Military-Technical Decommunization

Vladimir Putin: “We Are Ready to Show What Real Decommunization Would Mean for Ukraine”

Since my article last week predicting the imminent “Regathering of the Russian Lands”, the prospect of a large-scale Russian invasion has gone from ambiguous to extremely likely (90% on Metaculus). Personally, I think it’s a foregone conclusion, with operations beginning either tonight or tomorrow night, with the most interesting and important questions now being the speed of the Ukrainian collapse, the future borders and internal organization of Russian Empire 2.0, and the ramifications of the return of history on the international order.

February 22, 2022 will indeed enter history as the day when Vladimir Putin decided to become a Great Man of history. In an hour long speech, he basically recounted his magisterial July 2021 article on the historical unity of Russians and Ukrainians, officially endorsing the nationalist position that Russia is the “world’s largest divided big nation”. He stated that the modern Ukrainian state can be rightfully called “Vladimir Lenin’s Ukraine”, asserted that its statehood was developed by the Bolsheviks, and noted the irony in Ukrainian nationalists toppling statues to their father. “You want decommunization? Very well, this suits us just fine. But why stop halfway? We are ready to show what real decommunizations would mean for Ukraine.

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Open Thread 167

  • In his latest newsletter, Adam Tooze points out that the Chinese government is asserting greater state control over the economy, including the power of Chinese business magnates to “cash out” of their holdings.

In retrospect, this is perhaps the most logical explanation for the crypto crackdown.

  • Diana Fleischman has a good article in Quillette on how the Leftist moral panic against eugenics has given ammunition anti-abortion activists, with apparently six states now banning women against abortion on the basis of congenital disability. Interesting example of how an SJW – rightoid horseshoe, even in matters so small, helps usher us along towards Idiot’s Limbo with some combination of more disabled people, more restrictions on prenatal testing and genetic screening, a reduction in reproductive rights. Noah Carl notes most of the pointing and sputtering it generated came from left-wing progressives.
  • Mark Galeotti – Kremlin Looks to Establish a ‘Techno-Authoritarian’ Power Vertical 2.0. Seems like a move in the Chinese direction of digitalized, indices-based control over regional governance (along the lines of Mishustin’s reforms of the tax sector).
  • Steve Sailer on new FBI stats showing a 29% rise in murders in 2020. Incidentally, the gap between the US and Russia is now possibly larger than at any time since the Revolution.
  • The Guardian lumps Steve in with Jeffrey Epstein. #AJAB
  • Paul Robinson covers a report which calculates that the incidence of Russian military interventions abroad under Putin has actually declined relative to the Yeltsin era.

* Silventoinen, K. et al.(2020). Genetic and environmental variation in educational attainment: an individual-based analysis of 28 twin cohorts. Scientific Reports, 10(1), 12681. (h/t Steve Sailer). Contra Herrnstein/Murray, the heritability of educational attainment may have actually declined during the second half of 20C. Was the idyllic (to some?) picture of old time America in which people who marry across cognitive barriers a mirage?


Russia’s Nationalist Turn

Russia should belong to Russians, and all others dwelling on this land must respect and appreciate this people. – Alexander III.

For the first time in more than a century, the Russians have a state that they can call their own, a state run by and for the Russian people – the hallowed “Russian National State” (RNS) that has been the holy grail of Russian nationalism in the post-Soviet era. At first glance, this seems like a questionable, if not extraordinary, assertion. As I have myself pointed out in the past, Hillary Clinton’s claim in 2016 that Putin is the “godfather of extreme nationalism” is something that is only taken seriously by the political horseshoe that is neoliberalism.txt and the American Alt Right, the sole difference between them being that the former think it bad and the latter think it good, whereas in reality both of them are merely projecting their own parochial fears and fantasies onto Russia. More importantly, this would also seem strange to significant numbers of Russian nationalists, who would immediately bring up Putin’s claim that the slogan “Russia for Russians” – a sentiment that is consistently supported by half of Russians in opinion polls – is the preserve of “fools and provocateurs.”

