The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>
 Russian Reaction Blog / MiscellaneousTeasers

As some of you are aware, last week I was traveling in Saint-Petersburg.

I went upon the invitation of a local politics club, but decided I stay several days to explore the city. I haven’t been to SPB since 2002, so this doubled as an opportunity to see how the northern capital has changed in the past 15 years.

spb-foggy-canal

City Observations

As with the rest of Russia, the city itself has certainly changed for the better in all the usual respects. More cars, and far newer ones. Roofs appeared much cleaner and shinier from the top of St. Isaac’s Cathedral than in 2002. As in the rest of Russia, virtually everyone who wants Internet access has it (SPB actually has slightly higher Internet penetration than Moscow, for some reason).

That said, whereas I distinctly remember liking Saint-Petersburg more than in the early 2000s, this is no longer the case.

spb-metro-station(1) Moscow is and technologically advanced, e.g. it has free WiFi in the metro for several years now, which SPB and other backwards cities like London and San Francisco have yet to adopt.

(2) I greatly prefer acontinental climate to a cold maritime one.

(3) There is a reason Slavophiles have traditionally viewed Moscow as Russia’s “true” capital. The architecture is more authentically Russian. It also tends to be more human-scale. Central Saint-Petersburg is a place of wide imperial avenues, and the grand pomposity of the buildings and palaces, though initially impressive, gets monotonous after a while (in this respect it is actually reminescent of Washington DC).

This is of course a simplification – there are plenty of oppressive open spaces in Moscow too, and SPB has its fair share of quaint courtyards and interesting corners – but as an architectural ensemble Moscow definitely wins out.

(4) The Moscow metro is far more developed, so distances between stations are shorter. This makes Moscow more walkable, especially since SPB is also intersected by a massive river. Finally, although SPB’s bridges are a nice tourist magnet, they can be a pain in the ass for locals who can be cut off from their homes if they don’t leave the bar in time (not helped by the SPB metro closing one hour earlier than the Moscow metro).

(5) Whereas in 2002 Saint-Petersburgers – at least in my limited, one-week tourist experience – were more civil than Muscovites, Muscovites have improved greatly since then, and there is now no longer any difference.

spb-bookshop One easy way to test civility is how frequently drivers make way for pedestrians on zebra crossings. 15 years ago in Moscow, it was perhaps 10%, and 25% in SPB. Nowadays I’d estimate it’s about 75% in Moscow, about the same as in the US. In SPB, however, it might be closer to 50%. Still, these are all extremely approximate figures, especially for SPB where I only spent 6 days.

I noticed that many Saint-Petersburgers seem to have a sort of inferiority complex, a lingering resentment towards Moscow at being deprived of their capital. Unfortunately, they have a point. I don’t like it and I think the hyper-centralization that accounts for this is very bad for the country, but the fact of the matter is that least 50% of everything interesting and significant taking place in Russia happens in Moscow.

Moscow is the undisputed political (executive, legislative), economic, and scientific center of Russia.

SPB has some modest share of influence in the political-legislative and cultural sphere (though probably not near as much as Moscow), but otherwise, it is ultimately just the largest gorod-millionnik.

That said, as one person I talked to optimistically pointed out, SPB does have a “marginalistic charm” to it, and she continued, “all the most interesting and disruptive phenomena come from the margins.” If there’s one thing that SPB suffers no shortage of relative to Moscow, it is hipsters.

spb-lecture-on-hbd

Politics

I was invited to Saint-Petersburg was to give a lecture to a local right-wing politics club about “HBD and its Role in the Alt Right.”

There is a loosely affiliated network of such clubs through Russia in Moscow, SPB, and the bigger cities. (Vincent Law, whom I had the pleasure of meeting, wrote about the SPB chapter here).

This invitation was perfectly congruent with my wider meta-goal of redpilling Russian nationalists on HBD/IQ-realism, so of course I accepted.

My talk itself covered the basics of HBD/IQ:

  • The largely separate evolution of the world’s three great races since they split ~50,000 years ago.
  • The validity of psychometrics
  • The importance of psychometrics, esp. wrt life outcomes and national differences in GDP per capita and other development metrics
  • The direction of causality – exceptions (Communist legacy; oil windfalls) prove the rule!
  • Why should this be the case?
  • FLynn effect: Will immigrant performance converge?
  • Would HBD-informed prescriptions apply to Russia? (e.g. immigration policy, positive eugenics, genetic augmentation of IQ)

I was very impressed by the quality of the responses and questions. Many people were familiar with the material, and asked pointed and relevant questions, such as the technical details of how national IQs are calculated, the extent to which emotional intelligence is important, and why US Jews cleverer than Israelis.

Clearly young Russian nationalists are informed, intelligent, and intellectually curious, having avoided the ideological skeletons of the boomer nationalist mindset in Russia (e.g. Eurasianism, “geopolitics,” Heidegger, extreme Orthodoxy, and various other obscurantisms). This is incredibly encouraging for the future.

Many interesting and spirited discussions about the Alt Right, Milo, Karelian nationalism, censorship, and many other weird and esoteric topics followed.

The politics club is only one element in SPB’s nationalist ecosystem, which even extends to having their “own” bars with discounts for nationalists. I would shill them but I don’t know if they’d appreciate the publicity.

code-russian-officer The city also hosts the Black Hundreds publishing group, which specializes in republishing Tsarist-era classics as well as modern nationalists authors. I bought two books from each category.

The first was a 1916 edition of Valentin Kulchitsky’s The Code of Honor of the Russian Officer (widely distributed to Russian officers during WW1 because the accelerated wartime training schedule meant that many of them didn’t have time to fully absorb the culture of the General Staff).

The second was Vitaly Fedorov’s (“Africa”) Notes of a Terrorist (in the good sense of the word) – possibly the best war novel from the Donbass to date (an English translation is available on Amazon).

A third major nationalist organization in SPB is the Russian Imperial Movement.

Its nationalism is explicitly based on religion, not ethnicity – you don’t have to be an ethnic Russian to join, but you do have to be an Orthodox Christian. However, they are also considerably more hardcore than the others, having been directly involved in the events in Donbass through their Imperial Legion batallion.

spb-night

Tourism

When not delving deeper into extremism and padding my files at Langley and Lubyanka I did the usual touristy stuff.

Transport/Hotels

spb-sapsan I traveled to SPB via the Sapsan high speed train, which at 250kph takes about 3.5 hours to get there from Moscow.

$75 normal ticket, $100 business class. The latter has far better conditions, and includes a meal, so it’s worth considering.

Alternatively, you can take the overnight train for $25 or $40 (platskart and kupe, respectively), depending on your desired privacy level.

spb-katyusha I stayed at the Katyusha hotel. It’s right next to the Neva River – right past the arch in the photo to the right – and about 200m from the Hermitage. One night there costs a mere $50.

This really brings home the point why PPP-adjustments to GDP per capita are absolutely relevant when gauging living standards. Russian wages might be far lower than in Western Europe, but so are the prices.

Food

spb-brynza In addition to the standard Western fast food chains, such as McDonald’s/KFC, Russia now has many of its own indigenous equivalents. Being a tourist in SPB, unlike in Moscow, I took the opportunity to explore some of them. Teremok is a national chain that features very traditional Russian fare such as common soups (borscht, obroshka, ukha, solyanka, etc.), pelmeni, pancakes, cutlets with buckwheat for prices similar to a MacDonald’s. Even better, though, was the SPB-specific Brynza chain, though it is marginally pricier (right: Cod Leningrad style).

spb-tandoori I last had Indian food half a year ago and really wanted to try my favorite national cuisine again. Fortunately, Saint-Petersburg has an excellent Indian restaurant right in the city center called Tandoor. It compares well even with Indian restaurants in London and the Bay Area. A business lunch of yellow daal, spicy vegetables, and butter chicken costs $10. So do most curries (e.g. the vindaloo on the right). The masala chai is also very good. It is run by Russians, though the cooks are Indians.

Note that traditionally Russia traditionally hasn’t had anything spicier than, I dunno… paprika? So you have to order your Indian food very/extremely spicy to get it moderately spicy by British/American standards.

Museums

Finally visited the Kunstkamera. It is by and large a standard ethnographic museum, the most interesting part of the exhibit being the original Petrine collection.

spb-naval-museum I was very impressed with the Central Naval Museum. It hosts a series of huge halls with thousands of naval paintings, ship models, figureheads, guns, munitions, uniforms, and other naval objects, all exhaustively documented and woven into a comprehensive history of the rise and fall of Russian naval power. Unfortunately, there are few English translations.

Visited the Yusupov Palace. TIL they were Christianized Tatars, descended from one 15th century Khan Yusuf.

spb-petropavlovsk-fortressPetropavlovsk Fortress includes the cathedral where the Russian Tsars since Peter the Great are buried, including Nicholas II and his family, who were interred there in the 1990s. The Russian Orthodox Church objected to burying a person who abdicated the throne inside the main cathedral, so they repose in an adjoining room to the main hall which can be considered a separate chapel.

There are several other separate museums.

spb-petropavlovsk-prison One is the prison with its 69 rooms that held revolutionaries. The tour group leader made a point of how horrific conditions were, though in my experience, that’s part and parcel for historical prison tours everywhere. But to the casual eye the rooms sure look spacious even by the standards of modern US prisons, to say nothing of typical jail conditions a century ago. And the sentences tended to be remarkably lenient considering prisoners were often involved in assassination plots, terrorism, etc., which in many other states would have warranted the death penalty. It was surely much more humane than Guantanamo.

There was a museum of the history of SPB from the early native inhabitants who lived there in their log cabins. One room was famous for having been the scene of the sentencing of the Decembrists, of whom five were put to death. This was cited as an example of Tsarist cruelty and caprice in Soviet history textbooks, but come on… this was ultimately a violent mutiny against the sovereign. The vast majority of the plotters were exiled to Siberia for some period of time, or even pardoned. Even many West European countries at the time would have been far less lenient.

One building that used to host a secret rocketry R&D facility in the early USSR is now a space museum. One thing I was struck by was how many people both interested in and technically capable of developing modern rocket technologies there were in the late Russian Empire (starting with Tsiolkovsky, the concept’s father). It seems inevitable to me that there would have been a strong Russian missile and space program regardless of whether the USSR had appeared or not.

spb-winter-palace-library I visited the Hermitage. I have been there before, but it is so vast you need to spend a few days to properly see all of it anyway. My favorite room there in the original palace section was Nicholas II’s library. Most of the Winter Palace was for all intents and purposes a “museum,” even when it was still the living quarters of the imperial family (the status signalling problem really reached absurd proportions in the Russian Empire, as in ancien regime France). The library looks like a place where you could actually sit down and get some work or reading done over a glass of red wine.

spb-popovPopov’s Central Museum of Communications is one of the oldest science and technology museums in the world. Amongst other exhibits, it hosts Alexander Popov’s original radio set. He actually made his revolutionary discoveries slightly earlier than Guglielmo Marconi, but the Italian became known as the inventor of radio in the West because of his greater interest in and success at commercializing it.

spb-museum-of-democracy I also passed by the Chubais Museum of the Implementation of Democracy in Modern Russia (what a mouthful, even in Russian). As Lazy Glossophiliac commented, “Should have been housed in a 90s-style kiosk store with lots of gaudy advertising all over it.” You had to make an appointment to enter the museum, which I suppose says something about its popularity.

I couldn’t be bothered, having better things to do with my time, such as drinking with the people who will one day kick those squatters out of such a fine building and open a Museum of Autocracy in its stead.

 

The American Interest’s Karina Orlova writes:

A group of young independent filmmakers (Sota Vision) captured a moment that perfectly sums up not just what it was like yesterday in Moscow, but also what it’s like living in Russia these days. This is the reward you get for going out of your way to praise a dictator.

(Original).

His protestations of his “innocence” in the police van went unheeded.

Predictably, this video evokes a gushing flood of Schadenfreude amongst anti-Putinists, while pro-Putinists experience a jittery “there but for the grace of God go I” feeling.

But from a neutral perspective, how exactly does this reflect badly on “teh regime.”

What we see in it is unsanctioned protesters getting treated the same under the law, regardless of their fealty or lack thereof to the national leader.

This is the marker of civilization.

Let’s compare and contrast to Ukraine, the country where Navalnyites won – and what the Western elites want for Russia.

There, anti-war protesters are not only arrested, but jailed, whereas on the rare occasions that much more aggressive Maidanist “activists” are arrested they are let off with apologies soon after.

In fact, in Ukraine, so long as you belong to the appropriate faction, you can even shoot taxi drivers with pneumatic pistols for refusing to chant “Glory to Ukraine” along with you and get off with just house arrest.

This is the marker of barbarism.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Color Revolution, Law, Russia 

Currently traveling, posting this from my cell phone so discuss the UK general elections, the ROG inspired spat between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, or whatever.

So Jeremy Corbyn has soared to a point where he’s neck and neck with Theresa May after being 20 points behind. Reminder the Conservatives called this election to expand their dominance in Parliament. Instead, they’ve put themselves in a position where they can lose power outright. Same story with Brexit. Talk of hubris.

I do like Corbyn as a person, more so than May who evokes only the most dreary sensations. To be sure Corbyn is a sandal-wearing open borders socialist who will drive the economy into the ground, but his foreign policy stances at least are solid, and as a perennial sandal wearer myself, I can only approve of his sartorial choices (minus his heresy of pairing them with socks). Anyhow, it’s clear May’s ideas about dealing with Islamic terrorism revolve around the same old of cracking down on Internet “extremism” (read: porn, islamophobia, etc). Whereas at least with Corbyn we have some chance of him unleashing his inner tankie against the jihadists.

Saudi Arabia has presented a list of ten basically unfulfillable demands to Qatar or else a full blockade commences. Well that escalated quickly, LOL. If it goes ahead, Qatar’s only lifeline in the region will become… Iran. At a stroke, the Saudis sideline a rival geopolitical competitor in Syria, and consolidate a new Arab Authoritarian International with themselves at its head. They played Trump well.

I am currently in Saint Petersburg. I was last here in 2002. Back then I liked it more than Moscow. No longer the case. Whatever advantages it might have had back then in terms of civility have now been matched or superseded, since Muscovites themselves have come much more polite and considerate in the past decade, while the technological and infrastructural gap between the two capitals has widened significantly since then in favor of Moscow (e.g. I have been sufficiently spoiled to expect WiFi in the metro). Finally, I now realize that I definitely prefer a continental climate over a maritime one.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Open Thread 

* Reports just coming in that there has been a terrorist attack in Manchester.

Manchester a pretty well-off city, by the standards of the English North-West, though the city’s penchant for hedonism has given the city the lowest female life expectancy in England.

16% of the population are Muslims. Not as vibrant as Luton or Birmingham yet, but it’s getting there.

* New podcast with Robert Stark about automation and basic income.

Also, if you understand Russian, a reminder that I participate in a weekly Russian language podcast ROGPR. We are on our 14th episode as of this week.

* Vincent Law: Who Are Russia’s Black Hundreds?

This is a good article.

* Neo-Nazi converts to Islam, murders Neo-Nazi roommates for disrespecting Islam. TFW you take the WHITE SHARIA meme a bit too seriously.

Of course it happened in Florida. And of course the perpetrator is a ginger. The perfect memetic trifecta.

orb-of-power* #RiyadhSummit: “Three values to embrace to propel ourselves forward. They are tolerance, diversity and hope, and that’s what makes us human.”

They’ve learned the Davosi dialect well, I’ll give them that.

Anyhow, about Saudi Arabia: On the grand list of things to fault in Trump, continuing the bipartisan American tradition of cosying up to the House of Saud is one of the smallest and most irrelevant ones.

They basically subsidize the American military-industrial complex to the tune of several billions of dollars a year (I am pretty convinced the massive price gouging they tolerate is done on purpose and is a sort of bribe).

Frankly for that sort of money I think just about everyone would agree to say some bad things about Iran, turn a blind eye to Yemen, and worship a glowing orb for a day.

zuckerberg-new-vision

* I am not usually one for conspiracy theories, but the Seth Rich affair is very suspicious.

* Zuckerberg’s (new) vision via P.T. Carlo (also discovered this other article of his about the most loathsome neocon bugmen).

* Daniel Chieh’s comment on servitude in traditional China.

* About Ukraine’s banning of VK.com, Yandex, and basically half its Internet – will have separate post on that.

* Sinotriumph #1: China’s hyper-competitive schools are forcing parents to take IQ tests before accepting pupils (h/t whyvert)

Meanwhile, the US is still rehashing the same old Bell Curve debates, each one more farcical than the last.

Even as society lags, science continues to move forwards: James Thompson – IQ Brain Map. In the long run, Gnon always wins.

* Sinotriumph #2: The evolution of metros in China 1990-2020 (Peter Dovak).

china-metros

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: China, Open Thread, Terrorism 

* Russian nuclear weapons expert Pavel Podvig is giving an AMA at /r/Russia right now.

christianity-middle-east* Christians, in an Epochal Shift, Are Leaving the Middle East

Eurabia is demographically implausible during this century. Greater Lebanon, however, is.

* The curious rise of the ‘white left’ as a Chinese internet insult

Although the emphasis varies, baizuo is used generally to describe those who “only care about topics such as immigration, minorities, LGBT and the environment” and “have no sense of real problems in the real world”; they are hypocritical humanitarians who advocate for peace and equality only to “satisfy their own feeling of moral superiority”; they are “obsessed with political correctness” to the extent that they “tolerate backwards Islamic values for the sake of multiculturalism”; they believe in the welfare state that “benefits only the idle and the free riders”; they are the “ignorant and arrogant westerners” who “pity the rest of the world and think they are saviours”.

Critical context from bloody shovel. Dynamics in Russia are remarkable analogous, though unlike the Chinese, I don’t think we’ve even progressed to the point of having our own term for SJWs.

* Opinion poll on radical life extension.

About 27% of Americans might be considered transhumanists in the sense that they want radically increased healthy lifespans of 200+ years.

Curiously, there is a huge gender split: 36% of men want that, but only 18% of women.

* His Kampf. Not a bad profile of Richard Spencer, though the journalist’s evident disdain for him does seep through somewhat.

One thing that goes unmentioned: Despite the repeat Nazi comparisons, Spencer himself doesn’t subscribe to one of their core beliefs, that of the hierarchy of races: “… There is no universal, cosmic criterion for determining when one individual is better than another.”

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Open Thread 

About time to update my sidebar (current one dates from November 2015).

Blogroll: Added a few sites, removed a few. Version with slightly more links here: http://akarlin.com/links/

My linking policy is that if your blog is at least somewhat active and interesting, and if you link to me, or if you make a… contribution (just make sure to let me know), then I will reciprocate with a link under the Friends/Allies section.

Removed the Quotes section at the bottom, since it was taking up too much space. I now have a dedicated quotes page at my website: http://akarlin.com/quotes/

Thank to everyone who responded to my first donations drive! (esp. Bruno and Ben via Paypal, my seven patrons on Patreon, and whoever sent the 4.31979mBTC). As I said, while I’m under no imminent danger of immiseration, if you think that what I do is positive value added, well – money is always good for greasing the wheels of productivity.

***

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

Here is a guide to my various websites and projects.

***

Panhandling

karlin-cliodynamicsThe more help I get from my readers, especially of the pecuaniary kind, the more time I can devote to my blogging and original research.

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

(1) Sponsor me on Patreon
(2) Payment to my email address with Google Wallet
(3) Paypal donation
(4) If you bank with Wells Fargo, you can use Surepay (go to “Transfer and Pay,” “Send Money”) to send money to my email address
(5) Bitcoin: 17tDufZUEK3DvQh3rY75F3xtVgxj4TzdtB

***

Blogroll

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

I do not bother including any MSM outlets, since I’m sure they can do just fine without my publicity.

Blogs which I consider to be particularly good and/or prominent are highlighted in bold, and blogs that appear to have gone dormant appear at the end in italics. While I try to keep these things objective, if you include me in your blogroll that does vastly increase the chances that I’ll reciprocate.

/pol/, HBD, H+

Journals/Websites

Politics & Geopolitics

HBD & Psychometrics

History, Economics, Futurism

Russosphere

Alt Media (Russia)

Russosphere

Friends & Allies

Friends/Allies (Politics)

Friends & Allies (HBD, Futurism)

Friends/Allies (Russia)

.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Administration, Blogging, Open Thread 

karlin-cliodynamicsThis appears to be my 1,000th post at The Unz Review (including the archives from my old blogs).

Coincidentally, it will also be my 100th post this year, which would represent an almost threefold increase in intensity relative to 2015-2016.

So I guess now is as good a time as any to launch my first ever fundraising drive.

Back when I was in California I didn’t feel too comfortable asking for gibs, since I spent most of my working time on unrelated freelance jobs and my volume of blogging didn’t merit much in the way of donations. Since then, though, I’ve moved back to Russia, and started doing all this effectively full-time.

Now please don’t feel obligated. Only give if you like what I do, if you can afford to, and if a much more deserving charity or cause doesn’t come to mind. I am not going to starve anytime soon, and my long-term financial plans still revolve around writing books.

That said, if you like what I do, want to see more of it and sooner, and are not yourself impoverished, I could certainly do with your alms.

(1) Sponsor me on Patreon
(2) Payment to my email address with Google Wallet
(3) Paypal donation
(4) If you bank with Wells Fargo, you can use Surepay (go to “Transfer and Pay,” “Send Money”) to send money to my email address (advantage: No extra fees)
(5) Bitcoin: 17tDufZUEK3DvQh3rY75F3xtVgxj4TzdtB

This is my first time panhandling, and I haven’t thoroughly tested all of these methods, so please let me know if anything goes wrong. I would also very much like to know if there are any good alternatives to the above methods.

Thanks in advance for your generosity!

***

Moving on, a few administrative announcements.

Following my blog

Back in the “golden age” of blogging a decade ago, feeds and feed readers were all the rage. Then along came Twitter and Facebook, Google Reader closed down, and the golden age was over. However, with Twitter’s problems, I suspect we might soon see a resurgence of the old ways.

So why not get ahead of the curve if you haven’t already. If you’re the sort of person who likes keeping up with many different blogs and columnists, I suggest getting a feed reader such as Feedly, or The Old Reader (which reproduce much of the functionality of the much missed Google Reader). To follow my blog in particular, just insert one of the following feeds:

A few months ago, I also set up a Twitter bot that automatically reposts everything I write here and at my other blogs – follow https://twitter.com/KarlinBot.

Last but not least, you can also keep tabs on my recent posts not just from The Unz Review’s interface, but also from my main website at http://akarlin.com/.

***

Blogging Plans

Almost a year ago, I carried out a large survey on what I could do to improve my product.

The one thing for which there was overwhelming demand for was more in the way of reviews. Unfortunately, I singularly failed at that. The pace of history has picked up radically of late, and commenting on breaking news stories has been trumping other considerations.

Still, the publicity (and monetary) success of Gregory Cochran’s recent review of Testosterone Rex by Cordelia Fine does demonstrate there is a demand for good reviews, so I’ll commit to filling in this lacuna.

I wouldn’t want to fail my 2017 predictions, after all.

  • I will write 30+ book reviews: 50%.
  • I will write 5+ game reviews: 50%.
  • I will write fewer than 5 movie reviews: 80%.

***

New and Ongoing Projects

Some other stuff I’m doing at the moment:

ROGPR

Weekly podcast on the Russian Occupation Government with Kirill Nesterov and @smug_vatnik on Russian realities from an IQ/HBD-realistic perspective.

We are the official podcast of United Russia and the Republican Party. /s

If you speak Russian, or are learning it, you can follow it at ROGPR.com or directly at SoundCloud.

Note that I also have a Russian language blog at http://akarlin.ru/, though I don’t update it all that regularly.

Books

ami-book-name As I mentioned above, now that I have more free time (no longer have to do freelance work), I can finally get on with my book plans.

While I’m still very serious about getting Dark Lord of the Kremlin and Apollo’s Ascent written, I am taking a small break to write a shorter book on my Age of Malthusian Industrialism concept.

Incidentally, I need a name for it. Looking for something that crisply conveys at least some of the following ideas/themes/feelings:

(1) Far from the best possible outcome, though not catastrophic either
(2) Industrial economy
(3) Idiocracy
(4) Overpopulation – due to selection for higher fertility preferences reversing the demographic transition. my estimate is that our current technological level translates to a theoretical global carrying capacity of approximately 100 billion people.
(5) Possible the “Clarkian selection” that will follow afterwards.
(6) The idea of the millennial delay/opportunity cost it would impose.

Current preference is “Dark Equilibrium,” but its not optimal.

Papers

In the meantime, I’m also currently involved in writing two papers, which I hope will be ready to be published sometime by the summer.

***

Updated Blogroll

I also have a new blogroll and quotes page, which I will soon integrate with my column’s sidebar at Unz.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Admin, Blogging, Open Thread, Panhandling 

beer-and-books

I was privileged to meet one of the columnists at The Unz Review. Feel free to guess who.

Ironically, we met up at Jean-Jacques cafe on Nikitsky Boulevard, the favorite watering hole of the rukopozhatnaya kreakl crowd (handshake-worthy/”respectable” “creative” hipsters). It’s a solid enough place, though – slightly pretentious French style lunch with wine for 1,000 rubles.

Finally got Twenty Years to the Great War, a massive tome on the late Tsarist industrialization by HSE professor Mikhail Davydov.

A taste of some of what it covers in the intro to an an interview with the author:

The development of Magnitogorsk? Planned by the State Council of the Russian Empire in 1915. The irrigation of Central Asia? Started in 1901, by 1912 there were working excavators… About the poverty of the people: In 1906-1913 credit cooperatives gave farmers loans totalling 2.5 billion rubles (equivalent to six naval modernization programs). In 1913, 30% of families in the country possessed savings books.

People lived considerably better than Soviet propaganda would later claim, and in fact many of the big “signature” Soviet modernization projects were first planned out and initiated in the waning days of the Empire (even including electrification).

But there’s really a lot more to it. One thousand pages, many of which are devoted to statistical tables. Looking forwards to reading it and reviewing it properly.

moscow-decoration

A mundane example of how Moscow has really been spruced up in the past couple of years.

Some more culinary notes, since we haven’t had those for a while:

nutria-burger

At around the time of the New Year, I tried out a nutria burger at the Krasnodar Bistro, thanks to a “recommendation” of sorts from The Guardian’s Shaun Walker (“Hot rat is so hot right now: Moscow falls for the rodent burger“).

It was entirely fine, a bit similar in texture to a beef patty, but with a distinctive flavor and a greasier texture. Not perhaps the best meat, but still, 2033 should be perfectly survivable.

The more relevant and encouraging sociological observation is that its one example of many in which Russia is developing its own culinary traditions as opposed to aping from abroad (nutria is particular to Russia’s Krasnodar region).

likuria-wine

Thanks to JL for the Likuria recommendation – I got a set of them. I thought the Blend and the Merlot were pretty good, but the Cabernet Sauvignon disappointed, and the Shiraz was very bad.

The Agora bastardo from Crimea remains my favorite dry Russian red, but frankly none of them are anything to write home about. For now at least its better to just get the European imports.

That said, the Abrau Durso champagnes, with the partial exception of their bruts, are surprisingly good and continue to gain on me.

I enjoyed Ararat cognac from Armenia, the standard product in this class here, but I am not a conoisseur of cognac, so my opinion isn’t worth much.

I am not exactly a big cheese fan, I don’t even buy it normally, but I do like to make Greek salad from time to time, and that means feta. I suspect it is directly on the sanctions list because I haven’t been able to find it in the usual supermarkets (though I haven’t bothered searching). The alternative here is a thing called bryndza, but it is most decidedly not feta; the Serbian bryndza I bought first is far closer to cheap standard cream cheeses. That said, the “classical” version is the one that’s at least very faintly reminscent of feta.

kharcho

As I explained in one of my earlier open threads, in my opinion Georgian cuisine is overrated (it’s only particularly interesting or “exotic” by Soviet standards).

