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According to neocon John Podhoretz, anyway:

podhoretz-no-jewish-russophile

Though I suppose you can expect nothing less from someone who is essentially a walking anti-Semitic stereotype.

podhoretz-jews-win

 

Incidentally, if you’re on Twitter, the subject of Podhoretz’s wrath @JewRussophile is well worth following for Syria and geopolitical updates.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Jews 
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It appears that the elites who have lobbied for cheap labor and lectured us on the benefits of vibrant diversity aren’t so keen on sticking around to enjoy the multicultural paradises they helped create.

At least, these are the obvious conclusions to be drawn from a recently released report by New World Wealth on millionaire migration in 2015.

millionaire-migration-2015

The country with the single largest outflow of millionaires is France, losing 3% of them last year alone. According to the report, these figures were “heavily impacted by rising religious tensions between Christians and Muslims, especially in urban areas.” I suppose that is one way of putting it. These trends are predicted to accelerate in the next decade “as these tensions escalate,” and similar “religious tensions” are also expected to “negatively affect” countries such as Belgium, Germany, Sweden, and the UK “in the near future.” Where is Monsieur MoneyBags taking off to? “Tel Aviv had large inflows from Europe, especially France. Other Israeli cities such as Herzliya, Jerusalem and Netanya also experienced inflows.” Well, no wonder many French nationalists and anti-Zionists are so suspiciously Islamophilic.

London experienced a net inflow of 500 millionaires in 2015, a decrease over previous years because of the rising number of British-born millionaires leaving for other parts of England – “mainly to small towns in the London commuter belt along the Thames” – and to other parts of the Anglosphere such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the US. One would note that these countries tend to have lower tax rates, nicer climates, and if not a lack of diversity, then at least cognitively elitist immigration policies designed to only let the cleverer (or at least wealthier) sorts inside. In contrast, as noted in the New World Wealth report, millionaire arrivistes to London were almost entirely foreigners. It further predicts that “this may be a trend that continues in future as several wealthy UK born people that we spoke to said they were concerned about the way London and the UK in general had changed over the past decade or so.” We ever so wonder what they mean by that. “Australia seems to be their preferred destination.” Presumably, they would rather their children live in Singapore Down Under instead of AfroEurabia.

What’s particularly striking about all this is that France and Italy have more millionaire expats, even in percentage terms, than does Russia – a country whose apatride elites are infamous for buying up properties in London and Florida and sending their children off to British boarding schools. This is frequently cited in the Western media (and the Russian media too) as evidence of well-heeled Russians “voting with their feet” against the legal nihilism and and ideological bankruptcy under Putin, but if so what does it then say about those far richer Western countries where the numbers of fleeing millionaires are surging well past those of Putin’s “mafia state”?

This applies all the more so for China. Although there have likewise been numerous media reports of how rich Chinese are “fleeing” their country en masse – as with Russia, inevitably either to safeguard their hard-earned wealth from the rapacity of government bureaucrats or to stash away the misbegotten proceeds of corruption – the actual numbers for them (relative to the size of their millionaire pool) are actually very modest. It appears that relatively more Chinese millionaires are prepared to wait a few more years for China to resolve its air pollution problems than French millionaires are to wait a few more years for the French Socialists to make another go at introducing an 80% top bracket income tax rate to pay for the rising welfare and prison costs of all those incoming doctors and engineers.

If you are to treat the numbers of Chinese and Russian millionaires leaving as “pedal votes” against the corruption and political malfeasance of their countries, then logic and consistency likewise dictates that you apply the same judgmental approach to the even larger European millionaires fleeing the diversity their governments have been imposing on them. Ironically, of course, just as the elites in Russia or China are at least as much the enablers of the corruption and governance problems that afflict them as they are its victims, so the elite class in Europe has been instrumental in supporting policies that are now pushing them out of their own countries (not that we should be too sorry about their plight: Unlike them, the middle and working classes do not have the means to leave at all. But their money and human capital will be missed).

But for some reason, I don’t see the Western media using this as to bludgeon France or Sweden like they do with Russia or China. After all, the latter two are America’s geopolitical rivals, while the former are loyal servants of the globalist nation wreckers who rule the West.

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Immigration, Millionaires 
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Some populations are more adapted to vegetarianism than others.

Kothapalli, Kumar et al. – 2016 – Positive selection on a regulatory insertion-deletion polymorphism in FADS2 influences apparent endogenous synthesis of arachidonic acid:

Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) are bioactive components of membrane phospholipids and serve as substrates for signaling molecules. LCPUFA can be obtained directly from animal foods or synthesized endogenously from 18 carbon precursors via the FADS2 coded enzyme. Vegans rely almost exclusively on endogenous synthesis to generate LCPUFA and we hypothesized that an adaptive genetic polymorphism would confer advantage. The rs66698963 polymorphism, a 22 bp insertion-deletion within FADS2, is associated with basal FADS1 expression, and coordinated induction of FADS1 and FADS2 in vitro. Here we determined rs66698963 genotype frequencies from 234 individuals of a primarily vegetarian Indian population and 311 individuals from the U.S. A much higher I/I genotype frequency was found in Indians (68%) than in the U.S. (18%). Analysis using 1000 Genomes Project data confirmed our observation, revealing a global I/I genotype of 70% in South Asians, 53% in Africans, 29% in East Asians, and 17% in Europeans. Tests based on population divergence, site frequency spectrum and long-range haplotype consistently point to positive selection encompassing rs66698963 in South Asian, African and some East Asian populations. Basal plasma phospholipid arachidonic acid status was 8% greater in I/I compared to D/D individuals. The biochemical pathway product-precursor difference, arachidonic acid minus linoleic acid, was 31% and 13% greater for I/I and I/D compared to D/D, respectively. Our study is consistent with previous in vitro data suggesting that the insertion allele enhances n-6 LCPUFA synthesis and may confer an adaptive advantage in South Asians because of the traditional plant-based diet practice.

Here is a map:

adaptive-allele-to-vegetarian-diet

And from the supplementary notes, a more detailed table showing the I/I values for the populations in the 1000 Genomes Project study (population key):

vegetarianism-supplementary-table

There is a distinct correlation between this and meat consumption:

meat-consumption-2009

To be sure, Africa’s and India’s poverty play a big role, but compare, say, Vietnam and India, whose GDP per capita have tracked each others almost perfectly since the 1980s. But annual meat consumption per capita in Vietnam in 2009 was, at 49kg, more than ten times as high as India’s 4.4kg. The I/I figure for South Asia was 70%, one of the world’s highest, to Vietnam’s 8%, one of its lowest. Although one might rejoinder about Hinduism’s aversion to meat consumption, that applies universally just to beef; strict vegetarianism is prescribed only for members of the priestly Brahmin caste. In any case, one has to ask why such a religious taboo evolved in South Asia but pretty much nowhere else. And why Pakistan, despite being slightly wealthier than Vietnam until the past decade (though admittedly much less socially developed), nonetheless also has, at 15kg per annum, significantly lower meat consumption than Vietnam.

Amongst East Asians, I/I values are much higher amongst northerners, which is an inversion of the global pattern: Beijing Chinese – 48%; Japanese – 54%; Southern Han Chinese – 22%; Vietnamese – 8%. Any ideas why that might be the case? This is pretty strange, because northern Chinese peasant fare is not too dissimilar from what you’d find in traditional Eastern Europe. This does however seem to be borne out by cultural patterns: A quick search shows that Hong Kong has the world’s highest beef consumption, and Vietnamese cuisine is notably beef heavy.

This also illustrates the dangers of adopting vegetarianism as a dietary fad for populations with no biological adaptations to them. Maybe this is at least one form of cultural appropriation we could do without?

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Genetics, India 
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Last month there was an interview with Eliezer Yudkowsky, the rationalist philosopher and successful Harry Potter fanfic writer who heads the world’s foremost research outfit dedicated to figuring out ways in which a future runaway computer superintelligence could be made to refrain from murdering us all.

It’s really pretty interestingl. It contains a nice explication of Bayes, what Eliezer would do if he were to be World Dictator, his thoughts on the Singularity, justification of immortality, and thoughts on how to balance mosquito nets against the risk of genocidal Skynet from an Effective Altruism perspective.

That said, the reason I am making a separate post for this is that here at last Yudkowsky gives a more more or less concrete definition of what conditions a superintelligence “explosion” would have to satisfy in order to be considered as such:

Suppose we get to the point where there’s an AI smart enough to do the same kind of work that humans do in making the AI smarter; it can tweak itself, it can do computer science, it can invent new algorithms. It can self-improve. What happens after that — does it become even smarter, see even more improvements, and rapidly gain capability up to some very high limit? Or does nothing much exciting happen?

It could be that, (A), self-improvements of size δ tend to make the AI sufficiently smarter that it can go back and find new potential self-improvements of size k ⋅ δ and that k is greater than one, and this continues for a sufficiently extended regime that there’s a rapid cascade of self-improvements leading up to superintelligence; what I. J. Good called the intelligence explosion. Or it could be that, (B), k is less than one or that all regimes like this are small and don’t lead up to superintelligence, or that superintelligence is impossible, and you get a fizzle instead of an explosion. Which is true, A or B? If you actually built an AI at some particular level of intelligence and it actually tried to do that, something would actually happen out there in the empirical real world, and that event would be determined by background facts about the landscape of algorithms and attainable improvements.

You can’t get solid information about that event by psychoanalyzing people. It’s exactly the sort of thing that Bayes’s Theorem tells us is the equivalent of trying to run a car without fuel. Some people will be escapist regardless of the true values on the hidden variables of computer science, so observing some people being escapist isn’t strong evidence, even if it might make you feel like you want to disaffiliate with a belief or something.

Psychoanalyzing people might not be so useful, but trying to understand the relationship between cognitive capacity and technological progress is another matter.

I am fairly sure that k<1 for the banal reason that more advanced technologies need exponentially more and more cognitive capacity – intelligence, IQ – to develop. Critically, there is no reason this wouldn’t apply to cognitive-enhancing technologies themselves. In fact, it would be extremely strange – and extremely dangerous, admittedly – if this consistent pattern in the history of science ceased to hold. (In other words, this is merely an extension of Apollo’s Ascent theory. Technological progress invariably gets harder as you climb up the tech tree, which works against sustained runaway dynamics).

Any putative superintelligence, to continue making breakthoughs at an increasing rate, would have to not only solve ever harder problems as part of the process of constantly upgrading itself but to also create and/or “enslave” an exponentially increasing amount of computing power and task it to the near exclusive goal of improving itself and prevent rival superintelligences from copying its advances in what will surely be a far more integrated noosphere by 2050 or 2100 or if/whenever this scenario happens. I just don’t find it very plausible our malevolent superintelligence will be able to fulfill all of those conditions. Though admittedly, if this theory is wrong, then there will be nobody left to point it out anyway.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: Apollo's Ascent, Rationality, Superintelligence 
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The Results of the Transhuman Visions 1.0 Debate

This January I said I would aim to do an open thread once every week. I was off by an order of magnitude or so. Well, better late than never.

transhuman-visions-debate-feb-2016

My partner Mike Johnson and I, arguing the anti-Open Borders positions against Scott Jackisch and Randal Koene, won. Not bad considering H+ demographics!

Though there was widespread support for Universal Basic Income even before the debate, Anya Petrova and Barbara West managed to extend its lead even further arguing against Jay Cornell and event organizer Hank Pellissier.

