Saturday, September 27, 2014

Twenty years and so tired of life

Today is the 20th anniversary of the release of my favorite album of all time. There are objective measures of things like rhythm, harmony, and melody, but much of what constitutes musical preference is subjective, and much of it is a consequence of time and place. People tend to most favor music corresponding to their own early adolescence, for instance. And so it is with UTTAD. It's difficult to try and articulate how much this piece of art has helped me psychologically, emotionally, and philosophically over the years, but here we go.

I think there's a convincing case to be made that UTTAD has a timelessness that protects it against being immediately identifiable as an undistinguished piece of early-nineties rock fusion. The band outlasted most of its cohorts, and of those still around like Radiohead, Phish, and Pearl Jam, DMB is today the biggest in terms of album (an almost anachronistic measure) and ticket sales (which they've dominated for the past decade and a half). A lot of the sound from that period has more-or-less been replicated. For better or worse--and we know where I stand--DMB has not.

The following is to serve as a personal time capsule with very limited general appeal, so if the subject matter is off your radar, please do save your time.


The Best of What's Around -- When life provides lemons, make lemonade. Events beyond your control shouldn't hijack your mood. Things won't always go as planned, and that's for the better as often as not ("if you hold on tight to what you think is your thing you may find you're missing all the rest"). In any case, counterfactuals are by their very nature inevitably hazy and speculative, so why fret? The quality of your experiences are determined more by the way you approach them and the people you approach them with than are the things that physically transpire at the time said experiences occur.

Asked to offer the best non-verbal description of audible joy in a single minute, I could offer nothing other than the last 60 seconds of this song. I am simply incapable of listening to it without uplift.

What Would You Say -- Two themes. Firstly, we want to feel as though we comprehend the world around us. In some sense we do, and now more than ever before, although we've had an inkling for a long time ("because of original sin"). But in the details, we can't even come remotely close. It's as overwhelming as seeing our place in the universe is ("in the morning's rise a lifetime's passed me by").

Secondly, the unexamined life isn't worth living ("there's nobody in here; look in the mirror my friend"). Ask the titular question. Work on informing the answer by examining every source you're able to; personal, professional, scholarly, existential, empirical or otherwise.

The two strands seem contradictory at first blush. They're not. Realize, instead, that you're not going to get everything right, not by a long shot. But embarking on that journey is the very essence of the human experience. It's ultimately tragic ("everyone goes in the end"), sure. Again, though, look at yourself in relation to the universe. C'est la vie.

Satellite -- Because of After Her, it's tempting for the lyrics to come as a mere afterthought. That's a mistake. The Satellite lyrics are far better than After Her's are. Experience is fleeting and the irresistible, incorrigible passage of time renders every moment simultaneously both unique in the specifics and trivial in the grander scheme.

How to reconcile yourself to this? Don't lose your playfulness. If you expect to find happiness in technological novelty ("like a diamond in the sky"), you're bound to be disappointed ("as I spend these hours five senses reeling, I laugh about this weatherman's satellite eyes"). If the contentment you're aspiring for exists in an end game you hope to arrive at sometime in the indefinite future, spoiler alert--you'll never get there. Like a good video game or movie, the magic is in the journey. It's not in the ending, which is often accompanied by feelings of melancholy at it all being over.

Rhyme and Reason -- Sister to Digging a Ditch and cousin of Too Much, we are confronting the fact that desires always outpace our abilities to fulfill them. It's as relevant to immediate desires for things like a drug-induced high as it is for loftier ambitions like self actualization. It is part of the human condition ("Until I'm six feet underground"). Like a dog racing greyhound chasing an electronic bunny, there are times when you'll feel relatively closer to the ultimate prize; other times everything will seem impossibly far away. Whatever the distance, you'll never close it entirely. As soon as you think you have, new desires start cropping up. If I get that job, that girl, that gadget, I'll finally have everything I've ever wanted, won't I? No, you won't, not even if you're a rock star like Dave Matthews.

Typical Situation -- Probably the band's most direct engagement with the problem of modernity. You are able to maintain meaningful social bonds with roughly 150 people. When the number of people you interact with exceeds that, relationships become thin, fragmented, and shallow. Contemporary Westerners deal with far, far greater numbers of people than that on a regular basis.

There is presumably a similar dynamic at work when it comes to things. That blanket you've had since you were a baby means something to you. The attachment is deep and visceral. That comforter you got from Target last week doesn't remotely compare even though it's objectively newer, warmer, and more fashionable. To the contrary, it has a negative value attached to it ("too many choices") because it takes nothing to obtain, fosters no significant attachment or connection, and will get thrown out as unceremoniously as it came in.

The door leads to the Nothing ("it all comes down to nothing"--heh, not quite literally, though it works well enough here), but look around and you'll quickly notice everyone is traipsing towards it ("keep the big door open, everyone will come around"), lemming-like, nonetheless. What's your alternative, Jack Donovan?

Dancing Nancies -- No, you could not have been anyone other than who you are. Dwelling on the question is only tempting regret and insecurity (and dizziness!). Stress leads to cortisol production. Cortisol leads to inflammation. And, quite rarely for a topic as disputed and controversial as human health, inflammation is almost universally agreed to be a bad thing. You are who you are. There is no going back in time. There is no hacking your genetic code (at least not yet). Own it. It's the only option open to you save becoming a paralyzed human vegetable ("shoes untied, tongue-gaping stare"), and you don't want that.

