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The Chinese Won't, Though
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From the Looming Cloud department: In Taki’s Magazine John Derbyshire quotes Tim Wise, a white guy of positively asphyxiating virtue, to the effect that, what with high birth rates among American non-whites, the country will soon, much to Tim’s satisfaction, be chiefly non-white, at which point the knives will come out. The threat is clear:

Wise: “In the pantheon of American history, conservative old white people have pretty much always been the bad guys, the keepers of the hegemonic and reactionary flame….It’s OK. Because in about forty years, half the country will be black or brown. And there is nothing you can do about it.…We just have to be patient. And wait for you to pass into that good night, first politically, and then, well.…”

He makes clea, though unconincingly—he is worth reading—that the whites whose political demise he wishes are only those ol’ racist, conservative, etc. Not goodwhites, like Tim. See, once a dark majority is in place, all right-thinking whites, such as Tim, will live in harmony with the new rulers, who will be without racial hostility toward the pale minority. He is crazy as a bedbug in a moonshine jar. Races with little in common do not hold hands and sing Kum Bah Yah, however much we may wish it.

Now, the racial threat to whites is perhaps not quite so dire as Tim hopes. In particular, an alliance of Latinos and blacks against whites is very far from certain. I live in Mexico, and know Mexicans as friendly and courteous folk who run a functioning upper-Third World country with airlines, internet, telecommunications and all the trinkets of modernity. Switzerland it isn’t, but neither is it Detroit. My eleven years here have been 99.9% free of racial hostility. There is today little love between blacks and browns in America and, to the extent that Latinos rise economically, they will very likely align themselves with the other successful groups.

But a broader question, if I may. The well-being of everyone in the United States depends on economic competitiveness, which depends on high levels of trained intelligence. Who has it?

Here a little knowledge is needed to recognize how dependent the country is on the brains of…whites. If you grow up, with minimal education, among cars and television sets, you can come unconsciously to think that, like air, they just exist. Actually they are products of brains. Whose brains? Mr. Wise might reflect on this.

In a perfect world, we would all be brilliant. Yet the world does not seem to be perfect. In practice we all depend on the intelligence of those able to discover, invent, and manage. And that intelligence almost invariably belongs to whites, Indians, and North Asians. I wish it were not so, but it is. I believe in giving to all young the oportunity and encouragement to shine intellectually. But if it doesn’t work? Are we wise to yearn for the dominance of the resentful who can’t, or at any rate haven’t, over those who can and do?

I do not mean to be cruel, but it is worth asking: How many of any age in Detroit can recognize this, from eighth-grade algebra. You know, what pubescent white kids do.

It would be wonderful if black kids flourished mathematically, as it would obviate many problems, but they haven’t and show no signs of ever doing so. I believe that Latin kids can, but they mostly haven’t. That leaves….

How about elementary college material, Tim? When I was a white student in college we could explain s-p hybrid bonding orbitals—freshman chemistry forty years ago for us ofays. How about “The entropy of a closed system tends to remain the same or to increase”? What is that? An excellent exposition is found in Kittel’s Thermal Physics. How many in Newark have read it, or could?

We need people who understand these matters. Are source-drain-gate parts of a kitchen sink or a transistor? What do they do? What is a tracking thermistor? Q = inductive reactance over resistance, X L/R. What are those? Anger at evil white people is good fun, yes, but somebody has to make stuff work.

Pretty much everything that keeps us from squatting in grass huts and crushing lice was invented by, yes, white males. In this I am not being racially arrogant: I am quite aware that the Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, Indians and so on can play this game quite as well as white men. They have begun, and begun most impressively. But these do not spend their time complaining about trials caused by their own incapacities.

Those who can, do. The rest bitch.

But back to my point, that the unlettered do not realize the extent to which they depend on things they have never heard of, that they did not invent and probably couldn’t understand. How many of those whose coming rule you celebrate,Tim, know the purpose of a partial derivative of a function of two variables? Second semester, freshman calculus.

I am just a dumb-ass white gringo in Mexico, but I can grasp elementary math. I do not overrate myself: I know what a partial is, but do not have the talent to be even a fifth-rate mathematician. (I wish I were being charmingly modest, but I’m not.) Yet I have sufficient self-respect to acknowledge my debt to men, uncounted thousands of them, who by being smarter than I am have made life tolerable for me and mine. What do you think of them apples, Tim?

