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What did Max Weber mean by the ‘spirit’ of capitalism? | Aeon Ideas
There was another kind of disintegration besides that of traditional ethics. The proliferation of knowledge and reflection on knowledge had made it impossible for any one person to know and survey it all. In a world which could not be grasped as a whole, and where there were no universally shared values, most people clung to the particular niche to which they were most committed: their job or profession. They treated their work as a post-religious calling, ‘an absolute end in itself’, and if the modern ‘ethic’ or ‘spirit’ had an ultimate found­ation, this was it. One of the most widespread clichés about Weber’s thought is to say that he preached a work ethic. This is a mistake. He personally saw no particular virtue in sweat – he thought his best ideas came to him when relaxing on a sofa with a cigar – and had he known he would be misunder­stood in this way, he would have pointed out that a capacity for hard work was something that did not dist­inguish the modern West from previous soc­ieties and their value systems. However, the idea that people were being ever more defined by the blinkered focus of their employment was one he regarded as profoundly modern and characteristic.

rec'd by Garett Jones
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10 weeks ago by nhaliday
Becoming a Man - Quillette
written by William Buckner

“In the puberty rites, the novices are made aware of the sacred value of food and assume the adult condition; that is, they no longer depend on their mothers and on the labor of others for nourishment. Initiation, then, is equivalent to a revelation of the sacred, of death, sexuality, and the struggle for food. Only after having acquired these dimensions of human existence does one become truly a man.” – Mircea Eliade, Rites and Symbols of Initiation: The Mysteries of Birth and Rebirth, 1958

“To be a man in most of the societies we have looked at, one must impregnate women, protect dependents from danger, and provision kith and kin.” – David D. Gilmore, Manhood in the Making, 1990

“Keep your head clear and know how to suffer like a man.” – Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea, 1952

There are commonalities of human behavior that extend beyond any geographic or cultural boundary. Every known society has a sexual division of labor – many facets of which are ubiquitous the world over. Some activities are universally considered to be primarily, or exclusively, the responsibility of men, such as hunting large mammals, metalworking, and warfare. Other activities, such as caregiving, cooking, and preparing vegetable foods, are nearly always considered primarily the responsibility of women.

...

Across vastly different societies, with very dissimilar political systems, it is often similar sets of skills that are considered desirable for their (predominately male) leaders. A man can gain status through displays of key talents; through his ability to persuade; by developing and maintaining important social relationships; and by solving difficult problems. In his classic paper on the political systems of ‘egalitarian’ small-scale societies, anthropologist Christopher Boehm writes, “a good leader seems to be generous, brave in combat, wise in making subsistence or military decisions, apt at resolving intragroup conflicts, a good speaker, fair, impartial, tactful, reliable, and morally upright.” In his study on the Mardu hunter-gatherers of Australia, anthropologist Robert Tonkinson wrote that the highest status was given to the “cooks,” which is the title given to “the older men who prepare the many different ceremonial feasts, act as advisors and directors of most rituals (and perform the most important “big” dances), and are guardians of the caches of sacred objects.”

Anthropologist Paul Roscoe writes that some of the important skills of ‘Big Men’ in New Guinea horticulturist societies are, “courage and proficiency in war or hunting; talented oratory; ability in mediation and organization; a gift for singing, dancing, wood carving, and/or graphic artistry; the ability to transact pigs and wealth; ritual expertise; and so on.” In the volume Cooperation and Collective Action (2012), Roscoe notes further that the traits that distinguish a ‘Big Man’ are “his skills in…conflict resolution; his charisma, diplomacy, ability to plan, industriousness, and intelligence” and “his abilities in political manipulation.” In their paper on ‘The Big Man Mechanism,’ anthropologist Joseph Henrich and his colleagues describe the common pathways to status found across cultures, noting that, “In small-scale societies, the domains associated with prestige include hunting, oratory, shamanic knowledge and combat.”

...

In his book How Can I Get Through To You? (2002), author Terrence Real describes visiting a remote village of Maasai pastoralists in Tanzania. Real asked the village elders (all male) what makes a good warrior and a good man. After a vibrant discussion, one of the oldest males stood up and told Real;

I refuse to tell you what makes a good morani [warrior]. But I will tell you what makes a great morani. When the moment calls for fierceness a good morani is very ferocious. And when the moment calls for kindness, a good morani is utterly tender. Now, what makes a great morani is knowing which moment is which! (Real, 64)

This quote is also favorably cited by feminist author bell hooks in her book The Will to Change (2004). While hooks and Real offer perspectives quite different from my approach here, the words of the Massai elder illustrate an ideal conception of masculinity that may appeal to many people of diverse ideologies and cultural backgrounds. A great warrior, a great man, is discerning – not needlessly hostile nor chronically deferential, he instead recognizes the responsibilities of both defending, and caring for, his friends and family.

...

As anthropologist David G. Gilmore notes in Manhood in the Making, exhortations such as “be a man” are common across societies throughout the world. Such remarks represent the recognition that being a man came with a set of duties and responsibilities. If men failed to stay cool under pressure in the midst of hunting or warfare, and thus failed to provide for, or protect, their families and allies, this would have been devastating to their societies.

Throughout our evolutionary history, the cultures that had a sexual division of labor, and socialized males to help provide for and protect the group, would have had a better chance at survival, and would have outcompeted those societies that failed to instill such values.

Some would argue, quite reasonably, that in contemporary, industrialized, democratic societies, values associated with hunting and warfare are outmoded. Gilmore writes that, “So long as there are battles to be fought, wars to be won, heights to be scaled, hard work to be done, some of us will have to “act like men.”” Yet the challenges of modern societies for most people are often very different from those that occurred throughout much of our history.

Still, some common components of the traditional, idealized masculine identity I describe here may continue to be useful in the modern era, such as providing essential resources for the next generation of children, solving social conflicts, cultivating useful, practical skills, and obtaining socially valuable knowledge. Obviously, these traits are not, and need not be, restricted to men. But when it comes to teaching the next generation of young males what socially responsible masculinity looks like, it might be worth keeping these historical contributions in mind. Not as a standard that one should necessarily feel unduly pressured by, but as a set of productive goals and aspirations that can aid in personal development and social enrichment.

The Behavioral Ecology of Male Violence: http://quillette.com/2018/02/24/behavioral-ecology-male-violence/

“Aggressive competition for access to mates is much
more beneficial for human males than for females…”
~Georgiev et al. 1

...

To understand why this pattern is so consistent across a wide variety of culturally and geographically diverse societies, we need to start by looking at sex differences in reproductive biology.

Biologically, individuals that produce small, relatively mobile gametes (sex cells), such as sperm or pollen, are defined as male, while individuals that produce larger, less mobile gametes, such as eggs or ovules, are defined as female. Consequently, males tend to have more variance in reproductive success than females, and a greater potential reproductive output. Emperor of Morocco, Moulay Ismael the Bloodthirsty (1672–1727) was estimated to have fathered 1171 children from 500 women over the course of 32 years,6 while the maximum recorded number of offspring for a woman is 69, attributed to an unnamed 18th century Russian woman married to a man named Feodor Vassilyev.

[data]

Across a wide variety of taxa, the sex that produces smaller, mobile gametes tends to invest less in parental care than the sex that produces larger, less mobile gametes. For over 90 percent of mammalian species, male investment in their offspring ends at conception, and they provide no parental care thereafter.7 A male mammal can often increase his reproductive success by seeking to maximize mating opportunities with females, and engaging in violent competition with rival males to do so. From a fitness perspective, it may be wasteful for a male to provide parental care, as it limits his reproductive output by reducing the time and energy he spends competing for mates.
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april 2018 by nhaliday
The Western Elite from a Chinese Perspective - American Affairs Journal
I don’t claim to be a modern-day Alexis de Tocqueville, nor do I have much in common with this famous observer of American life. He grew up in Paris, a city renowned for its culture and architecture. I grew up in Shijiazhuang, a city renowned for being the headquarters of the company that produced toxic infant formula. He was a child of aristocrats; I am the child of modest workers.

Nevertheless, I hope my candid observations can provide some insights into the elite institutions of the West. Certain beliefs are as ubiquitous among the people I went to school with as smog was in Shijiazhuang. The doctrines that shape the worldviews and cultural assumptions at elite Western institutions like Cambridge, Stanford, and Goldman Sachs have become almost religious. Nevertheless, I hope that the perspective of a candid Chinese atheist can be of some instruction to them.

...

So I came to the UK in 2001, when I was 16 years old. Much to my surprise, I found the UK’s exam-focused educational system very similar to the one in China. What is more, in both countries, going to the “right schools” and getting the “right job” are seen as very important by a large group of eager parents. As a result, scoring well on exams and doing well in school interviews—or even the play session for the nursery or pre-prep school—become the most important things in the world. Even at the university level, the undergraduate degree from the University of Cambridge depends on nothing else but an exam at the end of the last year.

On the other hand, although the UK’s university system is considered superior to China’s, with a population that is only one-twentieth the size of my native country, competition, while tough, is less intimidating. For example, about one in ten applicants gets into Oxbridge in the UK, and Stanford and Harvard accept about one in twenty-five applicants. But in Hebei province in China, where I am from, only one in fifteen hundred applicants gets into Peking or Qinghua University.

Still, I found it hard to believe how much easier everything became. I scored first nationwide in the GCSE (high school) math exam, and my photo was printed in a national newspaper. I was admitted into Trinity College, University of Cambridge, once the home of Sir Isaac Newton, Francis Bacon, and Prince Charles.

I studied economics at Cambridge, a field which has become more and more mathematical since the 1970s. The goal is always to use a mathematical model to find a closed-form solution to a real-world problem. Looking back, I’m not sure why my professors were so focused on these models. I have since found that the mistake of blindly relying on models is quite widespread in both trading and investing—often with disastrous results, such as the infamous collapse of the hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management. Years later, I discovered the teaching of Warren Buffett: it is better to be approximately right than precisely wrong. But our professors taught us to think of the real world as a math problem.

The culture of Cambridge followed the dogmas of the classroom: a fervent adherence to rules and models established by tradition. For example, at Cambridge, students are forbidden to walk on grass. This right is reserved for professors only. The only exception is for those who achieve first class honors in exams; they are allowed to walk on one area of grass on one day of the year.

The behavior of my British classmates demonstrated an even greater herd mentality than what is often mocked in American MBAs. For example, out of the thirteen economists in my year at Trinity, twelve would go on to join investment banks, and five of us went to work for Goldman Sachs.

...

To me, Costco represents the best of American capitalism. It is a corporation known for having its customers and employees in mind, while at the same time it has compensated its shareholders handsomely over the years. To the customers, it offers the best combination of quality and low cost. Whenever it manages to reduce costs, it passes the savings on to customers immediately. Achieving a 10 percent gross margin with prices below Amazon’s is truly incredible. After I had been there once, I found it hard to shop elsewhere.

Meanwhile, its salaries are much higher than similar retail jobs. When the recession hit in 2008, the company increased salaries to help employees cope with the difficult environment. From the name tags the staff wear, I have seen that frontline employees work there for decades, something hard to imagine elsewhere.

Stanford was for me a distant second to Costco in terms of the American capitalist experience. Overall, I enjoyed the curriculum at the GSB. Inevitably I found some classes less interesting, but the professors all seemed to be quite understanding, even when they saw me reading my kindle during class.

One class was about strategy. It focused on how corporate mottos and logos could inspire employees. Many of the students had worked for nonprofits or health care or tech companies, all of which had mottos about changing the world, saving lives, saving the planet, etc. The professor seemed to like these mottos. I told him that at Goldman our motto was “be long-term greedy.” The professor couldn’t understand this motto or why it was inspiring. I explained to him that everyone else in the market was short-term greedy and, as a result, we took all their money. Since traders like money, this was inspiring. He asked if perhaps there was another motto or logo that my other classmates might connect with. I told him about the black swan I kept on my desk as a reminder that low probability events happen with high frequency. He didn’t like that motto either and decided to call on another student, who had worked at Pfizer. Their motto was “all people deserve to live healthy lives.” The professor thought this was much better. I didn’t understand how it would motivate employees, but this was exactly why I had come to Stanford: to learn the key lessons of interpersonal communication and leadership.

