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March 01, 2003



Asian Nations

Eric Lien has an interesting post up titled "Yellow/Brown Conflict and Self-Segregation". Eric always has his finger on the pulse of Yellow Amerika. He says:


I've noticed that South Asians tend to more segregated in the realm of dating and relationships, but less segregated in their daily social life

But the recent article that duende linked to about American-Born South Asians getting arranged marriages states that the most recent Census shows that 50% of the 2nd generation (those born here) are marrying non-South Asians (no gender break-down, but I suspect it will be about 50/50, rather than the typical Asian ratio). Eric's observation might be a result of the fact that South Asians have a higher proportion of new immigrants than the older established Chinese and Japanese communities. But, it is still interesting that he feels that South Asians mix socially more with whites. Earlier, Eric & others have stated that compared to East Asians, South Asians tend to be more outgoing, loud and verbose, so this might explain their affinity with whites who share the same qualities (on a relative scale-don't tell me that the typical WASP is loquacious, but some Jewess' I've met would give a Bengali Babu a run for their money). Additionally, the South Asians that come to the United States are somewhat on the more "Caucasoid" end of the phenotype spectrum [1]. Though almost all Arab-white marriages in the United States result in children that can "pass" (including two stars of Baywatch and the singer Tiffany), a large portion of the offspring of Indian-white marriages also can pass as white (this is dependent on the phenotype of the Indian parent, I knew a light-skinned man from Uttar Pradesh who ended up with red-headed twins, who had his large nose at a young age, so I don't think he was cuckolded) [1].

Finally, Eric does not mention the Southeast/Northeast Asian split. I had a friend who was Korean-American who had a crush on a rather attractive girl of Hmong Laotian origin, and his Korean-American female friends would always blurt out "but she's Hmong!" (imagine sneering disgust). I have met Thais who are my complexion as well as Vietnamese that are no darker than the typical Korean or north Chinese (and they were not Chinese Vietnamese), so the phenotype would probably matter....

[1] Or any other race. My mother is convinced that brown people who "breed out" lose their ethnic look. The actress Tatyana Ali and TLC member Chili are half-black & half-brown, but identify as black (and to most people, look "black"). The singer Norah Jones is half-brown, but most people don't know until Ravi Shankar is mentioned. Jimmy Smits has a father that is of East Indian origin from Suriname, but his Puerto Rican mother tends to determine his ethnic identification as a Latino. I knew two girls (twins) who were half-Filipino & half-Sri Lankan, and I just assumed they were dark Southeast Asians when I first met them.

[2] One of the most peculiar arguments I had was with a friend of mine who I once went on a date with. I mentioned offhand how I'm "Asian-American," and she objected to me using that label, she thought of me as a "white person with brown skin," and when I pointed out to her that someone who was white but was brown was a ludicrous definition she became angry. Later I found out she tended not to find "Asian" men attractive, and I know she found me attractive, ergo, in her mind, I just couldn't be Asian....

Posted by razib at 12:15 PM | | TrackBack


Wish me luck

I'm flying out to Boston tonight for a job interview. Apologies to Beantown bloggers, but I'm going to be anti-social this visit and decline to go out. Three reasons for this: 1) it's a red-eye flight, so Sunday I'll be groggy and going to bed early, 2) I'll be prepping for the interview as much as possible and 3) I leave immediately on Monday afternoon after the interviews, so not much play time anyway.

Apologies for not blogging much, but it's been wahnsinnig fleissig (crazy busy) out here. I will leave you with something to ponder....the fat Euro.

The Euros comment about fat Americans...when 1/3 of them are obese. Potbelly, meet kettle ass.

Posted by david at 10:47 AM | | TrackBack


Hitler's Jewish soldiers

In 2002, University of Kansas Press published an intriguing book called Hitler's Jewish soldiers. I have been meaning to get hold of it but haven't yet, and being in Australia, am not aware of what general reception and coverage of this book in the US has been like. I'd certainly be interested to hear from any readers who have followed this. The book, from what I've read about it in articles like this certainly documents one of the most interesting quirks in history:

Germans of mixed Jewish descent, the so-called Mischlinge, suddenly found themselves in limbo. As many as 3 million Germans, at least 25 to 50 percent Jewish by descent, fell into this category. Many had no idea they had a Jewish ancestor until the Nazis told them.

