Wednesday, February 28, 2007

IQ and illegitimacy

Estimated average state IQ and illegitimacy correlate inversely at a powerful .82. The relationship is likely even more rigorous than that, but the most recent complete and reliable numbers on out-of-wedlock birth rates I've been able to find come from 1998. This further illustrates how right VCU's Professor McDaniels is in suggesting that states (and by extension, the US) would be well served by focusing on strategies to raise the IQ of their populations.

The animus I have for the position held by many affluent leftists and libertarians that all alternative lifestyles are equally desirable stems from the fact that non-traditional lifestyles tend to disproportionately hurt those at the bottom of society. The hostility cosmopolitans with high IQs have for burgher morality is of little direct consequence to those at the top of society. They have the financial and cognitive wherewithal to live lifestyles that the middle class largerly (or used to) shuns. But as natural endowment declines, the ability to live non-traditional lifestyles without sinking into a morass of poverty and destitution declines as well. And without social stigmitization, the propensity for them to do so increases.

Angelina Jolie and Bridget Moynahan may be able to adequately provide for and raise children out of wedlock, and a didactic judgment on their behavior might seem overbearing. But the divas are exceptional. For the vast majority of children whose parents go separate ways, life is a lot rougher than it would otherwise be, with higher rates of poverty, lower levels of parental involvmenet, less discipline and less protection. Portraying Fantasia Barrino as courageous by way of her single parenthood is emblamatic of a larger societal trend in America to proclaim that things are getting better when they're actually getting worse.

When it comes to upholding omertas on IQ, the same type of argument applies. Scarcely anything would do more to raise the lot of those at the bottom of society than to increase the national IQ. Virtually every social pathology is related to low intelligence. The process of upping the US average IQ--encouraging the wealthy to have more children and discouraging those in poverty from having as many--will alleviate the wealth gap. Decreasing underclass immigration will raise the living standards of natives at the bottom. Through moral posturing and consolidating a stable social position at the top, these same high IQ cosmopolitans hurt those at the bottom the most in vitriolically denouncing any attempt at soberly analyzing the interplay between IQ and other phenomena.

US students becoming more narcissistic

Not only are American students becoming dumber and more shallow, they are complementing this slide into tawdry vacuity with a healthy dose of narcissism:
NEW YORK --Today's college students are more narcissistic and self-centered than their predecessors, according to a comprehensive new study by five psychologists who worry that the trend could be harmful to personal relationships and American society.

"We need to stop endlessly repeating 'You're special' and having children repeat that back," said the study's lead author, Professor Jean Twenge of San Diego State University. "Kids are self-centered enough already."
Twenty-five years ago, conceit took a backseat to modesty. But in pretending to be in the land of Wobegon (a trait that evinces a woebegone society), the two have swapped places. Although it isn't intended to be funny, this curious excerpt sardonically is just that:
The researchers describe their study as the largest ever of its type and say students' NPI [Narcissitic Personality Inventory] scores have risen steadily since the current test was introduced in 1982. By 2006, they said, two-thirds of the students had above-average scores, 30 percent more than in 1982.
Heh, two-thirds of the students are above average! Hurray, most American kids have an above-average level of self-esteem!

An obsession with self is perpetuated everywhere. Reality TV and MySpace epitomize this. The sheer number of students at the university's main library who are staring at Facebook pages never ceases to amaze me.

The future speaks:
"People are worried about themselves -- but in the sense of where are they're [sic] going to find a place in the world," she said. "People want to look their best, have a good time, but it doesn't mean they're not concerned about the rest of the world."
Instead of assidious study and detailed fact-collection, we'll write on one another's online walls and comment on each other's photo albums. But we'll still make plenty of time to go and protest various people and events. We'll vote and we'll voice our opinions, more confident than ever that we are both correct and righteous!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Girls embracing increasing female objectification

Girls are soaking up the objectified portrayal of women in media and entertainment:
Advertising and media images that encourage girls to focus on looks and sexuality are harmful to their emotional and physical health, a new report by the American Psychological Association says.

The report, released Monday, analyzed some 300 studies over the past 18 months. It included a variety of media, from television and movies to song lyrics, and looked at advertising showing body-baring doll clothes for pre-schoolers, tweens posing in suggestive ways in magazines and the sexual antics of young celebrity role models.

The researchers found such images may make girls think of and treat their own bodies as sexual objects.
Competition is inherent in human nature. The competitive drive helps people to secure the best mates and provide enough security and resources for their offspring. Naturally, people measure themselves relative to the performance of others. Excepting physical health, relative wealth is the second strongest indicator of self-described personal happiness.

It's likely that the physical attractiveness girls are going for combines elements of both of these. It's not surprising, then, that desirable attributes that are nearly impossible to attain are bumming girls out. The media explosion that has taken place over the fifteen years or so accentuates this, because the imagery is now ubiquitous--the internet, cable and satellite TV, the proliferation of popular magazines, better target-marketing, even media content from cell phones.

The decline of grunge music in the mid-nineties, with lyrics and videos that had focused on somber topics like fear, addiction, and ennui, meant the decline of a genre that is mostly free of female objectification. The corresponding ascension of hip-hop in popular culture and its misogynistic and objectifying overtones has certainly played a part.

The article excerpted above reports that task forces trying to counter the objectification by putting out images of more dignified women, admired for non-sexual traits. Fine, but that's been the fluffy answer for as long as I can remember.

It seems inevitable to me that a less intelligent society is going to be more focused on instant sexual gratification than a more intelligent one is. Not only are the less endowed more inclined to engage in acts of instant gratification at the expense of longer-term planning, sexual promiscuity is most widespread among members of the underclass. Both men and women embrace it. As we move up the social ladder, that becomes less and less the case, especially among women. Continued underclass immigration from Mexico and the rest of Latin America (characterized by 'machismo' cultures) will help perpetuate the trend toward greater objectification.

I wish the trend would reverse, of course. More empty-headed, slovenly women attempting to show more of what often shouldn't be shown (the obestiy rate isn't headed down anytime soon) isn't appealing. Just as American children are becoming dumber while being told they're becoming smarter, women are becoming less lovely while under the impression that they must dress and act in a certain way to become more lovely.

What a sad decline. A beautiful woman in pajama bottoms and a loose-fitting tee-shirt is infinitely more attractive than a corpulent slop who thinks dressing like Jessica Simpson will make her look like Jessica Simpson [warning: nauseating image]. Unfortunately, we're going to see more of the latter and less of the former.

Monday, February 26, 2007

US children becoming dumber, told they're becoming smarter

Parapundit's Randall Parker has covered the grade inflation and course dilution that has coincided with slumping NAEP test scores. American kids are becoming dumber while being told that they're becoming smarter. The educrats, adhering to the ZGD orthodoxy, are ambivalent about the results. So we've improved here and struggled there. Let's attribute it to a "rigor-gap".

The empirically-minded are more astute: lowering standards a bit faster than they have to be lowered to keep the GPA afloat isn't a mark of success. A dieter who sets a 2000 calorie-per-day goal and has been eating 2200, is not better off if in a month, now taking in 2500 each day, he sets a new goal of 1500 daily calories. His plan isn't reality. And the title of a course does not determine the intelligence of the student enrolled in it, NAEP testing does.