Ants Marching -- Routine is comfort. Comfort is, well, comforting. It's difficult to do things that make you uncomfortable. Specifically at issue is approach anxiety ("we look at each other, wondering what the other is thinking, but we never say a thing, and these crimes between us grow deeper"), but it speaks to a lot more than just that. Hope isn't lost, though. Let that urge, that attraction, to whatever it is you want to go after, compel and then propel you into pursuing it. The first step is always the hardest one to take. Once it's been taken, though, you'll find walking is easy, natural, and a lot of fun ("lights down, you up and die").

Lover Lay Down -- The album's only love song is also it's most straightforward. I lost my virginity to it (or to Jimi Thing, depending on what specific point in the act it is considered to have gone away).

Jimi Thing -- Dave's Jimi Thing might be your Dave Thing. It certainly is mine. Know thyself. The Delphic maxim echoes through eternity, as sagacious as ever. Figure out what works for you. What motivates, inspires, invigorates, and comforts you. The ritual of morning coffee, the good feeling and self confidence exercise brings, the pleasure that figuring out puzzling details of a game elicits, whatever. Look to others for suggestions, but not for rote answers. Don't be afraid to explain why the things that work for you work for you. If others don't understand it, it's no sweat of your back.

Warehouse -- This is an epic undertaking. Like a Shakespearean play (I'm told), it's better the tenth time you read it than the first time through. It took me years to crack the code. When I finally had the epiphany, it almost brought me to tears.

The warehouse is a metaphor for the body. The song is written from the perspective of a man on his deathbed. The passion intro sets the scene. As his consciousness begins to slip away and the violin picks up, we enter a sort of extended flashback as he recalls what he's gleaned about living the good life from having now reached the conclusion of his own.

Stay curious, stay playful. Have fun with convention and superstition, but don't take life too seriously. It's short on the metaphysical speculation ("bags packed on a plane, hopefully to heaven"). And for the better--this is advice for those who are in the midst of living, not for those who have already lived. Curiously, just as you start to come into your own as an adult, you'll start to realize how ordinarily human you are ("Becoming one in a million, slip into the crowd, this question I found a gap in the sidewalk"). It's a kind of Socratic Paradox. You're going to think you have things figured out and then something new will come and threaten the integrity of the equation you spent so much sweat and tears figuring out ("I had a clue, now it's gone forever"). The song is a gold mine. It's probably the one that resonates with me at the deepest level.

Pay for What You Get  -- A clever inversion of getting what you pay for, this is a mature--dare I say more nuanced--understanding of the way the real world works than the get-what-you-pay-for aphorism suggests. Another cliche, that having involuntarily lost merely frees up room for other things, ("have you heard a bird in hand is much better than any number free to wander") is discarded for the saccharine pseudo succor that it is.

On more than one occasion in the aftermath of a breakup, I recall going from here to Nancies to Satellite and finally to Best of What's Around, which I'd then play on repeat 5-10 times through.

#34 -- The iteration of the song I latched onto was devoid of lyrics. Yet the ambiance it creates is a fitting tribute to what DMB's music in general and UTTAD in particular has meant to me from my earliest pubescence all the way through to the present. It's my sanctuary, an always welcoming, refreshing refuge for a wary wayfarer muddling through life the best he can.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

From watchdogs to lapdogs

The Mexican gun-running program, proleishly labelled "Fast and Furious"; the murderous, mendacious Benghazi cover-up; the IRS thuggery, destruction of evidence, and obstruction of justice--all three of these scandals strike me as more corrupt and, in the case of the first two, deadly--literally, deadly--than the Watergate scandal that brought down Richard Nixon was. Yet even in contemporary America, late September 2014, I'd bet more people are familiar with the abuse of executive power that was Watergate than with the other three more recent and more serious abuses of executive power combined.

I'm not doing anything original by pointing out how the major media have become house organs of the Cathedral (or Establishment, or whatever moniker you prefer to use to describe the military-entertainment-religious-media-educational-corporate-industrial complex), but thinking about it in these terms is still enough to give pause to someone as cynical and jaded as I've become.

The watchdogs have become lapdogs. The pillars of the fourth estate crumbled long ago. The last remnants have escaped to the virtual world, where they exist precariously as disparate pieces of rubble... for now, anyway.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The sniffling SWPL

Tangential to Steve Sailer's recent post on the acid test for climate change activists being their positions on immigration is a table showing the percentages of GSS respondents, by ethnicity*, who often/always "make a special effort to sort glass or cans or plastic or papers and so on for recycling". The impetus is a remark by one of Steve's commenters that:
If a study came out revealing that Hispanics in the U.S on average recycle less than White people, it would be labeled as a “Hate Fact” by so-called “environmentalists” who are pro open borders/amnesty.
Those for whom recycling is not an option where they live are excluded, as are ethnic categories for which sample sizes were smaller than 80:

1. Italian81.2
2. Polish79.3
3. Asian72.1
4. Irish66.9
5. German66.6
6. Norwegian66.6
7. Scottish64.6
8. English/Welsh63.8
9. Dutch60.3
10. French59.7
11. Mexican55.6
12. Native American50.8
13. "American" only48.2
14. African45.2

To some extent this could be a measure of the percentage of people clever and socially aware enough to give the 'correct' answer. That said, this suggests, unsurprisingly, that Sun people care less about environmental stewardship than Ice people do. Taking a look at the curb lines in a black neighborhood or seeing the kinds of vehicles first-generation Mexican immigrants buy when they make it in the US (they aren't purchasing Priuses) renders this result pretty predictable. Feather Indians, despite their one-with-nature stereotype, don't care much either. Lump all these NAMs in with the wrongest kind of white people.

