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March 2004

 

 

Kurt Cobain, RIP: With Monday being the 10th anniversary of the Nirvana frontman's suicide, here's a book review I wrote that didn't get too much attention due to the date I finished it:

 

Los Angeles, Sep. 10, 2001 (UPI) -- With comic results, fans routinely misunderstand the lyrics of hit songs. A recent compendium was entitled "'Scuse Me While I Kiss this Guy and Other Misheard Lyrics" in tribute to a common mangling of Jimi Hendrix's line "'Scuse me while I kiss the sky" from "Purple Haze." The book includes such delightful absurdities as Bob Dylan's "The ants are my friends / They're blowin' in the wind."

 

Yet, one of its fouled-up lyrics was an improvement over the original. Kurt Cobain's actual chorus for Nirvana's landmark 1991 hit "Smells Like Teen Spirit" reads "A mulatto, an albino/A mosquito, my libido." One insightful listener, however, thought he heard something that sums up Cobain far better: "I'm blotto and bravado / I'm a scarecrow and a Beatle."

 

Cobain, who blew his brains out in 1994, was indeed a blotto scarecrow. A junkie who suffered chronic stomach pain, the always scrawny rocker would waste away to as little as 105 pounds during his many futile attempts to kick heroin. He was literally dyspeptic: his stomach problems twisted his view of the world.

 

Yet, just as the six-shooter was the "equalizer" of the Wild West, allowing small men to defeat big men, Cobain, in the grand tradition of electric guitar bravos like Pete Townshend of The Who, wielded his six-string as a sonic equalizer in his fight against his family and class insecurities. Finally, Cobain bears comparison to the Beatles. He was almost as charismatic as John Lennon, and even more self-destructive. More importantly, despite his constant assertion of his punk rocker purity, nobody since Paul McCartney has had a more fertile or original brain for composing catchy pop hooks.

 

Seattle rock journalist Charles R. Cross seldom mentions Cobain's melodic gifts in his otherwise excellent new biography "Heavier than Heaven" (Hyperion, 381 pages, $24.95). The crucial reason Kurt continues to fascinate is the melodiousness of his music. Cross does, however, make clear that Cobain was influenced not just by the Sex Pistols, but also by the less hip mainstream styles he heard growing up in a Washington lumber town, notably the Beatles' pop and Led Zeppelin's slower, heavier arena rock.

 

Cobain's brief life was not without incident. A delightful little boy much doted upon by his family, nine-year-old Kurt was permanently wounded by his parents' virulent divorce. Unable to accept his parents' remarriages, which showed he was no longer their highest priority, he tormented ten foster families and spoke frequently of suicide. From age 17 onward, he was often homeless. Two weeks before the release of Nirvana's second album, "Nevermind," which sold ten million units, the 24-year-old was sleeping in the backseat of his Plymouth Valiant.

 

Having conducted 400 interviews and persuaded Cobain's widow, singer/actress Courtney Love, to let him see Kurt's voluminous private journals and art works, Cross is quite helpful at explaining Nirvana's lyrics. For example, the baffling phrase "Smell Like Teen Spirit" actually referred to the Teen Spirit brand deodorant worn by his girlfriend Tobi Vail. She dumped him, and that inspired some of the rage that resounded through "Nevermind," which topped most white male rock critics' lists of the best albums of the last decade.

 

Although Cobain was largely a Northwest version of the classic bohemian artist starving in a Parisian garret, he was quite monogamous for an artist, much less a rock star. By Cross' count, he slept with about six women in his 27 years. He seemed to feel that the sexual revolution had destroyed his childhood and didn't want to perpetuate it.

 

Cross doesn't theorize much about why Cobain was both so talented and so doomed. Still, he provides plenty of raw materials for speculating about what it was like inside Cobain's head. Evolutionary psychologists such as Geoffrey Miller of the U. of New Mexico often argue that geniuses don't generally have better thoughts than you or me; they just have far more thoughts, and then choose the best of them. Cobain's career gives credence to that. During the three years he was financially supported by his first girlfriend, Boeing cafeteria worker Tracy Marander, he devoted his days to expressing himself in music, art, and words. Just as so many British rock stars like Townshend and David Bowie were art school refugees, Cobain had an impressive knack for drawing and making morbid collages. He also wrote countless lyrics and letters in the powerful but disturbing stream-of-consciousness style made famous in "Teen Spirit."

 

Yet, being blessed with highly inventive musical, visual, and verbal imaginations may ultimately have been a curse to him. With little logical ability - he was awful at math, for example - to ride herd on his imagination, he artistically obsessed on the emotional and physical pain he felt. In his search for a nirvana where his teeming mind never again would perturb him, he turned to drugs and ultimately a shotgun

***

 

As always, when an elderly sports figure says what's on his mind regarding race in sports, the sportswriters are shocked, shocked. Paul Hornung's call for his beloved alma mater Notre Dave to lower standards so it can recruit more of the best black athletes the ways the powerhouse Florida schools do, has the sportswriters up in arms. Of course, most of these nice liberals screaming at Hornung strongly favor Notre Dame lowering its standards to admit more black non-athletes (that's called affirmative action), but the concept that fewer blacks have the book smarts to get into Notre Dame under the current rules is completely verboten on the sports page. But you can't understand college sports without thinking about it.

 

Let's do the numbers in a stylized manner. Say the President of a distinguished university tells the football coach he can't recruit anybody with an SAT lower than the equivalent of an 85 IQ, one standard deviation below the white mean. That doesn't seem too harsh, now does it? After all, virtually nobody with an IQ of 85 has any chance of earning a legitimate degree and the average student at, say, a Big 10 university is probably at 115 or so.

 

Now assume that out of the top 100 high school prospects, 60 are black and 40 are white. 

 

Here's where it gets dicey: roughly 5/6ths of the 40 white guys, or 33.3 are smarter than an 85 IQ, but only 1/2 of the 60 black guys are, or 30. In other words, out of the top 100 players in the country, 30 blacks and 7 whites are out of bounds. You know that the U. of Miami is going to snap up some of those guys and then beat the heck out of you on the football field.

 

Say your cutoff is a 100 IQ. Then only 20 white guys and 10 black guys out of the top 100 are eligible. You're in big, big trouble.

 

If you are Duke in basketball, you can get buy with a relatively high cutoff, but it's hard to do in football where you need a huge squad.

***

 

Paul Hornung's gaffe: telling the truth: Nobody's more politically correct than a NYT sportswriter, so when 1956 Notre Dame Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung stated the bleeding obvious, William C. Rhoden was quick to round up the lynch mob: "Sports of The Times: Hornung Has Failed to Meet Standard of Common Sense:"

 

During a radio interview in Detroit on Tuesday night, Hornung, frustrated by a losing season at Notre Dame, said that the university needed to lower its academic standards so more black athletes could play there. In the interview with WXYT-AM, as reported by The Associated Press, Hornung said: "We can't stay as strict as we are as far as the academic structure is concerned because we've got to get the black athletes. We must get the black athletes if we're going to compete."...

 

Hornung's remarks were an insult to every athlete - black and white - who ever played for the university, earned a degree and added to its football legend.

 

Nooooo, calling for lower standards in the future in order to widen the pool of athletes eligible to be admitted to Notre Dame is a compliment to black grads of the past, who, we now know, were admitted and earned a degree under higher standards than those of most colleges.

 

The only sensible reaction came from Notre Dame's 1985 All American running back Allen Pinkett (who is black), now a prosperous businessman in Houston:

 

"I know what he was saying. I think what you can do is track it back to the last time Notre Dame won a national championship [1988]. During that time, they relaxed the standards for players to get into Notre Dame. Some of the players that played on those squads wouldn't get in today. The thing is, some of those players turned out to be some of the best ambassadors the school has ever had. So, I think what Paul is saying is that relaxing the academic standards puts you in touch with a larger pool of players you can recruit. Right now, there are a number of players they can't recruit because they can't get in. However, I understand why Notre Dame has its academic requirements as high as it does. In fact, they protect the integrity of my degree by keeping the academic standards high. I'm also a believer that you can't win long term with stupid players. So, you're looking at a small pool of players that Notre Dame has to go get that have the total package."

***

 

Duke's 6'8" Luol Deng is not 4'11" Premier Deng's grandson -- Although the Chinese are rapidly growing taller, this Deng is the second Dinka to make a mark in basketball (after the 7'-7" Manute Bol). Luol Deng of Duke U. comes from the Wa-Benzi elite like most top African players (other than Bol, who was an illiterate cowherd). Deng's father was a cabinet minister at one time in Sudan. He is only 6'8", which isn't exceptional for a Dinka, the viciously oppressed Southern Sudanese people who are generally considered the tallest group in the world. But he's much more of an all-around talent than Bol, who coached him back home.

***

 

Park Rangers want Yosemite for themselves: WaPo reports on how the Park Service is cutting back on the number of visitors allowed in Yosemite Park: "Of all the splendid spots in this majestic valley for viewing Yosemite Falls, few beat where ranger Mike Reynolds is standing. But he keeps getting distracted by cars -- because he is in the middle of a parking lot...Reynolds longs for the day when he and others can admire the falls in peace -- and that time is coming, at last."

 

I'm all for conservation and wilderness, but does it make sense at a time when California's population is climbing rapidly for the National Park Service to push through an expensive plan to cut down on the number of visitors allowed in California's prime natural jewel? Especially when much of the motivation for this stems from park rangers irritation that all these visitors are ruining their opportunities to commune with nature? (I am not a big fan of park rangers, who in my judgment rank down there with the starters at municipal golf courses for delivering service with a smile. Many park rangers appear to wish that the damned public would just go home and leave the professionals in peace to enjoy the great outdoors.

***

 

Happy Cesar Chavez Day-- My older son gets today, March 31, off from his Catholic school in honor of the newest official California state holiday, the  birthday of the United Farm Workers founder. (It's one of those really sacred holidays that can't be celebrated on a Monday to make a three-day weekend. Like Christmas, Cesar Chavez Day must be commemorated on the day of his birth, even when it's a Wednesday.) As I wrote in VDARE.com back in 2000:

 

The truth about Chavez is much more interesting than the propaganda fed students, which portrays Chavez the way the Chicano verbalist elite prefers: as the patron saint of the reconquista of Alta California by La Raza

 

A third-generation American citizen from Yuma, Arizona, he was first and foremost a labor leader, as crafty and sometimes ruthless as any effective union boss must be. Today, Mexican-American educators and politicians have one simple priority: more immigration. Every warm body with a brown skin increases their clout. 

 

But, union members have the opposite need. The UFW's essential problem was the same as all other union's, straight out of Econ 101. Chavez needed to limit the supply of labor in order to drive up wages. From this grew the fundamental conflict of his life. Was he an American class warrior or a Mexican mestizo race warrior? What came first: La Causa or La Raza? This irresolvable dual identity culminated in the terrible irony of his tragic last dozen years.

 

Chavez's success at bringing better wages to stoop laborers in the early Seventies stemmed from the long-term decline in the pool of available migrant farm workers. According to agricultural economist Philip L. Martin of UC Davis, migrant farm workers in the U.S. numbered 2,000,000 in the Twenties. But the U.S. government started to crack down on Mexican illegal immigrants, most notably during 1954's "Operation Wetback," when a million were loaded onto railroad cars and shipped home. By Chavez's heyday in the early Seventies, there were only 200,000 migrant farm workers left. And that made his triumphs feasible.

 

In his prime, Chavez fought hard against illegal immigration. He frequently complained that the Immigration & Naturalization Service wasn't tough enough. When Chavez would lead a strike, the grower would send trucks across the Mexican border, load them up with scabs, and race back to the Central Valley in the dead of night. Chavez even offered his UFW staffers to the INS to serve as volunteer border guards to keep Mexicans from sneaking into California. As Ruben Navarrette Jr. reported in the Arizona Republic: (8/31/97), "Cesar Chavez, a labor leader intent on protecting union membership, was as effective a surrogate for the INS as ever existed. Indeed, Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union he headed routinely reported, to the INS, for deportation, suspected illegal immigrants who served as strikebreakers or refused to unionize."

 

Successful unionization typically leads to management investing in mechanization, which in the long run drives down the number of workers. In fact, United Mine Worker boss John L. Lewis would explicitly proclaim that he wanted to drive miners' wages up so high that his union would be much smaller in the next generation. If his members were paid enough today, they could afford to educate their kids to do something less miserable with their lives by the time the bosses had figured out how to do without them. During the Seventies, a similarly benign outcome appeared to be inevitable for American stoop laborers. The inflated wages paid Chavez' members would impel mechanization, which would eventually turn this literally backbreaking job into merely a painful memory.

 

It didn't happen. In fact, stoop labor wages stagnated in nominal terms from 1981 onward. In other words, over the last dozen years of Chavez's life (he died in 1993) real wages for migrants fell. As workers stopped paying dues to an organization that couldn’t deliver, the UFW withered to a fraction of its former size.

 

Why? No doubt California's 6,000,000 public school students will be told that it was all the fault of the evil Republican governors who reigned from 1983-1998, those divisive anti-immigration racists like Pete Wilson. Chavez's memory has been used so many times by Chicano intellectuals and politicians to insist on the moral necessity and practical inevitability of la reconquista that few remember who really sank the UFW: Mexican immigrants, millions of them who came in after 1981 and drastically worsened the supply and demand balance in the fields in favor of the growers and against the workers.   [More...]

***

 

Hoist by his own petard: I'm sure you've seen by now the utterly hilarious, Onion-quality true story about Karl Rove's house coming under assault from pro-illegal immigration activist-thugs. The Wall Street Journal is aghast that the National People's Action mob didn't realize that Rove is actually on their side: "what we had on Sunday was the spectacle of immigration "leaders" directing their ire at the most pro-immigration Administration in recent memory." Why can't these Hispanic protestors understand? Rove wants to bring in lots more people just like them so they can hold even more intimidating protests.

 

The WSJ boys are probably terrified that, even after decades of demanding "open borders," this goon squad will discover their address. We definitely don't want these Latino activist bully boys to find out that the Op-Edsters hang out at 1 World Financial Center, New York, New York. So, keep it under your hat.

***

 

A reader writes:

 

Just read your old 1991 article proposing a "real" student athlete division and another one, basically semi-pro. For years I've had a slightly different take on an equitable solution (which, like yours, will never take hold!)

 

But anyway, seeing as 1) the university is making a quick buck off of the not-too-bright jock, 2) two-thirds (or so) of these jocks will never graduate, and 3) waddaya figure - two percent? three percent? - of these athletes will ever go on to pro sports, then the athlete and university should have a binding contract like so:

 

1) The athletes sign a three-year contract with the university to play, and the university "owns their asses," as if they were in the military. 2) The athletes don't even bother with studies while playing for the school; the athletes' job is to provide entertainment, from which the university, after all, is deriving a profit. 3) The hot shots who do make the bigs owe the university a certain percentage of their first two seasons' paychecks. Consider it a headhunter's placement fee. 4) Perhaps most important, after the jig is up, the university is legally obliged to look out for the welfare of the 97% (or whatever) of the athletes who fail to make the pros. This, once again, mimics the sort of deal that the military provides: "You do what we tell you for three years, and after that, we provide you with a college education." And like you said, if the guy's not cut out to be an electrical engineer, there's no shame in learning a trade.

***

 

Height rears its ugly head again: The New Yorker has a fairly good article on the science of height, especially the interesting question of why the Dutch are now so much taller than Americans. (My guess: they wash their hands more and thus get fewer infections). Of course, the economic historians who study the subject these days appear to be completely ignorant of all the data collected by physical anthropologists. Also, they subscribe to a happy-clappy theory that every racial group would be the same size if they had the same diet and health care. I provided a more sophisticated perspective on the global height boom a year ago in conjunction with the NBA All-Star game:

 

Still, some parts of the globe seem to produce lots of tall people, no matter how bad the conditions. After all, height is influenced not only by environment, but by genetics, as well.

 

One of the two tallest players in NBA history was 7'-7" Manute Bol. An illiterate herdsman who once tracked a lion preying on his cattle and killed it with his spear, Bol twice led the NBA in blocked shots. Bol is a member of the Dinka tribe of southern Sudan. A higher proportion of extremely tall people are believed to be found among the Dinkas and their neighbors along the Upper Nile than anywhere else on Earth. Bol, for example, says his younger sister is 6'-10."

 

Remarkably, the Dinka grow so tall despite numbering among the world's most tragically oppressed peoples. The black southerners, who are Christians and pagans, rebelled against the Muslims from northern Sudan who traditionally captured them for use as slaves. Roughly 2 million people have died in two decades of civil war.

 

Within Europe, especially tall people can be found in the gritty ex-communist countries in the Baltic and the Balkan areas. In the All-Star Game, Cleveland's 7'-3" Zydrunas Ilgauskas will carry on Lithuania's proud basketball tradition. The heart of the 1988 Soviet Olympic team that beat America for the gold medal was made up not of Russians but of Lithuanians such as 7'-3" Arvydas Sabonis, now with Portland. Lithuania has medalled in all three Olympic basketball tournaments since the tiny country regained its independence from the Soviet empire.

The other traditional center of European basketball dominance is the mountainous and war-torn Balkans in the southeast. The region will be represented in the All-Star Game by Peja Stojakovic, the 6'-10" Sacramento forward from Serbia. Under its old name of Yugoslavia, Serbia medalled in the 1996 Olympics. Serbia's neighbor and rival Croatia medalled in 1992.