A few excerpts to augment RP:
The NAEP review also found that the class of 2005 received about 360 more hours of instruction in high school than their 1990 counterparts and earned higher grades. On a zero-to-four point scale, the 2005 seniors had a cumulative grade point average of 2.98 points, or about a B, up from 2.68 points in 1990. But the benefits of such changes weren't evident in the results of NAEP reading and math achievement tests for the class of 2005.
So we're paying teachers more, spending more money on and time with students, and decreasing class sizes. All the nostrums are being applied with vigor. Yet we're losing ground. Anyone want to guess why?
Reflecting demographic changes in society, the sorts of students taking the NAEP test have changed significantly in recent years. Hispanics accounted for 14% of all 12th graders in 2005, up from 7% in 1992. The scoring gap between them and white students has changed little since 1992.
Using 2005 math and science NAEP results and data from international scholastic testing and IQ results from Richard Lynn's Race Differences in Intelligence, I came up with an average IQ of 93.3 for Hispanic eighth graders and 100.8 for white eighth graders. If a less intelligent group increases proportionally in size, the effect on the whole is predictable. And so here we are.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

McCennedy bill to be introduced, even Brownback too restrictionist for it

Americans have too much earning power, think too critically, and expect too much rectitude from the leaders they elect. Replacing them with a more malleable, impoverished population that accepts a certain level of corruption as natural is a solution the executive and much of the legislative agree on:

Senators and lobbyists are putting the final touches on a comprehensive immigration-reform bill that includes an easier citizenship path for illegal aliens and weaker enforcement provisions than were in the highly criticized legislation that the Senate approved last year.
As at odds as last year's Hagel-Martinez CIRA bill was with the public, which so consistently and emphatically opposes increased immigration (irrespective of illegality), this furtive bill is blocking out virtually all of the GOP Senate, excepting the 'maverick' McCain. The list of key stakeholders consulted for the construction of this new bill, to be introduced by Ted Kennedy as early as next week, reads like a who's who list of open border extraordinaires:
The invitation listed six such "stakeholders," including the chamber and EWIC. The other groups attending the meeting, according to the e-mail, were the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Immigration Law Center, the National Council of La Raza and the Service Employees International Union.

In its original conception, the CIRA would've possibly allowed more than 200 million legal migrants into the US, most as 'temporary' workers (Orwellian speak for permanent peasants). This one may be even worse. Senator Sam Brownback, an indefatigable paladin battling for the Agro-business cause, was even held out of the discussions. Apparently this favorite of moral conservatives (of whom the Catholic Church is trying to woo by painting the Hispanic tidal wave as in need of magnanimity), with an immigration report card grade of D, doesn't have a sufficient enough hostility for national sovereignty to be made part of the formulations. When even Brownback is skeptical of a proposed amnesty grant, you know it's really disastrous. Oh, Arlen Specter was left out as well.

The Senate majority and the White House are colluding against the American public. But the House may be able to serve as a rendezvous point for the majority opposed to the US becoming conglomerate of feudal manors undergoing perpetual dumbening. Where the politicians are closest to the people, we can still strike back.

The mid-term elections were a sort of referendum against the war in Iraq. Republicans supporting immigration restriction fared relatively well, as members of Tom Tancredo's Immigration Reform Caucus suffered casualties at one-third the rate of non-caucus Congressional representatives. Victorious Democrats overwhelmingly spoke out against illegal immigration, strongly censuring the GOP-controlled Congress and Bush Administration for failing to curtail it. At least in the House, both parties are less receptive to the idea of unfettered Hispanic immigration than they were in October of '06. Now is the time to hold their feet to the fire.

Get out in front of Kennedy's bill. Let your House rep know that increased criminality, pollution, overcrowding, disease, infrastructure strain, wealth transfer, wage suppression, and cultural balkanization are not things you embrace. Rail against the deleterious effects continued underclass immigration are having on the US economic and intellectual competitiveness. You can find and contact your representative here.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Trench warfare continues

For those interested in the online college forum surrounding a recent post that borrows heavily from the great minds I'm able to come into contact with on a regular basis thanks to the internet, I'm keeping a refreshed replication of it in the comments section of the original post and very much welcome thoughts and commentary.

100 million relatively wealthy, educated Muslims believe 9/11 justified

The most comprehensive international survey on the opinion of Muslims worldwide gives pause:

Seven per cent believe that the events of 9/11 were “completely justified”.
The globe has more than 1.3 billion Muslims, so that comes to somewhere in the area of 100 million adherents professing support for the crashing of airplanes into skyscrapers and the massive loss of life that is the consequence. Put in another way, for every three Americans there is one person in the Muslim world who is in solidarity with Atta. That's an enormous number.

The survey also contains the unsurprising revelation that the proclaimed 'War on Terror' has decreased the US' standing in the eyes of the Muslim world. One exception to that predictable trend has been a nine percent reduction in anti-American sentiment in Iran. While only 52% of Iranians hold an unfavorable view of the US, 79% and 65% of the populations in two of our putative allies, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, respectively, have an unfavorable view of the US.

Why do those living in the country that is said to be the epicenter of evil, in which the war drums are being pounded and support for international sanctions is on the rise, like the US more now than they did before 9/11? The overzealous rhetoric of president Ahmadinejad, whose popularity in Persia is heading in the direction of President Bush's in the US, may be channeling some Iranians' frustration with their own government into support for one of their country's political antagonists.

But Iran has other reasons to be appreciative. The US-led coalition in Afghanistan decimated the Taliban. Iran had long opposed the Taliban, supporting Massoud in the country's northeast against, as the Northern Alliance's leader fought tooth-and-nail against the Sunni Taliban's expansion (and by extension, Pakistan's increased influence in Afghanistan). By overthrowing Saddam's Baathist regime in Iraq, the US busted the other side of the pincer.

As a consequence, Iran now enjoys a moderate, relatively 'pluralistic' Sunni government to its east, and a Shia-dominated government to its west. The military actions of the US in the last six years have to this point been auspicious from an Iranian point of view, creating lots of anxiety in the leaders of America's supposed Middle Eastern Sunni allies (whose populations are now less supportive of the US than ever before).

The survey data once again repudiates the flawed conventional wisdom stating that destitution leads to radicalization. The percentage of 'radicals' (supportive of terrorist attacks against the West) and 'moderates' (those who either are ambivalent or opposed to terrorist activity) on several social attributes follows:
Primary school or less:
Radicals - 23%
Moderates - 34%

Secondary education:
Radicals - 44%
Moderates - 38%

Low or very low income:
Radicals - 22%
Moderates - 31%

Above average or very high income:
Radicals - 25%
Moderates - 21%

Expect to be better off in five years:
Radicals - 53%
Moderates - 44%

The Marxist explanations just don't work. We embrace them at our own peril. The civilizational clash runs much deeper than that. Disconnecting from the Islamic world, through prioritization of alternative energy research, a drastic curtailment of Islamic immigration to the West, and a reversal of the long-range plan for a substantial military footprint in the Muslim world, is the best strategy. Neocon nostrums claiming that militarily exporting liberal propositions will solve all our problems, and leftists' belief in essentially the same thing (with more emphasis on voluntary methods of exportation, and with more direct wealth transfer) will continue to accentuate rather than alleviate these problems, as both worldviews are at odds with reality.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Resurgent freedom of expression

In Germany, the apprehension caused by the Danish cartoons is being put to rest:

In light of the Muhammad cartoon scandal in 2006, carnival jokesters in Germany went easy on Islam. This year, Muslim satire will return to at least one parade.

