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April 05, 2003

The Rabbi's Granddaughter

Can you believe that this is the culmination of the mating choices of generations of rabbis???

Posted by razib at 08:27 PM | | TrackBack

Just heard from a friend @ MIT (thanks "B").

Posted by razib at 01:40 PM | | TrackBack

Year 1

Yo, I started blogging last year on April, 5th (OK, there was a beta blogging phase, but only 2 or 3 of you were privy to that). In honor of that, I bugged my tech support for my old solo blog webhost to fix my archives, and they did. So check 'em out if you are curious. FYI, the problem was with TOMCAT, not that I really used the account much, so I just kind of let it fester....

Update: OK, this is messing up too much, I'll write a embperl or PHP front-end for the data soon and announce it. Later.

Posted by razib at 03:53 AM | | TrackBack

April 04, 2003

War talk-ahh....

Well, these blogs take up little time & few neurons-so one more-I was in Starbucks today re-reading a JSP/Servlets book I have had for a while, and overheard the 10th conversation in a week about people 'losing friends' over the war. As someone that is ambivelant about the war (on a scale of 0 to 100, 100 being The Weekly Standard, 0 being The Nation, I am 55ish, +/- 10 on any given day)-I can kind of relate. The problem for me is that there are two types of wackos out there, both pro & anti-war.

On the anti-war side, those who are anti-war because they believe that America is the "worst oppressor of them all." You know what I mean. Then there are the pro-war people who probably support this bill that would jail disruptive anti-war protestors for up to 25 years in my fine state of Imbler (don't say we're not polarized here!). I could add more points, you know, the types that talk about how America is going into Iraq "for the oil" or think that some of the 9-11 bombers were Iraqi. There are morons on both sides-and no matter what their political position, morons will justify it in an asinine and offensive manner because that is their basic nature [1].

What thoughtful supporters and opposers of the war should realize is that the wacks do not represent everyone, even the mainstream, of the other viewpoint. Many pro & anti-war people get worked up and angry at the ridiculous charges hurled and assertions made by morons on the other side ... but the key point is not their position on the war, these people are morons! People are forgetting that their friends are often just as intelligent and moral as they are, and in fact usually share the same values and morals. So you disagree on the war. Big deal. Don't assume that so & so is bloodthirsty like some of the more jingoistic wacks that want to "nuke Iraq & anyone not 'with us'" just because they support intervention. Likewise, don't assume that someone is an America-hating Commie who should be tried for treason and wants to undermine the republic-they might actually believe they are trying to save the republic, just as you do.

At worst, friends view friends as misguided and uninformed, that's nothing to lose sleep over and to share harsh words because of.

Anyway, I support whatever is best for this country. I'm not always sure that I know what that is-and sometimes I just have to choose without all the information. Many others are faced with the same problem, and sometimes, they land on different sides of the line on various days, and people with common values can come to divergent conclusions.

Those that assert that this war is going to be a catastrophe for the republic-or perhaps those who believe that it will save the republic, might either be right. I don't know. I've had both types of individuals angry at me for not being able to pick, because they believe that the choice is so crucial. Unfortunately, my powers of cognition are just too muddy on this issue, the world has passed me by-the choice might be crucial and earth-shaking, but should i just roll the dice in my head and go one directon? I'm not ready yet....

Of course, the tanks are rolling into Baghdad, so this is all pretty useless. It seems that the anti-war people are particularly intense and angry about all of this. I don't know, I guess now they know how the pro-life minority of this country feels about having to deal with a tepidly pro-choice majority that is complicit in mass-murder but seems more worried about paying for a second car than the lives of the unborn (I'm pro-abortion-rights, just putting the cap on of the other side). 70% of Americans support the war, but the 30% that oppose it do with a vigor and zeal that I suspect most of the 70% don't even realize. And those 30% who oppose the war don't understand how the 70% can go on their merry lives, business as usual, while murder and mayhem reigns abroad.

Such is life.

On a final note, I wish more on the Right could reflect on what we could do to improve this republic and be true to its core values-liberty, equality before the law and consensual politics. Those on the Left should remind themselves as they strive for the ideals of universal justice sometimes one should appreciate what one has before continuing further down the path. The genius of the West is its pluralistic politics-and for that, I give thanks, no matter in whose hands the levers of politics reside.

[1] You know, kind of like those losers that go from hedonism to religion to hedonism to religion, making a mess of both activities. Just because they are fuck-ups, it doesn't mean that people can't be balanced and be hedonists or religionists, some individuals just can't manage either.

