G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.
I remember a co-worker from another time and another place – a woman in her late 20s who did not have very many dating options – telling me and some others about being married for two years to the son of a preacher. The unbelievable part of the marriage was that the two never consummated the relationship – never even saw each other naked – because the husband was actually gay and trying to put on a front for his family. So they got divorced and she lost two very important years of her life. The guy used my co-worker as a beard, and she wasn’t happy about it.
I was reminded of this anecdote after I finally looked at the dustup surrounding Howard Kurtz’s piece on Jason Collins. There was such commotion over Kurtz’s words – The Daily Beast even retracted his article – that I just assumed he must have been way off the mark. It turns out that he did miss the mark but would have hit it by pushing harder than he initially did.
HuffPo’s Jason Linkins is one among many criticizing Kurtz:
Mysterious multi-platform media macher Howard Kurtz has taken issue with the way NBA player Jason Collins — now best known for being the first openly gay male player in a major sports league — went about disclosing his coming out story. What’s Kurtz’s beef? Collins, says Kurtz, “left out one detail.”
That detail? Per Kurtz: “He was engaged. To be married. To a woman.”
Kurtz missed an important detail from a journalistic standpoint. He didn’t carefully read what Collins wrote in his SI piece. But the only people who care about what Kurtz wrote are other journalists who care a lot about a fellow journalists’ reading comprehension. What about Collins’ failure?
Linkins goes on:
Now, Kurtz. He has heard it. From Twitter. And so he has altered his story a teensy-weensy bit. Now it reads that Collins “downplayed” the detail, instead of leaving it out. But again, as the Eat The Press telestrator shows, Collins didn’t downplay the detail. The societal expectations Collins was attempting to conform to posed a struggle. As he says, he felt that he “needed to marry a woman and raise kids with her.” He goes on to note that this put him in a constant state of self-denial.
Collins took his ex-fiancee for a ride on the Self Denial Express for 8 years, only finding out several days before his announcement that he was gay. Carolyn Moos said upon finding out about Collins:
“It’s very emotional for me as a woman to have invested 8 years in my dream to have a husband, soul mate, and best friend in him,” Moos, a six-foot-six former WNBA player, tells TMZ. “So this is all hard to understand.”
Of course, since that all is now a sunk cost, she’s moved on and now empathizes with Collins.
The bigger point though is that it shouldn’t matter what sort of personal crises a person is facing, there’s never any excuse to waste a person’s prime years – especially a woman’s – while trying to search for your identity or in order to maintain a facade to family, friends, and society. That’s a bigger moral failure. The celebration over Collins’ coming-out merely shows that people will ignore interpersonal moral failings as long as the symbolic gain is greater. Like Gandhi and MLK, Jr. To Kurtz’s main argument, Collins didn’t spend much time dwelling on how his self-denial may have hurt his ex-fiancee. But perhaps he apologized to her over the phone. Still, he left her hanging for four years about the nature of their breakup. And the people in the media going hard against Kurtz for an ethical slip are merely turning the journalist into Collins’ moral beard.
Jacob Vigdor of Duke University has a report at the Manhattan Institute on immigrant assimilation. He seems somewhat optimistic about a slight uptick in assimilation over the past few years, but the long-term patterns seems like the bigger story:
Moreover, immigrants from Mexico and nearby countries in Central America have been the least assimilated groups in recent decades. The shorter distances involved in moving across the border, rather than across an ocean, make it easy for families with little education or wealth to make the move. The 2011 assimilation index report showed that Latin American immigrants in Spain, for example, are much more assimilated than their North American counterparts. Similarly, North African immigrants in the United States are more assimilated than North Africans in Europe. The lack of legal status among many Mexican and Central American immigrants reduces both their ability and incentive to assimilate into the mainstream. Immigrants without legal status have limited employment options and no path toward citizenship. The uncertain duration of their stay in the country reduces their incentive to learn English or undertake other costly actions that pay off in the long run.
This effect is well-known, but it never ceases to amaze me when, at work, I’m unable to speak English to the Mexican busser who has been here for 20 years, but I can speak fluidly with my new Eastern European co-workers. Maybe chalk some of that up to differences in education, but chalk most of it up to differences in desire to fold into the prevailing culture.
The United States experienced significant migration waves at both the beginning and end of the twentieth century. During both periods—between 1900 and 1920, and again between 1980 and 2000—the assimilation level of new arrivals declined. The first immigrants to enter a host country must navigate on their own; they stand to prosper only if they possess the ability to integrate rapidly into the mainstream. Successive waves of immigrants can take advantage of the trail blazed by their predecessors. It is not surprising, then, to see this broad pattern of declining assimilation as immigration waves progress.
