For years, I’ve been using Peyton Manning as an illustration in various discussions of epistemological and forecasting questions (such as the Pinker-Gladwell contretemps of 2009) because Peyton and Tom Brady are the only two football players I’ve paid consistent attention to in this millennium. I’ve repeatedly used Manning to illustrate that accurate forecasting is both hard and not impossible.
Recently, I hinted that Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos weren’t going to win the Super Bowl because Peyton’s decrepit, which turned out to be true, but he won anyway.
Anyway, I want to thank Mr. Manning for providing so many useful examples for so many years.
A 26-year-old movie that offers a surprisingly direct insight into dynamics of the Republican nomination race is Joe Dante’s 1990 horror comedy sequel Gremlins 2: The Next Batch. I recall it as being pretty funny, especially the publicity hound billionaire Daniel Clamp, owner of Clamp Center. The moviemakers started off intending Clamp to be the deplorable bad guy, but he winds up helping the kids from the original movie save the day.
Dante told Lou Lumenick of the New York Postrecently:
“It was pretty obvious from the name who we were talking about,” says Dante, “though Clamp is also part Ted Turner, since he runs a cable empire as well. Clamp was originally supposed to be the megalomaniac villain of the piece, but he was so oddly endearing, he ended up becoming a semi-heroic figure.”
Purpose: There has been widespread speculation that the events surrounding the shooting death of an unarmed young black man by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri—and a string of similar incidents across the country—have led to increases in crime in the United States. This study tested for the “Ferguson Effect”on crime rates in large U.S. cities.
Methods: Aggregate and disaggregate monthly Part I criminal offense data were gathered 12 months before and after August 2014 from police department data requests and websites in 81 large U.S. cities. …
Results: No evidence was found to support a systematic post-Ferguson change in overall, violent, and property crime trends; however, the disaggregated analyses revealed that robbery rates, declining before Ferguson, increased in the months after Ferguson. Also, there was much greater variation in crime trends in the post-Ferguson era, and select cities did experience increases in homicide. Overall, any Ferguson Effect is constrained largely to cities with historically high levels of violence, a large composition of black residents, and socioeconomic disadvantages.
Reported robbery had been falling steadily (mugging is so 1973), so the post-Ferguson rise in robbery was kind of bad relative to the pre-Ferguson trend line:
And then there’s homicide. The researchers broke their sample of 81 cities up into 27 cities where homicide rates declined after Ferguson, 27 where they went up modestly, and 27 where they went up alarmingly:
One interesting aspect is that Hispanics don’t seem to have paid any attention whatsoever to the Black Lives Matter agitation. The lowest % Hispanic populations are found, on average, in the cities with the big increases in homicide. A year ago the news media tried to launch a Latino Ferguson involving a police shooting in remote Pasco, WA. From the NYT:
LOS ANGELES — Roughly 87 percent are white. About 58 percent are male. As many as two-thirds are at least 60 years old.
As the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences scrambles to address an outcry over a lack of diversity among its membership, a close look of its largest group, the actors branch, shows that ending the imbalance within its ranks might be more difficult than, say, predicting the annual Oscar winners.
The academy is typically reluctant to disclose the identities of its members and does not regularly provide demographic information about them. There is no set standard for membership and no consistency when it comes to how many people from the film industry are invited to join each year.
But an examination by The New York Times of the actors branch — whose more than 1,100 members control acting nominations for the Academy Awards — revealed the basic racial outlines of the group. Using public and private databases, The Times compiled data on nearly 1,100 acting branch members. Along with the white members, about 6 percent are black, under 4 percent are Hispanic and less than 2 percent are Asian. Women make up about 42 percent of the branch. A spokeswoman for the academy confirmed all of those percentages.
Roughly 87 percent are white.
42 percent are women.
Of the 25 actors invited to join the academy last year, three were black and seven were women.
The academy has stated that its aim is to double the number of minorities in its overall membership by 2020. Yet, as it tries to remake itself by recruiting younger and more diverse members and jettisoning those no longer active in the business, it is confronting new challenges. There are protests that it is being unfair to older actors, worries that it could simply be creating different diversity issues in the future and criticism from those within its ranks who do not want to use categories like race, age or gender as any kind of organizing principle.
Over the next five years, the academy would have to annually add about 14 black actors and at least nine actors who were either Asian or Hispanic to double the number of acting branch members in those ethnic groups. That would account for almost all of the slots if it invited 25 actors, which is how many were offered membership last year.
The late Abe Vigoda did his part for Diversity (finally)
To attain gender parity among actors in five years, the academy could more than triple the number of annual admissions, to 80, while adding three women for every man. Assuming a typical annual attrition rate of about 26 people (largely because of death), the branch membership would be about 51 percent women by 2020, but women would then far outnumber men among the younger members.
There were 6,261 academy members throughout its various branches according to an annual tabulation it released on Dec. 14. Its official actors count — 1,138 voters, plus 126 academy retirees, who do not vote — may have been trimmed by recent deaths like that of Abe Vigoda.
Who else will step up to the plate and make the Ultimate Sacrifice for Diversity?
Perhaps the Academy could sponsor a (posthumous) Abe Vigoda Award to encourage members whose deaths would pave the way for greater Diversity?
Abe and some other white guys trying to act
On the other hand, Abe was 94 so his enthusiasm for the Cause was perhaps not as unquestionable as would be demographically necessary to achieve perfect Diversity any time soon. (In fact, one can picture Abe greeting each new year by cackling, “Those bastards want me dead. Well, screw ‘em, I’m still here!”)
Die Young, Stay Pretty, Serve Diversity
So maybe it should be called the James Dean / River Phoenix Award for Service to Diversity?
Since Death isn’t doing its job fast enough, the Academy is also pursuing Disenfranchisement.
