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June 2003

 

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I'm going to write an article on Hispanics and evangelical Protestantism. It's widely argued that Hispanics will climb the ladder economically by becoming Fundamentalists, but I'm trying to figure out why that would be. I went to a Bible service at a megachurch to research this, but didn't get much out of it, other than the feeling "Thank God I'm a Catholic." Catholicism seems so much culturally richer, with statues and paintings and rituals and sermons that aren't just (like this one) about not letting yourself get seduced into becoming a Mormon. So, how does Protestantism make you rich?

***

 

Colby Cosh tries to quash suggestions that he be played in the movie version of his life by either Jack Black or Philip Seymour Hoffman. Personally, my choice for the star of "The Steve Sailer Story" has always been Judge Reinhold (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Beverly Hills Cop, Ruthless People, The Santa Clause). We're both tall, wholesome, and goofy, Jimmy Stewart without the greatness.

***

 

New VDARE.com column at left.

***

 

Four years ago I wrote an article about why religion and Darwinism need not be mortal enemies. Believers are only shooting themselves in the foot by propounding easily disproven fundamentalist notions like the Grand Canyon was carved in 40 days by Noah's Flood less than 6000 years ago. I was rather proud of my line: "Science works best with theories that are falsifiable, religion with beliefs that aren't."

 

Randall G. Parker has now pointed out that St. Augustine beat me to my idea by 1600 years, when he wrote: " ...be on guard against giving interpretations of Scripture that are far fetched or opposed to science, and so exposing the Word of God to the ridicule of unbelievers." The neoconservative journals like Commentary and the Weekly Standard that crusade against Darwin should try to remember that.

***

 

Film review: Mexican satire "Herod's Law"

By Steve Sailer 

LOS ANGELES, June 26 (UPI) -- The ferocious political satire "Herod's Law" swept the Mexican Oscars in 2000, but it's only now debuting in the United States. It was the first Mexican movie ever to attack by name the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), whose seven decades of parasitic power ended with the subsequent election of Vincente Fox. 

 

The PRI was too canny to allow the Mexican equivalents of Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov to emerge. Instead of banishing artists and intellectuals to martyrdom in the Gulag, it simply bought them, bribing potential critics on the left with lucrative government jobs, including ambassadorships. The once-lively Mexican film industry, having been nationalized in the late 1950s, has only recently begun to revive from its PRI-imposed stagnation.

***

 

The U.S. finally decides to pay 400,000 unemployed Iraqi soldiers -- Good move, but then we blow it by deciding to pay it out as welfare, not as wages for public service work like hauling trash and dredging irrigation canals. Look, in Europe we've seen what a stupid idea it is to pay able-bodied Arab men welfare -- it just encourages them to sit around and plot terrorism all day. Put 'em to work rebuilding their country. It might induce a little patriotism in them, and it will at least tire them out enough to keep some of them out of mischief.

 

Why does it always seem like the American leadership consists of people who just don't know what they are doing over there?

 

This ignorance seems like a general problem that will bedevil America's nation-building ambitions. Our nation is so thoroughly built already that few Americans anymore know how to build workable social structures from scratch. We used to watch movies about cowboy and pioneers and British imperialists that sometimes touched on the basics of organizing polities from the ground up, but those went out of fashion 35 years ago. 

***

 

Now that the awfulness of Sandra Day O'Connor's pro-racial preferences decision has sunk in, what do we do next? Suggestions, please.

***

 

Now out-of-work Colby Cosh is running a fundraising drive through a Pay Pal link on his site to keep himself living indoors.

 

"As a service to general economic knowledge about weblogs, and in order that potential donors can make an informed decision, I am obliged to mention that my "pledge drive" has raised about a thousand U.S. dollars so far, which is amazing and humbling. I'd venture to say, though perhaps unfairly, that the $1,000 means more to me, both as a collective gesture and in quality-of-life terms, than eighty grand does to Andrew Sullivan. I think I'm solvent through August (though certain utility companies may be well pissed at me by then), and by Labour Day I expect I'll be doing something to pay the bills, even if it's only driving a packer for Syncrude. Thanks to all."

 

In other words, you have an opportunity to be a patron of the arts and letters, keeping a huge nation's most talented young non-fiction writer working at his craft for about $16 dollars per day.

***

Here's an article in the gay-dominated Sunday Styles section of the NYT about "metrosexuals" that seems to validate Razib's theory that the reason why so many single guys dress like slobs when out chasing women nowadays is because they don't want to be mistaken for gay. A "metrosexual," according to the NYT Mag, is a heterosexual man who cares about his appearance and is therefore widely assumed to be gay. In the past, a man who dressed neatly and stylishly (e.g., P.G. Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster) might be assumed to be merely a dandy, but the average person's gaydar has gotten so sensitive that a long list of traits associated with civilized living are now assumed to be prima facie evidence of homosexuality. (Because he enjoys Broadway musicals, Mark Steyn, for example, has to go around strenuously denying he's gay).

