November 3, 2012

Heckuva job, Bushies!

From NBC Latino:
Jeb Bush believes Texas will be “blue” by 2016 
by Patricia Diez 
A lot can change in just four years. 
For former Florida Governor Jeb Bush a four-year timetable is enough for a significant shift for the Republican party. He tells Joe Hagan of New York magazine: “It’s a math question. Four years from now, Texas is going to be a so-called blue state. Imagine Texas as a blue state, how hard it would be to carry the presidency or gain control of the Senate.” 
Hagan starts the article for New York magazine with this idea that  Texas’ rapidly changing demographic will unfavorably affect the Republican party.  He writes: 
“Sitting down across from me, [Jeb] assumes his role as party Cassandra, warning of the day when the Republicans’ failure to tap an exploding Hispanic population will cripple its chances at reclaiming power—starting in Texas, the family seat of the House of Bush.” 
If this is a problem for the Republican party, Hagan believes Bush is just the solution: “a popular two-time governor of a Hispanic-heavy state, with a record of improving education for minorities, fluent in Spanish, married to a Latina, and father to two Hispanic sons, George P. Bush and Jeb Jr. By Jeb Bush’s own calculus, Jeb Bush would make a great presidential candidate.”

I pointed out in January 2004 that the Bush immigration policy made no sense from a Republican standpoint, but a lot of sense from a Bush Dynasty standpoint.

November 1, 2012

Arthur Jensen is dead

An obituary for the great intelligence scientist in the NYT

It starts off well with quotes from authorities Douglas Detterman and James Flynn, but eventually goes  off the track, quoting somebody from somewhereville about the usual as the final word on the subject.

"Asian-Americans in the Admissions Argument "

From the NYT
Asian-Americans in the Admissions Argument 
A COLLEGE education aims to guide students through unfamiliar territory — Arabic, Dante, organic chemistry — so what was once alien comes to feel a lot less so. But sometimes an issue starts so close to home that the educational goal is the inverse: to take what students think of as familiar and place it in a new and surprising light.

I.e., get propagandized into parroting dominant views on campus.
It’s mostly the latter process that has been taking place every Tuesday and Thursday this semester in Room 303 of the Parlin Building, just below the iconic 300-foot tower of the University of Texas, Austin. On this graceful campus of 50,000 students from diverse ethnic backgrounds, three dozen undergraduates, many of them Asian-American, are examining Asian-American political identity in a course on that subject. 
Ethnic politics is a touchy topic under any circumstances, but the issue here has a sharper edge as the United States Supreme Court examines whether the University of Texas is violating the Constitution by including race and ethnicity in admissions decisions. On Oct. 10, it heard oral arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas, in which Abigail Fisher, a white Texan, says she was denied admission to the flagship campus while less qualified Latinos and African-Americans were allowed in. 
In his presentation of some of the Supreme Court legal briefs to the political identity class, Khai Pham, a junior who is Vietnamese, said he didn’t like the use of race in college admissions — and nobody other than the instructor, Lesley Varghese, disagreed with him. Said one classmate: “You can’t make up for what went wrong in the past by helping people today.” Another added: “Maybe affirmative action was necessary at one point in time, but it is outdated today and we need a new formula.” And Anna Akhtar, a sophomore who is half Pakistani, said of her high school classmates: “I had white friends who were struggling and minority friends who were doing just fine.”

One secret is that most high school seniors hate, hate, hate affirmative action. When they get to college, they are still sore about their high school friends who didn't get in due to racial preferences. But, over time, they develop new friends at the college, all of whom did get in, unlike those losers they left behind. Plus, the faculty is there with a lot of insidious arguments about why what seems like sheer racial unfairness is actually, when you stop thinking about it, racial justice! (As long as you look at everything from the appropriate who-whom perspective.)
Ms. Varghese, an Indian-American lawyer and activist, said later that she hoped that what seemed obvious to those students now — that using race in admissions caused resentment, was unfair and should be abandoned — would yield to a deeper appreciation of a complex issue later in the semester.

Wow, an ethnic activist wants to indoctrinate young co-ethnics in the value of her job!
Given the growing skepticism toward affirmative action in American society and at the Supreme Court itself (Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race”), its use in university admissions seems to be facing a challenging future. 
Asian-Americans, who make up 5 percent of the population, are the fastest growing racial group, with three-quarters of adults born abroad, according to the Pew Research Center. And they are tangled up in the affirmative action issue in complicated ways. 
On the one hand, some ambitious and disciplined students from India, South Korea and China see themselves as victims of race-conscious admissions, their numbers kept artificially low to keep a more demographically balanced campus. A lawsuit pending against Princeton alleges discrimination on grounds that applicants from other ethnic or racial groups were admitted with lesser credentials. The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights also received complaints last year against Princeton and, since withdrawn, Harvard. 
On the other hand, Filipinos, Cambodians, Pacific Islanders and other Asian-Americans continue to benefit from policies that take ethnicity into account. 
Polls show Asian-Americans divided fairly evenly on the use of affirmative action. But its opponents appear to be growing more vocal, and they have joined the debate in a bigger way than in the past. In briefs sent to the justices, most of the established Asian-American groups, like the Asian American Legal Defense Fund, support diversity as a goal in college admissions. But a number of others take the side of Ms. Fisher and argue that colleges have increased the numbers of blacks and Hispanics in a way that is wrong and unconstitutional. 
“Admission to the nation’s top universities and colleges is a zero-sum proposition,” asserts the brief from the 80-20 National Asian American Educational Foundation, one of the groups opposed to affirmative action. “As aspiring applicants capable of graduating from these institutions outnumber available seats, the utilization of race as a ‘plus factor’ for some inexorably applies race as a ‘minus factor’ against those on the other side of the equation. Particularly hard-hit are Asian-American students, who demonstrate academic excellence at disproportionately high rates but often find the value of their work discounted on account of either their race, or nebulous criteria alluding to it.” 
Ms. Fisher asserts that the policy that led to the rejection of her application to the Austin campus hurts not only white applicants but Asian-Americans.
... Currently, the university’s enrollment is half non-Hispanic white, fairly close to the state demographic of 45 percent. It lags in Hispanic representation (18 percent enrolled versus 38 percent statewide) and African-American (4 percent versus 12 percent statewide). As for Asian-Americans, it would be hard to argue they are underrepresented. They make up 4 percent of the state population, and 16 percent of the university’s student body. 
But the numbers don’t tell the whole story. The university does not reveal how many applicants in each group it rejects. 
For Asian-Americans across the country, the Fisher case is a source of ambivalence. While most people think of blacks and Latinos when they think of victims of past discrimination, Asian immigrants, who first came to build railways in the late 19th century, were also mistreated. Most famously, Japanese-Americans were interned during World War II for fear of treachery. 
To some in Texas, the state with the third largest Asian-American population, after California and New York, the mistreatment does not feel like ancient history. Anti-miscegenation laws, in effect here until 1967, and separate-but-equal laws applied to all nonwhites. 
“We were the first illegal immigrants and had the first blighted neighborhoods,” said Irwin A. Tang, co-author and editor of the book “Asian Texans: Our Histories and Lives.” A Dallas business directory of 1894 declared on its cover, “Send Chinese laundries back to China!” 
As Mr. Tang writes of the first half of the 20th century, “Asian Texans lived in a distinct racial-caste system structured by racist laws; social hierarchy; segregation of residence, sexual relations and marriage; and the separation of Asian family members from each other.” So the idea of helping them overcome past discrimination in the same way as Latinos and blacks has held appeal for some, especially those who say the suffering has gone unacknowledged. 
Asians have often been grouped under the rubric of “model minority,” meaning they make few political demands and keep their head down. “

