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January 2003

 

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.

***

 

"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.

***

 

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.

***

 

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.

***

 

"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.

***

 

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.

***

 

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.

***

 

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."

***

 

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?

***

 

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.

***

 

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.

***

 

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.

***

 

I'm back to posting every Sunday night on VDARE (left column), after moving up a few days last time to get in an early reaction to Bush's college quota speech. This one takes another look at race in the military.

***

 

Film of the Week: Polanski's 'The Pianist' by Steve Sailer

Although it's one of the frontrunners in the scramble for Oscar nominations, Roman Polanski's Holocaust drama "The Pianist" is actually a movie of surprisingly modest ambitions. If you trust too much in the critics' raves, you are likely to leave puzzled over what all the shouting is about. Yet, if you rein in your expectations, this competent film will impress.

***

 

Anthropologist Stanley Kurtz actually knows something about how Arab society works, which is more than you can say for most pundits these days. Here is his important article "After the War."

***

 

"It's difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it." -- Upton Sinclair

 

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who  have not got it."  -- George Bernard Shaw

***

 

Roe v. Wade at 30: Ramesh Ponnuru writes in National Review Online: Maureen "Dowd, like a lot of people, including Peggy Noonan in a fine pro-life essay published yesterday, assumes that America's population would be 40 million higher if not for abortion. I find this hard to believe. I suspect that the rate of careless conceptions increased after Roe."

 

Indeed, social scientists have estimated that 60%-75% of the fetuses aborted in the 1970s would not have been conceived if not for legalized abortion. (That was just part of my debate in Slate with the U. of Chicago economist who theorized that legalizing abortion in the 1970s had caused the low crime rates of the late 1990s, through imposing a prenatal death penalty on those more likely to grow up to be bad apples. I pointed out that the acid test of this hypothesis was that the juvenile murder rate should have gone down in the early 1990s, when this abortion-winnowed post-Roe generation reached ages 14-17. Instead, the teen murder rate for those born post-Roe was 3.6 times higher than for the cohort born immediately pre-Roe.)

 

Other than this, where I actually had something unique to say, I don't like to get into debates on abortion because I don't think I've got much new to contribute. Still, as an adopted child, let me just say that I am glad I was born long before Jan. 22, 1973. 

 

To the ones who had a notion, a notion deep inside

That it ain't no sin to be glad you're alive.

Bruce Springsteen, Badlands

***

 

Ramesh also writes, regarding college admissions quotas:

 

I'll be interested to see what the conservative critics of the administration makes of James Taranto's defense of it. So far the only response I've seen is Steve Sailer's remark that he "gets it all wrong." It may be that Sailer weighs the president's political and rhetorical concessions more heavily than Taranto, who focuses narrowly on the brief, does.

 

Much of the confusion the Bush Administration has (intentionally) engendered stems from the briefs suffering multiple personality disorder. The attacks on the Michigan system were clearly written by Ted Olson's anti-racial preference warriors, but their centerpiece -- the endorsement of phony "race-neutral" techniques that are defended on the grounds that they can reproduce the precise quotas currently in place -- was obviously dreamed up by Bush's political team. (Newsweek reported that Olson considered resigning rather than signing the briefs.) 

 

Perhaps Taranto meant to say that Olson's part of the briefs demonstrate that the Bush-Rove-Gonzales-Lefkowitz-Rice part of the briefs are a Constitutional abortion?

 

I have a simple bottom line for thinking about this question: If the  Bush gets his way, will my sons' chances improve? The answer, as the briefs make clear, is "No." They will continue to be discriminated against because of their race, to the exact same extent as now.

***

 

Here are Ward Connerly's eloquent reflections on the Bush-Rove quota briefs.

***

 

The NYT reports that schools are more segregated: "Latino students, who have rarely been a focus of desegregation efforts, now attend schools where whites account for only 29 percent of all students, compared with 45 percent three decades ago, according to the study, which draws on Education Department data through the 2000-1 school year." Of course, a big reason is that the U.S. is slowly running out of white kids to integrate with minorities -- whites are down to 61% of the school age population.

***

 

Today, much of the press is confirming what I argued in two articles last week: that Bush has conceded the key point on college quotas: that the student bodies of elite colleges should, as Bill Clinton would say, look more like America. The Bush Administration's brief says that universities should "ensure that ... student bodies are educationally diverse and broadly representative of the public." Once Bush said the goal is equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity, it's all over except for arguing over the details of how best to corrupt the admissions systems to generate the required racial quotas.

 

Of course, James Taranto of the WSJ gets it all wrong.

***

 

Video of the Week: Spanish 'Mad Love' by Steve Sailer

I saw "Mad Love" without knowing what it was. I sort of expected a remake of the 1995 drama "Mad Love" in which teenaged Drew Barrymore falls in love with handsome lunk Chris O'Donnell, but then develops severe mental problems.

***

 

Newsweek reports that Solicitor General Ted Olson was outraged by the Bush cave-in on quotas and was considering resigning over it, until Dick Cheney brought the hammer down on him.