Your angry “people of color” owe everything that lets them complain in comfort to such white men as Shockley (the transistor), Claude Shannon (information theory), Carl Friedrich Gauss (pretty much everything), Boole (Boolean algebra), Newton and Leibniz (calculus, classical mechanics)…and countless other white men they have never heard of either.

We’ve been at ti for a while, Tim. It started with the Greeks, as for example with Euclid’s Postulates. I note that those ancient white men were smart enough to recognize the problem with the Fifth Postulate, opening the door much later to hyperbolic geometry and other neat stuff–you know, Riemann, Lobachevski, Bolyai, guys like that. You do know, right?

You have in all likelihood a high life expectancy, Tim. Why is this, do you suppose? Maybe you believe that when you come down with pneumonia, and it’s cured in a couple of days, your survival is something built into the nature of things. Not really. Much of our life span springs from medical science founded on chemistry and cellular biology discovered by…white men. Many of their recent advances spring from techniques that few have heard of and thus don’t appreciate. Think of RFLP (that’s Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism, Tim, as I’ m sure you know but most don’t) and PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) and magnetic-resonance imaging and…well, you know the kind of thing. From white men.

White men discovered elementary biology. How many in Newark have even heard of, say, endoplasmic reticula, ribosomes, deoxyribonucleic acid, transfer RNA? Degeneracy of the codon alphabet? How many nuclear bases in a codon? In RNA, what pyrimidine in DNA does uracyl replace?

This is just freshman biology, Tim. Real students, which I am not, go on to infinitely more difficult biochem in grad school. They are overwhelmingly white, though disproportionately Asian or Indian. You might think about that.

• Category: Race/Ethnicity 
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Now, about this Crimea thing: What I figure is, the top part of the Feddle Gummint got dropped on its head when it was little, and the rest is just asleep, or might as well be. We look to be ruled by a bus-station of dumb-ass rich brats in a constant state of martial priapism. I can’t understand it. Out of three hundred million Americans, and lots of them went to school and can pretty much read, we get a slick minor pol out of Chicago for President and Pickle-Boy Kerry for Secretary of State, God knows why. Before that, we had Hillary, former First Housewife. Even god couldn’t explain that. And they throw their weight around just like they had some.

Now Obama’s threatening Russia about the Crimea. He may know where it is. I admit the possibility. We live in a strange world, and unexpected things can happen. What I can’t see is, why he thinks the Ukraine is Washington’s business. Last I heard, the Crimea was hung off into the Black Sea by the Isthmus of Perekop, like a hornet’s nest from a peach tree.

Why do we care about it? I guess if it gets to be part of Russia, Arkansas is next to go.

Maybe it moved, though. Continental drift is a reality. It could be anywhere by now, maybe in the Gulf of Mexico. And even if it ain’t, I guess we need a war with Russia over a place that’s none of our business. I mean, I don’t see how we can get along without one.

Now, about being dropped oin their heads: : Pkcle Boy has said of the Crimea, “You don’t just, in the 21st century, behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on a completely trumped-up pretext.” I reckon he hasn’t heard of Iraq either. The world is full of countries, and it’s hard to keep track of which ones you’ve wrecked.

I have a strategy. If we want to do those Russian rascals in, bring’em lower than dirt, we ought to arrange to have the American public elect their government. You know, on some kind of contract. Then they’d be ruled, like us, by a nursery full of pansies, milquetoasts, ethno-picks, growly feather-weights, diesel dykes, and sorry rich kids who never got into a school-yard fight. Russia would never recover.

We won’t either.

One thing you learn in the school yard is never call a tougher kid’s bluff. It might not be a bluff. Uh-oh. This Putin guy, I hear they call him Vlad the Hammer: I bet there’s a reason. And Pickle Boy looks to me like a bug on an anvil. It’s Little Lord Fauntleroy calling out Mike Tyson deep in the ‘hood. Where Mommy can’t help.

I see that Genghis Obama has sent a destroyer, the closest he can come I guess to a Golden Horde, to the Black Sea, grrr, woof. It’s going to conduct military exercises—push-ups, maybe. Now, that’s going to frighten Vlad. I guess a sense of humor is a good thing in a president. Maybe he can amuse Putin to death. I mean, by all the gods and little catfish, what does he think a tiny irrititing boat boat like that is going to do—torpedo the Crimea? It doesn’t float, Barack. It’s stuck to the bottom. You can’t sink it.