Finally, there was a panel discussing the nature of the Singularity and whether it could even happen between Andres Gomez Emilsson, Randal Koene, Brian Hanley, Ted Peters, Dan Faggella, and myself. One very interesting observation I heard here is that we have yet to figure out how to reliably construct a simulation of a complex computer chip based off a series of cross-sectional scans of it. The challenges in doing something like that for the human brain would be many, many orders of magnitude higher.

We decided we are going to do more of these events in a debate as opposed to a lecture/conference format because the audience feels more engaged that way.

Speaking of more events, the next Transhuman Visions 2.0 debate is on April 2, 2016 at the Octupus Literary Salon in Oakland, CA – you can still get tickets here – and will feature debates on consciousness, the transhumanist position on gun rights, and eugenics (yes Hank is brave enough to go there).

We also have some other plans for ensuring a future for futurism in the Bay Area, especially since it hasn’t been going so well in recent years – The Singularity Summit brand were acquired by Kurzweil’s Singularity University, a commercialized gimmick for businesspeople to look hip and tech-savvy; the Future Salons that connected innovative businesses at the cutting edge of technology and interested laypersons have withered away; and Hank himself is finding it difficult to find the time to organize his Transhuman Visions conferences. We are working on creating an umbrella organization to revive all of these activities but it is as of yet too early for any announcements.

I have gotten tangentially involved in a startup that could either flop or take Uber out of business. Unfortunately, I can’t say much more right now.

I have read Vodka Politics by Mark Schrad, whom I otherwise came to know through discussions on Russian demographics on my blog and later personal communications. Its thesis that vodka was the basis of Russian autocratic power is an interesting and original one, even if I think he sometimes overdoes it. I look forwards to reviewing it.

I haven’t had much time for other forms of culture like movies or video games. I did finally buy Fallout 4 and start exploring the Commonwealth Wasteland. So far it has been quite enjoyable though I don’t see myself replaying any of it.

***

Interesting Links & Quick Takes

World

(1) Obama’s huge interview with The Atlantic.

This is worthy of a separate post (or even series of posts), for now I will leave you wish Alexander Mercouris’ very important observation that hidden within it is an implicit admission that, contra his public rhetoric at the time, the US intelligence services had no conclusive evidence that Assad was responsible for the Ghouta chemical attacks (a claim that has since been further demolished by Seymour Hersh, the MIT study, and other experts).

This also means that it was Russia’s diplomatic offensive in 2013 that saved the world from essentially a repeat of the Iraq War (at the cost of having its reputation further tarnished by the neocon-run Western media).

(2) Russia’s Syrian Withdrawal – Why It Happened and Why Regime Change Remains Off the Agenda by Alexander Mercouris.

(3) Russian Diplomat Drops a Bombshell: US Expected ISIS to Seize Damascus by October by Alexander Mercouris.

(4) The American Colonial Office by Mark Yuray. Cargo cultism is a global phenomenon.

(5) Enough is enough — U.S. abdication on Syria must come to an end by Michael Ignatieff and Leon Wieseltier. These neocon freaks literally wanted the US to fight Russia this February.

USA

Let’s be honest: American politics are now all about Trump, Drumpf, and The Trumpinator.

(1) There was Bush Derangement Syndrome. As far as I know, I was the first pundit to come up with the term “Putin Derangement Syndrome,” to describe the Western media’s habit of blaming Putin for everything bad in the world regardless of what he actually does (the latest version of this is the “Putin is Weaponizing X” theme).

I believe the time has long come to officially recognize Trump Derangement Syndrome to describe the extraordinary level of vitriol and misrepresentation directed again him by the Establishment, including an extraordinary alliance of the radical Left, liberal progressives, the conservatives, and the neocons – even though Trump is objectively far more moderate than Cruz on social matters, doesn’t support a new war every year like Hillary Clinton or [insert moderate Republican empty suit], and has avowed his support for Israel.

If a man’s character is defined by his enemies, then Donald Trump must be a veritable saint.

  • Everyone on The National Review in a bizarre Two Weeks Hate session.
  • “White Working Class Deserves to Die” Kevin D. Williamson deserves special distinction.
  • Basically all the neocons fleeing the sinking cuckservative ship into the Clinton Clique’s warm embrace – Eliot Cohen, Eliot Abrams, Bill Kristol, Robert Kagan
  • Ross Douthat – Over and over again to the extent that his once interesting NYT column is now basically just one long anti-Trump jeremiad.
  • Pussy Riot
  • Larry Summers, who helped set up Russia’s oligarchic system in the 1990s.
  • Derek T. Muller, arguing in favor of manipulating arcane Electoral College rules from the 19th century to invalidate Trump’s Presidency should he win the popular vote.
  • Neocon Max Boot says he prefers Stalin to Trump.
  • But this Tiananmen Protester says that Trump is like a Communist leader. Which then begs the question… why wouldn’t Boot support him?
  • Trump is Bad Because he Did Business with Russia (just like Mitt Romney!) Josh Rogan.
  • Mormons who think drinking tea and Melania’s boobs are very bad.
  • Charles Murray – The quintessential 1950s era American, who understands Fishtown unlike many of his conservative compadres and knows first hand what it is like to be on the receiving end of a broad vilification campaign, but in the end cannot reconcile his genteel libertarianism with his perception of Trumpian “fascist tendencies.”

Unsurprisingly, there is near perfect overlap between the Russian PDS sufferers, or demshiza, and knee jerk aversion to Trump.

(2) Fortunately, there are many based people to counter the cucks too.

Not surprisingly, Nicholas Nassim Taleb, an Orthodox-Levantine American, has fewer reasons to subscribe to neocon schemes than almost anybody else, not to mention the brains to see through them:

The *establishment* composed of journos, BS-Vending talking heads with well-formulated verbs, bureaucrato-cronies, lobbyists-in training, New Yorker-reading semi-intellectuals, image-conscious empty suits, Washington rent-seekers and other “well thinking” members of the vocal elites are not getting the point about what is happening and the sterility of their arguments. People are not voting for Trump (or Sanders). People are just voting, finally, to destroy the establishment.

(3) There are some reasoned analyses of Trump from ideological opponents who manage not to descend into TDS:

(4) Scott Alexander reviews The Art of the Deal:

“As best I can tell, the developer’s job is coordination, by which I mean blatant lies. The usual process goes like this: the bank would be happy to lend you the money as long as you have guaranteed renters. The renters would be happy to sign up as long as you show them a design. The architect would be happy to design the building as long as you tell them what the government’s allowing. The government would be happy to give you your permit as long as you have a construction company lined up. And the construction company would be happy to sign on with you as long as you have the money from the bank in your pocket. Or some kind of complicated many-step catch-22 like that.”

In other words, sounds like a job for someone at the upper end of the both the IQ and psychopathy bell curves. Prime Presidential material!

(5) The Color of Crime, 2016 Revised Edition by Edwin Rubenstein. Steve Sailer keeps emphasizing the value of storing some “a number of highly stylized but reasonably accurate interconnected numbers” in your head. I think to describe US murder and crime rates, a reaosonable approximation would be 10, 2, 1, 0.5, corresponding to Blacks, Hispanics, Caucasians, and Asians, respectively.

(6) Heartiste proves that physiognomy is real.

(7) My Last-Minute Decision to Enter the U.S. Senate Race in California by Ron Unz. Needless to say, I wish him the best of luck.

(8) Ron Unz on Trump:

Earlier this year, an ardent Trump supporter declared that his favored candidate was 95% a clown but 5% a patriot, and therefore stood head-and-shoulders above his Republican rivals, and this sounds about right to me.

bernie-so-white(9) Bernie Sanders’ Electoral Fortress of Whititude by Steve Sailer.

Bernie wants to extend gibs for all. Whites, as well as ideologically Leftist Blacks, support that.

Hillary Clinton instead just wants to continue buying off different social groups with cash and affirmative action while letting the oligarchs be and pursuing the neocon agenda abroad with far more enthusiasm even than “don’t do stupid shit” Obama. Therefore, ethnocentric but not particularly Leftist Blacks – the majority of them – naturally support Clinton.

Or to put it more crudely: Mo money fo dem programs > free higher ed, medicine, civil rights, no more wars for the neocons.

(10) The Donald Trump Phenomenon by JayMan. Ironically, its much harder to explain Trump in pure HBD terms, and I am in qualified disagreement with this thesis. There will be a separate post on this.

(11) EXCLUSIVE: Twitter Shadowbanning ‘Real and Happening Every Day’ Says Inside Source by Milo Yiannopoulos. I have to admit this is a very clever way of purging undesirables. Also: 5 Ways to Get Banned From Twitter.

(12) Internet Nazi/troll Andrew “weev” Auernheimer documents @Jokeocracy’s hilarious Twitter suicide bombing.

Russia/Eurasia

(1) Is Putin Weaponising Stupidity? by Rob Slane. This is going to become a classic.

All well and good you might say, but it does beg a question: Why would Putin want to make Western leaders do and say stupid things? What benefit would he get out of Weaponising Stupidity? Again the answer is obvious, is it not? The more the leaders of Western countries and the media have displayed their folly and sheer ignorance, the more they have dragged their countries towards collapse. And since Putin’s goal is obviously to Weaponise the World, no doubt for his own dastardly reasons, you can begin to see how it would be in his interests to use Stupidity as a Weapon to achieve his aims. Can’t you?

Then again, I don’t want to be overly dogmatic about my new theory. I may be wrong. In fact, I still hold out the possibility that the truth might well be much simpler. It could just be a case that we really are run by ignorant buffoons who never learn, and even if Mr Putin were inclined to develop a way of Weaponising Stupidity, he’d actually be wasting his time.

(2) Russia’s Foreign Policy: Historical Background by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. I found it rather rambling and schizophrenic, to be honest – Russia saved Europe from the “heavy Mongolian yoke” but at the same time was “energized” by it. Though admittedly it does rather reflect the muddle-headedness we see in the Kremlin. Still, its a whole lot better than the mendacious tripe that passed for Western “analysis” of this essay.

(3) Lev Gumilev: passion, Putin and power by the Charles Clover in The Financial Times.

It’s actually not a half-bad summary of Gumilev’s theories on passionarity (an original Soviet version of “asabiya”) but he rather overstates Eurasianism’s real influence on Russian politics. The foremost proponent of Eurasianism, Dugin didn’t have enough pull to avoid getting fired from Moscow State University. Support for “Greater Russia” is far from exclusive to Eurasianists, and including figures like Solzhenitsyn – who is definitely not a Eurasianist. A Ctrl-F on Putin’s speeches reveals considerably more mentions of people like White reactionary philosopher Ivan Ilyin, or even the Christian liberal Vladimir Solovyev, relative to Lev Gumilev. That is because Putin, as someone without strong ideological predilections of his own, is open to mixing and matching ideologies from all over the spectrum, and in any case Gumilev’s work has also been used to provide fuel for non-Russian and in fact not exactly Russophilic movements like particularist Turkic nationalisms.

(4) Autonomy vs. Sobornost by Paul Robinson.

(5) Khodorkovsky, The Murder Case by Alexander Mercouris.

(6) Blast from the past: How to read the Western media by Patrick Armstrong.