However, it is actions, not words, that count, though I would note that even so far as words go, Putin now saves his invective for proponents of “Russia only for Russians”; although this is a strawman so far as Russian nationalism is concerned, the quietly inserted qualifier is nonetheless acknowledged and appreciated. As regards actions, the Putin administration in the first half of its third term has adopted the core Russian nationalist program nearly wholesale and embarked on its practical implementation. So broad and all-encompassing is the shift that, just as academics came to classify what happened between Putin’s rejection of Western moral supremacism in the Munich speech of 2007 to the gay propaganda law in 2013 as a “Conservative Turn” (Nicolai Petro), so I believe future historians will classify the 2018-21 period as a “Nationalist Turn.” Thus, just as the First Age of Putinism in the 2000s was marked by unideological technocracy, and its Second Age during the 2010s was defined by conservative retrenchment, so I believe that the Third Age, the 2020s, will be defined by the political ascent of ethno-aware (as distinct from ethno-nationalist) Russian nationalism.

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China Isn’t Going to Make It

I have been a long-term China bull since I began blogging. Proof (2008). A lot of what the Western media was writing about China were based on Sinophobic fantasies that had no correlation with reality. Just to be clear, I am still a China bull, at least in the sense that I’m sure its GDP per capita will converge to the levels predicted by its human capital, i.e. Japan/South Korea, giving it by far the world’s largest economy by mid-century. But I am increasingly skeptical about its ability to produce anything that is… really interesting/world-transformational.

It continues making top-down decisions that, as in centuries past, may curtail the ultimate scope of its civilizational achievements.

Several months ago, it made it illegal to create gene-edited babies. If enforced, this effectively takes China out of the biosingularity race. Conversely, the first gene-selected baby in the world was born a few weeks ago in the US (the father’s political views raised a minor journalistic furor).

Now China bans crypto. While “China bans crypto” stories have become something of a meme in the crypto community over the years, this latest one seems qualitatively different. They’re no longer just banning financial institutions from provisioning crypto services, trading them on leverage, or mining Bitcoin on account of its carbon costs and strain on the electricity grid. Those measures were defensible from a social and environmental point of view. This latest ban appears to criminalize the purchase of cryptocurrencies from overseas or even involvement in marketing or technical support related to crypto business.

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Open Thread 166


  • As usual, “real result” of United Russia would have been around 35% instead of 50% (and a simple majority instead of a Constitutional majority). But Western criticisms much less effective in the wake of analogous – if statistically implausible – claims about the 2020 US elections.

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There’s not much point worrying much over geological existential risks. They come too infrequently too be a major risk, and those that do occur more often, are not big enough to matter in the big picture.

Still, if there’s one risk that is both potentially highly destructive and occurs at a relatively high rate, it is megatsunamis that occur as a result of submarine landslides (masses of land slumping into water as a result of earthquakes or volcanic eruptions). In the Canary Islands, there have been 14 such slides in the past million years (once every 100k years). In the Hawaiian archipelago, there were 68 big slides over the past 2 million years. In total, it is estimated there have been at least 100 big slides that caused megatsunamis during the Quaternary, or once every <25,000 years. This is >1 OOM more frequent than supervolcanoes (~once every million years), which are in turn 2 OOM more frequent than very big asteroid collisions (~once every 100M years).

So probably won’t happen within the lifetime of industrial civilization (250 years and counting). But megatsunamis are a more realistic concern on these timescales. The collapse of a part of Cape Verde 73,000 years ago created a 240 meter tall megatsunami that wiped the coast of West Africa clean. The Storegga Slide in 6170 BC flooded Doggerland and could have been the origin of the world’s flood myths. A slide in Réunion 4,000 years ago flooded West Australia. So this is something that happens within historical time.

According to some early modeling in 2001, a 500 km3 submarine landslide off the Cumbre Vieja volcano in La Palma could create huge waves that will retain a height of 10-25 meters by the time it reaches the Eastern Seaboard.

Such a 10-25 m megatsunami would advance ~30 km into low-lying Florida after just nine hours of warning time. The Caribbean and the West African coast would be wrecked. At least several 100,000sof people would die, a great deal of housing stock would be destroyed, and world markets would go into a hyperdepression. Portugal, Spain ,and the British Isles would sustain some more minor damage from 5-7 meter waves.

These projections have come under question as being too pessimistic or even entirely unrealistic. Nonetheless, it’s something to watch out for, given current developments.


Russian Elections 2021: The Thread

For the past two days I have been awoken by loudspeakers in my neighborhood playing Soviet-themed music telling me to go vote in the elections in a radio announcer type voice.

Here are the wealth of choices I have on offer in my district:

Elena Gulnicheva, commie QT endorsed by Navalny’s “Smart Vote”. Incidentally, it looks like running pretty young women is KPRF strategy these elections.

I wasn’t able to find her platform (assuming she has one) so I assume it’s just standard KPRF fare.

Pyotr Tolstoy, my district’s candidate from United Russia, is a very based great-great-grandson of the famous writer.

