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From the New York Times Editorial Page Editor’s blog:

To Prevent Another Ferguson, Vote in Georgia

By DAVID FIRESTONE OCTOBER 22, 2014 2:33 PM

A Georgia Democratic Party flyer.

ATLANTA — Georgia Republicans are furious about a flyer just released by the state Democratic Party that invokes the shooting in Ferguson, Mo., as a new incentive for black voters to cast a ballot in the midterm election.

“If you want to prevent another Ferguson in their future — vote,” the flyer says, over a photo of black children holding “don’t shoot” signs. “It’s up to you to make change happen.”

This is described as a “racial grenade” and “scaremongering” by the right-wing blog Hot Air.

“What does Ferguson, Missouri have to do with electing Michele Nunn to the Senate and Jimmy Carter’s grandson to the governorship in Georgia?” the blog post asks, and then supplies its own answer: Georgia Democrats want black voters to think their children might be shot if they don’t vote for Ms. Nunn and Mr. Carter.

The flyer, though, makes a very different point, and a good one that applies in virtually all of the major races this year. The white domination of the mostly black city of Ferguson is the direct result of local residents not participating in the political system. If people don’t like the results they’re getting from their political leaders — whether it’s the makeup of the police department in a suburb or the refusal to raise the minimum wage in Congress — they need to step up and make their voices heard.

As the flyer says: “Ferguson, Missouri’s population is 67% African-American. But the city’s mayor, five of its six City Council members, and 94% of its police force are white. What are we going to do about it? If we want a better, safer future for our children, it’s up to us to vote for change. The choices may not always be perfect, but the cost of inaction is simply too great.” (It goes on to list the times and places for voting early in the election.)

This is hardly a grenade or racial pandering — in fact, it describes the essence of what political action is about. For too long, many of Georgia’s Democratic voters have stayed home during midterm and state legislative elections, and the cost of that inaction has been high.

Maybe that’s why the right wants to see this message suppressed.

It’s been obvious since the convenience store video was released on August 1 5, that the New York Times’ narrative about Ferguson was part of a Democratic get-out-the-vote-drive. In recent weeks, the evidence has become ever more overwhelming.

Will there ever be any accountability?

• Tags: Ferguson Shooting 

One reason people moved in large numbers to the suburbs after WWII was because they were quieter for sleeping, especially in summer when you needed to keep your windows open. Lower density means less noise means more hours of sleep per night means happier, more productive days.

Before suburbanization, really rich families simply went some place cool for the entire summer. Affluent families sent the wife and kids away for the summer while the husband stayed home, as in The Seven Year Itch.

However, there have been a number of technological developments that have lessened this advantage of low density living:

- Central air conditioning: Just keep your windows shut.

- Double pane noise-absorbing windows.

- Better earplugs: most of the earplugs sold in drug stores are slick kinds that don’t work well, but my wife recently ordered 400 of the nonslick ones. I sleep much better with earplugs.

 

Kevin Vickers, Sergeant-at-Arms, Canadian parliament

From ABC:

Ottawa shootings: Kevin Vickers, sergeant-at-arms of Canada’s parliament, identified as man who shot assailant

The Canadian parliament’s 58-year-old head of security is being hailed as a hero after shooting dead a gunman who stormed the building.

Ministers and lawmakers identified the House of Commons’ sergeant-at-arms, Kevin Vickers, as the man responsible for firing the shots that brought down the assailant, identified as Muslim convert Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.

Mr Vickers, a 29-year veteran of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, was appointed sergeant-at-arms in 2006.

The position leaves him in charge of security at the parliamentary buildings.

He also carries the mace, the symbol of parliamentary authority, during formal proceedings and ceremonies.

Member of parliament Craig Scott said on Twitter that Mr Vickers had shot the gunman just as he approached rooms packed with politicians.

 

From the Washington Post:

Evidence supports officer’s account of shooting in Ferguson

By Kimberly Kindy and Sari Horwitz October 22 at 6:39 PM

Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown fought for control of the officer’s gun, and Wilson fatally shot the unarmed teenager after he moved toward the officer as they faced off in the street, according to interviews, news accounts and the full report of the St. Louis County autopsy of Brown’s body.

Because Wilson is white and Brown was black, the case has ignited intense debate over how police interact with African American men. But more than a half-dozen unnamed black witnesses have provided testimony to a St. Louis County grand jury that largely supports Wilson’s account of events of Aug. 9, according to several people familiar with the investigation who spoke with The Washington Post.

Some of the physical evidence — including blood spatter analysis, shell casings and ballistics tests — also supports Wilson’s account of the shooting, The Post’s sources said, which cast Brown as an aggressor who threatened the officer’s life. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are prohibited from publicly discussing the case.

The grand jury is expected to complete its deliberations next month over whether Wilson broke the law in confronting Brown, and the pending decision appears to be prompting the unofficial release of information about the case and what the jurors have been told.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch late Tuesday night published Brown’s official county autopsy report, an analysis of which also suggests the 18-year-old may not have had his hands raised when he was fatally shot, as has been the contention of protesters who have demanded Wilson’s arrest.

Read the whole thing there.

The larger point is not the precise details of what happened during Michael Brown’s crime spree. It’s the long-running pattern of the prestige press collaborating with the Democratic Party to concoct narratives of white racist violence against innocent blacks that routinely turn out to be immensely disingenuous.

 

There has been a fair amount of speculation about how the advent, Real Soon Now, of the self-driving Google Car will change life as we know it forever.

Because the temper of the times is flowing toward urbanization and away from suburbanization, lots of people have assumed that having a robot car would be like having a chauffeur-driven limousine, which is a really nice way to live in Manhattan. Thus, in the future, everybody will live in high rises and ride around in Google Cars, and you won’t have to go through all the hassle of parking as you visit another high rise. Your Google Car will just go somewhere while you are inside, and then be waiting for you as you step off the elevator as you leave.

Right now, if you are a Master of the Universe, Senior Grade, your limousine drops you off at the door of the building you’re visiting, then goes away somewhere, then picks you up again at the door. You’re not exactly sure where it parks itself while you are inside, but that’s not your problem.