Here’s the chart of that showing the gross differences in assimilation at the beginning of the last century versus this one:
Vigdor then looks at assimilation by national origin:
In the end, then, the evidence indicates that the increase in assimilation largely reflects a shift in migration patterns rather than wholesale changes in behavior. Immigrant groups more disposed to low levels and rates of assimilation have been less likely to enter and remain in the country in recent years…Vietnamese immigrants have been, and continue to be, one of the groups exhibiting the highest rates of assimilation over time; Mexican immigrants lie at the other end of the spectrum. There is no evidence that the average experiences of immigrants belonging to either group have changed much over time. The immigrant population, rather, has shifted towards having a higher proportion of Vietnamese-type immigrants, and fewer Mexican-type immigrants.
The biggest surprise in this chart pertains to immigrants from Cuba, the only group to post a large decline in assimilation since 2006. The decline most likely reflects the continued arrival of Cuban migrants in the post-recession years—Census estimates indicate that the Cuban-born population has doubled over the past 10 years. This, in turn, most likely reflects the political, rather than economic, impetus for much migration from Cuba. Immigrants seeking jobs are likely to be deterred by a recession; those seeking more fundamental rights or family reunification are not.
That’s an interesting finding given the widely-discussed leftward shift of Cubans during the 2012 election despite having Marco Rubio winning Florida’s Senate seat.
1. “You’ll be shocked by how many of the world’s top students are American,” says this headline. No, you won’t if you understand two things: that American students’ test scores are low-balled in Chicken Little fashion in order to make it seem like more spending is needed on state-run education, and if you understand that since America is the most culturally and racially diverse of the OECD nations that its students’ scores will have high variance and a mediocre average.
2. The NYT public editor flagged Larry David’s post-Boston op-ed in which he compared Mama Tsarnaev to his own stereotypically Jewish mother. As they concluded, the piece wasn’t necessarily even offensive, it just wasn’t funny. I wonder how many people in on the editorial decision for that article were just too afraid to admit that they didn’t see the humor in the piece for fear of being seen as not getting a joke from the heralded genius. (h/t James Taranto)
3. Scott Sumner on culture’s affects on economic prosperity:
So why fixate on “culture”? Why not “geography?” Because it seems like culture is the key factor. Australia is a neighbor of New Guinea, yet has cultural similarities to Europe. Singapore is next to Indonesia, but has cultural similarities to Taiwan and Hong Kong. Israel is next to Egypt, but has cultural similarities to Europe. When culture and geography diverge, go with culture.
4. This article is inadvertently erotic.
5. It takes very little for people to treat others who don’t look like them differently.
6. Sullivan asserts that it is controversial to say that condoms desensitize sex. I wouldn’t be surprised if some feminist types did recoil at that, but I haven’t paid attention.
At Acculturated (a new right-of-centerish blog that deserves more attention), Julia Shaw observes:
Bridezilla, groomzilla, and wedding-mania generally tends to miss what’s truly important about weddings—the marriage.
There’s nothing wrong with fancy weddings. But you can be married without a lavish wedding—just like you can have a lavish wedding without (much) of a marriage (paging Kim Kardashian). Weddings are (rightfully) joyous occasions. But they are also serious events that go way beyond wedding colors or saying yes to the dress. Weddings are about a set of vows. Vows swearing to love, honor, and cherish each other in sickness and health until you are parted by death. Vows said loud enough for your friends, family, and eighty-year-old grandmother to hear them. That commitment, and the marriage which grows out of it, overshadows everything else about the wedding.
Being around lots of women who are caught up in wedding fever, I’m all too familiar with this shift away from emphasizing the marriage itself towards the occasion that signifies it. You don’t even need to read this blog closely to know that I’m cynical on this issue. Nobody talks about the marriage, only the wedding, but the wedding is fleeting while the marriage is here to stay, ideally.
Today, marriage is more discretionary than ever, and also more distinctive. It is something young adults do after they and their live-in partners have good jobs and a nice apartment. It has become the capstone experience of personal life — the last brick put in place after everything else is set. People marry to show their family and friends how well their lives are going, even if deep down they are unsure whether their partnership will last a lifetime.
YOUNG adults with greater earning potential, who can afford the capstone celebration, are still marrying in large numbers, while those with poorer economic prospects are holding off.
As Salam has put it, marriage has become a ‘capstone’ to a successful young adulthood rather than a ‘cornerstone’ to a shared process of building a home and a family.
Some speak of the civilizing effects of marriage, especially on men. This holds if marriage is perceived as a cornerstone. The beginning of a couple’s life together often sparks the beginning of the man’s attempts at obtaining a steady career and doing all of the other things that go along with that. But if marriage is a capstone – if it is something that occurs only after both the man and the woman have already set themselves up for success – then, yeah, the marriage itself decreases in value relative to what the marriage itself symbolizes. And when the marriage becomes a status symbol rather than an end in itself, then more emphasis is placed on the celebration rather than the institution.
