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In 1994 in the suburbs of Oxford, England, I had lunch with a half dozen or so colleagues in the marketing research business. It looked like Mr. Darcy’s estate outside, but Grand Theft Auto was the locals’ obsession. The only topic they talked about at lunch for 45 minutes was having their cars stolen. As a Chicagoan for the last dozen years, my stories of having my car windows repeatedly smashed simply couldn’t compete with these suburban Oxfordians who all had had their cars entirely stolen.

There was nothing anomalous about this. While property crimes were already way down in the U.S. and were falling further, much of Europe was plagued by criminality.

Crime in Europe and the United States: Dissecting the ‘Reversal of Misfortunes’

Paolo Buonanno
University of Bergamo – Department of Economics

Francesco Drago
University of Naples Federico II

Roberto Galbiati
CNRS (umr EconomiX) Paris; Bocconi University – Department of Economics

Giulio Zanella
University of Bologna

July 2011

Economic Policy, Vol. 26, Issue 67, pp. 347-385, 2011

Contrary to common perceptions, today both property and violent crimes (with the exception of homicides) are more widespread in Europe than in the United States, while the opposite was true thirty years ago. We label this fact as the ‘reversal of misfortunes’. We investigate what accounts for the reversal by studying the causal impact of demographic changes, incarceration, abortion, unemployment and immigration on crime. For this we use time series data (1970-2008) from seven European countries and the United States. We find that the demographic structure of the population and the incarceration rate are important determinants of crime. Our results suggest that a tougher incarceration policy may be an effective way to contrast crime in Europe. Our analysis does not provide information on how incarceration policy should be made tougher nor does it provide an answer to the question whether such a policy would also be efficient from a cost‐benefit point of view. We leave this to future research.

Granted, the four Italian quantitative academics can hardly compete with Ta-Nehisi Coates in official geniushoodness, but the lack of incarceration and the lack of guns in the hands of civilian victims appear to have allowed crime to get out of hand in the late 20th Century in much of Europe.

And here’s a summary of this paper from Urban Economics:

Crime in Europe and in the US: Dissecting the “Reversal of Misfortunes”

By Peter Struckmeyer



News 6.3.2014

Refugee Council honours Kurdish-born bus driver

The Finnish Refugee Council has named Kazhal Ali Ibrahim – the first Kurdish woman to drive a bus in Finland – as the Refugee Woman of the Year.


Orwell famously argued that controlling the past let you control the future, but now it often appears that controlling the past is an end in itself. When it comes to immigration policy, letting the future get out of control is a small price to pay to continue to control the past.

From the New York Times:

For Marine Le Pen, Migration Is a Ready-Made Issue

AMIENS, France — At a recent campaign rally in this economically gloomy northern city, Marine Le Pen, the gravel-voiced leader of the far-right National Front party, barely mentioned the word migrant. But, then again, she did not have to.

The supporters who turned out for her at the event here along the Somme river brought up their fear of migrants, unprompted. Ms. Le Pen’s presence alone seemed enough to evoke it. …

Ms. Le Pen has worked hard to sanitize the National Front’s image, to the point of backing the expulsion of her blustering father in August from the party he founded 40 years ago in large part on strident opposition to immigration.

But when it comes to the latest wave of migrants who have arrived in Europe fleeing war and poverty, her views are hardly distinguishable from those of her father. Makeover or not, it is the same old National Front. …

“Maybe Mrs. Merkel thinks she will get a cheaper work force,” Ms. Le Pen said.

For all Ms. Le Pen’s efforts to project a mainstream image for the National Front and break with its racist past, historians point out that an anti-immigrant stance was the party’s backbone from its origins in the early 1970s.

The first posters highlighted hostility to migrants — “Two Million Unemployed is Two Million Immigrants Too Many!” reads one from 1978. “Immigrants weigh on the economic life of our country,” Jean-Marie Le Pen told an interviewer that year — words that could have come from his daughter.

“Immigration was its central theme,” writes the historian Valérie Igounet about the National Front’s early days.

“Rejection of immigration, this is what it is has been for more than 40 years,” Laurent Bouvet, a political scientist who specializes in the National Front, said in an interview. “There’s this side of them, a hierarchy of civilizations.”

Ms. Le Pen’s supporters in the party — defensive about charges that she manipulates fear of foreigners — reject the accusation, without being asked.

“People accuse us of playing on fears. It’s exactly the opposite,” said Hugues Sion, a departmental councilor who attended the rally here. “It’s not a question of fear. It’s the reality.”

But on both points, Ms. Le Pen’s recent anti-immigrant initiative suggested the opposite. Manipulation of fear and of facts have appeared to shadow her words.

In a recent radio interview, for instance, she claimed that among the Syrian migrants, “for the immense majority who are coming,” they were not fleeing the government of Bashar al-Assad, “because once again it is not Bashar al-Assad who is persecuting the Syrian people, it is Islamic State.”

But most analysts suggest, as do interviews with the migrants, that government bombing campaigns are as much, if not more, to blame for the wave of refugees, than persecution by the Islamic State.

So, it’s better for Europe if the newcomers are more enemies of the secular regime than of ISIS?

“There is only a tiny minority of political refugees,” Ms. Le Pen claimed, saying that she “would fight” if her own country was at war — an irony since among the National Front’s important early founders were avowed Nazi collaborators.

“In the coming years, we could be in the presence of the invasions that were lived through in the Fourth Century,” said Ms. Le Pen, referring to the Barbarian invasions of Western Europe.

Those invasions largely targeted what is now France in the Fifth Century, historians say. But no matter, the point was made.

So there!


One of the little-noticed patterns of the cultural world is that a striking fraction of the most influential figures, especially in the comic arts, are conservatives if not reactionaries.

Michael Lewis of New Orleans, the most obvious journalistic / literary successor of Tom Wolfe of Richmond, writes a good-humored analysis of Wolfe’s origins for Vanity Fair:

How Tom Wolfe Became … Tom Wolfe

… Thomas Kennerly Wolfe Jr. was born on March 2, 1930, and grew up in Richmond, Virginia, the son of a conservative, God-respectful southern editor of an agricultural trade magazine.

