward
explaining why Africa is so poor.
African-American family structures are of course midway between African
and white American norms, on average. Euro-American norms were winning
out until the increase in welfare payments to single mothers in the
1960s, at which point monogamous two-parent families began to collapse.
Today, about two thirds of African-American babies are illegitimate,
although that r ate has stabilized during the more hard-headed past
the lesbians are -- Exactly where you thought they'd be, according
to Laurie Marhoefer,
a lesbian student at Columbia:
But how does one go about meeting and befriending these women? It took me a while to figure it out, but I did, and I'll share. (By the way, the following are also good ways to locate nice lesbians to date.)
Take a class. Anything with the words women, gender, or sexuality in the title will do. Take a class in the women's studies department at Barnard or Columbia. Anything the anthro and sociology departments serves up is usually a good bet, too, or any Barnard class. And any class with a Leftie-political bent, such as History of American Radicals. Try to find a seminar, or a class that will have discussion sections where you will get to interact with your classmates.
Of course, you'll meet the most lesbians in a class on lesbianism. Barnard usually offers an intro to queer theory, and for the past couple of semesters has offered the famed Lesbian Lit class. The Columbia History department has some kind of history of homos class from time to time.
But, what will Dad and Mom say when they tape your grades up on the fridge and sees that you got an A in History of Gays and Lesbians in the 20th Century? Well, in years past the thoughtful Barnard professor who taught Intro to Queer Theory fixed it so that the course name showed up on one's transcript as 'Discourses of Desire.' "Talk about the cure that killed the patient," a friend of mine said. Sure, but it's better than Gender and Deviance (which is on my transcript, by the way. Boy, was it worth it
Join a political organization or club. Some say that gay women have a heightened awareness of oppression because we are oppressed as women and as queers, and in some cases as members of minority ethnic and religious groups in addition. Some say that all the activism is just an excuse to take our shirts off at rallies. But everyone agrees: dykes are political. Chelsea is full of bars and gyms. Park Slope is full of grocery coops and grass roots organizations. I am not making a judgment; believe me, I would much rather be cruised for my nice legs than for my ideological commitments, but there's no way around it.
So, which movements to join? Left wing ones, bozo. There are no log cabin lesbians. I won't insult everyone's intelligence by listing the groups on campus that have a membership consisting largely of queer girls, but here's a hint: many of them are run out of Barnard, and concern themselves with women's issues, but not necessarily or exclusively dyke issues.
I am not suggesting that you try to free Mumia just to meet chicks. Activism must come from the guts! But it also helps you meet chicks. I am just saying.
Florida's $35k idea -- George Mason U. professor Richard Florida
gets paid up to $35,000 per speech to lecture city officials and civic
leaders on how they can turn their dismal burgh into the next Austin or
Seattle. Inspired by Florida's three Ts, which say that for a city to
make lots of money from Technology depends on attracting Talent which
depends on Tolerance, Spokane is intending to officially declare part of
its city the Gay District. (Florida measures "tolerance"
primarily by the number of gays, but also by artists, immigrants, and
"bohemians.) Here's part of my review
of Florida's new book Cities and the Creative Class from
the new Washington Examiner:
Florida's much publicized theory, which he developed during the Internet
Bubble of the late 1990s, is that an urban region's economic success
depends on its tolerance level. He argues, "Diverse, inclusive
communities that welcome unconventional people-gays, immigrants,
artists, and free-thinking 'bohemians'-are ideal for nurturing the
creativity and innovation that characterize the knowledge economy…"
Unfortunately, as a theory of economic development, this book suffers
from the same combination of obviousness and obtuseness that plagued Dr.
Florida's first paean to "Talent, Technology, and Tolerance,"
2002's The Rise of the Creative Class.
Sure, regions with smarter people tend to enjoy higher incomes. But,
most high tech centers, such as the Dulles Corridor, develop far out in
the suburbs away from the hip parts of town. The nerds who invent the
new gizmos and the golf-playing business people who sell them tend to be
relatively monogamous and family-oriented, and thus soon wind up in the
'burbs, with their backyards and quality public schools.
And, sure, booms and bohemians tend to correlate, but who really
attracts whom to a metroplex? Do the engineers and salesguys actually
pursue the gay art dealers and immigrant restaurateurs, or are Dr.
