Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

Pete Hottelet’s Omni Consumer Products — named after the mega-corporation in Robocopdefictionalizes products from movies and TV into real products.

He started with Brawndo, the “thirst mutilator” from Idiocracy, and moved on to Sex Panther cologne and Fight Club bar soap.

His biggest hit was True Blood, which he licensed before the show premiered:

It would have been easy and cost-efficient to consider the tie-in a novelty and use plastic bottles. Instead, Hottelet used heavy-duty glass to match what viewers see on-screen. Each pack weighed eight pounds, adding to shipping costs. But Hottelet figured consumers didn’t want a tacky approximation. “The value,” he says, “is in a perfect 1:1 replica bottle.”

True Blood wound up being a hit for HBO, lasting seven seasons—which amounted to 80 hour-long commercials for Hottelet’s bottles. Priced at $4 each, the four-packs sold in the hundreds of thousands and became the biggest hit of his six-product inventory. Though Hottelet usually targets online venues, the cultural impact of the series allowed him to jump the beverage queue at major retailers, including 7-11. “The big drink companies basically own shelf space,” he says. “Creating a brand from scratch, the chances of getting into stores were almost nothing. It took Red Bull years to do it.”

His bet on Stay-Puft marshmallows has not paid off though, as the Ghostbusters sequel been delayed a few years.

Malthusian Subsistence

Monday, August 24th, 2015

“Subsistence” in Malthusian theory is a term of art, Brad DeLong explains:

It can mean populations under such intense nutritional stress that women stop ovulating and children’s immune systems are so compromised that they drop like flies when bronchitis hits. But it does not have to. What it does mean is that the standard of living and social institutions are such that the average woman has two children or a hair more that survive to reproduce, and that as a result average rates of population growth are glacial.

Now average rates of population growth were glacial. We expect a pre-artificial birth control human population that is nutritionally-unstressed to roughly double every twenty-five year generation: that appears to happen wherever and whenever farmers newly colonize an area with abundant land previously inhabited by hunter-gatherers. Yet, as best as we can judge, between 8000 BC and 1000 BC the average worldwide rate of population growth was roughly 0.05%/year — 1.3%/generation. From 1000 BC to 1 it was roughly 0.1%/year — 2.5%/generation. And From 1 to 1500 it was back down to 0.5%/year — again, 1.3%/generation. Either these populations were often near and frequently over the edge of women too skinny to ovulate and children so malnourished that their immune systems were badly compromised, or powerful sociological factors were driving a wedge between how rapidly the population could, biologically, reproduce and grow, and how rapidly it did go.

As Lemin puts it, four sociological factors can drive a wedge between the post-pillage or organized extortion (by thugs-with-spears and thugs-with-scrolls) living standards of the bulk of the population and bare biological subsistence:

These four are:

  1. female infanticide,
  2. prolonged female virginity,
  3. substantial female celibacy, and
  4. a large artisan class devoted to making goods and providing services to make life comfortable and even luxurious — but making goods and providing services that do not directly enhance reproductive fitness.

Thus Greek and Roman-like female infanticide — even of girls born to full-citizen wives. Greek and Roman-like large-scale slavery: unlike the post-1807 slave population in the U.S. South, Greek and Roman slave populations did not reproduce in sufficient numbers to sustain their levels via natural increase. Western-European marriage patterns — as her father, I say you cannot marry my daughter and take her out of my house until you have inherited or established a farm of your own. Chinese lineage households — as your elder brother, I say you cannot bring a wife into this household until we get more resources. And there are other, less patriarchal ways: Phoenician and Greek Mediterranean trading networks allowing for greater variety of diet and cross-regional pooling of scarce non-food resources like tin, amber, spices, wood, and so on without substantially impacting reproductive fitness. Imperial Roman artisan productivity taking advantage of economies of scale and distribution. All of these keep “subsistence” in Malthusian theory from exactly meaning “subsistence” on the ground.

They aren’t the greatest thing since sliced bread. But it is not a society of eight average pregnancies leading to five live births, three children surviving to age five, of whom two grow up to reproduce. It is a society of six average pregnancies leading to four live births, of whom two grow up to reproduce. Most of these “preventative check” mechanisms exert draconian control over female sexuality, freedom, and autonomy. But they allow a population in balance with resources and material comfort much higher than that of the “positive check”.

How Cheap Can Solar Get?

Monday, August 24th, 2015

How cheap can solar get, without subsidies, as a function of scale, if current trends hold?

