Milwaukee

Continuity is comforting. The sun rises, the value of pi remains unchanged, businesses burn, cars are smashed, and rioters with the minds of children and the hormones of adults throw bricks at the police. All in good fun.

These incidents seem to come at shorter intervals. In characteristic confusion, in Milwaukee the mob believed that the dead man was shot in the back when the body-cam video show that he was raising a pistol toward the policeman (Milwaukee, Wisconsin ). Either they can’t read, don’t read, don’t have access to the internet, or don’t care. As usual, sixty years after Brown vs. the School Board they shout in illiterate semi-English.

It isn’t working. The racial thing, I mean. The hunting of whites, beatings of whites, calls for attacks on whites. In the age of cell phones, the media can hide only so much.

To avoid admitting that we are seeing a racial insurgency, the media insist that the police are the problem.  They are not. Blacks are unmistakably gripped by a powerful racial hatred of white people. If the police were perfect, nothing would change.

Milwaukee

Teen neighbor charged with capital murder in slaying of burned elderly veteran” Why is this not racism, or even reprehensible, whereas describing this jewel as what he is results in being fired? “(Birmingham police lieutenant Sean) Edwards said that the preliminary investigation shows the suspect and the victim had an argument, before the victim was doused with gasoline and set on fire.”

In Milwaukee the policeman who shot the criminal was himself black–yet the mob specifically attacked whites. A woman screamed in fluent dey-be-he-be that blacks should burn the suburbs of whites. I saw this on  the video, but now read that CNN has cut that part. If you don’t admit that you have cancer, it will go away.

Perennial problems come in two flavors, those that we can’t solve and those that we won’t solve. For example the war on Afghanistan could be ended simply by bringing the troops home. We just choose not to do it.

I can think of no way to solve the country’s racial disaster. Can you?

Ritual chantings about racism, discrimination, white privilege, institutional racism, and so on are neither a program nor a solution. (Incidentally, why is “Kill Whitey” not racist?) Neither is documenting the intense racism of blacks, interracial-rape ratios, crime, and low scores on promotional examinations.

For the moment, let us assume that all of the complaints of blacks and their allies are correct. All right. We have done that. Now what?

There seems to be no solution. The underlying problem that will not go away is that blacks as a race have not shown themselves able to function in a modern society. Degrees and exceptions yes, but the central fact remains. One is not supposed to say this, and would that it were not true, but it is.

In particular they have lagged far behind academically. Attribute causation as you wish. The condition remains. It has proved impervious to every conceivable social program. For this reason affirmative action has become an entitlement rather than an entry point. For this reason the blacks in the blighted cities will never be employable. Everything works against them, most potently  their own attitudes. Joblessness rises among better qualified whites. Obama brings in more Latinos to compete with blacks.

Further, those in the ghettos show little disposition either to study or to work. This also is an obvious truth that one must not utter. A Mexican woman will work as a maid until she figures out something better; a black woman will not. A young Salvadoran man will make his way up Central America, through Mexican police likely to beat him, ride the Train of Death to the US border, and sneak into a country whose language he does not understand to work construction and send money back to his family. A black in Chicago won’t buy a Greyhound ticket to the same job. Yes, there are reasons. A condition does not go way merely because there is a reason for it.

It isn’t working.

Does anyone, black or white, man or woman, Left or Right, see any hope of change? Apparently not, since discussion consists entirely of vituperation. Squalling about conservative racism or liberal hypocrisy does nothing at all to change anything at all. Blacks, the only ones who could render their schools orderly, or make their children do their homework, or persuade their women to essay matrimony, do not.

The cultural divide appears unbridgeable. Blacks are a self-aware, aggrieved, and angry people widely apart from the civilization of whites. They have little desire for assimilation and indeed actively reject it. In Mexico, blacks speak normal Spanish and, in France, normal French. In America, Dat be actin’ white. They give their children strange names, Latoyota and Keeshawn, to maintain distance from whites. Their music is both frequently obscene and frequently hostile to whites. “Acting white,” as for example by studying, is punitively disdained. This is not headed for comfortable multicultural commensalism.

The core of blackness seems to consist of, first, a belief that all of their travails spring from the malignity of whites and, second, that whites owe it to them to solve their problems.

In politics, the focus is entirely on cosmetics. For example, Obama has ordered the Justice Department to use “justice-involved youth” instead of “juvenile delinquent,” and to cease using the word “Negro.” How this will improve literacy in the ghetto is not clear. He wants schools to suspend black and white students proportionately, being unhappy that blacks are suspended at higher rates. His is the quintessential black point of view:  Everything springs from racism, of which blacks don’t have any, and the solution is a federal regulation.

Obama never says that black kids ought to study more or that black women ought to behave responsibly in childbearing. He clearly believes them incapable of it, a position is indistinguishable from that of the KKK. They both seem to be right.

Why should things be otherwise? Blacks have no roots in European civilization, nor in African, if any  Slavery decultured the slaves, leading to a free-floating miasma of American blacknism. This is unfortunate, which changes nothing.The denomination “African-American” serves more to separate them from whites than to link them to Africa. American African might be more realistic.

The racial experiment has failed. We must not say so, but I suspect that most of us know it. To admit it would be to concede the unspeakable. The horrible question arises again: What now?

It is apparent that nothing of any use in going to be done and probably that nothing can be done. The police? Pulling all police out of black neighborhoods would end complaints of racism by cops. It would also leave the ghettos utterly controlled by criminals. Take your choice.

The calls for the burning of white neighborhoods do not bode well. Whites often are well armed. Gun sales are way up. Men I know have no desire to shoot anyone but will do so if their homes are threatened.

What now? The Fergusons, Baltimores, and Milwaukees may calm down, but if they do, the underlying situation will not change. Nobody seems to have any more idea than I do what to do about it, which is no idea at all.

What now?

Paris, 1787: It Reaches Manhattan, Doubtless Due to Continental Drift

It is easy to underestimate the peasantry, the little people. They appear well under control. All seems calm, unless one looks carefully. The means of control work smoothly: the legions, the church, the media, the secret police, the enforcers of political correctness.  The serfs are cowed. Why worry about a distant peonage? Do we not have our castles? Let us dance and drink champagne.

And comes the guillotine.

I know three young women of exceptional intelligence and talent, all of them mature and disciplined. They cannot find jobs. It is not from lack of trying, far from it. One of them is married to a hard-working man in a highly technical field usually associated with wealth. He is paid a low hourly wage and forced to work on contract, meaning that he has neither benefits nor retirement. His employers know that if he leaves, they can easily find another to take his place. They have him where they want him.

Which may prove a mistake.

Yet this is become a pattern. In a country that prides itself on wealth and justice and boundless opportunity, none of these things actually exists except for our Bourbons. The rich in their palaces in Manhattan and Santa Clara prosper mightily, often by impoverishing the rest. It has happened many times in history. The results have been similar.

The guillotine was devised as a humanitarian measure to cut off a criminal’s head cleanly, the ax-wielding headsmen of the time being notorious for missed strokes and subsequent horror. When the meek and mild peasantry rose in 1789, proving to be less meek and mild than believed, the humanitarian aspects of the instrument were forgotten. The populace just wanted to see their betters bleed. They saw.

In the United States of today, clouds gather as the royalty toast each other with expensive wines. In numbers that a half century ago would have seemed impossible, the American young live with their parents, being unable to find jobs to support themselves. Waitressing in a good bar pays better in tips than a woman with a college degree can otherwise earn, assuming that she can earn anything at all. Employers having learned to hire them as individual contractors, they move into their thirties with no hope of a pension for their old age.

Desperation and hatred are close cousins.

Meanwhile, Jeffrey Bezos of Amazon makes spaceships and buys the Washington Post as a toy and the newspapers have reported that a Croesus of Wall Street has bought a Modigliani, it may have been, for $55 million dollars.

Marie didn’t actually say, “Let them eat cake,” but might well have. Instead they ate her. But it can’t happen here. Oh no.

The homeless in San Francisco are now described as “a plague.” There seem to be ever more of them. But not to worry. Never worry. The stock market remains exuberant. In nearby Silicon Valley, a man buys a new Lamborghini every year.

The Russians simply shot their royal family in a basement in Ekaterinburg. The Romanovs, or at least those Romanovs, were actually nice people, very much an Ozzie and Harriet family. Perhaps if you met Bezos, or Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates or Elon Musk, you would find them charming, even decnet. They probably give money to charity. So did Andrew Carnegie. The Romanovs just didn’t pay enough attention. Neither, perhaps, do newer Romanovs.

Unrest breeds surprises. Maybe Louis XVI thought, “It can never happen here.” Today the African population of America is openly insurgent, the middle class sinks, jobs continue leaving under the stewardship of the rich, the government either will not or cannot enforce its laws, the borders are open, half of the country seethes in fury at the other half, and the sale of guns is at record heights.

When people realize that they really have no country, only a collection of rapacious interests, history becomes…creative. In theory, Congress and the President have the well-being of the nation at heart and at least to some extent seek to effect the betterment of the whole. Really they are carrion birds picking the carcass clean and, perhaps, planning flight to the French Riviera.

