Monday assorted links

1. Anthony Atkinson has passed away.  And a nice tribute and overview.

2. The UK needs Parliament back.

3. Economics books for 2017.

4. “When I controlled for the age of the respondent and the urbanization of the zip code, it turned out that virtually all the effect on the bubble score is driven by the percentage of adults with a college degree in the zip code where the respondent lived. The zip code’s median family income had almost no independent effect. Another interesting finding: the zip code where people lived at age 10 had a modestly larger effect on their bubble scores than their current zip code.” Link here from Charles Murray.  He also lists the bubbliest parts of America, please note that Washington, D.C. does not do as badly as you might think, we are not yet so far gone.

5. One perspective on Russia’s strategy.

6. On the nostalgic WWII technologies of Rogue One.

7. The Andrew Reynolds claim that North Carolina is not a democracy any more is fake news and based on bogosity.  Note that North Carolina, in the rankings of that study, is far from the least democratic U.S. state, furthermore North Korea is rated as having “moderate” electoral integrity.


4. Interesting. I live in 92663. I can't remember if I was a respondent.

5. The problem with conspiracy theories, and that's what the article is, is that they can't be falsified. If Politico says Russia wants to to X, you point to the Russian government explicitly denying a desire to do X, and it'll say "well, they would say that, wouldn't they?" So the burden of proving conspiracy theories lies on those who propose them. Politico offers no proof, but it doesn't need to, Politico readers want the conspiracy theory to be true, so they'll go on believing in it without any. The article repeats the Fake News which blazed through out TV screens in 2008, "Russia invades Georgia," when in reality it was Georgia which was the first country to launch a full-scale invasion into South Ossetia, so I'm going to doubt everything else it claims.

On Russia:

"Molly K. McKew (@MollyMcKew) advises governments and political parties on foreign policy and strategic communications. She was an adviser to Georgian President Saakashvili’s government from 2009-2013, and to former Moldovan Prime Minister Filat in 2014-2015."

By the way, what happened to Mr. Filat?

It couldn't have been easy getting those people's email addresses. Do you suppose they respond to her advice?

South Ossetia is part of Georgia. Russia did not recognize South Ossetian independence until after Russia invaded Georgia, and they didn't stop at the boundaries of South Ossetia.

So no, the headline "Russia invades Georgia" holds up just fine.

More relevant to your main point, what Politico is saying can easily be falsified. For instance if the "little green men" turned out not to be Russian soldiers after the Russian government denied they were Russian soldiers, that would falsify the idea that Russia invaded Ukraine to prevent it from drawing closer to the EU. Instead, Russia annexed Crimea.

Similarly, allegations that the Russian government was responsible for the Crazy Bear/Cozy bear hacks could be falsified by identifying the actual responsible party. That is, if China or a 400 pounder in New Jersey got Podesta to click on a phishing link, then the Russians did not. But all available evidence points in the opposite direction.

'So the burden of proving conspiracy theories lies on those who propose them.'

Meaning that the whole Russia reclaiming the Crimea thing was just an accident, right? Otherwise, one would need a 'conspiracy theory' to explain the preparation involved, wouldn't one?

5. Both dumb and long. Here's a more realistic take on American foreign policy:

Fantastic article.


5. Absolutely terrible. Repeats the same old tropes: Russia invaded Georgia, etc..

The main thesis, that Russia is seeking to destabilize the west is absurd. The west is doing enough to destabilize itself. The author is not wrong in the sense that is bad news for the former Soviet republics. It's also bad for everyone else.

LOL. We would be doing just FINE, printing money and buying our own debt with it, cramming in as many people as we can from alien, antithetical cultures, incurring welfare state obligations which cannot possibly be met and will end horribly, putting men and women in brutal, head-to-head economic competition with each other, but those ... RUSSIANS ... just have to go and destabilize everything!

Guess what: Russia did invade Georgia. Just like it invaded Ukraine six years later. Saying otherwise is just repeating RT propaganda. All you have to do to see the truth is look at the 2007 and 2015 maps.

The destabilization coming from the inside of Western institutions cannot be used as a proof of the absence of Russian helping hand in that process. Russia actually looks for internal instabilities and works to amplify them (and using the GOP-cultivated distrust of factual reporting as the foundation for propaganda efforts in the US election was another such move). Russia's support of extremist (both right- and left-wing) political movements in Europe is well documented. And their indiscriminate choice of the parties they support simply confirms the point of the article: Russia's goal is not to build a Warsaw Pact-like alliance but to simply fuck up everything that can be fucked up. Russian leaders play best when everything is in chaos, so that's what they're sowing.