Solar Cost Projections

Corn Wars

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

The Chinese are stealing American corn IP, which brings up the topic of modern hybrid seeds:

Until recently, farmers were their own seed providers. Lee told me his grandfather, a farmer in Iowa a century ago, would select ears from each harvest to provide the seed for planting the next year. He recorded the quality of his yield, slowly identifying a set of seed characteristics that seemed to produce the best crop. In those days, it was not unusual for family and friends to share seed stock. “Maybe a neighbor would say, ‘Hey, I really did good with this seed that I got from a cousin in eastern Iowa. You should try a little of this,’” Lee said. “But they were all open-pollinated populations, so those seeds were not genetically identical. In fact, probably every seed was genetically distinct.”

So much genetic variability meant that farmers like Lee’s grandfather would cross two varieties and get large, robust ears one year, only to find that the same two varieties produced scraggly cobs with missing kernels and dead tips the next. “So if you take a look at the historic yields of corn in Iowa and Nebraska during the teens, the twenties, the thirties — it’s flat,” he said.

That all changed with the arrival of Henry A. Wallace, the founder of Pioneer Hi-Bred Seeds, who Lee described as “the Bill Gates of the seed industry.” Wallace, the son of the longtime president of the Cornbelt Meat Producers, first encountered the problem of genetic variation while studying corn breeding at Iowa State Agricultural College. Rediscovering Gregor Mendel’s groundbreaking research on pea pods, Wallace had the key insight that the only solution to producing hearty corn hybrids was to first create genetically pure inbred varieties that could be used as “parents” year after year. Wallace initially worried that such an approach “was probably impractical because of the difficulty of doing the hand-pollinating work,” but he was won over by a paper published in 1918 by Donald Jones, a chemist at the Connecticut Agricultural Station’s experimental farm. Jones had successfully inbred two separate varieties of corn and then crossed them to produce a durable, high-performing hybrid. Wallace recognized that this was the key to creating seed corn with consistently higher yields, but the old problem remained: Producing these hybrids would be far too complex for the average farmer to undertake alone.

Wallace began to envision an organized way of breeding and distributing high-performing corn seed to farmers across the Midwest. A man of unusual commitment to the common good, he wrote a friend that he did not consider himself a corn breeder but rather “a searcher for methods of bringing the ‘inner light’ to outward manifestation.” So Wallace at first conceived of a nonprofit organization, potentially run with government cooperation and even public funding. In 1921, his father, Henry C. Wallace, was appointed secretary of agriculture and might have helped spearhead such an effort. But after his father died unexpectedly at age 58 and Calvin Coolidge settled into the laissez-faire years of his presidency, Wallace saw little chance of an ambitious national program gaining traction. He decided instead, in May 1926, to start the Hi-Bred Corn Company — the world’s first hybrid seed producer.

To interest farmers, Roswell Garst, Wallace’s lead salesman, who later became a major seed producer in his own right, went from one farm to the next, across 16 counties in western Iowa, giving away enough eight-pound sample bags of Hi-Bred seeds for farmers to plant half their fields. Whatever additional yield the hybrid corn produced, Pioneer would split fifty-fifty with the farmer. After several years, farmers realized that they would see greater profits by simply buying the bags of seeds, instead of sharing the surplus yield with the company.

Those shared harvests produced something even more valuable than profit for the young company: information about how the seeds performed under different growing conditions. Wallace directed a sizable chunk of his revenue back into research, hiring a team of new corn breeders to devise still more hybrids. In the early 1930s, Perry Collins, one of Wallace’s researchers, developed Hybrid 307 — the first corn specifically developed and marketed for drought-resistance, hitting seed dealerships just as the country spiraled into the Dust Bowl. And when Wallace was, like his father, appointed secretary of agriculture, by Franklin Roosevelt in 1933, he finally had the resources to nationally evangelize for hybrid seed, which he believed had the potential to rescue the nation from the Great Depression.

The transformation that followed was staggering. When Wallace joined Roosevelt’s cabinet, less than 1 percent of America’s corn came from hybrid seeds. A decade later, more than three-quarters of all corn was grown from hybrids — nearly doubling the national per-acre yield over the next 20 years. To keep this record output from depressing corn prices, Wallace created the “ever-normal granary,” under which the federal government would establish a federal grain reserve. In years of high production, the Department of Agriculture would buy corn and store it to keep prices up. In years of crop loss, the government would release the reserve to keep prices down. Wallace’s plan was hugely popular, stabilizing American food prices — and winning him a spot as FDR’s running mate in 1940.

