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February 2003

 

 

Democracy in Turkey, however, is not working out the way the Bush Administration wanted -- The Turkish legislature rejected the proposed war alliance deal with the U.S. 264-250, surprising the administrations of both nations. I'm not sure this is such a bad outcome. Clearly, the Turkish people sensibly want to avoid getting sucked into the morass that is Iraq. And if we actually need a second front in the north (which I very much doubt), we shouldn't be fighting this war in the first place.

 

We have always been facing a choice between the Turks and the Kurds, and if this vote stands up, I presume we won't have to sell out the Kurds to get Turkish cooperation. While wreaking havoc abroad, Kurdish nationalist terrorists have never pestered the U.S., but the Kurds are a serious, competent people and it would have been unfortunate to emerge from this war with America as the object of a Kurdish terror campaign in retribution for handing Free Kurdistan over to the ancient Turkish enemy. Of course, that could still happen.

***

 

Film of the Week: 'Cradle 2 the Grave' by Steve Sailer by Steve Sailer

I had originally guessed that "Cradle 2 the Grave" would be a Masterpiece Theatre-style historical drama about the British Labor Party's creation of an all-encompassing "cradle to grave" welfare state. That assumption turned out rather wrong, however. "Cradle 2 the Grave," which stars rapper DMX and martial arts legend Jet Li, is actually a black-Asian hop-fuey action flick.

***

 

The movie Clueless on immigration:

 

SCENE IV: CLASSROOM DEBATE

MR. HALL:

"Should all oppressed people be allowed refuge in America? Amber will take the con position. Cher will be pro. Cher, two minutes."

 

CHER HOROWITZ (Alicia Silverstone):

"So, OK, like right now, for example, the Haitians need to come to America. But some people are all "What about the strain on our resources?" But it's like, when I had this garden party for my father's birthday right? I said R.S.V.P. because it was a sit-down dinner. But people came that like, did not R.S.V.P. so I was like, totally buggin'. I had to haul ass to the kitchen, redistribute the food, squish in extra place settings, but by the end of the day it was like, the more the merrier! And so, if the government could just get to the kitchen, rearrange some things, we could certainly party with the Haitians. And in conclusion, may I please remind you that it does not say R.S.V.P. on the Statue of Liberty?"

(CLASS APPLAUDS)

***

 

The President's speech -- When announcing that you want to start a war, is it wholly wise to smirk through most of your speech? Clinton had that annoying and often inappropriate half-smile, but the younger Bush seems to have even less ability to make his facial expressions match the gravity of what he's saying. Comparisons to Reagan's mastery of expression may be unfair, but compare his smugness today to his father's fitting somberness when announcing the attack on Iraq on January 16, 1991.

 

Here is what the rest of the world is going to think Bush is implying by his smirks: "Our military could whip the rest of the world with one hand tied behind our backs! Ha-ha-ha-ha. You losers!" Sure, it's true, but is it prudent for Bush to rub it in like this?

***

 

Pretty good cover Newsweek cover story on "The Black Gender Gap."

***

 

Not Just Genes: Moving Beyond Nature vs. Nurture
By NATALIE ANGIER, NYT
"In the view of some biologists, DNA often has been accorded far greater powers than it possesses."

 

Angier, the NYT's politically correct life sciences reporter, delivers the stunning news that "some diseases or traits can be both genetic and environmental"!!!! In fact, nature and nurture can interact! 

 

Bet you didn't know that!

 

What's particularly funny about her war on straw men is how ancient her examples are:

 

For example, the attraction of baby mallards to their mother's call was long thought to be "instinctive," caused by genetic factors operating independent of the environment. After all, even ducklings that develop in an incubator, with no prenatal exposure to mother's quacks, immediately prefer upon hatching the sound of a mallard call over that of any other bird. However, Dr. Gilbert Gottlieb, a developmental psychobiologist, went beyond the usual knee-jerk assumptions to ask: could the ducklings' own prehatching peeps be the priming factor here, teaching their developing brains key aspects of the proper mallard melody? Sure enough, Dr. Gottlieb discovered that embryonic ducklings deprived of the ability to vocalize in the egg would, on hatching, respond as readily to a chicken cluck as to a mallard call. The budding duck brain learns by listening to the song of itself.

 

In reality, nobody has thought that baby fowls imprinting on their mothers was a wholly genetic process for many decades. The basic experiment of  tricking barnyard hatchlings into imprinting wrongly by changing their normal environment was the most popular feat of the 1963 Nobel Prize-winning ethologist Konrad Lorenz, who reintroduced the concept of "instinct." Nobody who grew up in the 1960s failed to see the footage of cute goslings following Lorenz around as if he was their mother. (Click here to see a photograph.) Lorenz's experiment was the basis of a classic children's book "Are You My Mother?" by Dr. Seuss's protégé P.D. Eastman (author of the great "Go Dog Go"). Amazon makes explicit Eastman's debt to Lorenz's work on imprinting: 

 

"Are You My Mother? follows a confused baby bird who's been denied the experience of imprinting as he asks cows, planes, and steam shovels the Big Question. In the end he is happily reunited with his maternal parent in a glorious moment of recognition."

