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On the previous Open Thread, spandrell asked me about my favorite Indian restaurant in London. I don’t really have the means to comprehensively answer that question (though I did do that for Moscow), but I will try my best.

I have an inordinate fondness for the Gujarati Rasoi stall at the Borough Market. It’s the only “British” food that I occasionally crave apart from fish and chips. I have long been of the opinion that Indians are the only people who can do vegetarian food. I can say that Tower Tandoori and Roti Chai are both perfectly good, though the latter is a bit on the expensive side. Do not go to the India Club – bad food, and they demand tips (wtf?). The Dishoom chain is very good and has a great atmosphere – their premises are lined with old books on India. Aladin Brick Lane is a cheap, kitschy, but good in its category hardcore BYOB curry place (that is where I tried my first and likely last phaal).

I am currently at a conference regarding certain psychological matters. I will write about that next week, and so will James Thompson, most likely.

***

@ak

More notable posts since the last Open Thread in case you missed any of them.

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Featured

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World

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Coffee Salon

  • Irkutyanin: “Translation of a very important chronicle of Henricus de Lettis This monk chronicles the initiation of the Baltic Crusade and also details the first 40 years of relations with Novgorod and Pskov as well as the first Mongol Invasion of Russia.
    • Mstislav of Novgorod prepares to open a massive war against the knights but is interrupted by the fall of Galicia to the Hungarians. This is extremely important historical evidence against those who claim no ties existed between geographically disparate Rusian princes.
  • Becoming the father: Cognitive heritability increases with age
  • Lance Welton: Does Female Equality Mean More Lesbians?
  • Scott Alexander: A Critical Period For Lactation Fetishes
  • whyvert: “Social welfare use in Switzerland: Somalis 83.7%, Eritreans 54.7% … Swiss 2.3%, Australians 1.0%, Irish 0.9%, Japanese 0.6%

***

Culture War

  • There is a new 14 year old girl anti-SJW YouTube star and Mr. Bernstein of Buzzfeed wants us all to know about her.
  • Mangan speculates it won’t be long before SJWs go on the warpath against the keto diet
  • Andrew Anglin predicts that anyone right of Ben Shapiro will be banned from the Internet in 1-2 years.
  • *game of thrones* “Themes are for eighth-grade book reports,” Benioff told me. This explains a lot.
  • Bronze Age Pervert on visiting Budapest.
    • I recently spent more than a month in Budapest and I thought I’d pass along some impressions. Seeing people flip out about “authoritarian fascist nationalism” of Orban is very strange, Budapest is much in feel like any theme park West European city…very wine bar place…
    • Budapest men are not beaten down, far from it, but they don’t walk owning the streets like you see even in Tokyo; the wimin are empowered, daily life is designed to cater to them: everything clean, safe, well-run. No political ferment. Of course this is because they WON…
    • Remember how they compare Putin to Kim, call Russia totalitarian, contrive a panic about supposed concentration camps for inverts…when in fact Moscow is another liberal wine bar place with a vibrant ghey scene. Brazenness of lie becomes clear when consider ease of travel
  • Roosh: 7 Things I Learned About Serbian Women. #5-6 are supposedly especially accurate, according to a Serb friend.
  • Girl jumping like a horse.
  • *ak* Ideal biological lifeform.

***

 
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Since the end of the Malthusian era, science-based technological growth has been the source of almost all long-term economic growth. However, we also know that it didn’t accrue in all regions evenly. For instance, Charles Murray in Human Accomplishment showed that the vast majority of “eminent” figures in science and the arts hailed from Europe, especially its central “core”. Areas that saw high intensities of researchers centuries ago tend to remain at the forefront of world economic success to the present day.

Despite the hype around Moore’s Law, there is mounting and disquieting evidence that technological growth is slowing down. It takes more and more researchers to get similar rates of innovation. The price of chip fabs double with every new quadrupling in chip density (Rock’s Law). At the most fundamental level, problems tend to get harder – not easier – as one climbs up the technological ladder (see my article Apollo’s Ascent). Meanwhile, the epochal increases in literacy, population, and average IQ in the past two centuries that have increased the human capital available to our civilization by several orders of magnitude are now petering out.

Given these mounting constraints on the future expansion of technological civilization, I would submit that it is now especially important to acquire a good understanding of where elite science currently comes from.

***

The Nature Index

What can we use as a proxy? Nobel Prizes in the sciences lag real world accomplishments by 20-30 years. Measures of individual eminence, such as Pantheon, only become crisp in long-term retrospect, and moreover, the Human Accomplishment database only runs to 1950. Total number of articles published, patents granted, R&D personnel, or R&D spending don’t adjust for quality. University rankings may be biased due to reputational and “brand” name factors, such as the worldwide prestige enjoyed by Oxbridge and the Ivy League. What can we then use instead?

The Nature Index (natureindex.com) bypasses almost all of these problems. This index measures the amount of publications in the 82 most prestigious scientific journals in the natural sciences. While they account for less than 1% of natural science journals in the Web of Science database, they produce almost 30% of all citations in this sphere. Every year, every research institution and country that contributed to these journals gets a score on the Nature Index measuring its research output (there is also a “running total” for the past year that covers Dec 2017-Nov 2018 as of the time of writing). This makes the Nature Index an ideal source of crisp, up-to-date, quantitative data on the production of elite level science.

There are two versions of this index: AC (article count) and FC (fractional count). In the former, every author’s institute and country gets a uniform score regardless of the number of coauthors. In the latter, every accepted article gets one point, which is divided equally between its co-authors’ institutions and countries. It would appear that FC would be the better measure of the true level of elite science production, while AC would be a better measure of involvement in international scientific collaboration.

***

The Noosphere

So where do the “Science Points” in our run of the Civilization game get generated?

Country FC12 FC13 FC14 FC15 FC16 FC17 FC18 Grow pc
1 USA 37.2% 36.5% 34.9% 35.0% 34.6% 34.1% 32.8% -2.1% 100.0
2 China 8.9% 10.2% 12.0% 12.9% 14.0% 15.8% 18.4% 12.7% 10.9
3 Germany 8.0% 8.0% 7.9% 7.8% 7.8% 7.6% 7.4% -1.3% 87.8
4 UK 6.4% 6.4% 6.3% 6.5% 6.6% 6.3% 6.1% -1.0% 90.9
5 Japan 6.8% 6.6% 6.2% 5.7% 5.5% 5.3% 5.0% -5.0% 40.1
6 France 4.6% 4.4% 4.3% 4.1% 4.0% 3.8% 3.6% -4.1% 53.6
7 Canada 3.0% 2.9% 2.9% 3.0% 2.7% 2.7% 2.6% -2.2% 69.9
8 Switzerland 2.3% 2.3% 2.5% 2.3% 2.3% 2.3% 2.3% -0.4% 259.9
9 Korea 2.3% 2.3% 2.3% 2.4% 2.3% 2.2% 2.2% -1.1% 41.4
10 Spain 2.4% 2.3% 2.1% 2.0% 2.1% 1.9% 1.9% -3.7% 38.4
11 Australia 1.7% 1.8% 1.9% 2.0% 2.0% 1.8% 2.0% 2.6% 71.7
12 Italy 2.1% 2.1% 2.0% 2.0% 1.8% 1.8% 1.7% -3.9% 27.8
13 India 1.5% 1.7% 1.8% 1.6% 1.6% 1.7% 1.6% 1.3% 1.2
14 Netherlands 1.5% 1.5% 1.5% 1.5% 1.6% 1.6% 1.5% 0.1% 86.7
15 Singapore 0.9% 0.9% 1.0% 1.0% 1.0% 1.0% 1.0% 1.1% 176.7
16 Sweden 0.9% 1.0% 1.0% 1.1% 1.0% 1.0% 1.0% 1.2% 97.7
17 Israel 1.0% 0.9% 1.0% 1.0% 1.0% 1.0% 1.0% -0.9% 110.2
18 Taiwan 1.2% 1.1% 0.9% 0.8% 0.8% 0.7% 0.6% -10.1% 29.7
19 Russia 0.6% 0.7% 0.7% 0.7% 0.7% 0.7% 0.7% 3.9% 4.7
20 Belgium 0.7% 0.6% 0.7% 0.7% 0.8% 0.7% 0.7% -0.7% 57.4
21 Austria 0.5% 0.5% 0.6% 0.5% 0.6% 0.6% 0.6% 1.7% 69.4
22 Denmark 0.6% 0.6% 0.6% 0.6% 0.7% 0.6% 0.7% 1.6% 102.1
23 Brazil 0.4% 0.5% 0.5% 0.4% 0.4% 0.4% 0.5% 4.0% 2.0
24 Poland 0.4% 0.4% 0.4% 0.4% 0.4% 0.4% 0.4% 1.3% 9.5
25 Czechia 0.2% 0.2% 0.2% 0.3% 0.3% 0.3% 0.3% 5.4% 30.0

This table shows each country’s global share of the FC, that share’s annual growth rate from 2012-2018, and per capita performance relative to the USA (=100).
Note that data for FC2018 is based on Dec 2017-Nov 2018, since the final data for the year is not available yet.

The immediate thing that strikes one is the sheer extent to which global science production is lopsided in favor of the developed world.

map-nature-index-2018

World map of elite science production per capita (USA=100%), based on Nature Index 2018 (FC 2017 – that is, fractional count for the year 2017).

In per capita terms, the US plus “core Europe” (Switzerland is single best performer) dominate, while developed East Asia & the Mediterranean are twice lower. China and Eastern Europe are 3-4 times lower in turn, while the Third World is negligible.

In absolute terms, there is an emerging triarchy dominated by the US (33% of global elite science production), the EU (27%, of which just ~1% accrues to the new members), and China (18%).

Those three blocs accounting for almost 80% of global science production. Almost all of the rest accrues to other developed countries, such as Japan, Switzerland (its 8.5 million people account for 2.3% of elite science production – marginally more so than South Korea’s 52 million!), and the various Anglo (Australia, Canada, New Zealand) and Sino (Taiwan, Singapore) territories. India accounts for just 1.7%, Russia and the V4 – about 0.8% each; Brazil – 0.5%.

About 68% of world elite science production (76% in 2012) accrues to what we might term “the West” (the “Five Eyes” Anglosphere, the EU-28, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Israel). Another 27% (20% in 2012) accrues to East Asia (the Sinosphere, Japan, the Koreas, and Vietnam); the Sinosphere itself (China, Taiwan, Singapore) accounts for 20% of it, up from 11%. In total, the global demographic that John Derbyshire refers to as “ice people” – high IQ northerners, i.e. “Greater Europe” (the West, f.USSR, and non-EU Balkans) and East Asia – account for an astounding 96.2% of global elite science production. Moreover, even as the balance within the “ice people” shifted from the West to East Asia during the past half decade, their overall share of elite science production has remained almost perfectly constant (96.4% in 2012).

The remainder is accounted for by India (1.6%; up from 1.5% in 2012); East-Central Europe (~1.1% up from 1.0%); Latin America (~1.1%; up from ~0.9%); Russia (0.75%; up from 0.59%); Dar Al-Islam (~0.70%; up from ~0.42%); Sub-Saharan Africa (0.20%; up from ~0.11%).