 

Europeans tend to grow tallest where the climate is cold but not frigid. Writing in 1965 before the Dutch grew quite so tall, the prominent physical anthropologist Carlton Coon noted, "In mean stature, we find the tallest people in Scotland, Iceland, Scandinavia, the eastern Baltic region, and the Balkans, particularly Montenegro and Albania. In general, the crest of tallest stature runs on the cold side of the winter frost line."

 

Coon pointed out that this pattern follows Bergmann's Law, a rule of thumb in biology that states that within a species, animal populations living in the colder parts of the range tend to be larger and heavier than those living in the warmer parts. Thus, the tallest Indian tribes in the New World live around the U.S.-Canadian border and in the southern cone of South America. Likewise, the tallest East Asians are found in southern Siberia and northern China, the latter being a region that NBA scouts find particularly interesting.

 

In extremely cold climates, however, protruding body parts such as long legs radiate too much heat. So, Eskimos are much less lanky than the Blackfoot Indians on the southern Canadian prairie. Likewise, Russians are not as tall as Lithuanians. Coon noted, "Stature decrease as one approaches northern Norway and the Urals."

*** 

 

Sorry about no postings for so long - I was in Philadelphia giving a speech to the Foreign Policy Research Institute on "International Perspectives on Immigration." I then answered questions from the members for two hours. A good time was had by all. 

 

I'll try to get back to regular postings from now on. Sorry about not mentioning I'd be out of town, but I don't like announcing that my wife and kids will be home alone.

 

I'd never been to downtown Philadelphia before, but it looks like a tremendous place to visit for a three day weekend II only had about 4 hours free, so I didn't get to run up the Rocky steps at the Art Museum. 

 

I stayed a block south of the absolutely unbelievable City Hall at the private hotel inside the Union League Club. Philadelphia's was the first of many Union League Clubs around the country. In case you were wondering, no, I don't think any of the 3,000 members belong to a labor union. It was founded in 1862 to support Abraham Lincoln's fight to preserve the Union, and the place remains a shrine to Republican Party with pictures of Grant, Reagan, Coolidge, Nixon, et al everywhere. The hotel, restricted to guests of members, has a strict dress code, which I decided I like. As I've mentioned before, business attire evolved from military officers' tunics, which were tailored to make a man look more impressive than he really is. And I need all the help I can get.

***

 

The Ladykillers debuts on Friday. Here are excerpts from my not-on-line American Conservative review in the April 12th issue, which should be on newsstands by now.

 

"The Ladykillers" was the last Alec Guinness comedy from England's famed Ealing Studios, although the company's history would trace a more satisfying arc if it had been the first. A black comedy about a gang whose big heist is uncovered by their sweet old landlady who insists they return the money, the 1955 "Ladykillers" was expertly done, but it was also rather slight and not terribly funny. It would have made an admirable warm-up to Ealing's 1949 masterpiece "Kind Hearts and Coronets," in which Sir Alec famously played all eight murder victims, but coming six years later, "The Ladykillers" seemed more like an anticlimax.

So, the news was welcome that the inventive Coen Brothers were remaking "The Ladykillers" with the reliable Tom Hanks in Guinness' role as the head crook…

The writers-directors reimagine the widow as a black Southern Baptist church lady defending, with her lace doilies and non-alcoholic lemonade, old-fashioned respectability against the "hippity-hop music" that has lured Wayans' character off the path of righteousness. It's an excellent conceit, in part because it lets a white audience (and the Coens' fans are almost all white) witness the sizable generation and gender gap in the black community between grandmothers and grandsons.

Although Hanks gets top billing, the landlady, played by the redoubtable Irma P. Hall, is the audience's surrogate. A Texas schoolteacher for 27 years, Hall (first noticed as the blind aunt in 1996's "A Family Thing," where she outshone both Robert Duvall and James Earl Jones) is creeping up on stardom at age 66. She energetically embodies the formidable dignity and queenliness that many stout old black ladies possess. She's large and in charge…

 

Finally, as expected, the Coens deliver a terrific gospel-based soundtrack. Stick around through the credits for a jaw-dropping church choir performance -- this show's definitely not over 'til the fat lady sings.

***

 

This 4/12 AmCon gives you a double helping of me. Here's part of my 1800 word article "Juicing the Summer Game:"

A history of baseball's seduction by steroids can now finally be pieced together.

Steroids were first synthesized in central Europe in the 1930s. Scientifically savvy athletes, such as Olympic shot-putters, began injecting artificial male hormones in the 1950s. Bodybuilders were close behind. For example, Austrian weightlifters who trained with the teenage Schwarzenegger told the Los Angeles Times that the future governor of California started using steroids in 1964 at age 17. In the 1970s and 1980s, the manly ladies of East Germany dominated the distaff side of the Olympics because their Communist regime forced steroids upon them.

This trend largely bypassed baseball, however, because ballplayers were among the last athletes (besides golfers) to try honest weightlifting. Pumping iron benefits almost all athletes, but the frustrations of reaching your maximum natural strength within a few years can encourage some to then move on to steroids.

Baseball has always been, at best, proudly traditional and, at worst, lazily lackadaisical about innovation, especially if it involves hard physical or mental work. Ballplayers justified spending the off-season in the tavern rather than the gym because of the dread fear of becoming "muscle-bound."

 

There were exceptions. A century ago, Honus Wagner, the slugging shortstop who was probably the greatest National Leaguer before World War II, lifted dumbbells. Similarly, after Babe Ruth's embarrassing 1925 season, most observers thought the hard-living 30-year-old was permanently washed up. Instead, Ruth hired a personal trainer and worked out in a gym for the next ten winters, enabling him to break his own record with 60 homers in 1927. But Wagner and Ruth's stupendous statistics didn't convince lesser players, who refused to lift anything heavier than a beer mug. For example, Mickey Mantle's off-season exercise regimen consisted of going hunting when his hangover wasn't too blinding.

Slowly, conditioning improved. More players cut back on the booze, and a few of the most intelligent, such as Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, and Brian Downing, started to lift weights.

 

Baseball's first flagrantly obvious steroid abuser didn't arrive until 1986, when the Oakland A's Jose Canseco won Rookie of the Year. "Jose Canseco was the Typhoid Mary of steroids," one baseball agent told me a decade ago...

 

Downsides quickly appeared. Although players drank less, they seemed to get arrested for assault more -- what bodybuilders call 'roid rage. Time spent on the disabled list grew 20 percent just between 1997 and 2001, and some injuries were gruesomely unprecedented. A former teammate of Canseco's ruptured his bicep swinging at a pitch. "In all my years of watching sport, I've never seen/heard anything so awful," wrote a fan. "When his muscle ripped, it produced a sharp snap and traveled up his arm and into his shoulder like a scurrying rodent."

***

I'm an only child, so I don't have any opinion on whether birth order within your family molds you into different personalities. One of the most brilliant figures on the Links list to the left gave me his views on Frank Sulloway's now controversial 1996 book Born to Rebel and on birth order in general:

 

I'm always interested in theories of personality type and checked out the Sulloway book when it was published.  Pure, transparent, b.s., a mere front for liberal prejudices, with the world conveniently divided between the "bad" hidebound authoritarian older siblings and the "good" liberal progressive young siblings.  How embarrassing.

One obvious flaw in his theory was that it did not account for situations in very LIBERAL societies, in which, obviously, the older sibling will be a conventional hidebound LIBERAL, defending the LIBERAL conventions of his society, while the younger sibling, rebelling against the dead conventions of his society, will be Sulloway's bete noire, a conservative.

 

Well, my own experience was part of my basis for seeing the silliness of Sulloway.  [I'm removing some personal details from this paragraph -- Steve]. I'm a lastborn. My oldest sibling was a way-out leftie.  Yet in our current society, that was the orthodox conventional position, the one whose opinions were effortlessly supported by the entire social environment in the New York vicinity. While I, as a right-winger, had the incorrect, unacceptable views. 

 

My point is this.  There are certainly significant attributes connected with birth order.  The oldest will be the most responsible.  The youngest tends to have an "I'm a child of the universe" kind of attitude, or an unconventional attitude.  But that tells us nothing about the actual content of their beliefs, which is what Sulloway would have us believe. 

 

I first got an insight into birth order years ago when I conducted a telephone poll among [Northeastern] college students, asking seniors what they planned to do after graduation.  This was during the '80s, and it seemed half these young ladies were going into investment banking. Anyway, one of the questions was on their birth order in their families, and I began to see a definite pattern.  Oldest children were serious, directed, responsible.  Youngest children were more easy going, easier on themselves, projecting a sense that the universe would take care of them.  It almost got to the point where I could predict their birth order before I asked. 

***

 

Lots of strong praise for the Derb's big essay this morning.

***

 

A new War Nerd column, written the night of the Madrid bombing...

***

 

Last night I wrote about how the neocons were empowered by the decline of the old Protestant missionary family Arabists whom the government had traditionally turned to for expertise on the Middle East. But the old Arabic-loving scholarly families are in decline – Steve Kerr, for example, played in the NBA rather than go to Beirut to head the American University and get assassinated like his heroic father Malcolm Kerr. And the rise of Edward Said’s anti-American post-colonialist Arabists scholars has rendered most of the younger generation of academics useless for patriotic purposes. So, this vacuum of expertise has meant that power has inevitably gravitated to the neocons, even though they are naturally biased toward Israel.

 

There's a fourth group that's well-informed about the Middle East -- the oil patch guys. They tend to be unenthusiastic about the neocons' priorities. That brings us back to the mystery of Cheney again. Having spent five years at Halliburton, you'd think he'd have staffed Middle East positions with oil industry types, but instead he went for neocons, perhaps ones he met through his wife's job at AEI.

A wise reader writes:

Oil guys know oil. In the 1970s, when I worked on energy for Congress, I found that the only people who knew anything about the subject in America were oil guys. They had all sorts of conflicts of interest and possible biases in talking to us, but at least they knew the subject. The consumer groups, the environmental groups, the committees of both parties, the pro-business lobbies as well as the antibusiness lobbies, the Department of Interior, were the worst possible sources of information. At best, they were objective and dumb.

 

To paraphrase Churchill, in political debates competence comes with a bodyguard of biases. I have yet to encounter a difficult political question in which the most intelligent people did not have a bundle of possible conflicts, financial, emotional, ideological, whatever. The only way anyone ever got smart about a difficult subject is to obsess about it for 20 years. Hmm, why would anyone do that?

 

The unique problem our government faces right now in terms of getting good advice is that one of these four groups with interests (both intellectual and political/financial) in the Middle East -- the neocons -- tries to squash public expressions of skepticism about their objectivity by dropping the A-bomb of smears -- "anti-Semitism" -- on public-spirited folks who point out their biases. The pro-Arab prejudices of the old Arabists are fair game, as are those of the post-colonialists and the oilmen. As well they should be. But the neocons desperately strive to crush anybody who points out the simple human connections of family, faith, and finance that make Israel so much more dear to them than it is to the average American.

***

 

You constantly read about how we need massive immigration to prevent Social Security from going broke. But, do they really expect to bail out the Social Security system on the backs of illegal immigrants making $8 per hour? Especially because with workers whose main assets are strong backs, those backs start giving out around age 45 and their earning decline as they go on disability. Am I missing something here? I always heard you can't get blood from a stone.

***

 

I’ve been vaguely wondering for years whether Frank Sulloway’s much-hyped 1996 book about birth order Born to Rebel would ever pan out. Sulloway advanced the theory, with much documentation, that later-born siblings would be more rebellious than first borns. I wrote one of the few semi-skeptical reviews at the time. I said in National Review:

 

Born to Rebel arrives on a crest of imposing hype, with serious scholars comparing its importance to that of the works of Charles Darwin. For 26 years, this statistically inclined MIT historian has labored to uncover why it was Darwin who originated the theory of natural selection. After building a database of 6,566 scientists and other historic figures from the 16th through the early 20th Centuries, the answer's now obvious to him: Darwin was the 4th child born in his family. To Dr. Sulloway, much of history is literally sibling rivalry writ large, an eternal struggle between conservative, authoritarian, and closed-minded "firstborns" and liberal, rebellious, altruistic, and open-minded "laterborns." (Pop quiz: Name Sulloway's birth rank and politics.) ,,,

 

A careful reading reveals, however, that Dr. Sulloway does not actually explain the cause of Darwin's creativity. It turns out that laterborn scientists are not significantly more innovative. (Kepler, Galileo, Newton, and Einstein were all firstborns. Genius remains largely inexplicable.) Instead, laterborn scientists are merely more receptive to other's innovatory theories, especially when there isn't much evidence one way or another. Once solid data becomes available, this gap rapidly closes. (Firstborns, in turn, seem to deserve some credit for resisting new but bad ideas like phrenology, the once-popular pseudo-science of predicting personality from skull bumps, which laterborns were nine times more likely to favor.) 

 

Birth order, it appears, primarily influences opinions, not accomplishments. Keep in mind that those of us who get our opinions published tend to vastly overrate the historic importance of published opinions. 

 

Despite heroic research efforts, lucid prose style, and admirable zeal for statistically testing hypotheses, at times Sulloway can sound like Matt Groening's Seventh Type of College Professor: The-Single-Theory-to-Explain-Everything-Maniac. ("The nation that controls magnesium controls the universe!!!") Yet, family dynamics are a curiously impotent Single Theory. No nation can use birth order to control the universe because no nation can control birth order. The great engines of history remain cultural differences propagated through families, not differences between individuals spontaneously generated over and over again within families. For example, in one of his few attempts to explain distinctions between countries, Sulloway cites France's low birth rate and consequent high proportion of firstborns to explain why so many French scientists stubbornly resisted Darwin. Yet, since France's low birthrate continued into the 20th Century, by this logic France's surplus of firstborns should also have made French soldiers loyal conformists, while fast-growing Germany would be saddled with an undisciplined army of too many "born to rebel" laterborns. The events of May, 1940, however, would seem to cast doubt on this reasoning. 

 

When Sulloway leaves the relatively firm ground of scientific history for the swamp of politics, his analysis becomes a bit of a mess, partly because politics itself is messy.   [More...]

 

Now, Alex Taborrok at Marginal Revolution reports that it turns out that another scholar was unable to replicate some of Sulloway’s findings, but Sulloway kept it hushed up for years by threatening to sue the scientific journal. It’s finally out now.

***

 

One thing I've noticed is that a lot of defenders of the Iraq Attaq, including the President, seem to have forgotten that Iraq allowed the UN weapons inspectors back in over a year ago.

 

A reader writes:

 

You're conveniently forgetting that the Security Council unanimously voted to initiate "serious consequences" against Iraq if it did not immediately and fully comply with the demand to reveal all WMDs and WMD activities.

 

And so Hans Blix went into Iraq and we told him where Chalabi said the WMDs were. He looked where we told him and they were all dry holes, every one. Either Blix and his crew and all the reporters with them were lying or Chalabi was. Our government decided to go to war because they believed Chalabi, not all the people on the ground in Iraq. Guess who turned out to be honest?

 

No normal human mind could have imagined that [Saddam] didn't have anything.

 

Correct about normal minds, but superior minds in the weapons industry were saying exactly that before the war -- that Saddam didn't have any important WMDs. My friend the New Mexico physicist Greg Cochran told me repeatedly during the runup to the war that his friends in the weapons labs didn't think Saddam had any kind of nuclear program, and no delivery vehicles of any importance for any other kinds of weapons. Most of these people are government employees and were ready to tell the White House why, but they weren't asked. After all, who is the White House supposed to trust? Some physics geeks or a great American patriot like Ahmad Chalabi?

***

 

Claremont hate hoax exposes hysteria of student body -- This article from one of the Claremont Colleges student newspapers, written before the unsurprising exposure of Prof. Kerri Dunn's auto-vandalism of her automobile, captures the bizarre atmosphere at this elite private university. Poor 94 year old Professor Peter Drucker -- with blackshirted youths chanting slogans over a Reichstag Fire incident, he must have had a flashback to Europe in the 1930s. Judging from the violence of student reactions immediately after Dunn made her charges, and then implied it must have been students in her classes, its lucky that there was no mob violence against conservative whites on campus.

 

It's hard to believe, but a huge fraction of these privileged students at Claremont believed, even before Dunn's hoax, that they were not only oppressed by white males, but in physical danger from conservative white male students! Was this just some weird mind virus at Claremont, or is this normal at rich kids' schools these days?

***

 

New VDARE.com column at left

***

 

The Counterpunch investigative report "Serving Two Flags" on all the suspicions that Reagan and Bush 41 officials had about the loyalties of their neocon underlings drew this response from one of the most insightful people on my Links list to the left: 

 

1. Some of the neo-cons may have a relationship to certain parties in the Middle East that is the mirror image of their own (partly correct) view of the State Department's clientitis. (Robert Kaplan did a pretty good job describing the history of the State Department Arabists in 1993: If the April Glaspies of the world so completely adopted Arab states' perspective that they could no longer discern either the factual truth or America's national interest, then perhaps the neo-cons adopted their own clients, from Benjamin Netanyahu to Ahmad Chalabi, and began believing *their* hype to the point where they could no longer discern either the factual truth or America's national interest. I do think there's a considerable range among the neo-cons, with guys like Michael Ledeen on the extreme edge of ideological fantasy and guys like Charles Krauthammer pretty firmly in the "sane and sober" camp. But some of them do seem to have lost it, and I wonder if they haven't done so in imitation of their opponents, much as the Birchers consciously aped the structure and worldview of their Communist opponents.

