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Here’s an upcoming movie about using ancient DNA to de-extinct a Neanderthal:

“William” is a good name for a revivified caveman, since evolutionary theorist William D. Hamilton was known even to his rugby teammates as “Caveman.”

I recall an Unfrozen Caveman drama in 1984, Iceman, starring John Lone:

And here’s a 2019 Iceman about Otzi the Iceman:

Generally speaking, speculative fiction human nature movies don’t have a really good track record. For example, 2018’s Birthmarked about 1970s scientists Matthew Goode and Toni Collette trying to raise 3 kids the opposite of their genetic predilections to prove Nurture > Nature never really succeeded:

And the 2001 film Human Nature, with a screenplay by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Michel Gondry (the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind team), was surprisingly ungood:

 
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As I wrote in 2015:

My guess is that about 2070, African-Americans will think back in astonishment at the amazing places where their ancestors had once lived — the heart of Los Angeles; Manhattan, San Francisco and Oakland; the Chicago lakefront; the nation’s capital — and wonder how they let it all slip away.

 
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From Australian Broadcasting:

Italian bus driver tries to burn dozens of schoolchildren alive
Updated 8 minutes ago

Italian police have ended a dramatic ordeal for 51 students and their teachers who were tied up and held captive by their bus driver who threatened to torch everyone inside the vehicle.

Police broke glass windows in the back of the bus and got all the passengers to safety without serious injury before the flames destroyed the vehicle, authorities said.

The driver, an Italian citizen of Senegalese origin in his 40s, said he was protesting against migrant deaths in the Mediterranean, Commander Luca De Marchis told local TV. …

iSteve commenter Dave Pinsen observes: “Fortunately, contra Bari Weiss and the musical Hamilton, immigrants don’t always get the job done.”

Italy’s national press agency ANSA quoted one of the students as saying the driver took all their phones and ordered the teachers to bind the students’ hands with cable ties, threatening to spill petrol and set the bus ablaze.

ANSA said the teachers deliberately left some of the cable-tie handcuffs loose.

My impression is that there is a gap in average competence between the few but sometimes horrifically lethal rightwing white male terrorists and the various terrorists like Ousseynou Sy on the side of respectable ideas like More Immigration, Less Islamophobia, and Less White Privilege.

For example, here’s the pro-gay marriage terrorist who tried to shoot up the conservative Family Research Council in 2012 because the SPLC called the FRC a “hate” group. Even though he shot the guard at the front desk in the arm, the wounded guard still took him down one-handed:

 
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From the New York Times:

A Museum Tackles Myths About Jews and Money

These aren’t even tropes, they are myths. Myths, I tell you!

“Judas Returning the Thirty Pieces of Silver” (1629), by Rembrandt, is the centerpiece of an exhibition called “Jews, Money, Myth” at the Jewish Museum in London.

After all, what better proves that stereotypes about Jews and money are myths than a Jewish Museum lavishly mounting an exhibition on the topic, complete with a Rembrandt lent by a private collector? And who is more notoriously un-clear-eyed than Rembrandt?

By Farah Nayeri
March 20, 2019

LONDON — … an exhibition running through July 7 at the Jewish Museum in London called “Jews, Money, Myth.” The show explores the ways in which Jews have been associated with money over the past 2,000 years. …

The Jewish Museum’s aim is to “debunk a lot of the myths that still circulate today,” said Joanne Rosenthal, the exhibition’s curator, “such as Jews exerting a kind of sinister influence on world events, Jews financing disastrous wars around the world for profit, Jews being naturally drawn to money making.”

These centuries-old “tropes and stereotypes” still circulate on social media and beyond, Ms. Rosenthal added, and the exhibition invites visitors to look in a “calm and levelheaded way at the historical realities.” …

“I’ve never done anything in my life where people have been so scared,” she said in an interview at the museum. “Even the title scares people.” …

The myth of Jews and money can be traced back to the biblical figure of Judas, who betrayed Christ in exchange for some silver coins. In the show’s star attraction, Rembrandt’s “Judas Returning the Thirty Pieces of Silver,” on loan from a private collection, Judas is pictured on his knees, begging a group of priests for forgiveness. …

The video also features campaigners in favor of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, who were filmed outside the Houses of Parliament in London recently. One of the protesters holds a placard that equates the Jewish financier George Soros and the Rothschilds with the European Union, saying they run Britain’s “fake news” television channels. …

David Feldman, a professor of history at Birkbeck, University of London who is director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism (which was consulted for the exhibition), said the left sometimes did not initially identify certain patterns of behavior as racist or anti-Semitic.

Jews are “predominantly a middle-class population in Britain, so they don’t fit the idea of what a victim of racism ought to look like,” Professor Feldman said. “There is an expectation that the victims of racism are people of color, that they’re poor, and that in the case of Europe, either they or their forebears were colonial subjects.”

 
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A journalistic perennial is to dig up some arcane field that requires high skills but doesn’t pay particularly well and complain about underrepresentation of blacks.

For example, Amy Harmon recently complained that less than once percent of the tenured math professors at research universities are black. She focused on the example of one black male professor who was moving from Purdue U. to Pomona College, supposedly due to microaggressions. (That the professor is a Southern California native who probably likes the weather at Pomona more than in northern Indiana, and that Pomona is the highest ranked small liberal arts college in all of California was considered extraneous).

