Sunday, October 24, 2010

Woman Marries Herself

A Taiwanese woman is marrying herself.

Uninspired by the men she's met but facing social pressure to get married, the 30-year-old Taipei office worker will hold the reception next month in honor of just one person.

"Age thirty is a prime period for me. My work and experience are in good shape, but I haven't found a partner, so what can I do?" Chen said.

"It's not that I'm anti-marriage. I just hope that I can express a different idea within the bounds of a tradition," she added.
Her $5,675 wedding comes after online publicity that has netted 1,800 largely sympathetic comments.

The story notes that Taiwanese women are marrying less and later, as their economic status advances. This is female hypergamy at work.

Could the woman find a husband? Why certainly. It is hard to tell if the woman is grossly fat, but even fat women can get married. They simply have to compromise. The woman, like many, in Taiwan and all over the developed world, simply won't settle for the boring, beta male provider her mother and grandmother and great-grandmother married. Why? Because she feels she "deserves" a better class of guy.

No doubt, she had Alpha male attention, in her younger days, but obviously was not pretty enough to hold him. This is the tragedy of the modern world. Women don't find out, until far too late to do anyone any good at all, that most of them can certainly have sex with exciting, dominant, Alpha men, as long as they are young and relatively attractive. But nearly all of them will lack the extraordinary beauty to make one their husband. And even then, they'll have to share said Alpha male with any number of other women, many far less attractive than themselves. Ask Sandra Bullock, or Elin Nordgren.

Thus women marrying themselves. A party all for them! Groom not even required. Yes this is "Muriel's Wedding" with Toni Collete and the music of ABBA.

As sad, and pathetic, as the X-boxen obsessed slackers on the couch, gaming away, this bit of news is every bit as sad. Consumer society breeds unrealistic expectations about life that prevent many from actually living it. The woman in question would have been better advised to have found a slightly older man, mature enough not to be hormonally crazed, and stable, after careful vetting and finding compatibility. Not searching for the perfect guy till the opportunity to find a good enough one slips away.

As always, the perfect is the enemy of the good. A lesson sadly her mother was not able to teach her.
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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Lock Them All Up, Save Billions

A Slate story reports that one study at Iowa State calculates the cost of each murder at $17 million. This is not a newsflash. Violent crime has big, big costs to society. Anxious Whites eager to avoid the constant crime wave that Blacks and Hispanics bring move out to far distant exurbs, like the Russian Army in 1941 desperately trading time and space with Wehrmacht. Each murder brings a huge hole in the lives of family and friends. A son no longer there to take care of his aging parents (a theme going back to the Illiad) or provide sons and daughters for the community. A woman no longer there to take care of her children. Community co-operation, shattered, as willingness to help becomes less, and vigilance to avoid being next becomes more.

As the study notes, violent offenders can cost greater than $150 million. So, Lock Them All Up.

The study shows, how wise it is to be tough on crime. Particularly violent crime, since a man in prison for rape, cannot go on to murder (at least not anyone in society at large). Armed Robbers cannot escalate to murder in the larger society, nor can sex offenders go on to rape, and assault, and kill again.

Programs to "save at-risk youth" have failed, completely, and absolutely. As have rehabilitation programs. Thus, prison is a bargain. At twice the price.

A multicultural society is necessarily either an extremely violent one, or one with lots and lots of prisons. Given the preponderance of crime committed by Blacks and Latinos (Mexicans, really). Just exactly why Blacks and Latinos offend at a much higher rate than Whites and Asians is a matter of debate. It might be culture, it might be something hard-wired, it might be a combination of both. Regardless, more than fifty years of programs and initiatives and all sorts of efforts have not changed this disparity. Asians commit the least crimes (and this includes those from South East Asia, particularly Vietnam, where gang membership is not uncommon). Whites the next least, per capita. Black the most, followed by Hispanics (Mexicans).

No one would be happier than Whites and Asians if Blacks and Hispanics suddenly became in criminal behavior like Whites and Asians. For one thing, there would not be a constant search for exurban real estate, away from Black and Hispanic filled city centers and inner suburbs. Cities like Southern California's Bell, or Downey, or even South Central would be flooded with real-estate hungry yuppies, even in this market, if Blacks and Hispanics suddenly had offender rates of Whites and Asians.

Thus, when people complain about the high cost of prisons, remind them it is bargain. A bargain that helps Black and Hispanics (Mexicans) as much or even more than Whites and Asians. Since the primary victims of the much higher per-capita crime rate Black and Hispanic populations are their own communities. Indeed, looking at the social costs of gang related murders, one can easily see why they help perpetuate poverty inside the barrio and ghetto. Costly though it might be, and painful to contemplate, an argument could be made to Black and Hispanic ghetto and barrio residents that locking up their nephews is better than burying their sons. And that the only way to prevent the latter is to do the former.

Of course, that's an indictment of the single-mother dominated ghetto and barrio's ability to enforce social norms (don't murder). And admitting that the problem requires a mostly White police and prison system to lock up fairly closely related relatives to save your own son. So it is unlikely to be a very successful argument. No one likes to see relatives imprisoned.

But the larger White (and Asian) population that pay the majority of taxes, will see the logic.

Its ALWAYS about the money. Always.

And the savings from constructing a massive prison system in a "diverse" and multicultural society are enormous. If anything, America has too few prisons, and too few prisoners. Both are a bargain at twice the cost.

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France 1, Roma 0, EU Nothing

For those keeping score at home, the EU dropped threatened legal action against France for deporting Gypsies. Meaningless weasel words were added to regulations deporting the Gypsies, also called Roma. Meanwhile, the deportations continue.

Because at the bottom, France cannot afford even retirement at 60. Much less become the welfare state for Bulgaria and Romania's Gypsy population. When people claim high moral principles, and say it's not about the money? It's always about the money. What little France has is reserved for the French. Thus begins the end of the EU. "Free Movement of Peoples" is one of the foundations of the EU. Another being no targeting national or ethnic groups for any legal enforcement. And that ran smack up against the challenge of paying for the Gypsies. Or, perhaps Romanians in general, or Bulgarians, or other impoverished Eastern Europeans.

No, France has not yet begun to deport all the Muslims in their country. But they cannot afford to pay for their welfare either. And as France faces the challenge of paying for all the social welfare their population has come to expect, the usual calculus applies: the cut goes further the fewer people get dealt in. Most Frenchmen would gladly trade a retirement age remaining at 60 for the cost of deporting every last Muslim, than retiring at age 75, or maybe 80, to pay for the welfare costs of the Muslim population, which creates little wealth. But consumes disproportionate amounts of welfare spending. Polygamy, segregation of women into burquas (and lack of their education) are reliable poverty generators. And Muslims immigrating from dirt poor nations that have always been dirt poor (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia principally) don't magically get turned into prosperous Frenchmen. No matter how many generations they live in France. Any more than Koreans can turn into haggis-eating, caber tossing, bagpipe playing Scotsman.

All around the globe, Western nations face the same dilemma. An aging population, with no productivity increase, faces the twin burdens of providing for their own population retirees, and welfare consuming, non-wealth producing immigrants who are "here to take over" but add nothing to the nation's wealth. Sooner or later, the immigrants and their descendants will be gotten rid of, deported to a nation of origin. It might end in tears, or one time payoffs, or a mixture of both, or low-level ethnic cleansing.

But it will happen.

Because the West just ran out of money. And even the EU recognized that France was not going to back down, and every other nation plans basically the same thing. So dies the soft, squishy dream of utopian trans-national organizations.

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Friday, October 22, 2010

How To Destroy Public Broadcasting

The recent firing of NPR commentator Juan Williams by NPR, for his remarks on Fox News Channel "The O'Reilly Factor" has led many to conclude that the only fix for Public Broadcasting is to destroy it. While I would be sad to see this institution go, and along with it the cultural opportunities, I'll concede critics of my post KCET Leaves PBS have a point. It just might be that Public Broadcasting, both in radio (NPR) and Television (PBS) are so corrupt and hard-left ideologically that there is no alternative but to destroy them both.

If that is the case, they must be completely destroyed. No half measures. Republican vows to defund PBS are not the answer, as removing government funding from PBS will not destroy it, indeed only amplify the influence of elites and hard-left Volk Marxists and billionaire leftists like George Soros. To destroy Public Broadcasting, Republicans must force a public auction for each broadcast license, for every radio and TV station, and rebate the money ENTIRELY to each taxpayer as a rebate check and stimulus action. Only in this way can Public Broadcasting be demolished.

