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brexit-vote-prediction Unless there is a truly stunning reversal soon, a victory for Remain is increasingly looking to be mathematically impossible.

England outside London is voting 60% Leave. The two biggest Remain hotspots, London and Scotland, do not have the numbers to make up for it.

Meanwhile, Wales and Northern Ireland are too evenly divided and too low in numbers to make a big difference anyway.

As of the time of me writing this sentence, Leave is on 53% and that is despite the fact that thrice as big a share of the votes have been counted from Scotland as from England.

The Independent has a list of regions (see full map right) to watch as bellweathers of the referendum result which are predicted to get 50/50 in the event of a split vote. In the event, these bellweathers seem to be consistently voting around 55% in favor of Leave.

(1) This looks like it is turning out to be yet another disaster for British polling.

Whereas it was predicted that in the last days British voters tend to shift to the status quo, drawing on the experience of the Scottish referendum, it appears that the true underweighing was with regards to conservative positions. This was demonstrated during the UK 2015 general elections, which pollsters predicted would be a close run thing but in reality saw a decisive Conservative win. In other words, their tendency to underweigh conservative voters – the “Shy Tory” factor first identified in 1992 – remains as prevalent as ever.

Also contrary to conventional wisdom prior to this referendum, online polls have turned out to be more accurate (or rather less wrong) than telephone polls.

(2) It appears that Thomas Mair’s murder of Jo Cox did not impact on the Leave campaign as many people – myself included – anticipated it would.

eu-doesnt-take-no-for-answer(3) What comes next? Well, again assuming no stunning reversals, this is going to be a long, drawn out process.

First, as many referendums and dank memes attest, the EU doesn’t like to take no for an answer. This will be a long and drawn out process. The Guardian, the voice of the British neoliberal Left, is already beginning a discussion on whether the EU referendum is legally binding.

Alexander Mercouris argues the effects either way won’t be big because he no longer sees the UK as an influential Power. There is merit to that interpretation but I think he overdoes it. The EU is a fragile construction and once a big member leaves there might well be a tipping point, especially since the remaining rich members will have to foot more of the bill for Eastern Europe’s “convergence” funds and bailing out Greece every other year.

I think the effect on the British economy will be modest. All the economists forecasting doom belong predominantly to a London/Brussels/Frankfurt centered class that tends to have overly inflated ideas of the importance of the finance sector and free trade to economic growth (which Brexit is going to impact far more modestly and gradually than they project anyway). This is not to say I agree with Eamonn Fingleton that protectionism is some sort of panacea either (that particular honor belongs to human capital). But being outside the EU is not some kind of economic death sentence. It’s not like Switzerland is a byword for poverty and isolation.

 

I have been thinking about how to optimize my blogging and I would like to ask for your input with the following one page survey:

http://darussophile.polldaddy.com/s/june-2016-akarlin-reader-survey

In particular, I would like to hear from you on the following questions:

  1. What should I write more about?
  2. What should I write less about?
  3. What sorts of posts do you prefer (longer, shorter)?
  4. Do you want more reviews?
  5. Do you want me to resume open threads? (which I promised and then slowly discontinued)
  6. Your assessment of the quality of the posts, the comments, and the website.
  7. Do you follow me on social media?

Preliminary Thoughts

I don’t thrive on making short posts like Steve Sailer. You need a predictable schedule and a regular work ethic for that and I don’t really possess either. Also, the three “slots” I have on the Unz.com front page aren’t ideal for more frequent shorter posts. Moreover, one can make a more general point that it is the longer, more indepth material that tends to get noted and cited in the longterm. I am as big a fan of Sailer as anyone here, but in terms of name recognition, the father of HBD lags Nicholas Wade, Charles Murray, and probably even Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending, all of whom have published best-selling books on closely related topics. While progress on my own book has been nothing to write home about, I am seriously considering at least making a habit of writing longer, more indepth articles.

In general I think in the grand hierarchy social media < short posts < longreads < books. This is why the emergence of Twitter, Facebook, etc. are so overestimated. They amplify short-term noise, but in the overall scheme of things they contribute nothing to global progress and understanding (indeed by rewiring so many brains from deep analytical mode to dopamine-fueled reaction mode they might even have retarded it). Besides, both platforms are fast sinking into politicized censorship. Personally, for the past several years, I have mostly used social media just to advertise my own blog posts. But maybe I should put my money where my mouth is and put them into archive mode entirely except for the occasional big announcement. But first I want to find out exactly what percentage of readers here follow me on my social media accounts.

I am also considering introducing more stringent moderation. I am one of the few authors on this website who doesn’t premoderate, and my general comments policy is extremely lax. Perhaps too much so, since it seems to me that more and more commentators have been taking it as a licence to troll, spam, shitpost, and otherwise pursue their particular obsessions even when the post topic has nothing to do with them. This normally wouldn’t matter on modern commenting platforms such as Disqus, where these SIFs (Single Issue Fanatics) are typically downvoted into oblivion, but there is no such mechanism on linear commenting systems. So from now on I am considering becoming much more proactive about redacting stupid and off topic posts, and if necessary, banning repeat offenders. Then again, if most people are satisfied with the way things are, I will refrain from fixing something that isn’t broken. You tell me!

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Administration, Opinion Poll

Just a collection of completely random, not very important news snippets.

(1) Diplomats’ Dissent Bolsters Calls for U.S. Assault on Assad:

For now, the Obama administration seems inclined to agree. A U.S. official who did not sign the memo but read it told Foreign Policy that the document was unlikely to influence Oval Office policy due to the relatively low rank of the signatories. None of the officials have reached the level of assistant secretary and some are not directly involved in Syria issues on a daily basis — though the list does include the consul general in Istanbul and a Syria desk officer.

The Obama administration has also repeatedly made clear that it believes strikes would merely add to the bloodshed without improving the political situation on the ground, while potentially getting ensnared in a decades-long conflict. Despite stinging criticisms from Arab and European allies, Obama has expressed no regrets about his handling of Syria in public comments and there was no sign Friday that the White House was ready to radically alter its strategy or tactics.

In a briefing with reporters on Air Force One, White House Deputy Secretary Jennifer Friedman said Obama “has been clear and continues to be clear that he doesn’t see a military solution to the crisis in Syria.”

“That doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be discussions or a variety of conversations and a variety of opinions,” she added, “but that fundamental principle still remains.”

Still, Robert Ford, the former ambassador to Syria who resigned in protest over White House policy, said the dissent shows that “there’s a very broad consensus among working-level people that are trying to address different pieces of the Syria crisis that … the policy is not succeeding and will not succeed, and that the administration needs to change course.” He noted that it is “remarkable” to see 51 signatures on a cable that rarely gets more than four. {AK: Remarkable indeed – assuming this protest was really as “grassroots” as it is implied to be}

The memo is also a vivid reminder that Secretary of State John Kerry and the diplomats who work for him have consistently pushed for a more militaristic approach to the conflict than their colleagues at the Pentagon. During closed-door meetings in the past year and a half, Kerry has repeatedly pushed Obama to launch airstrikes at Syrian government targets — calls the White House rejected. His pleas were so routine that Obama reportedly announced at a National Security Council meeting last December that only the defense secretary would be allowed to offer proposals for military strikes.

Obama and Kerry clashed in 2013 when the president pulled back at the last moment from threatened military strikes against the Assad regime over its use of chemical weapons, even though Obama had declared a “red line” over the issue. Kerry’s aides were miffed because the secretary of state just a few days earlier had given a muscular speech virtually promising a military response to Assad’s use of the weapons.