The academy is trimming its rolls, largely to limit voting rights to those who are active in the business. Last month, the academy said it would begin a year-round membership recruiting effort aimed at diversity, while also culling members who have not worked on a film for 10 years and have not been active during three separate decades since joining the academy.
The not late Angie Dickinson
But it’s starting to dawn on the Brain Trust that, unlike Death, Disenfranchisement discriminates more against actresses than actors. Funny-looking character actors tend to have longer careers than lovely actresses. For example, Abe Vigoda earned a credit in a 2014 movie, which would have kept him eligible to vote through age 103, while Angie Dickinson hasn’t had a movie credit since 2004.
Already, however, there has been negative reaction.
“This is not the way to go about things,” Angie Dickinson, an actress who may be losing her vote under the new rules, said in an email. Ms. Dickinson, 84, whose career includes movies like the original “Ocean’s 11” in 1960, added that she had sent an angry missive to the academy.
“My message to the academy was just this: I, Angie, voter, wrote them: I VOTE FOR PERFORMANCE . . . . NOT RACE.” …
It also appears that a reduction in the current voting members could result in more women losing their voting privileges than men, at least in the actors branch.
Based on credits on the IMDbpro.com database, which tracks both previous work and films in process — but is not fully complete or without error — more women, about 150, than men, about 135, on the academy membership list examined by The Times appeared to be in a position where their active status might be examined by the academy.
Hail, Caesar!, the Coen Brothers’ latest movie, is a cheerful comedy about a busy week in 1951 at the fictitious Hollywood studio, Capitol Pictures, where their Barton Fink took place in 1941.
That 1991 film told the story of Fink, a Clifford Odets-like Communist playwright (played by John Turturro) who becomes the toast of Manhattan’s cafe society during the New Deal for his leftist dramas about The People. But Fink then accepts a lucrative offer to write for Hollywood. There he discovers that writers have no power in the movie business (unlike the New York stage, where playwrights have the contractual right to fire directors), and gets assigned to write a Wallace Beery wrestling pic for all eternity.
Hail, Caesar! is set in Hollywood during the McCarthy Era a decade later.
We’ve seen this period portrayed a million times from the point of view of the subpoenaed screenwriters (e.g., Redford and Streisand in The Way We Were), but the Coen Brothers show us the Red Scare from the anti-Communist side’s point of view.
Ten years after Barton Fink, the screenwriters are still affluent Communists. A Malibu cell of Stalinist scribes has so far restricted itself to slipping pro-Soviet metaphors into detective stories and musicals, which have gone largely unnoticed by anybody (except by other leftist writers and the most paranoid rightists) watching the exuberantly pro-American studio output.
But now, the Malibu Marxism Study Group has moved on to direct action, kidnapping a Clark Gable-like star (George Clooney) from the set of a Bible picture (Hail, Caesar!) to hold him for ransom, while Herr Professor Herbert Marcuse of the Frankfurt School lectures him on the dialectic. Clooney’s character is dim enough and self-absorbed enough to like what he hears about Marxism. Fortunately, two anti-Communist patriots, a young cowboy star and the studio’s conservative Catholic fixer (Josh Brolin), team up to foil the Commies, although not before the Malibu Marxists gay leader makes a theatrical escape to Moscow.
This is the Coen’s Catholic flick to go along with their Jewish movie, A Serious Man, and their various Protestant sect movies, such as O Brother, Where Art Thou, No Country for Old Men, and True Grit.
Hail, Caesar! wasn’t rushed out in time for 2015 Oscar qualifying. Maybe it was delayed, or maybe the Coens realized it wasn’t quite up to Oscar quality. It doesn’t exhibit the extreme lucidity the Coens achieved in recent films, although it definitely doesn’t suffer either from the anhedonia of Inside Llewyn Davis.
But by the usual standards of February releases, it’s very good. It looks nice. The list of stars is impressive although borderline unwieldy in length: Clooney, Scarlett Johansson as a mermaid movie star in the mode of Esther Williams, Channing Tatum (Gene Kellyish — it’s fun to make unfair insinuations about Kelly because he was such an egomaniac), Josh Brolin as Eddie Mannix (a real life MGM studio official, whose job was to persuade the heavily Irish cops and the Catholic Church to not make public fusses over the various scandals the stars got themselves into), Ralph Fiennes as a sort of director George Cukor, Jonah Hill as a notary public who makes a living out of his unquestionable legal personhood, and Tilda Swinton as identical twins who are highly competitive gossip columnists.
The one newcomer, Alden Ehrenreich, steals the show as a laconic rodeo star trying to learn how to talk to rich people rather than horses.
After Frances McDormand gets done editing the cowboy kid’s seemingly flailing attempt at drawing room drama, it’s suddenly clear he’s going to be a big star in the James Dean – Elvis Presley mode that nobody in 1951 could yet anticipate.
Throughout Hail, Caesar!, the mood is sunny and there is always something happening.
On the other hand, the jokes aren’t quite as funny as the Coen Brothers at their best, nor does the plot appear to have quite the superb fit and finish of their top half dozen movies. The period details are fun, but lots of other filmmakers have affectionately parodied old time Hollywood.
Five movies within a movie are seen in Hail, Caesar! But the overtly disparate ingredients make the overarching movie more like sketch comedy, which many people can do pretty well. At peak form, the Coens, in contrast, can extract more from a single premise (What if James M. Cain wrote true crime stories for 1940s men’s magazines read in small town barbershops? What if our dope-smoking burnout buddy tried to solve a confusing Raymond Chandler detective case?) than just about anybody.