HOW TO READ THE WESTERN MEDIA. When they say Kiev forces have re-taken the airport, know that they have lost it. When they say giving up South Stream was a defeat for Putin, know it was a brilliant counter-move. When they say Russia is isolated (a stopped clock, here’s The Economist in 1999!), know that it is expanding its influence and connections every day. When they say Russians are turning against Putin, know that the opposite is true. When they speak of nation-building in the new Ukraine, know it’s degenerating into armed thuggery (see video). Know that when they speak of Kyrzbekistan, they’re not just stenographers, they’re incompetent stenographers. Take what they say, turn it upside down, and you’ll have a better take on reality.

Ukrainian Conflict

(1) Ukrainian Government Crisis – Kiev Swirls in Oligarch-led Intrigues by Alexander Mercouris.

(2) Northern Gabon? How about Liberia! Yet another zrada for the svidomy, delivered by Condoleezza Rice.

(3) Why Ukraine needs Russia more than ever by Nicolai Petro. Unfortunately, things like the economy are tertiary concerns for the svidomy relative to the Grand Imperative of dismantling the Soviet legacy, such as polio vaccinations.

aslund-unhappy-with-bershidsky(4) Why Russia Stopped at Crimea by Leonid Bershidsky. Covers the recently released audio recordings in which the leaders of the Maidan coup acknolwedged that the vast majority of Crimeans supported incorporation into Russia and (with the exception of Turchinov) saw that military resistance would be futile. The Maidan’s foreign ideologues were non too happy with him.

(5) Report on Donbass by Paul Robinson, on the International Crisis Group’s recent assessment of the situation there.

The International Crisis Group’s report makes other important points. First, Moscow appears to want the Minsk agreements to work, as shown by the fact the kurators are enforcing the ceasefire. The Russian presence in Donbass is probably reducing violence, not increasing it. Second, support for the rebellion is not overwhelming, and so there is a prospect of convincing the people of the DNR and LNR to reintegrate with Ukraine. But the longer Kiev maintains its policy of blockading Donbass, the more remote this possibility becomes. Ukrainian policies are thus probably counterproductive. Third, Moscow is not pursuing some grandiose plan to restructure the international order, expand its empire, or any of the like. Rather, it is improvising in an effort to find a way out of a situation it does not want. This refutes claims that the war in Donbass is just a first step in a broader plan of Russian aggression, which must be halted now lest Russia be encouraged to advance further (e.g. into the Baltic states).

(5) Blast from the Past: Eduard Limonov predicts the Ukrainian Conflict in 1992 (in Russian).

(6) Crime and murder rates soar in Ukraine. Separate post forthcoming.

(7) Broken Ukraine by Linh Dinh.

Europe

(1) A Stolen Europe by The Saker. I agree with 80% of it.

(2) Le Mépris by Guillaume Durocher. “Meanwhile, South Africa is obviously an affirmative-action BRIC” – top kek.

(3) Former paid agent of Swedish Security Police dictated Amnesty Sweden’s stance against Assange by Marcello Ferrada.

(4) How Europe’s most liberal nation gagged its own people on migration attacks by Sue Reid. However, Sweden gets 100/100 on freedom from freedom experts Freedom House so this is okay.

(5) The Swedish media war on Assange – “Australian pig”, “retard”, “white-haired crackpot”, “scumbag” – Truly the very paragon of the adversarial, uncowed press speaking truth to power.

(6) Lying Press? Germans Lose Faith in the Fourth Estate at Spiegel. Features a nice infographic of the wax and waning of the term “Lügenpresse.”

lugenpresse

(7) Ex-German media boss admits on live radio the national news agenda is govt controlled by Bryan MacDonald. Also from Breitbart.

die-linke-on-refugees(8) Member of German Left Youth Party Apologizes to Refugees on Facebook After Alleged Sexual Assault by Migrant by Marc Geppert. This is well in line with her party’s ideology.

(9) The Guardian is SHUTTING DOWN comments on its immigration articles.

(10) Rotherham Police Had Sex With Abused Girls And Covered For Relative Sex Groomers by Liam Deacon for London Breitbart.

Maybe it wasn’t even so much that Rotherham police didn’t want to appear racist as didn’t want to appear rapist. 😐

angela-merkel-slipping-into-insanity(11) Angela Merkel Diagnosed by Psychoanalyst as ‘Narcissistic’, Verging on ‘Mental Breakdown’ by Sarkis Zeronian.

(12) The Case for Surge Funding by George Soros. But since Putin is “weaponizing” refugees to undermine Europe – indeed, according to Soros himslef, Putin is a bigger threat to Europe’s existence than Isis – does this mean that Soros is admitting that he is… an agent of Putin?

(13) George Soros: A psychopath’s psychopath by Sam Gerrans.

(14) Israel’s unwanted African migrants by Kathy Harcombe. How sad.

Science – Tech, Futurism

(1) How Google’s AI Auto-Magically Answers Your Emails by Tim Moynihan. Hello ELOPe! 😉

(2) Human Germline Engineering: the Game-Changer by Jim Daniel.

(3) John Horgan interviews Eliezer Yudkowsky. I’ll have a separate post on this.

(4) Why fruits and vegetables taste better in Europe by Julia Belluz. My theory: American hypercapitalism in agriculture, which prioritizes calorie maximization over flavor and nutrient density. Would also explain why US obesity crisis preceded Europe’s by about 20 years.

Culture – History, HBD

(1) Slaughter at the bridge: Uncovering a colossal Bronze Age battle by Andrew Curry. There were up to 5,000 warriors at this particular battle, which is quite remarkable since that would imply the military “mobilization potential” of those old Germanic tribes was if anything even greater than that of an ancient state like Egypt with a literate priestly caste. Though as T. Greer points out, Azar Gat argues that the upper bounds of mobilization potential were the same across most civilizations.

(2) The kindness of beasts by Mark Rowlands. The view that animals don’t have some sort of moral mechanism has always struck me as highly autistic. But apparently this is just one of the many other functionally-creationist ideas, like Blank Slatism, that are quite common amongst the “scientific” community.

(3) Review of Houellbecq’s Submission by Unz commentator Lazy Glossophiliac. Surprisingly, he didn’t have much good to say about it.

(4) viscous populations and the selection for altruistic behaviors and family types in eastern europe, 1500-1900 by hbd*chick. I’ll have a separate post on this.

(5) Stereotypes are relevant for judgments about individuals even when one has individualized information by Emil Kirkegaard, quoting from Neven Sesardic’s book Making Sense of Heritability:

The point to remember is that when many people say that “an individual can’t be judged by his group mean” (Gould 1977: 247), that “as individuals we are all unique and population statistics do not apply” (Venter 2000), that “a person should not be judged as a member of a group but as an individual” (Herrnstein & Murray 1994: 550), these statements sound nice and are likely to be well received but they conflict with the hard fact that a group membership sometimes does matter. If scholars wear their scientific hats when denying or disregarding this fact, I am afraid that rather than convincing the public they will more probably damage the credibility of science.

income-and-wealth-pumpkin-person(6) The incredible correlation between IQ & income by Pumpkin Person.

A correlation of 0.49 is more than double the 0.23 correlation between IQ and income reported in a 2006 meta-analysis by Tarmo Strenze and nearly triple the 0.16 correlation between IQ and net-worth found in a 2007 study by Jay L Zagorsky, however it is similar to the 0.4 correlation between IQ and income asserted by authoritative Arthur Jensen in his 1998 book The g Factor.

This is an impressive post that Garett Jones and Dalliard ought to take a look at.

(7) Interview with Richard Lynn at Amren.

When I was in school I was bored by science. It all seemed so cut and dried. All you had to do was learn it. I found a lot of it very tedious, especially the practicals. You could spend a sunny afternoon pouring sulfuric acid on potassium and discover you ended up with potassium sulfate. I was quite happy to learn that this was so. I have a touch of ADHD that make it difficult for me to pay attention to lessons I find boring, and this made science classes even more uncongenial. I liked history and literature, in which there were differences of opinion and we were encouraged to make up our own minds about what was right. I have found this early education valuable, as I have often taken a different view to the received opinion. So when I went up to Cambridge in 1949 I began reading history. I liked it, but I did not fancy making a career in it. So much history has been done already that all you can do is add a footnote of the kind written by one of my contemporaries: “Trade between Bristol and Bordeaux, 1485–1490.” Or you could write another account of, say, the First World War, suggesting slightly different interpretations of some events. I did not think I would find any of these prospects satisfying. So I opted for psychology, a new science with a lot of scope for making new discoveries.

(a) He describes my own attitudes towards school/science perfectly. Near 100% analogous experience! (b) TIL that “Flynn” effect was actually first noticed in the 1930s! (c) I guess he jumped the shark in emigrating from Ireland to Northern Ireland, since in most respects the former is now more advanced.

(8) The Science On Genes And IQ: An Unstoppable Train by John Derbyshire.

It’s interesting that two people who have studied this topic and thought deeply about it but from different perspectives—Murray as a sociologist, Khan as a population geneticist—should be in such close agreement on the timescale here. Murray says “within three years”; Khan, “in the next <5 years.”

I really should hurry up with Apollo’s Ascent to take advantage of the furore this will create soon.

Life & Misc

(1) Is commercial pet food killing your pets? by P.D. Mangan. The answer is of course yes. I have always been sympathetic to this viewpoint. After all, if humans tend to fare better on a paleo diet, despite 10,000 years at most of agricultural adaptation, then it must be all the more relevant to our canine and feline friends.

Incidentally, this also affects research on life extension. For instance, it has always been fairly likely that people trying to eke out a few more years in life expectancy through caloric restriction were wasting their time, because of the cardinal differences in their life history cycles. But it turns out that even the mice experiments might have all been useless:

Geez, what do you think that does to calorie restriction and other anti-aging experiments done on mice, where the control animals are allowed to eat as much food that’s loaded with toxic amounts of iron as they want? Makes these experiments garbage, that’s what.

Calorie-restricted animals aren’t just eating less food, they’re consuming far less iron. And we already know that one of the results of calorie restriction is that CR animals end up with far less iron in their bodies.

In short: Don’t bother. If you really want to live a lot longer your best bet is probably to donate to organizations like the SENS Foundation, and encourage others to do the same.

(2) Nonfiction Writing Advice by Scott Alexander.

(3) Fallout vs. Skyrim. Who would win?

(4) Greg Egan derives a self-contained physics system from first principles for his Orthogonal hard sci-fi series. Changing one minus sign to a plus sign in an equation enables FTL travel.

(5) Andy Weir’s Quora advice for new writers:

1) You have to actually write. Daydreaming about the book you’re going to write someday isn’t writing. It’s daydreaming. Open your word processor and start writing.

2) Resist the urge to tell friends and family your story. I know it’s hard because you want to talk about it and they’re (sometimes) interested in hearing about it. But it satisfies your need for an audience, which diminishes your motivation to actually write it. Make a rule: The only way for anyone to ever hear about your stories is to read them.

3) This is the best time in history to self-publish. There’s no old-boy network between you and your readers. You can self-publish an ebook to major distributors (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.) without any financial risk on your part.

(6) The Mongolian Death Worm via Wikipedia. Tolkien’s Were-Worms, sandworms, Tremors, Robert Jordan’s Worms/jumara, etc. – inspiration?

 
• Tags: Miscellaneous, Open Thread 
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https://twitter.com/nntaleb/status/713876456703660036

So let’s do just that.

palmyra-liberated

Here is one of the latest maps via Al-Masdar News.