***

 

Commentary: How to make MLK Day popular by Steve Sailer

Seventeen years after Martin Luther King's birthday became a federal holiday, and three years after New Hampshire became the 50th state to make it a paid holiday, only 23 percent of private sector firms give workers the day off, according to a Bureau of National Affairs survey. Surprisingly, few non-black workers seem to mind.

***

 

Say you lived in a neighborhood with a lousy school, where your kid was at the top of his class, but wasn't being challenged and is hanging around with lowlifes. You want your kid to get a good education and qualify for the best public college in your state. So, you scrimp and save and buy a house in a district with a great school with great students. It's a big financial sacrifice, and now your kid is only at about the 75th percentile in his class, but so what? He's learning so much more and his peer group is a great influence on him. 

 

This sounds like the American Dream in action, but if George W. Bush gets his way and imposes Top 10% plans for college admissions, you've been a sucker. You should have kept your kid in the crummy school, where he could have been in the Top 10% of his class even if all he learned was goldbricking.

***

 

Analysis: Conservatives debate quotas by Steve Sailer 

A surprising debate is raging among conservative advocates of colorblind laws over whether President Bush's attack on the University of Michigan's admissions system is the fulfillment of their cause, or its betrayal. At issue are the friend of the court briefs submitted to the Supreme Court in the Michigan discrimination suit.

 

By the way, the White House's briefs are now online: Grutter (check out pp. 18-21 and the footnote on p. 27 if you still are hoping against hope that the Administration has not led you down the primrose path) and Gratz. These are giant PDF image files.

***

 

Check out columnist Ilana Mercer at www.ilanamercer.com.

***

 

Film of the Week: Killer 'City of God' by Steve Sailer

If you loved Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas" and have been waiting for a similarly smart, stylish, hyperkinetic gangster flick, you're in luck: No, not Scorsese's oddly uninspired "Gangs of New York," but the killer Brazilian import "City of God," which debuts in New York and Los Angeles on Friday. Brazil's nominee for the Best Foreign Film Oscar, "City of God" is so entertaining that it should get a national rollout despite its subtitles.

***

 

Video of the Week: Grant in ''About a Boy'' by Steve Sailer 

Timed to generate publicity for Hugh Grant''s bid for a Best Actor Oscar nomination, the Anglo-American comedy "About a Boy" is coming out on video on Tuesday ($26.98 list on DVD and rental-only on VHS). In North American theaters last spring, on a modest budget of $27 million it earned a decent $41 million and a fine $85 million overseas.

***

 

My initial analysis of Bush's quota stance is now linked to in the lefthand column.

***

 

If colleges really want diversity in order to broaden the minds of their students, they should bring in more foreign students. My best friend at UCLA was Joseph Ngu from Cameroon in West Africa. We had wonderful long lunches discussing how he was planning to add an incremental wife every decade, but that he intended to stop at four wives. He was was Catholic rather than a Muslim, so the 4-wife limit instituted by Muhammad didn't apply to him, but Joseph felt the Prophet knew what he was talking about when it came to harem size. Now that was educational!

***

 

Analysis: Are soldiers black and poor? by Steve Sailer

Congressman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., a Korean War veteran, has introduced a bill to reinstate the military draft, arguing, "A disproportionate number of the poor and members of minority groups make up the enlisted ranks of the (volunteer) military..." Indeed, in a little noticed development, the percentage of military personnel who were minorities shot upward during the years from 1995 to 2000, with enlisted ranks rising from 28 percent to 38 percent minority (compared to about 30 percent of the national population).

***

 

WSJ Journal Editorial Page denounces the GOP's last 35 years:

 

"Mr. Bush and other party leaders should work conspicuously to retire the Southern strategy. Don't make excuses for it. Don't euphemize it. Say it was wrong and now it's over."

Jason L. Riley

senior editorial page writer for The Wall Street Journal

***

 

Wednesday - Bush's speech on racial preferences -- I'm going to try to reserve comment for my VDARE essay (Thursday night), but I encourage you to skip the headline hype and read Bush's actual statement. Then, to prove that the headlines are pulling your leg, read this press briefing by an anonymous Senior Administration Official. Let's just say, I'm not surprised.

***

 

Tuesday - U. of Michigan racial preference case: The Washington Post reports:

 

"Justice Department lawyers, led by Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson, lobbied the president hard for a brief that would categorically declare that not even diversity can justify the use of race. White House political adviser Karl Rove and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, sensitive to the need to expand the Republican base to include minorities, pushed in the other direction, the officials said."

 

It looks like it's going to be Bakke all over again. Rove will throw a rhetorical bone to conservative opponents of race preferences, but give the meat to defenders of the racial spoils system. An activist for colorblind laws commented:

 

"We are, in essence, losing this round, and it will be hard to make the case without looking like soreheads. We must think about what we will say and write over the next few days and weeks. Praise for the opposition to explicit preferences is easy. Pointing out the poison of the diversity rationale is harder... And we should place no further hopes in the Bush Administration. Rather, we must do our own thing. We are in for a long struggle, and for the present we will be very much alone."

***

 

I asked, "Why did 'widows with children' become 'single mothers?' Here's the response I just got:

 

I have three small kids, My husband died a couple of years ago, when I was 33. I used to identify myself as a widow when people would see me with my kids and ask what my husband did or would otherwise make "marital status" conversation.  I'm ok with being a widow, the Lord has really restored my life and I am moving in new and exciting directions here lately.  

