November 7, 2009

Sammy Sosa is Michael Jacksonizing his own skin

We haven't had a good Sammy Sosa story in a while, so here's a new one with pictures of how the ex-Cubs slugger is only half as dark as he used to be. Some of the difference is probably just the lighting in the latest picture -- my passport photo, for example, is so overexposed that I look like Tilda Swinton's dad's ghost. Still, the article makes clear by the lengths to which Sosa's PR agent goes on, that something is going on.

Steve's Idea of the Day for Bored Reporters: show these pictures to White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. Record his comments. (For readers unfamiliar with his personality, here's the video Ozzie Guillen Visits a Sick Child from the Chicago public access cable show We're Geniuses in France.)

And from the always reliable Daily Mail of London, the umpteenth confirmation of Sailer's Rule of Female Journalism:
Why are so many black and Asian women desperate to be white?
By Yamin Alibhai-Brown

You might think that with all the media interest in this question, journalists might occasionally look up on Google something about anthropologist Peter Frost's book Fair Women, Dark Men: The Forgotten Roots of Color Prejudice, which answers the question. But, nah, finding out the answer is hardly the point of asking, so Frost's book is almost unknown. Frost, by the way, explain why Sammy's new highly-contrasting-cheeks-and-lips look is not a good look for guys.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Toby Gerhart update

Stanford's running back, whom I wrote about a few weeks ago, rushed for 223 yards on 38 carries in Stanford's 51-42 upset of #8 Oregon (who crushed USC last week). Toby Gerhart now has 1217 yards in 9 games and 16 touchdowns for 6-3 Stanford.

Phil Knight puts his Nike money into Oregon, so Oregon's offense is almost unstoppable -- over 600 yards last week against USC, and this week 570 yards in only 22 minutes of possession. Stanford's strategy was to get the lead and have Gerhart use up the clock.

He has the opportunity to petition for another season of college eligibility because he missed all but one game of his sophomore year. I've got to imagine that some Silicon Valley bigshots who are Stanford alums would make it worth his while to do so, especially now that Stanford's freshman quarterback, Andrew Luck, looks like he'll be pretty good next year. Why go to the NFL and sit on the bench or get your body permanently wrecked as a pro running back when you can be the toast of Silicon Valley?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Should Hasan be charged with treason?

If he survives, the Ft. Hood shooter will of course be charged with murder, but it's reasonable to inquire whether treason should also be charged. After all, for a major in the U.S. Army, trained at taxpayer expense in the use of weapons, to shoot 40 unarmed comrades-in-arms would seem like a reasonable example of waging war on the United States.

However, the Constitution's delineation of treason might not cover this:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

What does "levying war" mean? Although "levying" is sometimes today said to be the same as "waging," that doesn't appear to be the legal definition. In one of the the treason cases (Bollman) growing out of the still mysterious Aaron Burr conspiracy, the Chief Justice John Marshall of the Supreme Court ruled in 1807, "But there must be an actual assembling of men for the treasonable purpose, to constitute a levying of war." In other words, "levying" means raising a body of warriors. Therefore, whether Major Hasan plotted solely alone or was conspiring with others, and if so, did they in some fashion "assemble," would appear to be relevant.

On the other hand, the second type of treason, "or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort" would appear to be an easier hurdle to leap. The first time the Supreme Court upheld a treason conviction was in the 1947 Haupt case in which naturalized citizen Hans Mark Haupt was sentenced to life in prison for sheltering in his Chicago home his son, a German spy (one of the eight saboteurs landed by a German sub in a semi-farcical failed infiltration). The son was convicted by military tribunal and executed. In the father's case, noted civil libertarian Justice William O. Douglas wrote the majority opinion upholding the father's conviction, while Justice Jackson wrote a lonely dissent arguing that the father's intentions were filial rather than treasonous.

Since the elder Haupt was legally guilty of treason for merely helping his son, then Hasan's shooting two score American soldiers in cold blood would appear to be an even better example of "adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort." However, that does raise the issue of who exactly our Enemies are, a question that has been left rather ambiguous by Congress' refusal to issue a Declaration of War since 1942.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

November 6, 2009

I knew all along that the recession had to be his fault

The economy collapsed when Lehman Bros. went bankrupt on September 15, 2008. Joe Wiesenthal of Clusterstock has now brought to the public's attention the real villain behind the economic crash. On p. 120 of Andrew Ross Sorkin's book Too Big to Fail, in a discussion of Lehman's president Joseph Gregory:
He loved being the in-house philosopher-king, an evangelist on the subject of workplace diversity and a devotee of the theories described in Malcolm Gladwell's bestseller Blink. He gave out copies of the book and had even hired the author to lecture employees on trusting their instincts when making difficult decisions. In an industry based on analyzing raw data, Gregory was defiantly a gut man.

