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October 2002

 

Latest Rove Amnesty Trial Balloon - This one's particularly pathetic -- amnesty only for 15% of illegal aliens, no citizenship, no votes, limited rights to bring in relatives. Clearly, judging by the conditions, Rove now gets it that amnesty would be very bad for the GOP, so he's trying to come up with the absolute minimum one imaginable. This one certainly won't get the GOP in the good graces of the Univision, La Raza, and the other Hispanic "leaders" whose incomes depend on more bodies, so what's the point? It would only make sense as a sop in return for Building a Wall from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico.

***

 

Amazing Deal -- For $40 at Costco, I picked up the 32 CD-Rom collection of all National Geographic articles over the last 112 years. It includes 185,000 photos, every word of text, and all those ads from the past that everybody loves. I typed in "Andaman" and it took to me the 1975 article showing photos of the pygmy negritos on the beach of isolated N. Sentinel I. who drove off the investigative team by shooting a photographer with an arrow.

***

 

One thing I've learned in years of sorting laundry - You don't want to try to make a fashion statement via your socks. Buy three dozen pairs of identical black socks and three dozen pairs of identical white socks. Every three years you throw them all out and buy six dozen more. You'll never waste a second matching socks again.

***

 

Animal rights -- We ought to be breeding stupider domestic animals. For example, chickens are so unintelligent that it's hard for anybody sensible to feel any qualms over eating them. But, pigs are smart enough (perhaps as smart as dogs) that I might skip eating them, if they just weren't so tasty. So, what we need are stupider pigs that we can raise in factory farms without them even noticing what a raw deal they are getting. In fact, most domestic animals already have smaller brains than their wild cousins. It would be humane to accelerate this process.

 

Of course, on a philosophical level, it's hard to understand why so many of the people who get worked up over animal rights aren't worried at all about partial birth abortions.

***

 

Calling All Blowhards -- Because they start each essay with the other guy's name, I can never remember which of the Two Blowhards is which, but here are a couple of art stories for the L.A. Blowhard to check out. 

 

In Pasadena, Caltech foolishly hired Richard "Tilted Arc" Serra to create a "world class" sculpture on the grassy lawn where hard-working nerds like to relax by tossing the old Frisbee around. Not exactly surprisingly, Serra responded by designing one of his typical viewer-victimizing Berlin Walls to split the field in half, block the sightlines, and potentially break the necks of the Frisbee players. The students have been protesting and the college administration is trying to maintain a low profile. Go nerds!

 

Meanwhile, downtown in the grand old Bradbury Building (featured in "Blade Runner") the anti-Serra, Edward R. Tufte, is having an exhibit. Tufte, the author of the celebrated and beloved "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information," advocates that the purpose of design is to serve the viewer by communicating rich amounts of knowledge in the most readily comprehensible fashion possible. This exhibit includes both Tufte's famous statistical graphs and a couple of his new abstract steel sculptures. 

 

Serra is a highly talented artist, but nobody's that talented that his egomaniacal urge to commit large scale vandalism on a beautiful greensward (which exists because previous artists designed it) should be indulged. Serra should be sentenced to two months of studying Tufte's books.

***

 

The Economist's article "Why the Republicans Won" cites my UPI article, and, in fact is largely a summary of my work. If you subscribe to The Economist, you can read it here.

***

 

After four all-nighters since Election Day, I'm trying to get 20 hours of sleep today, so don't expect much from me. It's been a satisfying week and a half, though, since I scooped everybody on both the overall voting margin and on the major demographics trends. I heard a rumor that the VNS exit poll data, such as it is, might be released on Friday. If you see it, please email me the URL.

***

 

Film of the Week: New 'Harry Potter' by Steve Sailer
I took my son and his two best friends to see the latest "Harry Potter" movie, just as I had last November when they were third graders. Two hours and forty-one minutes of "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" later, I asked them how it compared to "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," which took in more receipts worldwide than anything besides "Titanic.
"

***

 

If you want to look at exit poll data for yourself, here is the Fox results for ten states. And here is the Acrobat PDF of the L.A. Times poll of California. 

 

Someday we may see the VNS exit poll data. Or maybe not. However, there are two more sources of polling data that are not public: each party's private polls. In the absence of VNS data, I hereby call on Mr. Karl Rove and Mr. Terry McAuliffe to release their party's results as a public service to aid in fully  understanding the historic events of last week.

 

Here's a good example of why the parties should let the world see their poll results, rather than continue to bring fragments of them out for maximum spinnage. 

 

"Mr. Rove cited other recent data that suggested Republican support among older and younger voters — he did not specify ages — appeared to be growing at a faster rate than the overall population, and that the gender gap among younger voters was narrowing to an even split. In recent elections, Republicans have generally appealed more to men than to women. He said the idea that a growing number of younger voters were identifying with Republicans "is pretty dramatic," and that the shift in the gender gap "could be a significant trend" that would help Republicans long into the future.""

 

First, why is it a good thing for GOP support to be growing faster among the young and the old than among people in their middle years? It sounds like a net wash to me. (If the opposite had been true, Rove could have spun it, with equal plausibility, "GOP support is growing faster among voters in the primes of their lives rather than among the immature slacker young or the senile, soon-to-be-dead old!" Look, a voter is a voter, and, I am awfully tired of everyone acting like some voters are more equal than others. 

 

Second, is it even true? I tried to check Rove's claim about doing better among the young for the eleven states I have data for, but I only found it to be true in three. Further, in the last Gallup Poll, which accurately predicted a national 6 point GOP win, the Democrats were ahead among 18-34 year olds by a huge 59-39 margin. The GOP's biggest margin was among 35-49 year olds.

 

That doesn't mean Rove's lying. It just means he should release all the numbers he has for the other 39 states. Another example: he says the gender gap among the young is narrowing and that this is good for the GOP. The exit poll result I have don't report this, so I can't check it directly. Let me point out that Rove seems to be appealing to the media's assumption that the Gender Gap is a bad thing for Republicans. Obviously, Rove knows that's nonsense -- the gender gap was first identified in the 1980 election, and we all know the decades from 1980 on have have been a lot kinder to Republicans than the two preceding decades when there wasn't much of a gender gap. (It may be unfashionable, but a man's vote still counts for as much as a woman's vote.) Further, since we know that single women are much more Democratic than married women and there are more single women among the young, the most likely reasons for a smaller gender gap among the young is because young men vote more Democratic. That's good for the GOP?

***

 

Andrew Sullivan announces that he's "tired of this hawk-dove paradigm." From now on, he wants to be known as an "Eagle." 

One of the pleasures of listening to Rush LImbaugh is how when he gets particularly egomaniacal, Rush verbally winks at you to let you know he's in on the joke too. With Andrew, a lot of the fascination is that he doesn't even seem to be aware of the joke.

***

 

Here's the Big One of my election articles, thoroughly documenting and expanding the insights of the VDARE piece I wrote last Thursday:

Analysis: Whites, not Latinos, win for GOP by Steve Sailer

The demographic headline on the 2002 election was expected to be either "Democrats ride growing numbers of nonwhite voters to victory," or "GOP wins by attracting more minorities." Instead, non-whites played an anticlimactic role. The star turn was taken by what had become the Invisible Giant of American politics: the white electorate.

***

 

Video of the Week: 'Attack of the Clones' by Steve Sailer by Steve Sailer

If you are blind, there is no point in purchasing "Star Wars: Episode 2: Attack of the Clones" on video (out on Tuesday for $29.98 list on DVD and $24.98 on VHS), since the plot is ponderous, the dialogue deplorable and the line-readings limp. Still, the latest "Star Wars" installment is worth seeing if you like splendid sci-fi landscapes and bang-up action sequences.

***

 

Video of the Week: 'Bad Company' by Steve Sailer

"Bad Company," a Jerry Bruckheimer action thriller that took in $30 million last summer despite a $70 million budget, is out Tuesday on DVD ($29.99 list) and VHS (rental only).

***

 

Definitely check out Frank Miele's new book: Intelligence, Race, and Genetics: Conversations with Arthur R. Jensen. Frank is the premiere interviewer of human behavior scientists and this fairly short book is the best possible introduction to the life and work of the leading IQ expert in the world.

