A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
iSteve Blog

In late-breaking news, millions of Filipinos thronged the streets of Manila to celebrate the announcement of a peace treaty between boxers Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.

This surprise development averted a feared $300 million bout in Las Vegas next May.

With the help of shuttle diplomacy by former President Bill Clinton, the treaty of perpetual nonviolence was negotiated between representatives of the Pacquiao camp and the Mayweather camp.

“Peace in the ring is at hand,” proclaimed the Filipino boxer / politician’s personal delegate at the talks, Senator Harry “Punchy” Reid (D-NV).

“Why would anyone want to see these two fine gentlemen beat each other senseless, probably causing permanent memory damage, when instead we could just … we could just … dammit, Xochitl, you’re holding my cue card upside down.”

“Like, hey, this is like, you know,” observed Mayweather’s chief diplomatic adviser, Canadian singing sensation Justin Bieber.

Details remain to be finalized, according to Bieber. “We still get paid, right? I mean, half of $300 million is, like, a lot.”

Bieber mused, “For $300 million, I’d let you punch me in the face. No … I won’t take an IOU. … Ouch! Stop it!”

Another Mayweather confidant, Donald Sterling, noted, “Floyd promised to buy the Clippers from me for $5 billion — which, allow me to point out, is 2.5 times as much as my useless wife got — so all I know is he’d better fight somebody soon.”

But for now, the threat of boxing in Las Vegas seems to have been sidestepped. Sands Casino owner Sheldon Adelson declared that everybody in the gambling mecca had been praying for peace and now their dreams had come true.

NYT op-ed columnist Roger Cohen calls for World War III:

The Suns of August
Flight 17: Ukraine’s War and Europe’s Passivity

JULY 21, 2014

Roger Cohen

LONDON — A century on from World War I, nobody wants the guns of August.

I was sort of under the impression, Roger, that that’s a good thing, seeing as how 1914 turned out and all.

Yet it must be asked if waiting years for the evasive conclusions of an official investigation into the fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is better than acting now on what we already know: That the Boeing 777 with 298 people on board was shot down by a missile from a Russian-made SA-11 antiaircraft system fired from an area of eastern Ukraine controlled by Russian-backed separatists, Russian mercenaries and Russian agents.

… The shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 amounts to an act of war. It was impromptu perhaps, but still.

“Impromptu” is disingenuous, and you really shouldn’t be disingenuous when calling for the Guns of August. Nobody suddenly got an impromptu idea in their heads to shoot down a third party civilian jetliner. It was almost certainly unintended in the sense that the rocket wasn’t intended to shoot down a commercial airliner, just as the Ukraine government didn’t intend to shoot down a Russian airliner in 2001 when its forces knocked down a Siberian Airline flight full of Israelis.

The notion of “felony homicide” is more applicable. The plains of Eastern Europe are way too dangerous to mess around in.

You can always count on Eastern Europeans equipped with advanced technology to eventually screw up massively and kill a lot of innocent people. But only a few weeks ago, we were all congratulating ourselves on how much less hotheaded we are now than in June 1914. Or maybe not …

… The West has become an empty notion. The Dutch trade a lot with Russia. Europe floats along in a bubble of quasi pacifism. Better to be bullied than belligerent. Nobody wants the guns of August.

It sure sounds like Roger Cohen does.

… It won’t happen. Europe is weak. Obama’s America is about retrenchment, not resolve. Putin must be appeased. Nobody is about to call his bluff. The Putin-pacifiers have many arguments. Send forces into Ukraine and you prove the Russian argument that the West has designs on it. Besides, who wants World War III?

It sure sounds like Roger Cohen does.

The self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic stares down Mark Rutte. The deathly poppy fields of 1914 give way to the deathly sunflower fields of 2014. Dutch flowers wing around the globe, still, a thriving trade. …

Everyone wants the suns of August. Summer vacations rule. Nobody wants the guns

It sure sounds like Roger Cohen does.

— and damn the bigger guns appeasement may bring.

You know, Roger, Barbara Tuchman’s history of the beginnings of World War One, The Guns of August, wasn’t actually intended as a How To manual. When Santayana talked about the need to learn from the past, it wasn’t so we can do it all over again.

This is why I’ve been worrying about World War G for the last year. What’s the worst that hyping World War G can lead to? I mean, besides World War 3?

USS Gerald R. Ford

In the current monkey movie, the humans of San Francisco must invade the ape turf of Marin County to get access to a small hydroelectric dam. This is not a bad motivating device for the plot, but it had me wondering why the humans simply couldn’t instead go south to the sizable reservoirs of San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties.

But, it turns out, there are virtually no hydroelectric plants in the entire San Francisco Bay Area. There are no hydroelectric facilities in Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties at all, compared to a couple of dozen in Los Angeles County.

Many of the L.A. generation plants are simply part of the aqueducts system to get back some of the power used pumping water over mountains. For example, I went hiking on Thursday around the beautiful little Franklin Canyon reservoir in the Hollywood Hills. This facility built by William Mulholland includes a tiny 2 megawatt power plant that helps defray some of the cost of pumping water up from the San Fernando Valley to the north. (Some other hydro dams in LA County are driven by the scanty precipitation in the large mountain ranges.)

But the San Francisco Bay area, especially the rich, environmentalist west side, never has bothered to generate much sustainable hydro power locally. It has mountains and it has rain, but it also has easy access to the immense dams of the snowy northern Sierra Nevadas, so why bother? Rather than mess with your local environment, it’s easier to simply flood Hetch Hetchy Valley and other places hundreds of miles away.

So, here’s a better idea for a power-generating MacGuffin in Marin County to get the people and monkeys fighting. Instead of a non-existent hydroelectric dam in Marin County, assume that during the planetary plague, the dying crew of the U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier on a shakedown cruise in the North Pacific ran it into one of the protected bays of Point Reyes in Marin County.

The new Gerald R. Ford has two A1B nuclear power plants, which produce 3x as much power as the nukes on Nimitz-class carriers. Wikipedia isn’t very forthcoming about how much fuel this carrier, which is currently floating but not yet finished, will carry, but does say:

Range: Unlimited distance; 20-25 years

That sounds like enough to power a human colony of about 1,000 survivors for quite some time.

Also, beyond just recharging the San Franciscans’ iPads, in the very long run it opens up some interesting opportunities. As widely dispersed colonies of the human race begin to repopulate the Earth and come into conflict with each other over territory, and as competition with the newly intelligent ape species becomes contentious, having an aircraft carrier with six or seven dozen warplanes, and their nuclear weapons, sounds handy for making the San Francisco humans the permanent rulers of the world.

That’s of course assuming that no other band of survivors (or apes) gets their hands on a stray aircraft carrier.

This could then tie into Charlton Heston lamenting “You blew it up” at the end of the 1968 movie.