 

Lorenz, fortunately, did not throw up his hands and say, "Nature and nurture interact! How could we possibly disentangle them?" Instead, being a reductionist scientist rather than a holistic mystic or demagogue, he figured out what was nature (the imprinting instinct) and what was nurture (exactly whom is imprinted upon).

***

 

Here's a website that lists all the Asian major league athletes in America. My favorite is the Dat Nguyen of the Dallas Cowboys. A good man to have in your foxhole.

***

 

Excellent article on how endlessly talking about your past traumas may not be the best way to get over them. (Tom Wolfe's famous 1975 article "The Me Decade and the Third Great Awakening" made the same point.) Perhaps, though, instead of using the term "repression," she should use "distraction." I have had, as far as I recall off the top of my head, very few traumas in my life (although as I type this I'm starting to recall various ones I had pretty much forgotten about), other than almost dying of cancer when I was 38 in 1997. But, being one of the world's more easily distractable people, I was largely bored with that issue long before I was in remission, which may have helped.

***

 

"Race plays role in drugs effectiveness" - National Post. "He urged caution in interpreting the AIDSVAX findings that blacks who took the vaccine had almost 80% fewer HIV infections than blacks who took the placebo. Whites in the study had less than 4% protection from infection."

 

The NYT reports: "In the overall population of participants, 5.8 percent of those who received the placebo became infected, compared with 5.7 percent of those who received the vaccine. The difference was not statistically significant. But among black, Asian and other minorities the rate of infection was only 3.7 percent in the vaccinated group, compared with 9.9 percent in the placebo group. That meant, after statistical adjustments, that the vaccine reduced the infection rate in that group by 66.8 percent. The numbers were small, about 500 patients, but statistically significant. There was a less than 1 percent chance that the findings were the result of chance."

 

One thing that must be investigated is whether this vaccine works specifically on southeast Africans (who are the primary victims of AIDS) rather than the west African whose African-American descendants were tested here. We don't know for sure why Southeast Africans have so much higher an AIDS rate than West Africans -- the southeastern predilection for "dry sex" probably plays a role, but we know there are genetic differences between the two groups, and those could play a role. For example, men of West African descent make the world's best sprinters, while certain East African highlander tribes make the world's best distance runners, yet no south or east African has medalled in the Olympics at 100m or 200m.

***

 

Video of the Week: 'Road to Perdition' by Steve Sailer

"Road to Perdition" is out Tuesday on DVD ($26.99) and VHS (rental-only). It made $104 million at the domestic box office and received six Oscar nominations, one for supporting actor Paul Newman, and the rest in craft categories.

***

 

Gaining Ground and Breaking It -- Several accomplishments by female athletes recently have heightened the interest in whether they can compete on the same level as men." sez the NYT 

 

Awfully silly. If you want to see some real thinking, here's my "Track and Battlefield" [linked fixed] article from 1997.

***

 

Like I explained in 2001, we have an extremely difficult problem to solve in northern Iraq ... "Kurds Fear Turkish Incursion Pact with U.S. would allow Ankara to deploy big force in region where rivals hold power" -- WaPo

***

 

One of the great American works of art of the new century: the Friar's Head golf course on Long Island, designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore. Click here for Ran Morrissett's review (lots of pictures so it loads slow).

***

 

It seems to me that by the end of the 20th Century, the Right in America had largely won most of the major intellectual arguments. (Arguing with the Left has gotten boring. Witness the tedious spectacle of right wing ideologues pouring out vituperation on Sheryl Crow's T-shirt.) Here in the 21st Century, therefore, the Right is currently in the process of fragmenting into what will be the various major ideologies of the 21st Century. Some will adapt traditional concerns of the left and recast them in harder headed terms. Scott McConnell's The American Conservative magazine seems to be based on that insight.

***

 

I went out to the Nissan Open Sunday and saw skinny Mike Weir beat scrawny 23-year-old Charles Howell III. The latter is painfully thin-looking, but hits the ball a mile. What's happening is that the newest, post-Tiger Woods generation of kid golfers grew up with the new clubs and balls that go straighter, so they never worried about "swinging within yourself" and all that old advice. They simply concentrated on learning to smite the ball as far as humanly possible. The problem is that they are outdating classic golf courses by simply blasting the ball over all the trouble that some genius course designer laid out to bedevil them back in 1922.