The LDPR nationalist, Andrey Shah. (I don’t really know much about him or his positions, only time I recall running into him is at a speech by Zhirinovsky, he didn’t leave any memorable impressions).

Physiognomy is real, part #7294, : Presenting the pro-Western Yabloko candidate, Roman Kiselyov:

“Return yourself your future: Without fear, without lies, without dictatorship.”

Based on his Twitter banner, his political views seem to be as cartoonishly self-hating as his physiognomy is quintessentially soyish.

Fielded by the Green Party, the most colorful candidate – not just metaphorically, but also literally – is a Russian-Nigerian mulatto and professional blogger called Samson Sholademi who has promised to “slave away like a Negro” for his constituents in previous (unsuccessful) election runs.

He has a very powerful/eccentric constellation of views: Environmental activism, pro-LGBT parades, anti-vaccine mandate, an end to Roskomnadzor censorship and blasphemy laws, coupled with opposition to Article 282 (a hate speech law that was decriminalized in 2018), a visa regime with Central Asia, and pro-Crimea/Donbass and anti-Western/Ukrainian/Baltic foreign policy views. This even led Valeriya Novodvorskaya, the high priestess of the Westernist cargo cult, to call him a fascist. He denies being a fascist, insisting that he is a racist instead.

So powerful are these various viewpoints especially in combination that I seriously considered voting for him as as a fellow powerful, vibrant POC blogger.

However, in my district, the only two people who are competitive are Tolstoy and Gulnicheva, and I think I’ll take the Black Hundreds cosplayer over the commie dominatrix or the Based Black Guy.

As you can see, a powerful diversity of candidates and views, whom I can vote for through an app on my cell phone while drinking coffee in bed, after being woken up by a timely and helpful reminder from the loudspeakers.

This is what true democracy is about. I laugh at W*stoids who seem to believe Russia has no democracy. There is so much democracy here that it leaves them seething, shaking, and autistically screeching in impotent range.


Open Thread 165

Another pilgrimage to the Fortress Monastery.

* AFGHANISTAN. Apparently internal frictions amongst the Taliban, with Pakistani-backed hardliners winning out and filling the Cabinet exclusively with Taliban (in so doing breaking their commitment to form an inclusive government). Meanwhile, its former CB head notes that Afghanistan has no means of printing its own currency. I suppose this and capital controls ($200 daily limits on withdrawals) explains why the afghani hasn’t devalued more against $USDC; as such, we can expect the inevitable economic crunch to manifest itself in unemployment and wage arrears.  Contra Western propaganda, the Taliban remains universally unrecognized, including by Russia and China.

You often hear people talking about the supposed trillion dollar reserves of REMs in Afghanistan. In reality, there is nothing “rare” about Rare Earth Metals. The only constraint is cost of production, and it will always be cheaper in places like China or Kazakhstan where you have cheap electricity and low security costs.

Hugh-Jones, D., & Abdellaoui, A. (2021). Human capital mediates natural selection in contemporary humans (No. 2021-02). School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.


Woke Sexism: Women 2-3x More Likely to be “Targeted” for Crimethink

Since the end of the Bush era, disinvitations and cancelation campaigns have become the near exclusive preserve of the Left, with the range of opinion warranting such attacks spreading beyond the traditionally taboo HBD/IQ nexus to encompass more and more areas, such as affirming the existence of physiological differences between the sexes. According to a recent report from FIRE, this reached a crescendo during the Trump years, with the number of “targeting incidents” rising from 24 in 2015 to 113 in 2020.

As Noah Carl points out, the Left is massively overrepresented in academia relative to the right, by a factor of at least 6 to 1. So the disparity in targeting attempts actually conceals what is in fact an almost entirely one-sided campaign. Each individual “right-winger” in academia is about 10x more likely to be “targeted” than a “left-winger”. Moreover, while Noah is perhaps too politic to point this out, I would add that even to the extent that the “Right” engages in “cancelation” campaigns, it is typically to defend Israel – the one culture war besides banning the abortion of Down’s syndrome fetuses that modern American conservatives seem to really care about.

Still, assuming you haven’t been living under a rock the past few years, there’s nothing particularly new or interesting about any of this. But what did strike me about the report is the following observation by Cory Clark:

Although only 30% of targeted scholars were women, when targeted, women were slightly more likely to be terminated than men (29% vs. 23%). And when women do piss people off, they REALLY piss people off. The four largest petitions were all against female scholars.

