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Monday, October 29, 2012

Waitin' for Sandy

Sitting here, waiting for the hurricane, with everything on the East Coast closed down, the whole place has a little bit of a last-days-of-Pompeii feel to it.

The wonderful thing about an event like this is that it brings everyone's personality out in full bloom. The people you would expect to do so are running around preparing for the Apocalypse, while others are more nonchalant.

Even the politicians, like characters in a well-written screenplay, are all behaving completely in character.

Governor Christie of New Jersey told residents of his state, "Don't be stupid" (i.e., evacuate if you live on the coast).

The only thing more Christie-like he could have said is, "Stop being such a bunch of goddamn morons!"

New York City Mayor Bloomberg delivered a ten minute speech in a nasal monotone, droning on to residents about all the precautions they should take.

The only thing more Bloomberg-like would have been to go on for another fifteen minutes.

And President Obama read from a Teleprompter about how the federal government was "working effectively" with state and local governments to, essentially, save us all.

The only thing more Obama-like would have been to claim that the hurricane was all Bush's fault.

After Sandy passes, expect everyone to continue acting in character.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Paperboy


Ignored the critics, who gave The Paperboy only a 38% positive rating on Rottentomatoes.com, and saw it last night. It was entertaining, which is all one should ever ask of a movie.

A critic's #1 job is to show how intelligent he is. His #2 job is to show how refined his sensibilities are. And his #3 job is to show how cleverly cutting he can be. (As the writer of this review, I plead guilty to all three.)

In any case, letting you know whether you'd actually enjoy the movie doesn't even make most critics' lists.

The operative word for the movie is "steamy." It's a film noir set in late 60's Florida, with all the social commentary on that time and place you'd expect from a movie made by Hollywood in 2012.

Nicole Kidman vamps it up as a sultry siren with a fixation on men in prison. She seems to enjoy playing cheap, which she does well. The only problem was that at 5' 11" she towers over most of the men who are supposed to be lusting after her. (She had this same problem while playing Tom Cruise's wife, and for that and other reasons, I never found her convincing in that role.)

Zac Efron does a solid job as a former college swimming champion who is the son of a local newspaper publisher. Efron is about eye level with Kidman's breasts, which might explain his character's fixation on her. But Efron did bring to mind a cardinal Hollywood rule, which is to hide your gayness if you want to be considered for romantic leading roles. Also, when Efron enters the water and takes a few strokes, it's painfully obvious he was never a swimmer, though I doubt most moviegoers would be as bothered by this quibble as I was.

Matthew McConaughey played Efron's older brother, a Miami reporter who come to town to investigate whether a local man convicted of murder is in fact guilty. I've also heard that McConaughey is gay, but coincidentally, so is his character here. That knowledge actually seemed to enhance his credibility in the role, not sure why. I've never mistaken Arnold Schwarzenegger for an actual tough guy, yet that's never bothered me while watching him play a role. But knowing about an actor's sexuality is somehow more distracting.

The Efron-sized David Oyelowo did a good job as the reporter who is McConaughey's reporting partner from Miami. (He may have been cast so that it seemed credible that Efron could beat him in a fight.) It's to the moviemaker's credit that they didn't make Oyelowo's character too noble, as moviemakers tended to do with the vast majority of black characters until quite recently.

John Cusack was excellent as the convict, though not quite masculine enough. A guy who can come in his pants without even touching himself is a guy with a lot of male hormones, and the baby-faced Cusack, no matter how disheveled and profane, just doesn't look like that guy. (Now there's a role for Schwarzenegger -- except Arnold wouldn't have had the acting chops to pull it off.)

Anyway, some of what the critics said was true. The Southern gothic aspects do verge on camp. The accents aren't quite right. The movie does condescend to its characters. And it's awfully tawdry.

But none of that detracts from the fun, and some of it actually adds to it.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Ted Kaczynski

For a long time, the Unabomber was a figure of terror, mailing bombs to a seemingly random assortment of people. When Ted Kaczynski was finally caught, he seemed, as is so often the case with serial killers, a strangely pathetic figure.

He lived alone in a cabin in Montana and when arrested, had $33 in his bank account. And rather than the somewhat dashing-looking police sketch of him, he turned out to look like your average homeless guy:





He has been described as a Luddite, who railed against our industrial society; somehow this seemed a fitting cause for him. It was my impression at the time that he was probably a paranoid schizophrenic, although I didn't look all that closely.

It turned out that he had gone to Harvard, and had been some sort of math genius early in his life, with a tested IQ of 167, before he dropped out of society. He had also spent two years as an associate professor of mathematics at Berkeley

When he was caught, many news reports mentioned his 35,000 word manifesto, but it never once occurred to me to read it: why bother looking at the ravings of a madman?