 

According to the article, "metrosexuals" like being mistaken for gay. I suspect, however, that not very many straight men at all like it when other people assume that they enjoy being sodomized, and that this natural distaste for being thought gay helps explain the general trend toward slobbism among American straight men. It may also have something to do with the popularity of those new brutalitarian SUV designs -- e.g., the Hummer and those ugly, squared off jobs that look like Brinks Trucks crossed with a rhinoceros: "Nobody's gonna think I'm gay when I'm driving one of these monstrosities!."

***

 

In the wake of the Supreme Court's diversity decision disaster, John Zmirak is making a practical suggestion for who should be the next Bush nominee to the Court: his Solicitor General, Ted Olson. Very solid, plus the Democrats will have a hard time sharpening their knives to go after a widower who lost his wife on 9-11.

***

 

The Report, Canada's only on-paper conservative magazine, has gone out of business. Editors of the World: A lot of journalistic talent is now on the market, including the splendid Colby Cosh.

***

 

Hispanic Pop Culture Boom Yet to Arrive

By Steve Sailer

LOS ANGELES, June 23 (UPI) -- The Census Bureau announced that the Hispanic ethnic group had definitively passed African-Americans to become America's most numerous minority group. Yet, in American popular culture, this often-predicted Latino earthquake hasn't yet quite gone through the formality of taking place.

***

Supreme Court Upholds Racial Preferences -- The Supreme Court notoriously follows the election returns, and after the Republican triumphs in November, it looked like the U. of Michigan's racial privilege schemes were on the ropes. But along came the ridiculous brouhaha over Trent Lott's insincere effusions at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party. In my 12/22/02 VDARE.com article, I wrote:

 

Just two weeks ago, on VDARE.COM, I was complacently discussing the likelihood that the Supreme Court would soon outlaw racial preferences in college admissions.

 

Well that was a long time ago.

 

After the Bush Administration filed its duplicitous "friend of the court" briefs in the U. of Michigan case, the fix was in. On 1/16/03, I wrote:

 

The Bush brief is a catastrophe for the cause of equal treatment under the law. Bush-Rove have almost completely caved in to Diversitycrats.

 

The President of the United States strongly endorsed the goals of the racial spoils industry. And he instructed it on more devious means to impose racial quotas.

 

Bush's speech was a nudge-nudge-wink-wink to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor to play Lewis Powell's role in Bakke: craft a seeming compromise that will throw a rhetorical bone to anti-quota voters, but deliver red meat to the racial preference industry. The Divesitycrats will be allowed to carry on - just in a more surreptitious manner that won't be as obvious to their victims.

 

"This is exactly what happened in 1978. Allan Bakke won! Quotas were outlawed! And nothing changed.

 

"Here's what Karl Rove is trying to do:

 

1. "Get the headlines: "Bush Attacks Quotas." Racial preferences are unpopular with voters overall, especially with the 81% who are unprotected whites (of which Bush won a measly 54% in 2000, compared to the 59% his dad won in 1988). The liberals will predictably howl, boosting Bush's popularity among the vast majority of voters who follow the news only casually.

 

2. "Appease the powerful Diversity Industry on the substance. The Bush-Rove Plan will entrench the industry and make it a more amorphous target ("Quotas? We don't need no steeenking quotas!"). As with Bakke, Bush's base (which is about 92% whites voters) will take a long time to figure how they wound up with the fuzzy end of the lollipop after all the President's brave words."

 

Every bit of that prediction appears to have come true.

***

 

With gay marriage in the news, here's the conclusion of my 2000 NRO article:

 

"Legalizing single-sex marriage isn't likely to prevent the next gay venereal epidemic. Yet, will gay weddings destroy society? Overall, I'm not terribly worried. Still, the fervor with which some gay grooms will pursue the perfect wedding will make straight men even less enthusiastic about enduring their own weddings. The opportunities for gays to turn weddings into high-camp farces are endless. For example, if two drag queens get married, who gets to wear white? And anything that discourages straight men from marrying would be widely harmful. While most straight guys eventually decide that being married is fine, the vast majority find getting married a baffling and punitive process. (You may have noticed that while Modern Bride magazine is now over 1,000 pages long, there is no Eager Groom magazine.) About the only comment a straight man can make in favor of his role is that at least it's a guy thing not a gay thing. But for how much longer?"

***

 

Travel advice -- Out here in LA, we get more out-of-town visitors in June than any other month, except maybe December. The only problem is that June is the worst month to visit LA, at least relative to the rest of the country. In 75% of America, June is great: sunny but not too hot. Here in SoCal, though, we have the annual June Gloom that typically keeps damp clouds overhead until the late afternoon. Even the rare sunny day is hazy and unattractive. See, the hot sun in the desert to the east is causing air to rise, which sucks cool, moist air in off the ocean. So, for example, when Razib of GNXP.com came through for lunch a couple of weeks ago, it was 65 and dismal all day.