Mussolini ended as an ornament in the Italian street, hanging upside down from a meat hook. He should have paid more attention.

A short walk from the Capitol in Washington, whole housing developments lie empty, their windows sometimes bricked up to keep the derelicts out. In abandoned houses turned shooting galleries, of which there are many, empty cans of Vienna sausages and old bottles of fortified wine lie among used needles and rags stained with things better not reflected upon. You can live for a surprising time on Vienna sausages, Night Train, and Ritz crackers. Many do. Their organs eventually fail.

No one sees these things, so they cannot be important. A forty-five minute walk away, in Colonial Village across Key Bridge in Virginia, I once bought an 835-square-foot condo for $140,000 and later sold it for $300,000. It is well that the economy flourishes. We live in a land of opportunity.

In this best of all possible worlds the wealthy buy homes for $100 million and sleep secure in their beds, knowing that only half of the country would love to hang them from lamp posts. True, the rise of Donald Trump may disturb the elites a bit as they enrich themselves by sending more jobs abroad. But not to worry. Trump is only Mussolini by Disney and the fury his supporters feel toward New York and Washington will go away once we have Hillary in office. Fly-over land doesn’t really matter anyway.

Unless of course it does. In which case Uber should stock up on tumbrils.

Hillary, Trump, and War with Russia: The Goddamdest Stupid Idea I Have Ever Heard, and I Have Lived in Washington

T14

Don’t look for a walk-over. The T14 Armata, Russia’s latest tank. You don’t want to fight this monster if you can think of a better idea, such as not fighting it. Russia once made large numbers of second-rate tanks. That worm has turned. This thing is way advanced and outguns the American M1A2, having a 125mm smoothbore firing APFSDS long-rods to the Abrams 120mm. (As Hillary would know, that’s Armor-piercing, fin-stabilized, discarding-sabot. You did know, didn’t you, Hill?) This isn’t the place for a disquisition on armor, but the above beast is an ver advanced design with unmanned turret and, well, a T34 it isn’t. (I was once an aficionado of tanks. If interested, here and here.)

A good reason to vote for Trump, a very good reason whatever his other intentions, is that he does not want a war with Russia. Hillary and her elite ventriloquists threaten just that.  Note the anti-Russian hysteria coming from her and her remoras.

Such a war would be yet another example of the utter control of America by rich insiders. No normal American has anything at all to gain by such a war. And no normal American has the slightest influence over whether such a war takes place, except by voting for Trump. The military has become entirely the plaything of unaccountable elites.

A martial principle of great wisdom says that military stupidity comes in three grades: Ordinarily stupid; really, really, really stupid; and fighting Russia. Think Charles XII at Poltava, Napoleon after Borodino, Adolf and Kursk.

Letting dilettantes, grifters, con men, pasty Neocons, bottle-blonde ruins, and corporations decide on war is insane. We have pseudo-masculine dwarves playing with things they do not understand. So far as I am aware, none of these fern-bar Clausewitzes has worn boots, been in a war, seen a war, or faces any chance of being in a war started by themselves. They brought us Iraq, Afghanistan, and Isis, and can’t win wars against goatherds with AKs. They are going to fight…Russia?

A point that the tofu ferocities of New York might bear in mind is that wars seldom turn out as expected, usually with godawful results. We do not know what would happen in a war with Russia. Permit me a tedious catalog to make this point. It is very worth making.

When Washington pushed the South into the Civil War, it expected a conflict that might be over in twenty-four hours, not four years with as least 650,000 dead. When Germany began WWI, it expected a swift lunge into Paris, not four years of hideously bloody static war followed by unconditional surrender. When the Japanese Army pushed for attacking Pearl, it did not foresee GIs marching in Tokyo and a couple of cities glowing at night. When Hitler invaded Poland, utter defeat and occupation of Germany was not among his war aims. When the US invaded Vietnam, it did not expect to be outfought and outsmarted by a bush-world country. When Russia invaded Afghanistan it did not expect…nor when America invaded Afghanistan, nor when it attacked Iraq, nor….

Is there a pattern here?

The standard American approach to war is to underestimate the enemy, overestimate American capacities, and misunderstand the kind of war it enters. This is particularly true when the war is a manhood ritual for masculine inadequates–think Kristol, Podhoretz, Sanders, the whole Neocon milk bar, and that mendacious wreck, Hillary, who has the military grasp of a Shetland pony. If you don’t think weak egos and perpetual adolescence have a part in deciding policy, read up on Kaiser Wilhelm.

Now, if Washington accidentally or otherwise provoked a war with Russia in, say, the Baltics or the Ukraine, and actually used its own forces, where might this lead, given the Pentagon’s customary delusional optimism? A very serious possibility is a humiliating  American defeat. The US has not faced a real enemy in a long time. In that time the armed forces have been feminized and social-justice warriorified, with countless officials having been appointed by Obama for reasons of race and sex. Training has been watered down to benefit girl soldiers, physical standards lowered, and the ranks of general officers filled with perfumed political princes. Russia is right there at the Baltic borders: location, location, location. Somebody said, “Amateurs think strategy, professionals think logistics.” Uh-huh. The Russians are not pansies and they are not primitive.

What would Washington do, what would New York make Washington do, having been handed its ass in a very public defeat? Huge egos would be in play, the credibility of the whole American empire. Could little Hillary Dillary Pumpkin Pie force NATO into a general war with Russia, or would the Neocons try to go it alone–with other people’s lives? (Russia also has borders with Eastern Europe, which connects to Western Europe. Do you suppose the Europeans would think of this?) Would Washington undertake, or try to undertake, the national mobilization that would be necessary to fight Russia in its backyard? Naval war? Nukes in desperation?

And, since Russia is not going to invade anybody unprovoked, Washington would have to attack. See above, the three forms of military stupidity.

The same danger exists incidentally with regard to a war with China in the South China Sea. The American Navy hasn’t fought a war in seventy years. It doesn’t know how well its armament works. The Chinese, who are not fools, have invested in weaponry specifically designed to defeat carrier battle groups. A carrier in smoking ruins would force Washington to start a wider war to save face, with unpredictable results. Can you name one American, other than the elites, who has anything to gain from war with China?

What has any normal American, as distinct from the elites and various lobbies, gained from any of our wars post Nine-Eleven? Hillary and her Neocon pack have backed all of them.

It is easy to regard countries as suprahuman beings that think and take decisions and do things. Practically speaking, countries consist of a small number of people, usually men, who make decisions for reasons often selfish, pathologically aggressive, pecuniary, delusional, misinformed, or actually psychopathic in the psychiatric sense. For example, the invasion of Iraq, a disaster, was pushed by the petroleum lobbies to get the oil, the arms lobbies to get contracts, the Jewish lobbies to get bombs dropped on Israel’s enemies, the imperialists for empire, and the congenitally combative because that is how they think. Do you see anything in the foregoing that would matter to a normal American? These do not add up to a well-conceived policy. Considerations no better drive the desire to fight Russia or to force it to back down.

I note, pointlessly, that probably none of America’s recent martial catastrophes would have occurred if we still had constitutional government. How many congressmen do you think would vote for a declaration of war if they had to tell their voters that they had just launched, for no reason of importance to Americans, an attack on the homeland of a nuclear power?  

There are lots of reasons not to vote for Clinton and the suppurating corruption she represents.  Not letting her owners play with matches rates high among them.

The Maya: Who Woulda Thunk it?

Inasmuch America has a large population of Latin Americans, it seems to me that people, or some people, might want to know about them, and what they are, and where they came from. Most Latinos of the south are either a mixture of Spanish and Indian, or sometimes pure Indian. We have some idea of the Spaniards. They were European. But what were the Indians? What is their contribution to the great numbers of–whether you like it or not–new Americans? In particular, what are their blood lines? Are they, as nativists insist, of very low IQ–83–and have they enstupidated the Spanish? Horrendously primitive?

Without thinking about it, I had the entrenched idea that they were just that. I wasn’t conscious that it was either an idea or entrenched–just a fact. It didn’t occur to me that I knew virtually nothing about these  people, or that there was anything to know.

What pulled me up short was their architecture. Throughout a large region, sort of Yucatan through parts of Honduras, you find ruined cities of monumental architecture that would match most of what is found in the ancient Near East. A great deal of it is overgrown with jungle. To get to major sites like Palenque, you walk through dim  trails with unexplored walls and passageways.  But the existence of these ruins did not set well with the idea of primitive incapacity. The architecture was entirely Indian since they had no contact with Europe.

Maya city

Chiapas. Compares well with a lot of Roman monumental architecture. There are lots of these: Palenque, Tikal, Piedras Negras, Copán, Yaxchilan, Teotihuacan, Caracol, Uxmal, etc.

Maya-Condo

Chiapas. Time and the weather have not treated this building well, but it seems to me that these things must take considerable engineering talent.

Maya pyramid

Pyramid at Chichén Itsá. For scale, note people at lower left.