Not to mention that his crimes were so despicable, so cowardly, and so destructive, that he didn't deserve to have his manifesto read.

But someone told me the other day that he had taken a look, and he read me a brief excerpt. The portion he read me made sense, so, curious to see what the freak had written, I took a look for myself. It's certainly easy enough to find on the internet.

It turns out that the first part of his manifesto (all I've read so far) is an analysis of leftism. I don't agree with the analysis in its entirety (then again, I don't agree with anybody on everything). But parts of it are actually brilliant, with insights I'd never heard before. An excerpt:

Almost everyone will agree that we live in a deeply troubled society. One of the most widespread manifestations of the craziness of our world is leftism, so a discussion of the psychology of leftism can serve as an introduction to the discussion of the problems of modern society in general. But what is leftism? During the first half of the 20th century leftism could have been practically identified with socialism. Today the movement is fragmented and it is not clear who can properly be called a leftist. When we speak of leftists in this article we have in mind mainly socialists, collectivists, "politically correct" types, feminists, gay and disability activists, animal rights activists and the like. But not everyone who is associated with one of these movements is a leftist. What we are trying to get at in discussing leftism is not so much a movement or an ideology as a psychological type, or rather a collection of related types.

FEELINGS OF INFERIORITY 

By "feelings of inferiority" we mean not only inferiority feelings in the strictest sense but a whole spectrum of related traits: low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, depressive tendencies, defeatism, guilt, self-hatred, etc. We argue that modern leftists tend to have such feelings (possibly more or less repressed) and that these feelings are decisive in determining the direction of modern leftism.

When someone interprets as derogatory almost anything that is said about him (or about groups with whom he identifies) we conclude that he has inferiority feelings or low self-esteem. This tendency is pronounced among minority rights advocates, whether or not they belong to the minority groups whose rights they defend. They are hypersensitive about the words used to designate minorities. The terms "negro," "oriental," "handicapped" or "chick" for an African, an Asian, a disabled person or a woman originally had no derogatory connotation. "Broad" and "chick" were merely the feminine equivalents of "guy," "dude" or "fellow." The negative connotations have been attached to these terms by the activists themselves. Some animal rights advocates have gone so far as to reject the word "pet" and insist on its replacement by "animal companion." Leftist anthropologists go to great lengths to avoid saying anything about primitive peoples that could conceivably be interpreted as negative. They want to replace the word "primitive" by "nonliterate." They seem almost paranoid about anything that might suggest that any primitive culture is inferior to our own. (We do not mean to imply that primitive cultures ARE inferior to ours. We merely point out the hypersensitivity of leftish anthropologists.)

Those who are most sensitive about "politically incorrect" terminology are not the average black ghetto-dweller, Asian immigrant, abused woman or disabled person, but a minority of activists, many of whom do not even belong to any "oppressed" group but come from privileged strata of society. Political correctness has its stronghold among university professors, who have secure employment with comfortable salaries, and the majority of whom are heterosexual, white males from middle-class families.

Many leftists have an intense identification with the problems of groups that have an image of being weak (women), defeated (American Indians), repellent (homosexuals), or otherwise inferior. The leftists themselves feel that these groups are inferior. They would never admit it to themselves that they have such feelings, but it is precisely because they do see these groups as inferior that they identify with their problems. (We do not suggest that women, Indians, etc., ARE inferior; we are only making a point about leftist psychology). 

Feminists are desperately anxious to prove that women are as strong as capable as men. Clearly they are nagged by a fear that women may NOT be as strong and as capable as men. 

Leftists tend to hate anything that has an image of being strong, good and successful. They hate America, they hate Western civilization, they hate white males, they hate rationality. The reasons that leftists give for hating the West, etc. clearly do not correspond with their real motives. They SAY they hate the West because it is warlike, imperialistic, sexist, ethnocentric and so forth, but where these same faults appear in socialist countries or in primitive cultures, the leftist finds excuses for them, or at best he GRUDGINGLY admits that they exist; whereas he ENTHUSIASTICALLY points out (and often greatly exaggerates) these faults where they appear in Western civilization. Thus it is clear that these faults are not the leftist's real motive for hating America and the West. He hates America and the West because they are strong and successful. 

Words like "self-confidence," "self-reliance," "initiative", "enterprise," "optimism," etc. play little role in the liberal and leftist vocabulary. The leftist is anti-individualistic, pro-collectivist. He wants society to solve everyone's needs for them, take care of them. He is not the sort of person who has an inner sense of confidence in his own ability to solve his own problems and satisfy his own needs. The leftist is antagonistic to the concept of competition because, deep inside, he feels like a loser....