Posted by razib at 11:11 PM | | TrackBack


Tim Noah in Slate asked a few weeks ago about why Iraq is a police state if guns are widespread. He now has some responses. I tend to put the burden of proof as far as gun ownership goes on the state, but I don't make grand claims about guns being the root of a host of social goods or ills. I lived in a community of 12,000 for 5 years where there was one murder per generation (literally, and the murderers were all of the same family, one generation each contributing a killer into the statistics). And, being eastern Imbler, every home had a gun. You have the same patterns of gun ownership in other types of communities-and all living hell is the result. Some of America's cities are grotesque parodies of urban settlements racked by gun warfare. Social context matters. And yet if ghetto urban levels of barbarism were prevelant throughout this country-I suspect the arguments would not change much, anti-gun people would assert that barbarism would be combated by cutting the source off, while pro-gun people would affirm that individuals had to defend themselves against barbarism and needed access to weapons. If amicable civility were the norm, both groups would make somewhat different points, though the utilitarian outcomes would be minimal, at least as far as first order outcomes go.

Posted by razib at 10:41 PM | | TrackBack

April 03, 2003

A note on blog-break

I'm going to reread Unto Others and Darwin's Cathedral so that I give a good summation of Wilson & co's position-I'm not a population geneticist, nor a great believer in group selectionism, so I want to do this well. That being said, since I have work & the rest of life to deal with, I will stop blogging & reading blogs until then (that likely means until sometime this weekend) I'm also going to go through critiques of Wilson's position-especially by J.M. Smith. This is important to me because I'm going to use this post to start a series tentatively titled, "Human(e) Sciences," that will cover ethnology & public policy, starting from a theoretical stance that is open to group selectionist explanations (if not embracing them totally).

Posted by razib at 08:03 PM | | TrackBack

Hot pepper consumption

? for readers-does anyone know of negative consequences for eating 3-4 whole habaneros a day? That's kind of been my standard for a few months now, and basically whenever the local supermarket has good ones in stock. The only other pepper that I have access to right now that gives me any zing is cayenne. Anyway, just wondering if perhaps I'm not damaging myself somehow....

Posted by razib at 02:45 PM | | TrackBack

An end to affirmative action?

No, not in the US, in Malaysia. Note how the New Economic Program (NEP) is almost described like the 'Jew taxes' of the Middle Ages.

The slaughter of sacred cows

Apr 3rd 2003
From The Economist print edition

Some cherished policies are being re-examined

IS DR MAHATHIR an old man in a hurry? It certainly seems so. With his long reign drawing to a close, he has been reversing some of his party's most cherished policies, perhaps secure in the knowledge that it is his successor who will have to deal with any backlash.

Malaysia is probably the only country in the world with racial discrimination explicitly written into its constitution. The Malays—or to be more accurate, the bumiputras, or “sons of the soil”, a term that covers not only the Malays but other indigenous ethnic groups as well—felt themselves at a serious disadvantage when independence came in 1957. Under British protection, Malaysia's Chinese traders and businessmen had prospered. The bumiputras, who lived mainly in the rural areas and had little access to education, owned only 2.5% of the country's corporate assets, against over 30% for the Chinese. (Foreigners, mainly British, owned the rest.)

On May 13th 1969, simmering tension between the Malays and the Chinese burst on to the streets. By the end of that day, 200 people were dead, and Malaysia was on its way to adopting a wide-ranging policy of positive discrimination. Launched in 1971, the New Economic Policy (NEP) reserved the lion's share of government jobs and university places for bumiputras. Publicly quoted companies had to ensure that at least 30% of their shares were held by this group, and to hand out a similar share of jobs to them. At the same time the government “Malayised” education: Malay schools had to teach solely in Malay, not English, though Chinese-language primary schools, paid for by the government, and Chinese secondary schools, mainly funded by the Chinese community, were allowed to continue as before.

These policies have had a big impact, not all of it as planned. Counterproductively, the education provisions have kept Malay and Chinese children apart, because they are educated in different establishments and in different languages. Not many Chinese go to the national universities either, partly because of the language issue, but mainly because there is a quota system. Although this has been relaxed in recent years, so that only 55% of places are now reserved for bumiputras, the Chinese are far more likely to send their children to university, so a Chinese student needs much better grades to be sure of a place. The solution until recently has been for tens of thousands of young Chinese Malaysians to be sent to study abroad, at great expense. For the Malays, the consequent decline in the standard of English has become quite marked.