Polemical, provocative and striking -- such is the nature of carnival parades in Germany. Last year, when 43-year-old Jacques Tilly was thinking of how to address the plight of women in Muslim countries, he followed his satirist's instinct. The float he designed? Four Muslim women in a row, each more covered than the last. At the end, a woman tied inside a large trash bag.
Check out a sampling. It's some provocative but entertaining stuff. The pastel colors and cartoonishness make it lighter and less caustic than the mini-movie that got Theo van Gogh butchered in cold blood. That a fuss will be made about the displays, and that it is not at all implausible that they will lead to violence (like poking the beehive you brought into your living room will cause you to be stung), does not suffice as a reason not to go on with them. Even if they're a little puerile, they represent a basic tenet of Western society that extends as far back as Fifth Century Greece--free thought unencumbered by who it might offend or whose power it might compromise. The sooner intellectual liberals in Europe engage in the battle for free expression, which invariably means clashes with the Islamic enclaves, the better. Time isn't on the side of native Europeans.

It will be interesting to see how Islamic groups in Europe react, but of greater importance will be the reaction of white Europeans, who've been pushed to the right mostly as a consequence of the growing Islamic presence on the continent.

US commitments in Europe, the East

Why we have 30,000 troops in South Korea and 47,000 stationed in Japan remains an open question.

South Korea has twice the population, four times the military spending, and an astounding 24 times the economy of North Korea, the country our troops are putatively protecting it from.

Despite the ninth article of its post-war constitution, Japan's military expenditures are the sixth highest in the world, its economy the world's third largest, it is the most affluent country in the East Asia save Hong Kong, and is a technological and cognitive powerhouse. China, given the historically visceral bad blood between itself and Japan, and bordering a nuclearly-armed India to the south, can be checked militarily without costly (both economically and reputationally) military outposts in the region. The Japanese are the third largest users of nuclear energy, behind the US and France. They were close to acquiring nuclear weapons five decades ago. Encouraging Japan and even Taiwan to acquire nuclear weapons will further provide a check against Chinese expansionism.

I also wonder why the US continues in the spirit of the Marshall Plan, providing for the military defense of European nations. In so doing, we're fraying the few remaining seams of a tolerable US-Russian relationship:

In a statement reflecting the growing distrust between Moscow and the West, a top Russian general on Monday warned that Poland and the Czech Republic risk being targeted by Russian missiles if they agree to host U.S. missile defense bases.

The stark threat, by missile forces chief Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov, was one of the most bellicose comments yet by Russian officials on the issue, which 10 days ago led President Vladimir Putin to warn of a "new Cold War" in a speech in Munich that shocked Western governments.
Russia's concerns that the anti-missle defense system the US is planning to set up in Poland threatens it are risible. There will be ten interceptor missiles given to the Polish, and radar detection equipment installed in the Czech Republic. Russia could burn through those in no time and still have hundreds of missles leftover to rain down on these eastern European nations. Putin may be trying to shore up relations with Iran after squabbling over the Russian-built nuclear power plant in Bushehr, in addition to pouting over Russia's troubles in getting surrounding states to submit to Russian influence.

Still, why arm Europe with missle protection for free? Why not at least sell the defense equipment so that the European taxpayer foots the bill instead of the American taxpayer? Let European Union bureacrats pay Lockheed Martin instead. Why sustain the impression that we're militarily lording over Europe? The same regarding NATO, which does little more today than guarantee the various European members of protection provided by the US military panoply.

I don't want to drive a wedge between the US and Europe. We share a great deal ancestrally, culturally, socially, and economically. Instead, providing an unconditional guarantee of external security allows for anti-American rhetoric to flourish on the Old Continent, something the American public resents. This drives the wedge. The French government illustrates:
"Every single attempt to bomb France since 1995 has been stopped before execution," notes a former Interior Ministry senior official. "The French policy has been [to] make sure no terrorist hits at home. We know perfectly well that foreign-policy triangulation is not sufficient for that, [even if] it helps us go down a notch or two in the order of priority [jihadist] targets. So we've complemented our anti-U.S. foreign policy with ruthless domestic measures." [reporter's brackets]
France protects itself from Islamic terrorist activity by pointing at and criticizing US foreign policy (enjoying US military protection via NATO at the same time), while employing domestic tactics that should make the ACLU vomit:
Warrantless wiretaps? Not a problem under French law, as long as the Interior Ministry approves. Court-issued search warrants based on probable cause? Not needed to conduct a search. Hearsay evidence? Admissible in court. Habeas corpus? Suspects can be held and questioned by authorities for up to 96 hours without judicial supervision or the notification of third parties. Profiling? French officials commonly boast of having a "spy in every mosque." A wall of separation between intelligence and law enforcement agencies? France's domestic and foreign intelligence bureaus work hand-in-glove. Bail? Authorities can detain suspects in "investigative" detentions for up to a year. Mr. Bruguiere once held 138 suspects on terrorism-related charges. The courts eventually cleared 51 of the suspects -- some of whom had spent four years in preventive detention -- at their 1998 trial.
Spain and Italy use the same type of strategy. Astute European politicians can divert attention from the question of immigration from North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia that desperately needs answering, directing it instead toward an overbearing US military presence (that, through NATO, provides them with external defense). This allows the Islamic problem in Europe to grow worse, and makes the US look bad in the process.

The French method isn't indefinitely sustainable. Trenchant busters like Jean Louis Bruguiere may disrupt most target plots to be carried out by individual Islamist groups, but he cannot overcome the overwhelming tide of demographic change. Muslims comprise about 10% of the French population, although it is impossible to paint a precise demographic picture of France as the government does not take census on race or ethnicity. If a large chunk of those six million go on a car-torching, police-assaulting rampage, an intelligence agency is powerless to stop it. That requires assembling police forces and the army.

The mammoth European Union is capable of standing on its own two feet. Its collective economy is as large as that of the US and it has nearly half a billion people. The sooner we force it to do so, the better off it will be in the long-term. By lessening our military commitments (and the dictative foreign policy that is necessary to adequately sustain them), we allow Europe to deal with Islam holistically. And we conserve both resources and face in the process.

In the trenches

What follows is excerpted from what I put forward in an online college forum. It is nothing new to readers here or to those who edify themselves with the work of those perspicacious thinkers who've graciously linked to me (links added here):


I do not disagree with this mood of frustration, although I hope we can collectively try to be more tactful. A conspicuous US presence in the Middle East has not been good for the Occident.

Creating refugees that must be absorbed is, in itself, reason enough to clamor for a withdrawal. The Islamic world is characterized by a few incorrigible attributes that, taken together, render it truly noxious:

- Consanguinety. Unfortunately, it is rarely mentioned, but in Iraq, for example, over 50% of males are married to a second cousin or closer. The nepotism this engenders in business, and the tribalism it sustains in social life, makes national unity impossible unless forced under the iron fist of a tyrant. In the West, we tend to perceive the 'clash of civilizations' as one between (post-)Christendom and Islam. It is easier to get our minds around, as we're all familiar with religion. We are not so familiar with how kinship over any concept of ecumenicism makes a non-partisan justice, governmental administration, etc, virtually impossible.

- That segues into a related obstacle, power concentration:

In Syria, the Alawite minority holds power over 90% of the population.

In Lebanon, the Christian 'ruling class' (and that's progressively becoming a thing of the past) continues to fight off a census, as one hasn't been taken in over seven decades. They're no longer a majority. Not even close.

In Saudi Arabia, the corpulent House of Sa'ad engages in a perpetual balancing act, attempting to mollify hardline Salafists and Wahabbists while making ambiguous, often shallow overtures to the West. Al Qaeda despises the Royal Family even more than it does the neocons.

In Egypt, the secular Mubarak outlaws his populist opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood. And Coptic Christians? Better not to even go there. The tragedy that has befallen this ancient people makes any purveyor of lugubrious claims about Palestinian oppression blush.