As Wikipedia notes, about 60% or so of Public Broadcasting (TV) revenues come from private membership donations and grants. The same is generally true of NPR radio stations. Only 15% to 20% of operating revenue for the parent company of PBS, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, is from Federal sources. About 25% to 29% of the annual operating budget comes from State and Local taxes. The 2009 Budget for the CPB was about $400 million, about 90% of that distributed in one way or another to various member stations. This only accounts for about 17% of all funds to local PBS stations in 2006. The bulk of money (around 60%) comes from member donations, and grants from foundations and corporations. For example, the trouble with KCET and PBS stemmed from KCET getting about $40 million from BP, and PBS wanting its cut. State and local taxes (around 22% of local PBS revenues) and national underwriting and grants make up the rest of the PBS money.

Cutting the roughly $400 million a year that the CPB gets won't have much effect on PBS. It will still keep going. In order to destroy it, as much as possible, the system must be made to cede most of its network and reduce itself to a Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York outpost. The only way to do this is force an auction, for each broadcasting license, for each Public Broadcasting Television and Radio Station.

This will force the ugly, tangled nexus of the "charitable" foundations run by hard-left ideologues (the Ford Foundation, the Pew Foundation, the Tides Foundation of George Soros fame), corporations seeking hard-left buy-outs or buy-ins (much of the hard left agenda fits right in with profit seeking by hedge funds, or various self-serving companies promoting "green" direct subsidies to themselves like GE), to spend gobs of money to defend their core partnerships.

Right now, these groups fight above their weight, in terms of power, because they can piggy-back on free, public broadcasting that need not get an audience, due to the license being essentially, "free." Neither PBS nor NPR care much about ratings, or audience shares, only appealing to the same upscale, SWPL type of disdain for ordinary White people and traditional American culture (and Western culture, too). By forcing Soros, or the folks at the Ford Foundation, the Pew Foundation, the Kroc Foundation, and others, to spend and spend and spend to maintain the basic licenses, of key stations in the key metro areas, Republicans can reduce PBS to a tiny shell of its former self. Gone, completely, from the Prairie States, the South, Texas, the Mountain West, and much of the Pacific Northwest.

What numbers are we talking about? Well, there are 347 PBS stations in the US. There are about roughly 328 Public Radio Stations if you exclude College and Community Radio stations. reports that Radio Station KRBV (Black/Urban/Rap) will be sold for $137.5 million, by Radio One. KOCE in Orange County was sold for $32 million.

If we take the sale prices as roughly indicative of the value, (and yes, it is weird that the radio station sells for more than the TV station, but likely that is a function of how little Public Television Stations trade licenses), and note that WLNE in Providence, Rhode Island sold for $14 in 2007 (to Global Broadcasting by struggling Freedom Communications), WLNE being an ABC affiliate, that's not too bad a market price, well we can do some back of the envelope calculations.

Let's assume that each radio station will fetch, on average, about $100 million per license. Let's reduce the number from the crowded LA urban dial, by about $30 million, to account for smaller markets, and the like. That would net the government, which can force a sale, about $32.8 billion. Over the 138 million taxpayers in the US in 2007, that would be a check for $237. Not much, but most people would take the check over NPR stations they never listen to. The argument, politically, for giving everyone in America a check for about $240 by forcing the sale of Public Broadcasting Radio stations is pretty powerful. Particularly in a recession.

Now lets take the less profitable TV stations. Lets use the higher number, for KOCE, of $32 million. The forced sale would net, at auction, around $11.1 billion. Of course these are merely back of the envelope numbers. They could be higher, or lower, depending on the market price, bidders, and so on. But this is just an exercise in thinking. The amount if rebated to 138 million taxpayers would be about $80. So all told we are talking about $320 to each tax payer.

Or on the flip side, the expense of $43.9 billion, expended to keep the existing infrastructure of public television and radio stations. George Soros is rich. He's not that rich. Wikipedia (I know) lists him at about $7.2 billion net wealth. Carlos Slim has about $60 billion in net wealth. Not even Soros and the various tangle of foundations could spend that much money (around $44 billion) to keep the PBS and NPR operations national, and alive.

Thus, to destroy PBS and NPR, Republicans must make the successful argument that not only should the minor sums of $500 million or so per year be ended, but public auctions of the licenses be conducted, to force a few (likely in LA and other major Metro areas, like NYC, and Boston, and San Francisco) stations to fight to keep their license by expending most of their money (leaving little for operational budgets) and making the vast interior of the US "PBS and NPR free."

Of course, the cost of this will be the loss of jazz and classical stations in LA and many other areas. Along with various public affairs programming and the like. Very likely the major purchasers will be Spanish or Korean or Arabic or Persian language broadcasters. A show of what "diversity" really means, the crowding out of SWPL things as well as all things redneck. But perhaps it is worth it, to destroy a bastion of PC, and hard leftism.

It certainly has the advantage of pushing Democrats to explain why they won't put an extra $320 in everyone's pocket, to save Pacifica Radio, or other lunatic asylum broadcasters. And of course, forcing the current funders of Public Broadcasting to spend most of their money merely to defend a few castles, instead of the national system of outposts they have.
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Friday, October 15, 2010

The Elites Are Not The Elite: Harvard, Yale, Caltech, and Harvey Mudd

Clueless Anne Applebaum, at the Washington Post, writes the usual Liberal diatribe about how the lumpenproletariat don't know their place, and the wonderful leadership provided by the much smarter Ivy League people like Barack and Michelle Obama. Applebaum's argument, such as it is, amounts to the Ivy League taking the best and the brightest, sweeping away the old WASP aristocracy, in a glorious and multi-racial, multicultural technocratic elite, whom the resentful peasants are too stupid to realize are just that much smarter and better better than you! While the usual female-driven snobbery applies, it is useful to examine the flaws in Applebaum's thinking (such as it is) and examine just why she gets it so spectacularly wrong.

First, Applebaum correctly notes that the Ivies offer full scholarships. She neglects to note that the Ivies only offer the scholarships to fairly unqualified Blacks and Hispanics. Such as the pitiful Michelle Obama, whose senior thesis amounted to "I'm Black and You're Not!" in a poorly written manifesto against "White America" (that gave her a free ride to Princeton) in the typical angry, entitled, Affirmative Action reaction to the inner knowledge that against the best, they just did not measure up outside desired (non-White) skin color.

In How Diversity Punishes Poor Whites, Professor Russel K. Nieli of Princeton (hopefully this is enough for Applebaum, he's not at "icky" Cal Tech or Carnegie-Mellon) observes how "diversity" does indeed prefer lesser qualified Black and Hispanic students over more qualified (by test scores) White and Asian students.

When college presidents and academic administrators pay their usual obeisance to "diversity" you know they are talking first and foremost about race. More specifically, they are talking about blacks. A diverse college campus is understood as one that has a student body that -- at a minimum -- is 5 to 7 percent black (i.e., equivalent to roughly half the proportion of blacks in the general population). A college or university that is only one, two, or three percent black would not be considered "diverse" by college administrators regardless of how demographically diverse its student body might be in other ways. The blacks in question need not be African Americans -- indeed at many of the most competitive colleges today, including many Ivy League schools, an estimated 40-50 percent of those categorized as black are Afro-Caribbean or African immigrants, or the children of such immigrants.

As a secondary meaning "diversity" can also encompass Hispanics, who together with blacks are often subsumed by college administrators and admissions officers under the single race category "underrepresented minorities." Most colleges and universities seeking "diversity" seek a similar proportion of Hispanics in their student body as blacks (since blacks and Hispanics are about equal in number in the general population), though meeting the black diversity goal usually has a much higher priority than meeting the Hispanic one.

Most elite universities seem to have little interest in diversifying their student bodies when it comes to the numbers of born-again Christians from the Bible belt, students from Appalachia and other rural and small-town areas, people who have served in the U.S. military, those who have grown up on farms or ranches, Mormons, Pentecostals, Jehovah's Witnesses, lower-middle-class Catholics, working class "white ethnics," social and political conservatives, wheelchair users, married students, married students with children, or older students first starting out in college after raising children or spending several years in the workforce. Students in these categories are often very rare at the more competitive colleges, especially the Ivy League. While these kinds of people would surely add to the diverse viewpoints and life-experiences represented on college campuses, in practice "diversity" on campus is largely a code word for the presence of a substantial proportion of those in the "underrepresented" racial minority groups.