The NEP and its successor plans have also left their mark on business, again not quite as intended. Chinese companies have, by and large, chosen to stay small and private, rather than growing to the point of having to comply with the NEP's requirements. At the same time, the encouragement given to Malay businessmen has led to some spectacular and expensive misjudgments. Critics argue that the NEP promoted crony capitalism (see article), with asset sales, cheap credit and large contracts being directed to a favoured few ethnic Malays. The Asian economic crisis in 1997-98 exposed the consequent weaknesses.

Learning to love the NEP

Even so, it appears that Malaysia's Chinese have come to accept the NEP. For all its limitations, the Chinese in Malaysia think themselves better off than in neighbouring Thailand or Indonesia, where they had to assimilate completely. In Thailand, they were forced to take Thai names: if you did not know that, you might think there were no Chinese in Thailand at all. In Indonesia, most manifestations of Chinese culture (though not names) were suppressed: at one time, it was illegal to import Chinese books or papers. Even so, Indonesia experienced repeated pogroms. “If the NEP is the price we pay to keep our culture and live safely, it is not a bad price,” says one Chinese businessman. “The policy has actually helped us,” argues Ng Lip Yong, a Chinese member of parliament. “It has made us more resilient, more competitive. We have had to fight the handicaps, and it has made us tougher.” No business could sound more Malay than Royal Selangor, Malaysia's famous pewter-maker, but it is owned and run by a Chinese.

Politically, too, the Chinese are well placed these days. The success of the PAS Islamists has meant that, in effect, the Chinese (and other non-Malays) hold the balance of power between the two big Malay parties, PAS and UMNO. Ling Liong Sik, the leader of the Malaysian Chinese Association, which is part of the ruling coalition, says that his members are less bothered about the restrictions than they used to be. No Chinese, for instance, would want a civil-service job anyway, and there are now so many private universities in Malaysia that would-be Chinese students no longer have to go abroad.

In any case, the days of the NEP now appear to be numbered. In a famous book published in 1970, “The Malay Dilemma”, Dr Mahathir, who had just been expelled from UMNO for criticising the leadership, argued that Malays had to decide “whether they should stop trying to help themselves in order that they should be proud to be the poor citizens of a prosperous country, or whether they should try to get at some of the riches that this country boasts of, even if it blurs the economic picture of Malaysia a little”. In the 1970s, UMNO chose the second of those options. But Dr Mahathir called it a dilemma advisedly, and it seems that he still sees it as one. At any rate, the first option now seems to be finding increasing favour.

For the past couple of years, Dr Mahathir and Mr Badawi have been calling on Malays to “throw away their crutches”. If anything, Mr Badawi believes this even more strongly than his boss. In 2000, he was the first to break the taboo, describing the NEP as “mollycoddling”, and extolling the virtues of competition. Mr Badawi says that bumiputras now own 23% of Malaysia's assets. That is less than the 30% target that was supposed to be achieved by 1990, but the government seems to think that discrimination has done its work.

Rules are for bending

The relaxation of the university quota is one sign of this, but there are others. In high-tech, for instance, the terms of the NEP do not apply to the huge area designated by the government as a Multimedia Super Corridor, where all sorts of tax breaks are available. In principle, most public businesses, for instance stockbrokers, have to ensure that 30% of their staff are bumiputra. “In practice, it isn't really like that,” says one broker. “I go along to the central bank, and I show them that we have advertised for bumiputra stock analysts, but that we haven't been able to find any with the right qualifications. They never actually fine us.”

Even the requirement that 30% of a firm's equity be held by bumiputras is not as arduous as it seems. For instance, it does not apply to foreign firms manufacturing for the export market. And where it does apply, these days an increasing number of well-managed bumiputra firms can be drawn in as partners.

None of this is to suggest that race relations in Malaysia are perfect: far from it. It seems invidious, for example, that Malaysia's political parties are all race-based (a few of the small parties claim to be otherwise, but Keadilan is overwhelmingly Malay, Gerakan and the DAP are overwhelmingly Chinese).

The past year has also seen a first-class inter-racial row on the subject of schools. It is difficult to overestimate the importance of education in Malaysia, because it cuts to the heart of both religious and racial tensions. That is why the job of education minister, considered something of a backwater in most countries, carries huge weight in this one. Dr Mahathir once held the job, as did his predecessor as prime minister, Hussein Onn. Anwar Ibrahim held it, and so did Mr Badawi. The latest dispute was over another of Dr Mahathir's attempts to unravel a cherished policy from the past: the teaching of English. This year marked the start of the re-introduction of English as a language of instruction in Malaysia's primary schools, to the vigorous opposition of nationalist Malays and Chinese alike. Dr Mahathir inherited the Malay education policy, as he did the NEP, when he became prime minister in 1981, but has felt bold enough to change it only towards the end of his long tenure.

