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July 11, 2008


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I may be the only person to look exclusively at the 1 and 2 star reviews to determine what to buy on amazon.

If I've got some reason to look up a book and I haven't decided to buy or not, the bad reviews are a good indication. If they're persuasive and well-written, I don't buy. If they're outraged about the content but don't point out any errors or if they are incoherent and badly written, I buy.

I do see plenty of 1 star reviews of books. On the other hand, reviews on music range from 3.5 to 5 stars on amazon. Were you reviewing a cd or dvd?

I did a little test of this with a 4 star review and a 1 star. Both were posted in a couple of hours.

The 1 star was in electronics.

TripAdvisor.com does this as well to some extent. Seems fairly arbitrary. There is something to be said for blocking 1-star reviews that are basically useless criticism (eg, "i couldn't figure out how to plug it into the wall"), but frequently well-thought out negative reviews help balance out mindless 5-star reviews so products wind up with the 3-stars they deserve (eg, good for undiscriminating customers, and no one else).

Amazon doesn't "censor"; only the government can do that.

Here's a question: What is Barack Obama's IQ?

HS: I'm surprised you haven't commented on this article of Greg Mankiw regarding salaries of lawyers:


Another question re Obama:

Why is it important for high-IQ Americans to learn Spanish? Are the Mestizos worth the bother?

Why shouldn't Barry the Mediocrity be suggesting learning languages that really matter?

You know--Chinese, Japanese, Russian?

I'll read some of the Amazon reviews, whatever the star rating. The stars don't mean much to me, but explicit comments do.

Most of the time, though, I ask my friends/colleagues/family/acquaintances for book recommendations. They know my taste better than random people on the internet (and I know their taste, so I can weight their advice accordingly.)

The hostility a lot of Conservatives/Libertarians towards Spanish is ridiculous. The most important language in the World is English, after that comes Chinese and Spanish. I don't know which should be on second place, Chinese or Spanish. Spanish is useful in all Latinamerica plus wide parts of Europe. Spanish is extremely close to Latin, the same as Italian. Any person speaking Spanish will understand a lot of Italian and Latin, as well as most written French and Portuguese (the portuguese spoken in Brazil by the way is a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese called Portoñol).
Learning a latin based language is the key to learn effortless all other Latinlanguages.
Spanish is without a doubt a more spoken and important language than Russian or Japanese. I think even German is still more important than Russian or Japanese, it's the most spoken native language in the EU and very useful in central and still eastern Europe. Also, the US lives in a Spanishspeaking neighborhood. People who speak against Spanish seem rather stupid, and let's not forget that Spanish is a western language, based on latin with a few visigothic and even less arab terms. For Englishspeakers Spanish shouldn't be too difficult, considering that English is 40% based on latin too. Sorry man, if you sucked at Spanish in High School you would have sucked even worse at Han Chinese.


With the exceptopn of Spain, all Spanish-speaking cultures are 2d- and 3d-world. I suppose if you want to import leather goods from Argentina, it might be a good idea to learn Spanish. Obama's endorsement of Spanish was aa obvious politician's ploy to gather the support of America's 2d emerging underclass: the wild and wacky Mestizo.

Obama's endorsement of Spanish was aa obvious politician's ploy to gather the support of America's 2d emerging underclass: the wild and wacky Mestizo.

Appealing to Hispanic voters as a way of winning the election may not be particularly useful given the way the Electoral College works. As Audacious Epigone has pointed out, Hispanic voters are concentrated in states that are not in play, in other words in states that are safe for either the Republicans and Democrats. States such as California (Democratic), Texas (Republican), and New York (Democratic). Florida is the only large "swing" state with a substantial Hispanic population, and to some extent Florida Hispanics don't follow the same voting patterns as their compatriots in other states.

I find it always funny how bloggers seem to turn China into a developed country and Mexico into a Shithole. Mexico has a GDP of 10.000 US whereas China has a GDP of 2000 US. China is only interesting because of size and potential: in real economic terms it has an interesting middle class of 100 million. So yes, China is/will be very important due to size. If I were an American parent, and my child had to learn two foreign languages, one of them would be Chinese. Latinamerica and Spanish is interesting however because of the same reason of China, the huge size of it. For a US child, being able to speak Spanish is more important than speaking German, French (highly overrated language), Arabic, Russian or Japanese. US citizens are likely to be able to use Spanish in their daily lifes.