NOTE: Data for lower ranked countries (not in Top 50) is not available for 2012-2014, so the above figures will slightly overstate the improvements within blocs containing many such countries, e.g. Dar Al-Islam and Africa. This is not going to make any significant difference to global patterns, as the Top 50 countries consistently account for >99.5% of world elite science production.

***

Within the developed countries, the EU and the US have both lost their share of global scientific production at an annual rate of ~2% since 2012. However, there are marked national differences. The Mediterranean (Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece), France, and Japan have all collapsed at 3-5% per annum; meanwhile, Switzerland and the UK have almost tread water, while the Scandinavians and Australians outright increased their shares by ~1% and ~2.5% per annum, respectively. The Med’s underperformance relative to Northern Europe may be linked to brain drain,

The Visegrad countries increased their share at a modest 2.5% per annum (modest because they should be at least the level of the Mediterranean). However, there are major differences between them. Starting off at 0.23% and 0.16% of world elite science production, respectively, Czechia increased its share to 0.32% by 2018, versus a decline to 0.13% in Hungary. Orban has not been good for Hungarian science. Poland was middling between the two, increasing from 0.35% to 0.38% of world elite science production.

As mentioned above, Russia increased its share from 0.59% to 0.75% from 2012-2018, translating into 4% annual increases (although coming from the collapsed post-Soviet base). While Russia is a minnow on the global stage, it has nonetheless consistently produced 90% of elite science in the former Soviet space. The Ukraine collapsed from 0.07% to 0.03% during this same period, translating to an annual declnie of 10% every year; together with Taiwan, this is the worst performance of any country in the Top 50. The only other countries of note are in the Baltics, which have collectively increased their share from 0.03% to 0.05%.

China has seen blistering growth rate of 13% per annum (!), overtaking Poland in per capita terms. In the process, it has gone from 24% to 56% of US absolute performance from 2012-2018 while doubling its share of global elite science production from 9% to 18%. China’s share of the Sinosphere has soared from 81% in 2012 to 92% by 2018. In the meantime, Taiwan saw the biggest collapse of any major scientific country, with its share of global production falling by 10% annually between 2012-18. I have speculated that this may be a direct result of China’s “31 Steps for Taiwan” strategy to drain the renegade island of human capital.

South Korea lost its share at a rate of 1% per annum, suggesting that it had already fully converged to its potential c.2010.

It is worth noting that some 0.14% (up from 0.11% in 2012) points of Sub-Saharan Africa’s 0.20% share of world elite science production accrues to the Republic of South Africa. Consequently, “Black Africa” north of the RSA produces just 0.05% of world elite science production. This means that tiny Switzerland produces ~50 times more elite science than all of Black Africa, despite having just 1% of its population size; the average Swiss is 5,000 more scientifically productive than the average Sub-Saharan African.

***

IQ and the Noosphere

What explains the regional patterns above! You guessed it!

* Karlin, Anatoly, and Andrey Grigoriev. 2019. “Модель факторов инновационной эффективности страны.” Siberian Psychology Journal. [PDF] [in Russian]

We found explained variance of 40% between national IQ and research output when fitted with a quadratic function, which increased to 54% when we adjusted for the impact of a socialist legacy in the past or present, and this socialist legacy’s interaction with IQ. GDP per capita was not found to predict science production above that predicted by average IQ, while IQ did account for 7% points above what just GDP pre capita explained. National IQ was likewise found to be explain more of the variance in science production than personality factors.

Scientific production (per capita) is generally imperceptible within countries with an average IQ lower than 90, and largely insignificant in countries with an average IQ lower than 95.

There appears to be an order of magnitude increase in per capita elite science production for every 10 point gain in national average IQ.

***

The Future of the Noosphere

As we have established, only a small subset of high-IQ capitalist countries hosting most of the world’s “smart fractions” are responsible for 95%+ of elite science production. This would not be a surprise to HBD/IQ realistists. However, it doesn’t hurt to underline an important implication: If “ice people” were to vanish, world science production would, very likely, come to a complete standstill. And then we get the Age of Malthusian Industrialism.

It is true that many countries are performing below potential. In particular, on the basis of national IQs, I expect the countries of the former socialist bloc – Visegrad, Balts, and ex-USSR – to converge to at least Mediterranean levels (Czechia is already there). This presumes a further doubling in Poland’s performance, and a quadrupling in Russia’s (at least so long as funding is forthcoming). However, the limited demographic weight of these regions will make their impact largely irrelevant on the global level, even should they converge to US/core Europe levels.

While Chinese science production will eventually dominate the world – just as it will economically, and probably militarily – I would caution against an excess of Sinotriumph. Despite their high average IQs, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan have all ended up converging at the level of the Mediterranean countries such as Italy and Spain. Now China tends to lag South Korean development by a remarkably constant 20 years; extending this into the future against South Korea’s “scientific convergence” data of ~2010 suggests that Chinese science production will max out relative to the US within another decade by ~2030. If that asymptote is somewhere around that of Korea and Taiwan – which generate 41% and 30% of US per capita elite science production, respectively – then total elite Chinese scientific output will not exceed the American figures by much more than 50%. Consequently, at this point, we may only reasonably expect for China to add another America’s worth of elite science production to the world before it stabilizes (as opposed to 3-4 Americas’ worth if its science generation was a straightforward function of average IQ).

Explaining East Asian economic and innovation underperformance relative to their IQs is a topic for other posts, though I think it can likely be attributed to much higher levels of conformism.

There are no good grounds to believe that other regions of the world will become scientific powerhouses anytime soon.

The only partial exception may be India, which has a Brahmin smart fraction that is equivalent in absolute size to the population of a large European country. However, one should not expect miracles. Despite vigorous economic development in the past half decade, India’s share of global science production has barely budged.

The only significant upwards exception to the IQ-science production correlation is Saudi Arabia, which produces a modest amount of elite science – almost all of it at KAUST, a lavishly funded institution whose overwhelmingly Western professors were poached with oil money.

Consequently, the prospects for radically increasing world elite science production without machine superintelligence or genomic IQ augmentation seem rather limited.

This will mainly come from more efficient utilization of Chinese & East European talent, which can be expected to converge to Med levels but probably no further. In the meantime, dysgenic fertility trends will continue, even as the Flynn Effect completely peters out as almost the entire world gets access to sufficient schooling, adequate nutrition and healthcare, and near optimal institutions. And – needless to say – the problems that need to be solved for further progress to occur will tend to get harder and harder.

However, there’s also good news – the possibility of science production collapse due to demographic change may not be as serious as some HBD realists and/or immigration restrictionists tend to believe. While massive Third World immigration may lower average IQs, the native smart fractions are still preserved; and it is the quantity of these smart fractions, not average IQ per se, that plays a much greater role in economic prosperity and scientific productivity. Scandinavia remains on the ascent, memes about “Sweden Yes” regardless. Repeated SJW censorship scandals regardless – from dismissing a respected academic for making a light-hearted joke about women to the recent hounding of Carl Noah out of a fellowship at Cambridge University – the United Kingdom continues to do rather well. Despite the continuing depletion of its European population, South Africa – perhaps the most extreme case of “population replacement” – actually increased its share of global elite science production between 2012 and 2018. Meanwhile, it has fallen in Orban’s Hungary, despite its as of yet significant unexploited human potential.

Diversity may be a long-term risk to scientific production, but anti-intellectual populism is a much more immediate one. Recent news of Brazil’s Bolsonaro slashing university funding by 30% will soon provide us with another test case.

***

 
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Russian citizen Oleg Tishchenko to face charges in US for buying fighter jet manuals to use in a flight simulation game DCS World after extradition from Georgia.

It appears that Eagle Dynamics has kicked their employee to the dogs, claiming that Tishchenko was acting in a “purely private context and for his own personal interests.” Even though the manuals directly relate to a new module for the F-16 that DCS is releasing soon. Doesn’t sound like the sort of company anyone would want to work for.

This is yet another case of American legal imperialism, which treats entire world as its jurisdictional demesne. How long will Russia continue to tolerate such arrogant pretensions?

That said, holidaying in West-aligned Georgia isn’t very smart for people on American watchlists. Actually it’s probably worse than going to Western Europe, which may not be as eager to carry out political extraditions as Washington’s lickspittles in Eastern Europe. Irony is, there’s a good chance that this dev was pro-American. As I have said, Georgia has become very popular amongst the Moscow hipster set.

 
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Bernard-Henri Lévy interviews Orban and writes about it in The Atlantic.

This reminds me of when Putin allowed Masha Gessen to interview him.

I don’t really get why they do it. First, ideologues who hate you will not think or say any better of you for your “magnanimity”.

“Why did you choose this monastery? Why such an austere site?” …

“Because my old offices were in the Parliament building down the hill on the other side of the Danube, and that wasn’t good from the point of view of the separation of powers.”

He would have been more truthful had he said, Because I wanted to dominate this town, which is the only part of the country that is still resisting me.

Indeed, BHL claims he doesn’t believe Orban from the get go in their conversation. So is there any point to it whatsoever?

Second, why grant such privileges who hate you in the first place? Say what you will of him, but even Trump isn’t inviting the Maddows and Molly McMew’s for heart-to-hearts at the White House.

Third, there’s a good possibility they’re going to go overboard to portray you in as bad light as possible after the interview. That’s what ideologues do. Though in Orban’s case, I do wonder if BHL had to do even do much of that.

Frankly, Orban comes across as kind of dumb, or at least naive.

With one exception, which occurs when I raise the case of Gábor Iványi… By revoking the fellowship’s church status, the regime has choked off its funding.

“I know Iványi well,” he interrupted me. “He baptized two of my children. But it was a decision by the Parliament, which is absolutely responsible for church affairs. Moreover …”

He hesitates, seeming to search for words.

“Moreover, he called me a fascist. And that is the only thing for which I cannot forgive him.”

So he admits to having a grudge against this Iványi fellow, but assuredly his troubles are purely parliamentary in character, in a country where his party commands a supermajority, but most certainly in no way is Orban a fascist and he will get very upset if you call him that.

Like, I don’t care, but that’s the takeaway that intelligent normies will have on reading this, thanks to Orban buying into the frame that accusations of fascism are legitimate and necessarily bad. Never cuck!

“Are you thinking of Marine Le Pen?”

Hearing this, he stiffens, and his laughter disappears.

“Absolutely not! I have nothing at all to do with Madame Le Pen. Nothing.”

“Why not?”

“Because Laurent Wauquiez warned me that she was a red line.”

“Laurent Wauquiez?”

“A friend of mine. I have a lot of friends in France, you know.”

Why is this Wauquiez fellow important? Why does Orban feel the need to disavow so stridently? It is perfectly legitimate to cooperate with opposition forces in foreign countries. Why exactly is Orban obligated to treat MLP as a pariah?

And when I ask him about the source of the Magyar strain of anti-Semitism, which was, after all, one of Europe’s deadliest, he counters with this astonishing response.

“Béla Kun.”