In the event, the loudest protests came from the Chinese, whose schools have had to fend off many assaults on their independence, and the government had to give ground to them. Maths and science classes in Chinese primary schools will continue to be taught mainly in Chinese, though there will be extra tuition in English in those subjects. To the MCA and Gerakan, this demonstrates that being inside the BN coalition confers real benefit, and that the Chinese are becoming more equal.

Posted by razib at 01:03 PM | | TrackBack

Shout out to the geeks

I'm reading O'Reilly's Information Architecture for the World Wide Web by Rosenfeld & Morville. Right now, I seem to be having flashbacks set in college back when I was thumbing through my roommate's 'business management' books-I mean, people teach this crap? I feel like I'm reading that $7 paper-back book titled 'How to pick stocks to make you a millionaire!'. Yeah, I know, I'm just not seeing the forest from the trees....

On a related greek-frustration note, my local library spent 3 days upgrading their catalog while I was up in Portland. Well, the user-interface is better, but the queries now take a million years! I really want to see the raw SQL-because simple searches shouldn't take 20 seconds! I asked a librarian and she gave me a blank look-she just noted that they had spent a lot of money "improving" the system. To all the geeks out there, I am thinking they didn't index shit.

Posted by razib at 05:26 AM | | TrackBack

Forward bloggage

Added a "forward via email" feature for the posts. To the right of the "comment" and "discussion forum" links, click & do what comes naturally....

Posted by razib at 04:05 AM | | TrackBack

Feature addition

Added a small feature next to where trackback used to be (bottom of post, right hand side)-allows you to forward the articles/posts via email.

Posted by razib at 04:01 AM | | TrackBack

April 02, 2003

Is this what happens when you mix an East Asian male and a black Jamaican female?

I recently came across a television news story that talked about Michael Lee Chin, who owns one of the top 10 or so largest mutual fund and finance companies in Canada - AIC. As a blog that's intensely interested in Human Biodiversity, I thought you all might find him intriguing. It's not often that one comes across a half Chinese/half Jamaican billionaire (according to one 2002 article, one of 3 "Black" billionaire’s in North America).

Here's a quote from: http://www.foruminternational.ca/fr/display_news.php?ID=120

"if you want to divine why Lee-Chin’s so successful, look at his roots. He grew up as one of nine children in a close-knit, entrepreneurial family in the Jamaican seaside town of Port Antonio. The spot had long been a tropical hideaway for the rich and famous. Tycoons like J.P. Morgan and William Randolph Hearst once anchored their yachts offshore, while Hollywood swashbuckler Errol Flynn, who bought a nearby island, claimed he’d never met a woman as beautiful as Port Antonio. Both of Lee-Chin’s grandfathers were from China; his grandmothers were Jamaican. The Chinese began migrating to the island in the 1860s as indentured laborers to work on plantations following the abolition of slavery, and the descendants of mixed Asian-Jamaican couples today account for less than 5% of Jamaica’s population. “As kids we were harassed because we weren’t fully black and we weren’t Chinese either,” recalls Lee-Chin. “We were both betwixt and between.”

What's interesting is that he shows traits that usually ascribed to black males:

"At six-foot-four, the 51-year-old Lee-Chin is a powerhouse. He works out at least five times a week in a personal gym in his Burlington mansion, once owned by former Laidlaw chief Michael DeGroote. He can bench press a stunning 275 pounds, although these days he pumps just 225—five more than he weighs—preferring to concentrate on endurance rather than sheer strength. Lee-Chin says 50 push-ups is the minimum needed to qualify for a competition. I politely decline."

Athletic prowess, strict workout regimens and physical feats of strength aren't traits that are commonly associated with Asian business leaders. Neither is the gift for the gab, which is what I am assuming the authors meant when they stated that ".... The secret to his success? Lee-Chin is a salesman, pure and simple. "

Here's a pic of Mr. Chen: http://www.bbpa.org/Harry/michaell.html
And here's another splurge of info: http://www.bbpa.org/Harry/michaell.html

What perplexes me is how the black community seems to take him as one of their own (as far as I know, he's half African black and half Chinese). Maybe he identifies with the black community, I don't know much about the man. He's half African and half Chinese, so it seems to me that the Chinese community have as much right to claim his as one of them.

Anyways, discuss amongst yourselves.

Posted by alpha at 10:59 PM | | TrackBack

Back in the real world....

