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I was walking down Ventura Blvd. a few days ago, when I saw a wiry Latino man laying in the driveway leading to the big parking garage. I went over and told him to get up, somebody was going to to make a quick turn into the driveway and crush his skull like a ripe melon, and that wasn’t fair to the poor driver. He opened his mouth and a big cloud of marijuana smoke came out. He sat up, then laid down again and went back to sleep with his head in the driveway.

So I got out my phone and called 911. I stood there blocking the driveway for about 3 minutes until a fire department ambulance pulled up to deal with him and then I went on my way.

That got me thinking about the Kitty Genovese story.

When I was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, one of the most famous Moral Lessons of Our Time was the 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese. It came up all the time in editorials, sermons, graduation speeches, and other forms of upbraiding uplift: All Americans were guilty of apathy, of not wanting to get involved.

The one thing the murder of Kitty Genovese didn’t have much to do with in the respectable discourse of the time was crime. Or if it did, it was proof that Society’s Apathy was preventing us from dealing with the Root Causes of Crime, such as poverty.

The official lesson that respectable, law-abiding citizens were to blame for the woman’s murder was driven home by the famous first sentence of the New York Times article about

“For more than half an hour thirty-eight respectable, law-abiding citizens in Queens watched a killer stalk and stab a woman in three separate attacks in Kew Gardens.”

That turns out to have been quite exaggerated, although still true to some extent.

There really often is a “bystander effect” in which individual witnesses assume that somebody else will get around to calling the cops.

For example, I can recall a fireman coming to visit St. Francis de Sales in the late 1960s to talk about Fire Safety. He told us about a lumberyard that a thousand people watched burn to the ground over two hours but nobody called the fire department because everyone assumed somebody else in the big crowd had.

I took that lesson to heart.

But the fireman’s story about the lumberyard was memorable because it was kind of funny, while the Kitty Genovese parable was usually presented in a morally bullying Sixties fashion about What’s Wrong With Society.

But the more I think about the Kitty Genovese story, the more I think it reflects the kind of distractionary tactics we’ve all seen since then. The story was pushed hard by NYT editor A.M. Rosenthal, who was kind of a genius and kind of not quite right in the head.

There really were big, frightening changes going on in American society in 1964, and the Kitty Genovese case was reflective of them, but they weren’t ones that we were supposed to talk about. So we all ended up talking about Apathy.

Looking back, Kitty Genovese’s murder seems reflective of two big 1960s changes, just not the ones we were supposed to notice:

1960s image of mugger

First, I had never heard until very recently that the murderer, Winston Moseley, was black. A historic black crime wave was washing over New York City in 1964, but the race of the confessed killer wasn’t mentioned in the famous NYT article. In fact, I don’t recall the killer’s race ever being mentioned in the 1960s/1970s. As a child, I just assumed he looked like all the muggers in cartoons then. I can see now that mentioning that the killer was black would have been distracting from the political lessons White America was supposed to be draw at the climax of the Civil Rights era.

As feminist Susan Brownmiller pointed out in the 1970s, sex crimes tended to have political connotations. The big increase in black-on-white sex crimes in New York City, Brownmiller suggested, weren’t unrelated to black liberation. But that’s complicated and distasteful, so let talk about Apathy.

Second, Moseley was a serial killer, a sex maniac who confessed to murdering two other women. He wasn’t just some complete loser: he had a white collar job, a wife, two kids, a mortgage, and a 3 digit IQ. He was just evil.

But, as Bill James’ recent book, Popular Crime, noted, the concept of “serial killer” didn’t really exist yet, so there wasn’t a conceptual nook for Moseley yet. Moreover, although there had been what we’d think of as serial killers in the past, they appear, if James can be trusted on this subject, to have grown enormously in numbers in the 1960s and the 1970s, the objective correlative of the madness of the times.


From the New York Times:

Chinese and South Korean Students Face Fallout From Suspicions of SAT Cheating


BEIJING — The announcement by administrators of the SAT college entrance test that scores are being withheld for students from China and South Korea who took the exam earlier this month has infuriated many and raised anxiety about what for a number of them is a high-stakes college application process.

The Educational Testing Service, the company that administers the test worldwide, said Wednesday that it was withholding the scores of those who took the test on Oct. 11, at least temporarily, because of suspicions of cheating “based on specific, reliable information.” The company referred in a statement to “organizations that seek to illegally obtain test materials for their own profit, to the ultimate detriment of all students. …

The Institute of International Education estimates that from 2012 to 2013, China accounted for 29 percent of foreign students at American colleges and universities, and South Korea 9 percent. Those were the largest and third-largest contributors to the international student pool in the United States, while India was second, at 12 percent.

In recent years, SAT administrators have uncovered several cases of widespread cheating on the exams and taken action. In particular, people at some test preparation schools were accused of acquiring and sharing test questions in advance.

In 2007, administrators voided 900 SAT scores from South Korea. Last year, administrators canceled an exam in South Korea scheduled for May 2013 after accusations of attempts at widespread cheating were reported in the domestic news media. That forced some of the 1,500 South Korean students who had signed up for the exam to scramble to apply to take the exam elsewhere.

In November 2013, South Korean prosecutors said they had indicted eight “SAT brokers” who had hired students to memorize questions of exams taken abroad or posed as test-takers themselves, using secret cameras to take pictures of questions. Prosecutors also indicted 22 managers and teachers at test preparation companies in South Korea for buying the illegally acquired SAT data.

In both South Korea and China, academic cheating has been a long-running problem. Professors, officials and celebrities have been exposed for having plagiarized dissertations or even faked degrees.

South Korea is known for its hypercompetitive educational system, and several of its high schools are famous for astounding placement rates at Ivy League colleges and universities.