Florida's footloose favorites more likely to follow the money generated
by the pocket-protector boys?
In the 1970s, for example, Houston suddenly became one of the gayest
cities in America, even though Houston was not famously tolerant. No,
Houston got (briefly) hip because gays, immigrants, and artistes flocked
there because OPEC had raised prices, making Houston's unhip oil
companies rich for a decade.
In contrast, famously tolerant New Orleans and Las Vegas ("Sin
City") rank today near the bottom of Dr. Florida's talent tables
because his kind of folks can't make much money in either. So, he
appears to have gotten the arrow of causality mostly backwards.
and Prejudice" is a (relatively) high budget Bollywood musical
based on Jane Austen's novel, as relocated to contemporary India, by the
director of "Bend It Like
Beckham." From my review in the March 14th issue of The
American Conservative (subscribe
week in 1930, America's 123 million people bought 90 million movie
tickets. There were no televisions, no home air conditioners, and little
street crime, so many ladies went to the show most evenings. Hollywood
catered to their tastes with countless musicals and love stories.
Today, the average American purchases a ticket less than one-seventh as
often, and moviegoers are predominantly male and young. Hollywood
therefore specializes, at vast expense, in blowing stuff up.
Foreign film industries can't compete with our $100 million
evil-robot-onslaught flicks, but they can make women's movies. The
leading supplier to semi-literate Third World ladies is the Indian movie
business, Bombay-centered "Bollywood."
India is an apt setting for complicated love stories because it has
barely begun the slow transition from arranged marriages to love
matches, what Samuel Huntington calls "the Romeo and Juliet
revolution." The conflict between a complex social order and true
love might be the most compelling and fertile subject in all literature,
which is why Jane Austen's novels have been filmed so often. But
Westerners now have so much sexual freedom that they dither their lives
away, unable to commit because somebody better might always come along.
This makes for clever comedy, as "Seinfeld,"
"Friends," and Bridget Jones's Diary attest, but paltry
In contrast, because the maidens in Bollywood movies, which don't even
show kissing, aren't allowed to have sex, they are free to bask in
there a better political cartoonist working these days than Tom
Tomorrow? If so, let me know.
interviews Greg Cochran about his Gay Germ theory
Q. Wilson sums it all up:
great achievement of Western culture since the Enlightenment is to make
many of us peer over the wall and grant some respect to people outside
it; the great failure of Western culture is to deny that walls are
inevitable or important.
Miller, RIP: Colby Cosh
says it best:
I think about the man who wrote plays about how capitalism thwarts human
aspirations, [got rich off them], and then got married to Marilyn
Monroe, I'm afraid about all I can do is giggle.
Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby" -- An excerpt from my
review in the Jan. 31st issue of The
Clint Eastwood's sentimental,
old-fashioned boxing movie "Million Dollar Baby" arrived
accompanied by such a chorus of critical hosannas that, sadly,
moviegoers have little chance to discover its modest pleasures for
Despite Eastwood's limited gifts as a
visual artist (which aren't helped by his being such a tightwad of a
producer), reviewers worship him as a director because his 25 films are
readily analyzable within the auteur theory, that system of
intellectualized hero worship espoused by critics to make film history
seem less chaotic than it really is.
In "Million Dollar Baby,"
Eastwood directs and stars as a grouchy Irish Catholic widower with the
standard-issue heart of gold. Each morning, before checking in at The
Hit Pit, the dilapidated L.A. gym he owns, he attends Mass to ask
forgiveness for somehow driving away his only daughter.
The film is narrated portentously by
the gym's wise and saintly old black janitor, played by -- you guessed
it -- Morgan Freeman. This superb actor has long complained that,
although he first broke through as a vicious pimp in 1987's "Street
Smart," the public now won't let him play anything besides what
Richard Brookhiser calls the "Numinous Negro." But he has only
himself to blame for taking this role, a near-parody of the overly
familiar Morgan Freeman Character.
Then, a perky Irish-American waitress,
who is conveniently missing a father, shows up at the gym and asks
Eastwood to train her. After some gruff dismissals, Eastwood finally
takes her on and turns her into the #1 Contender, but the heartwarming
main story is the father-daughter bond they forge.
