September 29, 2015

Bad news for Sanders and Biden: No Silent Gen member has ever won presidency

It's worth revisiting this post on the generational stability and turnover of US Presidents. Members of the Silent Generation have been presidential candidates since Mondale in '84, but have never won the election.

Generational membership does not wander around either -- there are long blocks of between 28 to 32 years that belong to one generation, then it switches to another generation for another long block. Not every generation has its day in the White House sun, however, as though it were a simple progression from one to the next. Time and again throughout American history, the presidency skips over entire 20-year birth cohorts, the latest of whom are the Silents (born roughly from 1925 to 1944).

On the Democratic side today, both Bernie Sanders ('41) and Joe Biden ('42) are Silents. Given the track record so far, neither would win the election if they were their party's nominee. Hillary Clinton is a Boomer ('47), and would not be out of generational place if she won, continuing the current unbroken string of Boomer presidents beginning with her husband back in '92.

The front-runner for the Republicans, Donald Fucking Trump, is also a Boomer ('46) and would fit right in with the ongoing reign of Boomers. Most of the other candidates are Boomers, too, except for Gen X-ers Ted Cruz ('70) and lightweight Senator Marco Rubio ('71).

Neither one stands a decent chance at getting the nomination, so 2016 will not be the turnover year when Gen X begins its long presidential reign. And given the trend toward incumbency in political office since roughly 1980, the soonest the turnover could happen is 2024.

After that, the Millennials will be the next generation to be skipped over for presidency, when the torch will pass to whatever this post-Millennial generation of children today will be called.

I'm really hoping Sanders gets the nomination, not only because it would serve as a populist victory over the elitists within the liberal wing, but because it would hand the election to the populist candidate in the conservative wing, who is a Boomer rather than a Silent. I'd take a Biden nom next, since he too is a Silent but wouldn't send a populist signal to the elites.

Realistically, though, it will probably be a Boomer vs. Boomer showdown, with generation playing no role in the outcome.

September 28, 2015

Millennial memories of adolescence: Digital isolation

An earlier post looked at how Millennials get nostalgic for not having a life during childhood. Almost all their memories revolve around mass media and the virtual rather than the real world -- TV, movies, video games, and so on. Very little music, clothing, fads, or toys -- especially ones that required you to be playing outside.

Public environments for social interaction with peers, like the mall, the bowling alley, or the video game arcade from the '80s, are completely absent. They grew up when cocooning and helicopter parenting had really gotten going, so what else are they going to remember? Poor kids.

These themes continue into their memories about their adolescent years. Now that we're getting farther and farther away from the 2000s, it's possible for them to reflect on what it was like. What do they come up with?

Here is a recent BuzzFeed video with over a million views and over 3,000 comments, about "Memories from the early 2000s". Nearly every item is about technological devices and the internet.

You can find more focused lists on clothing from the 2000s, music of the 2000s, and so on, but when you leave their memories open-ended, all they ever recall is which form of technology they were using to socially isolate themselves at the time -- was it Instant Messenger, multi-tap texting, MySpace, etc.?

Even the two items about music are not about the music itself -- which bands they were into, or which genres were popular -- but about the technology used to store it (burning mp3s onto a disc, and long download times for filesharing).

Not only is there no mention of activities that you do in-person with other people, there is no awareness of the broader outside world -- 9/11, American flags everywhere, Islamic terrorists, etc.

We can dismiss blaming all this stuff on the internet, since Gen X was using the internet back then too -- more so, given that we were older and had our own computers -- yet our memories of the early 2000s don't all come back to the digital devices du jour.

We remember how terrible Nickelback & Co. all sounded, not how long it took to download their mp3s. We remember whale tails (thongs + low-rise jeans), not which reality TV stars made it their signature look. And of course we remember 9/11 and its aftermath.