Now that I think about it, I realize I always had a gut feeling that this global crash was, somehow, all Malcolm's fault. It just had to be. If only I'd trusted my instincts, like he told me to in Blink ... Imagine how much money I could have made shorting the stocks of companies that had paid Malcolm to make speeches to their employees!

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Blowback from Invite the World / Invade the World

Adrian Blomfield of the neocon Daily Telegraph does a great job of giving the Ft. Hood shooter's Palestinian cousins in Ramallah in the West Bank (Ramallah is the capital of the Palestinian National Authority) enough rope:

Speaking from their home in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Hasan's relatives painted a picture of a man cornered into an act of "lunacy" by the repeated discrimination of his peers and an attempt by the army to force him to serve in Afghanistan.

"They discriminated against him because he was a Muslim," Mohammed Mohammed, one of Hasan's cousins, told the Daily Telegraph. "We're not trying to make excuses for him but what we were told was that he was under a lot of pressure.

"What we imagine is that he could not take this bad treatment and gave vent unfortunately." ...

In the house next door, Hasan's brother Anas had locked himself indoors with his wife, refusing to speak to anyone, including his relatives.

According to his cousins, Hasan was badly scarred by the deaths of his parents in 1998 and 2001. Along with his two brothers, he became increasingly devout, they said.

"They became very religious after their mother died," Mohammed Hasan said. "They were very observant. They prayed a lot."

Yet the two cousins insisted that the major's religion was not tinged with political fanaticism, although they said he had become increasingly withdrawn and uncommunicative in recent years.

Even so, they had little reason to believe that he was a man on the edge.

"Nidal is a very stable minded person," Mohammed Mohammed said. "Why would he kill? He was against violence.

"His actions could have been in self defence – we don't know. Maybe they angered him to the point of cornering him and he felt he had no option."

They angrily rejected suggestions that their cousin's shooting spree had been motivated by a hatred for America or as an act of terrorism.

"My cousin is not a terrorist," said Mohammed Hasan. "He was born in America, he graduated from Virginia (Tech) University. He was proud to be graduate. He was always preaching about the US education system. He was an optimistic person. He loved life."

Although he had always wanted to follow other members of his family into the army, Hasan was shocked that he was never accepted as a true American, the cousins said.

He was constantly taunted and provoked until six months ago, he hired a lawyer to sue the army, the cousins said, explaining they kept in touch with developments in Hasan's life either through telephone calls to him and his family or from Hasan's brother, who returned to the West Bank four years ago.

They heard that he had become increasingly unhappy, both at the treatment of his peers and also because he had been ordered to deploy "in Iraq and Afghanistan". But the two cousins insisted that Hasan's opposition to being sent abroad was as much because he was planning to marry. [Whom?]

The two men also denounced the attention being given in the media to Hasan's religion.

"Had Hasan been a pure American, there wouldn't have been such a fuss about it," said Mohammed Mohammed. "There has been a lot of stress in the media about how he was an Arab, a Palestinian, a Muslim."

"If he had been someone else, he would immediately been identified by the government as a lunatic and the subject would have been closed."

"Our religion does not support violence, as the West believes."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

California v. Texas Again

From City Journal:
The Big-Spending, High-Taxing, Lousy-Services Paradigm
California taxpayers don’t get much bang for their bucks.

In 1956, the economist Charles Tiebout provided the framework that best explains why people vote with their feet. The “consumer-voter,” as Tiebout called him, challenges government officials to “ascertain his wants for public goods and tax him accordingly.” Each jurisdiction offers its own package of public goods, along with a particular tax burden needed to pay for those goods. As a result, “the consumer-voter moves to that community whose local government best satisfies his set of preferences.” In selecting a jurisdiction, the mobile consumer-voter is, in effect, choosing a club to join based on the benefits that it offers and the dues that it charges.

America’s federal system allows, at the state level, for 50 different clubs to join. At first glance, the states seem to differ between those that bundle numerous high-quality public benefits with high taxes and those that offer packages of low benefits and low taxes. These alternatives, of course, define the basic argument between liberals and conservatives over the ideal size and scope of government. Except for Oregon, John McCain carried every one of the 17 states with the lowest tax levels in the 2008 presidential election, while Barack Obama won every one of the 17 at the top of the list except for Wyoming and Alaska.

It’s not surprising, then, that an intense debate rages over which model is more satisfactory and sustainable. What is surprising is the growing evidence that the low-benefit, low-tax alternative succeeds not only on its own terms but also according to the criteria used by defenders of high benefits and high taxes. Whatever theoretical claims are made for imposing high taxes to provide generous government benefits, the practical reality is that these public goods are, increasingly, neither public nor good: their beneficiaries are mostly the service providers themselves, and their quality is poor. For evidence, look to the two largest states in the nation, which are fine representatives of the liberal and conservative alternatives ...

State and local government expenditures as a whole were 46.8 percent higher in California than in Texas in 2005–06—$10,070 per person compared with $6,858.