Elite Chinese schools have yet to reach the same placement levels, but test preparation companies and college application consultancies have proliferated in recent years. Middle-class and wealthy Chinese parents are spending large sums of money to try to bolster their children’s chances of getting into a respected college abroad.


In response to my Taki’s Magazine article on President Obama’s curious Indonesian connections, John Seiler points out California Governor Jerry Brown, who is running next week for his fourth term since the mid-1970s, inherited most of his money from his father Governor Pat Brown’s dubious oil deal with General Suharto’s Indonesian dictatorship.

After he was defeated by Ronald Reagan in 1966, Pat didn’t have much money in the bank, so he signed a deal to represent the interests of a huge Indonesian oil firm controlled by the military dictatorship that took over in the mass slaughter of 1965-66. There were some very delicate issues of California’s smog control rules that could freeze Indonesian oil out of the California market or let Indonesian oil in while freezing the new Alaskan oil out. So, Pat Brown got a cut of every barrel imported into the state from Indonesia while his son was governor for eight years.

The generals who ruled Indonesia from 1975-1998 were pretty nasty fellows, but they weren’t much criticized in the U.S. until the dictator Suharto got old and lost some hop off his fastball in the 1990s. In comparison to Ferdinand Marcos, who was widely criticized in the U.S. press even long before a political rival was shot in 1983, the Indonesian government suffered little media acrimony. They were seen as very Third World, anti-colonial. And they were in OPEC, so don’t mess with them.

I can recall Noam Chomsky writing a couple of pieces in the Los Angeles Times around 1975 denouncing Indonesia’s takeover of the collapsing Portuguese empire’s East Timor colony, but Chomsky was pretty alone on this, since it just seemed like anti-colonialism in action. Few in the U.S. cared much about East Timor until much later.


Commenter Harry Baldwin notes:

This [viral video of a pretty white women being harassed on the streets of New York mostly by male People of Color] is just another one of those occasions where the various members of the Rag Tag coalition are reminded that they may not be true comrades.

This reminds me of one of Steve’s posts on microaggressions from last year. The microaggression one woman reported was all the Nicaraguan men catcalling at her when she walked down a street in that country: “Hey! White girl! I love you! You are beautiful! Shouted to me on the street 15+ times a day during my study abroad experience in Nicaragua. I never truly understood what it meant to feel objectified until this experience. ”

The response was numerous angry accusations of white privilege:

– “This complaint of a microaggression is a microagression in and of itself. It is perpetuating the idea that ‘white beauty’ is ideal and that Latinos are machismo & objectify women.”

– “Sorry your beauty was such an inconvenience while trying to study abroad in the second poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, grappled by earthquakes, hurricanes, dictatorships, two revolutionary wars, oppression and a history of US interference and manipulation.

– “I feel a hell of a lot more sexism coming from my white, male, American, ivy league-educated, nonprofit bosses than the constant catcalls coming from Dominican dudes, who are living in poverty that is directly related to my part of the world’s exploitation and oppression of theirs. You know our lives are like super f’ing easy in comparison, right? So much so that you can go study abroad, invade their lives and then complain when they act how their culture acts, wow. Even if it is objectifying (not saying it is), it isn’t your place to get offended. How bout you try to spend your time trying to genuinely and respectfully learn about culture and life and your role there instead?”

And then the commenters start arguing with each other, which is doubly fun but too confusing typographically to post here, so go read the whole thing there.

Harry asks:

Yes, the left-wing coalition is full of contradictions. How long can the KKKrazy Glue hold?

The KKKrazy Glue of the Democrats’ coalition has to be stoking hatred of white men. What else can hold them together?

But, white men still get most of the most valuable work done in our society. The Democrats don’t really want to be on the wrong side of most of the CEOs, for instance, as it becomes ever more obvious what this is all about.

So, expect an ever greater splintering of identity so that more CEOs can announced themselves oppressed as well: I’m a gay CEO! I’m not one of those cisgendered CEOs, I’m a transgendered CEO!

More importantly: I’m a pro-immigrant, pro-black, pro-woman, pro-gay, pro-trans CEO (even though I have five children total by my first and second wives)! I am an anti-Wrong Kind of White Men CEO! Are you offended by that? Well, that just proves you are the Wrong Kind of White Man!

So this kind of thing can go on and on for a long time.


Screenshot 2014-10-29 22.06.21

A petition posted on Change.org about Hannah Rosin’s Slate article:

Petitioning Hollaback!
Release the suppressed footage of white men harassing Shoshana Roberts so that Hanna Rosin can re-edit the video.

Petition by
Andros Pseudonymos

Hollaback! and Rob Bliss Creative recently released a video of an actress being repeatedly harassed by catcallers as she went about her business in New York City. Unfortunately, as Hanna Rosin has pointed out in her Slate piece entitled “The Problem with that Catcalling Video: The White Guys Were Edited Out,” the video was made in a way that reflects the omnipresent implicit racism of our day. In this instance, it didn’t depict a representative number of white men harassing the actress. We find the creators’ excuses insufficient.

We request–nay, insist–that the makers of the video release the suppressed footage, so that Ms. Rosin can either re-edit the video herself, or appoint a commission to perform the editing according to her standards. The video should reflect the reality that we and Ms. Rosin demand to see.

Rob Bliss Creative
Please release the suppressed video footage of white men harassing Shoshana Roberts, so that Hanna Rosen can re-edit the video in a more appropriate manner.
[Your name]


From the New York Times:

Democrat ads

Southern Democrats, Courting Black Voters, Focus Senate Campaigns on Racial Scars


In the final days before the election, Democrats in the closest Senate races across the South are turning to racially charged messages — invoking Trayvon Martin’s death, the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and Jim Crow-era segregation — to jolt African-Americans into voting and stop a Republican takeover in Washington.