Granted, The Big Lebowski is stuffed with elements that didn’t strike viewers as having much connection when it came out in the theaters, but famously started to all make some kind of weird sense when viewed for the third time on cable at 3am. So, I may be premature in assuming that the movies-within-the-movies are just random in Hail, Caesar! Maybe 3 years from now we’ll all be talking about how everybody thought Hail, Caesar! was just a lightweight goof when it came out and nobody at the time grasped its transcendent whateverness.
Or maybe not.
All in all, Hail, Caesar! requires less mental effort on the part of audiences than did, say, A Serious Man, which has its advantages and disadvantages. Hail, Caesar! is the Coen Brothers movie for people who sort of like Coen Brothers movies.
To build on my latest Taki’s column, “Alexander Hamilton: Honorary Nonwhite,” about the war over which Dead White Euro-American Male to kick off the currency to make way for some (not very galvanizing) woman from American history, the current hit musical Hamilton about a heroic Latin American / West Indian immigrant Treasury Secretary rapping his way to America’s financial stability on world bond markets is not the only Broadway musical of this decade about a man on the money.
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson ran 120 nights on Broadway in 2010-11, closing at a loss.
Judging from this highlight clip, the musical portraying the 7th President as a foul-mouthed emo rockstar had artistic problems: e.g., electric guitars and Broadway usually don’t go together well, and the notion of Andrew Jackson as Fall-Out Boy is not one of those slap-your-forehead ideas that you can’t imagine why you didn’t think of yourself.
But, while Hamilton is portrayed in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit show as the unquestionable hero of the nearly all nonwhite production of Hamilton, Jackson was seen in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson as at best ambivalent … or an “American Hitler.” From Wikipedia:
Near the end, the play reviews Jackson’s legacy and the views attributed to him. Some believe he was one of America’s greatest presidents, while others believe him to be an “American Hitler.” The final scene shows Jackson receiving an honorary doctorate at Harvard. He reflects upon his achievements and his questionable decisions. The show telescopes out and we get a bird’s-eye view of Jackson’s damning legacy and our collective culpability (“Second Nature”).
Those criticizing her are continuing the racist obscuring of African presences in South Asia
by Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley and Natassja Omidina Gunasena
Feb. 2, 2016
Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley, a Public Voices Fellow, is associate professor of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, where Natassja Omidina Gunasena is a doctoral candidate.
As fierce Sri Lankan and African-American feminists who have never supported white celebrities cash-cropping cornrows, white yoga teachers wearing saris and bindis, or other forms of cultural appropriation, we’re here to tell you: There’s no reason to be mad about Beyoncé portraying a Bollywood star in Coldplay’s new video “Hymn for the Weekend.” In fact, her role offers viewers a rare opportunity to see how much and how beautifully blackness is part of South Asian culture.
The Ben Mor-directed video following Coldplay singers on a cultural tourist jaunt to Mumbai received immediate criticism for cultural appropriation on U.S. social media. Arriving via taxi, the band gazes out the windows and finds fire eaters, incarnations of Hindu dieties and posters for Bollywood films.
The video is actually a pretty good evocation of India as Sensory Overload Central, a point made by writers from Kipling in the first chapter of Kim to Salman Rushdie.
One of these posters features a film star played by Beyoncé, and Coldplay enters a theater to watch a film where she sings and dances on screen draped in a pink flowing sari and lavish gold jewelry.
Of course, Beyoncé’s giant blonde wig/weave in this video could be cited as an example of biological appropriation. A joke in the video might be that much of the hair worn by African-American women is harvested at a Hindu temple in India, as seen in Chris Rock’s documentary Good Hair. On the other hand, at this point in her career,Beyoncé is likely far beyond wearing cheap Indian hair and probably instead gets her weaves harvested in Eastern Europe.
For example, Twitter user @nyunouis wrote: “Yikes that video with Coldplay and Beyonce is soooo disappointing…. why can’t they film without appropriating culture.” And @kissmyazka asked: “Are we gonna discuss how Beyonce dressing up as an Indian woman for the Coldplay video is cultural appropriation, or no?”
Bollywood cinema, like any other, has its share of stars who aren’t native to South Asia. Think of light-skinned superstar Katrina Kaif, born in Hong Kong to a white British mother and Indian father.
The typical Bollywood actress looks Mediterranean, maybe Lebanese, or Persian at least.
Or consider Sunny Leone and Amy Jackson, also light-skinned and of Canadian/British heritage? If they can be Bollywood stars, why can’t we imagine Beyoncé could be one?
After all, Beyonce owns more blonde wigs.
Oh wait: Is it because Beyoncé is black?
If so, then those folks critiquing Beyoncé’s role in the video are continuing the racist obscuring of African presences in South Asia. You can read about Afro bloodlines in South Asia, yes, but you can also see it in the brown-skinned, curly-haired peoples of Sri Lanka and Southern India.
And while most women in both countries are darker than Bey herself, Bollywood star Sonam Kapoor, who has a cameo in the video, is noticeably lighter-skinned than Beyoncé. This is not an attack on Bollywood’s leading ladies but a question about what beauty and belonging looks like in South Asia.
In fact, while folks in the South Asian diaspora point fingers at Beyoncé for her inauthenticity, others have expressed how empowering it is for them to see a dark-skinned woman portraying a Bollywood star.
“Beyoncé in a sari makes me tear up because I never had images of beautiful darker-skinned women in saris growing up. Because this is a healing image for me,” Shwetanaryan posted on Tumblr. “Because I had relatives clucking over how unfortunately dark I was since I was tiny… Because she’s doing what Desi pop culture still doesn’t for darker-skinned Desis, and given that how is it harmful on net for her to wear a sari, and who is it harmful to?”
So here’s a challenge: Go back to the video to think about what part of outraged reactions justly call out cultural appropriation, and what part perpetuates colorism and anti-black racism. Because all of these make our lives as women of color harder, and we’re here to resist them all.