However, that needs to be adjusted for differences in price level, which is significantly higher in California than in Texas due to higher land costs. They are both huge states, but the whole point of living in California is to live in the narrow Mediterranean climate zone near the coast. In contrast, the eastern half of Texas is all livable, so land prices are low.

California's real problem is that its residents, on average, don't earn enough money to pay for living in an inherently expensive state.

Clearly, Texas's low tax - low spend model is the only one that makes sense for a state or a country with a huge Latino population. That assumption was behind the Rove-Bush Invite the World model, but it proved disastrous in high-cost California, which dragged down the rest of the country.

The concept that Latinos don't earn enough to pay for an expensive government is pretty obvious, but it's just off the radar screen. The liberal media just see more NAMs as more justification for more government spending and more votes for government spending.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Successful environmentalism

Actually, there are a lot of examples of environmental policies working. You don't hear much about them, though. For whatever reason, nobody ever promotes environmentalism by referring to past successes.

Ozone layer -- Saved by getting rid of certain chemicals, although their replacements might be causing global warming.

Acid rain -- Better scrubbers on smokestacks have largely fixed this problem. It turned out that the technology wasn't as costly as it seemed.

Smog in LA -- About an order of magnitude better than when I was a kid, although the cost in poorer miles per gallon must be huge. You may recall that there used to be two different MPG ratings from the government on cars, one for California and one for the rest of the country, with the California one about, I don't know, one-tenth worse. Now, everybody has the California smog-fighting equipment on their cars, so that must increase our oil bill by many billions annually.

Lead -- Here's where one environmental improvement caused another improvement. The catalytic converter (invented by GM and given free to other car companies -- thanks, GM!) would be ruined by leaded gasoline, so unleaded gas was introduced.

Redwoods -- Saved by the Save the Redwoods League, co-founded by Madison Grant.

Pelicans -- Very rare at the beach when I was a kid, now plentiful due to ban on DDT, which makes eggshells brittle

Bald Eagles -- Not plentiful, but they're back. (This is one you occasionally hear about, because people like large vicious animals.)

You might think that environmentalists would promote an image for themselves that says, "Trust us. We fixed problems in the past and we know how to fix them now," but, instead, apocalypse and misanthropy seems to sell a lot better.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

November 5, 2009

Who is qualified to enlist?

The newsapers are talking about the new study saying only 1 in 4 youths is eligible to enlist in the military. Of course, the study doesn't break it down by race, but the information is readily available.

A 2007 Rand Corporation report prepared the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Military Enlistment of Hispanic Youth: Obstacles and Opportunities, has a lot of interesting information (although nothing, so far as I can tell, on whether devout Muslim majors are likely to shoot up Fort Hood):
Hispanics are underrepresented among military recruits. In 2007, Hispanics made up 17.0 percent of the general population (ages 18 to 40) but only 11.4 percent of Army enlistment contracts and 15 percent of Navy enlistment contracts. While the trend is upward (in 1994, 6.6 percent of Army contracts and 8.9 percent of Navy contracts were Hispanic), Hispanics are still underrepresented.

Social representation within the armed forces is an ongoing concern of policymakers. Indeed, each year, the Department of Defense is required by Congress to publish statistics on the social representation of the armed forces in terms of such characteristics as race, ethnicity, marital status, and age. An implicit goal is that diversity in the armed forces should approximate diversity in the general population. Furthermore, recruiting challenges in meeting enlistment goals mean that the services need to understand the factors affecting the supply of key demographic groups, including Hispanics. ...

Analysis of the NLSY data reveals that a relatively small percentage of youth, regardless of race or ethnicity, would qualify for military enlistment. Figures S.1 and S.2 show the cumulative effect of key enlistment standards in the areas of education (high school diploma or General Education Degree), aptitude (Armed Forces Qualification Test score, [AFQT]), weight, number of dependents, convictions, and drug-related offenses. Results are shown by race/ ethnicity for males and females, respectively, by service. Only 46 percent of white males, 32 percent of black males, and 35 percent of Hispanic males would be eligible to enlist in the Marine Corps, the service with the cumulatively least stringent enlistment standards. For females, the corresponding figures are even lower: 35 percent for white females, 22 percent for black females, and 24 percent for Hispanic females.

It looks like, judging from the graph, that for the hardest service to enlist in, the Air Force, only about 33% of young whites, 16% of blacks and 21% of Hispanics are good enough based on having a high school diploma, having an IQ of at least 92, not being fat, not having dependents, not having convictions, and not being on drugs. (Figure S.1)
We found that the major characteristics that disproportionately disqualify Hispanic youth are lack of a high school diploma, lower AFQT scores, and being overweight. ...

Though important, education is not the only major disqualifying characteristic of Hispanic youth. Hispanics who are high school graduates often fail to meet other enlistment standards. The services require that potential recruits take the AFQT. Based on their test results, potential recruits are placed in one of five categories (Category I is the highest). The services strongly prefer recruits whose score places them in Category IIIB or higher. The Department of Defense (DoD) restricts the annual accession of those in Category IV (the next-to-lowest category) to 4 percent of the total, and prohibits all recruiting from Category V (the lowest category).