The protest memo appeared aimed not at the secretary of state but at the president and his aides who have remained steadfastly opposed to any direct confrontation with the Assad regime.

zhuchkovsky-no-putinsliv(2) There will be no “Putinsliv” in Donbass.

Morale amongst the NAF (Novorossiyan Armed Forces) tends to fluctuate amidst the flurry of contradictory signals the Russian official state tends to give them: Sometimes extending their full support, at other times extraditing NVF fighters to Ukraine and making noises about maybe pushing them all back into Ukraine for “humanitarian” reasons (these episodes tend to coincide with EU votes on the renewal of sanctions; speaking of which, they are 99% certain to be extended on Jun 28-29).

Well, a day ago Alexander Zhuchkovsky, an “insider” in the NVF and a generally reliable source, posted a most intriguing message:

Today I received an almost 100% guarantee that Donbass will not be given up to Ukraine (I say “almost” because Donbass will be surrendered in the case of a liberal coup in Russia, but I don’t think that will happen).

What kind of guarantee this is, I cannot say, but I write this post so that my readers and commentators could stop endlessly recycling this trope about the imminent return of Donbass with a nudge from Russia. All scaremongering about this topic will be see as either idiocy or deliberate intimidation of LDNR residents.

This does not imply that Donbass will soon be in for a bright future, and that one has to unconditionally approve all aspects of Russia’s policy towards Ukraine/LDNR. Unfortunately, today’s fragile and uncertain condition can well last for a long time yet, and from Russia we may once more hear outrageous claims that are at odds with our aspirations.

But that there will be no return of today’s LDNR territories into Ukraine under any conditions (except a hypothetical change in power in Russia) is an absolute, 100% certainty. I call on colleagues to bear this in mind, and opponents to live with this.

With this in mind in our rhetoric and our action we must actively propound the only possible and desirable solution – the incorporation of Donbass into Russia (at a minimum, at maximum – the return of all Novorossiya, which at this stage is a possibility that also cannot be excluded).

(3) RAND releases study calling for the rotation of 30,000 NATO troops into the Baltic states (which is the number that it calculates would be sufficient to deter, and if necessary hold up long enough, a Russian attack). This comes in tandem with the largest NATO exercises in Eastern Europe to date. Its pretty clear now that what little remained of the old American guarantees to the Soviet Union on NATO expansion are dead. Rest in peace, George Kennan. (We will see whether all this is more bark or bite during the Warsaw NATO summit on July 9).

(4) NATO explicitly adds the cyber realm to the domain of conflicts where Article 5 can be invoked. (In recent days, the DNC servers were “allegedly” hacked by Russians with state support).

(5) Russia begins bombing US-backed rebels in Syria (“Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Russia isn’t entirely certain who it’s bombing in Syria because “moderate” forces are mixed in with “terrorists.””)

(6) The PNAC crowd have made their fealty to Hillary Clinton even more resoundingly clear – a candidate who unlike Obama will certainly be no break on their regime change ambitions.

(7) Meanwhile, China and Russia continue to draw closer, with Putin at the ongoing Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum even suggesting a Eurasian economic partnership.

***

This is not to suggest all these are interlinked, let alone part of some singular conspiracy, but the sheer mass of these largely under the shadows developments does suggest there’s a lot of intense reshuffling of the chess pieces going on behind the scenes.

For instance, Russia’s intervention in Syria has been very successful to date, but its forces there are very vulnerable. This will become germane if Neocons Inc. come to power again – establishing a “no fly zone” over Syria is fraught with the danger of escalation, considering the presence of the Russian Air Force. But whereas Russia is completely outclassed by NATO in that theater, it has local dominance in the Baltics. Add two and two. As such one possible way of looking at the RAND proposal is as a ploy to annul Russia’s range of feasible responses to getting squeezed out of Syria.

But where does the pressure then get redirected? It is of course a longshot, but maybe (2) is somewhat related.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Geopolitics, NATO, Syria, War in Donbass

stalin-the-tajik

Stalin waxing lyrical about the friendship of peoples in April 1941, a famous period of international idyll when there were no other important concerns:

… I want to say a few words about the Tajiks. The Tajiks are a special people. They are not Uzbeks, Kazakhs, or Kyrgiz – they are Tajiks, the most ancient people of Central Asia. The Tajik – that means the one who wears the crown, that is how they were called by the Iranians, and the Tajiks have justified this title.

Out of the all the non-Russian Muslim peoples of the USSR, the Tajiks are the sole non-Turkic ethnicity – they are an Iranian ethnicity. The Tajiks are the people whose intelligentsia produced the great poet Ferdowsi, and it is no surprise that the Tajiks draw their cultural traditions from him. You must have felt the artistic flair of the Tajiks in the past decade, that their ancient culture and unique artistic talent as expressed in music, and song, and dance.

Sometimes our Russian colleagues mix them up: The Tajiks with Uzbeks, the Uzbeks with Turkmen, the Armenians with Georgians. This is, of course, incorrect. The Tajiks are a unique people, with a huge and ancient culture, and under our Soviet conditions they are marked out for a great future. And the entire Soviet Union must help them with that. I want their art to enjoy everyone’s attention.

I propose a toast to the flowering of Tajik art, to the Tajik people, and so that we, Muscovites, are always prepared to help them with everything that is necessary.

This is approximately a bazillion times less well known than Stalin’s toast to the Russian people at the end of World War 2, which is often cited by anti-Russian Cold Warriors (and many deluded Russian nationalists) to equate Stalinism with Russian nationalism.

While I don’t have anything particular against the Tajiks, the above toast does not strike me as something that would be uttered by any Russian nationalist like… ever.

The reality is that Stalin hated and persecuted Russian nationalism as much as any other Bolshevik ideologue, but opportunistically adopted some of its talking points every now and then to shore up his regime. Of course actual Russian nationalists who took him at his word seriously enough to return to the USSR tended to meet sticky ends.

The main thing that distinguished Stalin from his multinational predecessors was that he was more consistent and also went after the other national minority – Polish, Ukrainian, Jewish, etc. – nationalisms that the Old Bolsheviks had fostered. Considering the ethnic composition of the most active Cold Warriors and neocons explains a lot about their curiously specific hatred of Stalin and (regrettably, rather successful) efforts to associate him with Russian nationalism in the Western discourse.

 

stalin-worship

It’s hard to view Stalin as any sort of Russian national hero considering the demonstrable idiocy of his apologists’ arguments.

Trying to portray him as such involves descending into a fantasy world in which no country had ever managed to industrialize itself without killing off millions of its most intelligent and productive people or have won a war against a European Great Power without the indispensable strategic wisdom that you could only get from a Georgian dropout who spent his youth robbing banks and sitting in jail with his fellow Bolshevik comrades and sundry ethnic minority activists. A more rabidly Russophobic outlook could scarcely be imagined.

So its pretty sad to see that Russian sentiments towards Stalin generally are (and have been) positive, despite the Kremlin’s half-hearted attempts to disassociate him from the Great Victory cult that is now the primary spiritual glue used to keep Russia together.

russian-sentiments-on-stalin

That said, it is very valid to ask why said apologetics industry for Stalin developed in Russia from the 2000s in the first place. Was it Kremlin propaganda? Nope. Only people whose only exposure to Russia is through the dregs of Western journalism can seriously believe that. Putin’s own statements on Stalin have been consistently ambivalent, and even the infamous “Stalinist” textbook episode of 2009 – just one minor textbook of many dozens, which the Western media portrayed as a state-backed “rehabilitation” of Stalin – contained sentences such as “ruthless exploitation of the population.”

