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From PLOS Genetics in 2016:

The Great Migration and African-American Genomic Diversity

Soheil Baharian,Maxime Barakatt,Christopher R. Gignoux,Suyash Shringarpure,Jacob Errington,William J. Blot,Carlos D. Bustamante,Eimear E. Kenny,Scott M. Williams,Melinda C. Aldrich,Simon Gravel
Published: May 27, 2016


We present a comprehensive assessment of genomic diversity in the African-American population by studying three genotyped cohorts comprising 3,726 African-Americans from across the United States that provide a representative description of the population across all US states and socioeconomic status. An estimated 82.1% of ancestors to African-Americans lived in Africa prior to the advent of transatlantic travel, 16.7% in Europe, and 1.2% in the Americas, with increased African ancestry in the southern United States compared to the North and West.

That’s slightly less white admixture than the usual guesstimate of around 20%. The 3 databases they combined are of older people, with practically nobody born after 1970.

By the way, note how the scientists don’t even bother putting in any kind of Race Does Not Exist weasel words: they just write, “An estimated 82.1% of ancestors to African-Americans lived in Africa prior to the advent of transatlantic travel, 16.7% in Europe, and 1.2% in the Americas …”

Combining demographic models of ancestry and those of relatedness suggests that admixture occurred predominantly in the South prior to the Civil War and that ancestry-biased migration is responsible for regional differences in ancestry. We find that recent migrations also caused a strong increase in genetic relatedness among geographically distant African-Americans. Long-range relatedness among African-Americans and between African-Americans and European-Americans thus track north- and west-bound migration routes followed during the Great Migration of the twentieth century. …

In the HRS, average African ancestry proportion is 83% in the South and lower in the North (80%, bootstrap p = 6 × 10−6) and West (79%, p = 10−4) (Fig 1). Within the SCCS, African ancestry proportion is highest in Florida (89%) and South Carolina (88%) and lowest in Louisiana (75%) with all three significantly different from the mean (Florida p = 0.006, South Carolina p = 4 × 10−4, and Louisiana p < 10−5; bootstrap). The elevated African ancestry proportion in Florida and South Carolina is also observed in the HRS and in the 23andMe study[12], but Louisiana is more variable across cohorts …

… but the data strongly supports ongoing admixture, predominantly before or around the end of the Civil War. This is consistent with historical accounts of “a marked decline in both interracial sexual coercion and interracial intimacy” at the end of the Civil War. …

See the work of noted historian of antebellum social relations Sir M. Jagger.

The limited role of early 20th century admixture is further supported by the similarity in the inferred single-pulse time to admixture in all HRS census regions (between 5.4 and 6.2 generations ago, S11 Fig) and all cohorts, which is easily explained if most admixture occurred in the South prior to the Great Migration. The similar levels of African ancestry for all age groups within the HRS also support limited European admixture between 1930 and 1960 (Fig 2D). Importantly, more recent admixture is not represented in the SCCS and HRS cohorts; only two participants were born after 1970. …

European ancestry proportions in African-Americans who left the South (16.5%) is elevated compared to individuals who remained in the South (15.3%, bootstrap p = 0.04), confirming that ancestry-biased migrations continued at least to the mid-20th century. These migrants had substantially less European ancestry than African-Americans already established in the North (20.9%) and West (25.0%) (Fig 2E).

This change over time in ancestry-biased migration is consistent with historical accounts that southern African-American migrants to northern cities during the later stages of the Great Migration had darker complexion than North-born African-Americans

So blacks who left the South earlier tended to be whiter: e.g., maybe their dad was white and he funded them to head north.

In general, African-Americans are fairly similar all across the country, with Louisiana being something of an exception due to its Latin social mores. Interestingly, Louisiana blacks have more Native American ancestry as well: e.g., the stereotype of the metis French-speaking fur trapper.

A model with a single pulse of admixture (as considered in[12]) applied to the present data suggests 28.6% Europeans among male contributors, but only 5.2% among female contributors. By contrast, it suggests almost no contribution from Native American males, and 3% from Native American females.

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From the New York Times review of American Dirt:

Lydia’s husband, Sebastián, slain on the patio, was a reporter who once fearlessly pursued stories about the cartel, which controlled Acapulco. Los Jardineros, as they call themselves, have a taste for baroque punishments and are helmed by a charismatic kingpin. Lydia, meanwhile, ran a bookshop. Her life was quiet, content and enlivened recently by a new friendship with a patron, an older man, devastatingly suave (or so we’re meant to believe), who shared her taste in books. Their bond was instant and deep.

This stranger turns out to be the kingpin. Of course he does; everything follows as predictably as possible. When Sebastián publishes an exposé, the kingpin rewards him by slaughtering his family.

Lydia makes frantic plans to escape. She decides to disguise herself and Luca as migrants and escape to America , until she realizes this is no disguise: “She and Luca are actual migrants. That is what they are. And that simple fact, among all the other severe new realities of her life, knocks the breath clean out of her lungs. All her life she’s pitied those poor people. She’s donated money. She’s wondered with the sort of detached fascination of the comfortable elite how dire the conditions of their lives must be wherever they come from, that this is the better option.”

Sleepless, grieving, paranoid, seeing the cartel’s henchmen everywhere, Lydia schemes their way to La Bestia, the treacherous freight trains migrants use to travel the length of Mexico, and finds a coyote to lead them north.

Where have we heard this story before about two people witnessing a gangland massacre and having to flee by disguising themselves on a train ride? And then one of them starts to get a little too much into his new identity?

Oh, yeah …

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As I mentioned yesterday, Carl Zimmer’s article in the New York Times on the new ancient DNA paper with its ho-hum title, Ancient DNA from West Africa Adds to Picture of Humans’ Rise, is a model of how to construct articles upside down to bore complacent NYT subscribers with the opening paragraphs before revealing the unsettling details toward the end. Carl doesn’t mention the word “pygmy” until his 18th paragraph and the word “ghost” until the 24th paragraph. But then, long after most subscribers, have stopped reading assuming that the gist of the article is Science Proves Trump Voters Stupid Once Again, Zimmer finally unveils some wild stuff:

Dr. Prendergast wondered if DNA from Shum Laka [in Cameroon] would show a kinship with living Bantu people….

In the end, it did. The researchers recovered abundant DNA from four individuals, two of whom were buried in the rock shelter 8,000 years ago, and another pair 3,000 years ago.

One of the 8,000-year-old skeletons was especially rich with human DNA. “It’s of a quality of a modern medical genome,” said David Reich, a Harvard Medical School geneticist and a co-author with Dr. Prendergast.

To Dr. Prendergast’s surprise, none of the people at Shum Laka were closely related to Bantu speakers at all. In fact, they had a strong kinship to the Aka, a group of hunter-gatherers with a pygmy body type who live today in rain forests 1,000 miles to the east.

The Aka or Bayaka Pygmies still speak their own language, unlike the more famous Mbuti Pygmies, who have fully adopted the languages of their Bantu overlords.

To make sense of this paradox, the researchers carried out a large-scale comparison of all the ancient African DNA gathered so far, along with living people from across Africa and beyond. The team found a scenario that best explains how different groups of Africans ended up with their particular combinations of DNA.

Dr. Reich and his colleagues can trace the major lineages of people back to common ancestors who lived in Africa between 200,000 and 250,000 years ago.

“It seems we have four lineages splitting at the same time,” said Mark Lipson, a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard and an author of the new study.

One lineage passed down their DNA to living hunter-gatherers in southern Africa.

I.e., the small yellowish-brown Bushmen and Hottentots or Khoi-San.

A second group were ancestors of the Aka and other central African hunter-gatherers.

I.e., the Pygmies. As far as I know, there is no politically correct name for Pygmies, the way white people think you should use Khoi-San instead of Bushman and Inuit instead of Eskimo. (In reality, it’s all very complicated.) So Carl Zimmer is having a hard time bringing himself to call Pygmies Pygmies.