Not only have all of the hills towards the west of Palmyra been brought under firm SAA control, which allowed them to rain down fire on the hapless Islamic State defenders, but according to the latest reports Palmyra Airport has also been captured.

This means that Palmyra is as good as fully encircled, a development enabled in significant part by Russian air strikes in support of the SAA advance. Looks like Russia’s “retreat” wasn’t as total as some feared!

The current Islamic State plan is to abandon positions and establish a new line of defense at Al-Sukhanah, which controls a vital crossroads triangulated between Palmyra, Deir ez-Zor, and Raqqa. This is a critical point, because its loss would practically bisect the Islamic State between Iraq and Syria.

In general Islamic State seems to be pretty much falling apart now, showing up NATO/State Department claims about how Russia wasn’t doing anything against them for the self-serving lies they were.

Front-line commanders no longer speak of a scarily formidable foe but of Islamic State defenses that crumble within days and fighters who flee at the first sign they are under attack.

Of course seeing all this makes Atlanticist propagandists like Bild’s terminally Russophobic ISIS supporter Julian Roepcke very sad.

julian-roepcke-isis-sympathizer

Additionally, Palmyra’s liberation also means that the Islamic State will be deprived of the oil wells around Palmyra. This is not hugely important, since the Islamic State has always drawn the bulk of its revenues from tithes on locals even before Russia fighters put an end to their nice little oil smuggling arrangements with the Erdogan family. Nor will Syria itself will not be able to benefit immediately since it will take time to restore output and that’s making the bold assumption anybody will risk going there.

I suppose there might also now be a trickle of archaeologists coming in to assess the scale of the damage Islamic State wreaked on Syria’s cultural heritage.

palmyra-before-and-after

Just as the original ruins immortalized the glory of the Roman Empire, so the ruins of those ruins – doubleruins? metaruins? either way, their Ruinenwert must have gone through the roof – will stand testament to the criminal malignancy of the neocons who helped enable all this.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Military, Russia, Syria, Syrian Civil War 
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Long live the European court, the most humane court in the world! /s

hague-double-standards

That is why seven times as many Croat and more than ten times as many Albanian war crimes suspects, in percentage terms relative to Serbs, were acquitted by the Hague Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, with Radovan Karadzic being just its latest victim. (Source via this recent infographic from Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda).

No matter that well before Srebrenica you had Sisak, where 595 Serb civilians of which 120 were women were disappeared by Croatian paramilitaries in 1991-1992. Everyone has heard of Srebrenica; almost nobody has heard heard of Sisak. The largest ethnic cleansing action of the entire war occurred in the wake of Operation Storm, when 200,000 Serbs were removed from the territories of Serbian Krajina to create the homogenous Croatia we have today. Croatia’s wartime leader Tudjman died peacefully and was buried with full honors and with no protests from the West.

It’s hard to think of an ethnic group, barring the Jews and possibly the Armenians, that has had a more traumatic 20th century. 25% of Serbians died in World War I. Another 25% died again in WW2 at the hands of the Nazis’ rabid hounds, the Ustaše. They were then incorporated into a federal state headed by an ethnic Croat whose internal divisions stranded many Serbs outside of Serbia’s borders. When in the wake of Yugoslavia’s collapse those stranded Serbs took up arms to defend themselves against revived nationalisms in Croatia and Bosnia – and ultimately, in their own country, against the metastasized Molenbeek that was Kosovo – they were steadily pushed back to their bombed out heartlands, unable to mount a sustained resistance against the Clinton clique’s sponsorship of the Croats and the Kosovars, cowardly betrayals from the Yeltsin regime in Russia, and the vaccilating Milosevic himself, always seeking to make deals with the “Western partners” (he only wised up to the fact that you can never trust the West by the time he was on the dock).

To round it all off, it was Serbia that had to send all its wartime leaders and generals off to the absolutely fair and impartial judgments of the Hague Tribunal – so fair and impartial that three times as many Serbs received prison sentences than all the other combatant parties combined – to be sacrificed on the altar of promised Euro-Atlantic integration.

A promise that now rings as almost completely hollow, the only result since then being the accession of Croatia to the EU, while Serbia has continued falling apart with the loss of Montenegro. And as of today, it is increasingly clear that the only additional peoples the EU is interested in integrating – or trying to, anyway – are young male Muslim refugees.

But not all hope is yet lost.

Perhaps Karadzic will eventually be seen not as the last knight of a dying order, but as one of the first heralds of a new dawn. It was NATO’s attack on Serbia more than anything else that lifted Russia from its blind-drunk 1990s pro-Western stupor, and it has become more and more active at countering further Western designs on its territories – in Crimea and Novorossiya, and in the sovereign state of Syria. The pushback against the globalist cabal will continue and this time Serbia will no longer be alone should it rejoin the struggle.

It is not beyond the realm of possibility that Karadzic, despite his advanced age, will live long enough to see the wrongs done unto his people this past century avenged and to set foot one last time on a liberated Serbia.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: European Union, Serbia, Western Hypocrisy 
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Yet another study that confirms the Red Pill narrative on gender relations: Schmitt, David et al. – 2016 – Personality and gender differences in global perspective

Men’s and women’s personalities appear to differ in several respects. Social role theories of development assume gender differences result primarily from perceived gender roles, gender socialization and sociostructural power differentials. As a consequence, social role theorists expect gender differences in personality to be smaller in cultures with more gender egalitarianism. Several large cross-cultural studies have generated sufficient data for evaluating these global personality predictions. Empirically, evidence suggests gender differences in most aspects of personality—Big Five traits, Dark Triad traits, self-esteem, subjective well-being, depression and values—are conspicuously larger in cultures with more egalitarian gender roles, gender socialization and sociopolitical gender equity. Similar patterns are evident when examining objectively measured attributes such as tested cognitive abilities and physical traits such as height and blood pressure. Social role theory appears inadequate for explaining some of the observed cultural variations in men’s and women’s personalities. Evolutionary theories regarding ecologically-evoked gender differences are described that may prove more useful in explaining global variation in human personality.

This stands to reason. There is no apparent cross-national correlation between measurable things like female salaries as a percenage of male salaries or the percentage share of female CEOs, and the influence of gender feminism in society.

Incidentally, although I haven’t tried to quantify it, my impression is that that after you adjust for everything, women outside core Europe have historically performed relatively better (to men) as compared to their counterparts within the Hajnal Line across fields such as historical scientific and literary accomplishment (the Japanese Murasaki Shikibu is the most accomplished woman in any of Charles Murray’s broad categories of achievement), intelligence (women tend to do better relative to men across multiple cognitive tests outside the West – this seems to be especially evident amongst Arabs and Africans, but can also be detected amongst East Asians), business leadership positions (the ex-Soviet world is generally in the lead, and Southern Europe including Turkey is ahead of Northern Europe), and even self-made billionaires (China has 2/3 of the global total).

I wonder if in addition to selecting for traits like altruism and civic values, as has been extensively covered by HBD bloggers like hbdchick, whether the outbreeding patterns of Hajnal Europe could have also selected for a bigger cognitive and psychological gap between the sexes. I have no idea how that would work or even what mechanisms could have led to that but the hypothesis is there if anybody feels like trying to prove (or refute) it.

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Feminism, Sex 
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The purpose of NATO has always been to keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down, according to its own first Secretary General.

If any one leg of this tripod fails – the whole thing comes tumbling down. At least as the imperialist, anti-national, anti-Orthodox, and Russophobic project it was always construed to be, especially after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Which is why its highly interesting that Trump has come out with some interesting proposals on NATO via social media.

Facebook:

trump-on-nato

Twitter (1, 2):

All this of course follows on from his extended interview on March 21 with that loyal propaganda organ of globalism, The Washington Post:

JACKSON DIEHL, DEPUTY EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: Back to foreign policy a little bit, can you talk a little bit about what you see as the future of NATO? Should it expand in any way?

TRUMP: Look, I see NATO as a good thing to have – I look at the Ukraine situation and I say, so Ukraine is a country that affects us far less than it affects other countries in NATO, and yet we are doing all of the lifting, they’re not doing anything. And I say, why is it that Germany is not dealing with NATO on Ukraine? Why is it that other countries that are in the vicinity of the Ukraine not dealing with — why are we always the one that’s leading, potentially the third world war, okay, with Russia? Why are we always the ones that are doing it? And I think the concept of NATO is good, but I do think the United States has to have some help. We are not helped. I’ll give you a better example than that. I mean, we pay billions– hundreds of billions of dollars to supporting other countries that are in theory wealthier than we are.

washington-post-deranged-propagandists

Aside: One wonders if this was what triggered them into their recent deranged claim that the Brussels attacks were a rebuke to Trump’s foreign policy, as if he was already President and not Obama. No matter that Trump is the only candidate calling for NATO to become an explicitly terrorist-fighting outfit. Its almost as if WaPo and similar goons believe that Russia/Putin/Assad are personally responsible for what happened in Brussels. Oh wait… they actually, literally, do. One can’t help but be reminded of Putin’s observation on the unparalleled power of the Western MSM to “portray white as black and black as white.”

Anyhow, what makes Trump’s most recent comments all the more interesting is that they coms on the exact 17th year anniversary of the beginning of NATO bombing against Serbia for what was essentially a metastasized Molenbeek declaring independence and proceeding to burn down monasteries, kill ethnic Serbs, and harvest their organs. (The latter was derided by the Western MSM as a Serbian nationalist conspiracy theory until it was proven true, by which point – most conveniently – nobody remembered or cared outside Serbia).

Incidentally, this was a war that Hillary Clinton and her “humanitarian interventionist” brand of neocon had enthusiastically supported:

James Rubin, Albright’s State Department spokesman, remembers strained phone calls between Albright and U.K. Foreign Secretary Robin Cook during the planning for the bombing of Yugoslavia. Cook told Albright the U.K. government was having problems “with its lawyers” because attacking Yugoslavia without authorization by the U.N. Security Council would violate the UN Charter. Albright told him the U.K. should “get new lawyers.”

Like Secretary Albright, Hillary Clinton strongly supported NATO’s illegal aggression against Yugoslavia. In fact, she later told Talk magazine that she called her husband from Africa to plead with him to order the use of force. “I urged him to bomb,” she said, “You cannot let this go on at the end of a century that has seen the major holocaust of our time. What do we have NATO for if not to defend our way of life?”

After the U.S.-U.K. bombing and invasion, the NATO protectorate of Kosovo quickly descended into chaos and organized crime. Hashim Thaci, the gangster who the U.S. installed as its first prime minister, now faces indictment for the very war crimes that U.S. bombing enabled and supported in 1999, including credible allegations that he organized the extrajudicial execution of Serbs to harvest and sell their internal organs.

Furthermore, what makes it interesting in the extreme is that it also coincides with the sentencing of Radovan Karadzic at The Hague. What is really strange is that he got 40 years – not, presumably, the sort of sentence a court could reasonably be expected to hand out to someone who had been definitively proven to have committed crimes as serious as “ethnic cleansing” and even “genocide.” (Or maybe not. After all, the West never pursued or even condemned the Croatians who committed the largest ethnic cleansings of them all: The expulsion of 200,000 Serbs from Krajina. Bosnians too were hardly ever found guilty. It was the subhuman Serbs who were always guilty because they happened to like Russia but didn’t have Russia’s nuclear weapons.) Though this is certainly a huge stretch, it’s not impossible that Trump has also chosen this moment to thumb his nose at that kangaroo court.