So if this wasn’t due to a Kremlin propaganda campaign, then why the enduring Stalinophilia? My view is that it was Russian society’s response to the wholesale “blackwashing” of Stalin that took place in the 1990s with rhetoric about “muh 72 million victims of Communism” lifted from Cold War scholars in the West who had to speculate in the absence of archival access.

Such extreme positions were uncritically pushed by the Westernizing ideologues who constitute Russian liberalism once society opened up in the late 1980s and 1990s, to the extent that the phenomenon even got its own ironic meme (“billions shot dead personally by Stalin”). Considering some of the truly crazy stuff that was floating about – there were entirely serious articles in the liberal press arguing that Nazi conquest could have been better for Russia than Stalin – this was not too surprising in hindsight.

One would think that given Stalin’s actual record, which was sordid enough, you would not need to “blackwash” him any further, but ideologues will be ideologues, so what happened happened, and next thing you know many people started suspecting that given the false facts and figures being pushed about Stalin – demonstrated so by the newly accessible archival evidence itself – then maybe they were lying about everything else as well, and well maybe Stalin was actually the good guy after all, maligned by his bitter and limp-wristed successors who “sold out” the Glorious Leader.

And thus a huge strand of the Russian “patriotic” opposition to the liberal neocon hegemony of the 1990s, which had decidedly triumphed by the end of Putin’s first term, had in the process also become infested with Stalinophilia – even though it is not really compatible with Russian patriotism, let alone Russian nationalism (which the Communists, including Stalin, ruthlessly persecuted). The tendency of Stalin’s popularity to wax and wane in sync with the state of Russia’s relations with the West – lower when they are good, and higher when they are bad – strongly suggests that the debate over Stalin in Russia has nothing to do with real history. Instead, it is merely one of several tribal identifiers in politics, much like denial of global warming is a tenet of the Red Tribe and blank slatism is a tenet of the Blue Tribe, both of which have everything to do with American-specific politics and nothing to do with science. In Russia’s case, this Stalinist identifier – like the broader patriotic Great Patriotic War ideology onto which it has affixed itself – gets deflated and boosted whenever Russia veers between globalist integrationism and siege mentality, respectively.

This is not critical in the short term. To be sure, it generates negative headlines in the West, but that’s irrelevant because even if Russia were to uneqivocally start condemning Stalin, Western editors would just find something else to latch onto so long as Russia remains a sovereign country. In the longer term, however, these contradictions will have to be resolved.

 
• Category: History • Tags: Iosef Stalin, Russia, Soviet Union

economist-usa-mass-shootings

SourceThe Economist

Not only has there been an increasing incidence of rampages in the US in the past thirty years but it seems that average kill scores have been ramping up.

I think this trend will only intensify in the years ahead.

A couple of years ago there was a lot of agitation around TrackingPoint, a weapons company that coupled a gun with a tracking system. All you had to do was tag your target, press the trigger, and align the reticle with the tag, which would automatically fire the shot while making adjustments for range, wind conditions, your own motion, etc. Accuracy far exceeds what even the best marksmen are capable of with a traditional rifle and scope outfit. You can also shoot around corners and barricades with special eyeglasses (this was once an exclusively military technology which has now made its way into the civilian market).

Now TrackingPoint’s products aren’t really the sort of weapons you can do a productive rampage with – crucially, it is single shot, and extremely expensive ($20,000) to boot. But it should soon be possible to create far more effective solutions. For instance, a standalone mod that contains a database of common gun models (and maybe the option to input custom data) that you can strap onto any old AK. An accomplice can tag targets remotely through a connected smartphone, or even automate the process entirely on the basis of face recognition. Think of the kind of head shot percentages you can achieve.

Even more creative solutions can be thought up. Just the sort of stuff you can do by coupling this with drones can provide material for countless cyberpunk stories.

Once you have a certain penetration rate of such technologies and a high enough percentage of mentally ill, highly aggrieved, and/or high risk ethnoreligious groups in your society, I suspect draconian gun control will become all but inevitable – even in a society as traditionally liberal on this question as the US.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Futurism, Guns, Terrorism

zyklon-ben-abandon-eu-ship

Source: Ben Garrison – Abandon Ship

In recent days the Brexit debate has suddenly gone from boring to interesting, with opinion polls swinging from a comfortable lead for Remain to a neck and neck race between staying in and leaving the EU. One of the most recent polls has even seen Leave take a ten percentage point lead over Remain, though it remains an outlier.

wikipedia-polls-brexit-2016The major financial institutions now rate the chances of Brexit at 30%-40%, which is in sync with the odds given by prediction markets. (Quite the change from the start of this year, when it wasn’t even clear that the Brexit referendum would be held in the current year and I gave it a 10% total chance of happening).

What must be especially worrying for Bremain supporters is that polls have historically tended to have an anti-conservative bias in the UK, the most famous example being the 1992 elections (which saw the coining of the famous “Shy Tory” term) and continuing through to today in both the 2015 elections (Conservatives did much better than expected) and the Scottish referendum (rejection of independence, a primarily younger and more liberal position, by a much larger margin than the polls predicted).

There are two big reasons for the turn around in the past few weeks.

First, there are problems specific to the Remain campaign, whose strategy basically boils down to: (1) Threatening Britons with negative economic consequences for Brexit; (2) Trundling out a bevy of Very Respectable People such as Barack Obama, Angela Merkel, Tony Blair, Tony Blair’s spinmaster Alastair Campbell, Peter Sutherland, George Soros, etc., etc., to make the case for Remain; (3) Displaying a “compendium of tabloid poltergeists” such as Trump, Putin, Le Pen, and ISIS who are alleged to support Brexit. Unfortunately, fewer people are impressed by such hamfisted tactics than were presumably hoped for.

pew-2016-eu-favorability-historical The second reason for the Leave surge is that it is part and parcel of the general disatisfaction with The Establishment sweeping the Western world, which has manifested itself in the good electoral performance of the Front National in France, the general swing towards nationalist parties throughout Europe, Corbyn’s successful takeover of the Labour Party in the UK, and the twin challenges of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump to the old order in the US.

This sense of disillusionment extends to the EU. Although the EU enjoyed a small bump in support in 2015 once the effects of the 2012 double-dip recession faded away, anger has since returned with a vengeance in the wake of the recent European immigration crisis and the widespread perception that it was disastrously mishandled by a dangerously out of touch globalist elite. There are also broader concerns with the EU’s lack of democratic legitimacy, opposition to national sovereignty, straitjacket monetary policies, and unsolicited geopolitical adventurism in Ukraine and beyond.

pew-2016-eu-favorability Indeed, one of the most stunning findings of a recent PEW poll is that Britain, once the central bastion of Euroskepticism, may have actually been superceded in its dislike of the EU not just by a Greece understandably upset with Frankfurt’s diktats (so hardline that even the IMF balked) but by a France where a majority now want a Frexit referendum of their own.

The only places where the EU remains unambigiously favorable is amongst its newer eastern members, their contrarian yapping in opposition to mass immigration regardless (which is ultimately for show, since to be quite frank no refugee is going to be staying in Bucharest when he can move on to Budapest and then Berlin).

The reason for that essentially reduces to money:

eu-transfers-per-capita

SourceReddit, OP’s per capita calculations based on EU data.

Basically, the Eastern Europeans get huge amounts of gibs from the West Europeans, especially the Germans and Scandis. Poland alone got €57bn in 2010-2014. These numbers are rarely mentioned but they are quite huge – in fact, in per capita terms, they are comparable to what the Russian budget gets from the entirety of its oil and gas sectors. Those much vaunted economies (“Polish economic miracle,” “Baltic tigers,” etc) would look much different without the huge capital transfers implicit in EU structural funds.

