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The New York Times says it’s baffled why nobody got worked up over the gang rape on the Vanderbilt campus. The article doesn’t mention “Virginia,” much less “Haven Monahan,” but of course that’s the background.

Hey, Virginia, Vanderbilt, they are all racist Southern colleges that begin with V. How can you blame the NYT for getting all worked up over Haven Monahan’s gang raping at Virginia when it actually happened at Vanderbilt?

Is Villanova in the South? No? Valparaiso? VMI? Bingo.

Vanderbilt Rape Trial Didn’t Stir Students on Campus
By ALAN BLINDER and RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA JAN. 28, 2015

NASHVILLE — The crime was horrific and the verdict stunningly swift. Two former Vanderbilt University football players are facing the possibility of decades in prison after it took a jury less than four hours to convict them for their roles in a 2013 sexual assault of an unconscious woman. Two more former football players await trial.

At a time of widespread alarm and almost daily news reports about sexual assaults on college campuses, it is hard to imagine a case more likely than this one, captured on video by the assailants, to mobilize a campus. As if to underscore how pervasive the concerns have become nationally, representatives from 76 Tennessee colleges and universities were holding a conference on the subject here, not far from the courthouse where Tuesday’s verdict played out.

But transformative moments are hard to come by when a community’s population turns over every four years and its members have a deep investment in its reputation. So interviews Tuesday and Wednesday at Vanderbilt brought out horror at what had happened and a distinct distance from it. Until the trial began more than two weeks ago, the episode seemed to elicit little sense of urgency — in fact, the student newspaper, The Vanderbilt Hustler, found that many students were not even aware of it.

There wasn’t even a window-breaking pogrom like at Virginia? What’s wrong with today’s youth?

Over the past two weeks, lurid testimony about the gang rape, and the revelation that several people knew of the assault but failed to report it, drew attention throughout Nashville. Still, many students, more than a quarter of them not on campus when the rape occurred, find it hard to square what happened with their views of this elite university as an oasis from a harder world. In interviews, reactions mostly clustered around two poles: This is not the sort of place where such things happen, or they happen everywhere — and either way, no one should point a finger at Vanderbilt.

The NYT chose to run a picture of just one of the four accused assailants. Here it is:

Credit: New York Times

You know, he looks kind of like Haven Monahan.

(Similarly, in 2012-2013, the New York Times ran four articles about a rape allegation against a college quarterback … of a Division II school in Montana.)

Back on December 4, however, I posted pictures of the four accused Vanderbilt football player gang rapists to help explain why this and two other college gang rape allegations weren’t getting as much publicity as UVA:

The Vanderbilt Four

 
Screenshot 2015-01-29 01.13.28

It’s been a tough January

As you’ll recall, the cover cartoon on Charlie Hebdo at the time of the massacre was of novelist Michel Houellebecq, author of the new bestselling novel Submission about the French establishment turning the country over to Islamists to keep Marine Le Pen from becoming president in 2022. Houellebecq bravely showed up at the Cologne book festival last week to promote his book: 270,000 copies have been printed in German. (Germany must be the best big country for authors in the world.)

Houellebecq (pronounced “well-beck”) is never too natty-looking, but it looks like it’s been a particularly stressful month. At right is the more flattering of the two pictures I could find from the Cologne event. (The Guardian’s picture makes him look like he’s been gnawing on human brains.)

The book won’t be published in English until September; hence, reviews in English have been rare so far. Here are two of the first:

In Taki’s Magazine, Ann Sterzinger reviews Submission:

Houellebecq and Cassandra
by Ann Sterzinger

… Indeed, whenever Houellebecq gets too serious about political details, the narrative bogs down considerably. Compared to the mathematical computations and personality cults of electoral machination, the protagonist’s regrets at seeing his Jewish girlfriend flee for Israel are far more—how you say?—sexy. Although his wistful parting shot at her, political though it be, breaks your heart for the French: “There is no Israel for me.”

Read the whole thing there.

And in an iSteve exclusive, here is commenter Torn and Frayed’s review, complete with tons and tons of spoilers. This is the fullest description of Submission that I’ve seen in English:

As the popularity of the Front National continues to grow in France, the traditional right / left political spectrum is increasingly being pushed to the side in favor of a nationalism vs. globalism analysis. Michel Houellebecq, however, is not following this trend. His latest novel Submission, is firmly planted on the right side of the political spectrum. In his search for political allies, he looks back to reactionary and Catholic writers from the late 19th and early 20th century, mostly from France, although Houellebecq also incorporates ideas from G.K. Chesterton in this frontal attack on the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. And the novel actually features several respectable characters with nativist, far-right identitaire backgrounds.

Set in 2022, this is the story of Jacques, a 40-something professor of literature (he’s an expert on the author Joris-Karl Huysmans) at an elite university in Paris.

While Jacques may sound like Houellebecq’s stand-in, the class differences are probably important: Houellebecq is less a beneficiary of France’s elite production process than is Jacques. The author has a degree in agriculture and then worked in computer network management, so he’s had to scrounge harder than Jacques to become a professional intellectual.

Thus, there may be a certain satirical distance to Houellebecq’s recounting of Jacques’ rapid submission to the new order.

Or is there?

The plot revolves around the ongoing French Presidential elections, which in the second round, pit Marine Le Pen against a new moderate Muslim party led by Mohammed Ben Abbes. As France falls into something approaching a civil war, the media refuses to report on the expanding violence for fear it would only help the Front National; government intelligence agencies actively censor the internet to keep the news of the violence from reaching the masses. As the tensions mount and the election is seen as a toss-up, the mainstream parties, trying at all costs to avoid a Front National victory, start negotiations with the Muslim party and end up making huge concessions on education policy in return for retaining temporary control over other critical ministries.

 

Prominent blogger Andrew Sullivan has announced he’s burned out and is stopping blogging. (I can’t recall if this is the first time he’s retired.)

It’s a big operation; I am sorry for the workers whose jobs are at risk. Here’s his current masthead:

  • BLOGGER-IN-CHIEF
    Andrew Sullivan
  • EDITORS
    Patrick Appel
    Chris Bodenner
    Jessie Roberts
  • MANAGING EDITOR
    Chas Danner
  • INTERNATIONAL EDITOR
    Jonah Shepp
  • LITERARY EDITOR
    Matthew Sitman
  • POETRY EDITOR
    Alice Quinn

I don’t know how many full time equivalents that comes out to. (Is being poetry editor of Andrew Sullivan’s blog all that time consuming?) I think he used to have ten names on his masthead.

Anyway, it’s a lot of work to generate quality content. (Here’s Sullivan’s 2000 article, “The He Hormone,” on how juicing revived his career.) Sullivan used the model of not having comments, but using selected emails from his reader to generate posts. It’s not a bad model — I used to do something like that many years ago.

Here are some interesting numbers from his valedictory:

You were there when it was just me and a tip jar for six years, and at Time, and at The Atlantic, and the Daily Beast, and then as an independent company. When we asked you two years ago to catch us as we jumped into independence, you came through and then some. In just two years, you built a million dollar revenue company, with 30,000 subscribers, a million monthly readers, and revenue growth of 17 percent over the first year. You made us unique in this media world – and we were able to avoid the sirens of clickbait and sponsored content.

 

Here’s a table from Inside Higher Ed of the top 20 college fundraisers of 2014.

1. Harvard U. $1.16 billion
2. Stanford U. $929 million
3. U. of Southern California $732 million
4. Northwestern U. $616 million
5. Johns Hopkins U. $615 million
6. Cornell U. $546 million
7. U. of Texas at Austin $529 million
8. U. of Pennsylvania $484 million
9. U. of Washington $478 million
10. Columbia U. $470 million
11. New York U. $456 million
12. U. of California at San Francisco $445 million
13. Duke U. $437 million
14. U. of Michigan $433 million
15. Yale U. $430.31 million
16. U. of California at Los Angeles $430.28 million
17. U. of Chicago $405 million
18. U of California at Berkeley $390 million
19. Massachusetts Institute of Technology $375 million
20. Indiana U. $341 million

A few comments:

There’s a bigger difference among endowments than among annual donations. Harvard’s endowment is about an order of magnitude bigger than most of the universities on this list. Presumably the more donations you get, the more you can let them pile up in the endowment rather than immediately spend them, so the rich get even richer.

