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 TeasersiSteve Blog

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From The Guardian:

Is the way we think about overpopulation racist?

Fred Pearce

Half the world lives in urban areas, yet environmental concerns about megacities often focus on developing economies. But consumption is as important as population

The article isn’t as bad as the headline.

But, we aren’t likely to help Africans stave off their onrushing overpopulation because we are so worried about thinking racist thoughts.

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David Brooks writes in the NYT:

Despite our differences, we devote our lives to the same experiment, the American experiment to draw people from around the world …

Can Mr. Brooks find any quotations from the Federalist Papers, the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble, or Washington’s Farewell Address to support his assumption that “the American experiment” was about immigration rather than self-government?

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New data from Stanford economist Raj Chetty. (Here’s my 2015 analysis of some of his old work.)

From the New York Times’ Upshot section:

Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys


Black boys raised in America, even in the wealthiest families and living in some of the most well-to-do neighborhoods, still earn less in adulthood than white boys with similar backgrounds, according to a sweeping new study that traced the lives of millions of children.

White boys who grow up rich are likely to remain that way. Black boys raised at the top, however, are more likely to become poor than to stay wealthy in their own adult households.

Even when children grow up next to each other with parents who earn similar incomes, black boys fare worse than white boys in 99 percent of America.

The study, based on anonymous earnings and demographic data for virtually all Americans now in their late 30s, debunks a number of other widely held hypotheses about income inequality. Gaps persisted even when black and white boys grew up in families with the same income, similar family structures, similar education levels and even similar levels of accumulated wealth. …

The disparities that remain also can’t be explained by differences in cognitive ability, an argument made by people who cite racial gaps in test scores that appear for both black boys and girls. If such inherent differences existed by race, “you’ve got to explain to me why these putative ability differences aren’t handicapping women,” said David Grusky, a Stanford sociologist who has reviewed the research.

So much for the Theory of Intersectionality.

Actually, the “putative” IQ differences are handicapping black women relative to white women: a much higher percentage of white women grew up in, say, the overall top one percent of income than did black women, just as cognitive test scores would predict. What Chetty has found is instead that there is a disparity between current income of black women and black men of the same income background.

It’s almost as if America has had a giant system of affirmative action over the last half century to benefit blacks, but it doesn’t work for blacks who are criminals. So it benefits black women far more than it benefits black men because of, as Chetty’s data demonstrates, the black males’ extremely high rate of serious criminality. (Here’s an Obama Administration report on how much higher the black homicide offender rate is.)

As for black women vs. white women, keep in mind, it’s not there are no differences in income distribution between white and black women — there are — it’s just that the small number of black women who grew up in affluent families tend to do about as well as white women who grew up in affluent families.

In contrast, black males growing up in all income levels have an unfortunate tendency to be keeping it real than white males who grew up in families at the same income level.

Technical question on Chetty’s methodology: I bet 27-32 year old white women in Utah earn less individually than black women.

Answer: It appears to be individual income for the children as adults, not family or household income (which is what is measured when they are children). Is this correct? If so, younger black women have long been known (see Thomas Sowell decades ago) to be more likely to be employed than white women, more of whom have husbands who can bring enough to support the family.

A more likely possibility, the authors suggest, is that test scores don’t accurately measure the abilities of black children in the first place. …

You know, maybe then somebody should invent a test that would be more accurate. They’d probably make a lot of money and win a lot of honors if they did.

If this inequality can’t be explained by individual or household traits, much of what matters probably lies outside the home — in surrounding neighborhoods, in the economy and in a society that views black boys differently from white boys, and even from black girls.

The authors, including the Stanford economist Raj Chetty and two census researchers, Maggie R. Jones and Sonya R. Porter, tried to identify neighborhoods where poor black boys do well, and as well as whites.

“The problem,” Mr. Chetty said, “is that there are essentially no such neighborhoods in America.”

The few neighborhoods that met this standard were in areas that showed less discrimination in surveys and tests of racial bias. They mostly had low poverty rates. And, intriguingly, these pockets — including parts of the Maryland suburbs of Washington, and corners of Queens and the Bronx

I.e., Prince George County, Maryland and the middle-class West Indian parts of New York, such as Eric Holder’s old neighborhood of West Indians that kept young Eric carefully wrapped in a bourgeois bubble away from poisonous African-American culture.

— were the places where many lower-income black children had fathers at home. Poor black boys did well in such places, whether their own fathers were present or not.

Because there aren’t street gangs to join and the other boys are scared their fathers would be mad if they started their own street gang.

The chief problem with being poor in 21st Century America is not that you can’t afford to buy enough stuff, it’s that you can’t afford to move away from other poor people.