The Southern Planter, by the way.

Back in 2012 I wrote in VDARE in my review of Wolfe’s novel Back to Blood, which features a young newspaper reporter named John Smith obviously modeled on Wolfe (John Smith of Jamestown in 1607 was the original Virginia WASP):

Topping (the newspaper editor) reflects upon the fictional John Smith, and journalists in general:

If you ask me, newspaper reporters are created at age six when they first go to school. In the schoolyard boys immediately divide into two types. Immediately! There are those who have the will to be daring and dominate, and those who don’t have it. … But there are boys from the weaker side of the divide who grow up with the same dreams as the stronger … The boy standing before me, John Smith, is one of them. They, too, dream of power, money, fame, and beautiful lovers. …

Boys like this kid grow up instinctively realizing that language is like … a sword or a gun. Used skillfully, it has the power to … well, not so much achieve things as to tear things down—including people … including the boys who came out on the strong side of the sheerly dividing line.

Hey, that’s what liberals are! Ideology? Economics? Social justice? Those are nothing but their prom outfits. Their politics were set for life in the schoolyard at age six. They were the weak, and forever after they resented the strong. That’s why so many journalists are liberals! The very same schoolyard events that pushed them toward the written word … pushed them toward “liberalism.”

I suspect, however, that Tom Wolfe, much as he resembles John Smith, was never a liberal. I’d like to see him write a memoir. Wolfe’s first three decades—his upbringing in Virginia, his Ph.D. at Yale, and his reporting in Cuba during the Revolution—remain obscure, probably both for personal and political reasons. Wolfe’s friend Ed Hayes, who was the model for Killian, Sherman McCoy’s street smart defense lawyer in Bonfire, has said:

“He’s the grandson of a Confederate rifleman and grew up with the sense of the Lost Cause, of glorious doomed charges at Gettysburg, of a sense of personal honor and what constitutes masculinity that has largely been rejected by the urban intellectual elite of the Northeast.”

Michael Lewis continues in Vanity Fair:

Home was never something he was looking to get away from; it was never even something he was looking to pretend he was looking to get away from. He was accepted at Princeton but chose to attend Washington and Lee, to remain close to home. Every now and then one of his teachers would note that he had a way with words, and some artistic talent, but artistic ambition, for a conservative southern male in the 1950s or really any other time, was too vague and impractical to indulge. After college, he took the advice of his professor and went to Yale, for a doctorate in American studies—and right up to this point in his life there isn’t a trace of institutional rebellion in him. He pitches for the baseball team, pleases his teachers, has an ordinary, not artistic, group of pals, and is devoted to his mother and father.

… The moment he leaves the South, something comes over him. Whatever it is, the feeling seems to be heightened by the sight of a blank sheet of paper. For the first time in his life, it appears, Tom Wolfe has been provoked. He has left home and found, on the East Coast, the perpetual revolt of High Culture against God, Country, and Tradition. He happens to have landed in a time and place in which art—like the economy that supports it—is essentially patricidal.

It’s all about tearing up and replacing what came before. The young Tom Wolfe is intellectually equipped to join some fashionable creative movement and set himself in opposition to God, Country, and Tradition; emotionally, not so much. He doesn’t use his new experience of East Coast sophisticates to distance himself from his southern conservative upbringing; instead he uses his upbringing to distance himself from the new experience. He picks for his Ph.D. dissertation topic the Communist influences on American writers, 1928–1942. From their response to it, the Yale professors, who would have approved the topic in advance, had no idea of the spirit in which Wolfe intended to approach it:

“Dear Mr. Wolfe:

I am personally acutely sorry to have to write you this letter but I want to inform you in advance that all of your readers reports have come in, and … I am sorry to say I anticipate that the thesis will not be recommended for the degree…. The tone was not objective but was consistently slanted to disparage the writers under consideration and to present them in a bad light even when the evidence did not warrant this.” [Letter from Yale dean to T.W., May 19, 1956.]

To this comes appended the genuinely shocked reviews of three Yale professors. It’s as if they can’t quite believe this seemingly sweet-natured and well-mannered southern boy has gone off half cocked and ridiculed some of the biggest names in American literature. The Yale grad student had treated the deeply held political conviction of these great American artists as—well, as a ploy in a game of status seeking. This student seemed to have gone out of his way to turn these serious American intellectuals into figures of fun.

I’ve been reading Tom Wolfe for 40 years, but I was primed to be a Tom Wolfe fan almost a decade before then. Back in the later 1960s whenever my mother took me to a doctor’s or dentist’s appointment on Riverside Drive in Toluca Lake, CA, I would insist that we walk down to the Barris Kustom Shop to see the krazy kustom cars, like Adam West’s Batmobile.

Not surprisingly, Wolfe’s 1963 breakthrough in Esquire that launched the New Journalism, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamlined Baby, had prominently featured George Barris. Riverside Drive in Toluca Lake (home to the famous 1949 Bob’s Big Boy), with its weird combination of gentility and science fiction craziness, is the epitome of Wolfe’s key concept of the postwar Happiness Explosion.


Last month, America rejoiced when a 14-year-old Muslim lad in Irving, Texas discovered time, thus solving the universe’s ongoing problem that everything happens at once. This month, Britain is exulting that a Muslim lady can cook better than most Brits. From the New York Times:

Muslim Winner of Baking Contest Defies Prejudice in Britain

LONDON — Prime Minister David Cameron praised her coolness under pressure. Bookmakers monitored her performance as they do election candidates. Television watchers admired her raspberry mille-feuille and soda-flavored cheesecakes — along with her blue chocolate peacock, and a mountain of éclairs in the form of a nun.

The victory of Nadiya Jamir Hussain, a petite 30-year-old, head-scarf-wearing mother of three from northern England, in a wildly popular reality show called “The Great British Bake Off” on Wednesday has been greeted by many in Britain as a symbol of immigration success, at a moment when the country’s leaders, Mr. Cameron included, have expressed concerns that it has too many newcomers. …

The popular embrace of Ms. Hussain, the daughter of Bangladeshi immigrants, seemed like an immediate and conspicuous counterpoint to a widely noted speech on Tuesday in which the home secretary, Theresa May, told a conference of Conservative Party members: “When immigration is too high, when the pace of change is too fast, it’s impossible to build a cohesive society.”

