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Sunday, February 28, 2016

"The Faces of American Power, Nearly as White as the Oscar Nominees"

On Friday, the New York Times ran an article on who holds the power in this country. In their words:

We reviewed 503 of the most powerful people in American culture, government, education and business, and found that just 44 are minorities. Any list of the powerful is subjective, but the people here have an outsize influence on the nation’s rules and culture.

The Times then ran pictures of the people they deemed most powerful and listed them by category. The list seems a little questionable at times, as many of the people listed don't even have Wikipedia entries. (You'd think that the 503 most influential people in the country would all be in Wiki.) But, if you take the list at face value, it is certainly true that the races are not represented proportionately.

There are only four East Asians among the 503: the Governor of Hawaii, a Senator from Hawaii, the mayor of San Francisco, and the CEO of Warner Brothers. Combined with the nine (subcontinental) Indians listed, that brings the total to 13 Asians, or 2.5%, roughly half their population percentage.

There were a grand total of 15 Hispanics, or 3% of the 503, far less than the roughly 17% of the population they represent. Most interesting, not a single one of the Hispanics, who included Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, had visibly Amerindian features. (The vast majority of Hispanics in this country do.)

The 17 blacks listed -- 3.4% -- are far less than the 14% of the population they comprise. (Although here, too, some of the choices seemed questionable: TV exec Channing Dungey made the list, but Oprah did not.)

So, yes, whites are overrepresented. But scrolling through the list and looking at all of the names, the overwhelming impression I was left with was how many of the powerful were Jewish. Jews comprise roughly 2.5% of the population. And they were vastly overrepresented in virtually every category of powerful people.

There are currently 10 Jewish Senators: Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon; Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York; Brian Schatz, Democrat of Hawaii; Bernie Sanders, Democrat of Vermont; Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota; Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California; Benjamin Cardin, Democrat of Maryland; Michael Bennet, Democrat of Colorado; Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut; and Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California. That's ten percent of the Senate.

The third category of powerful people listed were Presidents of Ivy League universities. Peter Salovey of Yale, Christina Paxson of Brown, Amy Gutmann of the University of Pennsylvania, and Christopher Eisgruber of Princeton are Jewish. (Eisgruber was raised Catholic, but discovered later on that his mother was Jewish, and now identifies as a nontheist Jew.) It's unclear what ethnicity Philip Hanlon of Dartmouth is. Elizabeth Garrett of Cornell, Lee Bollinger of Columbia, and Drew Faust of Harvard are not Jewish, although Faust married Jewish. So at least 50% of the Presidents of Ivy League universities are Jewish. 

In the category "Hollywood  Executives Who Choose Which Movies Get Made," 14 of the 20, or 70%, of the execs are Jewish. 

In the category, "People Who Decide Which Television Shows Americans See," 11 of the 27 whites, or 41%, are Jewish. (There are also two blacks.) 

In "People Who Decide Which News Gets Covered," 5 of the 11 whites listed are Jewish, and there are two people of color listed as well. (Roger Ailes and Jeff Zucker each made both of these last two lists.) 

Three of the eight Supreme Court Justices, or 33%, are Jewish. 

Among the owners of men's professional football, basketball, and baseball teams, Jewish people are also drastically overrepresented. 

I suspect that many readers were struck by the large number of Jewish people. 

As long as the New York Times is bemoaning white domination of positions of power, they ought to spell out which ethnicity is really overrepresented. (Not that it's not already abundantly obvious.)  

Do they really want to go down this road? If you're going to get into the head counting game, and if you want to imply that whites consciously exclude minorities because of their own ethnic cohesion, or clannishness, or dislike of outsiders, might not advocating such a narrative possibly backfire?

Had the Times been completely honest, they would have titled their article, "The Faces of American Power, Even More Jewish than the Oscar nominees."

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Why does the Republican establishment fear Trump?

There's been a fair amount of publicity about how the functionaries in the Republican Party dislike and fear Trump. But why, exactly?

If you ask them, they'll say he's not electable. They've felt this way from the beginning, and backed Jeb Bush instead.

Some Republican stalwarts have also said Trump isn't a "true conservative" because in the past he's supported abortion and a national health care plan. But Trump is in fact more conservative on the issues which have resonated with voters than the Republican establishment has been.

Trump has spoken out against illegal immigration more strongly than any other candidate. This makes the establishment uncomfortable because they are terrified of being accused of racism. But turning a blind eye to illegal immigration helps also big business by driving down their labor costs.

This is the issue on which their -- i.e., their donors' -- interests are most directly aligned against the middle class.

Big business also likes to farm plants out to India, China, the Philippines, and Mexico without penalty. They also like being able to reincorporate in Ireland and other tax havens.

Trump has spoken out against these practices. He has also suggested that hedge fund managers out not to have their management earnings taxed at the long term capital gains rate. (Hint as to where the Republican establishment stands on this issue: hedgies donate big bucks to the GOP.)