***

 

I'd like to see this guy:

 

''In the Empire of Genghis Khan,'' which won Britain's prestigious Thomas Cook travel writing prize, does have its memorable moments. My favorite is Stewart's description of the Mongolian stand-up comic who, since the country has no national media figures to impersonate, ''concentrated instead on characters with which all Mongolians were familiar: animals. He did a yak that had become separated from the herd, a cow stranded on the wrong side of a river, four different dog personalities, a newborn kid, a 2-year-old goat, a 4-year-old goat, an old goat and a dying goat. He rounded off his routine with a camel that didn't want to stand up and three sheep trying to negotiate a stream without getting their feet wet. The Mongolians were in stitches. For an encore he did a mare in heat.''

 

I went to a concert once by Huun Huur Ra, a band of "throat singers" from Tuva, north of Mongolia. (Throat singing is gargling raised to an art form.) One singer was introduced as being the scion of 57 consecutive generations of shamans. The name of their album was "60 Horses in My Herd." Their non-throat singing songs had the same clippety-clop equestrian rhythm of old cowboy songs from John Wayne movies.

***

 

Baseball legend Sandy Koufax cut ties to Rupert Murdoch's L.A. Dodgers because Murdoch's NY Post implied he was gay -- What's with NYC media calling obviously straight baseball stars gay? Don't they know any real homosexuals in New York? Last year it was NY Mets catcher Mike Piazza who was supposed to be gay. That Piazza has lived with a succession of model girlfriends was offered as evidence of his homosexuality -- you see, the only possible reason why a man would have sex with a lot of centerfolds is to distract attention from his being gay. Further, Piazza is a metalhead whose obsession is playing heavy metal tunes on his electric guitar. Trust me, a guy whose favorite band is AC-DC isn't AC-DC himself.

 

Similarly, even a cursory glance at Koufax's biography would suggest that he's not gay. He's been married twice, both times later in life after he got out of the limelight and wouldn't need to put up a false front. Since his dramatic exit from baseball in 1966 after going 27-9, he's lived a secluded life, but he didn't exactly move to Marrakech. Instead, he's lived in culturally conservative rural areas like the cattle ranching town of Paso Robles a hundred miles north of Santa Barbara, and similar anti-alternative lifestyle locales in Idaho, Maine, North Carolina, and Oregon. Koufax is a more idiosyncratic figure than Piazza, but I'm not aware of any evidence that he's homosexual.

 

These kind of stupid mistakes are made because journalists are supposed to assume that gays are exactly like straights in all ways except sexual orientation. Statistically, however, that's just not true. Male homosexuality correlates more or less with a long series of traits. In "Why Lesbians Aren't Gay" I listed about three dozen in which male and female homosexuals differ on average.

 

One big difference is in the urge to become a professional athlete. Tragically, the frankest indicator of the proportion of gay men in an occupation was the number of AIDS deaths in the 1980s. Professional sports outside of figure skating suffered very few AIDS cases, typically one per major sport, except for boxing, where shooting heroin is a not uncommon way for old boxers to relieve the constant pain. (Despite having lots of sex with lots of women virtually no American athlete has contracted HIV heterosexually -- Magic Johnson is probably not an exception to that statement.) In contrast, most of the occupations you'd assume to be heavily gay were decimated by AIDS, as was figure skating.

 

I can't wait for the New York press to announce that Babe Ruth was gay.

***

 

Film of the Week: 'Gods and Generals' by Steve Sailer

The Civil War epic "Gods and Generals" is one of the more remarkable movies of the decade. Paid for by Ted Turner and written and directed by Ron Maxwell, "Gods and Generals" is the large-budget prequel to their 1993 film "Gettysburg," a guerilla hit that first flopped at the box office but then triumphed on video and Turner's cable channels.

***

 

Richard Poe has written two replies to my last VDARE article: read them here and here.

***

 

Is Tiger Woods developing a Southern accent? I just saw him on TV and he suddenly had a slight Southern tinge. It sounded more maturely manly than his old boyish Southern California accent. He's been a tax exile in Orlando for six years, so maybe it's rubbing off. Or maybe he decided during his layoff that he needed to be even more damn attractive than he already was.

 

Accents are normally formed between the ages of 5 and 15 based on what your same-sex friends talk like. That's why brothers and sisters frequently sound differently. Remember Valley Girls? Well, Valley Dudes (like me) didn't sound anything like them. These kind of youth subculture accents often moderate somewhat after 20 -- you don't hear many 40-year-olds with Valley Girl accents. People can develop new accents after 20 -- military pilots learn to talk like Chuck Yeager; a friend of mine moved to London and soon had an English accent -- but it's less common, perhaps because the urge to fit in less overpowering than during school days. Or maybe because the brain is a lot less flexible after puberty.