 

The old Arabists tended to be members of New England Protestant missionary families with long ties to the Middle East, such as staffing the American University in Beirut. The retired NBA shooting guard Steve Kerr is the scion of one of the noblest families -- his father, the president of AUB Malcolm Kerr, was assassinated in 1984 while Steve was playing in the NCAA tourney. Sadly, they are dying out, although clearly they were more sympathetic to the Arabs than the Israelis. The new Arabists are anti-American followers of Edward Said who denounce the old Arabists as pro-American "Orientalists," so it's not surprising that our government doesn't rely on them

 

With the decline of the old missionary Arabist families and the uselessness of the new leftwing Arabists (who, like Said, really aren't interested in Arabs, just in acting outraged by what Western Arabists wrote about Arabs), it's hardly surprising that people with strong emotional ties to Israel have emerged as more powerful players in the government. For example, Norman Podhoretz's son-in-law Elliot Abrams spent the 90's, after getting pardoned in the Iran-Contra affair, in private life largely working to persuade Jews to not marry Gentiles. He is now Bush's chief advisor on the Middle East, which is a little like appointing the Rev. Bob Jones III, of anti-miscegenationist notoriety, to be advisor on South Africa. Indeed, Abrams remarked to a friend of mine how surprised he was to get the Middle East gig, after so many years working in other regions like Central America. But, there's just not that much American talent left these days with an interest in the Middle East, so from that perspective, Abrams' appointment, while bizarre, is understandable.

 

2. It's worth recalling that there was a great deal of foreign-policy freelancing going on in the Reagan Administration. The author of the article cites Oliver North as a witness against Ledeen. Oliver North! Well, he would know something about privateering, wouldn't he? Seriously, the Mossad was mixed up in the Reagan years with all kinds of plots related to Central America, the obsession of the hardest-core Reaganites. I'm sure Ledeen & Co. believed they were acting in America's best interest when they leaked classified material (assuming the allegations are true), just as Oliver North thought he was acting in America's best interests when he violated Federal law to get aid to the Contras. Is that an excuse? No, but it puts the allegations in context. A whole lot of guys around Reagan thought America had been losing the twilight struggle because real patriots had been unwilling to play Dirty Harry, and they weren't going to make that mistake.

 

No doubt, although some of this activity was just attempts to benefit Israel's weapons industry at the expense of America's, sometimes at the expense of the greater American national interest, such as when technology was allowed to slip to Israel, and they resold it to China. It's not exactly news to people with aerospace contacts that some officials have worked to build up the Israeli weapons industry at the (marginal) expense of America for some time. It's just human nature and to be expected. The big problem is that you're not supposed to talk about this behavior because the foreign power is Israel, and anybody who mentions the obvious and natural problem of dual loyalties in regard to Israel gets smeared as a whack-job or worse. So, it's hard to police this kind of behavior.

 

3. I've always been skeptical of the "it's about Israel" line because, frankly, the Israelis didn't consider Iraq *their* main threat. They were pleased to be rid of him, of course, but left-wing Israelis worried about blowback terrorism against them, far right-wing Israelis worried that the last Iraq war was the gateway to the Madrid peace talks, and centrist Israelis just thought that Iranian nukes and Hezbollah terrorism were bigger threats than Saddam Hussein (or, for that matter, al Qaeda). Certainly, no Israeli leaders or terrorism experts thought Saddam was important to Palestinian terrorism, certainly not to the extent that Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria and even Egypt are. If guys like Ledeen and Perle stumped for the Iraq war for Israel's sake, they were being more Israeli than the Israelies. Indeed, the famous letter to Netanyahu that is often cited as evidence that it's all about Israel only proves my contention: Perle was lobbying Netanyahu to lobby for a tougher line on Iraq during the Clinton years. That certainly doesn't prove Netanyahu was trying to move American policy through his influence with Perle; it suggests Perle was trying to move American policy through his influence with Netanyahu! As for Wolfowitz, you know my opinion: he pushed so hard because he felt guilty about betraying the Shiites and Kurds in 1991, guilty about playing realpolitik with Arab and Muslim lives. Indeed, I think the reason Wolfowitz & Co. were so open to transparent huckster Ahmad Chalabi was that Chalabi played exactly the part they were looking for: the freedom-loving Arab beloved by his people, proof that freedom and democracy was all the Arabs need to be reborn as peaceful American allies. Alas, 'twas not to be, and anyone who knew Iraq could have told them that. But they wanted to believe . . .

 

Excellent points. The differences between the baleful Perle and the happy-clappy Wolfowitz should be borne in mind. And since Saddam was not much of a threat to anybody outside his borders, the advantage to Israel of our Iraq Attaq was only prospective, via a bankshot -- giving the U.S. hostile borders with Syria and Iran might lead us to go to war with them to, someday.

 

It's important to remember that the neocons' desire for an Iraq Attaq only worked because of a perfect storm of coincidences brought other, more important players like Bush, Cheney, and Rove in line with them, and intimidated more sensible figures like Colin Powell.

***

 

The Iraq Attaq -- Why did they do it? The revelations by Richard Clarke on 60 Minutes raises the fascinating question of why did the Bush Administration attack Saddam for Osama's crime? A few thoughts on how various players' motivations came together in a perfect storm ...

 

Worth quoting:

 

In his experience, [veteran anti-terror official Richard] Clarke writes, Bush's description by critics as "a dumb, lazy rich kid" is "somewhat off the mark." Bush has "a results-oriented mind, but he looked for the simple solution, the bumper sticker description of the problem." "Any leader whom one can imagine as president on September 11 would have declared a 'war on terrorism' and would have ended the Afghan sanctuary [for al Qaeda] by invading," Clarke writes. "What was unique about George Bush's reaction" was the additional choice to invade "not a country that had been engaging in anti-U.S. terrorism but one that had not been, Iraq." In so doing, he estranged allies, enraged potential friends in the Arab and Islamic worlds, and produced "more terrorists than we jail or shoot." "It was as if Osama bin Laden, hidden in some high mountain redoubt, were engaging in long-range mind control of George Bush, chanting 'invade Iraq, you must invade Iraq,' " Clarke writes.

 

Assuming the Iraq Attaq was not the result of Osama's mind control, what other motivations were operative?

***

 

Clarke's revelations: It's important to remember that the lack of interest the Bushies showed in Al Qaeda before 9/11 was related to Karl Rove's pursuit of the supposedly crucial Arab/Muslim vote by having Bush publicly announce he's easing up on terrorism, as I've explained in VDARE.com several times. Will Bush ever pay any political price for foregoing both racial profiling of Arab airline passengers and the use of "secret evidence" against Arab suspected terrorists? Similarly, the build-up to the Iraq Attaq almost certainly helped the GOP win the 2002 midterm elections.

 

The sheer incompetence of the Bush Team leaps out once again. The Washington Post reports:

 

During Bush's first week in office, Clarke asked urgently for a Cabinet-level meeting on al Qaeda. He did not get it -- or permission to brief the president directly on the threat -- for nearly eight months. When deputies to the Cabinet officials took up the subject in April, Clarke writes, the meeting "did not go well." Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, Clarke wrote, scowled and asked, "why we are beginning by talking about this one man, bin Laden." When Clarke told him no foe but al Qaeda "poses an immediate and serious threat to the United States," Wolfowitz is said to have replied that Iraqi terrorism posed "at least as much" of a danger. FBI and CIA representatives backed Clarke in saying they had no such evidence. "I could hardly believe," Clarke writes, that Wolfowitz pressed the "totally discredited" theory that Iraq was behind the 1993 truck bomb at the World Trade Center, "a theory that had been investigated for years and found to be totally untrue."

 

It's alarming what a high proportion of top Administration officials are conspiracy theory buffs. It sounds like the ultimate conspiracy theory -- the government has been taken over by conspiracy theory wackos! -- except that it's all too true. The most disappointing figure is of course the Vice President, whom I expected, based on his admirable record as Defense Secretary, to bring level-headedness to the White House to balance out the President's manifest inadequacies. Instead, Cheney appears to be the wackiest of the whole bunch. (I wonder if his heart operations have caused brain damage? It would hardly be the first time.)

***

 

The Iraq Attaq: The Personal Angle -- Clarke made clear how much Bush wanted to believe 9/11 was Saddam's fault from day one. It's been argued before that George W. Bush decided to invade Iraq because Saddam was the "guy that tried to kill my dad" in an abortive 1993 car bombing plot during a visit to Kuwait. But, what I've just learned is that practically everybody near and dear to the current President was on that trip to Kuwait: not just his father, but also his wife Laura, his mother Barb, and his younger brothers Neil and Marvin. It's easy to see why he'd take that so seriously. This makes me more sympathetic to Dubya, who is known to value family loyalty intensely.

 

The FBI uncovered strong circumstantial evidence of Iraqi guilt back in 1993. On the other hand, I can't find anything stating whether or not captured Iraqi officials have confirmed or denied that the 1993 plot actually took place, or whether the Kuwaitis just rounded up some usual suspects to make Saddam look bad. (The Kuwaitis had very good reasons for hating Saddam.) 

 

 In particular, the capture of Iraqi spymaster Farouk Hijazi eleven months ago was supposed to shake open the case, but it seems to have turned out to be a dead end, like so many of the interrogations of Iraqi insiders.  If you know of any recent evidence, please let me know.

 

UPDATE -- Seymour Hersh argued for the Kuwaiti hoax angle a decade ago in the New Yorker. If Saddam had already destroyed his weapons of mass destruction by 1993, then it wouldn't have made much sense to commit a casus belli against the U.S. But that's assuming Saddam was a sensible guy. Anyway, the point is, that George the Younger was surely right in assuming that Saddam at least would have liked to blow up George the Elder, Barb, Laura, Neil, and Marvin Bush, and he's not the kind of guy to take that lightly. 

***

 

The "con" in "neocon" doesn't always stand for "conservative" -- Sometimes it just stands for "con" 

Many of the Idea Men in and out of the Administration are very loyal, too. It's just not clear to whom. 

 

Here's a striking article on one of the roots of Bush Administration foreign policy: The lefty scandal sheet Counterpunch ran a surprisingly sober article by Stephen Green on all the internal scandals that neocons like Michael Ledeen and Richard Perle got themselves into with their superiors in the Reagan and Bush I administrations.

 

I can't vouch for its accuracy, but it was forwarded to me by a well-connected ex-neocon, who wrote:

 

Here's a very interesting article on some of the more "unusual" background information on the group of people who've basically been running America's foreign/national security policy over the last couple of years. The details are quite consistent with what I'd generally heard and read over the years, but since I'm unfamiliar with the author and the piece appeared on a leftist website, I was naturally a little suspicious. Therefore, I forwarded it to a gentleman I'm quite friendly with, a hardline old Reaganite Cold Warrior with absolutely top-level professional military/national security credentials. He confirmed many of the facts from personal knowledge and regarded the entire piece as very credible.

***

 

That leaves a few leftovers who need their motivations explained. Colin Powell isn't crazy, so he knew the Iraq Attaq was a joke. But in the crunch, he didn't have the guts to resign. He probably told himself that if he quit, the inmates would be completely running the asylum, instead of just 90% of it.

 

Condi Rice, Bush's personal enabler, probably wakes up every morning and reminds herself how lucky she is to hold her job and that if she wants to keep holding it, she doesn't have to do the things that a normal National Security Adviser does, she just has to prevent Bush from suddenly shuddering and blurting out, "Oh my God, I'm President of the United States and I'm a clueless zero!"

 

Donald Rumsfeld? Rumsfeld is old. It happens to the best of us.

 

Ahmed Chalabi -- He just wants to be the ruler of Iraq, so bamboozling the American government was a necessary step toward that glittering prize.

***

 

WSJ: "We're all descended from immigrants!"

American Indian: "Not me."

 

The LA Times runs a good story about how much the Tohono O'odham Indian Nation on the Arizona-Mexico border hate the 1,500 illegal immigrants who trample through their reservation every 24 hours.

 

I reported on this last spring in an article on the liberal pro-illegal immigration activist the Rev. Robin Hoover:

 

On April 27, Hoover published an op-ed article in the Arizona Daily Star criticizing a local American Indian nation, the Tohono O'Odham (formerly known as the Papago tribe), for not allowing water tanks on their Connecticut-sized reservation, where 85 illegal immigrants died during the previous fiscal year. Another of Tucson's leading liberal churches wrote a letter of protest to Humane Borders seemingly implying that it was virtually racist for a white man to say anything bad about American Indians.

The Tohono O'Odham leader, by the way, objected to having hundreds of thousands of trespassers crossing his people's ancestral land. So, he instead requested that the federal government secure their 76 miles of international border by erecting fences, lighting and surveillance devices.

***

 

Claremont hate hoax prof gets paid leave -- You can express your opinions to Kerri Dunn directly (but politely, please) at kerri.dunn@claremontmckenna.edu. You can also express your opinions to the president of Claremont McKenna College at pamela.gann@claremontmckena.edu

***

 

It ain't broken, so we must fix it dept. -- The LA Times lambastes the star of the Cal State University system, Cal Poly in the gorgeous small town of San Luis Obispo, halfway between San Francisco and LA, for not being diverse enough.

 

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is widely regarded as the academic star of the California State University system and ranks as one of the best regional universities in the West. It regularly competes for strong students against top UC schools. And it often wins. Yet by another measure, Cal Poly falls short when compared with other selective California schools: its enrollment of blacks, Latinos and Native Americans. 

 

Perhaps having relatively few underperforming minorities is one reason it is the academic star of the second tier Cal State system? 

 

Only 12.9% of Cal Poly's undergraduates belong to those traditionally underrepresented minority groups, according to the latest data collected from the vast majority of students. That is the lowest rate among the 30 California public universities with comprehensive undergraduate programs. Even with a state ban on affirmative action, enrollment of underrepresented groups has risen at other Cal State and UC campuses in recent years. At Cal Poly, the numbers started tumbling from a high of 18.9% in the late 1990s and have never rebounded...

 

So, now we know what should have happened everywhere after Prop 209 passed.

 

Many of the dominant disciplines on campus — engineering, agriculture, architecture, math and science — historically have attracted comparatively low numbers of minority students around the country...

 

Cal Poly admits students largely by the numbers — grade point averages and test scores. Admissions decisions are so automated that applicants don't even submit an essay, and no one in the admissions office actually reads a typical application. The contrast with UC schools is striking. They consider such factors as students' ability to overcome socioeconomic disadvantages and other hardships — a process that can be subjective and lately has proved controversial. Two regents have questioned whether the system amounts to backdoor affirmative action. Cal Poly faces a different problem, educators say. A numbers-driven system at a selective university is "an invitation for really low minority enrollments," said Bob Laird, one of the architects of UC Berkeley's admissions policies in the 1990s. School officials say they don't have the money to adopt a more holistic approach, which is labor-intensive.

 

In other words, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo has an honest, objective admissions system, while the UC "holistic" systems exist precisely to violate the Constitution of the state of California by favoring minorities -- e.g., UCLA gives extra points to applicants who have been shot.

 

In January, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund sued Cal Poly for discrimination, contending that the campus' heavy reliance on the SAT penalizes Latinos because they generally score lower than whites on the exam. Blacks also score lower on average. The SAT counts for up to 35% of the points an applicant can receive. Victor Viramontes, a defense fund lawyer handling the case, said the university compounds the problem by trumpeting the high average scores its students earn — a factor that could turn off potential Latino and black applicants.

 

That speaks for itself.

 

But the school has a particularly hard time attracting black students. As of the fall quarter, there were only 166 black undergraduates, or 1.1% of the students who indicated their racial or ethnic background. At least 39 of the black students are on the school's sports teams. "I would not encourage any student of color to come to Cal Poly," said Charise Cheney, an assistant professor of ethnic studies who is black. "While I'm 100% in support of diversifying the campus, I definitely understand the flip side from the perspective of a person of color, [including] the burden that those students have to bear. In some instances, that burden might be too great." Cheney said she makes the 200-mile trip south to Los Angeles just to have her hair done, because of the lack of a local salon familiar with the needs of black women.

 

If it would be bad for blacks to go to this school in this isolated, mostly white area, then why is it a problem that there aren't many blacks at the school? Oh, yeah, I forgot. See, diversity (i.e., discrimination against whites) is supposed to be good for whites. But is reverse discrimination so good for whites that it justifies making blacks suffer so that whites can benefit from being discriminated against? As the King of Siam said, 'tis a puzzlement.

 

Cheney said that when racially tinged disputes occasionally emerge on campus, the black and other minority communities sometimes are too small to provide a strong voice for their concerns.

 

You mean, they don't have Reichstag Fire Two Day Hates against white males, like at Claremont? Halleluiah!

***

 

College recommendations: I asked for colleges where my sons wouldn't be exposed to the kind of frenzies of anti-white male hatred seen during the recent Claremont fracas (see below for details). Some reader suggestions:

 

It's a huge question for individuals and for society as a whole. I was very interested to see the responses you received on your website, and you've made some interesting points about higher education in the past. Truth be told, one can get a good education anywhere. The value of the degree is a different story. Experience indicates as general rule that unless your degree is from a prestige institution with a reputation and selective admissions, it might as well be from a cracker jack box. If all you care about is the education, that fact doesn't matter. If you are exceptionally talented and hard working or your family is already on the social register, it probably doesn't matter either. Hard work or connections outweigh other consideration in breaking into the job market.

 

Class size also matters. Swarthmore, Williams, and the University of the South provide a lot more contact between faculty and students--and therefore value added--than prestige research universities. Any school with classes of a hundred or more students should make one suspicious. Even with the greatest of scholars, an auditorium course of 200 or so might as well be televised. Non-selective or open admission insitutions are almost a joke. Good and bad faculty can be found anywhere, but only prestige or competitive institutions can hope to provide a critical mass of engaged students and faculty. Without that critical mass, I've found as a professor that it's hard to really engage students. And it's the smaller colleges where there's the most contact between students and faculty.