There's also the discomfort caused by Trump's criticizing of Republican orthodoxy. But who has more credibility: Trump, for saying that the Iraq War was a mistake, or the Republican Party, for refusing to acknowledge that?

Trump also ignores the rules of political correctness. Before him, no major Republican figure dared suggest that illegal immigrants from south of the border committed crime disproportionately, or even raise the possibility that we might reconsider allowing Muslims in until we can screen the terrorists better.

The Republican establishment, naturally, found this embarrassing. But polls show that a majority of Republicans and plurality of all voters agree with Trump about Muslim immigration.

Trump has also denounced the soft corruption of campaign contributions. This scares not only the big business donors, but also all the Senators and Congressmen hoping to eventually make a handsome living on K Street.

The Republican Party has always paid lip service to the middle class, but has enacted policies which favor their rich donors. And that's where Trump really scares them. If they can't control him, donors would have less reason to give the Party money. Even worse, Trump might try to reform that system.

It is true that Trump has turned every criticism he's received into a personal vendetta, and part of the job description for the Presidency is "thick skin." Calling Carly Fiorina ugly was ugly, saying Megan Kelly was "bleeding from her wherever" was a poor choice of words, and saying John McCain wasn't a war hero was ridiculous. But so far, none of the salvos from this loose cannon have backfired.

Yes, Trump is a bully and an egomaniac. But that's not why the Republican establishment fears him.  The real reason is, they want to keep their donors happy.

Otherwise, their spigot gets turned off, and then who would support them?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Whatever it takes to win

There's been a fair amount of publicity recently about the Cruz campaign's dirty tricks. There was the well-publicized incident where his campaign manager said falsely that Ben Carson had left the race. More recently the Cruz campaign stated falsely that Marco Rubio had mocked the Bible.

The phrase "do whatever it takes to win," evokes a different strategy in sociopaths than it does in nonsociopaths.

When the average athlete is told that he must be willing to do whatever it takes, he thinks, yep, I'm going to train hard every day, eat right, get my sleep, and really push myself past the pain barrier. All of his coach's corny maxims echo in his ears. And when he sees an abnormally muscular champion, he thinks, wow, that guy has really been hitting the weights; that's what I need to do.

When a sociopath hears the phrase, he thinks, okay, that means some Hgh, EPO, and a lot of 'roids; hey, everyone else is doing it, why shouldn't I?

When the average corporate employee hears that he must be willing to do whatever it takes to succeed, he thinks, okay, I'm going to put in extra hours, be a real self-starter, and try to have good relations with everybody. When they see how hard I work, they'll want to promote me.

When a sociopath hears that, he thinks, aha, time to curry favor with the bosses, highlight my coworkers' weaknesses and encourage them to self-destruct. Hey, they'd do the same to me if they were smart enough.

When a nonsociopathic politician is told that he'll have to do whatever it takes to win, he thinks, I'm going to get out there on the hustings, shake as many hands as I can, hone my message, and show the voters why I'm the best candidate. Just like Honest Abe.

When a sociopathic pol hears that, his thoughts run more to Saul Alinsky. He thinks, time to mock the oppo for things they've said and claim they've said things they haven't, use push polls, tell all potential donors whatever they want to hear, lie about my intentions, embroider my record, and have every supporter vote twice, if possible.

I'm not saying Ted Cruz is a sociopath. (I'm not saying he's not, either.) I'm just making the point that when most of you are asked if you're ready to do whatever it takes to win, you'll interpret that question differently than a sociopath would.

And that's why sociopaths often win.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Walking the dog

We got a new Cairn Terrier to replace the old one. (The new one is dark, which makes him the spitting image of Toto.) My wife was away this weekend, so it was my job to exercise the dog. I did so in the dog-walking area of my hometown.

While there, four different women started conversations with me. They had no interest in me, the cute little Cairn was the draw. But I was still surprised they would just start talking with me. When I'm dog-less, most people seem to view me as a potential Ted Bundy. With one, I'm evidently instantly trustworthy.

As I said in the post linked above, I'm not really a dog lover. I appreciate their many remarkable qualities. They are fierce, great runners, have incredible senses of smell, and are loyal and protective. But I'm not so overflowing with maternal instinct that my affections slop over onto anything furry and vaguely cute.

Women are different. Millions of years of evolution have selected them to feel affectionate toward anything small and cute. And they are completely uninhibited about coming up and ooh-ing and aah-ing over a 20 pound Cairn.

Dogs have long had a reputation as a useful prop for men looking to meet women. I now see why; if I were young and on the prowl, I'd consider getting one.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Proving the Nazis wrong

The NY Times ran a review on Friday of the new movie "Race," which tells the story of Jesse Owens, the great runner who won the 100, 200, and long jump at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, along with a relay gold.

One almost never hears about Owens without being told that his victories single-handedly crushed Hitler's myth of Aryan supremacy and that Hitler, upon seeing Owens' triumphs, stormed out of the stadium, refusing to shake his hand.