 

The single prettiest month in SoCal is April -- the rains are mostly through, so you have lots of 75 degree sunny days, but the hills are still green.

***

 

My Border Series is complete. Unfortunately, these links are erratic, except for the "Naco-style" article, which seems reliable.

 

Feature: Christian or American in Arizona?

By Steve Sailer

UPI National Correspondent

TUCSON, Ariz., June 20 (UPI) -- "I'm a Christian by choice, an American by accident of birth," the Rev. Robin Hoover declared while he lunched on a big box of Cheese Nips in his Tucson office where he runs Humane Borders, a charity that maintains 38 water tanks in the southern Arizona desert to prevent illegal border-crossers from dying of thirst.

***

 

Feature: Border Hawk drone flies

By Steve Sailer, UPI National Correspondent

PALOMINAS, AZ, June 16 (UPI) -- There's something about the idea of pilotless drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, that makes them seem both ominous and cool.

 

So, I was intrigued to hear from Glenn Spencer, head of a group of activists opposed to illegal immigration, that he was testing surveillance drones over the Arizona-Mexico frontier. He said his private volunteer organization American Border Patrol is developing a UAV they call the Border Hawk. Their plan is to deliver live over the Internet aerial coverage of illegal aliens slipping into the United States, and their purpose is to both assist and prod the federal U.S. Border Patrol in sealing the southern border against illegal aliens.

***

 

Film review: Rob Reiner's 'Alex & Emma'

By Steve Sailer

LOS ANGELES, June 19 (UPI) -- The romantic comedy "Alex & Emma" pairs Kate Hudson, the daughter of Goldie Hawn and quasi-stepdaughter of Kurt Russell, with Luke Wilson, the brother of comic leading man Owen Wilson. Rob Reiner, the son of venerable funnyman Carl Reiner, directed it. Jeremy Leven's script was revised by Reiner and by Adam and Andrew Scheinman, one of modern Hollywood's innumerable screenwriting brother acts.

 

Notice a pattern?

***

 

Lots of fascinating suggestions from you all about why guys on the prowl for girls these days don't tuck in their shirts:

 

-- To cover up their pot bellies. This is probably especially true for blacks, many of whom have gotten pretty fat in the decade of so since it became uncool among blacks (thank God) to look like some human skeleton on the pipe.

 

-- To not look like some neat freak homosexual

 

-- To look like a bad boy -- "Think of Brad Pitt -- a handsome guy who uglifies himself with greasy, stick-out hair, two-day beard stubble, shirttails out and collar flapping up. This look defuses the deregatory charges of "pretty boy," "Pat Boone," "clean-cut," and promotes a raffish devil-may-care effect."

 

-- Because they're packing concealed weapons. (I don't think this is literally true very often, but certainly the long-term fashion for loose clothes among youths traces back in part to the desire of crack dealers to carry guns without cops noticing. Rappers took this style and diffused it to the suburbs.) Or maybe just a flask for underage drinking

 

The Acutane Guy says: 

 

More formal clothing styles (and approval of signs of trying hard to impress on dates) are part of the old culture's way of encouraging young women to couple with good, stable breadwinners. Our cultural used to approve of men wearing layers of formal clothing to blunt the appeal of the harder-muscled. It's like the now-gone ladies respectability cartel that you described in your blog earlier. 

 

For the single man on a date it is important to give the impression that he didn't try very hard to look good. This is critical to indicate alpha male status. The untucked shirt can help here.  

 

On the other hand, the importance of displaying his physical masculinity goes against the loose, untucked shirt, because it obscures his level of fitness. Most fit guys are squaring this circle (or pear) by going with the slim fitting shirt that hugs the waist-hip area without needing to be tucked in.

 

But there is still the need stronger than ever to indicate an alpha male level of wealth. How do you wear lots of money without covering the body in thick clothing? Easy expensive Italian shoes.

 

Like ladylike respectability for young women, formal clothing for men on the Adonis side of middle age will not be making a comeback, ever.

 

Personally, for the last two decades, I've worn whenever possible a sports jacket. This item of clothing originated hundreds of years ago as military officer's tunic, and it has survived because it was carefully  designed to make officers look like imposing specimens of masculinity (e.g., the padded shoulders, the nipped-in waist, the long length to cover up a big butt). The problem is that everybody understands at some level today that the sports coat helps make pear-shaped guys like me look pretty good. So, it's out of fashion because, by making all men look not bad, it interferes with female selection of the sexiest men. This points out a paradox: the old, more formal America was in many ways more egalitarian than the new casual America. In the old days, every man could look good just by paying for a decently fitted coat or suit, but today you have to actually have the broad shoulders and the muscles. Is that progress?