Aha! I thought with the  brilliance of one who has been hit over the head by the obvious. Something screwy is going on here. How witless can you be and engineer these things? I started poking around. And found interesting stuff. For example:

Mesoamerican Mathematics

The Maya invented a sophisticated base-20, positional-exponential number system, including zero. The invention of zero is regarded as major advance in mathematics, and occurred in India for sure and perhaps in other places, though never in Europe. Until Fibonacci brought zero back from the Hindu-Arab world, Europe used Roman numerals, a horrible system. I knew this, but had never thought about it. Well, it’s worth a little pondering.

In a positional number system, a number–7, say–has an absolute value–in this case unsurprisingly 7–as well as a different value depending on its position. For example, in the number 100,007, seven means, well, 7. In 100,070, its value is 70, and in 10,700, its value is 700.

“Exponential” means that each position in a number represents a different power of the base, in our case 10. Thus we have ten to the zero power equals one, to the first power, ten; squared, 100, cubed, 1000, and so on.

The Maya, using base twenty, had a similar progression, going 1, 20, 400, 8,000, 160,000 etc.. (Inevitably the choice of 20 as the base is attributed to our number of fingers and toes, though I have trouble imagining anyone actually counting on his toes.)

Neither of these ideas is obvious, or anywhere approaching obvious. Both eluded Archimedes, for example. They seem natural to us because were are steeped in them from the first grade and,  since everyone has had high school algebra, exponents seem routine. Using a thing and inventing it are very different animals. Any bright freshman can sling definite integrals; it took a Newton to invent them.

Imagine that you are a Mesoamerican Indian somewhere in Central America trying to figure out how to deal with large numbers. The fact that you are interested in large numbers suggests that you are not stupid. You have never had high-school algebra or heard of exponentiation. I cannot imagine how you would get from here to “Eureka!” (though as a Maya you probably didn’t know Greek either).

The idea  “Hey ,what if I line up powers of 20, multiply them by sort of coefficients, and add them….?”–is a huge intellectual leap. So far as I can determine, it only happened twice. It never happened in Europe.

For the mathematically curious, the Maya system had a remarkable peculiarity. Number systems, or anyway all I have heard of, require a number of symbols equal to the base. For example, binary, base-2, has two symbols, 0 and 1; decimal, base-10, ten symbols 0-9; and hexadecimal, base sixteen, 0-F.  So I thought, Oh help, I’m going to have to memorize twenty symbols of some weird sort.  In fact, the Maya ran a base-20 system with only three symbols representing  0, 1, and 5. That is truly strange, but it works. If interested, the link above explains it nicely.

For the record, from The Story of Mathematics: “The importance of astronomy and calendar calculations in Mayan society required mathematics, and the Maya constructed quite early a very sophisticated number system, possibly more advanced than any other in the world at the time ….The pre-classic Maya and their neighbours had independently developed the concept of zero by at least as early as 36 BCE, and we have evidence of their working with sums up to the hundreds of millions, and with dates so large it took several lines just to represent them. ”

Curious from a Stone Age people, which they essentially were. I note that Europe did not invent zero.

The Wheel

Maya Wheels
It is often said that the Maya never invented the wheel. Actually they did. Hundreds of these wheeled pull-toys for children have been found. Several writers have commented that it is difficult to understand why the Maya were unable to make the mental leap to the idea of making full-sized carts. But of course they could. Thing is, there were no animals to pull them, such as horses or donkeys. Making a mental leap to horses does not get you a horse.

Human Sacrifice

The Maya in the popular mind are thought to have been murdering, torturing savages given to human sacrifice. This is probably because they were in fact murdering, torturing savages given to human sacrifice. Why this is thought especially reprehensible is a mystery. The Romans sacrificed huge numbers in the arena so that the public could enjoy watching them die, crucified large numbers, and poured molten lead down the throats of criminals. In the European witch hunts, sort of 1450-1750, some 500,000 were killed depending on whose numbers you accept, mostly by burning alive. The Tudors hanged criminals, cut them down still alive, opened their abdomens and removed their bowels while still alive, and had four horses attached to their arms and-legs put them into pieces. And of course everybody and his dog  put entire cities to the sword, from Joshua to Hiroshima. Despite their best efforts the Maya could not keep up with the moderns.

Writing

The invention of writing is among the major intellectual achievement of humanity and one that occurred at most three or four times on the  planet, and perhaps fewer. Specialists argue, idiotically in m y view, over whether Chinese was or was not influenced by earlier writing. Specialists have to do something with their time. What is not arguable:

Wikipedia: “It is generally agreed that true writing of language (not only numbers) was invented independently in at least two places: Mesopotamia (specifically, ancient Sumer) around 3200 BC and Mesoamerica around 600 BC. Several Mesoamerican scripts are known, the oldest being from the Olmec or Zapotec of Mexico.”

The Maya script is logosyllabic and said to be functionally similar to Japanese, to which it is utterly unrelated. It is not “proto-writing,” but actual real writing. This was not immediately known because the script had  not been deciphered, but now about ninety percent can be read. This doesn’t help as much as might be expected since the Spanish Christians, as destructive as the Muslims of today, burned almost all Maya books–codices actually–and so everything we know comes from inscriptions carved on buildings. Imagine how we would look to Martians with the same problem. The book to read if interested is  Breaking the Maya Code.

 

The Arts

MayaPot1

MayaPot2MayaPot3

The aesthetic is a matter of taste but these to my eye appear artistically respectable. The Maya of today do nothing in math and technology, but retain a fine sense for design and the use of color.

Astronomy

Again from The Story of Mathematics: The Maya “were able to measure the length of the solar year to a far higher degree of accuracy than that used in Europe (their calculations produced 365.242 days, compared to the modern value of 365.242198), as well as the length of the lunar month (their estimate was 29.5308 days, compared to the modern value of 29.53059).” Try to imagine how they did it.

It is interesting that Europe invented neither writing, zero, nor its number system, but the Mesoamericans did all three. Perhaps the Indians were enstupidated by the admixture of Spanish blood. While this is all good fun, it again raises the question of how and why groups pass through periods of intellectual fertility and then stop, as the Maya certainly have. Always there is some pat genetic explanation that doesn’t make sense, can’t be established, or both. But the Indians did what they did. Interesting stuff, no?

Virtue and the Streets: A Dummy’s Guide to Police Work

Encountering almost daily criticisms of the police by Pathologically Virtuous Whites of the sort one finds at Salon and NPR, many of these criticisms being nonsensical, I find myself wanting to ask these unpleasantly nice people:

Do you know any cops? Have you ever known any? I mean known them well enough  to have a beer with after work, or to invite to a get-together at your house. Have you ever really talked to a cop?

As I thought.

Let’s try this: Have you ever heard an unedited interview, or any interview, with any of the cops or security people accused of gratuitously killing blacks? Or with their lawyers? With any cop at all about anything at all? That is, with anyone who might present their side of the story?

I haven’t either.

Has it ever occurred to you that there might be another side of the story?

Yet I assume confidently that you have heard all sorts of activists and talking heads who weren’t there holding forth on events about which they had no direct knowledge. Doubtless you have heard a lot from Jesse and Al, Barack and Michelle, and Hillary, and Black Lives Matter, and all the commentators. But nothing at all from the cops, right? That is,  your entire understanding of cops, the conditions in which they work, and particular events has been crafted by the media. No?

Now, why don’t you know any cops? For at least two reasons. As a Pathologically Virtuous White (PVW), you are almost certainly a college graduate. The police are blue-collar. PVWs s do not associate with what they regard as lower classes any more than they would let their daughters date a plumber.

Am I wrong?  Do you have a single close blue-collar friend? Or any blue-collar friend?

Another reason why you don’t know any cops is that cops and their families tend to be clannish, to associate mostly with other cops and their families. There are reasons for this. One is that people are uneasy around cops  and, in social settings, the cops are uncomfortable  around PVWs. If you invite a dozen friends to a backyard barbecue, and one is a cop, what happens if a guest, unaware, pulls out a joint and lights it? Does the cop arrest him? Pretend he doesn’t see? Be a good sport about it and risk repercussions for dereliction of duty? Will people even talk about their experiences in the Sixties with a cop around? (“I was flying on psilocybin and….”)

What if some of the guests are a bit, er, flushed with wine and start to drive home? Should he give them a sobriety test to protect the public? When is a cop not a cop?

Further, cops are masculine, a condition seldom practiced or approved by PVWs. They are conservative and like guns. You will be  acutely aware that they hey are not your kind of people. They will be aware that you are thinking this.

So you know nothing about them, their jobs, or the conditions in which they work. Especially the latter. Blank ignorance allows you to have strong, simple ideas and pious indignations about the police without any danger of contradiction by reality. You friends will all have the same notions, and you will all enjoy admiring your inherent rightness.

There are at least two explanations, neither of which you  are likely to understand, for your detestation of cops. On the street, cops have to be hard-nosed or they lose their authority. Citizens are a pain in the ass when interacting with cops. They will lie, argue, bluster, threaten, and weasel. A pretty woman hikes her skirt up before the cop reaches her car door door and makes googoo eyes. Men, especially in groups will try to intimidate an officer, physically or by arguing furiously. They all know the mayor. Why isn’t the cop out catching real criminals?  The only way the cop maintains his authority is to be stone-faced  and not friendly. Thus a cop who laughs and tells stories in the cruiser becomes robocop on the street. 