On an "other things equal basis," where adjustments are made for a variety of background factors, being Hispanic conferred an admissions boost over being white (for those who applied in 1997) equivalent to 130 SAT points (out of 1600), while being black rather than white conferred a 310 SAT point advantage. Asians, however, suffered an admissions penalty compared to whites equivalent to 140 SAT points.

The box students checked off on the racial question on their application was thus shown to have an extraordinary effect on a student's chances of gaining admission to the highly competitive private schools in the NSCE database. To have the same chances of gaining admission as a black student with an SAT score of 1100, an Hispanic student otherwise equally matched in background characteristics would have to have a 1230, a white student a 1410, and an Asian student a 1550.

Other studies, including a 2005 analysis of nineteen highly selective public and private universities by William Bowen, Martin Kurzweil, and Eugene Tobin, in their 2003 book, Equity and Excellence in American Higher Education, found very little if any advantage in the admissions process accorded to whites from economically or educationally disadvantaged families compared to whites from wealthier or better educated homes. Espenshade and Radford cite this study and summarize it as follows: "These researchers find that, for non-minority [i.e., white] applicants with the same SAT scores, there is no perceptible difference in admission chances between applicants from families in the bottom income quartile, applicants who would be the first in their families to attend college, and all other (non-minority) applicants from families at higher levels of socioeconomic status.

[Ed: In other words, poor Whites have little chance at the Ivies and top universities no matter how smart they are, as the top universities want Blacks and Hispanics, who are lesser qualified by test scores, to give limited scholarship money. Poor Asians fare far better, they are not those icky poor Whites.]

Distressing as many might consider this to be -- since the same institutions that give no special consideration to poor white applicants boast about their commitment to "diversity" and give enormous admissions breaks to blacks, even to those from relatively affluent homes -- Espenshade and Radford in their survey found the actual situation to be much more troubling. At the private institutions in their study whites from lower-class backgrounds incurred a huge admissions disadvantage not only in comparison to lower-class minority students, but compared to whites from middle-class and upper-middle-class backgrounds as well. The lower-class whites proved to be all-around losers. When equally matched for background factors (including SAT scores and high school GPAs), the better-off whites were more than three times as likely to be accepted as the poorest whites (.28 vs. .08 admissions probability). Having money in the family greatly improved a white applicant's admissions chances, lack of money greatly reduced it. The opposite class trend was seen among non-whites, where the poorer the applicant the greater the probability of acceptance when all other factors are taken into account. Class-based affirmative action does exist within the three non-white ethno-racial groupings, but among the whites the groups advanced are those with money.

When lower-class whites are matched with lower-class blacks and other non-whites the degree of the non-white advantage becomes astronomical: lower-class Asian applicants are seven times as likely to be accepted to the competitive private institutions as similarly qualified whites, lower-class Hispanic applicants eight times as likely, and lower-class blacks ten times as likely. These are enormous differences and reflect the fact that lower-class whites were rarely accepted to the private institutions Espenshade and Radford surveyed. Their diversity-enhancement value was obviously rated very low.

Besides the bias against lower-class whites, the private colleges in the Espenshade/Radford study seem to display what might be called an urban/Blue State bias against rural and Red State occupations and values. This is most clearly shown in a little remarked statistic in the study's treatment of the admissions advantage of participation in various high school extra-curricular activities. In the competitive private schools surveyed participation in many types of extra-curricular activities -- including community service activities, performing arts activities, and "cultural diversity" activities -- conferred a substantial improvement in an applicant's chances of admission. The admissions advantage was usually greatest for those who held leadership positions or who received awards or honors associated with their activities. No surprise here -- every student applying to competitive colleges knows about the importance of extracurriculars.

But what Espenshade and Radford found in regard to what they call "career-oriented activities" was truly shocking even to this hardened veteran of the campus ideological and cultural wars. Participation in such Red State activities as high school ROTC, 4-H clubs, or the Future Farmers of America was found to reduce very substantially a student's chances of gaining admission to the competitive private colleges in the NSCE database on an all-other-things-considered basis. The admissions disadvantage was greatest for those in leadership positions in these activities or those winning honors and awards. "Being an officer or winning awards" for such career-oriented activities as junior ROTC, 4-H, or Future Farmers of America, say Espenshade and Radford, "has a significantly negative association with admission outcomes at highly selective institutions." Excelling in these activities "is associated with 60 or 65 percent lower odds of admission."

There is much more, read the whole thing, but this is the meat of the argument. Which is entirely true. The Ivy League, and the top near Ivies such as Stanford, University of Chicago, Northwestern, and the like, are not, repeat not meritocratic. They merely take full-freight paying rich White kids, and unqualified non-Whites at a full or near full ride. Poor White kids particularly from rural, Red States in ROTC or 4-H need not apply. Ever.

Indeed, the career of Ivy-League educated non-Whites is pathetic. Michelle Obama made a nice living as a professional Black woman, at a pricey Chicago Law firm, before being hired at $300,000 a year by the University of Chicago to persuade poor Blacks not to use the University of Chicago Hospital system. The post was created when her husband Barack was elected to the Senate and abolished when he left to assume the Presidency. Even with the fairly substantial amounts of money both Obama's earned, they still could not pay off their debts, and ran a high-living lifestyle at the edge of their income, as Michelle Obama complained constantly.

Nor has Obama's time in office proved "brilliant," as the vacationer in Chief he's done what he did as Harvard Law Review President: play a lot of golf, and take a lot of time off.

Obama himself is hardly a rags to riches story. His grandparents lived in a Honolulu high rise, and sent him to an exclusive private prep school, one of the best in the nation. His father was a big shot in the Kenyatta government, until political indiscretions and drinking pushed him out of favor. Obama's mother was a CIA connected Phd, and Obama himself enjoyed patronage from a wealthy, Pakistani family at and after his time at Occidental College. Obama certainly wasn't ordinary, in terms of wealth, and power, and connections his own was certainly larger than John Kerry's for example, before he married Theresa Heinz.

For those doubting the total incompetence of the Ivy League, here is Sheila Jackson Lee, D-TX, graduate of Yale and the University of Virginia noting the lasting peace between North and South Vietnam:

Shades of Hank Johnson worrying about Guam tipping over:

Government, the legal system, entertainment, all are run by an Ivy and Near-Ivy elite that is … STUPID.

As bad as the Government is, filled with low-IQ people such as Johnson, or Lee, or Maxine Waters, or Charlie Rangel, from "safe" non-White massive majority districts, entitled, corrupt, and monumentally stupid, in a way that is aggravating (neither Sarah Palin, or Christine O'Donnell, working class White women, would have thought Guam would tip over or South Vietnam "at peace" with North Vietnam), the other main institutions of society are filled with the same group of entitled, arrogant and stupid "diverse" (non-White) Affirmative Action people, and the trustafarians. For every Barack Obama, there is a Patrick Kennedy, or John Corzine, or a Michael Bloomberg. But the media, or what is laughably known as "journalism" is no better: Exhibit A, Anderson Cooper, son of Gloria Vanderbilt. [H.L. Mencken would have laughed him out of town, before media became a "genteel profession" for "respectable" member of what Joel Kotkin calls the Gentry Liberals.] Entertainment is just as bad, from the Harvard Mafia entrenched at the Simpsons, to the same at Saturday Night Live, to TV in general (JJ Abrams, Joss Whedon, and many others hail from Ivies and near Ivies).

And, just how "smart" are the Ivy and near Ivy schools, anyway?

Yale's 2009 Admissions data is here.. Harvards is here. Caltech's is here. Harvey Mudd's is here. Leaving us with the following tables. The first is the 75th Quartile, basically the scores of the top admits on the SAT (grades vary so much by school that A's are not comparable across schools, much less school districts).

75th Quartile 2009 Data
SchoolSAT VerbalSAT MathSAT Writing

For the top admits, the Ivies have better scores in Reading/Verbal, and Writing (negative means Ivies scored higher), but the tech schools do marginally better in Math.

25th Quartile 2009 Data
SchoolSAT VerbalSAT MathSAT Writing

At the bottom, 25th Quartile, the Ivies again come out on top in Reading and Writing, but the difference in Math is very large, nearly 60 points.

The Ivies, and there is no reason to expect a radical change in the admissions policy nor quality of student since the 1970's when Affirmative Action really hit, are not filled with smart people. They are filled with verbally adept folks who don't know much math. Certainly not against the elite of the elite, the folks at Caltech or Harvey Mudd. And the demands of a modern society do not require a lot of free-flowing BS. All the verbal gymnastics in the world won't get an oil spill plugged. Or Chilean miners rescued. Or an economy restarted. Instead, we have a President so monumentally stupid, he's astounded that there is no such thing as "shovel ready infrastructure projects" that he touted, personally, as being the solution to the jobs crisis with the Stimulus bill. Because any infrastructure project requires about a decade and a half of legal wrangling before work can begin.