But Wallace’s remarkable Hi-Bred Corn had one significant drawback: It consumed far more nitrogen compounds from the soil than ordinary corn — more, in fact, than almost any other crop. During the war years, the government solved the problem by simply putting more acres into production, but after World War II, the Department of Agriculture found a different solution. Giant chemical manufacturers, like DuPont and Monsanto, had secured wartime defense contracts to produce ammonia nitrate and anhydrous ammonia to make bombs and other munitions. They had developed an herbicide known as 2,4-D as a potential destroyer of German crops and manufactured the insecticide DDT to prevent the spread of typhus-carrying lice among GIs. As soon as the war was over, DuPont turned to marketing those same chemicals for lawn and garden use as fertilizer, weed killer, and DuPont 5% DDT Insect Spray. Company advertisements from the period touted their products as “Better Things for Better Living … Through Chemistry.” But gardens were just the tip of the iceberg. DuPont, along with other giant chemical manufacturers like Dow and Monsanto, teamed up with the grain cartels, including Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland, to lobby for congressional support for producing these compounds as large-scale agri-chemicals.

Leadership: “The Book” versus Reality

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

About two-thirds of the way through his Afghanistan deployment, Chris Hernandez had a new intelligence lieutenant arrive at his firebase, and the crusty old E-7 convinced the young man to go outside the wire with some French Marines the next day. The young lieutenant was nervous about giving a bad order that might get someone killed:

I gave him a serious look. “Lieutenant. You don’t have to worry about giving a bad order tomorrow. You’re a new lieutenant, new in country. If we get into a firefight, and you give an order, nobody will listen to you. So don’t worry about it.”

The lieutenant looked stunned; for a second or two, he was actually speechless. Then he gathered himself, and said, “Uh… okay. In that case, I guess I’ll go.”

He went out with us the next day. And we got into a firefight. The Taliban opened fire on French vehicles as the team I was attached to scrambled down a mountainside. A burst of machine gun fire barely missed a French forward air controller as he stuck his head out of my vehicle. French gunners dumped thousands of .50 and 7.62 rounds back at enemy-occupied compounds. At one point, an RPG flew between the lieutenant’s vehicle and mine as we rolled down a road (I’ll never forget the look on his face when he described watching it zip past). It was a hell of a first mission for a new lieutenant.

It was also his last mission. When we got back to base, his boss told him he couldn’t go out again because it was too dangerous. So he got to go outside the wire one time, and earned a real Combat Action Badge for it.

And I like to think I taught him something important. Just because the book says “the officer is in charge and everyone of lower rank must follow his orders”, real life says “if you don’t know what the hell you’re doing the best thing to do is shut up and listen to those who do”.

Modafinil is Safe and Effective

Saturday, August 22nd, 2015

The Guardian sings the praises of modafinil (Provigil):

A new review of 24 of the most recent modafinil studies suggests that the drug has many positive effects in healthy people, including enhancing attention, improving learning and memory and increasing something called “fluid intelligence” — essentially our capacity to solve problems and think creatively. One study also showed that modafinil made tasks seem more pleasurable. The longer and more complex the task tested, the more consistently modafinil conferred cognitive benefits, the authors of the review said.

The review points out that negative effects — including one study that showed that people already classed as creative saw a small drop in creativity — were reported in a small number of tasks, but never consistently. It added that the drug exerts minimal effects on mood, and only causes minor side effects such as nausea, headaches and anxiety, although these were also reported by people who took a placebo drug.

Other proposed smart drugs, such as Ritalin, prescribed for ADHD, have many negative side effects, said Anna-Katharine Brem, co-author of the review, published today in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology. “Modafinil seems to be the first ‘smart drug’ that is reasonably safe for healthy people.”

I’m pretty sure caffeine has it beat by a few centuries.

Study of Mass Shootings

Saturday, August 22nd, 2015

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has released a report on mass shootings, based on FBI statistics and criminologist Grant Duwe’s research:

Have mass shootings become more common?

Slightly. The average number of mass shootings was a little bit higher in 2009–2013 than in either of the previous five-year periods, and the average number of casualties was more substantially higher. (*) The study attributes both increases essentially to one outlier year, reporting that they “were largely driven by a few incidents in 2012. If 2012 were excluded, the averages would actually have been lower than the preceding five-year period.”