One issue is that very few national journalists understand just how few blacks there are at the stratospheric levels of IQ, and the logical implication: if one institution goes all out to recruit them, it means fewer at other institutions, some of which might offer a better life.

Anyway, if you look up the resumes of blacks who appear to be legitimately top drawer, you notice that they have options in life.

For example, Roger W. Ferguson Jr., got his Harvard Ph.D. in economics in 1981, then went to work for elite New York law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, then became a partner at McKinsey consulting. In 1999 he became Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve. He was one of the leading candidates to replace Alan Greenspan as top dog, but left after Ben Bernanke got the job.

Now Ferguson heads TIAA CREF, the big (trillion dollars) and quite respectable (hopefully) pension fund for college professors. He got paid $17 million in 2017.

He’s on the board of Alphabet (Google). And he might be Fed Chairman under a Democratic president.

Corporate America would love to clone Dr. Ferguson.

Or James Manyika, a black guy from Zimbabwe who got a Ph.D. from Oxford in electrical engineering, worked at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and taught engineering at Oxford. Clearly, blacks are underrepresented at JPL and teaching engineering. But Dr. Manyika hasn’t stuck around in those fields because for the last 25 years he’s been with McKinsey Consulting at their prestigious San Francisco (Silicon Valley) office.

He’s now Chairman and Director, McKinsey Global Institute, and Senior Partner, San Francisco. His life appears to be about 52 weeks per year of what other people of similar backgrounds experience one week per year at Davos. McKinsey’s website explains:

James was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as vice chair of the Global Development Council at the White House (2012–16) and by Commerce Secretaries to the US Commerce Department’s Digital Economy Board of Advisers (2016–17), as well as the National Innovation Advisory Board (2010–12) as part of the America Competes Act. He serves on the boards of the Council on Foreign Relations, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Markle Foundation.

James is interested in the power of technology to positively transform society and is a member of advisory boards of Oxford Internet Institute, MIT’s Initiative on the Digital Economy, Khan Academy, and has been on other university advisory boards. He is on the standing committee for the Stanford-based 100 Year Study on Artificial Intelligence, a fellow at DeepMind, and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

He is a trustee of the Aspen Institute and Harvard’s Hutchins Center which includes the WEB Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research.

Despite the worries of Amy Harmon types that blacks are under-represented in Dr. Manyika’s old, more technical jobs, he seems to be enjoying a substantially more kick-ass life than if he were still grading engineering problem sets.

 
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From my new column in Taki’s Magazine:

Bernie vs. Ta-Nehisi
by Steve Sailer

March 20, 2019

The Democratic 2020 race is shaping up into a battle between Bernie Sanders’ new Old Left and those candidates, such as Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Julian Castro, who pay respectful lip service to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ new Woke Left and his signature issue of black reparations.

Senator Warren, with her usual sound judgment, tweeted on Tuesday that it’s “time to start a national, full-blown conversation about reparations,” an old question made fashionable once again by Coates with his 2014 Atlantic article just before the Ferguson debacle.

Coates, a college dropout and semi-employed journalist, improbably rose to being the decade’s most celebrated left-wing intellectual by embodying the comic-bookish spirit of the age. As progressives become more demographically diverse, the ideas that appeal to them become more regressive.

Coates, who went from receiving the MacArthur genius grant for his denunciations of escalator racism to writing the Black Panther comic book for Marvel, epitomizes the essential childishness of the woke.

In contrast, Bernie, the 77-year-old socialist, wishes everybody would just shut up about Coates’ divisive issue of reparations and get back to talking about nonracial kitchen-table issues such as Bernie’s Medicare for All.

Read the whole thing there.

 
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iSteve commenter Peterike writes:

As I look out my window, I see what will be the tallest residential tower in Queens being constructed. It will be 66 stories high with 802 condo apartments, and top out at 984 feet high. It is expected to sell out at over a billion dollars, making it the most expensive residential tower in New York outside of Manhattan, and one of the most expensive in the world. The developer of this tower is Chris Jiashu Xu.

Chinese are already deep into the NYC real estate game. Many of the smaller apartment buildings, those 8-15 story jobs that are popping up by the dozens, are also developed by Chinese developers. At the street level, there are Chinese everywhere, and not just in the Chinatowns (of which there are now three). New York is awash in Chinese, with the 2017 estimate being 628,763. But who’s kidding who? Chinese illegal immigration is huge, especially at the low end, and my bet is the real number is well over a million.

But by this point you also have a very large population of young Chinese who were either born here or came at a young enough age where they have no accents at all. Many of them still hang out with other Chinese, speaking English and doing typical hipster things like eating in fancy restaurants and beer pubs. The number of Chinese girls you see with white guys is astonishing, and has to be a significant percentage of the total number of couples. In my neighborhood, if you see a couple pushing a baby stroller, odds are about 40% that the couple is white male and Chinese female. The rest are Chinese/Chinese or white/white (I’m rolling Jewish into white of course). And my street level observation is that the better looking Chinese girls tend to be with white guys. Though there’s plenty of prosperous looking, tall Chinese young men with attractive Chinese girls. The same sexual market value rules apply. There are a lot of unattractive Chinese girls, despite all the nerd fantasies to the contrary.

