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May 2003

 

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Film of the Week: 'The Italian Job'

United Press International - By Steve Sailer. LOS ANGELES, May 29 (UPI) -- With costs soaring, Hollywood has been trying to reduce risk by recycling successful old movies. Thus, the spate of sequels like "The Matrix Reloaded" and remakes like this week's "The Italian Job." The dismal (and deserved) box office collapse of "Reloaded" in its second weekend (down 59 percent from its giga-hyped opening weekend), points out the artistic flaw in this strategy: regression toward the mean.

***

 

 

I'm looking for quotes from Arizonans for my Border articles. I'm going with Humane Borders at 7am as they fill water tanks to help thirsty illegal immigrants crossing the border and then I'm going to see American Border Patrol fly its new drone around taking pictures of the people the first group is helping to sneak in. It should be quite a day.

***

 

I'm off to The Border -- I'll be gone for most of the week reporting on the Arizona-Mexico border. My sun-stroked carcass should be back in LA by June 1.

***

 

A reader writes: "War Nerd is a real find. [Here's his latest on Burma.] How did you locate him, by Googling "Maximum" and "Repellence?" He sounds like a genetic splice between Fred Reed and the old, single and self-loathing Jonah G. In any case, he is obviously too much a prodigy to stay secret for long. Maybe, if the ratings continue to slide, MSNBC can use him to replace their whole prime-time lineup. He wouldn't need guests to be, uh, interesting, which is fortunate because he probably couldn't get any guests. Sort of an Oscar Levant for the 21st Century.

***

 

Meet the War Nerd -- I just discovered a very funny writer I'd never heard of: the War Nerd, a.k.a. Gary Brecher. He's some fat data entry clerk in Fresno who makes Fred Reed sound like Ellen Goodman. If you think P.J. O'Rourke would be amusing if he didn't pull his punches all the time, the War Nerd is for you. He writes for The Exile, the English language alternative paper in Moscow. Here are some of his articles.

***

 

A question for all the gun guys out there -- How do I keep a gun in the house where I can grab it in the middle of the night and have it immediately ready to use to drive off an intruder, yet prevent my kids (or my wife if she's really mad at me) from ever getting their hands on it and shooting me? Is there some sort of magic gun lock that instantly responds to my thumbprint? If not, I can't really see how a gun would make my family safer overall.

***

 

Here's an excerpt from that London Spectator article (this time, the URL should work):

 

One recent example of a hugely ignored bit of ‘race-difference science’ is Professor Richard Lynn’s IQ and the Wealth of Nations (Greenwood Press, 2002). In this striking but wholly unreviewed work, Lynn, of Ulster University, correlated national-average IQs with GDP per capita. Lynn found that low national IQ is very strongly correlated with poor economic performance. To wit: right at the bottom of the heap are the impoverished sub-Saharan countries with average IQs of about 60 or 70 (15 or more points lower than the average for blacks in Western countries). Then come the slightly richer but still poor north African and Arab countries, with average IQs of about 80 or 90. Next are the European countries, the West in general, with Britain standing quite high up in that bunch (102). Finally, and predictably, come the top IQ countries: the high-tech or high-growth Asian countries: Japan, Korea, China. One of the few obvious anomalies is that Lynn gave Israel a bizarrely low national average IQ of 94.

 

If all this is true (and, of course, it may not be), it raises a large number of questions. Is the GDP/IQ relationship causal? If so, in what way? Does a causal link mean that we should rethink the way we direct Third World aid? And so on.

Granted, these are thorny and difficult issues. They are also enormously important ones. Yet these issues have stayed resolutely below the surface of intellectual life: Lynn’s book did not get a mention in any serious media [ahem ... click here for my quite serious review]; it was only published by a tiny imprint at £70 a pop; when Lynn gave a publication-day press conference in a room designed for 200 journalists (he was understandably expecting a deal of controversy and interest) only one journalist showed up, and she never wrote anything.

***

Bingo! I predicted on Wednesday that Annika Sorenstam would miss the cut by four strokes, and that's exactly what she did, so I'm feeling like a seer.

 

After playing what she called one of the best rounds of her life on Thursday in shooting only one over par 71, on Friday she regressed toward the mean, shooting a 74. That's five over par for the tournament, thirteen strokes off the lead. That puts her four strokes over the cut of one over par. She still beat 13 men out of 114, so she played extremely well under pressure. She hit a disastrous stretch of five bogeys in eight holes in the middle of today's round but then she gutted it out and closed with seven straight pars. Congratulations to her. 

 

I think the results support my conclusion from Wednesday that she probably couldn't make a living on the men's tour (i.e., her travel and caddy fees would exceed her winnings).

 

I compared her in my article to the short-hitting old-timer Corey Pavin and suggested he was about four strokes per 36 holes better than her. Here, he beat her by seven strokes, even though they both averaged 268 off the tee (99th out of 114). The odd thing is that male pros generally have more delicate touch around the greens than the women pros.

 

That probably stems from how few American teenage girls want to become golf pros relative to American teenage boys. In other words, women pros are selected from a much smaller group of golf crazy teenagers than men pros are selected from. 