Kun was a Lenin ally who, in 1918, founded the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic.

“Yes,” he insists. “Béla Kun. The Jews played a large role—an unfortunate fact, but a fact nonetheless—in his abortive attempt at a Communist revolution. And that is what undid the fine alliance in Budapest between the Jewish and Magyar people.”

Is he aware that, by equating the terms Jew and Bolshevik, he is reprising one of the major themes of 20th-century anti-Semitic propaganda?

The one saving grace about this interview is that BHL is too smitten by his own ethnocentric derangement to really dig that shiv in.

“You know full well that they didn’t stay.”

“That’s true. But they could come back. That’s the rule in the European Union. A migrant always has the right to return to the place where he entered the Schengen Area. And you have to understand something: Hungary has always been a land of passage; everybody, absolutely everybody, has traipsed through here. I have no desire for that to start up again.”

He concedes that the right of return is valid for only six months and that, as a result, any risk of a “reverse tsunami” is slight.

He also concedes that the former Orbán had lauded Hungary for serving as an escape route for East Germans seeking refuge in the West. …

“Even if the pope does not agree with you and continues to reaffirm the duty to welcome and shelter migrants?”

Silence.

He seems to concede a lot in BHL’s retelling. I do hope an independent video was made?

“And Erdoğan?”

“There is something you have to know about Erdoğan. He’s a big soccer fan, like me. And soccer fans share a trait. They have a muscle here, in the lower back …”

He leans out of his chair a little, as if to show me his lower back.

“And that’s what Erdoğan and I did the first time we met. We touched each other’s lower back—and recognized a fellow fan.”

Erm, OK.

“Let’s call it a miracle. Shouldn’t this miracle be all the more mistrustful of the Ottoman imperialism that is galloping back in Ankara?”

“Yes, of course. But once again, pay attention …” He gestures toward the shelves of the library in which he closets himself every Thursday. “Scholars have made a lot of progress. Especially the linguists working on the Finno-Ugric matrix from which the Turkish and Magyar languages are derived. I mean to say that our two nations have a past that is what it is, but we are also cousins.”

No serious scholar puts any stock in the hazy theory that is known in Ankara as Pan-Turanianism. But it seems to meet the needs of Viktor Orbán.

This nationalist mysticism is exactly the image you want to portray to the Blue Checks and normie NCPs who would read anything by BHL in the first place.

Unless you meant to troll them. Then that’s perfectly fine.

But in that case, why DISAVOW Marine Le Pen and wish SOROS good health and good luck?

And when I, in turn, ask him, in front of the camera, if he might have a message for his former mentor, he responds not once, but twice: “I wish him good health and good luck.”

Going on.

“I mean to imply that we must be careful. Very careful. We must support Ukraine, since it is the main bulwark between us and the Russians. At the same time, we must not provoke Putin. And that is why I oppose the European Union’s sanctions against him.” …

“The Europeans are being incredibly hypocritical. On the one hand, they lecture us. On the other hand, I wasn’t the one, at least as far as I know, who launched the Nord Stream 2 project that puts you at the mercy of Russian gas.”

OK, that’s good, but it’s far too defensive.

I think of what is rumored in Budapest about Orbán’s business ties with Putin and the Kremlin.

And I think of what I am going to say on a Budapest stage in a couple of hours about this real-world Luke Skywalker who may have gone over to the dark side of the Force, become the puppet of the oligarchs’ empire, and made his old friend Lőrinc Mészáros the richest man in the world in the same way Caligula made his horse a senator.

Throughout this interview – as retold by BHL, at any rate – I was consistently surprised by the low quality of Orban’s replies that I would have assumed he’d have stock answers to.

But this is perhaps one of the big questions that I haven’t figured out how I’d answer myself were in Orban’s (or Putin’s) shoes.

Obviously, as they are running perpendicular to – if not directly against – globalism, all of these people need a moneyed counter-elite that is loyal to them personally (as opposed to the rootless cosmopolitanism that oligarchies naturally evolve towards). For Putin, that is people like Sechin, or the Rotenbergs. In Hungary, I assume it is people like Mészáros.

Sure, “advanced” Western countries such as Sweden don’t do that. But on the flip side, they pay even more to Somalis on permanent welfare. I for one would take Sechins over Somalis. The Sechins are at least temporary, while Somalis are forever.

This is actually rather similar to Dugin’s concept of “patriotic” corruption: http://www.unz.com/akarlin/the-triumph-of-patriotic-corruption/ (though Dugin, being a tolerant man, would never libel Somalis so).

However, ordinary people – understandable – don’t really take it that well when you couch you and your friends’ corruption in “patriotic” terms. But to have a sovereign country, you need a bunch of rich guys who are loyal to you and can bail you out in an emergency. At least if you’re not willing to go the full hog and establish overt controls over the elites, like China does with its red telephones from Zhongnanhai to the CEOs of its biggest companies.

But I have no idea how to elegantly justify this even though I’ve thought about it quite a bit. The dominant strategy seems to be to ignore it, or play “you too” games. Which are never all that convincing because Western agents aren’t really that rich – they don’t have access to the nation’s feeding trough, after all, and while NGOs can be rather generous, they’re never going to compete with nationwide infrastructure contracts or state-owned resource giants.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Bernard Henri-Levy, Corruption, Hungary, Orban 
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Here is the podcast: Robert Stark talks to Anatoly Karlin about Andrew Yang and The War on Normal People

Robert Stark is a Yang supporter. You can check out his article “Andrew Yang and the Post-Nationalist Future” at Taki’s Mag. Brandon Adamson (website) also participated, but unfortunately he was cut off due to technical problems early in the podcast.

Topics:

Anatoly’s articles Yang Hasn’t Gone Anywhere, 7 Reasons Why #YangGang Is More Than Just A Meme and What Does Everyone Think About Andrew Yang?
The young educated demographic of support, THE GREY TRIBE, and faction from the dissident right
Yang’s chances of winning
Yang over Trump but Trump over Harris or Biden
Tucker Carlson agreeing with leftist on Venezuela Intervention
Why Yang’s UBI and VAT proposal are relatively Centrist
Iran’s UBI experiment
Peter Turchin and theory of elite over production leading to social instability
Asian American Identity and positive mentions of China
Charles Murray’s COMING APART and Bubble Quiz
The potential impact of the UBI and automation on immigration and demographic trends
How America’s failure to adjust to new realities is leading to social tension

I didn’t have much new to add to what I already wrote in my book review, with one exception. I wanted to address one common argument that UBI skeptics tend to bring up. This argument boils down to automation alarmists having been consistently wrong over the decades. Motorization didn’t remove people from the factories, to the contrary it created many new jobs. Attempts to completely automate car factories from as early as General Motors in the 1980s have floundered time and time again. Robots will create many new jobs and things will continue ticking along just fine.

My response is that the critical difference between then and now is that the new generation of robots is run on much more powerful AI. By and large, they don’t need inputs of human brainpower – the previous limiting factor – as they do the thinking themselves. Now yes, there are some jobs that are hard to automate, even with AI – typically, these are jobs that require fine motor skills – but ultimately, how many air conditioner repairmen and cleaning ladies does society need?

So what will actually happen is that the oligarchs who own the robots will come to control massive slave armies of labor that do most jobs much more effectively and much more cheaply than any human. There’s only so many personal assistants, cleaning ladies, and court jesters that these oligarchs will need. There will be some makework in the government bureaucracy, and I suppose companies will retain human HR departments (because we have established that AI is racist), but that’s about it. There will be as little economic need for humans as there were for horses after the arrival of cars and tractors, whose numbers in the US fell from 20 million c.1920 to 2 million by the 1970s.

 
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***

In approximately 36 hours I will departing for London to debrief with my MI6 handlers attend a certain controversial conference. You can look forwards to copious reporting on the latest in IQ research within the week.

International travel is not cheap, especially as I didn’t manage to convince my institution to pay for it. So I suppose now as is as good a time as any to launch a donations drive.

You can donate to me via one of the following methods:

  1. Sponsor me on Patreon
  2. Bitcoin: 17tDufZUEK3DvQh3rY75F3xtVgxj4TzdtB
  3. Paypal donation
  4. Yandex Money via Yasobe (for ruble accounts)

Thanks. Much appreciated.

The more money I get, the more time I can afford to devote to writing and travel reports (e.g. Romania).

***

@ak

More notable posts since the last Open Thread in case you missed any of them.

***

Featured

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Russia

***

World

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Coffee Salon

  • *shut it down* Right wing social science researcher Noah Carl had his fellowship at Oxford University rescinded under SJW pressure.
    • His response: Noah Carl Controversy: FAQ
    • They also managed to hound out Jordan B. Peter, even though Peterson is 1,000x as famous, so I doubt this will make a ripple (apart from further confirming that left-wing ideologues rule the roost in academia). Nonetheless, I wish him the best on his legal case.
  • Lynn, Richard. 2019. “Reflections on Sixty-Eight Years of Research on Race and Intelligence.” Psych 1 (1): 123–31.
    • You should check out Psych. It’s a new journal, articles are free, and seems to be highly pro-freedom of speech while having a DOI unlike Mankind Quarterly.
  • Angrist, Noam, Simeon Djankov, Pinelopi Goldberg, and Harry A. Patrinos. 2019. “Measuring Human Capital.
    • In Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda three-quarters of grade 3 students cannot read a basic sentence such as “the name of the dog is Puppy.” In rural India, half of students in grade 3 cannot solve a two-digit subtraction problem such as 46 minus 17.
    • So this is exactly what the IQ researchers have been saying for more than a decade, but obviously, none of them get cited in a World Bank publication.
  • Tal Tyagi: The Iraq War Was Not About Oil. I agree with the general argument, even if describing Iraq as a “thriving democracy” is overreaching.
  • Consciousness research Andres Gomez Emilsson argues against my & Scott Alexander’s intuition that capacity for suffering is correlated with neuronal complexity.
    • Suggests wireheading lab animals; putting crickets out of their existential misery.
  • You know that Brown Pundits blog where Razib Khan writes now? 55% of its Indian readership is Brahmin, vs. ~4% of general population.
  • *build that wall* Steve Sailer reviews David Frye’s Walls: A History of Civilization in Blood and Brick at Taki’s Mag.
  • Yasha Levine: “People forget what a totally openly fascist country America (and Canada) was before WWII. Everyone loved eugenics and human selective breeding programs. Wave of the future! Men would enroll their wives and children in “Fitter Families” contests—alongside their hogs and cows.

***

Culture War

***

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Censorship, China, Open Thread, Russiagate, SJWs 
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Graph of air accidents in Russia 1923-2019 (via the blogger genby).

  • Thin red line – deaths per year; Thick red line – deaths averaged over 5 years.
  • Thin blue line – accidents per year; Thick blue line – accidents averaged over 5 yeas.