The story of Hitler storming off after Owen's victories is fiction. According to Wikipedia:

On the first day of competition, Hitler shook hands with only the German victors and then left the stadium. Olympic committee officials insisted Hitler greet every medalist or none at all. Hitler opted for the latter and skipped all further medal presentations. Historians have noted that Hitler may have left the games at this time due to looming rain clouds that might have postponed the games. This happened well before Owens was to compete, but has largely come to be believed to be the "snub." On reports that Hitler had deliberately avoided acknowledging his victories, and had refused to shake his hand, Owens said at the time:

"Hitler had a certain time to come to the stadium and a certain time to leave. It happened he had to leave before the victory ceremony after the 100 meters. But before he left I was on my way to a broadcast and passed near his box. He waved at me and I waved back. I think it was bad taste to criticize the 'man of the hour' in another country."

Contrast Owens' reception in Germany to the one he got in the US. Again, from Wikipedia:

In a 2009 interview, Siegfried Mischner, a German journalist, claimed that Owens carried around a photograph in his wallet of the Fuhrer shaking his hand before the latter left the stadium. Owens, who felt the newspapers of the day reported 'unfairly' on Hitler's attitude towards him, tried to get Mischner and his journalist colleagues to change the accepted version of history in the 1960s. Mischner claimed Owens showed him the photograph and told him: "That was one of my most beautiful moments." Mischner added "(the picture) was taken behind the honour stand and so not captured by the world's press. But I saw it, I saw him shaking Hitler's hand!" According to Mischner, "the predominating opinion in post-war Germany was that Hitler had ignored Owens, so we therefore decided not to report on the photo. The consensus was that Hitler had to continue to be painted in a bad light in relation to Owens." For some time, Mischner's assertion was not confirmed independently of his own account, and Mischner himself admitted in Mail Online that "All my colleagues are dead, Owens is dead. I thought this was the last chance to set the record straight. I have no idea where the photo is or even if it exists still."

However, in 2014, Eric Brown, British fighter pilot and test pilot, the Fleet Air Arm's most decorated living pilot, independently stated in a BBC documentary "I actually witnessed Hitler shaking hands with Jesse Owens and congratulating him on what he had achieved." Additionally, an article in The Baltimore Sun in August 1936 reported that Hitler sent Owens a commemorative inscribed cabinet photograph of himself.

Owens was allowed to travel with and stay in the same hotels in Germany as whites, while at the time African Americans in many parts of the United States had to stay in segregated hotels while traveling…. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) never invited Jesse Owens to the White House following his triumphs at the Olympics Games...

Speaking at a Republican rally held in Baltimore on October 9, 1936, Owens said "Some people say Hitler snubbed me. But I tell you, Hitler did not snub me. I am not knocking the President. Remember, I am not a politician, but remember that the President did not send me a message of congratulations because people said, he was too busy." Later, on October 15, 1936 Owens repeated this allegation when he addressed an audience of African Americans at a Republican rally in Kansas City remarking that "Hitler didn't snub me – it was our president who snubbed me. The president didn't even send me a telegram."

Hitler hasn't exactly gone down as the most sporting guy in history. And he may have been annoyed by Owens' triumphs. But, he at least gave Jesse Owens a friendlier reception than FDR did. 

The other implication of the way the Owens story is always told is that he somehow single-handedly disproved all theories about racial differences. And….how exactly did Owens do that? By running fast?

There is no race realist in existence who feels that blacks can't run as fast as whites. In fact, a race realist, by definition, is someone who looks at results -- which represent reality -- and draws conclusions from them, rather than from pre-approved propaganda. Anybody with an open mind would come to the conclusion that blacks are far more talented at sprinting. It's hard to argue with the fact that 8 out of 8 finalists in the 100 meter dash at the past 8 Olympiads have been of West African descent.

I've always had the vague sense that there was some physical culture and pride of health involved in Hitler's views on Aryan supremacy. But I also suspect he didn't base his theories primarily on Germans being the fastest sprinters. From Wiki:

Albert Speer wrote that Hitler "was highly annoyed by the series of triumphs by the marvelous colored American runner, Jesse Owens. People whose antecedents came from the jungle were primitive, Hitler said with a shrug; their physiques were stronger than those of civilized whites and hence should be excluded from future games."

Advocating sports segregation certainly doesn't sound fair; but acknowledging that blacks are physically stronger hardly makes it sound as if Hitler's theories on race were based on the ability of white sprinters to outrace blacks.

To imply that Owens dispelled any and all theories about racial differences by outrunning and out jumping whites is as silly as saying that Carl Lewis dispelled the myth of whites being responsible for most of the seminal scientific inventions by winning four golds in 1984.

Or that Usain Bolt destroyed the pernicious stereotype that blacks don't do as well on the SAT's by winning three golds in both 2008 and 2012.

Jesse Owens was an incredible athlete. And his most incredible feat came not in 1936, but in 1935, when, competing for Ohio State, he set four world records in the space of 45 minutes. (He set records in the 100 and 220 yard dashes, the 220 yard hurdles, and the long jump.) No one else has done anything like that since.