Millennials' social isolation began long before they were on the internet and using cell phones anyway. Recall the earlier post about their childhoods. Back in the '90s, it was Nickelodeon TV shows, Disney movies on VHS, and N64 or PlayStation video games. But still using mass media to distract and anesthetize their brains while being cooped up inside the house all day, every day.

Another 10 to 15 years down the line, Millennials will have the same deprived memories about their digital-only lifestyles during young(ish) adulthood -- the buzz you felt from getting likes on Facebook status updates, those annoying ads before the video loaded on YouTube, posting pictures of your lunch to Instagram, "damn autocorrect!" etc.

If 9/11 barely registers in their memories of the 2000s, I'm sure that the first black President, gay marriage, etc., will evaporate from their memories as well. It's all just been a series of distractions for a socially isolated generation in search of one novelty after another to alleviate their perpetual boredom.

It's truly amazing -- an entire generation with no memory of real life. Even more bizarrely, they have no memories of "the good old days" because  technology keeps improving, and that's all that counts to them. Digital heroin keeps getting more potent, cheaper to score, and more efficiently transmitted.

Parents beware: this is the outcome of digitally bubble-wrapping your children out of overblown paranoia about what'll happen if they have a social life.

September 22, 2015

Will desecration by Syrian immigrants provoke a backlash?

From a Reuters article and slideshow on asylum-seekers waiting in Serbia while trying to cross into Croatia, here's an uplifting family photo of aspiring EU citizens callously desecrating a grave in their host society (click to enlarge):


There are 7 or 8 people squatting not just in the cemetery in general, but specifically on someone's grave. Cigarette butts and other trash can be seen on the concrete, along with a pair of dirty stinky shoes, bodies sleeping right on top of the burial slab, and a couple of dudes just shooting the shit like it's all no big deal. Lord only knows where they're pissing and shitting.

The contrast could not be more stark with the stewardship of the natives who have left an orderly flower arrangement on the grave.

BTW, there's another group in the back right who are squatting on another burial slab.

(Here is a new video from Reuters of the scene at this cemetery. Although there were several thousand people, very little is shown of the area with the graves, but the group above is included. Another shot shows several shirts, etc., draped on top of a tombstone as though it were a clothesline. Such callousness, it's disgraceful.)

Such flagrant disrespect among guests should be only be met with a nice ass-whooping from their hosts. How much more disgraceful can you get than camping out on top of someone's grave?

"But it's only a minority of bad apples" -- oh, only a minority are raping babies, I guess it's no biggie that it's just a minority. Moreover, what does it say about the rest of the immigrants that they aren't stopping this? Some fraction also don't give a shit about such blatant desecration of the host culture, and the remainder who see it as an embarrassment still won't turn on their own people, no matter how shameful they're acting.

And who knows? Maybe a handful of good-natured immigrants have already tried to move these scumbags off of the cemetery, but were unable to convince or coerce them.

No matter what the reason, it all reveals the utter normlessness and anarchy that results from letting in a flood of foreigners. They no longer behave like guests in a host's home, but like a victorious army who can fuck around with the defeated people's stuff however they please.

If callous desecration continues unchecked for too much longer, it'll provoke a harsh and vengeful clean-up. The EU bureaucrats give these asylum-seekers a false sense of security by pandering to them and worshiping them. The immigrants could be in for a rude awakening when they discover that coddling bureaucrats don't run things in the small towns where they're camping out (Tovarnik, near where the photo was taken: population 2,775).

In that case, it'll be the EU bureaucrats who will have blood on their hands for inviting such wanton immigrant behavior by treating them as though they were unassailable, giving them a pass to desecrate their host societies.

September 20, 2015

Wrongly suspended from school: Only nerds, not jocks, will be treated as victim-heroes

Every couple of months, some poor third-grader gets sent home from school for holding a fish-stick like a gun and shouting "pow pow!" at his friends in the lunch room. Or for playing tag during recess (nowadays at school, kids cannot touch each other in any way). Or for kissing a girl on a dare from his friends.