Barack Obama admitted he doesn't speak a foreign language:


I think people should learn at least one, ideally two languages in Middle/High School.
If most Americans have High School diplomas, why is it that only very few speak at least one foreign language?

If most Americans have High School diplomas, why is it that only very few speak at least one foreign language?

Many people study a language or two in school but never learn it very well and soon forget what they've learned. Foreign languages are difficult to retain if they aren't used on a regular basis.

The reason you learned Inglese is the reason why Americans don't learn Spanish. And Peter from LI is correct, if you don't use the language on a regular basis, you have trouble retaining it. I know Italian and German, but staying good at it is hard because I don't hang out with Germans/Italians all that much.
Let's face it, anyone who speaks Spanish in this country isn't probably someone I want to talk to anyway. Same for ebonics.


The ONLY reason anyone is suggesting that "learning Spanish is a good thing" is obvious: open borders are forever, so get used to your Mestizo citizen.

Can't we all just get along?

Human Immunology
Volume 62, Issue 9, September 2001, Pages 979-991
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Class II alleles and haplotypes in Mexican mestizos.
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Class II alleles and haplotypes in Mexican mestizos.
Human Immunology, Volume 44, 1995, Page 62
A Olivo, C Alaez, H Debaz, V Juarez, G de La Rosa, A Hernandez, C Gorodezky

The Mexican Mestizo population accounts for 95% of the people living in Mexico. They are the result of the admixture of Caucasoid genes introduced by the Spanish conquerors in the 15th century, an Oriental pool coming from the Indians and a very little Black component from the slaves brought by the Spaniards. We analyzed 173 healthy non related Mexican Mestizo individuals. DNA typing for DRB1, DRB3, DRB4, DQA1, DQB1, DPA1 and DPB1 loci was done using the protocols, primers and probes developed for the 12 W. The SSPs were used to confirm certain DRB1, DQA1 or DQB1 alleles. Frequencies were calculated and the most probable combinations were deduced. The prevalent alleles (above 10%) are for DRB1* 08 (25.4%), *0403 (17.3%), *14 (13.9%), *0407(11.6%), *1501 (12.7%), *11 (10.1%). For DQA1 locus: *0501 (34.7%) *3011 (22.5%), *3011+0302 (11.0%), *0401 (18.5%) and *0104 (10.0%). For DQB1:*0301 (48.0%), *0302 (41.0%), *0402 (25.4%), *0501 (17.9%), *0201 (17.3%) and *0602 (13.2%). For DPA1: *0301 (45.1%) and *0101 (45.7%). *0201 and *0401 are very low. For DPB1, 9 alleles were found: *0401 (30.1%), *0402 (28.3%) followed by* 0301, *1401, *0201, *0101, *0601 *0501 and *1101. Although they are an admixed population, Mestizos show mainly Mexican Indian haplotypes: DRB1*08, DQA1*0401, DQB1*0402 (27.1%); DRB1*0403, DQA1 *03011, DQB1*0302 (16.4%); DRB1*1400, *0501,* 0301 (13.2%); DRB1*0407, DQA1*03011, DQB1*0302 (10.7%); Spanish haplotypes are also seen, such as the *1501 ((9.5%) or *0301 (7.5%) combinations. Some rare haplotypes were found: *1001, *0103, *0501, which probably is a recombination at DQA locus between *0104/*0103;* 09, *3011, *0201 is of Black origin and an Australian haplotype was observed: *04,* 3011, *0402. Two new associations with DQA1*0104 were detected: DRB1*0103, *0104,* 0501 and DRB1*0102, *0104, *0501. Regarding DPB locus, the high frequency of *0401 and *0402, is consistent with the association of these with any haplotype, suggesting that DPB region is a hot spot of recombination. Very few alleles were found, being *0401 the ancestral one; *0402 was probably selected in American Indians as a consequence of their particular environmental conditions, because we reported previously *0402 as the most frequent allele in three different Mexican Indian tribes and it is the second allele found in Mestizos.
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QAP and QPB polymorphism in Mexican mestizos and Indian...
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QAP and QPB polymorphism in Mexican mestizos and Indians
Human Immunology, Volume 47, Issues 1-2, 15 April-31 May 1996, Page 14
Carmen Alaez, Angelica Olivo, Hector Debaz, M. Janette Pujol, Constanza Duran, Jose L Navarro, Clara Gorodezky