Environmentalists who do not take a restrictionist line on immigration are unserious at best. Not only do immigrants and their descendants from the third-world emit a lot more carbon and consume a lot more stuff in the developed world than they would otherwise do so back in their ancestral homelands, they don't care about environmental concerns as much as their new neighbors of European descent tend to. Open borders not only leads to more environmental degradation, but also to less political concern about said environmental degradation.

GSS variables used: RECYCLE(1-2)(3-4), ETHNIC(N)(5,16,20,31,40)

* "Asian" is an amalgamation of five categories: Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Indian (dot), and "other Asian"

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Eviction notice

It's not the condom commercial all the time, though.

That is, fortunately, a relatively infrequent occurrence from what I've gathered. To finally get the picture above, dinner had to be pushed back half an hour.

All we could get out of the first take was this:

Friday, September 19, 2014

Time machine in a bottle

Randall Parker has a fun post on hypothetical* time machine travel and what he fantasizes about being able to accomplish if given access to the requisite technology. In that spirit, the first three things that came to this rank amateur's mind:

- 326, modern-day Serbia. Locate the place Constantine's (probably) illegitimate but competent son Crispus was being held and hold off the assassin the irascible emperor dispatched to off him. Next, make Constantine and his court aware that Fausta framed Crispus and allow the emperor to gas her as he did.

The intent of this bit of social engineering being to avoid the in-fighting between Constantine's three succeeding sons and prevent the breakup of the empire and the eventual collapse of its western half. A contiguous empire is maintained through the time of Justinian (or whoever wore the purple as a consequence of my meddling) and the wealth secured by Anastasius isn't squandered on a quixotic and crippling quest to make the thing whole again.

Parenthetically, in a sort of wish-for-more-wishes move, I'd go back past Seneca all the way to Aristotle to inform tutors that their most important function was to instill a sense of just how damned important succession planning is. It should be the first order of business! In WEIRD societies we take the smooth transfer of power for granted in our own countries, but that's not even the contemporary global norm, and it certainly hasn't been the historical one. Staying with Rome, it barely made it 60 years after Augustus before a lack of prudent succession planning threatened imperial collapse.

- Circa 1190, England. Prince John would be informed in no uncertain terms that he was not to repeat the treachery he'd taken part, in league with his older brother Richard, against his father by doing the same to said older brother while the latter was on crusade. So doing would result in him becoming a unwilling teetotaler. Not because there wouldn't be anymore alcohol in England, but because he'd be dead (a threat I'd rather not have to make good on, because as a good little-R republican, I wouldn't want to indirectly keep the Magna Carta from coming into existence!). Instead, he would loyally and dutifully work to maintain his brother's holdings in England and Normandy until Richard had completed the third crusade's stated objective of retaking Jerusalem.

Staying in Acre for a few months longer than he actually did, Richard joyfully receives the news of Saladin's death. Taking advantage of the internecine fighting between Saladin's sons and their uncle for control of the Ayyubid dynasty, Richard reestablishes the Kingdom of Jerusalem to something like it's borders after the first crusade. If things shake out right, maybe he eventually even takes Egypt.

Perhaps this just pushes the ultimate collapse of the crusader states back a few decades, but alternatively maybe it leads to substantial amounts of Islamic territory reverting to Christianity. The fourth crusade doesn't happen--or if it does, it gets to Egypt--so Byzantium doesn't fall to the Latins. Instead, it becomes more than a moribund shell of its former self for the next three centuries before ultimately falling to the Ottomans. Obscenely optimistically, this gets us to a 21st century in which Antioch Christians in Syria and Coptics in Egypt constitute majorities of their respective countries' populations.

Less sexily, I could shoot for pretty much the same thing by pulling Frederick Barbarossa out of the Saleph river before he drowned.

- 1600, modern-day Gifo Prefecture. Prior to the decisive battle of Sekigahara, I'd appear--attempting to replicate something similar to Constantine's putative Milvian Bridge conversion experience--to both Ieyasu and Mitsunari, explaining to both in turn that promising to open Japan up to European influence would guarantee each one of them the ability to consolidate the country under his family's rule. If that results in the Tokugawa shogunate settling in as it did or if it leads to an Ishida shogunate filling the void isn't important, so long as the winning side welcomes the Dutch and Portuguese with open arms instead of keeping them at arm's length for decades and decades. Commodore Perry can force his way into somewhere in Southeast Asia instead.

Let's give Japan a two centuries' head start on what history gave her. It'll trickle down to Korea and China. We might be opening a Pandora's box, but maybe a more serious East keeps Europe from ripping itself apart in WWI.

These necessarily presume a Great Man approach to history. While I personally lean a little more in the direction of Herbert Spencer, it doesn't matter much in this context since it's presumably beyond the scope of a single time traveler to engineer meaningful changes of entire social environments. If a single man is going to change history, it's going to have to be by changing the outcomes of the great men of history.

* The specific word choice here is deliberate, since it strikes me as blatantly obvious that travelling backwards in time is impossible. If it were possible, we'd see evidence of it all the time. Yes, in the future it is conceivable that for understandable reasons there would be lots of restrictions on journeying into the past like not allowing anyone or anything to realize you were there, but that's an impossibly high standard to maintain--unless, I suppose, humanity (or whatever would travel backwards in time) had been so completely altered from humans today so as to be characterized by a nature unrecognizable to us in the early 21st Century. They'd all have to be members of the hivemind or surely somewhere some teenager would go out on a time travel joyride without his parents' permission.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Gibson the Bruce

Two-dimensional political orientations (right-left, conservative-liberal, etc) don't tend to map well onto one country from another, even when the populations of the countries under consideration share large swaths of identity in terms of language, history, religion, and culture. Corresponding party affiliations map even more poorly still from country to country. In the US, secession is generally regarded as a goal of a subset of those on the right, in large part due to the history of the American South. That is far from a universal pattern, however.