Modern leftist philosophers tend to dismiss reason, science, objective reality and to insist that everything is culturally relative. It is true that one can ask serious questions about the foundations of scientific knowledge and about how, if at all, the concept of objective reality can be defined. But it is obvious that modern leftist philosophers are not simply cool-headed logicians systematically analyzing the foundations of knowledge. They are deeply involved emotionally in their attack on truth and reality. They attack these concepts because of their own psychological needs. For one thing, their attack is an outlet for hostility, and, to the extent that it is successful, it satisfies the drive for power. More importantly, the leftist hates science and rationality because they classify certain beliefs as true (i.e., successful, superior) and other beliefs as false (i.e. failed, inferior). The leftist's feelings of inferiority run so deep that he cannot tolerate any classification of some things as successful or superior and other things as failed or inferior. This also underlies the rejection by many leftists of the concept of mental illness and of the utility of IQ tests. Leftists are antagonistic to genetic explanations of human abilities or behavior because such explanations tend to make some persons appear superior or inferior to others. Leftists prefer to give society the credit or blame for an individual's ability or lack of it. Thus if a person is "inferior" it is not his fault, but society's, because he has not been brought up properly.

[The leftist's] feelings of inferiority are so ingrained that he cannot conceive of himself as individually strong and valuable. Hence the collectivism of the leftist. He can feel strong only as a member of a large organization or a mass movement with which he identifies himself.... 

Leftists may claim that their activism is motivated by compassion or by moral principle, and moral principle does play a role for the leftist of the oversocialized type. But compassion and moral principle cannot be the main motives for leftist activism. Hostility is too prominent a component of leftist behavior; so is the drive for power. Moreover, much leftist behavior is not rationally calculated to be of benefit to the people whom the leftists claim to be trying to help. For example, if one believes that affirmative action is good for black people, does it make sense to demand affirmative action in hostile or dogmatic terms? Obviously it would be more productive to take a diplomatic and conciliatory approach that would make at least verbal and symbolic concessions to white people who think that affirmative action discriminates against them. But leftist activists do not take such an approach because it would not satisfy their emotional needs. Helping black people is not their real goal. Instead, race problems serve as an excuse for them to express their own hostility and frustrated need for power. In doing so they actually harm black people, because the activists' hostile attitude toward the white majority tends to intensify race hatred. 

If our society had no social problems at all, the leftists would have to INVENT problems in order to provide themselves with an excuse for making a fuss. 

We emphasize that the foregoing does not pretend to be an accurate description of everyone who might be considered a leftist. It is only a rough indication of a general tendency of leftism.

That is actually an insightful description of why some -- not all -- people become leftists. And this first part of the manifesto itself is actually Exhibit A for why we should judge arguments on their own merits, not on the merits of the arguer.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

"The 16 Smartest People on Earth"

Yahoo posted an article this morning about the 16 people with the highest officially tested IQs.

These are obviously not the 16 smartest people on the planet, but merely people who have devoted a fair amount of time to taking IQ tests. Most are at least somewhat accomplished, but none in ways that would have made them famous. It's their test scores which have led to this publicity.

At the same time, there's no doubt that all 16 are highly intelligent.

The first thing that struck me was that there isn't a single woman on the list. The second thing was, no non-Asian minorities.

A little surprising that Yahoo, which leans liberal, ran this article.

Addendum, 10/27/12: Just did the math. Fifteen IQ points represent one standard deviation on either side of the average score of 100 (that score was normed for whites, but let's ignore that for the moment). This means that roughly 70% of the population falls within one standard deviation on either side of that, 95% within two standard deviations, 99.7% within three, and 99.99% within four, and 99.99994267% within five. (According to Wikipedia.) This would mean that you would find roughly one in a million people outside 4.89 standard deviations. Given that the IQ distribution is a normal distribution, and assuming that only half of that one in a million fraction ranks above (as opposed to that far below) the norm (although I'm not positive it works that way on the underside of the average), that would still mean that roughly one in every two million people are at 172 or above (which is approximately 4.8 standard deviations above the norm) in IQ. Given that we live in a world of seven billion, the 1/2,000,000 fraction should mean that there are approximately 3500 people in the world at 172 or above. (I guess the other 3484 had better -- or worse -- things to do than take IQ tests.)

I point this out just so that none of these 16 think they're quite that special. (And actually, those last five guys on the Yahoo list who checked in at 169 to 171 wouldn't even make the top 3500.) 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Parents' Weekend

My daughter's college is holding its annual Parents' Weekend for the parents of new freshmen from November 2nd through the 4th.

It's not too hard to predict how the weekend will go.

First we'll be greeted by an administrator who'll look absolutely delighted to see us, as if she's just absolutely certain, before she even gets to know us, that we're the most wonderful group of parents to ever grace her campus.

Then, basically, we get to spend the weekend being told what wonderful care they're taking of our little dears.

We'll be told how special our daughters must be to have gotten into such a selective college.

