April 24, 2014

Svante Pääbo: "Neanderthals Are People, Too"

From the NYT:
Neanderthals Are People, Too 
By SVANTE PAABO      APRIL 24, 2014

Oh, come now, NYT copyediting-and-spelling guidelines. The famous archaeo-geneticist who isolated Neanderthal DNA deserves to have his name spelled with its double umlauts: Svante Pääbo. That's much more metal.*

(I actually have no idea how to pronounce Svante Pääbo, and I don't want to know. It seems more Neanderthal that way.)
The ancient genomes also revealed that Neanderthals and Denisovans mixed with the direct ancestors of present-day people after they came out of Africa. So if your roots are in Europe or Asia, between 1 and 2 percent of your DNA comes from Neanderthals, and if you are from Papua New Guinea or other parts of Oceania, an additional 4 percent of your DNA comes from Denisovans.

------
* In other news:
Ünited Stätes Toughens Image With Umlauts 
NEWS IN BRIEF • Patriotism • Apr 30, 1997 
WASHINGTON, DC—In a move designed to make the United States seem more "bad-assed and scary in a quasi-heavy-metal manner," Congress officially changed the nation's name to the Ünited Stätes of Ämerica Monday. "Much like Mötley Crüe and Motörhead, the Ünited Stätes is not to be messed with," said Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK). An upcoming redesign of the Ämerican flag will feature the new name in burnished silver wrought in a jagged, gothic font and bolted to a black background. 
       

How many Forbes 400 billionaires publicly oppose "immigration reform?"

With the commentariat excited by French economist Thomas Piketty's argument that the rich dominate the political and intellectual processes and keep the masses from organizing to promote their own interests, it's worth looking through the Forbes 400 to see how many billionaires are publicly active in promoting more immigration v. how many promote less:

Donors and activists -- Here are just some of the more famous richest billionaires who are particularly active in pushing more immigration:

1. Bill Gates -- Yes, he's part of Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us group that buys TV commercials for politicians who support the Schumer - Rubio amnesty bill. -- Centrist Democrat

4 and 5. Koch Brothers -- Libertarian Republicans

10. Michael Bloomberg -- Bloomberg has publicly endorsed his Deepdale Country Club employing illegal immigrants to take care of the greens and fairways. -- Centrist Democrat

11. Sheldon Adelson -- His newspaper is staunchly in favor of deporting illegal immigrants. Oh, wait, that's his Israeli immigrants. In the U.S., he wants cheaper maids for his hotels. -- Republican

19. George Soros: Donated $100 million for pro-immigration groups. -- Liberal Democrats

20. Mark Zuckerberg -- Founded huge money pro-immigration lobby FWD.us -- Centrist

30. Rupert Murdoch -- Republican

35. Laurene Powell Jobs -- Don't know about her politics but she sleeps with former Democratic mayor of Washington D.C.

So, whatever their nominal political affiliations, billionaires are vastly more likely to be activists on the more immigration side. After all, it's hard to think of a billionaire who would benefit from immigration restriction.

Others fall in the category of vocal supporters:

2. Warren Buffett -- "Making an economic case for a pathway to citizenship, Buffett said Sunday that the reform package should "certainly offer [undocumented immigrants] the chance to become citizens" to deepen the talent pool of the labor force."


3. Larry Ellison -- In Ellison's defense, I can only find a few quotes where he says it would be smart to let in more smart immigrants. In general, I'm starting to like Larry more as he ever more embodies the James Bond Villain Lifestyle he's carved out for himself. He's less of a scold than most of these guys.

There are lots of others, like the Waltons, who seem pretty conservative but whose donations, if anything tend more toward pro-immigration groups. From the perspective of the Walmart heirs, presumably, more illegal immigration is more fresh meat.

Now, what about members of the Forbes 400 who support immigration restriction? Surely, out of 400, there are some billionaires who have unfashionable opinions and don't mind others knowing about them

Well ... yes, yes there are. Not many ... but some!

There have been a couple of candidates:

#134 Ross Perot, age 83 -- I can't find too much online, but yeah, I have the general impression that during his remarkable run for President in 1992, he wasn't enthusiastic about illegal immigration

#134 Donald Trump, age 67 -- had some good things to say when considering tossing his hat in the GOP ring

Meg Whitman waffled on the subject, saying she pretty much agreed with her opponent, Jerry Brown, while running for governor of California.

And I've found two guys between 301 and 400 on the Forbes list who are known to have actually given money to immigration restrictionist organizations. I'm not going to give their names because the Brendan Eichizing of America is proceeding apace.
   