Only 36 percent of young Hispanic high school graduates would score in AFQT Category IIIB or above, compared with 68 percent of white high school graduates. A key implication of this result is that increasing the high school graduation rate among Hispanic youth may not lead to comparable increases in enlistment eligibility. ...

Comparing Hispanics with other groups, we see that weight is another important disqualifying characteristic. Hispanics are considerably heavier than others: on average, Hispanic males weigh almost ten pounds more than white males. Seventy-nine to 91 percent of white males meet the service weight standards (weight standards vary by service), compared with only 71 to 88 percent of Hispanic males. Among females, the percentage who meet the weight standards is even lower; 63 to 82 percent of white females meet the standards, compared with only 49 to 71 percent of Hispanic females.

Our research shows that Hispanics have a lower prevalence of disqualifying major and minor conditions than whites. That is, except for weight, Hispanics tend to be healthier than whites. Research suggests that better-than-expected health in the Hispanic population may be due to the large proportion of immigrants; immigrants in general, regardless of ethnicity, tend to be healthier than the native-born U.S. population.

In general, Hispanics seem pretty healthy, other than weight-related problems like diabetes. Their infant mortality rate is quite low, for example.
However, Hispanics are more likely to be disqualified because of weight. On balance, taking all three health standards together (weight, major conditions, and minor conditions) Hispanic males are disqualified at about the same rate as whites. Hispanic females are substantially more likely to be overweight than white females, and more likely to be disqualified. Our analysis indicated that number of dependents is another disqualifying characteristic for Hispanics. Though not as important as weight, education, or AFQT, it is a significant factor, especially for females. Twenty percent of young Hispanics (ages 17 to 21) have children, compared with only 9 percent of whites. ...

Recruiting more intensively from the pool of qualified Hispanics will be challenging. Most likely, increasing representation among the Hispanic population will involve enlisting more marginal recruits. The services already have programs that seek to identify the best of these marginal recruits or to improve the AFQT, weight, or educational outcomes of those recruits.

Here's my adaptation of Table 6.1, which is based not on enlistment applicants but on a nationally representative sample, the National Longitudinal Study of Youth 1997, the successor to NLSY79 used in The Bell Curve:

White Black Hispanic
Desirable: HS Grad & IQ >= 106 43% 11% 20%
Okay: HS Grad & IQ >92 but <106>30% 25% 27%
Ineligible: Dropout &/or IQ <= 92 28% 65% 53%

However, all else being equal, minorities are more likely to re-up in the military. So, the report goes on to discuss lowering enlistment standards for minorities. I didn't see any discussion, however, of whether it's better to, say, have a 120 IQ Explosive Ordinance Disposal tech who doesn't re-up after his initial term because he wants to get a degree in a mechanical engineering than one who doesn't have that opportunity.

By the way, according to Table 2.10, the maximum height for the Navy is 6'6" (low overhead on ships), so retired NBA star David Robinson, who entered the Naval Academy at 6'5" and graduated at 7'1" got special negative treatment by being ordered to serve two years as an officer. Anybody who wasn't a famous basketball player who grew to 7" over the limit would have been given an honorable discharge.

Lots more interesting stuff in this 224 page report that you won't read about in the newspapers.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Only 1 in 4 youths good enough to enlist in the military

From Ready, Willing and Unable to Serve, a report by Mission Readiness, a group run by retired generals and admirals:
The Pentagon reports that 75 percent of Americans aged 17 to 24 cannot join the United States military – 26 million young Americans. ...

Three Crucial Reasons Why Young Americans Cannot Join the Military:

Although there may be multiple reasons why an individual is ineligible to serve in the military, the three biggest problems are that too many young Americans are poorly educated, involved in crime, or physically unfit.

Inadequate education: Approximately one out of four young Americans lacks a high school diploma. Students who have received a general equivalency degree (GED) can sometimes receive a waiver if they score well enough on the military’s entrance exam. However, most of those who dropped out and obtained a GED instead of a regular degree do not possess sufficient math or reading skills to qualify.

Not only are too many young people failing to graduate, many of those who do graduate still lack the academic skills necessary to take their place alongside others in the workforce or in the military.

The “Nation’s Report Card,” the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), reports that in 2007, 69 percent of the nation’s eighth graders scored below proficiency level in math, and 70 percent scored below proficiency level in reading.

Even with a high school degree, many potential recruits still fail the Armed Forces Qualification Test (the AFQT) and cannot join. The test is used by the military to determine math and reading skills. About 30 percent of potential recruits with a high school degree take the test and fail it.

Criminality: One in 10 young adults cannot join because they have at least one prior conviction for a felony or serious misdemeanor (and for five percent of young adults, trouble with the law is the only thing keeping them out). ...