 

To my amazement, I consistently had people upbraid me for identifying myself this way, following my comment with things like  "My daughter is divorced, I think she has it just as hard," or "I think it is just as hard for kids of divorce, who never get to see their dad either," or "Well, everyone has problems now a days."  It was an obvious attempt to put me in my place .... It seemed that they thought I was "putting on airs" or fishing for pity or something, and it was embarrassing ...  So I started identifying myself as a "single mom", a designation which I personally find embarrassing and a little shameful, but which at least gets no negative reaction ....  

 

Next time somebody asks me, I am going for it.  Why should I let people pressure me into feeling ashamed?  I certainly didn't do anything wrong. Thanks again

***

 

Don't name your baby "Rasheed" -- Here's a study confirming what I wrote a couple of months ago: You'd be a fool to give your kid a stereotypically black name like DeShawn or Tanisha since people will assume that he is likely to be black, and thus likely to be more trouble than somebody named Brett or Alison, even if they all had the same resume. Some researchers sent out resumes identical except for the first name of the job applicants. The ones with white first names got a 50% higher positive response rate than the ones with black first names. As I wrote:

 

"Aundre Mathews sounds like fine young man. Still, it's worth reflecting on why you wouldn't give your baby boy a name spelled "Aundre." It’s because you wouldn't want your son to go through life with other people assuming, sight unseen, that he was black. You wouldn't want your son to suffer from the presumptions that young men with strangely-spelled first names are more likely to score poorly on their tests and to shout out to their friends instead of listening to the teacher. You'd feel that way because you know those prejudices are statistically quite valid."

 

It's an important and interesting question whether blacks on the whole are unfairly victimized by these kind of hiring prejudices (assuming they are statistically accurate). Somebody who is better at economic modeling than me should take a stab at this. My guess (and I recall it matches Thomas Sowell's analysis) is that, strange as it may sound, if race carries information value about the probable performance of an applicant that is not conveyed by the resume, then on average blacks with black names simply wind up with pay in line with their overall productivity. By giving their kids white names, however, blacks could obtain for their children slightly more compensation than they earn due to their freeriding upon the higher average productivity of white job applicants. So, then, in a rational world (and remember, in Econ-Land, it's always rational), why do black parents persist in naming their kids Shaniqua?

***

 

So, what is Karl Rove going to do about the U. of Michigan racial preference case brief? My guess is he'll play it down the middle: denounce quotas and come out in favor of "colorblind" ploys that are jiggered to come up with the same racial results as the old quota system (such as what the Bush Bros. instituted for Texas and Florida state university admissions). Let's be honest: any result that does not have the net effect of taking goodies away from minorities and giving them to white people is a victory for racial preferences over meritocracy. If you aren't willing to see fewer minorities in prestige positions, then you should favor racial preferences, and you might as well come out of the closet and admit it.

***

 

The Illinois governor commutes all death sentences -- It's important to understand that Chicago-area cops routinely used torture to extract confessions in murder cases. This was regularly reported in the alternative Chicago Reader during the years I lived there so it's hardly surprising that Illinois had a morass of dubious Death Row inmates on its hands. When I left two years ago, the Chicago Police Department still would not videotape interrogations, so torture may still be going on for all I know. I think the first priority should be to end torture, but death penalty opponents seem to prefer to gloss over the sick stuff going on in the back rooms of Northern Illinois police stations and present this as an all-purpose indictment of the death penalty.

 

It's also worth noting that even without torture, murder cases are precisely the cases where incorrect convictions are most likely to occur. That's because the best witness to the crime is dead. 

 

That said, from a game theory standpoint, the death penalty can be very useful. For example, it can discourage criminals from shooting witnesses. If you have a three-strikes-and-you're-out rule, you must have the death penalty to prevent two time losers from murdering witnesses. Without the death penalty, the criminal is facing life imprisonment either way, so it makes sense for him to kill the witnesses so he won't be convicted.

 

Further, the death penalty's extremely convenient to prosecutors in creating classic "prisoners' dilemmas." Say you arrest the two buddies you think were involved, but you can't prove it without a confession from one of them. You isolate them and tell each that if he signs a confession saying the other guy pulled the trigger, the other guy will get the death penalty, and he'll be back out in 20 years. If you didn't have a death penalty, it's harder to make the prisoners' dilemma work. Of course, this leads the triggerman to roll over on his accomplice a lot. I guess you could call the accomplice "innocent," but that's a stretch. 

***

 

Both National Review and the Weekly Standard are complaining that the Democrats are using -- prepare to die of astonishment -- the Lott whoop-te-do to score political points against the Republican Party. Who could have imagined in December that these two magazines' witch hunts against the Republican Senate Majority Leader could possibly ever backfire on the GOP as a whole?

***

 

Prison rape is a massive human rights abuse that we almost all would prefer to overlook. Here are some quotes from a comprehensive report by Human Rights Watch that might explain some of why the rarely enforced death penalty is a big issue but prison rape is not (but should be):

 

"Prisoners fitting any part of the following description are more likely to be targeted: young, small in size, physically weak, white, gay, first offender, possessing 'feminine' characteristics such as long hair or a high voice; being unassertive, unaggressive, shy, intellectual, not street-smart, or "passive"; or having been convicted of a sexual offense against a minor...