“This crystallizes and puts data behind this thing that we always knew was there because we either felt it ourselves or we’ve seen it over time,” said Will Jawando, 35, who worked in the Obama White House on My Brother’s Keeper, a mentoring initiative for black boys. … Mr. Jawando, the son of a Nigerian father and a white mother, grew up poor in Silver Spring, Md. The Washington suburb contains some of the rare neighborhoods where black and white boys appear to do equally well. Mr. Jawando, who identifies as black, is now a married lawyer with three daughters. He is among the black boys who climbed from the bottom to the top.

Clearly, the solution is to breed more Jawando/Obama-style hybrids, and, ideally, raise them on sequestered islands in the Pacific.

Other studies show that boys, across races, are more sensitive than girls to disadvantages like growing up in poverty or facing discrimination.

Another way to think about this is that female behavior is relatively similar across cultures while male behavior is what determines the type of culture.

While black women also face negative effects of racism, black men often experience racial discrimination differently. As early as preschool, they are more likely to be disciplined in school. They are pulled over or detained and searched by police officers more often.

“It’s not just being black but being male that has been hyper-stereotyped in this negative way, in which we’ve made black men scary, intimidating, with a propensity toward violence,” said Noelle Hurd, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia. …

But of course we can tell from the racial distribution of NFL cornerbacks that it’s actually Asian Indians who are most sought out by pro teams for their ability to deal out instant violence to pass receivers.

The new data shows that 21 percent of black men raised at the very bottom were incarcerated, according to a snapshot of a single day during the 2010 census. Black men raised in the top 1 percent — by millionaires — were as likely to be incarcerated as white men raised in households earning about $36,000. …

See the graph above.

As this chart shows, a black man raised by two parents together in the 90th percentile — making around $140,000 a year — earns about the same in adulthood as a white man raised by a single mother making $60,000 alone.

Regression toward the mean.

Lots more interesting stuff here.

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“The Young Karl Marx” is a less than exciting but decent period biopic movie about Marx and Engels in their 20s from 1844-1848, featuring star turns from actresses playing the wives of the authors of The Communist Manifesto. The plot, which mostly consists of Marx and Engels arguing with other leftists like Proudhon and Bakunin, isn’t all that compelling but it’s presented with historical accuracy and lucidity. The sets of northern Europe during the hard times of the 1840s are wholly persuasive.

It’s more or less the opposite movie of the anti-Marxist The Death of Stalin.

This trilingual (German, French, and English) movie, directed by a Haitian named Raoul Peck, offers a more traditional economics-oriented interpretation of Marx in contrast to the more culturally-oriented Marx pioneered by the Frankfurt School based on Marx’s 1844 Manuscripts. Thus, we see Engels telling Marx he needs to learn English to read Adam Smith and David Ricardo (always confident, Marx replies, “I’m a quick learner”), followed by Marx wrestling with the Labor Theory of Value.

Marx is portrayed realistically as a sardonic man always assuming he’s the smartest guy in the room, while Engels is a rich kid of talent who chooses to play second banana to his buddy. The movie does not explore the question it inevitably raises: Would things have worked out better if Engels had been the more dominant personality?

Karl Marx is a traditional paterfamilias struggling to support his wife, growing number of children, and their servant; in contrast, Engels’ girlfriend is staunchly opposed to marriage and maternity but her sister isn’t. (After his girlfriend’s death, Engels married her sister right before his own death.)

The star turns in the movie come from the actresses playing Marx’s wife, the aristocrat Jenny von Westphalen, and Engel’s Irish working class girlfriend Mary Burns, played by Hannah Steele as the epitome of the Irish spitfire.

The lovely Mrs. Marx is portrayed by Vicky Krieps, the Luxembourg actress who more than held her own as Daniel Day-Lewis’s girlfriend in Paul Thomas Anderson’s recent The Phantom Thread. Krieps plays pretty much the same role: the genius’s muse whose fashion model willowiness makes her initially seem weak, but whose willpower eventually makes her a little scary.

Krieps tells a funny story about how she didn’t closely read the email from her agent asking her to make an audition tape for a film reuniting Anderson and Day-Lewis from There Will Be Blood, which is perhaps the most famous movie acting role of this century:

“When I made the tape I thought it was for a student film,” Krieps said. Anderson quickly snapped back, “The writing was that good.”

… Krieps didn’t even realize she’d be sharing much of the film with the three-time Oscar winner until three weeks after she was cast.

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James Levine, the conductor of the Metropolitan Opera of New York, had been notorious since the 1970s for running a gay sex cult for barely legal teenage boys who would do anything to be classical musicians. He finally got fired in the #MeToo purge. Now Levine’s suing on the grounds that he was really fired not for the gay sex cult stuff but for being elderly, fat, having Parkinson’s disease since 1994, in a wheelchair, and not very good at conducting anymore.