The images and words they are using are striking for how overtly they play on fears of intimidation and repression. And their source is surprising. The effort is being led by national Democrats and their state party organizations — not, in most instances, by the shadowy and often untraceable political action committees that typically employ such provocative messages.

In North Carolina, the “super PAC” started by Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, ran an ad on black radio that accused the Republican candidate, Thom Tillis, of leading an effort to pass the kind of gun law that “caused the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.”

In Georgia, Democrats are circulating a flier warning that voting is the only way “to prevent another Ferguson.” It shows two black children holding cardboard signs that say “Don’t shoot.”

The messages are coursing through the campaigns like a riptide, powerful and under the surface, largely avoiding television and out of view of white voters. That has led Republicans to accuse Democrats of turning to race-baiting in a desperate bid to win at the polls next Tuesday. …

One way to hang on is to increase the share of the black vote that typically turns out in a midterm election. To do so, Democrats are seizing on racial mistrust and unease, the same complicated emotions often used against them in the South.

The attacks have been most aggressive in North Carolina, where Democrats have said they need to raise the share of the electorate that is African-American to 21 percent, from 19 percent in the last midterm election in 2010, to prevail over Republicans, who control both chambers of the state legislature and the governor’s mansion. …

Another invokes Ferguson. “If you want to prevent another Ferguson in their future,” the leaflet says over a picture of two young black children, “vote. It’s up to you to make change happen.”

For many African-Americans, feelings of persecution — from voter ID laws, aggressive police forces and a host of other social problems — are hard to overstate.

Fortunately, we have the President and the Democrats to exacerbate those emotions. What could possibly go wrong when the highest authorities demand that blacks hate and resent whites?


The Democrats’ Get-Out-the-Vote Drive of egging on looters, arsonists, and street brawlers in the world’s most important city, Ferguson, MO, continues for the umpty-umpth day in a row. Social Justice Warrior-in-Chief Eric Holder may be headed out the door at the D. of J., but he still holds the Megaphone. Who cares that the preponderance of evidence proves that Holder deliberately ginned up racial hatred and anarchy in the streets for partisan gain? Holding the Megaphone means never having to say you’re sorry.

From the New York Times:

Holder Adds Fuel to Debate Over Ferguson’s Police Department

FERGUSON, Mo. — Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Wednesday that there was a need for “wholesale change” in this town’s beleaguered police department, as a range of Missouri officials were privately debating what the future of the department and its leadership should be.

Mr. Holder made his comment as this small suburb of St. Louis awaited the return of a grand jury that has for months been weighing whether charges should be brought in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, on Aug. 9. Concerns that the grand jury may bring no charges and thus stir new tumult in this city, where protests have been held nightly, have left many in the region — from school administrators to business owners — bracing for the decision, which could come next month.

Mob justice is Eric Holder’s kind of justice.

Thomas Jackson, the city’s police chief, who has at times been a focal point for protesters’ complaints, said in an interview on Wednesday that he had no plans to leave the department. “I’m the police chief here,” he said, “and I have a job to do and I enjoy my job and I have the support and confidence of the people that work here and the people I work for. ” But the private discussions in recent weeks among the Missouri congressional delegation, the Missouri governor’s office and the St. Louis County Police have included consideration of options for replacing Chief Jackson, according to an official briefed on those talks but who spoke on condition of anonymity because the conversations were private.

It’s like Sanford, FL police chief Bill Lee who got fired for not having George Zimmerman lynched on the spot.

Message to all the Loservilles across America: The Winnervilles want to squeeze out their poor blacks, so you’d better make sure to be as welcoming to Michael Brown-types as possible, or the Feds will crush you like a bug.

Message to anybody alarmed that the Obama Administration’s Top Cop has been encouraging lawbreaking: Your insight is racist.


Michael Che on SNL

One of the most pressing problems of our day is Diversity among the cast of Saturday Night Live. For example, recently SNL was feted for hiring a woman to be Weekend Update anchor. But ratings are down so she got dumped a few weeks ago. But they brought in a black man, Michael Che, to be the new anchor, so that muted the SJW criticism of the sexism of firing a woman.

But, that doesn’t mean Che is home free. People like him who are Professional-Level Funny have a hard time taking seriously today’s obsessions. So, Michael Che is already in trouble for not taking the video of a woman walking through New York and getting catcalled by unemployed (black) guys as somberly as This Great Crisis of Our Age demands:

From Business Insider:

SNL Star Michael Che Offends With Sexist Facebook Status About Catcalling


OCT. 29, 2014, 2:42 PM 5,643 16

Yesterday, a video about catcalling took over the internet.

It was taken from the perspective of a woman who walked around Manhattan with a camera, and documented the times when she was catcalled, spoken to, whistled at, or commented on.

It happened 112 times. Women on Twitter and Facebook were commiserating with the filmmaker, and many men and women were surprised that this kind of attention is unwanted, or even considered to be harassment.

The video has been viewed more than 6.5 million times.

Men including SNL star Michael Che, who took to Facebook to comment the following. He likens the catcalls to times when people come up to him on the street, recognizing him from SNL.

The amount of “likes” on the post is concerning, as were some of the comments from women and men below his statement. …

He then posted to Facebook again, using a somewhat sarcastic approach.


From The Atlantic:

Why Middle-Class Americans Can’t Afford to Live in Liberal Cities

Blue America has a problem: Even after adjusting for income, left-leaning metros tend to have worse income inequality and less affordable housing.


On April 2, 2014, a protester in Oakland, California, mounted a Yahoo bus, climbed to the front of the roof, and vomited onto the top of the windshield.