The other reason why PVWs hate cops is ego. Say that you are a bank  president of forty-five, or a lieutenant general in the Air Force, or the wife of the city treasurer. You are in your forties and have well-developed self-esteem. You are used to deference from others. You get stopped for speeding or, worse, wobbling out of your lane. The  cop is twenty-two years old. A high-school grad.

This…kid…can lecture you as if you were an erring child, order you out of your car, make you walk a straight line or blow in an Alkalsenor, impound your car if he determines that you are drunk, arrest you in handcuffs if necessary and send you to months of drunk-driving school. You have to take it. There is no recourse.

From a twenty-two year old kid.

Most of it won’t happen unless you are an idiot, but the kid can do it. And this rubs Pathologically Virtuous Whites the wrong way.

Now, let us go off the deep end and imagine that you,were required to don a cop’s uniform and spend three months walking a foot beat with a real cop in, say, Newark or Chicago or Detroit, downtown. How would this affect your mind?

Greatly.

You would find yourself in an utterly black neighborhood, probably for the first time in your life. You would not be nearly as comfortable as your multicultural self would like to be. People would not look friendly, especially the young men. There would be cold-eyed, dead stares. What I used to call shark’s eyes. The class and racial distinctions you think you don’t have would kick in hard. 

People will hate you. It will be shock to your system because it runs against everything NPR has told you to think. You will run through the laundry list of slavery, oppression, white privilege, but when you are through they will still hate you. As a momentary cop, you have to deal with what is there, not what you think ought to be there.

Suddenly the killing of policemen by blacks that you saw as abstractions on TV, perhaps half thinking that they deserved it, will not be so abstract.

You will discover that that when you arrest a local, no matter how obviously guilty of what, you will be hated for it. If you decline to arrest anybody for anything–a course whose wisdom you will begin to see–Salon and NPR will attack you for not doing your job.

You will realize that the police are not heavily armed thugs intimidating a helpless and cowering black public. Cops are vulnerable. Anybody passing you on the street could stick an ice pick into you, or blow your head off from behind. When you walk through a group of eight young men who don’t like you at all, for a  moment they will be on both sides of you, in front, and behind. You, a PVW, would probably turn your head to look backward, making you look afraid. Bad move. If you show fear, they are in charge. 

I am not making this up. As I write, the headline are that three cops were killed by blacks in New Orleans.

After a few days, the hostility would begin to get to you. You might want to throw up your hands and say, “Look, I’m with you. I understand your suffering over the centuries. I confess my guilt. Forgive me.”

It wouldn’t work. Nobody likes a whimpering wussy, usually including the wussy. There would slowly grow on you a horrible realization that when people dislike you intensely, you begin to dislike them. When you are afraid of them, dislike comes faster. You would begin to use words like dirtbag, knucklehead, perp. Or at least think them.

Hanging out at the Fraternal Order of Police, you would find that most cops are likable. This discovery would probably disturb you. You wouldn’t like it because it would upset treasured preconceptions. You Would find that some cops do push blacks around as per your training by the Washington Post. You would find, confusingly, that some that you liked some of the men who did the pushing. You  would feel safer with them on the street. You would find that black cops often push blacks around worse than white cops do. This would confuse you further.

You will see things that will change you. The blonde fifteen-year-old rape victim, screaming, choking, sobbing as a paramedic try to get a sedative into her arm. You will note your partner’s knuckles going white on his nightstick, the barely audible, very earnest, “God I hope he resists arrest.” This won’t make you favor police brutality, not at first anyway, and you may mumble appropriately about a troubled youth and white privilege. But you will begin to think.

And you will realize things that Pathologically Virtuous Whites don’t know. They think they do, but not even close: Shit happens on the streets. Really, really bad shit. The dead guy with his face peeled of all skin as if with an Exacto knife, eyes staring like boiled eggs. A little girl dead in a dumpster, hands bound, half her weight for her age from being kept ties in a closet, barely fed, suppurating scars on her wrists from tight ropes. Yeah, I know. Mommy had a bad childhood. The guy who offed himself over a girlfriend in the bushes along the parkway by the Pentagon, in August heat, found a week later: black oozing liquids swarming with maggots. The children burned to death in an arson fire, the color of boiled ham, bellies exploded because internal liquids boiled.

You never forget things like that. The foregoing are not fiction. I saw all of them. Just another day at the office for a big-city cop. After your three months, oh Pathologically Virtuous White–three months of ambiguity, of guesses sometimes wrong, of seeing the misery and venality and unrepentant viciousness–you would come to the cop’s routine conclusion that there are no answers and that the humans are a sorry lot. But you would know what you were talking about–and you would find it a novel experience.

White Nationalists And Practicality: If Any

“White nationalists” as they call themselves  would like to US to be close to one hundred percent white. So would I. So would many tens of millions of Americans who do not call themselves white nationalists, but are. Diversity causes nothing but trouble, and is doing so now. However, America can’t be completely white, or even close. The time for that idea is long past. The practical question becomes: What now?

White nationalists, often inaccurately called “white supremacists,”  want to close the border. So do I. They want to make Obama stop importing every sort of third-worlder he has heard of. So do I. They want to deport illegal aliens. With exceptions, so do I.

For the sake of discussion, let us assume that all of this has been done. At this point the white nationalists (hereinafter just “nationalists”) run out of gas, having so far as I am aware no further plan or aim beyond a loathing for anything not white and European.

The utility of this is not clear. The disappearance of the illegals would leave some 45 million legal Latinos: birthright citizens, naturalized citizens, legal residents and, increasingly, completely American citizens of Latino descent. (The numbers are shaky, but “whole really big bunch” would be accurate.) My question to white nationalists:

What do you recommend doing with, about, for, or to the tens of millions of legal Latinos? What specifically, and how do you propose doing it?

Many of the arguments made by the nationalists are rational—we don’t need the population, American businessmen unemploy Americans by giving jobs to illegals, the costs of assimilating them are high, and so on. Well and good, but mostly a bit late. Meanwhile the nationalists transparently seethe with hatred of Latinos. How this will prove of service to the United States eludes me.

This antagonism leads them to distort and even lie. Their opponents do likewise.  Most of the public I suspect, having no independent source of information, has to guess between.

So, what do nationalists propose? I do this not as a challenge but in search of understanding, a reasonable question in search of a reasonable answer. The question is one of the most important that can be asked.  The country deserves a concrete answer. The politically correct classes say things like, “We need comprehensive immigration reform.” That can mean anything, and therefore means nothing.

My answer would be: Try to make legal Latinos into productive citizens, which should not be terribly hard. Leaving them alone, and not allowing governments to turn them into a welfare class, would probably do the trick. If nationalists have a better idea, or another idea, I would be happy to consider it.

Since tens of millions of Latinos are in the country, and are going to stay, it might be wise to seek at least a modus viventdi and an amicable relationship, and better, assimilation, rather than needlessly encourage hostile relations. A difficulty here is that below the reasoned arguments of the nationalists there lies a horror of intermarriage. Correct me if I am wrong. To many, successful assimilation would be worse than keeping Latinos somehow cordoned off.

The problem, of course–“of course,” anyway, to people who have lived in the developing world–is that so many of the immigrants are not of the middle class. Once people have a decent job, spouse, mortgage, car, refrigerator, two kids and a dog, they become placid, maybe a little boring, and spend their time taking the kids to soccer practice. (How many of the people shooting each other in Chicago fail to fit this description? How many middle-class blacks shoot each other? Exactly) Thus it might be wise to encourage the entry of Latinos  into the middle class.

Unless the desire is to keep them out  of the middle class. Is it?

I have framed the question on the assumption that the border has been closed, which it hasn’t, and won’t be for most of a decade if Hillary comes in.

Do white nationalists propose to encourage assimilation? How? Discourage it? How? Let nature take its course? If the choice is to discourage assimilation, the practicality would seem doubtful, since in many places in the US the races mix amicably, and many Americans in Mexico who have Mexican wives speak highly of the idea.

Do white nationalists favor teaching Latino kids English in the schools,  or not doing so? Should white children be allowed, or required, to learn to speak Spanish? The idea seems to set off spasms of revulsion in some nationalists, though if you told a  German that his kids should not learn English or French, or both, he would look at you strangely. Discouraging monolingualism  would make for assimilation, if that should be desired.

Is assimilation possible? I think so, eventually anyway, but we shall see. I do know that if (a) Latinos, already probably twenty per cent of the population, become ghettoized, isolated, hostile and dysfunctional, the United States is over, fini, done, and (b) constant attacks on them as Latinos tend to lead to this end. It Is one thing to deport illegals, verify citizenship for employment, and punish criminals. It is another endlessly to characterize Latinos as criminal, stupid, and foul. Which is what white nationalists relentlessly do.