 

One of your respondents raised the point about "snob schools" giving "patents of nobility" rather than proper degrees. Oddly enough, the University of the South (my alma mater), is an exceedinly preppy institution. Noblesse Oblige still has meaning there, or at least did back in the 1980s, in a way that would not be so elsewhere Meritocrats would squeal at the whole culture, as would the politically correct. So would people attuned to the likes of Bob Jones or Patrick Henry Colleges. In many very positive ways, Sewanee is a throwback to an earlier age that gives an outstanding education with lots of faculty contact and opportunity for engagement in extracurricular activities. I'm not at all surprised that Tom Fleming's daughter went there, though I hadn't known that before. Sewanee as it is known, fits with Swarthmore, Williams, Amhearts and the equivalent elite liberal arts colleges. It also remains very Southern and a place where one could get by quite well as a white male. The University of the South was founded by the Southern diosces of the Episcopal Chruch before the Civil War as a alternative to Princeton and Yale. One of its leading lights was Bishop (and later General) Leonidas Polk who was killed by a cannonshot outside Atlanta. After the late unpleasantness, it was revived by a number of Confederate Generals and clergymen with aid from Oxford and Cambridge. Despite an heir of threadbare gentility up into the 20th century, Sewanee provided a classical education to Southern elites while drawing from the Midwest and New England through the Episcopal Church. There's a strong Oxbridge influence, especially in tutorials and the emphasis on English and Literature. William Alexander Percy discusses it in "Lanterns on the Levee." Sewanee is not immune from broader trends in academe, but it's largely avoided the craziness that's spolied similar colleges.

 

The broader problem is the Gresham's Law dictates who ends up on the faculty in most places. I just encountered a woman applying for an appointment in American history who emphasizes race/class/gender. She openly described herself as an activist and "agent of social change," telling a job talk that she was inspired to study history by her outrage at never getting asked on a date at her Southern high school after befriending a black male student. Sounds like a telvision drama, but she got the job. The crazies reproduce themselves and exclude reasonable people. Those who adopt a Bill O'Reilly/Rush Limbaugh view of the humanities as a playpen for loonies only make the whole thing worse by their Babbit-like view that only colleges really exist to support business programs and athletics. Serious people get frustrated by the whole circus and go into journalism or something else more rewarding. (Think tank people in Washington, plus the writers at magazines like the New Criterion or Chronicles) Those who stick it out often become disengaged as their frustration level builds. The problem for the wider society is that higher education then becomes hijacked by people who despise its values and could care less about learning for its own sake. And that ends up with the situation you describe at Claremont. It's a vicious circle because there aren't enough serious places to hire or educate the serious people. Scholars can choose another career, but college isn't optional anymore.

 

I've written too much. Russell Kirk and Andrew Lytle saw the problem long ago. The Intercollegiate Studies Institute (www.isi.org) doesn a great job, but it has to make nods to Straussians and Neoconservatives who control funding through foundations. I suspect that for all their noise, those folks don't really care much about education for its own sake.

*

 

Well, there are lots of PC activities at Rice, but students make fun of them and of people who buy into them from the first day of orientation. This has been happening for ten years now and it drives the administration crazy. As long as they are somewhat self aware, they should do fine there. Most people I know who went there had a realistic view of the world and a good education. And you are in Houston, which is not exactly a liberal mecca.

 

Avoid UT Austin. They will never see a dime of my money. I could go on for hours about UT. It is a joke. And it is in Austin, which just makes it worse. I don't have a lot of regrets, but picking UT over Rice was not one of my brightest decisions. SMU is just not that good. Baylor is scary. A&M, oddly, has become somewhat liberal. There is not a lot else in Texas apart from smaller state schools which are OK, but not in the same league as Rice.

 

Of course, you have been clear about your feelings towards Rice and Houston in the past. But it *is* an option and most of the school, while not too politically liberal, still has a knee-jerk antagonism to stupidity and Rice tends to let in people bright enough to see that clearly as a core tenet of liberalism.

*

 

You had asked "which colleges are safe to send your sons to," and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to plug my own alma mater, Caltech. It's a great place, if you're scientifically minded. There's no affirmative action, and you can tell that there isn't because the demographics are almost completely white and asian, and there's about twice as many men as women. The emphasis is on study and learning, and you damn well learn a lot if you expect to graduate. I just graduated last year, and since I'm at graduate school now, comparing my undergrad education with everybody else's is illuminating. All-in-all, Caltech is hard to beat for a solid scientific education, if that's what you want.

*

 

Glad you asked. Allows me to pitch my alma mater, Mount Saint Mary's College, Emmitsburg, Maryland. 

*

 

Not much out there that I know of especially if you want your kids to get a prestigious degree. I call them snob degrees or better yet "patents of nobility" from Yale, Harvard, Princeton etc. And I thought that was unconstitutional. Here are a few ideas....

University of the South (one of Tom Fleming's daughters went there)

Hillsdale in Michigan, but taken over by Neos/Straussians recently, i.e., post scandal

Bob Jones University: yea, you're Catholic and no, I don't think its great academically, but if you had a daughter...

The Citadel: changed since women admitted and military stuff is too rough for me and a southern regional network school

Christendom College: its Catholic and in where, VA?

Patrick Henry College: Protestant (?) start up for home schooled kids mostly

Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California.

University of Dallas: Straussians again but not sure.

Choosing the Right College by the InterCollegiate Studies Institute http://www.collegeguide.org

*

 

Send your heirs to Deep Springs College. There are twenty six students and about a dozen professors on a ranch 80 minutes away from civilization. There are no drugs or alcohol, and at least 30 hours of hard physical labor per week. The students hire the professors who teach them and they admit new students. Best of all, every student is awarded a full scholarship to attend. See for yourself at http://deepsprings.edu/.

*

 

Here is a short list of Universities in Britain that I would recommend:

Oxford Cambridge Exeter Durham Bristol Bath Warwick St. Andrews

You can also check: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/section/0,,716,00.html

Places I would avoid:

LSE (full of vulgar Leftists) SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies - punks, hippies and pot smokers abound)

I would avoid all London colleges (for the Liberal arts), as a rule. They tend to attract some of the worst elements in academia.

***

 

Claremont Hate Hoax -- The Rosenberg's "Discriminations" blog has lots of thoughtful posts on Claremont.

***

 

Who struck first in Kosovo? -- Everybody remembers pictures of the Albanian Muslims being sent out of Kosovo in late March, 1999. Was our bombing campaign in response to this, as is almost universally assumed in major newspapers today (see below), or was the mass ethnic cleansing in response to our bombing campaign? Here is a quote from an anti-war op-ed from March 30, 1999 that appeared in the National Post of Toronto:

 

"Yugoslavia is a liberal war because it's motivated by sentiment rather than calculation. The stated purpose of attacking Serbia was to halt the maltreatment against the Kosovar Albanian civilian population. By all accounts, the attack instead has triggered atrocities on a larger scale, as Milosevic exploits NATO's attack to incite his army and his people to expel the Albanians from their homes. The war to save Kosovo has caused more suffering in Kosovo over the past four days than non-interfernce would have. Are the advocates of war chagrined? Not at all. Think how often you have heard them say, "This conflict is a test of our values." They are fighting to feel better about themselves."

 

The author of this sensible article, ironically enough, was David "Axis of Evil" Frum.

 

I'm really amazed by how many prominent people lie about a famous series of events that were reported intensely as they happen, hour by hour, just five years ago. I guess it's been easy to get away with this Big Lie, unlike the Bush Administration's Big Lies about Iraq, because this wasn't just America's war, it was NATO's war, so all of Western Europe is implicated too. This means all the major nations have an interest in perpetuating this fraud. The main places on the web that prominently reprint the standard news accounts from March, 1999 are Serbian sites, and we all know that Serbs are evil. so who is going to list to them when the Washington Post assures us that "NATO acted then to end a mass expulsion of ethnic Albanians at the hands of Serbs."

 

Frum should have learned this useful lesson about multilateralism from our attack on Serbia  -- multilateralism is really valuable when you screw up. Our bombing of Belgrade caused, first, the Serb ethnic cleansing of the Muslims. Then, after we bombed Serbia back to the industrial stone age, we caused the ethnic cleansing of the Serbs and Gypsies. But, it's now considered a famous victory because we got everybody to help us put the boot in.

***

 

More anti-Christian violence by our favorite Muslims in Kosovo -- "On Friday, calm prevailed in most of Kosovo where, in the days and nights before, armed Albanian gangs had torched 110 Serbian houses and 16 Serbian Orthodox churches... The number of Serbs made refugees by this week's violence is only a fraction of the number of people who fled Kosovo four years ago after NATO airstrikes forced the retreat of Serb forces from the province... The Serb population in Kosovo is now about 100,000, down from more than 300,000 before 1999," reports the Washington Post.

 

Of course, the Post repeats the popular lie about what happened in 1999: "NATO acted then to end a mass expulsion of ethnic Albanians at the hands of Serbs." How soon we forget. NATO started bombing Belgrade first in response to the Serb's low-grade repression of Muslim rebels. The mass expulsion began a few hours later in response.

 

I don't know. Maybe I'm the one whose memory has evaporated. Everybody else seems convinced that the notorious mass expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Albanians began before the bombing, but that was not how it was reported at the time. If I'm wrong, please point it out to me.

 

If you want to know what we should have done with the Balkans instead, read my National Post article "A Better Way in Kosovo."

***

 

What colleges are safe to send my sons to? Claremont's "Two Day Hate" session against conservative white heterosexual males raises the question of where you can find a college that's not a hostile environment against them. Any suggestions?

***

 

War Nerd Mystery Breakthrough! -- An alert reader figured out where the War Nerd found the picture he uses on his column. It seems likely that just by searching on "nerd," the War Nerd came up with this picture of some random Norwegian guy. Compare and contrast!

 

Now, before you start making up theories that the War Nerd is really Dennis Miller, or P.J. O'Rourke, or Tom Wolfe, or Charlie Kaufman, or Greg Cochran or whomever, let me suggest my theory: He is pretty much who he says he is: just some unknown guy with an unpolished but ferocious talent for writing who wants to tell the truth. He just doesn't want to be hassled in his private life for telling the truth in public.

 

Anyway, if you are out there, War Nerd, I can get you paying writing assignments under whatever name and picture you want to use. And I'll keep your secret identity secret.

***

 

Claremont Hate Crime Hoax -- A reader replies:

 

When will Professor Kerri Dunn be charged with promoting a climate of hate against White American men? Wasn't that the intention behind her actions? When will the college have a teach in on the need some people have to construct White American heterosexual men as the "Other"? Can black, hispanic, Jewish, gay, muslim, immigrant and White feminist groups have an identity without seeing themselves as aggrieved victims of this hateful "Other"?

 

Some other social psychology professor should look in to this topic.

 

If you think that's over the top, here are excerpts from criminal professor/criminal Kerri Dunn's rabble-rousing speech at the massive all-university "anti-hate" rally on March 10 (as reported at DailyBulletin.com:

 

Thank you so very much. Thank you, um, and thank you so much for being here… As a psychologist, I teach on a regular basis about the nature of prejudice. And we talk about how prejudice nowadays is supposed to be modern, and covert, and based on ignorance, and stereotyping. And I thought these acts aren't ignorant. This isn't the result of some covert thought. This was a well planned out act of terrorism.

(Applause) 

And I don't believe for one second it was one person. I think that there's a group here, a small group, but I do believe that there is a group here that perpetuates this in all different kinds of ways. And I think if you confronted those people they would deny it because they're cowards.

(Applause)

They are not looking for open dialogue. They are not looking for discussing whether the word [racial epithet] is an appropriate word to use with people of color. They're sneaking around at nighttime writin' this [expletive] on walls.

(Applause) 

So as I said at the faculty meeting and as I've said before I think that calling these acts acts of ignorance is a dangerous misnomer.

(Applause)

What I do think is that (inaudible) the espousal of a certain ideology and being in a free country I certainly believe these people have a right to their ideology, but we have a right to ours as well. 

(Applause)

And what I did that pissed people off so much and made them ruin my beautiful 1992 beater Honda Civic was that I said let's get together and say our ideology is more popular than yours. 

(Applause) 

Diversity is more popular than segregation. Love is more popular than hate. 

(Applause) 

That's what I did to wind up in as much trouble as I wound up in. The other thing that I, I also wanted to address, um, was in my class when I talked to people about - what are you gonna do, I said, I kept saying what are you gonna do, these are your friends under attack, these are my friends under attack, these are your colleagues, these are your peers, you're my students who are being attacked. What are we gonna do? Many people responded with, well you know Professor Dunn, we've always been taught that we should be racially blind, and that by not paying attention to it and not calling attention to differences we would minimize them. You know, that's a beautiful, beautiful, explanation - or should I say, um, all right, piece of [expletive] -

(Applause)

It has absolutely no substance and no utility in society wherein we are founded on diversity. The Statue of Liberty stands every day of all of our lives theoretically welcoming people to this land to become part of us. So to say that we should act like we're colorblind I really believe is an excuse. I believe it's an excuse to remain lazy, it's an excuse to turn your head. And it's an excuse to allow these idiots to continue with their agenda.

(Applause)

Last thing and I'll shut up, for real, for a little while anyway -

(Crowd chants: "Don't shut up"; applause)

...And what I want to say is from my position, and from the position of me feeling like a victim, I can't say thank you enough to the administration. They have been there supportive of me. Um, Pam Gann is here at a rally, as president of CMC. Torry Sun is here as well, and many many other administrators are here, and I have to say they're doing not just what they have to do administratively, but they're doing what they should be doing as human beings. And I think the message -

(Applause)

I think that the message that we need to take from this is that social change comes about on different levels and through different means. Some ways social change takes place is in the box office, um, is in the voting office, when you vote. Other ways - maybe it takes place in the box office, um, it definitely changes our attitudes. Um, it takes place on individual levels, it takes place on group levels, but it's, for things like this, when these events that were going on were beyond the reach of the police, but they were offensive and terrorizing to our friends, us individually, um, our peers, our colleagues, the action that need to take place is exactly what you are doing right here. And I just, you know, I want to end this by saying as a group, we stand here, and we say we're pro-diversity and anti-hate -

(applause)

- and that the people who espouse these hateful ideologies, really, I said earlier today should go underground. What I meant is that they should go to hell.

[End of Recording]

***

 

DailyBulletin.com reported:

 

Police and the FBI said Dunn cannot be charged with a hate crime. Officials with the Anti-Defamation League, the organization that authored the hate crime statute in 1987, also said that the suspected actions of Dunn would not qualify as a hate crime.

Amanda Susskind, regional director of the Pacific Southwest division of the group, said the Anti-Defamation League has encountered hate crime hoaxes before and they were not prosecuted as hate crimes. "We've had people torch their own buildings for insurance purposes or apply a racist epithet to their own building to get sympathy from the community," Susskind said.

 

She said the Anti-Defamation League is not considering pursuing any changes in the hate crime law because if it is made too broad, a case could get knocked out of the courts. Or if the law becomes too diluted, it may lose its original intent.

 

What exactly was "its original intent?" To punish certain people, but not other kinds of people? Professor Dunn is alleged to have committed the felony of lying to a federal officer in order to promote mass hatred of white males who disagree with her ideology. Why is that not a hate crime?

***

 

Brief review of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: You can read my full review of the Jim Carrey art house movie with a script by Charlie Kaufman in the 3/29 issue of The American Conservative. In summary: Go see it. It's not hugely enjoyable to watch, but it sure stands up well when you think about it the day after.

***

 

Claremont Hate Crime Hoax: An email colloquium: In the following exchanges, my emails are not indented while the replies from the two presidents of colleges within the Claremont University Consortium are indented and italicized.

 

 

From: Steve Sailer

To: Steadman Upham, President, Claremont Graduate College 

To: Nancy Y. Bekavac, President, Scripps College of Claremont

Subj: A concerned parent's question

 

Dear Presidents:

 

I just saw on the news tonight that your once-respected university was bamboozled by a criminal professor into conducting hysterical Red Guard-style rallies. As the father of two adolescent white heterosexual males in the Southern California area, please explain to me why I should pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to send my sons to your institution to be insulted and miseducated by harpies and fools?

 

Yours truly, 

Steve Sailer

------------------

 

From: Presid???@cgu.edu (President)

 

The investigation is still in progress, as no charges have been brought. If charges are brought, please remember that hindsight is always 20/20. Imagine how you might have felt if the crime was real and the Claremont Colleges ignored it.

 

Steadman Upham

------------------

 

From: Steve Sailer

Dear President Upham:

 

Gosh. You've suddenly developed quite an aversion to jumping to conclusions now that the shoe is on the other foot! Funny that you didn't wait for the police investigation _before_ you and your colleagues cancelled a day of classes, flushing nearly ONE MILLION DOLLARS worth of education (approximately $25k per year / 150 class days per year X 5,500 students) down the toilet, and teaching students to act like chanting mobs of Red Guards. Poor Professor Drucker -- he probably thought he was back in Vienna in the 1930s.

 

That this was a hoax should have been no surprise -- a huge proportion of campus "hate" brouhahas are set off by hoaxes, as 15 minutes worth of Googling would have shown you. I've pasted the fruits of my 15 minutes below for your education.

 

You and your colleagues have disgraced a once great institution. You should all resign.