About a dozen years ago, I had a five minute conversation with former (and future) California governor Jerry Brown, then the mayor of Oakland, now running for his fourth term as governor of California. He said he’d learned a lot about poor people from being mayor of Oakland. So, he’d started a public military school to try to instill some discipline in some of them young. But mostly he just wanted to devise ways to get poor people to leave Oakland so it could finally start to fulfill the potential its geography affords it.

If not the year’s most persuasive act of dissent, it was certainly one of the most memorable demonstrations in the Bay Area, where residents have marched, blockaded, and retched in protest of San Francisco’s economic inequality and unaffordable housing. The city’s gaps—between rich and poor, between housing need and housing supply—have been duly catalogued. Even among American tech hubs, San Francisco stands alone with both the most expensive real estate and the fewest new construction permits per unit since 1990.

But San Francisco’s problem is bigger than San Francisco. Across the country, rich, dense cities are struggling with affordable housing, to the considerable anguish of their middle class families.

… If you line up the country’s 100 richest metros from 1 to 100, household affordability falls as household income rises, even after you consider that middle class families in richer cities have more income. [The graph below considers only the 25 richest US metros to keep city names moderately legible within the computer screen.]

Rich Households = Unaffordable Houses?

But there’s a second reason why San Francisco’s problem is emblematic of a national story. Liberal cities seem to have the worst affordability crises, according to Trulia chief economist Jed Kolko.

In a recent article, Kolko divided the largest cities into 32 “red” metros where Romney got more votes than Obama in 2012 (e.g. Houston), 40 “light-blue” markets where Obama won by fewer than 20 points (e.g. Austin), and 28 “dark-blue” metros where Obama won by more than 20 points (e.g. L.A., SF, NYC). Although all three housing groups faced similar declines in the recession and similar bounce-backs in the recovery, affordability remains a bigger problem in the bluest cities.

Super-Liberal Cities, Super-Unaffordable Houses

“Even after adjusting for differences of income, liberal markets tend to have higher income inequality and worse affordability,” Kolko said.

Here’s my May 8, 2005 posting in VDARE concisely summarizing my theory of how “affordable family formation” drives the voting of red v. blue regions.

Kolko’s theory isn’t an outlier. There is a deep literature tying liberal residents to illiberal housing policies that create affordability crunches for the middle class. In 2010, UCLA economist Matthew Kahn published a study of California cities, which found that liberal metros issued fewer new housing permits. The correlation held over time: As California cities became more liberal, he said, they built fewer homes.

“All homeowners have an incentive to stop new housing,” Kahn told me, “because if developers build too many homes, prices fall, and housing is many families’ main asset. But in cities with many Democrats and Green Party members, environmental concerns might also be a factor. The movement might be too eager to preserve the past.”

The deeper you look, the more complex the relationship between blue cities and unaffordable housing becomes. In 2008, economist Albert Saiz used satellite-generated maps to show that the most regulated housing markets tend to have geographical constraints—that is, they are built along sloping mountains, in narrow peninsulas, and against nature’s least developable real estate: the ocean. (By comparison, many conservative cities, particularly in Texas, are surrounded by flatter land.)

Here’s my early 2005 American Conservative article “The Dirt Gap” pointing this out.

“Democratic, high-tax metropolitan areas… tend to constrain new development more,” Saiz concluded, and “historic areas seem to be more regulated.” He also found that cities with high home values tend to have more restrictive development policies.

One could attempt tying this together into a pat story—Rich liberals prefer to cluster near historic coastal communities with high home values, where they support high taxes, rent control, and a maze of housing regulations to protect both their investment and the region’s “character”, altogether discouraging new housing development that’s already naturally constrained by geography…—but even that interpretation elides the colorful local history that often shapes housing politics.

I asked Kahn if he had a pet theory for why liberals, who tend to be vocal about income inequality, would be more averse to new housing development, which would help lower-income families. He suggested that it could be the result of good intentions gone bad.

Or it could be that clever, influential, well educated, upper middle class white liberals tend to make sure they get what they actually want, not what they say they want. It’s almost as if they want their white womenfolk to be able to walk down the street without being subjected to sexual catcalls by poor black and Latino guys.


From the Washington Post:

Recent college graduates are pushing lower-income African Americans out of cities

By Eric Tang October 29 at 6:00 AM

Asst. Prof. of African and African Diaspora Studies Eric Tang: Probably not destined for a stellar career in his chosen field.

Eric Tang is an assistant professor of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and a public voices fellow with The OpEd Project. He also is a fellow with the Institute of Urban Policy and Research Analysis.

How do we make sense of the fact that America’s most progressive cities, the ones that cherish diversity, are losing African Americans?

Feature, not bug, of Democratic policies?

And that the most conservative places are doing the opposite?

Bug, not feature, of Republican policies?

Between 2000 and 2010, cities like Austin, Chicago, Washington D.C., San Francisco—places that vote majority Democrat, consider themselves socially and culturally progressive, and boast racial diversity—all lost unprecedented numbers of African Americans. San Francisco, for instance, saw a staggering 20.4 percent loss in its African American population between 2000 and 2010. Chicago and Washington D.C. also experienced double-digit losses.

During that same decade, the only three major cities (populations over 500,000) that voted Republican in the 2012 presidential election — Phoenix, Fort Worth, and Oklahoma City — all saw significant increases in African American numbers; their African-American populations grew by 36.1 percent, 28 percent and 11.4 percent respectively.

Rebecca Diamond, an economist at Stanford University, offers one salient explanation.

Her research points to how cities such as Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C. have over the past three decades attracted ever-larger numbers of college graduates. Using Census data, Diamond shows that as college graduates occupied larger shares of these cities’ work forces (while avoiding other cities they deem less attractive) income inequality in these cities grew.

Urban industries and amenities catered to the higher-waged worker, making these cities more expensive to live in. Lower-wage workers (those with only a high school diploma) also desired the enhanced quality of life offered by these cities—better food and air quality [huh?], lower crime rates—but they couldn’t afford to live in them. Simply put, as college grads arrived, lower-waged workers were driven out.