The ruling Donmeh (a crypto-Jewish group that has worn an Islamic veneer for centuries) in Turkey are fervently secular, and their complete control of the officership in Istanbul's military not only keeps a flailing Islamism under control, it also frustrates Turkey's Kurdish population in the country's southeast, which looks increasingly to an all-but-official country called Kurdistan to its east.

Libya? Qaddafi. UAE? Emirs, and international business interests (and the South Asian slaves they exploit). Kuwait? More of the same.

In Iraq, the iron fist was overthrown. The other side of the Middle Eastern coin is what Iraq has become and what the 'West Bank' has been for some time--infinite layers of tribalistic infighting, the worst sort of internecine bloodshed from the perspective of a Middle Eastern nationalist (of which there are so few today).

- Islam. This militant religion was founded by a militant leader. Muhammad besieged Medina and had most of the men from the ruling Jewish clans their executed. Then he felled Mecca. Eight years after he died, Muslims would march on and take Jerusalem. A religion that was founded over six centuries after the birth of Christianity had pushed the religion of Paul completely out of its place of birth, capturing all of Spain and making it as far as modern-day France, where the hordes' expansion was finally stopped by Charles Martel more than a century after it had begun. It would be four centuries before a reeling Christianity would, under the auspices of Pope Urban II, be united and strong enough to strike back.

Whether it be Van Gogh's body in the Netherlands, thousands of cars on fire in Paris, skyscrapers crumbling in New York, conflagrations in London's subways, trains being blown off their tracks in Madrid, children being massacred in Chechnya, residents being beheaded in Indonesia, or women on buses being blown to bits in Israel, the inherent predilections for dominion, and the intolerance that necessitates, guarantees that unless the tenets of Islam change, its militancy will not.

Paraenthetically, a prerequisite to commentary on this point is a full reading of the Koran (keeping in mind that it is organized by sura length, not chronologically, so that the Medinan writings mostly appear at the front even though they came after the Meccan writings), and a familiarity with 'hadith qudsi' (roughly analagous to the Agragpha in Christianity--words of the prophet that did not make it into the holy book).

- Average IQ. The national estimates gathered by Professors Vanhanen and Lynn in their groundbreaking work, IQ and the Wealth of Nations:

Turkey: 90
Iraq: 87
Syria: 87
Lebanon: 86
Iran: 84
Egypt: 83
Afghanistan: 83
Saudi Arabia: 83
Pakistan: 81
Qatar: 78

There are no liberal, developed nations in this IQ range. We can cling to the idea of unfettered egalitarianism, incapable of separating it from isonomy or spiritual equality, or we can ditch the epicycles and try to make sense of the world as it is. This is a major roadblock.

So what to do? Disconnect. End Islamic immigration to the West. Arab Americans, for example (most of whom are Lebanese Christians), are among their country's most liberal, best and brightest. Draining the region of these people will only make it more backwards. Europe continues its steady move to the nationalistic right as North Africans, Middle Easterners, and Central Asians settle in as members of a seemingly permanent underclass that is threatening the very fabric of the Scandinavian model of the welfare state that makes Finland or Norway such a nice place to live.

Meanwhile, our most promising are dying in the sands of Babylon, for the benefit of a Shia government and its Mahdi Army allies. We've irritated Turkey, destabilized Syria and Jordan, and made Saudi Arabia nervous while alienating much of the developed world with our incursion in Iraq. The greatest beneficiary has been our antagonist in the region, and Israel's putative arch-enemy, Iran. Time to get out, pour what remains of the $2 trillion we'll end up dumping into the Iraq miasma into a Manhattan Project for energy independence, and obselesce oil so that the Middle East can fall back into the seventh century if that's where it thinks it belongs.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Idiocracy and Inflation

In Mike Judge's Idiocracy, the movie's protagonist, an average Joe-turned-relative-genius, is stuck 500 years in the future. Due to dysgenic birthing patterns, humanity has vulgarly regressed to something less than Butt-head's living room. In 2505, Joe's the most intelligent man alive, and his contemporaneous companion, a trollop from the dregs of early 21st Century society, appears to be a relatively close second.

Hoping to get back home, Joe asks his lawyer, Frito, to take him to a time machine so he can be transported back to his own circa. The lawyer initially resists, but reconsiders when Joe offers to open a bank account in Frito's name upon returning to 2005. At first, Joe promises Frito $10 billion (which, in a savings account with a reasonable APR of 1.1%, would require an intital deposit of more than $40 million before even considering taxes--in my opinion, one of too few subtelties in a movie with a fascinating subject that, while entertaining, falls short of expoiting its full potential). Frito rejects the offer, informing Joe that the cost of using the time machine is $20 billion.

That a very mundane version of It's a Small World requires shelling out $20 billion may seem to indicate that an ever-more idiotic society has led to the devaluation of the dollar to such an extent that currency has become useless as a trade medium, like what you'd expect after fifty decades of living under Robert Mugabe.

But actually, $20 billion for a cheesy carnival ride half a millenia from now suggests an average annual inflation rate of only 4.7%. That's tame for such a society as vacuous as Judge's 2505 America. Removing Barbados due to its unique position as a financial safehaven and Zimbabwe due to its astronomically high inflation rate (officially 976.4%, and estimated to be considerably higher than that), the most recent inflation numbers and IQ inversely correlate at a statistically significant and strong .58.

From the regression equation built from this relationship and assuming the lame time machine ride would cost a couple of bucks today, this posits an average IQ of just under 95 in the idiocratic future. While the movie's demographic future looks like, and has the economic stability of, modern-day Brazil, today's Latin America (from which Mike Judge comes)--as lacking in afflatus as it may be--is probably a lot more edifying than the idiocratic future.

But even in the seminal stages of the Idiocracy pandemic, Judge's contemporary audience would be bemused by the price of a ride on the time machine given an average idiocratic IQ a bit south of 70 (which appears to be the future Joe finds himself in). Using the same regression, the price comes to more than $10E+80. So few in the audience would recognize the amount, however you'd say it, that an important effect of the movie would be ruined--one of the dolts in the movie's future would be able to count higher than nearly everyone watching in the audience.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Education: Race vs conventional explanations

In a Parapundit comment thread discussing the fallacious debating ploys regularly employed by leftists and neocons, an illustrative commenter claims that smaller class sizes have been shown to be correlate strongly with better test scores. He references a study out of Tennessee. If the benefits of a smaller class size are so overwhelming, you'd assume they'd show up to some degree at the state level. But they do not. A relationship seemed unlikely since it wouldn't account for race. But even when race is taken into account, by looking at the difference between predicted and actual scores, student-to-teacher ratio and performance do not correlate at anything even approaching statistical significance (the p-value is .42). Nor do increased student expenditures or teacher salaries.

That race matters in the aggregate is a recurring theme here. State-level NAEP results evince this. Simply knowing the racial composition of a state 'explains' 72% of that state's performance. By contrast, per-pupil expenditures, teacher salaries (both adjusted for cost-of-living; without doing so, the relationship is even more feeble), and average classroom size combined explain a mere 15% of how a state fares, and even that figure is just outside 95% confidence (with a p-value of .06).

The conventional nostrums are impotent. More intelligent kids are the key to better NAEP performance, but IQ isn't something that can be sustainably juiced up in the classroom. There have been a plethora of attempts, but they are consistently met with failure. Ending unfettered Hispanic immigration in favor of a merit immigration system, encouraging health basics (breast-feeding, vitamin supplements), and revising tax policies that currently incentivize dysgenic birthing patterns (EITC, child tax credit, dependency phaseouts) will do orders of magnitude more than the educational reforms that've been reliably failing for half a century now.