Unfortunately, the screenplay was jimmied together in such a rush to make the Summer 2014 release date that all sorts of interesting angles were missed. Adequate script doctoring — it sounds expensive, but it’s actually a cheap investment, especially in this era of multi-episode franchises.

• Tags: Movies

A significant factor that doesn’t get considered enough in trying to make sense of current intellectual life is that the overwhelming academic and media dominance of English, with the huge home field advantages it gives Americans and Brits, not unreasonably galls more than a few Continentals.

Consider French economist Thomas Piketty. Like so many other brilliant Continental intellectuals, he followed the big money to Cambridge, MA, where he became an MIT professor at age 22. But, like a lot of young people, he got homesick. He went home to Paris at 24.

By the way, I’m not putting Piketty down for this. I’m a big believer in the power and reasonableness of homesickness. (See Susan J. Matt’s Homesickness: An American History.) If you grew up in Paris, why in the world wouldn’t you be homesick when young and in Boston?

Moreover, there’s a male aspect of homesickness, which is loyalty to the home team. People tend to imprint on wherever they are living around puberty, and in young males that manifests itself in feelings of rivalry toward other places you might later wind up in.

The reality is that the top U.S. (and British) universities have been winning the global competition for talent since the middle of the 20th Century. Look at Nobel Prizes. It wasn’t always like this. Go back to the summer of 1914 and the best research universities tended to be German, with other Continental countries in competition.

What happened to bring about Anglo-American dominance of universities?

I’m sure there are many reasons, but I want to fixate on just two. Namely, we won the Big Ones: WWI and WWII. In the postwar era, the losers, such as Germany and Austria (1918 and 1945), Italy (1943) and France (1940) smashed up their great colleges for being epitomizations of anti-democratic elitism.

The Continentals converted their famous universities to open admissions with virtually no tuition: giant lecture halls with a few thousand students taking notes or dozing.

The French government, not being stupid, kept some small, low profile, ultra-elitist Ecoles to train the people who actually run France, while trashing grand old names like the Sorbonne. Piketty, for example, did his undergrad at the École normale supérieure, which is immensely prestigious in the right circles in France, but us big dumb Americans hardly know about it because it only has 600 undergrads. And few Tiger Moms in Seoul, Shanghai, or Mumbai care about it either.

For a French culture that believes itself normally superior, this is annoying.

In contrast, the winning Americans poured even more money into Harvard and Yale. When 1968 happened, only CCNY in the U.S. was dumb enough to fall for the reigning ideology rather than just give it lip service. Instead, Harvard devoted ample resources to modeling admissions and perfected a system of affirmative action for buying off complainers (see Robert Klitgaard’s 1985 book Choosing Elites) without damaging Harvard as the prime pipeline to Wall Street.

Similarly, Oxford and Cambridge survived the Socialist governments with elitist prestige largely intact, mostly because Britain, though almost ruined by the expense, was on the winning side in WW I/II. And winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.

Piketty currently is affiliated with the Paris School of Economics, which sounds like it could be a good brand name … in 50 or 100 or 150 years. But it was only founded in 2006, and institutional prestige in academia correlates closely with how old the institution is.

Now, this is not to dismiss Piketty’s ideas as merely a product of his Parisian amour propre wounded by perfidious Anglo-Saxon dominance. In fact, I’m in favor of regional rivalries inspiring heresies, especially in economics, which is so otherwise inclined toward mercenary groupthink.

From the New York Times:


The Data-Driven Home Search
Using Data to Find a New York Suburb That Fits

… Other real estate websites are supplying home buyers with loads of hyper-specific community data, including racial makeup, percent of married households and education level. Because these sites, if not actually brokerages, are linked to home sales, they have attracted the attention of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is charged with enforcing fair housing laws.

Ms. Bernstein said her service abides by the same ethical guidelines as any real estate agency would, but her staff can be more objective. They aren’t necessarily licensed agents because, she said, “having a license really conflicts with what we’re trying to do.” …

Real estate websites — the largest being Zillow and Trulia — also are elevating the importance of “location, location, location” to new heights by offering data that allows home buyers to scrutinize communities or neighborhoods in any way they like.

Want to find a “family-friendly” community within 20 miles of Boston with a high Asian population, a low poverty rate and a median home value of $400,000? On NeighborhoodScout.com, you can plug in these preferences (and many more) on the subscription-only “Advanced Search” page and get a ranked list of options. …

What if you’re curious about a neighborhood’s crime rate? On Trulia.com, you can pull up a heat map that shows the level of crime risk down to the street level. …

This trend raises some thorny questions. The growing accessibility of highly detailed demographic data plays into the natural tendency of home buyers to look for “people like us,” which is as old as the subdivided hills. Indeed, some suburban communities were created in the late 19th and early 20th centuries specifically with this in mind, some with discriminatory policies written into leases and deeds.

But Bill Bishop, a Texas journalist and the author of “The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart” (Houghton Mifflin, 2008), argues that this tribalism is a major driver of the country’s deepening political polarization. Over the last 30 years, he says, greater mobility, laws enforcing racial equity and prosperity have given Americans even more choice about where to live. Will Internet-enhanced abilities to scout out communities intensify that sorting effect?

And what about the impact on segregation? The National Association of Realtors’ code of ethics prohibits Realtors and associates involved in a sale from volunteering information regarding the racial, religious or ethnic composition of any neighborhood, lest they run afoul of the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits the steering of clients to or away from neighborhoods out of bias. But many nonbrokerage real estate websites that act as referral generators for agents readily offer such information.

It’s almost as if there is a general pattern that the hot tech businesses of this decade are remarkably concentrated in finding cool ways to ignore anti-discrimination laws.

“I’ve heard some concerns from Realtors — ‘is that a violation of the Fair Housing Act?’ ” said Fred Underwood, the N.A.R.’s director of diversity and community outreach programs. He said he did not feel qualified to say one way or the other, but given that the housing act was passed in response to racial segregation and discrimination, Mr. Underwood said it was at least worth questioning the purpose of providing such information.

The sites are simply making it easier for home buyers to access data that is already available, much of it through the Census Bureau, says Peter Goldey, the chief information officer and chief knowledge officer for Onboard Informatics, a provider of local content data and lifestyle search products for real estate sites. “We think the consumer has a right to information as long as the information is factual,” he said.

HUD may yet weigh in on the question. The department declined to make someone available for an interview, but in a prepared statement, Gustavo F. Velasquez, the assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, said: “We are aware of the issue and are reviewing it. It would be premature for us to comment while the review is underway.”

“The problem comes when real estate professionals have product to move in a location that has issues or is not attractive to people because the schools aren’t good, the crime rate is high, or the appreciation rates aren’t moving in the right direction,” Mr. Schiller said. “That’s one of the potential conflicts with the real estate industry.”