Physically unfit: 27 percent of young Americans are too overweight to join the military. Many are turned away by recruiters and others never try to join. Of those who attempt to join, however, roughly 15,000 young potential recruits fail their entrance physicals every year because they are too heavy.

The percentage of Americans who are not just overweight but actually obese has risen rapidly. The rate of obesity among American adults has more than doubled over the past four decades, with one in three adults being obese. So, the number of enlistment-age young adults who cannot join the military because of weight problems – currently 27 percent nationally – is likely to continue to rise in the next few years.

Nearly a third (32 percent) of all young people have health problems – other than their weight – that will keep them from serving. Many are disqualified from serving for asthma, eyesight or hearing problems, mental health issues, or recent treatment for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

When weight problems are added in with the other health problems, over half of young adults cannot join because of health issues. Additional young people are not eligible to join because of drug or alcohol problems.

Even when recruits qualify, health problems can cause significant deployment and expense problems later; for example, 20 percent of the Army’s reservists arrived at mobilization sites with dental conditions that made them non-deployable.

Additional reasons beyond education, crime, and physical fitness: Other young people are not eligible to join because they are too tall, too short, or have other non-medical reasons making them ineligible. For example, single parents with custody of a child cannot join. The cut-off points for different service branches vary on many standards.

Not surprisingly, the words "demographic" and "change" don't appear in the report.

Here are the states that are not worse than average on at any of the three measures of obesity, dropout rate, or criminality: Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

Here are the states that are worse than average on all three measures: Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas.

That's interesting that "About 30 percent of potential recruits with a high school degree take the test and fail it." I don't think that's saying that 30 percent of all high school graduates would fail the AFQT, which would mean you'd need an IQ of about 100 to qualify to enlist. I think it's saying that of those high school graduates who take the test, 30% score below the cutoff. High school graduates who hope to enlist in the military are probably somewhat below the average high school graduate. Still, from 1992-2004, the Pentagon took virtually no enlistees who scored below the 30th percentile in IQ.

Not surprisingly, the solutions proposed are ones close to the heart of the Obamaites controlling the pursestrings today: More Preschool Spending!

It's like what I keep saying: The Obama Age is heading toward a consensus that the only solution for NAMs is roughly the same as the Australian and Canadian governments came up with for indigenous people about 80 years ago, and for which they are continually apologizing today: Take the children away from their families as much as possible.

I suspect that a couple of generations from now, the U.S. government will issue an official apology to NAMs for the policy for the Stolen Generations of 2010-2030, and will assert that this explains their continued underperformance in the late 21st Century.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

November 4, 2009

"Mad Men"

Over at Taki's Magazine, my new Wednesday column gets around, after last week's preliminary throat clearings, to finally telling you what I think of the TV serial Mad Men:

Mad Men, the upscale drama about an early 1960s Madison Avenue advertising agency, is a sort of Brideshead Revisited for heterosexual American grown-ups. For Baby Boomers, it’s hard to watch Mad Men without enviously exclaiming: Our parents had it better!

Read it there, and comment upon it here.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Gay marriage: 0 for 31

From the Associated Press:
Maine voters repealed a state law Tuesday that would have allowed same-sex couples to wed, dealing the gay rights movement a heartbreaking [no bias here!] defeat in New England, the corner of the country most supportive of gay marriage.

Gay marriage has now lost in every single state - 31 in all - in which it has been put to a popular vote. Gay-rights activists had hoped to buck that trend in Maine - known for its moderate, independent-minded electorate - and mounted an energetic, well-financed campaign.

Yet, you know we're going to end up with gay marriage anyway, no matter what the voters want.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

November 3, 2009

Obama Youth: "Voting is so 2008"

The dogs that haven't barked for the last six months have been the Obama Youth, who turned out in large numbers for him in 2008. If you can trust the exit polls (which you can't, but what else do we have to go upon?), in the two gubernatorial races tonight, both won by Republicans in states Obama carried in 2008, the under-30 share of the vote fell to about half what it was last year.

New Jersey
2008: 18-29 year olds cast 17% of votes, 67% for Obama
2009: 18-29 year olds cast 9% of votes, 57% for Corzine

2008: 73% white, 49% for Obama
2009: 73% white, 34% for Corzine

2008: 18-29 year olds cast 21% of votes, 60% for Obama
2009: 18-29 year olds cast 10% of votes, 44% for Deeds

2008: 70% white, 39% for Obama
2009: 78% white, 32% for Deeds

Would Obama have had more legislative success if he'd kept the Kids interested by first emphasizing Saving the World through carbon capping instead of something boring and unsexy and will-never-happen-to-me like health care?

Or are young people always bored with day to day politics?

Or was Obama just a fad, like how my generation decided in 1982-83 that Men at Work was the greatest band in history?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Environmentalism = Fashion

From Slate:
What Ever Happened to the Amazon Rain Forest?
Did we save it or what?
By Brendan Borrell

We used to hear so much about the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, but lately not a word. So what happened—did we save it or not?