A third group became hunter-gatherers in East Africa, as evidenced by the fact that many living Africans in that region have inherited some of that DNA.

The fourth group, which Dr. Reich and his colleagues call “Ghost Modern,” is far more mysterious.

Ghost Modern … cool.

Of course, practically no subscribers got 24 paragraphs into the article when the Big News is finally announced.

The ancient Shum Laka people have a substantial amount of Ghost Modern ancestry. So does the ancient Mota man from Ethiopia. But ancient remains from Morocco and South Africa had none. Today some people in Sierra Leone have a tiny trace of Ghost Modern ancestry, the researchers found.

My impression is that the Ghost DNA in modern West African Bantus is more than tiny: more like 5% or more, which would be more than Europeans have Neanderthal ancestry.

It’s possible that the Ghost Moderns were hunter-gatherers who lived across the southern edge of the Sahara. They remained isolated from other Africans for tens of thousands of years. Later, they bred with people from other groups at the eastern and western edges of their range.

Most people in Africa — and the rest of the planet — can trace much of their ancestry to the East African hunter-gatherers. Less than 100,000 years ago, this group split into new lineages.

One group gave rise to many of today’s East African tribes. Another group included the Mota man. They were closely related to the people who expanded east out of East Africa and into the rest of the world.

A separate group of East Africans moved west, encountering and mixing with Central African hunter-gatherers and eventually becoming the first West Africans. The people of Shum Laka may be the descendants of this group.

Many thousands of years passed before a different group of the West Africans gave rise to the Bantu people. Their population discovered agriculture, grew and took over larger areas of land.

In other words, most sub-Saharan Africans today are descended from Bantus, who are, historically, a genocidal conqueror race rather like the Yamnayas-Aryans of Eurasia.

But the Bantu farmers didn’t swiftly drive hunter-gatherers to oblivion. The Shum Laka people survived for at least 1,000 years in the heart of Bantu country.

But after a couple thousand years, the society reached a tipping point, and the hunter-gatherers were marginalized. East African tribes that also began farming and grazing livestock applied additional pressure.

It’s possible that this pressure brought an end to many groups of hunter-gatherers, including the Mota and the Shum Laka — perhaps even the ancient Ghost Modern people.

The surviving hunter-gatherers interbred with neighboring farmers. The new study finds that the Aka, for instance, can trace 59 percent of their ancestry to the Bantu.

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Crab Nebula, whose supernova was recorded by the Chinese imperial astronomer on July 4, 1054 AD

From The Astronomer’s Telegram:

The Continued Unprecedented Fading of Betelgeuse

Edward F. Guinan and Richard J. Wasatonic (Villanova University)
on 20 Jan 2020; 17:50 UT

We report further on the recent unusual dimming of the red supergiant Betelgeuse (alpha Ori) reported previously in ATel #13341 and ATel #13365. We continue to carry out V-band and Wing TiO and near-IR photometry of the star. Since our last report, Betelgeuse has continued to gradually decrease in brightness. Our most recent photometry secured on 17.25 UT and 18.20 UT January 2020 yields: V = +1.494 mag and 1.506 mag, respectively. This is more than ~0.2 mag fainter than previously reported in ATel #13365 on 22.25 UT Dec. 2019. However during the last week or so the decline in brightness of the star may be slowing. As reported by Brian Skiff of Lowell Observatory (priv. commun.) visual estimates of Betelgeuse are available as far back as about 180-years ago. Systematic visual measures of the star have been made by AAVSO observers since the 1920s. More precise photoelectric photometry began nearly 100 yrs ago but systematic (mostly unpublished) photometry of Betelgeuse commenced about 40-years ago at Villanova Observatory by Scott Wacker and Guinan. Betelgeuse is now nearly as faint as (the slightly variable) B2 star Bellatrix (V ~+1.62 mag). Bellatrix (gamma Ori) is about 5° west of Betelgeuse in the constellation Orion. The analysis of the calibrated Wing photometry (Wing 1992: JAAVSO 21, 42) returns measures of the temperature (via calibrated Wing TiO- and near-IR (B-C) color-indices) as well as estimates of bolometric magnitude (m-bol). The Wing intermediate band A-filter is used to measure the temperature-sensitive TiO 719-nm (gamma; 0, 0) molecular band. The B (750-nm) and C (1020.4-nm) filters are centered on relatively line-free stellar continuum regions. The C-band filter measures have been calibrated with K-M stars with bolometric magnitudes returning proxy measures of the apparent bolometric magnitude (m-bol) (see Wasatonic et al. 2015: PASP, 127, 1010). During the 25-years of V-band / Wing Near-IR photometry, Betelgeuse is currently the coolest and least luminous yet observed. Since September 2019, the star’s temperature has decreased by ~100 K while its luminosity (inferred from the C-band/m-bol observations) has diminished by nearly 25%. At face value using R’/R = [(T’/T)^4 / L’/L]^0.5 (where R’, T’ and L’ are the current values of stellar Radius, Temperature & Luminosity), this implies an increase of the star’s radius of ~9%. However, as pointed out by others, the current fainting episode could also arise from expelled, cooling gas/dust partially obscuring the star. The recent changes defined by our V-band/Wing photometry seem best explained from changes in the envelop-outer convection atmosphere of this pulsating, unstable supergiant. If these recent light changes are due to an extra-large amplitude light pulse on the ~420-day period, then the next mid-light minimum is expected during late January/early February, 2020. If Betelgeuse continues to dim after that time then other possibilities will have to be considered. The unusual behavior of Betelgeuse should be closely watched.

Back when I wanted to be an astronomer when I was 11 years old, it was assumed that most aged stars became novas but only a few became supernovas. My vague impression is that in the half century since then that the standard theory is that most stars go supernova, but what do I know?

Betelgeuse (the origin of the name of the movie Beetlejuice) is 650 light years away. It is assumed that when it finally does go supernova that it will be brighter than all objects in our sky other than the sun and the moon, and possibly brighter than the moon. It is expected to cast shadows at night on Earth for about 3 years. Whether it will go supernova in tens of thousands of years or real soon now is difficult to forecast.

The famous Crab Nebula remnant supernova is about 10 times further away. Light from its supernova, which could be seen in the sky during the day, was first recorded by the Chinese imperial astronomer on July 4, 1054 AD. From Wikipedia:

The nebula lies in the Perseus Arm of the Milky Way galaxy, at a distance of about 2.0 kiloparsecs (6,500 ly) from Earth. It has a diameter of 3.4 parsecs (11 ly), corresponding to an apparent diameter of some 7 arcminutes, and is expanding at a rate of about 1,500 kilometres per second (930 mi/s), or 0.5% of the speed of light.

So at that rate it would take about 130,000 years for Betelgeuse’s nebula to reach Earth after it went supernova, by which point it would be highly dissipated.

On the other hand:

At the center of the nebula lies the Crab Pulsar, a neutron star 28–30 kilometres (17–19 mi) across with a spin rate of 30.2 times per second, which emits pulses of radiation from gamma rays to radio waves. At X-ray and gamma ray energies above 30 keV, the Crab Nebula is generally the brightest persistent source in the sky, with measured flux extending to above 10 TeV.

I don’t know what that means but it sounds concerning.

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With the New Bantu Expansion gearing up to be perhaps the most important global event of the 21st Century, it’s worth looking at the cost paid by Pygmies and other diverse groups during the Old Bantu Expansion of prehistory.

Svante Paabo’s breakthrough in being able to sequence DNA from ancient skeletons drove much of the most interesting science of the decade now just closed. But, we’ve tended to be lacking in ancient DNA from sub-Saharan Africa because DNA breaks down faster in warm and wet climates. A variety of other evidence has been pointing towards some interesting weirdnesses in current sub-Saharan DNA, such as indications of a lost “ghost archaic” ancestral population. I wrote about the “The Ghosts of Africa” two years ago in Taki’s Magazine in my third review of geneticist David Reich’s Who We Are and How We Got Here.

