The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
October 19, 2018 • 7 Comments

From the NYT:

Harvard has testified that race, when considered in admissions, can only help, not hurt, a student’s chances of getting in.

October 19, 2018 • 202 Comments

I was wondering whether Amy Harmon’s article in the NYT about how scientists are too reluctant to debunk “race realism” because reasons TBA was an epic troll job or sincere. Now, in the NYT Insider section, she says it was heartfelt, or headfelt. She did it For The Children:

‘Could Somebody Please Debunk This?’: Writing About Science When Even the Scientists Are Nervous

Milk has become a symbol for white supremacists who repurpose genetic research, because of a genetic trait known to be more common in white adults than others: the ability to digest lactose.

By Amy Harmon
Oct. 18, 2018

Times Insider delivers behind-the-scenes insights into how news, features and opinion come together at The New York Times.

… But the story of how he struggled last spring to find sources to refute the claims of white classmates that people of European descent had evolved to be intellectually superior to Africans is the reason I persevered in the assignment, even when I felt as if my head were going to explode.

Italics and bold mine.

… Yet all of them [scientists] agree that there is no evidence that any differences which may be found will line up with the prejudices of white supremacists.

As I struggled to write my article, I began, sort of, to feel their pain.

It was hard. It did almost make my head explode.

Women writers in the NYT lately appear to be in severe physical danger of self-combustion. Perhaps tomorrow we will read:

“Upon reading the President’s latest tweet, my head erupted into a 2000 degree magnesium fire that the FDNY could not put out,

but simply had to establish a perimeter around Park Slope for the 17 hours it took my brain to burn out.”

October 18, 2018 • 114 Comments

From the New York Times:

Before Arguing About DNA Tests, Learn the Science Behind Them
Our genetic code cannot be treated as a matter of simple fractions.

By Carl Zimmer, Oct. 18, 2018

In other words, buy Carl’s book! I reviewed Carl’s She Has Her Mother’s Laugh earlier this year in Taki’s.

… The reception of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s DNA results is a textbook case in this confusion.

On Monday morning, Senator Warren released an analysis on her DNA showing that six to 10 generations back she had a Native American ancestor. Within hours, Michael Ahrens, an official at the Republican National Committee, dismissed the results in a tweet:

“So Elizabeth Warren is possibly 1/1024 (0.09 percent) Native American. Scientists say the average European-American is 0.18 percent Native American. That’d make Warren even less Native American than the average European-American.”

By Monday afternoon, James Freeman, an assistant editor of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, had fleshed out Mr. Ahrens’s arithmetic. The DNA analysis, he wrote, “suggests that the senator is somewhere between 1/64th and 1/1024th Native American.” He added: “Her genetic makeup is perhaps similar to that of the average white person in the U.S.”

Carl is very mad about these fractions, but will he tell us what he thinks are better estimates?

These numbers then began ricochet around social media. They carried a clear implication: that Elizabeth Warren was no different in her Native American ancestry than a great many other white Americans.

Both Mr. Ahrens and Mr. Freeman cited a 2014 New York Times article as evidence for their claims. I wrote that article. So let me just say this: They’re wrong.

They both mistakenly treat DNA as a matter of simple fractions. We each have two parents, the thinking goes, so therefore we inherit half of each parent’s DNA. From each grandparent we inherit precisely a quarter of our DNA, and so on by the powers of...

October 18, 2018 • 294 Comments

From the New York Times opinion section, yet another essay by a woman on the joys of hate (as long as the Hated are below her in the intersectional pecking order to ensure that she is Punching Up):

I Didn’t Hate the English — Until Now

In which an Irish woman discovers how little the people who shaped her country’s fate know or care.

By Megan Nolan
Ms. Nolan is an Irish writer based in London.

Oct. 18, 2018

This is a hilariously representative Current Year op-ed in which a woman writer explains why she hates some demographic group that it is okay to hate these days due to the Theory of Intersectionality. It starts with some Twitter/Youtube inanity, the Decapitated Pigeon Incident, and goes on from there in the now predictable paths.

