Archives for February 2013

I Don’t Care About Bradley Manning

No matter how you look at it, he is a traitor. He violated the UCMJ. Although he is free to make ethical arguments as to why he leaked Collateral Murder and the US Embassy cables, the US is fully within its rights to prosecute him.

I’m quite consistent about this: Treason is a punishable offense, no matter where and why it happens. I do not have an issue with the US executing the Rosenbergs or the USSR executing Western spies during the Cold War either. It’s part of the risk you take when you choose to sell out your country for a few shekels. This likewise applies when you do it not for money but for “idealistic” reasons.

I agree that in a perfect world, the fact of Manning (1) releasing it out of ethical, not monetary convictions and (2) giving the entire world access to it, as opposed to foreign hostile intelligence services – unlike, for instance, the Russian KGB traitor, Vasily Mitrokhin – should be a mitigating factor. However, as a sovereign nation, the US has no obligation to take that or international left/liberal opinion into account.

The Assange case is completely different. Here the US is trying to extend its jurisdiction to the entire world, so that an Australian citizen can now be found guilty of “espionage” against the US even if he’d never stepped foot inside it. This is called imperialism, and we are opposed to it. What’s more, the methods used to do it are particularly nauseating and underhanded. The probable plan is to extradite Assange to Sweden, from whence he can be quietly renditioned to the US. All based on incredible and patently false rape accusations, questioning which is going to get you blacklisted and smeared by legions of Guardianistas, PC brigades, concern trolls, and sundry useful idiots of imperialism. It would be infinitely more respectable for the US to just whack him.

That is why I support Assange to the hilt, but don’t care for Manning. It’s a very logical and consistent position, I think, but many don’t see it that way. They view it as anti-American, misogynist, and reactionary. I think it is pro-American, anti-imperialist, and pro-rule of law.

What Happens If The US/Israel Attack Iran?

It might happen this June or later, reports RT citing Israeli media. Obama and Netanyahu are at least discussing the prospect.

In previous years I was sure that it would happen eventually, probably before year end 2012. That is because that was the most convenient window between the fielding of the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (early 2012) and the completion of most of Iranian hardening efforts (about now). But this hasn’t happened yet, so I think the chances are diminishing fast that it ever will – because the returns to it (in terms of significantly setting back the Iranian nuclear program) are also diminishing fast in tandem.

FWIW, the gamblers who put their money where their mouths are think there is a 10% chance it will happen before June 2012, and a 25% chance it will happen before the end of this year. Those are not odds I would take, however.

If it does happen, however… I think the effects will be rather muted. Iran probably doesn’t have the capability to block the Straits of Hormuz for any significant amount of time and it will probably refrain from even trying (because then the US will have to intervene in a big way). In a just world, types like the BRICS bloc would bank together to punish the US/Israel for acting like rogue states, but I am almost certain that will not happen either. And not because they particularly need trade with the US (even in China’s case – see Myth 3). But because they don’t have any particularly interest in Iran becoming too big for its boots.

Oh they’ll huff and puff alright. But Iran really isn’t a reliable partner to anyone, including to ostensible-allies-but-not-really-or-at-all-actually like Russia. And no nuclear power has an interest in other countries obtaining the capability, because even if their relations aren’t hostile, it still serves to diminish their nuclear power in relative terms. After all having an American Airlines at a poker table doesn’t do you much good if all the others have it too. Furthermore, a nuclear armed Iran would be geopolitically much stronger. Russia doesn’t want that because it will then be less dependent on it. Ideally, Russia wants an Iran that is quite hostile to the West, but not independently strong. The same goes for China. Furthermore, if Russia and China express too much support for Iran, the Iranians may be emboldened to try and close the Strait of Hormuz after all as a fuck-you to the West, delusionally counting on more than rhetorical support from China and Russia. As China and Russia definitely won’t intervene in that one, what will happen in the end is Iran’s total military nullification and perhaps the installation of a pro-Western puppet in Tehran. And that isn’t in their interests at all.

So there will not be any significant reaction from China or Russia to an imperialist attack on Iran.

Russia Now Produces As Many Cars As The USSR Did At Its Peak

As I write the book, I create a lot of graphs. Here is one of them.

russia-automobile-production

So in manufacturing terms, as far as cars are concerned, the “deindustrialization” era is decidedly over.

Of course it’s also important to note that in 1985 they were producing this whereas today they are producing this as well as various foreign brands. Plus for every two cars produced and sold in Russia today, one is imported, for total yearly sales of 2.9 million in 2012 (about the same as in Brazil – 3.6 million, Germany – 3.3 million, and India – 2.7 million).