James Alan Fox, an expert on mass murders who teaches criminology at Northeastern University, says the clearest pattern in the study’s data is simply “a great volatility in the numbers. There’s no solid trend.”

Do most of these shootings look like Columbine?

There’s a number of different definitions of “mass shooting” floating around out there, but the CRS report defines it as any gun crime where four or more people are murdered in a single incident. Most Americans process the phrase more narrowly than that: They think of random shootings in schools, at work, and in other public places. The CRS describes these as “mass public shootings,” and it distinguishes them from two other categories: “familicide mass shootings,” in which the murderers kill family members, usually in private spaces or in remote and secluded settings; and “other felony mass shootings,” which are committed in the course of another crime (such as a robbery) or common circumstance (such as an argument that gets out of hand). In theory, these categories can overlap, but the CRS researchers assigned each incident to just one category. (**)

Just as most shootings are not mass shootings, most mass shootings are not public shootings. There have been an average of 4.4 mass public shootings per year since 1999. The figure for familicides is 8.5 and the other-felony count is 8.3.


Have mass public shootings become more common?

Using Duwe’s data, the CRS found an increase in the number of mass public shootings since the 1970s: There was an average of 1.1 incidents per year in that decade, 2.7 per year in the ’80s, 4 in the ’90s, and 4.1 in the 2000s. The shootings also became a bit more deadly over the same time period, with ’70s shootings killing an average of 5.5 people per incident and ’00s shootings killing 6.4. (***)

Those are raw totals, without taking population growth into account. If you look at the number of victims per capita, the average has gone up a little from 1970 to today but the numbers are so small that the fluctuations are essentially statistical noise. “Basically, there is no rise,” says Fox, the Northeastern criminologist. “There are some years that are bad, some that are not so bad.”

Buy the Farm

Friday, August 21st, 2015

The phrase buy the farm is US slang, from the WWII era — the first printed record goes back to the US Air Force in the 1950s:

Similar expressions like buy the plot and buy the lot also existed, although buy the farm is the only one to have survived. When a military pilot with a stricken airplane attempted to crash land in a farmer’s field, he would destroy a portion of the farmer’s crops for which the US government paid reimbursement to the farmer. If it were a bad crash-landing destroying most of the crops then the crash would cause the buying of the whole farm, shortened susequently to the current idiom.

Probably related to older British slang buy it, buy one or buy the packet, both seemingly ironic references to something that one does not want to buy. May come from the common reflection that once someone had finished his service he would go home and buy a farm to settle on.

Also, it may be in reference to the book Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. [Spoiler alert!] Main characters George and Lennie always talk about owning their own farm where they will have to answer to no one and “live off the fatt’a the land.” Later, when George must kill Lennie they talk about how they will buy the farm when George pulls the trigger and shoots Lennie to kill him painlessly.


Friday, August 21st, 2015

The cape has become synonymous with drama. In the Italian fencing tradition, it served as a shield and a distraction. The Japanese had their own useful cape, the horo, which resembled a small parachute:

Horo were used as far back as the Kamakura period (1185–1333).

When inflated the horo was said to protect the wearer from arrows shot from the side and from behind.

Horo on Maeda Toshiie

Wearing a horo is also said to have marked the wearer as a messenger (tsukai-ban) or person of importance. According to the Hosokawa Yusai Oboegaki, the diary of Hosokawa Yusai (1534–1610) taking of an elite tsukai-ban messenger’s head was a worthy prize. “When taking the head of a horo warrior, wrap it in the silk of the horo. In the case of an ordinary warrior, wrap it in the silk of the sashimono”.

(Hat tip to Wrath of Gnon.)

JayMan on

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

JayMan now has his own column on

The basic fact of the matter is that you’re being lied to – every day. Mainstream discourse, including the media (and a good part of the scientific establishment itself) spreads false information. Whether it be on IQ, race, heredity, parenting, diet, health, lifestyle, or homosexuality, complete rubbish rules the day. I intend to make a meager effect to remedy that in this column.

School Busing Didn’t Work

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

School busing didn’t work. and to say so isn’t racist, Ted Van Dyk argues:

In many places, like in Boston as Sokol describes, there was raw racism involved in protests against busing. In many other places, however, there was non-racist consternation based mainly on parents’ concern for the wellbeing of their children.