Of course, this is immensely expensive: in Bonfire of the Vanities, for example, Sherman McCoy, junior grade MotU, reflects bitterly upon how much it costs him to rent a limo a la carte to take him and his wife to a party a mile away and then pick them up five hours later.

But what if the technology of the Google Car doesn’t evolve to deal well with crowded, narrow urban streets and parking garages? What if the Google Car evolves to deal best with, say, freeways retrofitted with electronic signals?

From Slate:

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

By Lee Gomes

In summary, so far the Google Car doesn’t represent what we imagine to be artificial intelligence: it’s strength isn’t in responding brilliantly to the ever changing outside world, it’s strength is in having an incredibly detailed inch-by-inch map of the streets around Google’s Mountain View headquarters downloaded into its memory.

It’s like how Google Translate doesn’t actually understand what that French website is saying and translates it into English for you, it just looks up phrases in bilingual documents published by the government of Canada and the like and lets you, the human being, make sense out of what it comes up with. If you have enough data, Google don’t have to be terribly smart. But Google Translate presupposes that an intelligent human being will be able to make sense of what it dishes up.

But, because the point of Google Car is to take away the human intelligence at the end, a lot of human-hours have been put in earlier in the process into interpreting those super-maps of the Mountain View area to make automated driving safe.

My guess is that mapping can work well on controlled roadways like freeways, but the streets of Manhattan are constantly changing with transient obstacles, such as pedestrians and the remarkable number of holes in the streets being dug at all hours by workmen.

Google may have the resources to someday monitor Manhattan’s streets second by second, but it seems unlikely, contrary to much speculation, that the Google Car would lead to the rest of America being Manhattanized.

For one thing, parking is a nightmare for Google right now. Parking doesn’t map well because the obstacles keep changing. And parking is one of the key tasks people who have the Limo Model in mind want Google Car to do: drop you off downtown and automatically drive off somewhere and park itself where parking doesn’t cost $20 per day.

Instead, Google Cars might lead to a revival of the exurbanization trend that died with the increase in the price of gasoline in the first half of 2008. With the price of gasoline seemingly moderating, it’s worth thinking about how computers might make long distance commuting more attractive.

Say Google worked with governments to have freeways and major highways retrofitted with electronic sensors and the like that would interface very well with the Google Car. So, your Google Car could drive on the freeway for you, but you’d have to drive the surface streets and park yourself. For example, say your daily commute looks like:

Morning:

Driveway to freeway onramp: 5 minutes

Freeway: 60 minutes

Freeway offramp to office parking spot: 5 minutes

Evening:

Office to freeway onramp: 5 minutes

Freeway: 60 minutes

Offramp to driveway: 5 minutes

Currently, if you commute five days a week, that’s 11.6 hours per week you need to have at least one hand on the steering wheel and shouldn’t be reading.

In the scenario I’ve outlined, your Google Car could let you do reading/typing work ten additional hours per week while you automatically ride the freeway. But you have to drive the surface streets yourself for 1.6 hours per week.

This is much like taking commuter rail to work, which is a pretty nice way to live. The Chicago metropolitan area has a lot of commuter rail lines and houses near stops, such as in Lake Forest, are at a premium. (So, you could model how much people would be willing to pay for a car that drives the freeways by itself by looking at home prices near and away from commuter rail stops.)

In the Chicago area, commuter rail differs from the crowded inner El in that everybody who gets on in Lake Forest gets a seat. It’s an extremely civilized Mad Men way to live. But, it’s very hard to build more commuter rail lines these days. Light rail that has to stop at red lights doesn’t cut it. Heavy rail that rips along without stopping is wonderful, but just a gigantic problem to retrofit into a developed metropolis.

Moreover, most of the United States isn’t Chicago where job concentrations grew up around rail lines. Sunbelt cities grew up around freeways. Automated freeway driving opens up the possibility of the convenience of working while moving to places that aren’t going to get commuter rail.

Retrofitting freeways with transponders or whatever will take decades, but all freeway lanes have to be torn up and repaved every so many decades anyway, so embedding electronics in the pavement isn’t asking too much: look how those shiny bumps between lanes got embedded over the years.

So, a Google Car that automatically drives the freeways but not the surface streets would kind of like be extending commuter rail networks.

(Competing with this, of course, are voice recognition technologies that some people could use while driving themselves safely.)

But all this suggests that the 2020s might be an era not of Manhattanization, but of Lake Forestization.

 

From my new column in Taki’s Magazine:

Liberals such as Barack Obama increasingly rely upon a verbal crutch of asserting that their opponents are on “the wrong side of history.” This neo-Marxist hand-waving phrase grew from 524 occurrences in news articles in 2006 to 1,800 last year.

The “wrong side of history” claim became a cliché during World War G over gay marriage, and now is taken for granted in the ongoing World War T (2013-?) over all things “transgender.” …

The Marxist roots of the “wrong side of history” phrase are obvious, but what’s striking is how today’s neo-Marxists have flipped Karl’s pyramid of power upside down. The left now assumes the direction of history is rightfully moving in the exact opposite path of what Marx championed. Instead of priding themselves on siding with the “workers of the world,” they root for transgender CEOs.

While Marx claimed his science of history proved that power would inevitably devolve from the aristocratic few to the bourgeois many to the proletarian masses, today’s conventional wisdom assumes that the whip hand should belong to ever more microscopic minorities, such as Ebola-bearing Liberians and the infinitesimally small number of Seven Sisters students who suffer from Freudian penis envy.

Read the whole thing there.

 

IBM System/360 ad, 1964

From NPR:

When Women Stopped Coding
by STEVE HENN
October 21, 2014 8:54 AM ET

Modern computer science is dominated by men. But it hasn’t always been this way.

IBM ad

A lot of computing pioneers — the people who programmed the first digital computers — were women. And for decades, the number of women studying computer science was growing faster than the number of men. But in 1984, something changed. The percentage of women in computer science flattened, and then plunged, even as the share of women in other technical and professional fields kept rising.

What happened?

We spent the last few weeks trying to answer this question, and there’s no clear, single answer.

But here’s a good starting place: The share of women in computer science started falling at roughly the same moment when personal computers started showing up in U.S. homes in significant numbers.