To put it simply enough that even the hair-salon Napoleons in the Yankee Capital might be able to understand, but most likely won’t, don’t make threats that the other guy knows you can’t follow through on. This idea is called “brains,” or sometimes “self-preservation.” Them days is gone when Washington could send the bathtub toys pretty much anywhere in the world and everybody would fall on his face and say, “Yassuh, bwana, yassuh.” Any third-grader in a country school in Georgia can see how things stand: Pickle Boy and the Jellyfish can (1) start a shooting war with Russia, or (2) back down and get laughed at by the whole world. Ain’t any other choices that I can see. God save us from little men with big egos and no judgement.

Now, I read a lot of history. It’s because I don’t have to spend all my time getting elected and posing for cameras and lying. A patch of history I’ve always liked is World War One. It teaches you how to get into a big war that doesn’t turn out like you think which is what usually happens in wars

You start by getting a toy president, or amateur Kaiser, who doesn’t know squat but you can’t tell him because that’s disloyal or, depending, racist. Besides, he can have you shot. Then you let the military get the upper hand—von Tirpitz, von Schlieffen, von Petraeus, von Hagel, they’re all the same. It helps if the amateur president or Kaiser wants to be a Wahhhhh! President or Kriegs Kaiser. You know how short men act. It would be less trouble to buy them a codpiece.

Then you surround him with incompetent toadies like von Bulow or Pickle Boy. Then you tell the public about German Exceptionalism and how God meant for Germany to rule and civilize the world and everybody hates Germany because it’s so wonderful so we need a bigger and bigger army. It works every time. It helps to tell people there’s a Serb under everybody’s bed, or an a Brit, or a commie or a Islam or terrorist or something. Pretty much anything will do. I figure it must get crowded under those beds.

The final part is to get yourself in trouble by having dam-fool mutual-defense treaties. You tell half the world that if anybody attacks anybody else, you are gonna jump in. Now the Kaiser had his own list of these traps. But Pickle Boy and the Obama Squad labor under the accreted load from years before. So Washington has to defend Japan, Estonia, Korea, the Philippines, Georgia (bof’em), most all of Europe, Ukraine, and lots of other places nobody ever heard of or wants to..

It just might be smarter to let the rest of the world settle its own problems.

I’d like to set these milli-Talleyrands and micro-Metternichs down and see whether they know anything at all about, say, Russia. I mean, like where it came from, how it got to be what it is, and what it wants, and why it acts the way it does. I don’t mean hard questions, like what did Oleg nail to the gates of Constantinople. Could Relish Man tell me who Denikin, Kolchak, and Wrangel were? What was the NEP? Just simple Russian history. I’ll bet good money they wouldn’t have the tiniest underfed clue. But they can bark from under the sofa.

A wise old newspaper editor once told me: “A burro is an ass. A burrow is a hole in the ground. A reporter should know the difference.” Now, I wonder why that thought just came to mind.

I remember what my Uncle Hant told Burnside before the battle of Fredericksburg: “Jinral, if you got the brains of a goddamed retarded piss-ant, you won’t try to cross that river under all them guns.” You couldn’t take Hant anywhere in polite company. But he had a point.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Russia, Ukraine 
Or Uganda, Anyway
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Despite much wringing of teeth and gnashing of hands about the decline in schooling in the United States, I have seen very little concrete comparison between then and now, whatever one means by “then.” In my small way, as a mere anecdote in a sea of troubles, I hereby offer an actual comparison. Permit me to preview the result: Much of the United States has sunk to the level of the lower ranks of the Third World.

As an example of documented current practice in urban schools—I have seen similar from Detroit, Chicago, and Mississippi—here are a few emails sent to the New York Post by students of Manhattan’s Murry Bergtraum HS for Business Careers. These have been posted by various horrified writers, but I repeat them here in case the reader hasn’t seen them. They concern the students’ support for something called “Blended Learning,” in which one watches a video, answers a few questions, and gets credit. The Post had written a piece critical of same, putting the students into an uproar.

A junior wrote: “What do you get of giving false accusations im one of the students that has blended learning I had a course of English and I passed and and it helped a lot you’re a reported your support to get truth information other than starting rumors . . .”

Right out of Milton, that.

Another wrote: “To deeply criticize a program that has helped many students especially seniors to graduate I should not see no complaints.”