White Man's derision

It's circulating again, more of the same: The US is among the worst nations in the industrialized world when it comes to various social indicators. You may bore yourself with the various exegeses that point to the twelve pound poddle while ignoring the ten ton elephant in the room at your own peril.

Or, as in the past, you may notice the conspicuous lack of any mention of race or ethnicity and realize that the reason the US fares worse than Scandinavia is because over one-fourth of the US populous are either black or Hispanic while Scandanavia is as dreadfully white as the wind-driven snow. If you fancifully pretend that minorities behave like whites in the US, you see that there are no substantial differences between the US and other industrialized nations with regard to the frequency of a host of different social pathologies.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

South Africa emulating Zimbabwe's white plundering

The deprecations that are going to befall South Africa in the coming decades are the handiwork of those who quixotically railed against the injustices of de Klerk's South Africa years ago. The sustained external pressure on that country's sovereignty has this to show for itself:
South Africa has seized its first farm - in the clearest indication yet that it is bowing to growing pressure to redistribute land to majority blacks.

Black pressure groups and trade unions have been threatening to begin invading farms unless the government moved quickly to redistribute land.

Among many of South Africa's 50,000-plus white commercial farmers, this first land expropriation by President Thabo Mbeki's government echoes Robert Mugabe's violent land seizures in neighbouring Zimbabwe where at least 4,000 farmers have been evicted from their land, leading to the collapse of that country's economy.
To refresh, consider the current state Zimbabwe is in. After losing the protection of the Lancaster Agreement at the end of the eighties that had guaranteed a market price for land bought up by the Zimbabwean government, white farmers have watched as the rapacious Mugabe essentially confiscates their farms (among the most productive in all of Africa). Not only has Zimbabwe forced land sale transactions to be executed by whites, paying them about ten cents on the dollar for the land, the nation's staggering inflation accentuates the whites' loss tremendously. Estimated at well over 1000%, that renders the ten cents on the dollar worth only one penny (liberally) on the dollar a year later. If you have means of production, you're largely protected from inflation. If those means are replaced by a perpetually devalued currency, you're hosed.

What does Ian Smith's Rhodesia have to show for it today? An unemployment rate of 80%, an AIDS rate of 25%, staggering GDP shrinkage of 5-7% per year, and conflict with the West that has put President Mugabe in a desperate situation. Recipients of the 'transfer program' have not even come close to keeping production up at the rate whites did:
By confiscating the white-owned commercial farms, the government transformed a country that was once the breadbasket of Southern Africa into a net food importer [my emphasis].

And despite good rains there is every prospect of another deficit over the coming season, our correspondent says...

Tobacco used to be Zimbabwe's major export earner but production has fallen from 237m kg in 2000 to 73m kg last year.

That is depressing. Sixty-six percent of Zimbabwe's workforce is employed in agricultural but the country cannot even feed itself. Zimbabwe is poorer now than it was at independence almost three decades ago, after having endured eight years of civil war and twice as many years of international sanctions. No wonder Smith, now in his late eighties, remains so defiantly opposed to Mugabe in spite of the ruler's threats to have him arrested. I wonder what the proponents of black African self-rule have to say about this?

South African President Mbeki has had favorable things to say about Mugabe's land reforms in the past. His government is now putting them into practice:
The Commission on Restitution of Land Rights said in a statement yesterday that the first expropriation order of the gigantic 25,200-hectare farm owned by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of South Africa (ELCSA) in South Africa's Northern Cape Province came into effect on 26 January. The government will take full possession of the farm for resettlement next month. The government has paid £2.1m for the land although the ELCSA had wanted more than £5m which it says is the true value of the land.
So the church is getting about 35-40 cents on the dollar. Although they only comprise one-tenth of the population, whites control 90% of prime farmland. There is still a lot to go around. Originally, in an attempt to keep investment from fleeing South Africa, the land acquisitions were to be voluntarily bought up by the government and redistributed to blacks. But even as the main opposition party argues that over 4 million hectares (about 15,000 square miles) of land is being put on the market each year, the deals aren't coming quickly (or cheaply) enough. So the government has begun to force the sales.

With an IQ differential of more than two standard deviations between white and black South Africans, not to mention the experience and organization white commercial farmers currently enjoy, land productivity is going to suffer substantially, just as it has in neighboring Zimbabwe.

Although it is tempting to see the aggression against these Evangelicals as another example of ecumenicism crashing on the shoals of reality, there is a universal lesson for us to take from it. When the ethnic or racial group controlling the economy does not form a place's numerical majority, the outcome is predictable. From the Tutsis in Rwanda to Israelis in the Middle East, from the Chinese in the the Philippines to people of European descent in South America, the story is more or less the same. The disadvantaged majority wants to take from the affluent minority and give to itself. Democracy, that the neocons are so keen on exporting, expedites the process.

Europe should stop taking in Muslims, and the US must put an end to massive Hispanic immigration. Why would either of us want to bring about a Robin Hood turn of events, willfully morphing our developed homes into third-world slums?

Looking down the road, I wonder if we'll be willing to take in displaced South African whites as 'economic refugees', since we've recently agreed to take in 60,000 Bhutanese and 7,000 Iraqi refugees. Or will other African countries see white farmers as a lucrative asset to be courted? Mozambique has already begun to do this, and the dividends sound encouraging for the economy there.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Finer things lost on American Visigoths?

Steve Sailer recently highlighted commentary from one of his readers, who'd been ruminating on the coarseness of America's favorite male activities:
A big example of this is dance. I have been involved in ballroom dancing for a couple of years and, at the top, the male ranks are completely dominated by Russians. In Soviet times, playing chess, dancing ballet, doing gymnastics were not seen as gay at all. So, parents make sure that their sons (and daughters) learn to dance and sing and appreciate the finer things.

I think the difference is class. In Europe, opera, ballet, waltz, etc are markers for the upper class. If your son studies ballet, that signals that you are wealthy and cultured. In contrast, in America, we don't have class markers of that type. What seems upper class there seems soft and effeminate here. Americans strive for middle class (albeit, comfortably upper middle class) and there is then no place for opera or ballet. Football is a proper middle class activity for a boy. Ballet may be a good thing for a young aristocrat, but in America, there is no aristocracy. If your son studies ballet in America, that signals that you are trying to "turn him gay" or that something isn't quite right.
Maybe. The ascension of a virulently anti-homosexual hip-hop culture and dysgenic demographic trends are not helping.

But another major difference between Americans and our European brethren is the stateside appreciation of and respect for money-making, and the competition that drives it. As much as waltzing is antithetical to sufficient masculinity in the American man, a fat paycheck is the essence of it. Virtually all of the 'finer' European pursuits the reader refers to are financial deadends. They are expensive and time-consuming without offering much recompense, financially or socially.

There are upper class status markers in the US that are, while relegated mostly to an elevated elite, not viewed as being sexually suspect. Many are in the financial arena--self-directed equity and fund trading, real-estate speculation, activity in the futures markets. Others, like daytime golfing (in additon to aiding in career advancement), have a competitive element to them that the 'finer' European pursuits lack. Opera and ballet aren't interactive. Even the most stupefying of American male pastimes--watching sports on TV--involves the speculation and sparring of the fantasy leagues and weekly work pools.

I think Steve's reading too literally into the 'that's gay' phenomenon:
In the distant past, a man who dressed stylishly and enjoyed art, theater, and sophisticated music would have been praised as a "gentleman," but today his sexual orientation is automatically called into question. The average person's "gaydar" has become so sensitive that a long list of traits associated with civilized living are now assumed to be prima facie evidence of homosexuality.
Among Gen Yers, these stuffy pursuits are bemusing and again, boring. It's not that they're on an intellectual plane that most teens and twenty-seomthings cannot reach. It's that few would ever voluntarily choose these 'finer' activities, and they've consequently become the pursuits of social pariahs. The contemporary use of the word "gay" is usually synonymous with the word "undesirable", not the word "homosexual".