There’s some periodicity to this list in that schools often do several year long fundraising drives, then take a break before doing them again.

A lot of giving is to medical schools for research. Number 12 UCSF, for example, is nothing but a graduate level health sciences institution.

The year before, Stanford was #1 and Harvard #2.

USC, interestingly, was #3 in both years. USC’s multi-year $6 billion fundraising drive is apparently going quite well.

It’s been six years since USC’s football team went to an important bowl game. Does that suggest football success is overrated in fundraising? Or is USC maintaining momentum with its alumni from its Reggie Bush Era a decade ago, suggesting that cheating your way to temporary success has long term payoffs?

The data comes from the Council for Aid to Education, and most of the reports are not free to the public. But has anybody done moneyball analyses for the public of what pays off and what doesn’t? We hear a lot of theorizing about college sports and alumni donations, and I’m sure colleges have privately crunched the numbers, but have economists or other academics reported for the rest of us on correlations between schools’ various traits and donations?

College football coaches get paid up to, say, $5 million, but college presidents seldom approach that level. Yet, if you think of the college president as a salesman deserving of a commission on the big donations he lands, maybe the most effective college presidents should be paid more than they are now. I know the principal of a private high school who gets paid a half million dollars a year, and is worth it because he routinely brings in huge donations.

This would seem like the kind of thing that would be interesting for people interested in sports statistics to study. Sports statistics have been done to death and it’s hard to make new breakthroughs anymore in analysis without investing in expensive new recordkeeping of second-by-second player movements. But there are a lot of other fields where little moneyball work has been done in public. College fundraising statistical analysis would seem like a natural extension for guys interested in sports statistics.

 

The graph is from the Wall Street Journal based on a study here.

Connecticut is off playing in its own league, probably due to the hedge fund industry being headquartered in Greenwich, CN.

By the way, the lack of economic dynamism in very expensive Hawaii is pointed out once again.

New Mexico’s lack of economic vigor always reminds me of The Simpson’s episode where 110 year old robber baron Montgomery Berns incredulously replies to Smithers’ announcement that he’s vacationing in New Mexico: “There’s a New Mexico?”

The low living standards of even affluent Californians jump out from this chart. If you use the old rule of thumb that you can afford a house that costs three times as much as your annual income, then a family at the 99th percentile in California, making $438,000 per year, can safely afford a house that costs $1.3 million. In Los Angeles, that gets you a very pleasant house, but hardly exceptional by the standards of the rest of America. For example, according to Zillow, here’s a house in the flatlands of Encino, a nice neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley, that is on the market for $1,350,000: four bedrooms, two baths, 2,860 sq. feet, 0.48 acres. (That’s a lot of acreage for L.A.: they squeeze in a pool and a tennis court. But you’re in the LAUSD, so the owner would probably pay private school tuition.)

(In contrast, is Texas where the the 99th percentile is almost as high income, $423,000, as California. Here’s a $1,295,000 listing on Zillow in Plano, TX in the DFW metroplex: 6 bedrooms, 7 baths, 6400 square feet on 1.2 acres. That’s living large. Although property taxes are probably staggering there.)

That’s what being at the bottom of the hated One Percent of Californians gets you in Los Angeles: a very pleasant life, but not exactly a private jet lifestyle. In Silicon Valley, it probably gets you 2,000 square feet of 1950s tract housing. If you are at the bottom of the One Percent for the whole United States, you can probably afford a two bedroom condo in Silicon Valley.

But the weather’s nice.

Anyway, this suggests why I’m always puzzled by all the organized hate directed at The One Percent. Didn’t anybody among the organizers ever get out a calculator and discover that One Percent of the population is over 3 million people? Don’t most people personally know, and probably admire, at least one person in The One Percent?

Wouldn’t some alliterative phrase like The Top Ten Thousand have been smarter from a political demonization standpoint?

 

The widespread claims during the Super Bowl run-up that the always crafty New England Patriots let some air pressure out of the footballs they use on offense in order to reduce fumbles and make it easier for Tom Brady to throw the ball reminds me that the official NFL football (and to an ever so slightly lesser extent, the official college football) is awkwardly huge in diameter.

I’m as tall as the average NFL quarterback, but my hands aren’t big enough to grip an NFL ball well. I can hold and thus throw a junior high school-sized football fine, but an NFL-sized ball is likely to slip out of my grasp.

Here’s Jonathan Bales arguing, using data from 2008 onward, that the obsession with tall quarterbacks is likely missing much of the reason why height is a decent predictor of quarterback success: height tends to correlate with hand size:

There’s a much stronger correlation between hand size and both approximate value and completion rate than there is between height and those stats.

Short Quarterbacks Who Thrive

If hand size really matters more than height for quarterbacks, we’d expect two things to be true: over the long run, 1) tall quarterbacks with abnormally small hands will struggle and 2) short quarterbacks with abnormally large hands will thrive.

Again, that’s going to be difficult to prove conclusively because there’s not a huge sample of hand measurements pre-2008, but there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that this is the case. Looking back on the short quarterbacks who have excelled in the NFL, many of them have really big hands for their height.

Consider that the NFL average for quarterback hand size is currently 9.6 inches. Well, some of the top “short” quarterbacks (6’2” or shorter) of the past decade have ridiculously large hands—Drew Brees (10.25 inches), Russell Wilson (10.25 inches), Brett Favre (10.38 inches). There are also countless tall quarterbacks with small hands who were drafted highly and failed to live up to expectations.

Small-Handed Quarterbacks Who Excel

There are some quarterbacks with small hands who have bucked the trend to play well in the NFL, too. But as I studied those quarterbacks, it became clear that the majority have one thing in common—mobility. Some of the top small-handed quarterbacks to play in the past decade include Michael Vick (historically small 8.5-inch hands), Colin Kaepernick (9.13 inches), Robert Griffin III (9.5 inches), Daunte Culpepper (9.5 inches), Aaron Rodgers (9.38 inches), and Tony Romo (8.86 inches).

All of those passers are either runners or have well above-average mobility in the pocket. Romo is the least athletic by far, but even he has been able to work wizardry in the pocket at times to buy time for receivers.

Thus, I think what we’re seeing here is that quarterbacks either need to have above-average hand size or above-average mobility to ultimately do what passers need to do to win—deliver the football with accuracy. If you aren’t going to be able to stand in the pocket and consistently throw the ball accurately like Peyton Manning, you better be able to move around, buying time to make those throws easier.

When quarterbacks have both traits—like Russell Wilson, for example—it’s perhaps a really strong sign that they’re going to perform above expectations in the NFL.

Say they reduced the diameter of the football by an almost imperceptible 5% or 10%. That sounds like it would dramatically increase the number of young men who could throw decently. Would that be a good thing or a bad thing? I tend to think it would be good to open up quarterback competition a little more broadly, especially at the high school level.

I have a prejudice against our society’s prejudices in favor of tallness, huge hands, or other genetic characteristics that are more random than generally beneficial. For example, if everybody in the future were one standard deviation smarter or healthier, that would be good overall. If everybody in the future were one standard deviation taller, that would probably just use up more food, increase cancer rates, make people less agile, and generally be a waste.

In the past, height correlated well with how well you were fed as a child and so forth. So it was a decent marker of good upbringing, relatives with resources, and other positive markers on the marriage market. But now most people born in America don’t lack for food as children, so it’s largely a Nature trait mimicking an old Nurture trait. And I don’t see any broad value in everybody being genetically taller.

It’s interesting that American sports generally don’t like fiddling with the ball, while international soccer typically rolls out a new ball with new playing characteristics at each World Cup, which leads to embarrassing plays on global television where the world’s best players fail to anticipate how the new ball will handle. The FIFA tradition seems odd to me: wouldn’t you want to introduce a new soccer ball a few years before the World Cup so everybody is expert with it by the quadrennial showcase?