Although Diamond’s study does not analyze how specific racial groups are impacted by what she terms a “national gentrification effect,” it appears that African Americans have bore the disproportionate brunt of it.

This is certainly the case in in Austin, Tex.

A recent study we conducted at the University of Texas at Austin reveals that Austin in the only major growth city (a city with over half a million people that saw at least 10 percent growth between 2000 and 2010) that experienced an absolute loss in its African-American population.

According to the census data, Austin grew by 20.4 percent between 2000 and 2010, granting it third place among fastest growing major cities in the United States. But during that same decade, its African-American population declined by 5.4 percent or 3,769 people. This statistical singularity is illustrated in the following graph.

Keep in mind that Texas, especially Houston, has a big influx of immigrants from Africa.

What happened in Austin seems to be consistent with the Stanford research. Austin has the highest percentage of college graduates as well as the highest median incomes in Texas. Census data also suggests that the African Americans who left Austin between 2000 and 2010 were by and large lower-waged workers (African American losses occurred in tracts that were on average poorer than those that did not see losses).

The loss of Austin’s African American population amid tremendous growth in its general population certainly doesn’t square with the city’s reputation as a “tolerant” place, one celebrated for its progressivism, cultural dynamism, and emphasis on sustainability.

Of course, some might argue that the notion of a liberal city—especially those as moneyed as Austin, Chicago, New York and San Francisco—is now irrelevant. But this line of argument too easily dispenses with the reality that high-earning college graduates identify strongly as liberals, and moreover, that the municipal governments they elect are taking the lead on the some of the most progressive environmental and cultural policies in the nation.

Debating how to make public restroom signs more trans-sensitive is the new “progressive.”

It’s not that these cities are no longer liberal, per se, but that the brand of (neo)liberalism they now celebrate is unaccountable to the concerns championed by lower-waged workers: universal prekindergarten, affordable housing, and the de-privatization of public space (crystallized by last month’s San Francisco’s playground fiasco that garnered national headlines). It’s a liberalism that has, quite literally, left not room for the low-waged worker, particularly African Americans.

The white progressive attitude toward poor blacks in neighborhoods they want to gentrify is: “Don’t let the doorknob hit you on the way out.”


“American Girl in Italy,” by Ruth Orkin, 1951

This is a hugely popular photo that’s long been widely available already framed at home decor stores. As I wrote in 2011:

My impression of Italy from the week I spent there in 1980 was that Italian men didn’t need disinhibiting [from alcohol] to get over their shyness so they could start hitting on women. That’s just what they did, at least in the touristy cities. It was like a country full of Silvio Berlusconis. Above is Ruth Orkin’s 1951 photo American Girl in Italy, and that’s what Florence was like in 1980, too.

By the way, the American Girl in the photo is 83 today and said in August:

“Some people want to use it as a symbol of harassment of women, but that’s what we’ve been fighting all these years,” Craig said in a telephone interview from her home in Toronto. “It’s not a symbol of harassment. It’s a symbol of a woman having an absolutely wonderful time!”

The girl in the picture and the photographer were out trolling for reactions. The photographer liked the reactions the American Girl got the first time she walked down this particular street in Florence, so she had her go around the block and do it again, which sent the hubba-hubba meter to eleven. (But, that’s still pretty much what it was like in 1980, so this picture is merely exaggerating reality to convey reality, which is pretty much what photography is all about.)

P.S. The American Girl went home to America, then went back to Italy and married an Italian man.

Of course, the reason American women like to decorate their apartments with this picture is because it’s so sexily Italian. They don’t get that kind of reaction from white guys on the streets of America, except maybe in the most self-consciously Italian neighborhoods.

Back in 1999, The Onion ran a Point / Counterpoint on this general subject:


European Men Are So Much More Romantic Than American Men
By Alyssa Lerner, Junior, Boston University

I just got back from a semester abroad in Europe, and let me tell you, it truly was the most magical, amazing experience of my entire life. The French countryside was like something out of a storybook, the Roman ruins were magnificent, and the men, well, European men are by far the most romantic in the world. …


American Women Studying In Europe Are Unbelievably Easy
By Giovanni Di Salvi

I’m a 25-year-old carpenter living in Rome, and I don’t mind telling you that I get all the action I can handle. I’m not all that handsome or well-dressed, and I’m certainly not rich. In fact, my Italian countrywomen could take me or leave me. But that’s just fine, because Rome gets loads of tourist traffic, and American co-eds traveling through Europe are without a doubt the easiest lays in the world.

Being European gives me a hell of an advantage.


From Slate:

The Problem With That Catcalling Video

By Hanna Rosin

On Tuesday, Slate and everyone else posted a video of a woman who is harassed more than 100 times by men as she walks around New York City for ten hours. More specifically, it’s a video of a young white woman who is harassed by mostly black and Latino men as she walks around New York City for ten hours. The one dude who turns around and says, “Nice,” is white, but the guys who do the most egregious things—like the one who harangues her, “Somebody’s acknowledging you for being beautiful! You should say thank you more,” or the one who follows her down the street too closely for five whole minutes—are not.

Hanna Rosin is the founder of DoubleX and a writer for the Atlantic. She is also the author of The End of Men. Follow her on Twitter.

This doesn’t mean that the video doesn’t still effectively make its point, that a woman can’t walk down the street lost in her own thoughts, that men feel totally free to demand her attention and get annoyed when she doesn’t respond, that women can’t be at ease in a public space in the same way men can. But the video also unintentionally makes another point, that harassers are mostly black and Latino, and hanging out on the streets in midday in clothes that suggest they are not on their lunch break. As Roxane Gay tweeted, “The racial politics of the video are f****** up. Like, she didn’t walk through any white neighborhoods?”

