Sunday, April 18, 2004


I am rather surprised that the story about some Europeans being taller than Americans has attracted such a lot of attention without anyone (as far as I can see) tumbling to what the finding really shows. Even the careful Iain Murray missed it. The finding, in brief, was that the average American height has stopped increasing but average heights in some European countries have not. And some Europeans -- such as the Dutch -- are much taller than Americans on average. The data underlying the finding may not be all that sound but let us assume that they are:

Anti-American commentators have linked the finding to nutrition -- saying that it shows Americans to be poorly nourished. Given the "obesity epidemic" in America, that is a pretty hilarious explanation but it does contain the grain of truth that there is some connection between nutrition and height. As the geneticists (such as Eaves et al., 1999) have shown, final height is a product of genetic potential plus environmental influences -- and nutrition is undoubtedly one of those environmental influences. Putting it another way, your full genetic potential is realized only when the environmental conditions are ideal. So what the data really show is that ONLY IN AMERICA have the ideal environmental conditions for height maximization been realized. That is why Americans have stopped growing. America ALREADY has gained all it can from nutrition etc. The fact that European heights are still growing shows, then, that they still do not have ideal conditions there for realizing their maximum height. They are still catching up. In short, the data show exactly the opposite to what has been claimed: It is Europeans who are lacking in something that influences height. The traditional European habit of consuming fruit and vegetables in preserved and pickled form rather than in fresh form may be the nutritional factor involved.

An immediate objection to my account is of course the fact that SOME Europeans are much taller than Americans on average. How can they be so tall if they have bad nutrition (or whatever else has been holding them back)? Once again the answer is to be found in the Eaves et al (1999) study: The MAIN influence on height is genetics so if coastal North Western Europeans (such as the Dutch and the Scandinavians) have good genetics for height they will still be taller on average even if their nutrition is not ideal. And that coastal North-Western Europeans tend to be very tall has been known at least since the Viking age. Why they have long been among the world's tallest people (along with some very dubiously nourished East Africans) nobody knows for sure but only a small percentage of the American population is of coastal North Western European ancestry so the final American average must be much lower. And the fact that the legionaries of the ancient Roman empire were real shorties suggests that average national height is a very minor factor (if it is a factor at all) in national achievement and felicity.

Eaves, L.J., Martin, N.G., Meyer, J.M. & Corey, L.A. (1999) "Biological and cultural inheritance of stature and attitudes". In: Cloninger, C.R., Personality and psychopathology. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press.



Big surprise for the Democrats: "The Tax Foundation recently announced Tax Freedom Day fell on April 11 this year. Tax Freedom Day is the day when Americans will finally have earned enough money to pay off their total tax bill for the year. The April 11 date is the earliest Tax Freedom Day since 1967 and continues the downward trend in tax burdens enjoyed by Americans under the Bush administration. Tax Freedom Day had hit an all-time high in the last year of the Clinton administration, falling on May 2.... the numbers show the wealthiest Americans shouldering more of the federal tax burden. The wealthiest 10 percent of Americans (average income of $259,000) bear an even 50 percent of the total federal tax liability."

Taxes and jobs: "America's complicated tax system needs a complete overhaul, not minor fixes. The large role that system plays in many of the political dramas dominating the daily headlines shows why. Republicans and Democrats, for instance, are fighting over the 'outsourcing' of jobs to foreign countries. But instead of sniping at each other, they should look at the corporate tax system. Our 35 percent corporate tax rate is one of the highest worldwide -- higher even than the rate in socialist countries such as France and Sweden. Should we be surprised that some jobs leave America when the tax code punishes investors for creating jobs here?"

Are Mosques holy places? Not in our sense they are not. It is perfectly "holy" in Islam for them to be used as bases for terrorism -- which they often are. So they should in many cases be bombed as the military installations that they are.

A good omen: "There was a remarkable event last Friday evening in Moscow. Several of the world's most prominent free-market reformers spent more than four hours in a spirited dialogue about economic reform with Russian President Putin.

Misrepresenting the militia: "It's true that some Reservists and National Guardsmen enlisted while never expecting to actually deploy. However, my personal experience as a Reservist who deployed is that for every soldier who fought deployment, there were 10 more that jumped at the chance to serve their country in Iraq." It was the same in the Australian Army in the Vietnam era. There was an informal policy that conscripts did not have to go to Vietnam. They could spend their two years doing paperwork at a BOD (Base Ordnance Depot -- i.e. an Army storage depot) instead. Almost all chose to go to Vietnam.

My recipe for today is for Thai meatballs. Quick and easy and very tasty. See here.

For more postings, see GREENIE WATCH and POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH. Greenie Watch includes a big post on that naughty depleted uranium today.


The Left have always wanted more spent on welfare and made "Fascism" a swear-word. President Bush deposed a brutal Fascist dictator and sponsored a big expansion of welfare. But instead of being admired by the Left, he is hated with a passion. What does that tell you about the Left? It tells you that they have no principles at all: That everything they have ever claimed to stand for is fake.

America is engaged in a titanic struggle with hate. The American Left hate America, much of Europe hates America and, most of all, the Islamic fundamentalists hate America. Fortunately America is -- in every sense -- the world's strongest country.

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