***

 

Question for you all: My wife and I were out at the movies last night at the expensive Kodak Theatre complex in Hollywood, where they hold the Oscars. We started looking at younger guys on dates (up through age 35, say), and trying to count what proportion had tucked their shirts in. It looked like only about 20% had bothered.

 

Even though it was the usual low 60s evening in LA, nobody wore a sports coat. Putting an unbuttoned long sleeve shirt on over a t-shirt, neither tucked in, seemed to be the standard. So, why do straight guys trying to impress girls these days dress like Jack Klugman playing Oscar Madison?

 

UPDATE: Razib of GNXP.com says that if you tuck your shirt in, people might think you're gay.

***

 

Economist Steven Landsburg writes in Slate on "Why Jews Don't Farm." Landsburg is a brilliant logician, but one with a taste for convoluted reasoning (as an economist, he hasn't fully grasped the essential Darwinian insight that selection explains an awful lot of life around us, so he often misses a lot of simpler explanations than the ones he concocts), and he's not the most reliable source of facts (for example, lots of other groups didn't farm, such as illiterate Gypsies). 

 

Still, he comes up with a fairly reasonable explanation for an interesting and important question that is implicit in his article: Why are Ashkenazi (Central European) Jews so smart (at least in non-visual fields)? He doesn't mention the Darwinian implications, but they are obvious. Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending are finishing up a paper looking at Ashkenazi genetic diseases, such as torsion dystonia. Its sufferers average IQs of 122, but also have a 10% chance of being in a wheelchair at an early age. To Cochran, this suggests that Ashkenazis were under extreme selection pressure, that higher IQ paid off so much among Ashkenazis in reproductive fitness that even a terrible disease like that would not go extinct due to the Darwinian benefits it provides the other 90% of its victims. That Ashkenazis focused on careers (such as merchant) where cleverness was most rewarded with the money to pay for more well-fed, healthy children makes sense. Still, there are lots of chicken and egg questions about what came first.

***

 

"Please Don't Eat the Pygmies" -- The War Nerd is back with more offensive hilarity, this time a quick tour of developments in African wars, including the career of the real-life Liberian commander General Butt Naked.

***

 

New VDARE.com column up at left.

***

 

'Hollywood Homicide' relatively refreshing

United Press International - 

By Steve Sailer. LOS ANGELES, June 12 (UPI) -- I'm a huge fan of the cynical but cheerful writer-director Ron Shelton. With "Bull Durham" ...

***

 

Down the Memory Hole -- A reader notes:

 

"One think about the neocons: you have to admire how they've somehow, in their own heads anyhow, made the entire issue of nationalism and anti-colonialism just go away. It never happened: it may be half of the history of the 19th and 20th centuries, but it never even happened

 

"'We have always been at war with Eurasia!'

 

"So, nationalist resistance in Iraq, of any kind, is anomalous. It can't really be happening. After all, we're the good guys - they couldn't want to resist us ! So even if it looks as if it's happening, it can't be fueled by traditional ingredients like patriotism and xenophobia and ideology, since they don't really exist. The Wall Street Journal says so.

 

"The Soviets talked the same way about the Hungarian revolution: it was all Facist remnants, CIA intriguers etc. . Hell, they probably called them 'outside agitators'. 

 

"The Philippine insurrection, Sandino in Nicaragua, the Riff war, the Mad Mullah, the Mahdi, the Great Mutiny, the Amritsar Massacre, the Algerian War, the resistance to the Soviets in Afghanistan, the Basmachi resistance in Soviet Central Asia, the Vietnam war ( part I and part II), Sukarno kicking out the Dutch, the Mau-Mau in Kenya, the Boer War, the Senussi revolt in Libya, the overthrow of Farouk in Egypt and Feisal in Iraq - none of it ever happened."

***

 

The problem with Bush is character, not IQ -- You often hear the argument that while Bush may have a low IQ, it's made up for by his having such a strong character. But I think that's largely backward. Charles Murray and I estimated in 1999 that his IQ was at least 125, or the 95th percentile, which historian Jim Chapin, no Bush fan, said would put him in the second quartile of all Presidents.

 

Instead, Bush suffers a severe character flaw: he's mentally lazy. He doesn't know three quarters of the the facts that a man of his intelligence who wants to be President of the United States ought to know. He appears to have been completely ignorant of the obvious difficulties of running Iraq after we conquered it. Harry Truman was no genius but he read a lot of history books. Ronald Reagan read a huge number of magazine articles. Bush doesn't often search out knowledge outside of the official channels, thus placing himself at the intellectual mercy of his advisors. Thus, when his underlings failed to come up with a reasonable plan for how to rule Iraq post-conquest, he never noticed.