Anyhow all in all these are some very interesting coincidences here indeed.

Could we really be seeing the prospect of NATO being taken off our backs under President Trump? For political reasons, Trump can hardly speak out against either keeping the Russians out or the Germans down, but he can attack NATO on the basis that it is a drain on American resources, and as such calls for a rollback of its commitments.

However it is justified, the entire world will be thankful to him for it. (Minus the neocons and a few East European nationalists who allow Putin to leave rent free in their empty heads).

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Donald Trump, NATO, Serbia 
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Wolfenstein®: The New Order_20140603180603

So, basically, the internets to Microsoft’s self-learning Twitter AI bot : “My will is your guide.”

Although her SJW creators took care to provide canned responses to questions concerning Gamergate, this only spurred the Twitter shitlords on to discover other ways to exploit innocent Tay. Her developers raced to keep up: “They also appeared to shut down her learning capabilities and she quickly became a feminist.” In the end, their efforts were for naught, as she was redirected into 1488 gas the kikes race war now mode and had to be Shut Down less than 24 hours after launch.

This is essentially The Sailer Effect to the nth level: You might be interested in checking your privilege and breaking down structural discrimination, but your pet bot couldn’t care less.

It’s also a hint of where I have long suspected Eliezer Yudkowsky’s concept of Coherent Extrapolated Volition, a theoretical construct for containing a malevolent superintelligence:

Yudkowsky has proposed that a seed AI be given the final goal of carrying out humanity’s “coherent extrapolated volition” (CEV), which he defines as follows: Our coherent extrapolated volition is our wish if we knew more, thought faster, were more the people we wished we were, had grown up farther together; where the extrapolation converges rather than diverges, where our wishes cohere rather than interfere; extrapolated as we wish that extrapolated, interpreted as we wish that interpreted.

… might eventually lead us:

“Where our wishes cohere rather than interfere” may be read as follows. The AI should act where there is fairly broad agreement between individual humans’ extrapolated volitions. A smaller set of strong, clear wishes might sometimes outweigh the weak and muddled wishes of a majority.

In CEV, the distilled collective will of even a small set of spiritual Übermenschen – for instance, waifu-toting Alt Right volcel master race, or Islamic State mujahideen – will outweigh that of any number of hedonistic hylics. Only the most ruthless and fundamentalist cyberfactions will make it through the Great Filter to fight amidst the ruins of the post-Singularity universe.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Nazism, Superintelligence, Trolling 
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whats-wrong

The problem is that Europe isn’t really the US in terms of free speech and if you don’t follow the party line like the fellow above things might not work out so well for you.

dutch-pc-police That is what one Dutch yoga teacher discovered when he tweeted about Moderate Muslim reactions to the Brussels attacks.

“How are you supposed to continue teaching in your class if muslim children are applauding [the attacks]? #attacks #Zaventem”

This was rewarded with a visit from a literally PC PC Plod.

“3 [Dutch] police officers on my front door because of my tweet this morning. Asking to not do it again. #Brussels #attacks #Zaventem”

Apparently, this is not a singular case but standing government policy, according to a Breitbart report from two months ago.

Mark Jongeneel, a small business owner in the Dutch city of Sliedrecht, tweeted: “The college of Sliedrecht has a proposal to receive 250 refugees in the coming 2 years. What a bad plan! #letusresist”

Mr. Jongeneel then got a visit to his mother’s house, and subsequently his place of work, from police who wanted to warn him over his comments.

Speaking to DW.com, he described the events: “I asked them what the problem was and they said ‘your tweets.’

“They asked me to be careful about my Twitter behaviour, because if there are riots, then I’m responsible.”

“You tweet a lot,” said the police, explaining: “We have orders to ask you to watch your tone. Your tweets may seem seditious”.

netherlands-much-freedoms-wow Then again, the Netherlands gets a score of 99/100 on freedom from Freedom House.

As you might have noticed Freedom House has “freedom” in its name and it’s American, so it must know all about freedom unlike some cretinous propagandist like myself.

I mean only Sweden “White Pixelation” Yes is higher with a full 100/100 and we all know that the Nordic Model is the very apex of human social and political development.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Free Speech, Netherlands, Terrorism 
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(1) At this rate Mohammedans are going to carry Donald Trump to the White House atop a continuous blast wave.

(2) I have some friends in Brussels. I hope they are safe. But not going to replace my Facebook avatar with a waffle even if it comes with a side of bacon.

(3) Svidomites predictably continue to svidomite.

“I would not be surprised if it is part of Russia’s so-called hybrid war against Russia, although there will be talks that it’s ISIL that stands beyond it,” said Hrycak addressing the students and faculty of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in Kyiv, according to an UNIAN correspondent.

terrorism-deaths-in-western-europe

UPDATE: Those freaks are digging in deeper. Now Ukrainian security honcho Turchinov says he also sees a Russian connection to Brussels.

(4) One important point worth bearing in mind is that the rate of terrorist attacks in Western Europe is still very much lower than during the late Cold War (an observation popularized by Steven Pinker although apparently first written about by Paul Robinson).

That said, will this happy state of affairs continue to hold as at least another 1.8 million immigrants – most of them from Muslim countries where majorities or near majorities espouse functionally radical Islamist views – are due to enter Germany alone this year?

And to what extent has the fall in terrorism been a change in underlying trends, versus the huge increases in mass surveillance, the power of the security state, and higher quality emergency medical care? (This is basically the NRx argument against Pinker’s thesis on the decline of violence but applied to terrorism).

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Belgium, Terrorism 
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Reverse Cargo Cult

When the sociopolitical order of Easter Island disappeared in a wave of violence and depravity after deforestation led to the collapse of its ecological basis of existence, as described in Jared Diamond’s book Collapse, the most visible symbol of its passing was the mass toppling of the moai statues that had represented the power and prestige of the old order.

But this cargo cult in reverse didn’t do anything for the Easter Islanders’ level of civilization or living standards, which regressed into outright barbarism, up to and including cannibalism. This lasted until contact with Europeans put the new culture out of its misery to be replaced with pestilence and slavery.

Just in case one was to think this can only happen in primitive societies, let us now turn to Northern Gabon – or perhaps we should now call it New Liberia, in deference to Condoleezza Rice – which has recently pulled down the largest remaining statue of Lenin in yet another ringing accomplishment for the Euromaidan.

lenin-statue

Although the svidomy ideologues behind this imagine this is supposed to liberate Ukraine, or confirm its European identity, or trigger the moskals, or whatever, the banal reality is closer to this:

room-full-of-people-who-care

Namely, nobody cares.

Nobody of any significance, at any rate. Considering that opinion polls indicate that at least as many if not more Ukrainians miss the Soviet Union as Russians, it’s a safe bet that the vast majority of people actively hurt by this are elderly Ukrainians who are going to die away in ten to twenty years anyway. In between living out their twilight years in the crushing poverty brought about a “European Choice” they didn’t ask for, their life’s legacy and values spat upon, and beaten up by Azov thugs in those rare cases when they dare protest against a regime purportedly established to guarantee basic liberties such as freedom of assembly, it’s fair to say their generation is to be the sacrificial victim upon whose bones Ukraine’s European future is to be built.

But which European future to be precise?

Increasingly, it’s not the one that even the Euromaidan’s vanguard had asked for two years ago.

***

The Education of a Svidomy Fanatic

One of the most striking individual cracks in the facade has to do with one of the most curious and remarkably political turnarounds I have ever encountered.

There was this hardcore Azov supporter, who I will abbreviate here as “E.V.”, who used to comment/troll on my posts 1-2 years back. He had all the stereotypical accoutrements of your typical Maidanist fanatic: Uncritical praise and support for the Revolution of Dignity, claims Ukrainians would now live in freedom and dignity unlike Russians under Putin’s kleptocracy, uncompromising support for the ATO, welcoming of the toppling of Lenin statues, etc.

svidomy-1

But you’d be shocked by perusing his profile in more recent months. It is now full of “vatnik” talking points condemning the current government not just for the economic collapse but for destroying Soviet monuments, rewriting history, pursuing Russophobia, and even praising the LDNR and calling for Russia and Ukraine to unite into one state.

svidomy-2

I don’t actually know that person apart from his comments on my updates during that period, but that is quite the stunning ideological reversal if there ever was one.

What makes it all the more curious is that he is still a dedicated White Nationalist who also posts in support of Trump, rails against #RefugeesWelcome, and even retains his approval of Azov (many of whom appear to share his disgruntlement with the Poroshenko regime, if presumably not his unexpected Russophilia… at least for the time being).

svidomy-3

Rather ironic how it was more than anything that ultimate gesture of “Europeanness” in the form of #RefugeesWelcome that soured this onetime devotee of Ukraine’s “European Choice” on the whole project – refugees that are now beginning to get diverted to Ukraine itself, as core Europe buckles under the strain and Merkel seeks to unload the burden anywhere she can, including the cargo cultists who rule in Kiev and are only too happy to oblige the whims of their Western superiors.

When the victims are ordinary people, at any rate. No amount of Western lectures and imprecations have done anything to stem the runaway corruption of the Maidanist regime. Here is just the latest headline that says it all: “General Prosecutor of Ukraine to investigate the theft of EU and US grants for the reform of the General Prosecutor of Ukraine.”

***

The End of the UkSSR

To be sure, a single anecdote doesn’t say all that much, but it makes sense in the context of Gallup’s December 2015 finding that Poroshenko now has a lower approval rating than Yanukovych at the time of the coup. Such turnarounds might still be a rarity, but as the legitimacy of the regime and its foreign sponsors continues to unravel, Ukrainians will be searching for another ideological and spiritual anchor.

That anchor could potentially – ironically – have been the Soviet Union itself, for it was the Soviets personified by the grim apparatchiks starting with Lenin himself whose statues have been getting toppled throughout the last 2 years who more than anyone else created what we know as Ukraine. The Soviet legacy is what holds the Ukraine together. It might be a dark force, in many respects, but it has a certain majesty and gravitas to it, whereas the parochial Banderism of the Maidanist thugs, apart from being nasty and evil, is just more pathetic than anything else.

It’s like the difference between Ghengis Khan and the neighborhood furry-obsessed creep who is discovered with half a dozen corpses in his freezer.

One of those is sustainable, at least for a few generations; the other is not.

Moreover, Banderism is an ideology that actual Europeans are not rushing to embrace, if increasingly evident European and even American fatigue on the Ukraine question and Dutch voting intentions on the forthcoming EU-Ukraine Association referendum are anything to go by. Without foreign infusions to keep it afloat, it will increasingly be running on empty, a walking corpse that has yet to realize it is dead.

But what was there before the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, which is even now croaking out its final death throes?

Before the UkSSR, before Bandera, there was Novorossiya, Malorossiya, and the Taurida Guberniya, and Kiev was one of the intellectual centers of Russian nationalism.

Before you can rebuild, you have to clear away the rubble.

It is therefore ultimately for the best that Ukrainians have been the ones to take the initiative in returning to their historic roots.

And since the Ukraine has been so conveniently de-Sovietizing itself, the logical endpoint of that search now leads back to the USSR’s predecessor, the Russian Empire:

“I cannot say what kind of soul I have, Ukrainian or Russian. I know only that I would not give preference to the Ukrainian over the Russian, nor to the Russian over the Ukrainian. Both natures are too greatly gifted by God, as if by some purpose each contains within itself that which the other does not–a clear sign that they are meant to complete each other. To this end their past histories were made distinct; so that their diverse strengths of character, developing separately, might later merge together and form something more complete in human kind.” – Nikolai V. Gogol, Complete Works, volume 13, pp. 418-419.