On the communication and leadership front, I came to the GSB knowing I was not good and hoped to get better. My favorite class was called “Interpersonal Dynamics” or, as students referred to it, “Touchy Feely.” In “Touchy Feely,” students get very candid feedback on how their words and actions affect others in a small group that meets several hours per week for a whole quarter.

We talked about microaggressions and feelings and empathy and listening. Sometimes in class the professor would say things to me like “Puzhong, when Mary said that, I could see you were really feeling something,” or “Puzhong, I could see in your eyes that Peter’s story affected you.” And I would tell them I didn’t feel anything. I was quite confused.

One of the papers we studied mentioned that subjects are often not conscious of their own feelings when fully immersed in a situation. But body indicators such as heart rate would show whether the person is experiencing strong emotions. I thought that I generally didn’t have a lot of emotions and decided that this might be a good way for me to discover my hidden emotions that the professor kept asking about.

So I bought a heart rate monitor and checked my resting heart rate. Right around 78. And when the professor said to me in class “Puzhong, I can see that story brought up some emotions in you,” I rolled up my sleeve and checked my heart rate. It was about 77. And so I said, “nope, no emotion.” The experiment seemed to confirm my prior belief: my heart rate hardly moved, even when I was criticized, though it did jump when I became excited or laughed.

This didn’t land well on some of my classmates. They felt I was not treating these matters with the seriousness that they deserved. The professor was very angry. My takeaway was that my interpersonal skills were so bad that I could easily offend people unintentionally, so I concluded that after graduation I should do something that involved as little human interaction as possible.

Therefore, I decided I needed to return to work in financial markets rather than attempting something else. I went to the career service office and told them that my primary goal after the MBA was to make money. I told them that $500,000 sounded like a good number. They were very confused, though, as they said their goal was to help me find my passion and my calling. I told them that my calling was to make money for my family. They were trying to be helpful, but in my case, their advice didn’t turn out to be very helpful.

Eventually I was able to meet the chief financial officer of my favorite company, Costco. He told me that they don’t hire any MBAs. Everyone starts by pushing trolleys. (I have seriously thought about doing just that. But my wife is strongly against it.) Maybe, I thought, that is why the company is so successful—no MBAs!

...

Warren Buffett has said that the moment one was born in the United States or another Western country, that person has essentially won a lottery. If someone is born a U.S. citizen, he or she enjoys a huge advantage in almost every aspect of life, including expected wealth, education, health care, environment, safety, etc., when compared to someone born in developing countries. For someone foreign to “purchase” these privileges, the price tag at the moment is $1 million dollars (the rough value of the EB-5 investment visa). Even at this price level, the demand from certain countries routinely exceeds the annual allocated quota, resulting in long waiting times. In that sense, American citizens were born millionaires!

Yet one wonders how long such luck will last. This brings me back to the title of Rubin’s book, his “uncertain world.” In such a world, the vast majority things are outside our control, determined by God or luck. After we have given our best and once the final card is drawn, we should neither become too excited by what we have achieved nor too depressed by what we failed to … [more]
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january 2018 by nhaliday
Christianity in China | Council on Foreign Relations
projected to outpace CCP membership soon

This fascinating map shows the new religious breakdown in China: http://www.businessinsider.com/new-religious-breakdown-in-china-14

Map Showing the Distribution of Christians in China: http://www.epm.org/resources/2010/Oct/18/map-showing-distribution-christians-china/

Christianity in China: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_in_China
Accurate data on Chinese Christians is hard to access. According to the most recent internal surveys there are approximately 31 million Christians in China today (2.3% of the total population).[5] On the other hand, some international Christian organizations estimate there are tens of millions more, which choose not to publicly identify as such.[6] The practice of religion continues to be tightly controlled by government authorities.[7] Chinese over the age of 18 are only permitted to join officially sanctioned Christian groups registered with the government-approved Protestant Three-Self Church and China Christian Council and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church.[8]

In Xi we trust - Is China cracking down on Christianity?: http://www.dw.com/en/in-xi-we-trust-is-china-cracking-down-on-christianity/a-42224752A

In China, Unregistered Churches Are Driving a Religious Revolution: https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/04/china-unregistered-churches-driving-religious-revolution/521544/

Cracks in the atheist edifice: https://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21629218-rapid-spread-christianity-forcing-official-rethink-religion-cracks

Jesus won’t save you — President Xi Jinping will, Chinese Christians told: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/11/14/jesus-wont-save-you-president-xi-jinping-will-chinese-christians-told/

http://www.sixthtone.com/news/1001611/noodles-for-the-messiah-chinas-creative-christian-hymns

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pope-china-exclusive/exclusive-china-vatican-deal-on-bishops-ready-for-signing-source-idUSKBN1FL67U
Catholics in China are split between those in “underground” communities that recognize the pope and those belonging to a state-controlled Catholic Patriotic Association where bishops are appointed by the government in collaboration with local Church communities.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-42914029
The underground churches recognise only the Vatican's authority, whereas the Chinese state churches refuse to accept the authority of the Pope.

There are currently about 100 Catholic bishops in China, with some approved by Beijing, some approved by the Vatican and, informally, many now approved by both.

...

Under the agreement, the Vatican would be given a say in the appointment of future bishops in China, a Vatican source told news agency Reuters.

For Beijing, an agreement with the Vatican could allow them more control over the country's underground churches.

Globally, it would also enhance China's prestige - to have the world's rising superpower engaging with one of the world's major religions.

Symbolically, it would the first sign of rapprochement between China and the Catholic church in more than half a century.

The Vatican is the only European state that maintains formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. It is currently unclear if an agreement between China and the Vatican would affect this in any way.

What will this mean for the country's Catholics?

There are currently around 10 million Roman Catholics in China.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/china-vatican-deal-on-bishops-reportedly-ready-for-signing/2018/02/01/2adfc6b2-0786-11e8-b48c-b07fea957bd5_story.html

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2018/02/06/china-is-the-best-implementer-of-catholic-social-doctrine-says-vatican-bishop/
The chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences praised the 'extraordinary' Communist state

“Right now, those who are best implementing the social doctrine of the Church are the Chinese,” a senior Vatican official has said.

Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, praised the Communist state as “extraordinary”, saying: “You do not have shantytowns, you do not have drugs, young people do not take drugs”. Instead, there is a “positive national conscience”.

The bishop told the Spanish-language edition of Vatican Insider that in China “the economy does not dominate politics, as happens in the United States, something Americans themselves would say.”

Bishop Sánchez Sorondo said that China was implementing Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’ better than many other countries and praised it for defending Paris Climate Accord. “In that, it is assuming a moral leadership that others have abandoned”, he added.

...

As part of the diplomacy efforts, Bishop Sánchez Sorondo visited the country. “What I found was an extraordinary China,” he said. “What people don’t realise is that the central value in China is work, work, work. There’s no other way, fundamentally it is like St Paul said: he who doesn’t work, doesn’t eat.”

China reveals plan to remove ‘foreign influence’ from Catholic Church: http://catholicherald.co.uk/news/2018/06/02/china-reveals-plan-to-remove-foreign-influence-from-catholic-church1/

China, A Fourth Rome?: http://thermidormag.com/china-a-fourth-rome/
As a Chinaman born in the United States, I find myself able to speak to both places and neither. By accidents of fortune, however – or of providence, rather – I have identified more with China even as I have lived my whole life in the West. English is my third language, after Cantonese and Mandarin, even if I use it to express my intellectually most complex thoughts; and though my best of the three in writing, trained by the use of Latin, it is the vehicle of a Chinese soul. So it is in English that for the past year I have memed an idea as unconventional as it is ambitious, unto the Europæans a stumbling-block, and unto the Chinese foolishness: #China4thRome.

This idea I do not attempt to defend rigorously, between various powers’ conflicting claims to carrying on the Roman heritage; neither do I intend to claim that Moscow, which has seen itself as a Third Rome after the original Rome and then Constantinople, is fallen. Instead, I think back to the division of the Roman empire, first under Diocletian’s Tetrarchy and then at the death of Theodosius I, the last ruler of the undivided Roman empire. In the second partition, at the death of Theodosius, Arcadius became emperor of the East, with his capital in Constantinople, and Honorius emperor of the West, with his capital in Milan and then Ravenna. That the Roman empire did not stay uniformly strong under a plurality of emperors is not the point. What is significant about the administrative division of the Roman empire among several emperors is that the idea of Rome can be one even while its administration is diverse.

By divine providence, the Christian religion – and through it, Rome – has spread even through the bourgeois imperialism of the 19th and 20th centuries. Across the world, the civil calendar of common use is that of Rome, reckoned from 1 January; few places has Roman law left wholly untouched. Nevertheless, never have we observed in the world of Roman culture an ethnogenetic pattern like that of the Chinese empire as described by the prologue of Luo Guanzhong’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms 三國演義: ‘The empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide. Thus it has ever been.’1 According to classical Chinese cosmology, the phrase rendered the empire is more literally all under heaven 天下, the Chinese œcumene being its ‘all under heaven’ much as a Persian proverb speaks of the old Persian capital of Isfahan: ‘Esfahān nesf-e jahān ast,’ Isfahan is half the world. As sociologist Fei Xiaotong describes it in his 1988 Tanner Lecture ‘Plurality and Unity in the Configuration of the Chinese People’,

...

And this Chinese œcumene has united and divided for centuries, even as those who live in it have recognized a fundamental unity. But Rome, unlike the Chinese empire, has lived on in multiple successor polities, sometimes several at once, without ever coming back together as one empire administered as one. Perhaps something of its character has instead uniquely suited it to being the spirit of a kind of broader world empire. As Dante says in De Monarchia, ‘As the human race, then, has an end, and this end is a means necessary to the universal end of nature, it follows that nature must have the means in view.’ He continues,

If these things are true, there is no doubt but that nature set apart in the world a place and a people for universal sovereignty; otherwise she would be deficient in herself, which is impossible. What was this place, and who this people, moreover, is sufficiently obvious in what has been said above, and in what shall be added further on. They were Rome and her citizens or people. On this subject our Poet [Vergil] has touched very subtly in his sixth book [of the Æneid], where he brings forward Anchises prophesying in these words to Aeneas, father of the Romans: ‘Verily, that others shall beat out the breathing bronze more finely, I grant you; they shall carve the living feature in the marble, plead causes with more eloquence, and trace the movements of the heavens with a rod, and name the rising stars: thine, O Roman, be the care to rule the peoples with authority; be thy arts these, to teach men the way of peace, to show mercy to the subject, and to overcome the proud.’ And the disposition of place he touches upon lightly in the fourth book, when he introduces Jupiter speaking of Aeneas to Mercury in this fashion: ‘Not such a one did his most beautiful mother promise to us, nor for this twice rescue him from Grecian arms; rather was he to be the man to govern Italy teeming with empire and tumultuous with war.’ Proof enough has been given that the Romans were by nature ordained for sovereignty. Therefore the Roman … [more]
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january 2018 by nhaliday
Sequence Modeling with CTC
A visual guide to Connectionist Temporal Classification, an algorithm used to train deep neural networks in speech recognition, handwriting recognition and other sequence problems.
acmtariat  techtariat  org:bleg  nibble  better-explained  machine-learning  deep-learning  visual-understanding  visualization  analysis  let-me-see  research  sequential  audio  classification  model-class  exposition  language  acm  approximation  comparison  markov  iteration-recursion  concept  atoms  distribution  orders  DP  heuristic  optimization  trees  greedy  matching  gradient-descent  org:popup 
december 2017 by nhaliday
Random Thought Depository — digging-holes-in-the-river: This is a video about...
“Much of the science of modern orthodontics is devoted to creating - through rubber bands, wires, and braces - the perfect “overbite.” An overbite refers to the way our top layer of incisors hang over the bottom layer, like a lid on a box. This is the ideal human occlusion. The opposite of an overbite is an “edge-to-edge” bite seen in primates such as chimpanzees, where the top incisors clash against the bottom ones, like a guillotine blade.