 

A major problem for the LPGA tour is that all but one of its tournaments in the last eight months or so have been won my non-Americans. In Sweden, where Sorenstam is from, and in East Asia, golf is much less unfashionable among heterosexual teenage girls than it is here. Golf used to be trendy in the U.S. among young women -- my Mom gave me a book of golf memorabilia that included lots of fashion magazine covers from the 1920s of young ladies swinging their mashie-niblicks while dressed in the height of flapper fashion. In that decade, P.G. Wodehouse sold dozens of romantic comedy short stories about beautiful girls who shoot scratch and the duffers who love them to the Saturday Evening Post. So, the real problem for women's golf in America is that young girls don't think it makes them look sexy, and I'm not sure that Annika pumping herself up to look like Hans and Franz isn't going to solve that.

***

 

A reader ascribes the multitude of violent women in summer movies to a lack of creativity:

 

"Unable to conceive of any realistic or original way to introduce a female character into an action film, filmmakers will simply create a character that is the male lead in drag... .Recall the Lethal Weapon films. After a couple of films, the movie makers needed to introduce a love interest for Riggs [Mel Gibson], the crazy, hair-trigger cop who doesn't play by the rules, and they found that by pairing him with a (uhm) crazy, hair-trigger female cop who doesn't play by the rules."

 

They competed over who had the most scars, I recall. It's a deeply adolescent notion that the love of your life is going to be a person just like you. Reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Jerry gets (briefly) engaged to Janeane Garofalo because she is exactly like him (even down to constantly asking "What's the deal with ...?"). But, adolescents are whom summer movies are aimed at.

 

Anyway, the kinds of fighting that movies show women doing (boxing and elaborate kung-fu cartwheel kicks and the like) are utterly useless for females to use in self-defense against men. If a woman needs to defend herself against a male attacker, she can't get into a slugging match with him or ask him to stand still while she choreographs some silly kung fu move. She has to fight dirty. Knee him in the crotch. Works every time.

***

 

Pentagon officials have now denied that Pvt. Jessica Lynch put up the Rambo-style defense we heard so much about. The Washington Times reported

 

The officials said all evidence suggests that Pfc. Lynch's truck crashed in the chaos of the ambush in the central Iraqi town of Nasiriyah. She suffered several bone fractures and was in no position to put up a fight, the officials said.

 

Likewise, Richard Cohen admitted in the Washington Post that the WaPo has quietly retracted its celebrated story.

***

 

The Spectator of London runs a strong article on IQ, including the first mainstream mention of Lynn and Vanhanen's groundbreaking IQ and the Wealth of Nations.

***

 

Film of the Week: Updated 'The In-Laws'

United Press International - By Steve Sailer. LOS ANGELES, May 22 (UPI) -- Michael Douglas replaces Peter Falk and Albert Brooks takes over for Alan Arkin in "The In-Laws," a loose remake of the 1979 semi-classic comedy.

***

Razib at GNXP.com summarizes the current state of knowledge about the great migrations of prehistory that led to the current racial distribution around the globe.

***

 

How will Annika Sorenstam perform?

United Press International

By Steve Sailer. LOS ANGELES, May 21 (UPI) -- Is there any unbiased way to predict how well the top female golfer Annika Sorenstam will score when she tees it up with men Thursday in this century's first major sporting Battle of the Sexes?

Click above for my prediction.

UPDATE: Sorenstam grinds out an excellent 71 in the first round, seven strokes off the lead, and leaving her tied for 74th out of 113. That would put her around the bubble for making the cut. So, she did about two strokes better than I expected in the first round. An outstanding performance under high pressure. Congratulations.

***

 

Derek Copold writes in The Texas Mercury about the first "Matrix" movie:

 

"The revolutionaries are a liberal’s wet dream of a cast. Perfectly tuned to match the latest multicultural orthodoxy, they display all the colors of the world [not exactly true -- more accurately, they reflect Hollywood's perception of minorities -- heavily African-American, a few karate-kicking Asians, and zippo Hispanics]. The machines’ agents, however, are to a man monochromatically white, be they software villains, S.W.A.T. members, street cops or security guards. On top of this racial villianization, the characters are assigned dislikeable personalities. Even granting the need for the Agents to behave like crypto-nazis, there’s no necessity to then portray all the cops toadying, low-class bullies. By setting up this dichotomy, the Wachowski brothers have cravenly concocted a script where their heroes can snuff “bad humans” without forcing the audience to confront the moral implications of their heroes’ actions. If the Wachowskis had even an ounce of integrity, they would have cast at least one or two minorities as policemen or security guards, and they would have given all of these characters a human dimension instead of making them run-of-the-mill heavies."

 

In the sequel, the snide "free agent" Frenchman has a multiethnic cast of enforcers, but the actual Matrix bad guys are still all white. The good guys are even more heavily African-American than before (Cornel West even plays himself!?), which got me wondering: "Only about 5% of the blacks in the world are Americans, so what happened to all the African, West Indian, Brazilian and other blacks? I guess they just aren't cool enough." Of course, there are no Hispanics in the film, and if you are East Asian and want to be in the new movie, you'd better be a kung fu whiz.