News media across the ideological spectrum greeted Ms. Hussain’s win as a seminal cultural moment. “Never before has a Muslim woman wearing a hijab been so clutched to the nation’s bosom,” wrote The Telegraph, a conservative daily newspaper.

Ms. Hussain’s newfound status as a national role model was also seen by many as a powerful riposte to some of the anti-Muslim sentiment fueled by lurid reports of dozens of young Muslim Britons, including young women, who have gone to Syria to fight for the Islamic State. …

Shelina Janmohamed, a cultural commentator and author of “Love in a Headscarf,” a memoir about growing up as a British Muslim woman, noted that Ms. Hussain had managed to defy prejudice through her honesty, her cheeky sense of humor — and her baking prowess. In one particularly stressful episode, Ms. Hussain said she would rather brave childbirth again than try to bake another chocolate soufflé.

“I love Nadiya,” Ms. Janmohamed wrote in The Telegraph. “Millions of people up and down the country love Nadiya. She doesn’t even need a surname anymore.”

She added: “She’s the face of today’s Britain: authentic, honest, creative, emotional, heartfelt and honest. Oh. And she’s Muslim. And she just happens to wear a head scarf.”

“But this newly discovered baking genius,” Ms. Janmohamed said, “despite being Muslim, isn’t cooking up any kind of Shariah-flavored sponge or jihadi cupcakes.”

Others celebrated her as an example of female empowerment. Her husband, Abdul, a technical manager at a computer company, had encouraged her to apply to the show and to pursue her passion.

Next month, all of Sweden will celebrate a Muslim cabdriver parallel-parking without scratching either parked car. In December, the entire German news corps will lavishly praise a Muslim youth for deftly flopping on the soccer field and drawing a penalty kick from the ref without actually being fouled, thus proving Chancellor Merkel right about letting in millions of Muslims.


From The News of Australia:

Ridley Scott slammed for whitewashing Asian characters in The Martian
OCTOBER 9, 2015 12:55PM

DIRECTOR Ridley Scott has been slammed for whitewashing Asian characters in his sci-fi blockbuster The Martian.

Whitewashing is the practice of casting white actors in roles originally written for non-white characters.

Starring Matt Damon, the The Martian cast white actress Mackenzie Davis and black actor Chiwetel Ejiofor as characters identified as Asian in the book which the film is adapted from. Guy Aoki, Founding President of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA), said the film should be barred from receiving awards for its “racist” casting.

In the movie, they gave the noble Dr. Kapor a Hindu father, like Nikki Minaj.

But it’s a dull role. The only supporting actor in the movie who gets to have fun is Jeff Daniels as the Possibly Evil White Man in Charge. Pretty soon we’ll be reading denunciations of how old white men like Jeff Daniels get all the interesting roles in which the character isn’t wholly virtuous.

• Tags: Movies, Science Fiction

NYT op-ed columnist Roger Cohen argues for importing vast numbers of anti-Semites into Europe as payback for Christendom’s past anti-Semitism. Or something:

Indifference Kills
OCT. 8, 2015

Roger Cohen

MILAN — “Indifference” is the word engraved on the stark wall at the entrance to Milan’s Holocaust memorial, housed beneath the central railway station from which Jews were deported to Auschwitz and other Nazi camps. The premises vibrate when trains depart overhead, as if mirroring the shudder the place provokes.

A survivor of the deportation, Liliana Segre, whose father, Alberto, was killed at Auschwitz, suggested that “indifference” was the most appropriate word to greet visitors to the memorial, which opened in 2013. Nobody had cared when, from 1943 onward, Jews were hauled through the elegant avenues of Milan to the station. They were unloaded from trucks and packed into wooden boxcars made to transport six horses but used for some 80 doomed human beings.

So it was perhaps inevitable that when Roberto Jarach, the vice president of the memorial, was asked if he could help with Milan’s refugee crisis, he saw that word flash through his mind. As hundreds of desperate refugees converged daily on Milan’s central station — opened during the rule of the Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini — the memorial could not show “indifference.”

“I immediately came down here to measure the space we have,” Jarach told me. “These people hardly know where they are.”

And so, for a few months now, camp beds have been set out every night to the left of the main entrance. In all, about 3,500 people have been sheltered, mainly Eritreans, but also Syrians and Afghans, part of the largest movement of refugees and migrants since the end of World War II.

… They leave the next morning, usually headed north toward Germany.

There is no direct analogy between the situation of millions of refugees today and the Jews who were deported from Milan’s Platform 21 (as the memorial is also known). …

Still, there are echoes, not least in that word, indifference.

The indifference of Hungary, with its self-appointed little exercise in bigotry: the defense of Europe as Christian Club. The indifference of Britain, where the prime minister speaks of “swarms,” the foreign secretary of “desperate migrants marauding,” and the home secretary of threats “to a cohesive society.” The indifference of a Europe that cannot rouse itself to establish adequate legal routes to refugee status that would stem trafficking that has left about 3,000 people dead this year in the Mediterranean.

Then there is the indifference of an America that seems to have forgotten its role as haven for refugees of every stripe. …

Another echo, for Jews, lies in their own situation in Europe a little over a century ago. They were often marginalized. As Rabbi Julia Neuberger pointed out in a recent sermon at the West London Synagogue, around 150,000 Jews, often fleeing pogroms, arrived in Britain between 1881 and 1914. An anti-immigrant group called the British Brothers’ League declared then that Britain could not become “the dumping ground for the scum of Europe.”

Sound familiar?

Yesterday’s “scum” often proves to be the invigorating lifeblood of renewal. Churchill opposed the Aliens’ Act of 1905, designed to control Jewish immigration, on the grounds that “free entry and asylum” were practices from which Britain “has so greatly gained.”

Europe is awash in small-mindedness, prejudice and amnesia. On Syria, the United States is not far behind.