SARS might trigger a world-wide recession! Well, well.... FuturePundit, as always, is keeping an eye on the bug (also, see here & here).

As far as I'm concerned, no hand-shaking & touching public surfaces for me-and at least if it goes airborne it will probably be less virulent.

Update: Details on the Chinese government incompetance & cover-up.

Posted by razib at 08:58 PM | | TrackBack

Sexual selection at work

DP has a post up that references Dr. Mark Shriver's work that indicates that "European ancestry explains about 20% of the variance in pigmentation in African Americans." I guess that the effect of several generations of yellow-loving men and the resultant assortive mating is more important that quotients of descent-something not as surprising in light of the study that indicated a decoupling of racial phenotype from lineage ancestry in Brazil [1].

[1] Please see Interracial Intimacies for a review of the black American male love of "yellow women," in other words, light skinned females, often termed high yella in the slang.

Posted by razib at 02:58 AM |

Admin junk

I wuz going to look at the problems that the old MT installation had had, but tonite it seems to have resolved itself mysteriously. Go here for the archives, and one post by godless recently. I really suspect it had to do with my webhoster messing with the perl modules....

Posted by razib at 02:38 AM |

April 01, 2003

What kind of diversity?

Conservatives sometimes respond to liberal calls for racial diversity in the classroom with their own demands for political diversity. This sort of stuff is usually stupid in my opinion-you are winning tractical battles but ceding the grand strategic war, Pyrrhic victories all. But that begs the larger question, what sort of diversity is important and crucial for young people as they find their places in the world?

What sort of identity do people care about? Racial nationalists, religious fundamentalists and political radicals can give easy answers, but most people are more ambivelant, or more complex, depending on how you look at it [1]. I know many people who associate only with people of their own race, but also of their own political orientation. There are many liberals who I meet who are shocked by some of my views, and totally surprised by my "facts" (don't you know it is well known that there is more racism in America today than a generation ago? :)). Similarly, as a conservative with an interest in religion in American life, I interact sometimes with right-leaning Christians. When I tell them I am an atheist, they often shocked that I don't have two horns, not only do they never talk to atheists (especially one that's pretty well read on religious topics and scripture for a lay person), they tend not to brush shoulders with more liberal Christians influenced by modernist thinking. They listen to Christian-rap, read Christian books and go to Christian schools.

I do think diversity is good. People should go out and look for places where they can establish dialogue and exchange ideas with people they disagree with, this is very healthy for a liberal society. On the other hand, I'm a little skeptical that this is going to happen in for instance medical school, I have friends who are medical students, and I can tell you that they are too busy working their asses off to give too much thought to enriching the lives of their fellow students with extra-clinical banter [2]. To take the medical student example further, the racial diversity of their classmates almost certainly matters less than the racial diversity of their patients. If you take the argument that you need minority doctors to treat minorities since they will be better suited to this, can't you flip it around and ask if all the Asian medical students aren't giving sub-standard care to all the non-Asians they will be treating? Perhaps we should try to reduce the number of people of Asian ancestry among the doctors-to-be, and especially the obscene overrepresentation of brown kids in medical school seeing as how they form less than 1% of the patient population.

In any case, as someone with no religious affiliation, little racial pride and lukewarm political loyalties (registered Republican, libertarian when I'm an idealist, not-so-libertarian when I'm a realist, but generally satisfied with the fact that the modern West has vigorous politics)-I really can't offer much here. If you take the mainstream-Left + some-on-the-Right contention that diversity is important cross-sectionally in social institutions as an end, what should we start weighing besides race? Should we make sure evangelical Protestants and conservative Catholics are well represented at Ivy League universities (Pat Buchanan has suggested this!)? Southerners at northern universities? Republicans at Oberlin? Conservatives in the media? Liberals in the oil industry (liberals buy gas too!)?

I'm more inclined toward allowing individuals and local groups make decisions about how much diversity they want in my life. But right now, the top-down view that major social institutions have to manage and massage diversity in a command fashion is ascendent, so I'm curious how far we'll go here....

[1] We all know about racist wacks and religious nutsos, but we tend not to think about ideological fanatics as much anymore-Communists, Fascists, etc. come to mind-but on a milder note, what about people like Grover Norquist? I bring up Norquist because I agree a lot with his idea of the "Leave us Alone Coalition," but his recent clashes with other conservatives over his assocations with Muslim groups seem to hinge on the fact that for him politics overrules other identifications. Many Christian conservatives are Christians first, conservatives only later-so close ties with Muslim groups are distastefull to them. Norquist on the other hand is willing to deal with some rather peculiar people who seem to be the Muslim equivalent of the Anti-Defamation League or NAACP, they have roles, but are generally a little too high-strung for some of their more moderate supporters.