What the orthodontists don’t tell you is that the overbite is a very recent aspect of human anatomy and probably results from the way we use our table knives. Based on surviving skeletons, this has only been a “normal” alignment of the human jaw for 200 to 250 years in the Western world. Before that, most human beings had an edge-to-edge bite, comparable to apes. The overbite is not a product of evolution - the time frame is far too short. Rather, it seems likely to be a response to the way we cut our food during our formative years. The person who worked this out is Professor Charles Loring Brace (born 1930), a remarkable American anthropologist whose main intellectual passion was Neanderthal man. Over decades, Brace built up the world’s largest database on the evolution of hominid teeth. He possibly held more ancient human jaws in his hand than anyone else in the twentieth century.

It’s not that your teeth are too big: your jaw is too small: https://aeon.co/ideas/its-not-that-your-teeth-are-too-big-your-jaw-is-too-small
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november 2017 by nhaliday
Peter Turchin Catalonia Independence Drive: a Case-Study in Applied Cultural Evolution - Peter Turchin
The theoretically interesting question is what is the optimal size of a politically independent unit (“polity”) in today’s world. Clearly, optimal size changes with time and social environment. We know empirically that the optimal size of a European state took a step up following 1500. As a result, the number of independent polities in Europe decreased from many hundreds in 1500 to just over 30 in 1900. The reason was the introduction of gunpowder that greatly elevated war intensity. The new evolutionary regime eliminated almost all of the small states, apart from a few special cases (like the Papacy or Monaco).

In today’s Europe, however, war has ceased to be an evolutionary force. It may change, but since 1945 the success or failure of European polities has been largely determined by their ability to deliver high levels of living standards to their citizens. Economics is not the only aspect of well-being, but let’s focus on it here because it is clearly the main driver behind Catalonian independence (since culturally and linguistically Catalonia has been given a free rein within Spain).

...

This is applied cultural evolution. We can have lots of theories and models about the optimal polity size, but they are worthless without data.

And it’s much more than a scientific issue. The only way for our societies to become better in all kinds of ways (wealthier, more just, more efficient) is to allow cultural evolution a free rein. More specifically, we need cultural group selection at the level of polities. A major problem for the humanity is finding ways to have such cultural group selection to take place without violence. Which is why I find the current moves by Madrid to suppress the Catalonian independence vote by force criminally reckless. It seems that Madrid still wants to go back to the world as it was in the nineteenth century (or more accurately, Europe between 1500 and 1900).

A World of 1,000 Nations: http://www.unz.com/akarlin/a-world-of-1000-nations/

Brief note on Catalonia: https://nintil.com/brief-note-on-catalonia/
This could be just another footnote in a history book, or an opening passage in the chapter that explains how you got an explosion in the number of states that began around 2017.

Nationalism, Liberalism and the European Paradox: http://quillette.com/2017/10/08/nationalism-liberalism-european-paradox/
Imagine for a moment that an ethnic group declared a referendum of independence in an Asian country and the nation state in question promptly sought to take the act of rebellion down. Imagine that in the ensuing chaos over 800 people were injured in a brutal police crackdown. Imagine the international disgust if this had happened in Asia, or the Middle East, or Latin America, or even in parts of Eastern and Central Europe. There would be calls for interventions, the topic would be urgently raised at the Security Council —and there might even be talks of sanctions or the arming of moderate rebels.

Of course, nothing of that sort happened as the Spanish state declared the Catalonian independence referendum a farce.

...

Remarkably, EU officials have largely remained mute. France’s new great hope, Monsieur Macron has sheepishly supported Spain’s “constitutional unity,” which is weasel-speak for national sovereignty—a concept which is so often dismissed by the very same European nations if it happens immediately outside the geographical region of EU. And this attitude towards nationalism—that it is archaic and obsolete on the one hand, but vitally important on the other—is the core paradox, and, some would say, hypocrisy, that has been laid bare by this sudden outbreak of tension.

It is a hypocrisy because one could argue that since the collapse of the Soviet Union, there has been a consistent and very real attempt to undermine sovereignty in many different parts of the world. To be fair, this has been done with mostly good intentions in the name of institutionalism and global governance, the “responsibility to protect” and universal human rights. With history in the Hegelian sense seemingly over after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, nationalism and great power politics were thought to be a thing of the past—a quaint absurdity—an irrelevance and a barrier to true Enlightenment. But unfortunately history does tend to have a sardonic sense of humour.

The entire European project was built on two fundamentally different ideas. One that promotes economic welfare based on borderless free trade, the free market and social individualism. And the other, promoting a centralized hierarchy, an elite in loco parentis which makes decisions about how many calories one should consume, what plastic one should import, and what gross picture of shredded lungs one should see on the front of a cigarette packet. It endorses sovereignty when it means rule by democracy and the protection of human rights, but not when countries decide to control their borders or their individual monetary and economic policies. Over time, defending these contradictions has become increasingly difficult, with cynical onlookers accusing technocrats of defending an unjustifiable and arbitrary set of principles.

All of this has resulted in three things. Regional ethnic groups in Europe have seen the examples of ethnic groups abroad undermining their own national governments, and they have picked up on these lessons. They also possess the same revolutionary technology—Twitter and the iPhone. Secondly, as Westphalian nation-states have been undermined repeatedly by borderless technocrats, identity movements based on ethnicity have begun to rise up. Humans, tribal at their very core, will always give in to the urge of having a cohesive social group to join, and a flag to wave high. And finally, there really is no logical counterargument to Catalans or Scots wanting to break apart from one union while staying in another. If ultimately, everything is going to be dictated by a handful of liege-lords in Brussels—why even obey the middle-man in Madrid or London?

https://twitter.com/whyvert/status/914521100263890944
https://archive.is/WKfIA
Spain should have either forcibly assimilated Catalonia as France did with its foreign regions, or established a formal federation of states
--
ah those are the premodern and modern methods. The postmodern method is to bring in lots of immigrants (who will vote against separation)
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october 2017 by nhaliday
Definite optimism as human capital | Dan Wang
I’ve come to the view that creativity and innovative capacity aren’t a fixed stock, coiled and waiting to be released by policy. Now, I know that a country will not do well if it has poor infrastructure, interest rate management, tax and regulation levels, and a whole host of other issues. But getting them right isn’t sufficient to promote innovation; past a certain margin, when they’re all at rational levels, we ought to focus on promoting creativity and drive as a means to propel growth.

...

When I say “positive” vision, I don’t mean that people must see the future as a cheerful one. Instead, I’m saying that people ought to have a vision at all: A clear sense of how the technological future will be different from today. To have a positive vision, people must first expand their imaginations. And I submit that an interest in science fiction, the material world, and proximity to industry all help to refine that optimism. I mean to promote imagination by direct injection.

...

If a state has lost most of its jobs for electrical engineers, or nuclear engineers, or mechanical engineers, then fewer young people in that state will study those practices, and technological development in related fields slow down a little further. When I bring up these thoughts on resisting industrial decline to economists, I’m unsatisfied with their responses. They tend to respond by tautology (“By definition, outsourcing improves on the status quo”) or arithmetic (see: gains from comparative advantage, Ricardo). These kinds of logical exercises are not enough. I would like for more economists to consider a human capital perspective for preserving manufacturing expertise (to some degree).

I wonder if the so-called developed countries should be careful of their own premature deindustrialization. The US industrial base has faltered, but there is still so much left to build. Until we’ve perfected asteroid mining and super-skyscrapers and fusion rockets and Jupiter colonies and matter compilers, we can’t be satisfied with innovation confined mostly to the digital world.

Those who don’t mind the decline of manufacturing employment like to say that people have moved on to higher-value work. But I’m not sure that this is usually the case. Even if there’s an endlessly capacious service sector to absorb job losses in manufacturing, it’s often the case that these new jobs feature lower productivity growth and involve greater rent-seeking. Not everyone is becoming hedge fund managers and machine learning engineers. According to BLS, the bulk of service jobs are in 1. government (22 million), 2. professional services (19m), 3. healthcare (18m), 4. retail (15m), and 5. leisure and hospitality (15m). In addition to being often low-paying but still competitive, a great deal of service sector jobs tend to stress capacity for emotional labor over capacity for manual labor. And it’s the latter that tends to be more present in fields involving technological upgrading.

...

Here’s a bit more skepticism of service jobs. In an excellent essay on declining productivity growth, Adair Turner makes the point that many service jobs are essentially zero-sum. I’d like to emphasize and elaborate on that idea here.

...

Call me a romantic, but I’d like everyone to think more about industrial lubricants, gas turbines, thorium reactors, wire production, ball bearings, underwater cables, and all the things that power our material world. I abide by a strict rule never to post or tweet about current political stuff; instead I try to draw more attention to the world of materials. And I’d like to remind people that there are many things more edifying than following White House scandals.

...

First, we can all try to engage more actively with the material world, not merely the digital or natural world. Go ahead and pick an industrial phenomenon and learn more about it. Learn more about the history of aviation, and what it took to break the sound barrier; gaze at the container ships as they sail into port, and keep in mind that they carry 90 percent of the goods you see around you; read about what we mold plastics to do; meditate on the importance of steel in civilization; figure out what’s driving the decline in the cost of solar energy production, or how we draw electricity from nuclear fission, or what it takes to extract petroleum or natural gas from the ground.

...

Here’s one more point that I’d like to add on Girard at college: I wonder if to some extent current dynamics are the result of the liberal arts approach of “college teaches you how to think, not what to think.” I’ve never seen much data to support this wonderful claim that college is good at teaching critical thinking skills. Instead, students spend most of their energies focused on raising or lowering the status of the works they study or the people around them, giving rise to the Girardian terror that has gripped so many campuses.

College as an incubator of Girardian terror: http://danwang.co/college-girardian-terror/
It’s hard to construct a more perfect incubator for mimetic contagion than the American college campus. Most 18-year-olds are not super differentiated from each other. By construction, whatever distinctions any does have are usually earned through brutal, zero-sum competitions. These tournament-type distinctions include: SAT scores at or near perfection; being a top player on a sports team; gaining master status from chess matches; playing first instrument in state orchestra; earning high rankings in Math Olympiad; and so on, culminating in gaining admission to a particular college.

Once people enter college, they get socialized into group environments that usually continue to operate in zero-sum competitive dynamics. These include orchestras and sport teams; fraternities and sororities; and many types of clubs. The biggest source of mimetic pressures are the classes. Everyone starts out by taking the same intro classes; those seeking distinction throw themselves into the hardest classes, or seek tutelage from star professors, and try to earn the highest grades.

Mimesis Machines and Millennials: http://quillette.com/2017/11/02/mimesis-machines-millennials/
In 1956, a young Liverpudlian named John Winston Lennon heard the mournful notes of Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel, and was transformed. He would later recall, “nothing really affected me until I heard Elvis. If there hadn’t been an Elvis, there wouldn’t have been the Beatles.” It is an ancient human story. An inspiring model, an inspired imitator, and a changed world.

Mimesis is the phenomenon of human mimicry. Humans see, and they strive to become what they see. The prolific Franco-Californian philosopher René Girard described the human hunger for imitation as mimetic desire. According to Girard, mimetic desire is a mighty psychosocial force that drives human behavior. When attempted imitation fails, (i.e. I want, but fail, to imitate my colleague’s promotion to VP of Business Development), mimetic rivalry arises. According to mimetic theory, periodic scapegoating—the ritualistic expelling of a member of the community—evolved as a way for archaic societies to diffuse rivalries and maintain the general peace.