But the only conclusion about race that leads to is that blacks are better at running and jumping.

(By the way, the more you look into this, the more apparent it is that Owens is blameless in all of this. He had absolutely nothing to do with the mythologizing and propagandizing that sprung up around his athletic accomplishments.) 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

"Ferguson's Gentle Giant Exposed" -- exposed

Just stumbled across this interesting video of BLM martyr Michael Brown doing his thing.

Update, next day: Rifleman just pointed out that this is not the same Michael Brown of Ferguson fame. The real Brown was taller. I should have looked at this video with a more critical eye, and should have realized that it would have gotten more publicity if it had actually been Michael Brown. Thanks to Rifleman for being smarter than me. I'll take this post down shortly. 

Second update, a couple weeks later: I'm not going to take this post down. I ought not to cover up my errors, and it serves as a reminder that some on the Right lie as well. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

"Friends" who see you as a customer

I got the following email from a friend yesterday (I've changed the name):  

Do you know Kathy Smith? We are friends of Jim (her husband) and her. Kathy recently got trained (in TX) to be a sales person for some diet powder. You drink two shakes a day (morning and lunch), and eat dinner. The powder is $20 per day. I listened to Kathy’s sales pitch (involuntarily) after she got back from TX. “It’s a great product. I’ve researched it. It’s a great product. I am a biologist and I’ve researched it and it’s a great product. I studied the ingredients…. (on and on) … did I mention that it’s a great product? “ (And she announced that teaching, that piece of cake government job with a fat pension, was difficult and tedious, and she’s going to make so much money off this product that she won’t have to work anymore.)

Now she is trying to jam this powder down all her friend’s throats – so they can help her reach her goal of not having to teach anymore.

[My girlfriend] had a coworker who very aggressively sold a legal package to all her coworkers. It was some kind of legal insurance – which offered common services people might want (wills, defense against dui, I don’t remember exactly). This woman stated she was going to be able to quit her job due to all the money she was making.

But after they burn through all their co-workers and friends (many of whom are too polite to refuse the aggressive pitch; with the added threat of loss of friendship if you decline), these people are all done.

My point: Kathy is a hard leftist. The friend who got her into selling the powder is a whacko leftist. I would love to know what percentage of people who go into these sales programs are Left vs. Right. My guess is that they are mostly left. Most conservatives, being much more polite, would not feel comfortable jamming some stupid product down their friend’s throats, to make money and dream of being rich.

I responded:

I couldn't agree with you more about Kathy. I've always found it incredibly obnoxious whenever someone who's theoretically a friend tries to make money off you like that. 

I've never made the correlation with these types of shameless pitches and leftists, but I suppose it could exist. Certainly the lack of realism in thinking that one could retire on the money one makes from this indicates the lack of numeracy that I do associate with leftists. 

And now that I think about it, there's another correlation: the Kathy's of the world, become indoctrinated by these sales organizations, which requires a certain gullibility, and an inclination to believe whatever they want to believe. They hear the spiel they hear about how much money they can make, and believe it. So they pay whatever upfront fee is required to the organization (how the organization makes a significant percentage of its money), and figure they're going to get rich. That susceptibility to indoctrination is reflective of the way they listen to, say, a Barack Obama, and believe everything he says. So, I'd guess you're probably right about it being more of a leftist thing. 

Most of us have been subjected to burdensome sales pitches like his from friends or acquaintances. In my experience, it's more common to be hit up for someone else's favorite charity. But I've had the unpleasant experience of having people be friendly to me, only to have it turn out that they were just looking for a new customer. It's inevitably disappointing and a little maddening to discover the ulterior motive. If, as with my friend who sent the email, the person simply saw an opportunity to milk a pre-existing friendship, it's almost as bad. 

I have to admit, though, I've never noticed a correlation between this sort of shamelessness and political viewpoint. But, speaking of shameless, that in itself hints at another correlation. Think of the liberals you know, and think of the conservatives. Which group is more likely to broadcast their beliefs to all their friends, wear clothing proclaiming their beliefs, plaster their car with political bumper stickers, loudly declare that they could never be friends with someone who didn't share their political beliefs, and in general hit you over the head with their politics?

Does not such behavior itself indicate a lack of shame? 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Robert Heinlein quotes

My son just sent me this list of quotes from Time Enough For Love, my favorite Heinlein book, which was first published in 1973. What's striking about them, looking at them now, is how timeless many of his observations about human nature are.

The title of the book refers to the lifespan of Lazarus Long, who was born in early twentieth century America -- like Heinlein -- but who lives for two thousand years, after which he no longer has any desire to live. The book is always listed under the category of sci-fi. But it has all the ingredients of any great book: it's romantic, adventurous, sentimental, and practical, all at the same time.

It certainly moved me when I read it in 1974.

(In fact, I may have just talked myself into re-reading it.)

Effective or rude?

My son and I were in the left lane of the Cross Bronx Expressway the other day when a police car came up behind us, lights flashing. I moved over to the middle lane, then saw what the fuss was about. A black guy was walking on the very narrow shoulder to the left of the fast lane, right next to the divider.