Willowy starlet Hillary Swank, an
Oscar-winner for "Boys Don't Cry," isn't exactly convincing as
a boxer (the fight scenes appear to be shown in slightly fast motion to make her
look quicker), but her exuberant presence is a delight. We never learn
why such a cheerful, attractive lady wants to beat up other women
because, when the ham-fisted script by Paul Haggis isn't telegraphing
its emotional roundhouse punches, it's leaving much else unexplained.
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...
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
When his protégé gets her neck
broken by a dirty fighter, she asks him to kill her rather than make her
live as a quadriplegic. His priest explains the Church is utterly
opposed to euthanasia, which in a 1955 movie would have been the end of
it. If, however, "Million Dollar Baby" had concluded with
Eastwood's character helping her to find some new meaning in her life,
as Christopher Reeve's wife did for the "Superman" star, the
reviewers would have lambasted it as TV movie-fare. So, to the wild
applause of the critics, he poisons her.
But the obvious question is left
hanging: without his surrogate daughter to care for, what meaning will
his life have for him?
Republic pulled the Sam Francis RIP thread there tonight......what a
Conservative Case Against Sprawl by law professor Michael Lewyn
is a frank discussion of how government policy wrecked the cities.
a side note, the decline in bicycle riding by kids is one of the
unmentioned disasters of our time. Nowadays, I almost never see
adolescents on bikes, due to parents' safety concerns about traffic and
crime. I got hit by a car while riding when I was 13, but was back on my
bike in a couple of days. This increases the chauffeuring burden on
mothers, which depresses the birth rate.
the Maine! Remember Hariri! I have no more idea who blew up the
ex-Prime Minister of Lebanon than I know who or what blew up the U.S.
battleship Maine in Havana's harbor in 1898. But we got into a war with
Spain after the Maine blew up, and we may get into a war with Syria
because Hariri got blown up.
look how well the Spanish-American war turned out for us. We
idealistically gave Cuba its independence, and the government of Cuba
hasn't been a problem for either us or its own people ever since. We
didn't give the Philippines their independence, and we only had to kill
200,000 Filipinos to make that stick. And we made Puerto Rico part of
the U.S., letting any Puerto Rican move here, and the South Bronx is
known worldwide as a synonym for utopia.
Muslim Democracy Isn't Such a Hot Idea After All: After endlessly
pushing former Israeli Housing (i.e., West Bank Settlement) Minister Natan
Sharansky's book about how democracy will save the Muslim world, the
Wall Street Journal Editorial Page gets around to sending one of their
senior writers, Robert L. Pollock, to visit an actual working Muslim
democracy, Turkey, and is aghast: "The
Sick Man of Europe--Again: Islamism and leftism add up to anti-American
madness in Turkey:"
a brief visit to Ankara earlier this month with Undersecretary of
Defense Doug Feith, I found a poisonous atmosphere--one in which just
about every politician and media outlet (secular and religious) preaches
an extreme combination of America- and Jew-hatred that (like the Turkish
artists) voluntarily goes far further than anything found in most
of the Arab world's state-controlled press. If I hesitate to call it
Nazi-like, that's only because Goebbels would probably have rejected
much of it as too crude."
unexpurgated memoirs would you most like to read? I'd put Prince
Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, close to the top of the
list. His is a pretty amazing life story -- his mother a part-black
servant girl (slave?) impregnated by a prince, yet he rose up from this
lowly beginning to become the most successfully manipulative ambassador
of his era. I bet he has stories to tell. Sadly, I suspect he'll take
them to the grave.
bribes no doubt on the way: "Some
of Harvard's Leading Professors Confront Its President,"
reports the NYT on a Harvard faculty meeting: "
speakers took aim at Dr. Summers for what they described as an
autocratic management style that has stifled the open debate that is at
the core of the university's values.
As I recall, open debate over why among the best people in the hard
vastly outnumber women, got stifled awfully fast, and not by Summers
but by the forces of political correctness.
course, Summers immediately caved in and promised reparations. Expect
him to pony up more of other people's money and other people's
opportunities to save his job.
a link to Steven Pinker's full article on The New Republic: THE
SCIENCE OF DIFFERENCE:
who has fled a cluster of men at a party debating the fine points of
flat-screen televisions can appreciate that fewer women than men might
choose engineering, even in the absence of arbitrary barriers. (As one
female social scientist noted in Science Magazine,
"Reinventing the curriculum will not make me more interested in
learning how my dishwasher works.")
killer quote is from Patti Hausman, who is fascinated by how so many
males are interested in 3-d thinking, something that she says has zero
interest for her.