 

If you don't learn a language well until after adolescence, you will probably never be able to shed your accent, unless you have the talent and means for Meryl Streep-style accent training. That's one reason extended bilingual education is so popular among Hispanic activists -- it ensures Latinos will have a Spanish accent, marking them out as members of a minority group. Without the accent, Hispanic leaders fear, a lot could simply turn into majority Americans and they wouldn't need Hispanic leaders.

***

 

From an LA Times article plumping for affirmative action at the U. of Michigan:

 

"The raw numbers are startling," said the Law School Admission Council. Last fall, the council noted, 4,461 law school applicants nationwide had a college grade-point average of 3.5 or above and a Law School Admission Test score of 165 or above, the usual criteria for admission to the nation's top law schools. "Of that number, a total of just 29 [0.7%] were black. Only 114 [2.6%] were Hispanic," the group said.

***

 

Here's an NYT article on a new studying show PET scan results correlating with higher scores on the more difficult questions on an IQ test. We're slowly approaching the day when IQ scores can be accurately estimated via brain scans.

 

Measuring intelligence with PET scans (which measure metabolic activity -- they give you radioactive sugar or oxygen and watch how fast it's burned ) is complicated, however, because two opposite factors seem to come into play. Smart people tend to have more thoughts per unit of time, but they appear to burn less energy per thought. (Thinking produces a lot of heat. On a hot day, compare how sweaty you get when thinking hard about a subject compared to when you let your thoughts flit about from hither to yon.) The brains of high IQ people seem to work like well-lubricated or well-insulated engines, with less heat lost per unit of work. That may be why this PET scan data showing more activity is clearest on the more difficult items.

***

 

"Using Genetic Tests, Ashkenazi Jews Vanquish a Disease" -- NYT -- The reduction of Tay-Sachs disease among Jews by 95% over the last three decades is a triumph of eugenics, although for some reason it's never described that way.

***

 

Video of the Week: 'City by the Sea' by Steve Sailer

"City by the Sea" is a minor but ultimately effective low-key "true story" about the crimes and tragedies that affected four generations of one family.

***

 

Is Mickelson setting up Sorenstam for humiliation? by Steve Sailer

Annika Sorenstam, the top gun of the Ladies Professional Golf Association, has accepted a sponsor's invitation to play golf with the big boys at the Bank of America Colonial Tournament in late May. This would be the first time a woman teed it up in a PGA tournament since the legendary golfer and Olympic track heroine Babe Didrikson Zaharias made the cut at the war-depleted Los Angeles Open of 1945.

***

 

Film of the week: Disney's 'Jungle Book 2' by Steve Sailer

Walt Disney lost faith in sequels after the failure of his 1934 follow-up to "The Three Little Pigs." He concluded, "You can't top pigs with pigs."

***

 

The following historical figures were born between Feb.12 and Feb. 22: Lincoln, Washington, Copernicus, Galileo, and Darwin. Maybe we should call next Monday "Good Guys Day." On the other hand, Jimmy Hoffa was born then too ...

***

 

Analysis: Oscar nods show December bias by Steve Sailer by Steve Sailer

The endless preseason of movie awards made yesterday's announcement of the Oscar nominations anticlimactic in its predictability. With the pulse of the movie world having been taken so often, there were virtually no surprises.

***

 

I put an American flag up on my house right after 9/11, and vowed to keep it up until Osama bin Laden was dead. Eventually, though, the elements reduced my flag to an unseemly rag, so I took it down in frustration.

 

Still, I have hopes that my flag outlived Osama. Why in the world does anybody believe that today's audiotape purporting to be from Osama bin Laden is actually from him rather than from some Muslim Rich Little in al Qaeda's employ? The only plausible excuse I can think of is that Osama has had radical plastic surgery to change his appearance. But the tapes have apparently never even offered an explanation of why we aren't being shown a videotape. I bet he's dead.

 

That said, it seems not implausible that Bush's war threats are driving Saddam and al Qaeda together to attack America. Saddam has poisons and Al Qaeda has at least the remnants of a delivery system. I suspect a lot of War Hawks would welcome a terrorist attack on America as justifying their attack, even though history would likely judge them to be the main cause behind these two nasty but normally antithetical forces teaming up.

***

 

Orange Alert -- USA Today offers a handy survival planning guide. And if you want to get totally into the surviving the end of the world mindset, you can read Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven's "Lucifer's Hammer," the vivid 1978 bestseller about a comet strike. I dare any Southern Californian to put it down.

 

I keep reading that 9/11 means we should deepsix our space program and concentrate on problems on Earth. I read it differently. I'm concerned that in 50 years, some lunatic cult might have the technological capability to wipe out human life on Earth. (Fermi's Paradox is that, as far as we know, intelligent aliens have never contacted us, which seems awfully unlikely since interstellar travel, while difficult, is far from impossible. Perhaps the explanation is that intelligent species tend to exterminate themselves.) I'd feel better if by then we had a colony somewhere in space that could repopulate earth. In fact, its very existence might be enough to deter the lunatics from trying to kill us all.