***

 

Novelist Jerry Pournelle offers some valuable advice on "Governing Iraq." Much of Jerry's wildly varied career (political campaign manager, nuclear war strategist for the Air Force, Star Wars impresario, covert ops spook, author and co-author of classic sci-fi novels, and more) has been based on his ability to project a little farther into the future than just about anybody else. In contrast, it's clear by now that the Pentagon civilians' thinking about post-war Iraq didn't extend much beyond "we get our money shot of a falling statue, and ... then they live democratically ever after." 

 

Of course, anybody who tried to warn America about what lay ahead in Iraq after the war is just anti-American and anti-patriotic and some kind of radical, since we all know that the essence of true conservatism is to have the government plunge wildly into situations it knows next to nothing about.

***

 

By the way, the second time I went to see a screening of "The Matrix Reloaded" was with Jerry. He was not impressed. Especially by the nearly omnipotent "agents" preferring to battle the human rebels with kung fu, rather than, say, roasting them with flamethrowers. Jerry recited the Marine Corps' "Tips on Winning a Gun Fight:" "Bring a gun. Bring two guns. Bring friends with guns. Bring friends without guns and give them guns." To demonstrate the efficacy of the martial arts against armed men, Jerry pointed to the history of Okinawa, where the Japanese conquerors blocked the Okinawans from acquiring any weapons. So, the locals perfected karate as a means to battle the sword-wielding Japanese with their bare hands. "And that's why Okinawa is an independent country today," he sarcastically summarized. 

***

 

Video of the Week1: Spike Lee's '25th Hour'

United Press International - By Steve Sailer. LOS ANGELES, May 18 (UPI) -- What would you do if your son had one day left before his 7-year prison term began? ...

 

Video of the Week2: Delightful 'Adaptation'

United Press International - 4 hours ago

By Steve Sailer. LOS ANGELES, May 18 (UPI) -- In "Adaptation," Chris Cooper played a toothless redneck named John Laroche, a charming ...

***

 

The Regional Aspect of the Blair Brouhaha -- A lot of the controversy is driven by Washington D.C.-connected journalists' resentment of the New York Times' power to determine on a daily business what the news media across the country consider news. The prime contender to go national and challenge the NYT's stranglehold is the Washington Post, which is owned by the same company that owns Newsweek. They both recruit from a feeder system that starts with the low budget Washington Monthly and moves up to the mid-budget New Republic. (Slate is a Seattle offshoot of the DC group). National journalists tend to make their careers (and buy their homes and raise their families) in either the NYC or DC areas. There's some crossover between the D.C media and the NYC media (NYT, Time, the big network news shows, and the high-budget glossy magazines), but it's easier on their children to just move around within media companies in one metropolis or the other.

 

Ideologically, the NYC journalist crowd tends to be liberal (in part due to the much greater presence of the very liberal arts and entertainment crowds in NYC), while the D.C. crowd tends to be neoliberal/centrist.

 

Thus, when somebody screws up at the NYT, journalists with long-term connections to the D.C. crowd like Mickey Kaus are likely to be particularly vocal, since they want to take the NYT's pre-eminence away (as Mickey explicitly does in calling for the WaPo to use this opportunity to go national.).

 

Anyway, I'm all in favor of taking away the NYT's power to decide what's news and what's not. Let 100 Flowers Bloom!

***

 

Original videogame warrioress? A reader comments: 

 

Athena was approachable because she was, amongst the Gods and Goddesses, fair. In addition, she was powerful and wise. Thus, unlike some of the other unpredictables in the pantheon, you might assume that if you showed the proper respect and used the proper form, you might approach Athena. Further, given her powers, she was worth approaching, especially from the male perspective, especially the young male perspective. What young male does not want to learn about her domain: war, wisdom, technology, practical arts? Finally, from a young male perspective, or from anyone's perspective, isn't it sometimes easier to deal with someone without having to factor in the sexual? 

***

 

May Is National Nerd Month! -- The beginning of the summer blockbuster season (X-Men 2 and Matrix Reloaded this year, Spider-Man and Attack of the Clones last year) shows off the cultural power that nerds, a group that didn't even have a name 30 years ago, have achieved in our society. All in all, I think a nerd-friendly society is better than a nerd-hostile society. On the other hand, maybe nerds have so much time to devote to nerd movies these days because they are having a harder time getting married? Since nerds make good fathers, this would be a general problem for society.

***

 

Sunday Night VDARE.com column up at left.

***

 

Spanish speaking fans of human biodiversity studies might be interested in the Indice de Biodiversidad Humana. I would point out, however, that, for reasons too numerous to go into here, the site's link to "Christ Brand" is not quite right.

***

 

A letter on the appeal of supertough but voluptuous fantasy women in video games and movies:

 

As a longtime martial artist and , in my youth, over-consumer of martial arts media - you pretty much summed up the most common appeal of the Video Game Virago already: the thirteen-year-old mentality that wants a girlfriend who isn't into all that stupid "girly stuff", but rather into something he admires. (And in the original Wayne's World, when Wayne's heart is stolen by the Oriental girl who kung-fu's somebody at the bar...that's a quintessential expression of it.) 