With polls showing a statistical dead heat in the forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence, it's perhaps interesting to note that the quite leftist country of Scotland--whose possible withdrawal from the UK seriously threatens Labor's national presence--doesn't have particularly leftist cousins across the pond.

In fact, of the 42 different ethnic categories listed in the GSS, those of self-identified Scottish descent (n = 1,308) are members of the single most conservative ethnicity in America, with 43.4% placing themselves somewhere in the "slightly conservative/conservative/extremely conservative" nexus, compared to 34.5% of the US as a whole. They are more conservative than those of English or Welsh or German descent, and even more conservative than those who identify as "American only". Scottish-Americans are even redder than the McCain belt is.

GSS variables used: ETHNIC, POLVIEWS(1-4)(5-7)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Adrian Peterson

Tapping the GSS from 2000 onward for contemporary relevance, the percentage of black men who agree/strongly agree that there are times when it is necessary to discipline a child with a "good, hard spanking": 86.4%. The percentage of white liberals who concur is 52.3%, and among liberal white women is just 47.4%. Among conservative whites, the figure is 80.9%.

Like Michael Vick and dog fighting, this is another pop culture illustration of the Black Rednecks and White Liberals phenomenon in action.

I was listening to a podcast the other day where Jack Donovan remarked in passing that so much of the airtime surrounding the NFL doesn't have anything to do with the game of football. Instead, it is devoted to a set of mixed gender 'analysts' gossiping about the personal lives of players. Women buy Tostitos, too, after all!

Parenthetically, here's some deeper delving into attitudes on spanking from a few years ago.

GSS variables used: RACECEN1(1)(2), POLVIEWS(1-2)(6-7), SEX, YEAR(2000-2012)

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Prophetic prestidigitation

This clip from a speech by former president Bush has been making the rounds over the last couple of weeks following Megyn (sp?) Kelly bringing attention to it on Fox News:

Yeah, he's correct. The problem is, he could have been giving that speech in 2017 or 2027 and, assuming we'd maintained a continual presence in Iraq from the 2003 invasion onward and were finally contemplating a withdrawal from the tribalistic, medieval place, it would sound just as prophetic then as it putatively does today. Having knocked out repressive but stable autocracies in Iraq (directly) and Libya, Egypt, and possibly Syria (indirectly), we've created a lot more space in the Islamic world for potential future threats to America to fester and grow.

With apologies to Homer, it might be quipped that military intervention for the purpose of WEIRD nation-building is the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems!

That said, putting a moratorium on immigration from Islamic countries would do more for Western security than we can ever hope any amount of foreign policy meddling in MENA will achieve. There are thousands of underclass white girls in England who might not have had their childhoods and early adolescences destroyed if we weren't so civilizationally self-destructive.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

So much you have given love that I would give you back again and again

Here's a crass comic that captures what I had assumed to be a fairly widely held sentiment. What is in it for a member of the Selfie generation to inflict upon himself a life-changing imposition like becoming responsible for another well-being of another human being? It's such a drag:

There is a silent majority here, however, similar to the one that exists when it comes to sex roles in a nuclear family (even liberal women find the male breadwinner-female caregiver arrangement preferable to any other). Extending back to 1988, the GSS has periodically queried participants on whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement "watching children grow up is life's greatest joy". A staggering 85.9% agree/strongly agree, 10.5% are neutral, and 3.6% disagree/strongly disagree.

Human biology is a difficult thing to overcome. We're a pair-bonding species, distinct from our closest living ancestors by, among other things, our extraordinarily high level of paternal investment.

Parenthetically, this apparent overwhelming majority isn't just an artifice of the question, either. The module also asked about marriage. The same set of respondents were asked whether married people are generally happier than unmarried people are. Though self-assessment surveys consistently show that they are, it's not obvious to the general population. Only 45.3% agreed/strongly agreed, 32.1% were neutral, and 20.6% disagreed/strongly disagreed. There is far less consensus on this other conventional part of middle class American life than there is when it comes to the joy derived from raising children.

Back to said putative joy children bring, there are slight racial differences that generally parallel real world fertility patterns (if not actual parental behaviors). The percentages of respondents, by race, who agree/strongly agree with the statement:


Not surprisingly, women experience a bit more pleasure from nurturing and its consequences than men do:


Maybe it's Idiocracy unfolding, maybe it's that agile minds just have more routes open to them in their quests for personal joy, or maybe it's a little of both--those of more modest intelligence* say they derive more pleasure for child-rearing than sharper folks do:

Real Dumbs93.1
Pretty Dumbs91.8
Pretty Smarts81.4
Really Smarts72.0

Finally, as the termagant in the aforementioned cartoon illustrates, those who have children of their own experience the joy firsthand and are thus more impressed by it, or, alternatively, are more likely to morally self-justify previously made decisions by claiming as much:


Finally, to elicit emotions other than joy in feminists, a little empirical reality--garlic to those soul-sucking vampire fuglies. The percentages of women by survey year who agree/strongly agree with the statement that "being a housewife is just as fulfilling as working for pay":

Instead of feeling increasingly liberated, American women, if anything, appear to be exhibiting progressively (regressively?) more affinity for domestic bondage as time goes on.