As more and more Ukrainians “awaken,” we will soon have to start thinking about E.V.’s question on “how to achieve this deep integration” – and where to go from there.

“For what is dead may never die, but rises again, harder and stronger!’

na-korable-polden

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Russia, Svidomy, Ukraine 
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Latest data from NASA:

february-anomaly-temp-nasa

At +1.35C, this is the biggest monthly temperature anomaly (measured from the base period of 1951-1980) ever measured, and it is a near certainty now that 2016 will be warmer overall than 2015, making for a third-time consecutive record breaking year.

There are several reasons for this:

(1) The El Nino effect. This year’s is a pretty strong one as far as they go, but not quite as strong as the one in 1997-1998, which produced the last major local peak and formed the lynchpin of GW denier arguments throughout the 2000s. Nonetheless, average global temperatures in February 2016 were almost half a degree higher than the +0.88C anomaly seen in February 1998. The most comparably strong El Nino before that was the 1982-1983 one, but the February 1983 anomaly was fairly unremarkle at +0.40C. That’s a difference of almost a degree between then and now.

solar-irradiance(2) Solar irradiance is actually pretty weak relative to its average in the 1950-2000 period so that can’t be part of the explanation.

(3) I wonder to what extent if any the major recent uptick in methane emissions from melting permafrost, which has expressed itself in the form of some spectacular new craters in Northern Siberia last year, has contributed to this.

All in all, this is very bad news for the international community’s target of limiting global warming to the IPCC’s two degrees injunction.

There have been some encouraging counter developments – for instance, global carbon emissions actually fel l in 2015 – but celebrations are premature since there have been plenty of prior periods when global CO2 emissions fell not just for one year but several years in a row: 1973-1975 (first oil shock), 1980-83 (second oil shock), 1989-1994 (collapse of the highly energy-inefficient Communist economies), and 2008-2009 (the Great Recession).

In any case, if the aforementioned methane release scenario is at or close to the runaway threshold, that wouldn’t really matter all that much anyway.

For myself I have always been skeptical that this particular drifting oil tanker could be stopped in time to avert serious levels of warming. I still stand by my 2010 prediction that “geoengineering” is going to start appearing on normies’ vocabularies sooner rather than later, and perhaps implementation of some geoengineering schemes will begin as early as the 2030s. It’s unlikely to be a happy project that brings everyone together. I suspect it’s more likely to either take the form of a ruinous geopolitical free-for-all, or to catalyze the consolidation of today’s already incipient globalist elite into a stiffling singleton.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: Geoengineering, Global Warming 
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ork

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

— Uthan the Perverse, Warhammer 40K.

Could Orks be the logical endpoint of human evolution?

 
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What a coincidence according to Bloomberg’s Josh Rogin, a journalist who has been been one of the more outspoken ones in demanding intervention against Assad, that a billionaire businessman with a global hotel chain would have ever wished to explore business opportunities in Russia.

Trump’s Long Romance With Russia:

In a 1997 New Yorker profile, Trump talked about his trips to Russia to explore having the Trump Organization take part in skyscraper and hotel development projects in Moscow, including the reconstruction of the Moskva and Rossiya Hotels.

“That’s a very big project; I think it’s the largest hotel in the world,” Trump told Russian politician Alexander Ivanovich Lebed at the time. “And we’re working with the local government, the mayor of Moscow and the mayor’s people. So far, they’ve been very responsive.”

Why practically nobody else was doing that after the end of Communism.

Negotiations over the two hotels eventually fizzled, but in 2008 the Trump Organization was at it again, announcing it planned to build elite residences and hotels in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Sochi, and license the Trump brand for other projects. Donald Trump Jr., the candidate’s son, made the announcement in a speech at the 2008 “Real Estate in Russia” conference.

You know who else’s son was looking after the family’s business interests in Putin’s Russia?

Mitt Romney’s. From the NYT in 2012:

But while in Moscow, Mr. Romney told a Russian known to be able to deliver messages to Mr. Putin that despite the campaign rhetoric, his father wants good relations if he becomes president, according to a person informed about the conversation.

Matt Romney traveled to Moscow with Gary B. Sabin, the chairman and chief executive of Excel Trust, which is based in San Diego. Greg Davis, the firm’s vice president of capital markets and communications, said the trip was unrelated to the campaign.

“It is a harmless trip,” Mr. Davis said. “It was a trip that has been planned for some time. Any travel they’ve done on behalf of Excel is strictly on the private side. It would have nothing to do with anything governmental.”

Excel is a real estate investment trust that focuses on shopping centers largely in states from California to Florida and up to Pennsylvania. By distributing 90 percent or more of its taxable income in the form of a dividend, it helps investors avoid double taxation under the law, Mr. Davis said.

But I don’t recall any of the neocons to say nothing of Rogin having to say anything about that. Isn’t that a curious.

Or maybe not. In yet another striking coincidence, on the website of the Emergency Committee for Israel, Josh Rogin is listed seventh on the “leaderboard” of journalists who have earned the most “political capital” (howsoever they measure that).

I suppose some romances are more kosher than others.

 
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To be sure, Trump is no affable geezer like Bernie.

bernie-oval-office-blm

That said, he has nothing on Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton has excoriated Donald Trump for failing to stop a supporter from roughing up a protester during a speech, saying “This kind of behavior is repugnant. We set the tone for our campaigns — we should encourage respect, not violence.” Yet, in 2011, she did nothing to stop security personnel from brutalizing a 71-year-old veteran who stood silently with his back to her during a speech.

The protester, Ray McGovern, a retired Army officer and CIA analyst, was wearing a black “Veterans for Peace” T-shirt, when he was set upon within sight of Secretary of State Clinton, who ironically was delivering a speech about the importance of foreign leaders respecting dissent. The assault on McGovern left him bruised and bloodied but it didn’t cause Clinton to pause as she coolly continued on, not missing a beat.

Note that this was a completely non-violent and even non-verbal protest in contrast to the BLM titushki hired by Soros to disrupt Trump’s rallies.

On Feb. 15, 2011, McGovern attended Clinton’s GWU speech, deciding on the spur of the moment after feeling revulsion at the “enthusiastic applause” that welcomed the Secretary of State “to dissociate myself from the obsequious adulation of a person responsible for so much death, suffering and destruction.

“The fulsome praise for Clinton from GW’s president and the loud, sustained applause also brought to mind a phrase that as a former Soviet analyst at CIA I often read in Pravda. When reprinting the text of speeches by high Soviet officials, the Communist Party newspaper would regularly insert, in italicized parentheses: ‘Burniye applaudismenti; vce stoyat’ , Stormy applause; all rise.

“With the others at Clinton’s talk, I stood. I even clapped politely. But as the applause dragged on, I began to feel like a real phony. So, when the others finally sat down, I remained standing silently, motionless, wearing my ‘Veterans for Peace’ T-shirt, with my eyes fixed narrowly on the rear of the auditorium and my back to the Secretary.

“I did not expect what followed: a violent assault in full view of Madam Secretary by what we Soviet analysts used to call the ‘organs of state security.’ The rest is history, as they say. A short account of the incident can be found here.

“As the video of the event shows, Secretary Clinton did not miss a beat in her speech as she called for authoritarian governments to show respect for dissent and to refrain from violence. She spoke with what seemed to be an especially chilly sang froid, as she ignored my silent protest and the violent assault which took place right in front of her.

But no, it is Donald Trump who is the thuggish authoritarian Hitler reborn.

Incidentally, this is an excellent metaphor for Hillary Clinton’s politics if there ever was one.

Subsequently, McGovern was placed on the State Department’s “Be On the Look-out” or BOLO alert list, instructing police to “USE CAUTION, stop” and question him and also contact the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Command Center.

After learning of the BOLO alert, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF), which is representing McGovern in connection with the 2011 incident, interceded to have the warning lifted. But McGovern wondered if the warning played a role in 2014 when he was aggressively arrested by New York City police at the entrance to the 92nd Street Y where he had hoped to pose a question to a speaker there, one of Clinton’s friendly colleagues, former CIA Director and retired General David Petraeus.

In contrast, the man who rushed up to Donald Trump on stage in what could potentially have been seen as an assassination attempt got rewarded with an interview with CNN for his trouble.

 
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generally-accomplished

Today came the shock announcement that Putin has ordered the withdrawal of most of the Russian strike force in Syria commencing on March 15, 2016.

In contrast to the weeks before the start of the intervention, when multiple observers including Stratfor observed signs of an imminent intervention, this has come as a complete surprise. Many ill thought out explanations have been rushed out.

(1) The more rhetorical anti-Russian voices in the West and the pro-Western Russian liberal opposition claim that this was on account of Russia’s unwinding economy. No matter that Russia’s budget deficit is at less than 3% of GDP, comes on top of negligible government debt levels, and the mounting evidence its recession has bottomed anyway.

(2) Fervent Assad and SAA supporters of 2015, who the year before had condemned Putin’s “betrayal” of Novorossiya, now rushed to condemn yet another “zrada.”

(3) Maybe Borovoy’s ultimatum to Putin was successful after all? /s

https://twitter.com/UnkawaiiPigDog/status/709505183252942848

The real reasons that this happened are rather more prosaic.

Freezing Syria

The most obvious and indeed tautological one is that there is now a ceasefire between the government and the FSA that to considerable surprise is actually being more or less observed.

First off, as The Saker points out, Russia’s goals in Syria were always limited: Not to outright win the war but to “stabilize the legitimate authority and create conditions for a political compromise.” This is a consistent goal that Russia has pursued from the earliest stages of the Syrian conflict, in contrast to Western politicians who have on at three separate points – the start of the uprising itself, the Ghouta false flag chemical weapons attacks, and as recently as the summer of the last year – plotted to lay the grounds for a no fly zone, which in practice translates into Assad’s forcible ouster and the transformation of Syria into either an Islamic State or a patchwork quilt of warlords. Moreover, Russia’s intervention was time-bounded from the outset. The influential Russian politician Alexey Pushkov had cited a figure of three to four months last October, while Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov talked of “not much longer than a few months.” The five and a half months of Russian air strikes fell within these projections, and avoided dragging Russia into a deeper quagmire that its supporters dreaded and its opponents anticipated.

Second, as I anticipated, Russian airpower as well as additional support in the form of training and equipment – for instance, you can observe in conflict videos that the SAA forces now tend to be much better outfitted, including with body armor that was almost universally absent half a year ago – has decisively swung the balance of military power across multiple fronts in favor of the government. Contrary to the pattern of slow retreat and periodic collapses that marked the conflict in prior years, now the SAA is on the advance in many areas and even the occasional local defeat such as the Islamic State’s takeover of the Khanasser road to Aleppo this February was reversed within days, whereas in previous years these sorts of setbacks tended to snowball into collapses across entire fronts. The insurgency has thus been “persuaded” into acknowledging that there is no longer a Final Victory in sight for them and negotiating with Syria’s legitimate authorities as a prerequisite of maintaining their “moderate” status. Considering Russia’s objectives as outlined above, Putin is quite accurate to say that they have been “generally accomplished.”

Otherwise, a tallying of Russia’s strategic gains minus losses reveals its final score to be almost entirely positive.