Health 101 Finally Considered for AIDS: "Gays
Debate Radical Steps to Curb Unsafe Sex" claims the NYT:
many are calling for a renewed commitment to prevention efforts and free
condoms, some veterans of the war on AIDS are advocating an entirely new
approach to the spread of unsafe sex, much of which is fueled by a surge
in methamphetamine abuse. They want to track down those who knowingly
engage in risky behavior and try to stop them before they can infect
It is a radical idea, born of desperation, that has been gaining ground
in recent months as a growing number of gay men become infected despite
warnings about unsafe sex...
Although gay advocates and health care workers are just beginning to
talk about how this might be done, it could involve showing up at places
where impromptu sex parties happen and confronting the participants. Or
it might mean infiltrating Web sites that promote gay hookups and
thwarting liaisons involving crystal meth.
Other ideas include collaborating with health officials in tracking down
the partners of those newly infected with H.I.V. At the very least,
these advocates say, gay men must start taking responsibility for their
own, before a resurgent epidemic draws government officials who could
use even more aggressive tactics.
is nothing "radical" about "tracking down the partners of
those newly infected" -- that's how governments have handled
syphilis for generations, which is one reason syphilis is so much less
prevalent than HIV these days. Indeed, the NYT article eventually
gets around to admitting that this is "radical" only in the
sense that standard operating procedures was not applied to the AIDS
epidemic due to the political clout of gays, who valued their own sexual
pleasure over not killing other gays.
such ideas gain acceptance, the fact that activists are even thinking
about curbing gay sexual freedom is a huge shift.
In the early years of the AIDS epidemic, gay men protested attempts to
close down bathhouses and strenuously opposed efforts by health
officials to trace those infected with the virus. Until now, those
advocates, driven by concerns about privacy and the stigma associated
with the disease, have successfully fought off efforts to impose a
traditional public-health model for tackling the spread of the virus...
Those frustrations were given voice in November by Larry Kramer, the
playwright and activist who himself has AIDS, in a widely discussed
speech at Cooper Union in which he criticized gay men for their
behavior. "You are still murdering each other," he said then.
"Please stop with all the generalizations and avoidance excuses
gays have used since the beginning to ditch this responsibility for this
tax dollars at work: Suspected
Iranian agent Ahmed Chalabi is challenging Ayatollah Sistani's
brother-in-law Ibrahim Jafari for the post of Prime Minister of Iraq.
I've often asked what is the source of Chalabi's appeal to the elites he
comes in contact with (whereas commoners who know him only from his
record -- embezzling millions in Jordan, lying the U.S. into the War in
Error, possibly handing U.S. secrets over to the Iranian intelligence
agency, etc. -- generally hold him in contempt). I've hypothesized in
the past that Chalabi must somehow possess Rasputin-like sexual
magnetism, but that seems unlikely.
simplest explanation for Chalabi's appeal to insiders points to that
$100,000,000 of the U.S. taxpayers' money that the U.S. government has
given him over the years, much of which remains unaccounted for. You can
make yourself a pretty doggone popular guy in Washington and Baghdad for
just a fraction of $100,000,000. But it could turn out to be a very good
investment on Chalabi's part, since Iraq's oil reserves are worth
the deal with Sistani and chess? As you probably know, the Grand
Ayatolla bans chess-playing. I figured it was because of the residual
idolatry inherent in playing a game with little men, but now, via Colby
Cosh, comes word from Sistani that composing and solving chess problems
is OK. So, what's the real reason "playing a chess" is
One cynical reader reminisces:
worked in Saudi for three years starting 19XX as a tech rep for XXX, I
think the problem with chess is that it requires thinking. The most
comment complaint from my young Saudi Arabian Army students was,
"Teacher, don't make me use my think." The last thing a Saudi
leader wants is thinking.
Discrimination Cause Imprisonment Difference? One of my most
distinguished readers writes:
have been several studies to test the proposition that the high
percentage of blacks in prison is produced by the police over-arresting,
or prosecutors over-prosecuting, blacks. This theory is not true, as we
can discover by using the National Crime Victimization Survey, which
asks victims for the race of their offender in robbery and assault
cases. The percentage of blacks involved in these crimes, according to
the victims, matches almost exactly the percentage of blacks in prison
for those crimes. These studies have been done by, among others, Alfred
Blumstein at Carnegie Mellon University.