The video is a collaboration between Hollaback!, an anti-street harassment organization, and the marketing agency Rob Bliss Creative. At the end they claim the woman experienced 100 plus incidents of harassment “involving people of all backgrounds.” Since that obviously doesn’t show up in the video, Bliss addressed it in a post. He wrote, “we got a fair amount of white guys, but for whatever reason, a lot of what they said was in passing, or off camera” or was ruined by a siren or other noise. The final product, he writes, “is not a perfect representation of everything that happened.”

Sure they did.

That may be true but if you find yourself editing out all the catcalling white guys, maybe you should try another take. …

Yes, but at a secret conclave of The Elders of Zion National Park, head patriarchalist Mitt Romney put a ban on that, so you’ll never see the footage of the black woman being sexually harassed by cleancut young white men in short sleeve shirts and ties while she strolls the streets of Provo, Utah.

We can just conclude that they caught a small slice of catcallers and lots of other men do it too. But if the point of this video is to teach men about the day-to-day reality of women, then this video doesn’t hit its target. The men who are sitting in their offices or in cafes watching this video will instead be able to comfortably assure themselves that they don’t have time to sit on hydrants in the middle of the day and can’t properly pronounce “mami.” They might do things to women that are worse than catcalling, but this is not their sin.

They might. After all, they are straight white men, who as we all know are the most hateful hate-filled creatures on Earth. Just because somebody put a huge amount of effort into recording men behaving badly and came up with a whole bunch of blacks and Latinos doesn’t mean straight white men aren’t the real problem. Straight white men are like beavers, active only on the darkest of nights when we can’t see their nefariousness.


From my new column in Taki’s Magazine:

Six years after he was first elected President of the United States, Barack Obama remains something of an enigma to the public he presides over.

Ironically, this isn’t due to the President being particularly reticent about himself. After all, judging from his two books, the subject Obama finds most enthralling is Obama. …

One reason for this obscurity is that aspects of Obama’s personal background are genuinely exotic to almost all Americans, which limits the quality of questions. For example, Obama’s Indonesian connections – as a child he lived in Jakarta from 1967-1971, shortly after the notorious massacre of Communists and Chinese; then in the 1980s Obama came fairly close to marrying a wealthy Australian woman with striking and shadowy family ties to the highest circles of power in Indonesia—are perplexing to even the best-informed Americans.

Read the whole thing there.


One of my favorite Homer Simpson lines is:

Heh heh heh, Lisa! Vampires are make-believe, just like elves and gremlins and Eskimos.

Homer does have a point. Eskimos sound about as implausible as abominable snowmen: the latter supposedly live at extreme altitudes, the former at extreme latitudes.

I have to admit as well to not really believing in beavers. Or at least not that beavers build huge dams. Granted, I’ve seen beavers, and I’ve seen beaver dams and hundreds of trees felled by beavers.* But the sheer scale of their engineering works doesn’t fit within my usual conceptual parameters for what animals do.

Here, for example, is a beaver dam in Canada that’s 2,800 feet across.

Heck, it’s hard for humans to build something so environmentally intrusive these days. If beavers were human residents of California, their typical dam would probably take at least five years just to get the environmental impact statement filed and all the permits nailed down. How can they do all that construction work without any lawyers or environmental consultants who used to work for the EPA?

P.S. As commenter Rapparee suggests, Pygmies are obviously some kind of ridiculous European myth that has been disproven by Science.

* But I haven’t ever seen a beaver building a beaver dam. They do all their work at night, we are told. They would say that, wouldn’t they?


From the New York Times:

Playing Like a Girl? It’s About Time
Ted Bishop’s Comments Demonstrate Golf’s Persistent Sexism
OCT. 26, 2014

NYT: “The 11-year-old Lucy Li broke ground this year by competing in the United States Women’s Open.”

All you need to know about golf in the 21st century is that Lucy Li and Ted Bishop were two of 2014’s biggest newsmakers in the sport. At 11, Li became the youngest player, male or female, to compete in this country’s showcase event and acquitted herself honorably on the same Pinehurst No. 2 course that the week before had chewed up and spit out the likes of the men’s major winners Bubba Watson and Jason Dufner.

The diminutive Li made big girls everywhere proud by competing in that event, the United States Women’s Open. Bishop, the ousted P.G.A. of America president, reminded big girls everywhere of golf’s ingrained sexism. When Bishop chose to disparage one man, the English golfer Ian Poulter, on Twitter by calling him a “little girl,” he effectively demeaned all women, including his own two daughters and granddaughter.

Bishop, who was removed by the P.G.A. board with one month left in his two-year term, may have been childish to engage Poulter, who had written critically of two of the sport’s legendary male players, Tom Watson and Nick Faldo, on social media. But make no mistake: His choice of pejoratives is so common in country club golf’s social circles that it very likely was not a salvo that stirred debate during cocktail hour.

It was telling how many people in the game were slow to react to Bishop’s comments.

Funny how tweens like this 11-year-old girl can qualify for the US Women’s Open, but no 11-year-old boy could ever qualify for the U.S. Open. For example, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson both first qualified for the U.S. Open at age 19.

And it’s just not a new generation of East Asian child golf-bots: ladies’ golf has long had very, very young prodigies. Li isn’t actually the youngest female to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open. For example, Beverly Klass turned pro at age ten in 1967 and qualified and played in the Open when she was ten years, seven months.

It’s almost as if the womanly hormones that flood a little girl’s body during puberty aren’t good for athleticism …


One reason Amazon is so dominant despite not making much money is because of all the free content contributed over the decades by customers. For example, my man in Kiev/Kyiv, sociologist Graham H. Seibert, has posted countless reviews of serious nonfiction books upon Amazon, which typically combine a thorough synopsis of what the author is saying with state-of-the-art critical analysis that you won’t find in the respectable press.