Mishaps regardless, flying continues to become much safer in Russia, just like in the world at large: http://www.unz.com/akarlin/flying-has-become-far-safer/

Furthermore, note that the number of passengers carried has almost quintupled since c.2000, and has exceeded the Soviet era peak reached in 1990 since 2017: http://www.unz.com/akarlin/russian-aircraft/

As regards the Superjet, the accident last week rules out any prospects of the SuperJet achieving any kind of commercial success. Bad luck or not, losing 2 airframes out of ~150 deliveries during seven years of commercial operation is catastrophic. For comparison, the infamous Boeing 737 MAX also has a failure rate of ~1% of airframes – although that’s over just three years of flying.

That said, some of the propaganda that has been coming out about it is quite ridiculous and even downright wrong:

It is clearly aimed at shaming Russia into further developing its domestic aviation sector.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Aircraft, Demographics, Mortality, Russia 
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German_reader looks askance at my theological speculations. Am I serious?

Yes, actually, I am.

Here are a few ways of interpretating Russian 20th century history:

1. Russians spent 70 years under the rule of a succession of traitors and saboteurs. It turns out that Trotsky and the old Bolsheviks were traitors and foreign agents (1930s), as were their executioners (late 1930s), but then Khrushchev discovered that Stalin wasn’t really a comrade (1956), although Khruschev himself turned out to be an adventurist (1964), who was replaced by Brezhnev who people realized was a decrepit alcoholic who caused zastoi (mid-1980s), but that was OK because Gorbachev was gonna fix it and reform the corrupt Party (late 1980s), only to have it all come crashing down after which he too became an enemy, traitor, and foreign agent.

This is the literal Soviet version of their history when you get cancel out all the doublethink.

2. Russians spent 70 years serving as biomaterial for the intrigues of the English aristocracy.

Yes, there really is a theory that the USSR was a “cryptocolony” of England (and the RF remains such to this date). Guy called Dmitry Galkovsky. He enjoys great cred amongst many Russian nationalists for some reason I don’t understand. Why the hell would you even want to be a nationalist of a loser country that’s been cucked by the cucked royal family of a country that is cucking itself away into non-existence?

3. Russians spent 70 years getting anally raped by the Schicklgrubers, Dzhugashvilis, and sundry Bronsteins of the world. And many of them think that’s just swell to this day.

This is the non-sovok description of the 20th century that also happens to not be a Fomenko-tier historical conspiracy theory. Consequently, it is also the most credible one.

So yes, I am entirely serious about the Sixth Proof.

Given the choices on offer, I would much rather believe that God punishing Russia for its sins than any of the alternatives. It is in fact the only one in which Russians don’t come off as veritable subhumans.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: God, Soviet Union 
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Five years since the referenda in Donetsk and Lugansk about joining the Russian Federation.

By early February 2014, numerous regional administrative offices (OGAs) had been seized by Maidan forces in Far West Ukraine, with attempts at storming them elsewhere in the West and Center. Some city and regional councils made autonomy- or even independence-sounding proclamations.

Now suppose that instead of wavering and signing an agreement with the opposition that they almost immediately turned their backs on, Yanukovych had ordered a truly forceful clearing of the Maidan, with the security services given carte blanche to use live arms and guaranteed total immunity from prosecution if or – let’s be honest, when – they came under armed attack.

Suppose that over a period of several weeks the Ukraine would have succeeded in restoring Constitutional order everywhere except for the far western provinces of Galicia, Rivne, and Ivano-Frankovsk (the historical and political heartlands of Ukrainian nationalism). By February 20 (in the real timeline), some bands in the far west had already begun to arm themselves, including with heavy weaponry from local storage sites – much as was happening in places like Lugansk and Slavyansk come March-April. Image that instead of going back under government control, the OGA seizures in the far west metastasize (lots of ammo dumps there given Ukraine’s Soviet-era military posture, plus a couple of military units might have defected), reject the government’s authority, and start incubating their own state structures.

Suppose then that Yanukovych had launched an “Anti-Terrorist Operation” against the West Ukrainian militants. Throughout all this, suppose that Russia has negligible or minimal involvement, apart from – obviously – rhetorical support for Yanukovych, and strong statements in support of Ukraine’s stability and territorial integrity. Suppose this ATO has lukewarm support in the East and South, but is opposed in the Center and universally hated in the Far West.

How would you have reacted to this scenario? What about Western politicians? As the Ukrainian Army shelled Lvov, would it be a case of Yanukovych “killing his own people” and calls for intervention? Or at least furbishing supply and training to the rebels/terrorists? Peacekeepers? Sanctions? Against just Ukraine, or Russia as well, if Russia refused to join the West in condemning the Yanukovych regime? To what extent would they support the right of the Ruthenian Neo-Habsburg Republic to autonomy, to independence, etc.? Or would they support Yanukovych, the alt-ATO, and preserving Ukraine’s unity and territorial integrity?

 
• Category: History • Tags: Alternate History, Ukraine, War in Donbass 
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While I am not much of a religious person, there is one particular argument for His existence that I find to be rather convincing*.

Those who wage war on God are unmade by God.

And their descendants, too.

The idea that He is humane, or fair to individuals, is a modern conceit. The Old Testament makes it clear on many occasions that the iniquities of the father are visited upon the children.

I am Yahweh your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them, for I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and on the fourth generation of those who hate me, and showing loving kindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

And we do indeed see an unmistakable pattern of God punishing those who would wage war against Him – through regicide, treason, Communist idolatry – in the 20th century.

Russians betrayed their fatherland and committed regicide in 1917-1918, and the abominations this spawned in Moscow and Berlin turned their children into mincemeat (it wiped out 40% of the 20-40 y/o male cohort: A literal sacrifice of firstborns). The bloodletting was especially concentrated in Nazi-occupied Russia and Belorussia, which constituted the core of Bolshevik support in the Civil War, while White-supporting Siberia got off lighter.

While the Russians did not create the Bolshevik regime, all too many of them sat quietly on the sidelines while demons in human form murdered the priests, looted the churches, and mocked Him with impunity. Their punishment was to be themselves murdered by the millions in terror-famines, purges, and the Gulag. The Old Bolshevik sadists were themselves liquidated in turn during the late 1930s. The Russian aristocracy, having betrayed its Sovereign, would be annihilated within their own country, their daughters taken by zealots from the shtetls; or slowly dissolve into nothingness in its exile abroad.

In relative power terms, the Russian Federation is but a pale shadow of the Soviet Union, which in turn was but a failed shadow to what the Russian Empire could have been – an economically developed superpower of 400 million Slavs at least equal to the United States, as opposed to playing a foil to it.

Appropriately, the Jews and Balts paid an extremely heavy price for their disproportionate contribution to the murder of God’s representative on Earth and their critical role in supporting the Bolshevik regime. The Latvians were the only peoples in the Russian Empire to free vote in their majority for the Bolsheviks, and would play a critical role in suppressing revolts against Bolshevik power in the first year of the Civil War. The Jews sided with the Bolsheviks soon after, and would account for 40% of the Soviet state’s domestic security organs from ~1920 to the late 1930s. Ashkenazi Jews, Latvians, and Estonians are unique in that there are fewer of them today than in 1918. East European Jewry in particular got annihilated root and stem.

The Germans played a critical role in both financing the Russian Revolution (though not without some help from two key intermediaries – appropriately, a Jew and an Estonian). Thus we might view Hitler as a “scourge of God”, sent to punish Jews and Russians for their manifold sins against God. Although Germany was not punished as hard – it lost half of Prussia, but far fewer people – its offenses had also been more limited. Indeed, one may even view Germany’s defeat by 1945 as an example of God’s mercy, because if the war had continued for much longer, the Germans may have eventually been subjected to atomic democide from the Americans.

Almost all of the countries that provided “international brigades” – from Hungarians to Chinese – to help the Red Army in the Russian Civil War would also turn Communist, most often through that same Red Army.

The Tsar went into World War I in support of a country that had sponsored a regicide. That country subsequently lost more people as a share of the population than any other combatant nation. It ended the 20th century as a broken remnant, torn apart by North Atlantic terrorists and shorn of many of its own core territories.

Fortunately, there have already been four generations, so there is reason to think that the curse may be played out.

In Russia, the churches are being rebuilt, and Russians are enjoying vastly better health and wealth than at any previous time in their history. Russian territories are coming back to Russia, instead of fragmenting further.

Just as Jehovah punished Jews for spreading Communist idolatry a century ago, so now He rewards them for Israel’s faith and conservative values. He has helped them triumph over the Arab military and demographic threat, and more recently, He even chose Trump as US President (“Queen Esther“), who would recognize the Golan as Israeli and its capital as Jerusalem.

Conversely, if the Sixth Proof is true, one wonders about the blood price that God will exact of modern Americans and West Europeans for their disbelief and harboring of heretical doctrines.

Personally, I have no idea if this is true. I don’t exclude the idea that the Architect programmed in some global karmic function into this simulation, and obviously, there is no reason its moral foundations have to correlate to those of Enlightenment progressivism as opposed to Old Testament collectivism. And obviously, while this theory explains many things, plenty of lacunae remain. For instance, I really don’t know what the Irish have done so wrong; to the contrary, they seem to have held the covenant with God better than most nations. Even so, they underwent centuries of foreign domination, a huge manmade famine, and massive emigration. Their population today is far smaller than it was in 1840.

Nonetheless, I do believe that the evidence here is sufficiently strong for it to be worthwhile – effectively altruistic – to criminalize atheism, and liberalism as the gateway drug to Communism. It is better that a few heretics vanish than that an entire planet falls to Chaos.

***

* I have long entertained these ideas, but credit should also go to commenter AP, who has written similar thoughts.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Communism, God, Philosophy 
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This was a very nice livestream in which JF Gariépy gave my the chance to concisely set out my views on the intersection of Russia, the Alt Right, Russian foreign policy, and the Western media (amongst other things).

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Demographics, Nationalism, Podcast, Politics, Russia, The AK 
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Hanania, Richard. 2015. “Does Apologizing Work? An Empirical Test of the Conventional Wisdom.” (h/t Emil)

Politicians and other public figures often apologize after making controversial statements. While it is assumed that they are wise to do so, this proposition has yet to be tested empirically. There are reasons to believe that apologizing makes public figures appear weak and risk averse, which may make them less attractive as people and lead members of the public to want to punish them. This paper presents the results of an experiment where respondents were given two versions of two real-life controversies involving comments made by public figures. Approximately half of the participants read a story that made it appear as if the person had apologized, while the rest were led to believe that the individual stood firm. In the first experiment, involving Rand Paul and his comments on the Civil Rights Act, hearing that he was apologetic did not change whether respondents were less likely to vote for him. When presented with two versions of the controversy surrounding Larry Summers and his comments about women scientists and engineers, however, liberals and females were much more likely to say that he definitely or probably should have faced negative consequences for his statement when presented with his apology. The effects on other groups were smaller or neutral. Overall, the evidence suggests that when a prominent figure apologizes for a controversial statement, the public is either unaffected or becomes more likely to desire that the individual be punished.

Basically there is no reason to apologize regardless of the situation.

While the scandal may wreck your reputation or not as the case may be, you might as well avoid the self-abasement. Since it’s not going to do you any good anyway.

Not to mention that apologizing when you did nothing wrong is the action of a contemptible worm.

Women and liberals – by nature – favor the strong horse.