He compares his service to a sort of Consumer Reports for communities. (The site doesn’t sell houses, but refers home buyers to agents, who then pay NeighborhoodScout.com a fee if they sell a home.) Subscribers may choose from more than 360 search criteria, using as many or as few as they like. The most detailed category is demographics, which offers choices of population size, family type, education levels and income, and also asks for preferences as to the level of diversity, the percentage of foreign-born residents, languages spoken and specific ethnicities.

If some home buyers use that information to eliminate communities with certain racial or ethnic types — a use Mr. Schiller said he would find “despicable” — so, too, might they use it to find places they hadn’t considered.

Mr. Schiller is shocked, shocked to hear that racial profiling is going on on his website.

“Accurate data can help to break stereotypes,” he said. “It can lift up places, localities that have been bypassed.”

Visitors to Homefacts.com

Obviously, a subsidiary of Hatefacts.com …

, which is owned by RealtyTrac, can type in a specific address, and pull up not just the property details, but also a wealth of community data. In addition to pinpointing nearby sex offenders (whose photos are provided) or indicating areas at high risk for tornadoes and earthquakes, the site provides demographic facts such as dominant religions, political affiliations and races.

Property listings are advertised elsewhere on the site. But Jamie Moyle, the president and chief executive of RealtyTrac, said Homefacts.com is less about listings than about telling every property’s “story.” And when it comes to data, “we put up anything that we think consumers are going to be interested in,” Mr. Moyle said. “If it’s part of the home-buying process, than it’s part of home values. We don’t have an agenda with the data. The data is our agenda.”

In a report last year for brokerages called “Why online consumers love Zillow and Trulia more than you,” Todd Carpenter, then an industry technology consultant and now N.A.R.’s managing director of data analytics, noted that nonbrokerage portals are well aware of the freedoms they enjoy by not being real estate agents. And one of those is “being free of fair housing rules,” he wrote. Trulia’s crime heat maps, for example, might be a problem for a broker navigating fair housing laws, but as third parties, “Zillow and Trulia have more freedom to answer these questions.”

Some full-fledged brokerage sites, like Movoto.com, are pushing the online envelope by putting ZIP code data on race, languages and foreign-born households directly on their sites. But most brokerage sites provide only links to outside sources of information (if at all) for areas that might fall under fair housing rules. This is an acceptable practice under the N.A.R.’s code of ethics, Mr. Underwood said.

Redfin, for example, links to a third-party provider, Onboard Informatics, for demographics, although the Redfin link does not include information about race and religion. Bridget Frey, the company’s vice president of Seattle engineering, said Redfin is more focused on developing proprietary features that give buyers an edge, such as the “Hot Homes” alert of listings most likely to quickly go under contract.

Mr. Goldey of Onboard maintains that real estate websites should be free to post all kinds of demographic data, regardless of whether they are selling directly to buyers, as long as they stick to the facts. The Fair Housing Act, he says, “is only supposed to keep what are potentially nonfactual observations or perspectives by a single person like a real estate agent from influencing a person like a home buyer.”

I think you’ve got that about 180 degrees backwards, Mr. Onboard.

Legal questions aside, the growing accessibility of so much demographic data has the potential to fuel the segregation that is already increasing along a number of lines — economically, racially, ideologically. Mr. Bishop, the author of “The Big Sort,” argues that as other forms of community have gone away or weakened, Americans are increasingly reordering themselves around shared values and areas of interest. “Given a choice,” he said, “people choose to segregate themselves into these places where they can surround themselves with people like themselves.”

This self-segregating boosts people’s sense of well-being by satisfying the need to belong, says Mr. Motyl, who studies ideological migration. But the resulting decrease in contact with anyone who thinks differently serves to heighten partisanship. “It allows us to become more extreme in our own ideas,” Mr. Motyl said, “and is one explanation for why our system has become so gridlocked.”

…NeighborhoodScout is focusing on trying to foretell the future, such as whether gentrification is on the horizon.

This seems like a business — using data to predict gentrification — that has been underinvested in. My wife and I went with a Graham-Buffett “Value Investing” approach to forecasting gentrification in Chicago in 1988, buying a well-made 1923 condo near the beaches, on the grounds that the main very long run feature distinguishing one neighborhood from another in Chicago is proximity to Lake Michigan (and all the amenities that come with it).

But, that wasn’t a fashionable view in Chicago up through 1997, so if we had wanted to sell during our first eight years, we would have barely gotten what we paid for the place. The people who did better in 1988-1997 were the Momentum Investors, the proto-hipsters who flocked together to the the dumpy inland neighborhood of Bucktown (Liz Phair’s “Guyville”). Because my wife and I are pretty contrarian by personality, we missed out on that. As Keynes remarked, markets can sometimes stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.

But then our neighborhood suddenly became fashionable in 1998 (hey, it’s the lakefront), just like back in 1988 we had assumed it eventually would, and we wound up doing fine.

Anyway, it seems like some sabermetrician-types should stop playing around with baseball statistics and start churning massive amounts of data to figure out underlying patterns, if any, in gentrification.

The rest of the world has finally caught up to something I’ve been pointing out for years: Silicon Valley firms don’t think that legal and social norms about hiring blacks and Mexicans apply to them. So, the Valley is mounting a PR counteroffensive about whom they do hire.

From the New York Times’ “Fashion & Style” section (by the way, isn’t that stereotypical?):


Technology’s Rainbow Connection
Silicon Valley’s Embrace of the Gay and Lesbian Community

SAN FRANCISCO — If it weren’t for the one naked guy, the furries with their articulated ears and the small gaggle of leather-clad members of the Society of Janus, this city’s 44th annual Pride parade in June could have been easily be mistaken for a technology conference.

Notice how San Francisco doesn’t hold a “Gay Pride” parade anymore, just a “Pride” parade? Gay Pride Parades are transphobic, so the entire word “pride” must be imperialized, along with “pride’s” adjectival forms: e.g., in 10 or 20 years, “The Few, the Proud, the Marines” will imply to young people that the Battle of Guadalcanal was fought in pumps and ball gowns.

Every big company in the city and Silicon Valley — Netflix, Facebook, Google, Apple — each offering its own take on gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual pride, lined up along Spear Street before joining the one-mile parade route on Market Street.

Netflix’s contingent marched carrying a blown-up poster featuring the women of “Orange Is the New Black,”

Now that’s some Quality Television: I made it through 15, maybe even 20 minutes of that show …

with the slogan “Break Out the Pride.” The biotech giant Genentech’s group wore T-shirts proclaiming “Pride Is in Our Genes.” Facebook’s impossibly young employees wore shirts that announced “Pride Connects Us” and branded spectators with rubber stamps that read “Like,” with the familiar thumbs-up icon.