As civilization matured, social institutions evolved to prevent conflict. To Girard, sacrificial religious ceremonies first arose as imitations of earlier scapegoating rituals. From the mimetic worldview healthy social institutions perform two primary functions,

They satisfy mimetic desire and reduce mimetic rivalry by allowing imitation to take place.
They thereby reduce the need to diffuse mimetic rivalry through scapegoating.
Tranquil societies possess and value institutions that are mimesis tolerant. These institutions, such as religion and family, are Mimesis Machines. They enable millions to see, imitate, and become new versions of themselves. Mimesis Machines, satiate the primal desire for imitation, and produce happy, contented people. Through Mimesis Machines, Elvis fans can become Beatles.

Volatile societies, on the other hand, possess and value mimesis resistant institutions that frustrate attempts at mimicry, and mass produce frustrated, resentful people. These institutions, such as capitalism and beauty hierarchies, are Mimesis Shredders. They stratify humanity, and block the ‘nots’ from imitating the ‘haves’.
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october 2017 by nhaliday
German Election: The AfD Profits from Non-Voters and Merkel Defectors | ZEIT ONLINE
The conservatives and center-left suffered huge losses while the right-wing populist AfD became Saxony's most powerful party. We analyzed the data so you don’t have to.

The anti-Muslim AfD just scored big in Germany’s election. What does this mean for German Muslims?: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/09/25/the-anti-muslim-afd-just-scored-big-in-germanys-election-what-does-this-mean-for-german-muslims/

The Germans Turn Right: http://www.weeklystandard.com/the-germans-turn-right/article/2009880
- Christopher Caldwell

The German Election—A Conservative Analysis: http://quillette.com/2017/09/28/german-election-conservative-analysis/
As traditional European conservatives were pushed Left-ward by media and academic communities on immigration and social and religious rights, the vacuum was filled by the rise of blut-und-boden far right parties all across Europe. In a Sophoclean twist of fate, the European political center and center-Left is now dying, thanks to the very person that liberals like to portray as the “new leader” of the free world.

later:
The End of German Stability: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/the_good_fight/2017/11/germany_s_coalition_talks_collapse_threatening_stability.html
The collapse of coalition talks bodes badly for Angela Merkel, and for democratic governments everywhere.

Austrian legislative election, 2017: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austrian_legislative_election,_2017
Austria heads for right-leaning coalition: http://www.politico.eu/article/austria-heads-for-right-leaning-coalition-early-projections/
https://twitter.com/almodozo/status/919662426966118403
https://archive.is/4vkG6
Finally an election where the far right actually did best (barely) among youngest voters: FPÖ got 30% of the <30 vote. SPÖ voters old #nrw17

European Populism Is Here to Stay: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/20/opinion/european-populism-is-here-to-stay.html

Czech Republic:
http://www.nydailynews.com/newswires/news/world/populist-billionaire-party-wins-big-czech-republic-article-1.3578312
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-czech-election-farright/far-right-scores-surprise-success-in-czech-election-idUSKBN1CQ0T3

Dealing with the Dignity Deficit: https://www.the-american-interest.com/2018/04/05/dealing-dignity-deficit/
Are the grievances tearing our societies apart at this hyper-polarized moment insurmountable? A week with some AfD voters and politicians gave me a measure of hope.

More importantly, a generous welfare state appears at best to be an inadequate solution to the problems and pathologies of checker-boarded economic dislocation. The pesky question of dignity remains: Despite what boosters of a universal basic income try to tell us, our modern sense of purpose and identity remains closely tied to what we “do” for a living. Making disempowered people more comfortable does not necessarily make them less frustrated.

...

But since when are openness, cosmopolitanism, and diversity intrinsic to a complete definition of liberalism? They make no significant appearance in any of the foundational texts of liberal political thought. They are merely the product of the demands that globalization and urbanization places upon us “anywheres”, which we in turn try to wedge into the liberal canon in order to erase any discomfort we may feel about change pulling the ideological rug out from under our feet. Historical accounts of earlier periods of urbanization are rightly dispassionate in describing people flocking to cities out of economic want. And they correctly identify the emergence of the middle class and its attendant values as the product of complex factors interacting in these new circumstances. We instead now disfigure analysis into a form or moral self-congratulation.
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september 2017 by nhaliday
Which industries are the most liberal and most conservative?
How Democratic or Republican is your job? This tool tells you: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/06/03/how-democratic-or-republican-is-your-job-this-tool-tells-you/?utm_term=.e19707abd9f1

http://verdantlabs.com/politics_of_professions/index.html

What you do and how you vote: http://www.pleeps.org/2017/01/07/what-you-do-and-how-you-vote/

trending blue across white-collar professions:
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/18/opinion/trump-fundraising-donors.html
https://twitter.com/adam_bonica/status/1174536380329803776
https://archive.is/r7YB6

https://twitter.com/whyvert/status/1174735746088996864
https://archive.is/Cwrih
This is partly because the meaning of left and right changed during that period. Left used to about protecting workers. Now it's mainly about increasing the power of the elite class over the working class - thus their increased support.
--
yes, it is a different kind of left now

academia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_views_of_American_academics

The Legal Academy's Ideological Uniformity: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2953087

Homogenous: The Political Affiliations of Elite Liberal Arts College Faculty: https://sci-hub.tw/10.1007/s12129-018-9700-x
includes crosstab by discipline

https://www.conservativecriminology.com/uploads/5/6/1/7/56173731/lounsbery_9-25.pdf#page=28
Neil Gross, Solon Simmons
THE SOCIAL AND POLITICAL VIEWS OF AMERICAN PROFESSORS

another crosstab
description of data sampling on page 21, meant to be representative of all undergraduate degree-granting institutions

Computer science 32.3 58.1 9.7

It’s finally out–The big review paper on the lack of political diversity in social psychology: https://heterodoxacademy.org/2015/09/14/bbs-paper-on-lack-of-political-diversity/
https://heterodoxacademy.org/2015/09/21/political-diversity-response-to-33-critiques/
http://righteousmind.com/viewpoint-diversity/
http://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/real-academic-diversity
http://quillette.com/2017/07/06/social-sciences-undergoing-purity-spiral/
What’s interesting about Haidt’s alternative interpretation of the liberal progress narrative is that he mentions two elements central to the narrative—private property and nations. And what has happened to a large extent is that as the failures of communism have become increasingly apparent many on the left—including social scientists—have shifted their activism away from opposing private property and towards other aspects, for example globalism.

But how do we know a similarly disastrous thing is not going to happen with globalism as happened with communism? What if some form of national and ethnic affiliation is a deep-seated part of human nature, and that trying to forcefully suppress it will eventually lead to a disastrous counter-reaction? What if nations don’t create conflict, but alleviate it? What if a decentralised structure is the best way for human society to function?
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september 2017 by nhaliday
Ideas were not enough | Aeon
- Mark Koyama
some funny art here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_League_(French)
The Difficulty of Ruling over a Diverse Nation (1578): https://publicdomainreview.org/collections/the-difficulty-of-ruling-over-a-diverse-nation-1578/
16th-century Dutch engraving depicting a fantastical animal with the heads of various other animals sprouting from its body: an allegory for the difficulty of ruling over a diverse nation. In the background, watching on, can be seen a small mob or leaders, both secular and religious. This work by Antwerp-based artist Pieter van der Borcht the Elder, with its image of a confused and troubled body politic, is perhaps just as relevant now as it was then.

another article, also by Koyama:
https://areomagazine.com/2019/06/03/identity-rules-group-rights-and-the-promise-of-liberalism/

most relevant study:
Legal centralization and the birth of the secular state: http://mason.gmu.edu/~mkoyama2/About_files/Koyama13b.pdf
originally I listed it here, but it seems more closely related to this (more focus on religious liberty than general democracy and individual rights): https://pinboard.in/u:nhaliday/b:7a51388a6bc1
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september 2017 by nhaliday
The Conservation of Coercion - American Affairs Journal
The two faces of the Kapauku Papuans, and the way their anarchist-friendly political order rested on a deeply illiberal social order, neatly express how Technology and the End of Authority, by the Cato Institute scholar Jason Kuznicki, is both an interesting and a maddening book. Kuznicki states that he was inspired to write the book when he wondered why so many classical political philosophers, despite their disagreements over a vast number of topics, nevertheless all believed the nature and proper role of the state was the most important question concerning the proper organization of human affairs. Even libertarian and anarchist political theorists obsess about states, filling books with discussions of when and why we ought to reject them as illegitimate. The nature of their opposition implicitly concedes that the state, its value and purpose, is the central question for us to grapple with.

In contrast, Kuznicki invites us, if not to ignore the state, then at least to banish it from the forefront of our thinking. He asks us to consider states as just one tool among many that human societies have deployed to solve various sorts of problems. The state is neither God nor the Devil, but something pragmatic and unromantic—like a sewage system, or a town dump. Yes, we want it to function smoothly lest the place start to stink, but good taste demands that we not focus obsessively on its operation. Statecraft, like sanitation engineering, is a dirty job that somebody has to do, but unlike sanitation engineering it should also be a mildly embarrassing one. The notion that political means are a locus of the good, or that the state is imbued with the highest purposes of society, is as ridiculous as the notion that a city exists for its sewers rather than vice versa. So, Kuznicki suggests, we should treat anybody attempting to derive the correct or legitimate purposes of the state with the same skepticism with which we would view somebody waxing philosophical about a trash compactor. The real center of society, the topics worth debating and pondering, are all the other institutions—like markets, churches, sports teams, scientific schools, and families—whose existence the correct operation of the state supports.

...

The second implication of Kuznicki’s statecraft-as-engineering is that any determination about the proper role and behavior of government must remain unsettled not only by historical and cultural context, but also by the ambient level of technology. Kuznicki explores this at some length. He does not mean to make the common argument that the particular set of technologies deployed within a society can be more or less conducive to particular forms of government—as mass democracy might be encouraged by technologies of communication and travel, or as centralized autocracy might tend to arise in societies relying on large-scale irrigation for intensive agriculture. Rather, if the state is a tool for solving an array of otherwise intractable social problems, Kuznicki surmises, a newly discovered technological solution to such a problem could remove it from the state’s set of concerns—perhaps permanently.

...

What are the qualities of a society which make it more or less likely to be able to solve these dilemmas as they come up? Social scientists call societies that support commitment and enforcement mechanisms sufficient to overcome such dilemmas “high trust.” Some sources of social trust are mundane: for instance, it seems to make a big difference for a society to simply have a high enough median wealth that someone isn’t liable to be ruined if he or she takes a gamble on trusting a stranger and ends up getting cheated. Others are fuzzier: shared participation in churches, clubs, and social organizations can also significantly increase the degree of solidarity and trust in a community. Thinkers from Tocqueville to Robert Nisbet have pointed out the ways in which the ascendant state makes war upon and seeks to displace the “little platoons” of civil society. It is not well appreciated today that the reverse is also true: a “thick” culture rooted in shared norms and shared history can make the state less necessary by helping to raise the ambient level of social trust above whatever threshold makes it possible for citizens to organize and discipline themselves without state compulsion.

...

The story of the diamontaires ends with the whole system, private courts and all, falling apart following an influx of non-Hasidic actors into the New York diamond industry. But lack of trust and solidarity aren’t just problems if we want private courts. Yes, a very high degree of social trust can help to replace or displace state institutions, but any amount of trust tends to make governments more efficient and less corrupt. It isn’t a coincidence that many of the most successful governments on earth, whether efficient and well-run welfare states on the Scandinavian model or free-market havens boasting low taxes and few regulations, have been small, tight-knit, often culturally and linguistically homogeneous. Conversely, history’s most successful multiethnic polities have tended to be empires or confederations with a very high degree of provincial or local autonomy. Government is not a problem that scales gracefully: certainly not with number of citizens, but perhaps also not with number of constituent cultures. Those who love cosmopolitanism (among whom I count myself) talk a great deal about the incidental benefits it brings, and a great deal less about its drawbacks. I and other cosmopolitans love to exalt the dynamism that comes from diversity and the way it can help a society avoid falling into complacency. We are less willing to discuss the tiny invisible tax on everything and everybody that reduced social trust imposes, and the ways in which that will tend to make a nation more sclerotic.