Then we'll be told that the college is a wonderfully nurturing environment where our daughters will be encouraged to explore their different intellectual interests, and where they will master skills essential to meaningful scholarship. They will learn to reason critically, and to argue clearly.

They will inform us that the young ladies will absorb "an interdisciplinary approach to learning," and a lot of other meaningless platitudes.

We'll be told of the world class faculty who will instill a great love of education into our daughters.

We'll be informed that our daughters will be molded into "independent thinkers."

We'll be told about the wonderful diversity on campus, how the college attracts students of every race, creed, and color from all around the world, and that this will confer "educational benefits" to our daughters.

We'll undoubtedly be told of the college's "wonderful community spirit" as well.

At some point we'll be given a speech by the college's distinguished president, who will tell us with great earnestness that the education the college offers extends beyond the classroom, and that their experience here will help students to go on to "make a meaningful contribution to the world." She will inform us that being a member of this college community is a lifetime affiliation, that the alumnae take "great pride" in having gone here, and that "lifelong friendships will be forged here."

Blah blah blah.

The worst part would be looking around at the faces of the other parents and seeing their expressions of sublime appreciation as they nod approvingly at all these cliches.

Seriously: what kind of person would want to spend their weekend listening to this kind of fulsome treacle?

Not me.

Monday, October 22, 2012

George McGovern, RIP


George McGovern, the three term Senator from South Dakota and unsuccessful Presidential candidate in 1972, died early Sunday.

He had been a hero in WWII, flying 35 combat missions over Europe, and won a Distinguished Flying Cross for landing a crippled airplane and saving his crew.

As a Senator and Democratic nominee for President, he was known for his strong anti-Viet Nam War stance. He turned out to be right about that, even if he was wrong about communism in general.

A war hero who advocates for peace is far more credible -- and admirable -- than a chicken hawk who never served himself but is eager to send young men to their deaths.

McGovern had also seen hunger firsthand in Italy during WWII, and worked both during and after his political career for famine relief.

An old-fashioned liberal who supported causes like that is far more credible -- and admirable -- than the modern kind, who enforces political correctness.

The American people said a resounding no to McGovern in 1972, giving him only 38% of the popular vote.

But if you view his life as a whole, he was an admirable man, far more so than most politicians.

Rest in peace.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Nice little old ladies

Stumbled across a fascinating website, Eviliz's Manson Family Blog. The most interesting thing about it is the pictures on the right hand side, which are of former Manson family members as they look today. Bear in mind, only a few of the family members were actually convicted of those murders back in 1969. Those are the names we are most familiar with: Charles "Tex" Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel, Susan Atkins, and Leslie Van Houten.

There were other family members who were not present at the Tate-LaBianca murders, and thus were not prosecuted. Remember those girls who sat on the courthouse steps during Manson's trial and carved X's into their foreheads?

Among their number was Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, who would later gain fame for trying to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975 (she was released on parole in 2009, and now lives in Marcy, New York). Other members of that group included Sandra Good, Mary Brunner, Kitty Lutesinger, Nancy Pitman, and Ella Jo Bailey.

Their updated pictures are all on the right hand side of the website. (Click on them to see larger versions.) The most interesting thing about the pictures is how normal most of them now look. Some still have a vaguely hippie-ish look to them, some don't. But for the most part they're not people you'd give a second look to if you saw them on the street.

One wonders, have they had a hard time living down their pasts? Do they try to hide them, or do they dine out on them? Has their notoriety, at a certain level, made them more attractive as sexual partners to a certain kind of person? Do they try to justify their association with the family, or rather hold themselves up as examples of misspent youths? Are they nostalgic, or regretful?

These other family members certainly aren't all sociopaths: most were probably just very mixed up -- and drugged up -- kids at the time they were under Manson's influence. (Sociopaths generally don't get along well with other sociopaths, and Charlie definitely preferred passive types who would just bend to his will.) But even if they weren't sociopaths, they were part of that cult, and were quite willing at the time to do Charlie's bidding.

The pictures do make you question your automatic assumption about older women: that they are just nice little old ladies. We generally don't wonder about what old peoples' youths were like, and about how wild they might once have been. When we see wrinkles, we tend to assume, "old and harmless," end of story.

I live in Fairfield County, CT. I see a lot of staid, well dressed, well coiffed ladies in my hometown. For the most part they act the part of concerned mothers, involved PTA parents, vivacious hostesses, fundraisers, or whatever role they're supposed to be playing.

But I occasionally wonder which of them were really wild in their youths. I've never suspected any of being former Manson family members. But I'm willing to bet that more than a few have been crazy in ways they wouldn't want their fellow Garden Club members to know about.

A genteel present does not necessarily imply a genteel past.

Or, as Will himself said (in reference to the roles we play at different points in our life), "All the world's a stage."

Friday, October 19, 2012

"How Much of a Set Up Was Crowley's Libya Question?"