Anyway, Chinese are pouring into both high-paying jobs — finance, medical, law — as well as SJW jobs — reporting, film/television, NGOs, academia, politics. As are Indians, who seem less obsessed with academic achievement but are better at climbing the greasy poll than Chinese.

My prediction is New York will get a Chinese mayor in the next 20 years, and then it will never again have a non-Chinese mayor. The city itself will flip majority Asian (mostly Chinese) within that time frame as well, unless somebody wises up and shuts off the spigot.

 
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The New York Times’ main White House correspondent explains that the poor representation of blacks (1%) at Stuyvesant HS in NYC is due to whites (18%) having White Privilege:

Granted, Asians make up 74% of the Stuyvesant student body, but NYT reporters don’t possess concepts like Asian Supremacy, so who can remember random numbers like that?

Moreover, White Supremacy is now infecting much of the Third World:

For example, in Pakistan

where the Prime Minister is either Imran Khan or Mark Wahlberg; and in India:

where the leader of the opposition Congress Party, Rahul Gandhi, the son, grandson, and great-grandson of Indian Prime Ministers, looks like Steve Carrell playing Jim Carrey playing Mr. Bean.

 
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From Demographic Research:

On the pace of fertility decline in sub-Saharan Africa
BY David Shapiro, Andrew Hinde

DATE PUBLISHED: 24 Oct 2017

Abstract
Background: This descriptive finding examines the comparative pace of fertility decline in sub-Saharan Africa, relative to Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Northern Africa.

Objective: We seek to determine if fertility decline has been slower in sub-Saharan Africa than elsewhere in the developing world.

Methods: United Nations 2017 estimates of national fertility are used in assessing the comparative pace of fertility decline, and the four regions are compared in terms of how far they are into their fertility transition.

Results: The data shows clearly that fertility decline in sub-Saharan Africa, still at a comparatively early stage, has been considerably slower than the earlier declines in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Northern Africa at comparable stages of the transition, and displays less within-region heterogeneity than the transitions in these other regions.

Conclusions: The slower pace of fertility decline in sub-Saharan Africa, in conjunction with the high current fertility levels in the region, means that in the absence of policies seeking to accelerate fertility decline, sub-Saharan Africa will continue to experience rapid population growth that in turn will constrain its development.

Contribution: Presentation of data in a novel way (Figures 2‒4, and associated calculations) unambiguously demonstrates the slow pace of fertility decline in sub-Saharan Africa compared with other regions of the world. …

Figure 4 provides an alternate way of showing the comparative pace of fertility decline, emphasizing relative changes. Using the peak fertility rule, the figure shows the relative declines in fertility as transition proceeds. After 35 years of fertility decline, sub-Saharan Africa’s TFR was at 75% of its peak value. In the three other regions, after 35 years of fertility decline the TFR ranged between 44% and 50% of its peak value.

I would add that fertility in North Africa (orange-brown line) wasn’t falling very fast either compared to Sub-Saharan Africa (blue line) for about the first 20 years of its demographic transition. But then North Africa hit an inflection point and became more like Asia and Latin America (until recently).

So, the problem posed the whole world by the African population explosion isn’t insoluble, but it is challenging. It seems pretty comparable to Climate Change, but it has gotten several orders of magnitude less attention.

 
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From the New York Times:

Only 7 Black Students Got Into N.Y.’s Most Selective High School, Out of 895 Spots

Students at Stuyvesant High School, where only seven black applicants gained admission on Monday.

Smirking white boys like these are keeping angelic black baby bodies out of Stuyvesant HS. Don’t you just want to punch them?

By Eliza Shapiro
March 18, 2019

Only a tiny number of black students were offered admission to the highly selective public high schools in New York City on Monday, raising the pressure on officials to confront the decades-old challenge of integrating New York’s elite public schools.

At Stuyvesant High School, out of 895 slots in the freshman class, only seven were offered to black students. And the number of black students is shrinking: There were 10 black students admitted into Stuyvesant last year, and 13 the year before.

Another highly selective specialized school, the Bronx High School of Science, made 12 offers to black students this year, down from 25 last year.

These numbers come despite Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vow to diversify the specialized high schools, which have long been seen as a ticket for low-income and immigrant students to enter the nation’s best colleges and embark on successful careers.

But Mr. de Blasio’s proposal to scrap the entrance exam for the schools and overhaul the admissions process has proved so divisive that the state’s most prominent politicians, from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have mostly avoided taking a definitive position — even as black and Hispanic students are grappling with increasingly steep odds of admission into the city’s eight most selective public schools.

Students gain entry into the specialized schools by acing a single high-stakes exam that tests their mastery of math and English. Some students spend months or even years preparing for the exam. Stuyvesant, the most selective of the schools, has the highest cutoff score for admission, and now has the lowest percentage of black and Hispanic students of any of New York City’s roughly 600 public high schools.

Lawmakers considering Mr. de Blasio’s proposal have faced a backlash from the specialized schools’ alumni organizations and from Asian-American groups who believe discarding the test would water down the schools’ rigorous academics and discriminate against the mostly low-income Asian students who make up the majority of the schools’ student bodies. (At Stuyvesant, 74 percent of current students are Asian-American.)