 

Perhaps a lower cost alternative is to stock a salt cavern thousands of feet below Kansas with a couple of centuries worth of supplies, then rotate 100 military families through there on year-long tours of duty. The adults could occupy themselves with improving the facility (you'd want most of the occupants to have excellent mechanical skills, so that leaves me out), so it wouldn't be totally boring. It couldn't be much worse than the Air Force base at Thule, in northern Greenland where my brother-in-law spent a couple of years. 

***

 

Here is Nicholas Wade's NY Times version of my "Genes of history's greatest lover found?" article. As I expected, the reason I beat the estimable Wade to such a great story is because coverage of the Space Shuttle tragedy delayed him.

***

 

Video of the Week: Inuit 'The Fast Runner' by Steve Sailer

"Atanarjuat -- The Fast Runner," a low-budget epic about prehistoric Eskimos that combines adventure on the ice floes with soap opera in the igloos, isn't quite the masterpiece that rapturous critics have been claiming. Still, while excessively long at 172 minutes, it's surprisingly entertaining.

***

 

New VDARE column up on the left.

***

 

Heroin growing problem in rural New England -- The state of Maine, long famous for its citizens' rock-ribbed values, now has some serious social problems, including an illegitimacy rate about 50% higher than the national white average.

***

 

7'-5" Yao Ming Has Asians Walking Tall -- AP story.

***

 

The Spectator has an article on the gradually emerging dominance of black soccer players in Britain. Interestingly, the all white German team has been second best to Brazil in the World Cup over the last few decades. The rules are such in soccer that extremely disciplined and crafty teams can largely overcome lack of speed. It makes for a more boring game, but it's worked very well for the Germans.

***

 

"Suit Claims Discrimination Against Hispanics on Job" -- NYT -- The good thing about the New York Times is that if you read far enough into the article you can usually figure out what the real story is. Here, the hidden message is that immigration by non-English speaking Hispanics and Vietnamese leads to segregation on the job, because there are no foremen who speak English, Spanish, and Vientamese.

***

 

Genes of history's greatest lover found? by Steve Sailer

A new population genetics study may have identified history's greatest lover, at least as measured in millions of descendants in his direct male line. Who was this mega-ancestor?

***

 

Film of the Week: 'Shanghai Knights' by Steve Sailer

Movie reviewers love to issue edicts about whether a film's male and female leads exhibit "chemistry." Yet, critical judgments on chemistry diverge laughably, more than even for notoriously subjective issues such as how funny a movie is

***

 

As I've long argued, the best case for war against Iraq is the one Colin Powell made today: Saddam has obviously been cheating on the deal he made with us to survive at the end of the Gulf War (Powell made clear today however, that he's not close to building a nuke). And it's bad business to let people break contracts.

 

On the other hand, it's not always good business to use the full extent of the contract to drive a would-be cheater into bankruptcy. In the business world, you can often come up with better solutions, such as taking away some of the deadbeat's business and mandating outside audits of him. The equivalent here would be no fly zones (check), free Kurdistan (check), permanent inspections backed up by cruise missiles down the air vent of any facility that didn't cooperate (not yet).

 

Obviously, this is a tough call.

 

Four points: First, Powell's contractual enforcement argument for war has always been unpopular with the War Fever crowd because it deprives them of a justification for invading the other countries on their list, none of whom we have this kind of deal with.

 

Second, Here's a defense of the War Fever mob and all their lies and hysteria: It's sad, but maybe that's what it takes to get back to the point where we are actually doing inspections. Clearly, the public is far more interested in American Idol than American Empire, so maybe nothing would have been done at all without the Administration and its yapping lapdogs lying about the Saddam-WTC connection. (Did you see the Knight-Ridder poll where only 17% of the American public knew that no Iraqis were among the 19 9/11 hijackers? I'd love to know what fraction of war supporters can't tell Osama from Saddam -- all those similar letters!) 

 

Still, as I may have mentioned from time to time, falsehood is generally not a solid foundation for policy. 

 

Third, The good news is that it seems highly unlikely that we will invade some other country after Iraq. The War Fever, which currently barely exists outside Washington and web punditry, will recede and leave no more will for more adventures for some time.

 

Fourth, To ask Saddam to disarm at the same time as our stated goal is "regime change" is a logical nonstarter. It's asking him to commit suicide. His poisons are his only hope of deterring or defeating a U.S. invasion. We could have said "Disarm or we will overthrow you." But by starting out insisting on regime change, we blew our credibility. By announcing that we wanted regime change, we've managed to convince the rest of the world that all this talk about weapons is just a charade to justify the war we've wanted to start all along. 