Where's my iSteve blog blocked?

Recently, a reader reported that this iSteve.blogspot.com site is blocked in an Embassy Suites business center. Anybody else have any anecdotes of where I'm blocked?
  

April 23, 2014

How to help women in Silicon Valley

From Dice:
H-1B Women Few and Far Between 
BY DAWN KAWAMOTO | JUN 25, 2013 
Immigration reform proposals are circulating at a furious pace on Capital Hill, but it’s unlikely they will lead to a sea change in a rarely thought of area of the guest worker debate: The number of women in IT who work in this country under an H-1B visa. 
Even though the percentage of women in IT is higher in many of the home countries of H-1B workers, currently, the vast majority of IT H-1Bs are men. And there’s nothing in the bill now making its way through the Senate that aims to realign the ratio of women-to-men guest workers to align more closely with that of the domestic workforce. 
... While hard figures are difficult to come by on the number of H-1B visas awarded to women, some estimates put the number at just 15 percent, says Karen Panetta, Vice President of Communications and Public Awareness for IEEE and an Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor at Tufts University.

From Medill Reports last June:
Karen Panetta is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Tufts University in Medford, Mass. She also is editor-in-chief of the award-winning Women In Engineering magazine, which is published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers trade association. ...
And Panetta believes that the H-1B is a contributing factor to the disparity in the male-to-female ratio. 
In written testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 18, she described the gender imbalance. 
“The IEEE-USA represents more American high tech workers than anybody else, so we have sources,” Panetta said. “One from inside the industry, looking at the off shoring companies that dominate the H-1B program, is that their global hiring is 70 percent men. But in the U.S., where outsourcing companies get more than half the capped H-1B visas, the ratio is more like 85 percent men. That's outrageous.” 
Panetta believes that this trend creates work environments that may be unfavorable to women, based on a set of imported cultural values that don’t emphasize the importance of gender equality at work. 
“They have a negative effect, not only on the H-1B process for women, but for American women who have to then work in these environments, with these individuals who come from cultures where women are not treated equally and women are not respected in the workplace,” Panetta argues. “That’s a huge issue and American women won’t tolerate it. They’ll just quit. After the age of 35 the drop off and attrition of women in STEM fields essentially falls to the floor. People think it’s because they go off and have families, it’s not.” 

My wife's friend A. is a programmer in the Midwest. It was a good work environment until the big corporation she worked for started importing lots of Pakistani men, with predictable consequences for blonde American women.
... Panetta understands she needs data to back up her assertions. The problem is that these numbers are not available to the public. 
Despite the fact that gender is a data point on the required I-129 visa application form, neither the Department of Homeland Security nor the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services tracks the number of men and women being awarded these visas. 
Bill Wright, spokesperson for U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, confirmed that the government has the information but is not capturing it. 
“There is a space for gender on Part 3 of the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129),” Wright said. “However, that particular category is not electronically captured in a manner that we can readily provide. You could certainly request this information via the Freedom of Information Act; that would require a manual check of each petition filed and I can’t estimate how long that would take.” 

Since nobody in America can figure out how to program a computer to count the sex ratio of H1-B tech visas, that just proves that Zuckerberg and Gates are right and deserve lots more H1-Bs. Maybe someday we'll import enough H1-Bs to figure out how to count H1-Bs.
In fact, multiple parties have made FOIA requests. Because the form is electronic it should be relatively easy to pull out the data. 
“I can get them a freshman in college from Tufts University to show them how to use it,” Panetta said. “They have the data; it’s a matter of them running a query and then tallying it up.”

We need a system like Pokemon Points to figure out who outranks whom in modern America. Clearly, American women programmers don't swing a lot of weight considering how little media coverage there has been of this issue. 

It appears the points go something like:

Women: +10
American women: +2
Workers: 0
American workers: -8
Diversity!: 20
Billionaires: 20
Billionaires Pushing Diversity!: 400
      