No, it means they don't mug old ladies in-between burning down large sections of the city.
Asian-Americans are brought up not to upset the apple cart,” noted Martha Jee Wong, a retired Republican state legislator from Houston. “Our parents taught us that whatever we do, we should honor our family name. So you find ways to make top grades and not rock the boat.” 
Ms. Varghese, who is director of the Austin Asian American Resource Center, to open next year, says it took many decades for Asian-Americans of different backgrounds to feel any sense of common identity. “My parents are Catholics from Kerala in southern India,” she said. “My father doesn’t even speak Hindi. For most of his life he barely considered himself Indian, let alone Asian.”

The idea of a pan-Asian identity in this country, scholars say, was partly a result of anti-Asian violence, especially against one subgroup when another was intended. Thirty years ago in Detroit, a Chinese-American named Vincent Chin was beaten to death by a pair of autoworkers angry at competition from Toyota.

Vincent Chin! Who can forget him? Who can remember the names of all thosee white guys Omart Thornton killed two years ago in the name of fighting racism?
They thought he was Japanese. Seven years later, Jim Loo, also Chinese, was killed in North Carolina by men who had lost a brother in the Vietnam War and thought he was Vietnamese. In the wake of Sept. 11, Sikhs from India have been targeted in the belief they are Muslims.
“All of this created a consciousness that xenophobia targets you, that the whole model-minority stereotype attached to many Asians doesn’t protect you,” Ms. Varghese said. “When it comes down to who is American and who is the enemy, we are often lumped in with the enemy. As hate crimes go down nationally, we are the only group for whom they go up.”

Uh, I'd point to the Reagan Administration extending contracting benefits to South Asian buisnessmen in 1982 as the moment when a fairly large East Asian group was artificially united with a smaller but more articulate South Asian group who were better at playing the ethnic resentment game.
... Within a couple of decades, the academic success of many Asian-Americans resulted in elite schools quietly keeping their numbers from climbing too high. (The mean SAT score of Asian-Americans is now 63 points higher than that of whites.) 
“If you look at the Ivy League, you will find that Asian-Americans never get to 20 percent of the class,” said Daniel Golden, author of “The Price of Admission” and editor at large for Bloomberg News. “The schools semiconsciously say to themselves, ‘We can’t have all Asians.’ ” Mr. Golden says it is helpful to think of Asians as the new Jews because some rules of college admissions, like geographic diversity, were originally aimed at preventing the number of Jews from growing too high. 
Commenting on similar efforts involving Asian applicants, Rod Bugarin, a former admissions officer at Wesleyan, Brown and Columbia, said: “The bar is different for every group. Anyone who works in the industry knows that.”
But like most admissions professionals, Mr. Bugarin, of Filipino heritage, said he was worried that the Supreme Court might listen to those who wish to remove race and ethnicity entirely from the process. 
“As someone who is Asian, I can say that Asians have really benefited from affirmative action,” he said. “When schools were heavily white, Asians were not in the applicant pool. But now there is a new generation of immigrants applying, especially from places like India and China, and that is putting even more pressure on Asian-Americans trying to get into top schools. If they knocked out our ability to use affirmative action, certain Asian groups would benefit far more than others.” 
More important, some argue, Asian-Americans themselves benefit from the campus diversity the system produces. Schools where admission is purely through a test, like the elite public New York City high school Stuyvesant, often have large percentages of Asian-Americans. The University of California at Berkeley and Los Angeles are more than half Asian. That doesn’t help them integrate effectively, to pierce what some call the bamboo ceiling in the corporate and political worlds. 
“I fear that if affirmative action is overthrown by the Supreme Court, our elite campuses will look like U.C.L.A. and Berkeley,” Mr. Burgarin said. “That wouldn’t be good for Asians or for anyone else.” 

It's fascinating how little college development there has been over the last century. Brandeis, for example, is a good faith effort by liberal Jews to build a Jewish university on the model of all the various kinds of Christian but not exclusive universities. But as quotas on Jews fell at the older schools, Jewish donors lost interest in creating more Brandeises. Asian Americans have shown negligible interest in starting up their own Brandeises.

Even without starting a college de novo, it's not impossible to do a massive rehab. For example, public George Mason outside of Washington, DC and private Chapman in Orange County, CA were lackluster colleges taken over by ambitious conservatives who realized that a lot of money could be raised from rich businessmen by offering quality education that was less intended to alienate the donors' children from their fathers than at most colleges. They've made a lot of progress in a couple of decades, but it does take decades.