 

Steve Sailer

------------------

 

From: Nbeka???@ScrippsCollege.edu (Nancy Bekavac) 

 

Dear Mr. Sailer -

 

You no doubt will be relieved to know that Scripps College is a women's college. Therefore, your sons may not apply and may not attend.

 

As to the matter of the professor's allegedly falso claim, I have always thought it better to respond sympathetically to a claim on my sense of justice than to reject out of hand a cry for help. If one does the former, surely one may be taken in; if one does the latter, one is condemned to cyncicism. Our communities saw a car covered with hateful graffiti, with tires slashed and windows broken. The professor, a temporary employee, has apparently been an effective teacher at one of our sister schools. What kind of institution, what kind of students and faculty, would ignore that? And what kind of indtitution would immediately assume that the victim was lying?

 

I am attaching the comment I sent to our community.

***********

March 17, 2004

To the Scripps College Community:

The Claremont Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced at 3:00 p.m. PST today that they have completed their investigation into the vandalizing of Professor Kerri Dunn's car on Tuesday, March 9, 2004. According to their report, two witnesses have come forward to positively identify Professor Dunn as the perpetrator. Furthermore, the announcement said that interviews with the alleged victim revealed inconsistencies in her statements regarding the incident. Based on this information as well as other information revealed during the investigation, the Claremont Police Department will present its findings to the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office for review.

 

Professor Dunn is entitled to the presumption of innocence. Nonetheless, news that the victim of an alleged hate crime on our campuses is now a suspect in that crime is shocking to all of us. While each of us is dealing with our emotions in our own way, we should also confront this recent news, as we confronted the vandalism, together. We will be setting a community meeting early next week, when all students are back on campus following spring break.

 

Above all, we must focus on this: even if the vandalized car and slogans were a hoax, our responses last week were right and appropriate -- in our community meeting March 10 in Balch Auditorium and in our strong participation in the evening rally at CMC with all The Claremont Colleges.

 

However painful and confusing this latest development is, we cannot forget the reasons we were outraged in the first place; we cannot avoid the challenges that hatred poses to our community, to our country. We will continue to work to make our campuses welcoming, open, diverse, and productive so that all of us can freely teach and learn to the best of our abilities.

 

Nancy Y. Bekavac, President

------------------

 

From: Steve Sailer

Dear Dr. Bekavac:

 

You write: "better to respond sympathetically to a claim on my sense of justice than to reject out of hand a cry for help."

 

No, it's better to wait for the police to get the facts before you and your fellow administrators wasted about $1 million dollars of parents' tuition by canceling classes for a day in order to unleash chanting mobs to further your political aims. I'm not a college administrator like you are, but even I knew that a high proportion of campus hate crime brouhahas grow out of hoaxes like this one. I spent 20 minutes Googling and came up with a long list, which I've pasted in for your education below. No, you wanted to be bamboozled so you could play Chairman Mao riling up the Red Guards for a day to further your anti-white male animus. This fraud happened on your campus because people like you want them to happen for your own interests. You should resign.

 

Steve Sailer

------------------

 

From: Nbeka???@ScrippsCollege.edu (Nancy Bekavac)

 

Thank you, and good night.

***

 

A brief history of hate crime hoaxes:

 

Jewish World Review May 30, 2000 /25 Iyar, 5760 

John Leo 

 

Faking the hate 

Not all reports of campus incidents are true

 

FOR THREE WEEKS THIS SPRING, minority students at the University of Iowa's College of Dentistry were the targets of menacing E-mail and a bomb threat. Red noodles were left on the doorstep of a black student, with a note suggesting that they represented a dead black person's brain. Surveillance tapes were set up. The FBI located the computer used in the E-mail threats. A black dental student, Tarsha Michelle Claiborne, was arrested and confessed.

 

In the midst of an antirape rally at the University of Massachusetts, a woman cut herself with a knife, tossed it under a car, and then walked across the street, claiming to be a victim of sexual assault. After nearly a month of negotiations between police and her attorney, she admitted that she had made up the whole thing. This was the fourth in a series of reported sexual assaults at the school. In one of the previous three, a woman said she fought off three male attackers and ran for help after being hit with "a pepper-spray-like substance." This may well be true, but some people on campus believe it's hard to fight off three assailants and harder still to escape at all after a chemical spraying.

 

Campuses are developing new doubts about reports of race and gender crimes. Last year, the Chronicle of Higher Education published a roundup of campus hoaxes, cautioning that this "flurry of fabrications doesn't necessarily suggest a trend." But it certainly looks like a trend. Race and gender are the dominant concerns at colleges today. Sometimes the temptation to prove that racism and sexism pervade campus life leads people to fake incidents. At Spokane Community College, a racist and sexist letter from "Whitey" appeared in an advice column in the student newspaper, the Reporter, last year. After campus protests about the letter's derogatory language about women, gays, and minority students, the newspaper's editors admitted that "Whitey" was a fictional character they had created to raise awareness about racism on campus. Jerry Kennedy, a gay resident assistant at the University of Georgia, reported he had been the target of nine hate crimes over a period of three years, including three acts of arson. But during questioning, Kennedy admitted that he had set the fires.

 

Caught in the act. Two weeks after the murder of Matthew Shepard, a lesbian student at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota said two men shouted antigay slurs at her and then slashed her face. Outraged students raised nearly $12,000 as a reward for information about her attackers. Then the student confessed she had made up the story and cut her own face. In a similar incident, a lesbian student at Eastern New Mexico University said she had been attacked after her name was included with the names of seven professors on an antigay "hit list" posted at a local laundromat. Police arrested her after a surveillance camera at the laundromat showed her posting the list.

 

Without a confession, convictions are rare. Two black students at Miami University in Ohio were accused of posting 55 racist and antigay fliers and typing racist computer messages. Their fingerprints and palm prints were found on 42 of the 55 fliers, but the defense argued that they had touched the papers when they were blank and someone else must have printed and posted the fliers. The jury acquitted.

 

Sometimes even dubious reports of race and gender offenses pay off, leading to an institutional payoff (more minority jobs or titles, more money for women's studies). Molly Martin, president of the student senate at North Carolina's Guilford College, said she had been assaulted, with the words "nigger lover" scrawled on her chest. Martin, who is white, had endorsed a proposal to create a full-time director of African-American affairs on campus. Police dropped the case, calling Martin "a reluctant witness." She later dropped out of Guilford and apologized for "acts that were inappropriate and that were injurious" to the college. She insisted that the attack had taken place but declined to say what acts she was apologizing for. Though many people on campus think the attack never took place, Martin achieved her goal: Guilford installed a director of African-American affairs.

 

Like Tawana Brawley's hoax, some recent fake hate crimes seem intended to cover personal embarrassment. Such was the case with a black student at Hastings College in Nebraska, who said he had been forced into a car by whites and dropped far out of town. He was cited for filing a false police report. But more of the college hoaxes seem to reflect an acted-out commitment to a cause, not just personal difficulties. One factor is that colleges now stress the need for each identity group to express its "voice" or "narrative," without much scruple about whether the narratives are literally true. (Postmodern theory says there is no such thing as truth anyway.) After the Brawley hoax, an article in the Nation magazine argued that it "doesn't matter" whether Brawley was lying, since the pattern of whites abusing blacks is true. And when Rigoberta Menchú's famous account of class and ethnic warfare in Guatemala was revealed to be largely false, many professors said this didn't matter much because her book contained emotional truth. The blurring of the line between fact and fiction is far advanced in our university culture. Hoaxes are just one symptom of the truth problem.

 

Other sources on hate crime hoaxes: first, second, third, fourth

***

 

"Hate" incident at Claremont Colleges another fraud: For the last week, the once conservative Claremont Colleges east of LA (the home of 94-year-old wise man Peter Drucker) have been holding hysterical Red Guard-style rallies against "hate" because a social psychology professor named Kerri Dunn claimed she had found her car vandalized and covered with anti-Semitic slogans after giving a lecture against "hate."

 

Now, for the umpty-umpth time in the history of college "hate" brouhahas, the police have discovered that the "victim" did it herself. The idealistic feminist professor turned out to also have a couple of recent criminal offenses on her record back in Nebraska.

 

How many times do these Reichstag Fires have to happen before the Establishment realizes that "pro-diversity anti-hate" is a moneymaking racket that crooks exploit to win power and wealth from gullible colleges?

 

Ken Masugi at the Claremont Institute has some appropriate comments.

***

 

IQ explains much of link between wealth and health: Here's a remarkably open-minded article by Karen Patterson in the Dallas Morning News (registration required) on "Exploring the health gap between rich and poor:  Researcher suggests intelligence may explain disparity among groups." I'm so used to journalists spewing ignorant hatred at IQ researchers that it was almost a shock to read something by Ms. Patterson, whose first priority is telling the truth.

 

I'm alive today probably because when I was diagnosed with final stage Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 1996, I was already a strong Internet search engine user. Poking around on the Web, I found a new clinical trial for the standard treatment plus a revolutionary monoclonal antibody that's now a hit drug called Rituximab. I fought to get into the trial and it probably made all the difference since my prognosis was well below 50% for surviving more than a year.

 

People need to be taught not to be intimidated by their doctors, to take responsibility for researching their own needs (which might require enlisting their smartest relative to help), and to ask questions.

 

Ms. Patterson writes:

 

For some unknown reason, increasing availability of medical care, which improves health overall, actually can widen the wealth-health gap. That unknown reason, an intelligence researcher suggests, could be brainpower.

 

In two recent scientific papers, researcher Linda Gottfredson proposes that rather than poverty causing ill health (and, generally, lower IQ scores) among lower social classes, intelligence disparities may underlie class differences both in wealth and health. Consider a person's income, or job, or education – all signposts of a person's status and wealth. The more tightly such a factor is related to intelligence, Dr. Gottfredson says, the more tightly it is also related to health... Regarding health, general intelligence may be a major cause of that difference, she contends. While so far it's unproven, "I think it's a stronger candidate than anything else that's been produced so far."

 

For instance, she says, the higher people are on the socioeconomic ladder, the higher they tend to score on tests of general intelligence, or g – a mental agility that includes skills such as reasoning and learning in all sorts of situations. This agility comes in handy for a host of day-to-day tasks, says Dr. Gottfredson, a professor of education at the University of Delaware. In tasks that are complex – like certain jobs, typically higher-paying ones – g is a strong predictor of performance. Dr. Gottfredson argues that taking care of one's health can be viewed as an increasingly complex, lifelong job. Much of this job is shifting from doctor to patient, as medicine's focus shifts from treatment of acute ills to prevention and management of chronic ones.

 

Even if all patients had the same medical care and resources, some would exploit them better than others to guard their health, she says. "The reason is that people differ in their ability to learn information, to understand the information that's provided to them, and their inclination and ability to go seek out information, understand what's relevant," she says. Diseases such as asthma or diabetes tax a patient's mental resources, Dr. Gottfredson writes in January's issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Patients have to continually decide how to take care of themselves based upon their own day-to-day monitoring of their condition. With the blood-sugar vigilance diabetes can require, "you have to make judgments all day," says Dr. Gottfredson, who is also co-director of the Delaware-Johns Hopkins Project for the Study of Intelligence and Society. "It's not a formula. Your doctor can't tell you what to do; he or she's not there all during the day."

 

And health care isn't like high school, where you can just skip a class like calculus if you don't think you can handle it, she says. "If this is a heart treatment, you don't want to say, 'I'll skip the complicated one.' " A heart patient may go home from the doctor's with diet and exercise regimens, follow-up appointments and various other instructions to decipher. Health literacy tests illuminate the problem's severity. Dr. Gottfredson cites a 1995 finding that more than a quarter of some 2,600 patients struggled to understand when their next appointment was scheduled. Forty-two percent didn't grasp directions for taking medicine on an empty stomach...

 

New research that compares childhood intelligence and lifelong health suggests that such a cumulative process might be at work. That study, led by psychologist Ian Deary, mined data from intelligence testing broadly administered among schoolchildren in Scotland as long as seven decades ago. Follow-up data revealed that intelligence at about age 11 could predict differences in adult sickness and death rates even after scientists accounted for socioeconomic status. The team reported the data in the same issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

 

Among the findings: Higher childhood intelligence was linked to higher survival chances until about age 76. And intelligence didn't seem to influence which of the subjects started smoking. But those with higher scores were more likely to later quit.

 

Childhood IQ, the researchers reported, may relate to health in several ways: It may reflect prior health insults, such as could trace even to the womb; it may reflect the body's overall integrity; it may predict healthy behaviors; or it may predict a life lived in healthier environments, such as less risky jobs.

 

In a paper appearing last month in Current Directions in Psychological Science, Dr. Gottfredson and Dr. Deary, of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, examine the issue further. Differing social opportunities can't explain why IQ is related to health, they write – the Scottish data show that even after adjusting for poverty and social status in the 1970s, intelligence's link to sickness and death rates held. Differences in mental resources may influence not just self-health care, but accident prevention, the team suggests, noting a possible link between intelligence and whether someone is, perhaps, capable of "driving defensively" through life... Viewing health care as a job could help, says Dr. Gottfredson, because lessons from the workplace could be applied. "This is where I think you have leverage. You're not going to change people's intelligence, but you can change tasks."

 

Perhaps a simple intelligence screening test could be given to patients, so doctors could tailor their explanations and instructions. Or medical students could receive more thorough training in patient communication. "Bright people tend to greatly overestimate the abilities of the average person," Dr. Gottfredson says, and "the person who is below average is going to hide that they don't understand." Health aides, druggists and others could also make sure patients grasp what they need to know. "I think the way to make a difference is ... to see the opportunities for infusing, you might say, mental assistance," Dr. Gottfredson says.

***

 

50th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education -- USNWR jumps the gun by devoting an issue to the Supreme Court's famous desegregation ruling. Unmentioned is Thomas Sowell's view that Brown v. Board of Education was the right decision at the wrong time, as shown by it basically going unenforced for 15 years until the Nixon Administration. Sowell argues that the Supreme Court should have focused first on the denial of the vote to blacks in the South. The Voting Rights Act wasn't passed until 1965, but it very quickly worked by 1970 or so to end rabble rousing among Southern politicians. Equal voting rights is unquestioned today, both in theory and in practice. (Granted, as we saw in Florida in 2000, blacks have about one standard deviation more ballots disqualified for the voter foul-ups, but that's for the usual Fundamental Constant of Sociology reason, as Griffe pointed out.) 

 

In contrast, school integration has never really happened even by now, because people put too much value on their children's welfare to risk their futures over some abstract principle. So, whites fled to the suburbs or got their kids into private schools.

***

 

Colby Cosh argues hockey will prevail in USA -- Colby points out that Americans don't like sports dominated by unAmerican furriners. For example, men's golf is quite popular now because the All-American Tiger is #1, but ladies' golf is desperately hoping Hawaiian Michelle Wie will grow up to crush the overseas invaders who currently dominate. Women's tennis is currently big here because of the dominance of the Williams sisters, but men's tennis is a bore to us because it's hard to even pronounce the names of so many top players. Americans love NASCAR, where, Colby says, there's a gentleman's agreement to keep out Europeans, while Formula 1 is huge around the world, but a snooze to Americans because all those Europeans and Brazilians always win. 

 

Anglo Canadians (e.g., Jim Carrey), in contrast, are pretty much honorary Americans. He claims that the NHL isn't likely to get anymore internationalized than it is right now -- it's basically a sport for people living well north of the frost line, leaving mostly northeast Asia as the last hockey terra incognita -- while baseball and even basketball will continue to become more diverse, leaving hockey (an admittedly distant) second to football as the most North American sport.

 

Americans like to hear their heroes being interviewed. So, a clever foreign athlete in America is well-advised to follow Sammy Sosa's path an become reasonably fluent in English. Also, Sosa's becoming and American citizen helped a lot too.

***

 

Quasi-New VDARE.com column at left

***

 

Mystery Men -- Thanks for all the extremely clever emails I've received propounding theories about which famous person La Griffe du Lion really is. Like the Shakespeare doubters who believe that the real author had to be somebody famous like Bacon, Marlowe, or the Earl of Oxford, or King James I, there seems to be a strong aversion to believing that Griffe is just some guy you've never heard of before who writes this wonderful stuff in his spare time.

 

Now, here's my pet question: Is the War Nerd really Gary Brecher, 37 year old data-entry clerk from Fresno? I don't have any way of communicating with him other than through his editor in Moscow. I can get him paid writing assignments if I didn't have to go through his editor, but I don't know how to bypass his boss. So I can't put to rest this nagging doubt, unless somebody out there can tell me a way to get through to him directly. If any of you know how to reach him directly, let me know.

 

I asked him in my interview with him:

 

Q. Who are you? Are you really a fat guy in Fresno who works in data entry and lives in a duplex and can't stand the heat, or is that a literary character you made up?

 

A. I'm the normal one here. I'm a typical American and you won't see it. Here, do this, get a list of all the men in your company who don't get to go to cool places and write stories and pick 10 or so of them just at random and you will see they're all like me, exactly like me. The only difference is I met this Mark Ames guy (the editor of The exile) and he thought it would be a funny idea to give me this column. So I can talk and people read it, but there are maybe 50 million guys like me out there, just like me, and you won't see it.

 

All of us are fat, everybody who isn't "a somebody" in America is fat, but you never let any of them on TV or The New York Times so it's like we don't exist. This is the dumbest question because it's just like that stupid Kristof quote, it just PROVES YOU DON'T WANT TO SEE WHAT'S RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU, which is millions of guys like me waiting for the heart attack.

***

 

My favorite way to make money -- I just got an email from the publisher of a prestigious anthology promising to send me a check for reprinting an article of mine from last year. 