 

"The characteristics of prison rapists are somewhat less clear and predictable, but certain patterns can nonetheless be discerned. First, although some older inmates commit rape, the perpetrators also tend to be young, if not always as young as their victims--generally well under thirty-five years old. They are frequently larger or stronger than their victims, and are generally more assertive, physically aggressive, and more at home in the prison environment. They are "street smart"--often gang members. They have typically been convicted of more violent crimes than their victims. The myth of the "homosexual predator" is groundless. Perpetrators of rape typically view themselves as heterosexual and, outside of the prison environment, prefer to engage in heterosexual activity...

 

"Inter-racial sexual abuse is common only to the extent that it involves white non-Hispanic prisoners being abused by African Americans or Hispanics. ... Overall, our correspondence and interviews with white, black, and Hispanic inmates convince us that white inmates are disproportionately targeted for abuse.(214) Although many whites reported being raped by white inmates, black on white abuse appears to be more common. To a much lesser extent, non-Hispanic whites also reported being victimized by Hispanic inmates. ...Some inmates told Human Rights Watch that this pattern reflected an inmate rule, one that was strictly enforced: "only a black can turn out [rape] a black, and only a chicano can turn out a chicano."(215) Breaking this rule by sexually abusing someone of another race or ethnicity, with the exception of a white inmate, could lead to racial or ethnic unrest, as other members of the victim's group would retaliate against the perpetrator's group. ...

 

"Prior studies have found that the crimes for which victims of rape are incarcerated are generally less serious and less violent than those for which the perpetrators of rape are incarcerated.(221)"

 

In summary, prison rape makes prison more enjoyable for the most vicious criminals and encourages the least-vicious to turn themselves into monsters to avoid it.

***

 

A Dave Barryesque Rant against SUVs in the the New Republic from Greg Easterbrook. Something I saw in the article is that he owns the same minivan I do, a Honda Odyssey, a vehicle superior to an SUV in practically every quantifiable aspect (price, capacity, safety, mileage, handling, even acceleration) except offroad capability. 

 

The problem with minivans is that they look maternal. They are not cool (i.e., sexy). They advertise: "I have children and spend money and time taking care of them, so you'd be a fool to get involved with me."

***

 

Good Grief! Even More Dumb Questions: Why did "widows with children" become "single mothers?" There used to be a hierarchy of respect and sympathy for young mothers without husbands: widows were at the top, divorcees in the middle, and never married single mothers at the bottom. Now, even widows call themselves "single mothers." Is society better off because of this? Let's be frank: women who have children without a husband are harming society. Why should they be treated as sympathetically as a mother whose husband has died?

***

 

L.A. passes pollution control milestone: During the last two years, Southern California has experienced only one day with unhealthy levels of carbon monoxide, compared to over 100 days per year thirty years ago. And conservatives and libertarians wonder why furiously attacking environmentalism isn't a vote-winning issue?

***

 

More dumb questions: Lots of people are having fun with the story of the deadbeat dad in D.C. who was forced by two court orders to pay $30,000 per year in child support to the mothers of the two kids he fathered out of wedlock. What makes it amusing is that he is currently employed by D.C. as its deputy head of child support enforcement at $100k. 

 

Now, I'm all in favor of the government enforcing contracts, including marriage contracts, but why is the government in the business of enforcing non-existent marriage contracts between people who had every opportunity to enter into marriage but instead chose to have children out of wedlock? Previously, a woman who wanted a man to support her baby needed to persuade the man to marry her. Today, though, the government will simply step in and take money from the man as if he had made a contract. So, what's the point of the contract? What incentive does a woman have to go through all the hard work of being nice enough and faithful enough to get a man to marry her when all she has to do is conceive a child by one of her boyfriends and sicc the government on whichever guy comes up in the DNA test.

 

I'm reminded of an extreme example of this. When my first son was an infant, my wife was in a playgroup with a young single mother who told her that one day she had a dream in which she had a beautiful blonde baby boy. So, that evening she went to a bar and found the blondest man there. Later that evening when he earnestly inquired about birth control, she lied that she was on The Pill. Nine months later she gave birth to a boy, who soon looked exactly like the blonde baby she had dreamed of. The shell-shocked father was dutifully sending checks, but the mother had never gotten around to explaining to him what had really happened.

 

I talked to a man once who explained to me that if you didn't want the government to take your money and give it to your baby-mommas, you had to maintain an extremely low profile: don't get a social security number, don't buy car or health insurance, work only for cash, etc. It was working for him. But is this frenzy to catch single fathers working for society? Or does it just encourage women to not make the sacrifices necessary for marriage?