But, Asian-Americans don't appear interested in following either the Brandeis or Chapman institution-building paths.

Well done, Mr. Fitch

An obituary in the NYT:
He seemed bathed in golden sunlight, this John Cooper Fitch, who put on goggles and a polo helmet and drove racing cars as fast as anybody in the world, including his sometime partner, Stirling Moss. He shot a newly introduced German jet from the sky in World War II, raced yachts, built his own sports cars. 
At 70, John Cooper Fitch set a speed record for driving backward. 
Eva Peron, the legendary Evita, kissed him after he won the 1951 Grand Prix of Argentina. His friend George Barker, the poet, described him as “a tall Jack with the sun on his wrist and a sky stuffed up his sleeve.” 
Mr. Fitch, a lanky, graceful man who died on Monday at 95, put it more simply: “I’ve always needed to go fast.” ...

A couple of years ago, I was reading up on creativity, which seems like a morass of the unmeasurable and barely definable. There's artistic creativity, technological creativity, and so forth. So, I came up with the idea that one indisputable form of creativity is to invent something useful that could have been invented previously. The best example I could come up with are those garbage cans with increasing amounts of sand in them in front of bridge abutments and other places motorists can get killed. 

I assumed the guy who invented it was probably just some guy doing his job who happened to have a sudden flash of inspiration. Instead, the inspiration turned out to be so spectacular that nobody would believe it if you put it into a movie.
As glamorous as his racing life was — Mr. Fitch led Corvette’s first racing team and was the only American to join Mercedes’s fabled stable of drivers — his greatest achievement can be found on public highways. He invented the Fitch Inertial Barrier, a cluster of plastic barrels filled with varying amounts of sand that progressively slow and cushion a car in a crash. Devised in the 1960s and commonly positioned at exit ramps and abutments along interstates, the barrier is believed to have saved more than 17,000 lives.

I bet it's approaching 100,000 lives saved worldwide. 
... Speed Age magazine named him Sports Car Driver of 1953.

A test of the Fitch Inertial Barrier, barrels filled with sand that cushion a blow.
Mr. Fitch was soon recruited to join the Mercedes-Benz racing team, which was using victories on the track to help propel the company to a postwar resurgence. ... 
The same year, on June 11, 1955 Mr. Fitch was teamed with Pierre Levegh in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race (which Fitch had won in 1953]. Ten minutes before Mr. Fitch was to take over the car, it went out of control, veered into the crowd and burst into flames, killing Mr. Levegh and more than 80 spectators in the most catastrophic accident in motor sports history. 
The horror of the crash motivated Mr. Fitch to develop safety barriers, including one for the walls of racetracks to deflect a car and soften its impact. For the highway barrier, he began with liquor crates, filling them with different amounts of sand and then crashing into them himself at speeds of up to 70 m.p.h. to figure out what worked best. 
In addition to saving lives, the Fitch Inertial Barrier — typically consisting of yellow sand-filled plastic barrels — saves an estimated $400 million a year in property damage and medical expenses, the National Science Foundation says.

The young Obama's lame taste in music

I've got to burn through my unused Obama material in case he loses and then nobody ever wants to hear of him again. So ...

Last summer, in preparation for hosting my relatives after my father's funeral, I had my sons move various piles of junk around the house, including hundreds of my old vinyl records from roughly 1976-1988. One of my sons cornered me a week later to ask why I had such lousy albums when there was all this awesome hardcore stuff emerging in SoCal at the time. "The only good record you ever bought was Black Flag's Louie Louie," he said, referring to the 79-second 45 rpm single from 1981, with Dez Cadena improvising new lyrics to the 1957 classic. "The rest is like ... the Go-Gos."

"Yeah, but, I saw the Go-Gos at the Whiskey six months before their first album came out, New Year's Eve 1980," I pointed out.

"New Wave," he replied.

"Well ... I was pretty cool for an MBA student."

He thought about that for awhile. "Okay," he said.

I was an MBA student at UCLA from 1980-82, while Obama, who is 2.6 years younger than me, was in L.A. from 1979-1981, which was a pretty happening period musically. But compared to Obama, I was practically Henry Rollins and Rodney Bingenheimer put together. Heck, Joseph Wambaugh's LAPD novel from 1981, The Delta Star, has the younger L.A. cops talking to each other about local bands a lot, like the Circle Jerks. When Wambaugh's 1981 cops get drunk enough at their cop bar, they play Black Flag on the jukebox.

Obama's musical tastes in college in L.A., however, ran toward whatever universally popular pop had won a Grammy Award five or ten years before, such as Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, or Earth Wind, & Fire. He could do a wicked impression of Mick Jagger at Altamont in 1969. From 1979-81, Obama was into Hendrix, who had died in 1971.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, but, Obama's most thorough biographer, David Maraniss is kind of weirded out by how boring Obama's musical favorites were. Barack Obama: The Story features long lists of all the bands that Obama's friends at Occidental College were into: "The Blasters, Los Lobos, and the Naughty Sweeties" ... "Germs, Sex Pistols, Ramones, B-52s, Specials, Flying Lizards, Talking Heads, Dead Kennedys, the Clash" ... "Ian Dury & the Blockheads ..." But, Obama didn't really like any of them. (Maraniss goes out of his way to document that Obama did once dance to Talking Heads' 1980 song "Once In a Lifetime.")

What Obama liked was black music, but The young Obama especially liked pop with a Social Message:
... they spent hours dissecting the lyrics to Bob Marley's 1979 album, Survival. ... Barry Obama could take or leave much of the music that he had heard most often in the Annex [his dorm at Oxy], from new wave to punk, enjoying some, tuning out some, but it was the musical language of Bob Marley, and Stevie Wonder, that stirred something deeper inside him. "Obama's consciousness, much like mine, was influenced by music, influenced by a recognition, an understanding of the world through music," Moore said. "Obama's sense of social justice ultimately comes from Bob, or comes from Stevie Wonder. You can't learn all that from a book."