GSS variables used: KIDJOY(1-2)(3)(4-5), RACECEN1(1)(2)(4-10)(15-16), HOUSEWRK, SEX(1)(2), CHILDS(0)(1-8), WORDSUM(0-3)(4-5)(6)(7-8)(9-10), YEAR

* Respondents are broken up into five categories that roughly approximate a normal distribution; Really Smarts (wordsum score of 9-10, comprising 13% of the population), Pretty Smarts (7-8, 26%), Normals (6, 22%), Pretty Dumbs (4-5, 27%), and Real Dumbs (0-3, 12%)

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Contemporary mid-term and presidential election electorates compared

Steve Sailer, touching on the tendency for presidential elections to bring out marginal voters who don't participate in mid-term elections:
The big difference between 2012 and 2014 is that Presidential elections, being big whoop-tee-doos, bring out the dumb and disorganized, the Julias, so Democratic rhetoric in 2012 was pitched at the lowest common denominator. Midterms bring out fewer but better voters, civic-minded citizens who are more likely to be annoyed than energized by the stupidity and nastiness of the Democrats’ “war on women” rhetoric.
That seems a plausible working assumption, though trying to quantify the electoral differences between mid-term and presidential election cycles has revealed it to be less obvious than I would have assumed it would be. Taking averages from the 2006 and 2010 mid-terms and averages from the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, here are the percentages of voters by income:

Mid-term under $30k -- 18%
Presidential under $30k -- 19%
Mid-term over $100k -- 25%
Presidential over $100k -- 27%

By education:

Mid-term no college -- 22%
Presidential no college -- 24%
Mid-term college grad -- 48%
Presidential college grad -- 46%

And by marital status*:

Mid-term unmarried -- 32%
Presidential unmarried -- 37%
Mid-term married -- 68%
Presidential married -- 63%

The presumed tendency is only very modestly perceptible in the educational and marital categories and is non-existent when it comes to income.

This does not, however, necessarily reflect information or engagement levels of the electorates. It seems quite possible that across all income and educational levels, those who vote in presidential elections but forgo mid-terms tend to be less politically informed and engaged than those who consistently vote in all election cycles are.

* The 2010 mid-term exit polls didn't query participants by marital status. Instead they were asked whether or not they identified as gay or lesbian. The Cathedral hadn't yet decisively wrapped up its victory in the battle over same-sex marriage in 2010, and not public surveys are exempt from conscription when necessity dictates! Total war requires total commitment. Consequently, the mid-term figures are comprised exclusively of data from 2006.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

On A Troublesome Inheritance

An assortment of reactions and responses (calling it a review would be way too pretentious) to Nicholas Wade's A Troublesome Inheritance follow. First, a couple of minor quibbles:

- In the context of the eugenics movement in the US in the early 20th century, Wade equates "restrictive immigration laws" (p38) with the actions of state legislatures decreeing sterilization of the mentally infirm and the Supreme Court's decision in Buck v Bell, which allowed for "unwarranted assaults on the country's weakest citizens".

Immigration restrictionism, to the extent that it has as an objective of increasing human capital inside of the country, is only fairly described as potentially being about positive eugenics. State-mandated sterilization, on the other hand, is an example negative eugenics in practice. Positive eugenics are considerably less 'controversial' than negative eugenics are. Additionally, the implicit assertion that a nation's control over who is allowed inside its borders is as dicey as a nation's control over which of its citizens are allowed to breed, needs, at the least, a full explanation, of which Wade provides none.

- Wade asserts that in contemporary Western countries "the affluent now tend to have fewer children [than the poor do]" (p180). That may be overly pessimistic*, at least in the US.

Now, some inferred policy implications (how's that for audacity?):

- The more a society is characterized by paternal investment, the easier it is for that society to become (or maintain being) one of relatively higher trust. Paternal investment, which includes at its base identification and presence, has, by extension, an influence on the level of inbreeding in a society. Crassly, picture a scenario in the projects where paternal investment or even certainty is not a given. A child who does not know who his father is may end up mating with a relative he would not have otherwise mated with had he known previously that she was his cousin.

More importantly, however, pair-bonding creates a dynamic in which children are familiar not only with their maternal extended families but also with their paternal ones. When they enter the mating market, they then, by extension, become familiar with their in-laws. Their in-laws, of course, are people to whom they are not (outside of tribal societies) closely related to. The base of their social network is thus much wider than it would otherwise be. As Wade puts it, "Having a dad around makes all the difference to social networks" (p45).

When paternal investment is lacking, social networks shrink in size and trust declines. At the same time, the hole left by the absence of said investment must be filled by other suppliers, often the state. The state's role as surrogate father creates a relative material disincentive for future paternal investment, perpetuating a vicious cycle in which the decline of trust in society is but one consequence. Increasing diversity isn't the only reason we're hunkering down.

- There really is no place like home. Among contemporary European adults, 90% of people can be located to within 435 miles of where they were born, and 50% within 193 miles (p79). Among non-Europeans, the percentages are presumably even higher, and in the past these percentages were surely higher still. Feelings of homesickness and deracination experienced by those living far from where they grew up presumably has a genetic basis, and the American tendency towards migration across (and outside) the country can't be free of potentially problematic psychological consequences. Very few of our ancestors were rootless wanderers. 

