August 9, 2008

How is South Ossetia not like Kosovo?

Nine years ago, the U.S. and its NATO allies bombed heck out of Yugoslavia (i.e., Serbia) in order to liberate Kosovo, an ethnically distinct breakaway province universally recognized as legitimately part of Yugoslavia-Serbia. After a couple of months, Milosevic gave up, and Kosovo recently declared its independence.

Russia has been squabbling for years with Georgia over a bit just over the Russian border within Georgia called South Ossetia, that, like Kosovo, is ethnically different on the whole from the rest of Georgia. Yesterday, Russia and Georgia went at it hammer and tongs.

How, exactly is this different from our Kosovo War, other than that Kosovo was thousands of miles away from America, while South Ossetia adjoins Russia?

Wikipedia writes:

"The Republic of South Ossetia consists of a checkerboard of Georgian-inhabited and Ossetian-inhabited towns and villages. The largely Ossetian capital city of Tskhinvali and most of the other Ossetian-inhabited communities are governed by the separatist government, while the Georgian-inhabited villages and towns are administered by the Georgian government. This close proximity and the intermixing of the two communities has made the conflict in South Ossetia particularly dangerous, since any attempt to create an ethnically pure territory would involve population transfers on a large scale."

Back in 2000, on the first anniversary of the Kosovo war, I offered an explanation of a costly but peaceful way to resolve these kind of inevitable disputes.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Was the 2001 anthrax "weaponized" or not?

As Testing99 has commented, the idea that a lone mad scientist could have pulled off the 2001 anthrax attacks is, in one way, much scarier than the idea that it was a conspiracy using special weaponized anthrax. If Ivins, whose anthrax specialty was defense, not offense, could have done it all by himself, then anthrax terrorism isn't that hard to do. Not easy -- Ivins had 20 years experience at the bioweapons lab -- but not dauntingly hard, either.

That would be bad news.

We were frequently told in 2001 that the terrorist's anthrax had been weaponized using sophisticated techniques to make it especially dangerous, but, did that turn out to be true?

Greg Cochran emails:

I'm pretty sure that the FBI doesn't think there was any super-special 'weaponization' at all. From Wiki:

" The August 2006 issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology contained an article written by Dr. Douglas Beecher of the FBI labs in Quantico, VA.[30] The article, titled "Forensic Application of Microbiological Culture Analysis to Identify Mail Intentionally Contaminated with Bacillus anthracis spores ," states "Individuals familiar with the compositions of the powders in the letters have indicated that they were comprised simply of spores purified to different extents." The article also specifically criticizes "a widely circulated misconception" "that the spores were produced using additives and sophisticated engineering supposedly akin to military weapon production." The harm done by this misconception is described this way: "This idea is usually the basis for implying that the powders were inordinately dangerous compared to spores alone. The persistent credence given to this impression fosters erroneous preconceptions, which may misguide research and preparedness efforts and generally detract from the magnitude of hazards posed by simple spore preparations." However, after this article had appeared the editor of Applied and Environmental Microbiology, L. Nicholas Ornston, stated that he was uncomfortable with Beecher's statement in the article since it had no evidence to back it up and contained no citation. "

I've never seen any evidence of any coating, either, just a lot of people say that there must have been some. Finding silicon with a mass spectrometer doesn't mean a there was any coating. This discussion is complicated by a natural reluctance to talk about the exact methods of preparing weapons-grade anthrax. I suspect that one point they'd really like to skip over would be that its fairly easy.

More on this from the Washington Post, 2006:
" The FBI would not allow Beecher to be interviewed about his article. But other scientists familiar with the forensic investigation echoed his description. Whoever made the powder produced a deadly project of exceptional purity and quality -- up to a trillion spores per gram -- but used none of the tricks known to military bioweapons scientists to increase the lethality of the product. Officials stressed that the terrorist would have had to have considerable skills in microbiology and access to equipment.

"It wasn't weaponized. It was just nicely cleaned up," said one knowledgeable scientist who spoke on the condition he not be identified by name because the investigation is continuing. "Whoever did it was proud of their biology. They grew the spores, spun them down, cleaned up the debris. But there were no additives."

Like I said. This simplifies the situation considerably.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Rielle Hunter as the Alma Mahler of our Age of Brass

Rielle Hunter, the 44-year-old mother of former VP candidate John Edward's presumed love child, was the inspiration for "Alison Poole," the narrator / main character of Jay McInerney's 1989 third novel Story of My Life.

McInerney's friend Bret Easton Ellis then borrowed "Alison Poole" and did terrible things to her in American Psycho, then had her come back and play a larger role in Glamorama.

The New York Post reports:

Hunter was known as Lisa Druck when McInerney met her at Nell's in 1987. "She's a nice girl," the author told Page Six. "She used to be a real party girl.

"When she wasn't out at nightclubs, she was taking acting classes. We dated for only a few months, but in that period, I spent a lot of time with her and her friends, whose behavior intrigued and appalled me to such an extent that I ended up basing a novel on the experience," McInerney recalled.

"It was narrated in the first person from the point of view of an ostensibly jaded, sexually voracious 20-year-old who was inspired by Lisa. I certainly thought of Alison Poole as a sympathetic and ultimately endearing character."

Story of My Life tells of the breakdown of a NYC party girl, whose friends all tease her by singing Elvis Costello's "Party Girl:"

They say you're nothing but a party girl
Just like a million more all over the world

and Costello's ominous "Alison:"

Alison, I know this world is killing you.
Oh, Alison, my aim is true.

Story of My Life is often criticized as being "just like McInerney's Bright Lights Big City except it's about a girl." But, first, being just like Bright Lights Big City is nothing to sneeze at -- I like McInerney's debut novel better than Evelyn Waugh's similar Vile Bodies. I've felt that McInerney's best books are often underrated because he works hard to make them easy on his readers. With Waugh's formal prose style, it's easy to see his craftsmanship. In contrast, McInerney works hard to make his literary prose a fast read.

Second, writing a novel about a character of the other sex is harder than it looks. Waugh only did it once, in his almost unknown 1950 novel Helen about the mother of Emperor Constantine. Similarly, Philip Roth hasn't tried it in the last 40 years. So, I was impressed by Story of My Life the two times I read it. McInerney's career seems to be idling today, so my old hopes that he'd grow into the American Waugh seem doomed, but his first, third, and fourth (Brightness Falls) novels were first-rate.

