March 3, 2012

Hispanic fertility

From the Washington Post:
Romney, Santorum and archaic ideas on fertility 
By Lisa Miller, Published: March 2 
Between them, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have as many children — 12 — as there were tribes of Israel. Ron Paul has five of his own, and in an early debate, perhaps unwilling to be outdone by Michele Bachmann’s fostering of dozens, Paul boasted that when he worked as a physician he delivered “4,000 babies.”  
There’s nothing wrong with big families, of course. But the smug fecundity of the Republican field this primary season has me worried. Their family photos, with members of their respective broods spilling out to the margins, seem to convey a subliminal message that goes far beyond a father’s pride in being able to field his own basketball team. What the Republican front-runners seem to be saying is this: We are like the biblical patriarchs. As conservative religious believers, we take seriously the biblical injunction to be fruitful and multiply. 
... (The appeal of Sarah Palin to so many Christian women was exactly this: She prioritized her fertility while juggling a big job and a husband who was frequently out of town. Her fans call her a Proverbs 31 woman, a reference to the biblical character who does it all — and who keeps herself looking good. Her price, the Bible says, is “above rubies.”)

I think this is a pretty common feeling. Much of what drives political passions in the U.S. are different kinds of white women trying to put each other down.

What's interesting is the almost complete kibosh in public discourse over more substantive fertility-related matters. 

For example, if I type into Google

here's what I get as the first hit:
Dec 18, 1984 – Fertility among Hispanic women in the United States is nearly 50 ...''The fertility rate for women of Hispanic origin was 97.5 live births per 1000 ...

Dec. 18, 1984 ... Some up to date news there!

James Q. Wilson, RIP

Political scientist James Q. Wilson has died at age 80. 

He was the rare social scientist who gave the impression that the social sciences are a blast. And why shouldn't they be? Lots of guys study statistics to be better sports fans. Dr. Wilson studied statistics to fight crime. He was like Batman with a reverse Polish notation HP calculator on his utility belt. 

He's getting praised for coming up with the "broken windows" metaphor of crime-fighting in a 1982 magazine article, but probably his even more important idea was "incapacitation" in his 1975 book Thinking About Crime. This was the simple observation that criminals can't prey upon civilians if they are in prison. Therefore, lock more criminals up for longer sentences. That this was considered a revolutionary insight in 1975 says a lot about the academic atmosphere that helped get us into an era of high crime.

March 2, 2012

How can we measure innovation and creativity?

As long as I can remember, the Japanese have been poor-mouthing their lack of creativity and innovation (and, by vague extension, that of East Asians in general). Presumably, they are right, but I've always wondered if there wasn't an element of strategy in this proclivity: "Don't you creative Western geniuses worry about us poor imitative Nipponese. We could never come up with those amazing annual model year changes in sheet metal like Chevy does! We'll just work on our boring little just-in-time manufacturing thingie -- which we totally got from an American, Edward Deming, by the way -- while you Westerners do all your creative wonders."

When commenters get into long debates about whether Asians or Asian-Americans are less creative / innovative than others, I find myself impressed by the certainty with which opinions are offered because I have a hard time coming up with data for, say, this century.

Creativity is clearly something that's terribly important, but it's also extremely hard to measure without the benefit of a long lag time to give historical perspective. 

For example, who was the more significantly creative American information theorist of the 1940s: Claude Shannon or Norbert Wiener? These days, well-informed people would likely say Shannon, who has been getting more famous throughout my lifetime. But if in the 1950s you'd asked an intelligent generalist such as, say, Robert Heinlein, he likely would have said Wiener. (See James Gleick's 2011 book The Information for a current assessment of the Shannon-Wiener rivalry.) Wiener had been famous since his days as a child prodigy (getting his Harvard Ph.D. in math at age 17), and his cybernetic perspective was more immediately appealing to a mechanical engineering-minded era. 

This is not to downplay Wiener, who did lots of other stuff, just that Shannon's work has proven more enduringly influential.