Now this one is a more novel and interesting observation. And it suggests a lot of internalized sexism. Going by those percentages, 35% of the “controversial” scholars terminated for political reasons, are women (30%29%/(30%29%+70*23%) = 35%). This doesn’t sound all that bad or unexpected, but only so long as you don’t ask the question of how underrepresented women in particular are in the at-risk group. What percentage of female academics can be classified as controversial in the first place, relative to men? Almost certainly way less than 35%.

This isn’t even a supposition. According to Heiner Rindermann’s 2020 survey, women accounted for 17% of the experts in intelligence research – the single most consistently replicated, but also the most controversial, area of psychology (whereas they constitute 50%+ of psychologists as a whole). To take a more concrete example: While highly multiracial, the Advisory Board of Mankind Quarterly is 10% female (2/20). This matches the general 10% seen across “Coffee Salon” type environments characterized by the combination of intellectuality and some degree of “discordance” from societal norms and mores. Reality is, women are much less likely to make “controversial” comments or observations, and when they do, they were generally couched in much “nicer” language. Moreover, that 10% rears its head even in the sex distribution of academics who are most committed to supporting free speech:

All this implies that female scholars are something like 2-3x as likely to face repercussions for saying anti-Woke things than are men (10-15% free speech/anti-Woke, 35% punished for it).

Incidentally, this also syncs with Douglas K. Murray’s recent observations that women opposed to transgender maximalism tend to get bullied more than he does:

After all, countless female authors have written articles expressing scepticism towards the transgender movement — many of them more moderate than my own. Yet almost every time, I have watched in horror as online and offline mobs are stirred up against them and not me. Julie Bindel, Kathleen Stock, Selina Todd, JK Rowling, Abigail Shrier, Helen Joyce — some of these women have been subjected to physical assault; the rest threatened with it. …

Last year, for instance, [Owen] Jones was one of the more prominent figures in the witch-hunt against the then Guardian journalist Suzanne Moore. … There is now a pattern. This week, Jones targeted another exceptionally talented female writer, Sarah Ditum, for the same reason: she disagreed with him about trans issues.

But this time, people started to notice the trend. As the Left-wing journalist Helen Lewis — formerly of the New Statesman — observed, it is becoming increasingly clear that Jones only seems to go for female journalists.

Now I suppose there is a kind of evolutionary logic to it. Women not only tend to be, but are socially expected to be more conformist/”conservative” than men (it’s less risky and men are more expendable). They also have thinner skins (both literally and metaphorically). Social pressure has more of an effect on them.

So it’s darkly amusing how even (especially?) SJWs intuitively know this and act on their “internalized sexism” as befits their status as modern-era witch-hunters.

Nonetheless, this does add an important caveat to the observations/complaints about female overrepresentation in SJWism that is often made in “anti-Woke” and especially “Alt Right” circles. On the one hand, since women are naturally much more conformist then men, there is nothing surprising about this – conformism is, by definition, loaded towards observing the norms and enforcing the mores of the dominant culture, so your opinions about it will naturally depend on your assessment of how “good” or “bad” said culture is (which happens to be Wokeism in the modern West). However, apart from that, there remains the highly “traditionalist” and, in this particular context, highly ironic social expectation that women in particular should not dare stray beyond the boundaries of Woke discourse. Even more curiously, this social expectation seems to be most assiduously policed by Woke men like Owen Jones. And as if that wasn’t enough, amongst the anti-Wokes, there are also some people who want women mostly or entirely removed from the public sphere. This is, of course, a highly marginal position amongst the many diffuse groups who constitute anti-Wokes as a whole, who range the gamut from classical liberals and rationalists to old school conservatives, Gamergaters, and the Alt Right. However, those who do hold such views, most notably the “groyper” wing of the Alt Right who have recently discovered their profound affinity with the Taliban, also tend to be its loudest elements (and journalists are most happy to exhibit them). Not the sort of people whom women who are otherwise inclined towards Woke-skepticism would generally want to associate with or enable, and understandably so.

Putting all this together, it becomes rather less surprising that women tend to be so much more Woke in the US (specifically in the US). Both nature and the social environment push towards that outcome.


American Gas Burners, Russian Nuclear Starships

mal comments on a post from last year:

Well, there’s nothing wrong with current Russian commercial space program such – they are launching OneWeb satellites now and there’s a Korean one thats supposed to go on Angara. SpaceX does have more launches but thats because they launch their own Starlink constellation and Russian Sphere is not there yet (Russia needs to invest more in Space Simulation chamber for payload testing and development, they are building 2500 m3 one which is better than current 1800 m3 or even European 2400 m3, but no match for destroyed USSR one at 8,000 m3 or American at 20,000 m3).