One of the cops said over his loudspeaker, "Get the fuck off my highway or I'll run you over myself."

The pedestrian kept walking. I didn't see any way he could have weaved his way through the traffic to get to the side of the road anyway. The police then drove over to another car which was stopped in the right hand lane, which was probably the reason they had been called to that area in the first place.

I wasn't sure what to make of the incident. Was cop being unnecessarily rude? And why didn't he arrest the guy? The pedestrian was a hazard not just to himself but to any car which might have swerved to avoid him. Did the officer need to swear and claim ownership of the highway? His tone of voice was definitely not the one they use on those police reality shows, where the cops always seem to call everybody sir.

Was there a racial component to this? (You could tell from his voice it was a white cop.) Was the cop just showing off to his partner?

My son said it sounded like something a drill sergeant would say.

I thought about it, and came to the conclusion that sometimes you just have to come across like a hard ass. A polite request would have seemed completely inappropriate here: "Excuse me sir, would you mind not walking in the middle of the highway?"

Sometimes, to be effective, you have to be rude.

Was there a racial angle to all of this? Nah. I have to think the cop would have taken the same tone with anyone doing something that stupid. (Anyway, who would you expect to be doing that kind of thing, an Asian girl?)

There may have been an element of the cop showing off to his partner, but it was probably more just a matter of not wanting to appear soft.

And the cop probably didn't have time to arrest him, since the patrol car had been summoned to deal with the car stalled on the right hand side of the road.

My guess is, even when he's off duty, that cop is a pretty obnoxious guy. And yes, he could have been a tad more polite to the pedestrian. But, as my son once pointed out, who would you want to have doing that job, your average high school teacher?

No thanks.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

"The Unequal Opportunity Race"

An AP article yesterday contains a video cartoon created for the African American Policy Forum about white privilege and the need for affirmative action. It was shown at Glen Allen High School  in Virginia, but the Henrico County School District decided to stop showing it after too many parents objected.

I'm not sure why they objected; I found the cartoon to be wonderfully educational.

The video is titled, "Structural discrimination: the unequal opportunity race." As the title fades, we see two whites and two people of color in the starting blocks at the beginning of a track race. The starter's pistol goes off, but then a stop signal appears in front of the two darker-skinned runners. The two whites start racing, while the darker runners are not allowed to start. The words "slavery," "broken treaties," "genocide," "manifest destiny,"  "trail of tears," "Dred Scott," "segregation," "Chinese exclusion act," and "Japanese internment," appear on the screen, accompanied by some snappy music.

(I hadn't realized that people of Chinese and Japanese descent are now eligible for affirmative action.)

Meanwhile, the white runners continue around the track, and somehow the race turns into a relay. An older white man tosses a large baton with a dollar sign on it to a younger white runner. The baton grows increasingly large and the words "wealth disparities" appear onscreen.

(Now I know that whites don't have to work for their money, but merely inherit it.)

Finally, after the whites have lapped them twice, the runners of color are allowed to start. But a rain cloud suddenly appears over their lanes, drenching them, and the word "discrimination" appears.

(I now know that people of color have to get better grades than whites in order to get into the same colleges.)

Then a bunch of rocks are placed in the path of the runners of color, they stumble, and the words, "Poor schooling" appear.

(I had naively thought that the poor state of the schools in certain areas had mostly to do with the nature of the unruly, undisciplined, uneducable people who live there.)

Then one of the runners of color fall into a pit, and the word "underemployment" appears.

(I hadn't known that this problem never afflicts white people.)

Then a moat with sharks swimming in it appears and the words "standardized tests" appear.

(I hadn't realized that the Chinese exclusion act and the Japanese internment had so completely shut down Asian-American's ability to do well on the SAT's generations later; I had foolishly thought that the ability to do well on these tests correlated with IQ.)

Next, a cage falls down near the dark-skinned female runner, and one actually falls down around the dark male runner. The cage containing the young man then floats into the air, and words "school to prison pipeline" appear.

(I had been completely blind to this method of incarceration; I had mistakenly thought you had to commit a crime first.)

The young woman, continuing on her own, sees a sign saying, "rest area." She goes in that direction, and sees some nice-looking houses, but then the gates swing shut in front of her and the phrase "housing discrimination" appears.

(I had mistakenly thought that buying a nice house was a question of having enough money to afford one, and that it was illegal to not sell a house to someone because of his race. No wonder Kobe Bryant and Oprah Winfrey still have to live in the ghetto.)

The young woman continues to run on, but then we hear sirens and a nerdy-looking white holding a clipboard saying "drug testing" on it stops the woman runner, and the words "racial profiling" appear.

(At this point all I could think of was Marion Jones.)

Then the black girl runs into a brick wall with the words "dead end" on it. She collapses against it in despair and the words "shortened lifespan" appear.

(The statistics showing that people of Asian descent have an average lifespan of 85, Hispanics of 82, whites of 78, and blacks of 74 must be wrong.)