Anyway, what's the deal with Rielle Hunter?

I'm reminded of Tom Lehrer's song "Alma Mahler:"

The loveliest girl in Vienna
Was alma, the smartest as well.
Once you picked her up on your antenna,
You’d never be free of her spell.

Her lovers were many and varied,
From the day she began her -- beguine.
There were three famous ones whom she married,
And God knows how many between.

Alma, tell us!
All modern women are jealous.
Which of your magical wands
Got you gustav and walter and franz?

The first one she married was mahler,
Whose buddies all knew him as gustav.
And each time he saw her he’d holler:
"ach, that is the fraulein I moost have!"

Their marriage, however, was murder.
He’d scream to the heavens above,
"i’m writing das lied von der erde,
And she only wants to make love!"

Alma, tell us!
All modern women are jealous.
You should have a statue in bronze
For bagging gustav and walter and franz.

While married to gus, she met gropius,
And soon she was swinging with walter.
Gus died, and her tear drops were copious.
She cried all the way to the altar.

But he would work late at the bauhaus,
And only came home now and then.
She said, "what am I running? a chow house?
It’s time to change parters again."

Alma, tell us!
All modern women are jealous.
Though you didn’t even use ponds,
You got gustav and walter and franz.

While married to walt she’d met werfel,
And he too was caught in her net.
He married her, but he was carefell,
’cause alma was no bernadette.

And that is the story of alma,
Who knew how to receive and to give.
The body that reached her embalma’
Was one that had known how to live.

Alma, tell us!
How can they help being jealous?
Ducks always envy the swans
Who get gustav and walter,
You never did falter,
With gustav and walter and franz.

There were also the painters Oskar Kokoschka and Gustav Klimt, making Alma a more impressive muse than Rielle, but, still, there was a lot more talent around in early 20th Century Vienna.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

August 8, 2008


An excerpt from my review in The American Conservative of the new film "Elegy," which is an adaptation of Philip Roth's short 2002 novel The Dying Animal:

Paradoxically but profitably, Hollywood assumed that America's youth wanted to spend May and June, the two months of the year with the nicest weather, inside watching blockbuster movies. Now that the dog days of summer are here, the big movies are trickling to a halt and art house films for adults are back.

You can't get much art housier than "Elegy," in which Sir Ben Kingsley ("Gandhi") portrays one of novelist Philip Roth's lesser alter egos, the lecherous literature professor David Kepesh.

F. Scott Fitzgerald famously asserted, "There are no second acts in American lives." This is often true for alcoholics, such as the many American writers who resorted to the bottle to restore temporarily the visual world's luminous glow, that green light at the end of the dock that shone for them when they were young and in their lyrical primes.

In contrast, a social novelist such as Roth can potentially keep getting better as he becomes older and wiser. Roth hit the bestseller lists in 1969 with Portnoy's Complaint, the definitive denunciation of "Jewish guilt" (which in Roth's book is the opposite of "white guilt" -- it's the nagging sense that you aren't ethnocentric enough). Then, Roth's career bogged down in experimental conceits.

Over the last decade and a half, from about the age of 60 onward, he's returned with a torrent of strong novels, allowing his fans to proclaim him America's Greatest Living Writer. Perhaps, although there's little mystery to Roth's talent. You can imagine that if you were twice as smart and ten times as hard-working, you too could do what Roth does.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

UPDATED: McCainonomics

A long time ago in Chicago, I used to work with a guy named Karl Denninger, who was the company's Internet wizard -- this was around 1992, before almost anybody had heard of the Internet. Yet, Karl built us a large, reliable Internet system for managing our national network. In hindsight, it's obvious that what we should have done was give up on the product we we're trying to sell, and just gone into the nascent Internet business, utilizing Karl's expertise.

Anyway, Karl has a financial blog now called Market Ticker, with lots of good stuff on it. Here's an old one:

The following ought to raise alarms among voters - or perhaps not, given how silly we all are as Americans when it comes to personal financial management:

"Senators John McCain and Barack Obama released their Senate financial disclosure statements on Friday, revealing that Mr. McCain and his wife had at least $225,000 in credit card debt....

The bulk of the McCains’ obligations stemmed from a pair of American Express credit cards that are held in Cindy McCain’s name. According to the disclosure reports, which present information on debts in a range rather than providing a precise figure, Mrs. McCain owed $100,000 to $250,000 on each card.

Another charge card, held by what was described as a “dependent child,” had also accumulated debts of $15,000 to $50,000. In addition, a credit card held jointly by the couple was carrying $10,000 to $15,000 in debt, the filing indicated, at a stiff 25.99 percent interest rate. "

Good God.

At least $225,000 in revolving debt, with at least some of it carrying "subprime" rates? By the way, that $225,000 is the minimum - it could be as high as $565,000, but the Senate does not require exact disclosure - just ranges.

The McCains are paying 25.99% interest rate on $10,000 or more???

Unlike Karl, I'm a lousy personal financial manager, but even I know enough to do what it takes to never have a balance outstanding on my credit cards at the end of the month. But the Republican Presidential nominee doesn't seem to know that.

UPDATE: Well, I may have made some dubious assumptions here. I assumed that to run up hundreds of thousands on your credit card you'd have to roll over the few thousand you spend each month for month after month, paying interest after each month. Big mistake!

Assume, instead, that Cindy McCain spends a few hundreds thousand per month using her credit cards, which she pays off on, say, the 3rd of the month, right on time. And the form asks her for her financial situation on the first of the month. Well, then she puts down that she owes a ton of money on her credit cards, but she still pays it off right away and avoids interest fees.

I don't know what the real situation is with the McCain's, but I shouldn't analogize from the finances of people I know to the McCains, who operate in a whole different realm.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

August 7, 2008

The Alternative History Olympics

My favorite part of David Wallechinsky's quadrennially indispensable The Complete Book of the Olympics are the discontinued sports and events, such as Motor Boating (1908 London games), Tug of War (1900-1920), Croquet (1900 Paris) and Jeu de Paume (or real tennis, which was won in Paris in 1900 by robber barron Jay Gould's son Jay Jr.).