 

The really odd thing about George W. Bush is that he'd be much better prepared to conduct America's foreign affairs if he'd paid a modicum of attention to his own father's well-publicized life. If he'd just read 1% of the articles that had mentioned his father's name and "foreign affairs," he'd know twice what he does. But he wasn't a loyal enough son to take an active interest in his own father's career. There's something weird in the relationship between 41 and 43 that we don't understand yet.

***

 

Feature: Mexican border, Naco-style
Washington Times, DC -
By Steve Sailer. NACO, Ariz., June 11 (UPI) -- I'm driving slowly down a deserted dirt road 100 miles southeast of Tucson, Ariz., near the binational hamlet of Naco.

***

 

And, oh, yeah, that stuff about Saddam being a threat to invade Kuwait again? The normally sensible Stanley Kurtz imprudently rehashes his prewar scaremongering about how Saddam couldn't be deterred the moment -- Any Day Now -- when he got a nuclear bomb, or maybe a dirty bomb (which ain't exactly the same thing). Deterrence might have worked on Joe Stalin, but Saddam was just utterly crazed, etc etc.

 

Obviously, Saddam hasn't had any sort of nuclear bomb program to speak of since 1995, or some Iraqi would have told us about it by now. What, you think Iraqis have some kind of Sicilian code of omerta and every single one of the hundreds or thousands of workers is steadfastly refusing to tell the conquerors exactly what they want to hear? Yeah, that's exactly how Arabs behave...

 

But even if Saddam had a nuclear bomb, the evident weakness in Kurtz's case that Saddam was going to invade Kuwait again was overwhelmingly confirmed by the fighting south of Baghdad. In short, nuclear weapons, even if they existed, were irrelevant because his tanks would never have gotten to Kuwait. America's absolute air superiority meant they would never have made it through the No-Fly zone before being turned to scrap. Without air superiority, tanks are worthless in open country (not that Saddam's rust bucket tanks were worth much under any conditions). And the Iraqi regime didn't even send up one airplane to defend itself. Nobody, rational or irrational, smart or stupid, can conquer Kuwait if they can't physically get to Kuwait. And Saddam's tanks couldn't get there without first being turned into hamburger helper by our Warthogs.

 

Tell me, did you see anything during the three weeks war that indicated that Saddam could mount a credible invasion of anybody?

 

Now, you might argue that Saddam could have sat in Baghdad and threatened nuclear terrorism against NYC if we didn't let his boys drive to Kuwait, but nuclear terrorism is a really, really stupid idea if you have a return address (e.g., Downtown Baghdad).

 

Of course, even in extremis, he didn't do anything remotely like that, as the whole world has seen.

 

Basically, Stanley's not describing the historical Saddam, may he be burning in hell, but Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies: "I will blow up the world unless you pay me ... ONE MILLION DOLLARS!" This threat is perhaps practicable if your secret lair is a laboratory hidden in a hollowed-out volcano, but not if you own 47 palaces.

 

Clearly, we do need to do some game theorizing about what to do with Dr. Evil-type figures -- in fact, Osama bin Laden (remember him?) is as close to a Goldfinger-type bad guy as I ever want to see -- but it doesn't do American credibility any good to say easily falsifiable things like Saddam was a major danger to invade Kuwait despite absolute air inferiority. And American credibility is a dangerous thing to waste.

 

Nuclear weapons are extremely useful deterrents against invasion, as we showed in the Fulda Gap for 40 years. As offensive weapons ... Let's just say that any 3rd World regime's strategy for conquest that relies upon initiating a nuclear exchange with the Strategic Air Command is a non-starter.

 

It's all very well to plan for crazed leaders acting in random fashions, but the vast proportion of bad things that have happened down through history have happened for superficially plausible reasons. So, our first priority must be to make sure we are providing the correct incentive structures for non-random actors. The problem is that we've just once again upped the need for regimes to acquire nuclear deterrrents to prevent American attack (as did our aggression in Yugoslavia in 1999). Our destroying the utility of weapons inspections as a viable instrument -- in their very moment of triumph -- is likely to encourage proliferation of nuclear or infectious biological weapons. Since not having weapons of mass destruction is no defense against the whim of the President of the United States, you'd better have them. In turn, that increases the chances of crazed leaders or Dr. Evil-types getting them.

***

 

Another reason to be proud of our military - Remember the Saddam--al-Quaeda connection? It was always BS, but the Administration relied upon implying it to build war fever. You'd expect the U.S. government to bribe some Iraqis to testify about how they saw Osama swimming in Saddam's lap tool. But, that hasn't happened. I must repeat how proud I am to have a military that wouldn't be party to this kind of chicanery. Of course, the moral standards and intellectual rigor of our highest officials are another question altogether, but at least our officers and enlisted personnel have been above reproach in this regard.