In the absence of trust, every private commercial or social interaction becomes just a little bit more expensive, a little bit less efficient, and a little bit less likely to happen at all. Individuals are more cautious in their dealings with strangers, businesses are less likely to extend credit, everybody is a little more uncertain about the future, and people adjust their investment decisions accordingly. Individuals and businesses spend more money on bike locks, security systems, and real estate they perceive to be “safe,” rather than on the consumption or investment they would otherwise prefer. Critics of capitalism frequently observe that a liberal economic order depends upon, and sometimes cannibalizes, precapitalist sources of loyalty and affection. What if the same is true of political freedom more generally?

Some might object that even to consider such a thing is to give in to the forces of bigotry. But the whole point of taking a flinty-eyed engineer’s approach to state-building is that we don’t have to like the constraints we are working with, we just have to deal with them. The human preference for “people like us”—whether that means coreligionists or people who share our musical tastes, and whether we choose to frame it as bigotry or as game-theoretic rationality—is a stubborn, resilient reality. Perhaps in the future some advanced genetic engineering or psychological conditioning will change that. For now we need to recognize and deal with the fact that if we wish to have cosmopolitanism, we need to justify it on robust philosophical grounds, with full awareness of the costs as well as the benefits that it brings to bear on every member of society.
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august 2017 by nhaliday
The “Hearts and Minds” Fallacy: Violence, Coercion, and Success in Counterinsurgency Warfare | International Security | MIT Press Journals
The U.S. prescription for success has had two main elements: to support liberalizing, democratizing reforms to reduce popular grievances; and to pursue a military strategy that carefully targets insurgents while avoiding harming civilians. An analysis of contemporaneous documents and interviews with participants in three cases held up as models of the governance approach—Malaya, Dhofar, and El Salvador—shows that counterinsurgency success is the result of a violent process of state building in which elites contest for power, popular interests matter little, and the government benefits from uses of force against civilians.

https://twitter.com/foxyforecaster/status/893049155337244672
https://archive.is/zhOXD
this is why liberal states mostly fail in counterinsurgency wars

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/commentary-why-are-we-still-in-afghanistan/

contrary study:
Nation Building Through Foreign Intervention: Evidence from Discontinuities in Military Strategies: https://academic.oup.com/qje/advance-article/doi/10.1093/qje/qjx037/4110419
This study uses discontinuities in U.S. strategies employed during the Vietnam War to estimate their causal impacts. It identifies the effects of bombing by exploiting rounding thresholds in an algorithm used to target air strikes. Bombing increased the military and political activities of the communist insurgency, weakened local governance, and reduced noncommunist civic engagement. The study also exploits a spatial discontinuity across neighboring military regions that pursued different counterinsurgency strategies. A strategy emphasizing overwhelming firepower plausibly increased insurgent attacks and worsened attitudes toward the U.S. and South Vietnamese government, relative to a more hearts-and-minds-oriented approach. JEL Codes: F35, F51, F52

anecdote:
Military Adventurer Raymond Westerling On How To Defeat An Insurgency: http://www.socialmatter.net/2018/03/12/military-adventurer-raymond-westerling-on-how-to-defeat-an-insurgency/
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august 2017 by nhaliday
How to Escape Saddle Points Efficiently – Off the convex path
A core, emerging problem in nonconvex optimization involves the escape of saddle points. While recent research has shown that gradient descent (GD) generically escapes saddle points asymptotically (see Rong Ge’s and Ben Recht’s blog posts), the critical open problem is one of efficiency — is GD able to move past saddle points quickly, or can it be slowed down significantly? How does the rate of escape scale with the ambient dimensionality? In this post, we describe our recent work with Rong Ge, Praneeth Netrapalli and Sham Kakade, that provides the first provable positive answer to the efficiency question, showing that, rather surprisingly, GD augmented with suitable perturbations escapes saddle points efficiently; indeed, in terms of rate and dimension dependence it is almost as if the saddle points aren’t there!
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july 2017 by nhaliday
Corrupting cooperation and how anti-corruption strategies may backfire | Nature Human Behaviour
https://images.nature.com/original/nature-assets/nathumbehav/2017/s41562-017-0138/extref/s41562-017-0138-s1.pdf
Exposure to Norms: https://images.nature.com/original/nature-assets/nathumbehav/2017/s41562-017-0138/extref/s41562-017-0138-s1.pdf#page=114
Here we test how exposure to corruption norms affect behavior in our game. We do so by using our exposure score (a mean of the corruption perceptions of the countries the participant has lived in) and the heritage corruption score (a mean of the corruption perceptions of the countries the participant has an ethnic heritage). Since there is no incentive to offer bribes or contribute, except when compelled to do so by punishment, we predict that exposure to norms should primarily affect Leader decisions. Nonetheless, internalized norms may also affect the behavior of players in contributing and bribing.

...

The correlation between the direct exposure and heritage measures of corruption is r = 0.67, p < .001.

...

Then we see that direct exposure to corruption norms results in increased corrupt behavior—i.e. in our Canadian sample, those who have lived in corrupt countries from which they do not derive their heritage behave in more corrupt ways.

hard to interpret

https://twitter.com/Evolving_Moloch/status/884477414100697092
http://psych.ubc.ca/when-less-is-best/

I don't think the solution is to just do nothing. Should look to history for ideas; process of "getting to Denmark" took centuries in NW Euro. Try to replicate and don't expect fast results.

Trust and Bribery: The Role of the Quid Pro Quo and the Link with Crime: http://www.nber.org/papers/w10510
I study data on bribes actually paid by individuals to public officials, viewing the results through a theoretical lens that considers the implications of trust networks. A bond of trust may permit an implicit quid pro quo to substitute for a bribe, which reduces corruption. Appropriate networks are more easily established in small towns, by long-term residents of areas with many other long-term residents, and by individuals in regions with many residents their own age. I confirm that the prevalence of bribery is lower under these circumstances, using the International Crime Victim Surveys. I also find that older people, who have had time to develop a network, bribe less. These results highlight the uphill nature of the battle against corruption faced by policy-makers in rapidly urbanizing countries with high fertility. I show that victims of (other) crimes bribe all types of public officials more than non-victims, and argue that both their victimization and bribery stem from a distrustful environment.

Kinship, Fractionalization and Corruption: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2847222
The theory of kin selection provides a straightforward justification for norms of nepotism and favoritism among relatives; more subtly, it also implies that the returns to such norms may be influenced by mating practices. Specifically, in societies with high levels of sub-ethnic fractionalization, where endogamous (and consanguineous) mating within kin-group, clan and tribe increases the local relatedness of individuals, the relative returns to norms of nepotism and favoritism are high. In societies with exogamous marriage practices, the relative returns to norms of impartial cooperation with non-relatives and strangers are increased. Using cross-country and within-country regression analyses and a cross-country lab experiment, we provide evidence for this account.

Ethnic favouritism: Not just an African phenomenon: http://voxeu.org/article/ethnic-favouritism-not-just-african-phenomenon
Ethnic favouritism is a global phenomenon
We find robust evidence for ethnic favouritism – ethnographic regions that are the current political leader’s ethnic homeland enjoy 7%-10% more intense night-time light, corresponding to 2%-3% higher regional GDP. Furthermore, we show that ethnic favouritism extends to ethnic groups that are linguistically close to the political leader.

Most significantly, these effects are as strong outside of Africa as they are within, challenging the preconception that ethnic favouritism is mainly or even entirely a sub-Saharan African phenomenon. For example, Bolivian presidents tended to favour areas populated by European descendants and Criollos, largely at the expense of the indigenous population. After the election of Evo Morales, a member of the indigenous Ayamara ethnic group, luminosity in indigenous areas grew substantially. Notably, critics suggest Morales gave special attention to the interests and values of the Ayamara at the expense of other indigenous peoples (e.g. Albro 2010, Postero 2010).

Democratisation is not a panacea
Our results further suggest that, while democratic institutions have a weak tendency to reduce ethnic favouritism, their effect is limited. In particular, a change from autocratic regimes to weak democracies does not seem to reduce ethnic favouritism (and may even increase it).

This result could in part be explained by political leaders’ motivations for engaging in ethnic favouritism. We find that the practice intensifies around election years in which the political leader's office is contested, suggesting that leaders may target policies towards their ethnic homelands to improve their re-election prospects, and not solely out of co-ethnic altruism. To the extent that political leaders engage in ethnic favouritism for electoral purposes, democratisation is not likely to be effective in curbing the practice.

Facebook’s war on free will: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/sep/19/facebooks-war-on-free-will
Though Facebook will occasionally talk about the transparency of governments and corporations, what it really wants to advance is the transparency of individuals – or what it has called, at various moments, “radical transparency” or “ultimate transparency”. The theory holds that the sunshine of sharing our intimate details will disinfect the moral mess of our lives. With the looming threat that our embarrassing information will be broadcast, we’ll behave better. And perhaps the ubiquity of incriminating photos and damning revelations will prod us to become more tolerant of one another’s sins. “The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly,” Zuckerberg has said. “Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.”

The point is that Facebook has a strong, paternalistic view on what’s best for you, and it’s trying to transport you there. “To get people to this point where there’s more openness – that’s a big challenge. But I think we’ll do it,” Zuckerberg has said. He has reason to believe that he will achieve that goal. With its size, Facebook has amassed outsized powers. “In a lot of ways Facebook is more like a government than a traditional company,” Zuckerberg has said. “We have this large community of people, and more than other technology companies we’re really setting policies.”

Facebook and the Destruction of Private Life: http://www.socialmatter.net/2014/12/30/facebook-and-the-destruction-of-private-life/
- HENRY DAMPIER

The key value of privacy, which tends to be lost amid all the technological babble about the concept, is that it makes social cooperation more feasible among people who disagree, share different tastes, or fundamental points of view.

...

This is especially an issue with democracy. The reason why the United States has anonymous voting laws is because without them, people are persecuted for their party affiliations by people with rival party loyalties. This being forgotten, the age of Facebook and similar technologies has opened up ordinary people to this sort of ordinary political persecution. Moderating influences like that of the respect for privacy put a brake on some of the more rapacious, violent aspects of party politics.

...

The impulse for this comes less from the availability of the technology, and more because of the preexisting social trends. When there is a family life, there is communication and closeness within the family.

With more people living without a family life, they go to the public square to get their needs for social validation met. This doesn’t work so well, because strangers have no skin in the life of the atomized individual that only exists as an image on their screens.
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july 2017 by nhaliday
Our civilization’s Ottoman years – Gene Expression
How does any of this apply to today? Perhaps this time it’s different, but it seems implausible to me that our multicultural future is going to involve equality between the different peoples. Rather, there will be accommodation and understandings. Much of the population will be subject to immiseration of subsistence but not flourishing. They may have some universal basic income, but they will be lack the dignity of work. Identity, religious and otherwise, will become necessary opiums of the people. The people will have their tribunes, who represent their interests, and give them the illusion or semi-reality of a modicum agency.

The tribunes, who will represent classical ethno-cultural blocs recognizable to us today, will deal with a supra-national global patriciate. Like the Ottoman elite it will not necessarily be ethnically homogeneous. There will be aspects of meritocracy to it, but it will be narrow, delimited, and see itself self-consciously above and beyond local identities and concerns. The patriciate itself may be divided. But their common dynamic will be that they will be supra-national, mobile, and economically liberated as opposed to dependent.

Of course democracy will continue. Augustus claimed he revived the Roman Republic. The tiny city-state of Constantinople in the 15th century claimed it was the Roman Empire. And so on. Outward forms and niceties may be maintained, but death of the nation-state at the hands of identity politics and late stage capitalism will usher in the era of oligarchic multinationalism.