And cannily tapping into both L.G.B.T. pride and World Cup fever was Google, whose hundreds of gay and lesbian employees (internally known as Gayglers) and their allies marched beside a glittering soccer-ball float while clapping thunder sticks and wearing soccer jerseys promoting YouTube’s #ProudToPlay campaign.

It’s almost as if all this LGBT stuff gives Silicon Valley giants an excuse to hire white people in the name of diversity. If Jesse Jackson wants to shake down Silicon Valley, he’ll need to put on a little black dress. And that’s probably not going to happen, so what are you going to do?

Looking at the elated faces in the crowd, many stamped with that Facebook “Like,” it almost seemed as if the tech industry and the gay communities in San Francisco had merged in a kind of ecstatically branded, hashtag-enabled celebration of shared ascendancy.

But, The Enemy remains at large:


And yet, for all these public strides, insiders say the culture has yet to fully transcend its frat-boy programmer reputation. Perhaps that is why companies like Facebook are aggressively recruiting and supporting L.G.B.T. employees and offering what Sara Sperling, its senior manager of diversity, calls “unconscious bias training.”

… In April, Brendan Eich stepped down as chief executive of Mozilla, the company behind the Firefox browser, after his opposition to same-sex marriage was revealed. Mr. Eich’s ouster opened up a debate about whether the tech industry, long considered a bastion of live-and-let-live libertarianism, continues to be a hospitable for everyone in its current sudsy incarnation.

In other words, Eich should have been burned at the stake a long time ago.

Social media companies like Snapchat and Tinder have been bedeviled by leaks and lawsuits painting their executives as immature and fratlike. The epithet “brogrammer” is thrown around to describe the loutish behavior sometimes exhibited by young, moneyed tech workers, and some gays and lesbians find the culture around tech less than comfortable.

“You see this young bro culture emerging,” said Sean Howell, founder of Hornet, a gay social networking app. “When you go to an event, you see all the bro dudes in one corner, all the geeks in one spot. You also see this rising group of gay people. Which makes networking easier.”

Mr. Howell, 34, sees more “cluelessness” than homophobia, noting, for example, “shock that a colleague might be gay.”

“They have no idea how to be politically correct or value diversity,” Mr. Howell said of some tech workers he’s encountered. “It’s just un-self-aware geek culture.”

“When I go to women’s event, it’s very heterosexual,” said Leanne Pittsford, a founder of Lesbians Who Tech, a national organization dedicated to supporting and connecting gay women and their allies working within technology.

“When there’s a panel of women and they talk about ‘Lean In’ and Sheryl Sandberg, and they talk about their husbands and how he should be supportive. That’s outside of lesbians’ experiences.”

Leah Neanderthal

Ms. Pittsford, 33, is heartened by some of the changes she’s seeing, many brought on by groups like the one she started in 2012 with Leah Neaderthal [?], her former partner. As she spoke, Ms. Pittsford was in Washington, where she was participating in the White House LGBT Innovation Summit, which she tweeted about with the hashtag #bestsummitever. “Literally, this is the most diverse event, L.G.B.T. or tech,” she said. “There’s so much overlap. It’s all about bringing people together.”

The late Lou Reed

“Things have changed so much,” said Kara Swisher, founder and editor of Re/code, a tech industry news site. Ms. Swisher, 51, and recently separated from Megan Smith, a vice president of Google[x], speaks often at gay- and lesbian-themed tech events, including the first Lesbians Who Tech Summit in San Francisco.

In the Los Angeles Times, Charlotte Allen notes varying ideological complaints about the current Number One movie, including:

Not Natalie Angier’s kind of bonobo

Is ‘Planet of the Apes’ a left-wing apologia or a right-wing screed?

… 3. Defamation of bonobos.

It’s no secret that the bonobo is the favorite primate of the left. That’s because bonobos are non-aggressive, have sex all the time with just about anybody, and have a reputedly matriarchal society. Why can’t we humans be more like bonobos?

But as Susan Block, writing in Counterpunch, notes, the makers of “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” seemed to have gone out of their way to:

“[D]efame the good name ‘bonobo’ by calling the most violent, vicious, murderous, warmongering—not to mention the ugliest and scariest-looking—ape in the film a ‘bonobo.’ ” “Excuse me? This is like calling the Dalai Lama a Nazi or a dolphin a shark. …

“But that’s just what ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ does with the character of ‘Koba,’ the brutal ‘bonobo’ (a CGI based on the motion-capture performance by Toby Kebell) who kills without remorse and bullies the other apes into forming a fighting force that almost destroys the human race with a maniacal grin on his face.”

P.S. In another century far-away, I wrote about the great bonobo controversy.

• Tags: Movies

From a new Pew report, “ How Americans Feel about Religious Groups,” we see that Jews are the most ethnocentric religious group as measured by self-regard on a 0 to 100 scale (89). In other words, although we constantly hear about Self-Hating Jews, there turns out to be less Self-Hatred (100-89=11) among Jews than among any other group (next least self-critical groups at 18 are Evangelical Christians and atheists). You know, it’s almost as if there’s some kind of a pattern in there somewhere …

And Jews feel even colder toward Evangelical Christians (34) than they do toward Muslims (35). In contrast, the non-Jews that feel most warmly toward Jews (69) are the Evangelical Christians.

Screenshot 2014-07-20 15.17.21

About a dozen years ago, it finally dawned on American elites that working class Americans weren’t earning enough money to keep the economy humming. So, they thought and thought about what could be done to boost the earning power of working class Americans and came up with a three-pronged strategy:

- Sleazier loans (If Americans can’t earn more money, then, uh, they can borrow more money!)

- More immigrants (Because isn’t that the solution to all our problems?)

- Sleazier loans to more immigrants!

And for a few years in the middle of the last decade, that seemed to prong the economy into overdrive, at least judging by Human Signs, SUV rims, and the World Series of Poker. Now we could go around all day about who was to blame for the subsequent subprime mortgage series of unfortunate events, but be assured that our elites won’t let that happen again (for at least another 9 to 18 months).

But subprime used car loans? That’s a no-brainer:

In a Subprime Bubble for Used Cars, Borrowers Pay Sky-High Rates

From a new paper by Eugenio Proto and Andrew J. Oswald:

National Happiness and Genetic Distance: A Cautious Exploration

This paper examines a famous puzzle in social science. Why do some nations report such high happiness? Denmark, for instance, regularly tops the league table of rich nations’ well-being; Great Britain and the US enter further down; France and Italy do relatively poorly. Yet the explanation for this ranking — one that holds even after adjustment for GDP and socio-economic and cultural variables — remains unknown. We explore a new avenue. Using data on 131 countries, we document a range of evidence consistent with the hypothesis that certain nations may have a genetic advantage in well-being.