***

 

Weapons of Mass Destruction -- This may sound odd, but this whole embarrassment over Iraq's missing WMD makes me proud to be an American. Honestly. Why? Because the simple solution would have been just to plant some evidence. But nobody in the entire U.S. government has done that, at least not yet. We really should be impressed by the honesty of our soldiers.

***

 

Reader Recommendations for Celebs on the Juice awards. I will issue an apology for passing on some of my reader's suggestions to any of the following celebrities who submit to blood tests at a mutually agreed upon lab.

 

Arnold Schwarzenegger -- He's the Timothy Leary of steroids. Hell, LSD wasn't illegal when Leary started promoting it. Using steroids without a legitimate prescription was when Arnold rode steroids to become the Austrian Oak and then the biggest star in Hollywood. That the GOP is lusting to nominate the numero uno role model an illegal drug for governor of California is pretty funny and/or appalling.

 

Edgy sportscaster Jim Rome

 

Joe Piscopo -- I guess he went a little nuts over bodybuilding. Perhaps he had that mental disease that bodybuilders get that's the masculine equivalent of anorexia. Steroid use is relatively heavy among Mid-Atlantic Guidos like Joe and Sly Stallone.

 

Charlie Sheen -- I haven't thought enough about Mr. Sheen to have an opinion myself.

 

Sammy Sosa -- Chicago Sun-Times columnist Rick Telander publicly challenged Sammy to take a steroid test last year. In Sammy's semi-defense, he's accomplished an awful lot for somebody who started out really poor even by Dominican standards. He didn't play on a baseball team until he was 14 because he'd previously had to work so his family could eat -- real Dickensian stuff. Consequently, he had terrible fundamentals when he arrived in the big leagues. But over the years he's improved in an area that baseball statistics experts like Bill James normally consider practically inborn and impossible to change in big leaguers -- he's greatly increased the number of walks he takes, making him a much more valuable player.

 

Flo-Jo -- In Florence-Griffith Joyner's defense, she was the best clean 200m woman of 1984-1987, but finished 2nd in the LA Olympics to the massive Valerie Brisco-Hooks and to an East German who was later caught doping when the World Championship came around in 1987. So, in 1988 Flo-Jo showed up looking like Wonder Woman, set all sorts of implausible records, then retired when more serious drug tests were instituted the next season.

 

Ray Lewis, Superbowl MVP who had gotten acquitted on a murder rap earlier that year. (Unlike John Rocker, he was never suspended.) Unlike baseball players, NFL players do get steroid tests, so some of them do really desperate things like have somebody else's urine catheterized into their bladders just before the urine test. Ouch. (Aren't you glad I mentioned that?)

 

Mike Tyson 

 

Barry Bonds -- Barry was the greatest player in baseball throughout the 1990s and by the end of the decade was probably already one of the top ten who ever played. I suppose he got tired of lesser talents like McGwire and Sosa getting all the publicity. So, in his later 30s he made himself into a monster and hit 73 home runs, one of the sillier records in sports.

 

Shortstop Nomar Garciaparra has apparently shrunk back down to non-Hulk proportions. Good for him.

 

Karl Malone -- An incredible body, but charges of steroid use seem to have died down because of his wonderful longetivity. Unlike Karl, steroid users tend to have lots of weird injuries. For example, 3rd baseman Dean Palmer's bicep simply snapped once. That's not a normal injury. 

 

Shaq -- I dunno. The really amazing thing about Shaq is not exactly his muscles (which are indeed striking), but the incredibly wide skeleton his muscles hang upon. I ran into Patrick Ewing recently, and to think that Shaq must be a half-foot wider than that magnificent warrior is boggling.

 

Country singer Toby Keith -- I don't know anything about him.

 

Secretariat -- Actually, the Secretariat secret was that he had an enormous heart, twice the size of the average thoroughbred's, and 30% larger than any ever seen before by the veteran thoroughbred's veterinarian who did his autopsy.

***

 

Celebs on the Juice -- To start with somebody whose probably not in an ideal situation to sue me for libel: How about The Juice himself? Ken Kesey remarked that damn near beheading two people with a knife sounded like a combo of cocaine and steroids at work. 

 

And I've never understood how O.J. went from being some nobody as a senior in high school who only got invited to play junior college ball to being the most exciting player in all of football only three years later at USC. There weren't a lot of steroids around in the 1960s, but there were some in San Francisco and LA, where The Juice lived.

 

UPDATE: On second thought, lots of guys improve dramatically before they're 21. It's the guys who get stronger after they hit their natural peak in their mid-20s who are most suspect.

***

 

The Middle East -- I'm long been optimistic about Israel's fate, since with its absolute air superiority, military satellites, and thermonuclear weapons, Israel controls its own destiny. Yes, I know, the Arab armies stand behind the Palestinians ... but they stand hundreds of miles behind the Palestinians. Arabs are worthless at anything martial other than blowing up themselves and some nearby civilians up. Israel is now finally doing unilaterally what it needs to do to protect its citizens from suicide bombers wandering in from the West Bank: building a big wall. A fence worked to keep Gaza Strip bombers out of Israel, and it will work here. Diplomacy is nice, and might even formalize the current movement toward rationality on both sides, but The Wall is the engine of peace.