So, like the picture shows, 74% of Stuyvesant is white.

A reader writes:

One interesting aspect of this article is how relatively little ink is spilled pointing to racial discrimination as THE salient factor of Black/Hispanic academic performance. I expected the usual racial bias hysteria but it’s actually meager.

It’s as if the interminable data year after year and year has in some sense — ever so slightly — taken the sting and outrage out of the argument. Plus, Asians evidently won’t allow it to be used as a weapon against their interests.

Of course the #1 take-home message is the obvious power of the Asian American community to put their foot down and say NO. The politicians mentioned in the Times article clearly fear the Asian voting block and money and in an astounding shift … refuse to reflexively bend their knee to Blacks and Hispanics interests. Fascinating.

Lastly, Whites are ignored and squeezed in the middle as usual. They are the left-over number inserted after ethnic politics have played out. Evidently, even when Whites are a minority … they aren’t a Minority.

Whites will be the Legacy Majority forever.

 
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From the Washington Post:

The meeting was supposed to ease tensions between Muslim and Jewish Democrats. It ended with tears.

By Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis, March 17 at 6:19 PM

It was supposed to be a chance for Muslim and Jewish House Democrats to ease tensions and find common ground. It ended with one lawmaker in tears.

At a late-night meeting blocks from the Capitol, about a dozen lawmakers shared their raw experiences with bigotry and discrimination, hoping the stories would bridge the glaring interfaith divide. Suddenly, Rep. Dean Phillips, a Jewish Democrat, shattered a moment meant to be about listening and learning — not politics.

Party hearty, dudes!

Rep. Phillips, scion of the Phillips Distillery fortune, looks like a (mostly) reformed stoner. He’ll be starring in the upcoming sequel Bill and Ted and Dean Go to Washington.

Phillips felt he had to address what had been unspoken for nearly two hours — the recent divisive remarks of Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Muslim who suggested American supporters of Israel have an “allegiance to a foreign country.”

Those kinds of remarks, Phillips said, represented “tips of the arrow” — small but devastating offenses that made Jews fearful of a rising tide of anti-Semitism. Phillips told his fellow Minnesota freshman that she had to apologize and said the group should publicly affirm Israel’s right to exist and protect itself.

His words stunned the three Muslim Democrats in the room, as well as some other Jewish members and third-party participants. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), a Palestinian American who is critical of the Israeli government’s treatment of the Palestinians, grew emotional and started to cry as she spoke of her grandmother’s suffering in the West Bank at the hands of Israelis. “She would treat you like a grandson,” she said to Phillips, according to two people in the room.

The abrupt end to the March 5 meeting — the second gathering aimed at reconciliation — was a discomfiting moment in a previously unreported, behind-the-scenes effort inside the diverse class of House Democrats to foster tolerance amid the withering pressure of Washington.

Democrats’ convulsive efforts to respond to Omar’s recent criticisms of Israel have exposed ugly rifts in the party over religion and U.S. ally Israel that have boiled over on Twitter and in the public sphere. Those fights within the party have distracted from the party’s legislative agenda and fueled political attacks from Republicans, including President Trump. …

House Democratic leaders responded with a sweeping resolution condemning all forms of hate that passed overwhelmingly on March 7.

“Hate” of course being defined in effect in the Resolution as an emotion to which straight white males, those hateful bastards, are prey, but nobody else has to worry about it.

… When the group met two days later at a former lawmaker’s house on Capitol Hill, the controversy had mostly cleared, and Raskin was determined to keep the mood casual, according to several who attended who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private sessions.

Rep. Raskin looks like if Elliott Gould had beaten out Robert Redford for the lead in The Candidate.

He asked everyone to go around the room to say something about a grandparent, starting the conversation by talking about how his grandfather had been the first Jewish member of the Minnesota legislature — a pathbreaker like many of the freshman House Democrats.

The Congressman probably should have also brought up to the Muslims how his great-grandfather had been forced to help found the Oak Ridge Country Club in 1921, after he had been blackballed at the White Bear Lake Yacht and Golf Club.

“I mean, they let that drunken Irishman F. Scott Fitzgerald play golf, but no, my great-grandfather wasn’t good enough for them. Who did those White Bear Lake snobs think Fitzgerald bought his moonshine from? I think back on this … hate every time I tee off with my regular Sunday morning foursomes at Oak Ridge and Columbia. Heck, we let Obama into our Columbia CC even though he’s kind of a Muslim, you know, like you people? Despite all the grumbles you might have read in the paper, the vote on whether to blackball Obama wasn’t even close, despite the whole “Hussein” and Iran Deal things. Forgive and forget: that’s our motto …” *

* Note: The Congressman didn’t actually say any of this. I made it all up.

In fact, I got Congressmen Phillips and Raskin confused and blended them together. Raskin is from Maryland and his dad was on JFK’s National Security Council. Phillips’ grandma was Dear Abby.

The idea, according to people familiar with the session, was to humanize each other. Raskin would not discuss details of the meeting but said that he is “constantly trying to get members together to talk about the experiences and values that have brought them into public life.”