In this vein, Dan's recent comment in response to the observation that empty nesters are at heightened 'risk' of experiencing boredom is worthy of reflection:
Empty nesting is a degenerate modern thing. The solution is to be engaged with one's clan so that raising kids blends smoothly into helping with grandkids.

For this you need enough descendants to begin with. My nearby parents have from one to all four of my kids over at their house on many days. There is massive mutual benefit.
You also need the geographic proximity to make it possible.

- I've whined about seemingly unnecessary semantic changes over time, one of which is the noun progression to identify people of African descent in the US from negro to black to African-American. Similar to Palestinians, Somalis, and Ethiopians (p94), blacks in the US are a mix of Caucasian and African--two of the three major racial classifications Wade favors, the third being East Asians. As "African" and "negro" are essentially interchangeable in this racial context, black is the most apt descriptor of the three since it identifies a primarily African but also Caucasian racial hybrid category (in much the same way the terms "mestizo" and "mulatto" do).

- "Language is often an isolating mechanism that deters intermarriage with neighboring groups" (p98). If one of the Cathedral's goals is biological assimilation between US natives and immigrants into the US, linguistic assimilation is a prerequisite. Yet the Cathedral has nothing but disdain for those who would have English as the official language of the land.

I suppose we could overcome these two contradictory goals by mastering every tongue now present in our New Babylon!

- How much more history of the ancient and medieval worlds can be told? Are we not at the point where all the major approaches have been exhausted, the consequence being that only niche narratives, like the history of facial hair, are left to be synthesized?

Emphatically, no. Wade explains why: "Each gene under selection will eventually tell a fascinating story about some historical stress to which the population was exposed and then adapted" (p105). The Byzantines didn't think of themselves as Byzantines, they thought of themselves as Romans. The term is a latter scholarly invention. We know said Byzantines were socially and culturally Roman. In the future, we'll know how biologically Roman (or not) they were, too.

- Wade rehashes Jared Diamond's principle argument for the nonexistence of race--that there are lots of contradictory ways of categorizing them, and many of the ways are incompatible with one another so therefore all racial categorizations are equally absurd (p117). Italians, Greeks and Nigerians carry genes for resistance against malaria while Swedes and Xhosas do not, for example. Wade demolishes this argument by stating the obvious fact that convergent evolution (though he doesn't employ the phrase) need not and in fact does not imply racial convergence.

Taking inspiration from the chickadee, lightning bolt fits well in both American control and RDW decks. The shared presence of lightning bolt in both builds, however, does not negate the fact that American control is firmly a member of the control family (ie, race) while RDW is a staple of the aggro family.

- Discussing economists' tendency to treat people everywhere as interchangeable units, Wade provides a zinger: "A few economists ... have begun to ask if the nature of the humble human units that produce and consume all of an economy's goods and services might possibly have some bearing on its performance" (p154/5). Hey Russ Roberts, I have a guest suggestion for you!

- In a perfect world, what came to be called "Social Darwinism" would have been called "Social Spencerism", after Herbert Spencer (p24), and human biodiversity would be called "Social Darwinism", since the association with a revered scientific celebrity would make it sound cool. It's not all bad, though--HBD has diversity, after all, and that's pretty hip in itself!

Relatedly, there's a sort of iridescent irony in the Cathedral's assertion that Darwin's ideas have nothing--Nothing!--to say about Malthus' England when Darwin's impetus for the idea of natural selection came from Malthus' "analysis that population was always kept in check by misery and vice" (p11).

- Writes Wade: "Interest rates, which reflect a society's time preferences, have been very high--about 10%--from the earliest historical times and for all societies before 1400AD for which there are data. Interest rates then entered a period of steady decline, reaching about 3% by 1850. Because inflation and other pressures on interest rates were largely absent, [Gregory] Clark argues, the falling interest rates indicate that people were becoming less impulsive, more patient and more willing to save" (p158).

So, to help get yourself get into the mind of a 14th century European commoner, think about the mentality and behavior of someone who takes out payday loans today.

* That society is better off if wealth and fertility are positively correlated should not be politically controversial. From the left's perspective, it means greater economic equality since the rich are spreading their inheritances across more people (and the poor across fewer, so what they are able to spend on and eventually bequeath to their children goes further than it would if they had more kids).

Holding the genic line

Using six centuries of data from England, Gregory Clark shows in A Farewell to Alms that from the years 1200-1800AD, the wealthier a person was, the more descendents he tended to have. This long-running, naturally eugenic trend is often presumed to have come to an end in the West with the onsets of the Industrial Revolution, modern education, modern contraception, and other accoutrements of comfortable modernity.

While there is no longer a clearly identifiable positive correlation between wealth and reproductive success, there are good empirical reasons to think assertions that an inverse relationship between fecundity and affluence now exists are, at best, premature.

Here is some contemporary evidence on a metric paralleling the one Clark employed in his book. In 2006, the GSS asked respondents about their total net worth. The mean number of children among those aged 50 and older (to allow for full family formation to have occurred) by total wealth* follows (n = 412):

$0-$40k: 2.01
$40k-$100k: 2.33
$100k-$500k: 2.18
$500k-$1m: 2.01
$1m+:  2.04

This isn't necessarily cause for celebration, but it doesn't paint a picture of impending doom, either. Eugenia and Dysgenia are, at present, locked in a stalemate. The middle is currently enjoying a gentle reproductive advantage over both the top and the bottom.

GSS variables used: CHILDS, WEALTH(1-3)(4-5)(6-8)(9)(10-15), AGE(50-89)

* Defined as "the value of your house plus the value of your vehicles, stocks and mutual funds, cash, checking accounts, retirement accounts including 401(k) and pension assets, and any other assets minus what you owe for your mortgage and your debts."