Sailer’s First Law of Female Journalism is that the most heartfelt journalistic extrusions will be demands for how society must be re-engineered so that, come the Revolution, the writer herself will be considered hotter-looking. Maybe Professor Tinsley hasn’t quite worked out all the details of how Beyoncé being exempted from criticism over how she chooses to play dress-up rubs off on poor Professor Tinsley in any concrete fashion, but, you know, Hope and Change!
The Black Autumn on college campuses seems to have withered, due to cold weather and college administrations doing their damndest to convince the top black protestors that they’ll be able to get diversity jobs on campus so they won’t have to leave their racist environs for the rest of the world, ever.
Scott N. Brooks, draped in a dapper shawl-collar sweater, looked out on the auditorium of mostly white students in puffy coats and sweats as they silently squirmed at his question. Why, he had asked, does Maria Sharapova, a white Russian tennis player, earn nearly twice as much in endorsements as Serena Williams, an African-American with a much better win-loss record?
Because Sharapova’s prettier, has blondish hair and longer, thinner legs? Because female consumers more want to buy stuff that holds out the promise that they’ll look more like Sharapova than Serena?
“We like to think it’s all about merit,” said Dr. Brooks, a sociology professor at the University of Missouri, speaking in the casual cadence of his days as a nightclub D.J. “It’s sport. Simply, the best should earn the most money.”
Or maybe the most endorsement money goes to the female athlete who takes fewer artificial male hormones?
In any case, only two women make the Forbes top 100 highest paid athletes. Serena makes $13 million per year in endorsements, which is only half of Sharapova’s $26 million, but a lot more than most other female athletes. On the other hand, Serena makes about twice what quarterback Tom Brady, who has won four Super Bowls, makes in endorsements, and she makes more than ten times what Clayton Kershaw, the best baseball pitcher of the 2010s, makes in endorsements.
In the current Forbes list, the top five beneficiaries of endorsees are Roger Federer (white), Tiger Woods (caublinasian), Phil Mickelson (white), LeBron James (black), and Kevin Durant (black). Blacks would seem to do fine overall.
If you want to get it into the details, black men seem to do extremely well from endorsements, black women less so. Could this have something to do with blacks being more masculine on average?
Fortunately, college students know enough not to bring up suggestions like that. They know that if they just sit there with blank looks on their faces, eventually the racial haranguing will stop and they’ll be allowed to leave.
Maybe tennis is not as popular here as overseas, one student offered. Dr. Brooks countered: Ms. Williams is a global figure. As the room fell silent, the elephant settled in. Most sat still, eyes transfixed on the stage. None of the participants — roughly 70 students new to the University of Missouri — dared to offer the reason for the disparity that seemed most obvious. Race.
The new frontier in the university’s eternal struggle with race starts here, with blunt conversations that seek to bridge a stark campus divide. Yet what was evident in this pregnant moment during a new diversity session that the university is requiring of all new students was this: People just don’t want to discuss it.
The racist episodes that rocked the Missouri campus last fall, leading to resignations by its president and chancellor, set administrators here and around the country on frantic course correction efforts. They have held town halls to hear students’ complaints, convened task forces to study campus climates, adjusted recruiting strategies and put in place new sessions on implicit bias and diversity, like the one Dr. Brooks spoke at, held in mid-January.
More an introduction to the diversity on campus than an instruction manual for navigating it, the session featured eight professors who spoke about their teaching and research that related to race and culture. One presented a campus survey showing how Missouri students’ attitudes broke down based on their race (for instance, about 63 percent of black students identified as liberal, while only 38 percent of whites did). Another discussed myths about Islam and offered a few surprising facts (the country’s oldest mosque is in Cedar Rapids, Iowa). Yet another talked about cultural appropriation (Mexican-themed costume parties can be offensive).
And then there was Dr. Brooks, a 43-year-old African-American who teaches “Race and Ethnic Relations” and challenged the students to think about race through the prism of sports. He offered a gentle explanation of the Williams/Sharapova discrepancy: “Maria is considered a beauty queen, but by what standards of beauty? Some people might just say, ‘Oh, well, she’s just prettier.’ Well, according to whom? This spells out how we see beauty in terms of race, this idea of femininity. Serena is often spoofed for her big butt. She’s seen as too muscular.”
Here’s the most popular comment on this article:
Dave Boz Phoenix AZ 18 hours ago
The anti-intellectual nature of this browbeating session is disgusting in any setting, but especially in a university. It is obvious that this is not a “discussion” but a demand to submit to a correct set of opinions and answers. The facile and unsupported notion that a black athlete can only receive fewer endorsement offers because of racism is just one of the ill-thought out examples that indicate that this not a learning but an indoctrination session. The students know that they’d better not try to have a “discussion” or the browbeating will get worse. This is not a session or an environment for the purpose of learning; it is to make the students submissive and to encourage them to adopt the university’s approved thought process: “Submit. Conform. Obey.”
With a 17th Coen Brothers movie on the way this week, I return to an old question: How have the two middle-aged men gone over 30 years without the kind of public spats that are common among showbiz brothers (e.g., in rock music: the Everlys, the Davies of the Kinks, the Fogertys of Creedence, the Gallaghers of Oasis, etc etc).
An interview in the Washington Post suggests one Coen strategy is to blur their individuality:
In conversation, as in their work, sibling filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen are known for a kind of uncanny symbiosis. Their sentences run together as effortlessly as they divide the writing, directing and producing duties they have shared over the course of 17 feature films, beginning with their 1984 thriller, “Blood Simple,” and culminating in their new satire of 1950s Hollywood, “Hail, Caesar!” So it seemed reasonable to ask, as they began a recent interview on a conference call from Los Angeles, that each brother identify himself before speaking.