But the American tradition of almost never changing the ball also seems extreme.

 

Mark Leibovich writes “Tom Brady Can’t Stop” in the NYT Mag about how Super Bowl quarterback Tom Brady, age 37, has a plan to still be a star in the NFL at age 42-43:

The trip represented a rare separation between [Tom] Brady and Alex Guerrero, his best friend and ever-­present guru for training and many other things. While Guerrero is known as Brady’s “body coach,” that label significantly understates his exhaustive reach into Brady’s life. Guerrero is his spiritual guide, counselor, pal, nutrition adviser, trainer, massage therapist and family member. …

“Body work” is Guerrero’s preferred term for his massagelike “technique.” Brady had raved to me about Guerrero when we met in New York. He told me they had started a business together, called TB12, that would institutionalize Guerrero’s technique. The business is in a shopping center behind the Patriots’ home field, Gillette Stadium, but it is hard to describe what exactly TB12 is — not a gym, not a group practice of personal trainers, not a nutrition or massage-therapy center. Whenever I asked Brady and Guerrero to define TB12, they would talk of things like “re-educating muscles” and “prehab” (preventing injuries, rather than dealing with them after they happen). Inevitably, they would come around to the word “lifestyle.” (“Everyone thinks I’m a kook and a charlatan,” Guerrero says, referring to how some traditional trainers view him.) …

Guerrero, 49, is a practicing Mormon of Argentine descent with a master’s degree in Chinese medicine from a college in Los Angeles. His philosophy is built on three components: “We work on staying physically fit, emotionally stable and spiritually sound,” he says. He can sound somewhat Stuart Smalley-like in his mantras. Guerrero shares with me a saying that he and Brady invoke a lot: “Where your concentration goes, your energy flows and that’s what grows.”

Brady is always telling his teammates to see Guerrero. Many do, with varying levels of commitment. The former Patriots receiver Wes Welker, Brady’s close friend, was a disciple, as is the current receiver Julian Edelman. The linebacker Junior Seau finished his career in New England, where he worked with Guerrero; Brady says Seau nicknamed Guerrero “Mr. Miyagi.”

These are all guys you’d like to have in your platoon. They’d do what it takes to win.

But Seau’s dead, Welker got caught using Adderall PEDs this season, I’m not really feeling good about this …

How often has some Spanish-speaking guru to star athletes with a line of talk about new breakthroughs turned out to be the PED connection?

No evidence, but still …

 

From Taki’s Magazine:

Exhortation and Megalomania
by Steve Sailer
January 28, 2015

It’s widely assumed, both by liberals and conservatives, that the fields of arts and entertainment innately induce egalitarian political leanings. Much of the prestige of the left, in fact, derives from the notion that it’s only natural for creative people to favor equality above all else. …

A more subversive theory is that art is inherently anti-egalitarian, that the entertainment industry thrives by elevating individuals to levels of mass adoration that Belshazzar of Babylon would have found excessive. In turn, the entertainment industry adopts a bogus ideology of promoting equality to cover up its essential tendency toward Caesarism.

Home of the Oscars

For example, this combination of exhortation and megalomania has been apparent for 99 of the 100 years that Hollywood has been making epic films.

Early March will mark the 100th anniversary of the original box office smash, D.W. Griffith’s denunciation of the rape culture of the Reconstruction Era, The Birth of a Nation. Stung by criticism from the NAACP, Griffith released in 1916 a more politically correct and even more ambitious blockbuster, Intolerance. It retold four stories of bigotry and oppression, from ancient Babylon down to the present day.

I’m sure that everybody has taken Griffith’s sermon against intolerance deeply to heart, but, honestly, the only thing anybody remembers from the movie is the Babylonian set that Griffith spent his Birth of a Nation profits constructing.

Read the whole thing there.

Here are some highlight clips of the most expensive shots in the Babylonian segment of Intolerance (keep in mind that these clips are taken at random so they don’t tell a story, which Griffith was notably good at for the time):

 

From the Washington Post, a story of an African immigrant family who have racked up $1.3 million in debt, even while not paying their mortgage for over six years.

Swamped by an underwater home

After the housing collapse derails the American Dream, a cloud of uncertainty hangs over the Boateng family

Story by Kimbriell Kelly

Published on January 26, 2015

DASHED DREAMS: This is the third part in a series looking at the plight of the black middle class, particularly in Maryland’s Prince George’s County.

Part 1: Residents of Prince George’s, the nation’s highest-income majority-black county, lost far more wealth during the financial crisis than families in neighboring, majority-white suburbs.

Part 2: Half of the loans on newly constructed homes in one Prince George’s County subdivision during the housing boom in 2006 and 2007 wound up in foreclosure.

… A decade ago, Comfort and Kofi [Boateng] were at the apex of an astonishing journey they had made from Ghana in 1997, when they had won a visa lottery to come to America. They did not know it at the time, but they were also at the midpoint in their odyssey from American Dream to American Nightmare.

Today, they struggle under nearly $1 million in debt that they will never be able to repay on the 3,292-square-foot, six-bedroom, red-brick Colonial they bought for $617,055 in 2005. The Boatengs have not made a mortgage payment in 2,322 days — more than six years — according to their most recent mortgage statement. Their plight illustrates how some of the people swallowed up by the easy credit era of the previous decade have yet to reemerge years later.

Is plight exactly the right word to describe somebody who has not had to pay to live in a new 3,292 square foot house for the last six years? And who owns a second home?

When they moved into the house in November 2005, Kofi was earning $82,740 as an IT consultant for a government contractor, and Comfort, then 43, was making $30,000 as an administrative assistant. But in the overheated mortgage market of the time, they said everyone told them that they could buy a $600,000 house.

They made a $60,000 down payment and all their mortgage payments for more than 2½ years — through September 2008. But the house was financed with subprime loans, which reset to higher rates after short time periods, creating what are known as “shock payments.” The Boatengs said they could not make their new higher payment, and, in the middle of the 2008 mortgage crisis, they could not refinance.

“I think the hardest part was the beginning,” said Kofi, now 55. “It was when I realized we really lost something. . . . Initially, we were arguing. But I guess it was because we were blaming each other for a mistake we both made.”

They came from a Ghanaian culture where credit is scarce and people built their houses with cash and lived in them for generations. Deeply religious, they found their real estate agent and mortgage broker at their church, Agape Life Ministries in Laurel.

Research has suggested that the subprime bubble looked in part like an Affinity Group Scam. A lot of the worst loans were made to minorities by co-ethnics who had gotten into the mortgage business as part of the financial world’s enthusiastic Drive for Diversity.

When their money got tight, they borrowed more and refinanced to take on more debt. Caught up in the mind-set of the time, they said, they thought they would be able to continue to refinance.

Prince George’s County had the highest foreclosure rate of any county in Maryland, and Fairwood, despite its $173,000 median income, was the fourth-hardest-hit neighborhood in the county. Fifty percent of the loans made there in 2006 and 2007 went bad, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. Nearly one-third of the foreclosures were among African immigrants such as the Boatengs, even though they made up only 5 percent of the county’s black population.

Wow. About 30% of the foreclosures were on immigrants from Africa. (Is that in the overall county or just the Fairwood neighborhood? Probably the latter, I would guess.)

But it’s fascinating that African immigrants had so much worse default rates than African-Americans.

(I wonder if that’s also true in Houston, another destination for African immigrants. Overall, default were less frequent in Houston because home prices are cheap.)

By the way, Hispanics (mostly immigrants, presumably) had worse foreclosure rates in Prince George’s County than did blacks overall. From a study of foreclosures in Prince George’s County by Katrin B. Anacker, James H. Carr, and Archana Pradhan:

White: 1.91% (372 foreclosures)
Hispanic: 6.42% (3.4X the white rate, 1,091 foreclosures)
Black: 3.62% (1.9X the white rate, 4,219 foreclosures)

That implies that being an immigrant is a risk factor for default. If you head back to the Old Country, can B of A garnish your wages in Africa?