Can historians measure creativity with some degree of objectivity? I think so, for a reason that I outlined in my review of Charles Murray's Human Accomplishment:
Can we trust these data? The scholars upon whom Murray relies have their personal and professional biases, but, ultimately, their need to create coherent narratives explaining who influenced whom means that their books aren’t primarily based on their own opinions but rather on those of their subjects. For example, the best single confirmation of Beethoven’s greatness might be Brahms’s explanation of why he spent decades fussing before finally unveiling his First Symphony: “You have no idea how it feels for someone like me to hear behind him the tramp of a giant like Beethoven.” 
In Paul Johnson’s just-published and immensely readable book Art: A New History, you can see how even this most opinionated of historians must adapt himself to the judgments of artists. Much of the book’s entertainment value stems from Johnson’s heresies, such as his grumpy comment on Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: “No one ever wished the ceiling larger.” Still, Johnson can’t really break free from conventional art history because he can’t avoid writing about those whom subsequent artists emulated. 
For example, Johnson finds Cézanne (who ranks 10th in Murray’s table of 479 significant artists) painfully incompetent at the basics of his craft. Yet, Johnson has to grit his teeth and write about Cézanne at length because he “was in some ways the most influential painter of the late nineteenth century because of his powerful (and to many mysterious) appeal to other painters …”

(Of course, it could all just be a giant conspiracy going on for generations ...)

Anyway, that raises the question of how can we measure trends in creativity and innovation without long lag times? Murray, for example, halted most of his analysis in 1950 to avoid recent fads that won't stand the test of time. 

But, looking back in history, we can see sudden upsurges or declines in particular societies. For example, the traditional English view is that victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588 set off a great age of English cultural accomplishment, of which Shakespeare is only the most famous. Maybe that's an exaggeration, but that has long been the standard story.

So, for this problem of measuring 21st Century innovation, I would propose that as an approximation, somebody do a surname analysis of the founders of technology firms that succeeded with initial public offerings of at least some size. This lacks the historical perspective, but it has the advantage that investors put real money down on their bets on what would be a successful and enduring innovation. Anybody want to try this? Or is there something better to measure?

P.S. A commenter kindly points to two papers that provide data on this subject. One by Ola Bengtsson and David H. Hsu looks at 1780 pairs of tech start-up founders and venture capitalists over about a decade centering around about 1998-2007. These are start-ups that at least got VC funding. About 48% of the start-ups are in California and 18% in Massachusetts.

Among founders, a surname analysis shows 3% Chinese and 7% Indian. There may be some miscellaneous Asians that they didn't break out. (Among venture capitalists, they find 4% Chinese and 4% Indian.)

Another analysis came up with 87% of founders white, 12% Asian, 1% black. These are both national surveys. The percent Asian in California is higher according to the second study: 18%.

Eric Holder: Quotas without End, Amen

Via Roger Clegg and Discriminations, I see this interesting interview by the president of Columbia U., Lee Bollinger, who was the named defendant in the Grutter and Gratz affirmative action cases of 2003, of Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. As you'll recall, Sandra Day O'Connor's majority opinion seemed to put some sort of 25-year timeline on affirmative action, but the Attorney General is having none of that:
One of Bollinger’s questions concerned the United States Supreme Court’s decision earlier this week to reconsider affirmative action. Bollinger was involved in defending affirmative action when the court declared it constitutional in a landmark 2003 case, and he said on Thursday that the court’s decision to revisit the issue is “ominous.” 
Holder expressed support for affirmative action, saying that he “can’t actually imagine a time in which the need for more diversity would ever cease.” 
“Affirmative action has been an issue since segregation practices,” Holder said. “The question is not when does it end, but when does it begin ... When do people of color truly get the benefits to which they are entitled?”

As you'll also recall, the justification given for affirmative action in the majority opinion was not compensation for the historic effects of slavery and Jim Crow, but the benefits that white students gain from "diversity," from the free-wheeling, wide-open, politically incorrect intellectual atmosphere fostered on campus by letting in some students because of their racial/ethnic backgrounds. But, in the Attorney General's view, diversity is about people of color getting benefits. And we have not yet begun to fight! 

March 1, 2012

Andrew Breitbart, RIP

I don't actually know much about the late Andrew Breitbart, who dropped dead last night at age 43, but I want to relate something my wife observed when I had cancer at 38. Lots of people would eventually ask her, "So ... Steve smokes, right?" When she said I didn't, the nonsmokers would look worried and unhappy, and the smokers would look relieved.

We like to believe that whenever anybody dies, it's his own fault. That means, that you, personally, not having any major faults, don't ever have to die.

It's like the test pilots at Edwards AFB in The Right Stuff sitting around at a backyard cookout after one of their neighbors died flying some experimental piece of junk.

