Sold off most of my Bitcoins when they were at $11k (1,000% profit, but from a very low base, so not rich). Ironically, what were monetarily very modest dribbles over the past two years that I have been taking Bitcoin donations (http://akarlin.com/donations/) have leapfrogged PayPal and become comparable to the sum total of my Patreon earnings in literally the past few months. Slightly disappointed to have deboarded then instead of hanging on until $20k, but what’s done is done. Better early than late. I am 90% sure that Bitcoin is massively overvalued; it’s one modest advantage over conventional fiat currencies, resistance to censorship, probably doesn’t justify the electricity consumption of Ireland. I’ll probably buy into it again in a year or so when it tumbles back down to $2,000-$4,000.
There has been a vigorous and largely positive reaction to my article on Russian IQ for Sputnik i Pogrom, from major Russian media outlets such as RBC and Komsomolskaya Pravda to various Vkontakte discussion groups. The vast bulk of the criticisms were populist mooing along the lines of “look at our bureaucrats, they are dumb as rocks,” etc., etc., i.e. “arguments” which you frequently see in the comments even at The Unz Review, one of the central nodes of HBD/IQ discussions in the world.
I hardly ever watch movies. That said, I was ill for a few days, so I took the opportunity to catch up on Hollywood fluff. Star Wars 7 is dreck. Interstellar is brilliant. The Dark Knight Rises was great, or Bane was, at any rate. Alien: Covenant was crap. Ghost in the Shell was the definition of fluff. Otherwise, the only two movies I watched this year were Overboard (ok comedy), and Forrest Gump (Richard Hollywood: “a critique of liberal values from the cuckservative perspect which demands you MAN UP and marry a used up slut”).
Roy Moore. 95% of Blacks voted for their ethnic interests (on 90% turnout). Impressive political homogeneity. Only 70% of Alabaman whites managed to do likewise. Prediction time is still a couple of weeks away, but I gotta say I’m pessimistic about 2018. About 60% chance Democrats will take control of the House, and 45% (!) chance they’ll even dominate the Senate. At which point the Republicans will have no more use for Trump, who has most conveniently surrounded himself with neocons and sundry Swamp creatures.
* Vox: Twitter is days away from finally banning the Nazis. Yes, really. Opinions differ on whether this is going to be a blimp on the radar or a veritable Great Purge (neoliberalism.txt edition). If it’s the latter, there’s some chance that @akarlin88 will be vaporized in the days to come, especially considering my unfortunate name choice (@akarlin was already occupied). Notes for this eventuality:
- I am not going to set up new Twitter accounts to evade a ban. Others can play that game, I can’t be bothered to.
- You can follow @akarlin on Gab. (Doubt I’ll post much there, though).
- If you’re within the “thoughtcrime” regions of Twitter, I suggest requesting a backup of your archive immediately.
* Remember José Luís Ricón had a series on his blog on the (under)performance of the Soviet economy? Now available as a free ebook: Back in the USSR: What life was like in the Soviet Union
* Leonid Bershidsky: Government-Run Digital Currencies Could Disrupt U.S. Dominance. One interesting idea is to create a crypto-ruble, on blockchain principles (essentially a national version of Bitcoin). Thanks to its anonymity – except to the Russian Central Bank – this will allow Russia to bypass potential future sanctions, e.g. a cut-off from SWIFT. China is also experimenting. Main losers: The United States, since a system of national cryptocurrencies largely annuls the need for dollar reserves and the intermediation of the US banking system.
* Joe Lauria: The Acceleration of Censorship in America * Aubrey de Grey has AMA at /r/Futurology. Worth noting that he is getting distinctly optimistic about timelines for mouse rejuvenation and has (for the first time that I am aware of) started attaching probability distributions to various scenarios – 80% of achieving longevity escape velocity if you are currently aged 25.
* German psychometrist David Becker now has a blog: View on IQ.
* Gwern October 2017 news. Also has Twitter thread recounting progress in 2017: “… and wow, 2017 was a very good year for genetics & AI (deep RL esp) wasn’t it? A0 is more important than original AlphaGo, UKBB came fully online, have to beat off with stick human evolution & GWASes, genetic engineering everywhere… Deep RL in particular is getting a little scary with the meta-RL & world models & zero-shot learning. I try to imagine every year seeing as much progress as 2017 (esp with TPU2s coming online) and it makes speculation about near rather than far Singularities feel more plausible.”