 

But the Warrior Woman has always held some sort of powerful attraction - check out the Civil War era banners with personified Virginias and Carolinas, well-endowed torsos bared in the Amazonian fashion as they flourish swords - and even THAT expression harkened back to the Classical world. (Athena: ass-kicking sex symbol, and an altogether less mysterious and more approachable deity than Venus - 'cause Athena likes swordplay and, probably, chess - not all that girly stuff. "Goddess of Nerds.")

 

REAL women in the martial arts often trend toward the feminist-athletic rather than the ravishing Athena-type, of course - the exceptions tend to be aikidoka or else stylists from flashy schools (Wu Shu, some Tae Kwon Do) who specialize in very watchable "forms" of one sort or another. (And if MY daughter grows up to want to do a "performance art" sort of thing, I think I prefer the martial arts over the various twirling, dancing, cheering activities which are NOT done fully clothed. Funny, I've never seen an "Electra" or video-game costume in a dojo...)

***

 

Thanks for all the interesting letters on the appeal of the first Matrix. Here's one from "the Accutane guy," a reference to his fascinating letter of a few months ago about the effects of the anti-acne medicine on his testosterone level:

 

I made a great new set of friends when I moved to the Bay Area in 1999 with tens of thousands of other fortune-seekers. The male subset of those friends and I all but worshipped "The Matrix." I'll try my best to articulate why.

 

The concept of stripping away an old, fake layer of banality from life couldn't have been better designed to resonate to the Internet revolutionaries. The dot com industry is today remembered for the battered-and-fried-in-VC-money decadence that it sunk to, but the "Spirit of '97" was at first revolutionary simplification - of the economy, of corporate structure, and especially of old, centralized media. In the movie's heroes, a technological elite with shocking knowledge of the true nature of the world, we saw what Morpheus would call our "residual self image." It didn't hurt that they were blindingly hip and masters of close combat.

 

As with everything else, 9/11 changed "The Matrix." I recall feeling troubled when re-watching it a few months after the attacks, and not just because I had a better appreciation for "agents" in shirts and ties hunting down people they described as terrorists. Rather, the whole thing seemed frivolous and a reminder of our vacation from history. Or at least mine. Back then, some of my generation were earnestly training to be the sort of soldiers that Keanu was so stylishly gunning down.

***

 

The NYT-Jayson Blair scandal is a great story -- Bill Bennett's gambling for conservatives -- but I'm getting bored with it. To me, the Bennett story proved fascinating because it opened the door, with your help, on gambling, an endlessly intriguing topic that hasn't been covered well in the press lately, in part because modern journalists -- in contrast to their drinking, smoking, and poker playing predecessors -- tend to be rather puritanical in practice.

 

In contrast, the Blair story is utterly entrancing to us journalists, but even I'm getting bored with it. It would be more interesting if Blair had made up stories to advance an ideology -- the way Walter Duranty's Pulitizer Prize winning NYT stories from Moscow in the 1930s whitewashed Stalin -- but as far as I can tell, not even the subjects of Blair's articles complained. Blair was just trying to make up plausible stories that sounded accurate without doing the work.

 

Journalists are agog over tales of what a lousy manager NYT Executive Editor Howell Raines is, but, who else really cares? I've known lots of people who were in over their heads in their jobs. Big deal.

 

A lot of conservatives hope this somehow gets Paul Krugman fired from his job as a rabidly anti-Bush op-ed columnist. Krugman is a jerk, but I think the country is better off having somebody constantly trying to figure out how the President screwed up. Certainly dozens of conservative pundits were as anti-Clinton as Krugman is anti-Bush.

 

Finally, the big moral of the story -- that racial preferences cause less competent people to be employed -- is one that I've been perfectly familiar with for 30 years. I mean, from the standpoint of mathematical logic, how could that not be true? That affirmative action has corrupted journalism was amply demonstrated by William McGowan's Coloring the News in 2001. 

***

 

The NY Times runs an article about the large number of video games in which female characters fight male characters. It quotes the usual array of clueless feminists like bell hooks about violence against women, but that sounds irrelevant. My guess is that all these busty karate-chopping babes are there because a lot of males have a fetish about violent women. If it is fetish-driven, the interesting questions are why this fetish exists, is it becoming more widespread, and, if so, how come? Me, I like Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch a lot more than I like Carrie-Anne Moss in The Matrix (especially not the old-looking Trinity in Reloaded), so I'm not much more tuned in than bell hooks. Can somebody out there can help me understand this?

***

 

Q&A: Tracing Jewish history through genes

United Press International - By Steve Sailer

LOS ANGELES, May 15 (UPI) -- Interview with Jon Entine, author of the upcoming From Abraham's Seed: How Genetic Research is Unlocking the Story of the Bible and the Unique History of God's Chosen People.