How to survive 100 duels

Reading that Irish animal rights activist Humanity Dick Martin fought a supposed 100 duels, I'm reminded of this chapter from Mark Twain's A Tramp Abroad.
Chapter VIII. The Great French Duel 
I Second Gambetta in a Terrific Duel 
Much as the modern French duel is ridiculed by certain smart people, it is in reality one of the most dangerous institutions of our day. Since it is always fought in the open air, the combatants are nearly sure to catch cold. M. Paul de Cassagnac, the most inveterate of the French duelists, had suffered so often in this way that he is at last a confirmed invalid; and the best physician in Paris has expressed the opinion that if he goes on dueling for fifteen or twenty years more--unless he forms the habit of fighting in a comfortable room where damps and draughts cannot intrude--he will eventually endanger his life. ...  
Premier Gambetta
As soon as I heard of the late fiery outbreak between M. Gambetta and M. Fourtou in the French Assembly, I knew that trouble must follow. I knew it because a long personal friendship with M. Gambetta revealed to me the desperate and implacable nature of the man. Vast as are his physical proportions, I knew that the thirst for revenge would penetrate to the remotest frontiers of his person. 
I did not wait for him to call on me, but went at once to him. As I had expected, I found the brave fellow steeped in a profound French calm. ... He threw his arms around my neck, bent me over his stomach to his breast, kissed me on both cheeks, hugged me four or five times, and then placed me in his own arm-chair. ... 
I said I supposed he would wish me to act as his second, and he said, "Of course." ... He wanted to know how the following words, as a dying exclamation, struck me: "I die for my God, for my country, for freedom of speech, for progress, and the universal brotherhood of man!" 
I objected that this would require too lingering a death; it was a good speech for a consumptive, but not suited to the exigencies of the field of honor. We wrangled over a good many ante-mortem outburts, but I finally got him to cut his obituary down to this, which he copied into his memorandum-book, purposing to get it by heart: 
"I die that France might live." ...
The next thing in order was the choice of weapons. My principal said he was not feeling well, and would leave that and the other details of the proposed meeting to me. Therefore I wrote the following note and carried it to M. Fourtou's friend: 
Sir: M. Gambetta accepts M. Fourtou's challenge, and authorizes me to propose Plessis-Piquet as the place of meeting; tomorrow morning at daybreak as the time; and axes as the weapons. 
I am, sir, with great respect, 
Mark Twain. 
M. Fourtou's friend read this note, and shuddered. ... Then he added that he and his principal would enjoy axes, and indeed prefer them, but such weapons were barred by the French code, and so I must change my proposal. 
I walked the floor, turning the thing over in my mind, and finally it occurred to me that Gatling-guns at fifteen paces would be a likely way to get a verdict on the field of honor. So I framed this idea into a proposition. 
But it was not accepted. The code was in the way again. I proposed rifles; then double-barreled shotguns; then Colt's navy revolvers. These being all rejected, ... He fished out of his vest pocket a couple of little things which I carried to the light and ascertained to be pistols. They were single-barreled and silver-mounted, and very dainty and pretty. I was not able to speak for emotion. I silently hung one of them on my watch-chain, and returned the other.

Some of this actually happened.
     

Nicholas Wade: Males not going extinct after all

In the New York Times, Nicholas Wade reports:
Researchers See New Importance in Y Chromosome 
By NICHOLAS WADE   APRIL 23, 2014

There is new reason to respect the diminutive male Y chromosome. 
Besides its long-known role of reversing the default state of being female, the Y chromosome includes genes required for the general operation of the genome, according to two new surveys of its evolutionary history. These genes may represent a fundamental difference in how the cells in men’s and women’s bodies read off the information in their genomes. 
When researchers were first able to analyze the genetic content of the Y chromosome, they found it had shed hundreds of genes over time, explaining why it was so much shorter than its partner, the X chromosome. All cells in a man’s body have an X and a Y chromosome; women’s have two X chromosomes.
The finding created considerable consternation. The Y had so few genes left that it seemed the loss of a few more could tip it into extinction. 
But an analysis in 2012 showed that the rhesus monkey’s Y chromosome had essentially the same number of genes as the human Y. ... 
Dr. Kaessmann calculates that the Y chromosome originated 181 million years ago, after the duck-billed platypus split off from other mammals but before the marsupials did so. 
... “Throughout human bodies, the cells of males and females are biochemically different,” Dr. Page said. The genome may be controlled slightly differently because of this variation in the 12 regulatory genes, which he thinks could contribute to the differing incidence of many diseases in men and women. 
Differences between male and female tissues are often attributed to the powerful influence of sex hormones. But now that the 12 regulatory genes are known to be active throughout the body, there is clearly an intrinsic difference in male and female cells even before the sex hormones are brought into play. 
“We are only beginning to understand the full extent of the differences in molecular biology of males and females,” Andrew Clark, a geneticist at Cornell University, wrote in a commentary in Nature on the two reports.
  

Hairtrigger Dick Martin: Was this guy for real?