The 1900 Paris Olympics went on intermittently over a five month stretch during the World's Fair to such little local interest that some athletes didn't realize they were competing in the Olympics. An American socialite girl won the gold medal in Ladies' Golf in Paris in 1900, shooting 47 for nine holes, but died in 1955 before learning that the little tournament had been an Olympic event and she was an Olympic Gold Medal winner.

Cricket's entire Olympic history consists of a single match in Paris in 1900 between Great Britain and France (a team recruited from the British Embassy in Paris). A French magazine explained, "Cricket is ... a sport which appears monotonous and without color to the uninitiated." A British observer reported, "We found the French temperament is too excitable to enjoy the game and no Frenchman can be persuaded to play more than once."

Discontinued track and field events include the Stone Throw (1906 "intercalated" Athens games), Javelin (Both Hands) (1912 Stockholm -- I don't know if this means they summed up your best throws with both your left and right hands, or if you were supposed to heave it two handed ... or did they throw javelins with each hand simultaneously?), and Triathlon (1904 St. Louis -- a combination of track and field and gymnastics).

American Raymond Ewry is the Carl Lewis of the Alternative History Olympics, winning ten track and field gold medals from 1900 to 1908 (including two in the now-forgotten 1906 Athens Olympics) in no-longer-existent events: Standing High Jump, Standing Long Jump, and Standing Triple Jump.

Gymnastics once had Rope Climbing and Club Swinging, Shooting had Dueling Pistol and (by popular demand among commenters) Live Pigeon Shooting, and Swimming featured the 200 Meter Obstacle Race.

My favorite of all the NLE swimming events is the Plunge for Distance, won by William Dickey of the USA at the 1904 Olympics by diving in the pool and not taking a breath and not taking a stroke until he had glided 62.5 feet. I've always had a feeling that if this event were both still around through sheer bureaucratic inertia and yet still unpopular and not very competitive, that I could have won an Olympic Gold Medal in it. Granted, I've never actually measured how far I could plunge, but I've always had a knack for floating face down.

I've sometimes dreamed that I had won an Olympic Gold Medal at some point in the past. When challenged in my dream about this unlikely accomplishment, I've tried to parry, "Yes, it was once a part of my life, but I choose not to talk about it much these days." When grilled on exactly which event I could ever have won, I usually come up eventually with "Plunge for Distance at the 1984 LA Games -- you probably don't remember it because it wasn't on TV." My dream interlocutors go away, grumbling, but unable to prove me wrong.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Occam's Butterknife always more popular

The unmasking of Bruce E. Ivins as a mad scientist who, with a high degree of likelihood, carried out the 2001 anthrax attacks, most likely singlehandedly, has not proven popular. People want to hear that Bush did it, Saddam Hussein did it, the cigarette-smoking man did it, whatever. Personally, I think the idea that a mad scientist at the government's bioweapons lab did it is pretty interesting, but apparently that's not good enough. Everybody wants a conspiracy that goes all the way to the Top! (Which Top is a matter of dispute, but that's not the point; the point is that a mere mad scientist just isn't good enough.)

One thing to keep in mind is that everybody failed in the case of Ivins. The FBI overlooked him for years; his bosses let him continue to work on deadly toxins despite homicidal ideation about "mixing poisons" to murder some poor soccer-playing girl in 2000; the war-bloggers never gave him a moment's thought; the Bushitler crowd never did either; the conspiracy theorist hobbyists did a terrible job too.

The guy who did the best job, amateur analyst Edward G. Lake, still didn't come close to Ivins. In fact, he admitted last week,

"Bruce Ivins is a name I don't recall ever hearing before (but I'm told his name appears in several articles on this site)."

That's fascinating, because Lake was generally considered the best informed amateur analyst in the country.

Last week, Lake was highly skeptical that Ivins did it at first, but said after yesterday's FBI news conference:

"The FBI certainly has a better case against Ivins than I've seen against anyone else."

Here's Lake's list of his conclusions from several years ago, with his brand new updatings as of 86/08:

1. Dr. Steven Jay Hatfill is innocent of any connection to the anthrax attacks, and his life was ruined by a band of politically-motivated conspiracy theorists who conned the media, the public and government officials into forcing the FBI to publicly investigate him. Links: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7

2. The culprit almost certainly used a child to write the anthrax letters and to address the anthrax envelopes. Links: 1 - 2

3. In the tense and panicky first few days of the investigation, mistakes were made at USAMRIID and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) which were unfortunately leaked to the media. The result was that the silly mistakes and false assumptions were turned into false headlines which misled the world and continue to mislead the world about the nature of the attack anthrax to this day. Links: 1 - 2 - 3

4. Despite all the erroneous media headlines and made up theories, the attack anthrax did not contain any visible additives as so many scientists and media people believe. That basic misconception has caused much of the scientific community and the media to look in the wrong direction for the culprit. Links: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14 - 15 - 16 - 17

5. The cause of Kathy Nguyen's anthrax exposure was never properly investigated because the investigators were caught up in the thinking of the moment and didn't look at the "whole picture". Link: 1

6. The common belief that Bob Stevens was exposed to anthrax as a result of examining the so-called "J-Lo letter" is total nonsense and just more of the thinking of the moment. It doesn't stand up against facts. Link: 1 - 2

7. The anthrax powder in the attack letters was a "garden variety" powder and was most likely made in either a commercial lab, a university lab or a hospital lab in Central New Jersey that is still in use. Link: 1Partially wrong.

8. The anthrax mailer most likely lives and works in Central New Jersey and has not been arrested because the FBI has not yet obtained sufficient evidence to make an arrest. It is hoped (and possibly expected) that the new science of microbial forensics will produce the evidence that is lacking for a conviction. Link: 1 - 2 Partially wrong.

9. The motivation for the attacks was almost certainly to awaken America to the danger of a bioweapons attack by Muslim terrorists - particularly any Muslim terrorists that might be living or staying in Central New Jersey. Link: 1Partially wrong.

10. The anthrax mailer probably had no direct connection to any source of the Ames strain of anthrax and probably never worked for any government lab. Link: 1Totally wrong.