I.e., about the time when computing stopped being a career, it started being an adventure. Before the personal computer came along, computers were most famously associated with IBM. IBM was the most valuable company on the New York Stock Exchange for much of the 1960s and represented extreme respectability (with a certain muted sexy Mad Men glamor):

IBM System/360 ad

Part of IBM’s shtick had been that it shied away from the kind of Disruption Hype we’re used to hearing from the computer industry today. Instead, IBM presented its computers as a reassuring part of the evolution of office machines, such as its old keypunch machines and its superb electric typewriter beloved by secretaries everywhere. (Possession of an IBM Selectric was a status symbol among secretaries when I started working in offices in the 1970s.)

IBM emphasized how anti-Disruptive its computers were: it put tremendous efforts into making business computers as painless to adopt as possible for large corporations. They were immensely expensive for what they did, but IBM tried very hard to make them not scary. Not surprisingly, women had a not insignificant role in this latest version of Office Work.

Tom Watson Sr., the famous CEO of IBM, recognized that women made up a huge fraction of office workers. From an IBM promotional document:

By 1953, IBM had enacted an unequalled string of progressive workplace programs and policies, from hiring the disabled in 1914, to the arrival of professional women and equal pay for equal work in 1935, to appointing the company’s first female vice president, Ruth Leach Amonette, in 1943. Amonette was one of the first executives, male or female, to publicly state the business case for diversity. Upon her appointment she asked, rhetorically, “Doesn’t it make sense to employ people who are similar to your customers?”

A case study: In the fall of 1984, the late Dr. Gerry Eskin, the vice-chairman of the market research company where I worked, gave me his PC XT and I immediately went nuts over the potential of the PC. I worked full time on introducing PCs to the company from 1986 to mid-1988. My nemesis during this era was D., the woman in charge of the huge staff that ran the mainframe, who hated microcomputers.

Back to NPR:

These early personal computers weren’t much more than toys. You could play pong or simple shooting games, maybe do some word processing. And these toys were marketed almost entirely to men and boys.

Wozniak and Jobs, 1975

This idea that computers are for boys became a narrative. It became the story we told ourselves about the computing revolution. It helped define who geeks were and it created techie culture.

Movies like Weird Science, Revenge of the Nerds, and War Games all came out in the ’80s. And the plot summaries are almost interchangeable: awkward geek boy genius uses tech savvy to triumph over adversity and win the girl.

So, it’s like Society then engaged in a Giant Conspiracy to undermine the Rousseauan paradise of the gender equal computing industry before The Evil Woz came along and ruined everything by inventing the personal computer.

The Woz, 2012

In reality, however, the IBM Era had been a giant conspiracy by IBM to make computers as non-disruptive as possible. Before the PC, computing was the most famously well-organized and decorous career-path in America. The PC liberated the male sex to finally do what a lot of guys had been itching to do for hundreds of thousands of years: not shower, stay up all night, and obsess over something in which human emotions and codes of polite manners played no role.

 

Reopening gala for Denver’s Union Station railroad terminal, July 2014

Denver has been doing well, with the third fastest growth in the number of youngish college graduates since 2000 (behind Houston and Nashville). Now, Denver’s grand old Union Station (built between 1881 and 1914) has been all spiffed up and is a huge hit, at least with white people.

From the Denver Post:

Did diversity miss the train in Union Station’s architecture?
The urban playground at Union Station isn’t drawing people of color and it may be the building’s fault

By Ray Mark Rinaldi
Denver Post Fine Arts Critic
POSTED: 10/19/2014 12:01:00 AM MDT 77 COMMENTS| UPDATED: 2 DAYS AGO

Thursday, 1 p.m.: 186 whites, 1 black, 4 Latinos, 4 Asians.

Friday, 6 p.m.: 647 whites, 6 blacks, 6 Latinos, 7 Asians

Saturday, 11 p.m.: 693 whites, 4 blacks, 2 Latinos, 7 Asians.

It’s dangerous to assign race to people simply by glancing at their faces. Some people don’t look at all like their race. Many people are a mix.

But if my recent counts of people in the restaurants, bars and shops in and around Denver’s rehabbed, reopened Union Station are even close, it’s an overwhelmingly white place. How can the new cultural jewel of our city — where 47 percent of the population is minority — draw a crowd that is 98.2 percent Caucasian on a bustling, buzzed Saturday night?

The station’s owner, the Regional Transportation District, worked long and hard to develop a city center that would reflect and showcase Denver’s particular personality. None of the eateries are chains; the beers are Colorado-brewed. The architects, builders and programmers who turned the original 1914 building into a contemporary social hub are nearly all local.

But walking through the station, it doesn’t look at all like Denver in 2014. More like Denver in 1950. More like Boise, Idaho, or Billings, Mont. This is a public place, owned by all of us, open to all, but the invitation to visit was declined by many, and it’s obvious who isn’t showing up.

Three months in, the place hums early and late. The Crawford Hotel on the top floors is a hit, and the best 8 p.m. restaurant tables are gone weeks in advance. A few years ago, the station was a ghost town. Now it is wildly popular, and in many ways, a smashing success.

If, that is, you are white and not paying attention. Or if you think diversity doesn’t matter. If you do, you can’t help but feel like something is off amidst all the clinking of martini glasses in the swank Cooper Lounge on the mezzanine, or the low hum of pucks sliding across shuffleboard tables in the Great Hall.

If you are a tourist — and there is hope the station will impress out-of-towners with our farm-to-table menus, craft cocktails and trendy gift shops — you might get the idea that Denver doesn’t have people of color. Or worse, you might think it’s one of the most segregated cities in the U.S. That’s not the case.

… But we’re no St. Louis, a city where decades of inequality has the good citizens at a boiling point. …

Let’s start with the building itself, the actual architecture. Union Station is a neo-classical mix of styles — European styles. The symmetry, arched windows, ornate cornice and stacked, stone walls have their roots in the glory days of France, England, Greece and Rome, in empires that were nearly absent of ethnic minorities and who felt fully at ease invading, exploiting and actually enslaving the people of Africa, subcontinent Asia and South America.