Husband 1: Poor Mike ...
Husband 2: Yeah, it's kind of surprising he let himself get in that situation.
Wife 2: What situation?
Husband 2: You know, not being able to handle it.
Wife 1: Handle it? The left wing fell off his airplane!
Husband 3: Yeah, but if afterward's he'd vectored the ailerons with a little more reactive thrust.
Husband 1: And updrafted the trailing surfaces.
Husband 2: Of course.
Wives 1, 2, and 3: The wing fell off!
Husbands 1, 2, and 3: He just didn't have the Right Stuff ...

Conversely, this reminds me of my own automatic assumptions about anybody with more energy than myself (i.e., about 75% of humanity):

A. Obviously, he's on cocaine / Adderall / steroids / adrenochrome etc.

B. Obviously, he's bipolar and is this close to snapping into a full-blown manic episode in which he declares himself the Emperor of Antarctica. 

February 29, 2012

A prediction about America in 2062

A commenter named John says in regard to the National Merit semifinalist lists:
What we are seeing is that Jews are beginning to neglect vanity projects in terms of intellectual achievement - they no longer care about dominating purely social markers of intellectual success, that are more about vanity than real accomplishment. 
So far as I know we have not seen any decline in Jewish Nobels or in Jewish names amongst famous intellectuals in all areas. Has there been such a decline? THAT would be a significant marker.

Good question. A methodological problem is that a lot of measures of accomplishment -- Nobels, Forbes 400, Oscars, etc. -- have time lags built in. Probably looking at founders of major IPOs in this century would be a good test with the shortest time lag. The three most obvious names are Zuckerberg, Page, and Brin, but I don't follow that field closely.
But as far as I know where it counts, Jews perform as well as ever. But in terms of social vanity markers, Jews simply no longer have the motivation they had when they were outsiders in American society - which is exactly what one would expect.  
Interestingly, whites have been underperforming their average IQ in terms of vanity and prestige projects (including admission to an elite unis, which is in many ways more about vanity than economic success) for quite some time now, which is precisely what one would expect - viewed from sociological perspective - from the group that has the most secure social position and feels the least need to *prove* anything. 
That Asians are exerting enormous effort to do well in areas whose significance is to a high degree about vanity and prestige makes total sense. It brings to mind the way many Third World countries spend enormous amounts to build sparkling, palatial airports, while LAX is a dump ;)  
That Jews are now converging with Whites in terms of their indifference to vanity projects is something that we should have expected.  
I predict that in 50 years, the crazy Asian numbers we are seeing now in all these fields - coupled with a troubling lack of real world excellence - will diminish considerably and become more in line with their average IQ, which will still give them a modest overrepresentation in some fields, but nothing like what we are seeing now. 
When that happens, we will know that Asians have *arrived* as Americans and no longer feel the need to *prove* themselves, and we can welcome them into the fold ;) But before that Asians will have to come to terms with the painful reality that their talents are far more modest than they would have wished. The Japanese have already gone through this self-reckoning, and are the most relaxed and easy going of the Asians as a result.

Could be. Or then again, maybe not. 

Remember how there was a brief war in 1962 between China and India over some sparsely inhabited high-altitude terrain in the Himalayas where the border wasn't agreed upon? Perhaps the big issue in American politics in 2062 will be over that border, with one party backing China's claims and the other India's. How do we know that in fifty years, the burning issue of the day in American political and intellectual circles won't be whether China or India has rightful control of Aksai Chin, a region of salt deserts at 16,000 feet?

If that sounds nuts, then imagine what President Eisenhower would have said in 1956 if you told him that in 2012 the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination would compete over foreign policy mostly by trying to promise the most fervently to beat up anybody who questions Israel's right to the shore of the Dead Sea? 

More views on California surnames of semifinalists

A) A rabbi checked out the potentially Jewish names for PSAT semifinalists in 2012 (see my Taki's Magazine column "The East Rises in the West") and came up with a range of 81 to 125 Jewish surnames, or 4 to 6 percent out of 1,950. I have to believe that this is way down from the percent of Jewish National Merit semifinalists in California in the 1970s. Has California's Jewish community shrunk just in relative terms, or in absolute terms (Portland, here we come?). Has marrying shiksas diluted the gene pool? Do Jewish kids try less hard now? But they seemed to be pretty heavy dope smokers at Beverly Hills H.S. in 1975? Or have Asians raised the test scores at the high end?

B) My Taki column is on PSAT semifinalists in California in 2011, but I found on College Confidential an analysis of the 2010 California semifinalists, and if you can't trust anonymous posters on College Confidential, whom can you trust?