Jarach, whose Jewish family arrived in Milan in the late 19th century, is assisted by Adhil Rabhi, a Moroccan immigrant. They showed me around the memorial, explained how each boxcar was filled with Jews and then shunted to an elevator that took them up to the platform.

Nobody saw the Jews. Nobody wanted to see them. Indifference kills. As Syria demonstrates.

The title of this post is of course a reference to the modern fable of self-destructive spite usually associated with the Middle East, as in this retelling by Bob Schieffer of CBS News in 2006:

When the war broke out in the Middle East, I thought about the old story of the frog and the scorpion who were trying to cross a river there.

The scorpion couldn’t swim and the frog was lost, so the scorpion proposed a deal: Give me a ride on your back and I’ll show you the way.

The frog agreed and the trip went fine until they got to the middle of the river and the scorpion stung the frog. As they were sinking, the frog asked in his dying breath, “why would you do that?”

To which the scorpion replied, “because it is the Middle East.”


The race among Republicans for Speaker of the House is important because the only thing keeping Congress from sending an amnesty bill to Obama’s desk was John Boehner’s invoking of the informal Hastert Rule that he wouldn’t call an amnesty bill for a vote since a majority of House Republicans were against it. But that’s the Speaker’s call.

The frontrunner to succeed Boehner, Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, CA, represents the crops-rotting-in-the-fields donor class of Central Valley landowners who like a constant flow of fresh stoop laborers from south of the border so they can privatize profits and socialize costs (emergency room care, public schools, prisons, etc.). McCarthy has a terrible record on immigration.

But now McCarthy has suddenly dropped out of the race. The New York Times doesn’t offer much of a plausible explanation for why this just happened. But Charles C. Johnson’s Got News has a detailed theory. I certainly don’t know if it’s true, but it makes more prima facie sense than the NYT’s story.


Remember that Ariel Castro guy in Cleveland who kidnapped three girls and kept them locked in his house for a decade? Well, that was wrong. But it would also be wrong to keep Ariel Castro locked out of moving to your country, according to the logic of one of the favorites for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize.

Commenter Prokop calls attention to this article in The Local of Sweden:

‘Europe can’t become a fortress’: Merkel

Published: 08 Oct 2015 08:53 GMT+02:00

There will be no quick-and-easy solutions in the refugee crisis – “but the situation is here now” and there’s no going back, Chancellor Angela Merkel told television viewers on Wednesday night.

“We can’t shut the borders. If you build a fence, people will find another way. There is no such thing as stopping the arrivals,” Merkel told interviewer Anne Will on her political talk show. …

The Chancellor would not be drawn on how long it would be until the country saw progress on these questions – although she acknowledged that “It will be a while. Longer than some people are hoping for”.

And she added that “no one” could reliably estimate how many people would arrive in Germany in the future seeking asylum.

Merkel is doubling down on her commitment to the refugees arriving in Europe even as her own popularity sinks. …

But the Chancellor is demanding that her troops remain in line by making the refugee crisis a question of principle.

Her fierce belief in the rightness of her course was on display on Wednesday in exchanges with centre-right MEPs in Brussels in a private meeting before her joint address to the European Parliament with French President Francois Hollande.

“The eastern Europeans – and I’m counting myself as an eastern European – we have experienced that isolation doesn’t help,” she said, sources told Politico.

“It makes me a bit sad that precisely those who can consider themselves lucky that they have lived to see the end of the Cold War now think that one can completely stay out of certain developments of globalization.”

Merkel acknowledged that eastern European countries were being asked to catch up very fast on developments in tolerance and diversity that had taken the West decades.

But “when someone says, ‘this is not my Europe, I won’t accept Muslims…’ then I have to say, this is not negotiable,” she insisted.

And she repeated her message that Europe “won’t be able to transform into a fortress,” looking back at the fall of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago.

“The refugees won’t be stopped if we just build fences. That I’m deeply convinced of, and I’ve lived behind a fence for long enough,” she said.

To summarize the German Chancellor’s moral logic: Locking in, locking out, what’s the difference?


Screenshot 2015-10-08 02.01.09

For Peace Prize punters, here are the latest odds fr0m For some reason, I don’t see Clock Boy’s name on the Peace Prize list, although I had him down as a sure bet for the Physics Nobel for inventing Time, so what do I know?

Dr. Mukwege sounds like he’d be a worthy winner. From Wikipedia:

Denis Mukwege (born 1 March 1955) is a Congolese gynecologist. He founded and works in Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, where he specializes in the treatment of women who have been gang-raped by rebel forces. Mukwege has become the world’s leading expert on how to repair the internal physical damage caused by gang rape.

Mukwege has treated thousands of women who were victims of gang wartime rape since the Second Congo War, some of them more than once, performing up to 10 surgeries a day during his 18-hour working days.

Speaking of gang rape, how about Alexis Jay, who wrote the 2014 Rotherham Report that finally broke the omerta in England?

Mussie Zerai is an Eritrean priest who helps organize the Camp of the Saints, even though there’s no war in Eritrea. Speaking of the Camp of the Saints, how about Jean Raspail for giving us a 42-years to prepare? Granted, we totally frittered it away, but still …

You’ve probably heard of Angela Merkel.

Screenshot 2015-10-08 02.17.54

By the time you’ll read this, you’ll probably know who won, but it’s fun to look at old odds. How well did the prediction markets work out this time, Professor Hanson?

For some reason, I don’t see Ta-Nehisi Coates on the list, but then I had him down for Medicine/Physiology for being the world’s leading expert on Black Bodies, so what do I know?

For the Literature Prize, it looks like there’s a Year of the Woman thing going on.

“Sorry, old man. Because of the weak imagery, scanty plot, and pedestrian language in your latest, we’ve turned your table over to Joyce Carol Oates.” William Hamilton, The New Yorker, early to mid-1970s

Joyce Carol Oates is an excellent writer but she’s highly prolific, which usually counts as a detriment in winning the Nobel. And she has been publishing books since 1963. American authors usually don’t win lifetime achievement awards, since they don’t lack for opportunities for publicity. To win, they’re usually expected to sober up and write something better than their recent stuff, like The Old Man and Sea helped Hemingway garner his gong.