This was the case even in liberal Washington, D.C. My wife and I had two sons enrolled in a Northwest Washington elementary school when busing began in the city. School buses would deliver black kids from Southwest D.C. at the Janney School front door at the morning bell. The same buses picked up the same kids, immediately at the end of classes, and took them back to Southwest. They did not participate in any pre- or after-school activity. No black parents took a bus or drove from Southwest to attend evening PTA meetings or to otherwise participate in school-related activity. The quality of classroom instruction fell off markedly. Fourth- and fifth-grade neighborhood students, for instance, were repeating material learned in earlier grades because teachers found their bused classmates had not yet received it. Not surprisingly, parents from the neighborhood began looking for private schools for their kids or moved to Maryland or Virginia suburbs — not because of racism but because their neighborhood school no longer was working.

Unenlightened, working-class whites opposed busing because they were racist, but enlightened, upper-middle-class whites opposed busing because they wanted what was best for their children.

Immigrant Crime

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

Many politicians expressed concern over Kathryn Steinle’s death, which they generally represented as aberrational — a mistake, a breakdown in the system — but which some portrayed as anything but aberrational:

The system didn’t break down for Steinle. It functioned as it all too often does. As Senator Ted Cruz pointed out during a July 21 Judiciary Committee hearing on crimes by illegal immigrants, in 2014 alone, immigration authorities released into American communities 193 illegal immigrants with homicide convictions, 426 people with sexual-assault convictions and 16,000 with drunk-driving convictions. Altogether, 104,000 people who by law should have been deported were instead allowed to remain on American soil. The director of the agency in charge of the removals offered as a partial excuse that immigration courts faced a backlog of 500,000 cases.

Whatever the cause, there’s no doubt that removals of immigrants convicted of criminal acts have tumbled in Obama’s second term, after a sharp rise in his first term. Federal immigration authorities removed more than 216,000 such immigrants from the United States in fiscal year 2011, more than double the removals of fiscal 2007. But in fiscal 2014, only 178,000 were removed — a 17 percent drop from the 2011 peak.

Yet even as deportations drop, the flow of new illegal immigrants appears to be accelerating. Since illegal immigration is difficult to measure, many experts use the rate of apprehensions at the border as a rough proxy for the overall flow. After a recession-induced pause in 2008-2010, apprehensions of would-be border-crossers jumped 15 percent in fiscal 2013 over fiscal 2012 — and then spiked 16 percent further in fiscal 2014 over fiscal 2013.


In 2011, the Government Accountability Office delivered a major report on criminal activity by unauthorized immigrants. The GAO was able to locate the arrest and sentencing records of roughly half the immigrants in local jails and state and federal prisons, and then sampled them to estimate what they contained. Here’s what it found:

  • An estimated 25,000 of these undocumented immigrants serving sentences for homicide
  • A cumulative total of 2.89 million offenses committed by these undocumented immigrants between 2003 and 2009 (although half a million of these were for immigration-related offenses)
  • Among those offenses: An estimated 42,000 robberies, 70,000 sex crimes, 81,000 auto thefts, 95,000 weapons offenses, and 213,000 assaults

Second, crime by the unauthorized, like the population of illegal immigrants itself, appears to be disproportionately concentrated in border states. A Texas Department of Public Safety report obtained by the PJMedia estimated that the illegal immigrants in Texas prisons had committed a total of 2,993 homicides in a state that typically suffers between 1100 and 1400 homicides per year. After years of welcome decline, crime rates are rising in immigration hubs including Houston, Milwaukee, Phoenix, and San Diego.

Third, statistics on contemporary immigrant crime likely contain a downward bias. When most studies report that immigrants commit fewer crimes than natives, many rely — as I did above — on incarceration rates. Prison populations are the most authoritative source of data on immigrant crime. It’s much easier to assess the immigration status of a person in custody, after all.

But because U.S. prison sentences are so long, prisons house many people whose criminal activities occurred years, or even decades, in the past. Many of the people in prison today were sent there at a time when the foreign-born population was smaller and crime rates were higher. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that 20 percent of the U.S. prison population is foreign born. That does not imply that foreign-born persons are committing only 20 percent of crime right now. Yet that is how the statistic is often used.

Fourth, the native-born crime rate is an aggregate of every sub-population in the country, some of which have low crime rates, some much higher. Among those native-born groups with higher rates of crime: children of immigrants, who offend at rates substantially higher than their parents. Because the children of recent immigrants account for so much of U.S. population growth, higher immigration of groups with higher crime rates must drive crime levels higher than they otherwise would have been. That’s just arithmetic.