Back to the Post story:

The Boatengs opened up their financial records and provided The Post with hundreds of pages of bank, credit and mortgage documents for review.

Sidebar: A growing debt

How one family went from no debt to owing more than $1 million.
*Debt does not include interest or other fees
July 1997
The Boatengs arrived in the United States
DEBT: $0

1999
Purchased a used Toyota Corolla for $2,000
CARS: $2,000
DEBT: $2,000

May 2000
Took out a mortgage on a three-bedroom town home in Germantown.
CARS: $2,000
MORTGAGE: $128,900
DEBT: $130,900

2000
Purchased a new Nissan Altima for $12,000.
CARS: $14,000
MORTGAGE: $128,900
DEBT: $142,900

2003
Comfort began to take out student loans.
2002-2005
Refinanced their Germantown home several times to fund improvements and to pay off some debt, including the cars.
MORTGAGE: $128,900
CASHOUTS: $95,000
DEBT: $223,900

July 2004
Refinanced their Germantown home to borrow $60,000 for the down payment on a new house in Fairwood, outside of Bowie.
CARS: $14,000
MORTGAGE: $128,900
CASHOUTS: $155,000
DEBT: $283,900

November 2005
Took out two loans to buy the new home in Fairwood.
GERMANTOWN MORTGAGE: $128,900
GERMANTOWN CASHOUTS: $155,000
FAIRWOOD MORTGAGES: $554,683
DEBT: $838,583

September 2006
Refinanced to consolidate the two loans on Fairwood home and some debt.
GERMANTOWN MORTGAGE: $128,900
GERMANTOWN CASHOUTS: $155,000
NEW FAIRWOOD MORTGAGE: $612,276
DEBT: $896,176

2006
Took out personal loans after their tenant in Germantown failed to pay rent. Comfort obtained two $20,000 business loans.
GERMANTOWN MORTGAGE: $128,900
GERMANTOWN CASHOUTS: $155,000
FAIRWOOD MORTGAGE: $612,276
PERSONAL LOANS: $15,000
BUSINESS LOANS: $40,000
DEBT: $951,176

August 2011
Bank valued the home in Fairwood at $378,216. This was $238,839 less than what they paid.
2013
Comfort completed a master’s degree after taking out roughly $60,000 in student loans.
GERMANTOWN MORTGAGE: $128,900
GERMANTOWN CASHOUTS: $155,000
FAIRWOOD MORTGAGE: $612,276
PERSONAL LOANS: $15,000
BUSINESS LOANS: $40,000
STUDENT LOANS:$60,000
DEBT: $1,011,176

January 2015
The Boatengs are still living in the Fairwood home. They have not made a mortgage payment in more than six years.

Sources: Post analysis of financial records

Every 90 days since May 31, 2010, they have received a letter threatening to foreclose on their home. They have been able to stay in the house through a confluence of factors: banks wading through a glut of foreclosures, the slow gears of the legal process, bureaucratic negotiations for mortgage modifications and an aversion by lenders to empty homes.

… Seeking better opportunities, they applied online for a lottery administered by the State Department to receive a U.S. permanent resident card.

Everybody knows that a great way to select people is through a random lottery. That’s why Harvard lets in 500 applicants per year at random. Goldman Sachs annually puts all the resumes they receive in a spinning drum and hires the first 200 they grab. Bill Belichick always makes one of his annual NFL draft picks by throwing darts at a list of all the college football players in America.

It was a long shot. Annually, less than 5 percent of the 1 million immigrants granted permanent residency enter the United States through the lottery, according to federal data.

… The Boatengs became citizens in 2003,

Because they love us for our freedoms!

allowing Comfort’s mother to get a green card and move in, eliminating the $300 weekly child-care costs.

Oh, wait, no, it sounds like they had self-interested reasons. But that must be very rare.

But with three bedrooms and two full bathrooms for six people, they needed more room.

Thanks to a booming housing market, their townhouse was worth $355,000. It was time to buy a bigger home.

For advice on neighborhoods, the couple turned to their 300-member church, where Kofi directed the choir. Most of the congregation is from Ghana or Nigeria. The church members suggested Prince George’s County.

… Fairwood had drawn other Ghanaians, as well as Nigerians and Cameroonians who were part of a general influx of West African immigrants into the Washington area, particularly into Prince George’s. The county has the second-highest rate of African immigrants per capita nationwide, behind only Baltimore County, according to recent census estimates.

In 2005, Kofi and Comfort met with one of the home builders in Fairwood, which sits in an unincorporated area of Prince George’s outside of Bowie, and they decided to build a house for a little more than $600,000.

• Tags: Mortgage, Real Estate 

The Billionaire (Old) Boys Club is fanatically united over more immigration. From the New York Times, strange new respect for their archrival Rupert Murdoch:

As in 2012, Romney Can Do No Right in Murdoch’s Eyes
By AMY CHOZICK and MICHAEL BARBARO JAN. 27, 2015

The usually grim-faced media mogul practically swooned in his seat.

Moments after Jeb Bush delivered what many in the audience described as an unremarkable talk at a conference in Washington, Rupert Murdoch turned to his seatmate, Valerie Jarrett, the White House adviser, to gush over its content and tone.

Mr. Murdoch was pleased that Mr. Bush, the former governor of Florida, had listed the economic benefits of overhauling the nation’s immigration system, confiding in Ms. Jarrett that Mr. Bush, a likely Republican presidential candidate, had said all the right things on the fraught issue, according to three people with firsthand knowledge of the conversation.

It was the kind of warm embrace, from the powerful and widely courted owner of The Wall Street Journal and Fox News Channel, that Mr. Murdoch denied Mitt Romney during his 2012 bid for the White House — a snub that Mr. Murdoch is already signaling he will repeat if Mr. Romney runs in 2016.

Presidential politics is rife with grudges and grievances, but it is hard to recall a display of animus as unsubtle as that which Mr. Murdoch and corners of his media empire have unleashed on Mr. Romney in the past few weeks as he has tried to build support for a third presidential run.

… Mr. Murdoch took special umbrage at Mr. Romney’s handling of immigration in 2012, when the candidate, as an alternative to forced deportation, called for “self-deportation,” in which people in the United States illegally would voluntarily go back to their home countries and apply to emigrate legally.

Nobody talks about it, but a not insignificant number of illegal aliens did self-deport when the economy went south. They don’t call it “self-deporting,” though; they call it “going home.”

During a closed-door meeting at the Union League Club in Manhattan that year, Mr. Murdoch called the position foolhardy and asked Mr. Romney to back away from it. Mr. Romney, according to two attendees, replied that he had already softened his language on immigration and that if he abandoned his position he would look like a flip-flopper, a label he loathed. Mr. Murdoch was baffled and dismayed, the attendees said.

…. And Mr. Romney is a devoted Journal reader who has repeatedly sought to reach its readers through his own opinion articles.

Romney’s op-ed in the WSJ against bailing out the auto industry was quite possibly disastrous in the key Great Lake states where he did poorly in 2012 among blue collar whites. If he’d thought to himself — “You know, Rupert hates me, so why should I put myself on the line in his newspaper on this tricky issue?” — he’d have come closer to winning in 2012.

… With his characteristic candor and deep, Australian-accented mumble, Mr. Murdoch is making known his high regard for Mr. Bush these days.

“I like Jeb Bush very much,” Mr. Murdoch said in New York two weeks ago. “He’s moving very cleverly, very well,” he added.

 

From Forbes:

In A Free Society, You Don’t Own Your Neighborhood Or Country
by Adam Ozimek

Two groups who I think share a lot of unappreciated similarities are liberal gentrification critics and conservative immigration critics. Both want to take a dynamic and free society and freeze it in time, because they like it how it is now. And both assume we have a high level of ownership over our neighborhoods and our country.

It’s true both neighborhoods and the country overall exist within democracies and so we have some legitimate say in what happens there, but it’s simply not the case that we own it. Both contain homes and property owned by others, which you don’t own. As a result, your neighbors are free to sell their homes to whoever they please, and for gentrification critics and immigration critics this can be a problem. The United States is not our shared property, but a free country and free society where we have various rights.