I haven’t heard a theory about why Oates is so highly ranked this year, but I’ll make up one: giving her the award would strike a blow against the male-biased notion that important writers should write important books that stand out. Oates would represent all the productive female novelists who write lots and lots of novels without a lot of drama about Promethean ambitions.

That’s probably not the worst theory in the world for justifying a Nobel.

Or maybe she’s near the top because she’s on Twitter? (Here are the Nobel candidate’s sensible tweets on Donald Sterling.)

Or maybe sozzled English punters keep hearing from America about the transcendent literary importance of Ta-Nehisi Coates and thinking, reasonably enough, that the Americans must be referring to Joyce Carole Oates? Coates, Oates, let’s call the whole thing off …

Dwight Garner of the NYT would like to see win J.P. Donleavy, who, amazingly enough, is still alive 60 years after publishing The Ginger Man, a novel that inspired everybody from Hunter S. Thompson to Colin Quinn to take up drunkenness as the key to being a Celtic bard.

Obviously, the Literature Award is a near total-crapshoot because how valid are opinions on literary merit across multiple languages? But, if the Nobel Committee wants to be relevant, the novelist who has dominated 2015 is this guy.


From the NYT:

Mass Killings Are Seen as a Kind of Contagion

As mass shootings have become ever more familiar, experts have come to understand them less as isolated expressions of rage and more as acts that build on the blueprints of previous rampages.

Experts in violence prevention say that many, if not most, perpetrators of such shootings have intensively researched earlier mass attacks, often expressing admiration for those who carried them out. The publicity that surrounds these killings can have an accelerating effect on other troubled and angry would-be killers who are already heading toward violence, they say.

As I’ve said a million times, that was what I felt when I was dispatched to report on a high school shooting in Santee, CA in early 2001: that us journalists were just encouraging the next little creep. On the other hand, maybe I was just resenting being asked to leave the house to do work: these kind of Columbine-style school shootings petered out rapidly for a number of years after the one I covered.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about how to erect an impediment to the more defective mass shooters.

Machiavelli pointed out that it’s hard to deter an assassin who doesn’t care about the consequences. For example, the two Puerto Rican nationalists who tried to murder Harry Truman in 1950 were serious guys with a serious cause. The only thing that stopped them was the firepower and bravery of the the equally serious guys defending the President.

On the other hand, most of these mass shooters are seriously screwed-up individuals, either crazy or of no account.

Plus, their usual cause — to totally own social media for a few days — is a ridiculous one.

In a country that has hundreds of millions of guns lying around, it’s hard to stop a dedicated, competent individual with a long time horizon and no fear of death or prison from acquiring guns.

But a lot of these shooters don’t sound like unstoppable killing machines from the future, they sound like losers mentally buffeted about by intermittent whims of rage and criminal insanity.

With some, perhaps if they can’t go down to the store and buy some guns right now, they’ll come up with some other vile but less lethal thing to do to pass the time instead. Sure they could buy guns on the black market, but that takes more work to make contacts and it takes some personal face time. And a lot of the mass shooters don’t seem to be career criminal types with lots of contacts with dealers in the illegal firearms trade, they seem more like middle class problem children who don’t get out that much.

What if we had a giant bureaucracy that ceaselessly tried to measure how stable, reliable, trustworthy, and future-oriented practically every individual in the country was?

Maybe that’s a good idea, or maybe that’s a bad idea. But it also sounds expensive to create one just to slow down a few mass shooters per year.

Except … we already have not just one, but three giant bureaucracies that are constantly measuring individuals’ stability: the credit score bureaus.

Here’s an idea worth researching: what were the credit scores of each of the last 50 mass shooters who bought their guns at the time they bought them?

My guess would be that a lot of the shooters either didn’t have an individual credit score or had a quite low one.

I don’t know that’s true, but it’s something that could be measured.

It wouldn’t hurt to check into the credit scores of people who shoot 7-11 clerks or their loved ones, too.

Granted, credit scores from non-murderers should be kept private. But the IRS recently gave Raj Chetty the data from hundreds of millions of 1040s, so, presumably, there are methodologies for protecting confidentiality data that can deal with these issues.

With data, researchers could model the effects of potential rules, such as a minimum credit score and a requirement that somebody with a decent score accompany somebody without a credit score in buying a gun.

I don’t know enough about the topic to have any confidence in my guesses, but it seems like something that could be researched.

In search of the reigning bad ideas, I don’t usually delve as far down the food chain as Salon, but a friend recommends this essay:

I don’t think I’ve encountered an article that was so thoroughly wrong, and specifically confused about causation, and also wanting everything both ways.

From Salon:

The big father figure lie: Race, the Kardashians and the latest war on Black moms

America celebrates the Kardashians’ female-centered family — but pathologizes Black matriarchs


Brittney Cooper is a contributing writer at Salon, and teaches Women’s and Gender Studies and Africana Studies at Rutgers. Follow her on Twitter at @professorcrunk.

WEDNESDAY, OCT 7, 2015 02:58 AM PDT

Cosmopolitan magazine has declared the Kardashians America’s new first family. Certainly, this symbolic dethroning of the Obamas is shot through with every kind of upsetting racial implication, a point Black Twitter has been swift to point out. Apparently now that the official first family is African-American, achievement of a nuclear family is no longer a mainstream cultural aspiration. While Black families continue to labor under the burden of being exceptionally normal like the Obamas or escaping the supposedly normal “pathology” of the non-nuclear Black family, Cosmopolitan is now giving white Americans an opportunity to visually revel in and experiment with embracing a white female-centered family structure. The cover image for Cosmopolitan’s November issue features America’s new chosen “first family” consisting of six white women, including Kris Jenner and her five daughters, three by her first husband, and two by her former husband Bruce Jenner, who has now transitioned into Caitlyn Jenner.