My vague impression from spending a few days in Paris a long time ago is that simple happiness isn’t really the chief goal of Parisians, somewhat like how New Yorkers are more likely to have urges that are difficult to mutually satisfy — e.g., it’s not just that I must win but also that others must lose; and third parties must recognize my triumph and their ignominious defeat. This makes for interesting novels, but not necessarily broadly high levels of happiness.

The Chautauqua lecture circuit of roughly 1875-1925 was a huge influence for uplift and enlightenment among Protestants across America. It was the successor to the earlier Lyceum movement of the Northeast at which transcendentalist philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson made a nice living out of lecturing ambitious young men on “Self-Reliance.”

The Travel Section of the New York Times sends Lisa Schwarzbaum to spend a week at the original Chautauqua in western New York state.

An Edification Vacation
JULY 17, 2014

… [In 1874] Miller and Vincent envisioned their enterprise, planted just west of Jamestown, N.Y., and east of Erie, Pa., as an experiment in enlightened vacation learning for Sunday school teachers in want of educational, spiritual and recreational uplift, with the bonus of a refreshing lake breeze up their Victorian skirts and trousers.

What first began with (Victorian-sturdy) tent housing almost immediately evolved into a pretty maze of lakeside streets crammed with cottages and guesthouses festooned with porches built for the essentials of edifying outdoor living: conversation, dining and, above all, reading. …

For nine weeks every summer, the 750-acre campus is a cheery, low-keyed welter of lectures, classes, concerts, theater, dance performances and art exhibitions.

Opportunities for spiritual uplift continue to figure prominently on the daily agenda, with services conducted every morning. But the extended denominational menu now includes Roman Catholic, Unitarian, Christian Science, Quaker, Jewish and Zen Buddhist gatherings, and Friday Muslim prayer. Then again, an early-rising Chautauquan might prefer a guided nature walk, a theology-free Scientific Circle presentation or an independent bike ride instead.

Each week’s programming centers on a Monday-to-Friday lecture theme — this year’s topics include “The Ethics of Privacy,” “The American West,” “Brazil: Rising Superpower” and a week with the documentary filmmaker Ken Burns..

… And as a result, those who love it tend to return year after year, generation after generation, booking for the next season even as they pack up after the week just past. More than 100,000 arrive over the summer from states that include Ohio, Virginia and Texas; they fly in from Boston and Ann Arbor and Toronto. They are mostly a homogeneous population of white boomer-age campers or beyond — sometimes even representatives of the Greatest Generation, with or without grandchildren and great-grandchildren, although haphazard outreach is being done to attract younger families to the party. … They are anti-discrimination, pro-L.G.B.T., antipollution, pro-recycling, anti-intolerance and pro greeting every fellow soul passed in the course of an early-morning walk.

They, I should say, is us. Me, anyway, after this (secretly) graying boomer-age, Jewish New Yorker purchased her all-important weeklong gate pass ($436), plopped her small bag of T-shirts and sun hat on the bed of her lock-free, porch-rich, Victorian-era guest room and became a Chautauquan for the first week of the 2014 season, June 21 to 28 (the final week begins Aug. 16).

The opening theme was built to draw early comers before the height of summer: “Roger Rosenblatt and Friends” featured the prolific author and essayist in conversation with big-name literati. Tom Brokaw packed the place on the first day. Margaret Atwood delighted on the second. Elizabeth Strout, Jules Feiffer and the Irish poet Paul Muldoon chatted amiably on subsequent mornings. Meanwhile, for a certain subset, the week’s rock star appearance was clearly that of John Shelby Spong, retired Episcopal bishop of Newark, who, in his rousing afternoon interfaith talks, made clear his impatience with biblical literalism. In this otherwise all-welcoming setting, die-hard fundamentalists might do well to reconsider Chautauqua travel plans.

Nearly a month after my return, I am still trying to hang on to the residue of what happened within me there, surprised (although, why should I be?) by how a week of sleeping and reading and praying-as-I-know-it, with some kayaking, theater, conversation with strangers, and American Legion band music thrown in, could so restore my soul, stimulate my thinking, and fill me with a gratitude for being here, in this complex country, at this minute. I’m grateful that the Chautauqua bookstore does a booming business. (In books!) I’m appreciative that there are no TV screens around, but Wi-Fi access is easy. I’m thankful that my fellow Chautauquans are interesting, open-minded and intellectually inquisitive. … Life feels full of kindness and possibilities. Snark feels stupid and provincial.

I explain the place to the worldly and cultured back home as something like but not really like the adult-learning structure of the Elderhostel experience, the Road Scholar program or the Lifelong Learning Institute. To those in a downward-dog frame state of mind, I clarify that it’s a different psychic vibe from those at the yoga-and-quinoa retreats of the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, N.Y., or the Kripalu Center in Stockbridge, Mass. (A Chautauquan has little use for the word “vibe.”) I warn my Tanglewood set that this particular Brigadoon is most definitely not The New Yorker-y Berkshires, either. For my mother, I can skip the ecumenical subtleties and go right to the shorthand description “bungalow colony for goyim…”

Universal Studios is making a biopic entitled Straight Outta Compton” about pioneering 1980s West Coast gangsta rap group N.W.A., which was led by Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Easy-E.

After all, what’s not to celebrate about the cultural heritage of N.W.A., such as the Crack War Era? Executives like producer Jimmy Iovine made a lot of money off gangsta rap (Iovine appears a shoo-in for the next Forbes 400). And now the entertainment industry wants to make some more.

Via Huffington Post, here’s the casting call for featured female extras:

SAG OR NON UNION CASTING NOTICE FOR FEMALES-ALL ETHNICITIES- from the late 80′s. Shoots on “Straight Outta Compton”. Shoot date TBD. We are pulling photos for the director of featured extras. VERY IMPORTANT – You MUST live in the Los Angeles area (Orange County is fine too) to work on this show. DO NOT SUBMIT if you live out of the area. Nobody is going to be flying into LA to do extra work on this show – and don’t tell me you are willing to fly in.


A GIRLS: These are the hottest of the hottest. Models. MUST have real hair – no extensions, very classy looking, great bodies. You can be black, white, asian, hispanic, mid eastern, or mixed race too. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: SandeAlessiCasting@gmail.com subject line should read: A GIRLS

B GIRLS: These are fine girls, long natural hair, really nice bodies. Small waists, nice hips. You should be light-skinned. Beyonce is a prototype here. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: SandeAlessiCasting@gmail.com subject line should read: B GIRLS

C GIRLS: These are African American girls, medium to light skinned with a weave. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: SandeAlessiCasting@gmail.com subject line should read: C GIRLS

D GIRLS: These are African American girls. Poor, not in good shape. Medium to dark skin tone. Character types. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: SandeAlessiCasting@gmail.com subject line should read: D GIRLS

The blues guitarist Johnny Winter has died at age 70, on tour in Switzerland.