***

 

Steven Johnson gives Steven Pinker's "The Blank Slate" a highly positive review in The Nation and explains why leftists need to understand sociobiology. Unfortunately, he does not attempt an explanation of the burning question: why there are so many Steves writing on the subject?

***

 

I'm worried that I'm not getting all of my email - one friend got a bouncing error message from me back from AOL. If you think a recent message to me might not have gotten through, please send me another one and copy SSailer at UPI.com (replacing " at " with "@" of of course).

***

 

Big jump in teen marriages in the U.S. - Andrew Sullivan attributes this to welfare reform, asking "What else explains the sudden jump in teen marriages in the 1990s?" Well, judging by the ongoing arranged marriage scandals in Europe, I'd say that a large chunk of this growth is due to immigration scams. When your American citizen daughter hits 18, you marry her off to your brother's son back in the old country, thus allowing your nephew to live in the U.S. About 60% of British-born Pakistanis marry a first or second cousin, typically from Pakistan. Home secretary David Blunkett has asked Pakistani parents to arrange more marriages within Britain. The new Danish government is trying to outlaw the practice.

***

 

The New Republic is worried that our Muslim semi-allies like Egypt and Jordan are being too mean to terrorists at our bequest: "If you happen to believe the only good terrorist is a dead terrorist, you are quite possibly a member of the U.S. government." Personally, I don't believe the only good terrorist is a dead terrorist. I believe the only good terrorist is one who has been tortured into spilling the beans on his colleagues so that they will be dead terrorists.

***

 

The dirty little secret of the Human Genome Project is that, while it's essential basic research, it's not going to find many causes of diseases because it focuses on what we have in common rather than what we differ on -- most of Celera's version, for example, is derived from the DNA of Celera leader Craig Venter, rather than from a variety of humans. Fortunately, the HapMap project will look at variations between blacks, whites, and East Asians. This sounds more promising. Of course, that has plenty of people up in arms because it will show that race does not Not Exist, and they'd prefer to have people die than to know the truth.

***

 

More on how the GOP used the Sailer strategy to win: "In Georgia, as in Minnesota, Colorado, South Dakota and more than 25 other states, party officials say, Republicans recruited more volunteers, made more telephone calls, rang more doorbells and got out more votes in Republican households than they ever had. 'The story of 2002 is not that Democrats stayed home,' said Ralph Reed, the Georgia Republican chairman who has been a prophet of grass-roots organizing since before his days at the Christian Coalition. 'It was that Republicans came to the polls in historic numbers, and our candidates had the broadest appeal to swing voters we have seen in recent years.'" -- NYT, 11/9/02

***

 

In the left column is my new VDARE piece on the elections. I wrote it on Thursday night, when I'd been up for 54 of the previous 60 hours, so there are a couple of typos, but the evidence that my initial view was right has piled up since then.

***

 

Here's the NYT picking up on what I've been saying: the GOP won by maximizing its opportunities to rake in white voters. You go hunting where the ducks are and the white segment makes up 4/5ths of the electorate.

***

 

It's more and more looking like the key to the 2002 elections was growth in the white vote. There's a lot of grumbling among Democrats that blacks didn't turnout, nor did Mexican-Americans do much in their two big states of California and Texas. It looks like the GOP did what I notoriously advised them to do after the 2000 election in "GOP Future Depends on White Vote": get more white votes. (See this NYT article for details). Since this is the Strategy that Dare Not Speak Its Name, they blew a lot of smoke about Hispanics helping them to victory.

***

 

As you know, I was very concerned about Administration staffers hustling us into a war with Iraq without regard for the Constitution. I'd still like to see a formal Declaration of War, but I have to say that my regard for democratic decision-making on such an important policy is now largely satisfied by the Congressional resolution vote and by Bush's 53-47 victory in Tuesday's election.

***

 

With no VNS national exit poll results, the nascent conventional wisdom on the demographics of the election will be up for grabs between now and the Sunday gab shows.- Michael Barone is already spinning the Hispanics going Republican angle. The only real exit poll released so far, however, the L.A. Times poll in California, shows that minority turnout collapsed and Simon did better than expected due to a relatively large and more heavily Republican white vote. So, please help me try to get the following article around:

 

Analysis: California minority turnout way down by Steve Sailer -- Tuesday's meltdown of the Voter News Service's national exit polling system left election analysts desperate for data to help them understand the demographic underpinnings of the shift to the Republicans. The first major regional exit poll -- the Los Angeles Times' survey of 3,444 California voters, which was released early this morning -- clears up some of the mystery surrounding one of Tuesdays' most surprising outcomes: the apparently forlorn California gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon's strong showing in defeat. It also offers a surprising update on the much vaunted growth in minority voting blocs.

***

 

Film of the Week: 'Femme Fatale' by Steve Sailer

In "Femme Fatale," writer-director Brian De Palma ("Carrie" and "Dressed to Kill") tries to create a new kind of heroine combining the alluring but cruel bad girls of classic film noirs such as "Double Indemnity" and "The Maltese Falcon" with the victimized but butt-kicking heroines of recent years.

***

Both AndrewSullivan.com and KausFiles.com used my "53-47 Nation" article as their leads today, so it will probably become the permanent conventional wisdom. I sure hope I did the math right! (I had been up all night.)

***

 

Analysis: GOP beats Dems by about 53%-47% by Steve Sailer

Democrats can't console themselves with the idea that the strong Republican showing stemmed not from a sizable swing to the GOP, but from the Republicans happening to win a lot of close elections.

***

 

More Help Needed! - The meltdown of the VNS exit polls means that I'm currently stuck with practically no demographic data to analyze. Does anybody have any suggestions on how I can find out how Hispanics, women, the wealthy, etc. voted?

 

Why turnout is low in modern America by Steve Sailer

Election turnout was reported to be heavy in many states with key elections such as Minnesota, where the dramatic entry of former Vice President Walter Mondale into the Senate race last week stirred political passions, and Florida, where the president's brother Jeb Bush was re-elected governor.

***

 

Anti-bilingualism wins in Massachusetts by Steve Sailer

As polls in Massachusetts predicted, anti-bilingual education forces have won a massive victory on the "Question 2" initiative, which would have scrapped the state's current system of multi-year transitional bilingual education in public schools in favor of a single year of "English immersion" for students who don't speak English.

***

 

I was glad to see Bill Simon ultimately put up a good fight against Gray Davis in California, when everybody was assuming he'd be humiliated. He's a good man and didn't deserve half of what he had to go through, such as the ludicrous fraud verdict.

***

 

Help! - I've got to write three UPI articles on the elections on Tuesday-Wednesday. My topics are demographics, voter turnout, and Ron Unz's bilingual initiatives. If you come up with any great insights, please email them to me.

***

 

Here's how to make chess a big deal in America again for the first time since Bobby Fischer's annus mirabilis of 1972: Get a bunch of consumer products marketers to sponsor a women's team world championship and to build a U.S. women's team. Hey, it worked in basketball, softball, ice hockey, and soccer! (Well, it worked once for each sport - the second time around was pretty dismal.) We Americans love patriotic feminism. Nothing makes us Americans feel better about ourselves than watching our women beat the women of mighty Norway in the finals of some women's event that nobody in the world except us, the Canadians, and the Scandinavians cares about.

 

Colby Cosh (who knows infinitely more about chess than I do) protests that such an event would be a joke because Judit Polgar, the Hungarian Jewish grandmistress who is by far the greatest woman player of all time (she ranked in the men's top 10 at her apex), refuses to play in women-only events. And I say, so what? Do you think that any sports fan in America has heard of Ms. Polgar? Has she ever been on Leno? If she doesn't show up, well, that just gives our women a better chance to win. And winning is everything in these women's team events. Did it matter that our celebrated 1998 gold medal women's ice hockey team only had five other teams in the tournament, three of whom barely knew how to lace on their skates? Did it matter to us than the women of France, Italy, and Britain wouldn't think of trading in their high heels for soccer spikes? Heck no! All that matters is that we won and some foreigners lost. We don't care which foreigners we beat, because they are pretty much all the same to us (although maybe we should rig it so we beat Iraq in the chess finals.) USA! USA!