By this point the music has turned more dirge-like.

Some workmen appear and build a moving walkway, of the type you see in airports, and the white runner appears again, moving fast without having to even walk. He is holding a drinking cup inscribed "Yale," with a scarf blowing in the breeze behind him. He looks proud, and the word "privilege" appears.

He is whisked past the young man of color, who is still in his cage, and the word "wealth" appears. He then passes the white girl, and the words "old boy network" appear onscreen.

(Whites achieve success without even having to work for it.)

Then, the white boy breaks the finish tape in a triumphant pose.

A construction crew then appears, as if to knock over the brick wall behind which the black girl sits.

The sentence "Affirmative action helps level the playing field" then appears.

I'm sure you'll find the video as educational as I did.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Cam Newton vs. Peyton Manning

I'm not a football fan, but I watched a little bit of the Super Bowl two nights ago just because I'd read a little bit about Cam Newton, and found his personality to be ineffably, unmistakably black, the same way Deontay Wilder's is.

He expresses his joyous egotism so utterly without inhibition and artifice it's almost endearing. He's the kind of athlete the press used to describe as a "man-child," though you don't hear that phrase much anymore because of its racial implications.

Pretty much everything the press has been saying about him is true. Yes, it's inappropriate for him to celebrate his touchdowns so gleefully when his team is losing. Yes, a little more self-awareness would be nice. And yes, he should have made more of an effort in the post-game press conference on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Peyton Manning is generally regarded as the epitome of good sportsmanship.

I don't see things as being quite that simple.

Yes, Manning carried himself graciously in victory, shaking hands and exchanging hugs with all sorts of people, saying all the things he was supposed to, and sharing credit whenever possible.

But it's pretty obviously all an act. Manning does what he thinks he's supposed to do, and says what he's supposed to say, rather than just be honest.

As far as the honesty goes….Manning may or may not have taken the human growth hormone which was mailed to his house; I'm having a hard time buying the claim that it was just for his wife. That comment about how he was going to drink a lot of Budweisers that night also raised suspicion. If he didn't have a sponsorship deal lined up with them, why would he not have just said "beers" instead of naming a brand? And mentioning that he was going to take some time to thank "the man upstairs" sounds good. But if you're truly religious, why not just thank Him quietly without broadcasting that fact?

Manning does deserve credit for being one of the all time great quarterbacks, if not the greatest. Even more than that, he deserves kudos for being incredibly tough, surviving as an NFL quarterback until age 39.

And there's certainly something to be said for having the discipline to always behave graciously. Societies can't function if people don't act as they're supposed to, rather than reverting to a childish petulance.

But at the same time, if everyone put on act the way Manning does all the time, the world would be a pretty boring place.

Newton, by contrast, didn't try to fake anything. He was disappointed after the game, and didn't try to hide it. He didn't bother to recite any of the usual cliches about how his team would get 'em next time, and didn't bother to praise the Broncos or Manning, other than to sullenly say they executed better.

Good sportsmanship is always nice. But c'mon, does anyone really believe the gracious loser ever means what he says?

Yes, Newton is all the things people have said: an immature braggart, a sore loser, and an out of control egomaniac. I'm not arguing with any of that.

I'm just pointing out that at least he's not a phony. And there's something to be said for that as well.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Response to "Motown Voice"

A week ago I got the following from a commenter identifying himself as "MotownVoice:"

What moron wrote this crap? If you could fit one more racial generalization or paranoid stereotype in this wad of tripe I suspect you would have.

He was responding to the post about how surprising it was that a cross country runner would turn out to be a murderer, since most distance runners tend to be studious, introverted types.

I didn't have the time to get into it when he wrote, so merely replied, "Motown -- As we all know, stereotypes have absolutely no basis in fact."

What I should have said was:

Ain't No Mountain High Enough, ain't no valley low enough, ain't no river wide enough, to keep me from telling the truth! 

I Heard it Through the Grapevine that football and basketball players run afoul of the law more often than cross country runners. Or is that Just My Imagination?

Mercy Mercy Me, I'm afraid it's the Same Old Song you're singing: willfully ignoring every fact that doesn't fit your narrative.

(But, as usual, I thought of the correct response too late.)

The thing is, Motown music -- including the songs I reference above -- was great. And back in the 60's, the civil rights cause was a just one: an end to segregation, an end to voting disenfranchisement, etc.

Today, the "civil rights" cause is all about the opposite: affirmative action, racial set-asides, and an end to any realistic talk about racial differences. Fittingly, the music that now comes out of the black community is rap.

What emanated from "MotownVoice" sounded more like rap.

Rubio channeling "Total Recall"

It was painful to watch Marco Rubio come unglued during the Republican debate last night. The first time he said, "Let's dispel once and for all with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing. Barack Obama is undertaking a systematic effort to change this country…." it sounded pretty good.

Then, when he said the exact same words a minute later, it felt a little like a horror movie, as if Rubio were controlled by a force outside himself and was not just speaking of his own volition. Then, to make matters worse, he said them a third time later on in the debate.