Something immediately observable to any ordinary person reading a newspaper, by the way.

The Ivy League and "meritocratic" elites are resented because they've failed. Failed to restart the economy, failed to deal with Muslim terror, failed to deal with Iran's nukes, failed to deal with demographic decline (except celebrating the demise of the ordinary White person majority), failed to deal with the broken nuclear family, failed to deal with a tidal wave of illegal immigration leaving America as Mexico Norte, with all the failure that implies for people stuck here, failed to fix the myriad ways in which their monumentally stupid policies wrecked America, indeed in anything and everything, you can say the elites failed. Failed to keep newspapers going, except the Wall Street Journal. Failed to keep broadcast TV networks going. Failed to keep GM and Chrysler going. Failed to keep Wall Street Investment Banks going. Failed to stop the subprime crisis (Barney Frank and Barack Obama being two of the worst offenders, the former offering the excuse of his "fear of Bush" making him not see the obvious).

Outside of Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton, both of whom left festering problems of Islamic terror, to crop up with later Presidents, nearly every President since Eisenhower has been nothing but an abject failure. Amiable dunces, lecturing and preening moralizers, devious compilers of enemies lists, or all three in the case of Obama. Jeff Zucker, Harvard University, ran NBC into the ground. The Sulzberger family has made the NYT a national joke, destroying shareholder value not seen since the AOL-Time-Warner deal.

Ordinary people have given about fifty years to the elites, and have nothing to show for it but a ruined economy, cheap Chinese electronic junk, declining real wages since the 1970's, mass immigration turning them into sudden (and discriminated against) minorities in their own country, and the prospect of even more of the same. Meanwhile, the elites have put up a "No Ordinary Whites Allowed" sign in the means to entry into the elites: the Ivies and near Ivies.

Why did O'Donnell brag she did not go to Yale? The same reason all the media looked down their nose at Sarah Palin for going to Community Colleges and the University of Idaho. Class.

In this country, rich White elites partner with non-White aristocrat Affirmative Action (idiots) to provide a perfect Idiocracy. Not technocracy. If anything America's leadership has gotten stupider. From Obama's insistence that Democratic Party politics take precedence over National Security, and belief he can "order" events and jihad in Afghanistan and Pakistan to his liking, to the use of near zero interest rates to "push on a string" the way Japan's two lost decades did, in "stimulating" growth (i.e. making carry trade profits for Wall Street), the idiocy of the elites knows no bounds, and ordinary people know about it.

Indeed, the extraordinary growth of the Teaching Company lectures and other places offering college style lectures, to ordinary people interested in learning, and reading for themselves, is astonishing. As idiocratic as the elites have become, to the point of worrying about Guam tipping over or citing the peace between North and South Vietnam, ordinary people have become the repository of more knowledge than ever. Famously pointing out the obvious forgery that Dan Rather swore was genuine in the infamous "Air National Guard Memos" alleging special treatment for George W. Bush during Vietnam. Who knew that the Texas Air National Guard had typewriters producing memos straight from the default setting of Microsoft Word, complete with superscript "th"s for dates and such? Ordinary men and women in their pajamas, certainly, but not elite journalist Dan Rather.

And this is why Applebaum, really, has it in for ordinary people. They are a threat. Anyone and everyone can do what she can do, better. It took me a few hours to write this post, and do the research, and format the tables, out of Excel. Modern computer technology gives me the same tools as Applebaum, and I am not alone. Anyone can do what I do. It is not that hard. Applebaum, meanwhile, is failing. Failing to check her assumptions. Failing to research the profound failure of the elites. Failing to note how at the bottom, the "elites" are far less skilled in math, than those from the true elites, the schools like Harvey Mudd or Caltech.

People from Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Brown, Princeton, and all the rest have wrecked America. It will be up to those from Caltech, Harvey Mudd, Georgia Tech, Carnegie Mellon, Toledo, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Texas A&M, and schools like them to rescue America.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

KCET Leaves PBS and the Future of PBS

One of the largest Public Broadcasting stations, LA's KCET, announced last Friday that it will leave PBS and go independent. As always, the dispute was over money. KCET had received a $40 million grant from British Petroleum, with the provision that the money not be used as dues to PBS. PBS in turn wanted that money, and raised dues to about 20% of KCET's operating revenue instead of the usual 13%. [Dues are on a sliding scale of operating revenues, in this case the scale slid considerably.] Other LA area stations pledge to pick up the slack, while KCET plans to be one of the few independent public broadcasting stations in the country. PBS will not allow KCET to run programs a la carte, so viewers will have to surf around to find their favorites.

But this brings up a larger question. Should PBS exist at all, and what should it do? Certainly today PBS serves no real useful purpose at all, for the most part, but within its fairly corrupt recesses is the possibility of a cultural mission that America needs: a reconnection with the glorious culture and past of America. PBS should not be destroyed, only reformed. Given a new mission other than the current one of minor cultural irrelevancy.

PBS currently broadcasts, intermittently and poorly, various operas and symphonies, and jazz at the Lincoln Center. These are poorly publicized (few people know about them) and poorly broadcast, often with chatty, uber-gay gossipy style backstage presentations instead of a more masculine and newcomer friendly about what to listen and look for in the performance at intermission and before the start. America has some premier opera and symphony companies, often world-class, and always with considerable government support. Ovation TV, a premium cable channel, covers this, but it is expensive, as are movie theater based pay-per-view showings. In the meantime, taxpayers directly support these companies (and there is a solid argument that as part of the cultural patrimony, the various state, local, and federal governments should provide some support).

Rather than dumb down culture, PBS is the perfect means to shore it up. By broadcasting professionally (the way NBC does "Sunday Night Football") and naturally, at far lower cost (no multiple camera angles needed or instant replay) a full season of Opera and the Symphony and Jazz and even, yes Ballet. PBS would also need to buy commercials, publicizing its coverage, and pushing it as something high class and free. A bargain performed as a public service, and fun in a high-class way, for ordinary people. Rather than Dancing with the Stars, super-star dancers. Rather than American Idol, proven and beautiful songs sung by the best singers in the world. Along with symphonic performances more moving that a John Williams sound-track. Or native music with the power and mastery of folks from Duke Ellington to Wilbur de Paris.

America has had, along with most of the West, a long slow slide into appropriating the culture and mores of the lower class as proper, "right" behavior, and part of reclaiming America's culture can be done by making PBS a weapon in providing upper class culture. But it need not and should not stop there.

Rather than broadcasting idiot leftist propaganda like "Frontline," PBS should not only bring government supported opera, ballet, jazz, and symphony companies to the masses (and provide a stable, easy to find broadcast of it every week), but also America's great museums and National Parks. Few people can afford to visit the Smithsonian, the Air and Space Museum, or the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. Much less the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, or the Norton Simon in Pasadena, or other world-class museums scattered across America. Nor some of the more populist, such as the National Football League Hall of Fame in Canton Ohio, or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. All supported by considerable tax payer dollars. People deserve the ability to visit, by TV, these places their dollars support. PBS is the natural and the only venue for this, and of course if PBS is broadcasting a tour of the Smithsonian, it keeps them from running "Frontline" and "poor jihadi" type of material.

Then of course are the National Parks. A good number of which are fairly inaccessible, and yet stunningly beautiful. People deserve the ability to see what they paid for, and PBS is just the venue to provide it. Naturally, allowing great masses of people to see something they can never visit personally, would create a great deal of support for the parks. As a national broadcast of opera, ballet, symphonies, and museums would do for those institutions. Something that would be immediately apparent to most of the cultural left.

Abolishing PBS will create, reflexively, a fight to the death on the issue by all the people entrenched in it, who have made a living off the taxpayer dime. So too would tilting it obviously to the right, by forcing it to broadcast say, Milton Friedman's "Free to Choose." But, the cultural left can be co-opted, and given a mission they'd largely agree upon. The hereditary, trustafarian folks in and around the arts and PBS, lack a mission and much respect and support from the wider public. Giving them a mission, which they'd largely agree upon in the first place, of making America's premier cultural institutions, its symphonies, opera companies, ballet companies, museums, and national parks, a far more important and loved place in the average American's heart, provides both a mission and a win for them. The cultural elite would have a much higher profile, for Average Americans. One that at least, stop doing harm, and would be more meaningful.