Although the sequences of the class II promoters are highly conserved, diversity has been found in the URRs of DR and DQ loci. For the promoter region of DQA1, 10 QAP alleles are defined and 12 QBP for DQB1 region; DNA of 46 Mexican Mestizos and 101 Seri Indians was typed for QAP, QBP and class II alleles using the PCR-SSO protocols of the 12th W, as part of the promoter component chaired by E. Albert. PCR-SSP was done to distinguish between QBP6.2 and 6.3. In both groups, all QAP alleles previously described were detected, excepting for 3.2, absent because the associated DQA1*0302 is also lacking. One unusual haplotype accounting for 16.3% was observed: DRB1 *0802-QAP4.2-DQA1*0401-DQB1*0402-QBP4.1. QBP3.22 described in Whites, was not present in this haplotype. Neither QBP4.1 that associates with DQB1 *0401, or the latter have been found in Mexicans. A recombination possibly occured in the DQB1 region of an ancestral haplotype carrying QBP4.1. In Seri Indians, only 8 haplotypes were detected. Of these, 3 seem to be the ancestral ones: *0407-*03011-3.1-*0302-3.21; *0802-4.2-*0401-*0402-4.1; and *1402-4.1-*0501-*0301-3.1. The frequencies of 43.5%, 36.6% and 13.9% accounting for 94% of the haplotypes, indicate from an evolutionary viewpoint, that these originated from Orientals and probably conferred a great biological advantage. They are also the prevalent haplotypes in Mestizos (60.9%). One unusual QBP4.1 combination was detected in 2 Seris with DRB1*0407-DQB1*0302. The functional role of these variants in expression and in development of disease, must be explored.
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HLA-DRB1 alleles encoding the 'shared epitope' are asso...
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HLA-DRB1 alleles encoding the “shared epitope” are associated with susceptibility to developing rheumatoid arthritis whereas HLA-DRB1 alleles encoding an aspartic acid at position 70 of the β-chain are protective in Mexican mestizos
Human Immunology, Volume 65, Issue 3, March 2004, Pages 262-269
J. A. Ruiz-Morales, G. Vargas-Alarcón, P. O. Flores-Villanueva, C. Villarreal-Garza, G. Hernández-Pacheco, J. K. Yamamoto-Furusho, J. M. Rodríguez-Pérez, N. Pérez-Hernández, M. Rull, M. H. Cardiel, J. Granados

The risk to develop rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has been associated with the presence of HLA-DRB1 alleles encoding the “shared epitope” (SE). Additionally, HLA-DRB1 alleles encoding an aspartic acid at position 70 (D70+ ) have been associated with protection against the development of RA. In this study we tested the association between either SE or D70+ and rheumatoid arthritis in Mexican Mestizos. We included 84 unrelated Mexican Mestizos patients with RA and 99 unrelated healthy controls. The HLA-typing was performed by PCR-SSO and PCR-SSP. We used the chi-squared test to detect differences in proportions of individuals carrying at least one SE or D70+ between patients and controls. We found that the proportion of individuals carrying at least one HLA-DRB1 allele encoding the SE was significantly increased in RA cases as compared to controls (pc = 0.0004, OR = 4.1, 95% CI = 2.2–7.7). The most frequently occurring allele was HLA-DRB1*0404 (0.161 vs 0.045). Moreover, we observed a significantly increased proportion of HLA-DRB1 SE+ cases with RF titers above the median (p = 0.005). Conversely, the proportion of individuals carrying at least one HLA-DRB1 allele encoding the D70+ was significantly decreased (pc = 0.004, OR = 0.4, 95% CI 0.2–0.7) among RA patients compared with controls. In conclusion, the SE is associated with RA in Mexican Mestizos as well as with the highest titers of RF.
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Copyright © 2001 American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics. Published by Elsevier Science,Inc.
The Genetic structure of Mexican Mestizos of different locations: tracking back their origins through MHC genes, blood group systems, and microsatellites

Clara Gorodezky, , a, Carmen Alaeza, b, c, Miriam N Vázquez-Garcíaa, b, c, Gabriela de la Rosaa, b, c, Eduardo Infantea, b, c, Sandra Balladaresa, b, c, Rosa Toribioa, b, c, Elva Pérez-Luquea, b, c and Linda Muñoza, b, c

a Department of Immunogenetics, Instituto de Diagnóstico y Referencia Epidemiológicos, (InDRE), SSA, Mexico City, Mexico (C.G., C.A., M.N.V-G., G.d.l.R., E.I., S.B., R.T., E. P-L)

b The Instituto de Investigaciones Médicas, Universidad de Guanajuato, León, Guanajuato, Mexico

c Liver Unit, The Department of Internal Medicine, Hospital Universitario “José E. González” Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico (L.M.)

Received 16 May 2001; accepted 15 June 2001 Available online 30 August 2001.

References and further reading may be available for this article. To view references and further reading you must purchase this article.

Mexican Mestizos, who are the result of the admixture of Spanish, Indian, and Black genes, were analyzed for different systems. Three populations from geographical distinct areas were studied: the north (State of Nuevo Leon ), the center (State of Guanajuato), and the highlands (mainly Mexico City). Ten blood group systems (N = 229), STRs (N = 107), HLA-A*, B*, C* (N = 116–167), and DRB1, DQA1, and DQB1 (N = 40, 101, 160, respectively) were analyzed in the samples of the highlands. The three groups cluster together in the same branch: Mestizos from Venezuela, Mediterranean and Jews close to the cluster of Orientals, followed by Amerindians. All markers demonstrate that Indian genes are strongly represented in the highlands: Dia, O, D−+, s, A*0201, *0206, B*1539 (*1541), *3902, *3905, *3512, *3517, *4002, *4005, Cw*0801, *0304, *0401 among others. Cw*0501, *1203, *1204, and *1601 are of White ancestry. The most frequent haplotypes *0407-*03011-*0302 and *0802-*0401-*0402 are of Indian descent as well. The center and mainly the north show a more Caucasian and Semitic profile. The results demonstrate the high variability resulting from interethnic admixture, suggesting that this mechanism is the main factor responsible for the large diversity found in urban populations.

Spanish is the most important WESTERN language afer English, very close to Latin (useful in science), so learning it is an obvious choice. My third option would be German (Frenchspeakers). I think it is completely reasonable for Middle and Highschools to offer Han Chinese, Spanish, German and maybe even French as foreign languages. One foreign language, ideally two should be required.

I appreciate your advice about which languages are "important" for a variety of stuff like science, etc..., but let's be honest about it. What languages are most likely to help you get pussy by sounding high brow and into art, cuisine, and stuff like that?
German? No way, a langauge spoken by Nazis and boring scientists. Like any babes are going to want to discuss Panzer tanks or the Heisenberg principle. Unless you are dating Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS, it is a dead end. Han Chinese or other asian languages? A real stretch, unless you can work it into some Eastern religion BS. You know the whole "I'm not religious, but I'm spiritual" line/helps me meditate kind of thing. Latin? Not unless you want to work for the Vatican. If you do you are probably gay, so you don't care about females anyway. Spanish? Why? A language of illegals and vatos in the barrio. Unless you want to date latino girls, then why bother?
I'd say Italian and French. You can get on about art and dining in those 2 languages. When your date asks what something is on the menu or to pick a wine at a fancy restaurant, you can sound intelligent and cosmopolitan. Works real well in the museum and at the Met too. Sit through an opera(no Wagner!) with a date and you are guaranteed sex that night(so does watching "Out of Africa").
A note of caution about going to the opera: Booze is outrageously priced, the lines long and the selection blows. However, if your date wants a glass of wine, buy it. Consider it insurance.

Not only Italian and French, but also Spanish is considered a romantic language, specially useful if you are lloking to pick up a girl in Uruguay or Argentina. A "latinomacho", as they say. And German is useful for picking up girls in Germany, Austria and even eastern europe, where obviously English is very useful. Surprisingly, in the Check Republic girls liked to practice their Spanish with me.

I think the cold hard fact is that for 90% of students the foreign language requirement is a waste of time. 10 years out you dont remember anything and you probably have had no use for it.

Consequently I think Latin makes the most sense for the high school foreign language. It gives you a leg up on SAT, you get to read some good literature and it works well for making mottos.

I notice more of the private schools have Latin as a language, some as a requirement, and have a trivium structure. Even some charter schools near me now have Latin.

Spanish is declasse and French is demode. At one time the hip were doing Japanese, now they are doing Chinese. The non-hip are doing Latin.

HS - if you're going to look at lawyer starting salaries, also look at http://www.elsblog.org/the_empirical_legal_studi/2008/07/how-the-cravath.html , which is the followup for the post which Mankiw cited. It shows how the distribution has changed over time (it was not bimodal as recently as 1990), how associate compensation doesn't change with partner compensation, and which practice fields make more money (for the firms).

Hew, Works-for-Me, wouldn't learning Chinese help with getting Chinese girls? (Especially american-born ones who won't have learned it that terribly well, either?)

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