***

 

My new VDARE article is up (see left column). It considers why increased diversity seems to inevitably bring increased demands for censorship.

***

 

One oddity in modern movies is the huge number of family comedies (especially Christmas comedies) set in the North Shore suburbs of Chicago, including three franchises: "Santa Clause," "Home Alone," and "National Lampoon's Vacation" (particularly "Christmas Vacation"). The North Shore seems to have supplanted the San Fernando Valley in the movies as America's model suburb. There's also "Risky Business." Part of the reason is Glenbrook H.S. grad John Hughes' prolific talent: besides "Home Alone," he wrote "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," "The Breakfast Club," "Pretty in Pink," etc., all set in the wealthy suburbs of Chicago. Another cause is that movie makers need homes with big rooms to film in - otherwise they have to knock down the homeowner's walls in order to dolly the camera back far enough. This technical problem leads to what Siskel-Ebert called "the how can they afford that?" syndrome. In the rest of the world, moviegoers are convinced that Americans all live in 5,000 square foot homes. Granted, more of us do than anywhere else, but, still, that syndrome leads to foreigners thinking we must be incredibly greedy since we all live in mansions, but don't give them any of our money.

***

 

"The Santa Clause 2" left me in a bit of a quandary over whether to write about it: I had a most pleasant time at it, but how much of that was due to the low expectations I brought to it? And if I recommended it heartily to you, would that ruin your chance of enjoying it the way I did?

***

 

I haven't seen "Far from Heaven," which is getting hysterical raves from critics living in West Greenwich Village, but it sounds like one of the most ridiculous movies of the year. It's set in 1957 suburban Connecticut and is an homage to Douglas Sirk's melodramas of that era. Julianne Moore is an affluent housewife with the perfect life, but then she discovers her husband is a homosexual. (The husband is played by the least gay actor this side of Russell Crowe, Dennis Quaid of "The Rookie.") Meanwhile, she falls in love with her black gardener (Dennis Haysbert of "24 Hours"), who introduces her to the forbidden pleasures of ... abstract art!

 

Look, I don't want to be sociologically pedantic, but in Connecticut in 1957, modern art was infinitely more popular among upper middle class white people like this housewife than among black gardeners. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to African-Americans for freeing most of us white folks from the frigid prestige of theory-driven modernist art movements. But director Todd Haynes has a degree in semiotics from Brown, so he seems to have missed the last 45 years of heterosexual pop culture. (And, yes, I know this is a stereotype, but you really have to check out Haynes' wrists in this photo from the Village Voice.)

***

 

I passed on to Steve Pinker a reader's suggestion that I should have asked him why so many of us who expound on evolution's impact on humanity are named "Steve:" e.g., Stephen Jay Gould, Steven Rose, Steve Jones, Steve Olson (whose popularization of Cavalli-Sforza's population genetics, Mapping Human History, just got nominated for a National Book Award -- here's my review), Steven Goldberg, etc. In response, Steve (Pinker, that is) sent back this cartoon. I hereby adopt the cartoon's punchline "If he's called Steve, he must know what he's talking about" as iSteve.com's official advertising slogan. (Of course, it would help the collective credibility of us Steves if we weren't denouncing each other so much.)

***

 

Film of the Week: 'Frida' by Steve Sailer

In the middle of the 20th century, no Mexican bulked larger on the global stage than the artist Diego Rivera. When not painting his titanic murals of the struggling poor, this Falstaffian 300-pounder divided his time between the Communist Party and café society parties. Today, though, the art world cares little for pictures of suffering workers and peasants, so Rivera is largely overshadowed by his diminutive wife Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), the unibrowed self-portraitist whose life-long love affair with herself foreshadowed our Age of Madonna.

***

 

Video of the Week: 'Spider-Man' by Steve Sailer

"Spider-Man" is the "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" of 2002 -- a franchise-launching blockbuster. Spidey actually beat Harry at the domestic box office ($404 million to $318 million), although it trailed overseas ($399 million to $648 million).

***

 

Q&A: Steven Pinker of 'Blank Slate' by Steve Sailer

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology cognitive scientist Steven Pinker's bestseller "The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature" is one of the most intellectually ambitious books to hit the best-seller lists in recent years. Here, he answers my questions about free will, God vs. Darwin, what went wrong with high culture, Nazis vs. Communists, and his hairstyle.

***

 

Video of the Week: 'E.T.' by Steve Sailer

Steven Spielberg's 1982 film "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" held the all-time domestic box office record until the director smashed it himself in 1993 with "Jurassic Park." Now, it's finally out on DVD.

***

 

Question: I'm reviewing the new biopic "Frida," about the glamorous pair of Mexican painters Frida Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera. They were wealthy, self-indulgent sensualists and dedicated Communists. Exactly what was it about Lenin and Stalin, who don't seem like fun people to party with, that so attracted hedonistic artists like Kahlo, Rivera, Picasso, and the like?

***

 

Unintentionally hilarious article in the NYT on how rich people in Southern California are spending millions to preserve a couple of local walls painted by Mexican muralist David Siqueiros in Death-to-the-Capitalists and Down-with-America motifs. Not surprisingly, this article extolling Siqueiros' radical politics omits what is by far the most interesting fact about this famous painter (who comprised with Rivera and Orozco the Big 3 of Mexican art): on May 24, 1940, Siqueiros, on Stalin's orders, personally organized and led a large scale commando assault on Leon Trotsky's house of exile near Mexico City. They sprayed hundreds of bullets into the home, somehow missing Trotsky but wounding his grandson. They kidnapped and murdered Trotsky's American assistant. Siqueiros was later spirited out of Mexico by beloved Chilean poet (and fellow Stalinist) Pablo Neruda, who let Siqueiros live in his house until things blew over.

***

 

Being able to read the next day's NYT for free every night at 9pm Pacific Time is an amazing deal (I have no idea why they give it away), but you do have to put up with a large amount of gay propaganda -- as star correspondent Richard Berke boasted, often 75% of the people deciding what goes on the front page are homosexuals. Here's a particularly ridiculous NYT article on "the ambiguities of sexuality." This article on transexuality informs us, in effect, that the sex glass (you know, is it a boy or a girl) isn't 99.99% full, it's - prepared to be shocked - 0.01% empty!

 

Of course, the article ignores the truth about male to female transsexuals, as discovered by leading Canadian sexologist Ray Blanchard. All that stuff about, "Even when I was captain of the football team, I always felt like a girl on the inside," is in most cases a cover story. In reality, most cases fall into two categories. The first are extremely effeminate homosexuals who want to attract a Real (i.e., straight) Man, and figure their only chance is to become a quasi-Real Woman. The second are what Blanchard calls "autogynephiles." These are, in effect, narcissists who become overwhelmingly attracted, quasi-heterosexually, to the idea of themselves as a beautiful woman. They classically start out dressing up in their mother's lingerie and, uh, amorously admiring themselves in front of the mirror. That's kind of embarrassing to explain, so they settled on this "I feel like a girl on the inside" party line. But don't expect to read that in the NYT.

***

 

"Video of the Week: 'Sum of All Fears' by Steve Sailer

"The Sum of All Fears" is the fourth straight quality film to be made from Tom Clancy's sprawling techno-thriller novels about CIA man Jack Ryan (who is played this time by Ben Affleck). It grossed a solid $118 million domestically (though Affleck's movie was aced out by his pal Matt Damon's own CIA thriller, "The Bourne Identity," which hauled in $121 million).

***

 

"Standard Time Sunday" has to be my favorite day of the year. The end of daylight savings gives us a 25 hour day, which is what I, as a night person who like to work long hours and sleep long hours, finds to be just about right. I've thought about campaigning to have the earth's rotation slowed down to a 25 hour day (powerful nuclear explosions should do the trick), but the environmental impact statement might be tedious to fill out.