We didn't save it, but we haven't stopped trying. Environmentalists fret over the fate of the Amazon for good reason: It contains more than half of the planet's remaining tropical rainforest, one-fifth of our global freshwater, and as much as one-third of the world's biodiversity. Saving all this was once a rallying cry for green activists, and a few early triumphs made that goal seem likely. But attention soon shifted away from the rainforest to issues like climate change and organic agriculture, and now the Amazon is disappearing at about the same rate it was in the 1980s.

They should have, like, Retro-Environmentalism, where everybody watches old Captain Planet episodes.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

People are living longer

Today is the first time I've ever seen the age of death on the New York Times' three featured obituaries average over 100 years old:

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

How South Koreans feel about Americans

From the NYT;

Today, the mix of envy and loathing of the West, especially of white Americans, is apparent in daily life.

The government and media obsess over each new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, to see how the country ranks against other developed economies. A hugely popular television program is “Chit Chat of Beautiful Ladies” — a show where young, attractive, mostly Caucasian women who are fluent in Korean discuss South Korea. Yet, when South Koreans refer to Americans in private conversations, they nearly always attach the same suffix as when they talk about the Japanese and Chinese, their historical masters: “nom,” which means “bastards.” ...

Ms. Hahn said that after the incident in the bus last July, her family was “turned upside down.” Her father and other relatives grilled her as to whether she was dating Mr. Hussain. But when a cousin recently married a German, “all my relatives envied her, as if her marriage was a boon to our family,” she said.

The Foreign Ministry supports an anti-discrimination law, said Kim Se-won, a ministry official. In 2007, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination recommended that South Korea adopt such a law, deploring the widespread use of terms like “pure blood” and “mixed blood.” It urged public education to overcome the notion that South Korea was “ethnically homogenous,” which, it said, “no longer corresponds to the actual situation.”

But a recent forum to discuss proposed legislation against racial discrimination turned into a shouting match when several critics who had networked through the Internet showed up. They charged that such a law would only encourage even more migrant workers to come to South Korea, pushing native workers out of jobs and creating crime-infested slums. They also said it was too difficult to define what was racially or culturally offensive.

“Our ethnic homogeneity is a blessing,” said one of the critics, Lee Sung-bok, a bricklayer who said his job was threatened by migrant workers. “If they keep flooding in, who can guarantee our country won’t be torn apart by ethnic war as in Sri Lanka?”

Generally speaking, rescuing your country from conquest and then garrisoning your troops there for half a century to prevent another war doesn't make you popular. The French loved us when we owed them a favor for the Revolutionary War, but us bailing them out in two 20th Century wars has reversed their feelings. Thus, President De Gaulle kicked American troops out of France in the 1960s, which probably helped turned down the emotional temperature.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Andy "Hit Man" Jackson

I'm rereading Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison's Oxford History of the American People. The second volume was fairly dull until the democratic age arrives with Andrew Jackson, after which it's consistently comic. For example, here's a bit on the 1836 campaign by Vice President Richard Johnson, whose supporters chanted in answer to William Henry Harrison's claim to be the Hero of Tippecanoe:
Rumpsey dumpsey, rumpsey dumpsey
Colonel Johnson killed Tecumseh!

But this slogan, never surpassed for electioneering imbecility, failed to give him a majority in the Electoral College.

Morison's description of Andrew Jackson, entering office at age 62, is striking:
Six feet one in height and weighing 145 pounds, slim and straight as a ramrod, his lean, strong face lit up by hawk-like eyes and surmounted a mane of thick gray hair.

That's really skinny for a 62-year-old. Boxer Tommy "Hit Man" Hearns, who was famous for his long reach, was also 6'1". He won the 147 pound welterweight championship, but he typically fought at heavier weights. Of course, Hearns was packing more muscle, but still 145 pounds? My freshman year in college I was 6'4" and 168 pounds, and I looked like a sapling.

In The Birth of the Modern, Paul Johnson finds Jackson's failure to put on weight as he aged alarming, comparing him to Simon Bolivar as the kind of successful but unsatisfied man who maintains a dangerously lean and hungry look as he gets old. I never know how much credence to give to these body-shape-drives-personality theories associated with William Sheldon.

Morison points out that although Jackson is often thought of today as a sort of Jethro Bodine of American history, a purely American sort, his right-hand man Martin Van Buren, when ambassador to Britain, "found Jackson's likeness in the 'Iron Duke,' Wellington."

I was once showing my nephew around the Art Institute of Chicago. I got to four early 19th Century English portraits of important aristocrats. The first was fat, the second was fat and alcoholic-looking, the third fat, alcoholic-looking, and gouty, and the fourth ... the fourth was a raptor, the most hawk-like visage I'd ever seen. Of course, it was the Duke of Wellington, the Northern Irishman Britain needed.