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Bye bye burly

The functional purpose of George Orwell's newspeak is to limit freedom of thought by eliminating from our collective lexicon words that describe concepts potentially threatening to the Party. It is through an Orwellian lens, then, that one might naturally view the risible 'controversy' over the New York Times use of the adjective "burly" to describe the black captain of the Missouri Highway Patrol and also to describe the petty thug on his way to becoming a criminal at the center of the Ferguson conflagration:
Readers wrote to say that “burly” has long been a racial stereotype; the word hasn’t appeared in this context in The Times since the readers’ notes.

So here is the tale of a troublesome word with a fraught history and how The Times came to reconsider its use. Burly means stout, heavy or muscular.
Apparently that revelation was as novel to the NYT editors as it was to me, which is why the initial article containing the word was run by the newspaper. It was only after members of the especially vigilante volunteer auxiliary Thought Police brought the Racist! history of the word to the attention of NYT editors that the apology/correction was issued.

In the comments section of Steve Sailer's first treatment of the subject, Ben Tillman dug up an article in a North Carolinian newspaper from 1898 suggesting an association between "burly" and "black" (or "Negro", less anachronistically). Such an association, to the extent that it existed in the past, has long faded away in the popular mind, as the first page of returns for a Google Images search on "burly man" clearly illustrates:

Forty images, a total of three (if the cartoon at the top left is counted) of them containing black men. If anything, "burly" is a Racist! adjective because it is disproportionately associated with white, rather than with black, men. The NYT should still feel ashamed for using it, though, because any word that is primarily used to describe white men is inherently tainted by its association with the evil incarnate that is white America, and to use an ugly word like that to describe black men is beyond the pale!

... Uh oh, pale probably wasn't the most prudent noun choice given the civilization = light, barbarity = darkness baggage it carries with it.

In a desperate attempt to avoid the ire of the Thought Vols who resurrected the putatively Racist! connotation of a word that had lost all such traces of the alleged connotations in the public consciousness decades--if not generations--ago, allow me to offer the Cathedral three cheers for expunging from our collective vocabulary a word that we naively assumed to be innocuous as recently as a week ago!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

For we but not for thee

Character assassination (evil and racist)

Character... enhancement (right and salutary)
In the words of Lionel Hutz, there's the truth, and then there's the truth.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ferguson so far

Initially, we hear that a white cop shot a black, unarmed, freshly minted high school graduate. The pretense was something like jaywalking, but of course the real impetus was irrational racial prejudice. The cop was white, the 'victim' was black. What more do you need to know?

In response, a feral gang of youths (or teens, or whatever--insert the euphemism of your choice here) violently began looting and destroying local businesses. And if not naturally, they did so at least understandably--that is, after all, what civilized people do when they feel aggrieved. They smash stuff!

Those who focused on the mob violence were accused of missing the real story, the lack of "social justice", preferring instead to allow their own lying eyes to maintain the vicious stereotypes they'd constructed and maintained in their own minds--the sorts of heuristics that tell them blacks are nearly eight times as likely to commit violent crimes as whites are. That these facts are, well, facts, isn't important. What is important is that they are Racist and therefore should be dismissed out of hand.

Still dusting off from the pounding they took from the truth in the Trayvon Martin case, the major media recklessly descended upon the inner St. Louis suburb no one in their ranks had ever heard of a month ago and got to work transmitting the official Narrative to the nation.

That narrative started to fall apart immediately. Against the wishes of the US Justice Department, local sources managed to get a hold of convenience store footage showing Michael Brown filching from and then bullying an ethnic store clerk. It's unfortunate the public was able to view the footage, but we should still be grateful that our government is doing all it can to protect our right not to know.

"Character assassination!" came the cries of professional race hustlers and shakedown artists, as though content of character is irrelevant in evaluating an event in which eyewitness accounts differ as to what exactly transpired. It clearly wasn't irrelevant to the mob of looters who errantly targeted an uninvolved QuikTrip under the faulty presumption that it was the store that had reported Brown's cigar theft.

"The cop didn't know Brown was suspected of stealing!" That may be utter bullshit on its face, as the cop, Darren Wilson, conceivably could have put two and two together after seeing Brown and his friend walking in the middle of the road with a box of cigars. But even if Wilson was unaware for the duration of the encounter, Brown knew what he had done and acted accordingly in his confrontation with Wilson.

A bloodied face and fractured eye socket exposed more mendacity in the official Narrative. Brown physically assaulted Wilson. During the assault, it looks as though Wilson's gun discharged.

As pillar after pillar of the Narrative crumbles, the Establishment is now taking refuge in the assertion that Brown was fleeing the scene when he was fatally shot. Attorney General Eric Holder ordered a third autopsy performed after the first two didn't return the results he desired (this one putting little emphasis on the THC levels in Brown's body at the time he was killed; marijuana is, after all, benevolent and has no affect whatsoever on inhibition or the lack thereof!). This is the same sage who bullied Missouri state officials into calling off National Guard troops, resulting in a couple more days of unchecked violence and looting in Ferguson before St. Louis county took charge of the situation. A real class act, that Holder.

The Ferguson police department says it has over a dozen witnesses who claim Brown was charging Wilson when he was given the coup de grace.