The EU has also been good for the northern countries who, unlike the Mediterranean states, have the discipline to keep labor costs down without resorting to devaluations: The Netherlands, Sweden, and of course Germany. In contrast to the stagnation in the peripheries, their economies have generally done well since 2010 and they have become labor magnets stripping the south and east of their human capital.

But for most of the rest of the EU these arrangements haven’t been working out, with the result that support for the EU there has generally plummeted.

These internal economics explain much of the panic behind Brexit, which from a certain perspective is admittedly altogether irrational. The exit of the UK alone would remove 10% of total EU contributions and 15% of net contributions (based on 2007-2013 figures). This would increase the funding strain on the other rich members. If more of the core countries then started to withdraw, it would conceivably lead a cascading collapse in which the last man out has to pay the utilities bills. No longer accruing benefits from its competitiveness advantage, Germany is the last major net funder to throw in the towel, and thus only the husk of the EU is left, stretching all the way from Lodz to Lemberg.

 

the-encounter-lgbt-vs-wahhabi

Eurasian News Agency ENA (8am Moscow/1am EST)

The Republicat regime has been shaken to its core in the wake of a brazen massacre of fifty members of the Orlando LGBT tribe at a gay club by an apparently lone gunman of the Wahhabi sect. Regime stalwart Marco Rubio, present at the scene, emerged shaken but unhurt, having dived head first into the foam when the shooting started.

The terrorist attack threatens a flareup of sectarian tensions even as President Obama, the public face of the regime, starts to tighten the screws to avoid a crisis of political legitimacy as dissident youth leaders and reform advocates start to question the reigning ideology of political correctness.

Leading members of the ruling Beltway clan, including both Obama and his presumed dynastic successor Hillary Clinton, have rushed to disavow any connections between the massacre and the Islami clan.

Meanwhile, the regime’s leading propagandists in the mainstream media have attempted to shift blame onto the dissident National Rifle Association (NRA) faction, many of whom are known as supporters of flamboyant oligarch turned democratic opposition leader Donald Trump. SJW commissars have been scouring the Internet clean of references to the Islamic connection on regime-friendly media platforms such as Reddit.

Political maverick Bernie Sanders too been quick to fall in with the party line. According to analysts at the Minsk Institute of Democratiology, this is further evidence for Professor Trollov’s theory that Sanders serves the role of controlled opposition in the Beltway’s corrupt system of “virtual politics.”

Popular anger has been mounting rapidly. In a remarkable escalation, Donald Trump has called for Obama to “immediately resign in disgrace” on account of his refusal to mention “radical Islamic terrorism.” Although Republicat spokesperson Greg Cuckierman condemned the “Dangerous Donald’s” remarks for inflaming sectarianism and ethnic hatred in America’s “vibrant multicultural society,” activists tell us Americans have become increasingly hesitant to swallow the party narrative.

This goes especially for the meme-empowered younger generations on social media platforms such as Twatter and Fuckface, who use a sophisticated system of signalling including Pepe the Frog, triple parentheses, and even more obscure memes invented by the hacker 4chan to organize at the grassroots level and poke holes in the official narrative.

“Globalism is a scam, man!” communicated @SchlomoGoldbergShekelstein1488 to ENA reporters via Telegram, “I mean, a haji kills a faggot, and who’s to blame? An evil white oppressor with a gun!”

Other, more milquetoast, activists pointed out that gun control had not prevented the Bataclan massacre in Paris and that in any case the shooter’s status as a security guard with the G4S security company would have provided him with easy access to guns. They also asked questions about why an Orlando mosque had been able to call for the pogroms of gay people two months before the shooting with apparent impunity.

afghanistan-not-hajnalMeanwhile, the user @JayMan471 and the HBD thinktank has been spamming us with the following map (see right). We have no idea what it means and our reporters are avidly scouring the globe for anyone who can give us a clue, or for that matter even gives a shit.

Of critical importance in the weeks head will be the reaction of the LGBT clan itself, which had hitherto been almost entirely on the side of the Republicrat establishment thanks to its position of privilege within the regime.

However, according to Beltwayology expert Maksim Putlerov, Director of the Chelyabinsk Institute for Scientific Racism, any assumptions that this state of affairs is here to stay indefinitely are invalidated by the experience of the European vassal states, where the violent intrusions of the Islami clan into traditional LGBT inner city tribal territory has resulted in 25% of Parisian homosexuals supporting the democratic opposition party Front National.

“Under Obama the US is one of the very worst countries for homosexuals in the world,” observed Putlerov. “Fifty of them have just been killed for political reasons. That’s far more than under any previous President, and for that matter far more than under Vladimir Putin. However, we expect the regime to continue focusing on gay rights in Russia as part of the West’s rhetorical strategy of whataboutism.”

“There are now only two ways out for the regime – voluntary reform and democratization, or repression, revolution, and the Thousand Year Trumpenreich.”

“Unfortunately, it appears that the regime has embarked on the path of repression,” concluded Putlerov.

This assessment is increasingly hard to deny. The Director of the Minsk-based Western Observatory for Human Rights (WOHR) has noted many disturbing signs of the Beltway regime tightening the screws in recent months.

Independent candidates such as Donald Trump and even the controlled opposition such as Bernie Sanders have been the targets of slander campaigns that were so well-coordinated that they could only have come from the very top. Whistleblowers that humiliated the ruling cliques have been driven into exile abroad. Loyalist thugs under the banner of Social Justice, better known outside the US as titushki, have prevented opposition activists such as (the gay) Milo Yiannopoulos from giving speeches at university campuses and assaulted his supporters without consequence. Father away from the cameras, SJW death squads funded by regime’s gray chancellor George Soros have been on the hunt for gay Hispanic Trump supporters.

Yet despite the best efforts of the hardliners to maintain and accentuate the climate of fear under which the regime operates, the system is increasingly shaky. Increasing numbers of the Republican wing of the Republicrats have “boarded the Trump Train,” despite the best efforts of the deep state to sabotage him. The Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C. is reporting an unprecedented surge in visa applications. Rumors abound that Jeb Bush’s wife and children have been flown to safety in Cancun.

Moreover, the unrest has quietly been spreading to foreign shores, with recent polls in Britain showing that the majority now wants to leave the European Union. With the ruling regime now focusing on securing its loyalist heartlands, all the geopolitical experts ENA queried insist that the biggest international reverberations have yet to begin. “Must clear away the rubble before you can build,” as @BasedFelNRx told us via an encrypted communications line which we traced back to a location in Silicon Valley.

This is a bit too cryptic for us, but it does tie in with a question that more and more people are now asking: Will the Beltway regime survive the Current Year?

 
• Category: Humor • Tags: Terrorism, Trolling, United States

I have often remarked that a convenient way to think about East Asian comparative economic development is to view its three biggest players – China, Japan, and South Korea – as being separated by twenty year “chunks” of development, with Japan being on its leading edge and China being its laggard.

For instance, here is a graph of their respective per capita GDP growth rates from 1950 for Japan, 1970 for Korea, and 1990 for China – the years when all three passed the $2,000 mark (in terms of 1990 Geary-Khamis dollars, the standard unit of measurement used by what is probably the world’s most accessible comprehensive economic history database compiled by Angus Maddison).

east-asia-comparative-economic-development

This argument has recently been advanced by Jingyi Jiang (via Brian Wang), who likewise noticed the similarity of Japan’s, Korea’s, and now China’s “miracle economy” growth experiences – although his explanation of this might be a bit lacking:

Third, South Korea, Japan and China are geographically close. They trade a great deal with each other, and both South Korea and Japan invest directly in China. These close economic ties suggest that their growth experiences could be similar.

