Monday, October 30, 2006

A falling camel attracts many knives?

I finished reading Mark Steyn's America Alone on the plane up to Detroit (kind of appropriate, eh?) tonight. It is a bit alarming, but not much that was 'new' information, so not really all that surprising. I'd seen bits and pieces of the same data in news stories over the years, but Steyn rolls it all up to paint a pretty depressing picture (one that I can't say I disagree with).

He spends plenty of time on immigrant birth rates in Europe as compared to the native population, discussing how he thinks this will change the makeup of Europe in decades to come. The one area he touches on (but doesn't delve into nearly enough,) is how he sees America being changed demographically during the same span -- and if this change allows American exceptionalism (one of the themes of the book) to persist.

The post's title is ripped off from one of the final chapters. He says that it is an old Arabic proverb taken from the opening of Prayers for the Assassin. It's another way of saying that 'the street' respects the strong and savages the weak (backing the strong horse, and all that...).

The book ends with a passage from a late 19th century Sir Arthur Conan Doyle book (The Tragedy of the Korosko). It's almost funny to read -- one of the characters lamenting how Great Britain is forced to be the policeman to the world...even conspiracy theories that Great Britain invented a threat! Echoes of the present...

I recommend the book.

Short takes on other recent reads:


amar rama said...

Nice write up. I agree on "Long Tail". I am planning on starting the new Richard Dawkins book soon (The God Delusion).

Your take after reading 'American Alone' is interesting. I just read a recent article (there was a spate of these since we hit the 300 mill mark) that stated that the US is the anamoly amongst developed countries. It claims that among the rest of the world increase in standard of living is accompanied by decrease in birth rates. Wish I could pull it up....

Corbett said...

Yes -- that's the gist of the title: that we are alone in being a developed, Westernized economy which has a self sustaining birthrate (we're about 2.1, which is replacement rate); all of Western Europe is < 2 (far below 2, in some cases..I think Italy was 1.3), as are all of the former Communist countries. The Muslim immigrant community is the only subset of Western Europe with positive birthrates.

Some have asserted that our higher birthrate (as compared to Western Europe or Scandinavia) is solely due to the high rates among our large Hispanic immigrant community, but even our broken-out native born Caucasian birthrates far exceed Europe's.

The new Dawkins and Dennett books were purchased on the same Amazon order that the new Sam Harris book came in (I had read his earlier book when it came out in 2004).