***

 

Film of the Week: 'Matrix Reloaded'

United Press International - By Steve Sailer

LOS ANGELES, May 15 (UPI) -- A.K.A. "My Dinner with Andre on the Hindenburg." Introducing my "frauteur theory" ...

***

 

If you watched the PBS documentary on baseball in the 1940's on Monday night, you might be interested in my 1996 National Review cover story "How Jackie Robinson Desegregated America."

***

 

My thanks to the dozens of readers who wrote in to help me out with this story on gambling:

 

Feature: Bennett's gambling in perspective

United Press International

By Steve Sailer. LOS ANGELES, May 12 (UPI) -- The massive gambling losses that William Bennett -- former drug czar, compiler of the best-selling "Book of Virtues," and conservative intellectual star -- incurred playing slot and video poker machines draw attention to the complex class and psychological issues revolving around wagering.

***

 

Jayson Blair scandal at the NYT: If you want to understand the institutional atmosphere that made possible this diversity hire disaster, read William McGowan's 2001 book: Coloring the News: How Crusading for Diversity Has Corrupted American Journalism.

***

 

President Bush plays 17th round of golf in his 28th month in office or about once every seven weeks. I've never seen a count for how often Clinton played golf on the job, but it must have been dramatically higher. I recall reading in Golf Digest that he had told a friend his goal for his last year in office was to break Eisenhower's record of 103 rounds in 12 months. I don't know if he broke the record, but he certainly made a good run at it. Unlike Eisenhower, who emphasized his image as an elderly duffer to cover up what a Machiavellian manipulator he was, Clinton covered up how much he played golf to appear sexier.

***

 

I'm reviewing "Matrix Reloaded" this week. I watched the first movie over again a couple of times to get ready. Certainly, a well made film, but if you've got any insights into the appeal of the franchise that I can steal, please let me know.

***

 

How to make a living as a professional gambler: In his beloved autobiography Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman physicist Richard Feynman recounted meeting the famous gambler Nick the Greek at a Las Vegas casino. Feynman, who liked Las Vegas for the showgirls, but didn't gamble, asked the pro how could he possibly beat the cut that the casino built into all its games. Nick said he didn't try. He never bet against the house. He just made complicated side bets with other patrons of the casino on what the player with the dice would do -- e.g., something like, "I'll give you 27-8 odds that the man in the cowboy hat won't roll a number divisible by three or a snake eyes in each of his next three rolls." Nick could calculate practically any probability in his head, so he never gave a sucker an even break. As he got older and more famous, he became such a tourist attraction that he didn't even have to come up with complex wagers. Tourists would accept ridiculous bets just so they could tell the anecdote of how they went mano a mano with Nick the Greek.

 

Update on Gambler's Ruin: Gambler's ruin (i.e., you'll run out of money before the casino does, so you'll lose in the long run even if the average payback is 100%) is why the payback is so much higher on the $500 slot machines that Bennett liked compared to the $0.25 slot machines that hoi polloi like. The casinos can afford to pay back 99% on $500 machines rather than, say, 94% on the quarter machines, because, for any particular individual, ruination arrives a lot faster than on the $500 machines. Of course, if a machine gave 100% payback, you could expect to breakeven if you followed some rigid symmetrical rule, such as to always walk away the instant you were up $1,000 or down $1,000. But, people only can do that if they don't really like gambling that much. And if you are so indifferent to gambling that you can always walk away at a predetermined instant, why bother gambling in the first place?

***

 

Monday morning VDARE.com column up at left.

***

 

Gambler's Ruin -- Bill Bennett's claim to have about broken even over the years is not impossible, if he was the beneficiary of one or two huge payouts that we don't know about. For example, over a 15 year stretch, my barber lost an average of $3,000 per year playing poker at card rooms. (He points out that on a per hour basis, it's cheaper than playing golf at nice courses.) Then, in January, he won $45,000 on one hand. So, he's broken even in his career. (At the moment.) Still, that's highly unlikely in Bennett's case.

 

On the other hand, Bennett's defenders sometimes back his claim by pointing out that the video poker games that, along with slot machines, were his favorites sometimes pay off over 100% if you play the perfect strategies. Casinos, however, are not in the charity business. They know they can still make money in the long run paying out slightly over 100%. How come? Gambler's Ruin. Some times you'll be ahead and sometimes the casino will be ahead, but you are a lot more likely to hit the point where you are forced to walk away and eat your losses than the casino is because the casino has more money to play with than you do. You'll run out of money first. The man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo was such a rare individual that he was the subject of one of the biggest hit songs of the early 20th Century.

***

 

Film of the Week: 'Better Luck Tomorrow'

United Press International - 1 hour ago

By Steve Sailer. LOS ANGELES, May 8 (UPI) -- Justin Lin's "Better Luck Tomorrow" is an entertaining and stylish micro-budget teen drama about Asian-American honor students who turn to a life of crime.

***

 

Andrew Sullivan is disappointed in Bill Bennett because he "caved into the puritanical pressure and agreed to give gambling up." Andrew, of course, is more principled. He gambled with his own health by refusing to use condoms ... and lost. Now that he's HIV-infected, he's still not caving in to puritanical pressure (such as it is). He wants to continue gambling, this time with other people's health by still not using condoms ("bare backing") while engaging in "gang bangs," according to his AOL personal ad. 