Their abandonment does not necessarily signal an abdication of civilization, or a refusal to relish the pleasures it brings. To the contrary, the truly epic narrative that is the Warcraft universe renders The Marriage of Figaro or King Lear shallow and simplistic by comparison.

The phenomenal Final Fantasy series constantly features moralistic interplay and character interaction with so many nuances and subtleties that A Tale of Two Cities appears drearily straightforward. The heroic characters the player controls are considerably less masculine--with males often appearing androgynous to the untrained eye--than the average Joe. But the titles are firmly in the masculine mainstream.

What about historical recreations? Want a fictional representation based loosely on the rise and fall of the Third Reich? Squaresoft was there more than a decade ago, with the tale of an Empire taken from the old Kaiser and handed over to an egomaniacal soldier who builds a cult-of-personality that makes him the most powerful man in the world (your role essentially begins as a member of the underground irredentists in lands that are falling to the Empire--a sort of budding French Resistance). Of course, you might instead choose to pick up a title that explicitly engrosses you in WWII.

Chess is okay, but most of a Yers' cohorts get a lot more excited about the C&C III, which, like chess, is a game contingent entirely upon making one's own moves and responding to those of an opponent, but surpasses the old board game in strategic complexity within the first five minutes.

These activities are not scoffed at as belonging to the realm of faggy-ness. The arts aren't dead, they've just moved into the virtual world. And in many ways they've become a lot more cognitively demanding.

The old high arts are antiquated. They're not interactive or competitive, and are time-consuming and disparate (Dragon Warrior VIII, for example, features a world-class score performed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, a fantastic moral war, a glut of religious criticisms that'd make Shaekspeare blush, and a battle system to be mastered all-in-one). Today's creative geniuses have left the theatres and the music halls and have re-located to studios in Redwood City and Tokyo.

I'm glad. Broadway puts me to sleep.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Better nutrition means better Africa?

As 2006 came to a close, Steve Sailer highlighted a NYT article repeating what he (while modestly crediting VDare) had publicized a couple of years prior--better nutrition in the third world, especially in Africa, is the most promising way of boosting living standards by raising IQ. Despite the clear relationship between malnutrition and depressed IQ, media sources have given scant attention to a real solution, focusing instead on profligate calls from celebrities to transfer wealth from the developed world to be squandered in places like Africa. That the latter strategy has failed repeatedly is immaterial--the former is taboo because it asserts, with veracity, that sub-Saharan Africans have average IQs two standard deviations below people of European ancestry.

It's difficult to solve a problem if don't consider why it exists. Of course, the shysters who refuse to acknowledge the reality of group differences aren't looking out for those they're putatively trying to help--their game is one of persistent moral posturing, struggling against other moral hustlers to be the first to reach the bleeding heart summit.

What might widely available nutritional supplements mean for destitute African nations? In the article Steve excerpts, Michael Wines reports that malnourished children are shorn of as many as 15 IQ points. While some 2.5 million African children died due to malnutrition in 2005, the survivors are hardly spared. The cognitive impairments they suffer render many of them unable even to stay awake during class, incapable of learning the most basic facts or thinking intuitively.

Conservatively cutting the IQ disadvantage that is capable of improvement by two-thirds, and assuming that impoverished children under the age of fifteen will be the only ones to mentally benefit from supplement availability, I've estimated how much of a boost in income various African countries might expect to enjoy if all of their destitute urchins were able to shore up on iodine, vitamin A, and other essentials for healthy brain development.

I use Lynn and Vanhanen's IQ and the Wealth of Nations, looking only at African and non-African majority-black countries from which the professors had either adequate IQ data or made a reasonable estimate for a country based on surrounding data (globally, the PPP boost from even minor IQ increases is too profound to be realistic, as the $1,000 boost that comes relatively easily and inconsequentially in Austria is going to be a more difficult and major achievement in Ghana). I also arbitrarily dropped Botswana from the computation, as its anomalously high per capita wealth is due in large part to significant diamond mining operations that account for three-fourths of its total exports (although lab-grown stones are threatening that lucrative African export).

Among these countries, IQ and PPP correlate at a statistically significant .474. I estimate the per capita wealth increase using the regression equation that is produced by the aforementioned correlation, assuming that only impoverished children under the age of fifteen enjoy a 5 point IQ boost and no one else is affected. To the extent that such an economic betterment will occur with better nutrition, it will take at least fifteen years for the full effect to be realized, when the youngest children to benefit approach adulthood.

CountyCurrent PPPEst. boostNew PPP
Burkina Faso12006731873
Cape Verde62003636563
DR of Congo70012121912
Cote d'Ivoire16004822082
Sao Tome12008202020
Sierra Leone8009741774
South Africa1220047512675

Is it realistic to expect Zambia to more than double its per capita purchasing power due to a few extra IQ points in its up-and-coming generation? Hard to say. We'd be looking at a little less than $100 a year. Sub-saharan Africa's problems are obviously enormous, and a moderately more intelligent population may seem too easy a suggestive fix.

But in virtually every quantitative measure, increased IQ is associated with desirable outcomes. Whether it be greater economic equality, lower criminality, better health, longer lives, fewer infant mortalities, or greater affluence (and that's not an exhaustive list), IQ is a vigorous correlate. Even a nation's AIDS rate correlates at a statistically significant .55 with its average IQ. Intelligent frolickers are better able to comprehend the risks of transmission different situations carry with them, and they are less likely to fall for harmful myths, like the widespread belief that intercourse with a virgin cures AIDS.

While IQ isn't everything and a higher IQ does not necessarily always equate to greater worth or achievement in a person, it is hugely important. Many adherents to the tenets of the DZGD orthodoxy respond to discussions of IQ by pointing to other critical qualities like honesty and diligence, as if to suggest that an increase in one leads to a decrease in another. This is nonsense, and as Herrnstein and Murray laid out in The Bell Curve, to the extent that these attributes are related to IQ, they tend to trend in the same direction.

Greater intelligence means more power and greater influence. Like technological progress, it can be abused (the two go hand-in-hand, really--the march of both intregal to humanity's path forward). Human crematories can be designed, but so can semiconductors and internal combustion engines. On the whole, IQ is overwhelmingly beneficial.

We can either make Africa more like the developed world--through Rhodesia, better nutrition and nourishment, or both--or we can let the Dark Continent wallow. If we are going to take the second route, we might as well stop sending foreign aid to klepocratic governments and focus instead on preserving the world's big game refuge through efforts in land preservation and human population reduction.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Add cysticercosis to the immigrant gift list

Gonorrhea, syphilis, hepatitis, tuberculosis--and now, cysticercosis (CDC's report is here):
Federal researchers say neurocysticercosis, a brain infection caused by a pork tapeworm, is a "growing public health problem in the United States," especially in states bordering Mexico, where the disease is endemic.

Neurocysticercosis is the "most common parasitic disease of the central nervous system," according to a study jointly conducted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and California public health officials, who reported that international travel and immigration are bringing the disorder to areas where it is not endemic," such as this country.
The disease is caused by pork tapeworm enter into the spinal cord and forming cysts there. Most lethally, it causes the brain to swell, leading to death. Most of the time it causes severe headaches and seizures.

From 1990 to 2002, 85% of deaths from cysticercosis were to foreign-born US residents (three-fourths of these being immigrants from Mexico), and more than half of the deaths occured in California.

