A Concentration of Citroen DS Cars

Visiting Belgium last weekend I came across a 'concentration' (as it's known in French) of classic Citroen DS cars. They're beloved all over the world, including the USA. Why, even the Wall Street Journal loves them, which means this may be the only French thing ever praised in that reliably Francophobe rag:

The DS is not just any old car, as is obvious should you park one next to a ’55 Chevy Bel Air, which then appears to have been built by cave-dwellers. The DS was a front-mid-engine, front-wheel-drive car with rear wheels closer together than at the front, allowing its sleek, tapering bobtail. The rears are enclosed in prim fender spats and, above, the remarkable panoramic greenhouse and fiberglass roof, canted like a beret. Did we mention it was French?

So without further ado, some Belgian Cirtoens:

Beige Gold Citroen

Beige Gold Citroen
Beige Gold Citroen
Beige Gold Citroen

Beige Gold Citroen

 


Come on, You Can Do Better than This

I love my readers, I really do, and I enjoy the comments on this blog, which are often more interesting than the stuff I write.

But recently, in response to posts about immigration, the comments have basically been "Dude, that just can't be true" (translation: "I don't want to believe it because it doesn't harmonize with my pre-existing convictions"). But saying it just won't make it so. I'm posting these articles and studies because I think they shed light on important issues, and because they're not the sort of thing that gets a lot of play in the mainstream press.

If you disagree with their conclusions, don't just complain, prove you're right. I'd be happy to see well-researched studies and good reporting that challenges the conclusions of the things I've posted. Bring it on!


Country of Origin and Social Success in Denmark

One reason Danes may not wish to receive increased immigration from Islamic countries is that Danes are intolerant haters.

Another reason may be that these immigrants (.pdf) have much higher crime rates, higher use of social benefits, and lower employment than the Danish-origin population and even immigrants from non-Islamic countries. The following illustration shows that the group with the highest crime rates is second-generation immigrants from non-Western countries -- significantly higher than the first generation:

Pages from educationalattainmentetcDenmark


Europe's Anti-Immigrant Backlash Continues

The right-wing Danish People's Party experienced almost a doubling of its support, the New York Times reports

In an election that turned on economic uncertainty and fierce debates over immigration, Danish voters on Thursday ousted their center-left government in a clear swing to the right that unexpectedly elevated an anti-immigrant, anti-European Union party that had been on the margins of the country’s politics.

Polls had predicted a close race, but as the night wore on, the far-right Danish People’s Party emerged in second place over all, raising questions about the role it could play in a new government and the country’s path in the coming four years.

The outcome took even senior members of the Danish People’s Party by surprise. “It’s gone beyond my wildest expectations,” Peter Skaarup, a senior lawmaker with the party told The Local, a Danish news outlet. “I know we often fare better in these elections than the polls suggest since people often aren’t willing to admit that they vote for the Danish People’s Party, but it really does look fantastic so far.”

...

Denmark has consistently ranked among the world’s happiest nations, but the flow of immigrants ignited a backlash that has heightened nationalist sentiments, something that also unfolded with political upheaval in neighboring Finland — where the populist Finns Party joined the government — and to some extent in other European countries.

“Immigration has been a very key and decisive issue in this campaign,” Mr. Hansen said. Debate focused largely on the number of workers coming from places like Bulgaria and Romania, what sort of benefits they should receive, and whether Denmark should take in more of the migrants arriving at Europe’s southern borders, he added.

And this is in the happiest country on earth. I've said it before and I'll say it again: the culture of all Continental European nations is not welcoming to immigrants who don't look like original inhabitants. This has always been the case and always will, there is no way to change it. A policy which brings millions of low-skilled immigrants with different skin colors, languages, beliefs, and customs into any European country will spark a fierce backlash even in supposed citadels of tolerance such as Denmark and Sweden.

If you nevertheless support such a policy, you must also create a plan to deal with the backlash, otherwise you are just posturing.


Italy Can't, and Won't, Handle Millions of 'Refugees' Properly

Nicholas Farrell, a British writer who lives in Italy, looks at that country's refugee crisis without the wishful thinking. He reports a number of interesting facts, including (1) 70% of the refugees are from sub-Saharan Africa and Pakistan; (2) only a small fraction bother to apply for political asylum; and (3) once they arrive, the majority of them disappear into the immigrant underworld of Europe:

The same left-wing Italian government [Renzi] also took the extraordinary step of decriminalising illegal immigration, which means among other things that none of the boat people are arrested once on dry land. Instead, they are taken to ‘Centri di accoglienza’ (welcome centres) for identification and a decision on their destinies. In theory, only those who identify themselves and claim political asylum can remain in Italy until their application is refused — or, if it is accepted, indefinitely. And in theory, under the Dublin Accords, they can only claim political asylum in Italy — the country where they arrived in the EU. In practice, however, only a minority claim political asylum in Italy. Pretty well all of them remain there incognito, or else move on to other EU countries.

Here’s how it works. In the welcome centres, they are given free board and lodging plus mobile phones, €3 a day in pocket money, and lessons — if they can be bothered — in such things as ice-cream-making or driving a car and (I nearly forgot) Italian. Their presence in these welcome centres is voluntary and they are free to come and go, though not to work, and each of them costs those Italians who do pay tax €35 a day (nearly €13,000 a year). Yes, they are supposed to have their photographs and fingerprints taken, but many refuse and the Italian police, it seems, do not insist. As the Italian interior minister, Angelino Alfano, explained to a TV reporter the other day: ‘They don’t want to be identified here — otherwise, under the Dublin Accords, they would have to stay in our country. So when a police officer is in front of an Eritrean who is two metres tall who doesn’t want his fingerprints taken, he can’t break his fingers, but must respect his human rights.’

This year, there is space for just 75,000 migrants in such places. Hotels are filling the breach, including the four-star Kulm hotel perched high above the luxury resort of Portofino on the Ligurian coast. But most of the rescued migrants could not care less about all that jazz and have just disappeared.

The ones who stay long in the welcome centres are those who have revealed their identities in order to apply for political asylum in Italy. Last year, 64,900 migrants did so in Italy — roughly a third of those saved by the Italian navy. But this being Italy, the judicial system only had time to reach a decision on half those applications (accepting 60 per cent of them), and anyway, thanks to the byzantine Italian appeals procedure, those refused asylum can remain for years. Even if their asylum claim is finally rejected and by some cruel quirk of fate they are actually handed a deportation order, it is easily ignored: last year Italy forcibly deported just 6,944 people — a figure set to shrink even more once a law before parliament is passed banning deportation to countries where human rights are abused.

Fair enough, you might say, if all the asylum seekers were genuine refugees from war zones. But contrary to the impression given by most of the world’s media, hardly any of 2014’s intake were from war-torn countries such as Syria or Iraq (though it is true that the number of Syrians is now rising).

Last year, most were from sub-Saharan Africa. Top of the league table were the Nigerians, followed by the Malians and the Gambians, the Senegalese and even the Pakistanis — who together made up 70 per cent of the total. No doubt these countries are no picnic to live in, and parts of some of them are war zones, but that should not, and in theory does not, guarantee refugee status. It is also a fact that most boat people are young single men and the price of a ticket on a people-smuggling boat is €2,000 (nearly two years’ pay for the average worker in Mali).


‘Fail Fast, Fail Often’

The New York Times finds cultural differences explain the U.S.-European tech innovation gap:

There are institutional and structural barriers to innovation in Europe, like smaller pools of venture capital and rigid employment laws that restrict growth. But both Mr. Kirkegaard and Professor Moser, while noting that there are always individual exceptions to sweeping generalities about Europeans and Americans, said that the major barriers were cultural.

Often overlooked in the success of American start-ups is the even greater number of failures. “Fail fast, fail often” is a Silicon Valley mantra, and the freedom to innovate is inextricably linked to the freedom to fail. In Europe, failure carries a much greater stigma than it does in the United States. Bankruptcy codes are far more punitive, in contrast to the United States, where bankruptcy is simply a rite of passage for many successful entrepreneurs.