“This is Joel talking,” a disembodied voice says with a sigh. “But we don’t care if you misinterpret. We really don’t. It’s not an issue. You can say whoever you want is saying it.”
“You can say you’re saying it,” chimes in Ethan, amid what sounds like cackling laughter. Back to Joel: “You can make stuff up if you want. We don’t care. It’s fine.”
My guess is that the blurriness of the Coen identities is an act. These guys are masters at insinuating images and assumptions into audience minds, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they consciously strategized a long time ago that they would get more work done if they de-emphasized in public their individuality and instead strove to give off the vague impression that they are identical twins (Joel is actually 3 years older than Ethan.) Over their 30+ years of doing interviews to promote their movies, they’ve managed to make the question of their differences seem extremely boring to the outside world. As with most things involving the Coen Brothers, that’s probably not an accident.
Since the Coens showed it could be done, there have been more brother acts who make movies together. So far, there haven’t been many sister acts writing or directing movies, although they are not unknown.
There have been over the years a number of married couple writing teams in the movies (and in songwriting). It seems like a pretty reasonable way to get started making a date movie, having both a male and female perspective. Casablanca, for example, started out as an unproduced play by a husband-wife team of writers. (It was later worked on by the Epstein identical twin brothers, who supposedly each came up with the single best line in Hollywood history — the reuse of “Round up the usual suspects!” — simultaneously. But then they would say that, wouldn’t they?)
There seem to be fewer husband-wife teams these days, although Jaffa and Silver, who wrote the fine 2011 reboot of Planet of the Apes, come to mind.
It’s hard, however, to think of brother-sister creative teams (no, the Wachowskis don’t count). There have been brother-sister performing teams in show biz, such as the Astaires, the Carpenters, and the Osmonds, but it’s hard to come up with any brother-sister creative teams in the mode of the Coens. Woody Allen has employed for the last two decades his younger sister as his chief movie producer, but that’s presumably more of a business than creative relationship.
Probably the best known sibling pair behind the cameras is Garry Marshall and his younger sister Penny Marshall. He created the TV hit Happy Days and spun off Laverne & Shirley, casting his sister Penny in it. He then moved into directing movies, including 1984′s Flamingo Kid and had his biggest hit with with 1990′s Pretty Woman with Julia Roberts. He encouraged his little sister to direct and she may have been the first in the family to make it to the $100 million box office level with Big with Tom Hanks in 1988. But as helpful as they were to each other’s highly successful individual careers, I think they did most of their work separately.
I’m not sure why there haven’t been many brother-sister creative duos. Is it because entertainment usually involves sex in some fashion, and brothers and sisters are averse to discussing it? Is it because brothers and sisters don’t hang around together all summer watching movies?
Economist Raj Chetty, now at Stanford, has a new paper out based on his giant data trove of IRS 1040 returns. The IRS gave him anonymized access to track the life histories of a whole bunch of kids born in 1980-82 via their parents’ tax returns in 1996-2000 and their own tax returns in 2011-2012.
I’ve been keeping up a running commentary on the strengths and weakness of his analyses of this amazing data source since 2013. Last year, in a Taki’s Magazine article (“Moneyball for Real Estate“) focusing on Chetty’s county-level results, I noted gender gaps hurting boys in some counties. I wrote:
This suggests that there are pockets of places across the U.S., like Baltimore MD, Pima AZ [Tucson], Wayne County (Detroit) MI, Fresno CA, Hillsborough FL [Tampa], and New Haven CT, which seem to produce especially poor outcomes for boys.
New Haven County is a fine place to live if you have daughters and you are a Tiger Mother professor at Yale Law School, but it’s a terrible place to move to if you have poor black sons. Chetty has no data on what percentage of boys who were moved to Baltimore, Detroit, or New Haven weren’t earning much in 2011-12 because they were in jail, but it’s obviously a considerable risk.
In contrast, Tucson, Fresno, and Tampa were all home construction boomtowns that got wiped out by the bursting of the Housing Bubble in 2008, a memorable cataclysm whose effects on his data Chetty doesn’t seem to have pondered.
Conversely, girls whose parents moved them when they were teens in the 1990s to now booming and low crime Manhattan are likely to pay a penalty in terms of lower family income in 2011-2012 because they are less likely to be married than if they had been moved to Salt Lake City.
Chetty has now followed up with a new paper looking at some of these gender gaps:
We show that differences in childhood environments play an important role in shaping gender gaps in adulthood by documenting three facts using population tax records for children born in the 1980s. First, gender gaps in employment rates, earnings, and college attendance vary substantially across the parental income distribution. Notably, the traditional gender gap in employment rates is reversed for children growing up in poor families: boys in families in the bottom quintile of the income distribution are less likely to work than girls. Second, these gender gaps vary substantially across counties and commuting zones in which children grow up. The degree of variation in outcomes across places is largest for boys growing up in poor, single-parent families. Third, the spatial variation in gender gaps is highly correlated with proxies for neighborhood disadvantage. Low-income boys who grow up in high-poverty, high-minority areas work significantly less than girls. These areas also have higher rates of crime, suggesting that boys growing up in concentrated poverty substitute from formal employment to crime. Together, these findings demonstrate that gender gaps in adulthood have roots in childhood, perhaps because childhood disadvantage is especially harmful for boys.
Among children of the poorest families of the 1990s, girls are more likely to grow up to be employed at age 30 than are boys.
Here are the top ten and bottom ten “commuting zones” for more 30ish men than 30ish women working:
Salt Lake City metro has lots of white people with 1950s social values where dad works and mom stays home raising the three kids. The next metros tend to be ones with Hispanics and conservative whites. The bottom ten metros, where more women than men work, all have high black percentages.