Phillips, a wealthy businessman representing the Minneapolis suburbs, spoke of his grandmother teaching him piano and how he was adopted from a poor family into a wealthier one after his father died in the Vietnam War.

Rep. André Carson (Ind.), a Muslim convert elected in 2008, told a story about his grandmother picking him up from a shelter when he was little after his mother, who struggled with schizophrenia, had a severe episode. That grandmother, former congresswoman Julia Carson, ended up raising him and introducing him to politics.

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey (N.Y.) talked about how her grandparents left Russia to escape anti-Jewish pogroms and were eager to embrace America. …

But the conversations left some members wanting to delve deeper into personal struggles — especially in light of Omar’s comments. Rep. Andy Levin (Mich.), a former labor organizer and synagogue president, began organizing a more formal event that would focus on anti-Semitism, calling on leaders of a liberal Jewish group, Bend the Arc, to attend and moderate the discussion. …

When the small group convened, tensions emerged almost immediately. A Bend the Arc facilitator made a joke about Jews and money to try to clear the air. But Rep. Jahana Hayes (Conn.), one of the freshman allies invited to join the session, grew serious and asked why the facilitator could talk like that when someone like Hayes could not.

“It’s not okay,” Hayes said this past week when asked about the specific exchange. “These [sorts of jokes] are off-limits. It’s confusing for someone like me who is trying to learn.”

You are just supposed to know which facts you can’t mention. If you have to learn which facts are off-limits for you, can we really trust you?

Hayes, however said, the meeting — which delved into the history of anti-Semitism and charged language — was helpful for people who don’t know the meaning of certain words: “I’m looking to try to understand everybody’s perspective,” she said. “This isn’t my community.”

The conversation took a different turn as some non-Jewish members in the room admitted they didn’t know what anti-Semitism looks like. The Jews present appreciated the candor and sought to share stories illuminating why certain words had negative meaning.

Soon lawmakers were talking about their own experiences with discrimination.

Toward the end of the session, Phillips felt the need to bring up a personal hurt: Omar’s recent comments.

Omar, who supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said nothing as Tlaib described the effects Israel’s policies on her Palestinian family. Others in the room saw racial undertones in Phillips’s comments, offended that a white businessman representing an affluent suburban community was suggesting a black refugee such as Omar incited fear. …

Since then, the group has huddled on the House floor to discuss what happened. Although the exercise has been uncomfortable at times, many think it was worthwhile and are planning to do it again, perhaps focusing on anti-Muslim bigotry and racism.

Let me guess the eventual outcome … the Democratic Jewish and Muslim Congresspersons will agree to agree that The Real Enemy is …

 
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In Israel, the New Right party (e.g., Naftali Bennett) to the right of Bibi trolls/triggers its critics. From the Times of Israel:

New Right mocks left-wing worries with faux ‘fascism’ perfume ad
‘Judicial appointments … governance … separation of powers — to me, it smells like democracy,’ Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked quips in new spot
By TOI STAFF
18 March 2019, 11:56 pm 0

The New Right party released a satirical campaign ad on Monday mocking left-wing fears it seeks to weaken Israel’s judiciary.

The faux perfume ad poses Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, a co-chair of New Right, as its sultry model, and an affected, whispering narrator listing Shaked’s goals — all under the pretense that the perfume is called “Fascism, by Ayelet Shaked.”

“A judicial revolution,” the narrator whispers, “scaling back [judicial] activism … judicial appointments … governance … separation of powers … reining in the High Court….”

Then, 30 seconds into the 44-second spot, Shaked picks up the perfume bottle and sprays it in the air. The soft music cuts out and, raising her eyebrows, she quips in her signature blunt tone, “To me, it smells like democracy.”

 
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From the New York Times:

Confronting Philosophy’s Anti-Semitism

Should we continue to teach thinkers like Kant, Voltaire and Hume without mention of the harmful prejudices they helped legitimize?

By Laurie Shrage
Ms. Shrage is a professor of philosophy.

March 18, 2019

… For instance, several of the major Enlightenment philosophers — including Hume, Voltaire and Kant — developed elaborate justifications for anti-Semitic views. One common thread running through the work of these philosophers is an attempt to diminish the influence of Judaism or the Jewish people on European history.

Actually, the Enlightenment’s negative view of Jewish influence on Christianity was related to the Enlightenment’s negative view of Christianity. Hume was skeptical of Christianity and Voltaire was an activist against the power of the Catholic Church: “écrasez l’infâme.”

Interestingly, Medieval Christian philosophy was explicitly multicultural, augmenting purely Christian thinking with respectful references to Greek pagan, ancient Hebrew, medieval Arab, and rabbinical Jewish sources, as well. Catholic philosophers like St. Thomas Aquinas had studied in depth both the Hebrew Testament, plus the medieval Jewish philosopher Maimonides (“the Rabbi” in Aquinas’s commentaries), as well as Arab philosophers who had transmitted and commented upon Aristotle.

So, why were 13th Century Western European thinkers like Aquinas more multicultural than most Enlightenment Western thinkers? A big reason is because in the 1200s, Western Europe’s tradition of thought was still thin and underdeveloped: e.g., Aristotle had largely been lost to Catholic Europe for hundreds of years until recently, when manuscripts of Aristotle were obtained from Orthodox Greece and from Muslims.