[2] Medical students probably talk mostly about medicine after all-there is little discussion of religion, politics, etc. from what I know about them. This happens in many fields of work and study-people talk about what they have in common, not what separates them. Big surprise!

Posted by razib at 11:33 PM |


I recently read four books that are centered around the idea of groups. Unto Others & Darwin's Cathedral were tracts on the neo-group selection thesis. World on Fire & Lords of the Rim deal with rapacious capitalist minorities in developing nations [1]. The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity is pretty self-explanatory in its subject matter.

Pretty soon (as in days) I will write up something that presents the information that I've gleaned from these books in a semi-coherent fashion. Additionally, I will touch on the topics of human biodiversity and the difficulties of liberal democracy. This is a big enterprise, so I'm going to give a quick pre-review of these books....

First two books, by evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson, were pretty good reads. Unto Others was not too technical, but not so squarely aimed at the lay audience that it will bore people with biological backgrounds. I came into the process an individual selectionist of sorts-that's all I really had studied in college. Wilson has convinced me to give group selectionism a second look-and for now I'll say I'm an agnostic. Individual selectionism is parismonious and I find it more elegant. But if the empirical evidence supports group selectionism, well, fuck elegance, no? Wilson does present some data, but his main purpose seems to be to convince others to go into this area of research. Darwin's Cathedral especially goes off on this tangent, sometimes I get the feeling I'm reading a prospectus more than an argument. If you read Unto Others you can skip the technical primer on group selectionism in Darwin's Cathedral, and I didn't pay close attention to the second half of Unto Others since it veered into psychology and I have difficulty enough grasping my own mind let alone generalizing on the human condition.

World on Fire deals with the topic of "Market Dominant Ethnic Minorities." The prelims out of the way first, Amy Chua's jacket photo is far more flattering than the photo on the Yale web site. What's up with that? I suspect that the book photo is about 10 years old or so, she looks to be about 30, near the prime of her sexual peak in terms of physical attractiveness. That out of the way, what about the book? Well, it's a great primer on ethnic conflict driven by economic exploitation and success differentials, but I felt that it went out with a whimper, not really addressing the topic of a practical solution to the coexistence of liberal democracy with multiple lifestyles that correlate with ethnic identification. Lords of the Rim is a more narrow-focus tome that deals with the Overseas Chinese. It doesn't pretend to be public policy or social science, but rather a survey of the Chinese communites of southeast Asia and to a lesser extent North America. The fact that these communities are tied to specific localities and clans between Guangdong and Fujian on the south China coast is highlighted, and the cartel/mafia character is elucidated by multiple examples in various nations. If it was theoretically more ambitious, Lords of the Rim might have become a Sino-version of Culture of Critique. Though neither of these books deal with biology, if the group evolutionary paradigm is going to go anywhere in the human context, these are the "study organisms" that will need to be modelled and examined.

Finally, the last book is more a work of history, but James C. Russell is clearly aware of the work of the group evolutionists (see the article in The Occidental Quarterly and inspect the footnotes). At about 200 pages it is a short but dense read (footnote heavy, something I favor). The basic thesis is pretty straightforward, the German folk religion conquered Christianity and turned the outward form of that faith into a vehicle for their own inner spirit-racial soul so to speak. Russell doesn't present it in such a radical and metaphorical fashion, but that is the gist. From the perspective of a student of history, I have many quibbles, though the work as a whole was very stimulating. Though I don't doubt his background in Northern European history and ethnology, his assertions about the Proto-Indo-Europeans were tenditious at best in my opinion. That field is always disputable, the problem is that a large portion of Russell's work depends on the interpretations of Indo-Europeanists, and so he seems to present the information as more solidly accepted than I believe it is. But the general thrust of the book seems spot on to me-though in a twist of irony, his idea that the Christianity of Christendom was quite pagan in spirit is probably more amenable to Left-Liberals who are intent on forging an alliance with the Christians of color in the Third World that seem to be going through the same sort of acculturation and transmutation that the early Germans did.

To look at the individual as the basic atomic unit of study and organization is very fruitful. Some might assert that this is all we can do, that groups as simply too undefined and amorphous to truly study with any rigor. I'm open-minded on this question-just because one can't study it systematically and scientifically doesn't deny the power of something. Nevertheless, it seems clear to me that the individual is quite often the partial sum of the groups in which they participate. The attempt must be made, and these books are the first in a new wave of scholarship that is ressurecting older intellectual traditions but imbuing them with the sharp edge of modern methodologies.