The suit accuses [Met executive] Mr. Gelb, who has been deferential to Mr. Levine in public, of engaging in “demeaning name-calling more usually associated with a childhood bully than a professional music administrator,” saying that Mr. Gelb had used the phrase the “2,000-pound elephant in the room,” which the suit interprets as a “blatant reference to Levine’s physical appearance.” It also claims that Mr. Gelb told Mr. Levine at least twice that he feared Mr. Levine was “going to have a heart attack” and die while conducting. …

Off topic, I’m always interested in how much people get paid:

As music director he was paid $700,000 a year, plus $50,000 for travel and expenses, and $27,000 per performance — more than the $17,000 that the Met usually describes as its top fee. (Mr. Levine’s contract prohibited the Met from paying anyone more than him for performances, unless he agreed.)

The Met puts on about 225 performances per year, employing multiple conductors. From Wikipedia:

In 2005, Levine’s combined salary from the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Met made him the highest-paid conductor in the country, at $3.5 million. … Levine was paid $2.1 million by the Met in 2010. … Levine was paid $1.8 million by the Met for the 2015/16 season.

So, it looks like bigshots in the opera/classical music business make about 10% of what equivalent superstars in sports or movies makes, although their careers tend to last much longer. For example, well known opera singers tend to own a swanky apartment in a major musical city near the concert hall, then trade with their peers so that while, say, the New York soprano is in Vienna, a tenor from Milan is staying in her apartment, while a Parisian baritone is in his flat in Milan. It sounds complicated but a pretty nice way to live.

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From the New York Times:


Since 1851, obituaries in The New York Times have been dominated by white men. Now, we’re adding the stories of remarkable women.


Ada Lovelace

A gifted mathematician who is now recognized as the first computer programmer.


… Lovelace lived during a time when women were not considered to be prominent scientific thinkers, and her skills were often described as masculine.

“With an understanding thoroughly masculine in solidity, grasp and firmness, Lady Lovelace had all the delicacies of the most refined female character,” said an obituary at the time she died.

[Charles] Babbage, who called her the “enchantress of numbers,” once wrote that she “has thrown her magical spell around the most abstract of Sciences and has grasped it with a force which few masculine intellects (in our own country at least) could have exerted over it.”

Okay … But Countess Ada Lovelace was neither overlooked during her own lifetime, when she was famous for her mind in Society.

For instance, her death made the front page of the NY Times on December 15, 1852:

Screenshot 2018-03-19 01.14.52

Nor has Ada, the Countess Lovelace, been ignored over the last 40 or 50 years. In the late 1970s the Pentagon named after her its new programming language Ada that it tried to impose on all defense contractors.

For example, from the Washington Post on the day after the 2016 election:

Clinton’s data-driven campaign relied heavily on an algorithm named Ada. What didn’t she see?

By John Wagner November 9, 2016 Email the author

Inside Hillary Clinton’s campaign, she was known as Ada. Like the candidate herself, she had a penchant for secrecy and a private server. As blame gets parceled out Wednesday for the Democrat’s stunning loss to Republican President-elect Donald Trump, Ada is likely to get a lot of second-guessing.

Ada is a complex computer algorithm that the campaign was prepared to publicly unveil after the election as its invisible guiding hand. Named for a female 19th-century mathematician — Ada, Countess of Lovelace — the algorithm was said to play a role in virtually every strategic decision Clinton aides made, including where and when to deploy the candidate and her battalion of surrogates and where to air television ads — as well as when it was safe to stay dark.

On a more positive note, Thomasina, the heroine of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, likely the greatest English stage drama of the late 20th Century, appears to be a fictionalized cross between Ada and, I’m guessing, Sir Tom himself.

The real Ada was, like her friend Charles Babbage, a major celebrity in her own time. It hardly hurt that she was the only legitimate child of the most famous man in Europe in the post-Waterloo era, the poet Lord Byron. Nor did it hurt that she was born an aristocrat and married an aristocrat.

In particular, her having a rather masculine turn of intellect made her more renown during her life.

For example, in 1844 a bestseller a anticipating Darwin’s theory of evolution (although not his theory of natural selection) was published anonymously under the title Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation. Vestiges paved the way for Darwin’s Origin of Species to be so rapidly accepted by educated opinion 15 years later: the war over six-day creationism had been fought in the 1840s. Historian James Secord has written a spectacular book, Victorian Sensation, on the impact that Vestiges made on everybody from Queen Victoria to Abraham Lincoln.

Guessing who the author was became a huge game in educated Britain, with some of the less common suggestions being Charles Darwin and Charles Babbage. But, Secord writes:

Two names dominated gossip in fashionable society when the sensation was at its height: Ada, countess of Lovelace and Byron’s only legitimate daughter; and Sir Richard Vyvyan, a leader of the opposition to the widening of the franchise in the 1832 Reform Bill. Both belonged to the hereditary aristocracy, which shows why the book was often read as emanating from the centers of metropolitan wealth and power. Both were strong possibilities, having written anonymously on the sciences before.