 

Of course, what I'd really like to have written is a hit song, For the last 54 years of his life, Mel Torme got a huge check every January for all the times his 1945 "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire" tune ("The Christmas Song") got played in December. Even better, have your dear dead dad write a hit song, like Hugh Grant's elegant layabout character in "About a Boy," who lives leisurely on the royalties from his father's 1958 novelty hit "Santa's Supersonic Sleigh." The last I checked, the time limit on song royalties was up to 75 years, which ought to be long enough for anybody, although Irving Berlin was reportedly irate when, in 1987, he stopped getting checks for "Alexander's Ragtime Band," which he had written in 1912 when he was 23. The best deal of all is Yoko Ono's, who for complicated legal reasons, gets huge checks for "Yesterday," which Paul McCartney wrote all by himself, while Sir Paul gets nothing, much to his disgust.

***

 

Sorry about the delay in posting -- My web server host went down -- uncharacteristically. I can't even remember the name of the company, which is a mark of quality.

***

 

Let's look at it from a Spanish voter's point of view: 

 

At best, the former Spanish government's playing along with the Pentagon's lies about Iraq did nothing to protect Spain from Al-Qaeda. As we all know now, and lots of us did then, Al-Qaeda wasn't in Saddam's Iraq. Invading Iraq was at best a distraction from the War on Terror.

 

At worst, giving diplomatic support to the Bush Administration's War in Error might have got 200 Spaniards murdered by stirring up a hornet's nest.

 

The central issue in Sunday's vote was whether the Spanish government should continue to follow the Bush Administration's lead or whether it should make up its own mind about what is in Spain's national interest. Why was the choice of the Spanish voters a surprise to anybody?

***

 

Isn't it funny how the neocons are all for invading the world to spread the blessings of democracy everywhere, but they just can't stand it when the wrong guys get democratically elected, as in Spain, Haiti, Venezuela, and Turkey.

***

 

Gregg Easterbrook is shocked, shocked that black NCAA basketball players are less likely to graduate than real college students.

 

Considering that the median IQ of college graduates is around 110 to 115, while the median IQ of African-Americans is 85, how exactly can state flagship schools like Ohio State get the majority of black basketball players to graduate without corrupting the university?

 

The answer of course is that many of our most famous institutions of higher education do corrupt themselves trying to keep athletes eligible -- check out the now-famous final exam given to U. of Georgia athletes in a class taught by the assistant basketball coach, which featured such questions as "How many halves are there in a college basketball game?" [Hint: This is not a trick question.] -- and they still can't get the majority of scholarship athletes to graduate.

 

What's the alternative? The colleges can strictly enforce their entrance requirements. That's not a bad idea, but would it make sense for them all to do it and thus prevent hundreds of kids from playing anywhere just because they were born dumb? After all, the great majority aren't going to make it in the pros. Playing college hoops is the best thing they'll ever do in their lives.

 

No, as I explained back in 1991, the best all around solution would be to divorce the operation of basketball and football teams from any actual connection with education. They can keep the valuable collegiate brand names, but they should be run as profit-making enterprises that pay competitive salaries to the players.

***

 

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind opens Friday. From the March 29 issue of The American Conservative:

 

The dazzling screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's new sobriety suited the notoriously Oscar-hungry comedy king Jim Carrey. As wonderful as Carrey is in mainstream laughers like "Bruce Almighty," he knows the Academy doesn't much respect funny performances, as we just saw with the droll Bill Murray and the flamboyant Johnny Depp losing the Best Actor award to Sean Penn and his "Mystic River" emote-a-thon.

 

Carrey's lust for official recognition probably stems from his inferiority complex over his lack of education (he dropped out of high school to tell jokes for a living). More generally, stand-up comics like Carrey tend to be self-loathing and depressive (as Nicholas Cage's portrayal of Charlie Kaufman in Kaufman's Adaptation showed. Even the exception that proves this rule, that bulletproof superman Bob Hope, made a running joke out of his pain at being repeatedly rejected by the Oscar voters.

 

Unfortunately for Carrey's dramatic ambitions, his comic competitive advantage originates is his remarkable muscle tone: his facial muscles can simply power their way from one exaggerated expression to another as fast as anyone in movie history. Carrey's attempt to harness his antic visage to Academy-style social issue drama hit rock bottom with 2001's "The Majestic." Playing a blacklisted screenwriter in order to pander to Academy members' belief that the Hollywood Red Scare was the worst thing that ever happened in American history, Carrey gave a performance restrained to the point of catatonia. In Eternal Sunshine, however, he has largely solved his acting problems. He portrays a cautious introvert, but this time allows his character's sorrows to fully show appealingly on his expressive face.

 

To read the rest, purchase the magazine on a newsstand near you, or subscribe here.

***

 

Finns staring at their shoes: Lately, I've been mentioning how, as Jimmy Buffet observed, attitudes change with latitudes. Here is an enjoyable NYT article on the Finns, who make Garrison Keillor's Norwegian-Americans look like Brazilians.

***

 

The Spanish slaughter -- According to Military Grand Strategist Andrew Sullivan's "Flypaper" theory, all the Islamic terrorists in the world were supposed to get sucked into Iraq where we would kill every last one of them. Doesn't seem to be working out... 

 

As I pointed out last September:

 

One obvious problem with the Flypaper theory is that there's no glue on the flypaper. President Bush has been inviting guerillas into Iraq with his "Bring 'em on" bluster. If these foreign anti-Americans fighters in Iraq start losing, they'll come to realize that Andrew Sullivan is a more masterful asymmetrical war strategist than they are, and they'll just leave Iraq. So, the upside is small.

 

The downsides are numerous. How exactly are we going to turn Iraq into a shining city on a hill of prosperity and democracy while also using it as our designated killing floor?  How are we going to keep the oil and water pipelines running if we keep inviting in more trained terrorists? How can we win the hearts and minds of civilian Iraqis who might not appreciate the President deciding to treat their neighborhoods as a global battle zone? How can we get more cooperation from Iraqi civilians if they are in danger of being murdered for cooperating by all the guerillas we've attracted?

***

 

Levitt and Donohue still at it: Back in 1999, two academics advanced the theory that the lower crime rate in the late 1990s was due to the legalization of abortion in 1973 killing off crime-prone fetuses. As I pointed out to Levitt in a Slate.com debate with Levitt that year, however, their theory implied that the juvenile murder rate should have fallen from 1984 to 1993 as the abortion-pruned cohort matured. Instead, the juvenile murder rate tripled overall, and actually quintupled among black male teens, who were aborted at three times the rate of whites, thus implying by Levitt's logic that the survivors should have been positive angels instead of the murderous vermin too many of them turned out to be.

 

Unable to give up, Levitt and Donohue are still flogging their aborted horse, this time claiming that the decline in teen pregnancy in the 1990s was due to legalized abortion in 1973 (credulously passed on by MarginalRevolution.com.) Their theory is that abortion would kill off those most likely to have illegitimate babies when they grow up. But that doesn't even make sense on a priori grounds. Abortion would be most likely to kill off those who by genetics and/or upbringing would be most likely, if they had been allowed to survive, to abort their own illegitimate fetuses. Instead, a higher proportion of babies are now born to those inclined not to use legalized abortion.

 

Of course, in the real world, Roe v. Wade isn't even noticeable on a graph showing the increase in the illegitimacy rate. 1973 isn't even a blip on the illegitimacy chart -- there is just a straight slope up from the early 1960s to the late 1990s. In fact, Levitt and Donohue approvingly cite a study estimating that 60% to 75% of aborted fetuses would not have been conceived if abortion had remained illegal. 

 

Levitt and Donohue keep making up these theories about the eugenic and eucultural impact of legal abortion, without presenting much persuasive evidence that that is indeed the effect it had. What appears to have really happened was that the legalization of abortion in 1973 (usually said to be the year the Sexual Revolution finally touched down in America in general) set off a lot of unprotected sex by people who figured they no longer had to think about the future, much of which resulted not in abortions but in illegitimate births. Very roughly speaking, the middle class used contraception, the working class used abortion, and the underclass just let sh-- happen all the way to County General's maternity ward. This dysgenic/dyscultural impact of Rove v. Wade likely contributed to the worsening trend in African-American statistics after the mid 1980s, not just juvenile crime, but also the decline in black NAEP test scores that so puzzle the Thernstroms. The more promising black fetuses were more likely to be aborted than the less promising ones.

 

Further, the drop in illegitimate births to teens in the 1990s coincided with a drop in the abortion rate, too. Ironically, perhaps what's happening is that people inclined to abort their fetuses are slowly aborting their genes and memes out of existence. So, perhaps legalized abortion is, in the very long run, self-defeating.

***

 

James Bowman in The American Spectator points out the "hierarchy of worthiness" in the new Disney family action flick "Hidalgo:"

  • At the top are animals: The horse, of course, with the hybrid mustang being innately better than the purebred Arabian. But even locusts are "a gift from Allah and not a plague."

  • Then come American Indians, "who are all good and noble and wise."

  • Indian-white hybrids, like the hero, played by Viggo Mortensen.

  • Black people.

  • Arabs.

  • White Americans.

  • Englishmen.

  • And, the lowest of the low, English aristocrats.

This is almost the same racial hierarchy as in Disney's 2001 animated flop Atlantis. As I wrote in my review:

 

Apparently pursuant to the Affirmative Action Act of 1913, Captain Rourke leads an ethnically and gender diverse crew, which provides a field guide to the modern movie industry's reigning racial prejudices.

  • In Hollywood's eyes, the lowest dregs of humanity are the Germans, who are here represented by Rourke's right-hand woman, Helga, a vicious proto-Nazi.

  • Less evil than the Teutons -- but still unsanitary and laughable -- are the French. Moliere (or "Mole" for short) is the dirt and fly-covered semi-human comic relief.

  • On the middle tier of the Hollywood Hierarchy of Humanity are the Ellis Island immigrants. Demolitions expert Vinny Santorini (hilariously voiced by Don Novello, using the deadpan cadences of his Father Guido Sarducci character) reminds us that, according to 70 years of film lore, Sicilians are thuggish but fascinating. Jews, such as the cynical old lady radio operator, kvetch a lot, but in an amusing way.

  • At the peak of the moral pyramid are the People of Color. The expedition's chief mechanic is a pugnacious but kind-hearted teenage Latina. 

  • Its surgeon is the Shaquille O'Neal-sized Dr. Sweet. You can tell that the good doctor will indeed be the epitome of sweetness when he reveals that not only was his father black, but that his mother was Native American.

  • Still, not even this paragon can compare to the endangered Atlanteans. Led by the curvaceous yet strong-minded Princess Kidakagash, they sport the pan-Third World good looks of Tiger Woods. Of course, they also have trendy platinum blonde hair. The Atlanteans turn out to be - surprise! -- nonmaterialistic.

In an equally stunning turn, Helga turns out to be a genocidal mercenary who intends to steal the Atlanteans' precious power crystals and sell them to the Kaiser. In Hollywood, the only thing more popular than making anti-capitalist, anti-German, pro-environment movies is taking the profits from them and buying $80,000 Mercedes-Benzes that get 12 miles to the gallon.

***

 

Speaking of Wordsworth, here's my favorite sonnet:

London, 1802
by William Wordsworth
Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour:
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again;
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart:
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So didst thou travel on life's common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet the heart
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.
***

The War Nerd Explains Haiti: Part 1 ("The Big Hate") covers 1492-1804 and Part 2 ("The Rerun") recounts everything up to this year's fun in the sun.

 

In a way, the only sad thing about Haiti is the way we keep trying to make it into Ohio. Because it never will be, and only looks ridiculous trying, giving the local killers fancy democratic names. If we just let Haiti be Haiti--a crazy, gory voodoo kingdom--people might learn to respect the place. I have, after reading up on it. Haiti's history isn't just a lot of killing, either. A lot of Haitian leaders were brilliant guys who weren't afraid of anybody--not Napoleon, not Jesus, not nobody. These guys were self-made black Roman Emperors. They came up the hard way, out of slavery in the cane fields, and beat the European armies that tried to take the place back. All comers--French, British, Spanish--the Haitians took them all on and put the fear into them. The only people they can't beat is themselves, and that's nothing for soldiers to be ashamed of. 

 

We've made them ashamed, by telling them the only way to be worth anything in this world is by working in offices, wearing dress-shirts and watching TV. My life, and God damn does it suck. If I had a little more of a tan, Haiti and a job in the Cannibal Army would look like a pretty good career option.

Unfortunately for me, they don't want white guys. Desallines, one of the scariest men who ever ruled Haiti with a bloody machete, said it pretty clearly when it came to racial policy: "For the Haitian declaration of independence, we should use a white man's skin for parchment, his skull for an inkwell, his blood for ink, and a bayonet for a pen!"...

 

Napoleon had plans for the island. And he had a surplus brother-in-law, LeClerc, who he was sick of seeing around the home office in Paris. So it was the old story: the boss sends his useless brother-in-law on a long business trip to get him out of sight. LeClerc landed in Haiti in 1802 with 20,000 men. Toussaint, who was definitely the noblest man in the whole mess, surrendered to avoid more slaughter. The French made him a lot of promises, broke them in about five seconds and sent Toussaint to France in chains, where he died in a freezing dungeon a couple of years later. And that was the last good guy in the story. From here on, it's just bad guys vs. worse guys, vs. even worse guys, vs. guys who would scare Charles Manson.

 

That reminds me of Wordsworth's sonnet "To Toussaint L'Ouverture, with its great last six lines:

 

TOUSSAINT, the most unhappy man of men!

Whether the whistling Rustic tend his plough

Within thy hearing, or thy head be now

Pillowed in some deep dungeon's earless den;

O miserable Chieftain! where and when

Wilt thou find patience? Yet die not; do thou

Wear rather in thy bonds a cheerful brow:

Though fallen thyself, never to rise again,

Live, and take comfort. Thou hast left behind

Powers that will work for thee; air, earth, and skies;

There's not a breathing of the common wind

That will forget thee; thou hast great allies;

Thy friends are exultations, agonies,

And love, and man's unconquerable mind.

  ***

 

Flynn Effect, one more time -- Perhaps the most mysterious aspect of the study of IQ is the Lynn-Flynn Effect. It was noticed as far back as the 1940s that people tended to do better on IQ tests each decade. Thus, you have to get more questions right on, say, the Wechsler IQ test to score 100 than your grandfather did because the test publisher renorms the scoring chart every so often to reflect rising performance. It is widely hoped that the Effect will lead to convergence of different ethnic groups scores toward one global average, although the evidence for this actually happening is not strong. 

 

The best evidence for Flynn-style convergence remains the one standard deviation gap in IQ between well-fed, healthy, heavily schooled African-Americans and their relatives in Africa. Genetic admixture is probably no more than 20% on average, so a purely genetic explanation seems inadequate.

 

The best evidence against convergence remains the constant one standard deviation gap between whites and blacks in America over the last eight decades, during a time when the black environment improved dramatically, except for those aspects that blacks were responsible for themselves, such as maintaining two parent families, staying off the pipe, and not making a role model out of Snoop Dogg.

 

Furthermore, we really have no idea what causes the Lynn-Flynn Effect. Lynn thinks better nutrition helps. Flynn recently offered a gene-cultural interaction theory (smart people create personal environments that exercise their brains more) that seems to me to predict divergence rather than convergence. 

 

So, where do we go from here? I think it might make sense to pick out some of the older IQ studies mentioned in Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen "IQ and the Wealth of Nations" and redo them. Go to the same towns and the schools and give the same tests to the same grades and see what you get. Do we get higher test scores? Also, record the environmental changes since the original test and see what correlates with the Lynn-Flynn Effect.

 

For more on this topic, please read my 2002 review of "IQ and the Wealth of Nations." I'm told it's the all-time most emailed article in VDARE.com history.

***

 

Pimpmobiles -- Dan Neil in the LA Times has an excellent piece on the mixed emotions of the Cadillac division management over how their brand name has become central to the pimp fad being marketed to impressionable teens. Ever since the Cadillac Escalade replaced the Lincoln Navigator as the vehicle most likely to be mentioned in news reports about the arrest of an NBA star, the Cadillac brand name has been popping up in more and more gangsta rap songs: "According to a survey by San Francisco-based marketing analyst Lucian James, Cadillac became the most name-dropped brand in songs on Billboard's Top 20 chart in January 2004, overtaking Mercedes-Benz, which has long been hip-hop's shibboleth of bling-bling materialism." 

 

After decades of old-fogeyhood, Cadillac is cool again! Cadillacs are popular on MTV's auto makeover show Pimp My Ride. The only problem for the GM executives is that the people most celebrated for driving Cadillacs are, well, criminals. "Gangsta rap is an amplification of funk's sensibility, except that instead of political empowerment for many, its energy is derived from the self-glorification of the narrator, the ruthless criminal-as-hero, the gangsta, the "playa" in ostentatious jewelry, cars and clothes."

 

In the big picture, what's fascinating about the African-American Cult of the Pimp is how close it is to the West African Cult of the Big Man. One of my continuing complaints is that American intellectual discourse ignores how much of black American culture is derived from Africa. Vast efforts have gone into tracing traditions like illegitimacy back to the malign effects of slavery in the South, but African patterns have almost totally been ignored.

 

A traditional American criminal law term for pimp is "a man who lives off the earnings of women," an aspect of pimping that particularly disgusted whites who strongly believed in monogamy and a father bringing home the bacon for his wife and kids. Under tropical agriculture conditions, however, women could grow adequate amounts of food themselves with just hoes, without needing a man to plow and handle draft animals. So, this made it economically feasible for a man to aspire to many wives, who would keep him fed. The Big Man with numerous women working for him is the most admired role model in many African cultures, so it's not surprising that African-Americans have tended to have higher regard for a man who lives off the earnings of women than do white Americans.