Huh. So Merkel really IS a Soviet plant.

Well, considering that she and Putin are able to speak German or Russian with each other, that was pretty clear years ago - nothing like having a former KGB agent stationed in East Germany be her handler, right?

Thankfully, Trump is immune to any such foreign influence, unless one is worried about Scottish influence.

Ahh, the old foreign policy analysis of "LOOK AT THE MAP!" followed by a posit that the Russians' goals is to "simply fuck up everything that can be fucked up". I am going to do some internet psychoanalysis and guess that you are not a very stable individual.

Really? Ad hominem so soon?

5. Almost every paragraph contains a fevered, hysterical pseudo-analysis.

" where the world built with American sweat and ingenuity and blood and sacrifice, by the society founded on American exceptionalism."
What's with these ingrates that compose the rest of humanity? Don't they understand that if it wasn't for Americans they'd have no Iphones or television? Quit buying oil from Russia!

"President-elect Trump harnessed this energy of upheaval to win the American presidency — a victory that itself was a symptom of the breakdown of the post-WWII order, in which institutional trust has eroded and unexpected outcomes have become the order of the day."
Mrs. Bill Clinton will be glad to hear that the breakdown of the post-WWII order, once ordained to last forever, is the cause of her electoral demise, not her disregard of law and morality, shrill authoritarianism, and advancing age and declining health.

"An internal operation planned by the security services killed hundreds of Russian citizens. It was used as the pretext to re-launch a bloody, devastating internal war led by emergent strongman Putin. Tens of thousands of Chechen civilians and fighters and Russian conscripts died. The narrative was controlled to make the enemy clear and Putin victorious."
Chechnya was part of the Russian empire. What do you suppose would happen if the Alaskan natives, Hawaiians, Tohono O'odham of Arizona etc. made a move for real independence? We already know the answer to that.

"Chechnya was part of the Russian empire. "
So were the Baltics, Poland and Finland, yet people still think Stalin was wrong in trying to grab all back and sending the troops to fight the Lithuanians (or was the Latvians, whatever, one of those pathetic tiny republics anyway) was the lowest-point of Gorbachev's administration - that and allowing everything collapse around him. The so-called Uruguay, the so-called Paraguay and the so-called French Guyana were legitimate parts of the Empire of Brazil, yet our efforts to recover in a peaceful way our own territiry are mocked. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned with contempt. I say it is time to trample out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored. As Mr. Reagan would say, the Brazilian question is open as long as the Brazilian-French border and the Transplatine border are closed.

"Brazilian question is open as long as the Brazilian-French border"

If the Brazilians would just staff the border post, finish their end of the bridge approaches, and allow travel on the bridge between France and Brazil, the Brazilian-French border would be open. It's entirely Brazil's fault that all travel between the two countries continues to be exclusively by boat or aeroplane.

No, it is not Brazil's fult. The French invader refuses to allow trade and travel through their Baguette Curtain.

* fault

5. The strength of this piece is that this is the way Russia should behave if it is ranked 15th or whatever in GDP, and wants to be a Superpower, wants to be perceived as in the top 3. Like the good old days.

The problem with contrary critiques is that they depend on Russia and Putin finding satisfaction, sufficient prestige, as a top 20 nation.

If Russia does not find high status in a cooperative, trading, market economy world, expect them to try other rules.

4. is just comical. Do a multivariate regression, "control" for some of the variables (age, urbanization), then find that education is the key factor. Bonus points for explaining median income is insignificant though your top 10 data points all have median incomes over $100K/yr. Then note that there is a non-linear relationship between your output variable and the model.

At this point, mathematicians are just laughing at you.

I think there is a bit of circular correlation. Call "insulated" neighborhoods with mostly college graduates, and then notice that neighborhoods with the most college grads are "insulated."

I think my childhood neighborhood was >50% college grad dads, but most of them G.I. Bill, first in family.

I remember completing this when it came out and couldn't figure out what Murray would do with the data. Looking at this first data set, I still don't. I'm not sure that this proves anything other than most all the wealthy enclaves in the Washington DC area where I live (20814) didn't make the list other then Glen Echo which is quite curious. It will be interesting to see the next data set where he looks at high income zip codes that are not bubbles. I think this is typical of bad social science research.