I wonder if Jackson's rather brawl-filled Presidency had anything to do with him still carrying two slugs in his body from his duels. Was he suffering from lead-poisoning, which tends to lower inhibitions?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

November 2, 2009

Probably not a good idea

From Reuters:
An epic film about Islam's Prophet Mohammad backed by the producer of "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Matrix" is being planned with the aim of "bridging cultures." Filming of the $150-million English-language movie is set to start in 2011 with American Barrie Osborne as its producer, Qatari media company Alnoor Holdings said on Sunday. The film - in which the Prophet would not be depicted, in accordance with Islamic rules - is in development and talks are being held with studios, talent agencies and distributors in the United States and Britain, Alnoor said.

This was already done in the 1970s, in the movie Mohammed, Messenger of God, directed by Mustapha Akkad, producer of the Halloween horror movies, who was blown up by Al Qaeda in 2005 while attending a wedding at a hotel in Jordan. The 1976 movie starred Anthony Quinn s as Hamza, Muhammad's uncle. According to Wikipedia:

In accordance with Muslim beliefs regarding depictions of Muhammad, he could not be depicted on-screen nor his voice be heard. This rule extends to his wives, his daughters and his sons-in-law. This leaves Muhammad's uncle Hamza (Anthony Quinn) and his adopted son Zayd (Damien Thomas) as the central characters. During the battles of Badr and Uhud depicted in the movie, Hamza is in nominal command even though the actual fighting was led by Muhammad.

Whenever Muhammad is present or very close by, his presence is indicated by light organ music. His words, as he speaks them, are repeated by someone else such as Hamza, Zayd and Bilal. When a scene calls for him to be present, the action is filmed from his point of view. Others in the scene nod to the unheard dialogue.

Getting funding was difficult, nearly shutting down filming until Colonel Qadaffi ended up as the main backer. (The production is parodied in Commentary film critic Richard Grenier's hilarious novel The Marrakesh One-Two, where the film crew wanders about the Muslim world looking for a government with enough oil money but not enough fundamentalism to back the film. At the end, they are so desperate that they are on their way to one country so awful they always swore they'd never go there: Iraq.)

According to Mark Deming:
Unfounded rumors had it that Mohammed would not only be depicted in the film, but that he was to be played by Charlton Heston or Peter O'Toole. This resulted in angry protests by Muslim extremists, until director Moustapha Akkad hired a staff of respected Islamic clerics as technical advisors. The advisors butted heads with Akkad, and they quit the production, which led the Moroccan government to withdraw their permission to film in their country. In time, Akkad ended up shooting on location in Libya under the sponsorship of Muammar Qaddafi, which presented a whole new set of political and practical problems for the filmmakers. Finally, when the film was scheduled to premier in the U.S., another Muslim extremist group staged a siege against the Washington D.C. chapter of the B'nai B'rith under the mistaken belief that Anthony Quinn played Mohammed in the film, threatening to blow up the building and its inhabitants unless the film's opening was cancelled. The standoff was resolved without explosion or injuries, though the film's American box office prospects never recovered from the unfortunate controversy.

The funny thing is that, judging by the comments on IMDB, many Muslims really like the 1976 movie and appreciate that the poor filmmakers went to all the trouble of making it. The problem, as usual with Muslims, was the hotheads. But are there fewer hotheads now than in 1976?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The Sailer Tradition

From the LA Daily News' article on the last second victory, by my old high school, Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, in its annual football game against its archrival:

The tradition of having great kickers is alive and well at Notre Dame High of Sherman Oaks.

Eric Solis kicked three field goals Friday, including a 51-yarder with one second remaining in a dramatic 23-21 victory over rival Crespi of Encino in a Serra League opener at Notre Dame.

From Chris Sailer to Nick Folk to Kai Forbath, Notre Dame has had some of the best kickers, but Solis' field goal gave the Knights one of the most exciting comeback victories in the school's 62-year history.

At the high school level, field goals from over 50 yards are quite rare (at least at low altitude). Indeed, they aren't common in the NFL: in 2008, eleven of the NFL's 32 regular field goal kickers had a longest field goal of no more than 50 yards.

Solis is, I believe, the fifth kicker in my old high school's history to boot a 50-yard or longer field goal since Chris Sailer launched this tradition in 1994. During the four playoff games of Notre Dame's 1994 championship year, Sailer kicked eleven field goals, four of them longer than 50 yards, one a last second game winning 58-yarder in a light rain.

NDHS grads include Kai Forbath, who has made 20 of 22 field goals for UCLA this year, Eric Folk who has made 12 of 14 for Washington, and Nick Folk who has made 12 of 15 for the Dallas Cowboys.

In case you are wondering, Chris Sailer is not, as far as I know, any relation to me. (My understanding is that "Seiler" is a surnamed derived from the German word for "ropemaker," while "Sailer" is a snobby variant spelling of that, as "Smythe" is to "Smith."