These are all signs of how paranoid the helicopter parents have become about their children's safety. They have browbeaten the school administration into imposing these ridiculous rules "just in case".

Time and again, nobody comes to these kids' rescue. At most, you'll hear a bunch of old-timers griping about how coddled these darn kids are these days (it's true).

And then comes along this guy who gets sent home for bringing a suspiciously bomb-looking clock to school. Why does his case set off a cascade of support on social networks among Gen X and Millennials, outspoken support from the head of Facebook, and an invitation to meet the leader of the (not so) free world itself?

Obviously not because the degree of paranoia was more flagrant than usual. A kid pointing a fish-stick "gun" cannot harm anyone at all, and everyone knows it. The clock in this case did look a lot like a bomb, and nothing like any kind of clock you or I have ever seen.

Most conservatives are pointing to the minority factor as the source of hypocrisy. This bomb-looking clock guy is a dark-skinned Muslim, so he benefits from the diversity forcefield, while the white kid who makes his fish-stick into a gun is one of those dreadful white males.

I think the diversity factor is secondary, perhaps one that made the case all the more attractive, but as icing on the cake.

I'm guessing that black students, too, get sent home for kissing girls on a dare, or wearing clothing with logos that an out-of-touch adult would take to be gang signs but that all the kids know is just some harmless fad logo.

Hardcore liberals may protest these cases, but that's not what happened here, where the #IStandWithAhmed crowd included a lot of moderate/independent types and probably a good number of conservatives. And no way Zuckerberg or Obama would risk their reputations by publicly supporting a black youth who got suspended for pretending some object was a gun. That would be tacitly pro-gun -- a big liberal no-no.

Which gets to what is really at work here: Ahmed's case involved consumer electronics, which our device-addicted mainstream worships like a cargo cult. Throw in the connotation of science and technology, and he's now got the support of all the I FUCKING LOVE SCIENCE geeks. Tech companies and tech addicts tend to be more liberal, but not so uniformly and rabidly liberal as those who would protest a kid who got sent home for unwittingly wearing gang colors to school. It wasn't so much an outcry from liberals as from tech addicts and IFLS types.

Indeed, Zuckerberg didn't mention how unjust it was that a dark-skinned Muslim was discriminated against, and that he'd be welcome to have dark-skinned Muslims at his company. Rather, that it was unfair that a techie nerd was suspended, and that Facebook welcomes passionate techie nerds to come work for them.

This also explains why the normal cases of ridiculous school suspensions always go without protest -- those boys aren't nerds and device diddlers, but ones who are showing a healthy red-blooded male nature by innocently kissing girls even if they didn't openly request to be kissed beforehand, or by pretending to be a man with a gun who's going to go whoop the bad guys' asses and save the day.

Uh-oh, rising testosterone levels detected -- better throw him in the kiddie slammer so his toxic masculinity can be quarantined.

But in Ahmed's case, the helicopter parents and childless weenies on the sidelines perked up and said, "Hey wait a minute, he's not one of those toxic masculinity threats. He's an unathletic geek like us. Nous sommes tous Ahmed!"

Jocks only enjoy power and influence at a local, human scale, while nerds may rise to the top of lumbering gigantic organizations. And so, the over-reaching police state will be used to live out a great big revenge-of-the-nerds fantasy against those pint-sized douchebros who like to shoot cap guns and kiss girls on a dare.

September 19, 2015

Over-parenting now resorting to new lows

During the initial stages of the helicopter parenting trend, some changes were not so ridiculous. Not allowing your kids to hang out at the mall by themselves, for example. It's a sheltering over-reaction, but at least the imagined threat was threatening, if you believed in it -- kidnappers, drug dealers, etc., having access to your kid with no adult supervision to get in the way.

But that was then. It's more or less a given these days that kids can't hang out in public places (even in all-white areas). And yet the drive to reduce potential threats must continue, in the OCD control-freak mindset of today's parents. The imagined threats will therefore become more and more laughable.