Yes, that’s all in the past; things have changed. But the $54 million renovation of Union Station doesn’t take that into account. It restores the symbols of an old world with no updates. The gilded chandeliers have been rewired, the marble polished, but there’s no nod to the present, no interior walls in the bright colors of Mexico, no Asian simplicity is in the remix. There are no giant sculptures by African-American artists bonused into the lobby, no murals on the basement walls.

No graffiti (yet).

… But a preservationist just might end up with a building that draws mostly white people — with a Union Station.

The present restoration harkens back to Union Station at its height, in the first half of a 20th century when many Americans suffered the social indignity and economic disadvantage of a segregated America. Denver’s neighborhoods, parks, schools and social amenities were divided sharply by race. Denver’s branch of the Ku Klux Klan, one mayor a member, kept things in their place.

The trains themselves were not officially segregated here, but you can bet many people on them boarded or disembarked in stations where blacks entered in separate doors and rode in restricted cars.

Denver’s bigshot bigots are gone, schools and workplaces desegregated. But the structures of back then look the same — are they to be honored or altered to make the past palatable for everyone?

We should just blow up all the beautiful buildings of the past. That way no nonwhites will be made uncomfortable by ever being reminded of what their ancestors didn’t accomplish.

Exclusivity has its own historic baggage. Whether it’s about keeping Jewish people out of a subdivision or gay people out of the military, it historically benefits the majority.

But this project has defined us narrowly, darkly [i.e., whitely], negligently. There is danger in that, too.

Ray Mark Rinaldi: 303-954-1540, rrinaldi@denverpost.com or twitter.com/rayrinaldi

The reader comments are pretty funny.

 

From The View From Hell:

The History of Fertility Transitions and the New Memeplex

October 18, 2014
Sarah Perry, October 2014

Abstract

European cultures have historically prevented people from restricting family size within marriage. The European marriage pattern allowed for the control of fertility only through delaying and restricting nuptiality.

The average Englishwoman from 1200 to 1800 got married in her mid-20s, about a half dozen years later than the average Chinese woman. China’s population tended to grow faster during good times, but crater during bad times, while England seldom had catastrophic famines.

A new pattern, allowing for controlled fertility within marriage, simultaneously originated in New England and France in the late eighteenth century. The new pattern traveled with a new set of values, including suffrage, democracy, equality, women’s rights, and social mobility. Its main mechanism of spread was education, the availability of which also incentivized the new fertility pattern’s adoption by providing a clear way for parents to compete for the future status of their children by having fewer children. The new pattern spread across Europe, North America, and Australia during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, encountering temporary, partial resistance from some groups. Even Catholics and Mormons worldwide adopted controlled fertility by the early twentieth century or earlier. As the new pattern grew to dominate the western world in the twentieth century, Asia and Latin America transitioned to the new pattern. Sub-Saharan Africa entered a fertility transition beginning in the 1980s that is ongoing. In each of these transitions, when controlled fertility was adopted, the pre-transition positive (eugenic) relationship between fertility and wealth became a negative (dysgenic) relationship. Only tiny pockets of culture that maintain extreme separation from the new pattern – especially through refusing outside education and preventing women from contact with the outside world – have fertility patterns plausibly consistent with uncontrolled fertility. These may include the Amish and Hassidim in the United States. Once the fertility transition to controlled fertility occurs in a population, its fertility generally continues to decline until it is below replacement. The benefits of the new pattern are increased material wealth per person, a reduction in disease, starvation, and genocide, and upward social mobility. The main drawback is the onset of a dysgenic phase that may end civilization as we know it.

Francis Galton, for example, likely noticed this historic transition in the family of Charles Darwin, who had more children than grandchildren.

 

Mickey Kaus writes:

New York Times Cocoon, Verified!

9:41 PM 10/16/2014

677 Caterpillars: A man named Tyler Pearson had posted a list of the 1000 Twittter accounts most commonly followed by the 677 New York Times staffers on the paper’s public list. It is, as you would expect, embarrassingly cocooned: Times staffers follow people who share the liberalish/leftish viewpoint of the Times itself, meaning these staffers are less likely to even find out discordant information. Which may be why they are so often surprised, or late to a story. …

I’ll admit to not getting Twitter. I feel like I’m being pelted by intellectual ping-pong balls. But, even so, this has to be the most boring list of Twitter accounts in captivity. Glancing through it I see one journalist who might be considered “edgy,” Matt Taibbi, and one controversial comic, Patton Oswalt. Otherwise, these 1000 Twitter accounts are immensely Respectable.

A quantitative researcher could do a lot with this list to determine the characteristics of Establishment Thought as of c. 2014. For example, back in 2009, I took the “Atlantic 50″ list of supposedly the top 50 pundits and looked up their demographics. That was pretty interesting. This represents an even bigger database to analyze.

Okay, why is this huge list so boring?

- Professional backscratching. Everybody signs up to follow people who might retweet their tweets or give them a job someday.

- It’s a public list, so you’d better be respectable.

- Everybody assumes these days that nothing is private, so you’d better be respectable.

Anyway, it’s awfully dismal.

 

A Wendy’s training video, apparently from 1989:

We didn’t have training this epic when I worked at Burger King in 1977.

Is that Elizabeth Shue of Leaving Las Vegas fame at 1:45?

 

A well-pleased Obama in his natural element: lecturing on Power Relationships at an Alinskyite confab

One obvious aspect of the President’s personality is how academic he is. He’d be a lot happier if the Oval Office came with a blackboard at which he could give lectures.

To non-academic audiences, however, the President can be less than galvanizing. From USA Today:

Obama makes rare campaign trail appearance, people leave early

BY JEFF MASON
UPPER MARLBORO Md. Sun Oct 19, 2014 6:22pm EDT(Reuters) -

President Barack Obama made a rare appearance on the campaign trail on Sunday with a rally to support the Democratic candidate for governor in Maryland, but early departures of crowd members while he spoke underscored his continuing unpopularity.

With approval levels hovering around record lows, Obama has spent most of his campaign-related efforts this year raising money for struggling Democrats, who risk losing control of the U.S. Senate in the Nov. 4 midterm election.