It reminded me of this scene from the 1990 version of Total Recall, when the Arnold Schwarzenegger character, hidden inside a robotic woman's head, finds that the head can only repeat the same two words over and over, attracting unwanted attention.

We haven't seen such self-destructive behavior during a national debate since Admiral James Stockdale, Ross Perot's vice Presidential running mate in 1992, at one point asked, "Who am I? Why am I here?"

Hard not to think this pretty much means the end of Rubio's chances.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Asians and pets

Our dog, a Cairn Terrier, died a little over a month ago. When it happened, I was the only one with dry eyes. I can't help but wonder if this is because I'm half Asian. Asians don't usually have pets, and don't seem to bond with animals.

You just don't see many people of Asian descent out walking their dogs. I'm not sure to what extent it's nature or nurture, but I have to think there's at least a little bit of nature there. People of (especially Northwest) European descent do seem to get attached to their animals, and it seems to be part of their almost pathologically outward-directed altruism.

It's sort of akin to the way they're also willing to take in stray humans these days.

Asians just don't have that soft-hearted (and softheaded) altruistic thing going. To date not a single leader of an Asian country has said to the Europeans, "Hey, you guys are hogging all the Africans. Please, send us some." Or "We'd love to take in some of your excess Syrians. After all, Islam is the religion of peace."

There are exceptions to the animal rule (though none to the refugee rule). I thought hard, and came up with one example, which I pointed out to my son: "My Japanese-American cousins seemed to like their Labs."

He immediately retorted, "Yeah, they like 'em medium rare."

Anyway, I was inclined to feel sad about the dog, but my sadness was somehow overwhelmed in the face of everyone else's greater sadness, so I remained dry-eyed.

We just got a new dog. I don't plan to eat it, nor do I plan to use it in dogfights.

However, I suspect I'll bond with it less than the other members of my family do, and that may have something to do with the fact that I'm half robot.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Setting the bar low

Yesterday's post describing the behavior of various serial killers included a fairly graphic description of Edmund Kemper's crimes.

There are a lot of people who worry that they're not nice people, because they said something rude (which they later regretted). Or, because they feel schadenfreude, and wonder if that means they're evil. But these things simply mean they're human.

And if you actually worry about whether you're a decent human being, you're probably not a sociopath anyway. (Sociopaths don't waste their time fretting over such trivialities as right and wrong.)

To get a sense of the utter inhumanity of a sociopath, imagine yourself with your mother's severed head. (Never mind that you were the one who just killed her and cut it off.) How would you react? Would it make you sexually aroused? And would you then want to stick your erection into her lifeless mouth and pump away until you had an orgasm?

Okay, that may be setting the bar for human decency awfully low, and even most sociopaths wouldn't do that. But to get a sense of how utterly without humanity sociopaths are, you have to imagine what it was like to be Edmund Kemper.

The reason so many sociopaths get away with their perfidies is because non-sociopaths can't even conceive of how utterly without remorse or sympathy sociopaths are. Most people simply assume that everybody else is more or less like them. (Which, by the way, is also why most sociopaths often suspect the worst about others.)

Also, note what Kemper said about why he shot his grandparents. Every now and then you hear of a killer who pulled the trigger "just to see what it was like." No one ever believes them because they can't conceive of themselves ever taking a human life out of a mild sense of curiosity.

Normal people, when they hear that, will always assume there was some burning reason the sociopath had that he wants to keep secret. But a sociopath actually will kill out of mild curiosity, simply because they assign zero value to other's lives. (I wrote about this phenomenon here, in 2009.)

Kemper, by the way, is an anomaly among serial killers. After he killed his mother and her friend, he turned himself in to the police. I can't think of another serial killer who's ever done that.

Also, his mother was a horrific woman. She was an abusive alcoholic who forced Edmund, from a very young age, to sleep in the basement by himself, even though he was terrified by the noises that the boilers made. No one deserves her fate. But if anybody did, it would be a monster who creates another monster by forcing a little boy to sleep alone, locked away in a place that terrifies him.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Serial Killer test

This past Friday's post on fashion identified some of the "models" only by their first names. Read that first, then see how many references did you recognized.

"That Ted must be a real lady-killer." -- Ted Bundy was known to have killed 36 young women, and is suspected of killing many more.

"In the wonderful tradition of Patch Adams, John has made it his life's work to befriend young boys who didn't necessarily have a strong father figure around." -- John Wayne Gacy killed at least 33 teen-age boys and young men between 1972 and 1978, and buried most of them in the crawl space beneath his home in Cook County, Illinois. (That was actually him dressed up as a clown.)

"Don't you just want to eat Jeffrey up?….all the finer things in life a sophisticated man has a taste for." -- Jeffrey Dahmer killed 17 men between 1978 and 1991, and cannibalized many of them.

"This is one competitor with a killer instinct!" -- Andrei Chikatilo murdered (and eviscerated) at least 52 women and children in the Soviet Union between 1978 and 1990. He reportedly wanted to become the most prolific serial killer ever.