The curious thing is that nationalists seem to want Latinos to be as undesirable as possible. If I write that n Mexico the schools are not chaotic and kids learn to read, that Mexicans do not breed like flies, (fertility rate, CIA FactBook: 1960: 6.78; 2015: 2.26), that the country runs the standard technological infrastructure of airlines, telecommunications and hospitals, on and on, the response never varies: Fred is lying, everything good is done by the white part of the Mexican population, and  these defects are genetic  and pleasantly irremediable.

One would think that the nationalists, having millions of Latinos in their country, would welcome evidence that the newcomers were not as terrible as thought–hoped, I could almost say. No. To hell with the country, but do not threaten my internal furies.

We have an interesting approach to national suicide. On one hand, favoring unlimited immigration, we have the Googooing Good, the big money men, Hillary, and Obama, which will make matters worse. On the other hand, white nationalists who apparently want a bar fight. What could be smarter?

A Different Take on China: Reflections from a Former Life

Ages ago, for reasons I no longer remember, I was wandering across Asia and decided to spend some time in Taiwan. The Chinese interested me, and Taiwan was then as close as it was practical to get. Then, as now, the Chinese were thought by many to be exotic, inscrutable, devious and unlike normal people such as ourselves. You know, opium dens, dragon ladies, assassinations by puff adder, that sort of thing. Given the importance of China today, the nature of these multitudinous people might bear thought.

As was commonly done in those days, I found a (very) cheap place to stay in the winding alleys downtown and settled in. Nice  enough place, I thought, agreeable people, pretty girls. It is curious how unweird people turn out to be if you actually live among them, this being a principle I had discovered among the Thais, Viets, Mexicans, and Cambodians. I shared  an apartment with another wandering young gringo, and a little Japanese mathematician named Sakai–”whiskey well” if I remember the characters of his name–and two young Chinese guys. One of them, Ding Gwo, played the guitar and wanted to be a rock star. The whole bunch were extraordinarily ordinary. The Chinese are in fact as  exotic as potatoes. The kids act like kids anywhere, the women like women. They are not another species.

 The girls dressed to be attractive and pretty, hardly a novelty among young women, and were often wildly successful. (Oriental women tend to appeal greatly to Western guys, the condition being known as “yellow fever” or “rice fever.” It is not a matter of sexual availability, the middle-class girls being less promiscuous than American, but just lovely and feminine. Chilly they were not.)

At night we sometimes went to a local hangout for the young, pretty much like any other though more innocent than the American today: Taiwan was decidedly authoritarian and being caught with drugs would not have led to a happy ending. Dim lights, soft drinks, Western rock, and considerable flirtation.  It could have been Memphis.

ChinPing

Exotic murderess Chin Ping distracts Fred with humor while temple dragon sneaks up behind to bite his hand off. It’s how the Chinese are, crafty, and hang out with concrete animals.

I studied Mandarin hard for nearly six months, on the principle that most things are possible with a combination of modest intelligence and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The school was Gwo Yu R Bao, literally Mandarin Newspaper, but it had a language school above. My teacher, Jang Lau Shr, was a mid-fortiesish woman who seemed quite old to me at the time. She was competent and likable, and not devious, sneaky, or mysterious. She probably didn’t have a single puff adder. I guess she hadn’t gotten the word.

When the government realized that I was a journalist of sorts, she was suddenly replaced by a very attractive young women who I know damned well was from Guo Min Dang intelligence. Manna from heaven.

Chin Ping Sisters

Sisters of Chin Ping the Wiley Murderess. You could almost mistake them for, you know, just kids, unless you knew of their eerie genetic affinity for puff adders.

Several things I noticed, young and dumb as I was (the two conditions overlap greatly). Taiwan was not Uganda. At the time all manner of countries in the bush world had Five-Year Plans or the equivalent. These countries usually consisted of a patch of jungle, a colonel, and a torture chamber. Decades later, they would still consist of a patch….

Taiwan, then in the Third World–whatever that is–had an equally ambitious program of advancement. Perhaps it was for five years. It included the Jin Shan reactors, a new port, a steel mill, a major highway, and so on. Thing was, they were actually coming into existence. Later, for the Far Eastern Economic Review, I would interview the head of the nuclear program. Harvard guy. On a press junket I would visit many of the projects, such as the steel mill, which was in production.

With my honed capacity for recognizing the inescapable, I concluded that these people could get things done. Things like industry, organization, technology. That sort.

At some point I had passed through Hong Kong and concluded that it was New York with slanted eyes. The Chinese; I judged correctly though young and dumb, could play hardball finance.

And in the US, Chinese students were reported to be doing very well at places like MIT. Hmmm….What if that great American ally, Mousy Dung, stopped paralyzing the mainland and the world had to compete with all 800,000,000 of them?

We are finding out.

I  loved the language, the characters that seemed almost of dance on the page in old, old documents in the national museum, which was filled with wonderful works of art saved from the communists when Chiang fled to the island. I couldn’t begin to read them, of course. However, modern Chinese is remarkably easy provided you don’t want to read or write it, having none of the complexities of tense, mood, or person of, say, Spanish. By dint of pathological application, I ended able to communicate reasonably and grind my way through a pulp novel with lots of help from the dictionary–using which was an adventure unto itself. It made people lots less mysterious to realize that they were not talking about the hidden Blue Jade Eye of God, worth millions and protected by a curse, but about Grandma’s congestive heart failure and what to do about it.

And, for a young man, there was practical Chinese: “Wo mei-you kan-gwo numma pyauliang-de syau-jye.”

On blazing hot evenings we wandered through the twisting lanes past rows of what appeared to be orange crates at which sat children doing their homework. Inside, they would have cooked. I thought this studiousness  impressive, but had no idea how much it would later pay off at MIT.

A traffic overpass near where we lived had a steamy enclosed food market beneath with stalls selling just about anything edible and some maybe not quite. We would go there for sheets of fried squid–”you yu”–and fruit juice, the latter sold by a young woman who became a friend. We called her “Shwei Gwo Syau Jye,” or Fruit Juice Girl. Taiwan had not then become the economic Mighty Mouse that it is today and most people, though not hungry, were poor. She spent long, long hours in her stall with a small fluffy dog to keep her company. She had a subscription to Newsweek that she read to learn English and walked home with her dog every night, exhausted, to take care of a father of some eighty years.

She deserved better. There was a lot of that going around.

There were relics, fast disappearing, of the old China, more closely resembling the exotic image. In Wan Wha (“Ten Thousand Glories”) there was the street of the snake butchers, definitely memorable by night. At stalls live snakes, some of them deadly, hung by strings around their necks, if that is what snakes have. The proprietor on request slit a snake from head to tail, massaged the blood into a glass, squeezed the gall bladder into the mess, and sold it to, usually, a laborer to drink. Dwei shen-ti hen hau: Good for the body. Not mine, though.

At the time what was called Madame Chiang’s hotel was going up on a hillside. Most new buildings in Asia look like buildings in Philadelphia. This one was deliberately Chinese, and glorious. I had no idea that years later on a junket the Taiwanese government would put me up there, and several other reporters, for a week. Funny how things work.

I came to have immense respect for China as a civilization. Given the dismal record of immorality, poor judgement, and venality that is the baseline for humanity, China is impressive.

MadameChiang

Madame Chiang’s. Not too shabby.

Among racial sites on thee web today one frequently sees the assertion that Asians can copy but not invent. Maybe. There is a chain of thought that begins with “Screwed up like a Chinese fire drill,” then “Well, they can make pencils and toys,” (“Made in Japan,” remember?), then “OK they can make easy things like washing machines,” then “Well, yes, they can assemble iPads, but can’t create anything.” Then it turns out, as it has turned out, that they are designing world-class supercomputers all of their own, oops, heh.

On the one hand, the condescension sounds like wishful thinking. On the other, in painting for example, there is more creativity between the Impressionists and Klimt than in centuries  of Chinese painting, which usually consisted of making copies of past masters. We had better hope.

 

ShanghaiStreet ACDC

Street, Shanghai, a few years ago. China ain’t what it used to be. Getting rid of Mau did the trick. PhredFoto

Years later, on the junket aforementioned, my wife and I and very small daughter came to Taipei and stayed in Madame Chiang’s. I don’t know how old babies are when they first sit up unaided, but that’s how old Macon was, because it is what she did. Anyway, we came into the  lobby, Blonde Poof in arms. gorgeous vases on pedestals, columns in red lacquer, everything but the Empress Dowager, and they may have had her in a closet somewhere.

The staff, mostly young girls, came running over, charmed by anything so exotic and golden-haired. The Chinese can do many things, but golden hair isn’t one of them. They all wanted to look at this wonder child. A girl smiled and unceremoniously took Macon from my wife’s arms. The mob raced about the lobby showing their prize to everyone they knew, disappeared into the kitchen for a couple of minutes, and came back, delighted, and put Macon back where they had found her.

I have a hard time getting from there to weaselly, sinister, and devious.

We went to Gwo Yu R Bau to say hello to Jang Lao Shr, who was still there, and to the bridge to see Shwei Gwo Syau Jye, who also was still there. Still reading Newsweek, still working long, long hours. It was delightful. I never saw either again.

 

Note: I idiotically called last week’s piece of robots Rossiter’s Universal Robots, a reference to Capek’s play, but of course it is Rossum’s. Relying on high-school memories is not too smart.