Perhaps all the existing residents could decide that to the best of their abilities they want to legally freeze everything in time and keep it just how it is. But remember that the country looks how it does today because past residents were willing to accept change. The desire to freeze it now, to block new entrants and stop change, is a selfish act that denies future generations the right to see their country and neighborhoods evolve, just as they have evolved to this point.

Actually, gentrification usually involves going back toward the best of the past. For example, when I was a teenager in the 1970s, “Hollywood and Vine” was still a byword for urban glamor … but the actual corner of Hollywood and Vine had become a dump. In 2015, fortunately, Hollywood and Vine has been gentrified, and the place now looks more like it did in 1928 than in 1975.

Of course, the luckiest places were those, like Beverly Hills, that never had to undergo gentrification because they weren’t allowed to fall apart in the first place.

Imagine if every neighborhood from the 1950s remained frozen in place, and strict laws managed to mandate static relative socioeconomic status and ethnic and cultural makeup. In retrospect of course it seems silly and hubristic to pick a singular point in time, -say 1955- and declare that everything is perfected now compared to all prior states and all possible future states. Of course when we’re talking about now instead of then, many find the right to preserve current conditions to be obvious and not silly at all.

Maybe this message is wholly unneeded for the sophisticated readers of the blogosphere, but I think for sure it is broadly under-appreciated.

I’m always amused by how people congratulate themselves on how sophisticated their simplistic ideas are. The concept of diminishing marginal returns appears to be unknown to them, for example, but that doesn’t dent their self-confidence.

The only reason we have have gotten to this current state that you wish to preserve forever is that past generations resisted that impulse.

In other words, we should be slaves to the past (or at least to Adam Ozimek’s interpretation of the past as filtered through Emma Lazarus rather than, say, Ben Franklin).

It’s a free country, and that means we don’t own it.

That would make a helluva political slogan: “America … you don’t own it.”

It’s George Soros’s country and you’re only renting it from him.

 

Last May, I put up a post entitled “Learning from New Yorkers, Hapless Schlemiel Fall Guy Div.” about Sheldon Silver, speaker of the New York state assembly for the last two decades, and his role in making sure impoverished Puerto Rican families stayed ethnically cleansed from the Lower East Side. In 1967, New York flattened some Manhattan tenements, and promised the 1,800 Puerto Rican families they could move back as soon as public housing for them was built on the site. Oddly enough, however, the site simply remained a vacant lot, and now, without 1,800 poor Puerto Rican families around to drive down property values, it’s worth a fortune, with billions of dollars of private development planned for the acreage.

When a pattern of influence, payoffs, and backscratching emerged last year among Silver, real estate interests, and a Jewish charity all working behind the scenes for decades to keep the PRs from coming back, Sheldon Silver announced that he wasn’t the Sheldon Silver involved. It was another guy, a man named Sheldon E. Silver, who happened to have died in 2001.

The live Sheldon Silver finally got arrested last week and details of some of the ways the Assemblyman made his living have become public. From the NYT:

Sheldon Silver, Assembly Speaker, Took Millions in Payoffs, U.S. Says
By WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM and THOMAS KAPLAN JAN. 22, 2015

Sheldon Silver, the speaker of the New York Assembly, exploited his position as one of the most powerful politicians in the state to obtain millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks, federal authorities said on Thursday as they announced his arrest on a sweeping series of corruption charges.

For years, Mr. Silver has earned a lucrative income outside government, asserting that he was a simple personal injury lawyer who represented ordinary people. But federal prosecutors said his purported law practice was a fiction, one he created to mask about $4 million in payoffs that he carefully and stealthily engineered for over a decade.

Mr. Silver, a Democrat from the Lower East Side of Manhattan, was accused of steering real estate developers to a law firm that paid him kickbacks. He was also accused of funneling state grants to a doctor who referred asbestos claims to a second law firm that employed Mr. Silver and paid him fees for referring clients. …

I’m reminded of the fabulous career of the new Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Julian Castro, whose career as the “Hispanic Obama” has been nationally nurtured for some time as an amenable potential Vice Presidential nominee on the Democratic ticket. Castro’s claim to being a high-powered executive talent is that he was mayor of San Antonio. But San Antonio has a city manager who gets paid about $400,000 per year to actually manage the city, while the mayor is a symbolic official who gets paid $20 per city council meeting to bang the gavel.

So, how did Julian Castro afford to have a $4,000 per year job? A trial lawyer, Mikal Watts, who is a major Democratic donor gave Castro and his identical twin brother a seven figure sum ostensibly for referring a lucrative car crash case to him.

Presumably, lots of important politicians have similar arrangements in their pasts (or presents).

 

From the NYT:

Saudis Expand Regional Power as Others Falter
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK JAN. 25, 2015

CAIRO — The rulers of Saudi Arabia trembled when the Arab Spring revolts broke out four years ago.

But far from undermining the Saudi dynasty, the ensuing chaos across the region appears instead to have lifted the monarchy to unrivaled power and influence. …

The catch, analysts and diplomats say, is that the ascendance of the Saudis is largely a byproduct of the feebleness or near-collapse of so many of the states around them, including Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain and Tunisia.

An interesting and unexpected aspect of the contemporary world is its relative stability. For example, we always hear a lot about the Arab Street, but nothing much happens.

History used to show that out of turmoil new talent can emerge: the classic example being the French Revolution opening careers to talent and allowing the obscure Bonaparte to rise to dominate the Continent while still in his 20s. This galvanized other young men of Europe, such as Beethoven:

We’re only four years into the Arab Spring, so maybe something like that will still happen, but mostly we’ve seen entropy, and consolidation of power.

The last king of Saudi Arabia was 90 and senile. The new king is 79 and not as quick as he used to be either. The new crown prince is a 69 year old stripling. Yet they’re the winners so far.

One thing that’s going on is that Saudi Arabia and Israel have increasingly turned into tacit allies. Both swing a lot of weight in Washington, so a Saudi Arabia – Israel – U.S. alliance can be quite stable. And least until it isn’t.

Oh well a young man ain’t got nothin’ in the world these days
I said a young man ain’t got nothin’ in the world these days
You know in the old days
When a young man was a strong man
All the people they’d step back
When a young man walked by
But you know nowadays
It’s the old man,
He’s got all the money
And a young man ain’t got nothin’ in the world these days
I said nothing

Mose Allison

 

From the NYT:

The Mill of Muslim Radicalism in France

French prisons have become a breeding ground for Islamist extremism partly because they mistreat the Islamic faith.

By FARHAD KHOSROKHAVAR JAN. 25, 2015

… Muslims account for about 7-10 percent of France’s total population but around half of its prison population of 68,000. Muslims are even more numerous in facilities near large cities, particularly in maisons d’arrêt, which hold prisoners serving shorter sentences.

I’ve just had an insight into why Muslims are even more concentrated in prisons near big cities in France: as Willie Sutton might have said, because that’s where the Muslims are.

Precise figures are unavailable because laïcité, France’s strict form of secularism, prohibits officially asking and collecting data about people’s religious preferences.

Different European countries have different ideologies and different policies for dealing with low-end Muslims. Here’s an article I wrote 11 years ago on the four different approaches. Yet the results are all about the same.

Many Muslims feel marginalized when they get to prison, due to exclusion and bigotry from the white majority in mainstream society, and their own counterracism.

“Counterracism” is intended to imply that racism by Muslims is, like everything else, the fault of whites. The problem is that it still has “racism” in it. Maybe the recent massacres in Paris could instead be attributed to “collateral social justice.”

Although in urban prisons they are a majority, they continue to feel victimized and trapped.

Well, trapped is kind of the point of prison, isn’t it?

Very few guards are Muslim, and prison officials, who tend to be hypersecular, have little understanding of Islam, for example confusing fundamentalism with extremism.

“Look at how a Catholic or a Jew is treated, and look at how we are treated,” Abdelkarim, a Frenchman of Italian origin in his late 20s who was serving a five-year sentence for armed robbery, told me in 2012.

Abdelkarim is an armed robber, by the way.