"All the more reason to project peace and love in order to gain people's trust -- especially when you offer them a ride. Smart move, Edmund -- your mother and grandparents must be proud!" -- Edmund Kemper killed his grandparents when he was 15 (because he "just wanted to see what it felt like"). After being released from a youth facility, he killed six female hitchhikers, then murdered his mother and one of her friends. He had sex with his mother's severed head, then placed it on a mantle and threw darts at it for a couple days.

"Some people are simply night owls! All we know is, with that sexy look, Mr. Ramirez must have a devil of a time with women stalking him all over Tinseltown!" -- Richard Ramirez terrorized Los Angeles as the Night Stalker, an avowed Satanist who killed 13 people, raped 11 women, and committed numerous burglaries between 1984 and 1985. 

"Son of a gun -- David certainly doesn't dog it when it comes to fashion…Note that David is wearing cotton -- like any true animal-lover….he'll even let the animals have their way! In fact, David has such a highly developed moral sense he even disapproves of public displays of affection!" -- David Berkowitz was the "Son of Sam," who between 1976 and 1977 killed six victims and wounded seven others. He later claimed he had been obeying orders from a neighborhood dog. Most of his victims were couples necking in parked cars.

"Richard is obviously a nice boy, not the type to nurse a grudge." -- Richard Speck killed eight student nurses in the summer of 1966 in Chicago.

"Who says that fashionistas have a stranglehold on style?!….Like any stylish man, Albert wears his tie nice and snug -- but not too snug!" -- Albert DeSalvo was the Boston Strangler, who murdered 13 women in the Boston area between 1962 and 1964. (There's some question as to whether DeSalvo was actually the Strangler, but for purposes of this post, we'll ignore that.)

"But even though he's moved beyond fashion, he still pays attention to his grooming, never letting his hair go helter skelter…..How many guys can claim to be both a family man and a style icon?" -- Charlie Manson thought that the Beatles song "Helter Skelter" was a call for a race war. His group of misfits and murderers was known as "the Manson family."

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Oberlin demands

Anyone curious about the tenor of race relations on campus these days should read the following list of demands presented by the Oberlin Black Student Union back in December:

“We DEMAND a 4% annual increase in Black student enrollment from EACH of the Americas, the Caribbean and continent of Africa starting in 2016 to accumulate to a 40% increase by 2022.”

“We DEMAND a concerted effort to increase the percentage of Black students and specifically Black female identifying instrumentalists in the Jazz department.”

“We DEMAND that Black student leaders be provided a $8.20/hr stipend for their continuous organizing efforts.”

“We DEMAND a structural change in institutional graduation requirements: Intro to the Black Experience or a similar course must be instituted as a mandatory requirement for all students before graduation.”

“Departmental requirements for students to take Western/Classical centered courses must be eliminated. If NOT then we demand all students MUST also take an equivalent course in the African Diaspora . . . For example, in the Dance Department students are required to take Ballet& Contemporary I & II, therefore students should be required to take West African I & II.”

“We DEMAND a 6% annual increase in grant offers versus loan offers for Black students for the next 5 years leading to a 30% increase by 2021.”

“We DEMAND that a mandatory professional development program be developed for faculty . . . that will help facilitate their understanding of the ways in which racial capitalism, settler colonialism, and other forms of violent oppression inform and shape instructional methods for the disciplinary content of their courses.”

“We DEMAND that Jazz Curriculum in the Conservatory be reflective of the students [sic] musical focus. Students SHOULD NOT be forced to take heavily based classical courses . . . and seeing as how most Jazz students are of the Africana community, they should not be forced to take courses rooted in whiteness.”

“We DEMAND that spaces throughout the Oberlin College campus be designated as safe spaces for Africana-identifying students. Afrikan Heritage House should not be the only space allotted for the promotion and acknowledgement of our community specific needs. We DEMAND that no less than one full room or space be given to this need in: Wilder Hall, The Science Center, Mudd Library.”

“We DEMAND a written form that assures us of the institution’s commitment to increase the number of black psychologists within the Counseling Center. Furthermore, we DEMAND that Black students be able to sit in on the interviews of . . . candidates in order to ensure that these professionals cater to the needs of the Black students. We also DEMAND the hiring of Black healers/ non[-]western health practitioners because not everyone finds comfort and healing solely from a psychologist.”

I hope these demands, excuse me, DEMANDS, get more publicity than they have; I only heard of them a week ago.  

It would be interesting to know what percentage of black students at Oberlin view this list of demands as justified. And what do the less militant black students think when they hear this list? Are they embarrassed by it, but afraid to voice that opinion for fear of being labeled Toms?

Will these demands make alumni more inclined to give more money to the college? (Alumni donations are a college's lifeblood.) Will they make the white students more sympathetic to the black students? Will this list encourage more interracial friendships?

To his credit, Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov said last week that he would not respond to this list. At the same time, it seems poetic justice that these demands would be made at Oberlin, which has always been one of the most left wing campuses in the country.