Alternatively, it could have something – just a little – to do with the fact that all three of these countries have First World average national IQs, which have been shown time and time again both on this blog and increasingly in academia to be the best predictors of economic potential around. I know, crazy thought, that.

Jingyi Jiang predicts China’s ultimate steady state level of GDP per capita at around half of the American level. The basis on which he does this is pretty weak: “No country in the world has been able to sustain growth rates of 7 percent or higher for more than four decades.” But this does not have to apply to China, since its level of economic development had been artificially suppressed by Maoist economic lunacy prior to the 1980s. Since China’s average national IQ and hence human capital potential is comparable to that of Japan (which has settled at 75% of the US level) and that of South Korea (at 65% of the US level, but continues eking out small gains), an ultimate limit of 50% seems to be unduly pessimistic.

Of course in population terms China is Japan x10 or Korea x25, so even half the US level of GDP per capita translates to a Chinese economy that is more than twice as large as the US in aggregate and at least as large in terms of military spending even if the share of GDP devoted to it remains 2% and 4% for China and the US, respectively. This is why all the numerous pundits who have argued that the (actually largely non-existent) China hype is all fake by smugly pointing out similar trends with respect to Japan in the 1980s are either idiots or knowing peddlers of nonsense.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: China, Development

russia-historical-football-rank

Russia is surprisingly mediocre at the beautiful game.

What makes this at first sight all the more surprising is that Russia is hardly a slouch when it comes to many other sports. It is consistently in the top three at the Summer Olympics, beaten out only by the US and China with their much larger populations and financing. It came a resounding first in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. In ice hockey, it is currently a close second to Canada and practically never falls out of the top five.

But when it comes to football, Russia is now, on the eve of UEFA Euro 2016, a miserly 29th in the world, with an Elo rating of 1736. For context this translates to an 86% chance of losing to France, the host country with a home advantage at +100 Elo points, and which is considered to have the highest odds (24%) of winning the tournament.

This is not for lack of interest and enthusiasm. As in almost all of Europe, football is the most popular spectator sport in Russia, even ahead of ice hockey. Even so, even the United States with its essentially dilettante attitude towards football (yes football, not soccer) is ahead in 21st place.

Nor is it for want of financing. Although Russian footballing had a tough time in the depressed 1990s, investment strongly picked up from the 2000s – a development reflected in the hiring of ever more prominent (and expensive) foreign names as coaches of the national football team: Guus Hiddink in 2006, Dick Advocaat in 2010, and Fabio Capello from 2012 to 2015. The two Dutchmen were fairly successful, with Russia seeing its higher ever Elo football rating during this period and advancing to the semifinals in Euro 2008. But under Fabio Capello, the Russian team collapsed so drastically that his contract was ended three years earlier than originally planned. For all the considerable money Russia has spent on its national football team in the past decade, it remains way behind in the Elo ratings relative to both the major European national teams and even some decidedly financially lacking countries such as Peru and Bosnia.

It can’t have much to do with cultural traditions or the specific physiology of Slavs either. Croatia with its mere four million people is 18th and has always punched well above its weight in football. Slovakia, which Russia will face in the group stages of this tournament, is marginally ahead in 25th place globally. Even Japan is now marginally ahead of Russia in the global football Elo ratings, despite the fact that in the case of East Asians, a case can actually be made that cultural and physiological factors might play significant negative roles.

No, the explanation for Russian footballing mediocrity is much more banal, and can be summed up in this one map of January isotherms.

europe-january-isotherms

Needless to say, footballing requires a lot of skill.

To develop skill, you have to play a lot. Preferably year round. This is very hard to do when temperatures are substantially below freezing (correlating to the blue parts of the map). You can play in smaller spaces indoors, but it’s just not the same thing. You can theoretically have heated stadiums, but its very expensive and AFAIK nobody actually consistently bothers with it. Furthermore, even if you train your best players in heated stadiums (or abroad) during the winter, national football teams are drawn from (and discarded back into) a huge talent pool. Providing everyone in this category with elite climate controlled facilities is impossible.

The Soviet Union, which was consistently much more successful at football than Russia ever was, proves the rule: A large percentage of its star players were drawn from Georgia and southern Ukraine – that is, the parts of the USSR with the least hostile winter climate. Even today a highly disproportional share of elite Russian footballers come from the Kuban, the only parts of Russia with a winter climate that is at least somewhat comparable to that of Germany. Nowadays Georgia is considerably lower than Russia, but that is on account of a very low population of less than 3.7 million and virtually no money. Meanwhile, Ukraine, with three times fewer people and about ten times less money, is ahead at 16th globally.

Croatia, one of the most successful footballing nations in per capita terms, also happens to be smack dab in some of the most football friendly territory in all Slavdom. That almost certainly explains its impressive per capita performance.

Ultimately, mastery in football requires a combination of physical fitness, discipline, and artistry. The Germanics tend to max out the first two while not slacking on the third either. The Latins max out on the third, and while far more variable than Germanics, their best teams in any one year have the first two well down as well. My impression is that the Russian team at its best tends to be adequate at all three – it can be energetic, and artistic, and even well disciplined (the latter especially when coached by a Germanic).

But not outstanding. All three elements to some extent lack a degree of what I can only describe for lack of a better word as polish: Discipline but losing possession due to blunders just that more frequently than the Germans or the Dutch; Enthusiastic and active when they have the tempo, but that much more prone to sink into despondency when the tide turns against them; Creative but without quite the out-of-this-world flair and finesse of the very best Latin teams.

We shall soon see if Leonid Slutsky has made any progress in restoring the Russian football team to at least the level it was pre-Capello. But for Russia to get a truly worldbeating time it will probably have to wait for methane clathrate collapse plus thirty years for the post-runaway global warming generation of footballers to come into their prime. /sarcasm

 
• Category: Humor • Tags: Football, Russia

The most well known index of corruption is Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. However, as I have frequently pointed out, it has a lot of problems. The biggest one lies in its very name – perceptions are not necessarily equal to reality, even – or especially – if they come from a narrow class of self-appointed political and economic “experts” whom Transparency International queries when compiling the CPI.

In an attempt to remedy this, back in 2011 I compiled the Corruption Realities Index 2010 on the basis of objective measures of corruption such as the percentage of people who said they had paid a bribe in the past year, the results of blind reviews of national laws and regulations on corruption, and measures of budget transparency. Some countries, such as Italy (more corrupt than Saudi Arabia according to the CPI) and Russia (more corrupt than Zimbabwe according to the CPI) considerably improved their standings in the CRI relative to the CPI.

Now along comes a new index of corruption, or more precisely, of “a society’s capacity to control corruption and ensure that public resources are spent without corrupt practices.”

The iPi is based on the following six factors:

  • Judicial Independence
  • Budget Transparency
  • Administrative Burden
  • Trade Openness
  • E-Citizenship
  • Freedom of the Press

The first two factors seem to be the two that have the most to do directly with corruption. The second two are more incidental, though it is true that fewer regulations c eteris paribus results in lower corruption. Although one can see how e-citizenship is an extension of deregulation, in practice the particular measures used for it – such as the number of Facebook users as a percentage of the population (!) – is actually of highly questionable value. What are you going to do, report corruption on Facebook? And what if you use Twitter or Vkontakte instead? Although in principle Freedom of the Press should be a powerful tool in the battle of corruption, ratings are drawn from Freedom House which is just as subjective as the CPI (i.e., completely) and even more politicized, which makes this particular subcomponent totally useless.