As usual, Chetty’s latest map turns out to be another one of Where the Blacks Are:
When looking at the concentrations of red on the map, it’s hard not to say the word “Washington DC.” Just as JFK said D.C. combines northern charm and southern efficiency, Washington DC combines northern welfare and southern lackadaisicalness.
Chetty’s maps of social problems are so dominated by Where the Blacks Are that West Virginia, the worst white state in the country on many measures, comes out once again looking pretty good on his latest map.
Chetty doesn’t have individual family-level data on race, so he has to guesstimate the effects of race from the percentage of the geographical area that is black.
And even with that blunt of an instrument, it turns out the percent black in the locale is the dominant factor in this reverse gender gap of working women and idle men:
The single factor that is off by itself in terms of correlation with this Reverse Gender Gap is “Frac. Black Population.”
This shouldn’t be a surprise: after all, in black Africa, feminist organizations do the opposite of what feminist organizations do in the rest of the world: complain that men let women do too much of the work.
Here’s a 538 article with some nice graphs of Chetty’s latest data.
I can be brusque with Chetty in analyzing his analyses, but that’s because he has been handed an unprecedented data set of your tax returns. So we all owe it to ourselves to publicly discuss what he’s doing right (which is considerable) and what he should do to improve his work in the future.
A striking example of how identity politics turn in practice into the Zillionaire Liberation Front has emerged in the war over which Dead White Male to kick off the currency to make room for a woman: the $10 bill’s Alexander Hamilton or the $20’s Andrew Jackson. Bizarrely, the reactionary genius Hamilton, apostle of rule by the rich, is rapidly morphing in the conventional wisdom’s imagination into an Honorary Nonwhite.
In Coalition of the Fringes news, the Daily Mail reports:
The Sacramento Kings basketball team had to cancel giving away Lunar New Year shirts celebrating the Year of the Monkey
In the absence of a second coming of Linsanity (Jeremy Lin’s fabled 2012 hot streak is now looking more and more like a real life example of the often debunked Hot Hand Fallacy), the NBA requires every franchise to promote Chinese New Year.
on Monday after a player noted the shirts could be deemed offensive during Black History month.
Bucks TV analyst Marques Johnson says he was called into a conversation player DeMarcus Cousins was having with the Kings operations team over the controversial shirt.
‘I walk into the building and DeMarcus Cousins calls me over to an animated discussion he’s having with Kings operations people. He [asks] me, “Olskool, what you think about this T-shirt? Told him a little insensitive on first day of Black History Month.” They pulled the shirts,’ said Johnson on his Facebook page.
The staff rushed to remove all the shirts before the fans arrived at Sleep Train Arena, according to Bleacher Report.
The Daily Mail has a good picture of tired-looking ushers picking up giant wads of racist T-shirts before fans are let in.
Fortunately, a white man was around to step up to take the blame:
‘We all need a lesson in sensitivity,’ Kings president Chris Granger said.
Or maybe the CEO’s getting ready to shift the blame onto some underling he can fire. That’ll teach him a lesson.
Whether Marco Rubio’s feelings deep down about the Middle East are quite as bloodthirsty as he makes them sound is probably a question that even Rubio would have a hard time answering fully.
Perhaps that’s just the path of least resistance in South Florida for a politically ambitious lad?
Rubio reminds me of Matt Dillon’s character in Garry Marshall’s 1984 movie The Flamingo Kid.
Dillon plays a handsome, vaguely Latin working class youth (Hector Elizondo portrays Dillon’s father) who gets a summer job as a cabana boy at a swank private beach club.
Soon he’s the protege of Mr. Brody, a rich car dealer (Richard Crenna), who sees in him a promising car salesman. The kid quickly takes on the values espoused by Mr. Brody.
Similarly, Rubio has been pretty much a wholly owned subsidiary of billionaire Miami auto dealer Norman Braman. This almost inevitably turned Rubio into the cabana boy for the Dade County Likud Party Billionaire Boosters Club. From the Jewish Telegraph Agency:
NEW YORK (JTA) – After Marco Rubio’s strong performance in Wednesday night’s Republican primary debate, many Americans are taking a second look at the U.S. senator from Florida. Here are a few things American Jews might want to know about him.
1. Rubio had humble beginnings — and rose quickly
The junior senator was born in Miami in 1971 to Cuban parents who moved to the United States in 1956 and later found work in bartending and housekeeping. After high school, Rubio paid for his first year of college with a football scholarship and then took out student loans. Rubio later repaid $100,000 in student debt out of the $800,000 advance he received for his 2012 book, “An American Son.” (He also sprung for a fishing boat.) While studying law at the University of Miami in the mid-1990s, Rubio interned for Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R.-Fla., the first Cuban American elected to Congress and a staunch supporter of Israel. Rubio won election in 2000 to the state legislature, the Florida House of Representatives, and became its youngest-ever speaker in 2005. In 2010, Rubio was elected to the U.S. Senate, defeating Florida’s governor, Charlie Crist.
Billionaire auto dealership magnate Norman Braman, a past president of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, isn’t just the single-largest backer of Rubio’s presidential campaign. Braman also helped finance the young senator’s legislative agenda, employed Rubio as a lawyer, hired Rubio’s wife (a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader) as a philanthropic adviser, helped fund Rubio’s position as a college instructor and assisted Rubio with his personal finances. In 2010, Braman and Rubio went to Israel together shortly after Rubio’s election to the U.S. Senate.
“Gee, Mr. Braman, I never thought about Israel like that before!”
A Rubio-Sanders race might be interesting in that Sanders is ethnically well-positioned as an old Jew from Brooklyn who was a kibbutznik for awhile in the 1960s to call out Rubio’s neocon extremism.
COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — Turnout exceeded all expectations in Pottawattamie County’s 11th precinct Republican caucus tonight, where Donald Trump handily won, 30.7 percent to 24.5 percent for Ted Cruz.