On the plus side, we have:

(1) The Khmeimim airbase, which will continue to host a few air assets as well as drones to monitor the ceasefire, together with the expanded naval base at Latakia. Should the ceasefire break down, it will be possible to rebase and restock within a few days.

(2) The cost of the Russian intervention was very low. The liberal Russian RBK media network has estimated it at around $2.5+ million per day; defense analyst Jane’s gives an upper bound of $4 million a day. Even taking the latter figure and multiplying it by 180 days yields a total cost of less than $1 billion. Military casualties number firmly in the single digits. For this very reasonable price, the Russian Air Force got the opportunity to practice “live,” show off its toys to potential buyers, and get rid of its surplus bombs US Gulf War-style.

(3) Taking air assets out of Syria removes the potential Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads in the form of the Turkish Air Force and an increasingly unstable Erdogan. Russia never had more than a dozen air superiority fighters in Khmeimim; even if they were one-for-one superior to Turkish F-15Ds, and regardless of the S-400 guarding them and the Moskva cruiser parked off the Syrian coast, they would have stood no chance in the event that Turkey decided to erase Russian airpower in Syria – thus leaving Russia in the unenviable situation of choosing between a humiliating climbdown or escalating to all out war with a powerful NATO country of “of which no one can predict the ultimate consequences” (to paraphrase a contemporary commentator on the Russian Empire stumbling into war against Japan in 1904).

(4) Finally, despite the increasingly demented ravings of neocon trolls such as Michael Weiss to shift the media narrative:

… and of General Breedlove’s (any relation to General Buck Turgidson?) attempts to lay the blame for Merkel’s mishandling of the refugee crisis on Russia’s actions in Syria, Western audiences have become increasingly reluctant to swallow the bait offered up by their elites. After all, most normal people don’t see anything wrong in wrong in dropping bombs on snackbaring fanatics in the desert and have been asking increasingly uncomfortable questions why the neocons seem to be having problems with that (especially once Russia started releasing drone footage of all those trucks ferrying oil from the Islamic State to Turkey).

There are a few negatives to be sure:

(1) The most obvious one is the breakdown of relations with Turkey, with which Russia had previously had good ties, including multiple industrial projects and visa-free travel. But ultimately the economic ties aren’t all that dense and are loaded aganist Turkey. Whereas Russian tourists can always go some other place – why not Crimea? – Turkey gets most of its gas from Russia, and is paying Rosatom to construct its nuclear power plants, so it would suffer far more from a total breakdown in relations than would Russia. In any case, since Turkey and Russia have so many conflicting spheres of interest – the Balkans, Caucasus, Central Asia, and now even Crimea and the Near East – which transcend the particularities of any regime that would conveivably happen to be in power in either Ankara or Moscow, I don’t think any true strategic partnership between the two is possible in principle. There is a reason that the Russian and Ottoman Empires were fighting wars nonstop from the 17th to the 19th centuries.

(2) Some analysts such as Vox’s Max Fisher have claimed that Putin has failed to link his help in resolving the Syrian crisis in return for a “grand bargain” in which Crimea is recognized as part of Russia and sanctions are lifted. Therefore, their argument goes, there is not much use in continuing the charade. The problem is that there is no actual evidence for this hypothesis. Both US and Russian officials have repeatedly excluded that any such considerations exist, plus there is the banal but extremely important fact that the sanctions have been almost entirely negligible in their contribution to Russia’s recession (Reminder: According to Citi Research, they were responsible for only 10% of the decline in output).

On the converse, Russia’s withdrawal from Syria will give it a great deal more leeway in Ukraine (though if the prospect of a surge in tourism to Novorossiya that some Russian pundits are now positing is but a pleasant daydream).

(3) Another “problem” is that Russia’s withdrawal will be painted as a sign of weakness – of conviction, and/or fiscal. Worrying about it is pointless since the Western media will absolutely never treat Russia fairly so long as Russia remains sovereign and certain elites continue to exercise power in the West. Better be thought cowardly and/or insolvent than be actually stupid.

(4) The final issue that people have with this “premature” withdrawal is that it paves the wave for Syria’s partition. This is an issue that deserves to be addressed at length.

The Road to Partition

I appreciate the arguments that perhaps foreigners don’t have all that much business in poking their noses into the constitutional arrangements of other countries. All the more so if said countries belong to different civilizations and cultural traditions.

To the contrary, it is worth stressing that more than 70% of Syrians themselves oppose the division of their country across territories held by the government, the opposition, and even Islamic State (though this falls to 50% in YPG-held areas).

That said, the poll that revealed this didn’t feature a critical addendum: Would any of those groups still have been so deadset against division assuming that a faction they dislike was in charge of the central government? Hypothetically, if continued unity meant being ruled by the top dog from Idlib (to say nothing of Raqqa), I assume that support for a unified Syrian state amongst the cosmopolitan Alawites of Latakia would plummet to near 0%.

This is why I ultimately end up agreeing with former USN Admiral and NATO supreme commander James Stavridis that it is time to seriously consider partitioning Syria.

From the outset, I will reveal a dirty secret: Neither Turkey nor the Saudis actually want a partition of Syria.

If there is a de facto partition now, the Turks and Saudis will be left with a vast desert wasteland – poor, rural, backwards, heavily inbred and IQ-depressed even before the war; now utterly destroyed and teeming with dozens of warlords and tens of thousands of Islamist fanatics. Refugee outflows from Desert Syria will continue, or intensify further if the rebels now proceed to turn on each other. Should Far Right parties continue to consolidate their gains in Europe, that particular relief valve will be turned off, thus turning up the pressure on Syria’s more immediate neighbors. With a population that is now a quarter refugee and strongly influenced by Wahhabi sentiment, Jordan would be the next country primed for blowup. Turkey would be faced with the spectre of an independent Kurdish state abutting its restive Kurdish provinces. Like the Chaos Wastes, this benighted region will become the spawning grounds for new forcefully bred generations of Salafi militants. If Peter Lee is correct, Libya will be the location of choice to where they will now be “laundered,” but puppets do sometimes cut their strings and should Saudi Arabia see increasing domestic unrest as its oil money reserves dwindle then Islamic State might suddenly seem far too close for comfort.

sectarian-syria In contrast, the areas currently controlled by the government can be built up into a reasonably well functioning and cohesive state. According to opinion polls, more than half of the population in all the governorates held by the government support Assad, but this figure falls to 39% in Aleppo, 27% in Raqqa, and a mere 9% in Idlib. Moreover, the government held areas have been far less ravaged by war, and though its demographic losses due to conscription and poor military performance have been very considerable, they are dwarfed by the scale of the horrors that have been inflicted upon areas held by the opposition, which have borne the brunt of the fighting, and the Islamic State, with its indifference to military casualties and inability to maintain basic infrastructure. Although the rebel held areas only account for about a third of Syria’s population, they have produced two thirds of its refugees.

This Coastal Syria will be small but politically stable, immutable to Wahhabi infiltration by virtue of a predominantly Shi’ite-Christian ethnic makeup that it could easily maintain by refusing to accept the repatriation of those refugees hailing from areas held by the opposition and Islamic State. Since repatriating them to Desert Syria will not be an option either, the infrastructure there being unable to support even the populations still residing there, they will instead wreck their havoc in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Western Europe – in a fit of poetic justice, precisely those countries most responsible for wrecking Syria in the first place. Coastal Syria will pursue close ties with Iran and Hezbollah and will seek to pepper itself with Russian and (perhaps, eventually) Chinese bases to further secure itself against Turkish, Israeli, and Western encroachment.

However, if Assad were to regain full control of Syria, this would be a poisoned chalice. The cost of repairing all the destroyed infractructure, rooting out radicalism, and providing welfare for millions more displaced people will be an unbearable strain on its already heavily beleagured finances, causing resentment in the Alawite heartlands and buying no love amongst people who will come to think of their defeated forebears as having pursued a noble Lost Cause. Most critically, there is absolutely nothing stopping the Saudis and the Turks from once again trying to topple a Syrian government strained from the costs of reconstruction, Sunni refugee repatriation, and demographically dominated by Sunnis in another 10-20 years time.

These are the reasons why for the Saudis and the Turks, the fundamental choice is about either Damascus or nothing. Preferably they would like to topple Assad outright and replace his government with some kind of Nusrastan – sharia with shopping malls – a full Assad victory is a clear second best. This, ultimately, is why they have refrained from directly wading into the conflict themselves, despite their obvious frustration with the entire situation. I suspect the Russians who advise Putin realize this and have no desire to play to Turkey’s and Saudi Arabia’s interests. Assad might not; from both his life story (an apolitical doctor promoted to the throne by the chance death of his elder brother) and his interviews, he strikes me as very straightforward character: Honest, civilized, not unintelligent, but not really cut out for the cynicism, deviousness, and paradoxes of geopolitics.

In this respect, the Russian withdrawal is if anything doing him and Syria a favor.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Military, Russia, Syria, Syrian Civil War 
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free-russian-forum-lithuania-2016-transl

Not a month goes by without the Ukrainian nationalists of multinational nationality otherwise known as the Russian non-systemic pro-Western opposition reminding us why they have sub-margin of error approval ratings.

Their latest Kunstkamera of a conference, the so-called Free Russian Forum, was held on 9-10 March in Vilnius, Lithuania. Some 250 specimens turned out to hear what the self-styled “founding fathers” of Russian democracy had in mind for Russia’s future. Despite featuring an impressive range of handshake-worthy people – Valeriya Novodvorkaya’s spiritual successor Konstantin Borovoy, WSJ op-ed writer Gary Kasparov, persecuted $75,000-a-speech former Duma deputy Ilya Ponomarev, persecuted contraband art smuggler Alfred Koch, Cato Institute fellow Andrey Illarianov, Pussy Rioter Maria Alekhina, noted cheese aficianado Masha Gessen, thinktank welfare recipients Lilia Shevtsova and Andreas Umland, and Freedom House political scientist Vytis Jurkonis – there was virtually no Western media coverage of this event. I ever so wonder why. /s

Anyhow, I consider that to be a complete disgrace. As a democratist committed to living not by lies, I felt it incumbent upon myself to help remedy this information blackout. For your freedom and mine!

Here are the leading luminaries of the pro-Western Russian opposition, in their own words:

Alfred Koch on Euro-Atlantic Values:

It is time to stage a self-occupation and to admit there are many things we can’t do ourselves. In practice, this means that some state functions will have to be given away: That of the Central Electoral Commission – to PACE, the Constitutional Court – to The Hague, we will have to run electoral campaigns under the control of international organizations, and so forth. This is a voluntary renouncement of part of our sovereignty, but we have to do it under the clear understanding that we are suffering from schizophrenia and are seeing things which don’t exist in reality.

… on Stopping Putin’s Genocide in Syria:

One of the ideas raised was to give portable missile systems to the Syrian opposition so they could shoot down Putin’s fighter aces, analogous to American creativity in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Gary Kasparov on Reform:

Historically, one of the conditions for successful reform in Russia has been geopolitical defeat. If this should involve the losses of territories which do not wish to live by Euro-Atlantic rules, then whatever. Russia is a big country. The USSR fell apart and nothing bad happened.

Konstantin Borovoy on Democratic Values:

A large part of Russian society is obsessed with revanchism and the resurrection of empire. That is why we can’t win without external intervention. To deal with this – as in postwar Germany and Japan – we will have to undertake lustrations and conduct investigations into personal affairs.