In statistics "control" does not mean fixed, it means the effect of other variables are also accounted for.

'when someone says "controlled for other variables", they mean they were included in a regression model.'

"Key factor" can be determined from the max abs value of the coeffs of the regression (or for explaining to the lay people the abs value of the correlations), or the abs significant values of the coeffs (that explain the portion of the variance). Murray chose to explain with corr coeffs,

corr with %BA: -0.34

corr with Med Income: -0.25, etc, thus %BA is the key factor.

Income level normally has a tipping point at about $75K beyond which increasing income has little or no effect. Thus it is reasonable that the top 10 data points median income is insignificant.

At this point, statisticians are just laughing at you.

Fremont that came up #1 is over 1/2 Asian ancestry,_California

not big Nascar fans

#3 I've come to blame technocrats generally and economists specifically for the sorry state of the west. Put simply the people who become economists are classic beta-cucks. The kind of people who spent high school being stuffed into lockers, and were too weak or weird to stand up for themselves. Unmanly beta-cucks. And what have we done in the west? We have given over the reigns of government to a bunch of cucks, hence it is no wonder the crisis of manhood western nations face. In decades past Manliness was consider a key characteristic for leadership, but now the world has been turned up-side-down and we have math-nerd Beta-Cucks like Alex Tabarrock cheerfully leading our nations into cuckoldry.

Odd that it's so seldom mentioned. In the Middle Ages the entire elite were fighting men and the those most adept, not only in martial arts but leadership, became the leaders. No democratic process required. Later even important national figures, ie. Charles XII, Cromwell, George Washington, Napoleon, Nelson, etc. were at least eye witnesses to battle, if not actively engaged. Now the pansies calling the shots hide as far away as possible from any danger.

Exactly, the celebration and elevation of the Beta-Cuck who spent his youth getting real good at solving calculus problems, has castrated the west and precipitated a crisis.

The feminization of the American male is obvious to everyone but the American male. The process developed slowly at first, becoming evident in the middle sixties. The great watershed was on September 20th, 1973 when tennis hustler Bobby Riggs probably threw a challenge match against American female tennis star Billy Jean King in the Houston Astrodome before the largest crowd ever to see a tennis match. Television sets in every bar in the country displayed one of the most shameful episodes in gender relations history. It's been downhill ever since and as years have gone by the males of other cultures have come to justifiably regard American men as dish washing, dog walking, diaper changing sissies.

Nothing special about 1973: the world has always viewed the American male as hen-pecked.

No no this isn't about that it's about a world awash in Beta-Cucks calling the shots. I mean look at journalism, the old, cantankerous, hard-boiled, whiskey swilling, reporter has been replaced by Cucks like Ezra Klein.

"I mean look at journalism..."

Vice journalist Medyan Dairieh spent three weeks embedded in ISIS territory. What are your tough guy credentials?

'the entire elite were fighting men and the those most adept, not only in martial arts but leadership, became the leaders'

The Habsburgs' lips are quivering in amusement at this.

And what happened to the Habsburgs in the end? They got cucked by some Serbs.

The feudal middle ages had long been over by the time the Habsburg's and other royals assembled the European states. Don't forget that the typical European despot also had platoons of illegitimate progeny who weren't the product of marriage between cousins. Military service being the most common road to fame and riches, those with royal genes were able to parlay their connections into important positions, provided they could get the job done.

The people who got shit done, the real leadership whether political or military emphasised manliness as a core virtue until relatively recently when we have elevated nerdiness and technocratic Beta-Cuck skills in its stead. We need to get back to the era when nerds still live in fear of getting routine roughing ups at school, not hailed as "cool". People with weak, effete, beta personalities are being given far too much respect and its cucking all of us.

The Archduke Charles was one of the better generals fighting Napoleon. The Habsburgs were producing good fighters well towards the end when "professionalism" removed them from the battle field.

You are leaving out a whole medieval elite class: guys in funny hat and dresses who almost never saw battle (and were roundly criticized for it in the rare occasion when they did), and who spoke Latin (or maybe Greek or Slavonic) with each other.

Historically the clerical class is one of the two elite classes of a civilized society, something that holds true across a vast number of cultures.

I'm still waiting for the first political post on MR that calls people "cucks" and is worth reading.

6. In a high tech world where AI has independent thought or your much wealthier and advanced enemies (in this case the empire) can easily obtain, track, and hack all of your systems and transmissions, then analogue might be the solution after all.