 

That seems likely to be the judgment of history.

***

 

The NYT gives my friend Chandler Burr a fun review of his new science book The Emperor of Scent:

 

Sniffing Scientist, Pursuing a Theory By JANET MASLIN
Chandler Burr sets out to explain how obsessive curiosity turned Luca Turin into a pioneering olfactory theorist.

 

Chandler's book is a terrific read. I have no idea if Turin's theory of how the nose works is right, but you'll learn lots of interesting stuff even if it doesn't pan out.

***

 

With the announcement that Democratic Presidential hopeful John Kerry is half-Jewish, Mickey Kaus asked who else is part Jewish, and one of his readers suggested Mick Jagger. Considering that Jagger is a near dead ringer for my favorite playwright Tom Stoppard, who recently discovered he was 100% Jewish, I'd say that sounds like a good bet.

 

My guess is that the number of part Jewish people in the world, such as Colin Powell, is huge.

***

 

The NBC Mexican Mafia melodrama "Kingpin" provides a lurid picture of how Mexican corruption rubs off on more than a few Texans. One of the least investigated subjects is the Bush family's relationships over the last 45 years with the rich and powerful and crooked of Mexico. There's nothing hugely scandalous, but the Bushes have had business and personal relationships with some real scumbags. Read about it here.

***

 

 

Video of the Week: 'Sweet Home Alabama' by Steve Sailer 

If they gave out a Most Valuable Player award in the movie industry like they do in baseball, Reese Witherspoon would have won in 2001 for her delightful performance in "Legally Blonde," a cheap comedy ($18 million budget) that she carried on her petite shoulders all the way to $95 million in domestic box office. She'd be in the running again for her 2002 romantic comedy "Sweet Home Alabama," which is out Tuesday on DVD ($29.99 list) and VHS ($22.99).

***

 

Viewers of the new NBC Mexican Mafia series "Kingpin" are likely to favor building a wall 100 feet tall from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico. I can't imagine it will do much for the Mexican tourism industry either. I used to love going to Mexico, but the last time I was south of the border there were just too many guys with 4th grade educations brandishing submachine guns for me to want to take my family back.

***

 

New VDARE article is up now. It's a good one, if I say so myself.

***

 

Analysis: NBA height spreading globally by Steve Sailer

The NBA All-Star Weekend has become a sort of World Festival of Height featuring the inordinately tall from all over the Earth. The Houston Rockets' Yao Ming, the Western Conference's 7'5" starting center in next Sunday's All-Star Game, exemplifies more than just the increasingly global reach of NBA talent scouts. He also illustrates a general trend in which stereotypically short peoples, such as the Chinese, have been sprouting upward in average height.

***

 

War hawk William Safire appears to be hoping that Saddam responds to our invasion by killing lots of American soldiers and civilians because that will prove Safire's columns were right! And, by God, that's what really matters most:

 

"If Saddam were to use crude weapons of mass destruction against our forces, or send smallpox carriers into our cities, that would be the ultimate, retrospective smoking gun. It would prove not only that he had the forbidden weaponry and lied about it, but had been getting stronger all the time. Had he been allowed to further develop or buy nuclear arms and intercontinental missiles, stopping him in the future would come at an unacceptable cost."

 

A smallpox epidemic in America would evidently be a small price to pay for retrospective confirmation of Safire's punditry.

 

Might I point out that there may be a significant difference between the cost to be paid for "stopping him" from invading other countries and "stopping him" from continuing to breathe?

***

 

An argument for war: While deterring Iraq is quite easy from a military point of view, it's hard to maintain the attention span needed from a political point of view. What happens is that Saddam resists inspections and eventually the rest of the world gets bored and lets them lapse, as happened in 1998. So, let's rub him out now before some other distraction comes along.

***

 

A couple of writers in Slate are discussing how adoption has changed in America over the last few decades, but they can't bring themselves to mention the A word -- abortion, which is the main reason for the changes. It converted a buyer's market to a seller's market (at least for white infants). This gave much more power to the biological mothers, leading to the kind of open adoption common now where the birth mother sort of hangs around.

 

On the issue of reuniting adopted children with their unknown biological parents yet maintaining privacy for people who don't want reunification with strangers, there would seem to be a simple solution. States should maintain a clearinghouse where both biological parents and adopted children could register their desire to get in touch with the other -- if that is indeed their desire. If both register, the state puts them in contact with each other. If only one registers, the state does nothing.

 

Personally, as an adopted child, I've always thought that one set of parents was plenty. On the other hand, if by any chance I am the natural child of the late Aristotle Onassis and his executors want to cut me in on that 2.7 billion clams they just settled upon his 18 year old descendent, they can reach me at the above email address.