I could be wrong. I hope I am.

AMERICA’S DEMOGRAPHIC DELIBERALIZATION: https://jacobitemag.com/2017/11/03/americas-demographic-deliberalization/
But in the wake of the Civil Rights movement a new multiracial and multicultural vision of America took hold. This counter-narrative rapidly became orthodoxy; it held that the nation belongs to people of all races and cultures, not just whites. That it always belonged to other peoples, even if they had not enjoyed recognition by the white majority.

...

America as a multicultural polity is not an aspiration, but a simple description of fact. We are today a coalition of different factions bound together legally, but rapidly dissipating any cultural unity.

History is rife with stable multicultural societies: the ancient Roman Empire, the territories of the Ottomans, the Mughal Empire. These diverse states maintained harmony through a hierarchy. Understandings and accommodations among elites of the various peoples smoothed tensions and allowed for the operation of government despite animosity simmering beneath the surface. Populist mass movements are functionally impossible within a diverse medley of cultures, because politics in these societies develop into byzantine games of balance, or coalitions of coercion. No social consensus takes hold, preventing any unanimity of purpose.

In these culturally diverse systems there emerge tribunes of the peoples. The plural is key here, for the various people brought together under an empire represent the interest of sub-nations within the greater whole. In the Ottoman Empire Christian sects were led by their clerics, whether Greek Orthodox, Jacobite or the Coptic pope. In the Roman Empire federates were administered under their own law and led by their own warlords. The British Raj at its peak was a coalition of peoples and monarchs, with the queen or king at the apogee of the system.

...

Donald Trump as President of the United States is not a world-historical aberration. His ethno-nationalist vision of the Republican party is to be expected as a reflection of the white American population which is now becoming as racially conscious as minorities have been of late. Facing their own demographic marginalization they are reasserting their own uniqueness. In Europe the rise of ethno-nationalist right-wing parties is a phenomenon that can be attributed to economic distress. But recessions come and go. Rather, demographic and cultural changes are producing men and women who channel the reactionary impulses of a populace who see the world they knew fading away. The National Front, Freedom Party, and Alternative for Germany, are symptoms of a broader phenomenon which won’t be a passing phase.

But the reality is that demagogues cannot turn back time. They can only delay the inevitable. Sans mass ethnic cleansing, accommodations between peoples must occur. And when these accommodations come they will operate as understandings between elites of disparate peoples, and the political units which emerge to foster stability will resemble the ramshackle oligarchies and monarchies. When the people are too many dissonant voices, conductors must come on stage and enforce harmony and suppress individuality. In an age of diversity there will come the oligarchy.

https://twitter.com/razibkhan/status/950859025327017984
https://archive.is/L5i5R
we are all some oligarch's bitch at some point. find your oligarch, know your oligarch, and nurture your relationship with them. it matters
--
Return of the Roman patron-client relationship...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patronage_in_ancient_Rome

https://twitter.com/thespandrell/status/954400568159752192
https://archive.is/94yRl
https://archive.is/zHTgH
So is baizouism the official religion of the permanent government in the states at this point?

How do we get the reaction? The Napoleon or the Deng who puts a stop to the madness?
--
of course it is.
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july 2017 by nhaliday
Defection – quas lacrimas peperere minoribus nostris!
https://quaslacrimas.wordpress.com/2017/06/28/discussion-of-defection/

Kindness Against The Grain: https://srconstantin.wordpress.com/2017/06/08/kindness-against-the-grain/
I’ve heard from a number of secular-ish sources (Carse, Girard, Arendt) that the essential contribution of Christianity to human thought is the concept of forgiveness. (Ribbonfarm also has a recent post on the topic of forgiveness.)

I have never been a Christian and haven’t even read all of the New Testament, so I’ll leave it to commenters to recommend Christian sources on the topic.

What I want to explore is the notion of kindness without a smooth incentive gradient.

The Social Module: https://bloodyshovel.wordpress.com/2015/10/09/the-social-module/
Now one could propose that the basic principle of human behavior is to raise the SP number. Sure there’s survival and reproduction. Most people would forget all their socialization if left hungry and thirsty for days in the jungle. But more often than not, survival and reproduction depend on being high status; having a good name among your peers is the best way to get food, housing and hot mates.

The way to raise one’s SP number depends on thousands of different factors. We could grab most of them and call them “culture”. In China having 20 teenage mistresses as an old man raises your SP; in Western polite society it is social death. In the West making a fuss about disobeying one’s parents raises your SP, everywhere else it lowers it a great deal. People know that; which is why bureaucrats in China go to great lengths to acquire a stash of young women (who they seldom have time to actually enjoy), while teenagers in the West go to great lengths to be annoying to their parents for no good reason.

...

It thus shouldn’t surprise us that something as completely absurd as Progressivism is the law of the land in most of the world today, even though it denies obvious reality. It is not the case that most people know that progressive points are all bogus, but obey because of fear or cowardice. No, an average human brain has much more neurons being used to scan the social climate and see how SP are allotted, than neurons being used to analyze patterns in reality to ascertain the truth. Surely your brain does care a great deal about truth in some very narrow areas of concern to you. Remember Conquest’s first law: Everybody is Conservative about what he knows best. You have to know the truth about what you do, if you are to do it effectively.

But you don’t really care about truth anywhere else. And why would you? It takes time and effort you can’t really spare, and it’s not really necessary. As long as you have some area of specialization where you can make a living, all the rest you must do to achieve survival and reproduction is to raise your SP so you don’t get killed and your guts sacrificed to the mountain spirits.

SP theory (I accept suggestions for a better name) can also explains the behavior of leftists. Many conservatives of a medium level of enlightenment point out the paradox that leftists historically have held completely different ideas. Leftism used to be about the livelihood of industrial workers, now they agitate about the environment, or feminism, or foreigners. Some people would say that’s just historical change, or pull a No True Scotsman about this or that group not being really leftists. But that’s transparent bullshit; very often we see a single person shifting from agitating about Communism and worker rights, to agitate about global warming or rape culture.

...

The leftist strategy could be defined as “psychopathic SP maximization”. Leftists attempt to destroy social equilibrium so that they can raise their SP number. If humans are, in a sense, programmed to constantly raise their status, well high status people by definition can’t raise it anymore (though they can squabble against each other for marginal gains), their best strategy is to freeze society in place so that they can enjoy their superiority. High status people by definition have power, and thus social hierarchy during human history tends to be quite stable.

This goes against the interests of many. First of all the lower status people, who, well, want to raise their status, but can’t manage to do so. And it also goes against the interests of the particularly annoying members of the upper class who want to raise their status on the margin. Conservative people can be defined as those who, no matter the absolute level, are in general happy with it. This doesn’t mean they don’t want higher status (by definition all humans do), but the output of other brain modules may conclude that attempts to raise SP might threaten one’s survival and reproduction; or just that the chances of raising one’s individual SP is hopeless, so one might as well stay put.

...

You can’t blame people for being logically inconsistent; because they can’t possibly know anything about all these issues. Few have any experience or knowledge about evolution and human races, or about the history of black people to make an informed judgment on HBD. Few have time to learn about sex differences, and stuff like the climate is as close to unknowable as there is. Opinions about anything but a very narrow area of expertise are always output of your SP module, not any judgment of fact. People don’t know the facts. And even when they know; I mean most people have enough experience with sex differences and black dysfunction to be quite confident that progressive ideas are false. But you can never be sure. As Hume said, the laws of physics are a judgment of habit; who is to say that a genie isn’t going to change all you know the next morning? At any rate, you’re always better off toeing the line, following the conventional wisdom, and keeping your dear SP. Perhaps you can even raise them a bit. And that is very nice. It is niceness itself.

Leftism is just an easy excuse: https://bloodyshovel.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/leftism-is-just-an-easy-excuse/
Unless you’re not the only defector. You need a way to signal your intention to defect, so that other disloyal fucks such as yourself (and they’re bound to be others) can join up, thus reducing the likely costs of defection. The way to signal your intention to defect is to come up with a good excuse. A good excuse to be disloyal becomes a rallying point through which other defectors can coordinate and cover their asses so that the ruling coalition doesn’t punish them. What is a good excuse?

Leftism is a great excuse. Claiming that the ruling coalition isn’t leftist enough, isn’t holy enough, not inclusive enough of women, of blacks, of gays, or gorillas, of pedophiles, of murderous Salafists, is the perfect way of signalling your disloyalty towards the existing power coalition. By using the existing ideology and pushing its logic just a little bit, you ensure that the powerful can’t punish you. At least not openly. And if you’re lucky, the mass of disloyal fucks in the ruling coalition might join your banner, and use your exact leftist point to jump ship and outflank the powerful.

...

The same dynamic fuels the flattery inflation one sees in monarchical or dictatorial systems. In Mao China, if you want to defect, you claim to love Mao more than your boss. In Nazi Germany, you proclaim your love for Hitler and the great insight of his plan to take Stalingrad. In the Roman Empire, you claimed that Caesar is a God, son of Hercules, and those who deny it are treacherous bastards. In Ancient Persia you loudly proclaimed your faith in the Shah being the brother of the Sun and the Moon and King of all Kings on Earth. In Reformation Europe you proclaimed that you have discovered something new in the Bible and everybody else is damned to hell. Predestined by God!

...

And again: the precise content of the ideological point doesn’t matter. Your human brain doesn’t care about ideology. Humans didn’t evolve to care about Marxist theory of class struggle, or about LGBTQWERTY theories of social identity. You just don’t know what it means. It’s all abstract points you’ve been told in a classroom. It doesn’t actually compute. Nothing that anybody ever said in a political debate ever made any actual, concrete sense to a human being.

So why do we care so much about politics? What’s the point of ideology? Ideology is just the water you swim in. It is a structured database of excuses, to be used to signal your allegiance or defection to the existing ruling coalition. Ideology is just the feed of the rationalization Hamster that runs incessantly in that corner of your brain. But it is immaterial, and in most cases actually inaccessible to the logical modules in your brain.

Nobody ever acts on their overt ideological claims if they can get away with it. Liberals proclaim their faith in the potential of black children while clustering in all white suburbs. Communist party members loudly talk about the proletariat while being hedonistic spenders. Al Gore talks about Global Warming while living in a lavish mansion. Cognitive dissonance, you say? No; those cognitive systems are not connected in the first place.

...

And so, every little step in the way, power-seekers moved the consensus to the left. And open societies, democratic systems are by their decentralized nature, and by the size of their constituencies, much more vulnerable to this sort of signalling attacks. It is but impossible to appraise and enforce the loyalty of every single individual involved in a modern state. There’s too many of them. A Medieval King had a better chance of it; hence the slow movement of ideological innovation in those days. But the bigger the organization, the harder it is to gather accurate information of the loyalty of the whole coalition; and hence the ideological movement accelerates. And there is no stopping it.

Like the Ancients, We Have Gods. They’ll Get Greater: http://www.overcomingbias.com/2018/04/like-the-ancients-we-have-gods-they-may-get… [more]
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june 2017 by nhaliday
Unsupervised learning, one notion or many? – Off the convex path
(Task A) Learning a distribution from samples. (Examples: gaussian mixtures, topic models, variational autoencoders,..)

(Task B) Understanding latent structure in the data. This is not the same as (a); for example principal component analysis, clustering, manifold learning etc. identify latent structure but don’t learn a distribution per se.

(Task C) Feature Learning. Learn a mapping from datapoint → feature vector such that classification tasks are easier to carry out on feature vectors rather than datapoints. For example, unsupervised feature learning could help lower the amount of labeled samples needed for learning a classifier, or be useful for domain adaptation.

Task B is often a subcase of Task C, as the intended user of “structure found in data” are humans (scientists) who pour over the representation of data to gain some intuition about its properties, and these “properties” can be often phrased as a classification task.