[1] Yes, Lords of the Rim really needed to be titled something that didn't make it sound like a gay porn flick....

Posted by razib at 02:52 AM |

Our Greek ancestors, hey?

I just read The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity by James C. Russell. The same Dr. Russell submitted this article to The Occidental Quarterly titled The Western Contribution to World History. I found this very curious:

This inspirational sacrifice of our ancient ancestors at Thermopylae led to a Greek victory over the Persians and permitted Hellenic culture to flourish.

Uh, Dr. Russell's ancient ancestors? After reading his book I get the impression he considers northern European cultural values rather distinct and its sociohistorical experience very separate from that of southern Europe and the Meditarreanean Littoral. But read on, and you will see how Dr. Russell squares this circle:

Unfortunately for the ancient Greeks, Alexander the Great, who died in 323 B.C., despite being an astute tactician, unwittingly became the first apostle of multiculturalism and demonstrated the ethnocultural dangers of empire-building.
Instead, many immigrants from the conquered Eastern territories made their way to Greece with the result being cultural and genetic dissonance, as well as religious syncretism and a condition of social confusion sometimes referred to as anomie.

Ah, makes more sense in the context of what I read in his book. I suspect a certain Hellene might have some comments on this....

Posted by razib at 12:10 AM |

March 31, 2003

Race on campus

Two stories about race & higher education from The Washington Post: At U-Michigan, Minority Students Find Access -- and Sense of Isolation, At Boston U., 'Holistic' Admissions Venture Beyond Black and White (thanks to Steve Sailer for the second link). I must admit there is a paradigm gap between the reporters that filed the stories and I, while I tend to put the burden of proof on those arguing in favor of affirmative action of any sort, the authors of the pieces seem to assume that "pro-diversity" policies are beneficial as the default position. The first story especially seems to emphasize personal stories and cherry-picks minority students that might get into the University of Michigan even without race-conscious policies. The focus should be on those who are significantly below the average academically of their fellow students. Check this out:

She carries a 3.8 grade-point average while taking advanced courses and finished in the 98th percentile of students who took the PSAT. Recruitment letters are cluttering her mailbox. Without affirmative action, Currie said, the letters would almost certainly dwindle, and so would offers of financial aid. Her mother is raising three children on a waitress's wages, so she needs a scholarship.

I'm a bit curious as to why the PSAT score rather than the SAT score was mentioned. And if the SAT score is in the same percentile, along with the GPA, this seems like a student that could get scholarships, no matter the race. And let me be frank, I know plenty of people that need a scholarship and have working-class parents, who happen to be white or Asian. The crap about financial difficulties of underrepresented groups is only tangential to their concern with diversity, as middle-class blacks tend to suffer academically in comparison to their peers as well. Needless to say the journalists that file these stories don't propose replacing race-conscious affirmative action with income-conscious policies. Now more silliness:

In 1954, there were 200 black students at Michigan, according to school records. Twelve years later, there were 400, barely more than 1 percent of the total student population of 32,000. At that time, 55 percent of Detroit's 300,000 students were black.

Uh, do we really want to use Detroit as an example for black Michganders? Other parts of the article refer to the insensativities that are creating a hostile racial environment for black undergraduates (you know, questions about rap music and differences in hair washing methodology)-which seem to point to the fact that Detroit and its normal social mileau is typical for African-Americans in the heads of mislead whites. Is it? Isn't it? Be a little clever and put the assumptions in different articles so you don't seem to crassly exploitative of the facts. Additionally:

Helen Basterra, a 23-year-old junior from England, said, "I find it astonishing the amount of people who are against affirmative action. America is a colorblind society, but there's such division on campus. It goes to show you how much race is a factor in this society."

Ah yes, the Brits. I have relatives in Britain, I know a bit about their racial situation, and let me say that my kin (who are professionals) generally assert that the United States is more accepting of browns as normal members of society than England. They could be wrong-and it takes two to tango, but Europeans lecturing America on race in this day & age is kind of ridiculous to me. And how about the logic of a woman who is confused as to why color-blind America has an issue with race-aware affirmative action?

If proportional diversity is the end itself affirmative action is probably necessary. Many socieities espouse these values without controversy, they keep the peace. But they don't lie to themselves and act as if it reduces segregation. All the complaints about white-black lack of interaction at U of Michigan (a liberal campus from what I know) seem to imply that the problem is with the whites-but blacks also often are more comfortable "among their own kind." As someone who isn't particularly, I think I can assert without prejudice that being more comfortable among one's own race is normal, uncontroversial and not contingent upon a hostile racist environment. And though many of us anti-affirmative action conservatives can be a bit self-serving about our talking points-I do sincerely believe that excessive concern about race during admissions leads to greater racial & racist awareness among students, not less [1].