Last month, some video footage went viral in Ireland of a group of English men verbally abusing young women at a Dublin housing crisis protest.

… “The footage shows a man verbally abusing protesters, before the head of a decapitated pigeon is thrown,” but no explanation was forthcoming. Why did the man throw a pigeon head at the protesters? More important, why was he carrying one in his pocket, ready, seemingly, to be launched as soon as a worthy adversary appeared?

Let me guess … hmmhhmm … it involved English tourists and the city of Dublin … okay, I’ve got it! Here’s my solution to the Decapitated Pigeon mystery: Drink was taken.

But stranger still — or perhaps, upon reflection, not strange at all — was the gap between the English and the Irish when it came to interpreting the Pigeon Incident. While Irish people complained on Twitter about these brash bird-head-wielding English tourists coming to our country and performing their odd little colonial pantomime, sensitive Britons were eager to ask why it mattered that the men were English. They’re just louts, they said. Why does it matter where they’re from? After all, all that occupation business was so long ago.

But the Irish...

October 18, 2018 • 86 Comments

From National Geographic:

Building walls may have allowed civilization to flourish

Humans have built walls to keep others out, or in, for at least 12,000 years. Why is wall building coming back into fashion now?

BY SIMON WORRALL
PUBLISHED OCTOBER 5, 2018

If it is ever built, President Donald Trump’s much-vaunted wall, which is supposed to stretch for nearly 2,000 miles along the United States’s border with Mexico, would be the largest infrastructure project since the U.S. highway system, estimated to cost $18 to $40 billion. But as David Frye reveals in his new book, Walls: A History of Civilization in Blood and Brick, the idea of constructing barriers to keep others out—or, in the case of the Berlin Wall, to keep people in—is as ancient as human civilization. Only the people being shut out have changed.

When National Geographic caught up with Frye by phone at his home in Connecticut, he explained how the ancient world was split between wallers and non-wallers, how the Berlin Wall set a precedent by being the first wall to keep people in, and why America and so many other nations are “forting up.”

Q. President Trump gave the idea of excluding outsiders with walls a contemporary twist when he vowed to build a “big, beautiful wall.” But he is latching onto something ancient, isn’t he?

A. It is an ancient idea. People have been building walls since the tenth millennium B.C. The ancient walls were built primarily for defensive purposes. Nowadays, they are built more to prevent immigration, terrorism, or the flow of illegal drugs. But there is a common connection, which is the idea of keeping outsiders out. …

The first border walls aren’t found until the late 2000s B.C., in Mesopotamia. Security is why they were built. There were two different lifestyles developing: a lifestyle of the people I call wallers, who are workers who build things and identify themselves by their civilian occupations. They sought to secure themselves by building structures...

October 18, 2018 • 84 Comments

Baseball as a spectator sport has a problem due to sabermetrics’ emphasis on the Three True Outcomes: home run, walk, and strikeout, as opposed to old fashioned elements of the game like the one base hit, the stolen base, the sacrifice bunt, the hit and run and so forth. Amateur statistical experts demonstrated in the late 20th Century that most of those old strategies going back to the Dead Ball Era were obsolete. It made more sense to try to maximize home runs hit over the fence, because that also increased the number of walks given up by pitchers now scared of throwing one down the middle. The expense of increased strikeouts by batters was worth it because who cares.

Therefore, a lot of teams these days like the rich Dodgers and Yankees are built around the idea of putting 7 or 8 guys in the lineup who can hit 20 or more homers per season and wait around for them to do their thing. If they hit 3 or more homers in a game, their team usually wins, but if they don’t hit any, they aren’t all that likely to manufacture a win.

The Dodgers, for example, have amazed their fans by winning two straight playoff games without hitting a homer. The LA Times is now playing the current Dodgers up as suddenly being the second coming of the undertalented 1988 Dodgers who somehow stole the World Series from the homer hitting Oakland Bash Brothers (Canseco, McGwire, and other early juicers).