Isn't this essentially what the State Department wanted Clinton to do? No computers with classified information should have outside/internet access. You must physically be in the building to get the files.

Derek Parfit also passed away yesterday:

4 anyone who would voluntarily take a quiz of any sort by definition is a bit strange.

2 elected parliamentarians are a very close proxy for the political parties they represent, especially in a parliamentary system where the government can fall of they lose a vote. Parliament is as detached from reality and irrelevant as the political parties. Which means plenty.

7 ask the experts and one wonders why the results have no connection with reality?

6 Trump says if something needs to be kept confidential don't use a computer, his 10 yr old son probably could hack it. Hillary would be President of she had done this.

5 my theories of holes is still standing. Putin looks like the smartest in the room only because of who else is on the room.

#6 - Star Wars is extremely sloppy, practically childlike science fiction. It's not nostalgia; the writers just aren't very thoughtful. E.g., in the real world the controls for the transmission dish aren't on an open air platform a thousand feet high. And body armor is actually useful instead of just protecting you from falling twigs. And if you can put a 1,000 acre ship in space with its own gravity field, you've probably terraformed all the desert/rock/swamp planets into more net tax-producing environments to pay for your spaceships. The writers are also trapped by the regressing timeline, a money-making device so cynical Peter Jackson is outraged.

The bad guy didn't have red and black skin with literal horns growing out of his head, so the filmmakers are probably congratulating each other on the movie's subtlety.

I think I'd support whichever faction in the empire/rebellion struggle agrees to impose basic safety requirements on their installations--guard rails, warning signs, no pointless doors slamming open and shut as an obstacle, etc. They must lose a good chunk of their workforce every year to various pointless injuries.

"practically childlike" - um, well, yeah. It's a kids' movie (franchise). The problem is those of us who saw it as kids are now grownups complaining that the movies are too childish. Know that kids today absolutely love the Star Wars movies including the prequels. The critics who complain about how unrealistic the series is are totally missing the point.

re: #5

I think the author is missing one very important motivator of actions by the Putin/Yeltsin governments. There is also a really large misclassification of Boris.

Yeltsin was not interested in liberal democracy. The Yeltsin government oversaw the stealing of the nations industrial and resource wealth by a handful of close friends of the regime. Yeltsin oversaw the lawlessness and criminalization of Russia, and transformed the country into a kleptocracy. Not too mention the illegal dissolving of the Congress of Peoples Deputies, reworking of the constitution while the legislature was being faced down by the military and the complete disbanding of the CPD and replacement by the ineffectual Duma. So he certainly wasn't pushing for liberal democracy as he was centralizing power and forming a super-presidency.

If we look at the apartment bombings, undertaken to justify the second chechen war, and the invasion of crimea and then war in Dombass, both of these actions can be explained as a ruling group working towards self preservation. THe Yeltsin/Putin approval rating was in the single digits prior to the second chechen war and they nearly certain to lose their grip on power. They, mainly Yeltsin, Berezovsky and Yeltsin Daughter, would have had to stand for what they did, which probably means death and/or life in prison. But then the bombings and invasion happen and what do you know an approval rating of 60%+ and a maintaining of power by the Yeltsin/Putin group.

In 2011 and 2012 there were massive street protests in Moscow and many of the other major cities following the 2011 Duma elections and 2012 Presidential election, due to the common sentiment of electoral fraud in favor of United Russia / Putin. These protests were crushed and alleviated for the time being, but the general fear of a popular uprising never went away. These fears were realized in Ukraine shortly after with the Euromaidan protests and eventual winter revolution throwing Yanukovych out of power. Within a few days the seizing of Crimea was underway. The very strong negative popular opinions of Putin went away as the state propaganda machine got to work on the events in Ukraine. Putin is enjoying stronger support than ever and fears of a popular uprising seem laughable, but so much of that is a function of the propaganda game being carried out in Russia to an extremely effective degree.

Opposing the West and destabilizing liberal democratic institutions should be viewed through the lens of self preservation as well. I think any view of Russian strategy ignoring that is incomplete.

I don't really disagree with any of this but any analysis of Euromaidan that ignores the covert and overt support of the United States for the Ukrainian coup is lacking. Gee, I wonder why those aggressive Russians invaded Crimea?

And of course Nuland still has her job after destroying Ukraine.

'Nuland destroyed Ukraine'... what did she do? Did she annex parts of it and fomented a civil war in others?