The evidence presented here suggests that seeing a public figure apologize either increases the desire to punish him or her, or has no effect at all. If this is the case, we may wonder why politicians do in fact so often ask for forgiveness in the face of controversy. It is possible that politicians apologize in order to receive better coverage from the media or even make a story go away. Political punditry can apparently affect voters’ preferences. In one experiment, individuals judging performances in a presidential debate were influenced by the nature of commentary they watched after the fact, when compared to a control group not exposed to the opinions of pundits (Fridkin et al. 2007). Likewise, if an individual apologizes for a comment that the media finds offensive, future coverage of that individual may be better than it otherwise would be. Such an argument requires the assumption that while members of the public are hostile or indifferent to those who apologize, members of the media will provide better coverage of an individual who shows repentance. Yet there is no reason to assume that this is the case, especially since most of the media leans to the left (Groseclose 2011: Groseclose and Milyo 2005), and liberals in this study appear to be those most likely to want to punish individuals for apologizing.

Nor does it seem that apologizing buys sympathy from the media.

Take a cue from Donald Trump, who at least has this down pat. Go on the attack. Flip the script. Agree and amplify. Basically do anything but apologize, because apologizing signals weakness, and weakness invites further attack.

 
• Category: Culture/Society • Tags: Liberalism, Psychology, SJWs 
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Personally, I have a feeling that Maduro will make it to the end of the year.

PredictIt odds are hovering at 50/50. Worse than 70% a month ago, but better than the 30% they gave this January. The main development since January has been a collapse of oil production, but there is good reason to think that some of the lost output has merely been shifted off the books to Rosneft in conntection with US sanctions.

I am not going to comment much further, since I am in no way shape or form a Venezuela expert.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Economic Sanctions, Venezuela 
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WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

RATING: 3/5.

I largely lost interest in Game of Thrones by the end of Season 5 (the only TV series I follow through the excellent cable alternative qBittorrent). So much so that it was not until just a week ago that I realized Season 8 had already started. As I explained in my review of Season 6, as the series has sprung ahead of the books, it has become increasingly clear that show writers D&D are talentless hacks who substitute expensive CGI and ever less subtle SJW propaganda in favor of a credible plot or genuine immersion in GRRM’s world. (Incidentally, now that GoT is finishing up, those two are now going to be working on a TV series about a scenario in which the Confederate States survive, which I imagine will be something like a cross between Django Unchained and the Draka Saga).

Since I have already invested quite a lot of time in the series, I’ll still watch the last season, and review it in due course. But first let me explain how it has continued going so horribly off the rails.

Any concerns about keeping logistics even halfway credible have been done away with. D&D essentially disappeared the 80,000 strong Tyrrell army, allowing the Lannisters – who had twice fewer troops, most of them worn down by previous wars – to easily take Highgarden (the richest and most populated province in Westeros). This is not credible, even taking into account Tarly’s betrayal of the Tyrrells. Moreover, the very fact that the Lannisters have any major supporters left at all is surprising, considering she’d just blown up a large percentage of the Westerosi nobility.

In my last review, I actually predicted this would happen; it wouldn’t be very interesting if the rest of Westeros were to just curbstomp them. But I also posited that the Lannisters would accomplish this through an alliance with Dorne, which has 50,000 spears and has also escaped war thus far. The 40,000 Lannister troops, 50,000 Dornish spears, and however many troops Tarly has would be comparable to the host mustered by the Tyrrells and their retainers, so a Lannister victory would at least be plausible. Thinking up of a reason for Dorne to ally with the Lannisters would be difficult, but not impossible. Perhaps an internal revolution?

But no, there was none of that. Just some handwaving about how the Tyrrells – the strongest military force on the mainland – are “not a martial house.”

Meanwhile, after casually kinslaying and kingslaying his way to leadership of the Iron Islands – things that used to be unspeakable tabooes, but which are now universally hunky-dory – Euron has embarked on a grand naval construction program. And what a program it is! The Iron Islands – a small piece of territory that has been described as “shitstained rocks”, and which I can’t imagine support more than 500,000 ironborn at the very most – have apparently built 1,000 longships over the course of a few months. 1,000 longships multiplied by a typical longship crew of 30 equals 30,000 reavers, or ~6% of their population (and that’s not counting Yara’s “defector” fleet). Medieval societies rarely mobilized more than 1-2% of their population. Moreover, the Iron Fleet appears to be imbued with magical enchantments, such as the “Invisibility”, “Telepathy”, and “Medieval Ekranoplan” perks. Or at least that would seem to be the most logical explanation, given how the Iron Fleet first ambushed and destroyed Yara’s fleet – somehow managing to sneak up on it in the open ocean during night-time – before swinging over to the other side of the continent in the very next episode and destroying the Targaryen fleet supporting the Unsullied assault on Casterly Rock.

I suppose that making the Iron Fleet so OP was necessary given the sheer disproportion that had developed between Lannister and Targaryen military power. But it was done in a way that left no room for suspension of disbelief.

Then there’s other small things which may not be critical by themselves but combine to massively degrade the quality of the series.

The Iron Bank isn’t going to side with Cersei because Daenerys disrupted the slave trade. The Iron Bank doesn’t invest in slavery. Moreover, as an institution founded by runaway slaves, it does not condone slavery. Braavos has even forced other city-states that it has defeated, such as Pentos, into abolishing slavery. Abolitionism is, like, its one value apart from making money hand over fist. They are not going to be impressed by Cersei’s arguments about the evil Daenerys freeing the slaves, sooner the opposite. But D&D couldn’t care less for world consistency.

How did Jaime manage to evade capture, and swim out of the river suited up in heavy armor? If I was writing the show, I’d have had Daenerys capture him, and Tyrion persuade her to use him as bait to draw Cersei into negotiations.

While there’s always been a bit too much of a grrl power element for a “gritty realistic” fantasy, in this episode it has been jacked up to eleven. Brienne has been built up to be this elite “tank” woman who can go head to head – and win – against people such as the Hound, one of the very best warriors in Westeros. But now we have a little girl who has been trained up by ninjas and maxed out her Agility and Dexterity stats into owning her with her little sword without so much as breaking a sweat.

The trial against Petyr Baelish was a sham. While we know all the accusations were true, the “evidence” in question wasn’t worth anything, and neither was Bran’s testimony, based it was on mere “visions” (which only we, the audience, can confirm). Moreover, I would point out that Sansa’s accusation that Baelish murdered Lysa contradicted her initial testimony to the Lords of the Vale, in which she claimed that her aunt had committed suicide. While the Arryn men were always suspicious of Baelish, why should they have trusted and automatically sided with Sansa? Now that she had directly contradicted her own, earlier testimony. Conveniently, Littlefinger broke down and appeared to (though not really) confess to everything, which prevented the whole thing from coming off as a show trial to uncritical viewers. But seen from the side, the Starks displayed far less concern for due process than either Lysa or Tywin had done with respect to Tyrion; both of the latter, at least, had granted the accused a trial by combat, as opposed to just slitting his throat. An ignominious end to one of the best characters in the series, and one that he was blatantly railroaded into by a pair of hacks with no regard for logical consistency.

More logistics autism. Ravens and dragons alike can now fly at the speed of the Corcorde airliner. Or perhaps the South American-sized continent of Westeros has shrunk down to the size of Great Britain now that winter has come.

Now I realize that that the show needs to strike a certain balance, to make things understandable for the audience and maintain the pace, which often comes at the cost of world consistency, logical plot progression, and suspension of disbelief. But I do strongly feel that D&D didn’t really even try. The entire narrative structure has progressively collapsed as the show has become more and more untethered from the plotlines laid down by GRRM in the books. The show writers are uninterested in continuing a great epic. They are interested in cheap drama, dumbed down plotlines, CGI porn, and getting a wide variety of sexual fetishes out onto the silver screen.

That said, the series does seem to have continued getting rave reviews since Season 5, when it all started going steeply downhill. So can one really blame D&D for playing to the peanut gallery.

I’ll review the eighth and final Episode in another couple of months or so.

 
• Category: Culture/Society • Tags: Film, Game of Thrones, Review 
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Guardian: Ukraine president offers Russians citizenship in snub to Putin

Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the comedian who last week won Ukraine’s presidential election, has dismissed an offer by Vladimir Putin to provide passports to Ukrainians and pledged instead to grant citizenship to Russians who “suffer” under the Kremlin’s rule.

I take back everything bad I ever wrote about Zelensky – not when it emerges that he is my faithful reader!

I strongly approve of the Ukraine giving out passports to Russians. No oppressed Russian should be denied the opportunity to participate in Ukraine’s vibrant democracy.

Having proven their democratic and freedom-loving credentials by willingly assuming Ukrainian citizenship, the Ukraine must then also take the requisite steps to allow them to easily vote in Ukrainian elections. They must open polling stations in Russia to service their new loyal citizens.

As a long-suffering political victim of the Putler regime, I am willing to take up the duties of Ukrainian citizenship and so are millions of other Russian nationalists!

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Humor, Law, Russia, Ukraine 
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RT is now reporting that Putin said Russia may offer fast-track citizenship to all Ukrainians at the Belt and Road summit in Beijing.

He has also reacted forcefully to critics of giving Donbass residents citizenship:

These rumors are spread by people who don’t want Russia to support the people in Donbass. There will be no serious burden on the Russian budget, we have calculated everything.

So what did I tell you? This as good as confirms that PUTLER reads my blog. Back in October 2018, I suggested that best course of action now is to drain the Ukraine of human capital. This will now become much easier… assuming this is actually followed up.

Will it be?

Well, my/Kholmogorov’s suggestions from antoher post written soon afterwards have been adopted by the kremlins:

For instance, as Kholmogorov has recently suggested, one powerful way this ideological reformulation – if indeed it is to be taken seriously – can be implemented is in the Donbass, which is ripe for mass distributions of Russian passports. Furthermore, Putin explicitly mentioned the long-suffering Donbass in his speech, alluding to their struggle to preserve their national roots and traditions. But if Russians are henceforth to be defined by their Russianness, and the Donbass is fighting to preserve its Russianness, then it becomes ridiculous to continue portraying the War in the Donbass as an internal Ukrainian affair, as Kremlin propaganda has been doing since the end of the abortive “Russian Spring” in 2014.

But that post also included the following:

According to the latest report from Kommersant, the desirability of increasing labor immigration from the Ukraine and Belorussia has been explicitly specified. According to an anonymous official, the next legislative change could involve the cancelation of Russian language requirements for citizens of those countries for obtaining Russian citizenship: “They all speak Russian there anyway,” notes the official in question. There will likely be further deregulation of naturalization procedures for highly qualified specialists and people who finished university with flying colors.

So hopefully these general trends – making Russian citizenship easier to obtain for Russians abroad, and ultimately not just in the Ukraine – will continue progressing in that vein.