But the 2018 Dodgers usually don’t have that many rallies where they are getting closer and closer to pushing a run across home plate. Instead, it’s wait around for somebody to hit one out. American football is a great spectator sport because of the rising hope and tension of the drive down the field. Basketball isn’t as good because there is too much scoring of equal value goals.

Baseball has less of this kind of football-like rising tension these days.

As I explained in 2014, subtle changes in the playing area could advantage line drive hitters relative to the...

October 18, 2018 • 114 Comments

There was a fun controversial play in last night’s baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros in the American League championship series involving two of the best and shortest players in baseball. The Astros’ Jose Altuve, last year’s MVP, hit a long flyball that was coming down in the stands. The Red Sox’s Mookie Betts, likely this year’s MVP, leapt above the wall, but there his glove ran into the hands of Astros fans trying to catch the homer hit right at them.

The umpire called the hitter out due to fan interference and sent the baserunner back to first. If he’d called it a homer, that would have scored two runs, which wound up being how many the Astros lost by to fall behind 1 and 3 in best of 7 series.

My view is the umpire was mistaken. The fans were not flagrantly reaching into the field of play to interfere where they did not belong, they were sticking their hands out to try to catch the ball and keep it from whomping them in the groin. I’ve only rarely have had a hardball hit near me in the stands at an MLB park, but it’s pretty terrifying, if it gets past your hands toward your body or face it will hurt. The fans in Houston were engaging in perfectly reasonable self defense against the ball that had been hit 400 feet and was coming at their bodies in the stands..

So I would not have called fan interference. But then what? Was it a homer or was it just a ball in play, probably a double? Baseball does not have a rule like in football where a touchdown is scored the moment the nose of the football touches the imaginary plane rising up from the front of the goalline stripe. If Betts had leaned into the stands and caught the homer, it would have been an out even though the ball had crossed the line between the field and the outfield bleachers and into the promised land of the homer. But it appeared that the ball struck Mookie’s glove, which had been inadvertently closed by his glove...

October 19, 2018 • 13 Comments

Map of Greeks and Armenians in Turkey, before and after the genocides/expulsions of the 1910s-20s, and consequent demographic growth (via /r/Mapporn).

As I noted before, I can’t think of any other major region where the strategic population balance changed so drastically during the course of the past century.

Around 1914, there were 15.0 million Muslims in the Ottoman Empire, as well as 1.7 million Greeks and 1.1 million Armenians. However, the Muslims included many Arabs; subtracting the Arab regions gives us a Turkish population of 12.7 million.

This compared to a population of 5.3 million in Greece (1910), which may have grown to 5.5 million by 1914. There were 1.2 million Armenians in the Russian Empire (1897). Between 1897 and 1914, Russia’s population increased by 38%, in the Empire as a whole as well as in the Caucasus in particular; assuming that Armenians showed a similar rate of increase, there’d have been around 1.6 million of them at the outbreak of WW1.

So here are the approximate numbers as of 1914:

Turks: 12.7 million
Greeks: 7.2 million
Armenians: 2.8 million
Ratio: 12.7 million Turks to 10.0 million Greeks/Armenians (1:1.3)

Consequently, it’s not an exaggeration to talk of loose demographic parity between Turks and Greeks/Armenians, even without adjusting for perhaps 10% of Muslim “Turks” being Kurds.

***

Incidentally, this illustrates why Russia’s expansionist plans for the Black Sea during WW1 were no pipedream. It had more than ten times the population of Ottoman Turkey, and its potential Orthodox allies, the Greeks and Armenians, were themselves numerically equivalent to the Turks (especially after subtracting for the Kurds, whose separatist tendencies began in the late 19th century). Russian victory may well have led to a Magna Graecia in the west (as originally envisioned under the Treaty of Sèvres), a Greater Armenia would have constituted a landbridge to the Levant, and the Turks themselves would...