Much Ado About Rape: Quantifying A Big Taboo

The past two days I had the pleasure of observing the blowout over a post by blogger Matt Forney about rape – or more precisely, about “how to rape women and get away with it.” It’s completely satirical, quite funny, and one can’t help but by impressed by the size of the balls (no homo) needed to write that shit in a culture where rape is far more of a taboo than murder. Not very logical that, is it? But it’s true. You can assault people with reckless abandon or even shoot up civilians at a Russian airport in any number of FPS games, but rape is a no-no (so is even normal sex, for that matter). Unless you’re in Japan, but I digress…

Anyhow, I don’t know what set off the tripwire – Mr. Forney had published the article in question months ago – but within a few hours he was getting a flood of Internet hate from assorted Tumblr feminists and their angry beta male orbiters. The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s “Director for International Freedom of Expression” expressed the hope he’d get fired; others called for him to be raped and/or killed. The Anonymous brigade also joined in. After a couple of days, they blackmailed him into taking the post down. You can still read the original here at this blog (which is ironically enough dedicated to PUA hate).

As anyone can quite clearly see, the real issue Mr. Forney was addressing was false rape, and more specifically the campus rape industry that has sprung up in recent decades to employ the new legions of Gender Studies majors. According to those moonbats, something like 25% of female university students were raped in the course of their studies (suffice to say pulling down your panties after having had too much to drink and regretting it afterwards qualifies as “rape” in their bizarro-world). One almost can’t refrain from making jokes at their expense, but since that doesn’t tend to turn out so well, I will focus on statistics as is my wont anyway. After all, facts and data are much more difficult to censor out of existence than articles that can be construed – however tendentiously – as “promoting” rape.

The National Crime Victimization Survey is a dataset of interviews with a vast and representative sample of the US population that aims to get an objective picture of the true incidence of crime in America. The graph below is from the book The Better Angels of our Nature by Steven Pinker, a dyed-in-the-wool end-of-history type liberal: “It shows that in 35 years the rate has fallen by an astonishing 80 percent, from 250 per 100,000 people over the age of twelve in 1973 to 50 per 100,000 in 2008.” Now one has to give the feminists their fair due; if not for their anti-rape campaigns, the rate of decline would have likely been slower. Nonetheless, it is ironic that the public panic over rape and sexual assault has risen to fever pitch at precisely the moment in history when the real lifetime risk of becoming a victim of rape has never been lower.

incidence-of-rape-us-pinker

Now to be honest again, I do not know if the 50 per 100,000 figure is entirely accurate. Checking the data directly gives 243,800 rapes for an over-twelve population of 257,542,240 in 2011, which translates to a rate of 94 per 100,000 for 2011. Whence the discrepancy? I don’t know. Maybe Pinker made a mistake in his calculations. Or maybe it’s a semantic difference; whereas Pinker refers to just “rape”, the NCVS study linked to above calls it “rape / sexual assault.” Maybe they are treated as distinct crimes? Regardless, it is not even in the same ballpark as the 25% victimization rates – during four years of college – cited by the campus rape industry. It is, in reality, as gauged by a representative sample of the population of whom half will be women, much less than 1%, and probably around 0.1% or 0.2%.

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Are Caucasians Stealing Russian University Places? The Data Says, “Probably Not.”

In one of the recent posts on corruption, commentator AP wrote:

Kids from Moscow are having trouble getting into universities now because entrance, based on exam results, skews the chances of acceptance in favor of those students from corrupt regions where they can buy better results. Moscow is less corrupt than, say, Dagestan so Dagestani students perform much better on entrance exams.

Is this true? Seeing as how the Russian state doesn’t release Unified State Exam (USE) results by region, probably due to PC considerations, at first this assertion might appear to be unanswerable. However, there is a way to get round the problem.

(1) We know the PISA-derived IQ’s of some 43 Russian regions (which account for about 75% of its school-age population).

(2) The Russian government DOES release the the numbers of maximum scores in the USE tests by region. In this post we will consider the data for 2012. Furthermore, we know that at least at the federal level, these results tend to form bell curves.

(3) One of the primary “proofs” of electoral fraud in the Russian elections was the presence of spikes at convenient increments of 5%. In the case of USE fraud, we only have access to data for 100% scores and measuring the fatness of that tail should give us a clue as to its relative magnitude. (While it is possible and even likely that school administrators and regions would take care not to create too many maximum marks on the notoriously hard USE tests, far from everybody will follow said precautions. After all, if many regions didn’t even bother to smoothen the spikes to conceal fraud in the elections, is it realistic to posit that they’d take greater care around trifles like exams?).

(4) We know the number of 16 year old’s per Russian region from the 2010 Census, who would have participated in the 2012 exam season.

(5) We know the normal distribution.