I will watch the Oscars this year - As long as they don't
fire Chris Rock from his job as host for saying
"I never watched the Oscars. Come on, it's a fashion show," Rock recently declared.
"What straight black man sits there and watches the Oscars? Show me one!"
What will Rock be wearing to the show?
"Nothing against people who aren't straight, but what straight guy that you know cares?
Locke's magisterial review of the new Museum of Modern Art building
in NYC, "Mausoleum
of Modern Art," and of the entire course of moder art,
from the 1/17/05 American Conservative is now online.
War Nerd Column: "Togo's Lo-Cal Coup"
- The War Nerd laments the decline of the African coup.
coups generally specialized in drama and big talk, not high casualties.
Lots of times, the officers planning the coup took advantage of foreign
visits by the head of state to stage their pint-size revolution. It was
really easy to do that back in the 60s, when Africa was still considered
cool, revolutionary and "developing" -- before people realized
it was developing like a case of smallpox, not like Singapore.
Back then African dictators were superstars of the commie media, like
Che. So when Kwame Nkrumah, the dashiki-wearing dictator of Ghana, went
to Hanoi to chill with the revolutionaries in 1966, his officer corps
decided to pull off a little revolution. Kwame had no dictatorship to
come home to, and ended up one of those depressed ex-dictators who never
shut up about their glory days.
Valentine's Day Book Review in the new Washington
On St. Valentine's Day, Washington's fancy turns from political strategy to biological imperatives. So how does D.C. rank as a place to find Mr. or Ms. Right?
In Cities and the Creative Class, George Mason University professor Richard Florida doesn't concentrate much on l'amour -- but he does provide ample statistical evidence that the Washington area abounds in eligible singles and in classy places for romantic dates.
The region ranks high in the kinds of people Dr. Florida believes drive prosperity: the well-educated, software programmers, technology entrepreneurs and the like. Plus, Washington offers the arts, culture, and ethnic bistros ideal for dating.
In the District itself, not all the good ones are taken. According to my own research, D.C. residents --of whom only 9 percent voted for President Bush -- were much less likely to be married than the citizens of any state. During the 27 years from age 18-44, the average black woman in D.C. could expect to be married an average of only 3.9 years. This compares to 5.4 years in Pennsylvania, the worst-ranking state.
Likewise, the deeply Democratic 18-44 year old white women of D.C. average merely 7.4 years of marriage -- compared to 12.2 in the bluest state, Massachusetts, and 17 in the reddest state, Utah.
Marshall offers a correction to my latest VDARE article. In my article
on racial and regional differences in crime rates, I said Josh, the
author of the popular TalkingPointsMemo.com,
had written his Ph.D. dissertation on the link between Southern culture
and crime. He points out that only "two chapters of my dissertation
are relevant to the discussion of the effect of slaveholding in creating
the cultural distinctiveness of the South." My apologies.
the way, the color gradations of the maps as they appeared on VDARE were
made a little cruder to allow faster loading of the page file. If you
want to see the originals, here is the
graph showing the three ethnic groups' imprisonment ratios using the
same yellow to purple color scale for each. You'll be able to see subtle
differences between the white imprisonment rates better here. And here
are the two
maps showing the black to non-Hispanic white imprisonment ratio and the
Hispanic to non-Hispanic white imprisonment ratio in red and green.
G visits Wales:
Ali : Check dis. I is now in a coal mine which is where the Wales people used to live, underground. Millions of years ago miners lived under here before they became human beings.
Miner : They never lived here, they just worked here.
Ali : They worked in 'ere? What a crap job.
Republic: The news that Jim Robinson is once again purging
immigration restrictionist voices from what he ironically calls
"Free Republic" is no surprise around here. Way back in 2000,
my psephological analysis "GOP Future
Depends on White Vote" for some reason got VDARE.com permanently banned
from the Republic of Jim. And he doesn't let anybody cite iSteve.com
either. As a reader says, he should rename it "Republic
VDARE column: Mapping
the Unmentionable: Race & Crime
is there no kissing in Indian movies? Please email me with
how widespread is owning a television in India today? How about up
through, say, 1991? Are most theatres in India now air-conditioned?
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