But, the story of NDHS's kickers is a Sailerian one of selection and training, nature and nurture.

Chris Sailer went on to be an All-American at UCLA, but didn't have much of an NFL career. So, he went into the business of tutoring placekicking and long snapping, and now has a booming business. Nick Folk of the Cowboys, for example, studied under Sailer for ten years. This is an example of the growth of tutoring and private training among white football players. It used to be that you showed up at school, the football coach had you practice, and that was that. Now, however, quarterbacks and placekickers tend to also be privately drilled and attend summer camps, where they can be specially taught, and scouted as well.

Sailer claims that in the high school class of 2009, 53 placekickers and/or punters who attended one of his kicking camps earned college scholarships.

Not surprisingly, Sailer's old high school benefits from all this, creating a self-perpetuating Sailer Tradition at NDHS.

Top placekickers these days are mostly white, plus some Hispanics (usual with Anglo first names). Even at Howard U., the traditionally black college in D.C., the placekicker is Dennis Wiehberg, a white soccer player from Germany.

If you are a football-loving dad and would like your reasonably athletic kid to get a free ride to college, place-kicking, punting, and long-snapping are plausible routes if your son is self-disciplined and you've got time and money to invest in training for him.

Meanwhile, many blacks have come to actively disdain kicking as a white thing, which has cost some otherwise talented all-black high school teams championships.

It's all an interesting example of voluntary resegregation within an integrated sport.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Dog Smarts

From the NYT:
Good Dog, Smart Dog
Sarah Kershaw

Life as a Labradoodle may sound free and easy, but if you’re Jet, who lives in New Jersey, there is a lot of work to be done.

He is both a seizure alert dog and a psychiatric service dog whose owner has epilepsy, severe anxiety, depression, various phobias and hypoglycemia. Jet has been trained to anticipate seizures, panic attacks and plunging blood sugar and will alert his owner to these things by staring intently at her until she does something about the problem. He will drop a toy in her lap to snap her out of a dissociative state. If she has a seizure, he will position himself so that his body is under her head to cushion a fall.

Jet seems like a genius, but is he really so smart? In fact, is any of it in his brain, or is it mostly in his sniff?

The matter of what exactly goes on in the mind of a dog is a tricky one, and until recently much of the research on canine intelligence has been met with large doses of skepticism. But over the last several years a growing body of evidence, culled from small scientific studies of dogs’ abilities to do things like detect cancer or seizures, solve complex problems (complex for a dog, anyway), and learn language suggests that they may know more than we thought they did.

Something I've noticed over the years in this kind of article or television documentary about all the new tasks to which dogs are being applied is that they seldom mention what would have immediately occurred to a pre-20th Century reader. Contemporary readers are interested in the selection process for finding dogs with the best propensities for the job and the subsequent training process. But a 19th Century reader would have immediately thought of taking the dogs who are best at a particular skill and breeding them together.

Consider the Newfoundland, a giant water dog with webbed feet who doesn't dog paddle like the average dog, but uses a more powerful technique rather like the breast stroke. Moreover, Newfoundlands desperately want to rescue people from drowning. On shorelines all over the world, there are statues of heroic Newfoundlands who rescued humans from watery graves. Unfortunately, you can't really take a Newfoundland for a walk along a public beach because he might immediately splash into the water and start hauling protesting swimmers out.

Presumably, it took a lot of generations of selective breeding to come up with a great beast with these characteristics. Presumably, you could breed together dogs that are best at each new job and eventually come up with new breeds where a much higher percentage of the dogs would pass the selection process and would require less training. But modern readers don't want to hear about that because that would be eugenics. For example, here's Jonah Goldberg's 2002 National Review Online column:
Westminster Eugenics Show
Repugnant thinking that's died out for humans is thriving at the Westminster Kennel Club.

This is not to say that foresighted individuals aren't developing new breeds, just that the entire concept is usually left out of mainstream discussions.

For example, I've seen it claimed that a few dogs can sniff out cancer in people, at least melanomas on the skin. I don't know how accurate that is, but say you could develop over a few decades a breed of dog that could detect a variety of cancers by sniffing people. Think of what a boon that would be to the world's poor -- instead of expensive scans, doctors in poor places could do cancer screenings for the price of dog food!

But this kind of thinking is unpopular today because the conventional wisdom is that eugenics is a "pseudoscience" -- i.e., it's not just morally wrong, it's impossible.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Suing the Fed: Crazy or Insane?

My new article explains how, while researching the mortgage meltdown, I stumbled into one of the larger legal issues of the day: are Federal Reserve Banks subject to the Freedom of Information Act?

Bloomberg News has successfully taken to court the Fed's bizarre-sounding contention that while the Freedom of Information Act does apply to the the Fed's Board of Governors, it doesn't apply to regional Federal Reserve banks. But Mayor Bloomberg has more money than I do to wage a legal battle against an entity that can create money out of thin air. Do I have a legal leg to stand on?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer