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This year half of the top 10 best performing universities in the global ACM-International Collegiate Programming Competition were Russian.

Place Name Solved Time Last solved
1 St. Petersburg State University 11 1560 290
2 Shanghai Jiao Tong University 11 1567 272
3 Harvard University 10 1358 269
4 Moscow Institute of Physics & Technology 10 1437 281
5 University of Warsaw 10 1586 278
6 Massachusetts Institute of Technology 9 1021 247
7 St. Petersburg ITMO University 9 1026 208
8 Ural Federal University 9 1167 212
9 University of Wroclaw 9 1193 252
10 Nizhny Novgorod State University 9 1222 292

This isn’t a fluke; Russia does incredibly well in these programming competitions. Since 2000, Russia has won 11 out of 17 years, including the past five years consecutively. The only other winners during this period have been China (four times) and Poland (twice). Ex-commie bloc stronk.

It’s probably not a matter of superior intelligence. Most estimates put Russia’s average IQ at around 97 and I don’t disagree with that.

So presumably it’s significantly a function of (1) motivation and/or (2) superior education.

Regarding motivation, that’s probably significantly higher in the ex-commie bloc. A computer science major from MIT or UC Berkeley is almost guaranteed a high five digit salary upon graduation. A Russian (or a Pole, etc) is not; not only are salaries lower across the economy, but if anything their domestic markets for STEM majors are oversaturated. So they have a lot of incentives to try to stand out and increase their chances of getting a job offer from an American or West European firm. Consequently, they likely take such competitions more seriously.

Regarding education, it is quite possible Russia and Eastern Europe have an advantage in this sphere as well, despite the poor showings of their universities in most international rankings. Russians do relatively poorly on the PISA tests, which feature problems commonly found in everyday life and have heavier g loadings, but in contrast they do very well on the TIMSS tests, which are far more “academic” in format and less heavily g loaded. These is in fact a lot of anecdotal evidence that Russian mathematical pedagogy is better than American. For winning math and programming competitions (if not building successful companies, which require a wider and more general range of talents) this sort of skew in cognitive abilities is probably optimal.

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Programming, Psychometrics, Russia

In the wake of blatantly political voting during Eurovision 2016, which Ukraine’s Crimean Tatar representative Jamala won despite losing both the popular and the jury vote, to Russia and Australia respectively, the debate has been dominated by the following two positions:

Russia supporters – It was a political song, and as such inadmissable under long-standing Eurovision rules. The voting hewed to geopolitical lines – there was a remarkable correlation between the jury votes for Russia, and the levels of antipathy towards Russia amongst their respective national elites. Indeed, prior to the event, a Eurovision source told a British paper that “the feeling is that the European Broadcasting Union know how unpopular a Russia win would be and will do everything possible to help the other favourites to victory.” As soon as the conspiracy theory proved itself true, the official NATO Twitter account sent its congratulations to Jamala just to let the point sink in. One need hardly ask what relation an organization that calls itself a defensive military alliance has to a singing contest in which the main players – Russia, Ukraine, Australia – aren’t even members in it.

West/Ukraine supporters – Haha, suck it Russia! Why don’t you give back Crimea to its rightful owners and then we’ll talk? Or according to Refat Chubarov, the head of the old Mejlis and self-appointed spokesman for all Crimean Tatars: “”Inshallah, one of the beautiful days we will gather together in a free from the Russian occupiers Crimea, in the ancient and glorious Bakhchisarai! Today another important step to this day has been taken!”

Personally, I am not interested in Eurovision, and never have been. Nor am I interested in banning songs about historical events, least of all songs that have zero relevance or bearing on modern day Russia. Moreover, Russia’s representative Sergey Lazarev had gone on record in 2014 saying that for him, Crimea remains Ukrainian, so even if there was a conspiracy to cheat Russia out of a Eurovision win, it rebounded on entirely the wrong (or right, depending on your viewpoint) person.

So normally I wouldn’t be wasting column space on this – if it hadn’t raised a much more important and serious misconception: Underlying the general Western line on Eurovision is a singular lack of concern not just for the opinions of Crimeans in general (which is already well established), but of the Crimean Tatars themselves.

The unedifying reality (for Ukrainian nationalists) is that not only did the Russo-Ukrainian majority in Crimea overwhelmingly support its return to Russia but it was not even opposed by the Crimean Tatars, a minority that has been lazily assumed by many Western commentators to be uniformly and irreconcilably opposed to Putin and Russia.

In a VCIOM opinion poll asked in February 2015, one year after the referendum in which Crimeans voted to rejoin Russia, around half of Crimean Tatars said they’d support the majority decision if the referendum was to be repeated. Only a quarter said they’d vote to remain in Ukraine. To be sure, this is significantly more than in the case of Crimean Russians and Ukrainians, amongst whom Ukraine patriots constitute a fraction close to the poll’s margin of error, but they are by no means a majority or even a plurality.

vciom-poll-crimean-tatars-referendum-2014

Now to be sure one might rejoinder that VCIOM is a state-owned polling firm and as such can’t be relied upon to present an objective picture of Crimean Tatar opinon. Let us then turn to that famous Kremlin mouthpiece, The Washington Post, and its political science bloggers Gerard Toal and John O’Loughlin writing in January 2015. On the basis of surveys they conducted in Crimea in December 2014, they found that a slightly more Crimean Tatars approved of Putin than disapproved of him; for comparison, less than 10% of them liked Obama, while almost 60% of them “disliked” or “strongly disliked” him.

crimean-tatar-political-opinions

Although this question was not strictly about the status of Crimea, it is unlikely, to say the least, that a people who viewed Russia’s actions as a brutal annexation would be willing to reward the man most responsible for it with a positive net approval rating.

EDIT 2016/05/18: As it turns out, in a Reddit discussion subsequent to the publication of this post, I was alerted to the fact that the authors had followed up their Washington Post article with a post at Open Democracy in March 2015, in which they presented the responses of the major Crimean ethnic groups – Russians, Ukrainians, and Crimean Tatars – to a question about whether the decision of the Crimean authorities to join Russia was correct or not. As you can see from the graph, slightly more than half of the Crimean Tatars replied that joining Russia was “generally” or “absolutely” the right decision, which matches the 49%-in-support results of the above VCIOM poll perfectly.

poll-crimean-tatars-support-joining-russia

Incidentally, these figures are backed up by anecdotal evidence.

The Dutch Russia expert Nils van der Vegte was closely following the Crimea situation in early 2014 and around the time of the referendum informed his Twitter followers that “about 50% of the Tartars want to become part of Russia” and that they are split “20% pro-UKR, 20% pro-RU, and the rest are apolitical.” The exactitude with which subsequent polls would confirm Nils van der Vegte’s impressions is nothing short of remarkable.

But surely things could have changed in the past year to make the Crimean Tatars suddenly hate Russia. What about all the persecutions and the disbanding of the Mejlis, the main representative body of the Crimean Tatars?

Well, let’s talk about that. As part of Ukraine’s project to bind a restive Crimea to itself, the Mejlis was selectively filtered to be universally loyal to Ukraine to the point where its political inclinations came to fundamentally diverge from those of its supposed constituents. This was made most plainly evident in November 2015, when Mejlis-affiliated “activists” cut the light to 90% of the world’s Crimean Tatars for a PR stunt presented as an “energy blockade” of Crimea. This, unsurprisingly, was not all that popular amongst Crimean Tatars themselves, according to that other great Russophile propaganda organ The Kyiv Post:

Sure, one resident said, Putin may not be the best leader, but he at least kept his word – he had sent generators to the peninsula to save the day. The Ukrainian authorities, on the other hand, spent months railing against numerous human rights abuses on the peninsula … only to commit their own human rights violation in response.

It is in this context that Russia’s banning of the Mejlis has to be viewed – an organization that owes its loyalty to a foreign power and which despite having zero democratic legitimacy, and not only pretends to not only speak for every Crimean Tatar but engages in quasi-terrorist actions against Russia and ultimately its own people.

Set against that, the Crimean Tatar language has been made one of three official languages in the Republic of Crimea – a status that it never enjoyed in unitary Ukraine. This was part of a package of reforms that guaranteed and expanded their political and civil rights as an ethnic minority.

They have also been able to share in the steep improvement in living standards that all Crimeans have enjoyed since joining Russia. Western headlines such as “The Misery and Terror of Life Under Putin in Crimea” regardless, economic statistics indicate that wages have stayed well ahead of inflation; not only did Crimeans escape the vast contraction in living standards that occured in Poroshenko’s Ukraine, but the introduction of Russian-grade wages and pension payments even allowed them to bypass the (much more minor) recession taking place in Russia itself. Although this development has been very mystifying to some, such as the economist Dave Dalton and “Crimea expert” Ellie Knott both of whom have insisted that the economic statistics are falsified – as people who dislike dislike data that fails to reflect badly on Russia are wont to do – it is a reasonable and logical enough occurence for people familiar with the very considerable gap between Russia’s and Ukraine’s GDP per capita and the concept of “convergence” in economics.

All things considered, it is highly unlikely that Crimean Tatars have sharply turned against Russia in the past year, however much the neocons, the Poroshenko regime, and their pet Mejlis might wish it were otherwise.

In the spirit of tolerance and social justice that Eurovision represents, I would suggest they check their privilege and stop appropriating the voices of Crimean Tatars.

On a less hyperbolic note, I am certainly not trying to argue Crimean Tatars are very enthusiastic and happy about Crimea’s return to Russia (though that should be obvious enough from the data). But nor are they particularly aggrieved about it; that describes a very modest minority, while the majority are basically apathetic (and another small minority are volubly Russophilic). Any talk of using them as a fifth column, let alone a partisan underground, belongs to the realm of fantasy – which is irresponsible but understandable, since their emigre Mejlis politicians have nothing else to offer.

 

russian-stereotypes-of-europe-update

In the spirit of Foreign Policy’s map of Chinese stereotypes about Europe, I did the same thing for Russia using the autocomplete to “why [country/people]…” in Google.ru.

Vast swathes of Eastern Europe are dominated by Russians asking why the local denizens don’t like them, so to make room for more interesting stereotypes, I just colored in red the countries Russians think are especially Russophobic (though in the case of Poland and the Baltic states they were frankly asking about little else).

I started working on this list in January, then dropped it, then finished it today, so this is not an up to date “snapshot” but a general impression of Russian stereotypes about Europe during the first half of this year. I generally input the first result to autocomplete, but I did select slightly for more interesting variants, and listed the primary two stereotypes for the more significant countries.

 
• Category: Humor • Tags: Europe, Map, Russia, Stereotypes

god-emperor-trump

The future of the West is not a limitless tending upwards and onwards for all time towards our present ideals, but a single phenomenon of history, strictly limited and defined as to form and duration, which covers a few centuries and can be viewed and, in essentials, calculated from available precedents. With this enters the age of gigantic conflicts, in which we find ourselves today. It is the transition from Napoleonism to Caesarism, a general phase of evolution, which occupies at least two centuries and can be shown to exist in all Cultures. The Chinese call it Shan-Kwo, the “period of the Contending States.” In the Gracchan revolution, which was already [133 B.C.] heralded by a first Servile War, the younger Scipio was secretly murdered and C. Gracchus openly slain – the first who as Princeps and the first who as Tribune were political centers in themselves amidst a world become formless. When, in 104 B.C. the urban masses of Rome for the first time lawlessly and tumultuously invested a private person, Marius, with Imperium, the deeper importance of the drama then enacted is comparable with that of assumption of the mythic Emperor-title by the ruler of Ch’in in 288 B.C..

The place of the permanent armies as we know them will gradually be taken by professional forces of volunteer war-keen soldiers; and from millions we shall revert to hundreds of thousands. But ipso facto this second century will be one of actually Contending States. These armies are not substitutes for war – they are for war, and they want war. Within two generations it will be they whose will prevails over all the comfortables put together. In these wars of theirs for the heritage of the whole world, continents will be staked – India, China, South Africa, Russia, Islam called out, new technics and tactics played and counter-played… The last race to keep its form, the last living tradition, the last leaders who have both at their back, will pass through and onward, victors.

The idealist of the early democracy regarded popular education as enlightenment pure and simple – but it is precisely this that smooths the path for the coming Caesars of the world. The last century [the 19th] was the winter of the West, the victory of materialism and scepticism, of socialism, parliamentarianism, and money. But in this century blood and instinct will regain their rights against the power of money and intellect. The era of individualism, liberalism and democracy, of humanitarianism and freedom, is nearing its end. The masses will accept with resignation the victory of the Caesars, the strong men, and will obey them. Life will descend to a level of general uniformity, a new kind of primitivism, and the world will be better for it…

- Oswald Spengler, 1922.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Donald Trump, United States

According to a recent BBC/Globescan opinion poll, Russia and Germany (sic!) are some of the most ethnically nationalistic major countries on the planet.

Here are some highlights from the full report (PDF):

Index of Rootless Cosmopolitanism

bbc-2016-poll-1-global-citizen

Curiously, the current pattern, in which the advanced/OECD nations (Canada, Chile, Germany, Mexico, Spain, UK, USA) have become more insular than non-OECD nations (Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russia) is an inversion of the situation prior to 2009, when the opposite was more true. I suppose this might be because only around the late 2000s did the rich countries begin to “lose out” in a visible way to globalization.

This effect has been especially pronounced in Germany:

This sentiment has continued to grow at a strong pace since then among respondents in emerging economies to reach a high of 56 per cent in both 2015 and 2016. Conversely in seven OECD countries it has followed an opposite trajectory, dropping to a low of 39 per cent in 2011 and remaining at low levels since (now at 42%). This latter trend has been particularly pronounced in Germany where the poll suggests identification with global citizenship has dropped 13 points since 2009 to only 30 per cent today (the lowest since 2001).

Thanks Angela Merkel?

Approval of Intermarriage between Different Racial/Ethnic Groups

bbc-2016-poll-2-intermarriage

The US is no surprise here; since 1960, approval of interracial marriages has gone from from the fringe to the universal, including amongst evangelical conservatives.

In contrast, only 34% of Germans approve of interracial marriage, which is equivalent to US rates in the 1970s. This might come across as something of a surprise to people whose image of modern day Germany revolves around Alt Right cuckoldry rhetoric, but then again Germany also until quite recently had explicitly racial citizenship laws.

Russia is higher at 43%, but also considerably more Russians outright oppose it.

Perhaps the only more or less surprising figure here is from South Korea, where 66% approve of interracial marriage. Koreans are an extremely nationalistic people. I suppose one thing to bear in mind that in Korea and East Asia more generally “interracial marriage” means Whites/Europeans, whereas in the US the default assumption is that its with Blacks and in Europe, with Muslim ethnicities.

Approval of Immigration

bbc-2016-poll-3-immigration-acceptance

Worth noting that immigrants to Spain seem to be mainly elderly Brits and Germans buying up seaside retirement homes in the south, while many younger Spaniards themselves are emigrating in large numbers to the northern and more economically dynamic members of the EU.

Defining Criteria of Self-Identity

bbc-2016-poll-6-identity

There’s only three countries in which a plurality of citizens don’t feel the highest amount of identification with their national citizenship.

Most Spaniards think of themselves as world citizens.

A plurality of Pakistanis consider themselves Muslims first and foremost. This stands to reason and many or most other Muslim countries would display similar results.

More Indonesians on their thousands of islands identify most strongly with their local community.

The largest percentage of people identifying most strongly with their race or culture are in South Korea. As per above, this is of no surprise.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Nationalism, Opinion Poll

Note: Major spoilers through to and including the fifth ASoIaF book.

This series is commonly considered to be the archetypical Crapsack World , in which life is short, nasty, and brutal, and hardly anybody “bad” ever gets their just desserts while the innocent suffer.

However, if you really get to thinking about the various deaths and fates of A Song of Ice and Fire – illustrated in morbid elegance for the show by the Beautiful Deaths series – you quickly realize that there such an astounding degree of poetic justice that if anything it is closer to a traditional morality tale than the grimdark nightmare it is so commonly believed to be.

Consider.

Robert Baratheon is a drunk, fat, stupid pig. He gets killed by a pig. He even appreciates the humor of the situation before he dies.

Viserys suborned everything to his goal of becoming king, becoming cruel and insane in the process. He ended up getting crowned, though not quite in the way he expected to.

Balon Greyjoy dreamed of returning to the old ways, and put those plans in action once the Seven Kingdoms fragmented. He met his Drowned God sooner than he anticipated.

Lysa Arryn, paranoid towards everyone, was murdered by the one person she trusted; and in the same way she had executed dozens of others at the whim of her mentally ill son.

Khal Drogo. A steppe warlord in his prime brought down not by arms or sorcery, but by a common infection of a minor wound.

Joffrey, the Mountain, Vargo Hoat – grade A psychopaths one and all – meet exceedingly sticky, humiliating, and painful deaths.

Eddard Stark. Even this pillar of “white” morality in a sea of “gray” and “black” ultimately fell to karmic blowback. He got executed on a misunderstanding. Where did we see that before? In the prologue, where he disbelieved Gared’s stories and summarily executed him as a deserter. Recall that he did not even attempt to verify his story with the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Both were ultimately undone for being unable to handle a dark secret – and both died by the same blade, Eddard’s Ice.

Tywin. The man who regards guaranteeing the survival and future prosperity of his House as his ultimate goal in life, and lets no ethical concerns get in the way of it, ends up getting murdered by his own son and leaving no clear successor to Casterley Rock. He won many battles, but lost the war of his life – a “war” at which the vast majority of people succeed at without giving it much thought at all.

Even those characters who survive (for now), surprisingly frequently, get appropriate comeuppances.

Tyrion murders Tywin. In the process, he confirms himself as a kinslayer beyond any lingering shadow of a doubt – but it is all the more ironic that it’s quite possible he saved the father he hated so much from a much more agonizing death, if the popular theory that the Red Viper had poisoned him before his duel with The Mountain is correct. In the process, to add to the irony, he “rescued” Tywin from the consequences of his own cruelty and brutality many years ago.

Jorah trafficked in slaves. He becomes a slave. And all because of oneitis.

Theon was in a difficult situation, between a rock and a hard place, an unwilling Third Culture Kid in a world of savage tribal loyalties. But he could have perhaps managed to navigate himself out of it if it were not for his overweening ego and superiority/inferiority complex. His fate is to have his personality, his ego, erased – and at the hands of Ramsay Snow no less, who like Theon is also a self-obsessed “outsider” – if an immeasurably crueler and more malignant one.

Sansa was giddy for a man she didn’t know, overlooking the numerous signs he was a grade A psychopath. Her award was to get to know him entirely too well.

Jaime defined himself, in large part, through his skill with the sword. He lost his right hand – the same hand he had used to push Bran Stark out of a window while a guest at Winterfell. Cersei, among other pathologies, had a ridiculously inflated sense of self. She got paraded naked around King’s Landing.

Jon Snow. As with Ned Stark, this may elicit howls of outrage downvotes, but that doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant. He executed Janos Slynt for treason and insubordination. Slynt, of course, was an excessively nasty man, and there were no tears shed for him; in any case, it was an entirely legal and indeed the correct thing to do. But then he wanted to get involved in political squabbles that were, strictly speaking, not of the Night’s Watch business. But too bad for him, the Night’s Watch is an exceedingly strict organization, and unlike his first attempt to return to politics south of the Wall, this time he didn’t limit that involvement just to himself, but invited all who would follow along with him. And for this he got a half dozen daggers in his guts. Of course, we know the caveats, we still sympathize with him… but even here, at some level, what happened to him was not really “unjust.”

At least by what passes for justice in Westeros.

tl;dr: A Song of Ice and Fire is commonly viewed as a deeply cynical series in which heroes die, the innocent suffer, and evil prospers. To the contrary, in a remarkably large number of cases – more, even, than in many much more “optimistic” works – people do get what they “deserve.” Or if not, then at least the principle of “what goes round, comes around,” is frequently demonstrated.

GRRM is a sort of Jigsaw.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Fantasy, Game of Thrones, Literature

These are the results of a recent YouGov/Handelsblatt poll on which leader the citizens of the G20 countries want to see as the next US President.

g20-poll-russians-support-trump-2016

Russia is the only country where more people, by a considerable margin, support Donald Trump becoming US President (31%) than support Hillary Clinton (10%).

This might come as a surprise to some of you considering how many Russians and (((Russians))) have been writing anti-Trump jeremiads in both the Western and Russian press:

Which just goes to show that whenever you see a Russian writing in an American mainstream media publication, its usually safe to assume the truth is the exact opposite of whatever he or she says.

Here is how one /r/The_Donald user described his “awakening”:

Thats actually really cool to hear. I will admit, I ate up our medias picture of Russia and never had much positive to say, but this election has made me do my own research and you all seem pretty bad ass. I would like to say sorry for being a cuck and hopefully we can become strong allies in the future.

Ultimately, as the only major candidate who doesn’t want to fight a New Cold War with Russia, it stands to reason the most Russians with an opinion on US politics support Trump.

Putin’s near endorsement of Trump as a “bright and talented person” would have also helped.

As Irish journalist Danielle Ryan points out, it’s not like Trump is likely to magically transform relations between the US and Russia. And certainly those corners of the internets who dream of a Western Alliance between a Trumpian America and Putin’s Russia to remove kebab are deluded (even if they are ironically deluded… or delusively ironic… or whatever).

putin-trump-alliance

It’s a nice dream though.

However, there is the basic perception that Russia will get along better with a straightforward American patriot than an empty suit (or empty dress?) ideological stooge of neocon and globalist agendas.

I expect the 10% of Russians for Hillary Clinton are mostly Westernists/zapadniks who reliably support the politically correct line of the “international community” against Russia. (However, I think it’s safe to say that Clinton also has a massive anti-rating in Russia. Bill Clinton’s war against Serbia – which resulted in the first major spike in anti-American sentiment in post-Soviet Russia’s history – is still remembered negatively. And many Russians are aware of Hillary Clinton’s warm relations with liberal “neocons in other words” interventionists).

This zapadnik constituency who support Hillary Clinton are not feeling the Bern because they tend to be virulently anti-socialist in the style of Garry Kasparov*:

I’m enjoying the irony of American Sanders supporters lecturing me, a former Soviet citizen, on the glories of Socialism and what it really means! Socialism sounds great in speech soundbites and on Facebook, but please keep it there. In practice, it corrodes not only the economy but the human spirit itself, and the ambition and achievement that made modern capitalism possible and brought billions of people out of poverty. Talking about Socialism is a huge luxury, a luxury that was paid for by the successes of capitalism. Income inequality is a huge problem, absolutely. But the idea that the solution is more government, more regulation, more debt, and less risk is dangerously absurd.

Really the only group of people who would support Sanders in Russia are the liberal leftist anti-globalist ecological hippie types but they’re only 1-2% of the population, or an order of magnitude lower even than the zapadnik liberals.

As for Cruz, literally the only Russian of any prominence I’ve found who supports him is the Christian Orthodox fanatic and renowned lolcow Dmitry Enteo:

***

There are no major surprises in the rest of the rankings.

(1) On average the more “cucked” countries support Hillary Clinton more.

(2) Mexico is at the top and one can’t really fault them for that.

(3) China seems to intuitively support Trump. They too have their issues with the Clintons in the form of the bombing of their Belgrade embassy in 1998. However, they are also understandably a bit put off by Trump’s relatively more bellicose rhetoric against their country, plus as the survey notes, China’s – and India’s and Indonesia’s – respondents were all queried online. The part of the Chinese population that is regularly online and presumably likelier to participate in such polls is demographically younger and presumably more globalist.

(4) Apparently not all Saudis share Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal’s negative assessment of Trump (or maybe they really don’t like the idea of a woman at the helm):

Finally, I would note that the US Presidential Elections haven’t really gotten going yet, so many foreign opinions of Trump vs. Clinton will be quite hazy and uncertain at this point. International opinion will become clearer as we approach November 2016.

* At least when Kasparov’s writing in English in Facebook or The WSJ, as opposed to riling up protest crowds in Moscow, when for some reason his rhetoric becomes remarkably leftist.

 

With results for all its precincts now in, it emerges that Brighton Beach (aka “Little Odessa”) voted 84.1% for Trump – his sixth highest result in all of NY’s ~300 neighborhoods.

brighton-beach-4-trump

The also heavily Sovok Jewish neighborhood of Seagate-Coney Island voted 81.4% for Trump.

(The big gray area on the map above is a single neighbood and only had 8 votes in total, which were evenly split between Trump and Cruz).

Commentator SFG writes:

As you theorized: Brighton goes for Trump (mostly), evangelical ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H Orthodox Jews for Cruz. The richies in Manhattan go for Kasich. You can actually see the less upscale precincts east of Third Avenue going for Trump, whereas the superrich between Third and Fifth go for Kasich.

Cruz did pretty poorly outside of Orthodox Jews, which isn’t surprising when you insult the city.

These are huge outliers even relative to Trump’s outstanding performance in NY as a whole; as I write this, 96% of the votes have been counted and Trump is set to end up at 60% and with almost all of its delegates.

new-york-4-trump

The only major region in NY state which Trump didn’t win was Manhattan which went for Kasich.

 

sovok-jews-for-trump

The Atlantic’s Olga Khazan reveals that Russian-American Jews strongly support Trump.

“I don’t like big government,” Sundeyeva said. She made two circles with her thumbs and forefingers and pressed them against each other so they touched, like binoculars. This Venn diagram represents the interests of people and government, she said. “They don’t have very much in common.”

Today, she’s not a registered Republican, but like many of the readers of her newspaper, she said she’s starting to lean toward supporting Donald Trump for president. The other self-styled outsider in the race, though, holds no appeal for her. The only Bern she and many other Russians here are feeling is the one in the banya.

Although American Jews are overwhelmingly liberal, spearheading socially progressive initiatives like gay marriage and reliably voting for the Democrats, this absolutely does not apply to Russian-American Jews.

Actually that entire Atlantic article pretty much confirms everything I wrote in my popular 2012 article The 5 Types of Russian American, in which I called this particular demographic group “Sovok Jews” – an ironic reference to their retention of conservative Soviet habits while flip-flopping 180 degrees from the Communist internationalism espoused by their grandparents under the early USSR to the libertarian and Israeli Firster outlooks they harbor today.

Furthermore, the USSR’s early philo-Semitism reversed from later Stalinism on, with rhetoric about “rootless cosmopolitanism” and “anti-Zionism” even as the US became highly pro-Israel. In a neat ideological reversal, Soviet Jews in America whose parents had sung Communism’s praises turned to libertarianism and neoconservatism, and in the 2000’s, most became hardcore anti-Putinists. …

Yet while they harbor little love for Russia, Jewish Russian-Americans continue to speak Russian among themselves, play durak and eat borscht, and recite Radio Yerevan jokes. They remain stuck in the Soviet attitudes and tastes that they brought with them to American shores; arguably, far more so than ethnic Russians (who have co-evolved with post-Soviet Russia).

Back to The Atlantic article:

Menaker and Sundeyeva are part of a small circle—indeed, they know each other. Like with any immigrant group, the political views of Russians in the United States range widely. Ilya Strebulaev, a Russian-American and a finance professor at Stanford, said the left-leaning Russians he knows outnumber the right-leaning ones.

That is correct. Moreover, I would point out that as an academic, the type of Russians Ilya Strebulaev knows would be mostly fellow Egghead Emigres: The academics who fled Russia in the 1990s when scientific funding collapsed. Most of them are moderates, with little interest in and no talent for politics – I suspect Bernie Sanders would come first and Donald Trump second amongst them – which in practice puts them well to the left of Sovok Jews:

While they are now almost uniformly well-off, the Egghead Emigre lacks the Sovok Jew’s entrepreneurial drive, and as such there are very few truly rich among them. But on second thought this ain’t that surprising. Academia is a very safe environment (in terms of employment) and guarantees a reliable cash flow and career progression but it won’t make you a millionaire. The truly entrepreneurial Soviet academics have long since abandoned academia and made big bucks in the business world. …

As you may have deduced, the Egghead Emigre shares many similarities with the Sovok Jew. Nonetheless, many of them still retain a few patriotic vestiges; and politically, they are considerably to the left, with social democratic, socialist, and even Communist leanings being common (whereas Sovok Jews are right-leaning, ironically, unlike purely American Jews who tend to be more leftist). Though not many are still much interested in Russian politics, those who are typically vote for Prokhorov/Yabloko or the Communist Party.

Back to The Atlantic article:

Still, some researchers have found that Russian Jews tend to be both less religious than their American counterparts and more conservative. According to preliminary data from a survey being conducted by Sam Kliger, director of Russian-Jewish Community Affairs at the American Jewish Committee, between 60 and 70 percent of Russian-speaking Jews will vote Republican in this election. About that same percentage of American Jews backed Barack Obama in 2012.

With the exception of the LARPier elements of the White Russians, all Russian-Americans are strongly secular.

This is one of the main reasons why most Sovok Jews have no great enthusiasm for Ted Cruz, even though he positively fawns over Israel.

Many of them are torn between Cruz and Trump. “Cruz, I like that he’s conservative,” said Shkolnikov. “But what is not appealing to me is that he sounds like he’s preaching all the time. Maybe it’s because I’m Jewish, but I don’t like when Christians are preaching too much.”

About Trump, she says, “I don’t like his personality, but I like all his ideas.” …

“He’s a successful businessman,” he said. “He’ll be able to work with people. Plus, a guy who’s not a politician won’t be able to promulgate big government for its own sake.”

But Trump makes up with his entrepreneurial charisma, and any shortage of enthusiasm he might exude as regards support for Israel, he mores than makes up with his surfeit of opposition towards Islam and general ‘Murica! can-do attitude relative to the other candidates.

I would note here that Sovok Jews are highly nationalistic. I wouldn’t even call most of them neocons. Of course neoconservatism for all intents and purposes is Jewish nationalism, but its adherents hide it behind nauseous rhetoric about American exceptionalism and the necessity of spreading democratic values to every last mudhole on the planet. First generation Sovok Jews – at least, those who don’t go into politics or journalism – don’t care for appearances and are much more honest about their outright hate for Palestinians, Hezbollah, Iran, Islam, and anyone and everyone else that threatens Israel.

(For context: In Israel, this Sovok Jew demographic votes for the ultranationalist but not particularly religious Israeli politician Avigdor Lieberman).

Of course Trump does have his risks.

It escalated until Wolfson rose up out of his seat, shouting. “Do you really want Trump to be your president? He’s going to sell you! He will sell you tomorrow to the Arabs!”