Reich has now published on the Old, Weird Africa. From Nature:

Ancient West African foragers in the context of African population history
Mark Lipson, Isabelle Ribot, […]David Reich
Nature (2020), Published: 22 January 2020

Our knowledge of ancient human population structure in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly prior to the advent of food production, remains limited. Here we report genome-wide DNA data from four children—two of whom were buried approximately 8,000 years ago and two 3,000 years ago—from Shum Laka (Cameroon), one of the earliest known archaeological sites within the probable homeland of the Bantu language group1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11. One individual carried the deeply divergent Y chromosome haplogroup A00, which today is found almost exclusively in the same region12,13. However, the genome-wide ancestry profiles of all four individuals are most similar to those of present-day hunter-gatherers from western Central Africa, which implies that populations in western Cameroon today—as well as speakers of Bantu languages from across the continent—are not descended substantially from the population represented by these four people. We infer an Africa-wide phylogeny that features widespread admixture and three prominent radiations, including one that gave rise to at least four major lineages deep in the history of modern humans.

From Science:

DNA from child burials reveals ‘profoundly different’ human landscape in ancient Africa
By Ann GibbonsJan. 22, 2020 , 1:00 PM

Central Africa is too hot and humid for ancient DNA to survive—or so researchers thought. But now the bones of four children buried thousands of years ago in a rock shelter in the grasslands of Cameroon have yielded enough DNA for scientists to analyze. It’s the first ancient DNA from humans in the region, and as the team reports today in Nature, it holds multiple surprises. For one, the area today is the homeland of Bantu speakers, the majority group in western and Central Africa.

As the world enters the age of the New Bantu Expansion, more attention should be paid to the history of the Old Bantu Expansion. Bantus are the primary ancestors of African-Americans. They expanded out of a homeland near the Nigerian-Cameroon border with the aid of two major technological advances: agriculture and iron-making. They wrested sub-Saharan Africa away from other racial groups.

But the children turned out to be most closely related to hunter-gatherers such as the Baka and Aka—groups traditionally known as “pygmies”—who today live at least 500 kilometers away in the rainforests of western Central Africa.

In other words, the Pygmies were marginalized by the Bantu Expansion.

“In the supposed cradle of Bantu languages and, therefore, Bantu people, these people are basically ‘pygmy’ hunter-gatherers,” says Lluís Quintana-Murci, a population geneticist at the Pasteur Institute and CNRS, the French national research agency, who was not part of the new study. He and others have long suspected that these groups had a larger range before the Bantu population exploded 3000 years ago. The second big surprise came when the team compared the children’s DNA to other genetic data from Africa and found hints that the Baka, Aka, and other Central African hunter-gatherers belong to one of the most ancient lineages of modern humans, with roots going back 250,000 years.

In the new study, geneticists and archaeologists took samples from the DNA-rich inner ear bones of the four children, who were buried 3000 and 8000 years ago at the famous archaeological site of Shum Laka. … Comparing the sequences to those of living Africans, they found that the four children were distant cousins, and that all had inherited about one-third of their DNA from ancestors most closely related to the hunter-gatherers of western Central Africa. Another two-thirds of children’s DNA came from an ancient “basal” source in West Africa, including some from a “long lost ghost population of modern humans that we didn’t know about before,” says population geneticist David Reich of Harvard University, leader of the study.

The discovery underscores the diversity of African groups that inhabited the continent before the Bantus began to herd livestock in the grassy highlands of western Central Africa.

We often hear Africans saluted for their genetic diversity, but the ironic reality is that the Old Bantu Expansion was one of the great disasters for human genetic diversity.

The Bantus made pottery and forged iron, and their burgeoning populations rapidly displaced hunter-gatherers across Africa. Analyzing DNA from a time before this expansion offers “a glimpse of a human landscape that is profoundly different than today,” Reich says.

… The team’s bold new model pushes back Central African hunter-gatherer origins to 200,000 to 250,000 years ago—not long after our species evolved. The model suggests their lineage split from three other modern human lineages: one leading to the Khoisan hunter-gatherers in southern Africa, one to east Africans, and one to a now-extinct “ghost” population. …

Remember how I’ve been pointing out for years that New York Times reporters have developed an upside-down style in which they make the beginning of their articles on potentially politically incorrect topics as boring as possible and only slip in the interesting bits toward the end, long after most NYT subscribers have moved on, reassured that reality is as uninteresting as they assumed? Well, NYT genetics reporter Carl Zimmer’s write up, “Ancient DNA from West Africa Adds to Picture of Humans’ Rise,” is a classic in this regard. The word “pygmy” doesn’t appear until the 18th paragraph and the word “ghost” not until the 24th paragraph.

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From The Guardian news pages, a pretty funny Coalition of the Fringes circular firing-squad story that is useful in quantifying how it’s basically all a big hissy fit over money. It’s about a heavily-promoted novel, American Dirt, about a Mexican mother and her children who flee Mexico’s Tragic Dirt for America’s Magic Dirt:

American Dirt: why critics are calling Oprah’s book club pick exploitative and divisive

Latino writers say Jeanine Cummins’ novel uses stereotypes and exploits the suffering of Mexican immigrants

André Wheeler

Wed 22 Jan 2020

American Dirt, the third novel by Jeanine Cummins, begins with a group of assassins opening fire on a quinceañera cookout. We watch Lydia’s entire family get killed, one by one. Only Lydia and her eight-year-old survive.

The scene is one of many depictions of graphic violence in American Dirt and it has sparked an intense conversation about “pity porn” and writing about the Mexican immigrant experience.

The book’s critics argue that Cummins exploits the suffering of Mexican immigrants and resorts to stereotypes. …

Two days after criticisms went viral, Oprah Winfrey selected the divisive novel as the latest pick for her Oprah’s book club on Tuesday morning. The announcement was immediately met with intense pushback and confusion.

Roxane Gay expressed her disappointment on Twitter: “It’s frustrating to see a book like this elevated by Oprah because it legitimizes and normalizes flawed and patronizing and wrong-minded thinking about the border and those who cross it.”

… According to Publishers Weekly, the novel sold to Flatiron Books for a seven-figure advance. Early reviews compared American Dirt to John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Stephen King and Don Winslow provided glowing blurbs. Imperative Entertainment, the Hollywood studio behind the controversial Sierra Leone civil war drama Blood Diamond, even purchased film rights shortly before the book’s release.

But Latino literary figures say their opinions and criticism about American Dirt have been silenced and ignored. The writer Myriam Gurba alleges the feminist publication Ms Magazine commissioned and then killed her review of the novel, fearing pushback. “[The editor] wrote that though my takedown of Dirt was “spectacular”, I lacked the fame to pen something so “negative”, Gurba writes in a personal essay. “She offered to reconsider if I changed my wording, if I wrote ‘something redeeming.’”

Gurba says the most frustrating part about the attention around American Dirt and the large advance Cummins received is the scant attention Chicano narratives, written by Chicano people, receive. “The machine that is supporting this book is dystopian in nature. Meanwhile, I have published three books through indie presses and have not made more than $5,000 on them. That gives you a sense of what value is being ascribed to authentic voices.” …

Cummins, who as recently as 2016, self-identified as white and Latina (and has a Puerto Rican grandmother), likely hoped to get ahead of any questions raised about her writing and profiting off the Mexican migrant experience.

In contrast, three of Gurba’s grandparents were Mexican. Three … count ’em … three!

She includes this author’s note at the beginning of American Dirt: “I was worried that, as a non-immigrant and non-Mexican, I had no business writing a book set almost entirely in Mexico, set entirely among immigrants. I wished someone slightly browner than me would write it.”

Gurba says the note is more infuriating, than placating. In an effort to shine a light on authentic voices, Gurba began a Twitter thread calling for original stories by Mexican-American writers. Authors she and others point to include Felicia Luna Lemus, Yxta Maya Murray, Reyna Grande, Helena Maria Viramontes and Raquel Gutierrez.