Ready: New Rossum’s Universal Robots: Toward a Most Minimal Wage

Being as I am a curmudgeon, and delight in human folly and thoughts of huge asteroids, tsunamis, incurable plagues, continent-shattering volcanoes, and the Hillary administration, I follow the advance of robots with hope. They may finally end civilization as we know it.  Currently they  spread like kudzu. Herewith a few notes from my favorite technical publication, the Drudge Report. It may convince you that the robots are upon us like ants on a sandwich.

Navy building autonomous sub-hunting submarine. Robots deliver food to your door. China’s use of robots set to surge. Amazon uses 30,000 robots in warehouses. AMBER lab robot jogs like human. Japanese farming robots.  Burger-flipping robot. World’s first sex-robot. China’s robot cop. China’s road to self-driving cars. Bloomberg uses robot story-writers. In theme park, robots make food and drinks. SCHAFT unveils new robot in Japan. Boston Dynamics has several ominous robots paid for by the Pentagon. Robot does soft-tissue surgery better than humans. Robotic KFC outlet in Shanghai. And of course everybody and his dog are working on self-driving vehicles.

People seldom click on links. This one, Atlas, from Boston Dynamics, is truly worth a click. Think of him coming through your door by night. Many similar critters exist, often in Asia.

These machines either work  well or come very close, and impinge on manufacturing, delivery, war, policing, the restaurant industry, journalism, and service industries perhaps soon to include prostitution. We ought to think forethoughtedly about what to do with  these machines. We won’t.

Amazon Robot

Photo: Amazon’s robots. Video. These orange devils carry heavy racks to humans who pick ordered goods from them for shipment. Amazon is working on robots that can do the picking. Who will be left? In principle, 30,000 robots can work 90,000 shifts, plus weekends. With a predictability that makes sunrise look like a long shot, the company says that the robots do not replace but “help” humans. If you believe this, I’d like to sell you stock in my venture to make radioactive dog-food on Mars.

Automation of course means more than robots. As newspaper after newspaper goes all-digital, less pulpwood will be needed to make less newsprint, pressmen will be fired, delivery trucks will no longer needed, and so on. Such ripple effects get little attention. They should.

The capitalist paradigm in which companies think only about themselves, seeking to increase productivity and reduce costs, is going to work decreasingly well. Replacing well-paid workers with robots means replacing customers with a lot of money with customers with little money. People who are not paid much do not buy much. Robots buy even less.

The first crucial question of coming decades: Who is going to buy the stuff pouring from robotic factories?

The current notion is that when a yoyo factory automates and lays off most of its workers, they will find other well-paid jobs and continue to buy yoyos. But as well-paid jobs everywhere go automated, where will the money come from to buy yoyos? Today participation in the work force is at all- time lows and we have a large and growing number of young who, unable to find good jobs, live with their parents. They are not buying houses or renting apartments. (They may, given the intellectual level of today’s young, be buying yoyos.)

Enthusiasts of the free market say that I do not understand economics, that there will always be work for people who want to work. But there isn’t. There won’t be. There is less all the time. Again, look at the falling participation in the work force, the growing numbers in part-time badly paid jobs. Short of governmentally imposed minimums, wages are determined by the market, meaning that if a robot works for a dollar an hour, a human will have to work for ninety-five cents an hour to compete , or find a job a robot can’t do–and these get scarcer.

From a businessman’s point of view, robots are superb employees. They don’t strike, demand raises, call in sick, get disgruntled and do a sloppy job, or require benefits. Building factories that are robotic from the gitgo means not having to lay workers off, which is politically easier than firing existing workers. Using robots obviates the Chinese advantage in wages, especially if America can make better robots–good for companies, but not for workers in either country. That is, production may return to the US, but jobs will not. In countries with declining populations, having robots do the work may reduce the attractiveness of importing  uncivilizable bomb-chucking morons from the bush world.

A second crucial question: What will we do with people who have nothing to do? This has been a hidden problem for a long time, solved to date by child-labor laws, compulsory attendance in high school, the growth of universities as holding tanks, welfare populations, and vast bureaucracies of people who pretend to be employed. Few of these do anything productive, but are supported and kept off the job market by the rest of us. But there are limits to the capacity of Starbuck’s to soak up college graduates. (The economic fate of America may depend on our consumption of overpriced coffee.)

As time goes on and fewer and fewer people can find work, and particularly the less intelligent, something will have to give. We won’t see it coming. We never see anything coming. Businessmen will observe productivity going up and labor costs going down. What could be wrong  with that?  Businessmen do not concern themselves with social questions. Methinks, however, that social questions are about to concern themselves with businessmen.

As standards of living decrease, unrest will come. I will guess that much of Donald Trump’s popularity arises from the sending of factories to China by the corporations that rule America. Now the robots are going to take the remaining jobs. Economists will chatter of this principle and that curve and what Aristotle said about Veblen, but in a free market for labor, robots will win. If we have a high minimum wage, business will automate. If we have a low minimum wage, they will automate, but a few years later.

The obvious solution, one I think inevitable within a few decades unless we want a revolution, is a guaranteed minimum income, enough to live on comfortably, for everyone. Whether this is a good idea can be debated, but it seems likely to be the only idea. Capitalists will tell me that I do not understand markets, or capital flows or pricing mechanisms, and that I am against freedom. I will respond that they need to wake up and look around. And I will point out that economics has become a tedious form of Left-Right metaphysics, Keynes versus the Austrian School, capitalism versus socialism, all unconnected to onrushing reality.

What would be the effects of a guaranteed income? Godawful, I would guess. Some people, probably including those who read columns on the web, would  read, listen to music, drink wine and talk with friends, hike in the Himalayas, scuba dive, and earn doctorates in physics. But most would get up every morning, bored, without purpose, anticipating just another of unending days of television, beer, tedium, no driving desire to do anything but discontent with nothing to do. Would the young even go to school? They would have no need.  What has happened among the welfare populations that in effect have a guaranteed minimum income?

See? We are doomed. It warms the cockles of a curmudgeon’s heart. Whatever a cockle is.

Jewish Decline and the Rise of China: In the US

Years ago, when I was tech writer for weird magazines such as Signal and for other more-normal techish pubs, Jews littered the intellectual landscape. They were all over high-end research, such as Bell Labs. The big names were often Jewish, Einstein, von Neumann, Feynman, Gell-Mann, Minsky. The staff list for the Manhattan Project read like a Yeshiva yearbook. The same happened in the arts. Bernstein, Landowska, Rubinstein, Stoppard (“Maidens in search of Godhead…and vice versa.”) 

Jews were smart, most people figured, not necessarily liking it.  I wondered why without great interest. Genetic determinists of course cooked up evolutionary explanations involving undiscovered genes acted upon by unquantifiable selective pressures to produce assumed results not correlatable with the pressures. Business as usual. 

Later I began to notice without thinking about it that the Jewish names were growing thin on the ground. These were not systematic observations. But Asian names were becoming prominent almost everywhere. The Feinsteins seemed to be in recession, if only anecdotally.

Something odd was happening, I barely noticed.

Then Ron Unz published The Myth of American Meritocracy, documenting a stunning turnaround of which I had been only vaguely aware. The book deals substantially with corruption in admissions to Ivy schools, with some (I think) good ideas for reform. It also charts the sharp decline in Jewish achievement and the meteoric rise of the Asians. (Actually I think falling is more what meteors do, but cliches are cliches.)

As one example, consider the NMSQT, the National Merit Scholastic Qualifying Test, given nationally to high-schoolers. To be a Semi-Finalist a student has to test in the top one half of one percent–sort of upper middle-brow intelligence.

in 2010  there were about 2000 Semi-Finalists in California, the state with the second highest Jewish population after New York. Citing an analysis of last names, Unz notes that there was only one Cohen, Levy, and Kaplan, but 49 Wangs and 36 Kims.

This pattern, Unz notes with lots of documentation, repeats across the country. For example, in the ultra-high-end high schools such as Thomas Jefferson in Virginia and Stuyvesant in New York. These places are scary smart, CalTech in short pants. Unz:

“Jews and Asians today are about equal in number within New York City but whereas a generation ago elite local public schools such as Stuyvesant were very heavily Jewish, today Jews are outnumbered at least several times over by Asians.”

“In 2012, Asians were 72.5% of Stuyvesant students, with all whites at just 24%, of whom an unspecified fraction were Jewish.”

Which is to say that even if all the whites were Jews and no HAGVACAS (House and Garden Variety (non-Jewish) Caucasians), the Asians would be outperforming the Jews by three to one.

Which is crazy strange.

Now the reader may say, “But Fred, this  objection and that objection, and what about…?” Fair enough, but in condensing a  book into three paragraphs one leaves things out. The sources are there and the analysis careful. And no, the book is not an attack on Jews, Unz himself being Jewish and a Harvard grad.