Arthur Jensen explains how the world works to Howard Beale

Arthur Jensen: You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won't have it. You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations; there are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There is no third world. There is no west. There is only one holistic system of systems; one vast interwoven, interacting, multivariate multinational dominion of dollars. Petrodollars, electrodollars, reichmarks, rubles, rin, pounds and shekels. It is the international system of currency that determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic, subatomic and galactic structure of things today. It is the international system of currency that determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things. You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and you will atone! Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and Democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT &T and Dupont, Dow, Union Carbide and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state? Karl Marx? They pull out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, and minimax solutions and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations inexorably determined by the immutable by-laws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale! It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live to see that perfect world in which there is no war or famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company for whom all men will work to serve a common profit and in which all men will own a share of stock, all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused. And I have chosen you to preach this evangel. 
Beale: Why me? 
Arthur Jensen: Because you're on television, dummy.

From Paddy Chayefsky's Network, 1976

Oh ... wrong Arthur Jensen, I guess.

October 31, 2012

In other non-news, Arthur Jensen is still dead

And, according to Google News, nobody has mentioned it yet in the press.

Also in the non-news, the Google News search 

has fallen from 5 articles to 4 this week.

How to escape poverty

Education Realist offers eight suggestions to a hypothetical 15-year-old poor child.

"Racial differences in narcissistic tendencies"

From the Journal of Research in Personality:
Racial differences in narcissistic tendencies 
Virgil Zeigler-Hill 
Marion T. Wallace 
Black individuals have been found to report the highest levels of self-esteem of any racial group in the United States. The purpose of the present research was to examine whether Black individuals also report higher levels of narcissism than White individuals. Study 1 (N = 367) found that Black individuals reported higher levels of narcissism than White individuals even when controlling for gender, self-esteem level, and socially desirable response tendencies. Study 2 (N = 967) and Study 3 (N = 315) found similar results such that Black individuals reported higher levels of narcissism than White individuals on the narcissism measures that captured less pathological facets of this construct. Study 3 also included indicators of psychological adjustment and found that the pathological aspects of narcissism were more strongly associated with maladjustment for Black individuals than for White individuals. The implications of these results for understanding the Black self-esteem advantage are discussed.

Liberal SWPL cities less attractive to blacks than conservative metro areas

From the Austin American-Statesman:
Austin struggling to recruit, retain black professionals
By Laylan Copelin 
American-Statesman Staff 
Central Texas is a fixture on national lists as one of the best places to live, work, start a business or retire. The region, according to its press clippings, is attractive whether you are young and single, gay or straight, or a retired couple. 
But not necessarily if you are black. 
“We’re on all those lists, but I’m not aware of Austin being on a list for African-Americans,” said Ashton Cumberbatch Jr., chairman of the Capital City African-American Chamber of Commerce. “Austin has never been marketed to blacks.”

Austin is, traditionally, the most liberal metropolitan area in Texas, and has long been fashionable among the nicer sort of white people. When I was at Rice in Houston way back in the 1970s, for example, everybody at Rice thought Austin was much better than Houston. (Austin has some hills to provide scenery, there are some German-Americans to provide civic cooperativeness, and the huge UT supports popular music and a little bit of film culture: Terence Malick and Mike Judge live there. Idiocracy was made in Austin, which you can take one of two ways.)

In general, however, all else being equal, blacks seem to prefer the less liberal burghs, such as Houston (which is home to the biggest West African community). The Atlanta region in Republican Georgia has become particularly attractive to educated African-Americans. If you were a black college graduate and wanted to raise your children amidst other black college graduates, Atlanta would be near the top of your list, not Austin.

"What's the Matter with White People?"

From The New Republic:
Why Democrats Need the White Working Class
Ruy Teixeira October 24, 2012 | 12:00 am 
What’s the Matter with White People?: Why We Long for a Golden Age That Never Was 
by Joan Walsh 
Wiley, 278 pp., $25.95 
WHAT’S THE MATTER with White People is really about what’s the matter with the white working class—more specifically, with the way they vote. Joan Walsh’s concern is with how the white working class has strayed from the New Deal coalition and from the Democrats. She explains and examines this thesis using her own experience: the political evolution of her New York working-class Irish Catholic family, most of whom followed the classic path from New-Deal-lunch-pail Democrats to Nixon-and-Reagan devotees. 
Walsh is a more-or-less unreconstructed New Deal liberal who believes economic universalism is the glue that can and should hold the Democratic coalition together. ... 
This brings us to the third and most distinctive part of Walsh’s argument: the role that Democrats, especially liberal Democrats, have played in alienating the white working class. In her view, the retreat of the white working class became an excuse for liberal Democrats to vilify this group, magnifying their shortcomings into a cartoon portrait of hopelessly racist and mean-spirited enemies of progress. This accelerated the white working class’s bitter departure from the Democrats. It also ensured that identity politics displaced class politics within the Democratic Party. As Walsh puts it: “I watched one area of common ground emerge on the left: more and more observers seemed to believe that so-called people of color … shared more interests with one another than with any white Americans.”

... Electoral weakness among the white working class can be finessed in some elections (2008, perhaps 2012), but it deprives the Democrats of the stable majority support they need around the country and within Congress to implement activist programs the country desperately needs. And if a Democratic administration runs into trouble, the potential for blowback from an unfriendly white working class is always present (as was seen in 2010).

Hank Aaron's career trajectory: The Juice or Old Man Game?

I got the term Old Man Game from a Tucker Max essay about when he used to play basketball as a U. of Chicago undergrad with law school lecturer Barack Obama. The 35ish Obama was surprisingly ineffectual. He looked good, but he hadn't developed much Old Man Game cunning that would help his teams win, so team captains who used a high pick on the tall, smart-looking black guy often wound up losing.

Developing Old Man Game is a helpful explanation for Hank Aaron's career path in baseball.

It was embarrassing for Major League Baseball back in 2007 when Barry Bonds broke the sainted Hank Aaron's career home run record, which Hank had famously taken in 1973 from Babe Ruth. 

And, yet, Aaron's career path was a little strange, itself. He's was always seen in the press as second fiddle to Willie Mays, sometimes third fiddle to Willie and Frank Robinson. But he kept racking up homers as age took its toll on his rivals. 