The Trump crowd was, as Trump promised, all voters who were new to Republican caucuses — many new to electoral politics in total.
While other candidates had precinct captains who came with voter lists and yard signs to designate their section of the caucus room (the two Chris Christie voters who brought the yard sign proved to be the only two Chris Christie voters in the precinct), the Trump crowd had no such organization. There was no precinct captain. Dave Dieatrick, one of two voters who spoke in favor of Trump at the event, went up to speak extemporaneously.
Still, Trump carried the room with 44 votes out of 143 cast. When the precinct chairwoman (who doubled as Rubio’s precinct captain) announced Trump’s win about 20 minutes after voting ended, the remnant booed. Only two Trump supporters remained — a couple decked out in leather and tattoos who smilingly refused to talk to reporters. The others had all left immediately after voting, some retiring to Glory Days Bar & Grill across the street.
There, Dieatrick bought me a beer and explained that this was his first time caucusing — he’s 55 years old and a lifetime Council Bluffer (he calls himself a “Counciltuckian”). “I like the wall,” and Trump’s support for the military. “Nobody’s gonna buy him.”
Dieatrick, like thousands more across the state, registered as a Republican at the caucus site (though he’s always considered himself one, he says he wasn’t registered to vote).
Rand Paul’s precinct captain told me the expected turnout was 115. The actual turnout of 143 reflected the attendance of these new Republicans.
The economic gap within the African-American community is one of the most important factors in the rise of Black Lives Matter, led by a new generation of college graduates and students.
By HENRY LOUIS GATES Jr. FEB. 1, 2016
… The class divide is, in my opinion, one of the most important and overlooked factors in the rise of Black Lives Matter, led by a new generation of college graduates and students. I hear about it from my students at Harvard, about the pressure they feel to rise, yes, but also the necessity to then look back to lift others.
I asked Kimiko Matsuda-Lawrence, a senior, what was behind the racial unrest on campus. Ms. Matsuda-Lawrence is co-founder of “I, Too, Am Harvard,” a multiplatform campaign that gives voice to students who often go unheard and that brought the concept of micro-aggressions into the light. …
Here’s an NYT video of Kimiko Matsuda-Lawrence complaining about a child who touched her hair. Judging by the voluble video, Professor Gates’ assumption that Ms. Matsuda-Lawrence “gives voice to students who often go unheard” seems more gentlemanly than realistic. The two non-Japanese black coeds sitting with her can’t seem to get a word in edgewise.
(By the way, back in 2004, Gates and Harvard Law School professor Lani Guinier pointed out that most of Harvard’s affirmative action slots for black students seem to go to exotics, either foreign or immigrant elites or individuals with a non-black parent, rather than to normal American blacks. Gates and Guinier seemed to give up this observation with the subsequent rise of the ultra-exotic Harvard Law grad Barack Obama. But I wonder if Kimiko Matsuda-Lawrence’s bid to become the loudest black activist on the Harvard campus triggered any troubling memories in Gates?)
Will the fight against police brutality, symbols of the Confederacy and society’s plethora of micro-aggressions become the basis of a broader movement for the improvement of underfunded public school education, for the right to a job with decent wages, and for the end of residential segregation that relegates the poor to neighborhoods with murder rates as alarming as those on the South Side of Chicago?
“Plethora of micro-aggressions?” Is that like a “plethora of piñatas?”
What is certain is that the outrage that led to Black Lives Matter and its spinoffs will be with us for years to come unless these legacies of slavery and Jim Crow become remnants of a racist past.
As a part-time satirist, I was concerned that earnest usage of the word “microaggression” would die out from embarrassment before I had fully milked it for its easy laughs. I’m glad to see that even the usually level-headed Professor Gates is using “microaggression” seriously, making my job easier.
Update: Commenter JDG1980 points out:
Kimiko Matsuda-Lawrence & Prof. Mari Matsuda
Kimiko Matsuda-Lawrence is a second-generation SJW. Her mother, Mari Matsuda, was one of the pioneers of “critical race theory”.
Mari J. Matsuda (born 1956) is an American lawyer, activist, and law professor at the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii. Matsuda returned to Richardson in the fall of 2008. Prior to her return to Hawaii, Matsuda was a professor at the UCLA School of Law and Georgetown University Law Center, specializing in the fields of torts, constitutional law, legal history, feminist theory, critical race theory, and civil rights law.
… She is a self-described as an “activist scholar.” Her intellectual influence extends beyond law reviews (she authored three entries on a Yale Law School librarian’s list of the ten most-cited law review articles) to include articles in academic and popular journals such as Amerasia Journal and Ms. Magazine. She is one of the leading voices in critical race theory since its inception. Her publications on reparations and affirmative action are frequently cited.
As a frequent keynote speaker, she has lectured at major universities. As a board member of the Chevron-Texaco Task Force on Equality and Fairness, she coauthored its final report in 2002 … She serves on national advisory boards of social justice organizations, including the ACLU, the National Asian Pacific Legal Consortium, and Ms. Magazine. She was recognized by Ms. Magazine as one of the 100 most influential Asian Americans for her representation of Manuel Fragante accent discrimination case, and others. Judge Richard Posner lists Mari Matsuda as among those scholars most likely to have lasting influence.
Racism is so horrible on college campuses that black activists like Kimiko Matsuda-Lawrence are desperately trying to self-promote themselves into diversicrat jobs on campus so they’ll never have to leave, except to deliver the occasional well-compensated diversity report to Chevron-Texaco.
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire—Jeb Bush didn’t exactly name names when he made his prediction for which of his fellow candidates would finish in the top three in Iowa, but it was clear who he was talking about.