My mother passed along some news that at a local library (in an all-white, upper-middle class suburb), they put Scooby-Doo DVDs in the adult section rather than the children's, because they're just too scary. I used to check out Night of the Living Dead from that library when I was in 1st grade, but that was way back in the '80s (and I didn't need my parents' card or a permission slip either).

Then while buying some popcorn from the Cub Scout troop that I used to belong to, she asked if they still go camping out at a nearby state park where we used to go. Nope, they "camp out" on the field of an indoor soccer stadium. No joke. Of course having a bunch of little kids in there means the whole stadium has to go into lockdown mode.

It sounds like more of a night-long duck-and-cover drill than exploring and making do in nature. And so much for building a campfire, cooking your own food, and so on.

Doing away with small children camping out by themselves would fall under the "not so crazy" category of things that early helicopter parenting would have taken care of. Now it's too threatening and dangerous for Cub Scouts -- supposedly more prepared than the average child -- to go camping at a state park -- not some random spot in the wilderness -- with a group of adult chaperons supervising them -- not trekking out alone.

If you wonder why youngsters today all seem like they're afraid of their own shadow, and collapse into anxiety attacks over trivial stuff, it's because they've been bubble-wrapped their whole lives.

"Protecting them from danger" is pure BS by this point in time. Protecting them from what? If their little shells haven't been hardened to withstand Scooby-Doo and camping out at a state park with adult supervision, they will be hopelessly fragile in adolescence and adulthood. Good thing the parents "know a guy" who can score some anxiety and depression pills for their poor unstable children.

September 16, 2015

Tonight's GOP debate: The "jerk store" episode from Seinfeld, as snarky Repubs get asses handed to them by nimble Trump

Time ran an article about how all the losing candidates are going to focus their (lowww) energy on taking shots at Trump, with the moderators at CNN eager to stir up a food fight atmosphere.

One problem: the other candidates can't think on their feet, and have to come with a canned speech, micro-tailored talking points, etc. Only this time around, their boring canned speech will include a few barbs aimed at Trump. Shit-eating grins are already spreading across their faces in anticipation. No suffering from l'esprit d'escalier this time, eh Rand?

Obviously they were too busy mentally reciting their canned talking points during the first debate to notice that Trump batted away Megan Kelly's volley about the war on women -- instantly, effortlessly, devastatingly. "Only Rosie O'Donnell!" :crowd goes wild:

No matter how many times these clowns have rehearsed their one-liners, Trump is guaranteed to slam them with an even greater zinger, without missing a beat.

It could be the most entertaining spectacle you'll see all year. Just imagine -- two solid hours of the "jerk store" episode from Seinfeld, where George gets publicly outwitted by an even better comeback to his one-liner that he'd been crafting all week long, and had looked so smugly toward delivering.

The deflation that these limp-dick cuckservatives are going to feel will be all the more yoo-miliating because Trump won't just be swatting down some petty off-the-cuff insult, but their long-festering revenge fantasy.

Too bad it's going to be broadcast to the entire nation, so they can't go on Reddit afterward and write a phony story about how they finally worked up the courage to take on the bully and made him eat his mean words!

September 13, 2015

From Europe's ancient genetic divide, tensions still arising between Celto-Germanic and Balto-Slavic people

First there was the tension between Germany and Greece over debt, and now there is the conflict over who is going to take in how many Syrian Muslim immigrants. The European Union is obviously a dead man walking, so why wait to take a postmortem look into why the bulk of Europe could never have held together. There is simply too wide of a chasm between two different groups of people.

A highly popular article in the New York Times took these groups to lie on either side of recent political and economic institutions – the former Communists in the Center and East of Europe, and the capitalists in the West. This misses the former countries of Yugoslavia, who are just as protective of their regional cultures as the Poles and Lithuanians, yet who were not Communist but market socialist, and who were led by Tito rather than Stalin.