Update: Just listened to a self-righteous chick talk about how she never would have met black people if she hadn't had a black roommate in law school. Oh yeah, this is the type of person that really gets changed by the experience-she never would have met black people if it weren't for law school! If she lives in Michigan she must have had a segregated background, she could have just gotten out, dated a black guy, I don't know. Christ, why the fuck is it so hard for white people to meet colored folk??? Idiotic. I guess I'm doing a public service by introducting white people to someone brown everyday, yip-dee-dee!

Update II: Let me make myself clear, the reason I get ticked off about whites gushing about how experiences with non-whites "changed their whole view on the world" is that they are obviously superficial and patronizing when they say this-they never really specify what the hell they are talking about. I'm an interesting & entertaining person I'd like to think-my brownness might contribute to that, but I suspect that it is only a minor variable in the equation. I'm not some exotic animal that the fully human individual white person can experience to make them understand the beauty of all God's creations. But I've had plenty of people treat me like this.

[1] By self-serving, I mean the stuff about how it is bad that unprepared black and Latino students get sent to prestigous schools to fail. I mean, that's important, but the principle of race-blindness and opposition to social engineering a priori is the real deal.

Posted by razib at 10:25 PM |

Halfjew.com updated

April issue of HalfJew.com is out. Check out the "letters" section-some people are "offended" at the idea of "half-jews."

Posted by razib at 09:49 PM |

Dr. So & So's back-up profession

I went up to Portland last week partly to hang with a friend who is going to Michigan for a medical residency. I have to retell a story that I heard from him, which should give my readers a laugh and make them think. This is a true story, I know the person in question and have asked him about the accuracy of the details :)

So, my friend is graduating about 3rd or so in his class of 90 from medical school (OHSU). His best friend in med school is 1st in his class, and is going to do his residency at Harvard (anesthesiology), and rejected offers from a wide variety of programs of high prestige (including the best in the country in his area, UCSF). My friend has always wanted to be a doctor, medical school was his goal from his first day of his freshmen year as an undergrad. This other guy though is not the same.

How did he become a doctor? Well, after graduating from college, he took a year off and worked as a nursing assistant. He had been rejected from nursing schools and was going to reapply. One of his professors found out that he was working as a nurse's assistant and encouraged him to take the MCATs and apply to medical school as a back-up option. So he did real well on the tests and got accepted and the rest is history. But if this individual had been accepted to nursing school the first time around, it is quite clear that he would probably be in that field at this point in life.

Anyway, I just thought it was pretty funny, and reminds us all you can't always judge a book by its cover.

Posted by razib at 09:29 PM |

"Blonde like me"

Richard Poe and DP (Dienikes Pontikos) are in a little dispute over what race means. About a month back, I was going to review the book Our Kind of People: Inside America's Black Upper Class by Laurence Otish Graham. I never got to that, but perhaps I'll hit that at some point time permitting. In any case, I would just like to share a peculiar anecdote out of the book.

Scene: His brother's wedding. Graham is at the table. A blonde woman approaches and points under his seat. She asks what the deal is with the broom, and Graham replies that the bride and groom will jump over it. It's an old slave custom. The woman sneers and asks why he's bringing those "nigger customs" to the wedding. Graham is in shock as the woman walks away. He looks around the table, and wonders aloud how such a racist white woman would be invited to the wedding. One of the people at the table corrects Graham, because you see, the blonde woman went to Howard with the bride, and she's black. At this point, Graham changes his tune, and he realizes many of the "white" people at the wedding are actually black! They are just part of the black upper class that Graham is a marginal member of himself, and he no longer sees any curiosity in the woman referring to "niggers," as they are now of her own race, the black race, she being a blonde white-skinned member of that race....

There are many stories like this littered throughout the book, but Graham adhere's pretty strongly to the dogma of hypodescent, so he doesn't seem to be very reflective about this bizarro style of thinking. He refers many times to the color caste-system that prevails among the hereditary black upper class, but in the end, he doesn't seem to criticize it with any great zeal.

Posted by razib at 12:16 AM |

March 30, 2003

Demographic realities

Two stories about demographics that are interesting, Military Mirrors Working-Class America and Affirmative Action Case Splits Asian Americans. Free registration required for both.

Posted by razib at 12:28 PM |