***

 

To everybody who ignored the World Series because the Yankees weren't in it -- sorry, but you missed a good one. Of course, not giving the MVP award to Barry Bonds was a joke (Troy Glaus of the Angels got it instead). Bonds slugged 1.275 and had an on-base average of .700. These are the two most important hitting statistics and both were records for a long Series. I've never seen a single player be the kind of focus that Bonds was in this Series.

 

Also, something that needs to be pointed out now that reporters he's snubbed are getting their revenge on Bonds by pointing out that he still hasn't won a World Series, nyah-nyah-nyah. Now that there are 30 teams in baseball (and approximately that in other major league sports, too), the odds are against any single player winning a World Series since nobody plays for 30 years. Back when there were only 16 teams in the big leagues, a veteran who played for 20 seasons had a better than 50-50 chance of winning. Of course, a superstar make his team better, but nobody can carry a baseball team to the world title the way Michael Jordan could in basketball. A typical MVP season raises a team's record by only 5 wins over an average player's season (e.g., from 81-81 to 86-76). Bonds' MVP seasons have been better than that, but the Giants are a team so shorthanded that they have a 37 year old journeyman catcher batting behind Bonds.

***

 

Dichard Harris, RIP -- If you want to see Harris in a highly entertaining role, check out the recently released video of "Count of Monte Cristo." from just last year. Too bad he drank away his chance at true greatness. But, as his Obi-wan Kenobi type role in "The Count" attests, after he dried out he regained a lot of his form.

***

 

It's amusing to watch human pit bull James Taranto of the WSJ try, but fail, to say something nice about the late archliberal Senator Wellstone in his "Best [sic] of the Web" attaqblog. Fortunately, the WSJ also employs Peggy Noonan, who, while she's not the most linear of thinkers, is a pretty fine human being. Peggy quickly came up with something deservedly gracious about Wellstone. Question: Are there any Republican senators as principled as Wellstone was?

***

 

Interesting essay in National Review about how the wall between Christian rock and mainstream rock is eroding. Mark Joseph makes the intriguing argument that nobody ever more needed to accept Jesus into his life than poor Kurt Cobain of Nirvana -- in other words, our Prince of Pain needed the Prince of Peace.

***

 

I know I'm sounding like Howard Hughes on this topic, but here's news that the government now tells hospital personnel to use alcohol gels rather than soap and water.

***

 

Film of the Week: 'Truth About Charlie' by Steve Sailer

In "The Truth About Charlie," Jonathan Demme tries to climb out of this hole he has dug for himself by building his movie on a wacky what-if conceit. Remember that glossy 1963 romantic comedy-thriller "Charade," with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in a preposterous but well-crafted Hollywood crowd-pleaser about intrigue in Paris? Well, what if "Charade" had instead been made by Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard or one of the other Parisian New Wave directors of 1963?

***

 

Update on Barry: One reason almost nobody saw Barry Bonds' monster home run Sunday night was because it landed well up into a tunnel leading out of the stadium. 

 

The controversy over what (if anything) Barry has been on in this decade is certainly an interesting one. The good thing about sports is that chemical performance-enhancer use by athletes is at least slightly controversial. In acting or punditry, their effects are largely ignored. For example, it seems likely to me that steroids wrecked Sylvester Stallone's career as an actor and writer (his "Rocky" script is one of the most influential in movie history). On the other hand, they may well have helped Arnold Schwarzenegger's career (Arnold is quite open about using steroids, at least during his Mr. Universe days).

 

Nor do you ever hear the slightest hint that Andrew Sullivan's spectacular career over the last five years is fueled by large doses of prescription testosterone (except from Sullivan himself, who has written about it at length in the New York Times). I find it somewhat worrisome that the judgment of somebody so influential is subject to large chemical-induced mood swings. I also hope I can be forgiven for saying that I resent having to compete with him on these terms. I feel like a bicyclist racing against a fuel-injected funny car. (Granted, his testosterone habit is in response to his disease, but, let's face it, the HIV virus is not exactly hard to avoid. And, those who have the virus are quite likely to have also infected other men with it.)

***

 

Three new articles by me about demographic changes and the November elections:

 

Election 2002: LA secession question

Although corporations frequently split themselves in two in pursuit of the appropriate size and intensity of focus, it was almost unheard of for American cities to seriously consider breaking themselves apart until advocates of independence for the suburban San Fernando Valley managed to get secession from Los Angeles on the November ballot.

 

Election 2002: Emerging Dem majority?

The authors of "The Emerging Democratic Majority" offer  some predictions of how November elections will turn out based on their theory of demographic trends.

 

Election 2002: The demographic trends

In the short run, elections are decided by personalities, scandals, hot issues, and voter mood swings. In the long run, however, the impact of these quick-changing factors tend to even out between the parties, leaving demographics as a fundamental force.

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What's Barry on? - A friend of mine attended Sunday night's classic 11-10 Angels' victory over the Giants in the World Series. He said the crowd consisted mostly of the cast of upcoming Fox shows, rich families with spoiled children, and, most of all, purchasing agents. "Tell your kids that if they want a glamorous lifestyle on a small salary, they should become a purchasing agent for a corporation."

 

He mentioned that nobody sitting anywhere near him saw where Barry Bonds colossal 9th inning home run landed. When he got home, ESPN said Fox had 11 cameras on it, but not one tracked it the entire way. I bet what happened was that it traveled above the all the stadium lights into the blackness of the night. When it came back down into the light, everybody had lost track of it. I've never heard of that happening before, but it's the only explanation I can think of why the world drew a blank on something they were watching closely. It had to be the hardest hit ball I've seen since Reggie Jackson's 1971 All Star Game shot off the light tower on the roof of Detroit's 3rd deck.

 

So, what's Barry on? My guess is that he wasn't on anything through the 1990s when he was the most effective all-around player in baseball by far. He was underrated then, because he was playing in little Pittsburgh, and then in San Francisco, where his results weren't making the East Coast newspapers' box scores the next morning. Also, because his glamour statistics - batting average, homers, and RBIs - weren't as spectacular as everything else he was doing  - getting lots of walks, running down would-be doubles and triples in the outfield, not getting thrown out while stealing a lot of bases, and scoring a huge number of runs. His managers have won five Manager of the Year awards (and perhaps a 6th this year), in part because outsiders tend to underestimate how talented his teams were simply because they underestimated Bonds. He's a jerk who hoards his enormous knowledge of baseball from his teammates, but baseball isn't really a team game 98% of the time.

 

It must have been frustrating to Bonds see lesser talents suddenly swell up in size and hit a ton of homers and get all the publicity. San Francisco designed the new stadium so Bonds could splash homers in the Bay. But, the winds turned out to blow in from right field, so he hits more on the road (27 away vs. only 19 at home this year). Somehow, in his dotage, he responded, hitting a career high 49 in 2000, then becoming an out of this world player the last two years, breaking Ruth's slugging and on-base average marks. I don't know how he did it - judging by how round his face has gotten, I'd take a wild guess that it might be Human Growth Hormone, which is legal with a prescription. 

 

A friend of mine takes HGH and testosterone and Adderall (a.k.a., Ritalin), all with perfectly legal prescriptions. (Let's just say you don't want to get into an email argument with him at 2 am, because he'll want to keep arguing until dawn - and he'll crush me because his brain is working so much faster. 

 

They say you can't change human nature, but that's becoming less true each day.

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Video of the Week: DVD release of 'E.T.' by Steve Sailer

Spielberg intentionally dehumanized the adult male authority figures in the movie by showing only their lower bodies, not their faces. This irritated me in 1982 because I was planning on becoming an adult male authority figure myself. Granted, in the 20 years since, I've made remarkably little progress toward that goal (just ask my kids), but "E.T.'s" demonization of men doing dangerous jobs still gets on my nerves.

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The plan is to post a new essay by me in VDARE every Sunday night. The latest one is in the left hand Articles column. The idea is that Monday morning is prime time for web surfing, when everybody comes back to "work" and catches up on all their favorite sites they missed over the weekend.