So why not just modify it to capitalist West vs. non-capitalist East? That would still leave out a major player – Greece. The Communists lost the Civil War in Greece after WWII, and they joined NATO rather than the Warsaw Pact or the soft-socialist "third way" championed by Tito.

Clearly there's something deeper than just the political-economic differences of the past 100 years.

Peter Turchin took a longer-term look into the roots of the EU crisis, focusing on the debt crisis (that post was written two months before the current Syrian immigrant crisis). He points to the divide between the former core of Latin Christendom as led by Charlemagne, and the more Orthodox East.

As with the political-economic view, this view gets a good amount of the split, but misses key players. Poland has always been on the Catholic side, notwithstanding some support for Protestantism in the early stages of the Reformation. Ditto for Hungary, the Czech Republic (now mostly atheist), Slovakia, Lithuania, Croatia, and Slovenia. Granted, they were Christianized much later than the West, but it was always within the Latin rather than Byzantine tradition, and when they flirted with breaking from the Roman Church, it was toward one strain or another of Protestantism rather than Eastern Orthodoxy.

In the comments to that post, the pre-Roman Celts came up as an even older example of the European core in the lands later ruled by Charlemagne. That gets much closer to the true divide in Europe, which is racial and ethnic – between Celto-Germanic people in the West and Balto-Slavic people in the East.

The genetic anthropologist Dienekes Pontikos took a look into how various European individuals clustered genetically. It turned out that the Balts and Slavs formed a cluster, while the Celts and Germanics formed another, and that these were distinct clusters that hardly overlapped.

Matching that genetic separation, historical linguists are happy to lump Baltic and Slavic languages into a single Balto-Slavic group within the Indo-European family. They are willing to lump Celtic and Germanic languages into their own group as well, with the understanding that it is much older, has had far more time for its members to differentiate themselves, and therefore shows much less mutual intelligibility among its members than is found among Balto-Slavic languages.

Demographically, the split reflects the history of large-scale migrations, namely the Germanic migrations that intermixed them with Celtic and Italic peoples during the middle of the 1st millennium, and the later (Balto-)Slavic migrations of the second half of the 1st millennium. The Slavs began around what is now Ukraine, moved north into what is now Russia, then west into what is now Poland. Why didn't they continue westward? Because the Germanic peoples had already firmly settled into what is now northern Germany and the Low Countries.

This tug-of-war along the center of Europe between Germanic and Slavic populations has never gone away. We don't have to look back very far before the current EU crisis to find its most recent explosive form – the Nazi push to grab Slavic lands for Germanic lebensraum, and the Soviet capture of eastern Germany for Slavic control.

Taking a racial / genetic perspective also allows us to make sense of the greater rebellion against Muslim immigrants in eastern Germany today. In an earlier post, I reviewed evidence that eastern Germany used to be Slavic, although I assumed too much in describing the Germanic replacement as genetic. It could have been that a Slavic people adopted Germanic culture (language, religion, etc.), aside from interbreeding with them.

A later post looked at how genetically similar the Slavs are today, compared to the greater genetic diversity found among Germanic, Celtic, and Italic people. (That reflects the fact that the Slavs were the last major group to break off and settle down on their own.) But the study under discussion also shows that Germans have a non-trivial genetic kinship with Poles, Hungarians, and Czechs, i.e. with the Slavs nearest to them.

Still, their plot of who clusters with who puts the bulk of Germans with the Swiss, Dutch, and other Germanic groups, with a fringe group of Germans next to the separate Slavic cluster. I interpret that to reflect Germans in the sample coming from different parts of Germany, and that eastern Germans are substantially Slavic. Those PEGIDA protesters who are trying to run the Muslim immigrants out of town, are likely German-speaking crypto-Slavs. "Germanicized Slavs" doesn't sound quite right, since they evidently haven't adopted the full suite of Germanic customs, including the welcoming of invading foreign races.