Billions of dollars in annual teacher training is largely a waste

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

A new study of 10,000 teachers found that professional development — the teacher workshops and training that cost taxpayers billions of dollars each year — is largely a waste:

Researchers examined three large school districts as well as one network of charter schools. They looked at professional development programs at all the schools and teacher performance data over several years, and they surveyed 10,000 teachers and interviewed more than 100 administrators. They identified teachers who improved their job performance and tried to figure out what experiences they had that differed from teachers who were stagnant. To determine if a teacher had improved, researchers analyzed multiple measures — evaluation ratings, classroom observation and student test scores.

And they didn’t find many answers.


The school districts that participated in the study spent an average of $18,000 per teacher annually on professional development. Based on that figure, TNTP estimates that the 50 largest school districts spend an estimated $8 billion on teacher development annually. That is far larger than previous estimates.

And teachers spend a good deal of time in training, the study found. The 10,000 teachers surveyed were in training an average of 19 school days a year, or almost 10 percent of a typical school year, according to TNTP.

Must It Be the Rest Against the West?

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

A couple decades ago, Matthew Connelly (who went on to write Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population) and Paul Kennedy (who had already written The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers) discussed Jean Raspail’s controversial The Camp of the Saints — which was itself already more than a couple decades old. Must it be the Rest against the West?, they asked:

Moved by accounts of widespread famine across an Indian subcontinent collapsing under the sheer weight of its fast-growing population, the Belgian government has decided to admit and adopt a number of young children; but the policy is reversed when tens of thousands of mothers begin to push their babies against the Belgian consul general’s gates in Calcutta. After mobbing the building in disgust at Belgium’s change of mind, the crowd is further inflamed by a messianic speech from one of their number, an untouchable, a gaunt, eye-catching “turd eater,” who calls for the poor and wretched of the world to advance upon the Western paradise: “The nations are rising from the four corners of the earth,” Raspail has the man say, “and their number is like the sand of the sea. They will march up over the broad earth and surround the camp of the saints and the beloved city. . . .” Storming on board every ship within range, the crowds force the crews to take them on a lengthy, horrific voyage, around Africa and through the Strait of Gibraltar to the southern shores of France.

But it is not the huddled mass of Indians, with their “fleshless Gandhi-arms,” that is the focus of Raspail’s attention so much as the varied responses of the French and the other privileged members of “the camp of the saints” as they debate how to deal with the inexorably advancing multitude. Raspail is particularly effective here in capturing the platitudes of official announcements, the voices of ordinary people, the tone of statements by concerned bishops, and so on. The book also seems realistic in its recounting of the crumbling away of resolve by French sailors and soldiers when they are given the order to repel physically — to shoot or torpedo — this armada of helpless yet menacing people. It would be much easier, clearly, to confront a military foe, such as a Warsaw Pact nation.

It’s not a perfect prediction, Steve Sailer points out:

My view in 2015 is that the Global Poor today aren’t all that badly off relative to famine-haunted 1973. You’ll notice that the establishment press feels compelled much of the time to mislead readers about who the Mediterranean crossers are, portraying them as “refugees” rather than as people investing in a higher paid career. And if Africans can get their birthrates under control, things will get even better for them in Africa in the future due to technological progress and the accumulation of generations of literacy.

The danger is simply that in the meantime Europe will let itself be saddled with a vast number of Africans and their descendants, turning Florence into Ferguson and Barcelona into Baltimore. That’s not a particularly apocalyptic future, just a stupid one to allow to happen.

Girls Are Born With Weaker Backbones Than Boys

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Girls are born with weaker backbones than boys:

Researchers, writing in the August issue of The Journal of Pediatrics, did magnetic imaging studies that measured fat, muscle and bone in 70 healthy full-term newborns, 35 of them girls. Boys had slightly less fat and slightly more muscle than girls, but the difference was not statistically significant. Nor were there any significant differences between the sexes in weight, body length, head circumference, waist circumference or spinal length.

But the girls’ vertebrae were, on average, 10.6 percent smaller than the boys’, a difference independent of gestational age, birth weight and body length. There was no difference between sexes in the size of other bones.

As adults, women are up to four times as likely to suffer vertebral fractures as men, and the weakness depends more on the size of the vertebrae than on the density of the bone.

The senior author, Dr. Vicente Gilsanz, a radiologist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, said that a girl’s slender and bendable spine may be a mixed blessing. It provides flexibility to allow upright walking during pregnancy, when the weight of a fetus stretches and bends the spine. But it also increases the risk for vertebral fractures later in life.