More disturbing than what it does or who it affects is how it is contracted--through oral-fecal transmission. It is most common in third-world countries where pigs are allowed to roam and have access to human fecal material. In the great circle of life, the pigs eat the night soil, and then the people eat the pigs. Then they come to the US and work in the restaurant industry, bringing their unique hygienic practices--consisting of irregular washing of hands or clothes--and spreading the tapeworm to the consuming public. The world's leading economy, on the cutting edge of technology, is taking in folks who let the swine they eat feast on human feces. That's cultural enrichment at its best.

We're only talking a couple hundred deaths and a few thousand infections. But just as in the case of the atavistic tuberculosis resurgence in the US, it appears that being around foreign-born Hispanics is more hazardous to your health due to the risk of acquiring diseases that natives aren't inflicted with than eating raw spinach ever was during the height of the recent spinach scares.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Affluent Chinese women go to HK to birth

If you're a wealthy Chinese woman wanting to have a second child, Hong Kong is apparently the place to go:
HONG KONG -- In China, longstanding family-planning policies limit most urban families to just one child. But that didn't stop a 31-year-old merchant named Ms. Li: Two weeks ago, she gave birth to her second child here in the former British colony of Hong Kong, a 10-hour bus ride from Ms. Li's home in Fujian province.

Hong Kong maintains separate government records from the rest of China, so Ms. Li's newborn son won't count toward her family's quota. "I wanted to have a second child to keep my daughter company," says Ms. Li, who asked to be identified only by her last name, from the hospital ward.

She and other well-off Chinese women are discovering ways to wriggle through bureaucratic loopholes in their government's one-child policy. Some pay rural women, who are often allowed two children under the policy, to pretend a child is theirs. Others accept a fine of between two and 10 times a family's yearly income --
dubbed "social alimony" -- for having too many children.
Fees run as high as $8,000 just to arrange the trip and book a hospital in advance. There are even companies devoted specifically to the Hong Kong birthing-mill industry. The mainland could be cashing in on this. Paraenthetically, that Hong Kong operates on something similar to the spurrious current reading of the US Constitution's 14th Amendment has caused hordes of mainland Chinese women to give birth in Hong Kong for other reasons as well, including Hong Kong citizenship and access to education.

I don't understand China's one-child policy, especially in light of Han nationalism. While population density in some of the eastern coastal cities is a real concern, China's total population density is lower than much of Europe and all of East Asia. The policy strikes me as flawed in a few ways.

Han Chinese comprise 92% of the the country's 1.3 billion people, but they've exempted the remaining 100 million or so from the one-child policy. Why artificially dilute that ethnic homogeneity?

It applies more strictly to urban dwellers. Unlike developed countries in the West, however, urban residents in China are by-and-large more affluent than their rural compatriots, where poverty is 'endemic'. Meanwhile, impoverished rustics are allowed to have two children, and enforcement is more sporadic.

There's no easier way to attenuate the wealth gap than to prod the wealthy into having more children and get the poor to have fewer. Not only will this increase the number of skilled professionals to keep fees modest and decrease the supply of menial and semi-skilled laborers, increasing wages on the low end of the economic scale (raising the national IQ in the process) in the future, it will have an immediate impact. If a wealthy couple has one child, he stands to inherit all of their wealth. If they have five, it gets split up five ways. Conversely, if a modest couple has five kids, they'll each get a paltry sum, and it's hard for an empty bag to stand upright. But if they only have one, he'll receive a nice bag of money.

So in the name of reducing economic inequality, which is made out to be the worst problem a rapidly growing China faces, the policy discourages urbanites for whom a child is a 'frivolous' expense (in methodical East Asian thought) from having more of them.

The CPC, in refusing to let the yuan appreciate internationally, is effectively short-changing China's population today for increased Chinese wealth in the future. Retaining the one-child policy may be seen in the same light. That is, by reducing the number of young dependents, Chinese affluence will grow more rapidly (over the short- and medium-term). Currently, the PRC's economy is growing at seventeen times the rate of its population and increased fecundity will probably moderate this to some extent. The CPC seems to believe that continued stellar economic growth is the best way to overpower the wealth gap, and the strategy understood in this light paints the picture of a CPC that is eager for rapid wealth ascension, to be on par with the rest of the developed world as quickly as possible.

But a prounounced gender imbalance and an aging population in a country with an almost nonexistent social security entitlement structure are two potential obstacles in China's future that aren't getting any easier to navigate due to the policy. With a pragmatic, smart population that isn't afraid to chase the benefits of a potential genetic engineering revolution (91% of Chinese scientists favor the use of eugenics for the good of the country), the PRC's long-term prospects look good. But rushing too fast to the top might jeopardize that.

Monday, February 05, 2007

French want Euro to go

The French are experiencing buyer's remorse:
A majority of French people believe the switch to the euro five years ago was bad for their country, according to a recent poll, which suggests the French blame the common European currency for damaging economic growth and causing price hikes.

The TNS-Sofres survey published on Wednesday (27 December) by Le Pelerin magazine showed 52 percent of respondents said giving up the franc for the euro has been "quite bad" or "very bad" for France, up from 45 percent three years ago in a similar survey.
Uncompetitive employment laws, a growing African underclass (blacks now make up almost 4% of the French population and Muslims close to one-tenth), seminal affirmative action, and an aging population aren't doing French economic growth any favors, either.

But, unsurprisingly, a broad-based currency like the Euro is problematic for France, as its citizenry enjoy a higher standard of living than the average resident of the Eurozone (the nations the Euro operates in) at large. Consequently, stuff should be nominally more expensive there than in Portugal. But since the Euro's valuation is tied to the amalgamated economy of the entire Eurozone, the purchasing power of a Euro will grow (or adjust) at a pace representative of the larger Eurozone economy, not the relative affluence of the smaller French economy.

With France's stagnant economic growth, eventually the Euro will seem less painful, as its acuteness will shift from wealthier Eurozone economies to those that simply grow the fastest. But being only eight years old, and having been adopted by more, mostly poorer countries since its inception in 1999, its purchasing power within the Eurozone is still undergoing a settling process that is favorable for weaker economic acquisitions (and there are several relatively poor countries slated to adopt the Euro over the next several years) and unfavorable for the developed economies already using it. It is similarly unsurprising, then, that in Great Britain and Denmark the Euro is unpopular and unlikely to be adopted in the foreseeable future, and that in Germany and France (and possibly Italy)--like GB and Denmark, among the more affluent EU members--a majority of the population favors a return to the old national currency.

If I was French, I'd be among the plurality favoring a return to the Franc. Let poorer southern and eastern European nations peg their national currencies to those in developed countries to ease concerns about abrupt currency fluctuations. We can help offer them stability without actually affecting our buying power.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Best in the world?

For some inexplicable reason, some twenty people came over this evening to watch the local junior high football championship. Oh, that was the Superbowl? Those were the two best teams in the NFL? I can't think of a sloppier exhibition in my prolific history of squandering Sundays in front of the idiot box, eyes fixated upon our contemporary gladiators.

And the obsession with the first two black coaches to ever make it to the big game was silly. Why in a league that is 65% black, played in a country that is only 12% black (rendering blacks about ten times more likely to be on an NFL squad than whites), do concerns of racial inequality inevitably focus on discrimination against blacks? It would've been more interesting to hear about Dungy's admirable activities off the field, his moralistic and highly ethical disposition, and so forth.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

US, Israel, and American Jews

Professor Kevin MacDonald has a new VDare column equating the omertas limiting open discussions in the US of American support for Israel and of US immigration reform:
The classic case: US policy in the Middle East. Despite the obvious fact that US support for Israel has crucial implications for war and peace, the vast majority
of Americans are oblivious to what is really going on in this region.
He defends Jimmy Carter's partisan advocacy on behalf of the Palestinians for the "abominal oppression and persecution" they suffer, while conspicuously failing to address the frequently-mentioned but important excerpt from Carter's latest book where the former President writes, "It is imperative that the general Arab community and all significant Palestinian groups make it clear that they will end the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international laws and the ultimate goals of the Roadmap for Peace are accepted by Israel." MacDonald then censures the American public for its ignorance of how Palestinians are denied universal human rights in the 'occupied' territories.