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Did you see Hall of Famer George Brett catch a foul ball in the stands at Game 2 of the World Series? Actually, George is too smart to try to catch a foul liner with his bare hands himself. He let the guy behind him absorb the impact, then picked the ball up off the concrete on the bounce. (I'm not sure that George needs any more souvenir baseballs, but he didn't look in any hurry to give it away.) Unless you bring your glove to the game, trying to catch foul balls is a good way to break a finger. They can be traveling over 100 mph and have a wicked spin on them that makes their paths hard to judge.

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Here's Paul Krugman's long article on the growth of inequality in America since the 1950s and 1960s. I know it will be denounced by everybody who takes their lead from the Heritage Foundation, but it sounds pretty persuasive to me. (I do have eyes in my head.) Of course, Krugman never mentions the role post-1965 mass immigration has played in keeping down the wages of the working class, and even the engineering class. I exchanged emails once on the subject with Krugman and it was easy to see why he is so hated: the term "pompous jackass" comes readily to mind. Still, overall, Krugman's article is worth reading.

 

On the positive side, economic inequality correlates with improvements in at least one art form: golf course architecture. The Golden Age of American golf course design was the 1920s. Architects like Alister Mackenzie, Donald Ross, A.W. Tillinghast, and George C. Thomas designed superb private country clubs for the plutocratic elite. After the New Deal and WWII, Robert Trent Jones Sr. designed efficient, rationalized, economical but uninspired courses for middle managers in gray flannel suits. Only in the last two decades has wealth become concentrated enough again for aristocratic tastes in golf course architecture to flourish.

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Film of the Week: 'Real Women Have Curves' by Steve Sailer: This low-budget Mexican-American comedy-drama that proved a hit at the Sundance film festival. Its story -- an Americanized child rebels against an immigrant parent's Old Country values -- is as old as the talkies. Literally. Back in 1927 that was the plot of Al Jolson's "The Jazz Singer." by Steve Sailer: This low-budget Mexican-American comedy-drama that proved a hit at the Sundance film festival. Its story -- an Americanized child rebels against an immigrant parent's Old Country values -- is as old as the talkies. Literally. Back in 1927 that was the plot of Al Jolson's "The Jazz Singer."

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Marty Sieff of UPI explains what the North Koreans are up to with their announcement that they may, or may not, have a nuclear weapon: it's the "Nuclear Bee-Sting" strategy for deterring the American invasion that the President seemingly promised in his "axis of evil" speech.

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There has been a debate going on within the Administration about junking the basic concept of the independent nation-state that emerged from the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, and its corollary that you shouldn't attack other countries unless they attack you, or are right on the verge of attacking you. Perhaps weapons technology has advanced so far that the U.S. must  impose some sort of Orwellian Big Brother hegemony over the entire world to keep anybody, including private organizations, from building some kind of doomsday weapon in their lab. Maybe. Maybe not. (Cheney, who isn't stupid, seems to feel this way, and maybe Condi Rice too. Probably Cheney is the key to the Administration's attitudes, and I can't even pretend to read his mind. I'm sure he's an excellent poker player.)

 

I haven't been able to think this through yet. It's just too far-reaching and complex for me. It makes my head hurt. I haven't noticed too many others who have got it all figured out either. It's too complicated. It's going to take a number of years to get it figured out. As a conservative, I tend to fear that if we rush to throw out a 350 year old system, we may later realize that there were good reasons for it that we had forgotten. (My piece on Kosovo from April 2000 explores some of the reasons that had been forgotten). 

 

The invention of the atomic bomb, and the Soviet acquisition of it in 1949 were more alarming events than 9/11. It's worth remembering that certifiable geniuses like Von Neumann and near-geniuses like Heinlein thought that nuclear war was inevitable unless world dictatorship was imposed. It took maybe a decade for the smartest guys in the country to think through everything and realize there was a way for us and the Soviets to keep from blowing up the world without totally junking the Constitution.

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Interesting analogy: In the late 1960s, the Soviets asked first LBJ and then Nixon to join with them in preemptively blasting the Chinese nuclear weapons development site. (Steffan Possony, perhaps the most brilliant Cold War spook-strategist, advised the Presidents to turn down the offer because America could play China and Russia off against each other, which we did from 1972 on.) Tough questions: Was the world better off with the Chinese having nukes? What proportion of the decline in Great Power wars in recent decades is due to nuclear proliferation? How dangerous does the world get when dozens of countries have nukes?

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With all the bombings and sniping going on, it's strange that few seem to suspect that Saddam might be involved. After all, now that we've decided he can't be deterred, he might well now have a motive for lashing out -- either "Taste a little of what's in store for you when you come after me" or "See you in Hell."

 

Obviously, I don't know anything about what might be behind these attacks, related or unrelated. Still, they raise interesting questions about something that's talked about a lot these days: terrorist attacks where, from fear of retaliation, the identify of the perpetrator is never discovered. For example, the President suggests that Saddam could give a nuke to a terrorist group, who could blow up an American city with it. While this sounds not impossible in a scenario motivated by revenge (or pure Japanese sarin gas-cult insanity), the main political use of terrorism in recent decades has been to bring attention to the perpetrators. Yasser Arafat has a Nobel Peace Prize because his boys started very publicly hijacking airplanes in 1969. If you blow up something and don't tell anybody you did it, do you get many of the political benefits? For example, say, for the sake of argument, that Saddam is behind the recent attacks in order to to send us a warning not to invade, but he's too afraid of retaliation to claim credit. But if we blame it on Osama's boys instead, then Saddam gets no diplomatic benefit from it.

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What kind of reaction has the new magazine The American Conservative received? Not being online, TAC is more at the mercy of how it's depicted in the webworld than are web publications, where readers can easily check them out for themselves. Certainly, the most interesting review was Derek Copold's in The Texas Mercury, a web journal that is particularly strong on analysis of the conservative media. Copold actually offered constructive suggestions on how the magazine could do better. (That he had nice things to say about my Neil Young article in no way biases my opinion!) 

 

Nobody else seemed terribly interested in seeing it improve. The fate most commentators would seem to prefer is extermination. Slate called it "thuggish" (although Slate's Letters column moderator later admitted that many Slate's readers were appalled by that headline). Many were offended that it wasn't thuggish enough. The magazine's ideological eclecticism and failure to follow existing party lines deeply offended many conventional commentators. Andrew Sullivan claims to detect a "red-brown" coalition forming. (Red was the color of the Communists, brown of the Nazis.) Executive editor Scott McConnell's tribute in the second issue to the late social democrat Jim Chapin, the American Orwell, seemed to confuse and annoy people who like "moral clarity" in their neat little ideological categories and are alarmed by friendship across political lines.

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A killer insight from the last chapter of Steve Pinker's The Blank Slate:

 

Paradoxically, in today's intellectual climate novelists may have a clearer mandate than scientists to speak the truth about human nature. Sophisticated people sneer at feel-good comedies and saccharine romances in which all loose ends are tied and everyone lives happily ever after. Life is nothing like that, we note, and we look to the arts for edification about the painful dilemmas of the human condition. Yet, when it comes to the science of human beings, this same audience says: Give us schmaltz!

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Another environmental issue for the GOP to push: Drain Hetch Hetchy -- The Reagan Administration proposed restoring the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park, which provides water to San Francisco, back into its magnificent natural state as the second most spectacular granite cliff valley in America. The NYT reports on a new push to tear down the dam. As I suggested last year, this is a perfect issue for the GOP - it would benefit all the outdoor vacationers in America, who would eventually flock to see this magnificent site, while it would only hurt San Franciscans, who aren't going to vote Republican anyway.

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Andrew Sullivan recently made this bizarre statement, which is illustrative of a major weakness in Bush's case for war: "More interestingly, the polls show that Americans get the president's arguments about Iraq in a post-9/11 world. According to a Pew Center poll, reported by ABCNews, 86 percent of those surveyed believed Saddam had nuclear weapons or was close to acquiring them, and 66 percent believed he was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States."

 

Note that Andrew thinks it's a good thing that 66% of the public believes something that is almost certainly not true. Sullivan unintentionally raises an interesting philosophical question: Can Americans "get" the president's arguments by believing in a lie -- that Saddam "was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks"? 

 

Obviously, much of the support for the Iraq Attaq found in opinion polls stems from the desire of that 66% for revenge on Saddam for blowing up the WTC. 