Johnny (like his younger brother, keyboardist Edgar) started out as a session musician, briefly became a major solo rock star in the early 1970s, and then went back to a long career as a session musician, mixed with touring.

Both Winter Brothers were albinos — unable to go outside and play in the Texas sun, they stayed indoors and became musical prodigies.

The Winter Brothers filed an interesting lawsuit against DC Comics over a 1995 Jonah Hex comic book arc featuring the disgusting Autumn Brothers, half-worm/half-albino brothers who were the mutant offspring of a giant worm raping their mother.

The National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation (NOAH) filed an amicus curiae brief noting the discrimination and ignorance under which albinos live, especially in Africa.

In 2003, the California Supreme Court ruled overwhelmingly against the Winter Brothers.

What I was struck by was less the intellectual property questions than how the court didn’t even give the slightest sympathy to NOAH’s friend of the court brief about how albinos were a minority victimized by prejudice. For more politically fearsome minority groups, the courts would normally provide some lip service, especially when shooting down their case.

But albinos are one of those potential identity politics groups that, like lefthanders, aren’t real identity politics groups for reasons that aren’t immediately obvious but are worth inquiring into. Apparently, skin color doesn’t actually have much to do with who is and who isn’t a protected minority.

The cover of the U. of Chicago Business School Magazine

From Capital Ideas, the U. of Chicago B-School mag, we learn that electing Barack Obama president just makes white people more racist (racist being defined as diminished feelings of white guilt and enthusiasm for racial preferences):

Think you’re not racist?
Research uncovers our secret prejudices, and ways to overcome them
By Alice G. Walton

Then the team asked the participants, in a number of different ways, whether race was currently a limiting factor for people in the US. They found that people who were incidentally exposed to counterstereotypical African Americans, such as Obama, former Brown University President Ruth Simmons, or Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, were much more likely to say that race wasn’t a limiting factor. “Those exposed to Black counterstereotypical exemplars were more likely to deny racism and state that Blacks could pull themselves up by their bootstraps if they tried,” the team writes.

Interestingly, it was solely the counterstereotypical nature of the exemplars that was key to the effect—highly successful African Americans in more “stereotypical” professions didn’t provoke it. When participants were shown pictures of singer Diana Ross or basketball player LeBron James, they did not later issue the same denial.

The great thing about this logic is that racism can never be defeated: the more evidence that racism has been defeated, the more proof of racism.

In my previous post, I wrote about how Scientific American had fired blogger Ashutosh Jogalekar for posting in defense of Nicholas Wade and Richard Feynman. I realize now that my interest in Wade’s book led me to bury the lede:

It’s come to this: a writer gets fired for not being wholly condemnatory of Richard Feynman.

Here’s a moving four minute video on the January 1986 Challenger space shuttle catastrophe and how the dying Feynman cut through the quasi-cover-up by publicly demonstrating that the O-rings were the cause by using a glass of ice water. This simple experiment elevated the Nobel laureate to a national folk hero. From James Gleick’s 1988 obituary in the New York Times:

Although his handiwork permeates the foundations of modern science, millions of Americans heard his name for the first time in 1986, when he brought an inquisitive and caustic presence to the Presidential commission investigating the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.

Early on, he stunned a Washington hearing room by calling for ice water, plunking in a piece of the critical O ring seal from the rocket booster and then pinching it with a small clamp. It was a turning point in the investigation – a simple experiment, taking half a minute and no money, that perfectly demonstrated both the vulnerability of the seal and the absolute confidence of the experimenter.

Feynman’s personal appendix to the Commission’s report concludes:

Let us make recommendations to ensure that NASA officials deal in a world of reality in understanding technological weaknesses and imperfections well enough to be actively trying to eliminate them. They must live in reality in comparing the costs and utility of the Shuttle to other methods of entering space. And they must be realistic in making contracts, in estimating costs, and the difficulty of the projects. Only realistic flight schedules should be proposed, schedules that have a reasonable chance of being met. If in this way the government would not support them, then so be it. NASA owes it to the citizens from whom it asks support to be frank, honest, and informative, so that these citizens can make the wisest decisions for the use of their limited resources.

For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.

History repeats again and again how nature points up the folly of men.

In today’s culture, however, public relations must take precedence over reality. (Nature, though, still can’t be fooled.)

Here are excerpts from Jogalekar’s Last Straw post for Scientific American:

Richard Feynman, sexism and changing perceptions of a scientific icon

By Ashutosh Jogalekar | July 11, 2014 | Comments 13

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

[Note from Blogs Editor Curtis Brainard: On Saturday, July 12 the text of this post was replaced with the following statement: "The text of this post has been removed because it did not meet Scientific American's quality standards."

To be specific, we felt that the post lacked clarity in a manner similar to two previous posts published by this author (please see, "A Response to Recent Criticism"). As the author acknowledged in an addendum to the post before it was removed, he did not effectively convey the points he was trying to make. We believe the lack of clarity made the post insensitive to valid concerns that many readers have about past and existing biases and prejudices in our society.

However, this alone is not necessarily enough to warrant removal. Another serious issue underlying the post was that following the earlier rounds of criticism of his work, the author and I had come to an agreement about steps that he would take to prevent future misunderstandings. The author, however, failed to take those steps when producing this post, which caused us to take down the post and remove the author from the blog network.

Following a discussion among Scientific American's editors, we are now re-publishing the post in the interest of openness and transparency and because we believe that more will be learned from its presence than from its absence. This is in keeping with Scientific American's editorial philosophy that the best place for even the most disagreeable arguments and opinions is out in the open where they can be deconstructed and rebutted, if necessary, in public debate. We regret any confusion or frustration this episode has caused for our readers.]


I fell in love with Richard Feynman when I was in middle school. That is when I discovered “Surely you’re joking Mr. Feynman” in my dad’s bookshelf. …

My first foray into taking a more critical view of Feynman came from his once arch-rival and contender for most brilliant theoretical physicist in the world, Murray Gell-Mann. Unlike many others Gell-Mann was never swayed by the Feynman legend, so he provides a good conduit through which to view the latter’s personality. Although dismissing his status as some kind of a physics God, Gell-Mann genuinely admired Feynman’s brilliance and originality – on this count there seems to be unanimous consensus – but his take on Feynman’s personal quirks is more revealing. The main thing about Feynman that really got Gell-Mann’s goat was that Feynman seemed to “spend a huge amount of time generating anecdotes about himself”.