Suddenly second-class citizens, thousands sought to “redeem” themselves as Germans through service to the party in the Wehrmacht. They were eager to demonstrate they were Germans first in a Germany where it was a crime to be Jewish at all.

Rigg points out that “These Mischlinge internalized Nazi standards.... Many behaved the same way as Aryans…out of loyalty to Germany, belief in the Nazi government, because they were scared to act otherwise, for opportunistic reasons or, most commonly, out of a mixture of all four.”

Sympathy with Hitler’s goals for Germany was apparently very common among Mischlinge. Rigg was told by more than one of his interviewees, “If not for my [Jewish] grandmother, I could have been a Nazi.”

Wehrmacht policy on Mischlinge varied depending upon which service one was in (it was best to be in the Luftwaffe or the Kriegsmarine) and whom one knew (a high party official or military officer with access to Hitler or the Reich Chancellery was best), as well as upon whose desk a particular soldier’s file landed. Despite pressure from the Nazi Party to eject all partial Jews from the service, Wehrmacht officers were largely willing through the end of the war to retain the services of those Mischlinge in whom the Reich had invested money and time in training and who proved good and tested comrades in battle. A very select few of high-ranking and talented individuals never had to worry.

The book alleges that one of these 'Mischlinge' was the Nazi war criminal Erhard Milch.

There's an excerpt from the book here.

And here's another great irony - this picture of 'Mischlinge' soldier Werner Goldberg was used by a Nazi propaganda newspaper, and captioned 'The ideal German soldier'.

Here is the 'Mischlinge' Luftwaffe General Helmut Wilberg who was 'Aryanised' by Hitler in 1935.

Apologies in advance to all German readers but this stuff doesn't exactly disabuse me of the prejudice that Germany was one screwed-up nation. ("Oh, he's Jewish but he's a decent chap, a good killing machine. We'll spare him") And just what the hell were these 'Mischlinge' soldiers thinking??? Was this German nationalist madness so infectious that it could overcome family feeling?

Posted by jason_s at 03:37 AM | | TrackBack

February 28, 2003



Dr Watson girds for battle

"It's elementary.. dear Sherlock", so said Dr. Watson to the cloned super-detective.


"It seems unfair that some people don't get the same opportunity. Once you have a way in which you can improve our children, no-one can stop it. It would be stupid not to use it because someone else will. Those parents who enhance their children, then their children are going to be the ones who dominate the world."


he continued..

I can't wait for the inevitable catfights, the media brow-twitching and the hectoring by frightened politicians.. If the immediate reaction of some of the "bioethicists"is anything to go by, this one is shaping up to be another science-vs-fear debate. Well, guess who wins in the long run..?

For instance, a Mr. Shakespeare (no dead poet, this one) says:


"He is talking about altering something that most people see as part of normal human variation, and that I think is wrong.... I am afraid he may have done more harm than good, his leadership of the Human Genome Project and his discovery of 1953 notwithstanding."

What exactly is "normal" in human variation? Is dying at the age of 40 from juvenile diabetes normal? Is not having the cognitive skills to get through basic math "normal"? Is a club foot "normal"? Adult Acne?..no?

I think Watson is right to bring this debate to the front burner, using his position and authority to do so. The cost of genetic engineering is going to fall, and knowledge is impossible to bottle up in any case. You'll have better luck fencing wolverines with scotch tape. What Watson is trying to do is to move beyond just acknowleding this as fact, and pressing the rest of us to create a workable and mostly acceptable ethical framework for it.

Posted by suman at 09:52 AM | | TrackBack

February 27, 2003



Out of this country

Here are some thoughts on North Korea from the always illuminating Randall Parker. The manifesto of this blog to go where few have gone before. So I stay away from foreign policy because it is so done. That being said, Randall is a smart guy who tends to look at things from a different perspective than the blogosphere herd (though I would call him a hawk of sorts, though I come from an isolationist libertarian background, so my definition might not be typical).

Read Randall's post titled Consanguinity prevents Middle Eastern political development, and you'll see what I mean. Can it hurt to take a break from orange juice for a little tropical drink mix?

Also, I will be writing on Islam & liberalism-soon, I promise! And I just got my first issue of my gift subscription to Foreign Affairs, so I might wander off target on occassion and add a little tang to the mix that is the warblogsophere....