After all maybe the anime-obsessed Alt Righters waxing rhapsodically on Twitter about how Trump will drive out the (((merchants))) are correct after all? /s

Others at the party seemed more conflicted, particularly when it came to abortion, which was widespread and normalized in the Soviet Union. “We have become successful and comfortable within capitalism,” said Gina Budman. “On the other hand, I really am adamantly pro-choice. And I would love to see education that is less expensive. I am for gay rights.”

They are lured, though, by the GOP’s more vociferous support for Israel, a country where many Russian Jews have friends and relatives. For some, this was a source of hesitation about Trump, the Republican front-runner, who said he’d be “sort of a neutral guy” on Israel.

Hard choices, hard choices…

FWIW, my own personal observations (n = ~10) bear all this out.

A couple of weeks ago I was meeting with a Jewish Russian and his Putin’s Expat (Russian) Russian wife. Although they had some major political differences – essentially, she is a pro-Putin Russian nationalist, while he is an anti-Putin Jewish nationalist (which I suspect causes no shortage of friction between them) – they were both conservatives and strong Trump supporters and both said they’d vote for Hillary out of spite if the Republicans were to cheat Trump out of the nomination.

Apart from his foreign policy positions they like most other main classes of Russian-Americans also really like his forthright style:

But their views provide insight into the rise of Trump, a phenomenon that has bewildered many liberals. Several of the guests said they appreciate Trump’s tendency to “say what people are thinking”—a definite plus in a culture not exactly known for being timid.

“We are so tired of not being able to say what we want,” Sundeyeva said. “[Trump] says politically incorrect things.”

But the children of Sovok Jews are becoming SJWs:

Several people at Menaker’s house lamented that their adult children are turning out to be more liberal than they are. (“Our children are all brainwashed already,” Menaker said.)

As I pointed out in my article on Russian-Americans, the offspring of Sovok Jews – secular like their parents, but far more liberal – are converging with the American Jewish mainstream.

But as the USSR is dead, this Soviet identity has no future; the children of Sovok Jews tend to undergo complete Americanization.

The one child of Sovok Jews whom I know quite well emigrated from Belarus at an early age and is a socialist who has been involved with Occupy Wall Street and has spent a good part of his time these past few months designing a slick website purporting to demolish “corporate media lies” about Bernie Sanders.

 

Here’s a map from the May 16, 1941 edition of the St. Petersburg Times showing the results of a Gallup poll on support for declaring war against Germany:

map-war-sentiment-usa-1941

And here is a map of percentage German ancestry from the 1890 Census:

map-german-ancestry-usa-1890

 

Lingering cultural ties to Germany? Ethnic genetic interests? Something related to the American nations? And/or just the old banal North/South division of US politics?

 
• Category: History • Tags: United States, World War II

Many recent articles and online discussions have been rife with the idea that the reason for Russia’s “withdrawal” from Syria (which we now know is really nothing of the sort) was due to its mounting economic problems.

In reality that could not be farther from the truth. Here’s why:

(1) As of March 2016, half a year since the start of military operations in Syria, it had cost a total of $464 million – that’s just about 1% of Russia’s annual military budget.

And most of that came out of the Defense Ministry’s 2015 funds earmarked for training.

(2) Which is quite appropriate, since functionally Russia’s Syria campaign has been one huge, ongoing, live-action training exercise. A sort of desert Salusa Secundus for the Russian Air Force and special forces.

The average age of Russia’s pilots in Syria is 27 years. The youngest are closer to 25 – that is, almost straight out of flight school. Many pilots share the same plane, and there are frequent rotations, so a huge percentage of Russian Air Force personnel gets this training relative to the modest scale of Russia’s investment into Khmeimim.

(3) Equipment also gets tested. For instance, the recently withdrawn Su-25′s have been replaced with attack helicopters armed with the new President-S system of countermeasures against MANPADs. It has worked in controlled environments; will it work in a real war environment? So far the answer has been “yes.”

(4) Like the US during the Gulf War, it is also an excellent opportunity for getting rid of the old munitions that Russia has absolutely no shortage of.

Meanwhile, the SVP-24 technology addon allows old Russian fighter planes to drop old Soviet bombs with the near accuracy of a JDAM delivered by a modern American bomber.

(5) This is only to be expected, but yes, the actual use of Khmeimim – a pretty useful strategic asset in its own right – is completely free.

(6) Finally, the good performance of Russian weaponry in Syria has led to an additional $6-7 billion increase in foreign orders, which translates to a more than 10% increase in Rosoboronexport’s total portfolio of foreign orders.

(7) Paradoxical as it might seem, there are grounds to believe that Russia’s intervention in Syria has also improved its image in the world. Neocon blowhards shilling for a no-fly zone in the Washington Post to protect ISIS from Russia ultimately only represent a certain fraction of the American elites. They do not speak for the world or even most Americans. Most normal people appreciate the sight of Islamist fanatics getting lit up along with their Turkey-bound oil truck convoys and Western MSM propaganda to the contrary has had very little effect on these healthy sentiments if the comments sections are anything to go by.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Military, Russia, Syrian Civil War

This is as hardcore cyberpunk as it gets.pol-vs-isis

Target painting via dank memes!

(1) Moderate Rebels (TM) make YouTube video that includes their dispositions.

(2) Russian journalist Ivan Sidorenko who has good SAA contacts sends a geolocation request to the fine gentlemen of /pol/ (a 4chan “forum”).

(3) /pol/ rises up to the task and geolocates the Al Nusra base.

(4)

(5) BOOM

Incidentally, this is not the first time target acquisition has been “crowdsourced.”

sidorenko-meme-powered-missiles

In other Syria news: Al Nusra attack in South Aleppo (later repelled).

One has to admit this was an impressively well coordinated attack that betrays good training, for this region anyway. Well above ISIS quality or for that matter most of the SAA rank and file.

And of course there’s the issue of the tanks as well as the body armor and shiny new helmets. Looks like Turkey has been putting the ceasefire to good use. :|

Anyhow it increasingly looks like the ceasefire will fully unravel any day now.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Military, Syrian Civil War

Tiny Iceland once astounded the world by being the only county to send its banksters to jail and repudiating the debts taken on by the citizenry they hoodwinked.

As a result, there were no significant drops in living standards, whereas Greece, which adopted the opposite policies, got stuck in a grinding depression that continues to this date.

Days after USAID/Soros- oh sorry I meant “people power” essentially mounted a coup against the Icelandic government… they free all the banksters!!

And then, minutes later, the Panama Papers were disclosed by the ICIJ, which had a clear target: to “expose” the “circle of friends close to Putin”, and of course, to reveal the dirty laundry of the Iceland Prime Minister, who resigned just two days after his shady offshore tax dealing were revealed to the world.

There was some “conspiratorial” speculation whether the explicit hit on ex-PM Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson was precisely due to Iceland’s crackdown on the country’s criminal bankers. As a reminder, Iceland is the only nation that sent bankers found guilty of crimes resulting from the financial crisis, to prison.

It turns out there may have been something valid in said speculation, because moments ago, Iceland Monitor reported that three bankers from the defunct Iceland bank Kaupthing are to be released from jail today – after serving just one year of their 5-year sentences.

Magnús Guðmundsson, Ólafur Ólafsson and Sigurður Einarsson were one of four men jailed in 2015 in the so-called ‘Al-Thani case’ on charges of breach of trust and market abuse.

Sigurður Einarsson, former chairman at Kaupþing, received a sentence of four years, while Magnús Guðmundsson, former CEO of Kaupthing Luxembourg, and Ólafur Ólafsson, who was the bank’s second largest shareholder at the time, both received a sentence of four and a half years.

LOLOLZ!!

Long live people power! Heil Soros!

Conspiratards were right as usual.

putin-laughing-sarcastic

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Conspiracy Theories, Iceland, Panama Papers

Commentator jimmyriddle finds statistics about the ethnic composition of scientific cadres in the Soviet Union in 1973 via Cassad (the original comes via the blogger Burkino Faso).

ethnicity-of-soviet-scientists-1973

 

Drawing on earlier statistical data, although on a more limited sample of different ethnicities, we have the following sets of correlations:

  • 1926 Census, literacy amongst 50 years olds+ – r = .92
  • 1926 Census, overall literacy – r = .72
  • 1939 Census, overall literacy – r = .61
  • 1939 Census, high school graduation – r = .93
  • 1939 Census, higher education – r = .99

Considering this without Jews who are huge outliers everywhere here:

  • 1926 Census, literacy amongst 50 years olds+ – r = .82
  • 1926 Census, overall literacy – r = .74
  • 1939 Census, overall literacy – r = .72
  • 1939 Census, high school graduation – r = .91
  • 1939 Census, higher education – r = .93

So the two best predictors are:

(1) The literacy rate amongst the last Tsarist era generation, i.e. people who were 50+ years old in 1926, hence were born before 1876. That was before the advent of mass schooling in the Russian Empire, so I suspect that was when the literacy rate amongst the various regions of the Russian Empire was also the most “g loaded” (apart from places where the Protestant factor was also at play).

(2) Even more so, the share of people with higher education according to the 1939 Census. This stands to reason.

***

PISA suggests that the Georgians have very low IQs. I mean literally India-like, in the low 80s. However, the above suggests that its underperformance is more a result of massive brain drain – as in other countries that score ridiculously lower than expected based on their ethnic composition, such as Moldova and Puerto Rico, and before the 1990s, Ireland – as well as possibly the collapse of the schooling system to an extent that didn’t happen elsewhere. Probably the two most highly achieving Georgians today are historical detective fiction writer and political oppositioner Boris Akunin (Chkhartishvili) and the controversial but undoutedbly very talented Moscow based sculptor Zurab Tsereteli.

Armenia does not participate in PISA, but its results from TIMSS were significantly lower than Russia’s, at around Ukraine’s or Romania’s level. However, it might be grossly underperforming for the same reasons that Georgia is. First off, a massive amount of the brainier Armenians have emigrated to Russia and the West. In both places they are prominent relative to their numbers, with a powerful lobby in the US (even if it has nothing on the Jewish lobby) and a very powerful lobby in Russia that one could argue stretches all the way to Sergey Lavrov himself, who is half-Armenian. Former chess champion and oppositionist Gary Kasparov is half-Armenian, while the older Soviet chess champion Tigran Petrosian was fully Armenian. They are also the closest cousins of the Jews in terms of genetic distance. A mischievous observation one can make is that like the Jews, Armenians also seem to be unduly prone to political radicalism when abroad, from Sergey Kurginyan and Gary Kasparov (in their own ways) in Russia to Maoist nutjob Bob Avakian and SJW figurehead Anita Sarkeesian in the US, but maintain a safely homogenous and culturally rightist (if dumber) society at home.

In the overall scheme of things, from Jews down to Gypsies, there are no really big surprises.

 

Today a ceasefire has been agreed upon between Azerbaijan and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, which unlike the unilateral ceasefire declared by Azerbaijan three days ago seems to be holding.

This allows us to make some more conclusions observations on what happened.

map-nagorno-karabakh-april-2016

Source: http://caucasus.liveuamap.com/, via Cassad.

Nagorno-Karabakh War 1.5

First, the Azeris have made gains, but their advance was ultimately quite modest – only around a quarter of a kilometer across a narrow stretch of the northern front – and ultimately ground to a halt. A total of eight defense positions were lost, as well as the village of Talish in the north. There are conflicting reports on whether Mataghis was captured – the weight of the evidence suggests that the Azeri assault failed with high casualties – while the main town and operational center for that front was never seriously threatened. It did suffer a bombardment, and was the target of intensive Azeri drone surveillance. Several Azeri drones were shot down around that area. The conflict also saw the first use in anger of the Israeli Harop “kamikaze” drone by the Azeris, which was remotely steered into a bus carrying Armenian volunteers, resulting in seven deaths.

Second, as has become familiar from the War in Donbass, official and unofficial casualty figures differ by an order of magnitude. Oficially, there had been to date 35 Armenian military deaths 37 Azeri deaths, although each side claims 300-400 enemy casualties. I suspect it is closer to around 50-75 for the Armenians (especially once the 28 listed as MIA, most of which usually end up dead in the end, are accounted for) and up to 150 for the Azeris. The photographic evidence appears to show a lot more Azeri than Armenian troops, and in any case it stands to reason since it was the Azeris who were assaulting well-fortified positions.

Furthermore, the NKR’s tally of how many tanks it lost – some fourteen of them – are virtually the same as Azeri claims of how many tanks it destroyed. In contrast, Azerbaijan implausibly acknowledges the loss of only one tank, whereas the Armenians claim they destroyed 29 tanks. Since it is harder to hide hardware losses, this suggests an NKR-Azeri combat loss ratio of 1:2. Apart from this, the Azeris have also lost several APCs, 1-2 Mi-24 helicopters, and tons of Israeli UAV’s (one of them was apparently downed by a hunter with a rifle! Not very good PR for Israel’s defense export industries).

old-armenian-soldier

Armenian volunteer.

deluded-aliyev All in all, it’s safe to say that at least so far, this has been a comprehensive defeat for Azerbaijan, regardless of how earnestly President Ilham Aliyev prevaricates on Twitter and the rather unconvincing assertions of Azeri propaganda.

Their purely military gains were insubstantial, and attained at the cost of much higher losses in personnel and equipment than the worse-armed but far more motivated, skilled, and dug in NKR Army. This was accomplished without any reinforcements from Armenia proper. Any hopes for a blitzkrieg campaign have been dashed. Consequently, if the Azeris also intended to test the limits at which Russia would start moves to intervene, they failed at that as well through their failure to achieve any major military successes against NKR in the first place.

Political Aspects

The Azeris also lost the information war. Although this flareup elicited very little European or American official commentary, it was clear that public opinion outside Turkey and Azerbaijan itself – at least as gauged by social media on Twitter and Reddit – was overwhelmingly on Armenia’s side. This was especially so after evidence of Azeri war crimes began to crop up, including the execution and mutilation of three Armenian civilians in Talish and the ISIS-style parading of the decapitated head of a Yazidi soldier from the NKR ranks (note that both links are probably NSFW). While the provenance of the former is uncertain, the latter appears to have definitely happened, appearing on a pro-Azerbaijan military Vkontakte page. There were also claims from pro-Armenian media sources that many Azeris in the ranks of Islamic State were turning to Azerbaijan. There is reason to be skeptical about this since it is unlikely that the sorts of Azeris who would go off to Raqqa would return to fight for a secular Shi’ite state.

If the intent was to use military assault to catalyze the diplomatic process, that too must be considered a failure. Apart from Erdogan’s boorish but entirely predictable expression of unconditional support for Azerbaijan, nobody else followed suit. Instead, everybody from Russia and Iran to NATO and the US issued formulaic injunctions to observe the ceasefire and resolve the issues through the OSCE Minsk Group (i.e. back to the status quo of doing nothing).

Even the US was noncommital, with a State Department spokesman saying that the final status of Nagorno-Karabakh will be determined on the principles of “non-use of force or threat of force, territorial integrity of states, and the equal rights and self-determination of people.” The second and third points are of course self-contradictory in this case, but the reference to “threat of force” might have been a veiled rebuke against the Azeri Defense Minister for his threats to bomb the NGK capital Stepanakert.

The only countries of note apart from Turkey to assume a decidedly pro-Baku position were Pakistan, Georgia, and Ukraine – but this ghost of the GUAM alliance is not really a diplomatic triumph by any stretch of the imagination.

There was however one Azeri success, though. Or rather an Aliyev success. In Azerbaijan’s current economic circumstances, one might think the ruling dynasty could certainly do without is the media quacking about its offshore network of secret holding companies revealed by the Panama Papers. And unlike with Putin, Aliyev’s family members are directly mentioned as owners. It is worth noting that Mossack Fonseca had informed its clients of the data breach several months in advance, and they would have been aware of the approximate dates of its publication.

Is there a conspiracy theory here? Who knows. It need not have been a decisive factor, since the mainstream media doesn’t have the freedom to talk about such things anyway, while foreign journalists can be fobbed off with the always reliable “[the children] are grown up and have the right to do business” excuse. Even so, it might well have been a significant contributory factor.

After all, it is better to have people rhapsodizing about a “short victorious war,” or failing that at least about “our heroic shahids,” than grumbling about the plummeting currency and the offshore secrets of the elites.

A Final “Optimistic” Note

As I pointed out in my last post, this year represents the likely peak of Azeri military power relative to Armenia for at least the next decade. With Baku getting engulfed by financial crisis in the wake of the collapse of oil prices, it is cutting its military budget by 40% this year, in addition to already substantial cuts in 2015. This means its military modernization efforts will crawl to a stop. Those hi-tech toys its been “testing” these past few days are probably not going to be replaced anytime soon. Meanwhile, while the Armenian economy is hardly booming either, it can at least expect to maintain spending at similar levels or even increase them further considering the rising incidence and fierceness of its clashes with Azerbaijan.

This means that for Azerbaijan, it is a question of now or later… where later might either be decades down the line, or even more likely, never.

On the other hand, though these skirmishes were a far cry from what a real large-scale war would look like between Azerbaijan and Armenia-NKR, they were exceedingly useful from a calibration point of view in that they allowed the Azeris to get a good gauge on the actual combat effectiveness of their rebuilt army. They might well have concluded that the oil-splurge spending of the past decade didn’t automatically translate to much higher proficiency or combat effectiveness, with all that it entails for the prospects of a future large-scale operation to reconquer Nagorno-Karabakh (even putting to the side the issue of Russian intervention).

In this sense, the continued bellicose rhetoric of the Azeris – and the Turks – regardless, the chances of a serious war in the future for Nagorno-Karabakh may well have actually diminished in the past few days.

EDIT 2016/04/06: Now that the fog of war has cleared up, it has become clear that the Azeris even failed to retain the village of Talish. What a debacle.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Corruption, Military

Well, most of them, anyway.

ukraine-is-europe

Otherwise the prospects of Ukraine’s euroassociators don’t look all that good. Out of all the more than a dozen polls on this question done since December 2015, not a single one has been in Ukraine’s favor. The average gap between the share of people supporting and opposing the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement has been 15%.

A majority of Dutch political parties have also agreed to treat the result as binding should there be higher than 30% turnout. Apathy is in fact the main hope of the Yes camp. The average expected turnout based on the polls is around 33%.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Klimkin was recently in Amsterdam to agitate for the Yes camp, along with a delegation of the country’s main religious figures.

“In the past two years not a single person has requested a bribe from me!” he introduced himself to Dutch viewers on a talk show, evidently looking to impress. “Before, the Ukraine was a deeply Orthodox country. And the latest anti-discrimination laws… about LGBT rights – you know, you couldn’t have imagined this 5-10 years ago.”

So apparently one of the main achievements of the Euromaidan as related by Klimkin to his progressive Dutch viewers has been that Ukraine has become less Orthodox. I wonder what the rest of his delegation made of that.

ukraine-delegation-to-amsterdam

Or for that even his main electoral constituents.

An LGBT festival in the Ukrainian city of Lviv had to be abandoned when the venue was surrounded by about 200 members of far-right groups shouting “Kill, kill, kill” on Saturday.

That is not very Yuropean of them either.

EDIT 2016/04/06: Via Ivan Katchanovski: “100% official vote count: 61% vote against Ukraine EU association, and 32% official turnout means valid vote. Exit Poll: 64% “No” vote in the Ukraine EU association referendum in the Netherlands. The 32% turnout in the final IPSOS exit poll reaches the 30% threshold but is close to statistical margin of error of 3%.The 29% turnout rate in the earlier IPSOS exit poll 30 minutes before the end of the vote is close to the 30% threshold and within statistical margin of error of 3%.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: LGBT, Netherlands, Trade, Ukraine

The front page of The Guardian on the first day of Panama Leaks:

guardian-front-page-on-panama-leaks

$2 billion!? Very impressive. Though admittedly, a rather disappointing find after more than a decade’s worth of searching for Putin’s $200 billion stash.

But still, a curious choice of whom to focus on, considering the minor detail that Putin’s name doesn’t appear in the Panama Papers even once.

putins-name-doesnt-appear

This isn’t the only curious thing about it.

For instance, there is also the observation that it comes on the heels of the tabloid stories that Putin is dating Wendy Deng, a fantastic claim which has been repeated uncritically because if it’s about Putin, it’s true.

And the Reuters story about a series of women allegedly connected with Putin all buying properties from the same real estate agent.

Not to mention the identity of the two other main “first day” targets: Messi, aka FIFA. which awarded the football 2018 World Cup to Russia, and Icelandic politicians who put banksters in jail.