Pouring spaghetti-ohs over yourself, is not a way to mass respectability and fame, something the cultural elite oh so desperately craves. Being the host, or co-host, or even part of the production team of a Saturday Night broadcast of the Opera, known nationally and respected, is entirely different.

At heart, it’s a bribe or a bargain with the cultural left and elites. They get a pride of place, a mission, probably more money, and they are fenced in to the high culture of America, and told to promote it. Will they put a leftist spin on things? Certainly. But the music of Beethoven, or Mozart, or Aaron Copland, is so powerful that the spin would be like spitting into a hurricane. So too with Verdi, or Puccini, or the Rites of Spring, or the Spirit of St. Louis, hanging in the Air and Space Museum. Or a quiet morning in Arches National Monument, as the sun rises.

Would there be a place of Masterpiece Theater, or Mystery? Certainly. These broadcasts do little harm, and provide entertainment to many. In the case of Mystery, the source material (unraveling the crime to restore order) is in itself conservative, though many do not recognize it. As is the preservation of the West's and America's high culture, yes including Jazz (created by Black people, and now to their horror embraced mostly by White audiences).

From a larger perspective, Mozart, Shakespeare, Benny Goodman, Aaron Copland, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Verdi, and Back deserve an effort to bring them to more people. They have enduring, time-tested meaning and messages that transcend politics to pure human emotion and uplift, that bring joy to those who have read, seen, heard, or viewed their art in performance. It is ultimately, conservative to conserve their works, which is part of the American and Western heritage, from a tiny ghetto of only a few.

Will their sheer artfulness drive out the awfulness of current popular culture? No. Gresham's Law of bad currency driving out the good is likely to apply to culture as well. But marginal gains instead of transformational ones are not to be dismissed either. Each additional young man or woman who discovers these artists, or older people rediscovering them, means a marginal loss for the crap of popular culture epitomized by "Teen Mom." Not to mention that it keeps the current folks in PBS out of mischief with a mission they can endorse. Who would be against Mozart or Louis Armstrong?

Therefore it is hoped that a Republican House of Representatives, will, at some time, pick up the reformation of PBS as a banner. Arguing that it is time to spend some more money on it, and make it a cultural preservation and enhancement institution. One that has actual meaning, a purpose, other than mindless leftist cultural bashing. Even a hard-left ideologue could not argue that say, broadcasting an entire Opera season with performances picked from America's premier Opera companies, in prime time, and publicized, would be a bad thing, as opposed to endless "American Experience" shows about Mexican families that not even (or especially) Mexican families watch. Because the hard leftist would see how much more fame and respect the broadcast and his friends making the broadcast would get showing a Mozart Opera would receive, versus some show no one will care about.

Would this be easy? No. Would there be compromises? Yes. Including messy ones. At the minimum, stopping the long slide into cultural oblivion in America will not be easy, and likely the work of generations. And reforming PBS is not itself more than a first baby step. But conservatives have to start somewhere, and using the built-in snob appeal of the SWPL makeup of the cultural elite to produce a productive bargain for PBS is as good a place as any.

Newton Minnow, after all, in his "Vast Wasteland" speech noted: "When television is good, nothing — not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers — nothing is better." He was right. PBS is currently an obscure an minor part of the vast cultural wasteland. It is time for it to be good, and be better than the theater, magazines, and newspapers.
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Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Duke F List and the Dog in the Night-Time

In the short story "Silver Blaze" from "the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes," the famous dialog between Holmes and Inspector Gregory of Scotland Yard occurs:

Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): "Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
Holmes: "To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
Gregory: "The dog did nothing in the night-time."
Holmes: "That was the curious incident."

Doyle's insight was that what does not happen, that by all rights should happen, tells us more, at times, than anything else. So that is with the strange case of the Duke University F-List, compiled by one Karen F. Owen, the brunette on the left in the picture above. [Whiskeys-Place has no intention of running afoul of language filters, hence the sad euphemism. While presumably all readers here are adults, and not offended by Anglo-Saxonisms, language filters are. Hence the sad, admittedly pathetic euphemisms which we beg our readers to forgive in the interests of not running afoul of automated filtering systems.]

For those not in the know, the Duke University F-List is a mock senior thesis in Powerpoint form compiled by one Duke University co-ed, Karen F. Owen, the Powerpoint slides may be found here. The co-ed in question, e-mailed the mock presentation (which she lavished some considerable time) to a number of close friends, who naturally posted it on the internet in various places where it went viral. Various commenters have hit the obvious: the wisdom of e-mailing private information in the internet age, violation of privacy (for the 13 men Owens had sex with). The dog not doing anything in the night-time is of course, any discussion on the wisdom of that amount of partners for a young woman over four years, and the larger social impact if this behavior is indeed representative of most young women in college today. And it is this non-reaction and what it tells us about our society today that is most important about this otherwise boring story.

Those seeking another site with less cut-off of the powerpoint slides may find it here. Owen reportedly has offers for a book deal, and a movie, based on her experiences, while the University mulls whatever it will do. The young men in question are meanwhile dialing their lawyers. Arguing their privacy rights have been violated, and quite probably seeking compensation from any putative book or movie deal. Yes, it is always about the money. But this is not the dog in the night-time. What is the dog in the night-time, first, is the lack of shame.

It is simply inconceivable that before Sex and the City, young women would openly brag to friends, or seek book and movie deals, detailing their amorous adventures. That was the province of a certain class of man, one whom was often regarded as "unmanly" and slightly off, and certainly possessed of scandalous attributes rendering him perhaps exciting for dinner conversation but unsuitable for much of anything else. It is possible that the inflection point goes further back, to Monica Lewinski, and her "girl-talk" with one Linda Tripp, both asking for sympathy and bragging over her relationship with father-figure and uber-powerful Bill Clinton. Or the relationship between the late Chandra Levy, and the former Congressman Gary Condit. But the cultural impact of Sex and the City cannot be denied. With re-runs at 3:30, on TBS, a whole generation of middle school girls have run home to watch it, with Samantha the favorite character. Admired for her man-eating ways, rather than pitied for her fairly pathetic, post-Cougar behavior.

It is also a significant point that this male behavior, bragging to friends over conquests, has now become acceptable among young college attending women. This is a major change in behavior, gone un-remarked. It is significant in that it removes a powerful incentive (not to appear "White Trash" aka downwardly mobile) among one's peers by adopting lower-class standards of sexuality. It was a major character point of "My Name Is Earl," that his former girlfriend played by Jamie Pressly was in fact, possessed of the same male instinct to maximize partners and brag upon it, that traditionally adolescent boys have exhibited. Thus allowing the audience to mock the "White Trash" (translation: working class White) characters that make up "My Name is Earl." Which might as well have been: "A Show for SWPL to Laugh at Lower Class Whites."

The success of the West has been on "soft" social controls over male and female behavior, particularly on sex and mate selection, to form solid, upwardly mobile, middle-class families. This has been far more successful than the Islamic harems and brutal restrictions on women, or the macho/ultra-feminine village peasant model of Latin America, or until recently that model in Asia. Indeed the rise of Japan, post-War, and South Korea, post-Korean War, and Taiwan, and Coastal China, and parts of Southeast Asia and parts of India, have been through the adoption, in different degrees of enthusiasm, of the "soft" model of control of both male and female behavior, to be aspiring to "upper class" models of restraint over one's own sexuality. High investment in one's mate, in education for their (fewer) children, high rates of thrift, saving, deferred consumption, pursuit of technical education, abjuring affairs, of general sobriety, have been a proven path to economic success for these societies, many of whom were traditionally impoverished, Korea and Japan (before the Meji Restoration) being two prime examples. Not the least of which is that soft controls don't require considerable social investment in a policing mechanism (like Muslim countries) and leave individuals with the maximum amount of initiative and freedom and self-interest aligned directly with that of society. Avoiding both a "tragedy of the commons" and a rigid social-police state consuming all extra resources.

Another dog in the night-time is the reaction of (the mostly female) commenters in the media.

First, we'll have a little round of applause for the girl for the following reasons: some of these dudes are pretty hot, the majority of her anecdotes are hilarious, and she's managed to have sex like Samantha Jones from Sex and the City, in a highly superficial manner that's completely devoid of emotion – we thought that was just make believe.

Many of the female commenters of course, defend the powerpoint and of course, the hook-ups themselves in scope. On, the reaction was "13 is not slutty." This itself is significant. The non-reaction shows that the key point for controlling sexuality (gender peer pressure) is now gone. Thus the soft pressure no longer exists.