***

 

A Solution for African poverty -- An op-ed in the WaPo about African politics mentions in passing a statistic about Africa that I knew was roughly true but I'd never seen in the press before:

 

"[W]omen perform 80 percent of daily work, according to studies by African gender groups ..."

 

The article is all about how women should become Presidents of African republics. I've got no problem with that -- Big Women would have a hard time doing worse jobs than the Big Men running the place now. Still, the essay is a good example of how Westerners are so bad at seeing what the real problems of Africa are. They see Africa through the lenses of Western issues. For example, here feminists complain that men lock women out of the world of work. But in Africa, men have always ceded most of the world of work to women, as the end of the article hints:

 

"For a woman like Adhimabo from the slums of Nairobi, the dream of bring president pales before the reality of hauling water. Adhimabo said she would love to run for local office. But like many of Africa's working mothers, or Kenyan mamas as they are warmly called, she is just too busy for politics. As she and her friends lifted heavy water jugs onto their hunched backs, a group of men leaned against a nearby tree and watched. "We men are supervising," Humphry Luvembe, who is 23 and jobless, said with a laugh. "Women in Africa can do everything. But president -- when would they have the time?"

 

If this 80% number is true, which seems not unreasonable from much else I've heard, the current population of Africa could generate 60% more total output just by getting African men to work as hard as African women.

***

 

Celebrities on the Juice Awards -- Let me start by suggesting how you can tell somebody isn't using steroids. If they aren't lifting weights, they almost certainly aren't using steroids, since you don't get much benefit from steroids without pumping iron. Almost all athletes and male movie stars now lift weights, so that's not a big cut, but it does show some individuals can approach the heights without drugs. For example, Michael Jordan never lifted weights until he was approaching age 30, after already winning several scoring titles and making himself the most celebrated player in the basketball. Ken Griffey Jr. didn't lift weights during his best years when he was averaging 55 homers per season. So, that shows you somebody can accomplish cleanly, assuming you are Michael Jordan or Ken Griffey Jr.

 

Child prodigies made good are also less likely to be on the juice than mediocrities who suddenly became great during their maturity. Wayne Gretzky and Tiger Woods were recognized at very, very young ages as possessing the potential to be the best ever at their sports. Gretzky -- slender, mild-mannered, boyish-looking -- would certainly seem extremely unlikely to have been using steroids during the 1980s.

 

I'll follow-up later with some nominees.

 

Here's another category -- Celebrities who used to be on the juice. For example, around 1983 skinny John Travolta suddenly became massive for "Staying Alive," his failed sequel to "Saturday Night Live." Guess who directed "Staying Alive"? 

 

Sylvester Stallone.

***

 

It's All Relative Dept. -- 

 

"The 'Korea Wave' has been sweeping Asian [popular music] for only the past two years. But there's no secret to why it's been so quick to overtake Asia's traditional content providers, Hong Kong and Japan: Simply, K-pop is hipper than J-pop, cooler than Canto-pop. Reason? Hip hop. ...Brought to [Korea] by Korean-Americans, the hard-core raps and harsh beats have been toned down and adapted by groups like Seo Taiji, The Boys and UpTown. Today, almost all the bands sport at least one Korean-American, usually a rapper, who adds vital street cred." -- Far Eastern Economic Review, 2001

***

 

As a public service, iSteve.com is accepting nominations for the first annual Celebrities-on-the-Juice Awards. Please send in your suggestions for athletes, actors, pundits and so forth who are taking steroids, testosterone, or human growth hormone. I'll then try to figure out my libel exposure were I to post them.

***

 

Question -- I'm reviewing a movie about a Chinese kid who is a violin prodigy, so if you know something about East Asians and why they love European classical music so much (do they?), please let me know.

***

 

Gun safety -- I got lots of replies to my question about how, if I bought a gun for home protection, would I keep my kids from shooting each other or my wife from shooting me when I did something Very Bad. Here's one:

 

Re your call for gun guys to advise you about how to child- and wife-proof your handgun: The only thing I have ever heard of for this purpose that really works is the Magna-Trigger system. The negatives are cost ($300 minimum), plus having to wear a metal ring on your shooting hand, and there is some suggestion on the website that they are reluctant to sell to ordinary civilians as opposed to law enforcement personnel. The thing really does work. My college roommate is a lieutenant on NYPD and he has, or once had, a Smith and Wesson revolver with the system.