 

Unlike dumping on Bennett's gambling, however, criticizing Sullivan's behavior is extremely unfashionable, especially on the Right. Why? Because Sullivan is gay. You don't want to sound like a homophobe! So, gays are almost immune from criticism of their ethics. (The other reason is because straights, no matter how tolerant they claim to be, tend to get creeped out by thinking about what, precisely, gay men do, so they just try to ignore the whole topic and demand that everyone else ignore them too.)

 

Look, the reason I'm especially pissed off today by the free ride Sullivan's negligence of condoms is given is because I had some of my son's Cub Scout den over today. One of his fellow Webelos was born with AIDS. The drugs are working well, thank God, but the poor Cub Scout still has some big problems, all because a lot of grownups were too selfish to take the minimal precautions necessary to avoid spreading this disease. I don't care whom Sullivan engages in sex with, but I am angry that he piggishly allowed this disease to spread by not using a condom, and that he still risks superinfecting others or infecting some HIV-negative gay who drunkenly gets involved in one of his orgies. And I'm pissed that nobody on the Right has the guts to call him down when he spouts BS. 

***

 

Nigeria leads, the world follows! -- Here's an email I just received:

 

My name is LOI.C.ESTRADA,The wife of Mr. JOSEPH ESTRADA, the former President of Philippines located in the South East Asia. My husband was recently impeached from office by a backed uprising of mass demonstrators and the Senate. My husband is presently in jail and facing trial on charges of corruption, embezzlement, and the mysterious charge of plunder which might lead to death sentence. The present government is forcing my husband out of Manila to avoid demonstration by his supporter. During my husband's regime as president of Philippine,I realized some reasonable amount of money from various deals that I successfully executed...

 

And you can guess the rest.

***

 

 

Stanley Kurtz complains that the blogosphere is full of sophomoric insult artists, would-be Instapundit wise-guys who waste the time of a serious thinker like Stanley (and I'm not being one of those ironic jerks in calling him a "serious thinker -- he really is). Interestingly, I get very few insulting emails. My only dissatisfaction with my emails is that I often fail to respond to the best ones because rather than responding immediately, I feel like I should ponder them at length ... and then never get back to you.

***

 

Questions on gambling:

 

I have to write an article on the demographics of gambling and gambling addiction. Anybody care to comment? How about the appeal of the different games? Slots seems to me peculiarly unglamorous -- like being a rat in some B.F. Skinner experiment getting intermittently rewarded with an occasional Purina Rat Chow pellet. What is the appeal of slots?

***

 

The 2Blowhards continue their week-long discussion with architectural heretic Nikos Salingaros.

***

 

Sounding a lot like Steve Sailer, Ruy Teixeira writes in the neoliberal Washington Monthly on last year's election:

 

"Last November was all about the white vote. For all the talk of Republican minority outreach, the voters who showed up for the GOP on election day were, with few exceptions, white. In the 2000 election, 54 percent of whites voted for Bush and 56 percent for congressional Republicans; in 2002 that figure rose to 58 percent, which, coupled with higher turnout of whites, especially conservative whites, was enough for victory. Viewed one way, that's good news for Republicans, since whites comprise the overwhelming majority of U.S. voters. Trouble is, that majority is steadily diminishing."

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Now that Israel-Palestine is back in the news, it might be helpful if I pointed out the most useful thing I've learned about the situation. A big paradox is why Palestinians in the Occupied Territories (the West Bank and Gaza Strip) are so much more homicidally anti-Israeli than are Palestinians in Israel proper. I didn't realize why until about a year ago: Because, broadly speaking, Arabs who holed up in their own homes during the 1947-1948 fighting were allowed to keep their homes by the victorious Israelis, while those who fled to safer pro-Arab locales were never allowed to return and their homes were taken by the Israelis. Thus, Arabs in Israel are from families who were treated quite graciously by Israelis, while Arabs in the Occupied Territories are often from families who had their houses permanently taken by Israelis. That explains a lot...

 

Something else: You always hear about how Palestinian nationalism is illegitimate on the grounds that it's a recent invention, right? Well, do you know how what Palestinians actually call themselves? "Felastines" In other words, they think they are Philistines, straight out of the days of Samson. I have no idea if this is true, but they think it is.

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Film of the Week: Blockbuster 'X2'

United Press International - 2 hours ago

By Steve Sailer. LOS ANGELES, May 1 (UPI) -- Marvel Comics' X-Men are back, more multicultural and multitudinous than ever in the ...

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The NYT finally gets on the story I covered in The American Conservative in January: cousin marriage in Araby.

 

"Across the Arab world today an average of 45 percent of married couples are related, according to Dr. Nadia Sakati, a pediatrician and senior consultant for the genetics research center at King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh. In some parts of Saudi Arabia, particularly in the south, where Mrs. Hefthi was raised, the rate of marriage among blood relatives ranges from 55 to 70 percent, among the highest rates in the world, according to the Saudi government. Widespread inbreeding in Saudi Arabia has produced several genetic disorders ..."