From the Boston Globe:

Vote all you want. The secret government won’t change.

The people we elect aren’t the ones calling the shots, says Tufts University’s Michael Glennon

By Jordan Michael Smith | OCTOBER 19, 2014

THE VOTERS WHO put Barack Obama in office expected some big changes. From the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping to Guantanamo Bay to the Patriot Act, candidate Obama was a defender of civil liberties and privacy, promising a dramatically different approach from his predecessor.

But six years into his administration, the Obama version of national security looks almost indistinguishable from the one he inherited. Guantanamo Bay remains open. The NSA has, if anything, become more aggressive in monitoring Americans. Drone strikes have escalated. Most recently it was reported that the same president who won a Nobel Prize in part for promoting nuclear disarmament is spending up to $1 trillion modernizing and revitalizing America’s nuclear weapons.

Why did the face in the Oval Office change but the policies remain the same?

Perhaps Candidate Obama’s essential objection to the policies of the national security state was that President Obama wasn’t in charge of them?

Critics tend to focus on Obama himself, a leader who perhaps has shifted with politics to take a harder line. But Tufts University political scientist Michael J. Glennon has a more pessimistic answer: Obama couldn’t have changed policies much even if he tried.

Though it’s a bedrock American principle that citizens can steer their own government by electing new officials, Glennon suggests that in practice, much of our government no longer works that way. In a new book, “National Security and Double Government,” he catalogs the ways that the defense and national security apparatus is effectively self-governing, with virtually no accountability, transparency, or checks and balances of any kind. He uses the term “double government”: There’s the one we elect, and then there’s the one behind it, steering huge swaths of policy almost unchecked. Elected officials end up serving as mere cover for the real decisions made by the bureaucracy.

Glennon cites the example of Obama and his team being shocked and angry to discover upon taking office that the military gave them only two options for the war in Afghanistan: The United States could add more troops, or the United States could add a lot more troops. Hemmed in, Obama added 30,000 more troops.

Glennon’s critique sounds like an outsider’s take, even a radical one. In fact, he is the quintessential insider: He was legal counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a consultant to various congressional committees, as well as to the State Department. “National Security and Double Government” comes favorably blurbed by former members of the Defense Department, State Department, White House, and even the CIA. And he’s not a conspiracy theorist: Rather, he sees the problem as one of “smart, hard-working, public-spirited people acting in good faith who are responding to systemic incentives”—without any meaningful oversight to rein them in.

Part of the problem is electing a smalltimer like Obama. For example, Obama ended up leaving GWB’s Defense Secretary, career Deep Stater Robert Gates, in charge of the Pentagon into 2011. Why? Well, Gates seemed like a pretty reasonable guy and Obama basically didn’t know anybody for that kind of job. Obama was a state legislator, civil rights attorney, and memoirist, not somebody who knows about military stuff. Obama doesn’t make friends easily and he doesn’t like to go out of his comfort zone to get to know people who aren’t upper crust blacks, so this whole military-industrial complex thing was kind of a mystery to Obama.

IDEAS: What evidence exists for saying America has a double government?

GLENNON: I was curious why a president such as Barack Obama would embrace the very same national security and counterterrorism policies that he campaigned eloquently against.

Once again, because now he’s in charge of them.

… IDEAS: Why would policy makers hand over the national-security keys to unelected officials?

GLENNON: It hasn’t been a conscious decision….Members of Congress are generalists and need to defer to experts within the national security realm, as elsewhere. They are particularly concerned about being caught out on a limb having made a wrong judgment about national security and tend, therefore, to defer to experts, who tend to exaggerate threats. The courts similarly tend to defer to the expertise of the network that defines national security policy.

The presidency itself is not a top-down institution, as many people in the public believe, headed by a president who gives orders and causes the bureaucracy to click its heels and salute. National security policy actually bubbles up from within the bureaucracy. Many of the more controversial policies, from the mining of Nicaragua’s harbors to the NSA surveillance program, originated within the bureaucracy. John Kerry was not exaggerating when he said that some of those programs are “on autopilot.”

Occasionally, you’ll get a President who knows everybody who is anybody, like Richard Nixon, who can wrestle the national security state around to his policies. After all, what can agencies like the FBI or the CIA do to a strong-willed elected President like Nixon who just won re-election in a crushing landslide?


From the Boston Globe:

Credit: Boston Globe

Study finds white people associate superhuman words with black people

By Kevin Lewis | OCTOBER 19, 2014

BACK IN MARCH 2007, David Ehrenstein wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “Like a comic-book superhero, Obama is there to help, out of the sheer goodness of a heart we need not know or understand. For as with all Magic Negroes, the less real he seems, the more desirable he becomes. If he were real, white America couldn’t project all its fantasies of curative black benevolence on him.” A new study suggests it’s not just Obama; in general, white people are more likely to think of black people as magical and mysterious. In a series of experiments, psychologists show that white people were quicker to associate superhuman words (ghost, paranormal, spirit, wizard, supernatural, magic, and mystical) with black faces relative to white faces. Also, when explicitly asked, white people indicated that a black person was more capable of possessing superhuman qualities—and would need less medication to alleviate pain—than a white person.

Waytz, A. et al., “A Superhumanization Bias in Whites’ Perceptions of Blacks,” Social Psychological and Personality Science (forthcoming).