One student said the online system beats the classroom because “you can digest in the information at your own paste.”

Now, I have no information on what things they do not know other than English. Approximately everything, I suspect. I do know that growing up long ago in average white schools from kindergarten onwards, I learned to speak better English by the second grade than these high-school students—“students”—will likely ever speak. I could write much better English. I think it reasonable to suspect that kids who want to digest in information at their own paste probably do not know a lot of algebra or chemistry. We are producing illiterate, unemployable barbarians inassimilable to a First World country.

By way of comparison, there follows a list of things I could do in my primary and secondary schools, at what age I could do them, and where the schools were. The list is accurate. In instances in which I am not sure whether I knew a thing in one grade or another, I have written “by grade five” or whatever. The schools were the public schools of the region.

Grades 2-5, Robert E. Lee Elementary, Arlington, Virginia (in the suburbs of Washington).

Multiply 457 times 56.7
Divide 345.7 by 45. 8
Divide 34 3/8 by 13/3

Diagram “Mr. Jones, the principal, who had been in the Army, said “Give it to her, please.” I knew subject, verb, appositive, direct and indirect object,
transitive verbs, proper nouns, collective nouns, helper verbs, tenses and, I think I remember, the dreaded dangling participle. I believe we had done most of this by the fourth grade, but I cannot swear to it.

I further remember that the drugstores in suburban Washington carried large rows of books, the Hardy Boys, Tom Swift, Nancy Drew, and so on, the prominent display of which suggested that the stores expected people to buy them. My friends and I assuredly did buy them. (The Hardy Boys series has since been dumbed down.) We also, many of us, had chemistry sets and microscopes from Gilbert or Edmunds Scientific. We were ordinary American kids.

Athens Elementary, or maybe Junior High, Athens, Alabama, grade six, 1956.

Solve: “If a tank contains 34.5 gallons when it is 2/3 full, how much does it contain when it is full?” Calculate areas of rectangles, circles (using pi as 3.14 or 22/7), and triangles. Solve problems involving percentages. Give from memory percentages represented by common fractions, a sixth, eighth, twelfth, and so on.

Eighth grade, base school, Dahlgren Naval Weapons Laboratory, Dahlgren, Virginia.

Calculate 2x2 y2z +7 divided into (22x3 y3z4 + 45)

Factor x2 – 9 at a glance and more-complex binomial products with a little thought, derive (for the test anyway) the quadratic formula by completing the square; solve quadratics by factoring or by the formula; solve pairs of simultaneous linear equations in two unknowns by three methods. In short, ordinary eighth-grade algebra.

Talk reasonably intelligently about Julius Caesar, which we read in English class, and quote short parts.

High school, 1960-64, rural King George High, King George, Virginia.

Here I am shaky because I can’t distinguish in memory what I learned in school and what I learned from reading medical texts and such which I had discovered I could buy on family trips to Washington. However, I do remember in chemistry class balancing oxidation-reduction equations, which alone establishes that the class was a serious one. Biology, 2nd-year algebra, plane geometry, and solid-and-trig were at a similar level. All of these were required of college-track students. We lots of did trig identities: sin2 + cos2 = 1, that sort of thing. I knew well the Indian trig-chief SOH-CAH-TOA, vital to later study of mechanics. . In short, ordinary high-school math

I still have a copy of the high-school newspaper. Adolescent writing, grammatical, decently organized.

I would like to attribute all of this to my preternatural brilliance. Unfortunately for this laudable understanding, the things listed were expected of all students until the eighth grade, when they were expected of all college-track students. Two of my schools, note, were of the rural or small-town South, thought in Brooklyn to be a motherlode of ignorance.

The moderate rigor described above apparently reigned everywhere in America at the time. In late 1964 I got to my small Southern college, Hampden-Sydney, which had average pre-dumbing-down SATs a little above 1100, the students being mostly boys from small towns all over Virginia. I remember that in freshman chem, the expectation was that everyone knew all of the above. Knew it cold. We did. Bad grammar would in no course have been tolerated. Students were assumed ready for freshman calculus. The college offered remedial nothing. If you couldn’t do the work you belonged somewhere else, and shortly were.

It was not an elite college. We were not elite students. As freshmen, we were only a summer further along than seniors at Murry Bergtraum HS for Business Careers. We didn’t digest in our own paste.