Out of 2,003 semifinalists who took the PSAT in California in the spring of 2010:
This is what California's technocratic class will look like 20 years hence:
739 East Asian (Chinese surname, but half-dozen possible countries of origin)
98 Korean
126 undetermined (includes 37 with surname Lee)
18 Japanese (could be Japanese nationals or 4th generation American)
54 South East Asian (Viet Namese, Philippino, Thai, Pacific Islander)
198 South Asian (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh,...)
46 Eurasian (Persian, Armenian, Arabic, Turkish, ...)
728 European (including Hispanic, Jewish, and Slavic)
1 Somali
1 Ghanian
Note: gender and ethnicity were inferred from student's firstname, lastname, and Google search

I rearranged the order. 

February 28, 2012

The One Percent

My new Taki's Magazine column includes a surname analysis (courtesy of reader Rec1man) of the latest National Merit Scholar list of semifinalists in California. About 1.6 million high school juniors take the PSAT annually, and the top 16,000 scorers are recognized as semifinalists. The NMSC does not release ethnic breakdowns of semifinalists, so you have to use surname analysis, which is time-consuming and inexact, but fun.
The white/black test-score gap has been in the news since the 1960s, yet rather like Mark Twain supposedly said about the weather, despite all the talk, nobody seems able to do much about it. ... 
The big news in this century has been the growing Asian-white test-score gap at the high end. 
Consider a feature article in The New York Times over the weekend, “To Be Black at Stuyvesant High.” It was seemingly commissioned to argue for admissions quotas at the famously competitive Manhattan public high school by pointing out that only 3.6 percent of Stuyvesant’s students are now black or Hispanic, down from 15 percent in 1970. My guess is that the story’s emphasis on a lonely black student was mostly an elaborate framing device for its more newsworthy but downplayed message: Holy God, look at ALL THE ASIANS!

Read the whole thing there.

Miscellaneous left over fact: Stuyvesant High in lower Manhattan has 121 of the state of New York's 969 National Merit semifinalists. Hunter College school isn't far behind.

Wash. Post: Black women fat and happy about it

From the Washington Post:
Black women heavier and happier with their bodies than white women, poll finds
... The poll found that although black women are heavier than their white counterparts, they report having appreciably higher levels of self-esteem. Although 41 percent of average-sized or thin white women report having high self-esteem, that figure was 66 percent among black women considered by government standards to be overweight or obese. ... 
“Historically, [self-esteem] research on black girls and women has always been the highest among all groups,” Perry says. “It’s really a powerful statement about our resilience given the dominant images of black women present in American culture, which have been generally degrading and unattractive, or hypersexual and less feminine.”
“Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?” 
“It is very interesting to note that even though black women are objectively less physically attractive than other women, black women (and men) subjectively consider themselves to be far more physically attractive than others . . . 
“What accounts for the markedly lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women? Black women are, on average, much heavier than non-black women.”
Satoshi Kanazawa
May 15, 2011 
Removed from Psychology Today Web site after uproar

In other words, Kanazawa was right, but he was wrong (and got suspended for it) for the usual "Who? Whom?" reasons. 

Overall, the roots of all this sound somewhat hormonal. If you have a lot of muscle, fat, and self-esteem, you probably have a different balance of hormones and hormones receptors than if you are thin and uncertain. This applies to white men, as well. The difference between a fat and muscular Hells Angel and an ectomorphic and uncertain bookkeeper probably start with hormones.

By the way, let me note once again that Hollywood, in practice, doesn't put up with much Diversity Ideology. Walking down Ventura Blvd., an upscale shopping street that serves lower level movie and TV people, about 5% or so of the women are black. Most have some connection with the entertainment industry or at least want to look like they do. 

And, guess what, they almost all look nice and slender.

Also, I'm not surprised this article ran in the Washington Post. My observation is that D.C. has the world's highest density of Large and in Charge (but not moving too fast) black women among big cities I'm familiar with. Trying to get a black lady who works in customer service at a CVS drugstore in the District to actually engage in, you know, customer service got to be a running joke on trips to Washington. Every visit to CVS called to mind JFK's observation that Washington is a city of Northern charm and Southern efficiency. 

February 27, 2012

Obama Admin: U.S. not accomplishing anything in Afghanistan, so can't leave

From the New York Times:
Afghan Uproar Casts Shadows on U.S Pullout 
WASHINGTON — American officials sought to reassure both Afghanistan’s government and a domestic audience on Sunday that the United States remained committed to the war after the weekend killing of two American military officers inside the Afghan Interior Ministry and days of deadly anti-American protests. 
But behind the public pronouncements, American officials described a growing concern, even at the highest levels of the Obama administration and Pentagon, about the challenges of pulling off a troop withdrawal in Afghanistan that hinges on the close mentoring and training of army and police forces.