Methinks, subject to correction, that his findings shed considerable darkness on what we think we know about intelligence. Jews still perform better than Hagvacas, but less better than before, and the Asians are way ahead of the Jews. It seems unlikely that the Asians have suddenly risen in biological intelligence, or that Jews have gone down. Putting it otherwise, when one group falls almost overnight on a wide variety of tests thought to measure intelligence, and another rises, it follows that either intelligence can change very fast or the tests are not measuring intelligence. So what is happening? What do the aptitude tests measure? 

The easy explanation is that the Chinese kids are of about normal intelligence but just work harder. Yet when a kid gets into Stuyvesant or MIT, he can’t get by on hard work and modest aptitude any more than I could play for the Chicago Bulls by practicing hard. You have to be smart to do, say, computational fluid dynamics. Actually really, really smart with tensors and things.

Which is why I have trouble buying the explanation offered by a Jewish friend: “We’ve lost our hunger.” I think he means that in his day there were Jewish quotas in universities and no room in the country club so when those barriers lifted the Jewish kids  were going to show the goyim what was what and went at everything fang and claw and, well, showed the goyim. Then they got comfortable, moved to the suburbs, and maybe even watched football.

I have known people with very high pre-dumbing-down SATs, and Merit Semi-Finalists, and people with IQs in excess of 150. They didn’t just know stuff. They were bright. Was intrinsic intelligence raised in the Asian young by hard study?  

Whatever is happening, it is grave. Consider CalTech, which probably has the highest standards for admission in the country. Further, it does not practice affirmative action. The demographics of the studentry: Black, 2%; Hispanic, 12%; White (including Jewish), 28%; Asian, 44%. This is worse than it seems at a glance because Asians are only 15% of the population of California,and six percent of the national.

Whatever is happening, it is not a statistical  fluke. A couple of quotes from the book among many similar ones:

“For example, among Math Olympiad winners white Gentiles scarcely outnumbered Jews during the 1970s…but since 2000 have become over fifteen times as numerous.”

“Over forty percent of Putnam winners prior to 1950 were Jewish…but since 2000 the percentage has dropped to under ten percent,  without a single likely Jewish name in the last seven years.” The Putnam is a very high-end math test.

Another of my friends has an Asian wife and thus entree  into the Asian community. He quotes their (wisely private) outlook: “Whites are lazy and stupid.”

If you like succinct, you just got it.

The curious thing is that the Asians are not just way ahead of Jews, but wayer ahead of Hagvacas. The gap is huge, and seems to me too large to be explained by the few points of extra IQ sometimes attributed to East Asians.

The Asian rise may have consequences. It is not thought proper to notice that the white population of America, numbering very roughly two hundred million, provides nearly all of the scientific advance, engineering, and entrepreneurship. China has, again very roughly, a billion Han Chinese–you know, the kind that dominate Hagvacas and Jews in the US.

I watch Chinese technology as best I can. In fifteen years, China has gone from having no supercomputers to having slightly more than the US has, including the world’s two fastest, the most rapid of which (TaiHuiLight) is a Chinese design using Chinese semiconductors. (Obama, ever brilliant, stopped Intel from selling them chips, so they apparently decided the needed to supply their own.) The quantum-crypto line from Beijing to Shanghai, said to have been spurred by a desire to keep NSA off China’s back, is noticeably more advanced than carrier pigeons. The type 093B nukey attack sub just launched seems a major improvement over its predecessor. The 300 mph plus Shanghai Maglev trains uses foreign technology, but now they know how to do it. China is by far the world leader in high-speed rail, of which America has none.

Beijing is trying hard to advance technologically and with success With Jews going dark, and Hagvacas worried about safe spaces and microaggressions, who is going to protect America against competition by potentially five times as many engineers as we have, especially if they perform as well as our Asians do? 

Walter Williams, Catholics, the Projects, and Schooling for Blacks: Something is Wrong Somewhere

Some time ago I read a column  on the schooling of blacks written by Walter Williams, the black economist at George Mason University, who grew up in the black housing projects of Philadelphia in the Thirties. I have read Williams for years. He is an absolutely reliable witness. He reports that all the kids could read, and that classrooms were orderly and teachers respected. Today, by all reports, in the urban black schools the kids can’t read and chaos reigns. Black kids have not gotten stupider since the Thirties. Something is wrong somewhere.

I read similar stories about chaotic, violent, illiterate Latino kids in American schools, these things being attributed to low intelligence. I live in Mexico, and see nothing even faintly resembling these stories. The statistics agree. (Mexican literacy, CIA FactBook: 95%. American literacy, US Department of Education: 86%) Something is wrong somewhere.

In 1981, I wrote a piece for Harper’s on the overwhelmingly black Catholic schools of Washington, DC, and found them to be exactly as Williams described the schools in his projects: well-behaved, and all the kids could read. The article follows. shortly.

I expected that liberals would applaud a piece demonstrating that black kids could learn far better than they did in the public schools. Instead, fury erupted. The success of the Catholics pointed up the incompetence of the teacher’s unions and the vacuity of accepted social theory. Whatever nits can be picked with the piece,  whatever one believes about the relative intelligence of blacks, whites, yellows, and ed majors, it is obvious that black kids could do far, far better than they are doing.l Something is wrong somewhere.

Anyway:

The Color of Education

Harper’s, February 1981

Should anyone in authority say anything sensible about racial policy, an event unlikely to occur before the next Ice Age, he would have to say that when it is not merely futile it often injures the people it is supposed to help; that it succeeds in antagonizing whites without benefiting blacks; that it has become more of an ideological battleground than a practical program; and, finally, that it is a fraud, serving principally to benefit groups that grow fat from racial programs. He might be tempted to add that civilized man has never seen such a monumental stream of unembarrassed twaddle.

An obvious observation, which hardly anyone seems to make, is that blacks suffer less from racism than from poor education. Harvard does not reject black applicants because it dislikes blacks but because they are badly prepared. Blacks do not fail the federal entrance examination because it is rigged to exclude them but because they don’t know the answers. Equality of opportunity without equality of education is a cruel joke: giving an illiterate the right to apply to Yale isn’t giving him much.

The intelligent policy is to educate black children, something that the public schools of Washington manage, at great expense, not to do. In fact the prevailing (if unspoken) view seems to be that black children cannot be educated, an idea whose only defect is that it is wrong: the Catholic schools of Washington have been educating black children for years. The Catholic system has 12,170 students in the District, of whom 7,884, or 65 percent, are black.

On the Science Research Associates (SRA) exam, a standardized test of academic achievement, the average reading ability of eighth graders in Washington’s Catholic schools in 1979-80 was at the 52nd percentile, compared to the national norm, and at the 72nd percentile, compared to big-city norms — that is, above average. In arithmetic, the percentiles were 60 and 75 above average. In science, they were 53 and 66 — again, above average. In none of the subjects tested, which included composition, “language arts,” and social studies, were scores as low as the 50th percentile.

Most people argue, incorrectly, that the overall scores are being pulled up by the scores of white students; it is remarkable how few people will accept that black children make good grades because they are bright and well taught. But it happens that Mackin Catholic High School, on California Street, N.W., is 94 percent black, and students there average at grade level or higher when tested in reading; they score similarly in other subjects. Our Lady of Perpetual Help Elementary School, in Anacostia, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city, has only two white students. The students in the seventh grade read at the 40th percentile, or, to put it another way, rank 10 percent below the national norm. Ninth grade students in the public schools in Anacostia rank 26 percent below. St. Anthony’s, in northeast Washington, near Catholic University, is about 90 percent black. On a composite SRA score, its eighth graders rank at the 67th percentile against the national norm, and at the 76th percentile against big-city norms. When there are virtually no whites at a school, whites cannot be responsible for the scores.

Skeptics suspect that Catholic schools get good scores by accepting only promising students. There is a little truth in this, but not much. Catholic schools in Washington do not accept hopelessly bad students or students who have other problems, such as serious police records, which would cripple them academically or cause them to disrupt classes. Some schools are more lenient than others about admissions standards, but most accept students who score below average. They do not gather up the geniuses and neglect the rest.

Why do the Catholics get better results? One reason is that the students have parents who care enough to put them in superior schools. Another reason is that Catholic schools have superior staffs, with teachers generally required to have at least a B.A. in their subjects. Also involved are academic rigor — students are often assigned two-and-a-half hours of homework — and discipline. One disruptive student can reduce a class to chaos. Catholic schools, not being subject to educational bureaucracies and political pressures, can prevent disruption, resorting, if need be, to expulsion.

In my estimation, the Catholic schools also profit by their respect for the students — a belief in their potential, accompanied by a recognition that they are, after all, children. At St. Anthony’s I talked to the eighth-grade English teacher, Lorraine Ferris. Ferris seems to be half scholar and half drill instructor, about right for junior high, and strikes me as being about as good as teachers get. She knows English from the gerunds up, which puts her ahead of most college English departments. “The important thing,” she says, “is to make children believe in themselves, but you can’t do it by coddling them. I won’t accept a 95 from a student who should make a 98. It’s important to them to see that they can compete. And the idea that black children can’t do the work is baloney. I see red every time I hear it.”