An amusing and incisive article from American Thinker about Candy Crowley and the second debate.

(Thanks to Mike Kajouras for sending it along.)

"The 100 Fittest Men of All Time"


The good folks at Men's Health, who brought us that list of the 25 best beach bodies, are at it again. This time they've decided to compile a list of the 100 fittest men of all time.

My attention was drawn to this when Swimming World ran an article about how Michael Phelps had been named number one on the list. Comparing athletes and fitness levels across sports is, of course, a useless exercise, as this blog has pointed out before. Many of the highly specialized physiques which are perfect for one sport would be near useless in others.

But even within a sport, some of the Men's Health rankings are baffling. Why is the old time distance runner Paavo Nurmi listed at #36 but Haile Gebrselassie not included at all? Why is Carl Lewis at #31 ranked 28 spots ahead of Usain Bolt, who is clearly the better runner?

The whole thing is a weird mishmosh of fitness promoters (like Jack Lalanne, #4, shown below), show business types, and even a few body body builders, like Steve Reeves at #27 and Arnold Schwarzenegger at #3, along with the athletes. (Are body builders really fit? Are actors?)


There were actually a few unexpected and thoughtful choices, old time strongmen like Eugene Sandow (#19) and Alexander Zass (#42), turn of the century wrestler and strongman George Hackenschmidt at #39 (shown below), and also Harry Houdini, the old time escape artist, at #69.


The editors tried hard -- perhaps too hard -- to be inclusive. There are football, basketball, hockey, soccer, rugby, volleyball, and baseball players, as well as swimmers, divers, runners, triathletes, decathletes, cyclists, boxers, wrestlers, mixed martial artists, lifters, surfers, a mountain climber, a rock climber, a Paralympian, a gymnast, and even a rapper. (Why no rowers?)

The inclusion of actors makes one wonder exactly what the standards were. Exactly what have Hugh Jackman (#53) and Daniel Craig (#50) ever done athletically other than take steroids and doff their shirts for the camera? Should Jackie Chan at #62 really rank ahead of Mark Spitz at #88? Should Brad Pitt at #57 really have been ranked ahead of three-time world Ironman Triathlon champion Craig Alexander at #58? Should Gerard Butler (#22) rank ahead of Jesse Owens (#29)? Should Mark Wahlberg (#17) rank ahead of Michael Jordan (#21)? And how about Sylvester Stallone, at #12, ahead of all of the above? Here's Sly in his pre-steroid phase:


The number of athletes who have been obvious dopers is a little dismaying: Ken Shamrock at #93, Tiger Woods at #86, Wanderlei Silva at #66, Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) at #46, Marius Pudzianowski at #26, and Arnold at #3. They even included Lance Armstrong at #8. (Why not Ben Johnson?)

The article also included a number of exercise popularizers, like Billy Blanks (inventor of TaeBo) at #92, Tony Horton (inventor of P90X) at #80, and Charles Atlas (remember him?) at #43. They even included B.J. Gaddour (ever heard of him?), who created an exercise video for Men's Health, at #76. B.J. ranks ahead of Michael Johnson, the world record holder in the 400 meter run. My personal favorite was #20, Richard Simmons:


Did they rank Richard at #20 as an affront to Michael Jordan (#21)? Or did they include Richard to make the rest of us feel good about ourselves by comparison?

Hard to figure how those discerning minds at Men's Health work.

A far more accurate title for the article would have been, "The 100 most famous people associated with physical fitness."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Our changing vocabulary

The term "open-minded" formerly described a person who kept his mind open to all the possibilities, until evidence led him to a certain conclusion. For instance, on the pivotal question of race and intelligence, a truly open-minded person should be willing to consider the possibility that blacks are on average smarter than whites, that the races are exactly equal in that regard, and that whites are on average smarter than blacks. He would then examine the evidence and decide for himself.

Today, of course, the definition of "open-minded" is exactly the opposite: an "open-minded" person keeps his mind closed to all possibilities except the politically correct one, i.e., that the races are exactly even on that score.

The term is used to describe the leftist view on other issues as well. If you are truly open-minded on the subject of gay marriage, you would think about it, consider whether it's good for society and also whether it's fair, then make a decision. (I have, and support it.) But if you're "open-minded," then you're reflexively for it, period, no thinking allowed.

The definition of "racism" has changed as well. I remember looking the term up around twenty years ago and finding that it meant someone who discriminated against individuals on the basis of their race.

But if you look it up online, you'll see that it now has a different definition.

At Dictionary.reference.com:

"A belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others"

Hmm. Where does that leave me? I do think that genetic differences between the various races have a lot to do with their varying levels of intellectual achievement. (Oh no -- I might be a racist!) But I've never felt that any race has the right to rule others. (Phew!)