The deliberate generation of these stories could occasionally make Feynman appear like a jerk. …

What started bothering me more the deeper I dug into Feynman’s life was something quite different: his casual sexism. The latest insight into this comes from Lawrence Krauss’s book “Quantum Man” which does a great job explaining the one thing about Feynman that should matter the most – his science. But Krauss also does not ignore the warts. What startled me the most was the fact that when he was a young, boyish looking professor at Cornell, Feynman used to pretend to be a student so he could ask undergraduate women out. I suspect that this kind of behavior on the part of a contemporary professor would almost certainly lead to harsh disciplinary action, as it should. The behavior was clearly, egregiously wrong and when I read about it my view of Feynman definitely went down a notch, and a large notch at that. Feynman’s apparent sexism was also the subject of a 2009 post with a sensationalist title; the post pointed out one chapter in “Surely…” in which Feynman documented various strategies he adopted for trying to get women in bars to sleep with him. Neither were Feynman’s escapades limited to bars; more than one of his biographies have documented affairs with two married women, at least one of which caused him considerable problems.

Not to mention the women’s husbands …

It’s not surprising to find these anecdotes disturbing and even offensive, but I believe it would also be premature and simplistic to write off Richard Feynman as “sexist” across the board. People who want to accuse him of this seem to have inadvertently cherry-picked anecdotes; the nude painting in topless bars, the portrayal of a woman in a physics lesson as a clueless airhead, the propensity to lie on the beach and watch girls. But this view of Feynman misses the big picture. While not an excuse, several of his 1950s adventures were probably related to the deep pain and insecurity caused by the death of his first wife Arlene; by almost any account the two shared a very deep and special bond. It was also during the late 40s and early 50s that Feynman was doing some of his most intense work on quantum electrodynamics, and at least a few of the situations he narrates were part of him letting off steam.

Also importantly, while some of Feynman’s utterances and actions appear sexist to modern sensibilities, it’s worth noting that they were probably no different than the attitudes of a male-dominated American society in the giddy postwar years, a society in which women were supposed to take care of the house and children and men were seen as the bread winners. Thus, any side of Feynman that raises our eyebrows is really an aspect of a biased American society.

No, sleeping with other professors’ wives was bad form back then, too.

In addition, Feynman’s ploys to pick up girls in bars were – and in fact are – probably practiced by every American male seeking companionship in bars, whether consciously or unconsciously; what made Feynman different was the fact that he actually documented his methods, and he was probably the only scientist to do so.

No, a lot of guys simply won’t follow Feynman’s advice that the way to pick up women is by acting like a jerk toward them because they aren’t jerks.

In fact we can be thankful that society has now progressed to a stage where both genders can practice these mate-seeking strategies on almost equal terms, although the gap indicated by that “almost” deserves contemplation as an indication of the unequal bargaining power that women still have. The point though is that, whatever his actions appear like to a modern crowd, I do not think Richard Feynman was any more sexist than a typical male product of his times and culture. The fact that society in general behaved similarly to what he did of course does not excuse the things he did, but it also puts them in perspective. I think recognizing this perspective is important partly to understand how our views on sexism have changed for the better from 1950 to 2014. The encouraging development is that actions by Feynman – and male society in general – that were considered acceptable or amusing in 1950 would quite rightly cause instant outrage in 2014. We still have a long way to go before both genders achieve parity in science, but the change in attitudes is definitely encouraging.

However the fact that simply dismissing Feynman as sexist is problematic is ascertained by this 1999 article from the MIT Tech (by a woman) which gives us a more complete picture of his views toward women. As far as we know, there is no evidence that Feynman discriminated against women in his career; the letters he writes to women in the collection of letters edited by his daughter indicate no bias. Both male and female students admired him. His sister Joan documents how he was always supportive of her own career in physics. At one point he came to the aid of a female professor filing a discrimination suit at Caltech. In addition he was a devoted husband to his first and third wife and a loving and supportive father to his daughter who in fact tried hard to get her interested in science.

The irony thus seems to be that, just like Feynman was fond of generating cherry picked anecdotes about himself, we seem to be fond of generating skewed, cherry picked anecdotes about him that accuse him of sexism. In fact most conversations about Feynman seem to center on a few select anecdotes that showcase some side of his character, whether positive or negative, and this anecdotal reading of his life is something he himself encouraged. But a more complete view of Feynman’s life and career indicates otherwise. My own perceptions of Feynman have changed, and that’s the way it should be. At first I idolized Feynman like many others, but over time, as a more careful reading of his life revealed some of the unseemlier sides of his character, I became aware of his flaws. While I still love his lectures and science, these flaws have affected my perception of his personality, and I am glad they did. There are things that he said or did that are clearly wrong or questionable at the very least, but we can at least be grateful that we have evolved to a stage where even the few instances of his behavior that have been documented would not be tolerated on today’s college campuses and would be instantly condemned. As a man I do not now admire Feynman as much as I did before, but I am also glad to have a more complete understanding of his life and times.

However I think it’s also important that we don’t make the same mistake that the “Feynman industry” has made – focus on a part of the celebrated physicist’s life and ignore many others. Feynman was a brilliant physicist, Feynman was occasionally sexist – and sometimes disturbingly so- and Feynman also supported women in science. One reason why it’s interesting to explore these contradictory sides of Feynman’s personality is because he is not a scientist who is usually regarded as complicated and contradictory, but the facts indicate that he was. Feynman himself did a kind of disservice by sending a few wrong messages through the recounting of his adventures, and others have performed an equal disservice by embellishing his achievements and papering over his ugly side. But knowing his emphasis on honesty and integrity in science – one ethic that does consistently shine forth from the narrative of his life – he would almost certainly want us to do better. We can condemn parts of his behavior while praising his science. And we should.

Note: There were some things in the piece that did not seem to have come across as clearly as I meant them to; I apologize if this was the case. Firstly, when comparing Feynman’s behavior with other men I was not excusing it, I was saying that his behavior was a sad commentary on society as a whole, so he was not special; *most* men during those times were to blame for similar actions. Secondly, this post was about how Feynman’s image in my mind went down a notch with these revelations and I started to admire him less as a man. Thirdly, I wanted to point out some of the good things that he did for women in science and the fact that he did not professionally discriminate against them; the reason for doing this was to indicate that Feynman – a man who is usually not considered contradictory or complicated – was actually these things.

Writing this is now a fireable offense in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

Remember the good review of Nicholas Wade’s A Troublesome Inheritance in Scientific American? Well, that blogger, Ashutosh Jogalekar, has now been fired.

From the Washington Post:

What’s going on at Scientific American? Deleted posts, sexism claims, a fired writer.

By Paul Farhi July 16

Throughout its 169-year history, Scientific American has been an august and sober chronicler of the advance of human knowledge, from chemistry to physics to anthropology.

Lately, however, things have become kind of a mess.

A series of blog posts on the magazine’s Web site over the past few months has unleashed waves of criticism and claims that the publication was promoting racism, sexism and “genetic determinism.”

Late last week, the publication took down the latest alleged outrage, a post about the late physicist Richard Feynman and his notorious womanizing. Then it republished the post with an editor’s note explaining that it was restoring the article “in the interest of openness and transparency.”