Here’s the abstract:

A Superhumanization Bias in Whites’ Perceptions of Blacks

Adam Waytz
Kelly Marie Hoffman
Sophie Trawalter


The present research provides the first systematic empirical investigation into superhumanization, the attribution of supernatural, extrasensory, and magical mental and physical qualities to humans. Five studies test and support the hypothesis that White Americans superhumanize Black people relative to White people. Studies 1–2b demonstrate this phenomenon at an implicit level, showing that Whites preferentially associate Blacks versus Whites with superhuman versus human words on an implicit association test and on a categorization task. Studies 3–4 demonstrate this phenomenon at an explicit level, showing that Whites preferentially attribute superhuman capacities to Blacks versus Whites, and Study 4 specifically shows that superhumanization of Blacks predicts denial of pain to Black versus White targets. Together, these studies demonstrate a novel and potentially detrimental process through which Whites perceive Blacks.

Detrimental to whom?


“Retcon” is a tradecraft term in serial commercial fiction. From Wikipedia:

Retroactive continuity, or retcon for short,[1][2] is the alteration of previously established facts in the continuity of a fictional work.[3]

There are various motivations for retconning. The changes may occur to accommodate sequels or derivative works, allowing newer authors or creators to revise the diegetic (in-story) history to include a course of events that would not have been possible in the story’s original continuity. Retcons allow for authors to reintroduce popular characters and resolve errors in chronology.

Retcons are common in pulp fiction, especially in comic books published by long-established publishers such as DC and Marvel. The long history of popular titles and the number of writers who contribute stories can often create situations that demand clarification or revision. Retcons also appear in manga, soap operas, serial dramas, movie sequels, professional wrestling angles, video games, radio series, and other forms of serial fiction.

Science fiction writers are occasionally confronted with new scientific developments which disprove assumptions made in a previous story or book. For some of these cases, no amount of retconning could “save” a story – for example, many early works of science fiction assumed that Venus was a watery planet – but in many other cases, clever retconning allows the story to retain scientific plausibility under the new conditions.

But of course retconning is also done for ideological purposes, to blame Bad Guys for disasters. Winston Smith in 1984 retcons old newspapers for the Ministry of Truth.

One of the most spectacular jobs of retconning of my lifetime was the rewriting of the history of the AIDS epidemic in the United States. Obviously, the chief engine was Gay Liberation (with heroin number two). The epidemic was most intense not just in cities where Gay Lib triumphed first, but on the gayest streets: Castro, Christopher, and Santa Monica.

But that’s a little too much nuance for 21st Century minds. Gays are good, Gay Liberation is, by definition, great, so AIDS must have been caused by Emmanuel Goldstein. So, the national press has retconned recent history to make the AIDS Bad Guy … Ronald Reagan!

From Slate:

In embracing an Ebola victim, Barack Obama succeeded where Ronald Reagan failed.

By Laura Helmuth

Slate’s Science and Health Editor

… The hateful, homophobic, racist response to the AIDS crisis is one of the most shameful episodes in recent American history. Within a few years after the first AIDS cases were reported in 1981, scientists knew the disease was transmitted primarily by sex, blood transfusions, and shared needles.

That knowledge didn’t stop the prejudice and fear mongering. HIV-positive people were fired from their jobs, forbidden from entering the country, kicked out of the military. Jerry Falwell claimed AIDS was “God’s punishment not just for homosexuals” but for a “society that tolerates homosexuals.” William F. Buckley Jr. wrote in a widely syndicated column that people diagnosed with AIDS should have that fact tattooed on their buttocks. Schools refused to enroll children with HIV. …

Reagan could have spoken out against panic and called for compassion; the man knew how to give a powerful speech. He could have hugged an AIDS patient, or at least shaken hands.

Of course, widespread fears among the public were promoted by respectable spokespeople like Oprah and Magic Johnson who claimed that HIV didn’t discriminate, that everybody was at risk. In reality, the one broad public health danger was that the blood supply for transfusions was infected, which was pretty awful, and killed a bunch of hemophiliacs and surgery patients.

Fortunately, a test was developed fairly quickly and policies for discriminating against male homosexuals and needle junkies were quickly put in place at blood banks. Otherwise, outside of junkies and male homosexuals who liked to catch as well as pitch, Americans were in little danger of catching HIV. But that didn’t stop the respectable press from stoking sleepless nights, and then retconning history to pin the blame on Reagan of all people.


Charlie Kaufman isn’t infallible (Human Nature, anyone?), but if your three best screenplays (at least among those that have made it to the big screen) are Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, then attention must be paid. Here’s Charlie Kaufman (played by Nicholas Cage in Adaptation) attempting to tie all natural history together in one pre-credits sequence:

From Deadline Hollywood:

Charlie Kaufman has been signed to do a page one rewrite of I.Q. 83, an adaptation of Arthur Herzog’s classic 1978 science fiction novel that Paramount is now developing as a star vehicle for Steve Carell. Mad Chance’s Andrew Lazar is producing with Walter Parkes. The plan is for Carell to play Dr. James Healey, who led a group of scientists that conducted DNA experiments that unleashed an airborne virus that ravages the population. The affliction isn’t fatal but pretty bad; it progressively lowers the IQ of the afflicted, more effectively than a marathon of the Kardashians’ reality show. It becomes a race against time as the scientist struggles for a cure, even as he feels himself growing dumber. He watches crowds regressing into animal packs and sees the president of the United States try to comfort the masses, only to babble and drool on television.

Similarities and differences between this project and Mike Judge’s Idiocracy are apparent. (Here’s a recent Mike Judge interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones about the conspiracy to deepsix Idiocracy.) Of course, Idiocracy bore some resemblance to C.M. Kornbluth’s 1951 sci-fi short story The Marching Morons. And I’d hardly be surprised if Kornbluth’s readers two generations ago saw similarities to something that has since been lost in the mists of time.

This reminds me: what percentage of Hollywood projects have a distinct Nature / Nurture angle?

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.

Confederate Flag Day, State Capitol, Raleigh, N.C. -- March 3, 2007
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