In Milwaukee, per 162 games from age 20 to 31: 124 singles, 36 doubles, 8 triples, 36 homers. 

In Atlanta, per 162 games from age 32-40, 98 singles, 27 doubles, 3 triples, 43 homers.

The Atlanta ballpark is about 500 feet higher than Milwaukee's, and in general it was a better hitter's park. 

So, it looks like Aaron simply craftily focused upon the aging ballplayer's remaining strength: strength. You can see in golfers that drive length declines only slowly as they age, while putting often goes quickly.

On the other hand, I'm not wholly convinced by the statistical evidence from before the Dianabol Age (1958 onward) that this idea that players will be able to up their homers per game numbers after age 31 by uppercutting is wholly clear. Now that I think about it, I have this circular suspicion that the notion that players can compensate for aging by trying harder to hit home runs comes from Late Aaron and was mostly used to explain Late Aaron.

Okay, Stan Musial went up from 25 to 29 per 162 games over those ages, so that supports it, but some of Musial's early seasons were played with the WWII ball that didn't go as far so he'd have a ton of doubles.

Babe Ruth went up from 43 to 51, but there were big changes in the ball; the 1918 ball was made out of old newspapers or something to Help the War Effort; after Roy Chapman got killed by a dirty ball he didn't see in 1920, they used newer cleaner balls and banned the spitter. Then they switched to a lively ball around 1925.

Lou Gehrig went from 37 up to 38 but died before he hit 40. Gehrig had some Old Man Game -- in 1927, Gehrig was like Aaron in 1959 or Musial in 1948, ripping huge line drives for a ton of extra bases (but not quite as many homers).  But in the 1930s, Gehrig learned to pull the ball right down the short Yankee Stadium right field line for cheap homers. (Bill Dickey did, too.)

Johnny Mize from 30 to 32. Billie Williams from 28 to 29. Willie Stargell 33 to 36 when moving to a more homer friendly park. Hank Greenberg from 39 to 39, but retired young. Frank Howard 32 (mostly in cavernous Dodger Stadium) to 34. Joe Adcock 27 to 31. Jim Thome 40 and 40. Harold Baines 22 to 24. Frank Thomas 36 to 38. Barry Bonds from 35 to 53. Rafael Palmeiro from 26 to 40.  Mark McGwire from 41 to 64. Sammy Sosa from 41 to 46. Luis Gonzales from 17 to 28 (with a peak of 57 at age 33). Gary Sheffield 32 to 34.

Ted Williams declined from 38 to 36.  Mel Ott declined from 34 to 28. Frank Robinson declined from 37 to 30. Willie Mays declined from 40 to 35. Joe Dimaggio from 36 to 31. Willie Horton from 30 to 22. Ken Griffey Jr. from 42 to 32. Mike Schmidt from 38 to 36. Harmon Killibrew from 44 to 32. Ron Santo 27 to 18. Duke Snider from 36 to 21. Chuck Klein from 35 to 13. Al Kaline 27 to 21. Ernie Banks 40 to 25. Dick Allen from 35 to 27. Willie McCovey 37 to 30. Mickey Mantle 41 to 29. Eddie Matthews 38 to 25. Eddie Murray 30 to 25. Carl Yastrzemski 25 to 21. Reggie Jackson from 34 to 32. Alex Rodriguez 46 to 34. Manny Ramirez 41 to 37. Al Simmons 26 to 18. Brooks Robinson 17 to 14.

So, it looks like there are some legit examples of Old Man Game leading to more homers per game played, although it's hard to come up with anything completely trustworthy that's analogous to Aaron's trajectory. Overall, I'm inclined toward the Old Man Game explanation. But, still ...

October 30, 2012

The American Conservative symposium on Romney v. Obama

The whole gang at The American Conservative magazine, myself included, weighs in with their personal perspectives about the choice between Obama and Romney. 

I've finally figured out who Obama really is

That headline is semi-serious: at this late date, I've come up with a sort-of-new theory on Obama. It's neither terribly scandalous nor laudatory (so nobody will pay attention to it); it just makes more sense out of some of the weird details in Obama's life story and puts his early career path in a historical perspective.

Read the whole thing in Taki's Magazine.

What's the matter with the Democrats?

Here is an article I wrote for The American Conservative in the summer of 2006 on the inherent weaknesses of the Democratic Party. As it turned out, the Democrats whomped the Republicans hard that November, but, still ... I think a lot of the points I made remain applicable. 

That gets me to thinking: say, you are a self-interested foreigner -- such as, say, Carlos Slim, Vladimir Putin, Bibi Netanyahu, Prince Bandar, Ehud Barak, Lee Kwan Yew or some other formidable and well-informed gentleman -- and you had the opportunity to more or less buy either the Democrats or the Republicans, which would you choose? Say that there was a special offer, one time only: for $10 billion you could obtain discreet but effective control over either the Republicans or the Democrats for the next 10 years. Imagine that both are quietly for sale: which party would you buy? (Assume you have no loyalty or sympathy for either one, you are just looking for the best return on your investment.)

NBA team accused of discriminating against black basketball players

The Minnesota Timberwolves go into the season with only five black players on their 15-man roster, and some people are calling it a conspiracy. 
From Jerry Zgoda and Dennis Brackin of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: 
"How did we get a roster that resembles the 1955 Lakers?" asked Tyrone Terrell, chairman of St. Paul's African American leadership council. "I think everything is a strategy. Nothing happens by happenstance." 
That strategy, Terrell and others in the black community believe, is to sell tickets to the Wolves' fan base, which is overwhelmingly white. 
Lou Amundson, JJ Barea, Chase Budinger, Andrei Kirilenko, Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, Luke Ridnour, Ricky Rubio, Alexey Shved, and Greg Stiemsma make up 2/3 of the T-Wolves roster, and they are all white. 
Minnesota civil rights activist Ron Edwards thinks something is up too, and he told the paper, "It raises some real questions to me about what's really intended. I think, personally, that it was calculated. Is this an attempt to get fans back in the stands? Minnesota, after all, is a pretty white state.''