American families are changing, and we should celebrate the fact that the two-parent, nuclear family ideal has gone the way of the floppy disk. But the terms upon which we come to celebrate this family structure are deeply problematic. Why is it appropriate to celebrate Kris Jenner’s new status as the matriarch of a family of daughters, when we have pathologized Black mother-led families unrelentingly since 1965? Just last month, the Atlantic ran a photograph featuring a downtrodden-looking Black woman surrounded by several young men, women and babies, with no father-figure, to accompany Ta-Nehisi Coates’ cover story, “The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration.” Fifty years ago, after Daniel Moynihan’s infamous report on “The Negro Family,” the absence of a father figure in Black households became a mark of cultural pathology. Black mothers bore the cultural refuse of this structural shaming of Black families.

The Moynihan Report induced a deep kind of cultural anxiety and shame about the failure of Black mothers and fathers to get married and stay married. The only balm that seemed to soothe this wound was the fictional Cosby family in the 1980s and the very real Obama family in the early 21st century.

And you can read the rest at Salon.

Update: Commenter SEATAF calls our attention to another contribution in Salon by Professor Cooper that beats even Ta-Nahesi Coates’ Escalator Anecdote for paranoia and megalomania:

WEDNESDAY, DEC 17, 2014 03:45 PM PST

“Listen when I talk to you!”: How white entitlement marred my trip to a Ferguson teach-in

A nightmarish train ride reminds me why too many white people don’t get how short black America’s fuse is right now



On Friday, I was on the train to New York to do a teach-in on Ferguson at NYU. Beats headphones on, lost in thought, peering out the window, I suddenly saw a white hand shoving my work carry-on toward me. Startled, I looked up to see the hand belonged to a white guy, who was haphazardly handling my open bag, with my laptop perched just inside to make space for himself on the seat next to me.

That he wanted the seat on the now full train was not the problem. That he assumed the prerogative to place his hands on my bag, grab it, shove it at me, all while my computer was unsecured and peaking out, infuriated me. I said to him, “Never put your hands on my property.”

His reply: “Well, you should listen when I talk to you.” That line there, the command that when he, whoever he was, spoke, I should automatically listen encapsulates the breadth of the battle against racism we have to fight in this country.

Buoyed by his own entitlement, his own sense of white male somebodiness, this passenger never even considered that he might simply try harder to get my attention before putting his hands on my stuff. His own need to control space, his own sense of entitlement to move anything in his way even if it held something of value to another person, his belief that he had the right to do whatever he needed to do to make the environment conform to his will are all hallmarks of white privilege.

In the reverse scenario, a black man would never get on the train, snatch up a white woman’s bag, and shove it in her face. But then black women are rarely entitled to the courtesies proffered to white women, and black people never presume they are entitled to occupy interracial spaces so aggressively.

To have a white man in 2014 demand that I listen when he speaks is the height of racial disrespect and indignity. To have a white person shove my belongings to the side rather than simply get my attention and ask my permission is an unnecessary level of disrespect, one that conveys yet again that their needs matter more than my own.

I do not exist to make white people comfortable. The fact that I know that and act like it makes white people even more uncomfortable.

Some will argue that I cannot generalize ideas about white entitlement from the action of one jerk on the train. After all, people get into petty squabbles on the train all the time. Let us not forget, however, that the civil rights movement was catalyzed by a squabble over a seat on a bus. I’m no Rosa Parks, of course. But what these connected histories teach us is that the right to occupy public accommodations unharassed is a right black people fought for. Died for. Endured centuries of indignity and white entitlement for. Battles over how we share public space are foundational to the narrative of race in this country.

Still I am struck by the utter cluelessness of this guy on the train, by the way in which snatching up my belongings and shoving them at me seemed like an entirely reasonable thing for him to do. Mere seconds after this exchange, he looked at me frantically as he patted his pockets. “I can’t find my cellphone!” He knew I didn’t have it, but what he wanted from me was empathy and, perhaps, assistance. As I fought back the urge to pummel this man, it occurred to me that far too many white people really don’t get how short black America’s collective fuse is in this moment.

This is great stuff compared to humorless dweeb Ta-Nehisi’s depressing downers. The only reason Professor Cooper isn’t a MacArthur Genius must be sexism.

And racism, of course, too. Never forget racism.


From the New York Post:

Americans make racist assumptions based on names, study finds

By David K. Li October 7, 2015 | 9:42am

Americans draw racist conclusions about people they’ve never met just by learning their names, according to researchers who were “disgusted” by their own findings.

The study, published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, asked subjects to describe their feelings about imaginary characters with stereotypical white names, such as Connor and Wyatt, and stereotypical black names, such as Jamal and DeShawn.

“I’ve never been so disgusted with my own data,” said lead author Colin Holbrook, an anthropologist at UCLA.

Test subjects were read a short story about a man — with either a stereotypical white name or black name — being bumped at a bar, and then verbally berated.

Test subjects were then asked to describe what they imagined that man to look like and what he did in response to that contact and verbal assault.

“A character with a black-sounding name was assumed to be physically larger, more prone to aggression, and lower in status than a character with a white-sounding name,” said Holbrook.

I’m struck by how uncool people are these days.

Can you imagine Charlie Parker or Humphrey Bogart or James Dean or John Lennon or Steve McQueen or Lou Reed saying, “I’ve never been so disgusted with my own data”? (Granted, they are all now dead. But, still, they were cool while they lasted.)


From my new column in Taki’s Magazine:

The Republican Drug

With the sports and movie seasons in full swing in October, I’m reminded of the many unanswered and often even unasked questions about one of the more pervasive changes of my lifetime: the spread of weight lifting and steroids. Put simply, athletes and actors don’t look all that much anymore like they did when I was a young fan in the 1960s and 1970s.

Recreational drugs such as LSD were massively publicized in the 1960s as playing a role in the culture’s swing to the left. But far less attention has been paid to the subsequent influence of performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids.

These artificial variants on male sex hormones are especially interesting because, well, sex is interesting. Our society has been engaged for several decades in a giant science experiment involving the biochemical essence of masculinity, but few cultural intellectuals have paid systematic attention to what the results have been.

Read the whole thing there.