If black children can be educated, the question arises: Why aren’t they? The usual answer is that racism and conservatism are responsible, and much ink is spilled in exorcising these evils. But racists and conservatives have almost nothing to do with educational policy in Washington. Until recently, we’ve had a Democratic president and Congress; we have a liberal National Education Association, a black city government, a black school board, and a black electorate. They, not conservatives or racists, bear responsibility for conditions in the schools.

One may argue that in general the chief hindrances to progress for poor blacks are misguided racial policies and the attitudes of those who make them. It is important to realize that things were different twenty years ago. In the Fifties and Sixties the civil rights movement was producing results-dismantling the prevailing apartheid, for example. Unfortunately the movement somehow became bureaucratized, then became self-serving, and finally became the problem. Today the obstacle to racial progress is not Bill Buckley; it is Ted Kennedy. It isn’t the KKK; it is the NEA.

Race has become an industry. CETA, EEOC, OMBE, and other forbidding acronyms with huge payrolls exist by presiding over the status quo. Various freelance acronyms, such as NAACP, SCLC, ACLU, and PUSH, derive their importance from appearing to galvanize the governmental acronyms. Politicians and influential subcommittees thrive by conspicuously giving their attention to racial matters. The Democratic party retains blacks as a largely docile voting bloc by maintaining the flow of money for racial programs. Billions of dollars, countless jobs, and the political balance ride on keeping things as they are.

The underlying difficulty is that when enough people are employed to solve a problem, means become ends. It becomes more important to continue solving the problem, which provides jobs, than to have solved the problem, which would result in dismissals.

Not all racial functionaries cynically exploit racial division, but many do. People are remarkably adept at aligning their principles with their pocketbooks. Racial bureaucrats will always manage to persuade themselves that their particular programs are of paramount importance in the struggle against oppression. Further, their principal interest being their own interest, they will oppose the elimination of unsuccessful programs to prevent the discovery that nothing very bad would happen if they were abolished.

They have all but silenced opposition with their insistence that He who is against me is against blacks. This argument, repeated often enough, results in something close to censorship, so that it is currently almost impossible to discuss racial programs on their merits — i.e., on whether they work. Whether, for example, the welfare system needs revision isn’t considered.

The national media and the major dailies do their best to enforce the ban on open discussion. They simply won’t publish serious criticism. Relative freedom from criticism encourages a preference for moralism in place of practicality. The tendency is to see racial questions as a conflict between abstract Good and abstract Evil, in which the most important thing is to display admirable intentions, usually to the exclusion of doing anything useful.

There is a further tendency among racial functionaries to do penance for sins they haven’t committed, such as tolerating slavery. Penance is fun, but marvelously useless.

When people are more concerned with seeming good than with doing good, symbols become irresistible. Racial policy abounds in symbols that express concern, cost a lot, and miss the point. There is, for example, the Martin Luther King Memorial Library — oversized, underused, short on books, with a grandiose lobby that has enough wasted space for several simultaneous games of basketball. The District, however, doesn’t suffer from a shortage of books but from a shortage of people who can read them.

The University of the District of Columbia, actually a school for remedial reading, is similarly a symbol. Ninety percent of its freshmen read below the ninth-grade level. Although a new university in the District is not necessarily a bad idea, a fraudulent university whose students are hardly beyond the level of junior high school is unquestionably a bad idea. The sensible policy would be to improve the schools so that the city’s children would be qualified to attend a university, and then to build a university or, for that matter, several universities. But establishing a bogus university is quick and easy; teaching a city to read is slow and difficult, and produces votes a decade later.

It is fascinating that the racial establishment systematically blocks the adoption of the educational policies that would most benefit black children. For example, when Vincent Reed, superintendent of schools in the District, urged the wholly admirable idea of a special school for children with the intelligence and energy to do advanced work, the proposal was defeated.

Such schools exist in cities across the country and have worked well. Readers unfamiliar with the workings of the socially concerned mind may not immediately see why bright children should not be educated to their own level. The reason, said those who defeated the idea, is that it would be elitist. Elitism is regarded as a dreadful thing by the wealthier members of the racial establishment, who send their children to Harvard to avoid it.

Preventing elitism by rendering children illiterate is a dubious favor to them and to the nation. The social effect, of course, is to delay the emergence of black leaders and therefore to retard the progress of the race. South Africa achieves the same result by the same denial of education but is morally superior in making fewer pretenses about its intentions.

The racial establishment also discourages the imposition of discipline in the schools, without which teaching is impossible. The problem is horrendous in some of Washington’s schools. The students need protection against marauders from outside, and the staff need protection against physical assault by students. Teachers tell of being attacked by students with knives, of being afraid to go to certain parts of the school. Vincent Reed recently voiced his concern over security. “When I have kids being shot in schools by outside intruders and teachers being mauled by outside intruders — last year we had a young girl ten years old taken out of the building and raped — I don’t have time for rhetoric.”

Others have time for rhetoric. Ron Dellums, a black representative from California, asked at a Congressional hearing whether the presence of policemen in the schools would inhibit discussion of ideas. (Maybe. So, presumably, do knives, guns, drugs, and rapes.) It is a commonplace argument among educationists that discipline is regimentation and a means of racial repression. Illiteracy is a far better means of repression, and disorder is a sure road to illiteracy.

The racial establishment also ensures that black students have poor teachers. One might expect racial politicians to insist on providing the best obtainable teachers for black children who, being behind, desperately need them. It would not be an unreasonable demand. Given the rate of white-collar unemployment, highly educated teachers can be gotten by whistling.

Unfortunately the racial establishment, never particularly energized about the quest for academic quality, is especially unenthusiastic about finding good teachers. There are several reasons, one being that many in the race business belong to the various species of pseudointellectual riffraff that multiplied during the Sixties — psychologists, sociologists, educationists, feminists, the whole touchy-feely smorgasbord of group-gropers, anxiety-studiers, and fruit-juice drinkers who believe that the purpose of education is emotional adjustment. They seem not to have reflected that an excellent source of maladjustment is to be an unemployed semiliterate without the foggiest understanding of the surrounding world.

Educationists, who have a well-developed sense of self-preservation, understandably do not favor higher standards for teachers. Hiring good teachers means firing bad ones. Any serious attempt to get rid of deadwood means bucking the powerful teachers’ unions, which, as a variety of tests have shown, would be gutted by any insistence on competence. Moreover, dismissal of incompetent teachers would mean a heavily disproportionate dismissal of black teachers. The bald, statistically verifiable truth is that the teachers’ colleges, probably on ideological grounds, have produced an incredible proportion of incompetent black teachers. Evidence of this appears periodically, as, for example, in the results of a competency test given to applicants for teaching positions in Pinellas County, Florida (which includes St. Petersburg and Clearwater), cited in Time, June 16, 1980. To pass this grueling examination, an applicant had to be able to read at the tenth-grade level and do arithmetic at the eighth-grade level. Though they all held B.A.’s, 25 percent of the whites and 79 percent of the blacks failed. Similar statistics exist for other places.

Another major reason for the slow progress of blacks is a prejudice, palpable in racial policy though unprovable, that blacks are incapable of competing with whites. Racial functionaries will deny this with fervor; yet if they believed blacks could compete, they would advocate preparing them for competition. Instead the emphasis is on protecting them from it. The usual attitude toward blacks resembles the patronizing affection of missionary for a colony of bushmen: these benighted people are worthy in the eyes of God but obviously can’t take care of themselves, so we will do it. Whenever blacks fail to meet a standard the response is to lower the standard, abolish it, or blur it –not to educate blacks to meet the standard. The apotheosis of this sort of thinking was the lunatic notion that black children should be taught in the gibberish of the streets because it, “communicates,” the implication being that English was too difficult for them. Nobody thought English too difficult for the Vietnamese.

Paternalism has practical consequences. The unrelenting condescension supports blacks’ view of themselves as worthless. (If anyone doubts that poor blacks do indeed regard themselves as worthless, I suggest he spend some time with them.) People who think they cannot succeed do not try.

Finally, the absolute unwillingness of the racial industry to police itself — to make sure that money accomplishes the intended results — has made racial programs a synonym for corruption, waste, mismanagement, nepotism, and undeserved preference. It is hard to find a racial program that is not grotesquely abused. The District’s annual effort to provide summer jobs is typical. The jobs don’t exist, nobody tells the youths where the jobs are thought to be, no work is done if the jobs are discovered, and the youths don’t get paychecks even if they happen to do the work. Last year the same thing happened, and next year, one wearily expects, it will happen again. The pattern repeats everywhere. CETA, for example, might better be called the Comprehensive Graft and Scandal Act. Some programs lapse into frank absurdity. Under “affirmative action,” group after group musters the clout to get on the deprived-species list until, on a quick calculation, 65 percent of the population qualify as mistreated minorities.

Corruption and mismanagement inevitably lead to resentment among whites whose money is being wasted. This resentment is currently called “white backlash,” which has a comfortingly vicious sound and implies that it is someone else’s fault. (In the race business, everything is someone else’s fault.) Antagonizing half the country by shoddy performance is abysmally stupid politics, especially given that the nation would probably have few objections to sensible programs that worked. I find it hard to believe that many people would object to giving a black child a good education at a reasonable price.