Bill Burns thumbing nose, Richard Martin holding reins
I was looking up the history of legislation against cruelty to animals, and I stumbled upon somebody I'd never heard of: Humanity Dick Martin (a.k.a., Hairtrigger Richard Martin), an Irish member of the British Parliament who was popularly credited with pushing through Martin's Act of 1822 against the ill treatment of cattle. 

In the celebrated "Trial of Bill Burns," the first prosecution under the Martin Act, Martin dragged into court the donkey abused by the Cockney costermonger Bill Burns. He sounds like he'd make a good subject for a biopic, although modern audiences might not be able to bear watching the abuses of animals that he campaigned against.

From Wikipedia:
Colonel Richard Martin (15 January 1754 – 6 January 1834), was an Irish politician and campaigner against cruelty to animals. He was commonly known as "Humanity Dick", a nickname bestowed on him by King George IV. He succeeded in getting the pioneering Act of Parliament "Martin's Act" passed. 
Martin was born at Ballynahinch Castle, County Galway, the only son of Robert Martin Fitz Anthony of Birch Hall, County Galway, and the Hon. Bridget Barnwall, a daughter of Robert Barnewall, 12th Baron Trimlestown. ...  
His father's family were Jacobites and one of "The Tribes of Galway", fourteen merchant families who ruled Galway from the 14th to 17th centuries. The Barnwalls were an ennobled family of Norman descent ... Though both of his parents were born to Catholics, Richard Martin was raised a Protestant and educated in England. ... 

Warning: The various kinds of Irish aristocrats over the last 800 years are pretty baffling to outsiders. That said, the Tribes of Galway were largely medieval Normans who stayed Catholic despite the Reformation in England. Families included D'Arcy, Joyce, and ffrenchEdmund Burke was another descendant of Ireland's Old English aristocracy. The Old English in Ireland were distinct from Ireland's New English or Anglo-Irish upper class, such as Swift, Berkeley, Wellington, Yeats, Wilde, Shaw, and Daniel Day-Lewis, whose ancestors typically arrived in Ireland in the 17th Century.

Whether Old or New, many of these aristocrats, while retaining their English high culture and privileges were raised by indigenous Irish Catholic servants, so they tended to strike English English as wild Irishmen. Richard Martin sounds like the wildest Irishman of them all:
He continued to represent County Galway in Westminster [i.e., Parliament] ... In the House of Commons he was known for his interruptions and humorous speeches. He continued his work towards Irish Catholic Emancipation till 1826, when he had to flee to France. Emancipation was finally granted in 1829, much to his delight.
Martin is now best known for his work against animal cruelty, especially against bear baiting and dog fighting. His actions resulted eventually in Martin's Act of 1822, entitled "Ill Treatment of Cattle Bill". He also tried to spread his ideas in the streets of London, becoming the target of jokes and political cartoons that depicted him with ears of a donkey. He also sometimes paid fines of minor offenders. 
On 16 June 1824, Martin was present when the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) was founded in a London coffee shop "Old Slaughter's". He denied being the initiator of the society. 
Martin also had a very eventful life. ... He survived two shipwrecks. He fought over a hundred duels with sword and pistol and earned the nickname "Hairtrigger Dick". He travelled extensively in Europe and the Americas during the 1770s and was in New England when the American Revolutionary War began. He initiated Galway's first theatre in 1783. He employed as tutor to his younger half-brothers Theobald Wolfe Tone, who had an affair with Martin's wife. Martin was in Paris when the French Revolution began during 1789. 
Martin was on a first-name basis with many of the famous names of his age, including King George IV (who gave him the nickname "Humanity Dick"), Henry Flood, Henry Grattan, William Pitt, Queen Caroline, and Daniel O'Connell.

After the election of 1826, Martin was deprived of his parliamentary seat because of a petition which accused him of illegal intimidation during the election. He had to flee into hasty exile to Boulogne, France, because he could no longer enjoy a parliamentary immunity to arrest for debt. ... 
Following the revelation of [his wife's] affair with a Mr. Petrie in Paris, Martin sued Petrie for criminal conversation in 1791 and was awarded £10,000. He had this distributed to the poor by throwing it out the windows of his coach on the long journey back from London to Galway.

That seems pretty cinematic. Michael Fassbender, you aren't getting any younger looking - this is the guy you were born to play.

Update: Now that I look it up, I see that the the Martin Act passed when Martin was 68, so quite a few actors could play Martin in a film concentrating on this (likely) manic depressive wild man's last hurrah: Daniel Day-Lewis, Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan, or, as a commenter suggests, Mel Gibson.
        