That said, the one exception to that assessment – and its a real bigly one – is kharcho.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Moscow, Open Thread, Russia, The AK, Travel 

zvezda-interview

Not even a week in Moscow, and I get contacted by a Zvezda TV journalist requesting an interview about life in America and why I returned to Russia. In a deserted billiards room, I began talking about my theory that there is a civility-friendliness spectrum, with Britain on one end of it, Russia on the other, and America in between. However, I rather embarassingly botched it. I kept saying that while Britons are more civil and polite, Russians tended to be more open and genial, at least once you broke the ice with them. The problem is that my brain hadn’t fully adjusted from English to Russian, and so one of the key words I kept using, “genial,” didn’t actually mean what I thought it meant in Russian – in effect, I have been arguing that Russians were more ingenious than the Anglo-Saxons (they are not). But it was only at the end of the interview that I suddenly recalled that genialnost’ is not genialness. The quizzical looks my interviewer and the cameraman had given me at the start of the interview also suddenly made sense.

I explained what had happened to them, and suggested they cut that part since it made no sense. Relieved that I was in fact sane, they agreed. Unfortunately, my little joke about the only polite Russians being the Polite People would also have to go into the trashbin. But no matter – that episode only accounted for 10% of the entire interview, with almost everything else being about the burning political topic of the day in Moscow right now: Donald Trump. Is the Establishment trying to organize a Maidan against Trump? (Sort of. But in such a lame-assed way that more electors abandoned HRC than Trump himself). Would Trump be a friend to Russia? (Consult Palmerstone and Alexander III. So, most likely, not. But as a successful businessman and a non-ideological “America First” nationalist, it would be easier to make deals with him). What do you make of his apparent hostility towards China? (Let the Eagle and the Dragon claw at each other. Why we worry?).

***

My friend Artem Zagorodnov, whom I met in London, presented a talk in Juneau, Alaska deconstructing some of the major Western myths about Russia – that is, the sort of material I have written a lot about.

You can watch it here: Putin and Russia’s Evolving Image in the United States.

***

In more mundane news, I continue renovating my apartment, enjoying the cold dry climate, and making observations of potential interest.

In contrast to just a decade yore, it is now quite safe to use zebra crossings. (Two decades ago, you couldn’t even say that of a pedestrian crossing at a green traffic light). You should still look round, but then the same applies to London, and New York might even be marginally worse. Even as civility in Russia has risen, it has been falling in both Britain and America, so that we are steadily seeing a sort of ironic convergence between the two.

Possibly related: I see a few people with face masks everyday. I approve of this East Asian tradition. If you really have to go out while ill, at least make an effort to avoid transmitting it.

***

Shopping is a mixed experience. Many security guards. Low efficiency – took me three times longer to order a piece of furniture than it would have in the US or Britain. But I don’t suppose it matters that much right now – the shopping centers were surprisingly empty, especially for this time of year. Russia might be climbing out of the recession according to the latest indicators, but it’s clear that it is not yet being reflected in consumer confidence on the ground.

That said, the quality of service is now very good. At my local El Dorado, the staff were very helpful in explaining the different products on sale and speeding up access to out of stock items. Thanks to the devaluation, Russian made products in most categories of electronic goods are competitive. Online ordering also works smoothly, at least in Moscow. There is no central super-vendor like Amazon in the US, but shipping is fast and and you have the option of paying in cash on delivery.

Hauling large pieces of furnitures up the stairs can be relatiely expensive. But you can hire a couple of Tajiks to do it for much cheaper. No formal agreements, just pluck them off the streets, where the municipality pays them by the hour, and they are grateful for the couple hundred extra rubles while on the taxpayer’s dime. Still probably not a good reason to allow hundreds of thousands of them in, but since they’re here anyway, why not make mutually beneficial deals?

***

There are two sorts of item which were traditionally cheap in Russia, but are no longer so.

The first such items are books. The time when you could get high quality hardbacks for a few dollars appear to be long gone. This is especially surprising since Russian book publishing takes place in Russia, and as such should have benefited from the devaluation. But apparently not. For instance, I was planning on acquiring a hardback copy of “Twenty Years to the Great War,” a recent published magisterial 1,000 page study of late Tsarist industrialization by the historian Mikhail Davydov, but at $50 it will have to wait.

Incidentally, local bookshops are a favorite haunt of mine, since they – especially their politics and history sections – reflect the ideas of the intelligentsia, or at least the sorts of ideas the elites want their intelligentsia to have. For instance, in a Waterstones in London, Richard Shirreff’s “War with Russia” was very prominently featured. In this poorly written Red Storm Rising remake, the “self-obssessed nutter” and “ruthless predatory bastard” Putler launches a brutal war of aggression against the West. The undertone is crystal clear – Four legs good, two legs bad, and we must never falter in our faith (and funding for) NATO!

The history section of my local bookshop is a decidedly more lowkey affair. The books most prominently featured in that section were Ian Morris’ “Why the West Rules – For Now,” Niall Ferguson’s “Civilization”, and the first two volumes of Boris Akunin’s ongoing project “The History of the Russian State.” Respectively, these books represent: An ideologically neutral study of big history and social evolution from a quantitative perspective; populist dreck based on a lame catchphrase transparently designed to appeal to the Intellectual Yet Idiot crowd; ahistorical dreck from a popular detective fiction writer with a severe animus against the state he is chronicling.

So the next time you encounter a Western hack claiming that Russian bookshops are brimming with ultra-nationalist fantasies and xenophobic tracts, recognize it for what it probably is: Projection.

***

The second item that was more expensive than you might expect in Russia was vodka. This was not surprising to me personally, since over the years I have written a lot about Russia’s mortality crisis, how it is primarily vodka bingeing that is to blame for it, and how Putin has been successfully tackling the problem by raising excise taxes on alcohol, amongst other measures. Still, it was good to see the effects of those policies in person – the cheapest 0.5 liter bottle was 219 rubles, while the average bottle cost 350 rubles. These prices are not far from American ones in absolute terms and far higher relative to Russian salaries.

The flip side is that this encourages “left” production – the fatal poisoning of 74 people in Irkutsk due to a bad batch of alcohol extracted from bath oil has been at the top of the news this past week. And everytime something like this happens, populists inevitably demand the government lower vodka prices, even though every ruble decrease in vodka prices would result in far more aggregate deaths than the odd Boyaryshnik poisoning now and then.

***

Thanks to g2k for the Amtsa recommendation – it is indeed the best adjika I have tried to date. Still can’t say I’m a fan, I would prefer any standard Mexican salsa, but I can imagine buying it again.

As I said previously, Russia isn’t the best country for spicy food. As far as I can gather the hottest pepper widely available here is something called “Ogonek,” which I think is similar to jalapeno on the Scoville scale. Most Russians regard it as excruciatingly hot.

I did manage to finally find a cheap, drinkable dry red wine – the Agora bastardo from Crimea. Very far from the best, rather too sour for my taste, but at least I won’t have to become a teetotaller in Russia for lack of options.

I am looking forwards to trying out the Lefkadia/Likuria wines recommended by JL.

That said, I don’t want to give off the impression that Russia, or at least Moscow, is a consumer hellscape. Far from it. While the wine and spice departments are subpar relative to what an American or Briton might be used to, the local teashop has about thirty sorts of Chinese teas on sale, some of them remarkably rare, but all of them at rather reasonable prices. In London, you’d probably have to go to something like the venerable Algerian Coffee Store to find a similar Chinese tea collection.

***

 

moscow-snow

Rapidly becoming who I am.

So I have fulfilled the demands of some of my most committed detractors and self-deported myself back to Russia.

My first sociological observation on landing in Domodedova this Tuesday, and perhaps the one most germane to Unz.com readers, was that about 100% of the airport cleaning stuff were Uzbeks and Tajiks, and well more than 50% of the black leather jacket-wearing taxi drivers aggressively hustling their services to arrivees were Caucasians. Of course I used Uber. It was twice cheaper – 1,000 rubles versus 2,000 for the shady taxi ride – and most likely considerably safer to boot.

That said, the title of this post is (mainly) exaggeration. Official census statistics say that Moscow remains well more than 90% Russian. This is patently untrue, and nobody argues otherwise. Even so, it’s fair to say that a good nine out of ten faces you see on the streets are Slavic, and I say this as someone who now resides in one of the more “enriched” (and nationalist) areas. The bottom line is that Moskvabad might or might not become a reality by 2050. Londonistan is a reality today.

Since my last visit was more than a decade ago, I needed to make good on a considerable amount of bureaucratic backlog. The general impression amongst informed observers is that the Russian bureaucracy has gone from being atrocious to merely adequate. I concur. What in 2006 would have likely taken me several days to resolve only took half a day. It is still a far cry from North European digital nirvanas but the paperwork has become crisper and more efficient.

One of the main points I have made over and over again on this blog is that while wages in Russia might be low, they are countered by the banal fact that prices are much cheaper, so the gap in living standards between Russia and the developed Western world is not so much the fivefold difference you see in nominal GDP per capita comparisons, but rather the twofold difference you get after a purchasing power adjustment.

DSC_0394

Food is very cheap. Twice cheaper is the general rule of thumb, and that is with respect to Moscow, supposedly one of the most expensive cities in the world (incidentally, this was only ever true for the most clueless expats, and has in any case ceased to be the case since the devaluation). The Big Mac, a classic component of comparison, costs 130 rubles in the Moscow suburbs, which is twice cheaper than in Britain and the US. Salted cucumbers – the real deal, not the vinegar soaked abomination that passes for them in the Anglosphere – cost close to nothing, while in California you can buy a modest bottle produced by “artisan farmer” types from Whole Foods for the princely sum of $5. Ergo for alcohol – pictured above is Massandra Muscat, a Crimean dessert wine that was actually pretty good. (However, I have yet to find a good Russian Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. Any suggestions?).