This post explains the relationship between Tasks A and C, and why they get mixed up in students’ mind. We hope there is also some food for thought here for experts, namely, our discussion about the fragility of the usual “perplexity” definition of unsupervised learning. It explains why Task A doesn’t in practice lead to good enough solution for Task C. For example, it has been believed for many years that for deep learning, unsupervised pretraining should help supervised training, but this has been hard to show in practice.
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june 2017 by nhaliday
Dream Jobs That You’re Glad You Didn’t Pursue: Column 7: So You Wanted to be President of the United States… - McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
Somewhere along the line it stopped bothering you altogether that you had sold your soul and you actually believed yourself when you talked about your work as a function of the greater good. The only thing that bothered you in fact was that it was tedious to go through the motions of a campaign every six years, but you had to make a show of it, mustering every ounce of humility you could, for the voters. To eliminate this bother you decided to set your sights on the cushiest job in government, and the real seat of power in the United States. Your decision long ago to pursue the law would serve you well on the Supreme Court.
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june 2017 by nhaliday
history and progressive virtue: moral technology, moral fashion, and ancestor-memorial retro-trauma chic – ideologjammin'
https://twitter.com/avermeule/status/879695593261735936
https://archive.is/3LHAG
https://archive.is/to1Z2
A terrific point. The rapidity with which good liberals suddenly internalize and enforce novel norms is striking in itself, content apart.

The rapid shift in moral norms in our society should worry us. We are being conditioned to adapt rather than to hold to our principles.

https://twitter.com/avermeule/status/882649313762881537
https://archive.is/cpIKA
https://archive.is/B229W
A thread on the psychology of liberalism, which replaces historical memory by a stereotyped darkness of the past, to be eternally overcome

losing a battle to push something new forward is understandable. having something repealed? going BACK? this is quite incomprehensible to us

https://twitter.com/ortoiseortoise/status/897570742979633153
https://archive.is/9hJIv
i think it's instinctual, not conscious.

https://twitter.com/AsfMQ/status/857593530952413184
https://archive.is/hVKSp
Almost everybody today is a Whig: ie think in terms of 'moral progress', 'forwards' vs 'backwards' thinking, 'stuck in the past', and so on

https://twitter.com/ortoiseortoise/status/897880623536381952
https://archive.is/wPJ6t
the slope is "progress". we slide down every single one eventually. just read some history; recent history will do; it will become obvious.

https://www.unz.com/isteve/whats-happening-now/
https://ideologjammin.wordpress.com/2017/08/17/liberal-democracy-and-its-apparent-paradoxes/
The real problem is that America has already ceased to be a tolerant society. It has, instead, become a celebratory one.
http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2015/07/bruce_jenner_brett_favre_and_the_cultural_totalitarians.html
In a truly surreal display, NFL great Brett Favre is being denounced by the left’s new cultural commissars for not clapping long and hard enough at ESPN’s ESPY awards, as Bruce/“Caitlyn” Jenner received a “Courage” award for his efforts to become a woman. Oddly, Favre did applaud – not doing so would have been a grave heresy to America’s new church of progressive inquisitors. His sin was not applauding enthusiastically enough.

...

In fact, it all smacks of the gulag – literally. On my shelf at my office is Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s classic, The Gulag Archipelago. There, on page 69 of volume 1, is a chilling account of a Stalinist Soviet Union where men were actually penalized for not clapping ardently enough.

Transgenderism Is Propaganda Designed To Humiliate And Compel Submission: https://www.socialmatter.net/2017/09/26/transgenderism-is-propaganda-designed-to-humiliate-and-compel-submission/
- ARTHUR GORDIAN
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june 2017 by nhaliday
Dimensions - Geert Hofstede
http://geerthofstede.com/culture-geert-hofstede-gert-jan-hofstede/6d-model-of-national-culture/

https://www.reddit.com/r/europe/comments/4g88kt/eu28_countries_ranked_by_hofstedes_cultural/
https://archive.is/rXnII

https://hbdchick.wordpress.com/2013/09/07/national-individualism-collectivism-scores/

Individualism and Collectivism in Israeli Society: Comparing Religious and Secular High-School Students: https://sci-hub.tw/https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1016945121604
A common collective basis of mutual value consensus was found in the two groups; however, as predicted, there were differences between secular and religious students on the three kinds of items, since the religious scored higher than the secular students on items emphasizing collectivist orientation. The differences, however, do not fit the common theoretical framework of collectivism-individualism, but rather tend to reflect the distinction between in-group and universal collectivism.

Individualism and Collectivism in Two Conflicted Societies: Comparing Israeli-Jewish and Palestinian-Arab High School Students: https://sci-hub.tw/http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0044118X01033001001
Both groups were found to be more collectivistic than individualistic oriented. However, as predicted, the Palestinians scored higher than the Israeli students on items emphasizing in-group collectivist orientation (my nationality, my country, etc.). The differences between the two groups tended to reflect some subdistinctions such as different elements of individualism and collectivism. Moreover, they reflected the historical context and contemporary influences, such as the stage where each society is at in the nation-making process.

Religion as culture: religious individualism and collectivism among american catholics, jews, and protestants.: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17576356
We propose the theory that religious cultures vary in individualistic and collectivistic aspects of religiousness and spirituality. Study 1 showed that religion for Jews is about community and biological descent but about personal beliefs for Protestants. Intrinsic and extrinsic religiosity were intercorrelated and endorsed differently by Jews, Catholics, and Protestants in a pattern that supports the theory that intrinsic religiosity relates to personal religion, whereas extrinsic religiosity stresses community and ritual (Studies 2 and 3). Important life experiences were likely to be social for Jews but focused on God for Protestants, with Catholics in between (Study 4). We conclude with three perspectives in understanding the complex relationships between religion and culture.

Inglehart–Welzel cultural map of the world: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inglehart%E2%80%93Welzel_cultural_map_of_the_world
Live cultural map over time 1981 to 2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABWYOcru7js

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-materialism

https://ourworldindata.org/materialism-and-post-materialism
By Income of the Country

Most of the low post-materialism, high income countries are East Asian :(. Some decent options: Norway, Netherlands, Iceland (surprising!). Other Euro countries fall into that category but interest me less for other reasons.

https://graphpaperdiaries.com/2016/06/10/materialism-and-post-materialism/

Postmaterialism and the Economic Condition: https://www.jstor.org/stable/2111573
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june 2017 by nhaliday
Where Is Fertility Low, and Since When? – In a State of Migration – Medium
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june 2017 by nhaliday
Comprehensive Military Power: World’s Top 10 Militaries of 2015 - The Unz Review
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june 2017 by nhaliday
Bald Men Fighting Over a Comb: Arguments About the Classical Tradition | Quillette
Defending Western History From Political Propaganda: http://quillette.com/2017/09/06/defending-western-history-political-propaganda/
White Pride and Prejudice: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/22/opinion/jane-austen-and-white-pride-and-prejudice.html
Conservatism and Classics…: https://bsixsmith.wordpress.com/2016/12/19/conservatism-and-classics/
To be sure, all kinds of men and women make superficial reference to the classics to ennoble their ideas. (Ms Zuckerberg wrote quite an entertaining piece on the Roman roots of pick-up artistry.) But what bugs progressive classicists is less, I think, the idea that actual fascists will seek inspiration in their field (where, after all, they will not find race mysticism, populism or especially pronounced anti-semitism) but the idea that the classics might inspire conservatism: special appreciation of European culture and attachment to its social, intellectual and artistic traditions. That people might consider the modern world, read the classics and wonder if one or two things have gone wrong along the way strikes even them as an all too plausible idea to imagine.

How I was Kicked Out of the Society for Classical Studies Annual Meeting: https://quillette.com/2019/02/26/how-i-was-kicked-out-of-the-society-for-classical-studies-annual-meeting/
What happens when a scholar defends the teaching of great classical authors & traditions of Western Civilisation at the Society for Classical Studies Annual Meeting?

She is shouted down and banned from future attendance at meetings. Video embedded.
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june 2017 by nhaliday
Evergreen State and the Battle for Modernity | Quillette
It is this dichotomy between postmodern and modern that is the most important takeaway from this entire affair. In many ways, the old left/right dichotomy no longer applies. Instead we are faced with a three-part distinction between postmodern/modern/traditional. Let’s take a look at each of these in turn, and discuss why they are particularly important today. Starting with the most right-leaning, the traditionalists. These folks do not like the direction in which modernity is headed, and so are looking to go back to an earlier time when they believe society was better. They may disagree with same-sex marriage, label sexual promiscuity as “deviance,” and feel threatened by racial and demographic changes in Western society. These folks include typical status-quo conservatives, Evangelical Christians as well as more nefarious types such as white nationalists and the “alt right”. Even though there is much furor in the media about the threat that these groups represent, I would argue that they have largely been pushed to the fringes in terms of their social influence, not withstanding the election of Trump who was actually opposed by many traditionalists such as the Never Trumpers.

Indeed, it is between the modernists and postmodernists where the future of society is being fought. Modernists are those who believe in human progress within a classical Western tradition. They believe that the world can continuously be improved through science, technology, and rationality. Unlike traditionalists, they seek progress rather than reversal, but what they share in common is an interest in preserving the basic structures of Western society. Most modernists could be classified as centrists (either left or right-leaning), classical liberals and libertarians.

Postmodernists, on the other hand, eschew any notion of objectivity, perceiving knowledge as a construct of power differentials rather than anything that could possibly be mutually agreed upon. Informed by such thinkers as Foucault and Derrida, science therefore becomes an instrument of Western oppression; indeed, all discourse is a power struggle between oppressors and oppressed. In this scheme, there is no Western civilization to preserve—as the more powerful force in the world, it automatically takes on the role of oppressor and therefore any form of equity must consequently then involve the overthrow of Western “hegemony.” These folks form the current Far Left, including those who would be described as communists, socialists, anarchists, Antifa, as well as social justice warriors (SJWs). These are all very different groups, but they all share a postmodernist ethos.

http://quillette.com/2017/07/20/evergreen-state-battle-modernity-part-2-true-believers-fence-sitters-group-conformity/
https://www.jamesgmartin.center/2017/08/engineering-education-social-engineering-rather-actual-engineering/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cMYfxOFBBM
https://twitter.com/tcjfs/status/878741086616813569

First, They Came for the Biologists: https://www.wsj.com/articles/first-they-came-for-the-biologists-1506984033
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june 2017 by nhaliday
spaceships - Can there be a space age without petroleum (crude oil)? - Worldbuilding Stack Exchange
Yes...probably

What was really important to our development of technology was not oil, but coal. Access to large deposits of high-quality coal largely fueled the industrial revolution, and it was the industrial revolution that really got us on the first rungs of the technological ladder.

Oil is a fantastic fuel for an advanced civilisation, but it's not essential. Indeed, I would argue that our ability to dig oil out of the ground is a crutch, one that we should have discarded long ago. The reason oil is so essential to us today is that all our infrastructure is based on it, but if we'd never had oil we could still have built a similar infrastructure. Solar power was first displayed to the public in 1878. Wind power has been used for centuries. Hydroelectric power is just a modification of the same technology as wind power.

Without oil, a civilisation in the industrial age would certainly be able to progress and advance to the space age. Perhaps not as quickly as we did, but probably more sustainably.

Without coal, though...that's another matter

What would the industrial age be like without oil and coal?: https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/45919/what-would-the-industrial-age-be-like-without-oil-and-coal

Out of the ashes: https://aeon.co/essays/could-we-reboot-a-modern-civilisation-without-fossil-fuels
It took a lot of fossil fuels to forge our industrial world. Now they're almost gone. Could we do it again without them?

But charcoal-based industry didn’t die out altogether. In fact, it survived to flourish in Brazil. Because it has substantial iron deposits but few coalmines, Brazil is the largest charcoal producer in the world and the ninth biggest steel producer. We aren’t talking about a cottage industry here, and this makes Brazil a very encouraging example for our thought experiment.

The trees used in Brazil’s charcoal industry are mainly fast-growing eucalyptus, cultivated specifically for the purpose. The traditional method for creating charcoal is to pile chopped staves of air-dried timber into a great dome-shaped mound and then cover it with turf or soil to restrict airflow as the wood smoulders. The Brazilian enterprise has scaled up this traditional craft to an industrial operation. Dried timber is stacked into squat, cylindrical kilns, built of brick or masonry and arranged in long lines so that they can be easily filled and unloaded in sequence. The largest sites can sport hundreds of such kilns. Once filled, their entrances are sealed and a fire is lit from the top.
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june 2017 by nhaliday
Double world GDP | Open Borders: The Case
Economics and Emigration: Trillion-Dollar Bills on the Sidewalk?: https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/jep.25.3.83
https://openborders.info/innovation-case/
https://www.economist.com/news/world-if/21724907-yes-it-would-be-disruptive-potential-gains-are-so-vast-objectors-could-be-bribed
The Openness-Equality Trade-Off in Global Redistribution: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2509305
https://www.wsj.com/articles/opening-our-borders-would-overwhelm-america-1492366053
Immigration, Justice, and Prosperity: http://quillette.com/2017/07/29/immigration-justice-prosperity/

Some Countries Are Much Richer Than Others. Is That Unjust?: http://quillette.com/2017/07/23/countries-much-richer-others-unjust/
But we shouldn’t automatically assume that wealth disparities across the world are unjust and that the developed world owes aid as a matter of justice. This is because the best way to make sense of the Great Divergence is that certain economic and political institutions, namely those that facilitated economic growth, arose in some countries and not others. Thus perhaps the benevolent among us should also try to encourage – by example rather than force – the development of such institutions in places where they do not exist.

An Argument Against Open Borders and Liberal Hubris: http://quillette.com/2017/08/27/argument-open-borders-liberal-hubris/
We do not have open borders but we are experiencing unprecedented demographic change. What progressives should remember is that civilisation is not a science laboratory. The consequences of failed experiments endure. That is the main virtue of gradual change; we can test new waters and not leap into their depths.

A Radical Solution to Global Income Inequality: Make the U.S. More Like Qatar: https://newrepublic.com/article/120179/how-reduce-global-income-inequality-open-immigration-policies

Why nation-states are good: https://aeon.co/essays/capitalists-need-the-nation-state-more-than-it-needs-them
The nation-state remains the best foundation for capitalism, and hyper-globalisation risks destroying it
- Dani Rodrik
Given the non-uniqueness of practices and institutions enabling capitalism, it’s not surprising that nation-states also resolve key social trade-offs differently. The world does not agree on how to balance equality against opportunity, economic security against innovation, health and environmental risks against technological innovation, stability against dynamism, economic outcomes against social and cultural values, and many other consequences of institutional choice. Developing nations have different institutional requirements than rich nations. There are, in short, strong arguments against global institutional harmonisation.
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june 2017 by nhaliday
Suspicious Banana on Twitter: ""platonic forms" seem more sinister when you realize that integers were reaching down into his head and giving him city planning advice https://t.co/4qaTdwOlry"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5040_(number)
Plato mentions in his Laws that 5040 is a convenient number to use for dividing many things (including both the citizens and the land of a state) into lesser parts. He remarks that this number can be divided by all the (natural) numbers from 1 to 12 with the single exception of 11 (however, it is not the smallest number to have this property; 2520 is). He rectifies this "defect" by suggesting that two families could be subtracted from the citizen body to produce the number 5038, which is divisible by 11. Plato also took notice of the fact that 5040 can be divided by 12 twice over. Indeed, Plato's repeated insistence on the use of 5040 for various state purposes is so evident that it is written, "Plato, writing under Pythagorean influences, seems really to have supposed that the well-being of the city depended almost as much on the number 5040 as on justice and moderation."[1]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plato%27s_number
"Now for divine begettings there is a period comprehended by a perfect number, and for mortal by the first in which augmentations dominating and dominated when they have attained to three distances and four limits of the assimilating and the dissimilating, the waxing and the waning, render all things conversable and commensurable [546c] with one another, whereof a basal four-thirds wedded to the pempad yields two harmonies at the third augmentation, the one the product of equal factors taken one hundred times, the other of equal length one way but oblong,-one dimension of a hundred numbers determined by the rational diameters of the pempad lacking one in each case, or of the irrational lacking two; the other dimension of a hundred cubes of the triad. And this entire geometrical number is determinative of this thing, of better and inferior births."[3]

Shortly after Plato's time his meaning apparently did not cause puzzlement as Aristotle's casual remark attests.[6] Half a millennium later, however, it was an enigma for the Neoplatonists, who had a somewhat mystic penchant and wrote frequently about it, proposing geometrical and numerical interpretations. Next, for nearly a thousand years, Plato's texts disappeared and it is only in the Renaissance that the enigma briefly resurfaced. During the 19th century, when classical scholars restored original texts, the problem reappeared. Schleiermacher interrupted his edition of Plato for a decade while attempting to make sense of the paragraph. Victor Cousin inserted a note that it has to be skipped in his French translation of Plato's works. In the early 20th century, scholarly findings suggested a Babylonian origin for the topic.[7]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pythagoreanism
https://www.jstor.org/stable/638781

Socrates: Surely we agree nothing more virtuous than sacrificing each newborn infant while reciting the factors of 39,916,800?

Turgidas: Uh

different but interesting: https://aeon.co/essays/can-we-hope-to-understand-how-the-greeks-saw-their-world
Another explanation for the apparent oddness of Greek perception came from the eminent politician and Hellenist William Gladstone, who devoted a chapter of his Studies on Homer and the Homeric Age (1858) to ‘perceptions and use of colour’. He too noticed the vagueness of the green and blue designations in Homer, as well as the absence of words covering the centre of the ‘blue’ area. Where Gladstone differed was in taking as normative the Newtonian list of colours (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). He interpreted the Greeks’ supposed linguistic poverty as deriving from an imperfect discrimination of prismatic colours. The visual organ of the ancients was still in its infancy, hence their strong sensitivity to light rather than hue, and the related inability to clearly distinguish one hue from another. This argument fit well with the post-Darwinian climate of the late 19th century, and came to be widely believed. Indeed, it prompted Nietzsche’s own judgment, and led to a series of investigations that sought to prove that the Greek chromatic categories do not fit in with modern taxonomies.

Today, no one thinks that there has been a stage in the history of humanity when some colours were ‘not yet’ being perceived. But thanks to our modern ‘anthropological gaze’ it is accepted that every culture has its own way of naming and categorising colours. This is not due to varying anatomical structures of the human eye, but to the fact that different ocular areas are stimulated, which triggers different emotional responses, all according to different cultural contexts.
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june 2017 by nhaliday
Magical Thinking Doomed The Euro-Geist - Social Matter
As Alexander taught us, some knots can’t be disentangled, but instead must be cut through. Anti-thesis and thesis can indeed form a new synthesis, but sometimes a thorough hammering is required. Economic integration is necessary for any sort of supra-national Euro state to come into being, but it is far from sufficient.

Such a state can only be hammered into being by elites who possess not only economic but also military power and the willingness to use it. Without the plausible threat of force, there is simply no way to unify such a naturally fractious and divided polity.
gnon  org:popup  rhetoric  reflection  history  mostly-modern  europe  EU  institutions  local-global  homo-hetero  martial  cohesion  whiggish-hegelian  spengler  right-wing  peace-violence 
june 2017 by nhaliday
Paranoid Paleoconservatives | Quillette
longform history of alt-right
The dark history of Donald Trump's rightwing revolt: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2016/aug/16/secret-history-trumpism-donald-trump
pretty good actually. did not know the "Journal of American Greatness" was a thing and read by beltway types.

also good introduction to James Burnham and Samuel Francis.
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june 2017 by nhaliday
The Limits of Public Choice Theory – Jacobite
Many people believe that politics is difficult because of incentives: voters vote for their self interest; bureaucrats deliberately don’t solve problems to enlarge their departments; and elected officials maximize votes for power and sell out to lobbyists. But this cynical view is mostly wrong—politics, insofar as it has problems, has problems not because people are selfish—it has problems because people have wrong ideas. In fact, people mostly act surprisingly altruistically, motivated by trying to do good for their country.

...

I got into politics and ideas as a libertarian. I was attracted by the idea of public choice as a universal theory of politics. It’s intuitively appealing, methodologically individualist, and it supported all of the things I already believed. And it’s definitely true to some extent—there is a huge amount of evidence that it affects things somewhat. But it’s terrible as a general theory of politics in the developed world. Our policies are bad because voters are ignorant and politicians believe in things too much, not because everyone is irredeemably cynical and atavistic.

interesting take, HBD?: https://twitter.com/pseudoerasmus/status/869882831572434946

recommended by Garett Jones:
https://web.archive.org/web/20110517015819/http://reviewsindepth.com/2010/03/yes-prime-minister-the-most-cunning-political-propaganda-ever-conceived/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thick_of_It
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may 2017 by nhaliday
What Is Conservatism? - American Affairs Journal
What of America? Was the American revolution an upheaval based on Lockean universal reason and universal rights? To hear many conservatives talk today, one would think this were so, and that there never were any conservatives in the American mainstream, only liberals of different shades.

...

These conservatives were living on a shattered political and philosophical landscape, having lost much of the chain of transmission that had connected earlier conservatives to their forefathers.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Who Will Make Our Coffee in Pret? | Quillette
Immigrants Keep an Iowa Meatpacking Town Alive and Growing: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/29/business/economy/storm-lake-iowa-immigrant-workers.html
Waves of Asian, African and Latino newcomers have filled jobs at pork, egg and turkey plants where wages have fallen and work has grown more grueling.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Get Ready to See This Globalization 'Elephant Chart' Over and Over Again - Bloomberg
news  org:mag  org:biz  winner-take-all  inequality  nationalism-globalism  economics  growth-econ  world  developing-world  history  mostly-modern  trends  malaise  multi  org:bv  econotariat  noahpinion  critique  debate  org:rec  org:anglo  org:davos  class  vampire-squid  noblesse-oblige  chart  data  visualization  plots  china  asia  europe  usa  piracy  econ-metrics  econometrics  study  summary  🎩  2015  2016-election  wealth  compensation  stagnation  nl-and-so-can-you  stylized-facts  polarization  zeitgeist  the-bones  modernity  class-warfare  twitter  social  pic  distribution  org:edu  pseudoE  broad-econ  org:data  org:popup  analysis  article  list  wealth-of-nations  urban  india  latin-america  africa  germanic  envy  macro  rhetoric  explanation  trade  urban-rural 
may 2017 by nhaliday
Middle East Religious Composition Map - Dareshgaft-e Olyamp257 Iran • mappery
Sunnis and Shiites: http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/sunnisshiites.html
two-hue map
Shia Geopolitics And The Fortress State: http://www.socialmatter.net/2016/09/06/shia-geopolitics-fortress-state/
Iranian Religious Distinctiveness Is Not Primal: https://gnxp.nofe.me/2012/07/19/iranian-religious-distinctiveness-is-not-primal/
In other words, it seems likely that Shia identity became a necessary part of Iranian, and Persian, identity only after ~1700, when the Safavid project of religious transformation entered its terminal phase of completion. The Tajiks of Central Asia, who speak a variant of Persian, remain overwhelmingly Sunni. Not surprisingly they were not under the same Safavid domination as their western cousins.

Why does it matter? Because modern thinkers seem to conflate Shia history with Persian history, and assume that the two have some inextricable connection. The lack of knowledge that the Persians were mostly Sunni before the early modern era is widespread. Two of the authors on the above paper are ethnic Iranians, so unless they did not read the paper’s final text they simply let that through out of ignorance. I’ve seen other Iranians, adjudged experts on their nation, propagate this falsehood. Then again, how much American history do most Americans know? Very little. So I don’t judge that too harshly.
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april 2017 by nhaliday
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