“It’s all about him and insulting his way to the presidency is the organizing principle,” Bush said of Donald Trump. “The two other candidates that are likely to emerge in Iowa are two people that are backbenchers who have never done anything of consequence in their lives,” he added, seemingly of Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.
That’s kind of an insulting thing to say, no?
For months, Bush’s campaign has focused its efforts on the Granite State where the former governor has made more than 100 stops in almost 50 days, according to an NECN count, compared to just 51 stops over 27 days in Iowa, according to the Des Moines Register.
Just 27 days in Iowa … clearly not enough for Iowans to get to know the real ¡Jeb¡
The Democratic race has been narrowing as the late returns come in.
Upupdate: Now Hillary just took a bigger lead. The results out of Iowa are kind of lumpy. They’re not like Florida on Election Night 2000 when the network first called it for Gore despite a trend toward a tie, then called it for Bush, despite the trend increasing that when 100% of precincts were in, the two candidates would be virtually tied. That was an eerie experience because for a couple of hours that night I could see that with every single percentage point of more precincts counted, Gore was narrowing the gap enough to wind up in a dead tie with Bush.
Upupupdate: Getting closer again on the Democrat side.
Amy Cuddy’s famous finding is the latest example of scientific overreach.
By Andrew Gelman and Kaiser Fung
As practicing statisticians who work in social science, we have a dark secret to reveal: Some of the most glamorous, popular claims in the field are nothing but tabloid fodder. The weakest work with the boldest claims often attracts the most publicity, helped by promotion from newspapers, television, websites, and best-selling books. And members of the educated public typically only get one side of the story.
Consider the case of Amy Cuddy. The Harvard Business School social psychologist is famous for a TED talk, which is among the most popular of all time, and now a book promoting the idea that “a person can, by assuming two simple one-minute poses, embody power and instantly become more powerful.”
In the future, the human race will be ruled by women who look like Phoebe on Friends.
The so-called “power pose” is characterized by “open, expansive postures”—Slate’s Katy Waldman described it as akin to “a cobra rearing and spreading its hood to the sun, or Wonder Woman with her legs apart and her hands on her hips.” In a published paper from 2010, Cuddy and her collaborators Dana Carney and Andy Yap report that such posing can change your life and your hormone levels.
But when somebody attempted to replicate Cuddy’s popular study using a more sufficient sample size than Cuddy’s 42, they instead got a tiny negative effect size.
Still, the idea of improving your mood through power posing doesn’t sound wholly implausible. Arnold Schwarzenegger was a careful student of the interplay of posture, self-confidence, and success. Donald Trump has kept using the posture drilled into him at military school. I wouldn’t be surprised if overachievers tend to have better posture than underachievers: that seems like a hypothesis that could be studied. (Of course, that wouldn’t answer the question of which way causality flows, but it would be a start.)
But how exactly are we supposed to test motivational techniques that are premised on subjects believing that they work? If you pay $100 to attend a motivational workshop at which a very confident-sounding Arnold Schwarzenegger teaches the packed audience the posture that helped him intimidate Lou Ferrigno at a cocktail party before the start of a 1970s bodybuilding competition and assures you that it will work for you too in your next job interview, can we really replicate that experience in a psychology laboratory by having a neutral-sounding grad student read instructions from an index card?
The first study had an incentive to persuade subjects that power posing works (that’s news) and the second study had an incentive to persuade subjects that it didn’t work (that’s news). My impression from my years as a market researcher is that people are pretty cooperative about things that the researchers care about more than they care about.
I haven’t looked at the details of the various studies, but I want to go back to a more general question of how to test hypotheses dependent upon moods that may well change over time.
As I’ve pointed out before, a lot of the social sciences in recent decades, having quietly discovered that reality tends to be politically incorrect, have transitioned toward becoming wings of the marketing and motivational industries. There’s a lot of money in persuading people via marketing and motivational speaking.
And it’s actually a good thing in terms of long term income generation for marketing researchers if people don’t necessarily stay persuaded, but need to be re-persuaded.
Granted, much of the prestige of the social sciences comes from the assumption that they work like natural sciences such as astronomy, in other words, permanently: if you discover that the earth goes around the sun, the earth probably is going to keep going around the sun. But then how do you make money off that? It’s been done.
Marketing researchers make a decent living because the effects of even successful marketing wear off, requiring new marketing ideas and more marketing research studies.
It’s a living.
Even if, best case scenario, power posing worked five years ago when it was obscure, would it be all that surprising if people got sick of power posers as its gimmicks became more publicized?
[Trump's] spent only $12.4 million since then, with $6.9 million of that coming in the last three months of the year, according to his FEC report.
A significant portion of that, $940,000, was spent on campaign paraphernalia, including yard signs, bumper stickers, buttons, t-shirts and, of course, hats. In fact, about $450,000 ― or nearly 7 percent of all Trump’s fourth-quarter spending ― went towards hats, presumably including the now-iconic hats bearing Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
That’s more money than the campaign paid its data vendor L2 (which received $235,000 for “research consulting”) or than it spent on strategy consulting ($281,000). It’s almost as much as the campaign spent on field consulting ($551,000) or payroll ($518,000).
I’m disappointed to learn that Trump hasn’t wholly funded his campaign from profits off hat sales, with a tidy sum left over to buy him a solid gold house and a rocket car.
Email me at SteveSlr *at* aol*dot*com (make the obvious substitutions between the asterisks; you don’t have to capitalize an email address, I just included the capitals to make clear the logic — it’s my name without a space and without the vowels in “Sailer” that give so many people, especially irate commenters, trouble.)
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The IRS has issued instructions regarding Bitcoins. I’m having Coinbase immediately turn all Bitcoins I receive into U.S. dollars and deposit them in my bank account. At the end of the year, Coinbase will presumably send me a 1099 form for filing my taxes.
Payments are not tax deductible.
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