Posted by razib at 06:08 PM | | TrackBack


Great Latino Hope

Dahlia Lithwick gets all worked up over the food fight that characterizes the Miguel Estrada nomination. Why are well meaning liberals always surprised when their utopian intents become the instruments for bloody ethno-politics?

Also, I find it interesting that Lithwick focuses on Estrada's skin color, because if his last name was Tucci or Milano instead of Estrada, his skin color would be totally different, huh?



Posted by razib at 04:59 PM | | TrackBack


Mr. Rogers passes
Posted by razib at 10:19 AM | | TrackBack


China, odds & ends

Ikram Saeed asks:

I would agree that China is less diverse than India, but it is still extremely diverse. And south China is the most distinct region of all, with several unintelligible "chinese" languages.

Are Chinese emigrants disproportionately from the south? US and Canadian Chinese populations arise largely from southern China. The only country I know of which has Chinese residents originating from many parts of China is Taiwan.

But this is blog is best when it is quantitive. What is the genetic similarity between northern, southern, and inland residents of China? Compare with India?


On north Chinese vs. south Chinese, Ikram is of course correct that the "dialects" of the south are languages by another name (while the "languages" of Scandanavia are dialects by another name). But, for the lay person, Ikram forgets to mention that all Chinese (Han, Zhongguo-Ren, Huaren, whatever) share a common written language, ergo, their ruling elite share a literary culture & canon. Perhaps an analogy might be made with medieval Latin in Christendom, the difference being that in this case 75% of Christendom shares the same colloquial language to boot.

As for the genetics, this is a complex question (speaking of complex, some bloggers & readers might be interested in this overview of Hakka genetics). Joanna Mountain, working with Cavalli-Sforza, has done work that indicates that south Chinese share an earlier common ancestry with southeast Asians than north Chinese. Historically this is plausible, the Vietnamese ancestral homeland is located just south of the Pearl River Delta while the Thai people still retain a prescence in southern China as the "Dai." Just as Indo-Aryan languages like Marathi have been characterized as "Indo-European with a Dravidian accent," so one could depict the south Chinese dialects in a similar manner. Of course, I have recently come to be skeptical of connecting shared ancestry marked by neutral genes to the genetic heritage of phenotypically significant traits (in other words, south and north Chinese might share different mother & father lines, but their genes that influence phenotype might have been selected so that a common phenotype has developed-this is obviously important from the perspective of human biodiversity).

The idea that the migrants that formed the Chinese Diaspora were self-selected is persuasive on the surface (to me at least). The Taiwanese, Singaporeans & Hong Kong Chinese share about the same per capita income. But, there is a difference: while Singapore & Hong Kong have incomes of 24 K and 25 K, Taiwan is at 17 K (not an economist, so I don't know if "purchasing power parity" takes into account that the two cities almost certainly have sky high cost of living). Could this be because the inhabitants of the two cities are more self-selected than the "Taiwanese" [1]? I would like to know the per capita incomes of the Chinese of Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia (though the last is a bit confusing, as the Chinese are bifurcated into the "Totok" and "Perakanan" communites, the latter being somewhat like the Baba Chinese of Malaya).

Update: From the message board:


Here's a paper that suggests that there is no difference between Northern and Southern Chinese


Posted by js at February 27, 2003 03:40 PM


[1] Hong Kong is a mostly Cantonese city with a prominent clique of Shanghai capitalists. Singapore is more mixed, but I believe (someone can correct me) that most are descendents of migrants from Fukien. The "Taiwanese" are ~90% Fujianese in origin, migrating over a long period of time from Manchu conquest down to the period of Japanese rule, the remaining 10% are mainlanders, predominantly from north China. The indigenous Formosan Taiwanese are irrelevant to this discussion, and numerically negligible (I'm not a linguistic specialist, apologize for the misappellation Malayo-Polynesian).