11. The person who removed the Ames anthrax from the lab where it was being used for medical research is almost certainly not the same person who refined and mailed the anthrax. Link: 1 Totally wrong.

12. Al Qaeda was not involved with the anthrax attacks in any way. Link: 1

So, Lake wasn't close at all to identifying Ivins, but he got much of the big picture right -- it wasn't Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, Stephen Hatfill, Dick Cheney or that other Fr. Detrick scientist whom I looked into but resolved not to publish his name. But congratulations to Lake for publicly grading himself like this.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Happy Birthday

Happy birthday to Jerry Pournelle.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Anthrax: The mad scientist did it

The weight of evidence is rapidly approaching the threshold of "beyond a reasonable doubt" that government bioweapons defense researcher Bruce E. Ivins was the 2001 anthrax terrorist. As Greg Cochran pointed out to me during a long conversation Wednesday evening, Occam's Razor is pointing right at Ivins. He had the means (he was the custodian of the anthrax used in the attacks) and he had motives that, while they remain uncertain, appear explicable (he likely wanted to focus attention and funding on his field of expertise -- anthrax vaccines).

What's indisputable is that Ivins, who killed himself on July 29, was a mad scientist.

Something I learned as I've gone through life that initially surprised me was what a high proportion of people suffer from mental problems at one point or another. The mind is very complicated and it can jump the rails more than you might think. For example, I'm about as even-keeled as anybody I know, yet I suffered panic attacks and depression for several weeks after I was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer a dozen years ago.

Ivins, though, didn't have run-of-the-mill mental health troubles. He was, during his worst years, bad crazy in a way that, fortunately, I've never come in contact with. Apparently, nine other people had access to Ivins' anthrax, but, as Greg pointed out, it's unlikely that any one of them was as crazy as Ivins.

From the New York Times:

In the summer of 2000, Ivins told a counselor that he was interested in a young woman who lived out of town and that he had "mixed poison" and taken it with him when he went to watch her play in a soccer match.

"If she lost, he was going to poison her," said the counselor, who treated Ivins at a Frederick, Md., clinic four or five times that summer. She said Ivins emphasized he was a skillful scientist who "knew how to do things without people finding out."

The counselor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Wednesday that she was so alarmed by her client's emotionless description of a specific, homicidal plan that she alerted the head of her clinic, a psychiatrist who had treated Ivins and the Frederick Police Department. She said the police told her nothing could be done because she did not have the woman's address or last name.

The account of the counselor, who was interviewed by the FBI early last week, is part of a dark portrait of Ivins that emerged Wednesday.

Besides these kind of terrible impulses, he suffered from delusional obsessions. His psychiatrist in 2000 suggested he had "paranoid personality disorder." He believed that the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority was waging a "fatwa" against him. The LA Times reported:

Long before, however, Ivins had acted oddly; for example, the documents released Wednesday said that he had used two post office boxes over 24 years to "pursue obsessions" -- including an intense interest in the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. One confidential witness said Ivins had admitted breaking into a Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority house to steal a secret handbook, apparently while he was pursuing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of North Carolina.

The documents also included a message board post by Ivins on a conspiracy theory website, "> . Asking for replies at the e-mail address , he wrote that the sorority had labeled him as an enemy decades ago. "I can only abide their 'Fatwah' on me," he said.

He'd been on anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, and anti-psychotic medicines since 2000. The first two are used by tens of millions of people for problems that range from serious to mild. Anti-psychotic drugs, however, are very heavy, with nasty side-effects for many people.

So, let's try to put together a plausible picture of the man. He'd suffered mental health problems as far back as his youth. But much of the time he could keep it together -- he earned his Ph.D., got married, had kids, volunteered at his church. He wrote letters to the editor of his local paper, espousing what appears to be an eclectic moderate to liberal viewpoint -- pro-gay, anti-abortion, pro-Israel, anti-racist, anti-Religious Right. And he held a job for 28 years.

Unfortunately, that job, working at a government bioweapons lab on defenses against anthrax, was just about the worst job imaginable for a paranoiac. From the NYT:

“Paranoid man works with deadly anthrax!!!” he wrote in one e-mail message in July 2000, predicting what a National Enquirer headline might read if he agreed to participate in a study on his work.

“I wish I could control the thoughts in my mind,” he added a month later in another message to a colleague. “It’s hard enough sometimes controlling my behavior. When I am being eaten alive inside, I always try to put on a good front here at work and at home, so I don’t spread the pestilence.”

He continued, “I get incredible paranoid, delusional thoughts at times, and there’s nothing I can do until they go away.”

He'd devoted years of his life to trying to come up with a way to protect America from anthrax terror attacks, and the "professional deformation" that presumably went along with worrying about national catastrophes compounded his existing problems:

His anxiety could be traced, the documents suggest, at least in part to complications that cropped up with an anthrax vaccine project he was working on in the late 1990s, which drew complaints from some Defense Department personnel who claimed the vaccine, which was mandatory, made them severely ill.

“I think the **** is about to hit the fan bigtime,” one July 2000 e-mail message said. “The control vaccine isn’t working. It’s just a fine mess.”

The summer of 2000 was when he told his counselor about his plan to poison the soccer girl if she lost the match.

And he went on what he called "mindless drives" to mail gifts and letters anonymously, the document said, and then "set back the odometer in his car" to fool his wife.

The next year brought 9/11:

His state of mind seemed to worsen after the 2001 terror attacks.

Didn't everybody's?

When you consider how crazy Ivins had been in 2000, and how crazy the country as a whole was after 9/11, the anthrax mailings start seeming pretty rational, at least as sensible as responding to 9/11 by invading Iraq.

We don't have Ivins' explanation for the mailings, but a simple guess would be that he didn't particularly want to kill people (for example, he didn't rig the envelopes to spew spores around), he just wanted to wake America up to the danger posed by anthrax terrorism, and maybe get more funding and attention for his vaccine project.

"I'm the only scary one in the group," he wrote on Sept. 26 after a group therapy session eight days after the first anthrax-laced letters were mailed. On Oct. 16, as the first victims were dying or hospitalized, one of Ivins' co-workers observed in an e-mail message that "Bruce has been an absolute manic basket case the last few days." ...