***

 

Spike Lee's new movie "25th Hour" raises the question: Why isn't the prevalence of prison rape in the United States a major civil rights issue? Aren't we violating the 8th amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishments by not doing more to prevent this? Is being infected with AIDS a-ok with everybody? Why is nobody upset about this? Do we fear sounding homophobic? Does the fact that most of this is black on white rape (as the movie implies but never quite comes out and says) make protesting prison rape racist? Probably the main reason that white convicts form racist prison gangs is for mutual defense against black rapists. Are white racist gangs a price we want to pay? Do we think rape is a good deterrent? Doesn't it ever occur to anybody that it makes prison more fun for the worst criminals?

***

 

Whooping cough is back again -- I know it sounds as nearly extinct as the whooping crane, but it's getting more common. I had it for 2 months last winter. Antibiotics can cure it, but you've got to get your doctor to take the possibility seriously.

***

 

Film of the Week: Spike Lee's '25th Hour' by Steve Sailer

What would you do if your son had one day left before his 7-year prison term began? Or what if he were your oldest buddy? Your subordinate who could rat you out to the Feds? What if he were you? In Spike Lee's "25th Hour," Edward Norton portrays a 31-year-old New Yorker on whom the prison doors are about to slam shut. After weak performances in "Death to Smoochy" and "Red Dragon," the two-time Oscar nominee is back on form.

***

 

Solzhenitsyn will soon publish what looks to be his final book, the second volume of his history of Jews in Russia, this one running from 1917 to 1975. (Neither book is available for sale in English translation yet.) The new book will tackle the very touchy subject of just how many of the Bolsheviks were Jewish. The great man also points out, however, that a large fraction of his colleagues in the dissident movement were Jewish.

***

 

My Dumb Question -- Why do we study trigonometry in high school instead of statistics? I took a semester of trigonometry but I can't recall ever using it for anything. (I think you can use it to calculate how tall a tree is by the length of its shadow, but I never went into lumberjackery.) In contrast, I didn't take any statistics classes until I was a senior in college, and I've used statistics every week since.

***

 

More Lott Fallout -- The Washington Times reports

 

"A Republican senator [Sam Brownback] wants to establish a temporary congressional committee on race relations that will address such issues as a national apology for racial segregation, construction of a black history museum on the National Mall and reparations for slavery. ..."I think in light of what took place with the Senate leadership change, we need to step up and seriously address the race issues," Mr. Brownback told The Washington Times. "Unless the Republican Party steps up and addresses it, we'll be constantly taking charges that we're not sensitive on race issues." ... While offering few specifics on what the committee would take up, Mr. Brownback said he envisions it being a forum for the Senate to address "disparities in education, disparities in economic opportunity, apologies [for slavery and segregation]. Those would be the ones that I think ought to be put forward, but others would come forward, too." 

 

Yes, I bet they would...

***

 

Korea -- The strategic problem ever since the 1950s has been that Seoul is within artillery distance of North Korea, giving the bad guys a conventional weapons means of replicating the effect of a nuclear bomb by lobbing a megaton of high explosives into South Korea's metropolis. I suppose the only way to eliminate this artillery threat is by pre-emptive attack with many small tactical nukes, but the South Koreans have never been crazy about this idea, just as the citizens of Washington D.C. would not be enthusiastic about nuking Baltimore, no matter how threatening. What's becoming different is that North Korea will soon be able to export nukes to others whose enemies are less conveniently situated.

 

One longshot possibility that is worth mentioning: offer the North Korean dictator a buyout. The rest of the world buys a tropical paradise island for him and his top 5,000 henchmen, and gives them enough gold for them to live the decadent life.

***

 

An important column in the NYT by Amy Chua reflecting on the larger lessons of Venezuela's struggle between the brown-skinned left-wing Hugo Chavez and the white business leaders:

 

Venezuela's problems are part of a much larger global phenomenon — pervasive outside the West yet almost never acknowledged — of market-dominant minorities: ethnic minorities who, for widely varying reasons, tend under market conditions to dominate economically the indigenous majorities around them. (Chinese in Indonesia, whites in Zimbabwe and Indians in Kenya are other examples.)Market-dominant minorities are the Achilles' heel of free-market democracy. In countries with a market-dominant minority, markets and democracy favor not just different people, or different classes, but different ethnic groups. Markets — even if marginally lifting all boats — concentrate wealth in the hands of the market-dominant minority, while democracy increases the political power of the impoverished majority. Under such circumstances, the pursuit of free-market democracy often becomes an engine of ethnic nationalism, pitting a frustrated indigenous majority, easily aroused by demagogic politicians, against a resented, wealthy ethnic minority.

 

America's great advantage has been that it has a market dominant majority, who can afford  to provide racial preferences and the like for minorities to buy social peace. But why do we want a mass immigration system that imports Latin America's undominant majority and thus, eventually, its social problems?

***

 

Peggy Noonan says, "I have a theory that liberals and leftists prefer their leaders complicated, and conservatives prefer their leaders uncomplicated." Hmmhhm ... You mean like Edmund Burke, the most prophetic art critic of the 18th century, the forerunner of Romanticism, possibly bisexual, who went more than a little nuts under the strain of opposing the French Revolution? Or Alexander Hamilton? Or Benjamin Disraeli, a man who climbed to the command of the Tory Party by the unbelievably brave tactic of flaunting his Jewishness? Or Teddy Roosevelt? Or Winston Churchill? Or Dwight Eisenhower, whom Richard Nixon called the most devious man he ever knew, who pretended to a kindly old duffer to hide his complex manipulations of foreign policy? Or Nixon? Do you think Margaret Thatcher is not complicated? Do you think even Dubya is uncomplicated? He's an alcoholic who gets through one day at a time without falling off the wagon by avoiding as much stress as possible -- as Will Ferrell on SNL put it, "I'm here for you 7/24 -- that's 24 hours per week, 7 months of the year." So far, it has kept him sober, but at the cost of him not knowing what's going on a lot of the time.