Schmaltz v. History

My new column in Taki's Magazine reviews the level of schmaltz in the conventional understanding of Jewish history and how that distorts Americans' grasp of 21st Century issues:
The reality is that for most of the last 800 years, the average Jew in Europe and America was relatively affluent, well-connected, and politically conservative. For example, Tory prime minister Benjamin Disraeli was Queen Victoria’s favorite. This began to change only when the prosperity-driven growth in the number of Ashkenazi Jews forced many out of traditional white-collar jobs and into blue-collar jobs they resented as demeaning.

Read the whole thing there.
     

Dueling writing advice books: Pinker v. Murray

Charles Murray is currently out promoting his advice book, much of which is devoted to how to write better. And in early fall, Steven Pinker will publish his own advice book for writers:
The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century

When I think of people I know who are manifestly superb thinkers, Pinker and Murray are always near the top of the list for clarity, elegance, power, and precision of mind.

Here's a bit from an interview I did with Pinker to promote his book The Blank Slate that shows his command:
Q: Aren't we all better off if people believe that we are not constrained by our biology and so can achieve any future we choose? 
A: People are surely better off with the truth. Oddly enough, everyone agrees with this when it comes to the arts. Sophisticated people sneer at feel-good comedies and saccharine romances in which everyone lives happily ever after. But when it comes to science, these same people say, "Give us schmaltz!" They expect the science of human beings to be a source of emotional uplift and inspirational sermonizing.

Blacks lag adventuresses in shaking down Silicon Valley

As vast amounts of money pour into Silicon Valley, various shakedown artists, not surprisingly, have emerged from the woodwork to get themselves a cut. What's striking is how out-of-the-running the usual suspects -- blacks and Hispanics -- have been relative to attractive young women. Here are three recent bogus brouhahas:




Now that I look back at them, they all were written up in the New York Times by Claire Cain Miller, who seems to have figured out that there is an insatiable appetite for stories, no matter how far-fetched, about perky Programmer Babes standing up to the Alpha Male culture of software engineering. Sex, money, and feminist righteousness make an intoxicating and enstupidating brew in the 2010s.
     

April 22, 2014

NYT: Aunt Zeituni was Barack & Michelle's nanny

A boring article in the NYT about how President Obama isn't in touch (and thus doesn't bear any responsibility) for all his ne'er-do-well Kenyan relatives who keep winding up in America at taxpayer expense suddenly takes a swerve in a previously unknown direction:
As president, Mr. Obama has kept his distance from, and even failed to acknowledge, members of this eclectic clan. In the time-honored tradition of eccentric presidential relatives, the assorted Obamas have faced deportation and drunken-driving charges, started Obama-branded foundations and written memoirs. 
But they also made for a powerful element of the president’s Kansas-meets-Kenya narrative as a candidate who could connect different worlds. ...

But I hadn't known this:
In 2000, Ms. Onyango moved to the United States on a valid visa, and in 2001, when Mr. Obama was an Illinois state senator, she helped take care of his newborn daughter, Sasha, and did household chores for the family in Chicago, according to Obama family members. But she stayed illegally after unsuccessfully seeking asylum. When reporters found her in Boston public housing during the 2008 election, Mr. Obama’s aides said he did not know she was in the United States illegally and returned her $265 in campaign contributions. 
In 2010, she received asylum and celebrated by telling an interviewer: “President Obama, I’m his aunt. If he does a wrong thing, I’m the only person on earth allowed to pinch his ears and smack him.”

Does this suggest that Barack and Michelle imported his Kenyan aunt to work illegally in the U.S. for them and then dumped her on the welfare system when she didn't work out? Did they pay her or was this one of those quasi-slave labor arrangements? How many laws were broken?
         

"Do the Rich Call the Shots?"

The New York Times wonders:
Do the Rich Call the Shots? 
A recent study by Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page examining 30 years of opinion surveys and policy decisions by the federal government found that, “When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose.” The average voter has little influence on government, the study found, but the well-to-do hold tremendous sway. 
Has the United States become more of an oligarchy than a democracy? 

Perhaps the NYT should ask its second-largest shareholder, Mexican oligarch Carlos Slim?

Not surprisingly, there's no mention of immigration in these discussions, even though that's the most obvious case of Billionaires United, e.g., Rupert Murdoch, Carlos Slim, Mark Zuckerberg, George Soros, Bill Gates, the Koch Brothers, and Michael Bloomberg using their money and power to demonize opponents of their greed for more immigration to push down Americans' pay -- and, in the case of Slim, to profit exorbitantly off his monopoly power over phone calls between the United States and Mexico.