At Merriam-Webster.com:

"A belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race"

I wish they'd been more specific: superior at what? If you're aware that certain races have more Nobel Prizes in the hard sciences, does that make you a racist? How about if you're aware of average IQ scores? Or if you think that one race is superior at, say, sprinting? 

The only conclusion I can come to is that anybody who has ever examined any measure of achievement empirically and noticed any racial correlations is a racist.

Therefore, if you ever read about or notice any such correlations, you must forget about them immediately. You must wipe your mind clean. Otherwise, you are a racist.

You could try to be like the average liberal and just pretend you haven't noticed anything. ("I don't know nuthin'!") But even if you did that, wouldn't you still be tortured by the realization that deep down inside, you truly are a racist?

We have met the enemy; he is us.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Taking over the world

Overheard recently from a college student:

"Let's face it, the Chinese are going to take over the world. No Chinese parents ever send their child to college in this country so he can major in English, or art history. They're all studying economics, or engineering, or computer science, or something like that."

[Have you ever even known a Chinese-American who majored in English or art history?]

"I'd call them by their names but I'm so afraid of getting them mixed up."

[Why don't more Asians get involved in street crime? Their victims would have a hard time picking them out of lineups.]

"The Chinese from China only hang out with other Chinese from China. But the Asians have sub-groups. There are the cool Asians....."

[At this point, I had to ask, "What's your definition of a cool Asian, one who spends only 98% of his free time studying?"]

Most whites think of Asians as nerdy and boring; I'm not disagreeing with that assessment. But most Asians must think of whites, especially American whites, as being awfully soft and self-indulgent.

Friday, October 12, 2012

No Runner Left Behind

The Supreme Court deliberations on the Texas affirmative action case bring to mind a terrible injustice which passed with little notice this past summer: At the London Olympics, 8 out of 8 of the sprinters in the finals of the men's 100 meter dash were black.

And this has in fact been the case dating all the way back to 1984: 64 out of 64 finalists have been black.

In this country, the racism is even more egregious: there hasn't been a single white man representing this country in the 4 x 100 relay since 1964.

This is the type of disparate impact which should not be tolerated in an enlightened society.

We should have a 4 x 100 sprint relay which looks like America -- with at least two white members. This is not a quota, of course, merely a guideline.

Ameliorating institutional racism must start at the grass roots level. Slow white children from the suburbs should be put on remedial Head Start exercise programs starting at age four. And white children should be encouraged to attend federally funded summer running camps.

After an initial grace period of five years, any public school at which whites don't hold a proportional share of the school sprinting records will have its federal funding cut off. We will call this program No Runner Left Behind.

Much of the difference in performance stems from coach expectation. Coaches rarely encourage whites to go into the sprints on the mistaken assumption that they are less talented than blacks. This sort of subtle discouragement can have drastic effects on the psyche of a young athlete. Every coach must attend an indoctrination session to rid them of these erroneous racist beliefs.

We must also explore the role of other factors in the racial divide, such as prenatal nutrition, the home environment, self esteem issues, and intimidation at meets. All of these have subtly corrosive effects which must be counteracted.

And we must change a culture among young whites where running fast is considered "acting black" and looked down upon.

Perhaps it's time to even reconsider the primacy of the stopwatch when it comes to judging runners. Perhaps we should consider stopping such a discriminatory practice and start looking at the runner holistically, as an entire person.

Just think of how much more competitive we will be internationally once we achieve the benefits of diversity. (Watch out Jamaica!)

Anyone who questions whether all this is a good use of resources, and who doubts that even with more training whites will perform up to the level of the top black sprinters, should be sent to a sensitivity training seminar. Hate speech like that must be eradicated.

After all, Hitler talked like that.

Should anybody point out that blacks have a superior genetic predisposition to sprinting, with their proportionately long legs, their narrower hips, their fast twitch muscle fiber, and their higher testosterone levels, he will be branded a racist. He should be ostracized, driven from public life, held up to ridicule, and if possible, fired from his job.

A tolerant society has no room for racial supremacists.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"Phony-in-Chief"

You can't be a chameleon without also being a complete hypocrite at times, as this article by Thomas Sowell perfectly illustrates.

Here's a video of Obama delivering that speech.

(Thanks to Jon Leaf for sending these along.)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Comments on "Is Obama gay?" post

The post about President Obama being gay was linked to or copied in its entirety by at least seven other websites. One of the sites was FreeRepublic.com.

Click on the second link above if you want to see a lot of amusing comments -- many at my expense -- following the article.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Do colder climates result in greater intelligence?

It seems to be almost an article of faith among those who study and theorize about such things that those peoples who had to adapt to colder climates developed greater intelligence as a result.