This can be seen in how the illegitimacy rates have changed over time for different races, which possess greater or lesser amounts of soft pressure. As Juan Williams of NPR noted in a column in the WSJ (sadly on Father's Day), the Black rate of illegitimacy has changed from 24% in the mid-1960's, to over 90% in the urban core today, and over 70% nationwide. Among Hispanics, this rate changed from 17% in 1980, to over 50% today (to be fair this is likely a function of increased immigration from Mexico as much as anything else). Charles Murray wrote:

It comes down to this: well-educated white women in moderately affluent circumstances almost never had babies without a husband, and women from middle class homes were almost as finicky about requiring a husband. At the same time, white women with no more than a high school education in low-income households were having nearly half of their babies without a husband.

And that was in a population that had an overall illegitimacy ratio of 11 percent. Today, the illegitimacy ratio for non-Latino whites is 28 percent. How do the classes break down now? As it happens, I’ve spent the last few weeks exploring that question. I’m not done, and want to save that discussion for a formal presentation in any case, but here are some tentative estimates: The illegitimacy ratio for the white underclass is probably now in the region of 70 percent. I think that the proportion for the white working class may be above 40 percent. The white middle class is approaching 20 percent—a scarily high figure when you think about all the ways that the middle class has been the spine of the nation.

The white overclass? They’re still living in the 1950s—their ratio is probably about 4 or 5 percent tops.

Now, it is possible that if most college age girls who are utterly ordinary, as it would appear that Owen is, with an average partner rate of 3.25 per year, can form a lasting bond leading to monogamous marriage and nuclear family formation. But that would be, on average, a poor bet overall. While it is nearly impossible to predict the success or failure of any individual in the marriage market, it is fairly straightforward to predict group behavior, and indeed the whole of consumer marketing, political polling, and the business of insurance and credit markets depends on relatively accurate predictions about group behavior.

Can anyone make any accurate prediction about Owen herself? No. But relatively accurate predictions can be made, about the probable success rate of large groups of women like Owen. Which in the case of nuclear family formation, the bedrock of the West's social success, is rather depressingly small. The collapse of marriage and the nuclear family in Chav Britain, as detailed by Theodore Dalrymple, in his various books including "Life at the Bottom," is a direct result of the lack of soft, social pressures to conform to an upper class ideal of sexual restraint (regardless of the reality) as a means to upward mobility.

Widespread, successful, nuclear family formation requires widespread, monogamous relationships, among peers in attractiveness and socio-economic status. The upending the sexual marketplace provides definite advantages to the Alpha male, and to the woman of average attractiveness, but at the cost of nuclear family formation and pretty much everyone else. Attractive women, must now share regular boyfriends or husbands, with the likes of Owen, with the collapse of same-gender social shaming restricting sexual access, in general. This is seen with "Client Number 9" Eliot Spitzer (his wife Silda recently noted it was her fault he turned to prostitutes half his age because she no longer sexually satisfied him), John Edwards, Bill Clinton, Tiger Woods, Jessie James, Antonio Villaraigosa, Gavin Newsome, New York's Governor Patterson, and more. This is the "new normal" of social behavior among the upper, and now middle and lower classes.

It is worth noting that the Duke University F-List is comprised entirely of Alpha males, successful, hunky athletes, almost all of them rated as experienced with women and knowledgeable about their sexual needs and satisfying the same. For them, sexual access is a movable smorgasbord, and one also with little commitment to very transient relationships. Assuming the picture of Owen is a fair one, it is a safe assumption to label her of about average attractiveness for the average, upper to middle class college coed. But nothing of the kind of attractiveness that in a society formed around relatively strong monogamy or at least limited amounts of partners, would enable her to compete for the monogamous attentions of Alpha males with her more beautiful peers.

The current sexual marketplace dynamics, as French writer Michel Houellebecq has noted, advantages women of average attractiveness. Who can have sex with men they could not under the old system of soft social pressures to limit sex to a few partners per lifetime. This explains the extraordinary support for it, among most women. Few women have the beauty of an Elin Nordgren, or the wealth and background of a Silda Spitzer (who came from a wealthy family). Or the drive of an Elizabeth Edwards or Hillary Clinton (the latter from a family considerably more wealthy than Bill Clinton's single-mother family marked by lower class income). But all can trade sex willingly with Alpha males to "share" an Alpha male.

And as Roissy notes, five minutes of Alpha beats five years of beta.

The other losers, of course, are beta males, who fifty years ago made perfectly acceptable husbands to their peers, and now are unsuitable. Because of the newly enabled access to Alpha males. At best, women who have had a parade of Alphas, find themselves losing most attractiveness, and settle, quite deliberately, for men they have no attraction to and even less respect. The phrase Kitchen Bitch of course denoting a helpful, beta husband who does chores, the cooking, taking care of the kids. All bitterly resented by their wives who find that cheap, illegal aliens can do those chores, and prefer Alpha dominantion and excitement.

Women, contrary to all sorts of misleading social messages in the media and entertainment, do not want or need men's domestic help. Labor saving devices, and cheap illegal alien labor, make that irrelevant for middle class women. Rather, they crave the wild, sexual excitement and domination they found among Alpha males they had in their youth. The do not forgive or forget the failure of the beta men they marry, for the most part, to be the dominant Alpha man they had when they were attractive. Indeed, the very beta helpfulness and niceness (rather than cocky aloofness of an Alpha, who would NEVER help around the house) of their husbands is a bitter indictment of their own fading sexual attractiveness. No wonder they hate their husbands, their husbands are a mirror of their own sexual power fading.

While many, many factors contribute to the high divorce rate, including no-fault divorce, custody of children routinely granted to women, alimony and child support, lack of social shaming, a significant factor must be the late marriages (mid 30's) to beta males who lack the Alpha A-hole dynamic that women crave. Consider women like Owen. After a near lifetime of Alpha studs, how can she be happy with a boring, beta nice guy who's main attributes are that he mirrors her in attractiveness, is a decent and reliable provider, helps around the house, and has notably less partners than she does?

Indeed, even on campuses where men are in short supply, women choose only the top men.

Indeed, there are a fair number of Mr. Lonelyhearts on campus. “Even though there’s this huge imbalance between the sexes, it still doesn’t change the fact of guys sitting around, bemoaning their single status,” said Patrick Hooper, a Georgia senior. “It’s the same as high school, but the women are even more enchanting and beautiful.”

By all accounts, this pattern continues later in life. I.E. Houellebecq's central insight that the sexual marketplace does not function by magic, or romantic notions. Like any other marketplace, it can find equilibriums that promote massive inequality and social instability. In the case of modern Western society, most average women like Owen, having a lot of sex, with a few Alpha studs, and most boring beta providers getting priced out of the marketplace.

Nowhere is this pattern stronger, than in China. With its sex imbalance, recently noted here, millions of girls have disappeared.

By 2020 it is thought there will be 50 million men who cannot find a wife. In a culture where marriage and reproduction are considered the highest moral duties the result is a social time bomb.

Kidnapping of women as brides is already common in China's countryside. In one case last year in the northern province of Shanxi, 25 women were rescued from a village where they had been sold for £3,000 a head to men who could not find wives.

The traditional preference is for male children

Experts predict that kidnappings will rise as further generations of boys grow up to find a shortage of women.

While the driving forces behind the sex imbalance in China, and the defacto sex imbalance in the US and other Western nations (i.e. lack of soft social controls on female hypergamy, Alpha hunting to the tune of "13 is not slutty") are profoundly different, in broad strokes they have the same result.

Which is destruction of the formation of a society's ability to create and sustain wealth creation. Nothing less and more.

There is not enough wealth and control, in the most centrally planned economy, to implement the notion in Plato's Republic of the State raising children. This effort has always failed, because of scale. Raising children, and investing a vast amount of capital, in labor and time and money, including education, and formation of an optimistic, sober, restrained, and "middle class" personality requires an immense amount of resources. The overhead of an orphanage, or other state institution for raising children simply does not scale. Far too much resources are devoted to things not directly related to producing a wealth producing new citizen, and far too few resources invested, particularly in early childhood, in producing intense bonding, emotional security, and relationship/behavior role modeling. Child care is perhaps the most labor intensive function in human society. Successful citizens require almost 24/7 child care for the first 10 years of life, and considerable investment after that. This is why Plato's Republic scheme, where the state would raise children instead of the family, has always failed. Even Sparta, eventually fell, because they had few children, and many slaves, and lacked in the end enough manpower despite their martial prowess, to defend against their Greek city-state enemies. No people invested more in Plato's idea of the state raising children, and no nation fell more quickly once they lacked enough citizens to put in arms against their enemy.