As it turned out to the surprise of most, the real author was a hard-working but fairly obscure Scottish journalist and golf course architect named Robert Chambers, who had come up with the idea that everything is the product of “development” while recovering from overwork by playing golf daily on The Old Course at St. Andrews, a links that had developed over centuries of play without much in the way of intelligent design until about Chambers’ day.

The reason the contributions to the theory of computer science by Lovelace (and Babbage) was overlooked in late 19th and early 20th century was of course because there were no computers. Babbage’s famous (at the time) and well-funded Analytical Engine project had failed. Similarly, nobody much cared about Leonardo da Vinci’s helicopter sketch until after the helicopter had been invented.

It would be interesting to look into whether Lovelace’s idea that her friend Babbage’s engine could turn into a general purpose computer contributed to Babbage’s notorious problem with specification creep. If he’d been able to say Enough! to what his engine was supposed to do, he might have gotten it finished. But I don’t know if Lovelace’s ideas worsened Babbage’s failings.

Interestingly, Chambers was mostly overlooked during his own lifetime (not revealing himself as the author of the bestseller until decades later), nor since then, although Secord’s book does much to revive the man’s memory.

The link between Chambers’ evolutionary thinking and his obsession with links golf courses that had originally evolved without a designer has likewise been forgotten. This is even though Chambers’ great-grandson, golf architect Sir Guy Campbell, cowrote a history of golf in the 1950s with Darwin’s grandson Bernard Darwin, spelling out how the St. Andrews links had evolved over the eons.

One could imagine an alternative universe in which golf courses are a prime subject for intellectualizing and thus Chambers is a famous figure in intellectual history. But that’s not the one we live in.

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Screenshot 2018-03-18 16.09.01

From the Washington Post:

Is your spin class too young, too thin and too white?

By Lavanya Ramanathan March 18 at 7:00 AM


After a few committed months of hot yoga at a studio in New York, Christina Rice had found her niche. So when the studio announced that it was offering teacher training, she signed right up.

It was only when she arrived with her mat that she noticed something striking.

There were 54 other women and men in the 10-week course, and not one of them looked like her. She was the lone African American in the class.

“I did bond with some of the other students,” says Rice. “But I did feel very isolated at times. There were no teachers of color. I didn’t have another woman who looked like me, who understood my struggles, my insecurities.”

Boutique workout studios — specialized, exercise-specific gyms — are exploding in gentrifying urban areas. They include not only hot yoga but also CrossFit, which is everywhere; Barry’s Bootcamp (in Los Angeles, Nashville and Washington, along with other major cities); SoulCycle (nearly 20 markets); or Orangetheory (hundreds of studios nationwide).

They are the modern answer to the sprawling, soulless gym, which insists on financial commitment but doesn’t really care whether you actually work out. …

Fads are helpful in fitness because they give hope.

And like Rice, other fitness junkies have begun to notice who isn’t coming. Sweat through a class in one of these studios and it’s very possible that you’ll see it, too: many, many lithe young white bodies and very few people of color. Or older or heavier exercisers.

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From the New York Times oped page:

Anti-Semitism Is Rising. Why Aren’t American Jews Speaking Up?

Jonathan Weisman (@jonathanweisman) is an editor in the Washington bureau of The New York Times and the author of “(((Semitism))): Being Jewish in America in the Age of Trump,” from which this essay was adapted.

Anti-Semitic hate crimes are on the rise, up 57 percent in 2017 from 2016, the largest single-year jump on record, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Of course, as you recall, many of them were hate hoaxes perpetrated by that Jewish guy in Israel, the black leftist journalist, and who knows how many more hoaxers? But how can anybody expect New York Times editor Jonathan Weisman to remember all the way back to 2017?

I have personally seen the anti-Semitism, in online insults, threatening voice mail messages and the occasional email that makes it through my spam filter.

I think a fair amount of the agitation of elite journalists comes from their largely committing to Twitter a half decade ago. The seemingly minor differences in how Twitter worked from how email, comments, discussion groups and so forth had operated led to a huge growth in ethnic paranoia among their ranks, as the title of Weisman’s book suggests. (I’ll try to flesh this theory out more when Weisman’s book arrives.)

If not quite a crisis, it feels like a proto-crisis, something to head off, especially when the rise of anti-Semitism is combined with hate crimes against Muslims, blacks, Hispanics and immigrants. Yet American Jewish leaders — the heads of influential, established organizations like the American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Federations of North America — have been remarkably quiet, focused instead, as they have been for decades, on Israel, not the brewing storm in our own country.

But American Jews need to assert a voice in the public arena, to reshape our quiescent institutions and mold them in our image. And Jewish leadership must reflect its congregants, who are not sheep.