 

Why do 2/3rds of the public believe something that all the president's horses and all the president's men haven't found any evidence for in a year of trying? First, because they are ignorant. I would bet, in fact, that 1/3 of the supporters of war think it would be a good way to punish Iraq for taking those U.S. Embassy hostages back during Jimmy Carter's Presidency. (When my wife was a college student, she was baffled by news that Iraq and Iran were at war -- she'd always assumed "Iraq" and "Iran" were just different ways to spell the name of a single country, or that maybe Iraq was the capital of Iran, or vice-versa.)

 

Second, because Bush and people like Sullivan want them to believe a falsehood. Many people assume that if the President wants to invade Iraq, it must be as payback for 9/11. Bush and his supporters like Sullivan cynically assume, no doubt accurately, that this is the easiest way to get the support of the American people. 

 

The practical problem with not telling the truth to the public is that it makes America look extremely suspicious in the eyes of the rest of the world. Going to war to punish Saddam for 9/11 is obviously a non sequiter, so everybody else around the globe tries to figure out the real reason, which usually turns out to be some paranoid theory about oil, or Enron, or the Elders of Zion teaming up with the Bavarian Illuminati or whatever. Say, instead, Bush had come out and flatly said, "As far as we can tell, Saddam wasn't involved in 9/11. But we should have done whatever was necessary to enforce our WMD agreements with him before 9/11. And after 9/11 it became vividly clear to us that we can't afford to trust that a bad and often stupid man like Saddam will always remain deterred from using them." Now, maybe that wouldn't have worked politically, but that at least was one case you could have been proud to live with afterwards.

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Video of the Week: 'Life or Something' by Steve Sailer

Angelina Jolie stars in the chick flick "Life or Something Like It," which will be released Tuesday on DVD ($27.98 list price) and VHS (priced to rent). It's not all that bad, but the olive-skinned actress' insistence on dyeing her hair platinum blonde reportedly doomed its marketing campaign and it made less than $15 million at the box office.

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Video of the Week: 'Windtalkers' by Steve Sailer

Was there a more promising-sounding movie concept this year than the inspiring story of the Navajo code talkers of WWII? And were there any more costly botch-ups?

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My Pet Cause: American society put a big emphasis on "Wash your hands before you eat" early in the 20th Century, with a big impact on personal behavior. A few decades after antibiotics became available, that theme in the culture almost completely died out. For example, you very seldom see business people today going to wash their hands before they eat a lunch with their clients. It would interrupt the flow of the conversation.

 

However, even though few people die suddenly from germs anymore, they still cause a lot of unneeded illness. Note that most cold germs are spread hand to mouth or hand to eye, not by being on the receiving end of a sneeze or cough. 

 

Fortunately, the introduction of inexpensive waterless self-drying alcohol gels about five years ago offers the opportunity to make disinfecting your hands a lot easier. You may recall how Bill Clinton had laryngitis and a red, runny nose during much of  the 1992 Presidential campaign. When you shake hundreds of hands per day, you pick up a lot of germs. In 1996, however, he religiously disinfected his hands after working the rope line, and was much healthier.

 

These cheap alcohol gels make a campaign to revive the social norm to disinfect your hands before eating much more practicable, and far, far easier than, say, the fairly successful anti-smoking drive.

 

Here's one way to start -- talk the manager of your favorite famous restaurant into putting alcohol gel dispensers on each table. This would get publicity and spread downward to less prestigious establishments. Within a decade they'd be a fixture on the counter at McDonald's. People would be a lot healthier.

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My wife just finished jury duty in a welfare fraud case where a never-employed man, who insisted on defending himself, was accused of collecting support for two kids he didn't have custody of. It turned out to be a farcical but depressing collision between a legal system designed by law school grads for law school grads and a lot of people who are definitely not law school material.

 

Welfare fraud cases seldom go all the way to a jury trial (most are settled with a requirement to repay and to do community service), but the accused was a stubborn knucklehead. Lawyers say that when a lawyer defends himself, he has a fool for client. When a fool defends himself, he has a blithering idiot for a client. 

 

Any defense attorney would have immediately settled for a plea bargain after the prosecution's first witness -- the defendant's own mother. She testified that she had custody of her granddaughter, but her son would intermittently abduct the 9-year-old for his appearances at the welfare office to validate his claim for support, and sometimes forget to bring her back that day. (Where was the girl's mother? The defendant's "baby mama" has been in prison for the last eight years.) The accused seemed to consider his trial a sort of Jerry Springer Show where he could use cross-examination to hash out his long-running family argument with his mother in front of a studio audience called "the jury."

 

Surprisingly, though, by the third day, the defendant appeared to finally realize that he was in serious trouble and actually put up a good fight against the prosecutor on the accusation that he was fraudulently collecting on his son by a different baby mama. This ex-girlfriend had two other kids by two other baby daddies, and frequently dumped the little boy on the defendant, so the question of who had physical custody over 50% of the time in this chaotic family situation was arguable. The defendant also showed that he had spent a lot of the welfare on toys and clothes for his kids. (He did not have a serious criminal record and seemed relatively harmless.) He got moving testimony out of his daughter about how much she loved him, and made he made a final statement about how he had learned how good it felt to buy things for his kids.

 

The judge sent the jury out with a long series of instructions that required them to follow a complex logical decision tree to reach decisions on the multiple counts and subcounts, a few of which were rather aggressive. The majority of the jury proved unable to mentally deal with such a challenging task and fell back on general impressions, not to the benefit of the accused. 

 

After the guilty on all counts verdict, the judge later told the jury she'd probably give the defendant a few months in jail rather than serious prison time. Perhaps this will alert him to the fact -- although he's a hard man to get through to -- that he's not smart enough to be a con man and ought to get a job so he can buy his kids stuff.

 

Maybe what we need is a hybrid of the English common law jury system and the Code Napoleon system in which the judge determines guilt or innocence. Maybe the judge should sit in the jury room and help these poor citizen jurors think through the complicated legal reasoning that is asked of them.

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By the way, lots of whites believe that racial discrimination is all gone, but that's not true in jury selections. Prosecutors and defense lawyers each have a fixed number of peremptory challenges, and sometimes they will get into contests that resemble a chess end game where each side is racing to turn a pawn into a queen. The prosecution will excuse a black potential juror, then the defense will excuse a white potential juror, and back and forth. Since the jury pools normally have more whites than blacks in them, the prosecution usually comes out well ahead. The Supreme Court has frowned on this, but short of banning peremptory challenges, there's not much they can do. (In the O.J. case, by the way, Marcia the feminist wanted female jurors and Johnnie the race man wanted black jurors, so they ended up with a whole lot of black female jurors. Johnnie proved to be smarter about human nature: race trumps gender.)

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Congratulations to Jimmy Carter on winning the Nobel Peace Prize - I'm proud that the first Presidential vote I ever cast was to throw Carter out of the White House, but I also have always believed that he deserved a share of the Peace Prize won by Sadat and Begin for the Camp David accords. The Nobel folks have always been too quick to reward politicians before the dust has cleared, such as the sinister Le Duc Tho in 1973, a year before Hanoi's Final Offensive. Camp David, in contrast, has more than stood the test of time. It guaranteed Israel's survival by removing the dominant player from the Death-to-Israel bloc, and allowed Egypt to walk away with honor from a pointless fight that it desperately needed to put behind it. Of course, the Swedes didn't give Carter the prize to reward him for a job well done a quarter of a century ago, or even for his lesser but well-meaning work since then, but to criticize Bush over Iraq, which trivializes and demeans his well-deserved award.

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Film of the Week: 'Punch-Drunk Love' by Steve Sailer 

Adam Sandler is one very lucky man. And not just because he draws salaries of up to $25 million for playing the same character over and over again. Paul Thomas Anderson, the 32-year-old Bard of Studio City, conceived his rather wonderful new movie "Punch-Drunk Love" specifically to allow Sandler to play Sandler.

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Gallup's new poll on the Congressional elections shows an enormous gap between unmarried women (who favor the Democrats 68%-32%) and married women (who favor the Republicans 58%-42%). Married women are now more Republican than married men (who prefer the GOP 54%-46%). Married people (of either sex) with children go GOP 59%-41%.