Posted by razib at 09:59 AM | | TrackBack

February 26, 2003



Go read Calcutta Libertarian (I'm old school, yo, keep it Anglicized :)

Suman, who sometimes posts in these parts, has a great piece over at his blog about being and immigrant and America and how easy it is to become one. I'll add this little observation: I know many white liberals criticize this country and would prefer to leave for the genteel and open-minded lands of Europe. As a "person of color," my viewpoint is different. I could never really be French, German, Spanish or Italian. I can't just blend in and pick up the language and expect not to be noted & noticed. Even in England, where there are lots of brown people, there is still a feeling that non-whites are strangers in the land (if well accepted and tolerated of course). It is in America where people can finally move past, "Where are you really from?" Takes time. But patience is rewarded in this country. America is a young nation, but its greatness is the work of generations.

Posted by razib at 10:24 PM | | TrackBack


Hong Kong blood & breeding

"Hong Kong Moves to Raise Birth Rate and Draw Richer Immigrants", can you imagine American papers reporting anything similar for this country without an aura of doom & gloom? No doubt, if this story wasn't about Hong Kong-there would be a lot of ink spilled on the possible negative effects on minorities & the downtrodden (the two being interchangeable terms in liberal-speak). Note that the article mentions Hong Kong is modelling its program on Singapore-any prediction on when China will follow suit as explicitly as this?

Posted by razib at 09:26 PM | | TrackBack

February 25, 2003



Yo colored-a derivative isn't authentic and true to your culture

Joanne Jacobs pointed me to this article on something called "ethnomath":


Ethnomathematics has a few parents, but most observers trace its formal birth to a speech given by the Brazilian mathematician Ubiratan D'Ambrosio in the mid-1980's. Now an emeritus professor of math at the State University of Campinas outside S-o Paulo, he explained his thinking a couple of years ago to The Chronicle of Higher Education: ''Mathematics is absolutely integrated with Western civilization, which conquered and dominated the entire world. The only possibility of building up a planetary civilization depends on restoring the dignity of the losers.'' Robert N. Proctor, who teaches the history of science at Pennsylvania State University, says he wants to counter the notion ''that the West is the be all and end all'' when it comes to mathematical studies. ''After all,'' he adds, ''all math is ethnomath -- not just African kinship numerics or Peruvian bead counting, but also the C.I.A.'s number-crunching cryptology and Reaganomics.''

I'm basically speechless.

These morons should put their well-being where their mouth is. Have a group of engineers use non-Western math, perhaps Peruvian bead counting, to figure out the parameters necessary for a bridge to safely span a river gorge. To show how strongly they believe in the validity of the ethnomath concept the researchers should cross the bridge, to actualize their teachings in the material world and break the hegemony of Euro-phallo-centric numeracy....

Posted by razib at 04:27 AM | | TrackBack


If it were so-if only....

I just had a fantasy that I lived in a world where the empirical data indicated to me that all populations of humanity were equally endowed with the same frequency of a variety of handy phenotypes. Ah, what a world it would be! Politics would be much simpler-broad axioms would be much easier....

So-a question, brought up on the boards by "Sen" I believe: Why hasn't the Indian Diaspora in Mauritius, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana and Fiji created paradises with their industry & unleashed human capital? Comparing these situations to Singapore is unfair of course, the little city state has choice location-but it must be remembered that the Chinese of Southeast Asia drive the economies of Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, and to a lesser extent Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Does the "Hindu Rate of Growth" have something to do with the lack of social or genetic capital of the early settlers? Were the Chinese who settled Southeast Asia a particular subset of the population of China proper, more enterprising & industrious? (Indians sent to work as indentured laborers were generally from the lower-castes)

Posted by razib at 03:59 AM | | TrackBack

February 24, 2003



Introducing Me

I'm Grady. I'm a molecular biology graduate student at Tulane University and I write at CoffeeBlog.

Razib has invited me to contribute a little to the site, and I expect to be able to do so on an infrequent basis. Now I get to be called a racist too! Woohoo!

Posted by grady at 10:03 PM | | TrackBack


Genes interact WITH environment

Why does it always have to be one or the other?

I bring this up now because you will see it more and more often rearing its head in the strangest of places. At the Center for the Advancement of Health they are finding evidence, though it isn't interpreted as such in the article, for self-control to have a genetic basis. This is particularly interesting in light of the findings in recent years regarding polymorphisms in 5-HT2A, tryptophan hydroxylase, and others. Here's a nice summary of current research on serotonin and suicide. I have always felt that 5-HT2A signalling is related to emotional tolerance to events, and the idea connects the dots between the two phenomena nicely, if true. Of course, as mentioned in the NeLHM article, the statistics are far from conclusive.