 

What the article doesn't mention is that these genetic diseases didn't become hugely noticeable in Arabia until infectious diseases came under control a few decades ago. Before then, children died all the time. Similarly, Charles Darwin, who married his first cousin (like his mother, from the impressive Wedgwood china dynasty), had only a suspicion that his children's ill health was related to inbreeding. (There was an upside to the inbreeding between these two brilliant families, too: three of Darwin's sons were knighted for their accomplishments in science.)

 

Also, the NYT article fails to cover the more significant aspect of cousin marriage: the vastly greater clan loyalties and accompanying nepotism and corruption inbreeding engenders at the expense of patriotism, which we are only now beginning to understand in Iraq.

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Stripperification of America, Pt. 2 -- A reader wonders how feminists could have so badly misjudged and helped usher in a popular culture where women are constantly portrayed competing for men like whores in a bordello's parlor. The key thing to remember is that the more fanatical the feminist, the less she understands what it feels like to be a woman. The feminist is outraged by the "male gaze," while the typical young woman craves it. The fundamental problem facing most young women is not men looking at them, but how to convert those looks from a spot market asset into a long term investment from one man that will keep bringing her returns even when she's no longer at her most attractive -- e.g., when pregnant, dealing with children, or old. To do that, women traditionally ran a cartel that restrained just how far "respectable" women would go to compete for men. The feminists are clueless about that sort of thing.

***

 

Am I seeing something that's not there? I think it would be good for society if whites become more aware of black social class markers. Something that drives black anger is when a young black man with a college degree is crossing the street and he hears from inside all the cars at the stoplight the "ka-chunk" of white motorists locking their doors to keep him from carjacking them. For about a decade, I've assumed that a younger black man wearing those small, typically round wire-rimmed glasses is making a statement about his social class and aspirations, indicating something like "I'm no nerd, but I have definitely been to college. I'm hip-hop, but I'm not ghet-to. I'm cool, but I'm a thinker."

 

The first celebrity I can remember with this look was John Singleton, director of "Boyz 'n the Hood," back about 1992. Laurence Fishburne's guru Morpheus in "The Matrix" (above) is another example. (The head doesn't have to be shaved and the lenses don't have to be tinted, but that doesn't hurt the image). You often hear a particular accent from wire-rimmed glasses wearing black guys, too: it sounds both black and educated, but rugged, not prissy.

 

Yet, I can't find anything on the Web even mentioning this whole style. Is there a name for this? Or am I just suffering from runaway pattern recognition overkill?

***

 

The Stripperification of America -- Whenever I plug in the 9" TV on my desk, I'm struck by how much the stripper has become the official TV-designated role model for American young women. The traditional female cartel of virtue -- "There's some things a lady won't do!" -- seems to have broken down, at least on TV reality and dating shows, where the norm is for women to compete like strippers in order to chase men. 

 

I've got sons, not daughters, so this doesn't concern me all that much, but what do people with daughters think? This first struck me when I visited Las Vegas three years ago and saw all the Midwestern families with adolescent daughters walking down The Strip (the name is not coincidental). Why would you take your 13-year-old daughter to Las Vegas? What are you thinking?

 

This seems like a big change versus the 1980s. At least in the Chicago yuppie social circle I moved in, strip clubs were just off the radar. What happened?

***

 

Has anybody heard anything about what the military policy is for our boys in Iraq when it comes to fraternizing with Iraqi girls? My mom's bridge group was about half made up of some very lively ladies from Germany who had come to this country as war brides. Will Iraqi men look as placidly upon our soldiers flirting with their women? Or will they set the poor girls on fire for dishonoring the family as happens in the most backward reaches of Pakistan? I don't think the Iraqis in general are as medieval as some Pakistanis, but there must be tremendous variation from group to group within Iraq, which will be hard for our grunts to keep straight. This sounds rather dangerous for soldier-civilian relations. But then, what doesn't?

***

 

Steven Levitt wins the award for best economist under 40 -- Levitt deserves it for much of his work, such as the studies confirming the common-sense notion that a lot of the decline in crime has stemmed from our throwing so many more people in jail. (James Q. Wilson predicted that would work in 1975.) Unfortunately, Levitt's best known theory -- that legalizing abortion in 1973 contributed significantly to the fall in crime in the 1990s by weeding out undesirable babies ("prenatal capital punishment") -- is a crock that he and his partner first propounded through scholarly negligence: he looked at snapshots of the crime rate for 1985 and 1997 and totally forgot about the crack epidemic in between. I thoroughly kicked Levitt's ass in our debate in Slate by pointing out, to his surprise, that the first cohort of youths born after Roe v. Wade instead of being more law-abiding actually went on the biggest teen murder rampage in American history in the early 1990s. You keep hearing this abortion cuts crime theory because it sounds so politically incorrect that it has to be true, but, judging from the historical record, it's at least as likely that legalizing abortion contributed to this vast murder spree.