PS. It is very telling that “liberal” commenters, both in Russia and the West, have been so triggered by the passports decision. As Egor Prosvirnin noted on his livestream with Zhuchkovsky yesterday, internationalist liberalism ends when it comes to Russia issuing passports to Russians in the LDNR, and Russian socialism ends when it comes to paying pensions to Donbass grandmothers (a whole bunch of people who complained about Putin raising pensions now condemn him for deciding to subsidize Donbass parasites… even though this is not even strictly true, as people who continue to reside in the Donbass will apparently be ineligible for Russian pensions unless they move to Russia).

But back to the topic at hand. Is Russia forcing anybody to accept passports? No, it isn’t. It is offering people choices. Opening up borders. Isn’t labor mobility an important part of globalization, which has brought immense prosperity to the world the past few decades? Indeed, do not many other countries, such as Israel and Hungary, already long have such politicies, though even more implicitly ethnonationalist in character? Why are they not getting condemned and accused of “escalating” tensions? The answer is that their support for cosmopolitanism and globalization ends wherever Russia starts to benefit from them too.

PPS. Seriously, what happened to Putin to make him go from putlet to PUTLER within less than a year?

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Immigration, Russia, Ukraine 
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The judge in question was an Obama-era minority appointee. This may have played a role in her imposing the maximum sentence of 18 months requested by the prosecution, despite the ridiculousness of the case.

reiner Tor comments:

If I were a Muslim detainee arrested by the Dubya Government, I’d probably want a black judge. But being a white Becky from Russia, supporting Republican causes like the NRA, and helping them defeat the Democrats?

There must’ve been a convergence of Democratic resentment of redneck Republicans, black racial resentment of whites, normie Russiagate resentment of Russians, and feminist resentment of a prettier and younger woman here.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Guest, Law, Maria Butina, Russiagate, United States 
~7% Chance This Guy Will Be President Come 2020. Let's Review His Book.
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Andrew YangTHE WAR ON NORMAL PEOPLE (2018)
Rating: 5/5

You can access all of my latest book, film, and video game reviews at this link, as well as an ordered, categorized list of all my book reviews and ratings here: https://akarlin.com/books

I

I don’t normally read the vapid hagiographies that characterize most political manifestoes. The two exceptions are Trump’s ART OF THE DEAL, and Putin’s FROM THE FIRST PERSON. The former was a genuinely well-written book that provided many insights into real estate development, and really explained the logic behind Trump’s showman “style” of politics (see Scott Alexander’s great review). Though it wasn’t a Trump manifesto as such, having been written three decades ago by a guy who now actually hates The Donald, it was probably the closest thing to one amidst the meme wars of 2016. The Putin book was a relatively dull series of interviews, though it still accounts for a significant percentage of what we know about Putin’s career before the Presidency and remains required reading for any serious Russia watcher. That said, I imagine the vast majority of such books hew to the pattern of Hillary Clinton’s HARD CHOICES, which was apparently so bad that Amazon was forced to mass delete one star reviews to avoid embarassing their favored candidate.

So why did I make an exception for Andrew Yang’s THE WAR ON NORMAL PEOPLE? Well, part of it is that he is my favorite candidate to date (as a proponent of Universal Basic Income (UBI) since 2015, there is nothing particularly illogical or contradictory about that). His rational, common sense positions on a bewildering amount of issues help. But what really impressed me is a Twitter post that highlighted his familiarity with the work of Peter Turchin:

At this point, it was obvious that reading the rest of THE WAR ON NORMAL PEOPLE would not be a waste of time, even if Yang’s campaign was to otherwise pete out (ha-ha). And good thing I did. While I consider myself relatively well read, especially on “futurist” topics, I was nonetheless continuously regaled with all manner of original insights and things that I didn’t know before.

II

The Yang bio only takes up one chapter. This is a good thing. I don’t feel people should be writing about themselves unless they’re over 60, or have done something pretty impressive, or participated in a war or something. Quite the welcome contrast to Obama, who wrote an entire memoir on the subject at the age of 34.

Yang is highly intelligent. Both of his parents went to grad school, and his father made 69 patents over the course of his career. His brother is a professor. “Good genes, very good genes.” He got admitted to Stanford and Brown. He is obviously well read, and the literature he reads is K-selected. Apart from Turchin’s book, he also cites Yuval Hari (HOMO DEUS) and Martin Ford (RISE OF THE ROBOTS). After graduation, he worked as a corporate lawyer; as a Silicon Valley businessman; as the CEO of a GMAT prep company; and lastly, as the director of Venture for America, an NGO that provided training and seed money for aspiring entrepreneurs.

One curious, endearingly personal note is that it seems he was bullied at school:

“Hey, Yang, what’s it like having such a small dick? Everyone knows Chinese guys have small dicks. Do you need tweezers to masturbate?” Most of this was in middle school. I had a few natural responses: I became quite self-conscious. I started wondering if I did indeed have a small dick. Last, I became very, very angry.

I admit I chuckled a bit at the idea that there is perhaps a 6% chance (today’s odds on PredictIt) that high school taunts about anatomy might end up playing a role in creating America’s next President. Many of these bullied Asian-Americans tend to become bitter and withdraw into communities such as the SJWs at /r/azidentity or the Chinese nationalists at /r/Sino. Yang didn’t go down that path. That said, as someone raised in an Asian-American family, bused tables at a Chinese restaurant as a teen, and who has maintained strong ties to the wider Asian-American community, those ideological currents must have influenced him to at least some extent.

His father immigrated from Taiwan. Geopolitics regardless, many Taiwanese-Americans are very proud of Chinese progress. The early base of Yang’s support was predominantly Asian-American, and I was told that many of his earliest foreign fans were Chinese. I have a friend who was slightly acquainted with Yang before he became famous, and he confirmed my impressions – based on the exclusively positive mentions of China on his Twitter, and his website – that Yang is a strong Sinophile. As we saw with Trump and Russia – or for that matter, with Gabbard and Syria – being unseemingly friendly with or even just objective towards countries that have been declared strategic competitors, rivals, or enemies of the US isn’t all that great for your political capital. You heard it here first: If Yang somehow wins the Dem nomination, the possibility of a “Chinagate” cannot be excluded.

III

As Yang recounts it, his travels throughout America opened his eyes to the yawning gap between the flourishing coasts and its depressed hinterlands. From the chapter “Life in the Bubble”:

We joked at Venture for America that “smart” people in the United States will do one of six things in six places: finance, consulting, law, technology, medicine, or academia in New York, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, or Washington, DC.

Other parts of the book consist of depressive travelogues about cities in the Rustbelt, with their abandoned malls, dilapidated infrastructure, brain drain, opioid epidemics, and casinos filled with people who probably shouldn’t be gambling.

So he is quite aware of the distinction in outcomes between the “Belmont” and “Fishtown” of Charles Murray’s COMING APART (for a summary, see “Trump’s America” in The Wall Street Journal).

Moreover, I am reasonably sure that Yang is more or less directly familiar with Murray’s thesis:

Think of your five best friends. The odds of them all being college graduates if you took a random sampling of Americans would be about one-third of 1 percent, or 0.0036. The likelihood of four or more of them being college graduates would be only about 4 percent. If that described you, you’re among the educated class (even without necessarily knowing it; in your context, you’re perfectly normal).

This argument that America is developing into a meritocratic caste system is directly lifted from COMING APART, as is the “bubble” metaphor used to describe its Brahmins. E.g., see Charles Murray’s Bubble Quiz.

Today, thanks to assortative mating in a handful of cities, intellect, attractiveness, education, and wealth are all converging in the same families and neighborhoods. I look at my friends’ children, and many of them resemble unicorns: brilliant, beautiful, socially precocious creatures who have gotten the best of all possible resources since the day they were born. I imagine them in 10 or 15 years traveling to other parts of the country, and I know that they are going to feel like, and be received as, strangers in a strange land. They will have thriving online lives and not even remember a car that didn’t drive itself. They may feel they have nothing in common with the people before them. Their ties to the greater national fabric will be minimal. Their empathy and desire to subsidize and address the distress of the general public will likely be lower and lower.

That pretty much cinches it. “Assortative mating” isn’t the sort of term that everyone throws around; although it is a biological term, its popularization in sociology was led by Murray and other “HBD realists.” While I understand and sympathize that these people are generally “unhandshakeworthy”, and hence uncitable by someone running for the Dem nomination, I think it is legitimate to think of THE WAR ON NORMAL PEOPLE as the solutions set to the problems posed by COMING APART.

IV

Here are some of the main problems and challenges that Yang talks about:

1. Automation. I won’t go on here at length, as this has already been widely covered in the media. I recommend Martin Ford’s book RISE OF THE ROBOTS, or at least this 15 minute video, for a full treatment. But the basic thing to take away is that automation is coming for many jobs, and it won’t just be manufacturing ones this time round. Some things that struck me as noteworthy:

  • There are now less than 400 NYSE floor traders, down from 5,500.
  • Legal review: Humans have 60% accuracy, AI already at 85%.
  • Friend of Yang’s who works in a ride-sharing company says that according to internal projections, half of all rides will accrue to autonomous vehicles by 2022.

This will eliminate jobs in truck driving, the ride-sharing sector (Uber, Lyft, etc.), and more and more repetitive cognitive white-collar work.

2. Unsatisfactory jobs. There will be jobs to take the place of automated ones, but these will be low productivity jobs with lower salaries (which will further incentivize companies to automate them away). Perhaps uniquely for a politician, Yang is sympathetic to people who can no longer be bothered to pull themselves up by the bootstraps, as conservative orthodoxy dictates.

Imagine a 21-year-old college dropout who is not excited to make sandwiches at Jimmy John’s and prefers his gaming community. You could say to him, “Hey, this Jimmy John’s job could go places. Sure you make $8 an hour now. But maybe if you stick with it for a few years you could become a manager. Eventually, you could make $35,000 or so if you really excel and are willing to work long and hard hours, including waking up at 5 a.m. to slice up tomatoes and cucumbers every morning, and commit to it.” The above is possibly true. Or, the retail district around his Jimmy John’s could shrink and a management job might never open up. Or Jimmy John’s could bring in an automated system that gets rid of cashiers and front-of-house staff two years from now. Or his manager could just choose someone else.

3. Video games. This explains why NEETs like the above have turned to video games; young men without college degrees now spend 75% of the time they used to spend working with gaming. This is easy, because the marginal cost of video games is near zero; as Yang sagely points out, they are an “inferior good” in economic terms. However, he also notes – as a onetime gamer – that while playing games for hours on end might seem “sad”, their satisfaction level is high, especially relative to their low social status and high rates of unemployment.

4. Disability. More and more people, especially discouraged workers, are entering the disability rolls. This is an understandable reaction to the loss of good jobs. However, since most disability applications are more or less fake – rates have been soaring, even as the rate of workplace accidents plummets – this encourages a culture of dishonesty, and disincentivizes people from rejoining the workforce since they would then lose their disability “basic income.” There are no solid ways to disprove some common ailments, so getting a note from a doctor is relatively easy. This is a way of life for many depressed rustbelt communities.