To the FBI's credit, they figured out early on, at a time when the White House and the media wanted the anthrax terrorists to be Arabs, especially Iraqis, that it had to an American scientist. That's better than all the warbloggers did. Unfortunately, they settled on Stephen Hatfill due to a series of coincidences, along, presumably, with prejudice against a man who had lived in Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa. Worse, they didn't refocus their investigation until about a year and a half after early 2005, when the genome sequencing data absolved Hatfill and pointed toward Ivins.

The policy question that arises from all this is why didn't Ivins' employer do anything about him over the last 28 years? As Ivins himself noted,"Paranoid Man Works with Deadly Anthrax" is an inherently alarming sentence.

One reason might be the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, which includes mental as well as physical problems. That far-ranging law has proven relatively popular and uncontroversial, in part because it acts as a system of social insurance against the detriments of middle age. None of us would like to be fired from our jobs just because we eventually suffer a physical breakdown or, as in Ivins' case, go a little nuts at age 54, as he did in 2000. So, Americans institutions are often quite forgiving these days of the personal problems of long-time employees.

As Jerry Pournelle has pointed out, government agencies, because they lack the profit motive, tend to forget about whatever original purpose they had and come to exist for the perpetuation of institution and the well-being of the employees.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

August 6, 2008

September 2001: The Month of Comic Book Bad Guys

In September 2001, America was first terrorized by a rich supervillain who lives in a cave, then by a genuine mad scientist.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The anthrax lag

We now know that the FBI learned in early 2005 from state-of-the-art gene sequencing that terrorist anthrax had to come from one of ten people at Ft. Detrick, and that Stephen Hatfill, the "person of interest" in this case, wasn't one of them.

How long did it take the FBI investigators to refocus themselves?

David Willman's breakthrough article in the 8/1/08 LA Times tells us:

Federal investigators moved away from Hatfill -- for years the only publicly identified "person of interest" -- and ultimately concluded that Ivins was the culprit after FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III changed leadership of the investigation in late 2006.

The FBI's new top investigators -- Vincent B. Lisi and Edward W. Montooth -- instructed agents to reexamine leads or potential suspects that may have received insufficient attention. Moreover, significant progress was made in analyzing genetic properties of the anthrax powder recovered from letters addressed to two senators.

The renewed efforts led the FBI back to USAMRIID, where agents first questioned scientists in December 2001, a few weeks after the fatal mailings.

By spring of this year, FBI agents were still contacting Ivins' present and former colleagues. At USAMRIID and elsewhere, scientists acquainted with Ivins were asked to sign confidentiality agreements in order to prevent leaks of new investigative details.

So, it looks like about a year and a half went by while the old FBI team continued to spin its wheels, stuck in the rut of blaming Hatfield. People don't like to admit they're wrong.

It was only in late 2006 when the FBI boss reassigned the old investigators and brought in a new team that the FBI began to make progress in finding a suspect that fit the genome sequencing data that they had had since early 2005. That year and a half lag may help explain why the government paid so much ($5.8 million) to Hatfill recently.

Clearly, much of the blame directed at Hatfield was because, like the bad guy in a Hollywood thriller, he had lived for a number of years in Rhodesia and South Africa. But there was some other circumstantial evidence -- he had a history of claiming advanced degrees he hadn't earned, he had been very interested in anthrax terrorism, he was taking Cipro at the time of the attacks for sinus surgery, and some minor coincidences. He was not a totally unreasonable suspect at first.

I bet, however, it was, especially, the unjustifiable 1.5 or so years between the genome sequencing in early 2005 and the FBI changing investigators and then suspects in late 2006 that led the government to settle on lavish terms with Hatfill.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Confirmation of my Cochran blog from yesterday

As I've been pointing out, the hero in this investigation is the advance in genome sequencing technology over the last seven years. The Washington Post reports:

Much of what the FBI seeks to explain involves the scientific trail, which included 19 outside laboratories at a cost of $10 million, that led investigators to Ivins. The Justice Department yesterday continued to discuss whether it can shutter one of the most perplexing investigations in FBI history and unseal the bulky case files in their entirety.

"We crossed a number of scientific barriers in this case," said one senior FBI official who has been ordered not to talk about the case publicly. "We literally were inventing science as we went along."

Law enforcement sources and published scientific papers indicate that the investigation gained traction through technological and scientific advances that dramatically speeded up the process of differentiating the genetic makeup of hundreds of distinct but closely related strains of bacteria.

Coupled with a fresh scientific understanding of the subtle differences between the strains and a new system for analyzing them, the rapid "sequencing" machines made it possible to detect the minuscule differences and link the one used in the attacks to a single laboratory.

At the time of the attacks, the knowledge to accomplish this in less than decades of laborious work did not exist. But the science of reading and analyzing DNA was on the verge of an explosion, one that the anthrax attacks may have helped to speed up.

Bruce Budowle, an FBI scientist at its lab in Quantico, reported to an international conference in September 2003 that a new field of forensic science -- known as microbial forensics -- had evolved as a result of the investigation. The letter attacks, he said, showed the "need to enhance our capabilities for forensic attribution."

The FBI has boasted publicly only in general terms about the scientific accomplishments in the case. Laboratories and researchers involved in the work under FBI contracts signed agreements not to discuss their contributions, but some relevant insights have emerged in scientific papers published over the past six years as work progressed on decoding the genetic composition of Bacillus anthracis, the anthrax bacterium. ...

J. Craig Venter, former head of the Institute for Genomic Research, said such investigation was impossible before the recent advances. "This is just applying that same technology to forensic purposes. It's more the use of it to solve a particular criminal problem rather than [to] make advances in science," he said.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Anthrax evidence

First take on evidence against Dr. Bruce Ivins, as revealed to victims' families.

CNN reports:

"At the time of the attacks, he was the custodian of a large flask of highly purified anthrax spores that possess certain genetic mutations identical to the anthrax used in the attacks," according to a July 11 affidavit from a U.S. postal inspector. ...

A source familiar with the investigation said Tuesday that in the fall of 2001, Ivins borrowed a machine that can convert wet anthrax -- the kind used at Fort Detrick where Ivins worked -- into dry powder -- the kind used in the anthrax letters.