Most candidates from his party have been wary of appearing with him during their election races because of his sagging popularity.

Not so Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown of Maryland, who is running for governor, and Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois, who is running for re-election. Obama plans to appear at an event for Quinn later in the evening.

“You’ve got to vote,” Obama repeated over and over at a rally for Brown in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, near Washington.

Upper Marlboro is the county seat of Prince George’s County, Maryland, the only upper middle class black county in American. So if Obama is laying an egg in Prince George’s County …

Obama’s academic orientation is a little bit puzzling in nature-nurture terms because, while his mother eventually was granted a Ph.D. in anthropology, his Kansas grandparents, who mostly raised him, weren’t college graduates. They got out of high school near the beginning of WWII and found war work and got married. After the war, Stanley tried taking classes at UC Berkeley, but quickly dropped out.

But the President’s Jayhawk grandparents each had a sibling who earned a Ph.D., which was pretty rare in the middle of the 20th Century. Stanley’s brother Ralph Dunham got a Ph.D. at Berkeley and mostly worked for the federal government (generally not in intriguing agencies – I checked). Fittingly, the name “Ralph” had earlier entered the family line as a tribute to Ralph Waldo Emerson, the pluperfect post-Puritan.

A more obscure figure was the President’s grandmother’s sister Margaret Arlene Payne, who died this year at age 87. She earned a doctorate from the U. of Chicago and was a professor at the U. of Kansas and the U. of North Carolina in some field like nutrition. Perhaps one reason for her low profile is that she maintained what Henry James called a “Boston marriage” with another lady professor for several decades. (You can’t get much WASPier than that.)

The great-aunt’s Chicago Ph.D. helps explain the U. of Chicago connection that runs throughout the Payne side of the family: his grandmother’s brother Charles heard about a job on campus as a library manager from his sister, then spent his career at the U. of C. The President’s mother is said to have been accepted at U. of Chicago at age 15 under the famous accelerated education system (that produced such graduates as James D. Watson, Philip Glass, and Nathan Leopold of Leopold & Loeb notoriety), but her parents decided against it. Obama of course was a lecturer at the U. of Chicago law school for years.

• Tags: Barack Obama 

From the Los Angeles Times:

8 killed, 18 injured in China land dispute

During World War II, Gao Shangpei fought Japanese soldiers invading his hometown. This week, the 85-year-old said he found himself taking up arms again as men wielding steel pipes and knives invaded his village over a land dispute, sparking clashes that left eight people dead and 18 others injured.

The incident in southwest Yunnan province appears to be one of the bloodiest confrontations in recent years between property developers and local villagers.

In a statement Wednesday, the local government said eight people were killed in Fuyou village

Fuyou is a great name.

when staff from a local project developer clashed with villagers. But locals said “thugs” hired by the developer stormed the village and tried to beat up residents who had vowed to protect their land till death.

“Around 2:30 p.m. [Tuesday], a group of over 1,000 thugs hired by the developer came to our village carrying steel pipes and long knives,” Gao said in a phone interview. “When we tried to stop them, they started to beat local villagers, including women and old people, indiscriminately.”

According to Gao, more than 2,000 of his fellow residents joined in the fray. After two villagers were killed, locals got so angry that they captured and killed some of the attackers, he said.

Four of the developers’ staff were burned alive by villagers.

As far as I can tell, the central government owns all the land in the People’s Republic of China, but the current tenants and the local governments assume they have various customary rights to it. So, every so often a property dispute arises. And then it’s: You get your lads together and we’ll get our lads together and then we’ll find out who holds proper title, Seven Samurai / Three Amigos-style.

If this were a movie, the sequel would be called Fuyou 2.

… When the armed men surrounded his village, Gao said, he didn’t bother to call the local police. “They breathe through the same nose with the developers. They’re useless,” he said.

The Chinese language is extremely old and it’s barnacled with these great idioms like “They breathe through the same nose.”

• Tags: Fuyou, Real Estate 

Cecil Adams writes in his Straight Dope column:

What’s the racial breakdown of people killed by cops?
September 19, 2014
Dear Cecil:

I keep seeing a stat saying Americans are eight times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist. How does this data break down into black, white, Hispanic, and Asian-American?

— Eric Ward

Cecil replies:

I was hoping you’d ask.

To hear some in the media talk, the racial breakdown for Americans killed by cops is a deep mystery. While the FBI publishes annual statistics for “justifiable homicides” by law enforcement, the race of the victims isn’t publicly available. In the wake of the Ferguson killing, nobody seemed to know how you could find out….

To start with the basics:

While the FBI doesn’t publicize the racial breakdown of people killed by cops, the information is obtainable if you know where to look. It’s kept in the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data, a public website maintained through the University of Michigan. The FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHRs) are available from 1976 to date. …

One thing jumps out when you start browsing: the number of justifiable homicides by law enforcement officers (hereinafter JHBLEOs) has been surprisingly steady over the years, fluctuating between 300 and 462. There were spikes around 1980 and again in the early 1990s, possibly reflecting jumps in violent crime in those years. Then again, we seem to be in a mini-spike now (there were 426 JHBLEOs in 2012), even though violent crime has dropped.

Another striking phenomenon is the massive drop in the percentage of black people among those killed by cops. From 1976 to 1980, exactly half of JHBLEO victims (967 of 1,934) were black. The trend since then has been down. For the most recent five years available, 2008-2012, it’s about 30 percent. I’ve posted charts showing the racial breakdown over time in numbers and in percentages.

Since you asked, the number of Asian- and Native Americans killed is low, usually in the single digits per year. Hispanic JHBLEOs show up in the SHRs only from 2003 on, and fluctuate in the range of 15 to 19 percent. The Hispanic fraction of the U.S. population is 17 percent.

What do we conclude from all this? Black people inarguably are killed by cops in disproportionate numbers, and are more likely to get caught up in the criminal justice system. Is that direct evidence of racism?

Not necessarily. It may simply mean there’s more violent crime in black communities.