 

On another note, I've got to say that Dubya is the best advertisement I've seen for the Harvard Business School. For a man of his skills to be an adequate President reflects brightly on the management techniques he learned there. 

***

 

Mark Steyn has a hilarious column on all the Clash-loving conservatives who came out of the closet with the death of Joe Strummer. In response to my request below, I've gotten some excellent insights from you all on this topic, many of which are painfully accurate diagnoses of why I loved The Clash so much when I was young.

***

 

One thing that became clear over Christmas with the death of Joe Strummer is just how much male intellectuals of a certain age, no matter what their politics, loved The Clash. (They were my favorite band ever.) Combined with the fulsome obituaries for Joey Ramone last year in the WSJ and so forth, it's clear that a huge fraction of no longer young male writers, including rightwingers, were big punk rock fans. So, what is it about punk rock as music that appealed to writers? Most writers will tell you it's the lyrics, but they are writers so what do you expect? Further, how much did the lyrics of the major punk bands actually have in common? My question is: why did this particular style, and not progressive rock, or heavy metal, or disco, or whatever else it competed with so entrance future verbalists?

***

 

Dream weekend in Southern California -- With temperatures up around 80 degrees, I rode my shiny new Christmas present mountain bike in the Hollywood Hills on Friday; then on Saturday we drove up to 7,000 feet in the San Gabriels and went sledding in the snow; then on Sunday we went to Will Rogers State Beach.

***

 

The WSJ editorial page's free website, which is gung ho for us to conquer Iraq, prints an article that has to leave you wondering exactly what we are letting ourselves in for over there. The author, somebody named Melik Kaylan, is really sore that the Iraqi Kurds are maneuvering to deprive the Iraqi Turkomans of their just desserts in post-Saddam Iraq. "The Turkomans might be driven to take up arms to protect their rights once the enforced Saddam umbrella disappears," he warns darkly. "The internal strife could draw in the Turkish military. The last time the Turks waited for international intervention to protect their cousins--the Bosnians--what they witnessed instead was unrelieved slaughter. ... But the West, thus far, does not seem to have even heard of the Turkomans." Indeed. I had managed to go through my entire life without ever hearing of the Iraqi Turkomans, but I suspect I'll be hearing more than I care to about them in the future as America takes on the job of being responsible for all the furious tribes of Iraq.

 

One Iraqi minority that I have heard of is the Lucifer-worshipping Yezidis. I'm sure we'll all get to know them and their troubles quite well in the years to come.

***

 

More Lott Fallout: Watch out for what you forwarded back in 1999. Here's a WaPo story "White House Silent on Racial Controversy" about a Bush ally who wants to become head of the California GOP party. He's in trouble because four years ago he forwarded, as part of a regular series of thought provoking articles, one entitled ""What If The South Had Won the Civil War?"

 

Interesting question: My reading of The Gettysburg Address is that Lincoln feared that Southern secession would lead to further regional break-ups within the North, which would then make the weakened pieces of America attractive prey to the Great Powers of Europe. Russia and Britain would contend for the West Coast; France's puppet ruler of Mexico, Maximillian, would try to take back the Southwest; and so forth. Instead, the Union won a great victory, so Russia sold Alaska to us and Napoleon III pulled the plug on poor Maximillian. And Britain began moving toward a "special relationship" with us. 

***

 

Winning ugly: Aided by countless turnovers and a dubious call on 4th down in the first overtime, Ohio St. beats Miami 31-24 in double overtime to win the national championship -- College football is always criticized for not having a playoff like basketball to determine the "best team." I don't think too many football fans would dispute that USC is the best team in the country right now (although Georgia fans would want to put in their claim). Still, Ohio St. went 14-0 while the Trojans lost twice early in the season. Granted, USC lost narrowly to excellent teams on the road. but they lost to Washington St. because they have a poor kicking game, and they lost to Kansas St. mostly because a freshman receiver named Mike Williams dropped five or six passes. It was a valuable learning experience for Williams, who is now on his way to greatness, but that's the price a team must pay for giving an 18 year old prodigy the playing time he needs to reach his potential.

 

Still, why is it automatically assumed that basketball's single elimination tourney determines the best team of the year? What we see is a lot of mediocre teams getting hot and having weak teams upset the tougher team in their brackets so they can waltz to the championship. Many years, all the NCAA tournament proves is that, according to the laws of mathematics, one out of 64 teams has to win.

 

So, congratulations to Ohio St. for a well-deserved national championship.

***

 

Sen. John Edwards announces his candidacy for President -- Anybody doing opposition research on Edwards should get a video of his appearance on the "Charley Rose Show" on the night of 9/11/2001. I've never seen a top professional politician make himself look more inane and lightweight.