“They have their weekly prayers; in this prison we don’t have Friday prayers. Their rabbi can go to all the cells; our Muslim minister cannot. There’s kosher food, but no halal meat. They despise us, and they call that laïcité.”

In fact, Muslim ministers can visit Muslim inmates in their cells but usually don’t do it for lack of time, and halal meat is increasingly available.

It’s almost as if violent criminals aren’t the most unbiased sources of information.

But such misperceptions are common, and they only reinforce the appeal of Islam as the religion of choice for the stigmatized and the oppressed. Unlike Christianity, it has an anti-Western and anti-imperialist bend.

… Adherence to radical Islam is largely the transfer into the spiritual realm of that particular combination of indignation, rancor and wholesale rejection encompassed by the expression, widespread among prisoners, “avoir la haine” (to have hate).

Islam’s good at that.

For some inmates, especially those who were only nominally Muslim and nonpracticing, violent aspirations emerge first, with religiosity — and often a very approximate understanding of Islam — grafting itself onto to them later.

Clearly, the first thing to do is to import more Muslim immigrants.

More must also be done to address the legitimate claims of Muslim inmates. …

Indeed, reform must begin with respect. For if French prisons have become a breeding ground for radicalism, it is partly because they mistreat the Islamic faith itself.

Nothing discourages violent criminals more than giving in to their demands.

In summary, you know those massacres of cartoonists and kosher shoppers? White people were at fault.

 

Following up Masha Gessen’s article in The New Yorker, here’s an NYT column on the apparently burning issue of just how big a threat white racists are to poor Dzhokhar Tsarnaev over his not looking white enough.

Is the Defendant White or Not?
JAN. 23, 2015

Prof. Nour Kteily

By NOUR KTEILY and SARAH COTTERILL

Nour Kteily is an assistant professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Sarah Cotterill is a doctoral student in the department of psychology at Harvard.

AS jury selection continues in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the defendant in the Boston Marathon bombings, so does debate about what would constitute a fair and impartial jury.

Questions have been raised about the race, gender, age and religiosity of prospective jurors; about the effect of holding the trial in Boston; and about the legal requirement that the jurors be open to the possibility of sentencing the defendant to death.

But recent research of ours suggests that another, largely overlooked factor may also play an important role in the trial: whether the jurors perceive Mr. Tsarnaev as white. …

Which individuals were less likely to “grant” the Tsarnaevs whiteness? In our initial questionnaire, we focused on two ideological outlooks that have been well studied by political psychologists: the belief that some groups of people are superior to others (“social dominance orientation”) and the belief in the importance of following traditions and respecting authorities (“right-wing authoritarianism”). We found that participants who scored high in either outlook were less likely to perceive the Tsarnaev brothers as looking white, effectively steering the brothers into “outsider” territory.

We also found that such whiteness perceptions had the potential to play an important role in the outcome of Mr. Tsarnaev’s trial. The lower that individuals rated Mr. Tsarnaev as looking white, the more willing they were to punish him severely. In a case like Mr. Tsarnaev’s, where guilt is widely presumed and where the outcome will most likely fall on one side of the line between life imprisonment and death, this finding seems especially relevant.

One implication of our research is the need to expand what factors play a role in determining jury makeup. If your tendency to perceive a defendant as more like “us” or “them” is reliably predicted by certain of your ideological beliefs, and if those beliefs can influence factors critical to the impartiality of the legal process, then jury screening questionnaires should measure them.

In an increasingly multiracial world, trying racially ambiguous defendants will become only more common. Just as we ask potential jurors questions like “Do you go to church?” we need to ask questions like “Is having a decent respectable appearance still the mark of a lady?” (one of many questions used to gauge right-wing authoritarianism) and “If certain groups of people ‘stayed in their place,’ would we have fewer problems?” (social dominance orientation).

By using such information, courts can better take into account the broader ideological balance of a potential jury.

Science!

Yes, but white people are notoriously sneaky liars who conspire secretly on a vast scale via winks and nods to persecute poor Chechen-Americans. You’ve heard of Systemic Racism, haven’t you? That’s what it is: a super conspiracy. So, just asking white potential jurors questions isn’t good enough. They must be hooked up to those Implicit-Association Tests and have Science ferret out their hatefulness.

Of course, unprivileged discriminated against nonwhites like Professor Nour Kteily of the Kellogg School of Management should not be subjected to such indignities. It’s hard enough for upper middle class Lebanese to get by in the racist hellhole of America when they come here from Canada to share with us ignorant Americans their world-famous Lebanese wisdom on how different ethnic groups can all get along. (E.g., Should your ethnic group shell your neighbors’ apartment buildings with heavy artillery or just stick with sniper fire? Perhaps mortars make an ideal compromise?)

Or we could just go to a system where Chechens can only be tried by a jury of their peers: i.e., other Chechens. Of course, that would require importing more Chechens to live here so we’d have enough jurors, what with their tendency to run amok spectacularly. But we should bring in more Chechens anyway just to add vibrancy to all of America the way the Tsarnaevs made Boston more vibrant.

However, Zemir Begic’s whiteness seems to be of less interest to The New Yorker, New York Times, and the Kellogg School than Dzhokhar’s. I wonder why?

• Tags: Flight from White 

It’s remarkable that this sensible Los Angeles Times editorial is not the conventional wisdom of 2015:

Editorial Why we need to address population growth’s effects on global warming

By THE TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD

If the world population hits 11 billion, what then for climate change?

Overpopulation could thwart attempt to address climate change

Unsustainable human population growth is a potential disaster for efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions

Earlier this month, Pope Francis made news when he said that not only was climate change real, but it was mostly man-made. Then, last week, he said that couples do not need to breed “like rabbits” but rather should plan their families responsibly — albeit without the use of modern contraception.

Though the pope did not directly link the two issues, climate scientists and population experts sat up and took notice. That’s because for years, they have quietly discussed the links between population growth and global warming, all too aware of the sensitive nature of the topic. Few of them can forget the backlash after then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in 2009 that it was strange to talk about climate change without mentioning population and family planning. Critics immediately suggested that she was calling for eugenics, thus shutting down the conversation and pushing the issue back into the shadows.

You know, it’s almost as if the near-universal agreement that “eugenics” is the most evil concept ever, a truly Satanic plot against humanity by snotty old WASPs, is getting in the way of dealing with real world problems.

The pope’s support of smaller families might help that discussion come back into the light, where it belongs.

Sensitive subject or not, the reality is that unsustainable human population growth is a potential disaster for efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions. These days, the biggest population growth is occurring in developing nations, which is why any discussion must be sensitive to the perception that well-off, industrialized nations — the biggest climate polluters, often with majority-white populations — might be telling impoverished people of color to reduce their numbers. In fact, person for person, reducing birth rates in industrialized nations has a bigger impact on greenhouse gas emissions because affluent people use more of the Earth’s resources and depend more heavily on fossil fuels.

Yeah, but you kind of already did that.

Anyway, the question of the expected lifetime greenhouse gas emissions of a child born in a third world country in 2016 depends upon whether you expect third world peoples to remain poor and unable to migrate to first world countries over the rest of the 21st century.

If you spelled out the assumptions behind the mainstream liberal conventional wisdom of why the soaring population of, say, Africa isn’t much of a threat to increase carbon emissions in the long run, they’d be:

1. Those dumb third worlders will never be able to get their economic acts together enough to be able to afford air conditioning and cars.

2. Us smart white people will never be so dumb as to let the teeming masses of third worlders into our nice countries.

3. When those third worlders arrive in the first world, they never assimilate economically. Instead, they just stay as poor and non-carbon emitting as back home. They never climb the ladder to be able to afford first world amenities. When you stop and think about it, it’s amazing they even come at all. They must be immigrating just to bring us the benefits of diversity rather than out of any self-interest.

4. When immigrants do prosper, they immediately turn into post-Puritan community garden recycler-types straight out of Portlandia. They never go through a phase of a few generations driving big pickup trucks and generally Living Large.

So … you don’t usually see these assumptions spelled out … at all.