Despite fond early childhood memories, I was decidedly underwhelmed by all the Ajika sauces I have sampled thus far. They’re too mild and far too salty – in other words, I guess you can say I’ve been spoiled by Mexican salsas and Indian spices. (Georgian food was traditionally considered to be this cool, exotic cuisine for meat-and-potato Russians in the USSR, but from a global perspective, my opinion is that it’s rather unimpressive). I was surprised to find that the typical Russian supermarket carries Tabasco Original sauce – my favorite hot sauce, luckily enough – and though as an import, it is twice as expensive as in the US, it’s not exactly a daily grocery item. Finding spices much more exotic than cinnamon and turmeric is a challenge. Indian food, unlike Japanese or Korean, never took off in Russia, so I plan to scout Moscow’s specialized spice shops in the coming weeks for my star anise and garam masala.

moscow-internet-speed

My lifeblood, the Internet, is dirt cheap: $8 (500 rubles) for 72Mbps. In terms of upload speed, they don’t even exaggerate, as is typical everywhere.

In London, it was $45 for 10Mbps downloads and 0.5Mbps (!) uploads. In California, it was $80 (!) for 15Mbps downloads and 5Mbps uploads with Concast.

I also got a cell phone plan for $6.5 (400 rubles) with 10GB data- I don’t use anywhere near that much, but why not after paying $35 for 2.5GB from Cricket Wireless and $20 for 2GB from EE?

Ironically, many Russians complain about the high cost of Internet, cell phone plans, and other utilities. Things are always relative.

I will be busy furnishing my office and visiting friends and relatives in the coming days and weeks, so blogging will initially be slow but will gradually pick back up.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Moscow, Open Thread, Russia, The AK, Travel 

back-in-russia

This October, I will be following the “advice” of some of my most ardent critics and literally “going back to Russia.”

I’m joking, of course. I don’t care for those trolls. That argument was always self-refuting because I had left in Russia in the early 1990s as a dependent. My parents had left because the Russian government had ceased to pay its scientists their salaries (i.e., Egghead Emigres). You could blame the pro-Western Yeltsinite kleptocracy for that brain drain, or you could blame the commies who had led the USSR into stagnation and ended up selling a superpower for some jeans, but you certainly couldn’t blame either Putin for that nor could you legitimately condemn my supposedly “Russophile” writings from abroad as hypocrisy or even a matter of “revealed preferences” for the West. (In any case as soon as I go back to Russia I am sure my critics and trolls will transition seamlessly from condemning me as a Putler stooge enjoying the good life in California and ignoring the plight of ordinary Russians to claiming that I am held hostage by the KGB and/or shilling for all I’m worth to survive the Russian economic collapse).

The more banal reality is that I have not lived permanently in Russia since the early 1990s – my last visit, for that matter, was a decade ago – so I am exceedingly curious to see for myself how it has changed since then. I suspect most of those changes are for the better, since most of the statistics seem to point that way and it’s not like I invent them or manipulate them. Still, it never hurts to see things for oneself, to become grounded, or “based,” as some might say.

I also like to think I will be fulfilling Richard Spencer’s dictum of “becoming who you are.” That said, I am under no particular illusions that I will ever truly belong to either Russia or the Anglosphere, and that my fate is to remain a rootless cosmopolitan until death or technological singularity. Charles de Gaulle is alleged to have said “He who does not love his mother more than other mothers and his country more than other countries, loves neither his mother nor his country.” A corrolary would be that he who has more than one country has none. In Guillaume Durocher’s essay on the phenomenon of Third Culture Kids (TCKs) – the highly mobile and frequently bilingual children of expats – it is pointed out that they have a number of “rather strange” characteristics: “They tend to be more educated, more likely to experience depression, more likely to commit suicide, more likely to feel alienated, and, paradoxically but perhaps unsurprisingly, more likely to be nationalistic (they often superficially embrace and advertise their nation of origin in response to identitarian unease).” So I suppose one could also view my repatriation as a sort of psychotherapy.

I will be leaving on October 3, but I will be stopping in London for a couple of weeks to a month, so blogging is likely to remain light until sometime in November. However, I expect to pick up pace once I’m settled down in Moscow thanks to the magic of purchasing power differences (aka shit is cheaper in Russia than in California), which will free up more time for blogging and pursuing my other projects. I suppose this also makes my move a case of “downshifting,” that quintessential expression of rootless millenial anomie.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Russia, The AK, Travel 

I would like to thank everyone for participating in the Reader Poll 2016.

The responses have been very helpful and have helped spur me on to make some strategic changes to the way I’ll proceed with my blogging forthwith.

reader-poll-2016-results

First off, it’s good to know that the average “quality of posts” mark was 4.2/5, so I guess deleting my account and doing something more productive online, like mining gold on Warcraft, is premature. The “regularity of posts” marker could do with some improvements. There seems to be general satisfaction with the commenting policy, so I will largely keep to my hands off approach (apart from cracking down on some of the most egregious trolls). Otherwise, since the quality of comments are largely a function of the quality of the blog posts they are responding to – for instance, no-one would bother trolling the blog of someone like pseudoerasmus – the onus here is on me more than anyone else.

In terms of topics – geopolitics, Russia, HBD, futurism – no change is merited. Although my Russia/geopolitics fanbase is the biggest one, it is not absolutely preponderant, and besides, there are plenty of people who like the mix and match approach (e.g. Russia + futurism, geopolitics + HBD, etc). Besides, of the top 5 listed blogs that people read in addition to mine, three are HBD blogs (Sailer, GNXP, West Hunt) while The Saker is only third.

Finally, there is pretty overwhelming demand for me to start writing reviews, which is something I’m entirely happy to accomodate. As a base for future reviews here, I have created a special web page at my home website here: http://akarlin.com/library/

It contains a sortable list of most of the books I’ve (fully) read, the video games I’ve played, and some of the films I’ve watched as well as the categories they belong to, their publication dates, my ratings of them, and where available, links to my already existing reviews of them. That list will remain updated in the future.

The biggest change I will be making, however, is in regards to social media.

zucky-and-peons

Zuck Walks Past His Oblivious VR Addled Peons

I am leaving Twitter and Facebook.

There are good reasons for this, which I will soon expound on, but just in case you mostly follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook, the most convenient way of continuing to do so as well as keep up with multiple other blogs is to use a feed reader. Feedly is generally acknowledged to be the best in existence today, though there are also others such as the The Old Reader which reproduce much of the functionality of the much missed Google Reader. To follow my blog in particular, just insert one of the following feeds:

… into the search/input box on your feed reader and click to subscribe. This is an extremely convenient tool if you follow multiple blogs or even individual columnists. (Most, though not all, news websites now have separate feeds for individual categories, authors, etc).

Now back to the social media question.

The proximate (or “selfish”) reason is that the Reader Poll revealed that I do not depend near as much on social media for my audience as I had imagined. Although a third of respondents follow me on Twitter, only 11% use it as the primary way to follow my posts. A mere two respondents follow me on Facebook. Now if those figures had been inverse, at 90%, then obviously abandoning those platforms would have been unfeasible. But if I only stand to lose at most 10% of my more engaged readers – and that’s assuming none of them switch over to other ways of following my blog (see above) – then its a price worth paying for cutting my reliance on a facet of modern society that I have gradually come to view as being even so much superficial as negative value added.

Yes, that’s right. Much like Soviet factories in the early 1990s, or arguably the metastasized financial sector in the West today, my argument is that social media consumes far more useful resources than the questionable “benefits” it produces. Far from “democratizing” global discourse, as techno-utopians hoped it would in the optimistic days of the first decade of the 21st century, it has in fact privileged soundbytes over sound analysis, confounded and contaminated rather than clarified, decelerated and devalued intellectual progress, and entrenched the power of the economic and political elites.

Let’s look at these bold claims one by one.

First, social media has been heralded for increasing the amount of information at the fingertips of the “global citizen” (a creature that is just as mythical today as he was in the days of its inventor Immanuel Kant). This may be so, but the banal fact is that for a long time now, the problem has not been so much a lack of information as a surfeit of it. (In the big picture, historians only suffer from a paucity of sources as regards pre-Early Modern Europe; since at least the nineteenth century, the struggle has been over what to include and emphasize). There is still a problem of limited access to important information – the Bilderbergers don’t seem to be in any particular rush to open up the minutes of their meetings, for all that their counterparts (largely the same class of people) at Davos wax lyrical about this brave new world of openness and transparency. There has been some formidable theoretical and more importantly, practical and technological work to undermine this, spearheaded by Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and the rest of the “cypherpunk” mileau, but guess what percentage of that had anything whatsoever to do with social media. That’s right – zilch.

This hints at a related problem, a paradox even: Even though there might be a surfeit of information, there is at the same time a deficit of useful information. Nicholas Nassim Taleb, one of the few public intellectuals worthy of the title, made the brilliant observation in Black Swan that “news shared with millions gives you no real advantage,” since it is inevitably already priced into people’s models of the world. Furthermore, apart from wasting your time, there is a real risk that reading newspapers might even “decrease your knowledge of the world” insofar as the media foist upon you a narrative interpretation of reality that often has little or nothing to do with reality itself. Now if this is the case for newspapers, how much more so for Twitter? Taleb’s recommendation is to “denarrate, that is, shut down the television set, minimize time spent reading newspapers, ignore the blogs.” Very good advice, even if mercenary self-interest makes me argue for making at least a partial exception to that last part…

Second, social media has been praised for enabling “people power” and unleashing the revolutionary energies that would overthrow creaky old authoritarian regimes – a Whiggish faith in progress that approaches cult status, or technological solutionism as Evgeny Morozov called it. To be sure, it is true enough that social media has of course played a substantial role in fomenting so-called “color revolutions” across the post-Soviet and Islamic worlds – Moldova, Egypt, Ukraine, Armenia, Syria, etc. (with not inconsiderable help from “activist training programs” run by the State Department and its various affiliates-in-practice-if-not-name, Western oligarchs like George Soros, and the tech giants themselves).