The blue bars below show the number of top-scoring exams per region as a multiple of Russian 18 year olds there with an expected IQ of 130 or more, based on the region’s average PISA scores and a standard deviation of 15. The red bars show the same thing, with the major exception that an average IQ of 96 – that is, the national average – is assumed for ALL Russian regions.

unified-state-exam-fraud

As we can see above, the most suspicious results are mostly from ethnic Russian oblasts such as Stavropol, Kaluga, Rostov, Perm, and Vladimir, with the two big exceptions being Mari El and Chuvashia. To the contrary, Dagestan – the biggest Caucasian Muslim republic – has very few top scores relative to the number of very bright people we can expect to find there relative to most other Russian regions.

Finally, the reason that the red bar is a lot higher than the blue bar in Moscow, and to a lesser extent Saint-Petersburg, probably doesn’t have anything to do with foul play, but with the fact that their average IQ’s are about 106.6 and 102.6, respectively (i.e. considerably higher than the national average of 96). So while they generate a relatively disproportionate number of top USE scores, that is presumably because they attract the bulk of Russia’s most intellectual families (the so-called “cognitive clustering” effect).

Of course one problem is that we don’t have PISA data for all Russian regions. Maybe the Chechens do all the cheating then?

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The Decline Of Russian Skinheads

It’s not just the gopniks who are withering away; so are racist skinheads. According to the SOVA Center – an NGO which is about as anti-Kremlin as it gets, so no point in speculating that it cooks the figures for PR purposes – racist attacks in Russia have plummeted from their peak levels in 2007-2008, back when newspapers carried headlines such as “Moscow foreign students told to stay in as racist attacks rise over Hitler’s birthday.” (h/t Maksim for pointing it out to me)

racist-attacks-russia-sova

This is, of course, unquestionably a good thing. Obviously so for for non-White foreigners or immigrants, and likewise so for Russia in general. Whatever one’s views on the cost-to-benefit ratio of mass immigration, it’s hopefully clear to all that arbitrary violence shouldn’t be part of the discussion.

Of course even 18 racially motivated murders is a lot, as the annual average for the US is about 2 in recent years (the US has twice the population but half the background homicide rate). But it’s a lot better than the peak of 109 reached in 2008.

Flynn Effect DOES Apply To South Korea

Regular readers of this blog may remember my comments regarding Ron Unz’s theory that East Asians have high IQ’s independent of time/nutrition/urbanization whatever it is that causes the Flynn Effect. Here is his original article on his theory of the “East Asian Exception” and my two responses are here and here.

Anyway a new paper (well, July 2012) I think finally puts this theory to rest: The Flynn effect in Korea: large gains by Jan te Nijenhuis et al. Here is the abstract:

Secular gains in IQ test scores have been reported for many Western countries. This is the first study of secular IQ gains in South Korea, using various datasets. The first question is what the size of the Flynn effect in South Korea is. The gains per decade are 7.7 points for persons born between 1970 and 1990. These gains on broad intelligence batteries are much larger than the gains in Western countries of about 3 IQ points per decade. The second question is whether the Korean IQ gains are comparable to the Japanese IQ gains with a lag of a few decades. The gains in Japan of 7.7 IQ points per decade for those born approximately 1940 1965 are identical to the gains per decade for Koreans born 1970 1990. The third question is whether the Korean gains in height and education lag a few decades behind the Japanese gains. The Koreans reach the educational levels the Japanese reached 25 30 years before, and the gains in height for Koreans born 1970 1990 are very similar to gains in height for Japanese born 1940 1960, so three decades earlier. These findings combined strongly support the hypothesis of similar developmental patterns in the two countries.

So, similar processes (height is of course strongly associated with nutritional quality) leading to the same pattern of steady IQ gains that have been observed for all Western societies.

Incidentally, back during my discussion with Unz, I wrote: “Anyhow, I wish we could do tests on North Koreans. Their meat consumption is at less than 10kg a year and they have periodic famines. They are also directly comparable to South Koreans. They would conclusively prove your theory right or wrong!” The study authors concur on the benefits of testing the Norks:

Theoretically, it would be very interesting to do a study of secular score gains in IQ in North Korea. It appears that height has not increased in North Korea since the end of the Korean war. However, it may be that the quality and number of years of education has improved. This experiment of nature could throw some light on the question to what degree nutrition/hygiene and education influence score gains.

Why Homosexuality Shouldn’t Be Promoted

I knew that gays had a maybe five or even ten times higher chance of getting AIDS and other STD’s than heterosexuals. I didn’t know the differential was actually more like 50.

Something like 20% of the US gay population (which makes up 3.5% of its total population) is HIV positive. It is 5% in the UK. But as of 2009, according to the CDC “male to male sexual contact” (see pp.58) accounted for about 57% of all HIV transmissions in the US (and of 75% of all HIV transmissions among men). “Heterosexual contact” among men accounted for a mere 8% of all HIV transmissions. Basically, if you’re gay, you should take far, far more precautions during sex than your straight counterparts – though in practice, it seems the precise opposite is taking place (“Carlos estimates that he has already had several hundred sex partners; he eagerly awaits the day when he tests HIV-positive – at which time his erotic interest, Carlos says, will then turn toward infecting another person – which is known as “gift-giving””).