Black people account for a disproportionate share of arrests for violent crime — in 2012, 49 percent of murder arrests, 55 percent of robberies, 34 percent of aggravated assaults, and so on. Does that reflect unfair targeting by police? Not likely. According to a Justice Department study, 47 percent of murder victims between 1980 and 2008 were black, and 93 percent of black victims were killed by other blacks. Nobody can seriously claim those numbers were cooked.

Conclusion: there’s a lot of violent crime in black communities, and thus presumably a lot of police activity. It stands to reason that, the more times people with guns are sent into a community looking for other people with guns, the more violence will result. It’s not necessary to impute this to racism.

Look again at the trend. In 1976, black people accounted for 52 percent of murder arrests, 47 percent of murder victims, and 52 percent of JHBLEOs. In 2012, black people accounted for 49 percent of murder arrests, 49 percent of murder victims, but just 30 percent of those killed by cops.

So, in recent years, the black percentage of people killed by cops is well under the black percentage of murderers, whereas in the late 1970s there was more racial equality in treatment by cops relative to rates of lethality.

Obviously, one possibility is that cops are more leery of getting in trouble for shooting blacks these days, although we shouldn’t underestimate the strength of political correctness in the late 1970s, either.

But I have a hunch that one racial difference would be in rates of “Suicide-by-Cop.” In reading through thousands of summaries of killings in Los Angeles County collected by the L.A. Times, white shooting victims seemed more likely to act in a manner as if they had planned beforehand to provoke the cops to kill them. For example, in December 2012 some guy tired of living in his car, either white or Hispanic, went to the crowded Newport Beach mall and shot his gun in the air 54 times without hitting anybody: classic suicide by cop behavior. (Surprisingly, the cops subdued him without shooting him.)

I didn’t do a numerical analysis of this pattern, it’s just something that started to emerge as I was reading. So, I might be all wrong about it, but in general blacks have low suicide rates, so they might well have low suicide-by-cop rates too.

So, it could well be that a lower percentage of blacks than whites who get shot by the police want to get shot by the police.

• Tags: Fuyou 

Ray Rice

Umbrage from The Atlantic:

It happened on a Russian television show.

“I was at the Olympics and saw Maria Sharapova play her… him…,” said Ivan Urgant, the host of an aptly named nighttime interview show, Evening Urgant.

“…One of the Williams brothers,” Shamil Tarpischev finished.

This would just be ugly if run-of-the-mill sexism were it not for the fact that Tarpischev is head of Russia’s Tennis Federation and the director of an annual professional tournament in Moscow. Now, he faces a one-year ban and a $25,000 fine from the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) for his comments.

“I am sorry that the joke which was translated into English out of its context of a comedy show drew so much attention,” he has said since in a statement. “I don’t think this situation is worth all the hoopla because those words were said without any malice.” He later added the event “was hyped to an absurd level.”

And more from ESPN W:

Yet, like most criticism hurled at female athletes, the insult was founded on the premise that the more talented they are, the greater the odds that male hormones are involved.

Of course, the same is true of male athletes: both artificial and natural male hormones. Most sports originated as some kind of test of manhood, so it’s hardly surprising that the biggest biceps tend to win.

 

Flamboyant sportswriter Buzz Bissinger, celebrated author of the high school locker room book Friday Night Tights, who has been spending over $100,000 per year on ladies’ clothes for himself while he plays for both teams, writes in the NYT about how athletes aren’t very self-aware and how his years lurking in locker rooms with naked athletes as young as 14-years-old has somehow left him unfulfilled.

The Boys in the Clubhouse
By BUZZ BISSINGER OCT. 18, 2014

SEVERAL years ago, in the course of writing a book, I spent a season with the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. For much of that time I was in the cloister of the clubhouse, even when it was off limits to other journalists. And I can say with full authority that they are called clubhouses for a reason, because they are clubs, among the most exclusive in the world, right alongside the United State Senate.

Senators at least engage with the real world, or make the gesture. In too many clubhouses and locker rooms across the spectrum of high school and college and professional sports, there is not even the pretense of such engagement. …

It’s not that I saw anything untoward in the Cardinals’ clubhouse, except perhaps for a left-handed relief pitcher who liked to lounge around in the nude. But the devil is always in the details, and time and again I was struck by the cocoon of insularity and extreme pampering, an atmosphere in which the only responsibilities that counted centered on hitting and pitching and fielding.

(Speaking of “extreme pampering,” here’s 58-year-old Buzz’s GQ article on the thigh-high leather Gucci boots with 6-inch stiletto heels he bought himself.)

On the playing field, every single mistake a player makes is pointed out and criticized until corrected. By design, on the field of real life, the athlete rarely faces similar accountability. Issues that most of us deal with every day, whether it’s making a living or worrying about Ebola, have no place in the athletic realm, except when a public-relations staffer thinks it would be a good idea for a player to speak out about it. If it doesn’t have to do with the sport the athlete plays, then it does not matter.

The local newspaper, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, was made available daily to the players, prominently placed in a stand in the middle of the floor. I distinctly remember the first time I took one, only to realize that the clubhouse attendants had carefully gone through the papers beforehand, removing every section except the sports page. Televisions were dispersed in various ceiling corners; on all the time, they never once were tuned in to anything except sporting events. CNN didn’t exist. “Talk of the Nation” didn’t exist.

“Talk of the Nation” exists?

The nightly news didn’t exist. As for reading, with the exception of one member of the coaching staff, I never saw anyone with a book other than the Bible. Magazines made an appearance exclusively in bathroom stalls and fell into four distinct categories: hunting, guns, cars and breasts.

Where’s Vogue, where’s Women’s Wear Daily, where is the Gucci handbag catalog? How can a real man be expected to settle in on the john for important business without copies of Elle or W at his fingertips? What if he needs Allure’s Makeup Tip of the Month? As Buzz explained in GQ:

Before I started shopping with [his personal stylist] at Gucci, I could count on one finger the number of compliments I got from strangers on what I was wearing. Now I get dozens, 99 percent of them from women and gays and African-Americans who appreciate go-for-it style. No wonder male heterosexual whites are aimed toward obsolescence, boring the rest of us to death.

Keep in mind that Buzz has been pretty much the Voice of Conventional Wisdom in airport books for decades, denouncing racism, hatred, Christian homophobia, and all the other safe targets for his deep-rooted personal issues to project themselves against.