By the way, the first anthrax attack, as I recall, wasn't technically in the Fall, it was on September 18, 2001, in the very late summer. So, I'd like to hear the exact date.

Washington Post reports on the timeline:

"According to a chart investigators submitted with their October 2007 request for a search warrant, Ivins began working longer hours in mid-August 2001, logging lengthy evening shifts from Sept. 14, 2001, through Sept. 16, 2001, with another spike in late hours in early October 2001.

Ivins explained his longer shifts by telling investigators that he retreated to the lab "to escape" from problems at home, Dellafera said in his affidavit. The document referred to e-mail messages Ivins sent to a friend describing his rising stress loads, depression and feelings of "isolation -- and desolation" in 2000 and through the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The anthrax letters sent to congressional offices and news organizations that fall were postmarked Sept. 18, 2001, and Oct. 9, 2001, investigators said.

The timeline fits pretty well: Ivins' anthrax vaccine project got cancelled before 9/11. Then 9/11 happens showing how vulnerable we are to terrorism. He spends the following weekend, Friday through Sunday in the lab. Then, after work on Monday, Feb. 17, he drives 198 miles to Princeton and back to mail the letter. It gets postmarked on 9/18.

From the NYT:

Documents Detail Evidence Against Anthrax Scientist

WASHINGTON — A few days before the anthrax attacks of 2001, the scientist who has emerged as the suspect in the case sent e-mails warning that Osama bin Laden’s “terrorists for sure have anthrax and sarin gas” and have “just decreed death to all Jews and all Americans,” according to documents released by the government on Wednesday.

The documents, released on the orders of federal judge, were made public to bolster the Justice Department’s contention that the scientist, Bruce E. Ivins, was the man behind the lethal mailings that killed five people and made at least 17 others ill while the country was still traumatized by the Sept. 11 attacks.

The segment about the e-mails does not reveal to whom they were sent — the address was redacted before the documents’ release — but it notes that the wording was similar, and in some instances identical, to the language in the anthrax-laced letters. “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” were phrases that appeared both in the doctor’s e-mails and in the letters.

Moreover, the envelopes that held the letters were “federal eagle” envelopes, so-named because of the eagle perched on a bar bearing the initials “USA” in the upper right-hand corner, and bore tiny but tell-tale defects that searchers determined were bought from a post office in Maryland or Virginia, the official documents relate.

And of the 16 government, commercial and university laboratories that had virulent anthrax strains like the one used in the deadly mailings, only one was located in Maryland or Virginia — the Fort Detrick, Md., lab where Dr. Ivins worked before his July 29 suicide, the documents say.

In addition, searches of Dr. Ivins’s home in Frederick, Md., turned up “hundreds” of similar letters that had not yet been sent to media outlets and members of Congress, people who were briefed by the F.B.I. on Wednesday said. Those people said investigators found that Dr. Ivins sometimes kept odd, night-time hours in the lab, and that he would sometimes drive to mailboxes miles out of his way.

“Ivins has been unable to give investigators an adequate explanation for his late night laboratory work hours around the time” of the mailings, the documents say. And around that time, Dr. Ivins was suffering from “incredible paranoid, delusional thoughts at times,” in the doctor’s own words to a colleague, and feared that he might not be able to control his own behavior, the documents go on.

The material released Wednesday is meant to bolster the F.B.I.’s circumstantial case against Dr. Ivins, who by many accounts had descended into paranoia and despair before he took his own life.

As for motive, the documents suggest that in addition to whatever long-term personal problems he had, Dr. Ivins was distraught because a company had lost its government approval to produce an anthrax vaccine for troops, and he believed the vaccine was essential.

So, mass-murderer or harmless weirdo who was in the wrong place at the wrong time? I lean toward the former, but I'm not sure yet.

My experience, as I've gone through life, is that the fraction of people who, at some point in their lives, aren't quite right in the head is much higher than you might imagine.

I suspect that the terrorist wasn't actually trying to kill people, just to scare the country into taking anthrax vaccines seriously.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Running tribes of Kenya and Mexico

When I was a kid, you heard more about the Tarahumara Indian runners of Copper Canyon in Mexico than you heard about the Kalenjin of Kenya. The Tarahumara were supposed to be the great runners of the world, able to run a hundred miles without stopping. But Tarahumara runners have only competed once in the Olympics, with indifferent success, while the Kalenjin have consistently won medals.

Here's an article comparing the two groups. The sports-obsessed British colonial administrators tried to get the young Kalenjin men to redirect their excess energy from cattle-rustling to track, while Mexico wasn't terribly interested in track, and the Uto-Aztecan-speaking Tarahumara didn't want anything to do with Mexicans, anyway.

The author argues that the Tarahumara's strong suit is distances farther than the 26 miles of the marathon. In contrast, by my calculations, the Kalenjin's best distance is about 3000 meters, which is why Kenyans really aren't that all-conquering at the marathon, a distance at which there are a wide variety of winners. (Here's my 1997 chart showing the best running race distances for different groups.)

In 1993, a 55-year-old Tarahumara showed up at the high-altitude 100 mile ultramarathon in Leadville, Colorado and won, running in sandals made from old tires. But since then they haven't really shown much interest in running professionally outside their canyons.

In this decade, an American named Micah True has organized an annual ultramarathon trail run deep in Copper Canyon. Organizers award as prizes 30,000 pounds of corn and $6,000 cash. In 2007, the top American ultramarathoner, Scott Jurek, participated, winning in a time of 6 hours and 32 minutes. But Arnulfo, a Tarahumara finished second in 6 hours and 50 minutes. In 2008, Americans won the top two spots, and local Indians the next eight.

So, it's hard to figure out just how good as runners the Tarahumara really are. There are only about 50,000 of them, so there isn't a big enough sample size for there to be many running prodigies. And they are sometimes malnourished (eating mostly corn), they chain-smoke, and they regularly get falling down drunk. A common estimate is that 100 days per year are devoted to either heavy drinking or recovering from benders. (Like the Japanese, they're emotionally reticent except when they've had a snootfull.) So, they're pretty darn good, but it's hard to get a precise sense of how good.