Gurba hopes the industry will reflect on this controversy: “I hope this makes people realize how conservative publishing really is.”

And from Myriam @LesWords Gurba’s blog:

Pendeja, You Ain’t Steinbeck: My Bronca with Fake-Ass Social Justice Literature

When I tell gringos that my Mexican grandfather worked as a publicist, the news silences them.

Shocked facial expressions follow suit.

Their heads look ready to explode and I can tell they’re thinking, “In Mexico, there are PUBLICISTS?!”

How many live-in servants did your grandfather, the Mexican PUBLICIST, employ? More than Alfonso Cuaron’s scientist dad’s three live-in servants in Roma?

I wryly grin at these fulanos and let my smile speak on my behalf. It answers, “Yes, bitch, in México, there are things to publicize such as our own fucking opinions about YOU.”

I follow in the cocky footsteps of my grandfather, Ricardo Serrano Ríos, “decano de los publicistas de Jalisco[1],” and not only do I have opinions, I bark them como itzcuintli.

And then she goes on in this vein for awhile. Unlike Texas or Florida, Southern California is extremely lacking in people descended from the Mexican upper middle class, so this Long Beach, CA resident wants to remind you of her pedigree all the time.

… A self-professed gabacha, Jeanine Cummins, wrote a book that sucks. Big time.

Her obra de caca belongs to the great American tradition of doing the following:

Appropriating genius works by people of color
Slapping a coat of mayonesa on them to make palatable to taste buds estados-unidenses and
Repackaging them for mass racially “colorblind” consumption.

Rather than look us in the eye, many gabachos prefer to look down their noses at us. Rather than face that we are their moral and intellectual equals, they happily pity us. Pity is what inspires their sweet tooth for Mexican pain, a craving many of them hide. This denial motivates their spending habits, resulting in a preference for trauma porn that wears a social justice fig leaf. To satisfy this demand, Cummins tossed together American Dirt, a “road thriller” that wears an I’m-giving-a-voice-to-the-voiceless-masses merkin.

I learned about Dirt when an editor at a feminist magazine invited me to review it.

I accepted her offer, Dirt arrived in my mailbox, and I tossed it in my suitcase. At my tía’s house in Guadalajara, I opened the book.

Before giving me a chance to turn to chapter one, a publisher’s letter made me wince.

“The first time Jeanine and I ever talked on the phone,” the publisher gushed, “she said migrants at the Mexican border were being portrayed as a ‘faceless brown mass.’ She said she wanted to give these people a face.”

The phrase “these people” pissed me off so bad my blood became carbonated.

I looked up, at a mirror hanging on my tía’s wall.

It reflected my face.

In order to choke down Dirt, I developed a survival strategy. It required that I give myself over to the project of zealously hate-reading the book, filling its margins with phrases like “Pendeja, please.” That’s a Spanglish analogue for “Bitch, please.”

Back in Alta California, I sat at my kitchen table and penned my review. I submitted it. Waited.

After a few days, an editor responded. She wrote that though my takedown of Dirt was “spectacular,” I lacked the fame to pen something so “negative.” She offered to reconsider if I changed my wording, if I wrote “something redeeming.”

Because the nicest thing I can say about Dirt is that its pages ought to be upcycled as toilet paper, the editors hauled out the guillotine. I was notified that I’d be paid a kill fee: 30% of the $650 I was initially offered for my services.

Toxic heteroromanticism gives the sludge an arc and because the white gaze taints her prose, Cummins positions the United States of America as a magnetic sanctuary, a beacon toward which the story’s chronology chugs.

México: bad.

USA: good.

I pinched my metaphorical nose and read.

Cummins bombards with clichés from the get-go. Chapter One starts with assassins opening fire on a quinceañera, a fifteenth birthday party, a scene one can easily imagine President Donald Trump breathlessly conjuring at a Midwestern rally, and while Cummins’ executioners are certainly animated, their humanity remains shallow.

… Cummins employs this “landscape of carnage,” a turn of phrase which hearkens to Trump’s inaugural speech, to introduce her protagonist, the newly widowed Lydia Quixano Perez. …

With their family annihilated by narcotraffickers, mother and son embark on a refugees’ journey. They head north, or, as Cummins’ often writes, to “el norte,” and italicized Spanish words like carajo, mijo, and amigo litter the prose, yielding the same effect as store-bought taco seasoning.

Through flashbacks, Cummins reveals that Lydia, “a moderately attractive but not beautiful woman,” age thirty-two, operated a bookstore. …

It shocks Lydia to learn that the mysterious and wealthy patron who frequents her bookstore flanked by “[thuggish]” bodyguards is the capo of the local drug cartel!

Obviously, everybody knows that cartelistas enjoy nothing more than frequenting the bookstores found on practically every block in Mexico.

Why are all these angry people assuming that the central character of this book, a woman who owns a bookstore, is not white? If you gave a 23andMe DNA test to every single bookstore owner in Mexico (granted, that would not be a large sample size), what would be their average percentage of Caucasian DNA? 90%?

What it sounds like is that the author borrowed a very old plot: the main character has to pretend to be somebody to escape from bad guys. Basically, American Dirt sounds like the plot of Some Like It Hot: Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon are witnesses to the Al Capone’s St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago, so to escape the the mobsters, they dress up as women and join an all-girl jazz band boarding a train for Florida, where Jack starts to get a little too much into his new identity. Same here: to escape from mobsters, the nice white lady and her son have to pretend to be Mexican immigrants to the US, and then they realize they are Mexican immigrants.

It shocks Lydia to learn that some central Americans migrate to the United States by foot! It shocks Lydia to learn that men rape female migrants en route to the United States! It shocks Lydia to learn that Mexico City has an ice-skating rink! (This “surprise” gave me a good chuckle: I learned to ice skate in México.)

Did I mention my grandfather was a publicist?


[1] Source: his fucking tombstone

Did I mention I come from a classy family?

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Feel free to comment upon it, whatever it is.

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From Refinery 29:

The Dangerous Rise Of Men Who Won’t Date “Woke” Women

The word “irrespective” means saying or doing something without taking anything else into account. For example: “Irrespective of the fact that the cost of living has jumped, putting pressure on many people, the government ploughed on with Brexit and argued that there would be no real economic impact.”

So it is fitting that white man of the moment, Laurence Fox – who appeared on the BBC’s Question Time programme and told a BAME audience member that Meghan Markle has not been on the receiving end of racism before subsequently appearing on the cover of The Sunday Times to tell the world that he does not “date woke women” and then displaying an appalling understanding of history by calling the inclusion of a Sikh soldier in Sam Mendes’ film 1917 “incongruous” – has “irrespective” tattooed on his arm.

Did you hear that at the back, ladies? Laurence Fox – who you perhaps only knew as Billie Piper’s ex-husband because you’ve never seen Lewis (what?) – does not date “woke” women who he believes are being taught that they are “victims”, irrespective of whether they are right or not. He thinks that it’s “institutionally racist” to tell the story of the First World War in a racially diverse way, irrespective of the fact that Sikh soldiers absolutely fought for Britain. And he also doesn’t believe in white privilege, irrespective of the fact that he works in a painfully undiverse industry, was privately educated and comes from a wealthy acting family which is nothing short of a dynasty.

Laurence Fox is the nephew of Edward Fox, who played the assassin in The Day of the Jackal.

Fox is denying racism and sexism, irrespective of whether or not they exist. It’s nothing short of gaslighting. It’s all very Donald Trump.

… I could use data to prove how wrong he is; I could express concern for his mental health (after all, who really enjoys arguing on Twitter?); I could make jokes about his behaviour. But all of that would be to seriously miss the point.

There’s nothing funny about the things Fox – or Wokey McWokeface as he now wants to be known – is saying. It’s also not particularly sad. It’s dangerous. He is just one very privileged man, and as a result of said privilege, has been given a platform. And he has used that platform to legitimise a bigger backlash against diversity and progress which is unfolding every single day in less public corners of the internet.