* National Security Archive: NATO Expansion: What Gorbachev Heard – “Declassified documents show security assurances against NATO expansion to Soviet leaders from Baker, Bush, Genscher, Kohl, Gates, Mitterrand, Thatcher, Hurd, Major, and Woerner.” This was long known, but its good to have it in incontrovertible document form at last.
* David P. Goldman: China Is More Open to New Ideas than Silicon Valley, Top Entrepreneur Says.
* Dmitry Gorenburg: Russia’s Military Modernization Plans: 2018-2027
- Total spending remains approximately constant.
- Ambitious projects (new designs for aircraft carriers, strategic bombers, etc.) postponed.
- Branches: Ground forces are winners, navy are losers.
- Su-57 serial production not expected until 2027, when a modernized engine (more on this from Alexander Mercouris) is ready.
Assessment of Russian military technology relative to peers: “In some areas, such as air defenses, anti-ship missiles, and electronic warfare, Russia will continue to maintain capabilities superior to those of its peers. In other areas, such as UAVs, precision-guided munitions, and tanks and armored vehicles, it appears poised to narrow the gap. Finally, in a few areas, such as surface ships, transport aircraft, and automated control systems, it will remain well behind the United States and may start to lag behind China as well.”
* Russiagate Powerful Takes:
- Russia Used Social Media to Weaponize American Free Will. Here’s What to Do About It.
- Thomas Weber: What Russian collusion with Hitler reveals about interference in the 2016 election (Paul Robinson’s critique)
- ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ has low initial audience scores: “Is there a Russian force behind this?” The elites shocked, shocked! that ordinary people don’t seem to like incompetent affirmative action remakes.
* Russiagate Powerful Takes (no sarcasm version):
- Philip Giraldi: Russiagate Becomes Israelgate
- Max Blumenthal: Michael Flynn’s Indictment Exposes Trump Team’s Collusion With Israel, Not Russia
Why won’t the US sign an election non-interference agreement with Russia? State Department official: “We would have to give up democracy promotion in Russia, which we’re not willing to do.”
* Russia Elections 2018: 1. New Levada poll. Definite voters:
- Putin – 75%
- Zhirinovsky – 10%
- Zyuganov – 7%
- Mironov (socialist) – 2%
- Sobchak, Ekaterina Gordon (another celebrity), Yavlinsky (liberal) – 1% each
Note my longstanding prediction that result will be 80/7/7/7 between Putin, Zhirinovsky, Zyuganov, and [liberals].
2. Navalny releases a video of his final election program, which basically boils down to generating bazillions of extra rubles by eliminating corruption instantaneously. The more interesting detail that I noticed is that the map of Russia in his video doesn’t include Crimea. Here’s an English text version from Meduza. Note that I wrote about Navalny’s program back in April 2017, which is why you should follow my “rag” at The Unz Review.
3. Putin’s press conference was lame, boring, irrelevant… Brezhnevite. Officials like Sports Minister Mutko whose failures would invite bipartisan investigations in normal countries are getting off without even a reprimand, because “What can you do? What’s done is done.” Why isn’t Navalny allowed to run? “Saakashvili. Maidan. Maidan. Saakashvili.” Anyhow, you get the point. Substanceless answers that weren’t even thought through. Egor Prosvirnin compares him to a talentless blogger [in Russian].
The quality of Putin’s annual press marathons have been declining for several years, most notably last year, when a weary-looking Putin couldn’t coherently answer how his cellist friend Roldugin ended up with $2 billion in Panama (something something about buying rare instruments). As far as I’m concerned this confirms the theories that he is tired of his job and is looking for an exit.
4. On that point, Bryan MacDonald: “The whole point is Putin isn’t seeking to create a successor who would rule like he has done. He wants to transfer Russia from personalistic to institutional power. Constitutional changes to rebalance power between executive & legislature very likely in his final term.” I would further add that I suspect “this will take form of Singapore model, with United Russia as PAP and Putin as elder statesman. Though I expect the authoritarianism and multi-nationality aspect will be more enthusiastically embraced than the efficiency and meritocracy one.”
* The Ulyukaev Affair. 100% political trial to show people Sechin’s the boss. Will cover in another post.