 

Of course, from this hypothetical example, you can see why many biological parents do not want the children they gave up for adoption suddenly showing up on their doorsteps unbidden. It can cause no end of resentment from, say, their legitimate children who perceive the newcomer as a rival for their parent's love and, let's be honest, estate.

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"Q&A: Civil War film 'Gods and Generals' by Steve Sailer

Sure to be one of the more controversial films of 2003, Ronald F. Maxwell's Civil War epic "Gods and Generals" opens Feb. 21. This Ted Turner-financed war movie, an adaptation of Jeff Shaara's best-selling historical novel, is the bigger budget prequel to Maxwell's "Gettysburg" of 1993. The political climate has changed since then, however. It has never been more unfashionable to portray Confederate soldiers in a positive light; yet, the main protagonist of "Gods and Generals" is the Southern hero Stonewall Jackson.

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Film of the Week: Pacino in 'The Recruit' by Steve Sailer

With stony dignity, the CIA turned down all requests from Hollywood for a half century. Meanwhile, its bureaucratic rivals, such as those shameless publicity hounds at the FBI and the Marine Corps, provided millions of dollars worth of taxpayer-funded logistical assistance and advice to the movie and TV industries. Not surprisingly, films were full of heroic G-men and Marines, while CIA higher-ups were almost always portrayed as cruel, devious, and incompetent uber-WASPs with thin lips and thinning hair.

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Video of the Week: 'Serving Sara' by Steve Sailer

Here in the depths of late January, the new video release "Serving Sara" ($29.99 list price for DVD, rental-only for VHS) can help you relive those dog days of late August, when the movie business shoots its wounded, releasing doomed movies that don't deserve a more desirable date earlier in the summer. "Serving Sara" was a standard example of the summer doldrums flick, a comedy you would quickly forget except for one scene that you wouldn't want to remember.

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"Malaysia to abolish ethnic quotas at universities" -- "In a landmark policy shift, Malaysia's government has said it will end its 31-year-old use of a quota system that has effectively limited the enrollment of Chinese Malaysians at the country's best universities." Following anti-Chinese riots in 1969, the government instituted quotas for the majority Malays at the expense of the Chinese, who make up 25% of the population. Recently, the Malaysian Prime Minister, who justified the quotas on the grounds that his people were "lazier and stupider" than the Chinese, has grown frustrated by his people's lack of progress and is turning against affirmative action. One observer told me:

 

"By all accounts, Mohamed is a very intelligent and strong leader, with a tight grip both on his country and on reality (even though he's a member of the "under-represented" group, many of his public comments have been completely Human Biodiversity-like). I think he sees the long-run disaster of biased admissions, the lack of clear benefits, and has decided to take appropriate for the good of his country, not least the Malay majority. I suspect it would be much harder for him to completely eliminate the government contract set-aside portions of Malaysian AA, since there's probably a much more entrenched class deriving financial benefit from those programs. But since my impression is that those AA contracts are widely used by well-connected Malay "fronts," who skim a little off the top then hire competent firms to actually execute the work, it seems no more damaging than any comparable system of taxation or government corruption. By contrast, AA quotas can destroy university quality, plus annually produce waves of unqualified "Malay studies majors," who become parasites on the society. I'd gladly keep AA contracting in order to get rid of AA university admissions.

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Bush to Iraq: "Taste the furious wrath of my cold steel."

 

Bush to North Korea: "Play nice, pleeeeeez."

 

From a strategic standpoint, the bigger of the two dangers would appear to be that North Korea has the capability to set up a nuclear bomb factory for the export market. With inspectors wandering around, Iraq definitely does not. 

 

I'm not hugely worried about North Korea using nuclear bombs in a war of conquest  -- you can't go on the attack these days without air superiority and we have complete control of the skies. Your tanks will all be smoking hulks by the time they get 20 klicks over the border. Today, nuclear weapons are essentially a defensive weapon (except for us -- we could use them on offense and, perhaps, get away with it, which is one reason we make the rest of the world so nervous these days). What made the Soviet Union extremely scary back in the Bad Old Days was 

 

A. That it had enough conventional forces to think that it just might win a conventional war if it invaded West Germany, 

 

and 

 

B. That it had enough nuclear ICBMs to think that if it started losing the conventional war, the Communist Party just might still be able to save itself by starting and winning an intercontinental nuclear war. 

 

In the 1980s we closed off A. by developing the capability to take out Soviet air defense systems (as demonstrated by the Israeli knockout of Soviet built Syrian air defense in Lebanon in 1982) and B. by making our Trident submarine-launched ICBMs accurate enough to respond to a Soviet first strike on our ICBM bases out on the Great Plains with a counterstrike on their military targets, thus avoiding the need to start an apocalyptic exchange where our inaccurate sub missiles hit their cities and they hit our cities back.