But let’s get to the important question: What kind of society maximizes my chance of ever being Mrs. Laurence Fox? Not that’s I’d take his name, of course, because I’m devoted to my brand, Vicky Spratt, but you know …

Not wanting to date “woke” women, far from being laughable, is actually one of the more insidious aspects of it. Spend an afternoon on any major dating app and you’ll come across (generally white) men saying openly sexist and misogynistic things. …

In fact, as I was writing this, a dear friend sent me a screenshot of a guy she’s just matched with who describes Jordan B Peterson as his “dream dinner guest”. Yes, the same Jordan B Peterson who thinks that white privilege is a “Marxist lie” and wants millennials to drop their obsession with “social justice”.


I, meanwhile, recently had to block someone who after matching with me launched into a vile rant about how women are “evil”, “only want sex” and treat men as though they are “disposable”. When I asked him if he hated women he replied that he had “only moderate disdain” for us before asking me whether I didn’t want to date him because I’m actually “pretty rough”.

The reactionary influence of these ideas doesn’t stop at dating, though. As the campaign group Hope Not Hate reported last year, a hostility towards feminism is feeding directly into far-right movements online.

All of this, of course, speaks not only to the presence of the very active online communities of anti-feminist incels but to the prevalence of the hideous and incorrect ideas they promote. It doesn’t take magical thinking to see how men are radicalised by anti-feminism. As the saying goes: “When you’re used to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”

The reactionary influence of these ideas doesn’t stop at dating, though. As the campaign group Hope Not Hate reported last year, a hostility towards feminism is feeding directly into far-right movements online. They found that a third of young British people today believe that feminism is marginalising or demonising men and warned that these beliefs were a “slip road” to other far-right ideas.
This isn’t just speculation. We know that the number of far-right referrals to the British government’s deradicalisation scheme Prevent has dramatically increased recently. In the year from 2017/18 they jumped by 36%, while referrals for Islamism actually decreased by 14%.
Right now, Laurence Fox, whether he realises it or not, has just landed the biggest part of his life. He is legitimising hatred and division. And yet he cannot be completely unaware of the role he plays; he has spoken about being “radicalised” himself on YouTube.
Last year he released an album called A Grief Observed which is largely about his acrimonious split from Piper. When The Times interviewed him about it he turned up wearing a pro-Donald Trump MAGA (Make America Great Again) cap and said it was a “social experiment”. He then told the interviewer that he spent a lot of his time watching YouTube interviews which had “totally radicalised” him and caused him to embark on a “crusade against woke culture and political correctness.” He wanted, he said, to call one of the songs “Me Too” but was prevented by his record label.

Fox is a case in point that what might start as playing devil’s advocate by wandering the streets in a MAGA cap to provoke “hipsters” can quickly turn into something more sinister.
The far right itself can be difficult to pin down because it isn’t exactly a coherent global movement with a concrete set of ideas. It largely exists online, in Facebook groups, as Twitter accounts, on YouTube and anonymous message boards such as 8chan. But every now and then, their bile spills out dangerously into the offline world.
In 2016 the Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered by far-right terrorist Thomas Mair who, 25 years before he killed her, told a far-right magazine that the “white race” faced a long and very bloody struggle. And it was 8chan that hosted the manifestos of three mass shooters who killed scores of people last year: the El Paso shooter (who left 20 people dead and many more wounded only a couple of weeks ago), the Poway shooter (who opened fire at a synagogue in California last April) and the Christchurch shooter (who killed 51 people at two mosques in New Zealand last March).

Laurence Fox, whether he realises it or not, has just landed the biggest part of his life. He is legitimising hatred and division. And yet he cannot be completely unaware of the role he plays; he has spoken about being ‘radicalised’ himself on YouTube.

Susan Faludi wrote about the link between violence, anger and anti-feminism prophetically in her book Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women back in 1991. Long before the turbulent times which have seen the rise to power of two male caricatures – Donald Trump to the office of US president and the accession of Boris Johnson as our prime minister – she warned:

“When an attack on home soil causes cultural paroxysms that have nothing to do with the attack, when we respond to real threats to our nation by distrusting ourselves with imagined threats to femininity and family life, when we invest our leaders with a cartoon masculinity and require of them bluster in lieu of a capacity for rational calculation, and when we blame our frailty in ‘fifth column’ feminists – in short, when we base our security on a mythical male strength that can only increase itself against a mythical female weakness – we should know that we are exhibiting the symptoms of a lethal, albeit curable, cultural affliction.”
She added: “When the enemy has no face, society will invent one.” For men like Fox, who feel they have been wronged somehow, that they are missing out on opportunities because, for once in history, they are being given to other people, women and people of colour become the enemy.

When the enemy has no face, society will invent one.


You can see it in the abuse and threats received by women MPs and in the wildly different treatment of Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton. While Middleton, who generally keeps herself to herself and says little, has become a pinup heroine for traditionalists, Markle, who has spoken openly about sexism and racism, trying to use her platform for good, has been – quite literally – driven out of the country, condemned for being an outspoken snowflake.
Make no mistake, the far right is already capitalising on Fox’s words, gassing him up and turning him into an icon. He has added to their backlash and given it oxygen. Every time he is invited onto a TV or radio show to talk about it, that oxygen will cause the backlash to burn hotter and faster, irrespective of whether we’re watching or not. It’s important not to trivialise this anti-woke, anti-women backlash. In the end, it’s only by paying attention to it that we can understand it and do something about it.

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From my new book review in Taki’s Magazine:

Civil Rights Gone Wrong

A couple of heavyweight conservative thinkers, Charles Murray and Christopher Caldwell, have important new books out this month: Murray’s upcoming Human Diversity: The Biology of Gender, Race, and Class and Caldwell’s The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties.

Caldwell, a distinguished prose stylist, is immensely quotable…except for his new book’s name. I presume The Age of Entitlement is intended as a Voltairean pun on “the Age of Enlightenment” in the manner of his 2009 title Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West and its Burkean riff on Reflections on the Revolution in France. Unfortunately, the moniker The Age of Entitlement gives the vague impression that it’s going to be another snooze from the deep root-canal school of economics about the Social Security trust fund or whatever.

Instead, The Age of Entitlement is an explosive rethinking of history since JFK’s assassination that comes to the reactionary conclusion that the only salvation for American conservatism is to repeal the sainted 1964 Civil Rights Act and restore the constitutional right to freedom of association.

This is a striking judgment for Caldwell, a sober and cultured (the only conversation I can recall having with him was in 1992, and it mostly regarded how to properly pronounce “Nabokov”) analyst, to arrive at; his career has been largely spent writing for the respectable right, such as the Financial Times, the late Weekly Standard, and The Wall Street Journal.

In contrast, I’ve never felt any regard for the long-gone Jim Crow era, which I’ve always found almost Hindu-like in its grotesque caste rules.

Read the whole thing there.

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One of the great mysteries of recent years is the exact rank ordering of the Intersectional Pyramid of Privilege. We know that it was invented to elevate black women over black men and white women. And it goes without saying that straight white men are at the bottom.

But what about more subtle questions like how does a Muslim immigrant straight man from a fairly white-adjacent place like Malaysia match up with a Jewish lesbian from Park Slope? Who wins?

Market researchers have been using conjoint analysis for generations to measure consumers’ preference tradeoffs when shopping.

Has conjoint analysis _ever_ been used to nail down the status rank order on the Intersectional Totem Pole?

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From the New York Times news section:

How Much Racism Do You Face Every Day?

JAN. 20, 2020

To see how your experience with discrimination compares with others’, answer some of the questions that were posed to 101 black teenagers as part of a study measuring the racism they face on a daily basis.