In other advanced countries, immigration restriction is in the ascendance in the legislatures, but in America we continue to have this bizarre stalemate with the elites pushing amnesty, a pre-2008 policy if there ever was one, against the disorganized, underfunded, demonized, but massive resistance of the public.

Here's an oldie from the Center for Immigration Studies:
Elite vs. Public Opinion: An Examination of Divergent Views on Immigration 
By Steven A. Camarota, Roy Beck December 2002

While it has long been suspected that public and elite opinion differ on the issue of immigration, a new poll provides the most compelling evidence yet that there is an enormous gap between the American people and "opinion leaders" on the issue. ...
This Backgrounder is based on the findings of a recent national poll conducted by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations in May through July of this year. The Council is a non-profit policy organization that sponsors polls and events on a host of foreign policy issues. The Council has a long tradition of polling to find differences between the public and opinion leaders. 
The polling of the public was based on 2,800 telephone interviews from across the nation. The council also surveyed nearly 400 opinion leaders, including members of Congress, the administration, and leaders of church groups, business executives, union leaders, journalists, academics, and leaders of major interest groups. 
The results of the survey indicate that the gap between the opinions of the American people on immigration and those of their leaders is enormous. The poll found that 60 percent of the public regards the present level of immigration to be a "critical threat to the vital interests of the United States," compared to only 14 percent of the nation’s leadership – a 46 percentage point gap. 
The current gap is even wider than that found in 1998, when 55 percent of the public viewed immigration as a "critical threat," compared to 18 percent of opinion leaders – a 37 percentage point gap. 
The poll results indicate that there is no other foreign policy-related issue on which the American people and their leaders disagreed more profoundly than immigration. Even on such divisive issues as globalization or strengthening the United Nations, the public and the elite are much closer together than they are on immigration. 
When asked a specific question about whether legal immigration should be reduced, kept the same, or increased, 55 percent of the public said it should be reduced, and 27 percent said it should remain the same. In contrast, only 18 percent of opinion leaders said it should be reduced and 60 percent said it should remain the same. There was no other issue-specific question on which the public and elites differed more widely. 
The enormous difference between elite and public opinion can also be seen on the issue of illegal immigration. The survey found that 70 percent of the public said that reducing illegal immigration should be a "very important" foreign-policy goal of the United States, compared to only 22 percent of elites. 
Also with respect to illegal immigration, when the public was asked to rank the biggest foreign policy problems, the public ranked illegal immigration sixth, while elites ranked it 26th. 
The very large difference between elite and public opinion explains the current political stalemate on immigration. For example, supporters of an amnesty for illegal immigrants have broad elite support ranging from religious to business and union leaders. Normally elite support of this kind would lead to policy changes, but on this issue public opposition is so strong that it creates a political stalemate. 
   

"Why Tiger Mothers Motivate Asian Americans But Not European Americans"

Via Marginal Revolution, here's an abstract from Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
My Mother and Me 
Why Tiger Mothers Motivate Asian Americans But Not European Americans 
Alyssa S. Fu 
Hazel Rose Markus 
“Tiger Mother” Amy Chua provoked a culture clash with her claim that controlling parenting in Asian American (AA) contexts produces more successful children than permissive parenting in European American (EA) contexts. At the heart of this controversy is a difference in the normative models of self that guide behavior. Ideas and practices prevalent in AA contexts emphasize that the person is and should be interdependent with one’s close others, especially one’s mother. In contrast, EA contexts emphasize the person as independent, even from one’s mother. We find that AA compared with EA high school students experience more interdependence with their mothers and pressure from them, but that the pressure does not strain their relationship with their mothers. Furthermore, following failure, AAs compared with EAs are more motivated by their mothers, and AAs are particularly motivated by pressure from their mothers when it conveys interdependence.

This topic is really crying out for an adoption study to determine what share is nature and what nurture. My usual guess is fifty-fifty, but it would be fun to know more about it.

In Southern California, you see the Surfer Gene express itself not infrequently among third and fourth generation Asian-Americans with trust funds. On the other hand, they tend not to be screw-ups, either.
    

Piketty and Immigration

Everybody is talking about French economist Thomas Piketty's new book on how the rich get richer Capital in the 21st Century. Piketty argues that the rich dominate the political process, so the masses have a very hard time getting laws passed that would benefit them. 