October 17, 2018 • 185 Comments

Kiev Pechersk Lavra.

This is what Nicetas, Archbishop of Nicomedia, wrote in the 12th century about the Great Schism (1054) between Catholicism and Orthodoxy:

My dearest brother, we do not deny to the Roman Church the primacy amongst the five sister Patriarchates; and we recognize her right to the most honourable seat at an Ecumenical Council. But she has separated herself from us by her own deeds, when through pride she assumed a monarchy which does not belong to her office… How shall we accept decrees from her that have been issued without consulting us and even without our knowledge? If the Roman Pontiff, seated on the lofty throne of his glory, wishes to thunder at us and, so to speak, hurl his mandates at us from on high, and if he wishes to judge us and even to rule us and our Churches, not by taking counsel with us but at his own arbitrary pleasure, what kind of brotherhood, or even what kind of parenthood can this be? We should be the slaves, not the sons, of such a Church, and the Roman See would not be the pious mother of sons but a hard and imperious mistress of slaves.

Difference between then and now?

A millennium ago, the Vicar of Christ presided over a flock that was about as demographically predominant within Christendom as the Russian Orthodox Church is within Eastern Orthodox world today. As quasi-monarch of the European core, who could command European kings to crawl to him on their knees in penance, the Pope could afford to forget the “pares” part of “primus inter pares.” In contrast, Bartholomew I – His Most Divine All-Holiness the Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch, not to mention reserve officer in the Turkish Army – is ensconced in an infidel country and presides over a local flock of a few hundred ageing Greeks.

Now to be sure, even one man is a majority when God is on his side. Even so, when he is in such a precarious position, it pays to be extra careful to make sure...

October 14, 2018 • 128 Comments

Pakistani columnist Zaigham Khan writes:

Today, Bangladesh radiates a very different image. Its GDP is growing at a whopping 7.1 percent, creating jobs, throwing up a vibrant middle class and reducing poverty. For six years in a row, Bangladesh’s GDP growth has remained greater than 6 percent and most economists expect this run to continue. Pakistan barely touched 5.8 percent GDP growth after a decade last year and this may drop to less than five percent during the current financial year.

Even more importantly, economic growth is reaching the poor. While well over 40 percent of Bangladeshis lived in extreme poverty in 1991, according to a World Bank estimate, extreme poverty has gone down to less than 14 percent. In other words, about 50 million fewer Bangladeshis are in extreme poverty as a result of the improving economy. …

Contrary to Pakistan’s model of crony capitalism, where protected industries and sectors have thrived, Bangladesh has provided opportunities to its entrepreneurs. Pakistan is producing sugar that it cannot sell to anyone except itself, and sinking huge resources on elite housing societies that enrich Pakistan’s who’s who but destroy the national economy. Crony capitalists from both sectors are ruling us and multiplying their wealth through their hold over the state.

… The cuntry’s net enrolment rate at the primary school level has reached 98 percent while secondary school net enrolment is now around 54 percent, up from 45 percent in 2000. Pakistan, on the other hand, has the lowest primary (72.5 percent) and secondary (43.9 percent) school enrolment rates in the region.

Improvement in human development is indicated by a sharp drop in population growth. Bangladesh’s current population growth is merely 1.1 percent per annum while Pakistan is growing at 2.4 percent annually. This growth is resulting in resulting in the shrinkage of the availability of natural resources per person.

I once speculated on Razib Khan’s...

October 13, 2018 • 515 Comments

My very busy period has mostly come to an end so I should have more material soon.

One of the best blogs on the Ukraine a few years ago was The Austere Insomniac (even if at least one commenter here will beg to differ). Good news! It’s been resurrected: https://insomniacresurrected.com/

***

Featured

* Bolsonaro is now 90% likely to become Brazil Prez according to latest PredictIt numbers.