If you look at the general distribution among the races, the highest average IQs did develop among races which evolved at a good distance from the equator, i.e., the northern Europeans and the northeast Asians. At a certain level, that makes sense: surviving a long, frigid winter required planning and foresight in a way that living in the tropics did not. People in colder climates had to figure out how to build fires, built shelters, dress themselves in animal skins, and wrest a living out of much harsher, bleaker landscapes.

But the pattern is far from perfect.

The southern Chinese -- the Han -- seem to be just as intelligent as northern Chinese, on average. And the Nepalese and Mongolians, both of whom lived in cold climates, aren't known for their high average IQs. Both are admirable, hardy peoples, but neither group, to my knowledge, ever invented anything which has benefitted mankind overall. The Mongolians, by dint of their ferocity and hardiness, at one point conquered most of the known world. But the Chinese, including those who lived near present day Shanghai, seem to have won out on the IQ sweepstakes.

Why aren't Native Americans -- who, after all, came across the Bering Strait -- known for their high IQs? By the cold climates result in higher IQs line of reasoning, Eskimos ought to be the smartest people of all; but that doesn't seem to be the case.

Nothing of significance was ever invented in Siberia, either, for that matter.

India, despite its reportedly low average IQ (as referenced five posts ago), developed a relatively advanced culture. Angkor Wat was built in the hot, steamy jungles of Cambodia. And the Mayans not only developed the only known written language in the pre-Columbian Americas, but built pyramids to boot -- all in hot, steamy Central America.

Speaking of pyramids, the most sophisticated ones were built in Egypt, as long ago as 2600BC. Egypt is located right below the Tropic of Cancer.

Two thousand years ago the original Greeks and Romans, who lived in a more temperate climate then the northern Europeans, had the most advanced civilizations in the world. They subsequently interbred with their slaves, and their average IQ went down. But before that, they both led -- and conquered -- the world.

It's true, you don't have to plan ahead quite as far where there is no winter. But there's no reason intelligence would help just as much in the tropics as elsewhere. Wouldn't the ability to track animals, to build solid two story houses, to invent the wheel, to make better weaponry (for both hunting and waging war), and to domesticate beasts of burden have all have helped in conquering (and outbreeding) one's neighbors in the tropics?

Hot climates -- both arid and humid -- come with their own set of challenges. Wouldn't inventing irrigation and agriculture have helped people in sub-Saharan Africa or (pre-colonial) Australia? And wouldn't those who knew how to use them gradually displace those who didn't?

The different races did end up with varying levels of intelligence. But it seems to be just genetic chance, the great roulette wheel of mutation, that dictated which peoples developed greater intelligence.

It's easy to see why pale skin and thinner nostrils evolved: they were direct adaptations to less sunlight and the cold.

But intelligence? It helps everywhere. I think it's just chance that some races evolved more than others.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

"To be....or not to be?"

One of my favorite scenes from the highly underrated Last Action Hero from 1993.

Arnold Schwarzenegger made this Shane Black script which was a sendup of all the action movies of the era. The movie within a movie format can work if it's done well, and it's never been done more ingeniously than here. Never understood why it wasn't a bigger hit. It was certainly a far better movie than Schwarzenegger's True Lies, which was a huge success.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

George Will on the debate:

"Romney hits a trifecta in Denver"

Unfiltered by the media

Was there a single Republican who watched the debate last night without chortling with delight?

Was there a single Democrat who didn't wince?

One guy had done his homework and the other hadn't.

It almost seemed afterward that the media has done Barack Obama a disservice by coddling him to the extent that it has. He was like a helpless child who'd never had to take swim lessons being tossed into the deep end of the pool.

Romney, who has been consistently attacked by the media, seems to have emerged and tougher and more resilient for the experience. And when he had the chance to rebut Obama's misrepresentations about his positions, he leapt.

Another disservice done to Obama is that his handlers have allowed him to become overly dependent on his Teleprompter. Last night when it was taken away from him, he was basically an actor without a script. (Ever seen Tom Cruise interviewed?) If someone counted the number of hems and haws from each candidate; it would be a very lopsided score.


One weird and somewhat unexpected impression of the debate was that, as the camera panned back and forth between Romney and Obama, the difference in their skull sizes seemed to become more and more apparent. And the guy with the bigger brain pan won, which is what science would predict. (There is a .3 positive correlation between brain size and intelligence.)

In any case, last night one guy was in command of the facts and came across sharp and prepared, and the other guy came across like an arrogant fool peeved that his lies were finally held up to the light.

I'm not a huge Romney fan, especially when it comes to foreign policy; if it were up to me, I'd appoint Ron Paul President. But I've long believed Obama to be a complete charlatan.

Last night, he was exposed.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"IQ and the wealth of nations"

Back in 2002 Professor Richard Lynn of the University of Ulster (in Northern Ireland) and Professor Tatu Vanhanen of the University of Tampere (in Finland) wrote a book with the above title to show how closely correlated most nations' per capita GDP  correlated with their average national IQ.