And it fired the blogger who wrote it.

The trouble started in April when a guest blogger, a doctoral student named Chris Martin, wrote about Lawrence H. Summers’ assertions when he was president of Harvard University about the paucity of women in some scientific fields. While acknowledging that discrimination played a role in holding back women, Martin also concluded, “the latest research suggests that discrimination has a weaker impact than people might think, and that innate sex differences explain quite a lot.”

The post drew a sharp pushback, particularly on social media, from readers who questioned Martin’s scientific and cultural bona fides. “This slovenly article above is so full of outdated information it is painful,” wrote one commenter.

The second land mine was a post in May by Ashutosh Jogalekar, which favorably reviewed a controversial book by Nicholas Wade, “A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History.” Jogalekar praised the book, saying it confirms the need to “recognize a strong genetic component to [social and cognitive] differences” among racial groups.

This time, some social-media commenters accused Scientific American of promoting questionable racial theories. In early July, the reaction led the publication’s blog editor, Curtis Brainard, to post a note that read in part, “While we believe that [the racism and sexism] charges are excessive, we share readers’ concerns. Although we expect our bloggers to cover controversial topics from time to time, we also recognize that sensitive issues require extra care, and that did not happen here.”

The last straw was Jogalekar’s post on Friday about Feynman, the Nobel-winning father of quantum electrodynamics. Commenting on recent biographies of Feynman, Jogalekar noted the physicist’s “casual sexism,” including his affairs with two married women, his humiliation of a female student and his delight in documenting his strategies for picking up women in bars.

Feynman was a Pick-Up Artist and one chapter in his beloved memoir Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman is PUA advice on how to pick up women in bars by not being nice to them.

But while expressing disappointment in Feynman’s behavior, Jogalekar essentially dismissed it as a byproduct of the “male-dominated American society in the giddy postwar years.”

Within a day of the column’s appearance, Scientific American pulled it from its site, with another note from Brainard: “The text of this post has been removed because it did not meet Scientific American’s quality standards.”

One other thing: Jogalekar was fired. …

Pour encourager les autres

Jogalekar said his dust-up with the magazine left him disappointed, but not angry or bitter. He intends to continue blogging under his own heading, the Curious Wavefunction. “This was a teachable moment,” he said.

One lesson he said he learned: “Scientific American writes about some controversial topics, like climate change and [genetically modified organisms], and evolution. Race and sex are much more sensitive than GMO or climate change.”

Here’s a chunk of the offending Last Straw post by Jogalekar that got him fired:

Update: Because Feynman is a giant in both American science and in popularity among intelligent Americans, I’m going to put the rest of this beneath the fold and repeat it as a separate post:

Screenshot 2014-07-18 03.15.47

Since I got over 100 comments on that rather poorly laid-out and hence ambiguous sample question from the IQ test for applicants to Manhattan/Brooklyn private kindergartens, here is the final (and very Raven’sish) sample question from the sample test for the New York City public school Gifted and Talented admissions test for applicants born in 2009. ( Was anybody born in 2009? I’ve never seen that birthyear before… I would say that I feel old, except that I am old.)

Once again, this is a hardcore g Factor-measuring Raven’s-type IQ test question.

Screenshot 2014-07-18 02.23.36

Tyler Cowen links to somebody saying:

Accepting 60,000 children in a population of 317.2 million — less than two hundred-tenths of 1 percent (.02 percent) of our population — would hardly be straining our resources.

But of course this isn’t about “60,000 children,” it is a symbolic test of national will. If America fails it, then the message goes forth that the door is open in for anybody from anywhere in the world to head to Mexico, where trafficking routes into the U.S. are ready and willing to smuggle you into the welcoming hands of the United States federal government.

Central America has a population of 43 million. But what’s next? Perhaps northern South America, where Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia have a population around 130 million. How much can they send? Little Guyana in northeast South America has about 30 percent of its population living in the U.S. already, according to the Guyanese statehood movement.

Another possibility is the rapidly growing population of the Philippines, which will soon pass 100,000,000 in population. The Philippines has been one of the rare countries in the world where the Catholic Church really has kept contraceptives out of the hands of the poor, although it lost an important political battle last spring. (I’m guessing the Church’s power in the Philippines is because Cardinal Sin — yes, that was his real name — backed Mrs. Aquino after Ferdinand Marcos had her husband rubbed out in 1983.)

There are large Filipino populations in California and Nevada (Filipinos in Las Vegas got hammered by the mortgage meltdown in 2008, which helped Senator Reid win re-election in 2010.) They’ve tended to be middle class (i.e., 90th percentile) legal immigrants because a plane ticket from Manila to Los Angeles is expensive and you still need to talk your way past Customs and Immigration.

But the whole world is watching what’s happening at the Mexican border.

Without a firm response, a smuggling route from Manila through Mexico, following the route of the galleon trade of the 16th Century, could develop. Shipping is quite cheap these days, and Filipino peasants could be loaded in shipping containers for off-loading a couple of weeks later at the cartel-infested port of Port of Lázaro Cárdenas in Michoacán on Mexico’s Pacific coast. The Mexican government has plans to quintuple container traffic through this port, which is 400 miles closer by rail or road to Texas than the port of Los Angeles-Long Beach, by 2020.

Whether this precisely will happen is of course unlikely. But something rather like this is hardly improbable.

During the depths of the recent recession, it was common to hear from Establishment mouthpieces that the “undocumented worker” problem was a thing of the past because there was net zero migration from and to Mexico. So problem solved! Time for amnesty immigration reform. After all, nobody would ever come here from any country other than Mexico, right?

But back in 2005 I had calculated for VDARE.com that 4,976,000,000 people live in countries with lower average per capita GDPs than Mexico (using CIA World Factbook data).

Nine years later, it’s worth updating that statistic: the number of people in countries poorer than Mexico has risen to 5,762,000,000.

In the Western Hemisphere alone, 417,000,000 people live in countries poorer on average than Mexico.

Below the fold are all countries ranked by GDP per capita with populations:

From Happy Nice Time People, a recap of a Spring episode of Mike Judge’s HBO comedy “Silicon Valley” in which the Pied Piper startup hires a graffiti artist to devise a logo and paint it on their suburban garage door.

Erlich is pretty stoked he’s hired Chuy Ramirez, whose works hang in “the gallery of the streets,” to design their not f****** lame logo that totally won’t be interlocking lowercase P’s. But Chuy does not want your piddling “money”; he wants stock options, like the dude at Facebook, “David Choe, made like $100 million.”

The logo that Chuy comes up with is definitely Not Safe for Work. You’ll have to go look at it there. It’s perhaps inappropriate for a tech startup, but it would serve quite nicely as the logo of the American Establishment’s Central American Surge.

Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, VDARE.com columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

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