I don't see much evidence at all that white Americans like foreign whites more than African-Americans, but it might someday happen. More likely, a small market team management might try a strategy of building a whiter team in the hopes of getting better team play interaction effects.

So far, the Timberwolves' Achilles heel (or anterior cruciate ligament, in the case of Ricky Rubio) has been injuries. Rubio, the former Spanish child prodigy point guard, has been out since the middle of last season, and Love, the closest thing to a white American superstar the NBA has at present (at least as measured by his huge points/rebounds numbers -- the rest of his game ...), recently broke his hand. So, we won't see if this strategy, if it is a strategy and not just randomness, works or not until the second half of the season.

One interesting study that I haven't seen done is differences in injury rates between races. I wouldn't be surprised if the prejudice against, say, white running backs in big time football might be based on a greater likelihood of white runners to get too dinged up to be effective. 

Back in the 1980s, Bill James did a rare race study comparing white and black pairs of baseball players with similar rookie year number for speed-related stats such as triples, grounded into double plays, defensive range, and percent of time caught stealing. He found a strong tendency for black ballplayers to maintain their speed later into their careers than white players. I can't find James' essay online, but here is Jon Entine's summary of it.

Now, this analysis couldn't distinguish between the differential effects of injuries on speed and the differential effects of aging on speed, but it's still about the best starting point I've heard of.

For example, on paper, Oakland's Reggie Jackson and Bob Allison, a 1960s Minnesota Twin who was electrifying for a few years, looked equally fast as rookies, but Allison's speed fell off faster, while Reggie stayed fast enough to stay in the league long enough to put up Hall of Fame career numbers. James also cites Davey Lopes's then-amazing 1985 season with the Cubs as a 39 year old part-timer in which he stole 47 bases in 51 attempts.

You might think that somebody would have looked into this more over the quarter of a century since then, but sabermetrics appears pretty allergic to obvious racial analyses. With the gigantic obsession in 21st Century America with fantasy sports leagues, in which hobbyists draft lineups and compete with each other based on their players' subsequent stats, you would think this question would be a big one. Instead, though, stat analysts appear content to let racial stereotypes and hunches, rather than statistically informed analyses, drive fans' decision-making in this regard.

I wouldn't be surprised that black athletes have greater resilience to the wear-and-tear of injuries, but I can think of a couple of other explanations for James' results.

The first is that James' methodology of finding matching pairs might not be that good. Assume that the black bell curve of speed is shifted to the right of the white bell curve, but you have only crude measures of baseball speed. For example, Allison led the league in triples as rookie with 9, which is a good indicator of speed, but it's a small sample size. Some of the other stats, such as defensive range and caught stealing, are confounded by baseball savvy. Maybe white baseball players tend to be savvier as rookies, while blacks tended to be multi-sport athletes who only decided to concentrate upon baseball at a later age? (Certainly Reggie Jackson evolved into one of the more cunning ballplayers by late in his career, but he was a star football player in college.) 

So, maybe Bob Allison was never quite the spectacular athlete that Reggie Jackson was, he just happened to have somewhat similar numbers based on not totally reliable measures. For example, James makes a big deal out of both guys being good college football players, but Allison was a fullback while Reggie was a defensive back. Big difference in likely speed. Perhaps white players who appear to be as fast as their matched black counterparts aren't really as fast on average, they're just the best that James' system can come up with. For example, I presume he didn't find any white matches for, say, Ricky Henderson, Willie Wilson, or Vince Coleman.

The second issue with the study is ... juicing. We don't know much about pre-Canseco experiments with steroids, but I'm developing some suspicions. 

I saw Reggie Jackson's titanic homer in the 1971 All-Star Game off the light stand on top of the third deck in right field of Tiger Stadium. It was almost unprecedented, but by 30 years later it wasn't so amazing. Barry Bonds hit two similar blasts in the 2002 World Series that the TV cameraman couldn't track.

As he got older, Reggie developed the top-heavy look of a serious lifter that became common in 1990s baseball. California muscle building culture was way ahead of the rest of the country in technical sophistication in the 1960s and 1970s.

Or consider James's example of Davey Lopes

I was a huge Los Angeles Dodgers fan during their strong 1970s, and I recall being at Dodger Stadium in the late 1970s when all the Dodger sluggers (the 1977 Dodgers was the first team with four 30-homer men) took a pregame jog through the outfield. They were men of average height, but extraordinarily wide.

Lopes was a leadoff man / second baseman whose career high in homeruns through age 31 was 10. Then he started developing more power and at age 34 in 1979 hit 28 homeruns, which seemed a bizarre total for a middle infielder at the time.

(Lopes' development, now that I think about it, had something to do with moving the outfield fences in at Dodger Stadium. In Sandy Koufax's 1960s, centerfield was 410 feet, then they brought it in to 400. The Dodgers had a lot of players who could hit minimal homers just over the outfielder's glove -- Ron Cey drove my Dodger-hating roommate crazy with a lot of cheap home runs that barely made it over the fence.) So, management then made the centerfield fence only 395'. Then MLB set a minimum of 400 in center, so they had to move it out again, but I don't remember the exact years.)

I'm just tossing some evidence out there, mind you, not drawing conclusions.

By the way, I only saw about a minute of the World Series, but I was happy to see that the Giants' young superstar catcher Buster Posey seemed to be built more like an old fashioned lithe athlete, in the mold of Roger Federer or Chris Paul, rather than a top-heavy 1990's slugger. Hope (and fandom) springs eternal ...

October 29, 2012

Obama v. Romney demographics: Draw your own conclusions

From my recent article:

Feel free to pass this graph around and see what conclusions people come up with.

They can read up on the methodology here.