When the Anti-Defamation League, a century-old institution founded to combat anti-Semitism, released its guide to the “Alt Right and Alt Lite” last year, Ohio’s Republican state treasurer, Josh Mandel, who is Jewish, actually expressed support for two of the people on the list: Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec, conservative provocateurs who have found notoriety in the Trump era. …

Mr. Cernovich advocates I.Q. tests for immigrants and “no white guilt,” and is an unapologetic misogynist. …

For drawing attention to these men, the Anti-Defamation League was tarred as a partisan organization by an elected Jewish Republican. …

Institutions matter, but they do not survive on their own. At the moment, the Anti-Defamation League is an institution under concerted attack — and it is not being defended. And so far, nothing else has arisen to forcefully take a stand in the Jewish fight against bigotry. …

Truth must also be defended, which is what groups like the league and the Southern Poverty Law Center try to do as they expose hate. …

For Jews, this is personal. Had ordinary Germans and Poles and Ukrainians and Austrians and Frenchmen not played along, had they continued to shop in Jewish establishments and visit Jewish doctors, the Final Solution may, just may, not have been quite so final. …

Why can’t the domestic apparatus of the American Jewish Committee reconstitute itself at the request of Jewish donors and members, and the Anti-Defamation League assert itself, like the Southern Poverty Law Center, in the arena of bigotry without fear of being charged with partisanship?

In the early 1930s, as Hitler …

iSteve commenter Anonym notes:

Help! The poor, defenceless Anti-Defamation League is being defamed! There needs to be some sort of organization, maybe a League, to defend the ADL. An ADL for the ADL. That’s a great idea.

But hey, what if the ADL for the ADL comes under attack by virulent anti-Semites? The only foolproof solution is an ADL for the ADL for the ADL.

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From Wired:


WIRED EDITOR-IN-CHIEF NICHOLAS Thompson interviewed YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki on Tuesday at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. Here is an edited transcript of the talk.

But, of course, Wired didn’t ask Ms. Wojcicki about her central role in getting James Damore fired. Why not? Well, would you want to get the head censor of the video monopoly mad at you if you put videos on Youtube?

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At Bloody Shovel, Spandrell blogs:

Mistakes happen for a reason

… Which leads me to this article ["Mistake vs. Conflict"] by Scott Alexander. He elaborates on an idea by one of his ingroup about their being two ways of looking at things, “mistake theory” and “conflict theory”. Mistake theory claims that political opposition comes from a different understanding of issues: if people had the same amount of knowledge and proper theories to explain it, they would necessarily agree. Conflict theory states that people disagree because their interests conflict, the conflict is zero-sum so there’s no reason to agree, the only question is how to resolve the conflict.

… Mistake theory and Conflict theory are not parallel things. “Mistake theory” is just the natural, tribalist way of thinking. It assumes an ingroup, it assumes the ingroup has a codified way of thinking about things, and it interprets all disagreement as a lack of understanding of the obviously objective and universal truths of the ingroup religion. There is a reason why liberals call “ignorant” all those who disagree with them. Christians used to be rather more charitable on this front and asked for “faith”, which they also assumed was difficult to achieve.

Conflict theory is one of the great achievements of the human intellect; it is an objective, useful and predictively powerful way of analyzing human disagreement. There is a reason why Marxist historiography revolutionized the world and is still with us: Marx made a strong point that human history was based on conflict. Which is true. It is tautologically true. If you understand evolution it stands to reason that all social life is about conflict.

Or it can be about setting up systems to reduce conflict, such as having separate countries or, horrors, separate country clubs.

The fight for genetical survival is ultimately zero-sum

Ehhh … we have a lot more people around today than in 10,000 BC.

and even in those short periods of abundance when it is not, the fight for mating supremacy is very much zero-sum, and we are all very much aware of that today. Marx focused on class struggle for political reasons, which is wrong, but his focus on conflict was a gust of fresh air for those who enjoy objective analysis.

Incidentally the early Chinese thinkers understood conflict theory very well, which is why Chinese civilization is still around, the oldest on earth.

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From The Atlantic:

The Refugee Detectives

Inside Germany’s high-stakes operation to sort people fleeing death from opportunists and pretenders


The reporter looks through a stack of refugees’ resumes:

… The other trait distinguishing these résumés was that nearly every one contained what I, as someone whose job often involves listening skeptically to people’s stories, would call irregularities, little details that seemed odd, that begged for explanation. An Afghan with no formal education claimed to know a language not spoken in any country she had visited; an African doctor whose CV could have gotten him a job with the World Health Organization in a week was working a cash register in Bridgeport. Two refugees claimed to be from, respectively, Zambia and Tanzania, countries without war or persecution that could justify asylum. (The refugees had almost certainly claimed different nationalities in their application for asylum.) Another said she was from the Democratic Republic of the Congo—a major generator of refugees—but spoke languages that suggested origin in the now relatively safe country of Rwanda. It was as if the center had sent me a dozen jigsaw puzzles, all with either missing pieces or extra ones.