The problem is that a monkey clattering away at a keyboard is still a monkey. Almost without exception, all the countries where color revolutions prevailed have proceeded to collapse in on themselves. This pattern is not surprising to anyone who has bothered to acquaint himself with the accounts of these color revolution activists, many of which are characterized by a distinctive mixture of boorishness, gratuitous profanity, parochial nationalism, and a vindictive authoritarian streak that in the case of Ukraine extended to using the #banderakaratel hashtag to organize the mass abuse of Twitter’s report function to get opposing voices banned from the platform (despite this being an egregious violation of its own TOS, it took Twitter almost two years from the time of Euromaidan to do anything about this, by which point the campaign had long ceased to be very relevant). Once in power, these Yuropean intellectuals turned their attention to renaming everything after Bandera, even as their country collapsed around them. What was prophesied to be a torch for liberty has become a bullhorn for demagoguery and destruction.

Third, and again paradoxically, the real influence of social media – at least as a means for promoting truly original ideas, as opposed to their pastiches – remains highly marginal and circumscribed. Now I realize that this will raise some hackles at a time when Alt Right shitlords on Twitter are seemingly at the forefront of a popular reaction against the elites, while SJWs and Tumblrettes have appropriated the discourse on the Left from crusty old Communists (now “tankies“) and trade unionists. But think about it: In a hundred years, assuming that the Great Filter doesn’t do us in, who of the following will be remembered, and who will be but a footnote in the history books at best? Will it be the ephemeral, half-virtual protest movements, or the writers of the Big Books?

Look around you. Almost none of the hardcore intellectuals are on Twitter. Where is Andrew Wiles? Perelman? Shinichi Mochizuki? At best, they occasionally update their academic home page. Voluntary reclusion seems to be a constant prerequisite for getting serious intellectual work done. Who is the most prominent scientist on Twitter? Neil deGrasse Tyson. A professional publicist whose real achievements in astronomy are close to zero. The same goes for social scientists and historians. Those who are now primarily showmen are active on Twitter. Emmanuel Todd is not.

The flip side of the coin is that there are a number of potential intellectuals who instead crashed and burned on social media. The most prominent example in our parts might be Michael Anissimov, whose rather good and original ideas on neoreactionary political philosophy have been overshadowed by his misadventures on Twitter. The platform might have some marginal benefits in terms of publicity, but it carries the risk of cognitive contamination, and the ROI in terms of time does not look good. This is not something I have been immune from myself. For instance, I might have had a dopamine high from “winning” (perhaps) a debate on HBD/immigration with Leonid Bershidsky, but at the end of the day, he is a highly influential journalist with a column in Bloomberg and I am not.

The banal reality is that if you are a publicist on social media you are probably not near as witty as you think you are, probably quite superfluous, and many other people do what you do much better anyway (for instance, much of the Alt Right can quit any day, safe in the knowledge that Ricky Vaughn will continue hitting out of the ballpark). You are also, in all likelihood, just repeating yourself. My last Facebook post as of the time of writing, dated June 23, is a link to former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul’s Tweet in which he acknowledges that Putin is “not responsible” (for Brexit):

Come to think of it, isn’t this ironic ReTweet more or less what I have been saying since… I started blogging? And haven’t I been writing about the link between IQ and economic development since 2008, when I was less than two years out of high school? Yes I have, but in the meantime, Garett Jones has written an actual book about this, while low energy types such as myself, whom The Donald rightfully mocks, whiled away their time on frivolous activities. Shitlibs LOL. SJWs LOL. Svidomites LOL. Let’s write 140 characters on their latest inanity. It elicits a chuckle and is soon forgotten in the poorly indexed cyberwastes that are social media’s archives.

Social media has pretty much single-handedly killed off the once flourishing discourse across the blogosphere, reminiscent of the “culture of letters” in the long bygone heyday of European civilization. Here is Scholar’s Stage evocative account of what happened in the strategy sphere, though I can confirm from personal experience that exactly analogous processes were under way in the Russia watching world, and almost certainly in many other topical networks:

Many of the 200 word hot takes that would have ended up on a blog or forum in the days of yesteryear now happen on social media sites. Likewise, most commentary that would have ended up in a comments thread is now tweeted and retweeted on Twitter.

This brings me to a broader point I want to make about social media’s intersection with intellectual progress (or the lack thereof).

I was once at a futurist debate where one of the speakers was ranting some technoutopian nonsense about how high-bandwidth brain to brain communication systems would revolutionize science and allow much faster progress. I remarked, not at all facetiously, that we already have such a system: It’s called Twitter.

After all, it’s not the bandwidth or the ease of communications that’s bottlenecking anything; it’s a plain lack of the sort of very high-level intelligence that we increasingly need as the Flynn Effect grinds to a halt and we slam against the technological frontier. Social media do almost nothing to extend it. Bandwidth is already superfluous, more than our Dunbar Number brain can handle anyway, and is swamped by a low signal-to-noise ratio besides. Admittedly, social media does probably make information marginally easier to find, but I would argue that Alexandra Elbakyan’s humble academic paper sharing/piracy project Sci-Hub by itself has already achieved at least as much for global intellectual progress as Facebook and Twitter combined.

Finally, by rewiring so many first class brains from deep analytical mode to dopamine-seeking wisecrack mode – Charles Murray and even (ironically) N. N. Taleb himself might be in the early stages of that – social media might have ultimately retarded progress. This is not to even mention the considerable cognitive effort that has been expended directly to develop and maintain Facebook and its various clones and applications like Farmville, Mafia Wars, etc. as well as Twitter, Instagram, etc. It certainly pales besides the epochal misallocation of cognitive resources that is the modern financial sector, but it is probably quite considerable nonetheless.

Finally, it would be remiss in an extended critique of social media not to touch upon its increasingly cataclysmic political aspects.

In the past five years, social media have become ever more overt instruments of the globalist elites and their geopolitical and domestic agendas. Increasingly, they operate under the principle of “For my friends, everything; for my enemies, the law.” For instance, Russian nationalists who still maintain active Facebook accounts are far likelier to get hit with bans than their Ukrainian counterparts and other assorted color revolutionaries (see above). Ergo for Twitter, even though there has never been a Russian or Novorossiyan equivalent of the #banderakaratel campaign. This goes in tandem with support for pro-Western revolutionary forces across Eurasia, China, and the Islamic world. Ultimately, the major information companies are almost all US based, so it is only natural that they would seek to cater to American geopolitical interests. And needless to say, the Chinese and Russian governments use the tools they have at their disposal, such as domestic alternatives (Vkontakte, Sina Weibo, etc) and a policy of either banning foreign companies entirely (China) or making them keep their data on their own territory (Russia). It might be pointless to rail against this state of affairs, but it is outright dishonest to pretend that geopolitically, social media is some sort of global kumbaya circle.

The domestic agenda will be more familiar to Unz.com readers. Conservative and especially Alt Right voices are far likelier to get banned than their liberal and SJW opposites. When Return of Kings journalist and provocateur Matt Forney experienced a torrent of death threats from SJWs, it was his account that got banned for reporting them. Breitbart resident kebab Allum Bokhari compiled a list of five of the most egregious cases of Twitter unpersonings, which included reporting on (scrupulously documented!) instances of alleged pedophilia, fraud, and abuse on the part of SJW leaders. Meanwhile, a leading SJW and Gamergate critic who uses “set yourself on fire” as a universal comeback to any criticism of her positions has the personal ear of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

That said, these cases are atypical, if demonstrative; for the most part, the social media giants have taken a more nuanced approach to rigging the visibility game, shadowbanning politically inconvenient users (removing or reducing their visibility on search results and timelines) while promoting loyalists to the Eye of Soros. Politically inappropriate hashtags are manually suppressed from the trending lists. These processes are, if anything, even more overt at Facebook, what with the stunning recent revelations that its trending topic curators removed stories popular with conservatives and rumors that Facebook employees asked Zuckerberg if they could try to influence the elections against Trump. Although the Facebook CEO was quick to engage in damage control, his active personal support for Sorosian causes like #BlackLivesMatter and principled stand against all walls (except his own) put his company’s ultimate political neutrality under serious question.

picus-network-deus-ex

Picus HQ, Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

Potentially, Facebook (Google, Twitter) are far more powerful enterprises than even the MSM and the six major corporations that own 90% of it, since they have the power to manipulate and control access to who sees what. /pol/ is always right. So is Deus Ex. We are seeing the materialization of Picus News, a globespanning media conglomerate that directly or incorrectly controls most of the world’s news, complete with shadowy globalist cabal in the background and reinforced not by elite teams of cybernetically augmented assassins but your own Likes and RTs.

Though you might get censored and banned for expressing the wrong viewpoint in the US, at least you won’t go to jail (yet). But warnings, fines, and arrests for expressions of wrongthink about the women and children who are also doctors and engineers on social networks in Europe are now a weekly occurence, and things are only going to get much worse as trans-European regulations on “hate speech” are adopted under the auspices of the EU with the active connivance of Zuckerberg and Merkel, in which “extremism” functionally translates to “anything critical of the EU’s current catastrophic immigration policy.” In practice, these policies will likely extend to the US as well, because of the multinational nature of Facebook’s moderation and its cross-Atlantic ideological unity.