***

 

Long-awaited Passion Demographics -- Variety reports:

 

The Newmarket exit polls also found that the pic is playing much better among Latino and African-American auds. "The Latino response has been particularly strong," Berney said. "It has been the strongest group that has said they were going to see it a second time or more." 

 

On opening weekend, he said women outnumbered men in the audience by about 60% to 40%, but that as the pic has played, the aud is now evenly divided between male and female. Geographically, Berney said the strongest cities have been in the South, like Atlanta and Dallas... Younger filmgoers make up the bulk of "The Passion" crowd, but Bob Berney, whose Newmarket is distributing the pic, said the aud --- as a whole --- is older than average. "The R-rating is limiting younger kids, but it is getting teens and college kids," he said. But, "like ('My Big Fat Greek Wedding') it's also getting an older audience."

 

And here's an article from the NY Daily News:

 

According to the Rev. Carlos Mullins, for the majority of Latinos, the debate surrounding "The Passion of the Christ" is resolved. For them, he said, the controversial Mel Gibson film is all about love.

***

 

Gibson could pocket up to $500 million, personally -- While there was a lot of talk about whether Mel would ever work in this town again, the reality is that he will wind up a massive player in Hollywood, with the power to greenlight films that nobody else would touch. For example, I wouldn't be surprised to see a movie from him on the Ukrainian Holocaust, Stalin's 1928-33 war on the peasants. It was one of the turning point events of the 20th Century, but it is almost unknown in America.

 

Gibson pointed out to Peggy Noonan in Reader's Digest, "In the Ukraine several million starved to death between 1932 and 1933." To which, Abe Foxman, head of the ADL, retorted in the NYT, "He doesn't begin to understand the difference between dying in a famine and people being cremated solely for what they are."

 

This caused a Ukrainian-American leader to write to the NYT: "While it is certainly appropriate to avoid the fruitless exercise of “competitive martyrdom,” one should not claim that the suffering of a Jewish people is somehow “marginalized” or “diluted” if the Jewish Holocaust of World War II, for example, is mentioned in a series of other major holocausts. The Jewish Holocaust was without a doubt one of the most horrendous events in all of history, but the slow, painful death by starvation, which befell millions of Ukrainians in 1932-33 was the result of a planned, methodical, and relentlessly carried out crime by the Soviet regime against the Ukrainian people. This too was a genocide and should not be “marginalized”."

 

It's possible that Foxman is trying to goad Gibson into developing a longterm symbiotic relationship with him. Rather than declaring victory over anti-Semitism in America and shutting down the ADL, Foxman is on a perpetual hunt for a new bogeyman to use in scaring up donations. While Foxman's attacks on Gibson's Passion certainly put millions in Gibson's pocket, they can't have hurt the ADL's bottom line either. What surer way for Foxman to keep the money rolling in than to provoke Gibson into making a movie about the Ukrainian Holocaust?

***

 

"Protein and vitamin supplement research. Some research has demonstrated that food supplements have the potential to enhance cognitive ability. Most non-genetic explanations for IQ deficits in non-developed countries have focused entirely on cultural factors such as prejudice, poor education, and poverty. The biological, but not genetic contribution to cognitive ability has largely been ignored. However, we do know that minute daily additions of essential amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and other trace elements can be critical. (Malnutrition in childhood is a different phenomenon.) There may even be group differences in the optimal daily requirements of these substances. Research of this kind carried out in developing countries such as South Africa could pay great dividends."

 

That's from the wish list of research projects the Pioneer Fund wants to raise money to sponsor. There are some other good ones on the list.

***

 

The Jobs Perplex -- Everyone is wondering when employment is going to start rising again, now that the economy has turned up. My little contribution is to suggest that because the main engine of recovery has been the Fed driving down interest rates so low, one part of the economy that's really booming is home additions. My neighborhood is full of houses being gutted or added on to right now, no doubt most financed by low interest loans. I don't know what percentage of the guys working on the houses are illegal aliens, but I'm sure it's high. I suspect that very few of them answer government surveys about employment.

 

Edwin S. Rubenstein checks out the data that the government is able to collect and finds in VDARE.com that jobs are going to Hispanics.

***

 

Who is La Griffe du Lion? A law professor writes:

 

"La Griffe du Lion" must be Dan Seligman [the veteran business journalist, now with Forbes, long the writer of Fortune's wonderful "Keeping Up" column]. The convergence of writing style and subject matter interests is a dead giveaway. Look at it as Griffe would: only a few thousand people have this interest in IQ and only a few dozen can write, on any subject, in that league. The population of the overlap of the two sets must be very tiny. We know Seligman is in it. And have we ever seen Seligman and Griffe in the same room at the same time?

Do you know what "la griffe du lion" refers to?

 

Found on a website:

"In 1696 Jean Bernoulli and G. W. Leibniz concocted two teasing problems they sent to the leading mathematicians in Europe. After the problems had been in circulation for about 6 months, a friend communicated them to Newton, who, when he had finished his day's work at the Mint, came home and solved both. The next day he submitted his solutions to the Royal Society anonymously, as he did not like to be distracted from the business of the Mint by embroilment in scientific discussions. The anonymity did not, however, deceive Bernoulli. 'I recognize the lion by his claw!' he exclaimed." (E. Bell, Men of Mathematics)

My Seligman evidence is circumstantial but compelling. "La griffe du lion" = "the lion's paw" ("claw," actually), or, in other words, the signature. In this mystery I am, flatteringly, cast in the role of Jean Bernoulli, the Swiss mathematician who, in addition to being one of the most important founders of the calculus, was also father of the law of large numbers. (Jean's brother Jacob and his sons Daniel and Nicholas were mathematicians equally as famous. The Bernoullis remain one of the most intriguing clusters of high IQ individuals.) In July of 1995, Seligman, writing in Fortune as "Mr. Statistics," muses on the wager that Claudius makes with Laertes concerning the latter's duel with Hamlet. Mr. Statistics analyzes the odds with a computer simulation that, in effect, utilizes the law of large numbers. I e-mailed Seligman and asked him point blank whether I rightly detected la griffe du lion. He didn't write back.

Elementary.

 

Well, it's a great guess, and I imagine the part about Bernoulli and Newton is where Griffe got his nom de plume, but I don't think the Griffe=Seligman idea is true, because they've both been active in the same email discussions. I don't think Mr. Seligman, an eminently sane individual, would go to all the trouble of taking both sides in an on-line debate! Further, Mr. Seligman is a lifelong New Yorker, while Griffe is not.

***

 

The Perfect Body ... for swimming, that is. American Michael Phelps might be to swimming what Tiger Woods is to golf because his body is hydrodynamically superior. La Griffe du Lion called my attention to this well-written article by Paul McMullen in the Baltimore Sun.

***

 

Jealousy: Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude -- An anthropologist specializing in Polar peoples writes:

 

On another note, I've been thinking about the relationship between monogamy, paternal investment, and sexual jealousy. My impression is that male sexual jealousy does not peak in arctic or subarctic populations. It seems to be strongest at middle latitudes, particularly in the Muslim cultures of North Africa and the Middle East. Even within Europe, men seem to be more jealous in the south than in the north. I don't think this reflects a spread of modern sexual values from the north to the south. I remember reading an account by an Arab traveler in the Middle Ages and he was surprised by the lack of jealousy among English men: "Their women are beautiful but they don't notice them. They let them go to the market unaccompanied and allow strangers to talk with them" (I'm reciting this from memory, but that was the gist of it).

 

My impression is that male sexual jealousy is a function of (a) paternal investment; and (b) the degree of hardwiring for monogamy. In a population where monogamy has become the norm (because of food-provisioning constraints), natural selection will favor a monogamous sexual orientation. There will concurrently be a lack of selection to maintain intense sexual jealousy because the degree of male-male competition for mates is low. Ed Miller has written on this topic, suggesting that men in formerly arctic and subarctic populations have become hardwired for increased paternal investment and intensified monogamous sexual orientation.

 

I recall something James Michener wrote in Centennial about a Mexican community in 19th Century Colorado. The young men learned from their culture that they had two duties in life: to defend to the death the virginity of their sisters and to deflower as many virgins as possible. It meant that life was full of interest, although not likely to be very long.

 

It seems like male jealousy is strongest where cultures insist on high degrees of paternal investment but males are outgoing and flashy enough to be a likely threat to seduce another man's woman. In tropical Africa, men are less expected to provide for their children so they less need to police their women's fidelity. (That's a major reason for the high AIDS rates of Africa.) The shy and phlegmatic men of the north face less competition for their woman's affections from the other shy and phlegmatic men around them, so they too need jealously less. It's the men in middle who need to be most jealous.

***

 

A reader comments on polygamy:

 

Polygamy prevents capital accumulation because the fortunes that rich men acquire are divided up among so many heirs. Look at how Papa Bin Laden's fortune of roughly five billion becomes 100 million for each son (not quite sure of the actual numbers). And Osama has multiple wives and many children so his fortune (if it survives) will be divided even further. I read that the new generation of Saudi princes are only getting $18,000 a month. In a monogamous society a rich man may make settlements on mistresses and natural children, but if he is reasonably prudent he can keep the bulk of his fortune in the legitimate line.

 

The problem is similar in the case of political succession. Under the Ottoman system for example, an ambitious prince would be willing to strangle any of his dozens of half brothers who stood in his way. The princes were kept as prisoners in the harem, cut off from knowledge of the outside world. A Western bon vivant like Charles II could make his natural sons dukes without upsetting the political order (religion was another matter).

 

An expansionist warrior society may well have had a shortage of men after all the fighting and polygamy could help restore the numbers. I haven't checked other sources, but I remember reading about polygamy in Paraguay after most of the men were killed in the war of the Triple Alliance in the 1870s(?). I hadn't thought about the captured women so specifically, but you are right about their value as an incentive.

***

 

The NYT, of all places, runs an excellent op-ed by Don Browning and Elizabeth Marquhardt on gay "marriage" that makes clear a number of points that I've been groping toward:

 

"Legalizing same-sex marriage does not simply extend an old institution to a new group of people. It changes the definition of marriage, reducing it primarily to an affectionate sexual relationship accompanied by a declaration of commitment. It then gives this more narrow view of marriage all of the cultural, legal and public support that marriage gained when its purpose was to encourage and temper a more complex set of goals and motivations.

 

"Same-sex marriage changes the purpose of marriage law. It no longer will serve, in concert with other aspects of society, to direct sexual and parental behavior to achieve a complex synthesis of goods. It will function instead to extend marriage privileges to a particular group of sexual partners.

 

"Rather than expanding the status and privileges of marriage to same-sex couples and then gradually to other kinds of caring relationships, as logic would soon require, society should find alternative ways of meeting the needs not only of same-sex couples but also interdependent friends, and dependent but unmarried kin. Tax benefits, legal adoption, welfare transfers, and more refined and accessible legal contracts should all be used to meet these needs — but not the institution of marriage itself."

***

 

New VDARE.com column on La Griffe du Lion at left.

***

 

The Passion Effect: "Hollywood superstar Nicole Kidman has been signed to star in a new movie version of CS Lewis' classic children's novel The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe." Suddenly, Christian movies are hot in Hollywood. Now, why would that be?

***

 

Outsourcing and Immigration: Outsourcing paperwork to India gets all the media attention, while outsourcing making stuff to China is ignored, even though the Chinese are growing faster and are likely to be formidable military competitor to the U.S. in another generation. How come? Well, some Indians can speak English (although Dell customers might disagree), thus making them potential competitors for us journalists.

 

The flip side of the coin is immigration. This gets a huge amount of attention from the public, but little from journalists because few immigrants, especially the illegals ones that outrage the average American, are good enough with the English language to give us wordsmiths any competition. In contrast, they give less-educated Americans all the competition they can handle for those service jobs that can't be outsourced.

***

 

Charles Murray emails to tell me, "You are surely the person with the highest IQ still using AOL." Uh, thanks, Chas... I think.

 

I have, however, taken up Chas.'s excellent suggestion of doubling my screeenspace by using two monitors. I now write my articles on the screen directly in front of me and keep the supporting stuff I'm working from on the secondary screen. (This is supported even in Windows 98 SE.) You probably have an old monitor out in the garage, so, if you have the deskspace, give it a try.

***

.

Daily Telegraph Letters

Re: Bizarre sexual discrimination 

From: Jill Filmer and Jennie MacColl, Walmer, Kent

Date: 4 March 2004

 

Sir - We are two "sixtysomething" ladies who have shared a home for the past eight years. As "two adults sharing the same address", we pay a reduced joint subscription to institutions such as the National Trust and, currently, a reduced joint premium for holiday travel insurance. Imagine our disbelief, therefore, when, inquiring about the cost of a joint premium from the Halifax Travel Insurance Agency, we were asked whether we were in a sexual relationship.

 

Apparently, if we were in such a relationship, we would qualify for a joint premium, but, if not, we would have to pay two individual premiums, at considerably greater cost. Quite aside from the appalling impertinence of their question, one wonders how they intended to confirm an affirmative reply.

 

We are, of course, remaining with our current insurers, who do not practise such a bizarre form of sexual discrimination.

 

I suspect that the number of adults living together who are not in a sexual relationship with each other outnumbers those who are in a homosexual relationship: two widows, two siblings, parent-child, old friends, plain old roommates, etc.  But you don't hear much about them for roughly the same reason you don't hear about all the surplus bachelors in polygamous societies (as I discuss below). It would be useful to have laws that would enable non-married people sharing a home to sign standardized contracts spelling out their obligations to each other without having to hire lawyers to craft agreements from scratch. This is probably not going to happen because politicians, who are often lawyers, are generally not inclined to make reforms cutting down on demand for lawyers. But, it's hard to see why homosexuals should be favored in these kind of arrangements over, say, two widows.

 

My admittedly hazy recollection is that the gay "marriage" / civil union movement began in the 1980s largely because AIDS patients without health insurance were desperately trying to come up with justifications for why some insurance company, such as their roommates', should pay for their treatment. The ideological arguments you hear today tended to be post-facto rationalizations.

 

UPDATE: A reader writes: "Very good point on chaste partnerships. For thousands of years, people have been living together who were not married: priests, monks, nuns, soldiers, friends, close or distant family relations, householders and servants, governesses, ex-slaves, or poorer relations, etc., etc., etc., etc.etc. Indeed, for most of history, this kind of relationship was undoubtedly much more common than it is today, simply because poverty forced people to do it to survive. And poverty likely made these close relationships more permanent and enduring than many straight marriages are today. Love, care, mutual support and reliance likely grew over time in most of these relationships, if only because you cannot live peacefully with another person without deepening understanding and affection. "

***

 

Mormon Polygamy: Where are the bachelors? ABC ran a segment tonight on a schismatic Mormon polygamous community in the Arizona desert. The best detail was how welfare-dependent polygamists are: the taxpayers spend $8 million in Colorado City annually, but collect only $100k in taxes. As you monogamously married men may have noticed: wives are expensive!

 

As usual, according to my ever-informative wife who watched the whole program for me (she's worth every penny), the reporter never inquired what happens to the patriarch's sons who don't get wives because their dad is hogging all the hot babes. (Maybe Freud was on to something after all with that Oedipus Complex theory -- it just applies to "gerontocratic polygamous" societies, not to ours). As I wrote a couple of years ago:

 

The merits of polygamy versus monogamy have been debated for thousands of years. Both sides normally assume that men, of course, like polygamy. So, they simply clash over whether polygamy is in the best interests of wives. In reality, however, polygamy victimizes men. You never hear about it because few men want to claim this particular kind of victimhood: that of the sexual rejectee. 

 

I've been following accounts of polygamous societies ever since I saw an article in the early 1980s about a Kenyan man with 150 wives. It set the template for every first-hand description of polygamy that I've read since. The reporter diligently interviewed the youngest wife, who thought polygamy was terrific since it allowed her to marry the richest, handsomest, and most respected man in her village. He also quoted the oldest wife, who was nostalgic for the days when she didn't have to share her husband with this army of younger wives. Nonetheless, she appreciated her status as her husband's chief of staff. She had 10 senior wives reporting to her, who each oversaw the work of about 14 junior wives as they toiled in their husband's fields. The husband, not surprisingly, thought industrial-scale polygamy was an all-around great idea and recommended that all men should marry multiple wives...

 

But who's missing from this picture? Isn't there somebody else affected? This reporter, like all I've seen since him, forgot the existence of the people who were most definitely damaged by polygamy: namely, the 149 guys who didn't get a wife at all because Mr. Marriage-Minded had married 150. I have been looking in vain for 20 years for an article about polygamy that mentioned that for one man to take a second wife means, in the normal course of things, that another man will get no wife at all.

 

I have come to believe that this blind spot stems from it being virtually impossible for a man to imagine himself as one of the 149 losers, rather than as the one big winner. He might prefer one wife to 150, but his male ego can't allow him to identify with all the men who end up rejected and alone. This psychological quirk creates a reality distortion field in the heads of men. Demography is not the sexiest of the social sciences, but one demographic fact that just about everybody knows is that among marriage-aged people there are almost exactly as many men as women. Indeed, among people between the ages of 15 and 64 in the world as a whole, there are 102 men for every 100 women, according to the "CIA World Factbook." Yet, men who favor polygamy almost never believe this basic constant of demographics.