It's now theorized that their running style (very short strides, landing on the ball off the foot rather than the heel, as is necessary with a long stride) helps them avoid injuries while running on rugged trails. And their running in crummy sandals instead of cushioned supershoes means that their foot muscles don't atrophy, so they don't get the many injuries suffered by American runners.

Indeed, it occurs to me that there might be a hint of an explanation here for one of the more curious trends in sports history. Americans used to be outstanding distance runners. In the 1960s, three American high school boys, Jim Ryun, Marty Liquori, and Tom Danielson, running in low-tech shoes broke the four minute barrier for the mile, but it was 32 years before it happened again (Alan Webb). In 1972, Frank Shorter won the Olympic marathon, which opened the door to the famous running fad of the 1970s. Soon, everybody was running. The Nike Corporation began selling enormous numbers of ever more technologically advanced running shoes.

Yet, as the quantity of American distance runners exploder, the quality declined. Could it have been the shoes? American runners had the best shoes money could buy, but they kept getting injured. One theory is that the more your feet are cushioned and stabilized, the weaker their muscles get, and the more likely you are to get hurt.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

August 5, 2008

Greg Cochran on anthrax

Greg Cochran says, in defense of the much maligned FBI, that in 2001 the technology didn't really exist to sequence the anthrax found in mailed envelopes in the fall of that year. As you'll recall, the Human Genome Project had spent years sequencing Craig Venter's DNA, not finishing until about then.

By the middle of the decade, however, genome sequencing technology had improved so much that the FBI could hire biotech firms to sequence the evidence, which traced the terrorist anthrax to a particular batch accessible only to about ten people at Ft. Detrick. (That's assuming that the initial inspection of the evidence at Ft. Detrick in 2001 didn't contaminate the sample -- which may or may not be a Big If.)

What we don't know yet is how solid the links are to Ivins as the One of the Ten. He sounds like he was always pretty eccentric, and was fairly crazy at the end. Still, one concern would be: what if the FBI picked out the most eccentric of the ten for surveillance, and that, rather than guilt, drove him around the bend? Anyway, we should know more pretty soon.

It might not be a bad idea to buy out the other nine people at the lab who had access to the terror anthrax and pay them all to take early retirement.

If the anthrax mailer's goal was to get America to pay more attention to and spend more money on defenses against bio-terrorism, he certainly succeeded: we've spent something like $50 billion since then.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

No Country for Old Satirists

... because the Serious People are too funny for a parodist to compete with. I can't make up stuff as good as this tiff between the Wall Street Journal and Slate over whether it's racist to mention Obama's skinniness.

Timothy Noah of Slate claims:

When "Skinny" Means "Black:" The Journal stumbles over racial subtext.

In the Aug. 1 Wall Street Journal, Amy Chozick asked, "[C]ould Sen. Obama's skinniness be a liability?" Most Americans, Chozick points out, aren't skinny. Fully 66 percent of all citizens who've reached voting age are overweight, and 32 percent are obese. To be thin is to be different physically. Not that there's anything wrong, mind you, with being a skinny person. But would you want your sister to marry one? Would you want a whole family of skinny people to move in next-door? "I won't vote for any beanpole guy," an "unnamed Clinton supporter" wrote on a Yahoo politics message board. My point is that any discussion of Obama's "skinniness" and its impact on the typical American voter can't avoid being interpreted as a coded discussion of race.

… But I firmly disagree that a racial reading of Chozick's story is "ridiculous," and I would counter that any failure on Chozick's part to recognize such is just a wee bit clueless.

Let's review the basics. Barack Obama is the first African-American to win a major-party nomination for president of the United States. African-Americans are distinguishable from other Americans by their skin color. This physical attribute looms large in our nation's history as a source of prejudice.

The promise of Obama's presidency, in many people's minds, is partly that America will move toward becoming a post-racial society. It's pretty clear, though, that we aren't there yet. When white people are invited to think about Obama's physical appearance, the principal attribute they're likely to dwell on is his dark skin. Consequently, any reference to Obama's other physical attributes can't help coming off as a coy walk around the barn. A whole genre of humor turns on this reality. A Slate colleague informs me that an episode of the TV sitcom Happy Days ("Fonzie's New Friend") had its 1950s-era characters nervously discussing the fact that a black man in their midst was so … skinny. Was it true that skinny people liked fried chicken? That they were good at basketball? And so on.

It might be argued that body weight differs from certain other physical characteristics (apart from skin color) in that it has never been associated with racial caricature. Chozick wasn't asking (and, I feel sure, would never ask) whether Americans might think Obama's hair was too kinky or his nose too broad. But it doesn't matter. The sad fact is that any discussion of Obama's physical appearance is going to remind white people of the physical characteristic that's most on their minds.

Oh, boy ...

First, I find it highly unlikely that Obama's svelteness is going to hurt him at all. There hasn't been a truly fat President since William Howard Taft. The last Presidential nominees, George W. Bush and John Kerry, were in terrific shape for men of their ages.

Second, Obama's skinniness is a racial trait, but virtually nobody in America knows that. Obama is half Nilotic, and Nilotic people, such as Kenyan runners and Sudanese basketball players, are, on average, skinnier than anybody else in the world when they are in good shape. Physical anthropologists refer to Nilotics as "elongated." Anthropologist Carleton Coon wrote: "The Nilotic Negroes, who live in extreme heat, particularly in summer, may turn out to be the world's leanest people." Obama's Luo tribe, whom Obama described as "tall, ink-black" compared to the "short, brown Kikuyus," are not as extreme as the Dinka or Nuer of southern Sudan, but they tend in that direction.

However, Nilotics are extremely rare in America -- the only time I've stumbled across a large number of American Nilotics is when looking up star high school cross country runners (boys with East African names accounted for 9% of the top 300 high school cross country times). So, nobody thinks of skinniness as a racial trait.

Indeed, African-American women tend, these days, toward fatness (think Oprah and Queen Latifah among even celebrities), while African-American male celebrities tend to be muscular (Lebron James, LaDainlian Tomlinson, 50 Cent, and Will Smith), or, in the case of rappers, fat.