5. Other social maladies. These include:

  • Abandoned malls creating derelict no-go zones.
  • The poverty of communities left behind by falling manufacturing employment, soon to be repeated on an even bigger scale as automation takes off.
  • Rising white middle-aged mortality, in which he cites Case & Deaton’s research.
  • He is woke to the opioid crisis: “Many of the deaths are from opiate overdoses. Approximately 59,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2016, up 19 percent from the then-record 52,404 reported in 2015. For the first time, drug overdoses have surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in the United States.” I assume he’s likelier to make progress on it than Kushner.
  • An army of drug dealers in suits marketed addictive opioids to doctors, getting paid hundreds of thousands to do it.

V

In the final “problems”-related chapter, he mentions the work of Russian-American biologist/historian Peter Turchin, one of the founders of cliodynamics, a new multidiscplinary field that aims to mathematize the cycles of history*.

In his book Ages of Discord, the scholar Peter Turchin proposes a structural-demographic theory of political instability based on societies throughout history. He suggests that there are three main preconditions to revolution: (1) elite oversupply and disunity, (2) popular misery based on falling living standards, and (3) a state in fiscal crisis. … Most of the variables that he measures began trending negatively between 1965 and 1980 and are now reaching near-crisis levels. By his analysis, “the US right now has much in common with the Antebellum 1850s [before the Civil War] and, more surprisingly, with… France on the eve of the French Revolution.” He projects increased turmoil through 2020 and warns that “we are rapidly approaching a historical cusp at which American society will be particularly vulnerable to violent upheaval.”

Turchin isn’t one of those “doomers” who have predicted all ten of America’s past zero collapses since he began predicting.

But he did predict the rise of Islamic State in Iraq back in 2005:

Western intrusion will eventually generate a counter-response, possibly in the form of a new theocratic Caliphate (War and Peace and War, Penguin, 2005).

And he predicted that populism and social instability in the US would increase through to the 2020s. This was well before either Trump or Sanders came on the radar.

So given this impressive predictive record, it’s certainly worth listening to what Turchin has to say.

In addition to Turchin’s analysis, Yang also mentions that there will be racial ressentiments:

A highly disproportionate number of the people at the top will be educated whites, Jews, and Asians. America is projected to become majority minority by 2045. African Americans and Latinos will almost certainly make up a disproportionate number of the less privileged in the wake of automation, as they currently enjoy lower levels of wealth and education.

… and suggests that SJW policing of speech will complicate frank discussions of these problems:

Contributing to the discord will be a climate that equates opposing ideas or speech to violence and hate. Righteousness can fuel abhorrent behavior, and many react with a shocking level of vitriol and contempt for conflicting viewpoints and the people who hold them. Hatred is easy, as is condemnation.

This could set the stage for RACE WAR NOW as economic dislocations produced by automation further turbocharge preexisting trends towards inequality and polarization:

After the riots, things continue to deteriorate. Hundreds of thousands stop paying taxes because they refuse to support a government that “killed the working man.” A man in a bunker surrounded by dozens of guns releases a video saying, “Come and get your taxes, IRS man!” that goes viral. Anti-Semitic violence breaks out targeting those who “own the robots.” A white nationalist party arises that openly advocates “returning America to its roots” and “traditional gender roles” and wins several state races in the South.

Incidentally, I would say that this explains the context behind Yang’s “whites will shoot up Asian-Americans in another generation” video.

VI

Yang’s signature issue is UBI, so it makes sense that he devotes two entire chapters to the topic. Despite its current association with libertarians, crypto evangelists, NEETS, gamers, digital nomads, and various other eccentrics who have only begun spawning on a reasonably large scale these past 1-2 decades, it was once much more mainstream**.

It’s hard to fathom now, but the idea of a guaranteed annual income was mainstream political wisdom in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Medicare and Medicaid had just been passed in 1965, and the country had an appetite for solutions for social problems. In May 1968, over 1,000 university economists signed a letter supporting a guaranteed annual income. In 1969, President Nixon proposed the Family Assistance Plan, which would provide cash benefits of about $10,000 per family and serve as a guaranteed annual income with some eligibility requirements; this bill was supported by 79 percent of respondents polled at the time. The Family Assistance Plan passed the House of Representatives by a wide margin—243 to 155—but then stalled in the Senate due to, of all things, Democrats who wanted an even more robust plan.

But then the Reagan Revolution rolled out, economists produced (now discredited) studies that UBI depressed work hours and increased the divorce rate, and the general public lost interest.

The literature that Yang has amassed tells a different story. He mentions a study by Evelyn Forget (2005) in Canada, who found the effect on work to be “minimal.” The only groups of people that worked substantially less were new mothers and teens, which seems to be a perfectly fine outcome. There was also a rise in high school graduation rates, a reduction in hospital visits, less domestic violence, and fewer cases of mental illness. Another study by Akee on Native Americans who got basic income from casino earnings found that children became more conscientious and agreeable.

I was genuinely surprised to learn that there is one major country that has already adopted UBI: Iran. During the 2011 reforms, it eliminated inefficient food and gas subsidies, and replaced them with basic income of $16,000 per year. (Strictly speaking, this is not quite accurate on Yang’s part; this is far too much for a middle-income country like Iran, and as I subsequently confirmed, $16,000 is their basic income NORMED to US standards, i.e. what Americans would get under a scheme that drew on a similar share of the national income). But in any case, there was apparently no reduction in hours worked. I don’t know what effect it had on Iranian economic productivity, and Yang doesn’t go into it. I would imagine that doing such analyses on the Iranian economy would be complicated by the relative opacity of its national accounts, as well as by the (much larger) economic shocks created by US sanctions over this past decade.

Either way, the general picture – so far as we can say based on the limited UBI experiments to date – is that they don’t have much effect either way on employment or GDP, but they do increase happiness and general welfare. But in any case, when the current President thinks it is very normal to mark Easter with an economic growth update…

… perhaps it is time to stop worshipping the latest quarterly GDP figures, as was suggested by Simon Kuznets in 1934, the inventor of the GDP:

… economic welfare cannot be adequately measured unless the personal distribution of income is known. And no income measurement undertakes to estimate the reverse side of income, that is, the intensity and unpleasantness of effort going into the earning of income. The welfare of a nation can, therefore, scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income as defined above.

In Yang’s vision, the size of American UBI – the “Freedom Dividend”, as he calls it – will be $12,000 for each American aged 18-64, subsequently indexed to inflation. This is just above the current poverty line of $11,700.

But will it be affordable?

An analysis by the Roosevelt Institute of this $12,000 per year per adult proposal found that adopting it would permanently grow the economy by 12.56 to 13.10 percent—or about $2.5 trillion by 2025—and it would increase the labor force by 4.5 to 4.7 million people. Putting money into people’s hands and keeping it there would be a perpetual boost and support to job growth and the economy. The cost would be about an additional $1.3 trillion per year on top of existing welfare programs, most of which would be folded into the plan, as well as increased taxable revenue and cost savings. …

The cost of $1.3 trillion seems like an awful lot. For reference, the federal budget is about $4 trillion and the entire U.S. economy about $19 trillion. But there are myriad ways to pay for it. The most sensible way to pay for it in my view would be with a value-added tax (VAT)—a consumption tax—that would generate income from the people and businesses that benefit from society the most. …

A VAT would result in slightly higher prices. But technological advancement would continue to drive down the cost of most things. And with the backdrop of a universal basic income of $12,000, the only way a VAT of 10 percent makes you worse off is if you consume more than $120,000 in goods and services per year, which means you’re doing fine and are likely at the top of the income distribution.

This counters one of the central “leftist” arguments against UBI – that it is regressive, and falls disproportionately on the poor. Sure, they’ll be paying 10% more for most goods and services. But their income will also increase by at least 50%, and by around 100% if they work part-time. It will be rich consumers who lose out.

For people who consider this farcical, consider the bailouts that took place during the financial crisis. You may not recall that the U.S. government printed over $4 trillion in new money for its quantitative easing program following the 2008 financial collapse. This money went to the balance sheets of the banks and depressed interest rates. It punished savers and retirees. There was little to no inflation.

This one is for the inflation bears.

VII

While UBI is the mainstay of Yang’s policy platform, he has many other excellent ideas, which he elucidates in the three final chapters.

1. Raise government worker retirement packages, with President getting $4 million per year. This is to be coupled with a lifetime prohibition on making money from their office through speeches, etc.

I very strongly agree with this, and have proposed this on many occasions in the past as well. Admittedly, I was talking about Russia, but it really applies to any country. Politicians and bureaucrats get less money than businessmen, even though they are often just as talented. This is a truism nigh well everywhere. This makes them resentful. Many of them want to close the gap. In the more corrupt countries, they do that directly, from pressuring companies to “contribute” to their family’s accounts (at best) to directly “raiding” successful companies and stealing from government accounts. In less corrupt countries, they tend to be slaves to lobbyist interests, on the unspoken understanding that they would be rewarded for their service once out of office (this describes the US). I suppose that in a few countries they might genuine “servants of the people” but the number of such countries isn’t all that high.

As it is, the only country that I am aware of that runs similar policies is Singapore, where Ministers get close to $1 million per year. As a high IQ authoritarian state, it is able to resist populist demotism.

2. Stop corporate welfare. This one, I wager, would play well with both Bernie and Trump supporters:

Here’s an idea for a dramatic rule—for every $100 million a company is fined by the Department of Justice or bailed out by the federal government, both its CEO and its largest individual shareholder will spend one month in jail. Call the new law the Public Protection against Market Abuse Act. If it’s a foreign company, this would apply to the head of the U.S. operation and the largest American shareholder. There would be a legal tribunal and due process in each case. The president would have the ability to pardon, suspend, shorten, or otherwise modify the period or sentence. The president would also have the ability to claw back the assets of any such individual to repay the public.

3. Education realism. He notes that while tertiary enrollment is rising, its efficiency is falling.

That is, only 59 percent of students who started college in 2009 had completed a bachelor’s degree by 2015, and this level has been more or less consistent the past number of years. For those who attended private, selective colleges, this number will seem jarringly low; the same number at selective schools is 88 percent. Among schools with open admissions policies the rate is only 32 percent, and among for-profit universities the six-year graduation rate is 23 percent.

This is inevitable. Only 25% of students can benefit from a university education, as there is only so much space on the right hand side of the IQ bell curve. Only choice is to fail more and more students, to lower standards, or to abandon the fiction that everyone is suited for university.

While Yang can’t exactly couch it in such terms, he is – unlike the increasing number of Democrats agitating for free college – obviously woke to the Education Question:

(a) Administrative staff at US universities is blooming, and they are passing on the costs to the captive student market. Meanwhile, they use their tax exempt status to run hedge funds.

One way to change this would be a law stipulating that any private university with an endowment over $5 billion will lose its tax-exempt status unless it spends its full endowment income from the previous year on direct educational expenses, student support, or domestic expansion. This would spur Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, MIT, Penn, Northwestern, and others to spend billions each year directly on their students and expansion within the United States. There could be a Harvard center in Ohio or Michigan as well as the new one they just opened in Shanghai.

Incidentally, describing the Ivy League colleges as hedge funds with a university attached is something that Ron Unz has also done, though his solution was to suggest forcing Harvard to eliminate its fees.

(b) He talks of the need for more vocational training and apprenticeships.