***

 

From Peter Wood's new book Diversity: The Invention of a Concept:

 

"Once upon a time, Americans encountered the world's diversity with awe, anger, prejudice, disgust, erotic excitement, pity, delight and curiosity. Then we recast ourselves as champions of tolerant diversity, became fearful of inconvenient facts, and lost interest."

 

To which, John Derbyshire adds in his book review in "The New Criterion:"

 

You notice this loss of interest especially among children. In the Empire Boys' Annuals of my own British childhood, the human world was a diverse place indeed, populated by head-hunters, cannibals, Polynesian bungee-jumpers, ferocious Gurkhas, exquisitely polite Japanese, reed dwellers, cave dwellers, tree dwellers, suttees, thuggees, fellows who inserted four-inch wooden disks into their lower lips and women who elongated their necks by adding a metal ring every year. Now youngsters are assured that though people who live in foreign parts may sometimes look a bit odd, they are really just middle-class Americans in thin disguise. Little Masai boys like to play soccer, says the "Social Science" textbook issued to my fourth-grader. In China they prefer volleyball. Uh-huh. Is it any wonder that Americans find it difficult to summon up interest in the world beyond their borders?

***

 

Jeffrey Rosen explains in the NYT Magazine how he's learned to stop worrying and love the quota: because without quotas, college bureaucracies and legislatures enact even worse systems for picking students, like the Bush Bros.' X% Solutions.

 

The reality Rosen is wrestling with is the huge gap in academic potential. Jonathan Kay pointed out in Commentary (not on line):

 

"Of the almost 91,000 applicants wishing to begin their studies at accredited law schools in the fall of 2002, approximately 4,500 had undergraduate grade-point averages of at least 3.5 and LSAT scores of at least 165--the standard that most applicants must meet to gain entry to a top-ten law school. Of this group, 81% identified themselves as white; 10% as Asian or Pacific Islander; 0.65% as black. That is, there were only 29 self-identified blacks in the whole national applicant pool with numbers that, for a typical white applicant, would gain admission into a top-ten law school--or about three blacks per school. If the pool is further restricted to applicants with LSAT scores of at least 170 and grade-point averages of at least 3.75--the category into which fall over 50% of students admitted into Yale Law School--the numbers are even more lopsided: 636 whites, 83 Asians, and precisely 1 black."

 

Andrew Sullivan, however, is upset with Rosen, writing: 

 

"Mickey Kaus once described those liberals who simply assume the permanent neediness of minorities as "Bell Curve Liberals," people who would never admit it but have internalized the notion that minorities are simply dumber than the majority. They either believing that such inferiority is in part genetic and in part environmental or entirely environmental. But the upshot is always the same: these people are helpless; and all we can do is rig the system to disguise it as much as possible and minimize social resentment and division. The only way we can have racial integration in universities is therefore by destroying academic standards. I'm sorry, but I can't go there. If the alternative to quotas is the evisceration of standards, then we truly have lost our faith in the power of meritocracy and the equality of the races."

 

His analysis of liberal motivations is of course on the money. But his concluding peroration is just cheap demagoguery and hypocrisy because Andrew, for one, knows better: he had been a courageous supporter of The Bell Curve.  In 1998, Andrew called TBC "the bravest book of the 90s." In fact, publishing Herrnstein and Murray's summary of The Bell Curve in The New Republic in 1994 appears to have started Sullivan on the road to getting fired from the editor's job.

 

By the way, Mickey Kaus was one of the 15 TNR staffers to dogpile on Sullivan for publishing Hernnstein and Murray's important article. Mickey's hatchet job on the article was the moral low point of an otherwise admirable career.

 

The important point, though, is that even if the gap is not partly genetic, nobody has ever put forward a plan for closing this gap in less than several generations. For example, I've pointed out several times that current evidence suggests that raising the breastfeeding rate among blacks to the white level might narrow 10% of the IQ gap ... in the generation after this sizable social change is brought about. The reality is there's zero hope of this academic potential gap disappearing in less than, say, half a century. (And that's highly optimistic, probably requiring giant advances in genetic engineering to bring about in only two generations.)

 

So, what do we do in the meantime? For one, we should stop telling kids their lives are over if they don't get into an elite college. It's time to renovate vocational education.

 

The real danger from quotas is not blacks benefiting from them, since blacks aren't all that fast growing a population, but immigrant groups. The major threat to social harmony is the number of beneficiaries multiplying relative to the number of victims of quotas. Perhaps the Supreme Court should announce that affirmative action should be restricted solely to people socially recognized as being descended from slaves (i.e., African-Americans).

 

In contrast to blacks, no one has ever put forward an explanation of why law-breaking illegal immigrants should benefit from quotas. But they do.

***

 

A new VDARE.com column up at left.

***

 

The War Nerd's got a new piece, this one on a bush war in Indonesia. Not as sickly funny as some of his others, but highly useful for understanding how guerilla wars work everywhere.

***

 

 

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