The overall correlation is quite strong, with a few notable exceptions. For  example, China had a low average GDP, but that was because they are a communist nation which had only recently loosened restrictions on a market economy. (That number has probably risen significantly since 2003.) Qatar had outperformed its national average IQ simply because of its tremendous oil resources. However, by and large, the correlation held.

Lynn and Vanhanen admitted that their IQ data was not as comprehensive and rigorously derived as they would have liked, and that some of the numbers are partly estimates.

But to me, the most fascinating part of the list below is simply the average IQ's:


Data of Lynn and Vanhanen

CountryAvg
IQ
real GDP
per cap
(1998)
Regression
line
Hong Kong10720,76319,817
South Korea10613,47819,298
Japan10523,25718,779
Taiwan10413,00018,260
Singapore10324,21017,740
Italy10220,58517,221
Austria10223,16617,221
Germany10222,16917,221
Netherlands10222,17617,221
Sweden10120,65916,702
Switzerland10125,51216,702
Belgium10023,22316,183
China1003,10516,183
New Zealand10017,28816,183
U Kingdom10020,33616,183
Hungary9910,23215,664
Poland997,61915,664
France9821,17515,145
Australia9822,45215,145
Denmark9824,21815,145
Norway9826,34215,145
United States9829,60515,145
Canada9723,58214,626
Czech Republic9712,36214,626
Finland9720,84714,626
Spain9716,21214,626
Uruguay968,62314,107
Argentina9612,01314,107
Russia966,46014,107
Slovakia969,69914,107
Portugal9514,70113,589
Slovenia9514,29313,588
Israel9417,30113,069
Romania945,64813,069
Bulgaria934,80912,550
Ireland9321,48212,550
Greece9213,94312,031
Malaysia928,13712,031
Thailand915,45611,512
Peru904,28210,993
Croatia906,74910,993
Turkey906,42210,993
Colombia896,00610,474
Indonesia892,65110,474
Suriname895,16110,474
Brazil876,6259,436
Iraq873,1979,436
Mexico877,7049,436
Western Samoa873,8329,436
Tonga873,0009,436
Lebanon864,3268,917
Philippines863,5558,917
Cuba853,9678,398
Morocco853,3058,398
Iran845,1217,879
Fiji844,2317,879
Marshall Islands843,0007,879
Puerto Rico848,0007,879
Egypt833,0417,360
India812,0776,322
Ecuador803,0035,803
Guatemala793,5055,284
Barbados7812,0014,765
Nepal781,1574,765
Qatar7820,9874,765
Zambia777194,246
Congo739952,170
Uganda731,0742,170
Sudan721,3941,651
Jamaica723,3891,651
Kenya729801,651
South Africa728,4881,651
Tanzania724801,651
Ghana711,7351,132
Nigeria67795-944
Zimbabwe662,669-1,463
Guinea661,782-1,463
Congo65822-1,982
Sierra Leone64458-2,501
Ethiopia63574-3,020
Equatorial Guinea591,817-5,096

It's surprising how low India averages in IQ: 81. They are the country which built the Taj Mahal (from 1632 to 1653, as impressive as anything built in Europe during that era). They come up with great mathematicians from time to time. And students of Indian descent in this country have dominated the Westinghouse Science Fair competition in recent years. Is it that the smart ones come over here? That the testing is somehow skewed in India? Or that the general poverty over there means that the environmental component has a strong effect on their results? In any case, it's surprising.

Nepal is also surprising, checking in at only 78. Kathmandu has fairly sophisticated architecture. And several places in Nepal have claimed to the inspiration for Shangri-la. Perhaps the reason everyone was so happy in Shangri-la was because they were too stupid not to be.

South Koreans actually outscore the Japanese. So why are the Japanese so prejudiced against them? You'd think they'd be happy to intermix, instead of hiring detectives before a marriage to make sure that a prospective spouse has no trace of Korean ancestry. Particularly since, at least from what I've seen firsthand, Koreans are a physically hardier people.

No figures are available for North Korea, but it seems a fairly safe assumption that their average IQ doesn't diverge all that much from their brethren to the south. Given that they're basically starving, that doesn't say a lot for communism.

How can Israel only have an average IQ of 94? Jews in this country are known to have an average IQ significantly higher than other whites (somewhere between 105 and 110). Is there a lower Ashkenazi to Sephardic ratio there? Or is it the resident Palestinians who bring the average down?

The thing that really left me wondering was, how does a country even function with an average IQ of 59 (Equatorial Guinea) or 63 (Ethiopia)? In the US, the number below which you are considered retarded is 70. But to have an entire country with an average well below that line? How do the trains run? How do cars get repaired? How do crops get grown?