Then there is also the curious fact that only 149 documents of the 11 million total were actually released in the first batch, which means that our intrepid journalists must have started off by doing selective searches on all the people they could think of who they assumed were associated with Putin from his Saint-Petersburg days in the 1990s, discovered that some of them became very rich during the economic boom of the 2000s, and tallied the total value of their assets to arrive at the not especially impressive figure of $2 billion (considering the numbers of people involved in this grand conspiracy) that they were stashing away for Putin in a tropical tax haven… just like other perfectly respectable members of the global elite, from Xi Jinping, the Saudis, and German corporations to David Cameron, Petro Poroshenko, and Mitt Romney.

None of which is not exactly news.

But it is precisely Putin who has attracted something like 50% of the media fallout from the Panama Leaks. The political class of a basically irrelevant country, albeit the only one in the world which prosecuted its banker class for their financial machinations; as well as the United States’ new bugbear, FIFA, garnered another 25%.

Leaving only 25% of the coverage for everyone else:

panama-leaks-world-map

All in all, a most curious set of coincidences indeed.

There was overwhelming demand to release all the documents and make them available in a searchable database:

wikileaks-should-we-release

Unfortunately, this time, it wasn’t Wikileaks who possessed the treasure trove. Too bad!

wikileaks-too-bad

So naturally what happened was that the range of documents that were released were from the outset tightly constricted and focused against those entities the Western order considers to be its enemies, and filtered through a journalistic establishment that it has become increasingly clear loyally serves that same order.

Even those targets that did not meet the above criteria were in general either already known (the offshore adventures of David Cameron’s father), universally suspected anyway (the Saudis), or who were either irrelevant and/or had undermined and humiliated the Western order in some way (Icelandic politicians, FIFA).

Why this might have been the case becomes a bit clearer when we look at the outfit behind the Panama Leaks. That outfit is the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which is funded in its entirety by the US Center for Public Integrity, and which in turn is sponsored by… well, Soros, in short.

And all the other usual regime change/color revolution suspects.

icij-sponsors

Craig Murray explains the real deal:

The Suddeutsche Zeitung, which received the leak, gives a detailed explanation of the methodology the corporate media used to search the files. The main search they have done is for names associated with breaking UN sanctions regimes. The Guardian reports this too and helpfully lists those countries as Zimbabwe, North Korea, Russia and Syria. The filtering of this Mossack Fonseca information by the corporate media follows a direct western governmental agenda. There is no mention at all of use of Mossack Fonseca by massive western corporations or western billionaires – the main customers. And the Guardian is quick to reassure that “much of the leaked material will remain private.”

In effect the main targets of Panama Papers and especially Putin are mere whipping boys, politically convenient decoys to draw attention away from people asking hard questions about the banal realities of a world ruled by the 1% offshore aristocracy.

Regardless, the Guardian’s resident neocon Natalie Nougayrède, riding on the headwinds of a media storm that the media-industrial complex she serves has itself ignited, goes on to proclaim her divine knowledge of not only the most intimate details of Putin’s social ties the secrets of the Dark Lord of the Kremlin’s mind itself:

The fact that Putin’s name does not appear in the Panama Papers will not calm the paranoia and conspiracy theories that his regime thrives upon. Indeed, these revelations will be seen in Moscow’s ruling circles as part of a CIA-led operation involving the manipulation of the “Anglo-Saxon” media.

So Putin leads like 50% of the stories in Western coverage of the Panama Leaks, despite his name not appearing in any of the Panama documents even in passing, and yet thinking there is anything unusual about this makes you a conspiratard or a “useful servant” of the Russian mafia state at best, if not a proxy of Putin himself.

After all, its not like a major former editor of a prominent German outlet has ever claimed that the CIA holds extensive influence over the German media, nor have there ever been any hints whatsoever that there is an organized Western intelligence operation to undermine Putin. We know that this is just not the sort of underhanded tactics that any Western democracy would ever use.

Move along, citizen, nothing to see here.

None of this is to deny that Putin and his associates do not lead lives of luxury, have exploited their political connections to make money, or even that some of them use offshore tax havens to avoid taxes or keep their assets safe from expropriation.

To the contrary, all three of these statements are substantially true.

But possibly the single biggest irony in this entire affair is that someone positively inclined towards the Kremlin could just as easily argue that the Panama Papers prove that Russia’s fight against offshoring was actually improving in recent years, under Putin:

In internal letters contained in Mossack Fonseca files, Malyushin was identified as the “beneficial owner” behind Panama-based Anttrin Services Corp., only in 2013, when the company suddenly shut down. As it appears from letters, Malyushin was in a hurry to get rid of his company.

Most likely, this was related to changes in Russian legislation. In the first half of 2013, a new pack of anti-corruption laws was adopted forbidding Russian officials from having foreign bank accounts or using foreign financial instruments, including holding shares in companies.

This is a datapoint that the 2013 anticorruption law forbidding Russian bureaucrats from holding bank accounts abroad is actually working. Incidentally, to add to the irony, that same law had been condemned at the time of its publication by the purportedly (but actually nothing of the sort) “pro-Putin” Forbes blogger Mark Adomanis, who portrayed it as a “forcible asset repatriation” that would reinforce Russian autocracy and put Putin in a “much, much more powerful and domineering position.”

If you were a journalist with a pro-Kremlin agenda you could certainly argue this point with at least as much legitimacy as if you were to follow the Western MSM party line and focus on what Panama Leaks “prove” about Putin and his entourage.

However, that journalist would almost universally be condemned as a Putin shill and not really a journalist at all, whereas the likes of neocon blowhard Natalie Nougayrède and serial plagiariser Luke Harding are free to roam and dominate Western media op-ed spaces with their own paranoid ramblings. Of late, they have even broken free from the informed scrutiny of their readers, with the Guardian’s Russia journalism apparently having joined that triggering triad of “race, immigration and Islam” on which the Guardian no longer accepts comments from the great unwashed of the “Comment is Free” discussion boards.

Which is perhaps just as well given how thoroughly the Western Narrative has become discredited even amongst The Guardian’s readers, despite the endless purges it has instigated over the years against its critics.

 

azeri-tanks

Column of Azeri tanks around the Talis region. Via Cassad.

Another Flareup in the Caucasus

The past two days has seen some of the most intense fighting over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh since the 1994 ceasefire that froze the conflict. It was a typical post-Soviet tale: Illogically drawn up borders, stranded Armenians in the historically Armenian territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, the flareup of nationalist tensions in the late 1980s that resulted in the outbreak of anti-Armenian pogroms, and the slide into war between two collapsing states as Nagorno-Kabakh declared independence and deported its Azeris.

As it was, Azerbaijan collapsed faster. Composed of incompetent generals and unenthusiastic soldiers and facing a highly motivated enemy with support from Russia and the vast Armenian diaspora, the Azeris were unable to make gains in the region’s mountainous terrain and eventually retreated after being bled dry by a 5-1 casualty ratio. The Azeris continue to pine for revenge. There are monthly small-scale artillery exchanges, their borders are sealed (Turkey also blockades Armenia), and there was an infamous case in 2004 when an Azeri officer axed a sleeping Armenian to death while they were both on a NATO-sponsored training seminar in Budapest.

Officially, there were 18 Armenian dead and 12 Azeri dead in the recent clashes, as well as the loss of some military equipment. The Azeris claim this was provoked by Armenian bombardments. However, the higher number of Armenian dead plus the fact that the Azeris were the ones who seized a chunk of Nagorno-Karabakh territory throws some doubt on these claims. (That said, the usually well informed Colonel Cassad claims that both sides’ losses were substantially higher, especially those of the Azeris).

azeri-gains

The territories Azerbaijan has taken on April 2 according to an Azeri news source.

Three graphs that explain the renewed clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh

First, Russia is in a precarious position. The situation in Syria can change at any time while the conflict in Donbass has again been simmering up (recent reports from NVF troops indicate intense Ukrainian Army attempts to seize the E50 highway from Donetsk to Gorlovka and dozens of deaths on both sides). It is also apparently committed to keeping a low profile until the next EU vote on extending sanctions. Although Russia is formally committed to come to Armenia’s defense as part of its CSTO obligations, it has been carefully ambiguous on whether the guarantee applies to the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized by noone. All of this will be factors that the Azeris are sure to be weighing and considering.

Second, since the 1990s, the Azeris have massively increased their military preponderance over the Armenians. It may by now be cliche, but it is true nonetheless that Azeri military spending exceeds the entire Armenian state budget. Although Armenia enjoys preferential rates for Russian weaponry – it is something like Israel with regards to the US in this regard – ultimately soaring oil revenues matter more. The two biggest spurts, around the mid-2000s and the early 2010s, were clearly associated with high oil prices.

armenia-azerbaijan-military-spending

According to the Comprehensive Military Power (CMP) index, which integrates personnel quantity, equipment stocks, and technology to provide an assessment of each country’s military potential across time and space, Azerbaijan’s preponderance over Armenia has climbed from a multiple of no more than 1.5 in the 1990s – nowhere high enough to force a breakthrough across heavily defended mountainous terrain – to a multiple of 3 in the last few years. At this degree of disparity, formerly impossible things become possible.

cmp-armenia-vs-azerbaijan

Third, the Azeri economy is extremely fragile. The collapse in oil revenues has forced Baku to impose capital controls and devalue the manat twofold, but nonetheless, foreign currency reserves have plunged from a peak of $15 billion to $4 billion by January. Its credit ratings have been reduced to junk. Discontent is beginning to brew with the Aliyev dynasty, which is criticized for corruption and the ineffective use of Azerbaijan’s oil wealth.

azerbaijan-forex

 

Most tellingly, military spending is going to be axed by as much as 40% in 2016. This will allow Armenia to tilt the balance of power back in its favor a bit.

What next?

So to sum this all up, as I noted at the start of the year, now would not be the absolute worst time for Azerbaijan to engage in some geopolitical adventurism, to take minds off economic woes. If there ever was a time for reclaiming Nagorno-Karabakh, it’s now. All the more so if in addition to the factors listed above Azerbaijan also enjoys support from a Turkey (and even Ukraine? Though tying the clashes around Yasinovataya to this would be a long stretch, and is probably connected mainly to Poroshenko’s visit to the US) whose relations with Russia have collapsed in recent months.