From the New York Times op-ed page:

The Case for Euro-Optimism

… As is often the case these days, Ms. Merkel knows what she’s talking about. Not only can Europe overcome its current challenges, but the storm is actually making the union stronger. …

But the response, largely coordinated by Germany, has been equally impressive. Ms. Merkel has set up an informal system of governance that works fairly well, inside and outside Germany: her coalition partners, the Social Democrats, at home; President François Hollande of France, crucial to winning Western Europe; the European Council president, Donald Tusk, representing Central European interests; and the European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, who knows how to play the Brussels machine. President Obama is the key outside partner.

A Merkel-centric “power-horizontal” sets up a very different union from the one that governments have agreed to in the treaties.

Uh, you know, that’s called Germany trampling on the rule of law.

Instead of Brussels, Berlin has become the power center. Neither federalists nor nationalists are happy with that.

But the German Chancellor is happy and that’s what counts, according to the Eührerprinzip.

Perhaps no challenge better illustrates the union’s strengths than the waves of refugees arriving in Europe. Ms. Merkel has correctly framed it as a challenge for Europe as a whole, rather than for individual countries. And Europe has acted accordingly, taking a contentious but successful vote to spread the burden of accepting the refugees.

Uh, well, yeah, but for about 11% of the expected 2015 arrivals. And Ms. Merkel forgot to multiply the number of asylees by the number of their relatives.

True, the old refugee system broke down under the sudden weight. But with a speed that surprised even Euro-optimists, the union has begun to fashion new rules, often on the fly.

I.e., while Germany violates E.U. rules willy-nilly, Hungary tries to uphold them but is denounced for being anti-E.U.

What we see unfolding is a pan-European system of governance.

With apologies to Mel Brooks:

Autumn for Merkel and Germany
Europe is prostrate, must pay
We’re taking at a faster pace
Look out, here comes the Muslim race!


James Fulford of VDARE sends this article along from from The Melbourne Age:

Open borders to all: Clinton
Tuesday 11 September 2001

Bill Clinton believes Australia should not shut its borders to immigrants and those genuinely seeking asylum but should open its arms to cultural diversity.

Free trade and an open-door policy would bring prosperity, the former US president told a meeting of 35 Australian business leaders in Melbourne yesterday.

“He discussed the immigration issue in Australia and he took a position on it,” said Tom Hogan, president of Vignette Corporation, host of the exclusive forum.

“The (former) president believes the world will be a better place if all borders are eliminated – from a trade perspective, from the viewpoint of economic development and in welcoming (the free movement of) people from other cultures and countries,” Mr Hogan said.

Mr Clinton showed an understanding of the political problems Australia faced, but said he supported the ultimate wisdom of a borderless world for people and for trade.

He spoke for 45 minutes on topics ranging from the urgent need to combat AIDS to global economic issues. He spent another 45 minutes answering questions.

Mr Clinton said he believed the US was a better place for having opened its borders to a diversity of peoples and cultures. …

Ten hours after Clinton said this, 19 diverse guys from a different culture killed 3,000 Americans.


From the New York Times:

Screenshot 2015-10-06 09.34.31

I see an ever-increasing amount of argumentation from brute numbers like this: liberals in the past couldn’t possibly have been imprudent upon immigration policy because, uh, now there are 59 million immigrants here: Q.E.D! In your face!

The quality of argumentation stays at about the same level as the headlines:

IMMIGRATION is not the easiest issue to debate.

I.e., to win debates at.

It stokes emotions about “homelands” and invasions, as we have seen all summer, both in the Republican presidential contest and in the tragic situation in Europe. These arguments tend to produce more heat than light, making objective analysis difficult.

Why the **** don’t all you inbred nativist xenophobes just shut the **** up and agree with the calm, smart people that the 1965 Immigration Act was awesome?

Many politicians find that their poll numbers rise the further from reality they stray — as the Donald J. Trump playbook continues to prove. A recent Pew report confirms that the parties remain far apart, with Republicans far more certain than Democrats (53 percent versus 24 percent) that immigration is making our society worse.

But history provides some clarity about the relative costs and benefits of immigration over time. Fifty years ago this month, Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 at the foot of the Statue of Liberty. By any standard, it made the United States a stronger nation. The act was endorsed by Republicans and Democrats in an era when cooperation was still possible. Indeed, the most serious opposition came from Southern Democrats and an ambivalent secretary of state, Dean Rusk. But it passed the Senate easily (76-18), with skillful leadership from its floor manager, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and Johnson himself.

And if you don’t trust the long term strategic judgment of strategic wizard LBJ and the drunkest Kennedy, well, I just don’t know what to say …

… But it also was a success when measured by a more conservative calculus of hard power. It certainly increased American security. Significant numbers of immigrants and their children joined the United States military after 1965, and in every category the armed forces became more ethnically diverse.

And that, children, is why the U.S. military does such a great job of guarding the border today. Oh, wait …

All right, the point is that we have to bring in refugees like the Tsarnaev Brothers in order to secure traditional American interests in Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Dagestan. Don’t you care about American Security?


Before Ted Kennedy’s immigration bill opened the diversity door fifty years ago in 1965, America was culturally stagnant. Just look at the Top 100 Billboard hit songs of 1965, full of unvibrant, nondiverse tracks such as “Like a Rolling Stone,” “My Girl,” “California Dreamin’,” “In the Midnight Hour,” “King of the Road,” “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling,” “Stop! In the Name of Love,” “Do You Believe in Magic?,” “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Sugar Pie Honey Bunch,” “California Girls,” and “The Tracks of My Tears.” Because America was so bigoted against Hispanics back then, the #1 song of 1965 was “Wooly Bully” by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs.

Of course, Britain had even less immigration, so its pop music was even more nonvibrant in 1965. Without giant levels of immigration, how could British youth learn about American culture? I means besides going to the record store, listening to the radio, seeing touring American acts, visiting America, etc.?