In other words, population is not just a Third World issue. More than a third of the births in the United States are the result of unintended pregnancies, and this month the United Nations raised its prediction of population growth by the year 2050 because of unforeseen, rising birth rates in industrialized nations.

Who exactly within the populations of industrialized nations is behind this unexpectedly higher fertility? Could it be … immigrants?

So even though the highest rates of population growth are in the poorest and least educated countries — Africa’s population is expected to triple by the end of the century — any attempt to address the issue will have to target the industrialized world as well.

… Another 2010 report, by the nonprofit Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C, predicted that fast-growing developing countries will become the dominant emitters of greenhouse gases within a generation. That’s partly because of their rising populations but also because of their poverty; they are less able to afford solar energy projects or other investments in non-fossil energy.

The report also notes that these countries and their people are far more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. A disproportionate number of impoverished countries are in low-lying areas where rising sea levels are expected to cause disastrous flooding. Agricultural productivity is expected to fall 40% in India and sub-Saharan Africa by the second half of this century.

The population issue is just beginning to get some of the public attention it deserves. The most recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations’ board of climate experts, included concerns about population size, saying, “Globally, economic and population growth continued to be the most important drivers of increases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuels.” For the first time in its five years of producing such reports, the panel acknowledged that family-planning programs could make a real difference, both in slowing the rate of warming and in helping vulnerable nations adapt to its effects.

Isn’t it bizarre that the concept of “family planning” is considered by mainstream minds to be far more controversial and borderline unmentionable in 2015 than family planning was in 1975?

And progress can be made without draconian or involuntary measures. According to Karen Hardee, director of the Evidence Project for the nonprofit Population Council, developing nations are already beginning to recognize the usefulness of family planning in preventing hunger and crowding and in combating climate change. She cites Rwanda, Ethiopia and Malawi as countries that are taking the first steps on their own.

In overcrowded Haiti, there are something like 10,000 Western NGO’s active. But after the 2010 Haitian earthquake, I had a hard time finding any whose websites talked about promoting contraception. It’s disreputable, it’s … racist!

… The analysis by the Center for Global Development says that access to family planning and girls’ education — even a little of it — are among the most cost-effective strategies for combating climate change.

The Israelis figured out how to halve the fertility rate of the Africans they imported as a PR gesture for American Jews: push, hard, in favor of use of long term contraceptives like Depo-Provera.

In other words, these problems are not insoluble, they just seem that way under the reigning prejudices.

 

From the New York Times:

An Unblinking Look at Sexual Assaults on Campus

‘The Hunting Ground,’ a Film About Rape Culture at Colleges

By BROOKS BARNES JAN. 25, 2015

PARK CITY, Utah — “The Hunting Ground,” set for release in theaters and broadcast on CNN, was billed by the Sundance Film Festival as a “piercing, monumental exposé of rape culture on campuses.” Judging by viewer reaction at the film’s premiere and the comments of two United States senators afterward, festival programmers might have undersold it.

Though the subject has been explored in depth by some publications, the response testified to the power of film. At the premiere here on Friday, audience members repeatedly gasped as student after student spoke on camera about being sexually assaulted — and being subsequently ignored or run through endless hoops by college administrators concerned about keeping rape statistics low.

“The power on that status quo side, you’re going to see it in response to this film,” said Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, at a related panel discussion on Saturday.

Four-term United States Senator Barbara Boxer of California is of course not part of “the power on the status quo side,” she’s a plucky underdog battling against the rapey power structure.

She added, “Believe me, there will be fallout.”

… Ms. Boxer was joined on the panel here on Saturday by Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York. Both are backing legislation intended to curb the startling number of sexual assaults on college campuses. The measure would require schools to make public the result of anonymous surveys concerning assaults, and would impose significant financial burdens on universities that fail to comply with some of the law’s requirements.

In the near term, severe public shaming will arrive via Mr. Dick’s film, which mentions dozens of schools by name and focuses on six. “The Hunting Ground” will be released in theaters on March 20 by Radius-TWC, a division of the Weinstein Company, which is known for stirring controversy to support film releases. “The Hunting Ground” poster resembles an ad for a horror movie.

CNN could provide a global megaphone. …

“We’re not afraid,” Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide, said after the panel, when asked about a potentially forceful response from higher education officials to “The Hunting Ground.” …

A spokeswoman for the United States Department of Education did not respond to a query on Sunday.

Mr. Dick and his producing partner, Amy Ziering, are known for their documentary “The Invisible War,” which put a spotlight on rape in the United States military and was nominated for best documentary at the 2013 Academy Awards.

The Department of Education, according to Mr. Dick’s film, is investigating 90 colleges for their handling of sexual assault complaints. Ms. Boxer, citing urgency created by “The Hunting Ground,” vowed to meet with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan “immediately, next week” during her panel remarks. She said she planned to say, “You guys, get out ahead of this, because this is going to come back to your door after everyone sees this film.”

Okay, now finally, a paragraph acknowledging that some readers will vaguely recall some kind of hitch in the narrative:

Underscoring the degree to which media scrutiny of campus rape can provoke swift and severe pushback, Rolling Stone in November was forced to step away from a provocative article focused on accusations of a gang rape at the University of Virginia. The magazine acknowledged that it had erred in relying solely on the word of the accuser, named only as Jackie, and did not try to contact the men she accused.

“Swift and severe pushback …” *

Oh, yeah, now I remember. It just proves that the insidious and all-powerful white male power structure is totally in control except for a few rebel desperados like Barbara Boxer, How else could the power structure so swiftly and severely push back against some perhaps technically erring journalistic methodology.?What deep reserves of indomitable character allow Senator Boxer to stand up to the swift and severe pushback of Richard Bradley and Steve Sailer?

Haven Monahan was unavailable for comment.

——-

* By the way, to put some perspective on just how “swift and severe” the pushback was, I sat on Richard Bradley’s November 24, 2014 blog post “Is the Rolling Stone Story True?” for about four days until finally having the confidence to link to it on November 29 (which opened the doors to mainstream criticism beginning on December 1).

 

Marilynne Robinson writes in the New York Review of Books:

Poe’s mind was by no means commonplace. In the last year of his life [1848] he wrote a prose poem, Eureka, which would have established this fact beyond doubt—if it had not been so full of intuitive insight that neither his contemporaries nor subsequent generations, at least until the late twentieth century, could make any sense of it. Its very brilliance made it an object of ridicule, an instance of affectation and delusion, and so it is regarded to this day among readers and critics who are not at all abreast of contemporary physics. Eureka describes the origins of the universe in a single particle, from which “radiated” the atoms of which all matter is made. Minute dissimilarities of size and distribution among these atoms meant that the effects of gravity caused them to accumulate as matter, forming the physical universe.

This by itself would be a startling anticipation of modern cosmology, if Poe had not also drawn striking conclusions from it, for example that space and “duration” are one thing, that there might be stars that emit no light, that there is a repulsive force that in some degree counteracts the force of gravity, that there could be any number of universes with different laws simultaneous with ours, that our universe might collapse to its original state and another universe erupt from the particle it would have become, that our present universe may be one in a series.

All this is perfectly sound as observation, hypothesis, or speculation by the lights of science in the twenty-first century. And of course Poe had neither evidence nor authority for any of it. It was the product, he said, of a kind of aesthetic reasoning—therefore, he insisted, a poem. He was absolutely sincere about the truth of the account he had made of cosmic origins, and he was ridiculed for his sincerity. Eureka is important because it indicates the scale and the seriousness of Poe’s thinking, and its remarkable integrity. It demonstrates his use of his aesthetic sense as a particularly rigorous method of inquiry.

Edgar Allan Poe is one of the few writers who had a larger influence outside his own language. The French, such as Baudelaire, were amazed by Poe, but Anglo-Americans have tended to sniff at him as a genre writer.

Poe has a reasonable claim to be the father of modern detective fiction, and played sizable roles in horror fiction and science fiction. (In Poe’s day, the line between hoaxes and science fiction wasn’t clear. A New York newspaper editor had ripped off Poe’s story about a trip to the Moon by publishing it as news and then later admitting it was a hoax. So Poe later wrote an 1844 hoax that appeared in the editor’s newspaper as news about a Graf Zeppelin-like balloon trip across the Atlantic in three days.)