What am I, and people my age, supposed to feel other than raw contempt for pig-ignorant, self-righteous, utterly useless illiterates whom society will have to feed and house like barnyard animals for the next fifty years?

Grant Me the Wisdom to Know the Difference
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“Race realists,” as they call themselves, very much want to think that Latin Americans are inherently stupid. The idea appeals to me. As a curmudgeon, I like to believe in the corruption, venality, concupiscence, and stupidity of our sorry race. Certainly it is the way to bet. Further, I admit, indeed espouse, the biological possibility that one genetic strain may be brighter than another.

While I want to regard all of humanity as inferior, with regard to particular groups vile ripples of unwanted evidence occasionally raise their ugly heads (if ripples have heads). Consider Latinos..After living for eleven years in Mexico, I cannot see that Mexicans are any stupider than anyone else. (This, of course, leaves ample leeway for being stupid.) The assertion among fans of IQ is that because of their admixture of Indian blood, Mexicans, and for that matter all mestizos of Latin America, are stupid. I don’t see it.

But personal observation carries no water with race realists. Fair enough. Let us consider brown people in Peru, a small, heavily mestizo Andean nation of some thirty million. Let us also consider the International Math Olympiad, an annual contest of high-end mathematical talent around the planet. In 2012, Peru finished 16th. Results from the Olympiad vary considerably by year, in 2013 Peru finishing 26, Australia 15 and 27 in those two years (and Mexico 17th in 2013). Yet it is hard for me to see how an inherently stupid people could make it to16th. This is especially puzzling because Peru does not have the highly-developed mechanisms for discovering talent that America has.

I consequently suggest that race realists, at least with respect to South America, have become more racial than realistic, and may suffer from a rectocranial inversion. I hope that Fred on Evrything can serve them as salutary forceps.

To believe a group stupid because of the evidence is one thing; to believe it in spite of the evidence is another. Which I think they are doing. In support of this blasphemy I adduce, first, the Peruvian kid Raul Arturo Chávez Sarmiento, who became the second youngest participant to win a medal in the Olympiad and went on to win both silver and gold medals.

Now, the usual explanation in IQist circles for Latino successes is that only the white ruling classes accomplish anything. Well and good, if it works. The truth is the truth. However:

Arturo Chavez

His two siblings are a physicist and mathematician, so there hasn’t been much regression to the mean in his family.

One data point does not a distribution make. At the end of this column are links to bios of the Peruvian math team. Click on a few and see whether you can find a white kid.

Also interesting is Jorge Ciri. Says the Wikipedia, “Jorge Cori (born July 30, 1995 in Peru) is a Peruvian chess prodigy. He is ranked No. 1 among Under-18 player in the Americas, No. 3 in Peru and No. 8 among all Under-18 players in the world.”

Jorge Ciri. If he is white, I’m Jean Harlow. (There is little evidence that I am Jean Harlow.)

Then there is Jorge’s sister, DeysiCori, women’s grandmaster. Wikipedia: “Cori is ranked 42nd in the world among women players and 3rd on the junior girls list.She is currently the only player in the junior girls Top 20 who resides in the Western Hemisphere.”

Deysi Cori. Norwegian, I guess. No trace of Indian blood. You teach her chess. I don’t do human-sacrifice. Not if I am the human, anyway.

Now, the existence of exceedingly smart Peruvian kids proves nothing conclusively. A Gaussian distribution being asymptotic, there is a calculable chance that a population with a mean IQ of 20 will produce, well, Gauss. It is a very small likelihood. Yet the Math Olympiad is not for the intellectually emaciated. Further, you do not get a high world ranking in chess by being merely very smart, or very, very smart. The probability that a small country still developing, of low average intelligence, much of its population in small villages in the mountains, would by freak mathematical accident produce these kids—anyone but a race realist stop and think.

If I am wrong, show me. As a curmudgeon, I believe that everybody is wrong about everything, including me. This produces a certain logical opacity, which encourages alertness.

So why do we have this Andean flowering now, and not earlier?

We can guess. As a correspondent of mine says, “This surge of young talent has all appeared within the last decade or so, which has coincided with economic growth and the appearance of a mestizo middle class.”

Here we have the old question of whether IQ produces prosperity, or prosperity produces IQ. (Or, perhaps, unleashes it).The IQist bible is IQ and the Wealth of Nations by Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhane. The book purports to show that a nation’s economic rank depends of the mean IQ of its population. The test scores the book uses tend to be a gobbledygook amalgam of different tests offered to different test groups at different times and would make a statistician’s hair curl. Still, if you accept these numbers as vaguely approximating reality, there is indeed a correlation between IQ and prosperity.