The world's most boring profound insight

Brain science reporter Benedict Carey has another good piece in the NYT:
That Guy Won? Why We Knew It All Along 
The economy, “super PAC” money, debate performances, the candidates’ personalities. Roll it all together, and it’s obvious who’s going to win. 
Or, uh, it will be. 
Amid the many uncertainties of next Tuesday’s presidential election lies one sure thing: Many people will feel in their gut that they knew the result all along. Not only felt it coming, but swear they predicted it beforehand — remember? — and probably more than once. 
These analysts won’t be hard to find. They will most likely include (in addition to news media pundits) neighbors, friends, co-workers and relatives, as well as the person whose reflection appears in the glare of the laptop screen. Most will also have a ready-made argument for why it was inevitable that Mitt Romney, or Barack Obama, won — displaying the sort of false, after-the-fact “foresight” that psychologists call hindsight bias. 
“The important thing to know about hindsight bias is that it not only changes how you see the world, but also how you see yourself in it,” said Neal Roese, a professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, who just published a review paper on the bias with Kathleen D. Vohs of the University of Minnesota. “You begin to think: ‘Hey, I’m good. I’m really good at figuring out what’s going to happen.’ You begin to see outcomes as inevitable that were not.” 
Long the province of political scientists, historians and pollsters, voters’ behavior has more recently attracted the attention of psychologists. They have dug into the field over the past decade or so, finding a wide-open arena in which to test results from lab studies and in some cases drawing interest from campaign strategists. If politics is individual psychology writ large, then thinking about politics should be subject to the same shortfalls and quirks as thinking about anything else. And so it is, to some extent — presenting some of the same opportunities for self-correction. 
The most obvious carry-over to politics is confirmation bias, the reflexive instinct to begin with an assumption — say, that poor people are lazy — and notice only evidence that’s supportive, like malingering, ignoring the efforts of the rest of the $5-an-hour night cleaning crew. 
Hindsight bias is close to the reverse. People retrofit their opinions and judgments to the evidence, in this case to an election result, but just as often to a political decision (or nondecision) that went wrong. Of course it was clear that Saddam Hussein was bluffing about weapons of mass destruction. Anyone could have seen that. Of course the consulate in Benghazi needed beefed-up security.

This combination of Confirmation Bias and Hindsight Bias means that people tend to come out, on net, pretty accurate in their perceptions.
Campaigns exploit this instinct, particularly when appealing to voters who second-guess decisions of someone they put in office, said Mark McKinnon, a former adviser to President George W. Bush and co-founder of No Labels, a nonprofit devoted to bipartisanship. “As the challenger, you need to win over some of those voters,” Mr. McKinnon said in an e-mail. “You need to give them an out for their ‘voters’ remorse.’ It’s not them, you see, it was him.”

Thank God for this bias. Otherwise, we'd be stuck with failed victors until they were finally term-limited out.

There is a lot of interest these days in flaws in perception and rationality. They gave Daniel Kahneman that quasi-Nobel in Economics for perpetrating a lot of old conjuror's tricks on his psych majors. 

But the accurate prediction glass is part full as well as part empty. In fact, it's mostly full, it's just that nobody is very interested in predictions that are highly likely to be right. 

Q. Which college is going to win the football national championship this year?

A. Probably not the team that gave Rick Sanchez an unpaid internship as a color announcer.

Well, that was boring.

In contrast, the Obama-Romney race is pretty exciting because it's hard to predict. The closer something is to a fifty-fifty tossup, the more exciting we find it.

But, as the odds approach 50-50 and excitement and controversy mounts, the return on genuine expertise diminishes. If the Big Event really is a coin flip, then any nimrod has as good of a chance of being right as the finest expert. (This is surprisingly little understood, in part because it's so much fun to make fun of experts. The reality is that what makes an expert an expert is that he's right most of the time about the stuff he ought to be right about, the boring stuff, but nobody can be right all that often about the exciting stuff that's fascinating to the public precisely because it is so uncertain.)

So, the penalties for not knowing what you are talking about when it comes to predicting exciting events are small. Thus, for instance, we see vast numbers of professional pundits getting all worked up over the Gender Gap in this election and few even mentioning the much larger Marriage Gap (as I noted in my current article, which you should definitely make sure to read. Trust me, I'm an expert.)

But, in the short run, so what? The nimrods have almost as much of a chance of being right about what will happen next Tuesday as the seers. Hence, why bother to learn how the world works, since the world is most interested in the outcomes of virtually unpredictable events?

On the other hand, in the long run, the boring, predictable stuff like the Marriage Gap really does matter. In fact, the more predictable it is, the more it matters.

The late, great scientist Arthur Jensen devoted his career to studying something that has turned out to be extremely predictable, but also so vastly important that his name appears to be unmentionable in the week after his death.

The Gap is closing!

Speaking of Arthur Jensen, Occidentalist has a table listing all 40 academic studies he could find of the white-black gap in average IQ in the U.S. They range from 1918, when it was measured at 17 points, to 2008, when it was found to be 16 points. So, don't let anybody tell you The Gap hasn't closed over the last 90 years.

Seriously, is there anything in the human sciences more stable than La Griffe's Fundamental Constant of American Sociology? It's really odd when you stop to think about how stable it has been. I suspect that differences in average height have changed significantly more over the generations. For example, when I was a kid, the Dutch weren't particularly tall, not the way they are now.

Things change.

Except this ...

Indeed, I'm wondering whether there isn't some kind of behavioral feedback at work regarding IQ that somehow keeps The Gap about the same. I don't have any candidates in mind for what that stabilizing mechanism might be, but it's worth considering.

"Intelligence" on Arthur Jensen

A 1998 special edition of the scientific journal Intelligence, entitled "A King among Men: Arthur Jensen," was devoted to analyses by 13 leading experts of the career of the great psychometrician, who died last week at 89. Editor Douglas Detterman of Case Western Reserve University wrote:
"When I first met him personally, I wondered what his biases and prejudices really were and tried to identify them for many years. My effort was wasted. I finally came to the conclusion that he just doesn't have any. I think this may be a point that is impossible for his critics to understand. On the other hand, it is the very reason he has stood up so well against his critics. He has invested himself in pursuit of the truth, not any particular set of ideas. … He would gladly know the truth even if it proved him wrong."

"The Daily Mail" on Arthur Jensen

The most obvious impression a fair-minded observer derives from a sustained exposure to the work of the late Arthur R. Jensen (1923-2012), professor of psychology at Berkeley, is that Dr. Jensen was a man of the highest distinction, not just scientifically, but also morally. 