(c) Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are largely ineffective. While I wasn’t expecting miracles, I was still surprised to learn that Udacity’s course completion rate is only around 4%. They are not a panacea.

(d) He is especially hard on government “retraining” programs for displaced workers:

The reality is more often displaced workers spending government funds or racking up debt at the University of Phoenix or another for-profit institution in desperate bids to stay relevant and marketable.

In particular, he agrees that “learn to code” is useless advice for the vast majority of these people. They would be better off with a UBI.

4. Mandate “serenity” settings for smartphones and social media. Currently it’s a pain to get notifications settings down to a manageable level. Would be good to have an all-in-one option.

5. Social credits. No, this is not the quasi-totalitarian Chinese scheme to coercively promote good behavior. This is similar to a thing called “time banking”, which are already exisiting voluntary associations in the US where people get credits within communities by performing useful tasks, e.g. minor home repairs, walking dogs, etc. The idea is to have the government allocate these credits towards solving some major problem, e.g. “100 million DSCs to reduce obesity levels in Mississippi”, and let normal people sort out the details in a more efficient way than bureaucrats could dictate. Apart from the direct benefits, it should also help people feel more useful and enhance life satisfactino. I am not fully convinced having the government being involved in this is such a good idea, but I will reserve judgment until I learn more about it.

6. Primary care doctors helped by AI in healthcare. This will also help keep costs down, and lessen the strain on overworked doctors.

Martin Ford, the author of Rise of the Robots, suggests that we create a new class of health care provider armed with AI—college graduates or master’s students unburdened by additional years of costly specialization, who would nonetheless be equipped to head out to rural areas. They could help people monitor chronic conditions like obesity and diabetes and refer particularly hairy problems to more experienced doctors. Call them primary care specialists. AI will soon be at a point where technology, in conjunction with a non-doctor, could offer the same quality of care as a doctor in the vast majority of cases. In one study, IBM’s Watson made the same recommendation as human doctors did in 99 percent of 1,000 medical cases and made suggestions human doctors missed in 30 percent of them. AI can reference more cases than the most experienced physician while keeping up to date with the latest journals and studies.

In return for a less hectic pace and greater freedom to focus on patients as opposed to paperwork, doctors will need to take a salary hit:

What’s required is an honest conversation in which we say to people who are interested in becoming doctors, “If you become a doctor, you’ll be respected, admired, and heal people each day. You will live a comfortable life. But medicine will not be a path to riches. On the bright side, we’re not going to burn you out by forcing you to see a million patients a day and fill out paperwork all the time. We’re going to supplement you with an army of empathetic people equipped with AI who will handle most routine cases. We’ll only call you when the case genuinely requires distincthuman judgment or empathy. We want you to become the best and most human version of yourself, not Dr. Speed Demon who can bang out a nine-minute appointment. Let’s leave that to Watson.”

VIII

It should be blindingly obvious, but yes, Yang is really the only US Presidential candidate that interests me at this point in time. I consider his policies to be head and shoulders above those of any other candidate. Note that many of his other great ideas, such as banning robocalls, regulating social media as a public utility, and promoting nuclear power are not even in this book. The one mostly blank spot on his policy agenda – admittedly, a very big one – is his stance on foreign policy.

However, the early signs are encouraging. His official policy is seemingly non-interventionist, and he has spoken out against sanctions on Venezuela.

In my view, Yang correctly identifies that a war is being waged on “normal people.” And he has a battlefield strategy – a mixture of paternalistic technocracy and capitalism with a human face – that has at least some chance of turning the tables.

I mean look, here is the situation come 2020:

1. An orange man turned POTATUS whose foreign policy agenda is set by neocons and AIPAC, and who has gone from calling for a Wall to calling for millions of LEGAL immigrants to work in factories that will soon be swept away by automation. Yang, at least, will favor cognitively elitist immigration, i.e. which actually creates tons of value and will continue to be viable in the age of automation.

2. A vomit-inducing brew of Establishment globalists, SJW-appeasing identity politicians, bland corporate stooges, Russiagate conspiracy theorists, and “liberal interventionists” who call Christians “Easter worshippers.” Sure, there’s one other decent candidate there, but she doesn’t seem to have policies between foreign policy and has a <1% chance of getting elected, while Yang has at least a distant shot at it.

3. While I like people such as Tucker Carlson, the problem is that he is not running. It doesn’t seem that there will be any challenger to Trump from the Dissident Right. Fortunately, there is no great contradiction, as Yang and Carlson also seem to like each other. Furthermore, while both Yang and Carlson are concerned with automation, the Freedom Dividend is clearly a better and more adaptive policy than the latter’s Neo-Luddism.

Most likely, Yang will not win the Dem nomination, and will fade from the scene by this time next year. (Just like Audacious Epigone, I bet on Kamala Harris on PredictIt). This does not mean he will fade from history. Automation isn’t going anywhere, and pressure for UBI will continue to build up (and not just in the US). It is reasonable to posit that Yang will continue to serve as a figurehead for it within the US. However, at the rate that “contradictions” are piling up in US society, it is unclear if it will come about in time to prevent mayhem.

The choice is essentially to cut and run or to stand and fight. We must convert from a mindset of scarcity to a mindset of abundance. The revolution will happen either before or after the breakdown of society. We must choose before.

On the off chance that Yang actually makes it, I hope this book review will convince at least a few people into helping bring that about and launch fully automated luxury cyborg space human capitalism.

***

* Note that I reviewed Turchin’s most important book, WAR AND PEACE AND WAR.

** I also learned that Thomas Paine was a fan, writing in 1796: Out of a collected fund from landowners, “there shall be paid to every person, when arrived at the age of twenty-one years, the sum of fifteen pounds sterling, as a compensation in part, for the loss of his or her natural inheritance,… to every person, rich or poor.”

 
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This translates to nine months plus the nine months already served, which is the full length of time that the prosecution asked for (probation office asked for 12 months).

Here is how this stacks up against old FARA prosecutions:

One last point I haven’t made, and have seen few other people make, is that relative to the (very few) previous cases of recent US prosecutions under FARA, Butina’s indiscretions were trifling. For instance, in United States v. Samir A. Vincent, the accused was found guilty of acceptions millions of dollars from Saddam Hussein to lobby for the removal of Iraq sanctions (and he had serious contacts, all the way up to former President Carter). His eventual punishment was a fine of $300,000 and community service. The very latest case concerned Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, a pro-Pakistani lobbyist who also received millions of dollars and had high political contacts, until the US clamped down when relations with Pakistan soured following the US raid to kill Osama bin Laden. He was initially sentenced to two years in jail, which was later reduced to one year and a half. However, his crimes also included tax evasion.

18 months is very fair and proportionate. /s

As I noted at that time: “Consequently, if prosecutions under FARA can be considered to be a gauge of American official attitudes, we may consider that the US is more hostile to Putin’s Russia than to Saddam-era Iraq or the country that sheltered a terrorist who killed 3,000 of its citizens.” We can now consider that to be official.

Strictly speaking, she was not indicted under FARA but under Section 951, but regardless, the key issue was the foreign agent registration part. This is furthermore despite the fact that she “fully cooperated” with the government. Doesn’t appear to have done her any good, LOL.

What makes this all the more amazing is that the judge Tanya Sue Chutkan suggested that Butina took part in “Russian interference” in the 2016 elections, despite her name not appearing anywhere in the Mueller report.

As we pointed out in a petition to free Butina in August 2018, this also sets a horrible precedent by essentially criminalizing Russian-American contacts of a political nature.

However, you don’t exactly have to be a “gun nut” to be concerned about the implications of this case for free speech in the United States, as well as the potential impact on public diplomacy between Russia and the United States – public diplomacy that is arguably needed more than ever, given the current state of relations between the two nuclear superpowers. But given this precedent, how can we reasonably expect ordinary citizens to practice public diplomacy – to learn, network, and exchange ideas with each other – when Russians face the real risk of arrest and imprisonment in the United States for having had associated with officials from both countries?

***

Some of my articles on Butina:

The first article, written hours after he initial arrest, established that Right to Bear Arms was a legitimate Russian civil society organization, not some false front set up to specifically give Butina cover to infiltrate the GOP/NRA/whatever as was widely claimed. Moreover, its relations with the Kremlin were not entirely cordial, as gun rights is not something that Russia’s rulers much care for.

The second article covered the news that Butina was not trading sex for political access, as the American MSM had claimed (selective American frenzies against “slut-shaming” regardless).

The third article was an extended commentary on the best and most comprehensive article on the Butina Affair to date by James Bamford, The Spy Who Wasn’t.

One revelation of many is that Butina rebuffed a guy who had a national security role in Trump’s campaign, which is the exact opposite of how either a spy or a foreign agent would behave. In the end, even Mueller wasn’t interested in pursuing the case, with it being taken up by a pair of provincial FBI agents with no experience in espionage or organized crime investigations.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Law, Maria Butina, United States, Western Hypocrisy 
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Putin has just signed a law on simplified citizenship for residents of the LDNR.

Any person with LDNR residency documents now has the right to apply for Russian citizenship, and can expect an answer within three months. Citizenship is immediately conferred upon a positive decision.

Comments:

1. Fundamentally, this is the humanitarian thing to do, as it rescues the Donbass from the state of legal limbo they have resided in since May 2014.

2. This is a much more serious step than the recognition of LDNR documents and nationalization of Ukrainian enterprises in February 2017. All steps which, in retrospect, have led up to this moment.

3. By the end of 2019, a large percentage of the LDNR’s 3.7 million residents will give up their their Ukrainian citizenships and become Russian citizens. Zhuchkovsky writes that the monthly applications processing capacity of the Rostov and Voronezh offices opened to process LDNR citizenship applications sums up to 30,000 a month, so in reality the processs will go a lot slower. Moreover, siloviks and bureucrats will have priority, so it will be a few months before ordinary LDNR citizens can get processed.

This conclusively ends the “Putinsliv” theory (the idea promoted by some Russian “zradniks”, such as Strelkov, that the Kremlin was preparing to cut its losses in the Donbass and withdraw its protection). In the aftermath of any putative Operation Storm, the Ukraine would now have a legal framework to mass expel its former citizens who have taken up Russian citizenship (as Croatia did to Serbs in Krajina). So allowing it to happen would now be even riskier than before in terms of political optics.

4. There is an LDNR law that fixes its borders at the frontline, so any military attempt by the Ukrainians to revise Minsk II would presumably be followed by further avalanches of Russian passports in the areas subsequently liberated.

5. Russian liberals already crying over this being a “knife in the back” in Ukraine’s new “peace-orientated” President. As I pointed out, this characterization was quite unlikely to be true.

***

In the meantime, Poroshenko appears to be exploring options to prevent Zelensky coming to power. Ideas include dismissing the head of the Constitutional Court, which would delay his inauguration. A more promising avenue is a law to strip the President of most of his powers and transfer most of them to the Prime Minister, which was submitted to the Rada soon after the first round of the elections (i.e. when Poroshenko must have realized he was toast).

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Novorossiya, Russia, Ukraine, War in Donbass 
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.