Even if the Establishment finally gets some 'good news' (ie, Wilson acted out of line, justice wasn't served, and an abuse of police power occurred) on this last account, it makes for a pretty pathetic illustration of what Steve Sailer describes as putatively being "one of the Defining Events of Our Time, a Searing Indictment of the National Crisis of the White Racist Power Structure Murdering Black Babies." Rather, it's "just another local police blotter item of crazy ass behavior in the ‘hood? I don’t care what race you are, if you are in a dispute with a cop and thrust your head into his police car and then his gun goes off hurting and no do doubt scaring him, it’s highly likely additional bad things are going to happen."

In a country of 320 million people, this is the story the Establishment chooses to spotlight in its ongoing effort to spin a story diametrically at odds with the empirical realities on the ground? Again, Steve:

"[The Establishment] needs Incidents, ideally involving white men murdering innocent blacks. But, that just doesn’t happen much, our entire system is obsessed with punishing it when it does happen, and the Obamas and Holders and the press are dependent upon potential examples being brought forward to their attention by mobs exacting pogroms upon convenience stores for snitching. And mobs are notably bad at careful evaluation of the evidence."

The desperation to impugn middle class white America would almost be funny if it weren't so dangerous. Twenty years ago, Ferguson was predominantly white. Then Section 8 housing was imposed on the southeast side of the city. Predictably crime, poverty, illegitimacy, and uncivic behavior all increased. Whites began fleeing, and now the place is in the process of becoming unlivable by middle class American standards. This stuff is so drearily predictable, which is why everyone is so obsessed with 'location, location, location' when deciding upon where to live. The only way to avoid this stuff is to stay a step ahead of it. The Decline and Fall of the American Republic is being written as we speak.

Parenthetically, the complaint about the police being overly militarized is a non-starter. If you're in a battle, you need to be in it to win. The access to 'excessive' force is not a problem, it's a necessity. Arbitrarily trying to handicap the situation so that criminal elements have a fighting chance against the police is madness. That said, it need also be noted that this issue is separate from the one of police abuses of power, which is of course a problem to varying degrees in various locations and situations.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Flight from white (Credit: Steve Sailer)

More from the Michael Brown wellspring.


"Would you rather be born white or black?"

Gavin DeGraw's answer works for me, and I think that's the healthiest answer any person can give. For so putatively secular an age, our societal belief in original sin can really give a person pause, though.

I realize that's a somewhat parochial view on my part. I'm not aware of any contemporary movement in the US towards wanting to be white, but there is definitely a palpable "flight from white" phenomenon occurring, the more "core" the whiteness, the less attractive it is to be identified as such. For example, in the 1980 Census, over 18% of the population reported English ancestry. In 2012, it was less than half of that. The Hispanic and Asian population increases should've taken that figure down to around 16%. The bulk of it's mysterious removal is from people of European descent identifying as other less 'shameful' ethnicities, especially Irish (in truth, the vast majority of whites in the US who are fourth generation-plus are a mix of European ancestries--I happen to identify most with my English heritage since its paternal and therefore easier to trace and because one of my distant ancestors had a neat interaction with William Shakespeare, but that's as much for style as it is for substance).

Our current president is an obvious example of said aforementioned trend--he has benefited enormously from his black ancestry and has adeptly chosen to consistently emphasize it. Sometimes he's presented as black, sometimes as mixed race, but never as white. That impulse is writ large among blacks across the country. African-Americans in the US are, on average, about 80%-plus west African and 15% European by ancestry, yet they reliably consider themselves to be African-American/black rather than mixed race. White Americans, on the other hand, are, on average, about 99% European by ancestry with trace amounts of African ancestry or Native American ancestry rounding out the rest (despite lots of public pronouncements to the contrary about being part Native American, a la Elizabeth Warren, those stories are often apocryphal).

Rather timely, the venerable Pew recently ran a story on the push for Middle Easterners and North Africans (MENA) in the US to be able to identify as something other than white. Currently, the only ethnic (I know, this stuff gets semantically slippery) option for Census purposes is the dichotomous Hispanic/non-Hispanic. MENA groups want a MENA category added. This excerpt pithily gets to the heart of why they want as much:
What’s more, some argue, being classified as "white" prohibits the MENA community from taking advantage of the benefits that come with minority status—including local, state and federal programs that give a leg up to minority-owned businesses in awarding government contracts.
I do wish the General Social Survey would ask your question, though. I suspect the highest percentage of people responding that they would rather be member to a race other than their own would be whites. The World Values Survey shows a pretty striking inverse correlation between traditional measures of a nation's desirability (low crime rates, high per capita income, low infant mortality, low corruption, etc) and its residents pride in their nationality. That is, the 'crappier' places tend to be the proudest and the 'nicest' places the most ashamed.

"Poverty and a range of other issues impact the IQ gap you speak of to the success and failures of governments and municipalities. Associating the failures all with one race is harmful and exactly the kind of thing that makes these gaps grow bigger. Instead of saying 'all these things are associated with black people, they must be the problem' (which is one of the most blatantly racist things a person can say, I think), we need to take a closer look to figure out how all these interact and work together to solve these problems. Let's get out in our communities and try to make a difference."

White kids from families earning under $20,000 a year perform as well on the SAT as black kids from families earning over $200,000 a year do. And of course closing the gap has been a national obsession for over half a century now, yet it remains incorrigibly intractable. Exactly zero progress has been made. Because we're not trying earnestly enough, I suppose!

"I'm just trying to share something I personally find to be important. I think it's important for people to both think about and to attempt at being comfortable discussing race. I'm not looking for a debate."

I'm doing just that--comfortably discussing race. I'm not trying to badger anyone else into debating it. You're the one who posted the link, after all.