All of the refugees were qualified to clean my house. (The doctor was overqualified, and I wondered whether I should be cleaning his.) But detail after detail hoisted my eyebrows. An asylum officer had heard each story—or some variant of it—and judged the claimant credible enough to welcome him into the United States. For my part, it was hard not to conclude that most of the stories were shot through with lies.

A lot of refugees are simply economic migrants. Some others are genuine refugees in that folks back home in, say, Rwanda might have it in for you. But that isn’t always because they hate you in the abstract, sometimes it’s because they hate you personally, for say, hacking their mothers to death during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. (And there is usually some other country closer to your home country where you Retired Death Squad Leaders can more cheaply find refuge.)

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From the San Jose Mercury-News:

H-1B: BART reluctantly allows group to paper stations, trains with ads attacking visa

By ETHAN BARON | | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: March 17, 2018 at 6:30 am

A group opposed to U.S. immigration policies has papered Bay Area BART stations and trains with hundreds of ads critical of the H-1B visa program, targeting their message at local tech workers.

“Your companies think you are expensive, undeserving & expendable,” say the ads, paid for by Progressives for Immigration Reform. “Congress, fix H-1B law so companies must seek & hire U.S. workers!” …

BART said that Progressives for Immigration Reform spent $80,000 on the ad campaign, which is to run through mid-April. The group bought more than 250 panel ads and 100 smaller in-train ads, which will be seen on both sides of the Bay, a BART spokesperson said.

“BART does not endorse these ads,” the transportation agency said in a statement. “BART is a safe and welcoming system for all people.”

It’s almost as if the (literally) Richest Men in the History of the World had propagandized the conventional wisdom into assuming that their special interest immigration loophole didn’t exist to make them richer, it existed as a desperate last-ditch defense against the Silicon Valley Ku Klux Klan nightriders galloping through the BART stations.

But the messaging complies with free speech laws, the agency said.

“BART must post these ads to comply with the law,” the agency said. “Court rulings reinforce the fact that we can’t deny the ads.”

One man at San Francisco’s Civic Center BART station said the ads appeared designed to fuel animosity between U.S. and foreign workers. “It seems misplaced and it seems like it’s probably going to be ineffective and it seems like the purpose of it is to get people mad,” said the man, who declined to be identified because he said he is in the U.S. on a work visa and authorities announced in September they were expanding monitoring of non-citizens. “Most of the people I know in San Francisco are incredibly pro-immigration.”

Kevin Lynn, executive director of Progressives for Information Reform, said the goal of the ad campaign is to call attention to abuses in the H-1B program that disadvantage workers in science, technology, math and engineering fields. …

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For the first time in NCAA basketball tournament history, a #16 seed, U. of Maryland Baltimore County, beat a #1 seed, U. of Virginia, a convincing 74-54 drubbing. The #16 (lowest) seeded team had lost something like 132 times in a row to a regional top seed since the NCAA expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

By the way, back in 2000, the legendary social analyst La Griffe du Lion pointed out an effective program aimed at quality black students at UMBC.

Anyway, back to fun and games.

Why did #16 teams never win before, while #15 teams had beaten #2 teams 8 ties. Some was bad luck.

But it was back when they had a 64 team field, the #16 seeds in the 4 regions tended to be bad teams that the NCAA had to take for some contractual reason: e.g., a team that went 11-16 but got lucky and won their crummy conference’s tournament. (The NCAA often has a contract obligating it to take at least one team from each conference, and there are some very obscure conferences out there.) So there was a big fall off in quality from #15 to #16 seeds. The #15s were teams the NCAA thought had a little something on the ball, but the #16s were in the tournament for fluke reasons. So it wasn’t too rare for a #15 to beat a #2, but #16s only came close to beating #1s a few times. (E.g., Princeton played a slow-down game to give itself better odds of getting lucky.)

But then they expanded the tournament to 68 teams and now have the 8 lowest seeded teams playoff for the 4 #16 spots, so #16s are probably better these days than, say, in the 1980s. Now the #16s are all teams that managed to win a game earlier this week, so they are likely healthier and playing better than #16s in the past.

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Here’s a pretty obvious question but not one that comes up much in American discourse. In America, many ethnics group have tended to stumble into a certain number of careers in which, whether or not they have above average natural talent, they can build up some expertise and networks of connections.

For example, lots of Cambodians run donut shops. There were no donuts in Cambodia, it’s just, according to the usual story, that in 1975 a Cambodian refugee named Ted Ngoy arrived and got a job at Winchell’s and started the snowball rolling.

There are advantages to going into the donut racket if lots of your relatives are in donuts.