The most obvious example of this is the debate, such as it is, over immigration policy in America. After more than a half decade of high unemployment, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, Rupert Murdoch, and Mexican oligarch Carlos Slim continue to use their media and political dominance to demonize those who stand up for the American people in opposing the Billionaires United front for cheap labor and expensive phone calls back home to Mexico.

But, if you go to Google and type in 
Piketty immigration

You get:
[cough]
[cricket chirps]

Most of the handful of references are gingerly ones from outer edges of the Steveosphere like Marginal Revolution and Ross Douthat at the NYT. Outside that, the notion that there is any relationship between the rich getting richer and massive immigration simply doesn't register. If we did a brainscan of the typical economic pundit's response to the concept "Piketty and Immigration," you'd just see a flat line on the monitor.
     

Democracy wins one at the Supreme Court

As Genghis Khan might say, nothing is sweeter than to hear the lamentations of the losers ... The New York Times Editorial Board whines:
Racial Equality Loses at the Court 
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD APRIL 22, 2014

A blinkered view of race in America won out in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, when six justices agreed, for various reasons, to allow Michigan voters to ban race-conscious admissions policies in higher education. 
In 2003, the court upheld such a policy at the University of Michigan law school because it furthered a compelling governmental interest in educational diversity. Opponents of affirmative action moved to amend the state’s constitution to ban any consideration of race or sex in public education and employment. In 2006, voters passed the amendment by a wide margin. 
Affirmative action supporters sued to strike down the amendment, arguing that by changing the rules of the game in a way that uniquely burdened racial minorities, the amendment violated the equal protection clause. A closely divided federal appeals court agreed.

You know, all proponents of affirmative action then had to do was what Ward Connerly and Co. had done in Michigan: persuade a simple majority of voters to repeal the amendment to the state constitution. How is that not equal protection?
In Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, the Supreme Court reversed that ruling and allowed the amendment to stand. Among other things, the justices disagreed about whose rights were at issue: the minorities who would be affected by the ban or the majority of the state’s voters who passed it.

This is actually a massive issue in 21st Century jurisprudence: when the Constitution says "equal protection," does that really apply to white people? It's nice to see that notion got six votes on the Supreme Court, but it's crazy that it went all the way to the Supreme Court.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for a three-member plurality, sided with the voters, who he said had undertaken “a basic exercise of their democratic power” in approving the amendment. He cautioned that the ruling took no position on the constitutionality of race-conscious admissions policies themselves. “This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it.” 
Not so, Justice Sonia Sotomayor responded in a stinging 58-page dissent. “Our Constitution places limits on what a majority of the people may do,” she wrote, such as when they pass laws that oppress minorities. 
That’s what the affirmative action ban does, by altering the political process to single out race and sex as the only factors that may not be considered in university admissions. 
While the Constitution “does not guarantee minority groups victory in the political process,” Justice Sotomayor wrote, “it does guarantee them meaningful and equal access to that process. It guarantees that the majority may not win by stacking the political process against minority groups permanently.”

All that By Any Means Necessary has to do is do what Ward and friends did. But that's not equal enough for the Wise Latina. To her,  all people are equal, but some people should be more equally protected than others.
   

Two women catfight, one man gets fired

As I mentioned earlier, the New York Times splashed an HR brouhaha at a tech startup called Github in which a young creative writing major named Julie Ann Horvath had drawn massive national attention to the problem of alpha-male programmers sexistly discriminating against poor oppressed female software engineers such as herself. Her most tragic example of this was how the co-founder's wife had made her cry over a personal dispute.

In a major advance for feminism, the precedent has now been been established that when two women catfight, the man gets fired.

From a posting by Jane Doe, for whatever it's worth, attempting to explain the real nub of the Github Crisis of Gender Relations:
Around the end of 2012, Julie started dating a close male friend of the cofounder’s wife and didn’t like that they were close. She asked them to stop being friends and when they would not end their relationship, Julie started telling coworkers that the wife had affairs and that the cofounder’s newborn child was not his. She told this to multiple coworkers directly and also to the wife through her boyfriend.

But, no matter, the New York Times ran completely with Julie's positioning of her story as Github having a sexist work environment emblematic of how Silicon Valley must spend more, much more on feminists.

Here are four tweets the NYT chose to pass along to the public. The first, from Github's VC honcho, was added later as a compromise. The latter three, the first to be published by the NYT, make interesting reading about what's fit to print these days.
Marc Andreessen         @pmarcaWe stand firmly behind both Github the company and Tom the person -- we know that both Github and Tom have very bright futures ahead!