The US plans to start collecting social media profiles as a condition of entry into the country. Apps are being created that scour your social media profiles for financial and political reliability, and in the not too distant future might become a condition of getting hired or taking out credit. These apps have floundered thus far, but this might not be indefinite, as technology advances and the bargaining power of labor gets further diminished by mass immigration and automation. Facebook is taking steps to stake out its territory in Virtual Reality before it has even properly emerged, buying up the Oculus Rift and immediately refocusing it on advertising.

Should we continue feeding this machine? As Zuckerberg himself once said in a private message when founding Facebook, “They “trust me.” Dumb fucks.”

Let’s listen to him.

So we have established that social media contains almost no useful information, yields marginal if not outright returns on intellectual progress, promotes the baser elements of political discourse, and is increasingly blatantly manipulated by a historyless elite that will stop at nothing (except to make a buck off selling your personal information) in pursuit of its chiliastic dreams of social justice and an end to national sovereignty. Perhaps better alternatives will come along in time – for instance, some sort of social network based on the blockchain/Ethereum? – but as of today these systems have become forces for regression across almost all spheres of human activity.

All this is why I’m announcing a permanent end to my presence on Facebook and Twitter.

I will not delete them, because this is ultimately a kneejerk response, and I will feasibly use them twice a year to make very big announcements in the future (e.g. whenever I finally get a book published). Unfortunately, it also has considerable vestigial value as a big network that many people continue to use for its purely social functions like organizing meetups.

But the period in which I made active investments into my social media presence is definitively over.

So to sum it up here are the changes I’ll be making:

1. As per above, an end to social media. Anyway, after so much talk, it’s not like I can avoid the walk.

2. I will read more books, especially Big Books. As a political economy major it is ultimately rather embarassing that I have yet to read Capital in the 21st Century.

Taleb again: “I then completely gave up reading newspapers and watching television, which freed up a considerable amount of time (say one hour or more per day, enough time to read more than a hundred additional books per year, which, after a couple of decades, starts mounting).”

antilibrary

 

3. I will resume studying math – possibly the only intellectual sphere in which BS is impossible in principle, and which is quite possibly the ultimate basis of physical reality.

Not to mention that I have long wanted to explore and understand the real nitty gritty of The g Factor.

Ironically, what inspired me to this was this Tweet by N. N. Taleb. Even more ironically, it is in all likelihood the last ReTweet I will ever make.

4. I will focus anew on whittling down my ridiculous backlog in planned but unwritten books.

books-ak-future

5. As per the wisdom of the Unz.com crowd, I will write fewer short posts and shitposts, and will refocus on the longread and on reviews of books and the better sorts of video games.

The culture of letters might be dead, but perhaps it is not yet too late for individuals to continue to nurture its saplings behind walled gardens, like the Green Man in the Great Blight, in the faith that the day when the Troll-ocs and the other minions of Soros are driven out will eventually dawn.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Administration, Social Media 

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

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

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

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

Preliminary Thoughts

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

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

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

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Administration, Opinion Poll 

economist-usa-mass-shootings

SourceThe Economist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here it is:

***

karlin-sketch

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

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

***

Blogroll

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

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

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

Politics

Politics & Geopolitics

Russosphere

Library

HBD & Psychometrics

History & Economics

Philosophy & Futurism

 

***

Inspiring Quotes

Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Science & Futurism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Blogging 

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

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

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

Consider.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At least by what passes for justice in Westeros.

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

GRRM is a sort of Jigsaw.

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

Transhuman Debate 2.0

Will be happening tomorrow.

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

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

gun-karlin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

Interesting Links & Quick Takes

World

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

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

Will have a separate post on this later.

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

USA

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

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

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

Russia/Ukraine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Europe

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

Science – Tech, Futurism

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

Culture – History, HBD

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

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

The pattern is, as usual, quite familiar.

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

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

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

What a beautiful reconciliation.

(3) Fred Reed is on a roll:

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

Life & Misc

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

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Open Thread 

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?

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Open Thread 

Introduction to Open Threads

Hopefully these open threads will turn into a permanent feature. I intend to post one every Friday, then take the sabbath off secure in the knowledge that my readers will have something to discuss in the meantime. Seems to work pretty well for Razib and Scott Alexander.

I have finished reading Lewis Dartnell’s The Knowledge, which is a sort of “reboot manual” for civilization in case of an apocalypse. Main two things I took away: (1) I never quite realized how absolutely central just a few chemical compounds like sodium carbonate and sodium hydroxide are to industrial society, from soap to cement, from glass to fertilizer; (2) Counter-intuitively, post-apocalyptic life will likely be much more comfortable than analogous historical periods, despite the drawdown of easily accessible oil, gas, and mineral reserves. For instance, I was impressed to discover that you don’t actually need electricity to build a functional refrigerator (though in retrospect that should have been obvious from first physics principles).

Sometime soon I hope to write a review. Writing regular book reviews is a new goal I’ve set for this year.

I have finally committed to reading Garett Jones’ Hive Mind and am now 25% of the way through it. Having been immersed in its subject literature for years I have yet to encounter anything particularly new or counterintuitive in it. It would certainly be an excellent book to recommend for openminded laypersons to get up to speed on the existing research on the intersections of psychometrics and development economics, especially since Jones keeps things simple and avoids overly specialized jargon. But for 224 pages, it’s hard to justify its $15 price tag.

I am on the third book (Dust) of the Silo trilogy by self-publishing prodigy Hugh Howey. My 140 character characterization of Howey is as of a sci-fi version of Brandon Sanderson who preferred Fallout to Magicka. Speaking of Brandon Sanderson, he has two books coming out very soon: The Bands of Mourning on January 26 will cap the Alloy of Law trilogy, while Calamity on February 26 will put the wraps on the Reckoners series.

The film Ex Machina is now available (and prominently featured) on Amazon Prime. In my opinion this was easily the best movie of 2015, though admittedly I am not a huge fan of the medium – I only watch maybe a dozen films each year – and so my opinion probably doesn’t count for much. I hope to write a (belated) review sometime soon.

The original Deus Ex, easily one of my top 10 video games of all time, was released a couple of months ago with fixed bugs and updated graphics as Deus Ex: Revision. I snapped it up during the winter Steam sale and am looking forwards to reliving some memories augmented by 10 years’ worth of Moore’s Law in GPUs. The Russian cult classic survival horror Pathologic – here is an excellent set of reviews – has been remastered and released as Pathologic Classic HD (even as the original team continues working on a new version). Highly recommended if you like your FPS/RPGs bleak, cerebral, and unforgivingly realistic.

***

Interesting Links & Quick Takes

fyodor-berezin(1) An absolutely fascinating interview with Russian military sci-fi writer Fyodor Berezin with the New Yorker, who in 2014 abandoned writing books about war to become Defense Minister of the DNR and participate in an actual war.

There was a conflict with some neighboring troops, a territorial quarrel, and they showered me with a box of bullets from a machine gun. I was covered in dirt from the dust kicked up by the shells, but not one bullet touched me. And then, one week later, the general in charge of this unit and I were drinking cognac.

Also features the most succinct explanation ever of why Russia “lost” in Donbass:

A Ukrainian soldier was asked, “Why are you fighting in Donbass?” And he says, “Because there are Russians there.” The soldier says, “And why are you not fighting in the Crimea?” And he says, “Because there are Russians there.”

(2) German newspaper Bild interviews Putin, translated by Business Insider (part 1, part 2).

You will get at least as much and probably more value from reading Alexander Mercouris’s analysis of it.

As is well-known, the Russians have an established grievance that following the fall of the Berlin Wall NATO was expanded eastward in contradiction to promises given to Russia. There has in recent years been a sustained attempt by some academic historians in the US to deny this. Supposedly no promise not to extend NATO eastward was ever given, and the well-known statements – some of them public – made by various Western officials over the course of 1990 that appear to make that promise supposedly only referred to eastward deployment of NATO military installations in the former East Germany and were only intended to apply whilst the USSR was still in existence.

This denial is scarcely credible, and has been flatly contradicted by some Western officials who were actually involved in the talks. Putin claims he recently ordered research of the Russian archives and that further confirmation the promise was given has been found there. Putin refers to talks between Valentin Falin – the then head of the Soviet Communist Party’s International Department – and various German politicians, which he claims have never been made public up to now. Since Valentin Falin was a Communist Party official records of his meetings would have been kept by the Soviet Communist Party’s Central Committee rather than by the Foreign Ministry, which may be why they have been overlooked up to now. Putin claims these records not only provide further proof the promise was given, but show that one of Falin’s most important interlocutors – the prominent SPD politician Egon Bahr – even suggested recasting the entire European alliance system to include Russia, and warned of future dangers if this were not done.

Bahr has just died, and it may be the true reason the Russians are only disclosing what he told them now was to spare him embarrassment. If so then Putin’s disclosure of his conversation in 1990 with Falin may have been intended as much as a reminder to contemporary German politicians – Merkel, Gabriel and Steinmeier – that the Russians keep a complete record of what they tell them, as it was to cast light on the question of what promises were given in 1990 on the question of NATO expansion.

There’s more about the Minsk Accords, Crimea, and the Middle East.

And Putin’s dog Koni.

BILD: When the Chancellor visited you here in Sochi in 2007, you brought your dog Koni to the meeting. Did you know that the Chancellor is a bit frightened of dogs, so that this would be quite unpleasant for her?
Putin: No, I did not know that. I wanted to make her happy. When I learned that she does not like dogs, I apologized, of course.