A passage from Jessica Luther’s piece at The Atlantic on the difference between the ability for gay male and female athletes to come out of the closet stuck out at me:
There are two intertwining beliefs that feed each other: that most women in professional sports are lesbians (the only “proof” you need is that they are engaging in “manly” pursuits like playing sports) and that it is easier, therefore, for women to be open about being gay. But part of why it is “easier” and what allows for Griner’s anti-announcement is a form of misogyny itself. Trudy Hamilton, writer and culture critic at Gradient Lair, argues that we accept lesbians more readily in our society on a popular level because “lesbians exist to ‘perform’ for men, not as independent humans in their own relationships with their own meaningful lives.” While it is getting easier to find well-round portrayals of lesbian couples in our culture, most lesbian sexuality in advertising, movies, and TV is portrayed as “hot” or we see or hear about a heterosexual man’s “lesbian fantasy.” Lesbian sexuality, like almost all female sexuality, falls on the spectrum of “acceptable sexuality” because it turns on heterosexual men. Gay men like Jason Collins rarely have a place on that spectrum. They are, in fact, threatening. And so when a woman announces that she is gay, she only shifts her position on the spectrum. When Jason Collins admitted that he was gay, he fell right off.
I think this is way off the mark. Lesbian sexuality is perceived as “acceptable sexuality” because it is not perceived as a turn off by both heterosexual men and women. Do real-life men generally actually really love lesbians? I’m not sure how the myth was first perpetuated, but I think that the mechanism that actually pertains to the gap in our opinions of gay men versus gay women is that gay male sex is generally perceived as much more aggressive, jarring, and dangerous. Lesbian sex is perceived as passive and safe (no known cases of HIV being transmitted by lesbian sex) whereas gay male sex is not perceived that way.
Lee Fang is a poor man’s Mark Ames, and that’s saying a lot. Fang now writes for The Nation but previously performed shoddy journalism over at Think Progress. While there, Fang wrote above his head on the Koch brothers’ contango strategy to manipulate the price of oil. Despite little knowledge about contango, Fang rode the wave of anti-Koch fervor and accused the brothers of involvement in a huge scheme to screw over American consumers. That reporting piggybacked on Ames’ personal mission at eXiled Online to beef up his initial scoop that the Koch brothers provided seed money for the Tea Party.
Fang has messed up again. He recently asserted some insider baseball chicanery and political maneuvering on climate change legislation, and the Nation’s editors had to post a lengthy correction to the piece:
Editors’ Note: After a review, we’ve determined that this blog post overstates the role Blue Line Strategic Communications and its founders, Michael Meehan and David DiMartino, played in Clean Energy Works…
The post also leaves the impression that Michael Meehan worked for Clean Energy Works. While Meehan worked for groups that were part of the broader coalition, he did not work directly with Clean Energy Works…
…What is not supported by the evidence is that this conflict influenced Clean Energy Works’ strategic decisions and ultimately contributed to the failure of the bill. We apologize for the errors.
The Nation essentially apologized for not checking Fang’s work – for not checking his sources or finding out if he talked to the guys he accused of political shenanigans.
John Hinderacker tore down Fang’s contango post, and what he wrote then applies now:
Unfortunately, young Mr. Fang has neither the business experience nor the intelligence to understand the issues about which he writes. The result is that nearly every sentence is a howler. Among other things, while a contango market is the main subject of Fang’s post, he doesn’t know what the phrase means.
Marxist sportswriter Dave Zirin has one of the more insane explanations for why Big Brother Bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev did what he did:
A high school classmate in Cambridge, Luis Vasquez, said to the Times, “The view on him was that he was a boxer and you would not want to mess with him. He told me that he wanted to represent the U.S. in boxing. He wanted to do the Olympics and then turn pro.”
The next step was to compete in the National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions. There was, however, one problem: the esteemed boxing organization had changed their rules for admittance. The Golden Gloves, at the height of Tsarnaev’s powers as a fighter, ceased its long-standing practice of allowing legally documented immigrants to take part in their Tournament of Champions. This broke with the history of a competition that was started in 1923 by sports editor Arch Ward in a hardscrabble town defined by immigration: the “stormy, husky, brawling City of the Big Shoulders” otherwise known as Chicago. That meant Tsarnaev and three other New England champions—all immigrants—were not allowed to compete. It’s only at this point that he quit the sport.
Adrift meant eking out an existence on food stamps, and his wife’s $1,200-a-month job. Adrift meant unemployment, as he needed to stay home and watch their infant daughter. Adrift meant feeling a new sense of belonging in political and religious doctrine that spoke of war against United States. Adrift meant fury at the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq but no means to channel that anger in a way that didn’t reflect his despair. The Times article covers all of this in depth. I would add, though, that his feeling of being “adrift” might also have meant he was suffering brain damage as a result of years in the ring. The esteemed neurologist Dr. Robert Cantu has stated that any autopsy of Tsarnaev should include an examination for signs of the life-altering post-concussive syndromes Cantu has seen in numerous former boxers and NFL players.