Third, Obama has always been nearly all about race, although in more sophisticated ways than most pundits can grasp. You can't go from being a state legislator to President in four years if you are a normal white or black politician. Even if you are the son or wife of a former President, it takes six to eight years as governor or U.S. senator. (That's why the Bush dynasty couldn't run their Chosen Son, Jeb, in 2000 -- because he'd gotten beaten in the 1994 Florida gubernatorial race, so only had 2 years in the governor's mansion by 2000, while the Prodigal Son, George, had won an upset victory in Texas in 1994.)

It's the mythopoetical aspects of Obama's racial heritage -- the heir foreordained to unify two warring dynasties -- that makes him the Presidential frontrunner. After his defeat by Bobby Rush in 2000, Obama finally figured that out. That's why he devoted the first 380 words of his debut speech at the 2004 Democratic convention to his ancestral background.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

August 4, 2008

The Power of Two: A game show for PBS or NPR

Here's a website called, where they ask you vocabulary questions and the sponsors (e.g., UniLever) donate 20 grains of rice to hungry people somewhere or other for each word you get right. Many of the words are highly obscure, but if you know your Greek and Latin prefixes and suffixes, you'll do okay.

I got the first 31 in a row right for 620 grains of rice, so, morally speaking, I now get to go kick a cat or something.

Here's how to make it better so that it would be a hit gameshow on NPR or PBS.

You win one grain of rice to donate to the global poor for getting the first, very easy question right. You win two for the second, four for the third, eight for the fourth.

Get it? It's exponential. White People love the Power of Two. (In fact, "The Power of Two" would be a good name for the show.) By getting 31 in a row right, I would have had donated 1,073,741,824 grains of rice.

Which comes out to about 37,000 pounds, or about $25,000 bucks at today's high prices -- i.e., that's about the right amount for a guest with a good vocabulary who lucks into a hot streak like I did. In contrast, on the commercial TV "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," the prizes for a right answer rise in 15 steps from $100 to $1,000,000.

Second, vocabulary questions are good, but if you really want to drive the NPR/PBS audience wild, also include grammar questions! Nothing raise the passions of the SWPL crowd higher than disputes over grammar.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

A reality TV show I'd watch

A reader writes:

"Hey, why not suggest that the governator & his school board take this algebra test? In public and the results for public consumption?"

I suspect Arnold could walk in and ace the first semester Algebra I questions (he made a lot of money as a contractor and developer before his movie career took off), but would run into some tough sledding on the second semester Algebra I stuff, unless he took time off to bone up on it.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

August 3, 2008

Anthrax and Craig Venter

David Willman of the LA Times continues to scoop everybody on the unfolding anthrax story. Now, he reveals that the FBI turned to a firm associated with Craig Venter for analysis of the mailed spores:

As the investigation ground on, authorities enlisted colleagues of J. Craig Venter, founder of a Rockville, Md., institute that had helped map the human genome. Based on analyses performed at the Institute for Genomic Research, Venter said the culprit "almost had to be a government scientist." The institute's analysis was completed under contract to the FBI and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Venter said federal investigators within the last two years retrieved the anthrax evidence from the institute.

"FBI came in and took freezers and all the samples," he said in an interview Sunday.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, RIP

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute has a new book out, The Soul and Barbed Wire: An Introduction to Solzhenitsyn by Edward E. Ericson Jr. and Alexis Klimoff, that serves as both biography and critical appraisal of the late literary giant's work. It's readable and reasonably short at 270 pages. It's only $13.50 in paperback at Amazon.

And here are excerpts from Solzhenitsyn's 2001 two volume work on Russians and Jews, Two Hundred Years Together, 1795-1995. Only a 20 page excerpt in an earlier ISI book has ever been published in the U.S.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"No Real Solution" -- Arnold Schwarzenegger's Algebra for Dummies

My new column expands on a long-term topic -- how political correctness about ignoring differences in intelligence winds up hurting the people it's nominally supposed to protect. I take a look at something I'd touched on a few weeks ago -- Gov. Schwarzenegger's new mandate that every single 8th grader in California's public schools must take algebra by 8th grade (95% new material, including some decent jokes).

Like so many politically correct ideas, accelerating math to overcome the soft bigotry of low expectations ends up helping the smart people and hurting the not smart people.

I took Algebra I in 9th grade in a Catholic high school. My son took it in 7th grade in an LA public middle school a few years ago. He did fine in it. But moving the left half of the bell curve up to taking algebra in 8th grade instead of 9th isn't going to do anybody any good.

Read it here.
My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Stanley Kurtz reads Barack Obama's paper trail

Stanley Kurtz has an informative article in the Weekly Standard on Obama's years as a state legislator, 1996-2004. Although I'd often spoken of Obama's curious lack of a paper trail, an especially odd missing link in somebody so verbally adept, it turns out that he wrote columns during those years for his hometown Hyde Park Herald and gave lots of interviews to the local black paper, the Chicago Defender. Kurtz writes:

What they portray is a Barack Obama sharply at variance with the image of the post-racial, post-ideological, bipartisan, culture-war-shunning politician familiar from current media coverage and purveyed by the Obama campaign. As details of Obama's early political career emerge into the light, his associations with such radical figures as Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Father Michael Pfleger, Reverend James Meeks, Bill Ayers, and Bernardine Dohrn look less like peculiar instances of personal misjudgment and more like intentional political partnerships. At his core, in other words, the politician chronicled here is profoundly race-conscious, exceedingly liberal, free-spending even in the face of looming state budget deficits, and partisan. ...

Fundamentally, he is a big-government redistributionist who wants above all to aid the poor, particularly the African-American poor. Obama is eager to do so both through race-specific programs and through broad-based social-welfare legislation. "Living wage" legislation may be economically counterproductive, and Obama-backed housing experiments may have ended disastrously, yet Obama is committed to large-scale government solutions to the problem of poverty. Obama's early campaigns are filled with declarations of his sense of mission-a mission rooted in his community organizing days and manifest in his early legislative battles. Recent political back flips notwithstanding, Barack Obama does have an ideological core, and it's no mystery at all to any faithful reader of the Chicago Defender or the Hyde Park Herald.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


A reader writes about Bruce Ivins, developer of an anthrax vaccine, who recently committed suicide as the government prepared to charge him in the 2001 anthrax terror attacks:

"Sorta like the fireman who is also an arsonist?"

Yes, that might turn out to be a useful analogy.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer