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January 21, 2017

A reader writes:

“This story has under the radar minorities, Rice University, Texas Real Estate, unexplained deep state connections and even college Football. Oh and it’s linked to a current story in the news.”

From The Guardian:

The reckless plot to overthrow Africa’s most absurd dictator

In December, a handful of middle-aged American immigrants attempted to topple the autocratic ruler of the Gambia. They had few weapons and an amateurish plan. What possessed them to risk everything in a mission that was doomed to fail?

by Andrew Rice

With about 40 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the chance of overthrowing your least favorite regime seems plausible. For example, was the 1980 film The Dogs of War with Christopher Walken and Tom Berenger about Frederik Forsyth’s plan to overthrow the government of Equatorial Africa to provide a homeland for the losing Ibos in the Nigeria Civil War?

Similarly, French mercenary Major Bob (Denard) would frequently over throw the Comoros Islands in search for a retirement home for colleagues.

The Gambia is a very small West African country with a very megalomaniacal dictator who has accepted, among many honors not just the designation of being a Kentucky Colonel but also a Nebraska Admiral.

January 21, 2017

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rD9EFlAvKDc&feature=youtu.be

To help promote his recent memoir, Elvis Costello (real name: Declan Patrick McManus) revived this video of his dad Ross McManus singing in about 1963.

This video explains a lot about the son.

January 21, 2017

The most redolent Who We Are Now story of 2017 has been the Social Justice Warrior stabbing spree in Berkeley featuring a stabby Latinx Studies major who only answers to the pronoun They. They has been charged with randomly murdering an old-fashioned Berkeley hippie chick folksinger and less randomly attempting to murder a fellow campus SJW.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

UC Berkeley student charged with murder in stabbing rampage
By Jenna Lyons, San Francisco Chronicle Updated 6:37 pm, Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A 22-year-old UC Berkeley student arrested in connection with the stabbing death of a woman and the stabbing of another in a Berkeley rampage was charged with murder and attempted murder Tuesday afternoon.

Pablo Gomez Jr. of North Hollywood appeared at a brief hearing at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland, where the arraignment in the case was postponed until Feb. 1.

Gomez was charged with murder in the slaying of 27-year-old Emilie Inman, a musician and science teacher who worked in Lafayette. Gomez was also charged with attempted murder in connection with the stabbing of another woman, Kiana Lailin Schmitt, who has UC Berkeley ties, according to court documents released Tuesday.

An article in Berkeleyside said that Gomez, a Latinx Studies major whose friends demand They be referred to as “they,” broke into and robbed a third woman’s home (who remains unidentified). Also, Berkeleyside said of the poor dead woman, Emilie Inman, who was allegedly murdered by They:

Authorities have said Inman did not know Gomez prior to the attack.

Obviously, if They were a white Trump supporter who had recently had their picture taken with the governor of Texas and one of the billionaire Koch Brothers and then murdere

January 21, 2017

From KOMO in Seattle:

Police investigate shooting during ugly University of Washington confrontation
by KOMO Staff Friday, January 20th 2017

SEATTLE — A protest at the University of Washington over a controversial speaker turned ugly Friday night. Seattle police report that one person had been shot in the stomach and had to be removed from the crowd.

The person was shot behind Kane Hall. Seattle Fire said the victim was taken to Harborview Medical Center with possible life-theatening injuries.

The crowd mushroomed in size as hundreds of protesters from a Westlake Plaza protest and march arrived at Red Square on the UW campus.

So that proves Putin is somehow behind this riot: “Red Square.”

QED

Police were refusing to let people in. Several police were being hit with paint balloons, police said. One young man was hit in the face.

The young man claimed he was pulled into a crowd and then beaten for wearing a hat in support of Trump.

“The beat him like a bunch of pirhanas, they just attacked my son,” said his father. “I tried to get in there and tried to defend him and they started slugging me too.”

“I seriously stood on the edge, just trying to listen to what they were saying,” said the man. “I did nothing to aggitate them. The most I did was stand up there, wearing this hat. All I wanted to do was hear what they were chanting about and read their signs.”

“They took his hat from him,” said the father. “When he went to reach for it they just stated beating the hell out of him.”

Alt-Right speaker Milo Yiannopoulos, a writer for the conservative website Breitbart, was scheduled to speak at 7:30 p.m. …

Protesters then started chanting “Shut it down” in an effort to get police and the university to cancel the speech, while people waiting to get inside chanted, “let us in!”

January 20, 2017

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCu2gxVZ4E8

Paul Kersey calls them “the shock troops of the Establishment.”

Remember the coordinated Fake News campaign in the media last winter about how violent Trump supporters were?

What % of all political violence in the United States over the last 12 months turned out to be more or less anti-Trump?

95% or 98%?

January 20, 2017

Comments?

Citizenism, FTW:

Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans, and people of the world: Thank you.

We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and to restore its promise for all of our people.
Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for years to come.

We will face challenges. We will confront hardships. But we will get the job done.

Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent.

Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another, or from one party to another — but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.

For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.Washington flourished — but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered — but the jobs left, and the factories closed.

The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs; and while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.
That all changes — starting right here, and right now, because this moment is your moment: it belongs to you.

It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America. This is your day. This is your celebration. And this, the United States of America, is your country.

What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled...

January 20, 2017

From The New Republic:

What Makes a Weed Website Racist?

A new digital publication aims to “civilize” cannabis culture. That’s a problem.

Shouldn’t that be “That’s problematic”?

BY JOSEPHINE LIVINGSTONE

January 19, 2017

When I recently suggested to Derek Riedle, the founder of a new digital publication focused on “highbrow cannabis culture,” that his website may be racist, he was mortified. …

We were speaking on the phone because I had received an email from a publicist for the website, called Civilized. It’s strapline is, “Cannabis Culture Elevated.” The branding shocked me so much that I sent a very rude email back about five seconds later. This word—civilized—has such clearly racist overtones, to me. But this website’s strange brand identity lodged itself under my skin like a splinter. I wanted to speak to the person who thought this word was suitable. …

Josephine Livingstone is a staff writer at The New Republic.
@Jo_Livingstone

In case you’re wondering what race the author is, Josephine Livingstone looks kind of like Rebel Wilson: just as hostile but not as funny …

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqMFy4V3j1A

January 19, 2017

This time, the invisible hordes of haters are (not) seen in Austria.

From The Daily Mail:

By THE LOCAL and CHRIS SUMMERS FOR MAILONLINE
PUBLISHED: 11:19 EST, 19 January 2017

A 14-year-old Muslim girl who claimed she was pushed in front of a train simply for wearing a headscarf has been challenged after police checked CCTV tapes.

The girl, identified only as Sinem, claimed on social media she had been called a ‘terrorist’ and was pushed onto the tracks by a man who had taken offence at her headscarf at a railway station in the Austrian capital of Vienna.

She told an online anti-racism forum she was only saved at the ‘last second’ by another man who pulled her onto the platform before the S-Bahn train arrived at Wien-Döbling station.

The girl, whose parents are originally from Turkey, said she was taken to hospital with minor injuries and her parents filed a criminal complaint after hearing what had happened.

But The Local reported that Vienna police spokesman Irina Steirer said officers had searched through tapes of CCTV cameras on the platform and found no trace of the incident the girl described.

She said: ‘We have looked through the CCTV and at the time when the incident is alleged to have occurred nothing can be seen on the records.

‘Both the alleged victim and the accused are captured on CCTV, but nothing ever happens and they are both simply seen getting on the train.’ …

The original claim was widely reported in the Austrian media and one anti-racism group blamed Austrian Foreign and Integration Minister Sebastian Kurz for having called for a ban on civil servants wearing headscarves.

Last month an American woman, Yasmin Seweid, claimed three men shouting ‘Donald Trump!’ attacked her and tried to pull her hijab off in the New York subway.

New York Police Department later claimed she had made the incident up and have charged her with filing a false report and obstructing governmental administration.

But...

January 20, 2017

I watched the God Emperor’s ascension to the Golden Throne at a bar night for American expats in Moscow. The mood there was largely pro-Trumpist, though obviously there was a self-selection mechanism involved. Everyone disliked HRC, though there were a fair number of Bernouts.

I got into a discussion with a reasonably influential official from the Russian Foreign Ministry. As I expected, the mood there is reasonably optimistic. They seem to be assinging considerable weight to Trump’s past as a businessman, the assumption being that such as person would be easier to do deals with than the globalist ideologues who previously occupied the White House.

That said, once burnt, twice shy – and Russia was burned not just once, but thrice. Three times Russia made unilateral concessions to incoming US Presidents promising a reset in relations that ultimately went unreciprocated (the Foreign Ministry still has Hillary Clinton’s infamous reset button in its museum). The sanctions are simply not regarded as a very critical matter – the import substitution program is in full swing, and it is working – so there is absolutely no enthusiasm for making more of the unilateral concessions that Russia had gifted previous incoming US Presidents. A limited mutual reduction of nukes is considered an acceptable deal for a US commitment to curtail its interference in Ukraine, since the ongoing killings of Russians in the Donbass by the Maidanist regime is regarded as a legitimacy problem for the Russian government.

I got briefly interviewed by a French journalist doing a story on Moscow expat attitudes to Trump. Incidentally, the world of Moscow expats is a pretty small one – even though it was not a particularly big event, I nonetheless managed to meet half a dozen people whom I had corresponded with or at least seen on some comment thread or another during my now almost decade’s worth of “Russia watching.”

In other news, my latest...

January 19, 2017

***

Kong, Augustine et al. – 2016 – Selection against variants in the genome associated with educational attainment

***

This paper makes the case that there has been a decline in the prevalence of genes increasing propensity for more education (POLYEDU) in Iceland from 1910-1975.

Here are some of the key points:

  • The main mechanism was greater age at first child, not total number of children (i.e. the clever are breeding more slowly).
  • As in many such studies, the effect is stronger for women.
  • One allele associated with more children and having them earlier also tags a haplotype associated with “reduced intercranial volume” and neuroticism: “… thus a striking case where a variant associated with a phenotype typically regarded as unfavorable could nonetheless be also associated with increased “ fitness” in the evolutionary sense.
  • The decrease in POLYEDU prevalence was faster earlier this century, but this is an artifact of the higher survival schedules of people with a higher propensity for education (i.e. tying in with the well known finding that higher IQ is associated with higher life expectancy). The decline from 1940 onwards becomes linear, and is a better measure of estimating the change of the average polygenic score over time.
  • It is estimated that is POLYEDU declining by 0.010 SUs per decade, but this rises to 0.028 SUs per decade because the measure captures only a fraction of the full genetic component of education attainment (POLYFULL).
  • The trends in POLYFULL are estimated to be causing a decline of 0.30 IQ points per decade.
  • The authors note that this has entirely canceled out and then some by the Flynn effect, but it could still have “a very substantial effect if the trend persists for centuries.”

Many other studies indicate that the FLynn effect has ended or gone into reverse across the developed world around the 2000s by the latest.

If it’s a permanent plateau, we could be seeing 3 IQ...

January 19, 2017

Here:

“Nuclear weapons should be completely prohibited and destroyed over time to make the world free of nuclear weapons,” Xi said, according to an official translation.

There’s just a few problems:

(1) In a world without MAD, China will eventually become an unrivalled military hegemon, by dint of its unrivalled industrial capacity.

(2) Of more immediate pertinence, does this include the couple thousand plus nuclear warheads that China might have tucked away in its 2,500km network of underground tunnels?

This was the theory proposed by Phillip Karber and his students in a 2011 study [big pdf], which analyzed Chinese fissile materials production and concluded that its nuclear arsenal was an order of magnitude bigger than claimed – perhaps 3,000 warheads.

There’s been a lot of criticism of Karber’s methodology, but its worth pointing out that around the same time, the former head of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces, Viktor Yesin, came out with very similar figures. In a 2012 article for a Moscow military think-tank (pp. 25), Yesin posited China could have some 1,600-1,800 warheads.

This would be a pretty clever strategy on the part of the Chinese – quietly build up nuclear parity with the US and Russia, then strike up a progressive pose to build up stress cred with American leftists and “civilized” Yuropeans who will push for disarmament with gusto now that the Oval Office will be occupied by someone whom they view as a crazed General Ripper character.

This seems to be a concrete strategy the Chinese have adopted. They are now also talking a lot more about their love for renewable energy, their respect for small nation sovereignty, and about how Trump is a big fat ignorant idiot in general, all topics bound to resound well with the besuited latte-sipping IYI class of D.C., New York, and Brussels.

Most conveniently, the Americans might even take Russia along for the ride. Not only has nuclear disarmament traditionally...

January 10, 2017

Fundamentally solve the “intelligence problem,” and all other problems become trivial.

The problem is that this problem is a very hard one, and our native wit is unlikely to suffice. Moreover, because problems tend to get harder, not easier, as you advance up the technological ladder (Karlin, 2015), in a “business as usual” scenario with no substantial intelligence augmentation we will effectively only have a 100-200 year “window” to effect this breakthrough before global dysgenic fertility patterns rule it out entirely for a large part of the next millennium.

To avoid a period of prolonged technological and scientific stagnation, with its attendant risks of collapse, our global “hive mind” (or “noosphere”) will at a minimum have to sustain and preferably sustainably augment its own intelligence. The end goal is to create (or become) a machine, or network of machines, that recursively augment their own intelligence – “the last invention that man need ever make” (Good, 1965).

In light of this, there are five main distinct ways in which human (or posthuman) civilization could develop in the next millennium.

(1) Direct Technosingularity

The development of artificial general intelligence (AGI), which should quickly bootstrap itself into a superintelligence – defined by Nick Bostrom as “any intellect that greatly exceeds the cognitive performance of humans in virtually all domains of interest” (Bostrom, 2014). Especially if this is a “hard” takeoff, the superintelligence will also likely become a singleton, an entity with global hegemony (Bostrom, 2006).

Many experts predict AGI could appear by the middle of the 21st century (Kurzweil, 2005; Müller & Bostrom, 2016). This should quickly auto-translate into a technological singularity, henceforth “technosingularity,” whose utilitarian value for humanity will depend on whether we manage to solve the AI alignment problem (i.e., whether we manage to figure out how to...

January 4, 2017

Last year, I resumed my New Year’s tradition of posting annual predictions.

I recently analyzed the success rate of those predictions for 2016, the year when meme magic became real.

Here are my predictions for 2017:

Predictions – World

World Affairs & Conflicts

  • No major conflict (>50 deaths) in East Asia/SE Asia that involves China and/or the US: 95%.
  • US will not get involved in any new major war with death toll of > 50 US soldiers: 80%.
  • No major conflict (>50 deaths), except Donbass, in the former Soviet space: 90%.
    • The big one here is Armenia vs. Azerbaijan, but because reasons, the likelihood of a new flareup is now considerably lower than last year.
  • Oil prices are higher than $60: 50%.
  • China’s GDP grows by 6%+: 50%.
  • China will have more top 500 supercomputers than the US throughout 2017: 70%.
  • There are fewer European migrant arrivals by sea than in 2016: 80%.
  • Venezuela does not undergo sovereign default: 80%.
  • Israel will not get in a large-scale war (i.e. >50 Israeli deaths) with any Arab state: 90%.
  • North Korea’s government will survive the year without large civil war/revolt (>100 deaths): 95%.
  • No new global temperature record: 90%.
    • If only because it will be hard to beat 2016. That said, I expect shipping in the Arctic to continue booming.
  • Radical life extension will not be developed: 99%.
  • Superintelligence will not be developed: 99%.
  • No further large scale civil wars/revolts/revolutions in Middle East/North African countries not already so afflicted: 70%.
  • No large scale civil wars/revolts/revolutions (>100 deaths) in USA: 95%.
  • No large scale civil wars/revolts/revolutions (>100 deaths) in China: 99%.
  • No large scale civil wars/revolts/revolutions (>100 deaths) in Russia: 95%.
  • No large scale civil wars/revolts/revolutions in any EU country (>100 deaths): 90%.