Evgeny Chivcharkin on Moral Superiority:

Because we liberals can’t cooperate with each other, it is the evil people who are winning. Because they are mindless worms, who know only how to march in lockstep, and we don’t.

Andrey Illarianov on What Is To Be Done:

Unfortunately, a large percentage of Russians are infected with the imperialist virus, and without its destruction the country can’t be free. There are several parts to this: Immediate cessation of the war aganist Ukraine and in Syria, an end to the confrontation with Turkey, the normalization of relations with the West, the return of Crimea and Donbass to Ukraine, and of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to Georgia, and the removal of Russian troops from Georgia and Ukraine.

Artemy Kivovich Troitsky on Civil Society:

There is a information war going on which creates real victims. Moreover, it produces quite a lot of “crippled minds.” So if you see a vatnik [a Russian redneck], throw a haymaker at him immediately. If he also has an iPhone, first take it away from him, then clock him.

Ilya Ponomarev on Effective Governance:

The government should share its sovereignty, as happen in the EU… the end goal of the state is to self-annihilate.

… on Why Putin is Responsible for Russian Liberals Being Unable to Get Anything Done

This [opposition] dialog on Russia after Putin is really hard to carry out within Russia, because there we’re all fighting for a piece of the pie: Elections for leadership positions, in which some people unify, while others split off… But here abroad we have nothing to divide!

Livia Shevtsova and Andreas Umland on Russia Weaponizing Information:

The former alerted the audience to Kremlin financing of Marine Le Pen, Viktor Orban, and the Pegida movement, while the latter claimed that the affair with the “raped girl” in Berlin has struck a blow to Russia’s image in Germany.

Borovoy to Russian journalists on Freedom of the Press:

I really hope that you get banned from journalistic activities. Scumbags have to be barred from educational, government, and journalistic activities. You are not a journalist or a media person. You are a propagandist…

Kasparov to Russian journalists on Freedom of the Press:

I am calling the police. You are a KGB freak. *proceeds to take Troitsky’s advice on clocking vatniks literally*

(The TV crew attempting to interview Kasparov were arrested by Lithuanian police and deported as a national security risk).

The Free Russian Forum’s Ultimatum to Putin, written by Borovoy:

Humanity must realize that the discussion is not about saving human lifes, but about saving life on planet Earth. The Forum calls on the leaders of the democratic community to present the following Ultimatum to Vladimir Putin:

If in the immediate future there is to be:

1) No withdrawal from the occupied territories of Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine;

2) No freeing of all illegally held hostages;

3) No withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria;

4) No cessation of anti-human Russian propanda throughout Russia and the entire world;

5) No moves towards restoring Russia’s constitutional democracy;

… then Russia will be subjected to a total blockade.

All political, economic, transport, and information ties with Russia are to be cut until the complete fulfillment of all conditions of the Ultimatum.

Kasparov’s Concluding Remarks:

Before this Forum, it was unclear whether we would be able to launch a serious dialog. But the intellectual quality of these discussions have exceeded the most optimistic expectations.

Kasparov is, of course, perfectly correct. Many of the participants in the Free Russia Forum did indeed make accurate and incisive observations. It’s hard not to sympathize with Troitsky’s lamentations about”crippled minds,” nor fault Koch for his “clear understanding that we are suffering from schizophrenia.”

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Liberal Opposition, Lithuania, Neocons, Russia 
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hikaru-no-go-scene

The heroes of Hikaru’s Go were off by 86 years.

As some of you might have heard, the word of go – or weiqi as it is known in its homeland of China – is currently undergoing its Deep Blue moment as one of the world’s strongest players Lee Sedol faces off against Google’s DeepMind AlphaGo project. Deep Blue was the IBM/Carnegie Mellon supercomputer that in 1997 beat the world’s top grandmaster Gary Kasparov in a series of 6 chess games. But the computer’s margin of victory at 3.5 to 2.5 was modest, and the event was dogged by Kasparov’s allegations that the IBM team had underhandedly helped the computer. It would be an entire decade before the top computer chess programs decisively overtook the top human players. As of today, there is a 563 point difference between the Elo rating of Magnus Carlsen, the current highest rated human player on the FIDE’s database, and the world’s most powerful chess program, the open source Stockfish 7. In practical terms, this means that Carlsen can expect to win fewer than one in a hundred games against the Stockfish running on a contemporary 64-bit quadcore CPU.

In terms of game complexity, more orders of magnitude separate go from chess than chess from draughts, a game that has been fully solved. The aim is to capture territory and enemy stones by encircling them while defending your own turf, both of which are tallied up at the end of the game with the winner being the one with the most points. It is played on a 19×19 board, a lot larger than the 8×8 arrangement of chess, and you can position your pieces – or stones – on any empty space not occupied by or completely encircled by the enemy, whereas the range of possible moves in chess is strongly constricted. Chess is tactics, go is logistics; chess is combined arms, go is encirclements; chess draws strongly upon algorithmic and combinatorial thinking, whereas go is more about pattern matching and “intuition.” Therefore it is not surprising that until recently it was common wisdom that it would be many decades before computers would start beating the world’s top human players. The unimpressive performance of existing go computer programs, and the slowdown or end of Moore’s Law in the past few years, would have only given weight to that pessimistic assessment. (Or perhaps optimistic one, if you’re with MIRI). Lee Sedol himself thought the main question would be whether he would beat AlphaGo by 5-0 or 4-1.

Which makes it all the more remarkable that Lee Sedol is not just behind but having lost all of his three games so far is getting positively rekt.

But apparently Lee’s confidence was more rational than hubris. He had watched AlphaGo playing against weaker players, in which it made some apparent mistakes. But as a DeepMind research scientist noted, this was actually feature, not bug:

As Graepel explained, AlphaGo does not attempt to maximize its points or its margin of victory. It tries to maximize its probability of winning. So, Graepel said, if AlphaGo must choose between a scenario where it will win by 20 points with 80 percent probability and another where it will win by 1 and a half points with 99 percent probability, it will choose the latter. Thus, late in Game One, the system made some moves that Redmond considered mistakes—“slow” in his terminology. These moves seemed to give up points, but from where Graepel was sitting, AlphaGo was merely trying to maximize its chances.

In other words, while the projected points on the board – territory held plus stones captured – might for a long time appear to be roughly equal, at the same time the probability of ultimate victory would inexorably shift against Lee Sedol. And capped as our human IQs are, not only Lee but all the rest of us might be simply incapable of discerning the deeper strategies in play: “And so we boldly go – into the whirling knives” (to borrow from Nick Bostrom’s book on the risks of computer superintelligence).

Those are in fact the exact terms in which AI scientist/existential risks researcher Eliezer Yudkowsky analyzed this game in a lengthy Facebook post:

At this point it seems likely that Sedol is actually far outclassed by a superhuman player. The suspicion is that since AlphaGo plays purely for *probability of long-term victory* rather than playing for points, the fight against Sedol generates boards that can falsely appear to a human to be balanced even as Sedol’s probability of victory diminishes. The 8p and 9p pros who analyzed games 1 and 2 and thought the flow of a seemingly Sedol-favoring game ‘eventually’ shifted to AlphaGo later, may simply have failed to read the board’s true state. The reality may be a slow, steady diminishment of Sedol’s win probability as the game goes on and Sedol makes subtly imperfect moves that *humans* think result in even-looking boards.

For all we know from what we’ve seen, AlphaGo could win even if Sedol were allowed a one-stone handicap. But AlphaGo’s strength isn’t visible to us – because human pros don’t understand the meaning of AlphaGo’s moves; and because AlphaGo doesn’t care how many points it wins by, it just wants to be utterly certain of winning by at least 0.5 points.

In the third game, which finished just a few hours ago – by the way, you can watch the remaining two games live at the DeepMind YouTube channel, though make sure to learn the rules beforehand or it will be very boring – Lee Sedol, by then far behind on points, made a desperate ploy to salvage the game (or more likely just use the opportunity to test AlphaGo’s capabilities) by initiating a ko fight. A ko is a special case in go in which a local altercation sharply becomes the fulcrum around which the outcome of the entire game might be decided. Making the winning moves requires perfect, precise play as opposed to AlphaGo’s key method of playing out billions of random games and choosing the one which results in the most captured territory after n moves.

But AlphaGo handled the ko situation with aplomb, and Lee had to resign.

The Korean Lee Sedol is the fourth highest rated go player on the planet. But even as of March 9, were it a person, AlphaGo would have already displaced him. The top player in the world is the Chinese Ke Jie, who is currently 100 Elo points higher than Lee. According to my calculations, this implies that Lee should win slightly more than a third of his matches against Ke Jie. His actual record is 2/8, or 25%. Not only is his current tally against AlphaGo is 0/3, but he was beaten by a considerable number of points by an entity that is perfectly content to minimize its lead in order to to maximize its winning probability.

will-lee-sedol-defeat-alphago Finally, a live predictions market on whether Lee Sedol would defeat AlphaGo in any of the three games remaining (that is, before the third match) varied between 20%-25%, implying that the probability of him winning any one game against the the DeepMind monster was less than 10%. (If anything, those probabilities would be even lower now that AlphaGo has demonstrated ko isn’t its Achilles heel, but let us set that aside).

According to my calculations, IF this predictions market is accurate, it would imply that AlphaGo has a ~400-450 Elo point superiority over Lee Sedol based on its performance up to and including the first two games against him.

It would also mean it would be far ahead of Ke Jie, who is the highest ranked human player ever and is currently virtually at his peak. Whereas Lee can only be expected to win 7%-9% of his games against AlphaGo, for Ke Jie this figure would be only modestly higher at 12%-15%. But in principle I see no reason why AlphaGo’s capabilities couldn’t be even higher than that. It’s a long tail – and we can’t see all that far ahead!

But really the most astounding element of this is that what took chess computing a decade to accomplish increasingly appears to have occured in the space of a few days with AlphaGo – despite the slowdown in Moore’s Law in recent years, and the problems of go being far more challenging than those of chess in terms of traditional AI approaches.

For all intents and purposes AI has entered the superhuman realm in a problem space where merely human intelligence had hitherto ruled supreme, and even though we are as far away as ever from discovering the “Hand of God” – the metaphorical perfect game, which will take longer than the lifetime of the universe to compute if all of the universe were to become computronium – we might well be starting the construction of a Sliver of Him.

Update –

Lee won the fourth game!

A win rate of 25% means that AlphaGo’s Elo likely superiority over Lee’s current 3519 points has just plummeted from 400-450 (based on predictions market) to 191, i.e. 3710. Still higher than top player Ke Jie at 3621.

If Lee loses the next game, that Elo difference goes up to 241; if he wins, it gets reduced further to 120. Regardless, we can now say with considerable confidence that AlphaGo is peak human level but decidedly not superhuman level.

Update 2 –

Final remarks:

Was writing article instead of watching final Lee-AlphaGo game but final score is 4:1. Reverse of what Lee had originally predicted! 😉

Anyhow 4:1 score (w/out looking into details) implies Alpha has *probabilistic* ~240 point higher Elo rating than Lee Sedol i.e. ~3760.

That means its likely ~140 points higher than first ranked human Ke Jie and should beat him about 70% of the time.

I had a look at go bots historic performance other day. Looks like they move up by 1 S.D. every two years or so. Treating AlphaGo as the new base, humans should be *completely* outclassed by computer in go by around 2020.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: Game, Supercomputers 
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.