* Brian Winter: Who is Mr. Bolsonaro? (h/t Polish Perspective)

* Glenn Greenwald: The Stunning Rise of Brazil’s Far Right and What It Shows About Western Democracies. As in the West, it is centrist collapse that has opened up space for the far right.

* India buys 5 S-400 systems from Russia. US threatens sanctions.

* New IPCC report: World heading for 3C of warming. All the usual wailing and gnashing of teeth… but 3C is pretty much the sweet spot for maximizing the planet’s primary productivity.

* Nature: Japan approves human embryo genetic editing

* Rod Dreher: Prelude To A New Civil War?

* Psychology Today: “She has her fox’s laugh“. Commenter AP suggests that domesticated Russian foxes should get the same protections that dogs do.

* Bloomberg: Massive Chinese hack of US tech using compromised chips. But what about muh Russian hackers?

* The ADL has finally noticed Ron Unz’s American Pravda.

***

Russia

* Leonid Bershidsky: 38D Chess? Russia’s clumsy Brit-baiting might be clever plan to cajole Russians to repatriate their offshore money. In that sense, GRU incompetence may not mean that much.

* First victim of British laws on confiscating dodgy wealth? An Azeri woman who spent $20 million at Harrods, who just happens to be the wife of an Azeri banker who fell out with the West-friendly Aliyev regime. It pays to be cynical about these things. The Tories are far too invested in London’s high end real estate market to jeopardize their global clients, however much Putin wants to cajole them into it.

* Emigre Russian tycoon...

October 13, 2018 • 79 Comments

Most things in life are strongly g loaded, from obvious things such as socio-economic success and chess ability to less obvious ones such as an appreciation for Indian cuisine or quality terrorism.

Assassinations are no different.

Assassination quality seems to be a function of national IQ, plus the levels of remuneration and prestige with the national intelligence services.

Mossad is really, really good at this game. Stands to reason. High IQ, incredible prestige, decent money.

The Soviets were also very good at it. Again, very high prestige – the KGB only recruited from the best universities. Incidentally, the post-Soviet penetration of the Russian state by former KGB men was not so much the result of a conspiracy as the natural effects of a high concentration reservoir of human capital gradually spilling out into society.

Modern Russia has rather less to write home about, with its current spies seemingly unfamiliar with the very concept of OPSEC. Not surprising, considering the sort of people it hires.

Phrenology doesn’t lie. Just look at that fellow above, parading after his graduation. Highfalutin espionage work?… cryptography? foreign languages?? fuggedaboutit! His level is that of a nightclub bouncer. At best.

This is because the quality of people who are attracted to work in Russia’s modern espionage agencies is much lower than in the USSR. Talented people have many more options.

But even Putin’s hapless spies have nothing on the Saudis.

Not only did they whack a harmless dissident who did happen to be very well connected in Blue Checkmark circles – you know, the people who run the West – in THEIR OWN CONSULATE, but apparently they even neglected to consider he might be wearing a smartwatch. Which, like, every second SWPL does these days (and a WaPo columnist is going to be culturally SWPL regardless of his skin color). They had a squad of 15 people – incidentally, involving a movement of people that the Turks...

October 13, 2018 • 25 Comments

This is the conclusion of recent Higher School of Economics study on researcher salaries in Russia.

Here are the details for Jan-Jun 2018:

  • All workers in scientific organizations: 64,000 rubles ($1,000), up 40% y/y
  • Researchers: 86,000 rubles ($1,300), up 70% y/y
  • Academic staff: 94,000 rubles ($1,500), up 100% (!) y/y

Average salary of all workers at scientific organizations (not just researchers) is now 85% more than for the economy as a whole, while academic staff earn double.

This is highly encouraging, since for most of the post-Soviet period, researchers actually earned less than the average salary, contributing to massive brain drain from academia. As a result, Russia produces less than 1% of the world’s elite level science, or twice less than Poland and China in per capita terms (as proxied by the Nature Index).