On the other hand, black Americans aren’t allowed to specialize very much outside of fields where they have obvious natural and cultural advantages. In sports, we see African Americans have largely lost interest in baseball, not because they are bad at it but because they’ve specialized in basketball and football.

But blacks aren’t really allowed to specialize in other careers because of the enormous insistence on Diversity.

For example, one thing that has become clear during the Amy Wax go-round has been that the law appears to be a career that is evaluated on such a ruthlessly meritocratic of a combination of IQ and work effort that blacks ought to get some frank advice before assuming they’ll go to law school.

At the highest levels of the law, a winning personality presumably helps. But to get there it’s mostly a very long hard slog of thinking hard about unfun things. The legal profession therefore offers a fair amount of affirmative action at its lower rungs, but affirmative action runs out toward the top: there’s not much affirmative action for making partner.

There’s not, however, a lot of advice for young blacks that maybe law isn’t what they are looking for. (I did find some here from Elie Mystal.) In fact, our society has largely convinced itself that the solution to black people’s problems is for whites to try even harder to lure more blacks into whatever white people career they are in: law, architecture, acting, etc.

In fact, have any social scientists ever honestly studied which careers tend to work out better for blacks of a certain level? For example, say somebody is black, 17, has a 3.5 high school GPA and scored an above average 550 on both the math and verbal parts of the SAT. What are promising careers to consider? What are careers to watch out for?

This would seem like a good question for social scientists to research. The 1979 and 1997 National Longitudinal Studies of Youth might be a starting point for data.

Has anybody ever published on the topic?

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From Dave Barry’s 1999 novel Big Trouble, here’s a description of a Miami construction company named Penultimate:

Penultimate was as good at municipal corruption as it was bad at actually building things. In political circles, it was well known that Penultimate could be absolutely relied upon to do the wrong thing. In South Florida, a reputation like that is priceless.

Granted, sometimes there were problems. There was the time Penultimate won a large contract to build a prisoner-detention facility in downtown Miami. … During a bad lightning storm shortly after the facility went into service, a number of key doors simply opened themselves, leaving it up to the prisoners to decide, on the honor system, whether they wished to remain in jail. … The highlight came when the capture of an escaped prisoner was shown live, nationally, on the NBC Nightly News. A reporter shouted to the prisoner, as he was being hustled into a police cruiser, “Who masterminded the escape?”

“Ain’t nobody masterminded shit,” the prisoner shouted back. “The mufuh doors opened.”

Even by Miami standards, this was considered a major screwup. Under intense pressure from the media, Penultimate explained, through its dense firewall of high-priced attorneys, that all the blame belonged to … subcontractors. The politicians, who did not want Penultimate to get into trouble, inasmuch as almost all of them had received money from the company, pounced on this explanation like wild dogs on a pork chop: Yes! That was it! Subcontractors were responsible!

Unfortunately for the cause of justice, most of the key subcontractors involved either fled the country or died, generally in boating accidents. Eventually, the investigation lost steam, and the issue degenerated into a vast steaming bog of lawsuits and counter-lawsuits that would not be settled within the current geological era. Everybody lost interest, and Penultimate went back to winning contracts.

One of these was for a six-story downtown parking garage that wound up costing, what with one thing and another, just under four times the original contract figure. Each price increase was approved with virtually no discussion by key political leaders, who were invited to make speeches at the garage dedication ceremony, which fortunately was held outside the structure, which is why only two people were injured when the entire central portion of the structure collapsed during the opening prayer.

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Who can remember all the way back to who punched whom in 2016? From the New York Times news section:

Assaults Increased When Cities Hosted Trump Rallies, Study Finds

A study published on Friday appears to confirm what news reports suggested long ago: President Trump’s campaign rallies were associated with a rise in violence when they came to town.

A city that hosted a Trump rally saw an average of 2.3 more assaults reported on the day of the event than on a typical day, according to the study, led by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and published in the journal Epidemiology. The authors found no corresponding link between assaults and rallies for Mr. Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

“It appeared to be a phenomenon that’s unique to Donald Trump’s rally,” said Christopher Morrison, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania and the lead author of the study.

It may come as little surprise that the rallies were associated with increased violence, as the often volcanic clashes between Mr. Trump’s supporters and opponents were widely covered at the time.

In March 2016 alone, a Trump rally in Chicago was called off after violent clashes broke out, while an anti-Trump protester was punched at a rally in North Carolina and another was punched and kicked at a rally in Arizona. The following month, several Trump supporters were assaulted at a California rally. …

The supporters also often aimed offensive and violent rhetoric at Mrs. Clinton, suggesting she be killed. …

The researchers offered two explanations for the increase in assaults. Either they were the result of clashes at or near the rallies, or they occurred elsewhere in the cities after the aggressive mood on display by Mr. Trump, his supporters or his opponents had spread through “social contagion.”

It’s like how when Charles Murray came to Middlebury to talk about social science findings, violence broke out.