Seriously, 1965 was the best year for broadly popular hit music for youths of the last 60. I was only six at the time and probably noticed only Roger Miller’s country/folk “King of the Road,” so I’m only partially biased by age. (Although I was waiting at Heathrow Airport in 1965 when a youth with collar-length hair walked in and a girl screamed, “It’s a Beatle!” It turned out to be Herman of Herman and the Hermits.)


Back in 2012 I blogged:

Japanese win another Nobel

Back in 1999, I got into a discussion of Japanese creativity. For 20 years, I’d been hearing, often from the Japanese themselves, that they weren’t creative. On the other hand, I owned a lot of cool gadgets that had at least been improved upon by the Japanese. On the other other hand, it was pointed out to me that the Japanese sure didn’t win many hard science Nobel Prizes: only five Japanese winners up through 1999.

Beginning in 2000, however, there have been 11 Japanese hard science Nobel Laureates.

And now they’re up to 16, with Japanese scientists sharing Nobels in Medicine and Physics this week.


You may have wondered why, outside of my repetitious drumbeat, there has been so little comment on how the Gulf Arabs aren’t spending their money to help their Muslim brethren in need. One reason is because they have better things to spend their money on, such as the American think tanks who provide the press with ideas and quotes. From the New York Times:

Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks

… More than a dozen prominent Washington research groups have received tens of millions of dollars from foreign governments in recent years while pushing United States government officials to adopt policies that often reflect the donors’ priorities, an investigation by The New York Times has found.

The money is increasingly transforming the once-staid think-tank world into a muscular arm of foreign governments’ lobbying in Washington. And it has set off troubling questions about intellectual freedom: Some scholars say they have been pressured to reach conclusions friendly to the government financing the research.

The think tanks do not disclose the terms of the agreements they have reached with foreign governments. And they have not registered with the United States government as representatives of the donor countries, an omission that appears, in some cases, to be a violation of federal law, according to several legal specialists who examined the agreements at the request of The Times.

As a result, policy makers who rely on think tanks are often unaware of the role of foreign governments in funding the research.

Joseph Sandler, a lawyer and expert on the statute that governs Americans lobbying for foreign governments, said the arrangements between the countries and think tanks “opened a whole new window into an aspect of the influence-buying in Washington that has not previously been exposed.”

“It is particularly egregious because with a law firm or lobbying firm, you expect them to be an advocate,” Mr. Sandler added. “Think tanks have this patina of academic neutrality and objectivity, and that is being compromised.”

The arrangements involve Washington’s most influential think tanks, including the Brookings Institution, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Atlantic Council. Each is a major recipient of overseas funds, producing policy papers, hosting forums and organizing private briefings for senior United States government officials that typically align with the foreign governments’ agendas.

Most of the money comes from countries in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere in Asia, particularly the oil-producing nations of the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Norway, and takes many forms. The United Arab Emirates, a major supporter of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, quietly provided a donation of more than $1 million to help build the center’s gleaming new glass and steel headquarters not far from the White House. Qatar, the small but wealthy Middle East nation, agreed last year to make a $14.8 million, four-year donation to Brookings, which has helped fund a Brookings affiliate in Qatar and a project on United States relations with the Islamic world.

Some scholars say the donations have led to implicit agreements that the research groups would refrain from criticizing the donor governments.

“If a member of Congress is using the Brookings reports, they should be aware — they are not getting the full story,” said Saleem Ali, who served as a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar and who said he had been told during his job interview that he could not take positions critical of the Qatari government in papers. “They may not be getting a false story, but they are not getting the full story.” …

Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — two nations that host large United States military bases and view a continued American military presence as central to their own national security — have been especially aggressive in their giving to think tanks. The two Persian Gulf monarchies are also engaged in a battle with each other to shape Western opinion, with Qatar arguing that Muslim Brotherhood-style political Islam is the Arab world’s best hope for democracy, and the United Arab Emirates seeking to persuade United States policy makers that the Brotherhood is a dangerous threat to the region’s stability. …

The tens of millions in donations from foreign interests come with certain expectations, researchers at the organizations said in interviews. Sometimes the foreign donors move aggressively to stifle views contrary to their own. …

Scholars at other Washington think tanks, who were granted anonymity to detail confidential internal discussions, described similar experiences that had a chilling effect on their research and ability to make public statements that might offend current or future foreign sponsors. At Brookings, for example, a donor with apparent ties to the Turkish government suspended its support after a scholar there made critical statements about the country, sending a message, one scholar there said.

“It is the self-censorship that really affects us over time,” the scholar said. “But the fund-raising environment is very difficult at the moment, and Brookings keeps growing and it has to support itself.”

The sensitivities are especially important when it comes to the Qatari government — the single biggest foreign donor to Brookings.

Brookings executives cited strict internal policies that they said ensure their scholars’ work is “not influenced by the views of our funders,” in Qatar or in Washington. They also pointed to several reports published at the Brookings Doha Center in recent years that, for example, questioned the Qatari government’s efforts to revamp its education system or criticized the role it has played in supporting militants in Syria.

But in 2012, when a revised agreement was signed between Brookings and the Qatari government, the Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs itself praised the agreement on its website, announcing that “the center will assume its role in reflecting the bright image of Qatar in the international media, especially the American ones.” Brookings officials also acknowledged that they have regular meetings with Qatari government officials about the center’s activities and budget, and that the former Qatar prime minister sits on the center’s advisory board.

Mr. Ali, who served as one of the first visiting fellows at the Brookings Doha Center after it opened in 2009, said such a policy, though unwritten, was clear.

“There was a no-go zone when it came to criticizing the Qatari government,” said Mr. Ali, who is now a professor at the University of Queensland in Australia. “It was unsettling for the academics there. But it was the price we had to pay.”

It’s a little unfair of me to say the Brookings Institution doesn’t come cheap. Relative to how much money rich guys spend on sports these days, public policy intellectuals are an excellent bargain. I haven’t been invited to hang around many Washington think tanks in a while, but I visited several in the previous decade. At least back then, they usually weren’t super plush. The physical accommodations were kind of at the community college faculty office level.

In other words, Qatar can buy a lot of Washington think tank influence for many orders of magnitude less than the $200 billion it has budgeted to host the 2022 World Cup.

Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

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

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