***

 

Welcome, first time visitors to iSteve.com arriving from John Derbyshire's Diary on NRO. My iSteve.com site is organized in three sections. This right hand column is my blog, the left hand column lists in reverse chronological order my articles, including some classics from the 1990s. The links at the top of the screen help you find my articles arranged by major topics. If you are interested in my views on race, the best place to start is my essay It's All Relative: Putting Race in Its Proper Perspective -- Steve.

***

 

Film: Best of 2002 by Steve Sailer

Overall, 2002 was a better year for movies than the notoriously weak 2001, when many films were rushed to completion to avoid anticipated strikes by writers and actors. What was best about movies in 2002?

 

Film of the Week: 'Confessions of a Dangerous Mind' by Steve Sailer

It's remarkably hard to make a good movie. As evidence, consider that Charlie Kaufman, author and main character of the delightful "Adaptation," is today's hottest screenwriter -- yet, two out of his three films this year misfired.

 

Video of the Week: 'Barbershop' by Steve Sailer

The ensemble comedy "Barbershop" was one of the most likable movies of 2002, a sort of black "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." Jesse Jackson's denunciation of "Barbershop" for political incorrectness helped it earn a heartwarming $75 million, despite a budget of only $12 million.

 

Video of the Week: Vin Diesel in 'XXX' by Steve Sailer

"XXX" is a trashy but entertaining-enough cross between a James Bond movie and one of those '80s action films where muscle-bound, thick-tongued heroes grunt out witty one-liners while shooting giant guns. It made $141 million last summer, and is out Tuesday on DVD ($27.96 list price) and video (rental only).

***

 

The NYT reports:

 

"In 2003, Britain plans to undertake the world's most ambitious study of the origins of disease. Looking forward to the day when people will know their genetic makeups and request a precise picture of their risks of developing various diseases, the study organizers plan to assemble a database of medical information about 500,000 Britons, including their DNA. The goal, over the next 10 to 20 years, is to sort out the way that genes and the environment combine to cause common diseases."

 

This is very interesting, although it's not clear why the Brits should rush into a large scale project before the already-in-progress Iceland Decode Genetics project proves whether this is a good concept. The basic problem with all of these studies is that the correlations between most diseases and genes are going to be much lower than between capabilities (IQ, beauty, athleticism, endurance, etc.) and genes. Your genes don't exist to make you sick, but to provide you with abilities to make your genes survive and propagate. Natural selection works fairly rapidly to eliminate purely hereditary diseases that don't provide some benefit in return. If the researchers don't try to figure out what benefits the disease-correlated genes provide, their solutions are likely to cause some nasty side effects.

***

 

Greg Cochran thinks cloning will make hereditary monarchy feasible again by eliminating the regression toward the mean that plagues all dynasties founded by an outstanding man. I'm dubious, but I suspect somebody is going to try. 

***

 

The demand for cloning: When I was a kid, whenever my blue parakeet Tweeter would keel over or fly out the window, I would rush to the pet shop and buy another visually indistinguishable blue parakeet and name it Tweeter. Over a 14 year stretch, I owned (in succession), Tweeters I, II, III, IV, and V. Granted, I was a particularly sentimental and conservative child, but if I wanted to come as close as was then possible to cloning a Tweeter N+1 each time Tweeter N died, then surely there's going to be some serious demands for cloned children from bereaved parents. I don't think cloning your dead kid is a good idea (especially since it doesn't work well at present), but we've got to realize that a lot of grieving people are going to pay a lot of money to have it done no matter what we think. 

 

Similarly, a lot of dying people would like their genes to have a second shot at life. I know a young man dying of a hereditary disease, who'd love to have himself cloned if they could replace the killer gene.

 

We will be living in interesting times.

***

 

John O'Sullivan has the most insightful comment upon the whole Lott imbroglio:

 

"Those who celebrated his resignation with triumphalist glee, both Democrat pols and conservative journalists, merely reveal that they have no idea how the American South was peacefully transformed from Jim Crow to an integrated non-racist society over the last 30 years."

 

Read the rest here.

***

 

Somehow I was oblivious to the journalism of the gifted  J.P. Zmirak until recently. Here's his article explaining in detail what I've vaguely alluded to in my reviews of the great Lord of the Rings movies: How Tolkien's books are a depiction of the battle for the soul of the Northern European culture between Christianized England and repaganized Nazi Germany.

***

 

Randall G. "ParaPundit" Parker -- offers 42 highly specific predictions for 2003. A brave man.

***

 

Film of the Week: Kidman in 'The Hours' by Steve Sailer

Opening on Friday in Los Angeles and New York, and nationwide on Jan. 17, "The Hours" -- starring Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, and Meryl Streep -- is a peculiarly annoying film.

***

 

Joe Strummer: The passion and the pose by Steve Sailer

Joe Strummer, the lead singer and chief lyricist for The Clash, who died Sunday at age 50 in his rural home in the West of England, was a man of passion, paradoxes and poses. From 1977 to 1982, Strummer and Clash lead guitarist Mick Jones wrote enough great songs to ultimately rank below only Lennon-McCartney and Jagger-Richard in the pantheon of British rock songwriting duos.