Syrian Civil War

December 31, 2016

In the spirit of #SkinInTheGame, Taleb’s idea that pundits should at least stake their reputations on the strength of their knowledge, last year I made some predictions about what has come to be known as The Current Year.

Like Scott Alexander, I am calibrating my predictions by comparing the percentage of predictions I got right at each probability level versus their probability (e.g., for predictions at the 70% confidence level, perfect calibration would represent getting 7/10 of them correct). Predictions with a probability rating of less than 50% are converted to their inverse.

Correct predictions are left as is, while wrong predictions are crossed out.

***

Conflict

(1) The Syrian government will control a larger proportion of territory in a year’s time relative to today: 80%. Gains in Latakia and the capture of Aleppo, but ironically, pushed back further in Palmyra than at the same period last year. Though the strategic value of Aleppo cancels out Palmyra tenfold, in technical terms this is still a failed prediction. My main area of uncertainty was regarding Turkish or Western intervention against Assad. In truth, the sadder and more banal reality is that outside a few elite units the SAA remains mostly worthless.

(2) A majority of these happen: (a) SAA liberates Deir Hafir; (b) Palmyra; (c) All of Latakia; (d) Links up with the Nubl pocket; (e) Maintains hold on Deir ez-Zor airport. 80%. Deir Hafir is still under Islamic State, while small bits of Latakia are still controlled by the rebels. The Nubl pocket was linked up with, and Deir ez-Zor airport is still under Syrian control. Though recently recaptured, Palmyra was still liberated, so this is technically a correct prediction.

(3) Assad will remain President of Syria: 90%. YES.

(4) The Iraqi government will control a larger proportion of territory in a year’s time relative to today: 90%. YES.

(5) Islamic State will continue to lose ground in its heartlands and might end the year controlling little...

December 29, 2016

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?...

December 28, 2016

There is a new expert survey out which, amongst other things, queries the world’s top psychometrics experts on the future of the FLynn effect (Flynn + Lynn – clever).

James Thompson has a summary at his column.

The two most important reasons for the end of the FLynn effect in the West are regarded to be “low intelligent more children” (henceforth, “dysgenics“) and migration.

Here is my take (assuming no human genetic editing, neural augs, etc).

East Asia – +0. Have no idea where the high end estimates come from – Japan and Korea are already fully developed and have maxed out their FLynn potential, while China’s indicators on education, nutrition, and social well-being – as is typical in Communist countries – are considerably ahead of its GDP per capita. And the former are more important for IQ than pure wealth. I suspect any further marginal FLynn gains will be canceled out by dysgenics, which have been acting on China since the 1960s (Wang et al., 2016).

India – +10. Currently around 80 according to both IQ tests and PISA. I suspect India’s average genotypic IQ is ~95, though strongly differentiated by caste. However, the dysgenics trend seems to be strong, acting via both region (dirt poor and highly illiterate Bihar is the most fertile, while Kerala with its competent governance and historical achievements in mathematics is the least fertile) and caste (scheduled castes have highest fertility, while the Brahmin share of the population is declining since at least the 1930s).

Africa – +10. Currently around 70-75, suspect it “should be” 85-90, but doubt Africa will actually develop enough socio-economically to fully max out its potential FLynn effect.

Latin America – -3. Few of these countries can be described as truly Third World, especially the more significant ones, and nutrition is quite adequate (e.g. Brazil consumes as much meat per capita as Germany). As...