Anti-black bigotry in America can take many forms, some overt and some harder to measure. To find out just how pervasive racism is, a team of researchers tracked the experiences of 101 black teenagers in Washington, D.C., for two weeks.

Here are some of those questions presented to the teenagers. See how your experience compares. Your tally will appear at the bottom.

In the past two weeks,

How many times were you mistaken for someone else of your same race/ethnicity (who may not look like you at all)?

How many times did you see a racist image online (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or in a comments section)?

How many times did a teacher assume that you were an expert on people of your same race/ethnic background? (If you are not a student, consider a co-worker.)

Collectively, the 101 black teens participating in the study reported more than 5,600 experiences of racial discrimination over two weeks. That boils down to an average of more than five instances per day for each teenager. That’s more than 70 over two weeks.

Those findings may not be surprising to those who face routine discrimination, but they reflect a higher frequency of racism than has previously been reported.

What caused the increase? Researchers say that the study was the first to include so many expressions of racial bias, 58 in all, and to ask participants to record them daily. Previous studies have typically asked participants to recall experiences from the past, which researchers say is not as accurate.

Although there has been an increase in hate crimes during the Trump administration, this study measures incidents that occurred when Barack Obama was in the White House.

The teens who participated in the study were students at a middle school, a high school and a summer program in Washington. Those who experienced more instances of discrimination over the two weeks also showed more symptoms of short-term depression, the study found, such as difficulty sleeping, loneliness and anxiety.

“Part of why these types of microaggressions are so insidious is that a lot of times, white people can see them as not real, or not a big deal,’‘ said Devin English, a psychologist at Rutgers University who led the study. “But this is showing us the magnitude of the discrimination faced by black adolescents. It’s happening all the time. And it’s affecting how they feel.’’

Witnessing Racism

… How many times did a peer joke about the texture of your hair because of your race/ethnicity?

How many times did a peer tease you because of your skin tone?

Racial teasing is common among adolescents and often it is seen as harmless. But previous studies have shown that it can lead to increases in anxiety symptoms for black adolescents.

In the research team’s interviews with black teens, Dr. English said, being teased about hair and skin tone was cited as a frequent way that they were treated differently because of their race.

… Measuring Microaggressions

How many times did a peer tease you because you wear your hair natural? 4
How many times did a peer joke about the texture of your hair, because of your race/ethnicity? 6

And so forth and so on …

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From FBI crime statistics for the 71% of murder victims of 2014-2018 (sample size 49,808) for which there is a known and specified weapon:

Murder Victims 2014-2018
Known weapons 100.0%
Handguns 64.1%
Rifles 2.9%
Shotguns 2.5%
Knives or cutting instruments 15.6%
Blunt objects (clubs, hammers, etc.) 4.5%
Personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.)1 6.7%
Poison 0.1%
Explosives 0.0%
Fire 0.7%
Narcotics 0.9%
Drowning 0.1%
Strangulation 0.9%
Asphyxiation 1.0%

Murder victims are 22 times more likely to be killed with a handgun as with a rifle, but most of the gun control energy in recent years has been paid to rifles.

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As I’ve often pointed out, the existence of official government reports is important in establishing the respectability of a topic. For example, before the release of the Rotherham Report in 2014, it should have been obvious to anybody who didn’t have his head buried in the sand that England had a massive problem with Pakistani pimps sexually abusing underage English girls. But the abundance of different kinds of evidence wasn’t getting the issue talked about in the Respectable Media, until the city of Rotherham issued an official report on the subject.

Similarly, the statistical fact that African-Americans commit murder at a vastly higher per capita rate than do white Americans is not something you are supposed to mention in the press, but at least dissidents in the comments can cite a PDF issued by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistic s back in 2011 that found that blacks were, per capita, 7.4 times as likely to be murder offenders as whites, with whites, curiously, including almost all Hispanics.

The Bush Administration posted homicide by race trend graphs in easy to use HTML format. The Obama Administration memoryholed the more user-friendly version of the report, but at least issued an update in 2011, even if it is in hard to use PDF format. The Trump Administration hasn’t done anything.

But the black-white gap in murder offending might be worse than the Obama Administration’s 2011 report suggests. One obvious problem with the Bureau of Justice Statistics “Homicide” report is that it doesn’t break out Hispanics from whites, unlike almost all other government reports since c. 1970.

Back in 1945-1965, Latin American pressure groups such as LULAC asked government agencies to lump Latin Americans in as white/Caucasian, which is how they were treated on the 1950 and 1960 Censuses. Police forces like the LAPD went along with it, in part because having a huge Caucasian category in which to lump Europeans, Latin Americans, Arabs, and Asian Indians reduced the amount of outright error in suspect descriptions.

Crime statistics, unlike other government statistics, tended to have three racial categories: Other (East Asians, American Indians, and maybe Polynesians), Black, and White (everybody leftover with some claim to be at least kind of Caucasian).

But after the introduction of affirmative action in 1969, pressure groups reversed course and demanded to shed their new Caucasian Disprivilege in favor of some that sweet, sweet Nonwhite Privilege.

Except in crime statistics … For example, from NBC News in 2018:

From Criminology, a 2011 study that tries to figure out what % of “white” murder offenders are actually Hispanic:


First published: 24 February 2011 https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-9125.2010.00222.x Citations: 52

Recent studies suggest a decline in the relative Black effect on violent crime in recent decades and interpret this decline as resulting from greater upward mobility among African Americans during the past several decades. However, other assessments of racial stratification in American society suggest at least as much durability as change in Black social mobility since the 1980s. Our goal is to assess how patterns of racial disparity in violent crime and incarceration have changed from 1980 to 2008. We argue that prior studies showing a shrinking Black share of violent crime might be in error because of reliance on White and Black national crime statistics that are confounded with Hispanic offenders, whose numbers have been increasing rapidly and whose violence rates are higher than that of Whites but lower than that of Blacks. Using 1980–2008 California and New York arrest data to adjust for this “Hispanic effect” in national Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) data, we assess whether the observed national decline in racial disparities in violent crime is an artifact of the growth in Hispanic populations and offenders. Results suggest that little overall change has occurred in the Black share of violent offending in both UCR and NCVS estimates during the last 30 years. In addition, racial imbalances in arrest versus incarceration levels across the index violent crimes are both small and comparably sized across the study period. We conclude by discussing the consistency of these findings with trends in economic and social integration of Blacks in American society during the past 50 years.

The researchers come up with a finding that adjusting out Hispanic murderers from whites raises the black/white murder offender ratio from 7.4 X to 11.7 X.

From a press release from Penn State writing up this study:

… The rise in the U.S. Hispanic population and the sharp jump in black violent crime during the late 1980s and early 1990s may skew statistics from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports and the National Crime Victimization Survey that appear to show a recent drop in black violence, said Darrell Steffensmeier, professor, sociology, and crime, law and justice, Penn State.

The researchers, who released their findings in the current issue of Criminology, indicated that studies on black violent crime — a crime that involves force or the threat of force — often fail to account for the rise in the number of Hispanics in the U.S. Since there is no Hispanic category in the UCR and approximately 93 percent of Hispanics identify themselves, or are identified by law enforcement officers, as white, most arrests of Hispanics are added to white violent crime rates.

“The result is that the violent crime rates for whites are inflated and the black rates are deflated in these studies,” said Steffensmeier, who worked with Jeffrey T. Ulmer, associate professor, and Casey T. Harris, graduate student, both in sociology and crime, law and justice, Penn State and Ben Feldmeyer, assistant professor, University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

When the researchers adjusted for the Hispanic effect, there was little overall change in the black percentage of violent crime, said Steffensmeier.

Using arrest statistics from 1980 to 2008 in California and New York, two states that include a Hispanic category, the recalculated national figures indicated that the black percentage of assault increased slightly from 42 percent to 44 percent and homicide increased from 57 percent to 65 percent. There was a small decline in robbery, from 57 percent to 54 percent.