***

 

The NY Times displays "The Palette of Mankind:" a chart that shows how 52 different racial groups from around the world divide up into roughly five continental-scale racial groups. NYT reporter Nicholas Wade, continuing his assault on the "Race Does Not Exist" conventional wisdom, writes:

 

"Humankind falls into five continental groups — broadly equivalent to the common conception of races — when a computer is asked to sort DNA data from people from around the world into clusters. The major groups are African (orange), Europeans and Middle Easterners (blue), East Asians (pink), Melanesians (green) and American Indians (purple). Genomes of people from Central Asia, such as the Hazara of Afghanistan and the Uygurs of western China, are a blend of European and East Asian, as might be expected for people living at a historical crossroads. Some Middle Easterners, like the Bedouin and the Mozabites of Algeria, carry an admixture of African genes.

 

"The chart, generated by Dr. Marcus Feldman of Stanford and colleagues and published in the current Science, was made by sampling the DNA of 1,056 people from 52 of the many populations around the world. Each person’s genome was sampled at 377 sites where the DNA breaks into a stutter of repeated short sequences. These repeats, though apparently without function, are useful in tracking human variation, and are also the elements used in DNA forensic tests of identity."

 

A few points: 

 

There's nothing set in stone about five continental scale races: you can split or lump to your heart's content. Further, lots of populations are hybrids of continental scale races, like the typical Puerto Rican. Some locations consist of clinal zones between major groups, such as along the Nile. Other regions are mosaics of highly different people who don't interbreed much, such as South Asia.

 

You may find my "7 Dumb Ideas about Race" a handy guide to avoiding pitfalls in thinking about the topic.

 

If laid out on a map, this would look very much like the world racial map on the cover of Cavalli-Sforza's 1994 "History and Geography of Human Genes," which was created not from DNA analysis but from DNA markers such as blood types. Further, it would look much like what Carleton Coon came up with in 1965, working primarily from bones and surface features. I suspect Charles Darwin could have drawn you a similar map in 1870.

***

 

Great Moments in Feminism -- "Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski Friday appointed his daughter to replace him in the U.S. Senate, saying he wanted the person who succeeded him to share his beliefs in the future of the state." One of those beliefs presumably being that in the future, Alaska will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Murkowski Dynasty, Inc. One of the dirty little secrets of feminism is how much the advancement of women has been the result of patriarchs pushing their daughters ahead. The decline in the number of sons the average father has meant that men turned increasingly toward their daughters to fulfill their dynastic hopes.

 

This reminds me of a conversation I had in 1994 when I was talking to a black lawyer about affirmative action. He replied, "Hey, sure I benefit from it, but so do the white women I'm competing against and most of them are the daughters of big shot lawyers or executives. My granddad picked cotton on a plantation, but this one woman I'm up against who gets extra credit for being female, well, her granddad owned a plantation." 

***

 

This just in from the NY Times:

Gene Study Identifies 5 Main Human Populations

By NICHOLAS WADE

Scientists studying the DNA of 52 human groups from around the world have concluded that people belong to five principal groups corresponding to the major geographical regions of the world: Africa, Europe, Asia, Melanesia and the Americas.

 

The study, based on scans of the whole human genome, is the most thorough to look for patterns corresponding to major geographical regions. These regions broadly correspond with popular notions of race, the researchers said in interviews. …

 

The issue of race and ethnicity has forced itself to biomedical researchers' attention because human populations have different patterns of disease, and advances in decoding DNA have made it possible to try and correlate disease with genetics.

 

The study, published today in Science, finds that "self-reported population ancestry likely provides a suitable proxy for genetic ancestry." In other words, someone saying he is of European ancestry will have genetic similarities to other Europeans. Using self-reported ancestry "is less expensive and less intrusive" said Dr. Marcus Feldman of Stanford University, the senior author of the study. Rather than analyzing a person's DNA, a doctor could simply ask his race or continent of origin and gain useful information about their genetic make-up.

 

Dr. Feldman said the finding essentially confirmed the popular conception of race.

***

 

The year-end double issue of The American Conservative includes my article "The Cousin Marriage Conundrum: The ancient Iraqi custom will foil nation-building." It probably won't be online, so you'll need to buy it. (What a bizarre concept -- paying for journalism! Who ever heard of such a thing?) The cover story "America the Abstraction" by J.P. Zmirak is outstanding.

***

 

The remarkably talented Jack Strocchi is getting a blog. Details to come.

***

 

It might be useful to newcomers to explain my basic political point of view: I am a citizenist and a realist. "Citizenist" is not a word you hear often, which is not surprising because few pundits seem to think like this. My starting point analyzing policies is: "What is in the best interests overall of the current citizens of the United States?" In contrast, so many others think in terms of: "What is in the best interest of my: identity group / race / ethnicity / religion / bank account / class / ideology / clique / gender / sexual orientation / party / and/or personal feelings of moral superiority?" 

 

As a realist, my other basic prejudice is that in the long run the best interests of American citizens are served by telling the truth rather than by indulging in lies, ignorance, or wishful thinking. And, if not, the truth is a lot more fun!

 

***

 

 

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