Professor Moser recalled that a businessman who had to declare bankruptcy in her hometown in Germany committed suicide. “In Europe, failure is regarded as a personal tragedy,” she said. “Here it’s something of a badge of honor. An environment like that doesn’t encourage as much risk-taking and entrepreneurship.”

There is also little or no stigma in Silicon Valley to being fired; Steve Jobs himself was forced out of Apple. “American companies allow their employees to leave and try something else,” Professor Moser said. “Then, if it works, great, the mother company acquires the start-up. If it doesn’t, they hire them back. It’s a great system. It allows people to experiment and try things. In Germany, you can’t do that. People would hold it against you. They’d see it as disloyal. It’s a very different ethic.”

Europeans are also much less receptive to the kind of truly disruptive innovation represented by a Google or a Facebook, Mr. Kirkegaard said.

He cited the example of Uber, the ride-hailing service that despite its German-sounding name is a thoroughly American upstart. Uber has been greeted in Europe like the arrival of a virus, and its reception says a lot about the power of incumbent taxi operators.

“But it goes deeper than that,” Mr. Kirkegaard said. “New Yorkers don’t get all nostalgic about yellow cabs. In London, the black cab is seen as something that makes London what it is. People like it that way. Americans tend to act in a more rational and less emotional way about the goods and services they consume, because it’s not tied up with their national and regional identities.”

None of this will be easy to change, even assuming Europeans want change. “In Europe, stability is prized,” Professor Moser said. “Inequality is much less tolerated. There’s a culture of sharing. People aren’t so cutthroat. Money isn’t the only thing that matters. These may be good things.” But Europeans can’t have it both ways. She said that successful innovators quickly discover it’s hard to break through these cultural norms.

Mr. Kirkegaard agreed. “Europeans are conservative with a small ‘c,’” he said. “They pretty much like things the way they are.”


Raw Fish Can Guarantee You Liver Cancer

Not only do I never eat raw meat or fish, I don't think other people should either, as I have argued on this blog. Now comes yet another data point for why people shouldn't eat raw meat or fish:

Koi pla is a popular dish in northeastern Thailand. It’s made from finely chopped raw fish, mixed with herbs, a dash of lime juice, and a sprinkling of live red ants. Although devoured regularly by many in the Isaan region of the country, the dish actually harbors a deadly secret: it causes liver cancer.

For a long time now, it’s been observed that people in the region have bizarrely high levels of the disease. It’s thought to account for more than half of all male cancer cases in the region, compared to a worldwide average of around just ten percent. And it’s the little freshwater fishies used in the dish that are the culprit, or more specifically, the fluke worms they’re home to. Doctors in the area are trying to educate people as to the risk koi pla poses, reports BBC News Worldwide, and it seems to be working.

Raw fish and live red ants? Jesus traditional Thai cuisine, go home. You're drunk.


Those Refugees Aren't Refugees, and Aren't Even Poor

As the Wall Street Journal reports, via Steve Sailer, many of the 'refugees' coming across the Mediterranean to Europe are, as this blog has pointed out repeatedly, anything but: 

Senegal is a stable West African democracy, and Kothiary has profited from the currents of globalization transforming rural Africa’s more prosperous areas. Flat screen TVs and, increasingly, cars—mostly purchased with money wired home by villagers working in Europe—have reshaped what was once a settlement of mud huts. The wealth has plugged this isolated landscape of peanut farms and baobab trees into the global economy and won respect for the men who sent it.

But it has also put European living standards on real-time display, and handed young farm hands the cash to buy a ticket out. …

They leave behind a proud democracy whose steady economic growth has brought American-style fast food chains, cineplexes and shopping malls to this nation of 15 million, but hasn’t kept pace with the skyrocketing aspirations of the youthful population. Dusty and remote villages like Kothiary have become an unlikely ground zero for this exodus. …

The number of Senegalese jumped 123% from the first four months of last year, which also saw record emigration. West Africa houses several of the world’s faster-growing economies but is also sending some of the most migrants out. …

Students there, Mr. Sidibé included, have cashed out their scholarships to pay traffickers for a ride to Tripoli. Even their professors have traded in paychecks to journey north, joining policemen, civil servants and teachers, said Souleymane Jules Diop, the country’s minister for emigrants.