(3) Spiegel interview with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The general comes off really well, as an intelligent and humble man, despite the best efforts of his rude and boorish interlocutor. A couple of highlights:

SPIEGEL: Instead of preventing a civil war through Morsi’s dismissal, you provoked it. Hundreds died and many more were arrested.
Sisi: No. And no, hundreds of people did not have to die. I am saddened by even the loss of a single life. However, let me put this in a different context. Just look at the magnitude of the loss of life over the past 10 years in Iraq, in Syria, Libya and Yemen. Egypt’s population is almost equal to that of all of these countries combined. If you look at the number of people who died, you will realize the army protected the Egyptian people.

An Egyptian civil war would be a horror far beyond what an exuberance of Western democraschizia has led to in Syria, Iraq, and Libya.

SPIEGEL: Our police would not fire live ammunition. If possible they would use tear gas or water cannons. And in our country, the interior minister would have to resign after a massacre like that.
Sisi: I am not ashamed to admit that there is a civilizational gap between us and you. The police and people in Germany are civilized and have a sense of responsibility. German police are equipped with the latest capabilities and get the best training. And in your country, protesters would not use weapons in the middle of the demonstrations to target police.
SPIEGEL: Are you suggesting that those protesters did so without any reason?
Sisi: You have to link these demonstrations by the Muslim Brotherhood with the terrorism that we are currently facing, which is guided by fundamentalist ideas. These people believe they are martyrs who will go to paradise when they die.

This is pretty much an Egyptian equivalent of: “Thank God for the prisons and bayonets, which protect us from the people’s fury!” (a quote from the Vekhi, a 1909 compendium of Russian conservative thought).

SPIEGEL: Do you feel misunderstood by the West?
Sisi: I am trying to tell you the reality. You will always look at what happened in Egypt from the vantage point of a foreigner. You will never be burned by what happens here. If things get rough, you will simply pack your bags and leave.

Skin in the game. Egyptians have it. Europeans don’t. To Americans separated by the great ocean they might as well be lab rats.

(4) On the Russian economy: Russia’s Economy in 2015 Rolled With the Punches by Alexander Mercouris. For the pessimistic version, see Inozemtsev in WaPo. Guess who relies more on verifiable numbers and who relies more on statistical skullduggery and banal anti-Putin rhetoric.

syria-civil-war-map-2016-jan(5) How Russian Engineering Made the Current Operation in Syria Possible by The Saker. I am not the biggest fan of his digressions into the supposed civilizational brotherhood between Islam and Europe but this is a really useful datapoint on Russia’s military modernization (and how it manages to conduct such an effective air campaign in Syria on a shoestring budget). Unfortunately his actually good, value adding article got just a couple of comments compared to the 200+ on his more “problematic” writings.

(6) Turkey is moving in to establish a buffer zone in northern Syria, recently seizing the border town of Jarablus. According to Stratfor, Russia has agreed not to intervene.

(7) If you like videos, Graham Phillips is back in the Donbass and has a whole bunch of interviews with its longsuffering residents.

(8) The Ukrainians starting a new life – in Russia by Shaun Walker. Why on earth would anyone leave that new democracy of hope and human rights?

She decided to leave Komsomolsk in August 2014, after her brother was kidnapped by the far-right Azov volunteer battalion. Although he was later released, the experience had shaken up the family and made them unwilling to stay.

Oh.

(9) On the Polish Question, I liked: Poland and the ‘Empire of Brussels’ by Alexander Mercouris, and Poland Rearms in the Demographic & Cultural War by Guillaume Durocher. Mercouris is a centrist with old school Leftist sympathies. Durocher is a rising star on the Alt Right scene, if a tad too obsessed with bagel. But their key points are the same. This makes for yet another case of Alt Right/Alt Left convergence.

(10) How an obscure adviser to Pat Buchanan predicted the wild Trump campaign in 1996 by Michael Brendan Dougherty. If there is a better article that explains the Trump phenomenon in fewer words, I have yet to find it.

TL;DR – Fishtown is revolting.

(11) As I once noted, Palin is a distillation of the will of the American people. It is therefore of no surprise that she would come out in favor of Trump.

(12) Is the Chinese Economy Really in Trouble? by Eamonn Fingleton. Pass on the trademark paranoia about China and stay for the invaluable deconstruction of the China permabears who have predicted a dozen of its past zero recessions. These people make Kremlinologists look competent and unbiased.

(13) Meritocracy: Will Harvard Become Free and Fair? by Ron Unz. Here is the NYT piece. Come to think of it, university in the US is essentially a tax on the middle class. You can’t do without a higher education certification if you want to work in any halfway respectable profession. I never really got the American antipathy towards free college education. It is standard throughout Europe, and nobody is going bankrupt on account of it. Which stands to reason because higher education is actually pretty low cost in the overall scheme of things (relative to medicine, social welfare, etc).

If this is successful, it could potentially unleash a chain reaction across the bloated US higher education system. If Harvard becomes free then the other Ivies will find it much harder to justify their own tuition fees. Lower ranked universities don’t have the funds to afford this, but the resulting pressure on them may open up the political space to push through universal free higher education at the state or federal level.

Ralph Nader is officially on board and it also syncs very well with Bernie Sanders’ platform.

(14) Garett Jones gets interviewed at AEI. An unremarkable if useful summary of the thesis of Hive Mind. What made it notable is that it contains the single best definition of intelligence I’ve ever come across to date: “Intelligence is what you need when you don’t know what to do” – Carl Bereiter (via James Thompson).

(15) Azerbaijan resorts to capital controls as oil crunch worsens from The Financial Times. Its foreign reserves have plummeted to just $6 billion, which is less than 3 months’ worth of imports. It has belatedly devalued its currency and imposed currency controls. This goes to show there are plenty of heavily oil-dependent countries beyond Russia which are far worse straits, even if it is predictably Russia that is dominating the headlines.

(16) Fred Reed on The Inevitability of Eugenics. My opinion on this has always been quite banal:

(17) In 2015, The Dark Forces Of The Internet Became A Counterculture by Joseph (((Bernstein))). Not a bad introduction to chan culture which might be of use to older, less otaku Unz Review readers.

smarterGerman-cover-A1(18) Your weekly dose of Sweden Yes!: Swedish police banned from describing criminals anymore in case they sound racist, Leading Daily Dagens Nyheter Refused to Write About Cologne-like Sex Crimes in Central Stockholm, Sweden: State-funded Muslim “Sniper” Training.

Sweden to give sex ed to immigrants: This is the official paid-for-by-taxpayers course material (BONUS = female genital mutilation) – via /r/european.

Here is the German bonus edition. So far as I can tell that is not a joke but an actual, existing, published textbook.

Though I appreciate that many feel that the term is becoming overused, what else can one do when our cultural elites are so blatant about shoving cuck down our throats?

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Open Thread 

Organized by IEET and Brighter Brains (Hank Pellissier).

I’ll be participating in one or perhaps two of them.

My positions, briefly:

  • Immigration/Open Borders – Opposed, and not even just from an HBD/”waycist” perspective. See Immigration and Effective Altruism.
  • UBI – For it, and not even just from an automation perspective. See The Ethnic Politics of Basic Income.
  • Singularity 2045 – I am with techno-NRx “consensus” (Anissimov, Konkvistador, etc) that 2045 is extremely optimistic, if for different reasons. Mostly it is just an extension of the logic of the theory of Apollo’s Ascent. Kurzweil is wrong because progress in technology isn’t primarily driven by the stock of existing technology but by aggregate mindpower, which is increasing but not very quickly (and might start reversing altogether sooner or later once the Idiocracy Effect overtakes the Flynn Effect). We also have no idea what the cognitive threshold is for developing superintelligence. Perhaps it’s beyond homo sapiens capabilities altogether.

***

IEET link: Transhuman Debate in SF East Bay, co-sponsored by IEET – speakers needed

You can get tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/transhuman-debate-tickets-20728825475

***

Transhuman Debate in SF East Bay, co-sponsored by IEET – speakers needed

Posted: Jan 11, 2016

IEET is co-sponsoring a “Transhuman Debate” event in Oakland, California, on February 6, 2016, at Humanist Hall.

The debate is titled “Argue 4 Tomorrow.” It will feature three “Oxford Style” Transhumanist Team Debates on these three topics:

IMMIGRATION & BORDERS

BASIC INCOME GUARANTEE

WILL THE SINGULARITY ARRIVE BEFORE OR AFTER 2045?

Each debate will be one hour long.
The first third will be presentation of their POV by the debate team,
the second part will open-ended dispute and persuasion between the two teams,
and the final section will have the audience leaping into the fray.

The event is co-sponsored by Brighter Brains Institute. Anatoly Karlin proposed the debate concept.

We’re looking for additional Debate Team members. If interested please contact hank@ieet.org

At the present time the debate teams include:

Randal Koene (IEET Advisory Board member)
Nicole Sallak Anderson (IEET Advisory Board)
Ted Peters (Author)
Anatoly Karlin (blogger for Unz.com)
Scott Jackish (IEET contributor)
Anya Petrova (Infinity Gap)
Andrés Gómez Emilsson (IEET Contributor)
Mike Johnson (East Bay Futurists)
Lauren Barghout (speaker at Johns Hopkins University)
Jay Cornell (co-author of Transcendence
Hank Pellissier (IEET Managing Director)
Dan Faggella (IEET Advisory Board) – tentative

Tickets will be available at EventBrite soon

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Futurism, The AK, Transhumanism 
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.