But there are reasons for be optimistic. The recent clashes are appearing to die down instead of escalating into something bigger. Neither side has declared a mobilization. Instead, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev is appealing to the Security Council with a renewed demand for Armenians to vacate the “occupied territories.” And the fate of the late President Abulfaz Elchibey – whom Ihham’s own father replaced in a coup after his string of losses during the Nagorno-Karabakh War – must weigh heavily on President Aliyev’s considerations.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Military

If there is a good correlation between the “American nations” and support for Trump, then I’m not really seeing it.

American Nations (Woodard) and county primary results for Trump (Wikimedia):

american-nations-woodard-and-trump-votes

American Nations (Woodard) and Republican voters estimated to support Trump (Cohn):

american-nations-woodard-and-trump-support

There are just too many inconsistencies. Yankeedom is bifurcated between extremely strong support for Trump at its eastern end – the betting markets indicate he is highly likely to continue sweeping that entire area as he already did with Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire – but his support begins to crumble once we get to Wisconsin, which straddles The Foundry and the Breadbasket, to say nothing of agragian Minnesota. Trump’s support hits a veritable wall on the Kansan and Oklohoma border, regardless that Greater Appalachia is supposed to extend well into those two states. The Midlands with their weird and unnatural borders are completely useless at explaining anything about Trump’s support; they range from the heavily anti-Trump west to the pretty clearly pro-Trump Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Great Lakes region.

Just when I was about to give up making sense of these patterns in any rigorous HBD- or culture-related way (not that the two are necessarily mutually exclusive), I dig out another map from what was the precursor to Colin Woodard’s work: Joel Garreau’s 1981 book The Nine Nations of North America. Now incidentally, I have always preferred Garreau’s version of the American nations to Woodard’s. Although Woodard is more historically inclined, drawing heavily from on David Hackett Fischer’s magesterial Albion’s Seed, Garreau had the benefit of 100,000kms-worth of travel throughout the Americas, thousands of personal conversations, and a greater appreciation of modern economic geography.

american-nations-furno-1981

Garreau’s map is also a heck of a lot more pleasant to just look at.

See the map above based on Garreau’s work drawn by Richard Furno in 1981. The American Nations as envisaged by Garreau actually look like nations, complete with plausible borders and symbols that can be readily associated with their specific folkways; nations that might one day conceivably arise in the wake of some apocalyptic event such as The Flame Deluge or The Change.

And, it just so happens that unlike Woodard’s Nations, the American Nations of Garreau actually do correlate remarkably well with Trump’s support!

American Nations (Garreau) and county primary results for Trump (Wikimedia):

american-nations-garreau-and-trump-votes American Nations (Garreau) and Republican voters estimated to support Trump (Cohn): american-nations-garreau-and-trump-support-gop

Most strikingly, the huge demographic reservoirs that are The Foundry and Dixie are solidly behind Trump. The two biggest exceptions – that prove the rule – are Texas and Ohio, which went to Cruz and Kasich, respectively, on account of their home field advantage; nonetheless, Trump was respectably second in both states. (Robot Rubio was unable to repeat this in Florida). Half-Forge, Half-Breadbasket Wisconsin is 50/50 on Trump: The polls say yay, while The betting sites say nay. (Update: No longer. I wrote this before Trump’s ill-considered remarks on abortion; contra the liberal hysteria, he merely proved that his support for social conservatism had always been superficial. You could almost feel the gears whirling in his head as he tried to simulate an answer that would appeal to God-fearing conservatives and he failed. This has further tilted The Breadlands against him, and now Wisconsin leans heavily towards Cruz).

Trump also has convincing predominance in New England (except Maine) and most of the MaxAmerican borderlands. In contrast, the limits to Trump’s support are clearly demarcated by The Breadbasket – that plain, bucolic of conservative, mild-mannered Teutons. The tringular slice that Dixie makes into Oklohoma is reflected in the primaries results, in which there is a small blue concetration for Trump in the south-east of the state set against a uniform yellow in support of Cruz elsewhere. The Empty Quarter’s low population densities, with concentrations typically separated by long distances and mountains, have a rich variety of political cultures. Brash, glitzy, casino-mad Nevada, hosting Randall Flagg’s capital Las Vegas and Reno, where men get shot for all sorts of reasons, gave Trump 46% in the primaries; utterly straitlaced and civic Utah is so uncompromisingly set against The Donald it might even emerge from the other side of the horseshoe and support Hillary Clinton in these elections should the Republic frontrunner become its nominee.

That said, like The Breadbasket, the Empty Quarter – both on average and those that triangulate between the two poles that are Las Vegas and Salt Lake City – are predominantly against Trump. Of the seven major Nations of North America ala Garreau, at least three of them – Dixie, The Foundry, and New England – clearly support Trump (thus, remarkably, bridging the most classical American division – that between the Union and the Confederacy). Two of them are clearly opposed – The Breadbasket and the Empty Quarter. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen where the sympathies of MexAmerica and Ecotopia lie. Arizona went for Trump with a large margin, who is also popular in SoCal; but looks set to fail in New Mexico. Data on Ecotopia is still very sparse, though one admittedly old poll suggested Trump will take Oregon.

So the media soundbites about how Trump is redrawing the political map are not exaggerated. But as Republican grandees have taken to arguing, the way it has been done is not to the party’s benefit: When polls show that Trump is slated to lose Utah as Republican nominee, then one might legitimately think that that is a good case for denying Trump his nomination and all concerns for the will of the Republican voter be damned.

But that’s assuming Trump plays by the standard conservative rulebook.

If, instead, he were to veer even further towards economic populism during the Presidential campaign while toning down on “triggering” rhetoric, he stands to gain serious kudos running against a Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, who encapsulates the arrogance and mendacity that even many liberals admit characterize the Clinton Clique (Glenn Greenwald was entirely correct in his playful argument that nominating Clinton over Sanders is a “huge electability gamble”). This is not unimaginable, since Trump’s protectionist arguments look good set against the Krugmanian orthodoxy on free trade that mainstream Democrats espouse. Furthermore, unburdened from having to compete with Cruz for the ultraconservative vote, Trump can win over many liberal White voters by dredging up his past reasonably progressive stances on healthcare and climate change (after all, Trump voters are primarily anti-establishment, and that includes oil companies, as Slate magazine discovered to its horror).

Imagine Trump losing Utah… but winning New York.

Sounds completely impossible, but all sorts of impossible things have been Happening in this campaign, so really – why not?

The main problem of course is that insodoing this, Trump will be pulling the trigger on Establishment conservatism, finally putting it out of its long misery:

At [Cruz's] own rally, though, there was at least one skeptical voice. “Nationalism is the new thing, man,” said Jordan Voor, 30, a Trump supporter who works nearby. “I just kind of want to watch the establishment burn,” Mr. Voor added. “What’s the point of being conservative anymore? It’s a failing ideology.”

So it is understandable why the NRO hardlinerswho can’t wait for the white working class to die out, nationalist neocons whose nationalism regrettably applies not to the US but to another country, and even conservative “reformists” like Ross Douthat are willing to stop at nothing to sabotage Trump’s nomination… or even manipulate arcane Electoral College rules from the 19th century to invalidate his Presidency should he win the popular vote.

redpill Unfortunately for them, however, the only part of the country that still supports their project of transforming Americans into the La Raza Cósmica of the 2050s are those few Americans of The Breadbasket and The Empty Quarter who still primarily live by the social mores – and demographic homogeneity – of the 1950s.

Meanwhile, those Americans who have had to contend with vibrant diversity, shuttered factories, SJWs, and the manifold other joys of late modernity have started to chew thoughtfully on a certain crimson-hued psychotropic substance.

That is the entirety of The Foundry and Dixie, and most of New England, MexAmerica, Ecotopia, and the Las Vegas enclave.

That is about 70% of the US White population.

If Donald Trump can figure out how to kick them into high-energy mode, the White House will be his to lose.

 

Transhuman Debate 2.0

Will be happening tomorrow.

HOW DOES CONSCIOUSNESS ARISE? (1:00 – 1:30)
Andre Gomez Emilsson says neural signaling by classical means doesn’t seem sufficient for to achieve ‘global binding’ – due to signal travel time
Randal A. Koene says the brain (at least during times of conscious awareness) appears to be operating in a more discretized manner, where signal travel time is much smaller than the discrete intervals and therefore must be perceived as unitary and instantaneous even without non-classical causes.
——
SECOND AMENDMENT: ‘RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS’ (1:40 – 2:25)
Question: Should there be stricter gun laws, to improve public safety? Or should laws stay the same, because USA ‘freedom’ includes access to firearms?
Anti-Guns: Scott Jackisch, Robert Wasley
Pro-Guns: Anatoly Karlin, Mike Johnson
——
EUGENICS (2:40 – 3:40)
Questions: Do you want a future with Mandatory Pre-Natal Diagnoses, Designer Babies, One-or-Two Child Policies, and Parent Licenses that limit how many children you have? Should there be a transhumanist goal that all humans should have 140 IQ, plus great health and beauty? With Eugenics helping to achieve that? Or do you think the government should NEVER meddle in Reproduction?
Pro-Eugenics: Andre Gomez Emilsson, Hank Pellissier, Anya Petrova
Anti-Eugenics: Marc McAllister, Ted Peters, Brian Hanley

Unlike with the debate on open borders, which we won, I am far more skeptical of our chances on arguing for gun freedoms. I like shooting all sorts of guns. The Colt is one of the defining symbols of America. Since I am a great fan of (genuine) multiculturalism, in the sense of maintaining the integrity of many different national cultures, I also favor continued gun freedoms.

gun-karlin

That said, I think it’s hard to argue against the basic premise that gun freedoms lower the “activation energy” for people to murder each other (at any given level of civilization/social civility/average psychopathy). To be sure, there are plenty of other factors contributing to – the percentage of Blacks, or the level of hard alcohol consumption – but these are all independent from the guns issue, and not easy to resolve either. For example, even the most homogenous, genteel, and civilized US states such as Vermont and New Hampshire have homicide rates of around 1.0-1.2/100,000, which despite the much talked about immigrant crisis in Europe still make them higher than those of Germany, Italy, Spain, France, the UK, and Poland (0.8-1.0/100,000). Switzerland is at a mere 0.3/100,000. Although the NRA likes to hold up Switzerland as a sort of European gun lovers’ paradise, the actual reality of acquiring a firearm is far more time- and-energy intensive than almost anywhere in the US. Now it is possible that the Swiss are even more genetically pacified than the milquetoast New Englanders, but the other, in my opinion more plausible scenario, is that this difference is mainly due to guns being easier to access in the US.