The "challenges of pulling off a troop withdrawal in Afghanistan" seem somewhat exaggerated.
You just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don't need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don't need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free 

Things have gotten so wacky that the New Voice of Sanity on Afghanistan is the Newtster, who said to Afghanistan this week: "‘You know, you’re going to have to figure out how to live your own miserable life.'"

Reviewing the reviews of Coming Apart

In VDARE, I review the reviews of Charles Murray's Coming Apart. Read the whole thing there.

February 26, 2012

Rudi Can't Fail (in fact, Rudi Can Yale)

The NYT has a long article, To Be Black at Stuyvesant High, on a young heroine of diversity, Rudi-Ann Miller, who practically singlehandedly has kept multiculturalism alive at Stuyvesant H.S. by being one of only 40 African-American students out of 3200 at NYC's premiere exam-only public science and math school.
She has also had enough of the grumbling at Stuyvesant that black students do better in the college-admissions game because of their skin color.

Rudi will have to assuage her hurt feelings next year at Yale. 

Hey, wait a minute, what kind of African-American girl born in the 1990s is named Rudi anyway? Isn't there some foreign country where "Rudie" is close to being the national nickname?

If you followed the complaints of Henry Louis Gates and Lani Guinier about how Harvard's affirmative action slots tend to go to students who are not the descendants of American slaves (i.e., to Barack rather than Michelle Obama), you won't be surprised to find out from later on in the article that Rudi attended through seventh grade Campion College in Jamaica, a Jesuit school that her father, a Jamaican accounting executive recently relocated to the New York area, calls the finest in that country. (Campion College's website boasts that 14 of its graduates have gone on to win Rhodes Scholarships.)

A commenter notes:
As a Stuy alum who had many Black friends, I find it disappointing that the article didn't inquire further into the community of Black students who do make it to Stuy. While there is of course diversity within the Black community, I can testify that most are either the children of immigrants or products of inter-racial relationships. This is relevant because it shows that many are either of higher socio-economic status, or similar to the potpourri of second-generation immigrants who dominate the school. The real issue is why there are so few from the entrenched black communities, in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx who aspire to attend Stuy.

One reason is offered in the article:
Sometimes, Mr. Blumm said, blacks and Latinos who do well enough on the entrance exam to get into Stuyvesant are lured away by prestigious private high schools, which offer them full scholarships and none of the issues that even elite public schools have to contend with, like tight budgets and overcrowding. 

By the way, is this the first statistical graph to be published in this century where blacks are represented by the color black? I thought there was some sort of Rule of Randomizing colors where one one graph blacks are, say, white, and whites are brown, and Chinese are green, and Mexicans are red, and then on the next graph blacks are blue, whites yellow, Asians purple, and Latinos white? I dunno, this graph could be setting a dangerous precedent by making it easier for readers to make sense out of racial data.

It's Annual Subculturepalooza Day

A reader writes:
Academy Awards: Woodstock for women, gays, and celebrities 
NBA All Star Game: Woodstock for blacks and rappers 
Daytona 500: Woodstock for southerners and country stars 
All on the same day! [Although rain has postponed the NASCAR race until Monday]
What's about SWPL whites, normal men, and country club Republicans? The NFL combine? Accenture Match Play championship? Our ruling elites are underserved if just for one day!

Yes, but plenty of white guys will win Oscars, so a few elite white men will be happy. The Oscar voters are 94% white and 77% male. (For some reason, the L.A. Times study that came up with this didn't ask about politics, sexual orientation, or religion/ethnicity.)

When was the last Mexican American nominated for an Oscar?

From my new column in Taki's Magazine:
Yet the most striking diversity shortfall in Hollywood is one that would get any less liberal industry in trouble with Obama’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Los Angeles County is about half Hispanic, and Latino fans make up 30% of the enthusiasts for summer blockbusters. Despite all that, Mexican Americans—in the sense of those who have spent at least part of their formative years in America—are remarkably underrepresented in The Industry.  
Wikipedia’s Oscar lists suggest that no Mexican American has been nominated in any category, no matter how humble, since the 1980s. They're riding a zero for several thousand cold streak. 
Oddly enough, Mexican Americans did better in the pre-diversity days, receiving five acting nominations from 1952 through 1964.

Read the whole thing there.