 

In Jan-Feb. 1991, we showed in the Gulf just what our modern conventional weapons would do against Soviet weapons. When the Soviet hardliners staged the coup seven months later, with its implied promise that the Soviet military would eventually have to challenge the Americans to maintain the Communist Party's prestige and consequent grip on the Soviet Union, much of the Red Army said to hell with committing suicide and sided with Yeltsin, bringing down the Soviet Union.

 

In contrast, little dirtbag countries like Iraq and North Korea can't even imagine winning offensive conventional wars against American air power anymore, so they won't get to Step B in the chain of logic leading to their starting nuclear wars. The North Koreans, unfortunately, have long possessed a conventional deterrent equal to a few nukes: 10,000 artillery pieces trained on Seoul. So, they always been harder to push around than Saddam, who is in a humiliatingly weak state at present.

 

Still, it would be bad if North Korea starts selling nuclear bombs to every creep with $100 million, especially in light of the policy we unveiled in Serbia in 1999 of attacking sovereign countries for what they do internally. Add to that our Iraq stance that trying to build your own nukes will get you wasted, but that having a few like North Korea means you are home scot-free. If I was a dictator and didn't want the U.S. to come attack me, I'd read that as saying that 

 

A. It's not safe not to have nukes, because without them I can't deter the Americans from attacking in case they get all moralistic over something I have to do to keep my country together; and

 

B. It's not safe to spend years building my own nukes; so 

 

C. I'd better buy a few nukes and missiles from North Korea. 

 

Thus, North Korea is the big hissing leak in the aggressive anti-proliferation policy we are enunciating in Iraq.

 

So, how are we going to keep North Korea bottled up? I didn't hear much about that tonight.

 

Still, I suppose it would make us look weak if we backed down from flattening Iraq now, so we'll probably have to do it. I guess I'll go buy some bottled water and the like in case we provoke Saddam into setting off something nasty on the other side of the Hollywood Hills. I haven't heard any evidence that he has any such terrorist capabilities, but I suppose it could happen. Of course, you just know that if he does launch a terrorist strike in response to our attack, the War Hawks will proclaim that as proof of the wisdom of their invasion. Expect history to be rewritten Ministry of Truth-style, just as it already has been rewritten over who fired first in the 1999 Balkans war.

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Has anybody ever seen an estimate of what percentage of female military officers are the daughters of career military men? I'd guess > 50%, but I've never seen an informed figure.

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Times have changed -- I mentioned in my last VDARE article that Teddy Roosevelt Jr. landed in the first wave at Normany at age 56. A reader fills in more detail: "T.R. Jr. found himself leading the 4th Infantry or Ivy Division on to the beaches of Utah. This is where he uttered his most famous words-"We'll start the war from here!" He then walked among the men with his cane (he had arthritis) and with only his .45 pistol; led the men in outflanking the German units. He then linked up with the airborne units and the 4th Infantry Division had fewer casualties than the divisions on the other four beachheads. Lt. General Omar Bradley stated later that this was the single bravest act he witnessed in the entire war."

 

"T.R. Jr.'s own son, Quentin Roosevelt II [President TR's grandson] with his father at Utah Beach. He had recovered from his wounds in North Africa and to this day, both he and his father are the only known father-son to have landed in Normandy on D-Day."

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The editor of Wired makes the interesting point that the cultural influence of Japan's youth culture is growing as its economic influence is shrinking. The same thing happened in Socialist England as its rock bands from the Beatles onward conquered the world even as its economy went down the tubes. Once Maggie Thatcher got England back to work in the mid-1980s, its influence on global pop music evaporated.

 

Update -- One reader notes how British musical theatre took off as an export product just as British rock was becoming obsolete. Does anybody have any good theories on what went wrong with British rock music?

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Chicago - In the year-end crush of movies, I didn't have a chance to write a review of Oscar front-runner Chicago. In brief, it's a perfectly good film, but it lacks the unique pleasure that musicals are supposed to afford: you don't leave the theatre humming the tunes, because Chicago's score is so forgettable.

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Good news. J.P. Zmirak's eye-opening article 

"America the Abstraction: Neoconservatism owes more to Trotsky than to Burke" is now online. The opening dialogue between Zmirak and a couple of WSJ Editorial Page ideologues is particularly memorable.

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Analysis: Paradox of Hispanic vote clout by Steve Sailer

The Census Bureau announced last week that Hispanics have surpassed African-Americans as the most numerous minority group. Will Hispanics soon become the premiere minority in political clout as well? Strangely, it's easy to both overestimate and underestimate the potential impact of Hispanic voters on American politics. That's because Latinos, due to a little-noticed quirk in how legislative districts are apportioned, will have much less influence on national and statewide elections than on district races.

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