In the subsequent half-millennium, however, Western Europe had blossomed intellectually.

By the Enlightenment, intellectuals did not much need to look to other culture for highbrow material, Christian Western Europe had generated a huge amount of its own, far more than other civilizations over those 500 years. Writers like Voltaire and Samuel Johnson tended to make up observer characters from outside the West who satirized the contemporary West, but they didn’t take other cultures all that seriously in part because not much was going on in the rest of the world intellectually, outside of perhaps closed-off Japan.

It’s a curious reality that most of the other major civilizations of the world, with Japan as an exception, stagnated during the rise of the West. One example of this was Jewish culture in Europe. Kant’s friend Moses Mendelssohn observed in the second half of the 18th Century that while European Jews continued to assume they were richer and better educated than gentiles, the gentiles had been making steady progress since the dawning of their Enlightenment several generations before, so it was time for a Jewish Enlightenment.

This is the kind of reality that is practically impossible for 21st Century intellectuals to wrap their heads around because they know who are the Good Guys and who are the Bad Guys and Good Guyness and Bad Guyness is hereditary and forever. Jews were traditionally richer than European Christians, and were smug and bigoted about it? But then the gentiles worked hard and smart and started to pull ahead? So the smartest Jew of his generation taught other smart Jews to stop being so prejudiced against gentiles? Uh … Crimethink.

And undermining Christianity became a major project of many advanced gentile thinkers. One angle of attack was to attack traditional Christianity’s incorporation of Jewish ideas, both in the Old Testament and in the Catholic tradition.

So, anti-Semitism was a form of anti-Christianism upon the part of Enlightenment philosophers. In particular, Voltaire employed a strategy of castigating Judaism (in its pre-Jewish Enlightenment phase) for its backwardness as a safe way of castigating powerful French Catholicism for its own backwardness by way of analogy.

 
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From ABC News:

Puzzling number of men tied to Ferguson protests have died

Six young men with connections to Ferguson protests have died, drawing attention on social media and speculation in the activist community that something sinister is at play

By JIM SALTER Associated PressFERGUSON, Mo. — Mar 17, 2019 7:28 AM ET
Two young men were found dead inside torched cars. Three others died of apparent suicides. Another collapsed on a bus, his death ruled an overdose.

Six deaths, all involving men with connections to protests in Ferguson, Missouri, drew attention on social media and speculation in the activist community that something sinister was at play.

Police say there is no evidence the deaths have anything to do with the protests stemming from a white police officer’s fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown and that only two were homicides. …

If there is one thing we learned from Ferguson, it’s that Black Twitter is never wrong about everything.

 
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vs.

Another hard to keep straight in your head technicality is that a check to the SPLC will not get to the SNCC:

 
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From the New York Times:

How Much Does Getting Into an Elite College Actually Matter?

Certain kinds of students — but not the privileged and the wealthy — benefit greatly from a selective university.

By Kevin Carey, March 15, 2019

Was it worth it?

The celebrities and C.E.O.s arrested in this week’s college bribery scandal were charged with paying up to $1.2 million for guaranteed admission to elite universities. And of course there’s a much larger and mostly legal system whereby rich people pull strings, hire consultants and make enormous tax-deductible donations, all in the hopes of improving their children’s college chances.

Yet academic research suggests that these efforts are mostly a waste of money, and that the seized opportunities would have actually helped other students much more.

In 2014, the economists Stacy Dale and Alan Krueger published an analysis of the benefits of attending a highly selective college. They found that, after statistically controlling for students’ SAT scores, economic background and college ambitions, the long-term financial returns are “generally indistinguishable from zero.” Students who are poised to succeed tend to do so even if they don’t get into the Ivy League.

But there was a crucial exception. There were strong benefits for the subset of black and Hispanic students, and for those whose parents had few educational credentials. It turns out that students who come from less privileged backgrounds benefit greatly from selective colleges. Elite higher education gives them social capital they didn’t already have.In other words, Lori Loughlin’s daughter Olivia Jade Giannulli, who is attending the University of Southern California, would have probably been fine attending Arizona State University. (Arizona State is a thriving public research university that Ms. Giannulli’s father is reported to have cited on F.B.I. wiretaps as the unthinkable destination he would pay bribes to avoid.) When you’re a 19-year-old YouTube star who spends spring break on a billionaire’s yacht, life tends to work out.

Okay, but in the case of this 19-year-old girl who is definitely a full-grown woman, getting her into the right social sphere fast before she falls in love with some loser in Arizona could be a priority.

Let me point out that the the billionaire with whose children she was vacationing on the yacht with are the scions of Los Angeles’s most successful and likely most respectable developer, Rick Caruso, the developer of Southern California’s most admired shopping malls, such as The Grove and The Americana. Marrying a Caruso son or a pal of a Caruso son probably is a goal.

Conversely, say she snagged the richest frat boy at Arizona St, whose dad owns the biggest supermarket chain in Arizona or whatever. Her mom is an actress in Los Angeles and probably would prefer her daughter not make a life for herself in Arizona. So, there can be a lot of value in getting your child set up your home.