Thus the future of the West, and of China, is the end of wealth creation and indeed preservation. Wealth creation on a broad, society wide scale, has only been accomplished by having a nuclear family society. Where families on their own accord, for their own interests, invest staggering sums of capital, labor, and time in producing wealth creating men and women of the next generation. This does not happen by magic. Great sweeping love affairs do not create it, nor do defacto harems of the Muslim or the old Nineteenth Century Mormon variety. The Mormon possessions of the Utah Territory were whittled down extensively, by the larger, and more energetic and monogamous populations around them. Until Brigham Young had a revelation that monogamy was now required. For entry into the Union.

Indeed, the embrace and open-ness to technological change that characterized the West, is a function of nuclear family monogamy. Other peoples often pioneered technical advances, but the West embraced them far more fully, and extended them radically. Thus China, in the Emperor driven, non-nuclear family system of Harems and Eunuchs, came up with gunpowder, the compass, printing, rockets, and many other advances, only to see them fail to advance (because of the broad social changes they bring) while the West, far less advanced initially, had a resilient base of a nuclear family, allowing it embrace the changes brought upon by technology, and indeed push those changes ever farther and faster, because the technology gave them more advantages, and indeed only increased the strength of the nuclear family which generated, with technology advantages (printing, the telegraph and telephone, radio, railways, industrial production, public education, etc.) more and more wealth for the nuclear family, and re-inforced the whole cycle of change.

What we are now witnessing, essentially, is the end of that process that began around 1000 AD and the gradual introduction of water power technology back into Europe (the Romans had it extensively), and is now coming to the end with what amounts to a single mother society.

The declining birth rate among all Western nations (and more urbanized Muslim ones such as Algeria, Iran, and Tunisia), Japan, and Coastal China, is a function of the ongoing collapse of the nuclear family and delayed marriage, and child-birth, driven by the pursuit of Alpha men by liberated women. Increasingly, particularly among working class Whites, women are choosing to have kids by themselves, as single mothers, presumably with hot Alpha men instead of boring beta providers (who they would have married in the first place if that's what they wanted). Indeed, this message is validate by Jennifer Aniston, who opined that women do not need husbands to raise kids. The proliferation of single mother by artificial insemination (Aniston's movie, Jennifer Lopez's) shows social acceptance of this behavior in fairly wide forms. At best, the West will see a lot of Bill Clinton types created. Ambitious men on the make, ruthless as they learned in early childhood to compete for a mother's affection with the man of the moment, and often abused by the latest new man in the household. Or perhaps, the female equivalent. Needless to say, this is not the type of person to create and sustain wealth on a broad scale. At worst, the example of Chav Britain looms upon us all.

Currently, Western Society is optimized for sexual access to Alpha men by ordinary women. This optimization comes naturally at the expense of forming a nuclear family society wide. Increasingly, the phenomena of "slacker dudes" who drive such movies as "Failure to Launch" are a mere expression of ordinary beta men opting out. The supply of men who can make a leap into Alpha status, by use of "Game" (ala Roissy and Neil Strauss and many other Pick Up Artist writers and instructors) is fairly limited. About the number of average men who can practice martial arts and become proficient. In Britain, Chavs did not practice "Game" and the careful opening, posturing, and Alpha male displays. They simply short-cut by brutal but effective violence, which has been successful for them in attracting women. As Dalrymple noted, even or especially his educated, professional nurses found violent men who abused them irresistible, and the boring beta guys who made good husbands, well boring. This pattern persists until menopause. Dalrymple resists this conclusion, being an old-school social conservative who puts women on a Victorian pedestal, but this is the pattern he narrates in compelling fashion.

There is probably a non-trivial segment of the beta male population who will attempt to thug it up, particularly as blue collar and indeed, white collar jobs and opportunities disappear. Thugging it up works in attracting women. And of course, thugging it up precludes by its very nature, a stable, middle class nuclear family. This is the pattern of Chav Britain. The other pattern is of course best shown by Japan's herbivore men.

Those left out in the race for Alpha, in Japan, are turning to virtual reality girlfriends. Notably, younger, more feminine anime characters that appear in Nintendo DS games, complete with virtual reality enhancements. Pathetically, men go to "romantic" hotels in honeymoon resorts to have "week-ends" with the fantasy girlfriends, including taking pictures with the anime characters digitally inserted into the scene. Called "Love Plus" no further indictment can be made or further explanation needed of Japan's plummeting birth rate. Slate has more here, and CNN here, and clearly opting out of society in general because they cannot get much out of it is the motivation.

And that social cost is huge. The West (which includes Japan) needs almost every man and woman to devote themselves (on behalf of their children) to wealth creation and preservation. Not video games or virtual reality or a closet full of shoes, or hip-trendy jobs in media and the like. America has not seen this trend to the same degree, but it exists. The metrosexual, effiminate hipster lives in America in widespread numbers. Its not just the skinny jeans, sort of gay, sort of not, type of behavior and dress that infests Generation Y men and younger ones, it is the glorification of this behavior:

A truly revolting scene, not the least of which is the effeminate hipster audience. The West's answer to Herbivore Men. Note how few men seem to have girlfriends, in the audience, the obligatory lesbian couple, and the large amount of girls alone. No Alpha, of course, would be caught dead at such an event.

But think about it. If Owen is at all average in the amount of partners per year, and the total lack of reaction to her story suggests strongly that it is, at least in respect to partner count (again, "13 is not slutty") then between 16-32, a woman like Owen would have 3.25 partners on average, or 52 by the age of 32, when she is looking for a mate. More if she husband shops later in life. The flip side of pursuit of Alphas by women at places like Duke, is the lack of any value they bring to the picture for a beta male. Increasingly, it seems (from women's complaints about this), men in their thirties find their age peers, basically worthless for marriage. IMHO this is simply because a high-partner count woman, of limited fertility and youth, with much relationship baggage, is a bad bet for marriage. Love is out of the question, even companionship would be tinged (and beta men know it) with thinly disguised contempt for lack of being Alpha.

Beta men have on their own, valid reasons to opt out of marriage as well. No one can force either sex to get married without a social police state, which tends to be very rigid, and high-cost (all available resources devoted to enforcement not wealth creation). This describes the late Roman Empire in the West, plagued by a demographic collapse and men abandoning marriage, to the point where Emperors imposed bachelor taxes.

In order for a nuclear family to function (and any hope of a replacement level birth rate), soft social pressure upon women (and men) must constrain sexual choices. In particular, it must be thought lower class, "trashy" and yes, "slutty" for women to engage in large amounts of Alpha chasing. The lack of any dogs barking in the night-time, media commenters studiously ignoring the notch count of Owen, and failing to condemn such behavior as unwise and "trashy" is a signal that the social controls which constrained that behavior are gone. As is the formation of wealth creating and preserving nuclear families. America's future, will probably include some form of virtual girlfriends for the beta males, and thugging it up, the exact proportion to be determined by chance and social pressures. This is unlikely to change, because women overwhelmingly benefit from this ability to pursue Alphas to ridiculous levels.

Owen sent her powerpoint, to her friends, not just because she found it funny, but also to brag. About the Alphas she had, and her ability to have exciting, "tempestous" sex. Western societies are now built upon optimizing the access to Alphas by women like Owen, to the exclusion of the bedrock of the society, the nuclear family. Thus, after nearly a thousand years, the technology whose embrace empowered the West finally proves its undoing. By undermining the ability to create the next generation of Westerners. This end of course extends to societies that embraced Westernization as well, including China and Japan.

That is the depressing conclusion of the Owen Duke University F-List affair.

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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Crime and Currency

The Stuxnet worm is in the news. Was it the Israelis? The CIA? The Chinese? No one knows, or even what the aim was (hindering Iran's nuclear infrastructure, industrial sabotage against Siemens by the Chinese, or simple extortion on a wide scale) but the event was significant in the risk it poses to infrastructure, and more widely to the West's, and America's, commercial payment system. Growing cyber-crime might be the one thing to restore cash to its former glory. As the world discovers the downsides of a cash-less, sci-fi world of debit and credit cards: they are easily hacked.