The need for a truly objective measure of corruption realities remains.

Here is how this Index of Public Integrity (iPi) tallies up versus the CPI as of 2015 in terms of country percentile rankings:

cpi-ipi-2016

That said, the iPi, unlike the CPI, is based on significantly more objective/data-based measures, and unsurprisingly, both Italy and Russia (as I intuited) are some of the biggest relative improvers. This goes to support my longstanding arguments that in terms of corruption although Russia is an underperformer within Europe it is also not particularly bad at a global level, being around the average for middle-income countries, transition countries, and fellow BRICS countries, and nowhere near the “Zaire with Snow” outlier it is frequently portrayed as in the Western media.

China does considerably worse here on the iPi than the CPI. As an authoritarian country with a lot of economic regulations and telephone justice that stands to reason, though one might think that having the death penalty on the books constitutes a considerably greater “capacity to control corruption” than the absence of Facebook. The incidence of bribery polls indicate that low-level corruption in China is now actually quite rare for a country at its developmental level.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Corruption, Russia

I just finished updating my Unz Review custom blogroll, along with an expanded set of “inspirational” quotes.

Here it is:

***

karlin-sketch

ANATOLY KARLIN joined the Unz Review in January 2015 to blog about Russia, geopolitics, HBD/psychometrics, and futurism.

For a comprehensive overview of my past and present projects, as well as links to my current social media accounts, please visit my website akarlin.com.

***

Blogroll

This is not so much meant to be comprehensive as to illustrate the themes and individual thinkers whom I follow and am inspired by.

I do not bother including any MSM outlets, since I’m sure they can do just fine without my publicity. Most of my “front page” news I get via /r/worldnews, /r/russia, and RCW.

Especially important, useful, and regularly updated resources are marked by an asterix, while blogs that appear to gone dormant appear at the end in italics. And while I try to keep these things objective, if you include me in your blogroll that does vastly increase the chances that I’ll reciprocate.

 

Politics

Politics & Geopolitics

 

Russosphere

 

Library

 

HBD & Psychometrics

 

History & Economics

 

Philosophy & Futurism

 

***

 

Inspiring Quotes

 

Politics

He who does not love his mother more than other mothers and his country more than other countries, loves neither his mother nor his country. – Charles de Gaule (on validity of nationalism).

When will Russia get an idea for which one can live for and create for? Galina Dmitrievna, – for our children, our grandchildren, for our Motherland, Russia, it always was, is, and will be worth living for and creating for. What else is there? However we might try to come up with a national idea, it has to be said directly: There is nothing closer to someone than his family, his close ones, and his own country. – Vladimir Putin (on uselessness of ideology).

There is no left or right, only nationalists and globalists. – Marine Le Pen.

After communists, most of all I hate anti-communists. – Sergei Dovlatov.

Whoever speaks of Europe is wrong. Europe is a geographical expression. – Bismarck (answer to the “Is Russia Europe or Asia?” debates).

I am an atheist, but an Orthodox atheist! – Alexander Lukashenko.

He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. – Luke 22:36, NIV (they don’t teach this kind of Christianity nowadays).

Everyone who isn’t us is an enemy. – Cersei Lannister (clannishness defined in 7 words).

Don’t trust these three: The woman, the Turk, and the teetotaler. – Based Peter the Great.

 

Science & Futurism

Intelligence is what you need when you don’t know what to do. – Carl Bereiter.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) expressed it tersely when he heard a noted historian pro­ claim that it was by virtue of their very different gifts that Caesar became a great commander, Shakespeare a great poet, and Newton a great scientist. Dr. Johnson replied, ‘ ‘No, it is only that one man has more mind than another; he may direct it differently, or prefer this study to that. Sir, the man who has vigor may walk to the North as well as to the South, to the East as well as to the West.” – Arthur Jensen, The g Factor (its most poetic elucidation?).

I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of science, whatever the matter may be. – Lord Kelvin (on the necessity of quantification).

Personally, I’ve been hearing all my life about the Serious Philosophical Issues posed by life extension, and my attitude has always been that I’m willing to grapple with those issues for as many centuries as it takes. – Patrick Hayden (on life extension).

There are two kinds of scientific progress: the methodical experimentation and categorization which gradually extend the boundaries of knowledge, and the revolutionary leap of genius which redefines and transcends those boundaries. Acknowledging our debt to the former, we yearn, nonetheless, for the latter. – Academician Prokhor Zakharov (Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri).

The Orks are the pinnacle of creation. For them, the great struggle is won. They have evolved a society which knows no stress or angst. Who are we to judge them? We Eldar who have failed, or the Humans, on the road to ruin in their turn? And why? Because we sought answers to questions that an Ork wouldn’t even bother to ask! We see a culture that is strong and despise it as crude. – Uthan the Perverse (Warhammer 40K)

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age. – H.P. Lovecraft (the ultimately fate of the noosphere?).

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Blogging

rosa-luxemburg Rosa Luxemburg in her 1918 book on the Russian Revolution:

Ukrainian nationalism in Russia was something quite different from, let us say, Czechish, Polish or Finnish nationalism in that the former was a mere whim, a folly of a few dozen petty-bourgeois intellectuals without the slightest roots in the economic, political or psychological relationships of the country; it was without any historical tradition, since the Ukraine never formed a nation or government, was without any national culture, except for the reactionary-romantic poems of Shevschenko. It is exactly as if, one fine day, the people living in the Wasserkante should want to found a new Low-German (Plattdeutsche) nation and government! And this ridiculous pose of a few university professors and students was inflated into a political force by Lenin and his comrades through their doctrinaire agitation concerning the “right of self-determination including etc.”

It is actually rather remarkable how much her critiques echoes that of Russian conservative opponents of the Bolsheviks (even if from the opposite side of the ideological spectrum):

The Bolsheviks are in part responsible for the fact that the military defeat was transformed into the collapse and breakdown of Russia. Moreover, the Bolsheviks themselves have, to a great extent, sharpened the objective difficulties of this situation by a slogan which they placed in the foreground of their policies: the so-called right of self-determination of peoples, or – something which was really implicit in this slogan – the disintegration of Russia… One is immediately struck with the obstinacy and rigid consistency with which Lenin and his comrades struck to this slogan, a slogan which is in sharp contradiction to their otherwise outspoken centralism in politics as well as to the attitude they have assumed towards other democratic principles. While they showed a quite cool contempt for the Constituent Assembly, universal suffrage, freedom of press and assemblage, in short, for the whole apparatus of the basic democratic liberties of the people which, taken all together, constituted the “right of self-determination” inside Russia, they treated the right of self-determination of peoples as a jewel of democratic policy for the sake of which all practical considerations of real criticism had to be stilled.

Incidentally, Lenin himself had extensively critiqued Luxemburg on the nationalities question.

Just goes to further show that Ukrainian nationalists should be laying wreaths on the statues of the man who did more than any other to found their state instead of so ungratefully toppling them.

 
• Category: History • Tags: Communism, Ukraine

Interviewer – That’s because, that’s societies fault, we got to educate people about it.

M.A. – Life is too short for me to be catching hell for something like that, I’d rather be with my own, and have a beautiful daughter, beautiful wife, both look like me and we are all happy and I don’t have no trouble. I ain’t that in love with no women to go through all that hell, there’s no one woman that good. You understand?

Interviewer – I understand, I do understand, I think it’s sad ….