Patrick McCulley @panther_modernGitHub is apparently just another corporation that has decided dudebros are worth more than other employees. 
Matthew Dean @matthewdeanersI don't understand how you can't find evidence of sexism when sexism is institutionalized.

Shanley @shanleyTHIS IS WHAT WE MEAN BY HOW THERE ARE NO CONSEQUENCES FOR WHITE MEN IN TECHNOLOGY. NONE. ZIP. NADA.
   

Charles Murray gets spiked at Azusa Pacific U.

From Charles Murray's website at AEI:
Charles Murray: An open letter to the students of Azusa Pacific University
I was scheduled to speak to you tomorrow. I was going to talk about my new book, “The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead,” and was looking forward to it. But it has been “postponed.” Why? An email from your president, Jon Wallace, to my employer, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), said “Given the lateness of the semester and the full record of Dr. Murray’s scholarship, I realized we needed more time to prepare for a visit and postponed Wednesday’s conversation.” This, about an appearance that has been planned for months. I also understand from another faculty member that he and the provost were afraid of “hurting our faculty and students of color.” 
You’re at college, right? Being at college is supposed to mean thinking for yourselves, right? Okay, then do it. Don’t be satisfied with links to websites that specialize in libeling people. Lose the secondary sources. Explore for yourself the “full range” of my scholarship and find out what it is that I’ve written or said that would hurt your faculty or students of color. It’s not hard. In fact, you can do it without moving from your chair if you’re in front of your computer. 
You don’t have to buy my books. Instead, go to my web page at AEI. There you will find the full texts of dozens of articles I’ve written for the last quarter-century. Browse through them. Will you find anything that is controversial? That people disagree with? Yes, because (hang on to your hats) scholarship usually means writing about things on which people disagree.

Does this ever happen to Malcolm Gladwell or Tim Wise?

By the way, the name Azusa is short for "Everything from A to Z in the USA." 
       

April 21, 2014

The Descent of Darwin

From Gregory Clark's The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility has a timeline of the Galtonian question of the association between status and fertility, using the famous Darwin family, of which Galton was a member on his mother's side, as an example.
- ... in the preindustrial world, fertility was typically strongly positively associated with status. ...In England before 1780, this effect was so strong that the wealthiest parents had twices as many children as the average family.  
- ... for parents who married between 1780 and 1880, there is no association between fertility and social status. 
- ... there was a strong negative association between social status and fertility ... in England for parents who married between 1890 and 1960.  ... by 1880 in England, upper class-men seem to have produced far fewer children than those of the middle or lower classes. Indeed, from 1880 to 1940, the richest English families seem to have been dying out. 
- .... Currently ... the correlation is relatively weak, with high-status parents having as many children as lower-status parents, or modestly fewer.

This timeline suggests that Galton (who didn't have children himself) was doing what he did best -- systematically noticing -- when he became worried in the later 19th Century about fertility among the most accomplished.

Here's Clark's example of the bearers of the Darwin surname. The Darwins are fascinating because even Charles wasn't exactly a genius. Instead, they are more like the 1960s astronauts: examples of a solid system functioning properly. Neil Armstrong wasn't some unique superhero (and he never claimed to be): he was the product of a healthy culture.
The lineage of Charles Darwin is a nice illustration of how large the families of the middle and upper classes could be in preindustrial England. He descended from a line of successful and prosperous forebears. His great-grandfather Robert Darwin (1682-1754) produced seven children, all of whom survived to adulthood. His grandfather Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802) produced fifteen children (born to two wives and two mistresses), twelve of whom survived to adulthood. His father, Robert Waring Darwin (1766 - 1848), produced six children, all of whom survived to adulthood. ... 
Charles Darwin, marrying in 1839, had ten children, though only seven surived childhood.  
These seven children produced only nine grandchildren, an average of only 1.3 per child. (This figure is unusually low for this era, but there was great randomness in individual fertility.) 
The nine grandchildren produced in turn only 20 great-grandchildren, 2.2 per grandchild. This figure was less than the population average for this period. The great-grandchildren, born on average in 1918, produced 28 great-great-grandchildren, 1.4 each. ... The Darwin lineage failed to maintain itself in genetic terms. 
Interestingly, with respect to social mobility rates, the 27 great-great grandchildren of Charles Darwin, born on average nearly 150 years after Darwin, are still a surprisingly distinguished cohort. Eleven are notable enough to have Wikipedia pages, or the like, such as Times obituaries. 

I looked them up for my recent Taki's column on Clark's book and found that 16 of the 28 great-great-grandchildren of Darwin now have Wikipedia pages.