On market pricing, Russians still dominate. Proton market price is $65M/22 tons to LEO, or $2,950/kg. Reusable Falcon price is $50M/15 tons (due to fuel return requirements), or $3,330/kg. Russians are cheaper and more efficient due to more stages on Proton vs Falcon.

For space tourism, Soyuz is more reliable, has a kitchen and a toilet, and ticket price of probably $30M/seat ($80M NASA price). Russians were charging $20M per seat a decade or so ago, even with inflation and upgrades i don’t see Soyuz pricier than $30M. It is also good at orbital mechanics so its fast to ISS. Current NASA contract pays $100M/seat to SpaceX ($2.4 billion/6 launches/4 seats each). I’m sure it will be cheaper in the future, but I don’t see them beating Soyuz prices for a decade.

In the near future though, this is going to change. Starship is huge and will dominate cost per kg. At that scale, opportunity cost of return fuel will be minimized and reusability will finally make economic sense. With refueling capabilities, Starship will dominate local space, and Russia doesn’t really have anything comparable. The good news is Starship is a fairly simple construction (a flying steel grain silo) so Russia should be able to just copy it. No shame in that.

So to answer your question. Aside from marketing hype and propaganda, current Russian commercial space offerings are highly competitive with US. In the near future, when Starship will be able to deploy any satellite on any orbit in local space and keep deploying them by the 100’s and 1,000’s, Russia will not be competitive anymore. Starship is a game changer. In the far out worlds, asteroid belts etc., chemical gas burners such as Starship will hit the limits of physics and Russian nuclear electric plasma accelerators will dominate the deep space.

I like to say, this is the biggest irony on Earth. Elon Musk, electric car guy, invented the best gas burner. Russia, known as planetary gas station, invented the best electric space propulsion system.

He talked of more recent progress here.

At an international expo ‘Archimedes’ in Moscow Keldysh Center (Russian research institute) demonstrated experimental device for radiation of waste heat into space. Device is dedicated to thermal regulation of spacecraft. I’m not sure if it’s a panel or fiber based one, or maybe even a droplet (panel is worst, fiber is OK, droplet is the future).

And speaking of the devil, it looks like Russians solved the droplet dispersion problem back in 2017. This guy solved it, to be exact.

Topic starts at around 6:20. To recap for non Russian speakers. Any moron can build a nuclear reactor and launch it into space, its easy to do. So why then the largest single power unit in space is about 20 kW? Because while producing electricity in space is easy, dissipating waste heat is not. Space is like a giant thermos that insulates well. The only way to get rid of heat is through radiation. Conventional way is radiator panels, but it’s extremely inefficient as their size requirement grows two orders of magnitude faster with power level increase. Past few hundred kW, those panels will weigh more than all the rest of the spacecraft put together.

To improve heat radiation efficiency, we must move from 2D panel to 3D geometry. Hence the droplets, as small droplets maximize surface area to volume (mass) ratio. This will allow for orders of magnitude lighter cooling systems and therefore high power output (nuclear reactors are very light compared to the weight of the cooling system they require). The droplets are made as you pass diffusion pump oil through an atomizer basically.

However, there is a problem. Small droplets accumulate static charge by picking up free electrons from space. This causes them to repel from each other and that makes collecting them back after they cooled off very difficult, and this results in coolant mass loss. That was the problem with Kaplya-2 experiment on the International Space Station back in 2014. There were a number of proposals put forward (external electromagnetic fields, plasma feed to neutralize the droplets etc) but they are all cumbersome, unreliable, or require expendable materials which makes them unsuitable for years long operation.

A simple, robust, and permanent solution to the problem is to illuminate the droplets with UV light at around 140 nm wavelength. This will trigger photoelectric effect that will kick off the excess electrons from the droplet. Unlike external electric field, there is no danger of over-ionizing the droplets and stripping too many electrons which will cause the same repulsion problem. No complex control is needed. All it takes is about a dozen UV lamps and those will condition the droplets for easy collection and minimize coolant losses.

The rejoinder is that local space is commercially attractive (Starlink is the obvious one… perhaps passenger and cargo transport, if the more optimistic projections pan out).

The tons of money made from this can be recycled into more ambitious projects.

Can the same be said of deep space? Asteroid belt mining has been often speculated about. But most resources are very cheap – and have been becoming much cheaper relative to the size of the world economy.