M.A. – (Interrupting) It ain’t sad because I want my child to look like me, every intelligent person wants their child to look like them, I’m sad because I want to blot out my race and lose my identity? Chinese love Chinese they love the little slanty eye, pretty brown skin babies. Pakistani love their culture, Jewish people love their culture, a lot of catholic wanna be with Catholics and want the religion to stay the same… who would want to spot up yourself and kill your race? You’re a hater of your people if you don’t want to stay who you are. You ashamed of what god made you? You think he made a mistake when he made you?

Interviewer – I think that’s a philosophy of despair, I really do

M.A. – Philosophy of despair? Here let me tell you, listen. No woman on this earth, not even a black woman in Muslim countries can please me and cook for me and socialize with me like my American black woman, no woman, and last is a white woman… can really identify with me and my feelings, and the way I act, and the way I talk…. it’s just nature, you can do what you want, but it’s nature to want to be with your own, I want to be with my own.

Incidentally, at the time when this interview was carried out (1971), about 75% of Americans would have agreed with him, including 40% of US Blacks.

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Humor, United States

A few days ago the Russian urban lifestyle magazine Afisha commissioned some big data geeks to visualize the percentage of Muscovite landlords specifying “Russians only” (“Slavs only,” “No Caucasians,” etc.) in their home rental listings.

Here is the resulting map (red is more “xenophobic”):

map-of-muscovite-tolerance-2016

The range of landlords making ethnic requirements varied from 0% in the center and west of the city to up to a third in the outskirts, especially the east and south. (The district where I come from is around 22%).

What do they tend to have in common?

Here is a map of rental prices in 2013 (red is more expensive):

moscow-property-prices-2013

Here is a map of the percentage of ethnic Russians from 1993-2003 on the basis of local birth records (red is more ethnically Russian):

 

moscow-percentage-russians-2000

And finally here is a map of the official candidate Sobyanin’s and the pro-Western liberal opposition candidate Navalny’s share of the vote in the 2013 Moscow city elections (bluer regions strongly favored Sobynian, while greener regions saw Navalny do relatively better):

m4-viboriTASS-1109-12

In other words, a typical limousine liberals vs. Putintariat story.

Although the lack of “Russians only” criteria in the richer, more liberal areas is probably substantially on account of their greater progressivism (even though Navalny is somewhat of an ethnic nationalism himself) the purely economic reasons are probably more important. If you can pay the rental rates in the center, which are twice as high as in the outskirts, chances are you’ll be better behaved regardless of your ethnicity and won’t mess up the place. Landlords in the outskirts however might have greater incentives to play it safe.

Or this happens.

wish-we-had-mexicans

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Minorities, Moscow, Russia

According to the latest figures from Gallup, only 1% of Russians approve of the US leadership.

russian-approval-us-leadership-2016

This is quite impressive. Not often you get such extreme figures.

Although the percentage of truly committed “zapadniks” in Russia is not high, around 15% at most, I do think the data must have taken a sharp turn down within the confidence interval. The figures for last year where 4%.

Incidentally, according to the independent Russian polling organization Levada, whereas positive impressions of the US as a country (not the leadership as with Gallup) plummeted to a record low of 12% by 2015, since then there has been a marginal recovery back up to around 20%. So, not a major change, but a minor uptick nonetheless.

russian-approval-us-2016

From the full Gallup report, here is a list of the ten countries with the dimmest view of the US leadership (China was not included in the survey):

. + -
Syria 20% 71%
Iran 19% 51%
Lebanon 18% 72%
Serbia 16% 56%
Yemen 15% 69%
Egypt 10% 62%
Belarus 9% 67%
Palestine 9% 79%
Kazakhstan 8% 70%
Russia 1% 89%

So that’s basically Russia+ and various Middle East countries it has bombed/invaded/tried to color revolution.

Iraq is a strong net negative, but at 30% approval, nowhere near the bottom of the list. Even Ukraine is a net negative, with 35% approval and 40% disapproval.

Countries with the most positive outlooks on the US leadership include a whole bunch of African countries topped by Congo-Brazzaville (80%); Kosovo (85%), Albania (74%), and the UK (65%) in Europe; and Cambodia (74%) in Asia.

 

In recent years there has been a surge in interest in gut flora in the wake of research on its substantial effects on personality, so much so that researchers have even taken to describing it as a neutral network.

And much like humans, and even their brains, they are not going to be an exception to recent evolution.

As Chris Kresser writes:

In other words, evolution does not act solely on your 23,000 human genes. Rather, it acts on the 9.02 million genes (both host and microbial) that are present in and on your body, as a single entity.

Moreover, the microbiome can introduce genetic variation and evolve through methods specific to it, such as sharing genes with each other and acquisition of new strains from the environment. And even the borders between bacterial genes and “human” genes are surprisingly porous.

The really interesting observation is yet to come:

Social behavior in primates is also thought to be a critical factor in the evolution of human intelligence (32). Access to microbes may have been a driving force in the evolution of animal sociality, since microbes confer many benefits to the host (33). Social behaviors like grooming, kissing, and sex increased the transfer of microbes from one organism to another. Studies in social mammals have found that development of the forebrain and neocortex in social mammals depends on signals from the microbiota (34), and germ-free mice that lack a microbiota also lack social behavior and show deficits in social cognitive abilities (35).

Depending on the size of these effects there could be some pretty important implications and confounds for psychometrics and genetics of IQ research.

Bacterial composition, for instance, though strongly hereditary, is also going to be affected by the food one eats (a cultural factor), the people with whom one has close contacts with (kissing, certain intimate contacts, and one supposes, effluence in non-hygienic countries), and the local geography, elevation, and climate. Could intelligence be a matter of not just blood and chance, but of soil?

Best not to get too carried away with yet. This paper finds that spousal partners did not have significantly more microbiome similarity than unrelated invididuals (though the sample sizes were small). Still, it might be worth bearing in mind.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: Ancestral Health, Intelligence

Many puzzling sociological developments can be explained through opinion polls. According to recent YouGov polls carried out in the US and Britain:

(1) Only 30% of American 18-29 year old men describe themselves as “completely” masculine, compared to 65% of over 65s.

gender2a

(2) If you are of the opinion this isn’t a great trend then prepare to get triggered even harder – Only 2% of 18-24 year old men describe themselves as “completely” masculine (relative to 56% of over 65s), while 14% of 18-24 year old women describe themselves as “completely” feminine (versus 59% of over 65s).

genderAge

(3) “British masculinity is a fraction of America’s.”

USUKgender

(4) … and is quickly becoming a dirty word. 42% of young British men have a negative impression of masculinity, more than the 39% who have a positive impression of it. In fact, they appear to dislike masculinity even more than young British women, of whom only 27% have a negative impression of “masculinity.”

masc

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Masculinity, Opinion Poll

Although militaries are fond of making grandiose announcements about prospective weapons systems that don’t end up amounting to much, this is the real deal.

The idea of the railgun is nothing new. The French thought up the concept almost a century ago, the Germans came up with the first viable designs during WW2, and there was interminable work on them by both the US and the USSR during the Cold War – the concept kept stumbling upon the twin challenges of barrel wear and power generation.

But technological progress is now finally making them practically realizable and once they deploy on a large scale they will revolutionize naval warfare.

railgun

You can have thousands of projectiles on a destroyer versus the 96 missiles a typical US destroyer is currently limited to. They do not pose an internal explosion risk. Like cruise missiles, they can be precision guided. Unlike cruise missiles, they approach from a ballistic trajectory that is more difficult to counter, they are far smaller, and they are capable of much more rapid fire. It should in fact be trivial to deliver a simultaneous barriage of several projectiles from a single railgun by angling the barrel over time in an appropriate pattern.