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African Ancestry Inc. traces DNA roots

Washington Times, By Steve Sailer. LOS ANGELES, April 28 (UPI) -- Dr. Rick Kittles, whose shaven head and wire-frame glasses make him look a little like Laurence Fishburne playing Morpheus in "The Matrix" ..."

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Link-2003-04-30-17-27-57

 

The Santorum controversy: As I explain below, unlike the phony Trent Lott brouhaha, this is a legitimate policy dispute: Santorum meant what he said while Lott was just effusing at a 100-year-old's birthday party. The whole discussion of the Santorum question on the web, pro and con, however, is notable for its historical ignorance. Every discussion I've seen is carried on in an abstract moralistic or legalistic vacuum. 

 

My impression is that Senator Santorum is mostly concerned not with the effects of restarting the enforcement of anti-homosexual sodomy laws, but in maintaining a symbolic statement on the books against gay sex acts in order to make some kind of statement that somehow or other supports the heterosexual family. In contrast, Andrew Sullivan wants gay marriage to be enshrined in the law of the land as a public endorsement of gay sodomy.

 

Few commentators want to think about sexual behavior as a public health issue. Instead, those on all sides see the topic as an opportunity for moral grandstanding. My interest, however, is less symbolic, more practical, more life and death. 

 

In general, the level of ignorance about homosexuality found in the blog world, and the virulent rage directed at those few who do try to make fact-based analyses, are so striking as to demand psychological explanation. Most pundits are heterosexual males, and most straight guys, especially those who loudly denounce "homophobes," try to avoid learning about male homosexual behavior, because, as Tom Wolfe has pointed out in "Incident at Fort Benning," they suspect they would be royally creeped out by what they might discover. They just don't want to think about it. To avoid cognitive dissonance, they therefore denounce anybody who violates the conspiracy of ignorance. There are few kinds of people rarer than a straight man who is scientifically interested in the facts about how gays actually behave without feeling threatened. Northwestern psychologist J. Michael Bailey, author of The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism, is the premiere example of that rare kind of scientist.

 

Let's get to the facts. In reality, for decades, big city police departments did try to some extent to enforce anti-homosexual sodomy laws by sending plain clothes officers into gay bars to entrap homosexuals, raiding bars and bath-houses, and the like. The impact could be seen in the 1957 gay bar scene in the movie "Far From Heaven" -- gay bars back then had to be highly discrete and patrons had to cruise much more circumspectly. Because propositioning a stranger could lead to arrest, these entrapment stings tended to make homosexuals less enthusiastic about having sex with lots of strangers. 

 

Just about every major police department gave up trying to enforce such laws in the six or eight years after the NYPD was ordered by the Lindsay administration to stop undercover entrapments in 1967. NYPD raids ceased after the violent July 20, 1969 riot against a raid at the Stonewall bar where drag queens were drowning their sorrows after attending Judy Garland's funeral. For example, the LAPD broke up an Old South-style gay "slave auction" in the early 1970s, but was severely chastised for it by the L.A. Times and thus stopped enforcement of anti-homosexual vice laws, outside of the occasional arrest of a George Michael cruising park men's rooms for public sex.

 

There were lots of good effects from this change --  otherwise law-abiding citizens were free from fear of arrest; cops no longer got assigned to hang around gay bars making eyes at florists, something I'm sure most would rather not have done (and do you really want to hire as cops men who like entrapping other men in gay bars? Is that the type of man you want to give a badge and a gun to?); the incentives for payoffs to cops by gay bar owners were reduced, and so forth. 

 

I can't imagine there's a big city police chief in America who would like to go back to the way it was. 

 

On the other hand, and I'm sure I'll be denounced for merely pointing this out (especially by the denizens of the libertarian dreamworld), but there was also one bad side effect of having the police stop pestering gays who got too open about their sex lives. And that was a big one. In the 1970s, gay liberation almost immediately turned into gay license as mass promiscuity swept gay districts. In my hometown of Studio City, by the mid-1970s hundreds of gays were lining up on the sidewalk of suburban Ventura Blvd. every night to get into Oil Can Harry's and the half dozen other orgy bars. Within a few years, starting in the most liberal cities that were first to decriminalize -- New York, San Francisco, LA, etc. --  a lethal venereal disease was running rampant among those homosexuals who had had more than 1,000 sex partners. AIDS ultimately spread out to much of the gay community, killing hundreds of thousands of homosexuals in America, but very few heterosexuals other than needle junkies and their women and children, and people who had gotten transfusions before the blood supply was tested.

 

Going back to the old law enforcement regimen wouldn't put Humpty Dumpty back together again -- the HIV virus is out and about.

 

But, honest commentators should note that there is always a price to be paid for everything.

***

 

Also, the related discussions of incest inspired by Santorum's argument are strikingly oblivious to how common inbreeding is around the world today. There are millions of uncle-niece marriages in Southern India, where that's a prestigious arrangement. Close to 30% of marriages in Iraq and many other Muslim Middle Eastern countries are between first cousins. In an era of mass immigration, this is quite relevant to American life and law. Here's my article on this crucial but almost unknown subject.

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