Posted by grady at 09:52 PM | | TrackBack


Of things brown

I'm going to try & cut down the brown orientation of this blog a bit-but going out in flames-Eric Lien of Mixed Asian points out that Mahathir Mohammed had an Indian Muslim father (also, the article linked notes that his ex-protege Anwar also has Tamil ancestry and is married to a woman of partial Chinese extraction). Mahathir, along with Lee Kwan Hew is one of the few politicans to address human biodiversity, so is it any surprise he's a "brother" :) Mr. Lee might be too, who knows (via his Malay ancestors)? Of course, that would probably make him rather nervous and queesy. Also, Sister Norah wins a bunch of grammies!

Peace out.

Posted by razib at 08:01 PM | | TrackBack


HIV vaccine & race

Article from Wired:


The overall expected rate of infection was not reduced in the high-risk people who volunteered to take the vaccine, VaxGen said late Sunday. However, the expected infection rate for the 314 black volunteers who received the vaccine was reduced by 78 percent -- a finding the researchers said was unexpected. The rate was reduced by 67 percent for all non-white volunteers other than Hispanics.

"This is the first time we have specific numbers to suggest that a vaccine has prevented HIV infection in humans," VaxGen vice president Phillip Berman said in a statement Sunday. "We're not sure yet why certain groups have a better immune response."

The Brisbane, California, company said it planned to continue developing the vaccine and will examine more closely why it worked better in blacks and Asians than it did in whites and Hispanics.

"We don't know why. There's a lot of factors that could be involved," Berman said Monday in a conference call, specifying factors such as geography, age and education. "We need to investigate each one of these possibilities."

Genetic factors may be at play, the company said.


Genetic factors? What sort of genetics, since all reputable scientists know that "race doesn't exist." Of course, the other factors might be be at play and explain the discrepancy (perhaps repeated sexual exposure to multiple strains of the virus?).

Posted by razib at 12:22 PM | | TrackBack

February 23, 2003



The Black Gender Gap

Newsweek has an interesting piece up on the growing black gender gap-as women go to college and enter professional fields at higher rates than men. Shocking statistic, 47% of black women between 30-34 have never been married (compared to 10% of white women).

Well, if you assume the axiom of sameness this is something that might blow you away, but women in West Africa do the farming and operate stalls in markets as free agents. They've been doing this for generations [1]. As James Q. Wilson has noted, many African-American "social ills" have their cognate, and likely precusors, in the West African cultural matrix.

Of course, I'm not trying to say that the situation should make anyone happy or complacent, but the independence and self-reliant economic productivity of black women has a long history. This is a not just the out-growth of modernity (and as one train of thought hinted in the article, the result of discrimination against black men in white America).

[1] The intensive plow-based farming that requires a large quotient of upper body strength that dominates in much of riverine Asia tends to require men of course, going a long way to explaining the dominance of the male gender on the village level in India or China. In these societies it is plausible that women don't have the physical durability to maximize yield in dense plots and keep up a level of subsistence.

Posted by razib at 04:11 AM | | TrackBack


Cultural comparisons?

I'm reading Mathematics from the birth of numbers by Jan Gullberg [1]. Here is an interesting note in the section on combinatorics:


Our story is a variation of the "no so chance" Ludus Sancti Petri, or Saint Peter's Game, known from medieval times- typically a shipt was struck by a heavy storm and, to lighten and possibly save the vessel and some of her passengers, half the passengers were thrown overboard. In Europe the fifteen favored persons were most often Christians, the other fifteen Jews. St. Peter, who usually presided, arranged the passengers in such a way that the Christians were saved.

In a Jewish version, Saint Peter was replaced by the Spanish Jew Ibrahim ben Meir Ezra ... who saves his fifteen pupils, the other fifteen passengers being drowned. An Arab version favors the Muslims and throws the infidels overboard; an East Indian story lets fifteen good men be saved and fifteen theives be downed....


Who needs to be saved from heathen darkness? If only the idolaters would show out-castes as much compassion as they do cows, I would have no complaints at all....

[1] OK book-though it covers a lot of topics, so you don't get much detail and depth. Good for lay people that don't know where to start. I'm skipping around. Not too advanced by the way....

Posted by razib at 03:08 AM | | TrackBack