Moreover, the technology syncs very well with concurrent developments in free-electron lasers (FELs). Indeed, the same power plants that enable railguns can also power FELs. If one can already imagine the day when railguns will become a viable defense against cruise missiles, with the possible exception of the latest hypersonic ones being developed by Russia, then prospective FEL systems will all but annul them by providing an extremely potent point defense around the warship.

There has been some talk in the past two decades that the proliferation of cheap cruise missiles, which can be easily concealed within freight containers, might herald an end to modern “gunboat diplomacy” by providing Third World countries with an affordable deterrant against even the most technologically advanced navies. One consequence of these developments is that these visions are highly unlikely to ever get realized, with the advantage remaining firmly on the side with the advanced navy.

The US currently has the lead on railgun development, but China at least is not far behind. Their next destroyer model is basically going to see a convergence with that of the Zumwalt:

The China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) has reported online that its 206 Institute, which researches electromagnetic launch technologies, has made breakthroughs in electromagnetically launch boosted missiles and railguns designed for close in weapons systems (CIWS)… There have been online rumors that suggest that the second batch of Type 055 guided missile destroyers (potentially to be termed the Type 055A, following the naming pattern) will be armed with large railguns in the place of older 130mm cannons, for long range anti-surface and air defense warfare. The putative Type 055A destroyer class would likely be launched after 2020, and feature integrated electrical propulsion, for increased power generation to power railguns, lasers and advanced sensors.

Russia also claims to be developing railgun technology, although the lack of any concrete evidence suggests that it is lagging considerably (it’s not like Russia tends to refrain from showing off its weapons platforms on principle). However, this is probably not a major issue, since the railgun will enjoy its greatest utility at sea and Russia is primarily a land power.

In the prospective Great Power naval wars of the future – say, 2050, between China and the US – an extrapolation of current trends would suggest a conflict dominated by almost or completely automated destroyers or cheap “arsenal ships” firing autonomously-guided railgun volleys wherever their drone “eyes and ears” detect an enemy presence or even just based on probabilistic models (military satellites having been knocked out in the first days of the conflict and any further complex space activity having been made unfeasible for the next few decades).

Of course in this new environment surface ships will be in more danger than ever before, so the next logical step would be to install railguns on submarines. Or revive the old Soviet “dive boat” concept of a surface warship capable of shallow submersion.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Military

This month the SF Bay Area based rationality organization LessWrong has released the latest survey of its members, or rather of its “diaspora,” since the site itself has gone mostly dormant with many of their members now congregating at Scott Alexander’s blog and Yudkowsky’s various offshoots).

Although some critics disparage Less Wrong as a clique of depressed autists – a stereotype considerably affirmed by its own surveys – it also hosts a concentration of highly motivated and intelligent people, many of whom are involved in cutting edge pursuits (artificial intelligence, transhumanism, effective altruism) and, one suspects, will on average achieve more and contribute more to technological and scientific progress than even the typical person of a similar IQ. As such, that makes LWs an interesting object of sociological study.

Less Wrong Demographics 2016: International

Taking into account only people who gave concrete answers to the question of nationality, 54% of LWs listed their primary country as the United States, while fully three quarters belonged to the Anglosphere (US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand). The biggest non-Anglo communities were in Germany, Russia, Poland, France, Sweden, and Israel.

Below are all the countries which hosted more than 1% of the global LW community as gauged by the 2016 survey.

Country Share of Global LW Population
United States 54.1%
United Kingdom 7.8%
Canada 6.0%
Australia 5.9%
Germany 3.5%
Russia 2.3%
Poland 1.7%
France 1.4%
Sweden 1.3%
Israel 1.2%
Netherlands 1.1%
Denmark 1.1%
New Zealand 1.1%
India 1.1%
Finland 1.0%
Others 9.6%

In per capita terms, as you might have guessed, this is in ethnic terms a primarily Anglo, Judaic, and Nordic community. It has a modest presence in East-Central Europe, which begins to fade as you go into Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, and Latin America, and vanishes almost entirely in high IQ East Asia (even in rich, developed countries such as Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan which all have strong contacts with the SF Bay Area, the epicenter of the global LW community).

map-lesswrong-global-demographics-2016

In geographic terms, the Hajnal Line can as usual be discerned but it is shifted substantially east into Eastern Europe. Possibly this is because many LWs have a programming background, and Eastern Europe has no shortage of good programmers.

Less Wrong Demographics 2016: United States

Considering only the US, non-Hispanic Whites are substantially overrepresented relative to their share of the US population, while Hispanics and especially Blacks are very much underrepresented.

LessWrong Race (USA, 2016) %share %USpopulation Overrepresentation
White (non-Hispanic) 87.3% 62.1% 1.41
Middle Eastern 0.6% 2.5% 0.22
Hispanic 2.3% 16.9% 0.14
Black 0.4% 12.6% 0.03
Asian (Indian subcontinent) 1.9% 1.3% 1.52
Asian (East Asian) 3.5% 4.3% 0.81
Other 4.1% 9.1% 0.45

East Asians are underrepresented, though they converge with (non Jewish) Whites when Fillipinos – of whom there are almost as many as Chinese in the US – are removed from the East Asian category. However, considering that Less Wrong has its epicenter in the SF Bay Area, which is now a quarter Asian, and it becomes fair to say that relative to the population that Less Wrong typically draws upon – technically inclined, high IQ, Californian, SF Bay Area – and the East Asian underrepresentation becomes very, very substantial (though it is impossible to quantify this precisely since this survey had no information on where precisely in the US respodents came from).

In so doing, this underrepresentation provides yet another hint towards alternative explanations for the “bamboo ceiling” that have nothing to do with structural oppression and more to do with things like whether you have the curiosity to browse through Yudkowsky’s sequences in your free time.

LessWrong Race (USA, 2016) %share %USpopulation Overrepresentation
White (non-Hispanic) 76.7% 62.1% 1.23
Middle Eastern 0.3% 2.5% 0.13
Hispanic 1.9% 16.9% 0.11
Black 0.4% 12.6% 0.03
Asian (Indian subcontinent) 1.9% 1.3% 1.52
Asian (East Asian) 3.5% 4.3% 0.81
Jews 11.9% 2.0% 5.97
Other 3.3% 9.1% 0.37

When the figures are adjusted to count people who identify as Jews as a separate ethnicity, that dramatically lowers White overrepresentation and basically converges Middle Easterners with Hispanics. Asians from the Indian subcontinent overtake them, though not when adjusted for their greater demographic presence (not to mention intelligence and presence in the tech world) in the SF Bay Area.

lesswrong-racial-demographics-usa-2016

Meanwhile, the Jews themselves come to account for a larger share of the Less Wrong population than all the other non-White minorities combined.

lesswrong-racial-demographics-usa-2016-overrepresentation

There are six times as many Jews in Less Wrong as their share of the US population. Apart from their off cited intelligence, there are also relatively more Jews in the SF Bay Area than the average for the US, at around 3% of the population. Furthermore, considering that both of the most prominent “gurus” of Less Wrong, Eliezer Yudkowsky and Scott Alexander, are Jews, this is perhaps not all that surprising.

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Jews, Rationality, San Francisco
Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

I am a blogger, thinker, and businessman in the SF Bay Area. I’m originally from Russia, spent many years in Britain, and studied at U.C. Berkeley.

One of my tenets is that ideologies tend to suck. As such, I hesitate about attaching labels to myself. That said, if it’s really necessary, I suppose “liberal-conservative neoreactionary” would be close enough.

Though I consider myself part of the Orthodox Church, my philosophy and spiritual views are more influenced by digital physics, Gnosticism, and Russian cosmism than anything specifically Judeo-Christian.