Interestingly, in that study the Austrians cluster with the Eastern group (Slavs). If their Austrian sample reflects population density, they likely hail from Vienna, which sits in the far eastern part of the country, surrounded by Slavdom. Vienna lies closer to Bratislava, Budapest, Prague, and Ljubljana than it does to Munich. And of course it shared capital status with Budapest during the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In the current immigrant crisis, they seem to be as wary as the Hungarians about having a bunch of foreigners settle their country, and want them to either not enter in the first place or to hurry on to Germany, France, Sweden, etc., where they'll receive a warm welcome.

More surprisingly, in the genetic study the Greeks, too, clustered with the Slavs rather than with the Italic / Mediterranean group. Maybe not so surprising, considering that the Slavs settled so much of the rest of the Balkans during Medieval times. The Greeks weren't as closely related to any Slavic group as any Slavic group was to another, but they do show a substantial Slavic imprint. (You'd be surprised how many modern Greeks are blond-haired, blue-eyed folks-who-never-smile.)

That may be more than you ever wanted to know about the genetic roots of Eastern and Central Europeans, but it's worth wrapping your mind around in order to understand what goes on in that part of the world. The best way to describe the divide in the break-down of the EU is not economic or religious but genetic, between Celto-Germanic and Balto-Slavic peoples.

To appreciate why it's the Balto-Slavic side that is the more nationalistic side, read that post of mine about why there's so little separatism in Eastern Europe, and why Pan-Slavism nearly happened. Slavic individuals are much more genetically similar to one another than people of other European groups are to members of their own group. They are therefore more likely to band together in nationalistic ways.

So, it's not just a story about Eastern Europeans being more "homogeneous," i.e. more white, than countries with large immigrant populations. Even if you removed the non-European elements from Western nations like England, France, and Germany, the English, French, and Germans are still more genetically diverse amongst their countrymen than are the Poles, Lithuanians, or Serbians. Slavic populations are much younger and have not had as much time to diverge and differentiate.

Greater genetic similarity means greater ability to organize collectively for group protection. The jump from "the clan" to "the nation" is not such a quantum leap among Slavs as it is among Germans.

September 3, 2015

Donald Trump descended from Vikings?

If our future President is more willing to go on the unrelenting attack rather than take a beating lying down, it may owe to Viking heritage on his mother's side.

His mother, a Scottish immigrant, hailed from the highlander Clan MacLeod on the Isle of Lewis, one of the Outer Hebrides islands off the western shore of Scotland that was raided and settled by Vikings during the 9th through 13th centuries, when it belonged to the Norse Kingdom of the Isles. In fact, the MacLeods ruled Lewis from the end of the Viking heyday through the early modern era, when they were eclipsed by the Mackenzies in the 17th C.

Genetic evidence points to their Norse invader lineage. From an article discussing the Y-chromosome that belongs to nearly half of MacLeod men:

It is found in Lewis, Harris and Skye, core Macleod territory, but also in Orkney, Shetland and Norway, with a few examples in Sweden. Despite extensive screening, S68 is very specifically located, showing up only once in the east of Scotland and once in England. This is a classic pattern for a Viking marker in Britain, but one much rarer than M17. MacLeods determinedly claim descent from a common name father, a Norse aristocrat called Ljot, a relative of Olaf, King of Man. They are probably right to continue to claim that – science for once supporting tradition.

In their homeland at the dawn of the nation-state, the Vikings were rounded up and drowned at sea by the ancestors of today's Scandinavian weenies who love big government solutions and follow harm-based morality. Where they settled in Scotland, they intermarried and kept their genes flowing albeit at diluted levels. And even when they lost power, it was to other warrior types (Celtic, though, rather than Nordic) who bested them in battle, and who did not exterminate them after victory.

There was no powerful modern nation-state on the rise in the remote areas of Scotland, so there was no force there to carry out a cleansing of the coarser Medieval elements that a nice new nation-state would not want getting in the way of centralized power.

The Norsemen may have failed to secure a foothold in North America one-thousand years ago, but they may be vindicated yet with the election of the first Viking President.