Anyway, my guess is that baseball hitters read less than other men of comparable IQs, in that having superb eyesight is crucial to hitting major league pitching (as reported by David Epstein in The Sports Gene). And reading isn’t good for your distance vision. Offhand, I can think of four major league players who became writers: Jim Brosnan, Jim Bouton, John Rocker, and R.A. Dickey. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that all are pitchers, the position at which sub-20-20 eyesight isn’t so valuable.

Similarly, I went to school with about a dozen guys who went on to play minor league baseball. There was a definite bias toward pitchers among those fellows, perhaps because you couldn’t really fake your way through the pretty good schools I went to without reading at least a few books.

Likewise, my roommate my first couple of years in Chicago was my quasi-cousin (my mother’s best friend’s son), who had been a Double A closer before blowing his arm out. He was getting his MBA at Northwestern. Granted, as the Duke of Rush Street, he was doing the least amount of reading compatible with being getting an advanced degree from Northwestern, but it’s still a lot more than is compatible with batting .300 in The Show.

Update: Here’s an exception to my theory: former ballplayer writer-director Ron Shelton (Bull Durham, White Men Can’t Jump): I figured he was a pitcher, but he was mostly a second baseman in the minors. Of course, he only hit .253 in his five year career in the minors, topping out at AAA. So maybe all that reading (e.g., Kevin Costner denounces Susan Sontag) really did ruin his eyesight …

 
arcadeia mid1960s2

Arcadia, California, mid-1960s

I’ve been to Arcadia, California, a non-descript but pleasant suburb of Los Angeles a few miles east of Pasadena, at least 100 times for family parties.

Not their house, but close in size

The picture above was taken in my relatives’ c. 1800 sq. ft. house in Arcadia during one of the recurrent Davey Crockett manias. I’m guessing it’s my birthday in 1965 but I could be off by a couple of years. The picture at the right from a real estate website is of somebody else’s house, but it gives you a good sense of what Arcadia’s housing stock looked like before Chinese Money started pouring in about a quarter of a century ago.

Arcadia is currently in the news because the amount of Chinese dubious money cascading in to tear down small houses like my late aunt’s and put up feng shui mansions has reached a crescendo. From Bloomberg News:

The lot is 17,000 square feet. “Seventeen for 2 mil?” Mark asks, incredulous.

“I know,” Ornelas says. “They’re going crazy.”

A year ago the property would have gone for $1.3 million, but Arcadia is booming. Residents have become used to postcards offering immediate, all-cash deals for their property and watching as 8,000-square-foot homes go up next door to their modest split levels. For buyers from mainland China, Arcadia offers excellent schools, large lots with lenient building codes, and a place to park their money beyond the reach of the Chinese government.

Arcadia teardown

The Chinese government isn’t going to go Maoist again and take away all the capitalists’ property. Periodically, however, there are anti-corruption campaigns in China, so owning a huge house on a small lot in Arcadia is a way to launder money.

Why Arcadia, though, which always struck me down through the decades as a generic suburb? My aunt’s house, for example, was about 1600 square feet, but then they added on to get it up to maybe 2000 or a little more for their family of five. But the lot is tiny, maybe 6,000 square feet.

One reason that doesn’t get mentioned much is that it’s right next to the Santa Anita racetrack and the Chinese tend to be fanatical gamblers. Back in the 1990s, a sportscaster friend used to host a small TV show about horse racing at Santa Anita, which completely failed to make him a local celebrity in his own neighborhood. But when he’d go to Las Vegas, Chinese tourists would ask to have their picture taken with him because his talk show was Huge in Hong Kong.

Another reason is that Arcadia is on flat ground, whereas affluent white people in Southern California prefer hillier suburbs like nearby Sierra Madre where my uncle lived back in the 1960s.

Also, the San Gabriel Valley used to be smoggy, but Chinese immigrants didn’t exercise outside, so they didn’t care.

Finally, like I’ve mentioned before, the San Gabriel Valley has its own small school districts, while most of the San Fernando Valley, where I grew up, is under the thumb of the vast LAUSD. The Chinese believe in concentrating and taking over small school districts, which hasn’t yet been possible in Los Angeles.

The city, population 57,600, projects that about 150 older homes—53 percent more than normal—will be torn down this year and replaced with mansions. The deals happen fast and are rarely listed publicly. Often, the first indication that a megahouse is coming next door is when the lawn turns brown. That means the neighbor has stopped watering and green construction netting is about to go up.

This flood of money, arriving from China despite strict currency controls, has helped the city build a $20 million high school performing arts center and the local Mercedes dealership expand. “Thank God for them coming over here,” says Peggy Fong Chen, a broker in Arcadia for many years. “They saved our recession.” The new residents are from China’s rising millionaire class—entrepreneurs who’ve made fortunes building railroads in Tibet, converting bioenergy in Beijing, and developing real estate in Chongqing. One co-owner of a $6.5 million house is a 19-year-old college student, the daughter of the chief executive of a company the state controls.

Arcadia is a concentrated version of what’s happening across the U.S. The Hurun Report, a magazine in Shanghai about China’s wealthy elite, estimates that almost two-thirds of the country’s millionaires have already emigrated or plan to do so. They’re scooping up homes from Seattle to New York, buying luxury goods on Fifth Avenue, and paying full freight to send their kids to U.S. colleges. Chinese nationals hold roughly $660 billion in personal wealth offshore, according to Boston Consulting Group, and the National Association of Realtors says $22 billion of that was spent in the past year acquiring U.S. homes. Arcadia has become a hotbed of the buying binge in the past several years, and long-standing residents are torn—giddy at the rising property values but worried about how they’re transforming their town. …

Richard Smith, the sun-tanned owner of a construction company working on seven homes in Arcadia, walks over to talk shop. Smith is building the 11,000-square-foot home for a developer who expects to sell it, he says, for $8 million to $9 million. Smith grew up in Arcadia, and his company has only Asian clients. They have certain preferences. “Obviously, if your house isn’t feng shui-friendly, it’s like we’re not even going to have a conversation,” he says. That means minding the number of stairs, the directions rooms face, and how materials line up. “And understanding the value of water, that’s probably one of my key strengths,” he says. “If you go to any successful businessman in China, or even here, they generally will have a picture of water behind their desk.” He whips out his phone and swipes to photos of a project with a waterfall cascading off the top of a gazebo and into a backyard pool.