Not surprisingly, this often drove the less, shall we say, morally distinguished into paroxysms of rage. From the Daily Mail:
Daily Mail (London) 
September 17, 1999 | Copyright

TODAY, American eugenics professor Arthur Jensen addresses a gathering of academics in London. The Daily Mail does not agree with his views on intelligence indeed, we profoundly disagree with them. However, we feel that open debate is the best way of establishing the truth and that our readers are quite capable of drawing their own conclusions. 
FOR three decades, Professor Arthur Jensen has lived in the shadow of death and violence. 
It is difficult, however, to feel sorrow for him. In Australia, he was extricated from a baying mob by 100 police officers. 
In Germany, warnings were issued that if he were allowed to lecture he might not leave the stage alive. 
On his own university campus, at Berkeley, California, he was, at the height of his vilification, protected against those who threatened to kill him by armed bodyguards. 
His car tyres were slashed and his door was sprayed with swastikas by his own students, who gathered in the corridor to hiss as he walked by. 
This week, to little fanfare, the world's most demonised scientist arrived in London, where he once learned his theories and where he will deliver the keynote address today at a conference devoted to eugenics, or the enhancement of the human race. 
To his supporters, Jensen - an Emeritus Professor of Educational Psychology possesses one of the finest scientific minds of our time, worthy of a Nobel Prize. 
To his countless opponents, of whom President Bill Clinton is one, he is a dabbler in the unthinkable.

Sadly, the world will never be treated to a Jensen - Clinton debate ...

More on Arthur Jensen, 1923-2012

Here's my 2002 review in of Intelligence, Race, and Genetics: Conversations with Arthur R. Jensen, in which the brilliant interviewer Frank Miele leads the Berkeley psychologist through an accessible tour of his work.

Here's Jensen's 1982 review, "The Debunking of Scientific Fossils and Straw Persons," of Steven Jay Gould's bestseller The Mismeasure of Man.

Here's the big 2005 paper Jensen co-authored with J.P. Rushton: "Thirty Years of Research on Race Differences in Cognitive Ability."

Any other suggestions for online materials?

Update: Mike Steinberg suggests:

Jensen comes in 47th place in "The 100 Most Eminent Psychologists of the 20th Century" Review of General Psychology, 2002, 6, 139-152.

Review: The Scientific Study of General Intelligence. Tribute to Arthur R. Jensen; H. Nyborg (ed.). Pergamon, London, 2003, pp.642

The Scientific Study of General Intelligence: Tribute to Arthur Jensen edited by Helmuth Nyborg - google books

Gottfredson, L. S. 2003). g, jobs, and life. In H. Nyborg (Ed.), The scientific study of general intelligence: Tribute to Arthur R. Jensen (pp. 293-342). New York: Pergamon. 

Gottfredson, L. S. (1998). Jensen, Jensenism, and the sociology of intelligence. Intelligence, 26(3), 291-299.

Chapter 12 entitled Population differences in Intelligence: Causal Hypotheses from the book The g factor: The Science of Mental Ability 

You can download the 1998 issue of Intelligence devoted to Jensen's career here. (You'll then need to open the compressed file with an unzipping application.)

Why the media hype over the gender gap is silly

Here's a graph from my new article demonstrating why all the hubbub over Romney's "gender gap" ought to be small potatoes compared to Obama's seldom discussed "marriage gap."

Read the whole thing there.

Arthur Jensen, RIP

The great IQ scientist has died at the age of 89.

Here's my review of his 1998 magnum opus, The g Factor.

October 28, 2012

The Gender Gap v. the Marriage Gap and Obama's Fringe v. Romney's Core

Over at, I have a sizable new article that begins by comparing the infinitely discussed Gender Gap in the 2012 election to the much larger but barely mentioned Marriage Gap, and then goes on from that example to propose a reductionist theory of the identity politics of the entire election. It has two graphs that show the demographics of the upcoming vote (i.e., who is voting for whom) in some detail. I think you'll find it interesting. It's much like an exit poll analysis, only done before the election.

It always seems like a good idea to present data graphically, but always ends up taking quite a few hours per graph to do them right. I think these finally came out worth the effort.

Hurricane Sandy precaution prediction

You should go buy plywood and nail it over your TV screen unless you are in the mood to see a lot of retrospectives in the media on the last Republican President's failure regarding Hurricane Katrina.

Ben Franklin: "Britain was formerly the America of the Germans"

For those interested in questions of deep ethnic roots, discuss. 

Note: Franklin used this device to make a topical political point in favor of American liberties in the colonists' dispute with the British crown. Yet, the image is arresting from a cultural point of view as well.

Obama defeat excuses are currently being auditioned

From Minnesota Public Radio:
Poll: Majority of Americans are racist 
Posted at 9:11 AM on October 27, 2012 by Bob Collins  
It's a stunning poll that the Associated Press released today on one of the most invisible news days of the week. More than half of all Americans have negative attitudes toward African Americans, it says. 
Though it's within the margin of error of a similar poll in 2008, it confirms there is no such thing as post-racial America. 
"As much as we'd hope the impact of race would decline over time ... it appears the impact of anti-black sentiment on voting is about the same as it was four years ago," Jon Krosnick, a Stanford University professor, told the AP. He worked with the news organization to develop the survey. 
Fifty-one percent of Americans express explicit anti-black attitudes, it says. About 52 percent have anti-Hispanic attitudes.

Professor Krosnick (who, as commenter points out, lives in the whitopia of Portola Valley, California, which has a total black population of twelve) measures "anti-black attitudes" by asking people if they agree with statements such as:
“It’s really a matter of some people just not trying hard enough; if Blacks would only try harder, they could be just as well off as whites.”

If you are white, the correct to this question is ... well, there is no correct answer.

For example, only 5% of respondents agree that the term "law-abiding" describes blacks "extremely well" compared to 7% who agree "law-abiding" describes whites "extremely well. 

That's racist!

In these lengthy reports, the racial breakdowns on racial attitudes are not broken out, unsurprisingly.