* Big, possibly intractable problem of nationalists the world over: Low human capital (low IQ, low trust). One more example from Russia. It has maybe 6 million pro-Western liberals, of whom 600,000 (10%) signed Navalny’s petition to run for President. Russia has maybe 15 million hardcore nationalists, of whom just 15,846 (0.1%) signed a petition that would have forced the Russian parliament to at least consider canceling Article 282. Inability to coordinate something that is blatantly in their own self-interests.
* The shenanigans in the Ukraine, Saakashvili, etc. – overblown. Irrelevant. Will explain why in a subsequent post.
* Flynn, James & Shayer – 2017 – IQ decline and Piaget, Does the rot start at the top. Bad tidings:
In sum: at one time the best of Britons (aged 12–14) could cope with items on the formal level and blended into a smooth curve of performance. Now these items are beyond many of them and register as a huge decimation of high scorers. … The Piagetian results are particularly ominous. Looming over all is their message that the pool of those who reach the top level of cognitive performance is being decimated: fewer and fewer people attain the formal level at which they can think in terms of abstractions and develop their capacity for deductive logic and systematic planning.
James Thompson reviews this paper (BTW, congrats on the first year at The Unz Review). My comment: Yet more evidence for onset of dysgenic decline in the First World since around 2000. It’s a race between Idiocracy, and genetic editing for IQ and/or machine intelligence.
* Emil Kirkegaard: National chess skill: European culture, intelligence. [See my post for a world map of chess grandmasters per capita]
* Peter Frost: The unlikely domino. Algerians getting tired of Black African immigrants as well – there may be as many of them in the Maghreb as there are in all of Europe.
* Ethan Arsht: Napoleon was the Best General Ever, and the Math Proves it. This intrigued me. Did someone finally come up with a good quantitative method to rank military commanders across nations and history?
Unfortunately, not really – or at all. There are no adjustments for the relative challenges each general faced (e.g. relative troop numbers, combat effectiveness of said troops, battlefield conditions, defense or attack, etc., etc.). In other words, the “brilliant” (according to this study) Ulysses S. Grant was playing on Easy, while the supposedly “overrated” Robert E. Lee on Hard. Of course the former would do “better.”
* Steve Sailer: Threatening Jewish Prosperity:
The Bolsheviks who seized power 100 years ago, however, were highly diverse. Trotsky was Jewish, Stalin Georgian, and Lenin a one-man coalition of the fringes: German, Swedish, Jewish, Kalmyk, and perhaps even a little Russian. … Putin managed to make Russia’s corrupt billionaires look a little more like Russia, which may well have headed off an outburst of anti-Semitism in response to the rapine of the Yeltsin years. But to American Jews, Putin’s policy of diversity and inclusion in the really good jobs seems like vilest anti-Semitism.
* RBD: New York City Has Genetically Distinct ‘Uptown’ and ‘Downtown’ Rats (via Steve Sailer)
* Audacious Epigone: Free speech absolutism. Combined his existing GSS analysis into a meta-indicator based on percentage of people (after 2000) who support free speech for everyone (atheists, communists, and homosexuals on the left; militarists and racists on the right). [My old post on this: A Future for ACLU Children].
* Audacious Epigone: Chicks dig jerks. Or, The Virgin Law-Abiding Citizen vs. The Chad Convict.
My wife was pleasantly shocked at this, because such exhibitions of male chivalry have become rare. She was 11 when communism ended, and she swears that before the collapse and for a while afterwards, behavior like this was the norm.
This is exactly true of Russia as well. As I frequently argue, Communism “froze” social attitudes.
* Matt Forney: 3 Depressing Realities About Living In Eastern Europe.
* Greg Hood with an entertaining evisceration of Ben Shapiro.
* Steve Sailer: The Guardian Editorial Board denounces Taylor Swift
* Kohler, Timothy A. et al. – 2017 – Greater post-Neolithic wealth disparities in Eurasia than in North America and Mesoamerica
* SENS gets a $1 million donation… in Bitcoins.
* Olympics/doping. Alexander Mercouris: The Olympic betrayal of Russia.
I personally don’t care one way or another, because:
- I don’t care about sport in general;
- I doubly don’t care about Russian sport, which enjoys lavish funding in exchange for subpar results while science and R&D languish;
- The decision to go under a neutral flag is cowardly and sets Russia up for yet another round of humiliations. But I am neutrally disposed to that.
* 2018 FIFA World Cup: Russia lands easiest group (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay). Prediction: It still won’t go through…