A problem is that prosperity can change almost overnight, at least with some populations, which leaves you, to the extent the IQ is genetic, with one IQ correlating with two very different prosperities. Oops.

Consider Taiwan in 1970 and now, China in 1850 when the British thought its people hopelessly inferior, and, er, now. Or Korea in 1950 and now, or Koreas north and south, same genetics but wildly different prosperities.

As for Peru, I have walked the streets of Lima extensively—it is a modern and functional city—without having the slightest feeling of moving among dolts.

Now: If a genetic group has never produced evidence of intellectual capacity, one might reasonably suspect that it doesn’t have any. You might be wrong, but you might be right. Once the said group has produced too much talent at too high a frequency to be attributed to long-shot, fourth-standard-deviation chance, genetic explanations for former lack of national prosperity cease to work.

I am not sure that we are not about to be surprised by a lot of Latin America. I note that the third (or fourth, depending on where you put Bombardier) manufacturer of aircraft in the world is Embraer, of Brazil. When I fly United from Mexico to the States, it is aboard an Embraer 145. The IQist explanation is that Embraer’s engineers are all of the white elite, or, so help me that “only the smartest Brazilians work for Embraer.” This latter suggests that Airbus and Boeing use ordinary citizens, perhaps recruited from a bus station.

Ridiculous Latin-American craft, of clay and wattles made, probably in the rainforest, doubtless with an abacus. Note logo on tail.

• Category: Race/Ethnicity, Science • Tags: Hispanics, Peru 
Notes of a Fed-Up Southerner
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Coming up as I did a Southern boy, usually barefoot, lots of times with a cane pole and a string of bream I caught in Machodoc Creek, and other signs of higher civilization, I believe I could get tired of Northerners huffing and puffing about how moral they are. Ain’t nothing like a damn Yankee for smarmy hypocrisy. They can spit it out in chunks like saw logs. A Yankee can’t open his mouth without preaching about how everybody else ought to do something he won’t do himself.

It’s always the same thing, about how the South keeps blacks in poverty and has lynch mobs. (Actually, it’s been at least three weeks since I was in a lynch mob.) To listen to these pious frauds, you’d think Northerners just loved black people and spent most of their time with them at the country club, talking the stock market. Why, how else could it be?

I couldn’t lie so much if you gave me a bird dog and a buzz saw. It ain’t in me. The worst schools in the country are in Mississippi, which doesn’t have any money, and the second worst in Washington, DC, which has all our money. Yes, Washington, so virtuous it makes your teeth curl. How many white kids are in those schools? Uh-huh. It’s you and him integrate, not us.

You’ve heard about white flight. In nearly about every city in the North white people streak for the suburbs so’s not to be near black people, and then they talk about how bad Southerners are for doing the same thing. I guess talking moral is more fun than being it.

Fact is, you can see more social, comfortable integration in a catfish house in Louisiana than you can in probably all of Washington.

Now, sometimes I have to yield to the truth. I don’t like to, but it’s forced on me. Blacks do live miserable in Southern cities.It can’t be denied. There’s a shameful list of awful cities and it hurts me to write it: Newark, Trenton, Camden, Detroit, Flint, Chicago, and Gary. Pretty much the entire South.

Facts is, the South itself was always poor, dirt poor, pea-turkey poor, especially after 1861, and a lot of what it was and how it felt came out of that. Songs like Ode to Billy Joe to Yankees are funny, the kind of thing you’d expect from those hicks down there. But they tell how it was for a lot of folk. Red dirt hills where nothing much wanted to grow, and there was nothing much to do and sometimes nothing much to eat. It was ugly, Tobacco Road, and the North laughs it. Even in the mid-Fifties you saw—I saw—kids from the countryside of Alabama with their teeth black from decay, and in some regions school vacations came at cotton-picking and cotton-chopping time. You could easy find people living in fall-down shacks, white people too. Thank you, Mr. Lincoln.

Piety quiz: Everybody take out a sheet of paper. Who said the following: “I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races – that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people….” (1) Mahatma Ghandi (2) Mother Theresa (3) Tinker Belle or (4) Abraham Lincoln. Hint: It wasn’t any of the first three.