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Here's a review of two new French books (one by the sensible Revel) arguing that France's anti-Americanism is motivated far more by French intellectual and emotional pathology than by American sins. How true. Yet, just because French anti-Americanism is not our fault doesn't mean it's not our problem. We should be looking for low-cost ways to placate France's wounded amour-propre.. Backing Paris over Beijing for the 2008 Olympics would have been an easy one. I mean, Paris would have been a fantastic place to attend the Olympics, while Beijing's air pollution is horrendous. It was a no-brainer, but we blew it.

 

Sure, afterwards the French would have bragged about how much better Paris was as the site of the Olympics compared to Atlanta in 1996 (which, no doubt, would have been true), but, so what? If we are going to be the sole superpower and "provide the world with adult supervision," as one of my readers says, then we've got to grow up. Sure, it would be fun to appoint Jonah Goldberg ambassador to France, but if we are going to be the global hegemon, we've got to avoid juvenile pissing wars with our lackeys. 

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Video of the Week: 'Big Trouble' by Steve Sailer

Because "Big Trouble's" plot hinges on skyjackers smuggling a weapon past clueless airport baggage inspectors, Touchstone Pictures postponed the release of this hilarious comedy from a date only 10 days after Sept. 11, 2001 to last April. With its marketing momentum destroyed, the film then sank without a trace. Fortunately, "Big Trouble" is back

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Video of the Week: 'Scorpion King' by Steve Sailer

"The Scorpion King," a cheerful little blockbusterette of a sword & sandal adventure, is out on video on Tuesday ($26.98 list price on DVD, $22.98 list VHS). It's from the same producers that made the "Mummy" movies, and was advertised as a prequel to them, although there's really no plot connection at all.

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AndrewGel Sullivan, of all people, has written an article entitled "Self Esteem: Why We Need Less of It" about this month's supposed breakthrough discovery that the science of self-esteem worship is hooey. Dan Seligman covered all of this many, many years ago in his wonderful "Keeping Up" column in Fortune. One fascinating finding he pointed out: the demographic group with the highest self-esteem is teenage black girls. (A general rule of thumb is that puberty heightens race differences, probably because hormonal variation is one of the most important forms of human biodiversity.)

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You do have to read Steve Pinker's The Blank Slate, which is the Big Book of the Year. It's a polemical demolition of just about every bad idea about human nature held by everybody since John Locke. Pinker is an enthusiastic subscriber to my iSteve mailing list, so it's fun to go through the book looking for the many ideas he picked up from me (of course, I've picked up lots from him). For example, he writes: "People who say that IQ is meaningless will quickly invoke it when the discussion turns to executing a murderer with an IQ of 64, removing lead paint that lowers a child's IQ by five points, or the presidential qualifications of George W. Bush." Each of those is something I've written about in the past at some length.

 

Steve pretty much wimps out in writing about race, but that's okay because I want to write the big book on that subject.

 

It's fun reading a book when you and the author are so much on the same wavelength that he picks out the exact examples you would have -- to give a single example of creativity in music videos, he chooses Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer," for instance. I noticed something similar reading an interview with my favorite playwright Tom Stoppard. He said his three favorite authors are Evelyn Waugh, Vladimir Nabokov and Thomas Babington Macaulay. I'd rank his first two in my Top 6 (Stoppard would be another member) and Macaulay in my Top 50 (I've only read his History of England, which is tremendous.)

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You've got to like how comfortable the President is with his mispronunciations. He said "noo-kyoo-lar" about 47 times during his Get Saddam speech without the slightest evidence of self-consciousness. That's much better than suddenly trying to pronounce it correctly for the first time in your life just because the whole world is watching.

 

As for the speech, well, it was the usual collection of pretty good arguments and pretty bad ones. The President's patent dishonesty about Saddam's purported Al-Qaeda connections and the supposed likelihood of Saddam going on the offensive makes the rest of his reasons look more bogus than they need to.

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Everything You are Supposed to Know Is Wrong Dept. -- Nicholas Wade's hot streak in the NYT continues, with an article on the scientific history scandal that's been bubbling for a couple of months. In "A New Look at Old Data May Discredit a Theory on Race," he reports that two scientists have reanalyzed the data that Franz Boas, the founder of leftwing (i.e., mainstream) anthropology, used to famously announce 90 years ago that the environment greatly influenced skull shape: "Dr. Jantz said that Boas 'was intent on showing that the scientific racism of the day had no basis, but he did have to shade his data some to make it work that way.'" I always wondered why all the No Races folks persisted in citing a 90 year old study. I'd wonder: Hadn't Boaz's study ever been replicated? Well, now we know why they couldn't find anything more recent. 

 

There is one way that environment does influence head shape distinctly: if infants are strapped to a board - which was common in many places- the backs of their skulls are permanently flattened. Otherwise, genes are more important.

 

Boas himself was reasonably moderate in his views, but he launched a cult of disciples with ludicrously anti-hereditarian dogmas (see Steve Pinker's The Blank Slate for documentation), who came close to destroying anthropology as a scientific endeavor. The moral corruption of anthropology may have been even more complete.

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Have we pretty much destroyed NATO since Bush's Axis of Evil speech? We seem to have managed to propel the UN back into the spotlight and opened such a gap between the U.S. and Europe that NATO is washed up. What we should have done is given up on the UN and expanded NATO to include Japan, Australia, and a few other serious and decent countries, which could provide a global organization of those who have earned the right to lead the world. Now we are stuck with the UN - an organization where Japan and Libya have the same power and China, Russia, and France have vetoes.

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Organized email forgery -- It's become apparent that some fanatical pro-Israel individual or group is systematically forging my email addresses (and that of other pundits who hold non-fanatical views regarding the Middle East) onto anti-Palestinian screeds and sending them to fanatical pro-Palestinian discussion groups. The resulting flood of angry responses from pro-Palestinians shut down the email box of one prominent commentator this week. This form of indirect "Denial of Service" attack is despicable enough, but what is worse is the possibility that somebody could believe I wrote one of these forged rants and come shoot me. I've said a lot of frank things over the years, but I do rather resent the possibility of getting shot for something I didn't say.

 

I could change my various email addresses (one of which I've had for over six years), but that would provide only temporary relief because obviously somebody is out to punish me personally for holding views on the Israel-Palestine conflict more similar to those of Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, the Israeli Defense Minister and leader of the Labour Party, (shut down the settlements and build a Wall) than to those of the forger. Any suggestions?

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When did Big-C Conservatives stop being small-c conservative, in the sense of cautious and prudent? Traditionally, conservatives tended to be men who saw the glass as half full rather than half empty, and worried more about keeping it that way than filling it up. "Prudence" of course was Edmund Burke's prime virtue of statecraft. In recent years, though, American conservatives have become more ideological than Burkean, thus leading to disasters like deregulating electricity in California. 

 

I strongly supported the Gulf War and the Afghanistan War, so I think my track record is a lot better than many. The justifications for an Iraq Attaq, however, while multitudinous, strike me as reflecting a much higher degree of credulousness than those simple ones advanced to justify those two wars. There are one or two good arguments for starting a war in the Middle East now (e.g., if you let a punk like Saddam get away with violating the deal he signed with you, somebody more serious like China might think you've gone soft), but they've been buried under such a sludge of ridiculous claims (e.g., Saddam is the only thing holding back Iraq from being a new Periclean Athens, a shining city upon a hill that will turn all of the Mideast into Switzerland) that indicate that the small-c conservatism has gone out of Conservatism. 

 

My best guess is that the consequences of the Iraq Attaq will turn out to be unspectacular. I'd guess that we'll win, we'll fix up their oil industry, and then we'll start to get sick of the place, like the British did during the one decade they ruled Iraq. Something bad will happen like it did to our Marines in Lebanon in 1983, so we'll go home, and Iraq will go back to being Iraq. Hopefully, the Gulf won't be much less stable than it is now. Likely, while we're there we'll be so bogged down that several other countries will use the window of opportunity to develop WMD to prevent us from invading them, but we will have lost our taste for invasions anyway, so big deal.