“It is the case that violent crime rates are lower today for blacks, as they also are for other race groupings, but the black percentage of violent crime is about the same today as in 1980,” Steffensmeier said.

According to Steffensmeier, studies that purport to show declines in black violent crimes may also rely on timelines that are too short to be effective. For instance, studies that start in the late 1980s and 1990s cover a period of rapid increase in black violent crime fueled by crack cocaine use in the inner cities. According to Steffensmeier, the recent decrease is more likely a return to average crime rates.

“A study that uses statistics from a short time period can lead to a regression to the mean effect,” said Steffensmeier. “Which basically means, when a trend rises quickly, it can fall just as quickly.”

On the other hand, the researcher’s choice of adjusting the national statistics based on arrest statistics in New York and California might exaggerate the amount of Hispanic crime.

Most of New York’s Hispanic murderers tend to be mulatto Puerto Ricans or Dominicans, ethnic groups who tend to have higher homicide rates than the more common mestizos from Mexico.

And my vague intuition is that California developed a pretty homicidal Chicano mestizo class back in the 1970s when Mexican-Americans formed some pretty imposing gangs on the streets and in the prisons. I think Mexican-Americans in California were more crime prone than in Texas.

Since then, the newer Mexican immigrants tend to be smaller and more docile.

Of course, another issue are all the murders that are never closed. The closure rates tend to be lowest in black neighborhoods, especially in black-run cities. So, the number of black murder offenders might be understated due to fears of witness-murdering by black gangs and other problems.

Finally, counting “murder offenders” rather than their victims might drive up the black percentage because, if my suspicion is correct, on average murders committed by blacks tend to have slightly more murder offenders involved than murders committed by whites. Generally, white murderers tend to act alone. They generally don’t have some friends who might think that helping them commit murder is a good idea.

For example, white mass shooters are almost always lone gunmen (Columbine being a famous exception). Black mass shooters, in contrast, are often two guys.

So, this might tend to exaggerate the percentage of murder victims murdered by blacks.

All in all, I’d probably guess somewhere around 10X as the most accurate black / white murder ratio.

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The U.S. Ambassador to South Korea, retired 4 star admiral Harry Harris (appointed by Trump a couple of years ago), has recently grown a mustache, which has become a flashpoint in South Korea.

Harris is half-Japanese and many personages in Imperial Japan during the era when Japan ruled Korea, 1910-1945, such as Hirohito, Tojo, and almost all Japanese governor-generals of Korea, wore mustaches. Of course, being half-white, Harris’s mustache is more impressive than that of most of these Japanese figures.

From CNN:

Racism, history and politics: Why South Koreans are flipping out over a US ambassador’s mustache

By Joshua Berlinger, CNN

Updated 1604 GMT (0004 HKT) January 17, 2020

(CNN) It might just be the most bizarre criticism of a US ambassador in recent memory.

Harry Harris, Washington’s envoy to South Korea, has been subjected to heated vitriol on social media and by anonymous netizens for his mustache.

That small piece of facial hair has, as Harris put it, “for some reason become a point of some fascination here in the media.”

“If you watch social media it’s all out there,” Harris, the former head of US Pacific Forces, told a group of foreign reporters Thursday.

On the surface, the critiques border on ridiculousness. It’s just a small patch of hair.

But Harris’ ‘stache has sparked discussions on topics much bigger than the ambassador himself: the still-raw emotions among many Koreans about the legacy of Japanese occupation; the prevalence of racism in such a homogenous society; and cracks appearing in the future of the decades-old alliance between Seoul and Washington as the two sides attempt to reach a deal on how to cover the cost of US troops stationed in South Korea, amid reports that President Donald Trump demanded a 400% pay increase.

I once got a randomly dialed abusive phone call from South Korea blaming a Nippo-American conspiracy after Apolo Anton Ohno edged out a South Korean skater for a short track speed skating medal in a Winter Olympics. Generally, short track speed skating races would always end with everybody falling down and the South Koreans failing to finish while the American Ohno would sneak his skate across the finish line for a medal.

The gist of the criticism is that with the mustache, Harris resembles the reviled Japanese leaders who ruled the Korean Peninsula with an iron fist during the Japanese occupation.

But Harris isn’t Japanese, he’s a US citizen. And calling him out for his Japanese ancestry would almost assuredly be considered racist in the United States.

South Korea is a homogenous society without racial diversity like the United States. The CIA World Factbook doesn’t even list other ethnic groups living in South Korea on the country’s page, instead just referring to the country as “homogenous.” Mixed-race families are rare and xenophobia remains surprisingly common.

“I didn’t grow a mustache because of my Japanese heritage, because of the independence movement of Korea or even because of my dad. I grew it because I could and I thought I would and I did,” he said.

Harris explained that he grew the mustache to mark a new phase in his life, after he retired as commander of the US Pacific Fleet and began working as a diplomat.

“I couldn’t grow taller, I couldn’t grow hair on top of my head, but I could grow it on front of my head and so I did that. Nothing more nefarious than that, I wanted to have a change,” he said.

Growing facial hair allows a man to feel he’s accomplishing something every day. He may not have got much else done, but by God, he’s added another day’s growth to this mustache/beard/sideburns/whatever.

On the other hand, the job of an ambassador is political not meritocratic, so being sensitive to local sensitivities is an important part of the job.

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From the opinion section of The Guardian:

I co-founded Occupy Wall Street. Now I’m headed to Davos. Why?
Micah White

Micah White is the co-creator of Occupy Wall Street, author of The End of Protest: A New Playbook for Revolution and founder of Activist Graduate School, an online school for activists
Rejecting Davos is easy when one hasn’t been invited. Now that I have a chance to go, I want to discover its revolutionary potential

Sat 18 Jan 2020 02.00 EST

Last year in Taki’s I pointed out that it’s interesting that the Great Awokening began not long after the collapse of Occupy Wall Street in late 2011. Perhaps the rise of Woke Capital was a response to the Occupy movement to exacerbate Occupy’s tendency to fragment into identity politics squabbles instead of focusing on expropriating the rich. If so, Davos might be a natural place to organize Woke Capital.

But I haven’t noticed much new evidence for this conspiracy theory since I published it.

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From BioRxiv:

Hispanics/Latinos are a diverse group of admixed populations with African, European, and Native American ancestries. They remain understudied, and thus little is known about the genetic architecture of phenotypic variation in these populations. Using genome-wide genotype data from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos, we find that Native American ancestry has increased over time across Hispanic/Latino populations, particularly in Mexican Americans where Native American ancestry increased by an average of ∼20% over the 50-year period spanning 1940s-1990s. We find similar patterns across American cities, and replicate our observations in an independent sample of Mexican Americans. These dynamic ancestry patterns are a result of a complex interaction of several population and cultural factors, including strong ancestry-related assortative mating and subtle shifts in migration with differences in subcontinental Native American ancestry over time. These factors have shaped patterns of genetic variation, including an increase in runs of homozygosity in Native American ancestral tracts, and also influenced the genetic architecture of complex traits within the Mexican American population. We show for height, a trait correlated with ancestry, polygenic risk scores based on summary statistics from a European-based genome-wide association study perform poorly in Mexican Americans. Our findings reveal temporal changes in population structure within Hispanics/Latinos that may influence biomedical traits, demonstrating a crucial need to improve our understanding of the genetic diversity of admixed populations.

T hey find that Mexican Americans born in the 1930s averaged 43% Native Americans vs. 54% Native American for Mexican Americans born in the 1990s, based on the smoothed graph above, although perhaps the peak Amerindian ancestral percentage was those born in the 1980s.

This helps explain the curious fact that Mexican-Americans used to be included more in the ranks of top athletes back when they were less numerous. For example, consider Southern California-born Pancho Gonzales, the world’s top pro tennis player of the 1950s, and Anthony Munoz (right), often ranked the best offensive lineman in NFL history. San Diego’s Ted Williams, probably the best baseball hitter of all time, was half-Mexican. (Tony Gonzalez of Southern California might be the best NFL tight end of all time but I don’t think he’s Mexican — but in any case I still want to see a reality TV show where he hangs out at Jeff Bezos’s house to toss the football around with his son, Bezos’s new stepson).