On the other hand, maybe genre fiction is the great literary achievement of the last couple hundred years or so?

For example, it’s pretty cool that most big cities in America these days have their own crime fiction writer, typically a former local newspaper reporter. Awhile ago I asked if any writers or movies had yet touched upon the mortgage meltdown, and a commenter suggested Michael Connelly’s 2011 Lincoln Lawyer novel The Fifth Witness.

It turns out that the entire story takes place within a half-dozen miles of my house, with numerous scenes set at restaurants I’ve eaten at (e.g., the Hamburger Hamlet in Sherman Oaks). And the big trial is set at the Van Nuys courthouse where I’ve done jury duty. A key character is a (highly) fictionalized version of Angelo Mozilo, whose name may have come up at iSteve a time or two.

Now that’s reader service!

The point of genre literature is to meet the reader’s interests and desires part way. This is usually considered slightly disreputable from a literary point of view, but maybe encouraging reading is a good thing?

If that’s true, Dulwich College, a London area prep school, would rank high in this revised history of literature. Its graduates include two geniuses of genre — P.G. Wodehouse and Raymond Chandler — and a respectable third in C.S. Forester, whose Horatio Hornblower sea stories played Dashiell Hammett to Patrick O’Brian’s Chandler.

Perhaps Shakespeare was vaguely sensing what became science fiction in Hamlet? The play has several references to what sounds like astronomy: e.g., “I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.” It’s not all that implausible that the Danish setting of Hamlet refers in some fashion to the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe (1546-1601). Hamlet begins with discussion among night watch soldiers of what may be Tycho’s supernova of 1572. When Tom Stoppard filmed his Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead with Tim Roth and Gary Oldman, he was going through his science phase (that culminated in Arcadia in which a teenage genius of the early 19th Century anticipates the chaos theory of the late 20th Century), and thus he turned Elsinore into an observatory / laboratory.

Science fiction wasn’t a thing yet in Shakespeare’s day, but it seems not implausible that if it were a genre back then, Shakespeare would have used it.

Physicist Max Planck famously said that science advances one funeral at a time. Turning that around, perhaps new worldviews are advanced less by great thinkers than by books for boys? Maybe Poe was therefore one of the most influential minds of the 19th Century?

 

From the NYT Magazine’s article “Why Is India So Crazy for World Records?

Vinay Lal, a historian at U.C.L.A., explored India’s “national obsession” with the Guinness book in a collection of essays published in 2003. Lal called upon various theories to explain the phenomenon. He noted, for example, “a certain anxiety, first generated during the colonial period, and subsequently aggravated by the process of nation-building, over masculinity and the manliness of a people, no less of a nation.” He pointed out that the first surge of record applications from India occurred during the late 1980s, when the country was reaching for Western-style modernity. Indians stuck on the periphery of the boom searched for other ways to assert their primacy. “The Guinness book,” Lal wrote, “is the poor Indian’s medium for acquiring cultural capital.”

Shukla often ponders his countrymen’s keenness for records. For one thing, he said: “India is possibly the most competitive country in the world. Even if you come from a middle-class or upper-middle-class background, and you can afford your children’s education, still it’s not easy to get admission into school.” There are always more people than resources, so you vie with others for everything: food subsidy cards, train bookings, parking spots, public housing. This relentless competition, Shukla thinks, channels itself naturally into record-setting ventures. There is a one-upmanship even in the antic quality of these records, and there’s a breathless impatience familiar to anyone acquainted with life in India.

Perhaps, although we should also look at another country crazy for Guinness Book feats. From my VDARE review of former Mexican foreign minister Jorge Castaneda’s recent book Manana Forever?

Castañeda points out that Mexico’s main distinction in international competition appears to be concocting, with government support, pointless new feats for the Guinness Book of World Records, such as Most People Dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. He quotes another Mexican political scientist, Carlos Elizondo:

“Why such an obsession with this? For the same reasons we dislike competition. These records are based on noncompetition. … Nobody else in the world cares.”

When I was ten I was obsessed with the Guinness Book. My cousin and I rode in the backseat of my parents’ 1963 Pontiac Catalina from Los Angeles to Seattle, squabbling nonstop about whose turn it was to read the Guinness Book. (I suspect modern parents would have shut us up by pulling in at a store and buying us a second copy. Presumably poking and smacking each other for 1500 miles over the one copy of the book Taught Us Character.) I managed to drop the trailer hitch on my foot in Oregon and my cousin graciously allowed me to read it nonstop while I recuperated for a day.

But I preferred the old, pre-existing records that the McWhirters had teased out of old books, giving the early Guinness Book an air of Oxford-Fleet Street-Tory eccentrism. The new article recounts:

Sir Hugh hired Ross and Norris McWhirter, twins who ran a small London agency that supplied facts and figures to British newspapers, to research the first Guinness book. (The book was named for the brewery, but the two are no longer related; Guinness World Records belongs to a Canadian conglomerate that also owns Ripley’s Believe It or Not.) In an article published in 1955, Norris McWhirter recalled how they set about their task: “Letters began to pour forth addressed to astrophysicists, physiologists, zoologists, meteorologists, vulcanologists, botanists, ornithologists, microlepidopterists, concologists, virologists, economists, numismatists, criminologists, etimologists, incunabulists, campinologists, gemmologists, metrologists, pryphologists, toxicologists, spelæologists, malocologists, herpetologists, hagiologists, horologists, mycologists and gerontologists.” The impulse was simply to organize the world as it was — to create taxonomies of the wonders that nature or history had inadvertently provided. The golden plover wasn’t trying to be the fastest game bird in Europe; it just was.

As the book grew in popularity, more and more aspirants tried to surpass nature with sui generis feats that could be wrangled into its pages — feats perhaps conceived during long, boozy evenings at the very bars where Sir Hugh believed he would find his squabbling readers. A different kind of record came to populate the Guinness book: the world’s tallest Mohawk, Hula-Hooping as a crowd of 4,483, clambering up mountains on stilts, lifting weights using only a tongue and bicycling underwater. A record now is an artifact not of the world as it is but of the world as we make it.

 

From the New York Times:

Jeb Bush Sounds Sympathetic Note for Immigrants
By NICK CORASANITI JAN. 23, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO — In a sweeping speech that leaned heavily on economic policy, former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida on Friday described immigrants as the “engine of economic vitality” before calling for a more welcoming immigration policy that could put him at odds with some in the more conservative wing of his party.

“We need to find a path to legalized status for those who have come here and have languished in the shadows,” Mr. Bush said. While not specifically calling for a path to legalization for unauthorized immigrants, Mr. Bush’s statement will probably be a topic of conversation this weekend in Iowa, as many other Republicans attend the Iowa Freedom Summit hosted by Representative Steve King, who maintains a hard-line policy against illegal immigration.

Speaking at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention and exposition, Mr. Bush seemed at times to be responding to President Obama’s State of the Union address, during which the president pushed for government benefits like more generous tax credits for the middle class.

… Staging Mr. Bush’s first public speech during this exploratory phase at an auto dealership convention aligns with his current plans. Since his announcement, Mr. Bush has been traveling across the country, wooing potential donors as he contemplates a campaign.

The audience for his paid speech here at the conference, chock-full of car dealership owners, is a solid fund-raising base that leans heavily Republican.

Car dealers notoriously exploit Hispanic and black customers via high prices and complex loan terms. So Jeb Bush made his first speech of his presidential campaign in front of an appreciative paying audience of auto dealers who liked his call for more fresh meat for their salesmen to rip off.

 
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.


Past
Classics
Confederate Flag Day, State Capitol, Raleigh, N.C. -- March 3, 2007
Are elite university admissions based on meritocracy and diversity as claimed?
The unspoken statistical reality of urban crime over the last quarter century.
The major media overlooked Communist spies and Madoff’s fraud. What are they missing today?
Not What Tom Jefferson Had in Mind