 

On the other hand, all sorts of good things could flow from war. It might happen. But, bad things have also been known to flow from war. Yes, I know that only wimpy Europeans think about WWI now, but please do remind yourself of the consequences. Millions of dead, and Lenin getting power. Without Lenin, there would have been no Stalin, no Mussolini, no Mao, and no Pol Pot.

 

Burkean conservatism is essentially about admitting that you aren't smart enough to fully foresee the future. That wisdom seems to be in short supply these days.

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Has anybody heard what George H. W. Bush thinks about an Iraq Attaq?

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Iraq Attaq Fable #386 -- "Conquering Iraq will drastically lower world oil prices!" Let me get this straight -- we're supposed to believe that when Bush and Cheney control Iraq's oil output, they will intentionally bankrupt the oil industry and the state of Texas? Trust me, they remember how horrible the oil price decline in 1982-1986 was for oil companies and Texas.

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Public opinion polls on Iraq -- What percentage of the people favoring the Iraq Attaq view it as vengeance on Saddam for blowing up the WTC? What % favor it as vengeance on Iraq for grabbing American hostages back in Teheran in 1979?

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A friend suggested this explanation for why much of the press has decided that the logical response to Osama is to attack Saddam: post-traumatic stress disorder. The attacks on Washington and especially New York caused a lot of emotional problems, he theorized, thus leading to the frenzied nature of so much that's written about the Middle East today. I don't think I buy it, but it does provide a good excuse for the WSJ's "Best of the Web Today" column, which often reads a little like the Voelkischer Beobachter in 1937 (only its anti-Semitism is directed at a different kind of Semite). James Taranto and the rest of the WSJ Op-Edsters at the World Financial Center damn near died on 9/11, so maybe we ought to cut them some slack when they write stuff about the Middle East that doesn't make much sense.

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The real reason for the Iraq Attaq: When I slice a teeshot into an acre of head-high thorn bushes, do I go look for my golf ball there? Heck no! I go look around on the nearest patch of bare ground. Why? The odds that my ball is there are awfully low, but if it is there, I'll find it.

 

Similarly, Saddam Hussein almost certainly didn't have anything to do with 9/11, but at least we know where to find him!

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Here are three columns by Thomas Sowell on race & IQ: first, second, and third.

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Film of the Week: Hannibal Lecter in 'Red Dragon' by Steve Sailer -- The primordial human fear of being eaten has inspired three of Hollywood's all-time most profitable franchises: "Jaws," "Jurassic Park," and the Hannibal the Cannibal series.

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I just bought my 13 year old son a big amp for his electric guitar and now, while I'm trying to work, he's blasting "Smells Like Teen Spirit" at Max Distortion. Maybe that wasn't such a good idea. 

 

The odd thing is how small the generation gap in music is today. My son actually asks me to lecture him on the The Ramones and The Clash. We both admire Nirvana and, while, I'm too old to get excited over all the new bands he listens to on KROQ, LA's famous "New Rock" station, they certainly sound just like the bands I listened to on KROQ in 1982, so I can hardly object to them.

 

The main difference between the New Wave bands of 20 years ago and today's alternative rock or whatever the style is called lately (i.e., the rock music that middle to upper middle class teenage white boys prefer) is that there used to be more girl singers, more dance tunes, and more goofy novelty hits (think of Toni Basil's "Mickey"). Today, probably 97% of the tunes on KROQ are sung by young men and they tend to be seriously emotional. The musical quality has probably gone up (no more "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell!), even if the fun level has gone down. The percentage of rap songs has probably risen from from 3% to 8%, but it's not a big change. (There were quite a few white part-time rappers in the Early 80's, like Blondie, The Clash, and Talking Heads.)

 

I feel sorry for today's rockers because 48 years after "Rock Around the Clock," it sure feels like just about everything possible in the genre worth trying has already been tried. Back in the days of The Ramones, you could win immortality even if you weren't particularly talented just by inventing something new. Today, though, it looks like we're well into the era of diminishing returns on creativity.

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Who exactly is Iraq planning to attack? I keep hearing from Armchair Warriors that Saddam is a major threat to try to conquer his neighbors again. Which ones? First of all, his tanks can't even physically get to his north or south borders through the No-Fly Zone. Our planes would rip them to shreds before they even saw foreign soil. That leaves Iran to the east, but he already tried that in 1980 when he was at his most powerful and they were in chaos, but that turned out out to be a dud, and Jordan and Syria to the west, neither of whom have much worth stealing. Jordan has a modern air force and is an American ally. Syria is a remote possibility but why would anyone want that scorpion-infested wasteland? The widespread notion that Iraq is itching to conquer Israel is a complete joke. Sharon would vaporize Iraq. 

 

The reality is that the much maligned end to the Gulf War in 1991 has given us a stable Gulf region. By allowing Saddam to survive in highly weakened form, Iran's ambitions have been bottled up, as have Syria's and those of our good buddies in Turkey, whose Prime Minister as recently as 1995 publicly asserted Turkey's claim to the oil fields of Northern Iraq. 

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The problem with abandoning deterrence is that you give up deterring the enemy from doing his worst. Our 1999 attack on Yugoslavia seems to have disappeared down the memory hole, but it offers a perfect example. NATO was successfully deterring Milosevic from ethnically cleansing the rebellious Muslims from Kosovo, by keeping British inspectors on the ground in Kosovo and threatening air strikes. But, then, Madeleine Albright had her private little psychodrama and demanded in writing that Milosevic let NATO invade Serbia proper. He of course said no, so NATO gave up on deterrence and started dropping bombs on his capital. With nothing left to lose, hours later the Serbs started expelling the Muslims.

 

That's a danger in invading Iraq -- we've successfully, and quite easily, deterred Saddam from making trouble for his neighbors for a decade, but once we start trying to conquer him, then deterrence stops working and he's likely to lash out with a See You In Hell! attack.

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Tributes continue to pour in for the late Jim Chapin, the most important left-of-center American intellectual nobody ever heard of -- except for the dozens of writers across the political spectrum whom he helped hone into better thinkers and, perhaps, better human beings. Here's an obituary for Jim Chapin by his UPI editor Marty Sieff and here's Dan Olmsted's UPI article on Jim. Scott McConnell, the editor of Pat Buchanan's The American Conservative magazine, has written a lovely obituary for the upcoming (print) edition on his old friend and mentor. Charles Murray writes, "I had just one phone call with Jim; otherwise, all my contact with him was through this [Human Biodiversity email] group. And yet he was more a part of my world of acquaintances than many people I have known in person for years. I will miss him."

 

Jim Chapin, RIP -- I am heartbroken to relay the news of the death today of Jim Chapin, perhaps the wisest man I ever knew. In a family of outsized personalities -- his late brother Harry Chapin was a folk-rock star in the Seventies ("Taxi" and "Cats in the Cradle"), his brother Tom just won an Emmy for Children's Music, and his father Jim Chapin is one of the top jazz drummers ever -- Jim, a former history professor at Yale and current UPI political analyst, stayed out of the limelight, preferring to devote the abundant energies that could have gone into writing a dozen books into mentoring a host of younger political intellectuals such as Jim Pinkerton, Fred Siegel, George Stephanopolous, and myself.

 

If I'd ever made it on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," Jim was going to be at the top of my list of Dial-a-Friends. The man knew everything about history and politics.

 

Jim was a veteran of the anti-Communist left. He had done yeaoman's work helping the anti-Communist resistance in Portugal during the dark days of 1974-75, when Communist forces almost succeeded in turning Portugal into a Soviet satellite. At a meeting of democratic socialists in a Latin American hotel once, anti-democratic Marxist rebels fired a shoulder launched missile into the room next to him.

 

He was one of the rare men of the left to state that the poor weren't going to be helped by ignoring differences in IQ and acting as if everyone was, or ought to be, an intellectual. As a member of my Human Biodiversity email group, he fought for social conservatism and against economic libertarianism. He believed that while the rich could insulate their children from morally corroding effects of the free market in pop culture, the poor needed help from society in instilling traditional values into children.

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