I don’t know the specifics of the study of Hispanics (sample size a little over 10k) used in this study, but the U.S. government doesn’t let you pick more than one ethnicity the way you can pick more than one race on the Census. You either pick Hispanic or Non-Hispanic, not both. Presumably, this means that individuals of some but not high degree of Mexican descent don’t identify as Mexican-American. For example, Ted Williams didn’t. These days there are rewards for identifying as Latino, but I’m sure some people who are 1/4th or 1/8th don’t bother. This would cause highly European people to tend to drop out of the Hispanic pool.

Another thing is that Mexican-Americans used to be Anthony Quinn-types from Northern Mexico, which was a desert largely unpopulated until irrigation techniques developed in the later 19th Century, so it was populated by more European individuals. In contrast, recent immigrants from Mexico have tended to be from ancient southern Mexican corn-growing villages disrupted by NAFTA.

And new Mexican immigrant women tend to have high fertility in, roughly, there first decade in the U.S., only noticing after they’ve had a passel of kids here that raising children in the U.S. is very expensive.

It’s also likely that there is a height gradient among Native Americans. The tallest, such as the Blackfeet, appear to be up around the Canadian border with the shortest in North America down in Central America.

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From NBC News’ opinion section:

Noah Berlatsky Trump voters motivated by racism may be violating the Constitution. Can they be stopped?

Republicans and Democrats alike have been unwilling to reprimand voters or to hold them accountable. But racist voting isn’t an accident.
Image: Donald Trump

Jan. 17, 2020, 1:30 AM PST
By Noah Berlatsky

If the Trump era has taught us anything, it’s that large numbers of white people in the United States are motivated at least in part by racism in the voting booth. …

Terry Smith, a visiting professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law, offers a different response in his new book, “Whitelash: Unmasking White Grievance at the Ballot Box.” Rather than excuse racist voters or try to figure out how to live with their choices, he argues that racist voting is not just immoral, but illegal. The government, Smith says, has the ability, and the responsibility, to address it.

This sounds radical. But Smith argues that it’s in line with the Constitution and with years of court rulings. For example, Smith points out that racist appeals in union elections are illegal and that an election in which one side uses racist appeals can be invalidated by the National Labor Relations Board. Similarly, in the 2016 case Peña v. Rodriguez, the Supreme Court ruled that when a juror expresses overt bigotry, the jury’s verdict should be invalidated.

“When voters go to the booth, they’re not expressing a mere personal preference,” Smith told me. According to Smith, voters who pull the levers to harm black people are violating the Constitution. If the Constitution means that overt racist appeals undermine the legality of union elections, it stands to reason that they undermine the legality of other elections, as well.

So how can you tell when voters are acting out of prejudice? Again, Smith says, employment discrimination law provides a useful analogy. In discrimination cases, courts look for pretexts. If someone gives a reason for a hiring decision that is obviously false or makes little sense in context, the court has good reason to believe that prejudice or bias may have influenced the hiring decision.

Trump’s unprecedented, compulsive, easily documented lying during the 2016 campaign made him an irrational choice. It’s reasonable to conclude that voters were willing to swallow the falsehoods because they liked what they heard: overt racist appeals and incessant lies about rising crime rates.

The total number of murder victims in the United States increased a record-setting 24.8% during the Black Lives Matter era of 2014 to 2016.

No lie.

… Even more ambitiously, Smith suggests expanding the Voting Rights Act to address the racist patterns of voting in Senate elections in the South. Because the majority of white voters in the South vote Republican, and because they outnumber black voters, there isn’t a single Democratic senator from the Deep South other than Doug Jones in Alabama, who may well lose his seat in 2020.

… Still, Smith points out, in the long term, “these remedies are a lot more practical than a lot of people might think.” Republicans won’t always control the presidency and the Senate, and judges don’t live forever. Democrats could also expand the number of seats on lower courts or even on the Supreme Court — another controversial proposal known as court-packing. If Democrats decide that responding to racist voting is a vital priority, they could, in time, take steps to do something about it.

Why not just arrest voters red-handed for voting Republican? Haul them out of the voting booth in handcuffs.

… Racist voting isn’t an accident. It’s a choice that may violate the principles of our Constitution and our legal system. We should say so, and then we should find ways to reduce the harm it causes.

Noah Berlatsky is a freelance writer and cultural critic based in Chicago. He edits the website The Hooded Utilitarian and is the author of several books, including most recently “Wonder Woman: Bondage and Feminism in the Marston/Peter Comics, 1941-1948.”

Okaaaay …

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From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Oak Creek man, alleged member of neo-Nazi group ‘The Base,’ charged with vandalizing Racine synagogue

Ashley Luthern and Bruce Vielmetti, Jan. 17, 2020

A 22-year-old Oak Creek man charged with vandalizing a Racine synagogue was arrested Friday as part of a nationwide investigation into The Base, a neo-Nazi, racially motivated extremist group, federal prosecutors announced Friday.

Yousef O. Barasneh spray-painted swastikas and anti-Semitic words on Beth Israel Sinai Congregation in Racine last September and plotted other acts of vandalism against minority residents with the hate group, according to a federal criminal complaint. …

Yousef Omar Barasneh appears to be the son of a Jordanian Muslim immigrant father and a head-covering wearing Muslim mother. Mom looks like she might be a native Wisconsinite who converted to Islam for her husband. I won’t link to the online evidence for their being Islamic (they have enough problems at the moment), but it’s obvious.

According to court records:

One of the group’s ringleaders became an informant and gave investigators details over the past several months.

The man admitted he directed the group to vandalize minority-owned properties, calling it “Operation Kristallnacht,” a reference to Nazi Germany and the night Jewish homes, hospitals and other properties were ransacked and destroyed.

The man told investigators he said: “If there’s a window that wants to be broken, don’t be shy.”

He said a man known as Josef or Joseph in the group’s chat room later sent a message with a news article about the Racine synagogue vandalism and claimed credit for the damage. …

Barasneh was seen going to and from that meeting, which included a goat sacrifice …

His arrest was among at least six others in the U.S. Thursday and Friday of men authorities believe were advancing The Base’s goal of accelerating the collapse of the federal government, inciting a race war and establishing a white ethnostate, according to one agent’s affidavit.

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From the New York Times news section:

How Hard Is It to Quit Coal? For Germany, 18 Years and $44 Billion

By Somini Sengupta and Melissa Eddy
Jan. 16, 2020

Germany announced on Thursday that it would spend $44.5 billion to quit coal — but not for another 18 years, by 2038.

The move shows how expensive it is to stop burning the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel, despite a broad consensus that keeping coal in the ground is vital to averting a climate crisis, and how politically complicated it is.

Coal, when burned, produces huge amounts of the greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for global warming.

Germany doesn’t have shale gas, as the United States does, which has led to the rapid decline of coal use in America, despite President Trump’s support for coal. Germany also faces intense opposition to nuclear power. After the Fukushima disaster in 2011, that opposition prompted the government to start shutting down the country’s nuclear plants, a transition that should be complete by 2022.

If Germany really wanted to do the world a huge favor to make up for certain unfortunate events of the 20th Century, it would undertake to show the world how to make nuclear power safe. If anybody can make nuclear power work safely, it is Germans, with their world’s highest combination of engineering skill times neurotic worrywart personalities.

Solar and wind are all very well, but in the long run they will still need to be complemented with an on-demand source of energy, which is either going to be some kind of fossil fuel or some kind nuclear power. Germany ought to be the world leader in resolving exactly how best to use nuclear power. Instead, they are turning their backs on nuclear energy in a cowardly fashion, while continuing to burn coal.

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For thou shalt worship no other god: for Diversity, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous god.

Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, VDARE.com columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.