“People don’t go because they have nothing, they go because they want better and more,” said Mr. Diop. “It’s aspiration.”


Europeans Don't Seem to Fancy Roma or Muslims Very Much

Pew recently studied the views of various EU nationals toward certain minorities. The main results in three graphs:

Unfavorable Views of Roma Widespread

Italians Most Critical of Muslims

Greeks Divided about Jews

A few observations:

-- Italians really don't like minorities very much, do they? All the ones I know do, though!

-- Roma (formerly called gypsies) come off worst of all. Even in Germany, which bears the historical guilt of having murdered hundreds of thousands of them, opinion of Roma is evenly split. And this after the EU's much-ballyhooed Decade of Roma Inclusion. The Guardian in 2003 noted:

Statistics on education and employment show how overwhelmingly the odds are stacked against them. In the Czech Republic, 75% of Roma children are educated in schools for people with learning difficulties, and 70% are unemployed (compared with a national rate of 9%). In Hungary, 44% of Roma children are in special schools, while 74% of men and 83% of women are unemployed. In Slovakia, Roma children are 28 times as likely to be sent to a special school than non-Roma; Roma unemployment stands at 80%.

Of course, this being the Guardian, these dismal numbers are attributed solely to discrimination by non-Roma. Now -- mandatory disclaimer -- I am not denying or advocating discrimination against Roma. I am a nice, caring person with properly Advanced and Tolerant views on all important Social Questions, and I also would like to note that I have excellent personal hygiene! I do, however, happen to know a number of people who have worked in/with Roma communities who would violently reject beg to differ from the argument that nothing about Roma culture or values contributes to their problems:

The following day, while chatting with a group of Gypsies in the small Transylvanian village of Dealu Frumos, I get an insight into a side of the Roma that I have been constantly warned about but have not yet encountered. A young man and his friends are telling me about tsigani de casatsi—house Gypsies—"bad ones, who don't work on the land like us but just steal for a living." Without warning, he wrenches my notebook from my hands and shoves me against the car. I am punched in the kidneys, and my arm is twisted behind me. A blade is held to the side of my neck, and suddenly I am surrounded by roaring Gypsies, maybe 30 of them, more appearing every few seconds from the surrounding houses. My translator, Mihai, is punched in the head. "Money! Money! Money!" his tormentors bellow. I am allowed into the car to retrieve my bag, but Mihai is kept outside, a hostage to my ransom. I offer all the money from my wallet, and Mihai pulls free and throws himself into the back seat. As we drive off, we do an inventory of our injuries. Apart from bruises and shock, my main injury is to my hitherto benign image of the Roma as a wronged and misunderstood people.

The average Guardian reader is apparently expected to believe on faith alone that it is per se impossible for a minority group to display any distinct social characteristics, even though they have been breeding largely among themselves for 32 generations. It may be of interest to note that the most recent and reliable study puts the mean IQ of some European Roma populations in the mid-70s. I suppose we can just be glad the pollsters didn't ask these questions in Bulgaria or Romania, countries with huge Roma populations.

-- As I've noted before, this survey tends to undermine the notion of a wave of anti-Semitism sweeping Western Europe. Anti-semitic opinion in Western Europe is largely concentrated among Muslim populations. As this poll shows, the farther south and east you go in Europe, the more mainstream anti-Semitism becomes.


Tomorrow's Views Today

Me, yesterday:

Hardly a day goes by without some pundit, usually American, chastising Germany for having a barely-functional military and for staying out of most international conflicts. 

American pundit Roger Cohen, today:

But a fundamental problem remains. Postwar Germany is in essence a pacifist power. Mention of force is near anathema to the vast majority of the German people. Arming Ukraine to level the playing field (and so bolster the chances of diplomacy) is of course rejected by Merkel; it should not have been.