And this girl is some kind of social media celebrity, so getting her picture taken with Arizona celebrities like Barry Goldwater VI or whomever isn’t that good for her career compared to California celebrities. (Actually, Barry Goldwater Jr. used to live down the street from me in Toluca Lake when he was my Congressman around 1970. He was having a very nice life dating movie starlets and selling stocks and never forgave Jerry Pournelle for talking him into running for Congress.)

Also, I suspect at the very high end that for a talented person to get into, say, Harvard can create opportunities to network with other talents. Here are 4 well-known Harvard who-you-know success stories:

– Future Microsoft billionaires Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer were friends at Harvard.

– Friends of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard who became billionaires include Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. (Hughes isn’t even a programmer, he just helped out without the verbal side of Facebook.)

– Friends of the opinion magazine editor Michael Kinsley at Harvard include opinion magazine names such as James Fallows and Mickey Kaus

– A sizable fraction of The Simpsons writers who revolutionized TV comedy in the 1990s were Harvard friends.

I suspect a lot of similar stories about Silicon Valley successes could be told about people who lived down the dorm hall at Stanford from somebody who dragged you in his wake to a fortune.

But these cases are kind of rare, so probably wouldn’t show up in a typical statistical study.

 
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The slow-motion Southern Poverty Law Center scandal is a fascinating example of how facts can be public but they simply don’t register on most people unless they are in tune with the zeitgeist.

The conventional wisdom is that conspiracy theories can’t possibly be true because once one person in the nefarious organization leaked the truth, then the world would instantly realize that the supposed good guys were really bad guys and the whole house of cards would come crashing to the ground.

And yet … that the saintly Morris Dees of the SPLC is kind of a big phony has been something you could look up in newspaper archives for the last quarter of a century at least. And yet the last few years have been incredibly successful for the SPLC as it has taken in vast amounts of money from contributors and formed alliances with giant tech monopolies like Amazon.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Southern Poverty Law Center at crossroads with ouster of founder, Dees

Deeper Findings 4 hours ago
By Rosalind Bentley Ernie Suggs, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Critics see half billion dollar nest egg and question what the money is for

This week’s abrupt firing of Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, continues to reverberate across the country.

It’s still unclear specifically why the longtime attorney was ousted by the Montgomery, Ala.-based nonprofit, which tracks hate groups and specializes in civil rights litigation.But some who follow the organization’s activities say the turn of events is not surprising.

The SPLC has drawn sustained criticism for its fund-raising tactics, which some say involve exaggerating the threats posed by white supremacists and other groups. The organization also has been accused in the past of not treating black employees fairly and of allowing sexual harassment. …

While the organization, founded in 1971, cultivated an image as a crusader against hate groups, including the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis, it drew its own scrutiny over the years. Most of that was centered on the fund-raising tactics of Dees, who was once a direct mail marketer.According to publicly available tax documents filed for 2017, the SPLC’s endowment is approaching half a billion dollars.“I have watched the relentless fund-raising efforts that were being made and the extraordinary growth of the endowment,” said Yale University law professor Stephen Bright, who also teaches at Georgia State University. “It just continues to go up. They send out these appeals for people to send money when they don’t spend anywhere near what they take in.”

It’s almost as if Morris is more into fundraising than fundgiving.

Dees is 82. As a successful man like Dees gets older, the urge to do different things other than his strong suit often declines. For example, I have a lot of things I really need to do right now other than blog some more, but I’m good at blogging, so that’s what I do, over and over. Morris heads a fundraising juggernaut. He’s very, very good at it.

I bet the SPLC board is kicking themselves right now for firing Morris the day before the New Zealand massacre. If they had Morris working the phones right now, how much do you think the SPLC could gross off this one horrible event?

… In the early 1990s, the building for the Montgomery Advertiser, the city’s newspaper, was near the Southern Poverty Law Center. Employees from the two offices would grab beers together after work. That’s when reporters began hearing stories and complaints from those who worked at the center “that this place isn’t what it’s hyped up to be,” said Jim Tharpe, who was then managing editor of the newspaper.

Those rumblings led to the paper’s three-year investigation of the SPLC. The paper was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for its series of stories on the nonprofit. Tharpe, who is also a former Atlanta Journal-Constitution editor, said the accusations of misconduct surrounding Dees dismissal echo those lodged against the organization in the 1990s.“There were allegations by black employees that they were being treated unfairly and employees were saying that the fundraising wasn’t honest,” Tharpe said. SPLC leaders “were saying they needed money when they had tons of it.”

For a time, the agency cooperated with the newspaper as it did its reporting. But when the newspaper began asking for detailed financial records beyond what was legally required for nonprofits, the SPLC stopped, Tharpe said. It was difficult to figure out how they were spending their money.

There were about five people, including Dees, at the top of the organization, Tharpe said. But many of the other employees were at intern level, he said.“He is a brilliant marketer, and he knows how to push people’s buttons and get them to give money,” Tharpe said.

Laurence Leamer, who spent time at the center while he was researching a book, said the SPLC crossed the line in 2014.

Ehhhh … The SPLC was off into picking on non-extremists long before then. For example, one of its arch enemies was long Richard Lamm, the environmentalist Democratic governor of Colorado from 1975-1987, who won a famous victory for ecology over the Winter Olympics in 1972. Lamm’s sin was running for the board of the Sierra Club in 2004 after the Sierra Club had been bought off by zillionaire David Gelbaum’s pro-immigration money in the mid-1990s.