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With the brouhaha going on over Penn law professor Amy Wax spilling the beans on the impact of affirmative action on student performance at Penn law school, it’s worth taking a look at couple of tables I assembled for my 2009 VDARE article on standardized test scores for postgrad admission tests.

GMAT = Graduate Management Admission Test (Business School)
GRE = Graduate Record Exam (general grad school)
LSAT = Law School Admission Test
MCAT = Medical College Admission Test
DAT = Dental Admission Test

To make all the numbers comprehensible, I’ve converted them to show where the mean for each race would fall in percentile terms relative to the distribution of scores among non-Hispanic white Americans. Most of us have some sense of what the distribution of talent is among whites—political correctness doesn’t demand we avert our eyes when it comes to whites—so I’ll use whites as benchmarks.

Screenshot 2018-03-16 15.50.02

Thus, for example, on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), the gatekeeper for the M.B.A. degree, the mean score for whites falls, by definition, at the 50th percentile of the white distribution of scores. The mean score for black test-takers would rank at the 13th percentile among whites. Asians average a little better than the typical white, scoring at the 55th percentile.

If we look at how many people of each group take the test, we can understand the variations in average score a little better.

Screenshot 2018-03-16 15.51.53

Mexicans score fairly decently in part because they aren’t that ambitious: not very many Mexicans take post-grad tests, while blacks tend to have a higher estimate of their chances.

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In The Spectator of London, conservative-leaning American lady novelist Lionel Shriver writes about Britain:

How mass immigration drives the housing crisis

It’s the one reason for this worsening problem that blinkered liberals choose to ignore
Lionel Shriver

17 March 2018

… At a Radio 3 Free Thinking event last weekend, I all but came to blows with my panel’s ‘rational optimist’, who believes that continued human population growth will be both modest and benign. The moment I mentioned the inevitable pressures on Europe of mass migration, the poor gentleman exploded, as if I’d tripped the pin on one of those grenades cropping up on the dodgier streets of Sweden. Something about how we screwed up in Libya, and the needs of the NHS…

But let’s look at this housing business. It took half a century for the UK population to rise from 50.3 million in 1950 to 59.1 million in 2000. During that period, the foreign-born population rose from 4.3 per cent to 8.8 per cent — so a measure of that increase was already accounted for by newcomers. After an inflow historically unprecedented for this country, this brief century alone has seen the UK population shoot up to 65.6 million (as of January 2017), 14 per cent of whom were foreign-born as of 2016. We’re now adding another half-million every year. …

Oxford demographer David Coleman estimates that 85 per cent of the UK’s population increase from 2000 to 2015 is explained by migrants and their children. All these new people have to live somewhere. The pressure on housing, among many other social provisions, is intensified by the fact that on average foreign-born mothers have more children (2.06 in 2016) than women born in Britain (only 1.75). …

We’ve heard about Britain’s recent ‘mini-baby boom’, but its primary cause isn’t native-born women hitting up the NHS for IVF in their forties and having triplets. It’s not appreciably caused by immigrants from eastern Europe, either. As of 2011, mothers born in Poland averaged 2.1 children — while mothers born in Pakistan had 3.8, and mothers born in Somalia had 4.2. So even Brexit — assuming it actually happens, and actually curtails freedom of movement (ha! on both counts) — may not appreciably constrain foreign increase.

The housing crunch is further complicated by the fact that so many immigrants settle in the southeast, where residential shortages are keenest. The population of Greater London in 2017 was 8.8 million, a rise of 400,000 over the previous five years. Greater London housed only 7.1 million people in 1997, when Blair opened the gates to permanent visitors. That’s 1.7 million more residents in two decades — an increase of over a quarter, two-thirds of which occurred in only the last ten years. …

An astonishing 58.2 per cent of births in London were to foreign-born mothers. …

Hey, I know all about the fact that immigrants to the UK take up space, because I am a UK immigrant. …

Indeed, most immigration statistics are untrustworthy — because they’re too low. … Government has a) no idea how to track people with every motivation to keep off the radar, and b) every motivation itself to underestimate an unpopular social phenomenon, with a range of adverse consequences, that it cannot seem to control.

Do I sound bigoted? People can be bigoted, but facts can’t be. …

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Palo Alto, California has notoriously expensive housing. From Trulia:

Palo Alto market trends indicate an increase of $200,000 (9%) in median home sales over the past year. The average price per square foot for this same period rose to $1,519, up from $1,405.

And a lot of these 2,000 square foot homes selling for $3 million in Palo Alto are 70-year old ranch houses.

Here’s a proposal: Make Stanford University build housing on its nearly 5,000 acres (about 7.5 square miles) of undeveloped land. It would still have over 3,000 acres left over.

At a comfortable 3 houses per acre, that would accommodate about 50,000 people in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

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

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