Hacking or skimming credit and debit cards is nothing new. episodes in Florida, and Utah involving gas stations with skimmers installed, the twist being that they had Bluetooth transmitters, more high powered than consumer devices, allowing criminals parked blocks away to collect the data on credit and debit cards, and use the data to fraudulently skim accounts. The scam was perpetrated, because there are only two major manufacturers of gas pumps in the US, and both have standard master keys that open all pumps built by that manufacturer.

Stuxnet is a problem for US infrastructure, obviously the same weapon used against (perhaps) the Iranians can be used against us. Stuxnet spread by infected USB drives, exploiting previously unknown Windows vulnerabilities, and spread throughout the local networks, looking for Siemens industrial controllers and issuing sabotaging commands. Stuxnet was found in Iran, Indonesia, and India, the source infection being shipments of Chinese manufactured USB flash drives, and using forged digital security certificates from Taiwanese manufacturers. The same attack could be used, of course, against US utilities, nuclear power plants, and the like. But more significantly, against the US electronic payment system.

Most people today rarely use cash in purchases. Shopping at the grocery store, paying for gas, and all sorts of daily life activities generally involve credit or debit cards. Cash is harder to carry around, more vulnerable to street robberies, and by its nature imposes stricter spending limits (if you pay by cash only, you cannot buy more than what cash you carry). Checks are becoming a rarity, something written out to pay bills sent in the mail (and even that is declining as online payments proliferate), and not much else.

But the system is vulnerable. External facing security is fairly robust, since ATMs were introduced, banks have done a reasonably good job at limiting the damage criminals can do on their network, by using dedicated network connections, massive amounts of encryption, and imposing limits on withdrawals. Bank payment systems are also robust, sharing the same, dedicated networks, encryption, automated verification, and auditing and analysis to spot intrusions and fraud. Far less robust, is the internal systems. Or more succinctly, once you are inside various bank internal systems, there is far less security. Most of it is oriented towards preventing employee fraud and theft. Not outside intruders.

Stuxnet was thought to have required about six months full-time, dedicated work by a team of six top-notch programmers. At a nominal wage of $150,000 a year per programmer, that works out to about $450,000 to create Stuxnet, outside of other costs. Such costs are well within organized crime rings, particularly those operating in Russia and Asia. The US financial payment systems must look like a very tempting target. Obviously, help from a former or current employee at one of the major electronic clearing/payment systems banks would be needed, but that is relatively straightforward. Organized crime is good at finding people like that. Current internal systems would need to be carefully studied for weaknesses inherent in system designs and trade-offs in the engineering (security vs. usability). No doubt banks are yanking out USB ports even now from internal systems, but a network is as vulnerable as its most vulnerable connection. Other equipment required for the network is vulnerable in the manner that Iranian, Indonesian,and Indian power plants were vulnerable, to equipment from reputable manufacturers that would not at first blush contain malware or viruses. Cisco routers, or firewall, or other network equipment, would come to mind.

It is shocking, however, to see how widespread the use of Microsoft Windows, really has become in the banking industry. Just see how your local bank uses them. You'd expect with Stuxnet, banks would see the danger, and rip out Windows in favor of something else, with a more robust security model. But human nature is what it is, security is not a profit center, and so little money is spent on it. Overestimation of the efficacy of external security makes institutions complacent, as they've spent considerable sums on it. All of which is useless when it is bypassed by malware hidden in something from a legitimate manufacturer.

Nobody thought to check the USB drives because the idea that they would be infected with malware from the factory, even though that was the case. Network equipment from global manufacturers, and the like would be targets as well. Since most of them use common components sourced and assembled in China, it is a matter of mass-infection, and stealth operation, until some trigger is reached. Once inside, the Stuxnet modeled malware can be used to skim accounts and so on. The amounts could be staggering, and so large that banks would be tempted to pass on the cost in one way or another to retail customers. Even if the cost is simply a government bail-out, that itself will be passed onto customers. Swipe card network components, are another target of course. While security is tight, Organized Crime networks specializing in cyber crime and flush with cash are undoubtedly targeting the whole swipe card network system now, at the time of this writing.

Which brings us to the next issue. Will the cost of Organized Crime networks so compromise the safety and cost of the current electronic banking system that it can no longer function in the way that it does today? And if so, how will people operate? ATMs, and the networks they depend on, including the whole swipe cards, depend on both security and low costs. If the networks are compromised, both security and low costs will be gone. The advantage banks have had is that there were relatively few gifted electronics and computer science people, and those that existed were well compensated and solidly middle class. Since the early 1960's, the advantage of banks and payment companies has been that they had most of the truly gifted people, and criminal organizations did not.

The explosion of learning, and technical knowledge, particularly in a globalized workforce, means there are literally millions of people, often with profoundly non-middle class ideas, beliefs, and backgrounds, who are also technically astute or even gifted, in electronics and computer science. There now exists, globally, available to global Organized Crime networks, people who are at least the equal, of the men who create security networks for banks and electronic payment companies. Not the least of which are the layoffs prevalent in much of the electronics and computer science industry, and the ethos of youth over experience. This resource has already been utilized.

Zeus malware is continually updated and auctioned to lower-tier crime rings at $1,500 a transaction. Of course, for criminal rings operating outside the US or US-friendly jurisdictions (principally Russia and China), the risk of e-mail phishing scams and the like is relatively low, and the payoff fairly unattractive if not lucrative. But the big target is of course, the entire retail payment system itself. A ring that could penetrate and exploit, comprehensively, that system, would not reap millions. At the minimum, such an exploit would net billions, if not trillions, of dollars to any ring audacious and determined enough to get such an advantage. Particularly if measures were taken along the lines of Stuxnet, to cover the tracks of the creators and the recipients of the transfers. Such as massive chaos, erasing transaction records, and the like. Presumably, after the money has been sent abroad. A key component would of course be sending the money out of the country to places where the Organized Crime ring can use it. The money is no good unless they can get at it. Formidable problems to be sure, but not insurmountable given the extraordinary rewards. Indeed, the nexus of political objectives by hostile regimes and Organized Crime speak for themselves. Considerable resources are available to crack this problem, and eventually it will be cracked.

But what then? How will people react? If their payment network is compromised? Indeed if online transactions and swipe-card systems alike are unreliable, insecure, and high cost (because merchants run the substantial risk of non-payment and fraud), people will stop using them. It has happened before. Confederate bank-notes had little value as the war progressed, as prospects for victory grew remote and Union counterfeiting increased. In Britain, during the Dark Ages, usage of coins essentially ceased from the early 400's until the reign of Alfred the Great. Indeed, gold and silver coins, passed from common usage into oblivion, fairly rapidly, in the Twentieth century, except for collecting. Dollar coins themselves, common in the 19th Century, are now considered a bother by many. So too, usage of cash has declined significantly for common payment except for small items. When you are in line at the grocery store checkout, or at the gas station, you will rarely see people paying cash.

Yet before the ATM was introduced widely in the 1970's, and the widespread use of Credit Cards in the mid 1960's, cash was king. As it had been since 700 BC in Lydia, when the first coins came into use. Coins, either precious or made of ordinary base metals (copper, zinc, etc.), have a long history of being used globally as a means of trade. More recently, a few trusted paper currencies have been used, despite frequent counterfeiting, because of the massive amount of money in circulation and the general soundness of the currency. The US paper denominations being the best known but not the only currency in that category.

If electronic payment networks become so compromised that it is far too costly to use them, consumers will simply default to cash. Almost everything that can be done with electronic payment systems, either swipe cards or chips with various encryption (and Blu-Tooth) can be done with cash. Except of course, online payments in particular, Amazon and Itunes. Since a substantial amount of commerce depends on this electronic payment system, work-arounds will have to be rapidly constructed. One such would be partnerships with retail establishments for payment. An order "pending" until payment is made, in cash, at a fulfillment station. At grocery stores, or other places eager to partner with folks like Apple or Amazon.

Electronic payment systems have had a remarkably long run without serious interference from Organized Crime rings intent on extracting their own percentage. Inevitably, as skills spread out around the world, and the small cadre of solid middle class professionals that defends the system faces a massive army of people with matching skills and unbounded ambitions, that is likely to change. Particularly since those who have been most inspired by Stuxnet are not likely to be security professionals but those in the intersection of rogue states, terrorism, and crime. All that money to be stolen just begs for someone to try and steal it. Particularly since the world is now awash in the equivalent of electronic safe-crackers, and much of the safe components (electronic hardware) are manufactured in a few, fairly corruptable, Chinese factories.

So it is probably a matter of when, not if, all things considering. And not one event, but a series of events, propelled by the need to steal a lot of money. When that happens, cash will once again be king.
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