Alongside hate groups, the organization placed former presidential candidate Ben Carson, who is the current secretary of Housing and Urban Development, on its list of extremists, particularly for his views on same-sex marriage.

“When they put Ben on the list of extremists, I called Morris Dees and said ‘How can you do that?’” said Leamer, the author of “The Lynching: The Epic Courtroom Battle That Brought Down the Klan,” which retells the history of the birth of the SPLC.

The group did eventually remove Carson’s name and issued an apology.“It started as this wonderful, idealistic organization, but the excess of money, extraordinary excess of money, has changed it,” said Leamer, who recently authored “Mar-A-Lago: Inside the gates of Power at Donald Trump’s Presidential Palace.”

Leamer said in the months that he spent in Alabama with Dees and the SPLC, he saw an organization more concerned with raising money at all costs than true social justice. “There is an overwhelming exploitation of these extraordinary, important issues, and nobody is daring to talk about it. I knew when I walked out of there, sooner or later, something was going to happen,” he said.

Bright agrees. “The chickens finally came home to roost,” he said. “I am more surprised that it finally came now. It must have been pretty bad that they didn’t let him resign at the age of 82, so he could have gone off into the sunset and perpetuate the myth of Morris Dees.”

The basic problem with the SPLC was that there hasn’t been much for it to do for about 80% of its lifespan. It wasn’t formed until 1971, well after the triumph of the civil rights movement was assured. With the decline of the SCLC, Martin Luther King’s old organization, there was a niche for the new “SPLC” in confusing donors with its similar acronym.

So from the beginning, the SPLC was involved in mopping up operations, bayoneting stragglers in the weeds in effect. There was still some danger involved in this in the 1970s, but eventually there wasn’t much for the SPLC to do with all its lucre.

For example, in the 2000s, the SPLC was really annoyed that during the Performance Enhancing Drug era I pointed out that the top woman golfer, Annika Sorenstam, had pumped herself up so much from 2001 to her historic peak in 2003 (when, as I accurately predicted, she came with 4 strokes of making the cut in a men’s tournament) that her arms hung away from her sides, like Teutonic muscleheads Hans and Franz on SNL.

Defending the reputation of a record-setting woman golfer from a journalist joshing about her evident juicing by slurring the skeptical blogger as a face of Hate was Who We Are by the 21st Century.

But it’s hard to notice that yesterday’s hero has become today’s joke.

 
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Over at SlateStarCodex.com, Scott Alexander reviews poetry. For example:

Thou know’st how Menoetiades the swift
Was dragged, of Hector and the fierce compeers
And Phrygian warriors. So, we will dispatch
Your bodies, then, yourselves to burn the ships
In sacrifice; with torches and with bells
To burn them, and with oxen to replace
Your gallant friends for ever. But I wish
That no man living has so long endured
The onset of his foes, as I have power
To burn or storm; for mighty Hector erst
Was slain, and now returns his safe return

Okay, that’s not Homer at his best — it doesn’t actually make sense. But it is not bad considering that it was made up by an artificial intelligence program, GPT-2, trained on the Gutenberg Poetry Corpus of pre-copyright poems by gwern (I’m a little vague on who gwern is, but I see the name on a zillion interesting/difficult projects).

As Scott pointed out earlier, AI creative writing resembles dreams.

Oddly, the one classic poet the AI program can’t imitate semi-plausibly is Alexander Pope, whose formal couplets:

NATURE and Nature’s Laws lay hid in Night:
God said, “Let Newton be!” and all was light.

were the peak of early Enlightenment poetry.

Poetry is all very fine, but I think it would be a profitable and humane undertaking to train a robot to compose corporate gobbledygook, like this AccentureOperations ad:

“SynOps ultimately showcases the art of the possible with how clients can now embrace innovation to drive new value–it’s the new applied now.”

That had to have been painful for a human to come up with, but I could imagine that an artificial intelligence entity could generate stuff like this all day long as happily as not.

 
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iSteve commenter Jack D writes:

One of the weaknesses of automated systems (they are finding this also with self-driving cars) is that they are designed so that if something goes wrong that is beyond the design parameters of the system, they suddenly snap themselves off and return control to you (or in some cases, you snap them off because they are acting funky). The thing says “I give up. Something is wrong but I’m not sure what – human you figure it out and if it crashes it will be your fault and not mine.” Either way, suddenly you are back in control of the plane/car and there is something wrong to begin with that caused the automated system to flake out, but you have been kind of half-dozing and are not mentally prepared to figure out what is wrong AND in meantime pull the plane/car out of a precarious attitude.

In the case of Air France [crash in 2009] it would have been better for the pilot to have done nothing. The stuff that he did made the situation much worse. But that’s supposed to be the pilot’s job – it’s like being a fireman where 99% of the time you sit around and eat pizza (actually nowadays a lot of paid fireman double as EMTs) and 1% of the time you save people (including yourself) from certain death.

I’d like to have an automated system on my car for low-speed parallel parking. But for full speed stuff? What does it gain me if I have to alertly manage my automated car all the time so that I can suddenly take over and go all Captain Sullenberger?

 
Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

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


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