Let me remind us that the South has generally had to bring to the North the benefits of culture. It figures. Industrial society is so full of stench and soot and misery and crowding that people can’t even do a good job of being unhappy. That’s why the great blues men like Mississippi John Hurt and Lightnin’ Hopkins came out of Dixie. So did jazz, and country music, and Dixieland jazz, which is different, and bluegrass, and rock’n’roll thanks to Big Boy Crudup and Elvis. Yankees can play long-hair music pretty good, but they stole it from Europe.

The South, though. It was a different place, mostly kind of sad I guess if you looked close, but it could grow on you. Those hot, quiet cotton fields in the Delta, where time passed sweet and slow like sorghum syrup dripping on busted china, and it was so peaceful and the air so soft you figured maybe there was a God after all. There wasn’t, though. At the time you could stand there and think that it would go on forever, that there was something comfortable and familiar that wouldn’t turn into something else you didn’t want. But it did. Nothing lovely can last when next door you have an infernal industrial smoke pit.

There was a wildness to the South, a sense that anything could happen. It didn’t feel controlled. Maybe it wasn’t obvious. People talked soft and slow like the Good Lord intended, instead of honking through their noses the way they do in Brooklyn, and they were polite and friendly. You didn’t want to lean on them, though. That wasn’t a good idea.

If you knew the place, it wasn’t surprising the moonshine runners came from there, and later turned into NASCAR. Hopped-up flathead mill, tank of bust-head corn in the trunk, flying through the Tennesse night with the dam federals after them. Back then, like now, Washington didn’t want people to drink what they wanted or smoke what they wanted. They was always sticking their long possum noses where they didn’t belong. And not just in the South. They’d invade anybody they’d ever heard of. Mexico in 1846 and 1916, Spain in 1898, Europe in 1917, on through Iraq and Yemen, wherever that is, and Afghanistan and I don’t know where all. Anything but mind their own business.

And now we got another Yankee president from Chicago messing with the whole country, turning America into Russia. That sort of thing never did set too well below Mason and Dixon’s Line.

Piety quiz: Which of the following in the decades surrounding the Civil War said over and over that he wanted to send all the black folks to Africa? (1) Susan Anthony (2) Pallas Athena (3) Sophia of Anhalt-Zerbst (4) Abraham Lincoln. Hint….

But enough about Washington, the world’s central deposit of oleaginous purity. Let’s talk about cars. Dixie was a car culture from when it first got the chance. It still is. I remember when, come summer, at umpty-dozen tracks the night howled and yowled and roared as muscle cars raced, taching high and sometimes blowing rods but things don’t always turn out perfect. In the stands they drank beer out of paper cups and hollered for Jimmy Jack or Joe Bob to take the lead. It was their place in the world and they were doing what they liked with people they liked and there were no dam feds telling them they had to put catalytic converters on the race cars. Yet.

That was something the South always liked. Being left the hell alone.

On the weekends of races at Road Atlanta, from all over the South, from little towns like Farmville, Virginia, trailers and motor homes towing race cars streamed in. They’d set up and bring out the tool boxes and start prepping for the races the next day. Wives and girlfriends would help and everyone hollered greetings at new arrivals.

The wives and girlfriends were real women, and seemed to think being a woman was a good thing. Men thought it was a good thing, that’s for sure. It was like there were two kinds of people, men and women, instead of just one. It’s a novel concept, I reckon. But we liked it. And they were just nice. You could easy tell a Southern gal from a menopausing crocodile. Up North, you’d need a DNA test.

Anyway, half the crowd already knew each other and the others didn’t have to because it was a coomon culture and if you had a race car, you were in.

• Category: Ideology 
Fred Reed
About Fred Reed

Fred, a keyboard mercenary with a disorganized past, has worked on staff for Army Times, The Washingtonian, Soldier of Fortune, Federal Computer Week, and The Washington Times.

He has been published in Playboy, Soldier of Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Harper's, National Review, Signal, Air&Space, and suchlike. He has worked as a police writer, technology editor, military specialist, and authority on mercenary soldiers.

Personal Classics
Not What Tom Jefferson Had in Mind
Sounds Like A Low-Ranked American University To Me
Very Long, Will Bore Hell Out Of Most People, But I Felt Like Doing It
It's Not A Job. It's An Adventure.
Cloudy, With Possible Tidal Wave