Smith says many of the newest buyers in Arcadia don’t speak English. “They’ve just come here,” he says. “They’re on that EB—what’s it called?” He means the EB-5 visas that the U.S. grants to foreigners who plow at least $500,000 into American development projects. Congress created the program in 1990 to spur investment, and demand for the visas has grown recently. This year, for the first time, the government gave away the annual allocation of 10,000 visas before the year was over, with Chinese nationals snapping up 85 percent. Brokers in the area say it’s the most common way buyers are coming to town. “Once they obtain residency, they want to bring their family over and get the United States education,” says real estate agent Ricky Seow. “They can start a new life in California.”

Arcadia’s Chinese buyers may have made their wealth in different ways, but they face a common problem: getting their cash to America. China controls the flow of its currency, restricting residents from converting more than $50,000 in yuan into foreign denominations each year. At that pace it would take half a lifetime for a couple to buy a $4 million home.

Jeff Needham, a senior vice president at HSBC (HSBC), says it’s most common for buyers to transfer money from personal or business accounts they already have in Hong Kong, which doesn’t impose caps. “In most of our buyer situations, they have funds outside China already that they have accumulated over years,” he says, adding that the bank verifies the source of the funds.

It’s trickier for those without accounts in Hong Kong. Chen Ping, a local broker, says there’s a common workaround. “We call it ‘head-count wiring,’ ” she says. Buyers line up other people—friends, family, or, if need be, paid strangers—to each transfer a share. “I once had a customer who bought a $1.9 million house in Arcadia who said, ‘Not a problem. I have more than enough head counts,’ ” Chen says. Many buyers have legitimate ways to wire the funds, says broker Imy Dulake, but “there is no way we can have this much cash coming in legally.”

All in all, it’s better than living in Miami in 1980 and having a bunch of Colombians with no apparent occupation other than polishing their neck jewelry move in. The new people here are white collar criminals, not Tony Montana.

But this is a good example of why, as a Southern Californian, I’ve long been less deluded by the conventional wisdom that White Americans are naturally so much richer than the rest of the world that immigration policy and so forth couldn’t possibly matter. After all, whites are The Majority, right?

In contrast, I’ve long been aware from living in Southern California that there are a huge number of very bright, very hard working people in the rest of the world who envy how good we had it.

 

From the NYT:

Black Vote Seen as Last Hope for Democrats to Hold Senate

By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG

Democrats are deploying black elected officials and others to target African-American voters, who could help swing midterm elections if they turn out in higher-than-forecast rates.

 

A couple of weeks ago, I linked to the Washington Post’s big story on who the Real Victims of Ebola Guy are:

As Ebola patient in Texas fights for his life, his family copes with stigma and isolation.

… On Saturday night, Jallah sat alone with her two children in the dim light of her garden apartment in Dallas, in self-imposed isolation. …

Today, the New York Times’ top story updates us on the continuing plight of poor Ms. Jallah:

Life in Quarantine for Ebola Exposure : 21 Days of Fear and Loathing
By KEVIN SACK, JACK HEALY and FRANCES ROBLES OCT. 18, 2014

DALLAS — The refrigerator in Youngor Jallah’s small apartment broke down last week, and it did not take long for the stench of rotting food to grow unbearable. But when she reported the problem to the front office, the complex’s manager said that a repairman would not be sent until Monday.

That is the expiration date for the 21-day, self-imposed quarantine that Ms. Jallah, her partner and her four children have endured since the day her mother’s boyfriend, Thomas Eric Duncan, was hospitalized here with Ebola. Because her mother was at work, it was Ms. Jallah, 35, who last cared for Mr. Duncan, making him tea and handing him a thermometer — but, she said, never touching him — before summoning an ambulance.

The complex’s manager urged Ms. Jallah to move her food to the apartment across the stairwell, which has been empty since a new renter decided against moving in after hearing about the neighbors. When the landlord sent a maintenance man to deliver the key, he arrived wearing two pairs of rubber gloves.

Fortunately, our long national nightmare of Ms. Jallah not being able to go out and party on Saturday night will finally be over next week.

Apollo 11 astronauts in quarantine talking to President Nixon

The Apollo 11 astronauts also spent three weeks in quarantine just in case they had brought the Andromeda Strain back from the Moon. But it wasn’t a major civil rights issue of the age.

The media reactions tell us a bit about our change in worldview since the 1960s, and maybe a little bit about why people with the previous worldview could go to the Moon.

 

Dr. John Deasy, Ph.D., has been shoved out as boss of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second largest, temporarily denting his ambition to become Secretary of Education under Obama or Hillary.

Deasy ranks with Arne Duncan as the classic White Male Empty Suit of the Education Reform Era. Until this setback, Deasy had overcome his stale pale maleness to forge a fabulous career of job hopping by aggressively mouthing all the cliches about Closing the Gap beloved by philanthropic billionaires currently dabbling in education, such as Bill Gates and Eli Broad.

I wrote about Deasy’s first day on the job at LAUSD back in 2011, when, in front of the media, he demanded that the Hispanic principal of a Chinatown school explain to him why his Hispanic students averaged lower test scores than his Asian students:

L.A. Schools Boss Uncovers Baffling Mystery in Chinatown

(The punchline’s pretty good.)

And then there was Deasy’s billion dollar iPad rollout, which I wrote about in Taki’s Magazine in an essay on how glamorous Magic Bullets never work without a lot of unglamorous system integration labor that Deasy could never be bothered to manage.

And then there’s the doctorate in education that Deasy “earned” at the U. of Louisville from a professor, Robert Felner, who later went to prison for fraud.

With Deasy out, LAUSD is temporarily bringing back the octogenarian Ramon C. Cortines, despite the gay sexual harassment scandal clinging to the old dog.

The Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts and Senile Sodomy trains its Japanese Robot from Outer Space flamethrower on the L.A. Cathedral

 
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.


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