Geographically, the highest academic staff salaries are in Moscow (127,000 rubles = $2,000) and the oil rich regions. The lowest six regions are in the ethnic minority republics of the North Caucasus, with Ingushetia being dead last (42,000 rubles = $650). This is encouraging, because that is how things should be absent ethnic nepotism/affirmative action, considering regional IQ scores, which are also lowest in the South Caucasus – even if Ingushetia does somehow manage to have Russia’s highest concentration of PhDs.

This took way too long to implement, with prior investment under iPhone Idiot Medvedev having focused on showpieces such as Skolkovo while the actual core of the Russian science & tech remained starved of funding. In Putin’s third term, academic salaries have been steadily augmented, and appear to have leapt upwards to almost internationally competitive levels this year (adjusting for Russia’s lower costs of living). Russian scientists will now be able to compete with the world on a more level footing. Nobody is going to go into Russian academia to get rich – you can still make 250,000 rubles in...

October 13, 2018 • 52 Comments

I have often argued that Communism “froze” social attitudes in the socialist bloc relative to the West, which was strongly influenced by the US.

Here’s another recent article making this point:

* Matthew Carl (2018) – The Effect of Communism on People’s Attitudes Toward Immigration

Does living in a communist regime make a person more concerned about immigration? This paper argues conceptually and demonstrates empirically that people’s attitudes toward immigration are affected by their country’s politico-economic legacy. Exploiting a quasi-natural experiment arising from the historic division of Germany into East and West, I show that former East Germans, because of their exposure to communism, are notably more likely to be very concerned about immigration than former West Germans. Opposite of what existing literature finds, higher educational attainment in East Germany actually increases concerns. Further, I find that the effect of living in East Germany is driven by former East Germans who were born during, and not before, the communist rule and that differences in attitudes persist even after Germany’s reunification. People’s trust in strangers and contact with foreigners represent two salient channels through which communism affects people’s preferences toward immigration.

In Russia, more education is also associated with marginally greater immigration skepticism.

Further, the results indicate that attitudes among former East and West Germans have not converged since reunification, a finding consistent with evidence in development psychology and the socialization theory that preferences developed early in life will persist. Also in line with this conceptual framework, I find that the effect of communism is most pronounced among individuals who were born in the regime, while former East Germans who were born before communist rule express considerably less concern about immigration than the generations that followed. Finally,...

October 11, 2018 • 95 Comments

Every so often I get so comment so good that it needs to be published as its own post (e.g. see Ethiopia).

Well, here’s one from a Brazilian, Alin:

***

1- Bolsonaro = Macri?

No. Macri is a standard vintage neoliberal, Bolsonaro is an actual conservative. Macri just tried (and failed) to legalize abortion in Argentina, something which even the leftists which ran Brazil the last 18 years didn’t try to do.

Also, the Brazilian economy is very different from Argentina’s, and not just in size and diversification. Brazil’s debt is high (and growing higher fast since 2014), but it is almost entirely denominated in the national currency and held by citizens, unlike Argentina’s. So Brazil is not exposed to the international financial markets to the same degree Argentina is, and does not need it to fund its deficit (for now).

2 – China

China is very important for Brazil, but not extravagantly so, like for some small Asian or African countries. Brazil’s foreign trade is actually quite geographically balanced and China does not take up a disproportionately large portion of it. Chinese investment has been growing, and it is this, specifically, that seems to concern Bolsonaro (i.e., fear of foreign control of key national assets) – a concern which seems common sense to me. But that’s very far from a trade war: I can imagine negotiations in which greater latitude for Chinese investment in Brazil is exchanged for more support for high-value Brazilian exports to China (Today, Brazil exports mainly soy, but you have seen that regional jets are also one of the main items).

3 – Democracy

This one is a no-brainer. Haddad is the candidate of the leftist Worker’s Party, in alliance with the Community Party of Brazil. Its official programme states that, in case of victory, the Executive will bypass parliament using “popular consultations with civil society groups” to enact legislation. There’s plenty more.

Bolsonaro is a military officer and is on the record...