But I won’t regard you with yet another longwinded essay on the pros and cons of gun control. These are a dime a dozen.

Instead, I’ll just gather a few points that perhaps haven’t been annunciated a great deal in these debates because they come from unusual perspectives:

Utilitarianism: The extra deaths from higher gun freedoms have to be balanced by the fact that shooting and owning guns is a popular pastime for many people. Not to mention the cultural intangibles. For every foreigner who snickers at the (cartoonish) picture of rampage shooters running amok on American streets there is another foreigner who sees guns as an symbol of American asperity and badassery.

Class War: The people amongst whom gun culture is most engrained are Southern Whites, who are the only major demographic group against whom it is acceptable to be racist. This is a view shared not just by the liberals, but their own establishment conservative “allies,” as the NRO’s Kevin Williamson recently demonstrated. Gun restrictions would be yet another slap to their face.

Transhumanism: Admittedly, guns are not going to be of much use against a malevolent superintelligence. We are also beginning to see some really nifty aiming devices and even smart bullets coming onto the market. I suspect it will soon become possible for dedicated rampage shooters to increase their kill counts by an order of magnitude or so. That’s an argument for gun control if there ever was one!

On the other hand, technology has massively magnified the power of the government versus the citizenry – a development that has upended the balance of power between them that the Second Amendment was meant to encapsulate. The liberal argument that technological developments mean that guns are no longer relevant to resisting state tyranny can thus be inverted; given the reality of this historic, it is perhaps more important than ever to avoid subverting the Constitutional amendment that best symbolizes this balance.

Another futurist argument against gun control is that with the rise of 3D printing, it might soon be possible for anyone to produce passable firearms anyway. This has in fact already happened. This is not yet a big issue, but if/when this technology becomes widespread and anyone can produce a gun in their garage, all gun regulations might become moot anyway.

I’ll also be moderate the eugenics debate. My position on eugenics is longstanding:

***

Interesting Links & Quick Takes

World

(1) Does Google basically work for the White House? Internet giant revealed to have offered to help overthrow Assad as Obama reveals broadband for Cuba at Daily Mail.

All that rhetoric about the Apple/FBI fight is complete nonsense. An entertainment spectacle for the masses. At the levels that actually matter, the big Silicon Valley tech companies are completely in bed with USG. The event described above happened in 2012, when the Clinton Clique was in control of US foreign policy and, as Wikileaks has revealed, looking for ways to justify an attack on Syria.

Will have a separate post on this later.

(2) @Eskaton on global warming, NRx, and Unz.com commentators:

USA

(1) An Establishment Conservative’s Guide To The Alt-Right by Breitbart’s Allum Bokhari and Milo Yiannopoulos. Can’t be bothered to read it myself but people are generally saying its a fair portrayal so I assume its a good “Alt Right 101″ for normies.

That said, note that Razib Khan has explicitly said he is not Alt Right, and it is a huge stretch to describe The Unz Review as an Alt Right website considering that Unz prints people like Chomsky and Tanya Golash-Boza.

trump-nomination-chances(2) Try to sugarcoat it as you will, but the prediction markets indicate that Trump’s abortion comments really were a big blunder. Possibly his biggest to date.

Russia/Ukraine

(1) ITAR TASS interviews Stephen Hawking on the future of space exploration, automization, his dream of going into space himself, and Russia:

After the Soviet Union’s collapse, you have not been to Russia. Would you like to visit this country again, for example, with your daughter Mrs. Lucy Hawking who studied Russian at Oxford University?

I enjoyed my previous visits to Russia and I would like to visit again.

Russia will celebrate the 55th anniversary of the first manned flight into space – the Cosmonautics Day or International Day of Human Space Flight. What were your feelings at that moment on April 12, 1961?

I was impressed that Russia was ahead of America in the space race.

It has been over 25 years since the Russian Federation took up the torch as a space power. Could you assess its current potential for space exploration?

The Americans rely on Russia for travel to and from the International Space Station. I think the future is in such international cooperation.

You backed an ambitious project The Breakthrough Initiatives last year. It is funded by the Russian businessman Yuri Milner and aims to search for extraterrestrial life. Almost immediately some sceptics described it as “a waste of money”. What is the likelihood that the project will be successful?

Within 100 years, I have no doubt, there will be humans living on Mars. I am a supporter of the Breakthrough Initiatives, founded by Yuri Milner, to search for extraterrestrial life. By analyzing data from radio telescopes and laser transmissions, they hope to find signs of intelligence, that Earth is not the only source of life in the universe. Such a discovery would revolutionize our view of the Cosmos.

Self-styled leader of the Russian opposition Garry Kasparov had a reply that was every bit as boorish as we have come to expect from him.

(2) After more than a decade of searching for Putin’s $40 billion no $70 billion no $200 billion Reuters has finally discovered his daughter and three other women might have gotten free apartments from one of Putin’s businessman buddies. Quite the step down in status for a “pharaoh” who “doesn’t need a piece of paper attesting to his wealth”! After this revelation the regime will surely fall any day now.

(3) Operation Beluga: A US-UK Plot to Discredit Putin and Destabilize the Russian Federation by William Dunkerley.

Putin Derangement Syndrome. But maybe there is a method to the madness. According to former French intelligence officer Paul Barril, there is a largescale intelligence operation directed from Washington D.C. and London to undermine Russia and its leaders. Sounds farfetched? Sure. But then again, as we learn time and time again, conspiracies really do appear to be far more prevalent than we like to think (see the story on Google helping undermine Assad at the top). It is certainly noteworthy that the Western media hasn’t subjected any other foreign leader to a fraction of the bile it has hurled at Putin – not even at Assad. The only really comparable figure is Julian Assange, who was ironically another “traitor” to the Western cause (Putin was of course originally intended to be a loyal servant of Russia’s pro-Western oligarchs and its a safe bet the neocons saw his reclamation of Russia’s sovereignty as not only a betrayal but a personal humiliation). In light of Udo Ulfkotte’s revelations that that the CIA massages the stories that come out of the German MSM, and the power of governments to control media narratives across a whole swathe of European countries recently demonstrated by the Cologne Affair, these allegations are far more credible now than they might have been even a few years ago.

(4) There are huge exchanges of artillery in Donbass again, in a continuing development since mid-March 2016, with the Ukrainians firing heavy caliber shells of the sort banned under Minsk 2 and the NAF responding with counter-battery fire. The LDNR are very unhappy with the lack of Russian military support. The obvious reason for this is that two major Atlanticist events are coming up soon – the vote on the renewal of EU sanctions in late June (there is now a real chance that some Med country like Greece or Italy will veto them) and the NATO summit in Warsaw on July 8-9, when the details of future US military dispositions in Europe will be discussed. Presumably, Poroshenko wants to provoke Russia into doing something that would harden Western positions on those issues, regain their waning attention, and detract from his own plummeting domestic approval ratings (now lower than Yanukovych at his lowest). Putin is playing it safe and refusing to escalate. Tellingly, both the mainstream Russian and Western media have been silent on the uptick in violence. Unfortunately, for the longsuffering residents of Donbass it’s another story.

(5) Ukraine bans all Russian films made after 2013. I wonder if the svidomy realize this includes, say, Leviathan, perhaps the most prominent artistic “indictment” of Putinism made to date.

davidzon-basking-in-saaks-presence(6) Ukraine Today, Ukraine’s lame attempt at imitating RT, is shutting down broadcasting for lack of money. The next big thing on the Ukrainian English language news market is the Odessa Review, run by Vladislav Davidzon. You can see him basking beta-like in the glory of The Tie-Eater to the right.

Europe

(1) High ranking EU politician Frank Timmermans: “Diversity comes with challenges, but diversity is humanity’s destiny.

Science – Tech, Futurism

(1) Black-hole computing: Might nature’s bottomless pits actually be ultra-efficient quantum computers? That could explain why data never dies by Sabine Hossenfelder.

Culture – History, HBD

gachter-schulz-honesty-2016(1) Gachter, Simon & Schulz – 2016 – Intrinsic honesty and the prevalence of rule violations across societies, as covered by James Thompson.

Get people (well, psychology students) from different countries to throw dice. The higher the numbers they report, the higher their monetary reward. Calculate the amount of “cheating” from basic probability.

The pattern is, as usual, quite familiar.

(2) German special forces uber-kommando Otto Skorzeny went onto serve Mossad after the war at Haaretz.

He had two funerals, one in a chapel in Spain’s capital and the other to bury his cremated remains in the Skorzeny family plot in Vienna. Both services were attended by dozens of German military veterans and wives, who did not hesitate to give the one-armed Nazi salute and sing some of Hitler’s favorite songs. Fourteen of Skorzeny’s medals, many featuring a boldly black swastika, were prominently paraded in the funeral processions.

There was one man at the service in Madrid who was known to no one in the crowd, but out of habit he still made sure to hide his face as much as he could. That was Joe Raanan, who by then had become a successful businessman in Israel. The Mossad did not send Raanan to Skorzeny’s funeral; he decided to attend on his own, and at his own expense. This was a personal tribute from one Austrian-born warrior to another, and from an old spy handler to the best, but most loathsome, agent he ever ran.

What a beautiful reconciliation.

(3) Fred Reed is on a roll:

(4) Where microaggressions really come from: A sociological account by Jonathan Haidt. In his interpretation, SJWs might be truly novel from a sociological perspective: Where once cultures moved from a culture of honor, where insults are personally avenged, to a culture of dignity, in which the high class thing to do was to rise above verbal insults and seek redress for physical wrongs from the courts, we might now be moving to a culture of victimization, in which victimhood itself – real and perceived – becomes the highest virtue, while aggressors are to be punished both by society, by social media, and even by the courts. Although I consider myself as a mostly “dignity” person, I really do understand and even empathize with the “honor” position. But I can genuinely say that “victim” culture is truly alien to me. I cannot even begin to imagine how it must work at the psychological level, even if I sort of understand it in the abstract. To me it feels like a sci-fi civilization created by another species.

Life & Misc

(1) April Fool’s? It’s hard to beat Heartiste’s from 2013.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Open Thread
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.