The result is that back at the height of the epidemic in the 1990’s, life expectancy for gays was something like 20 years lower than for straights (those are risks far greater than for smoking). Assuming the gay population to be 3% of the male total, Canadian homosexuals had only a 32% chance of living from the age of 20 to the age of 65, far less than the 78% for the average Canadian man (or equivalent to a Canadian man in 1871). The study in question, however, was carried out at the very height of mortality from AIDS; since then, medical improvements have sharply reduced it, e.g. from more than 50,000 deaths in 1995 to a constant 20,000 or so from 1998 on. So I suppose the life expectancy penalty is now somewhat better than being a heavy smoker or an alcoholic (both about 10 years).

In other words, it’s a valid public health policy to make homosexuality culturally unattractive, as opposed to glamorizing it. And while it is certainly true that it does not apply to the vast majority of homosexuals, the statistics also destroy yet another liberal canard: That there is no connection between homosexuality and pedophilia. In reality, studies indicate that 2-4 girls are abused for one boy, even though there are about 30 straights to every gay (the vast majority of sex abusers are of course male). Even allowing for necessary caveats – e.g., groups of male children are far more likely to be entrusted to males for supervision than groups of girls – that still strongly indicates that homosexuals are, on average, considerably more likely to be pedophiles than heterosexuals.

A corollary is that I am quite okay with Russia’s new law banning propaganda of the homosexual lifestyle to minors, the mewlings of human rights organizations and other putative do-gooders regardless. Funny how an hour or so of Internet research can destroy so much mainstream liberal “wisdom.”

Russia’s Corruption In Comparative International Perspective

Continuing from my previous post (which focused mostly on trends), this one focuses exclusively on international comparisons as per the results of Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer survey of 2010-11. The graphs represent affirmative answers to the question of whether the respondent had paid a bribe in the past 12 months to each of 9 institutions if he had come into contact with them.

Is Russia the most corrupt of the BRICs?

This is the conventional wisdom, both as per the widely cited CPI as well as numerous pundits. Is it correct? Well, going by the best possibly objective measure of corruption – asking people whether they (or a member of their household) paid bribes in the past year – no, it isn’t. The honor goes to India. China is modestly less corrupt than Russia, while Brazil is basically a First World country in this respect.

brics-corruption-chart-institutions

Is Russia especially corrupt by Central-East European standards?

No, it isn’t. While it’s certainly more corrupt than average, that particular honor has to go to Azerbaijan. The Ukraine is systemically more corrupt than Russia, with a higher percentage of respondents reporting bribing all nine institutions. Even Lithuania is, on average, more corrupt than Russia. (So much for the pro-Western democracy automatically leading to cleanliness and transparency thesis).

cee-corruption-institutions

On the other hand, for the sake of honesty and consistency, one has to acknowledge that Saakashvili’s campaign against corruption in Georgia was a genuine and astoundingly successful achievement. In fact, if these polls are perfectly accurate, Georgia now has less “everyday” corruption than the US!

Antisocial Punishment: Why China Will Defeat Corruption, But Russia And The Arabs Won’t

One of the books I’ve been reading lately is Steven Pinker’s massive door-stopper The Better Angels of Our Nature. Incidentally, I found it a very interesting read with tons of cool factoids, although it could have done with a third of its text and a tiny fraction of its liberal sanctimonious. But that’s for the forthcoming review; in this post, I will focus instead on a reference I found there to a very fascinating and revealing paper about Antisocial Punishment Across Cultures (Herrmann et al.) – and by extension, its implications for social cohesion.

Power summary: The shrinks got a bunch of university students, divided them into teams of four, and got them to play a “public goods game.” They were given 20 tokens at the start of each of ten rounds, and they were told they could invest any number of them into a pot, with a return of 0.4 tokens to each player – regardless of whether or not he participates – to each token invested in the pot. So if everyone was to contribute all 20 of their tokens, each player would walk away with 32 tokens; on the other hand, if only two players were to contribute all their tokens while the other two got a free ride, the altruists would walk away with only 16 tokens, whereas the free riders would get their 16 tokens plus their original 20 which they had kept back.

no-punishment-contributions

In this version of the game, there were no interesting patterns; across all cultures, contributions plummeted as free riders enjoying impunity undermined the morale of productive contributors. However, that’s not how the game works in real societies, which actively punish many forms of free riding: Tax evasion, benefit fraud, dodging fares on public transport, etc. The game was then modified to include a punishment option, in which any player could choose to spend one token to remove three tokens from any other player of his choosing. The results changed drastically.

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