 

I first became aware of this subconsciously willful misperception while shooting the breeze with a good friend from Cameroon, a country in West Africa. He was earning his Ph.D. from UCLA in the social sciences. He wanted to quickly finish his doctorate so he could go home, get a government job, and become rich enough to add three more wives to the one he already had. "But," I asked, "don't you feel sorry for the three fellows who won't be able to marry because you'll have four wives?"

 

"What do you mean?" he responded, genuinely puzzled by my ignorance. "Don't you know there are many more women than men? If not for public-spirited men like me, the world would be full of spinsters."

 

Similarly, here's a news story that sounds like it's from The Onion, that font of superb deadpan satire, yet is a genuine British Broadcasting Corp. news story of last August: "Sudan's President Omar Hassan al Bashir has urged Sudanese men to take more than one wife in order to double the country's population of 30 million ... 'We should achieve this aim by having many wives,' Bashir said."   [More...]

***

 

Polygamy & War -- As I mentioned below, polygamous nations fared badly in warfare in recent generations. Before that, the record was more mixed. Polygamy can help if you are a nomadic warrior tribe that lives by conquest. If the old men have all the women, that can encourage the young men to fight bravely in order to acquire the women of the enemies they kill. I imagine the Mongols were like that. But, still, it's no way to win wars in a technological age when military might depends on being able to put together giant military-industrial complexes of men working together for a common goal. You need engineers, and engineers thrive under monogamy.

***

 

Passion decelerating at box office -- After a super colossal $10.1 million on Monday, a traditionally weak day for going to the show, box-office fell to $8.4 million by Wednesday, while its competitors stayed about even (according to the ever helpful BoxOfficeMojo.com). Of course, second place was at $0.7 million, so we are still talking about one of the outsized phenomena in movie history.

***

 

Teaching Born-Agains about Great Art: On BeliefNet, the distinguished religion writer Jack Miles, who actually speaks Aramaic, offers an interesting review of The Passion. He notes: "One begins to long, in fact, for the interruptions, the flashbacks. Thanks to the sensitive cinematography of Caleb Deshanel, these include some of the most visually appealing moments in the film. At one moment a candle-lit interior will recall Georges de la Tour, at another Christ’s face at the Last Supper will suggest Rembrandt’s famous head of Christ, at still another the cut and color of Mary’s veils will recall a Bellini pietà, and so forth. When Christ’s left hand gathers to a claw at the moment when the nail pierces it, a few viewers, surely, will think of the claw-like hands of the crucified Christ in the deeply moving Isenheim Altarpiece of Matthias Grünewald."

 

One nice thing about the huge fundamentalist Protestant turnout for this Catholic Counter-Reformation movie is the opportunity to introduce members of art-starved Protestant congregations to the florid visual riches of the Catholic tradition. The Counter-Reformation era produced many of the greatest artists in history: Caravaggio, Bernini, Rubens, etc. Paul Johnson writes in Art: A New History, "In response to the Protestant cult of the vernacular and its moral-aesthetic code of simplicity, austerity, and puritanism, the Catholic Church decided [at the Council of Trent in 1563-64] to make a virtue of what many regarded as its weaknesses, and promote them. From its earlier defensive and guilt-ridden response to aesthetics, it embarked on a deliberate policy of emphasizing the spectacular."

***

 

Has anybody seen any demographics on what proportion of the audience has been Hispanic? My guess is that it's quite high. I've often remarked on how oddly little influence the nearly 40 million Latinos have on American popular culture, but The Passion may mark a turning point toward a more Hispanic style. All the pro-illegal immigration neocons who are currently choking with rage over The Passion should take some time to ponder that irony.

***

 

About 20 million Americans have now seen The Passion, and we have yet to hear of a single untoward incident (which no doubt would be absolutely all over the press if just one were to occur). In contrast, Quentin Tarantino wrote the original screenplay for Natural Born Killers, a film that inspired numerous copycat murders, but he remains a media darling. (A basic moral difference between the violence in The Passion and NBK or Kill Bill is that the former expects you to identify with the suffering of the victim while the Tarantino movies expect you to identify with the joy of the murderers.)

***

 

No WMDs? Who could have thunk it? -- Well, weapons scientists, if the Administration had bothered to ask them. On Jerry Pournelle's website, the sci-fi novelist (among other things) posts a message from Greg Cochran on how he knew before the war that Saddam wasn't getting anywhere with nukes or delivery systems. (Indeed, Greg told me that over the phone several times over twelve months ago.)

 

Cochran has a physics Ph.D., and worked on the highly successful, strategically crucial Trident Missile guidance system (which turned our submarine deterrent from merely a city-busting last resort into a more militarily useful silo-busting response) and also on the more publicized if still pending Star Wars system. He is in touch with former colleagues now at America's weapons labs. (Since the end of the Cold War, he has remade himself into perhaps the most creative of evolutionary theorist since Bill Hamilton and Richard Trivers, as this Atlantic Monthly cover story about Greg and his research partner Paul Ewald indicates.)

 

Greg writes:

 

Lately I have been hearing a lot of people talk about how difficult it was to know the danger level from Iraq, and how pretty much everybody agreed with the Administration's basic assumptions. Well, I have some trouble with this, because I certainly knew that there was no threat. I knew for sure that they had no nuclear program, when 'nuclear program' is defined as actually doing anything - breeding plutonium, separating isotopes, or building the required facilities.

I knew that they had no new long-range rockets because they had done no test-fires: DSP would have seen any such test. You may have heard claims of a long-range missile program: all paper engineering studies. Whoop-de-do. You may have heard claims of another illegal missile program: yeah, short-range missiles that were 10km over their allowed limit. Whoop-de-do.

 

I didn't know whether they still had the weapons they had built for the Iran-Iraq war - mustard gas and Sarin, mainly - but I didn't really care. They aren't that potent, and of course Iraq had no delivery systems.

 

I knew that Iraq had been stony broke for years, had a total governmental budget of maybe one billion, largely stolen from the oil-for-food program, which barely sufficed to pay for a ragged-ass conventional army and secret police - certainly not a Los Alamos or Livermore. I knew that Iraq was small, dirt poor, 60% illiterate - it was not Nazi Germany, it was not crammed with high-quality inventors and scientists and tool-and-die makers. It was and is an incompetent country, full of incompetent people... The idea that Iraq had a burgeoning weapons development program (all totally invisible, of course, done by ragheads paid with sand) ) could only be held by someone who really believed that there are no differences between peoples, and that money does not matter. And who was generally an ignoramus.

 

Look, it was possible - for me as an individual - to check many of the Administration's claims before the war, and everything checkable was false . It was easy to see that the 'aluminum tubes' claim was false. It was easy to see that the general claim of a revived nuclear program was false. It was certainly possible to notice that out of tens of tips we gave to UN inspectors just before the war, no single tip panned out. I figured that our intelligence was totally worthless, about par for the CIA.

 

I was reasonably close: I figured that their weapons programs had been rotting for years, and that they had no nuclear program.. . Turns out that they had nothing at all.

 

I have seen individuals analyze games like Everquest more thoroughly and rigorously than this Administration did this war. Congress is no better. We have an incompetent ruling class.

 

You can read Jerry's reply here. By the way, back in the mid-1960s, Jerry was the Air Force's top nuclear war strategy consultant (just one of the wildly varied roles Jerry has played -- when are you going to write an autobiography , Jerry?).

***

 

Gay "Marriage," Polygamy, & Immigration: An argument often raised by skeptics of gay "marriage" is that if it's a denial of civil rights to not let two men get "married," then how can we then not let one man and two women get married? Gay activists typically answer by saying that marriage by definition is between two people. (Anthropologically speaking, this is backwards: the general opinion of mankind has always been that marriage is between the sexes, but the majority of cultures never considered a two person limit intrinsic or even desirable.) 

 

The real response, however, has been, in effect, that only crazy right wing fundamentalist heterosexual rural Mormon white people want to practice polygamy, and we all know that civil rights don't apply to them. 

 

I've always wondered, however, about immigrants. Last year, I commented on GNXP.com: "It seems pretty obvious that after gay marriage wins, polygamy will be next. It won't be Mormon wackos who will be held up as role models but Third World immigrants who are having their rights to their culture abrogated by Western prejudices against polygamy."

 

Obviously, lots of immigrants come from polygamous cultures, but I've never found anybody who every wrote about immigrant polygamy in the U.S. because that would be insensitive. Fortunately, VDARE.com exists, where Brenda Walker cites evidence that in Minnesota alone, up to 7,600 Hmongs live in polygamous families. Plans to bring in another 14,000 Hmongs from refugee camps in Thailand have raised questions in Minnesota because many of the men have multiple wives. 

 

Let me be clear: I hate polygamy. Monogamy is typically found in more advanced cultures where the men have formed a cartel to enforce the one man-one wife rule. There are enormous benefits to this cartel. Men in monogamous cultures are much better at cooperating with each other because they aren't in a winner take all struggle against each other to reproduce. Monogamous cultures tend to defeat polygamous cultures on the battlefield (as in Israel's wars) and tend to form bigger and better business enterprises because their men get along better. In monogamous societies, men are more willing to take subordinate roles in the army and in business because they are still allowed to have a wife and children. In strongly polygamous societies, the dominant men monopolize the women, so you'd damn well better be a dominant man. Add to this that in many polygamous cultures, the dominant bachelors, lacking heterosexual outlets, often bugger the subordinate bachelors, and you can see why polygamous societies tend to be wracked by never-ending struggles for dominance.

***

 

The Tory El Foldo: A reader writes:

 

Thank you for noting the astonishing tack to the far left by Michael Howard [new leader of the British Conservative Party who just announced that the Tories will stand well to the left of Labour on fraudulent asylum seekers]. I confess that I had some deep fears that Mr. Howard might turn out to be a neocon in the David Brooks mold... Thatcher and her cabinet ministers were almost universally in favor of strong border controls & her governments kept annual intakes below about 70,000 per year. So what Howard is doing is adopting a policy stance coupled with leftist rhetoric which is completely alien to the history & culture of the British Conservative Party. It will be interesting to see how the grassroots responds and whether a leadership challenge is made. 

 

In '78 & '79, Thatcher was successful is neutralizing the British National Party by advocating immigration reform (tighter controls, especially over asylum) which she implemented in 1981. It is illuminating that Howard sees the BNP as a deeply evil manifestation thru & thru. Rather than address the legitimate reasons for its growth in popularity & offer sensible policy that will steal its fire, he opts to vilify...

 

He is taking the British Tories down the same disastrous path as taken by the 'red' Canadian Tories in the 70s & 80s. When Bob Stanfield, Joe Clark & Brian Mulroney led that party, they decided to initially acquiesce to the Liberal Party's radical immigration policy, but when Mulroney actually came to power, his administration eventually 'out-Liberaled the Liberals' by DOUBLING the average annual intake of immigrants . In addition, they embraced multiculturalism. As you know, the party was all but wiped out in 1993, officially folded last year & its remnant has been gobbled up by the Cndn Alliance to form a new 'blue' Conservative Party.

 

American Republicans who think that upping immigration is the key to GOP success should read up on Canada where the Liberals have made themselves the permanent ruling party by, in part, importing new Liberal voters.

***

 

Resolved: I'll put scoff quotes around gay "marriage" -- I recently read Robin Fox's 1967 anthropology textbook "Kinship and Marriage," which describes all kinds of marriage structures found in all cultures around the world. One thing that struck me was that the concept of gay "marriage" simply doesn't come up. It's the overwhelming opinion of mankind from palaces in China to reed huts in the Mato Grosso that marriage involves members of the opposite sex. That's what marriage is. So, I intend to put scoff quotes around gay "marriage" because it's like saying green "red."

***

 

California Senate GOP Primary -- A reader comments on frontrunner Bill Jones:

 

Jones would probably not make a bad Senator. There are three kinds of Republicans as far as immigration reform. Leaders (like Kaloogian would be), those who are scared of the issue, but will do the right thing once the political climate in Washington changes and immigration restriction becomes the "politically correct" position. (I know that sounds ridiculous, but it is coming). The third type of Republican is the neocon type, who are the evildoers and must be purged from power. I think Jones is the 2nd type of Republican.

***

 

The Korean Stature Split: Barbara Demick writes [link fixed] in the LA Times:

 

South Korean anthropologists who measured North Korean refugees here in Yanji, a city 15 miles from the North Korean border, found that most of the teenage boys stood less than 5 feet tall and weighed less than 100 pounds. In contrast, the average 17-year-old South Korean boy is 5-feet-8, slightly shorter than an American boy of the same age. The height disparities are stunning because Koreans were more or less the same size — if anything, people in the North were slightly taller — until the abrupt partitioning of the country after World War II. South Koreans, feasting on an increasingly Western-influenced diet, have been growing taller as their estranged countrymen have been shrinking through successive famines...

 

Foreigners who get the chance to visit North Korea — perhaps the most isolated country in the world — are often confused about the age of children. Nine-year-olds are mistaken for kindergartners and soldiers for Boy Scouts. "They all looked like dwarfs," said Kim Dong Kyu, a South Korean academic who has made two trips to North Korea. "When I saw those soldiers, they looked like middle-school students. I thought if they had to sling an M-1 rifle over their shoulders, it would drag to the ground."

 

To the extent that they ever get to meet South Koreans, the North Koreans are likewise shocked. When two diminutive North Korean soldiers, ages 19 and 23, accidentally drifted into South Korea on a boat, one reportedly was overheard saying they would never be able to marry South Korean women because they were "too big for us," according to an account in the book "The Two Koreas," by Don Oberdorfer. The soldiers were repatriated to the North at their own request.

 

The North Koreans appear to be sensitive about their stature. In dealings with the outside world, the country likes to present a tall image by sending statuesque (by North Korean standards) athletes to joint sporting events in South Korea and elsewhere and assigning the tallest soldiers to patrol at the demilitarized zone that divides the two countries. Starting in the mid-1990s, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il (who reportedly wears elevator shoes to enhance his 5-foot-3 height) ordered people to do special exercises designed to make them taller. As a result, it is not uncommon to see students hanging from rings or parallel bars for as long as 30 minutes. Basketball is also promoted as a national sport to instill the yearning for height. "Grow taller!" instruct banners hung in some schoolyards, defectors and aid workers say...

 

The issue of IQ is sufficiently sensitive that the South Korean anthropologists studying refugee children in China have almost entirely avoided mentioning it in their published work. But they say it is a major unspoken worry for South Koreans, who fear that they could inherit the burden of a seriously impaired generation if Korea is reunified. "This is our nightmare," anthropologist Chung said. "We don't want to get into racial stereotyping or stigmatize North Koreans in any way. But we also worry about what happens if we are living together and we have this generation that was not well-fed and well-educated." About 500 North Korean children have come to South Korea, either alone or with their parents, and they are known to have difficulty keeping up in the school system, say people who work with defectors. Although South Korea gives defectors priority in going to the best universities in a form of affirmative action, about 80 percent have ended up dropping out, Chung said.

 

"People assume that children are more adaptive than adults, but it is not always so. Famine is not just malnutrition, but often a long period in which education is disrupted," Chung said. "South Korea is education hell. It is very competitive, and there is no way for them to catch up."

 

UPDATE: A reader cynically suggests that North Korea would provide a good scientific test of the new fad where people try to live to be 120 by massively reducing their caloric intake. If North Koreans have stopped dying of old age, the theory must be true!

***

The Passion bigger than Titanic? Awhile back on GNXP.com, Godless Capitalist predicted that Mel Gibson's The Passion would break Titanic's record for box office ($600 million domestically). I laughed, but the joke is turning out to be on me. Let me make clear, though, that no way no how will The Passion beat Titanic. But the comparison is turning out to be a lot less absurd than I had assumed. Its 5-day opening weekend haul of $125 million is the third biggest in history, beating out even The Return of the King. That's insanely huge by Hollywood's presumption that people don't get excited about movies any times other than May to early August and the last six weeks of the year. 

 

To graphically see how badly the conventional wisdom underestimated the appeal of The Passion, check out this Hollywood Stock Exchange graph, which lists the consensus of game players who trade funny money based on their expectations of The Passion's domestic box office revenue during its first four weeks in release (in millions). Within the last three months, the conventional wisdom was predicting as low as $17 million. Then it went up to $146 million last Wednesday just before it opened. Today, it's trading at $262 million. I suspect that kind of underestimation of an upcoming film that had been widely discussed for the past year is unprecedented.

***

 

"Divisive" -- As an old marketing man, I'm fascinated by how many in the movie industry establishment are condemning The Passion for being "divisive." 

 

(I know it's hard to remember, but you must keep this straight if you want to be considered a nice person: "Diverse" is Good, "Divisive" is Bad. While the Man from Mars might think that diversity would be the cause of divisiveness, it is -- or at least ought to be -- the cure. Which leads into how "ought" implies "is," but "is" never implies "ought." Got all that?)

 

Yet, the essence of good marketing is the division of the public into coherent market niches whose particular demands can then be more accurately served.

 

The basic fact about the box office business is that probably no movie since Gone With the Wind has sold a ticket to a majority of the population. All you have to do to have a $200 million supersmash is to get one out of every ten people in America to see your movie once at an average of $7 per ticket. If you get one of five people to see it, you have a Spiderman-sized ultrasmash. (And of course, you don't actually need to reach even these levels of penetration because you can get some of your core audience to go multiple times, as happened with Titanic.)

 

Hollywood's basic marketing model is also divisive, but in a cruder sense. It simply divides up the public into the favored lumpenyouth segment and everybody else.

 

Obviously, the establishment uses "divisive" as a hate word to maintain their cultural hegemony.

***

 

***

 

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