MacDonald is infinitely more erudite than I am, and I do not at all disagree with his concern that the neocon's are beating the war drums for what would be a disastrous and unnecessary campaign against a feeble Iran, or that pro-Israeli war hawks have in the past and are still today clamoring for the US to carry Israel's water.

But I wonder if MacDonald is willfilly ignoring pertinent facts about the Palestinians. He does not acknowledge that, with average Arab IQs somewhere in the mid- to upper-eighties (not to mention widespread consanguinety, tribalism, and Islam), a functioning non-authoritarian Arab society is highly unlikely. Nor does he take issue with the use of the word 'apartheid', when it was the crusade against this ecumenically condemned 'evil' that put southern Africa on a path of continual regression, one that it remains on still today. Just as breaking the political power of the high IQ minority turned Rhodesia into a disaster (and South Africa continues to slide in the same direction), so will the Jewish state according a fecund Palestinian population 'equal rights' (including travel) in Israel and the occupied territories lead to that diamond being ground indistinguishably into the surrounding rough.

Indeed, the arguments made by those in opposition to Israeli separation from her Arab neighbors are strikingly similar to those made on behalf of continued unfettered underclass immigration into the US from Latin America. Those favoring sovereignty in both the US and in Israel are smeared as 'oppressing' and 'persecuting' poor brown 'economic refugees', etc. Nevermind that the monetary standard of living is four times greater in the US than in Mexico, and seventeen times greater in Israel than in the West Bank. Nevermind that there is about an eight point average IQ gap between both the US and Israel and their respective inundating neighbors. We can go on and on about the stark differences between both Occidental countries and their relatively destitute, backwards neighbors. That my viewpoint is overly callous is certainly a point of legitimate debate, but shouldn't MacDonald at least mention it?

Instead of driving a wedge between the US and Israel, I'd like to see nationalistic Americans expend their energy trying to convince stateside Jews how current immigration trends bode so poorly for them. We should soberly point to the hostility Hispanic Americans feel toward Jews. The ADL illustrates the olla podrida that is elite Jewish opinion:
One of the most important findings of ADL's 2002 Survey of Anti-Semitism in America concerns Hispanic Americans, one of the most significant and fastest growing segments of the American population, in which the poll found an extraordinary gap between those born in the United States and those born abroad. The survey revealed that while 44% of foreign-born Hispanics hold hardcore anti-Semitic beliefs, 20% of Hispanic Americans born in the U.S. fall into the same category.
Yet the league actually blames immigration restrictionists for the immigrants' noxious attitudes:
According to the ADL report, “extremist groups are seeking to exploit the flow of foreign workers into this country to spread a message of xenophobia, to promote hateful stereotypes and to incite bigotry and violence against Hispanics, regardless of their status as citizens.”
Nevermind that parsing the numbers shows that whites (who form the bulk of the 'nativistic' movement) are the least "hard-core anti-Semitic" (the ADL's words), with 12% being labeled as such. Over one-third of both blacks and Hispanics, in contrast, are considered stridently anti-Jewish. It is college-educated, wealthy whites who are the least likely to hold views 'hostile' toward Jews, and who are most likely to support Israel. Why should Jews damage the US standard-of-living, economic competitiveness, and cognitive prowess to empower groups hostile to them?

We might also point out the effectiveness of the Israeli security fence, which is almost universally praised by pro-Israeli Americans, including neocon outfits like the WSJ op/ed board. Why has it been able to keep militant unwanteds out there, but is condemned to certain failure stateside?

My sentiments are with Israel. The nation is an outpost of civilization in a vast, desolate and backwards Islamic world. It is home to flourishing scientific and medical research, financial activity, and economic insight. But there is little justification for the US to go to bat militarily for Israel. When trying to do battle in the Middle East (at least partially) on Israel's behalf, we've ended up embarrasing ourselves and strengthening the hand of the Jewish nation's primary antagonist. Far better for our Israeli pals for us to pour some portion of the remaining $1.7 trillion to be squandered in Iraq into alternative energy research. A world where oil has been obsolesced is a world in which the US can unequivocally stand behind Israel.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Overpaid teachers

Teacher pay and student performance have no meaningful relationship whatsoever, and to the extent that they do, they trend in opposite directions--that is, as salaries increase, student performance drops.

Still, toiling in their air-conditioned salt mines, they are underpaid, right? Wrong (also here). A couple of researchers from the Manhattan Institute find that the average public school teacher makes $34.06 an hour. The pay doesn't look as lucrative on an annual basis, because teachers work so much less than workers in other industries. But if the soft public school teacher's schedule (no weekends, no holidays, no evenings/overnights, etc) is adjusted to a standard forty hour workweek, they are making over $68,000 a year.

That's more than purchasing agents, insurance appraisers, logisticians, loan officers, computer programmers, database administrators, statisticians, agricultural engineers, industrial engineers, microbiologists, foresters, chemists, historians, geographers, dancers, actors, dietitians, occupational therapists, firefighters, police officers, economists, chefs, insurance agents, travel agents, mail carriers, animal breeders, stone masons, architects, carpenters, roofers, avionics technicians, painters, and semiconductor processors earn, just to name a few.

Time to introduce market forces into education, to video record classes, allow for school differentiation, and let students skip courses while receiving credit through 'testing-out' of classses in which they've already mastered the material. Most teachers will make less, and many will be out of the job. The good ones will make more, and a lot of deadweight loss will be removed. Everybody but the NEA wins.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Gluttony most common eating disorder

Binge-eating may be more common than bulimia and anorexia combined:

A new survey by researchers at Harvard University finds that frequent binge eating is the nation's most prevalent eating problem, outpacing better-known disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. The results come from what researchers say is the first national census of eating disorders. ...

The study found that 3.5 percent of women and 2 percent of men struggle with binge eating...
The Harvard researchers found that about 2.75% of the population engages in
regular binge-eating (defined as eating to the point of being uncomfortably full more at least twice a week over a period of three months). A little over 1% of people are thought to be afflicted by anorexia, and an estimated 1.4% are bulimic.

This isn't surprising, as binge-eating is an understandable maladaption to a society of plenty. The ability of our fat cells to store energy has obvious evolutionary benefits, but they've become antiquated amongst the contemporary affluence of the developed world. That binge-eating is thought to be related to things like stress, anger, and depression, makes it understandable as a defense mechanism--when the going gets tough, it's time to store up.

The primarily gynecological dual eating disorders, bulimia and anorexia, make biological sense only as a means of boosting desirability with regards to sexual selection (there's a cultural component as well, of course). Consequently, they are relegated mostly to women. While some 1 in 50 men suffer from binge-eating, only 1 in 400 are bulimic and 1 in 500 are anorexic.

The impulse to eat doesn't mesh well with the need to eat for most people in a society that increasingly rewards brains over brawn. Until effective gene therapies allow for control of those consumption impulses, the best way to avoid eating disorders (and simple corpulence) is on the expenditure side--exercise regularly. There are lots of exercise machines like elipticals that give a vigorous workout while allowing for reading or watching TV. Use them.