So, the United States and Golden Gloves should have been more welcoming of the poor immigrant Tamerlan, but by helping further his boxing career they may have also been contributing to potential brain injury. It’s not hard to imagine another article by Zirin or any other progressive/liberal/Marxist writer complaining about how immigrants’ only pathways to assimilation come through violent means. These guys have no shame in switching back and forth on a topic as it fits their current narrative.
The Golden Gloves’ rejection of an immigrant with fantasies of acculturation and acceptance through sports is profound for reasons unexplored in the Times, but that demand attention. For over a century, sports has been the entryway for many immigrants and people of color to feel a sense of belonging in the turbulent ethnic stew that is the United States. The first Public School Athletic Leagues and YMCAs in the nineteenth century were underwritten by industrialists as a means of “Americanizing” the masses arriving in record numbers from Eastern Europe. Their explicit hope was that sports would be the first step of children toward leaving behind radical socialist European ideologies and buying in to the idea of the American Dream.
In hindsight we can say that neither Tsarnaev deserved to be U.S. citizens.
1. Sex trafficking at the Kentucky Derby (h/t Dain Fitzgerald):
“We investigate prostitution cases,” Bottoms explained. “We debrief anybody we come into contact with, we’re going to charge with prostitution. Once they give us clues or a sign they are being forced or coerced into doing what they’re doing, then we change course and treat them as a victim and not a criminal.”
Cool, so tip your hand to prostitutes that all they have to do to avoid criminal charges is claim they were trafficked.
2. Andrew Sullivan posts a chart showing the change in potency of weed in response to Gavin McInnes’ Taki’s mag article. Potency has increased over 120% since 1998.
Since the 1990s endocrinologists have issued warnings on the future of male reproductive health—“penis and semen,” in Moore’s words. In 1992, Danish scientists published a meta-analysis of 61 studies on semen quality from around the world, concluding that the average sperm concentration had declined by nearly 50 percent over a 50-year period, from 113 million to 66 million sperm per milliliter. “Every man sitting in this room today is half the man his grandfather was,” reproductive biologist Lou Guillette told Congress in 1993. “Are our children going to be half the men we are?”
5. The death of collaboration in the independent conservative blogosphere. By conservative blogosphere they’re talking about the types of blogs whose hubs are Instapundit, Bretibart, and Robert Stacy McCain. Nothing against those bloggers, but are they all that interesting? They still have too much of a Fox News stench to them. I think that there is some interest in the Dark Enlightenment wing of the conservative blogosphere, but these independent conservative bloggers don’t really venture into the territory. Those guys are still working within the political frame and seem to think that their community can influence the way people vote.
Seinfeld creator Larry David has a weird piece on the Boston bombings at The New York Times which begins:
Despite incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, mother of the Boston bombing suspects, has defiantly proclaimed her sons’ innocence in several interviews. I can think of only one other person who would take such a stance…
He goes on to use his mother, Rose David, as an example of another mother who thinks her child could do no wrong. The overwhelming Jewishness of Rose adds another layer of weird to the article given the jihadism of the Tsarnaev clan.
1. Andy Hinds at The Atlantic on women inflicting shame on men:
I was able to have a phone conversation with Brown, and I asked her to explain how shame and vulnerability manifest differently for men and women. She told me that “messages of shame are organized around gender.” For women, she said, there are whole constellations of often contradictory expectations that, if not met, are sources of shame. But for men, the overarching message is that any weakness is shameful. And since vulnerability is often perceived as weakness, it is especially risky for men to practice vulnerability.
What Brown also discovered in the course of her research is that, contrary to her early assumptions, men’s shame is not primarily inflicted by other men. Instead, it is the women in their lives who tend to be repelled when men show the chinks in their armor.
“Most women pledge allegiance to this idea that women can explore their emotions, break down, fall apart—and it’s healthy,” Brown said. “But guys are not allowed to fall apart.” Ironically, she explained, men are often pressured to open up and talk about their feelings, and they are criticized for being emotionally walled-off; but if they get too real, they are met with revulsion. She recalled the first time she realized that she had been complicit in the shaming: “Holy Shit!” she said. “I am the patriarchy!”
2. A member of Wichita State University’s Final 4 basketball team has been accused of sexual assault.
4. Korean beauty pageant participants got plastic surgery and ended up all looking alike. Some blogs thought this was crazy. But how different did the women look from each other before the surgery? The Korean gene pool isn’t all that diverse. Nearly all Koreans have straight black hair and fair skin which is the biggest thing that makes the pageanteers look so similar.
5. Samuel Goldman on communitarian conservatives.