Yes, the latter.

I'm surprised nobody has made the connection between Mustafa Nayem and US gov. It would explain so much to those who truly bought into the $5B + cookies for Maidan narrative. Why not start for example with the suggestion that the Nayem brothers are Charlie Wilson's illegitimate kids? Maybe he sent his sperm to Afghanistan along with Stingers?

(I think I should write up a couple of thousand words on this subject and offer them to WND or zerohedge.)

How does an alleged coup justify annexing Crimea?

If there was a coup, the correct response is to organize a countercoup, or something along those lines. Invading part Crimea was completely orthagonal to any supposed coup.

The Crimea was part of Russia until 1954, when Khruschev gave it to Ukraine to impress his girlfriend. This was considered largely a symbolic move, since Russia did not contemplate a world with Ukraine outside of its sphere of influence at the time. So...what's the word? Unorthogonal?

5. I don't think Russia wanting a sphere of influence, buffer zone, whatever you want to call it between themselves and NATO (an alliance which was openly formed to oppose the USSR and has aggressively expanded eastward, including in the Kosovo War, since the fall of the Berlin Wall) necessarily equals war with Western civilization. Putin was right on Syria; chaos and civil war and millions of people in refugee camps is bad and the United States should have held its nose and helped Assad regain control of the country years ago. Also, have you seen their demographic pyramid? By 2050 Russia is projected to have a population slightly greater than fearsome world power Tanzania, and I imagine a considerably smaller population of 18-34 year olds. The country's budget breaks even at $70-80 oil according to most sources. All in all Western civilization has bigger problems.

Now you're spoiling their game by letting logic intrude.

I agree with your points, but not the implications you derive from them.

The problem in your analysis is that their aren't any other countries the size of Tanzania (or smaller) that have a nuclear arsenal that could wipe out most human life on this planet.

Or worse. Cause Hillary to lose the election. One woman losing an election is a tragedy, millions doing in a nuclear holocaust is a statistic.

What I can't figure out is how Hillary was led into adopting the National Review / Kevin Williamson view of the electorate. Did Lowry have pictures or something?

#2 is notable by its silliness. It makes three totally foolish claims. First, the brexit referendum did not "lift" Brexit out of the hands of Parliament. In fact, Parliament voted six to one to have a referendum. Parliament *gave* the decision to the voters because it recognized that it cut across party bopundaries, and that without a referendum the voters had no effective say on the matter.

Second, it is far from stunning for MPs and voters to have different opinions on some issue. The death penalty in the UK is an issue on which MPs and voters don't agree, and in fact their always have to be such issues because parties run on manifestos that span a range of policies and the voters elect this or that party on the issues they find most important. It would be quite a concidence to find a party with which the voter agrees on all issues.

And finally, all party leaders these days are elected by their parties, which consist of quite small numbers of people compared to the whole electorate, and Cameron is certainly not the first or last PM to resign and leave his or her party to elect a successor, without a general election. Don't make the mistake of thinking of the Premiership as our version of a Presidency.

We live in an age of far too many writers and too few good topics. Brexit and Parliament are merely the latest topics on which writers can noodle and hope to be thought wise.

5. One perspective on Russia’s strategy.

Christ. Russia is still a petro state with disastrous demographics and a declining population, and, as the rest of the world accelerates towards electric cars, Russia's main source of hard cash is going to decline and the country will barely keep itself together.

Yes, Russia will still have a good side gig selling arms. Yes, it can still create a lot of mischief in the meantime. No, it is not nearly as scary as it is portrayed in this article.

We could see peak oil demand as early as 2020 (though it's likely going to be a couple years later). When we do, we'll see the real Russia crisis.

Part of the reason why Russia is what it is today is the intolerance to the neighbor's success cultivated in their culture for decades if not centuries (definitely part of the USSR cultural ecosystem, but arguably could also be seen in the 19th century or earlier peasant way of life). If they are going down - and they are - nothing will make them happier than to take a few other countries, or even the whole world if they can, with them.

is still a petro state with disastrous demographics and a declining population

No, it's export sector is dominated by petroleum (about 70% of the revenue stream), not the whole economy. Natural resource rents amount to 16% of domestic product. That's high, but it's half what it was in 1998. Russia's total fertility rate is 1.6, precisely the European average, and, unlike Germany's, considerably higher than it was 20 years ago. If fertility in Russia continues to recover at the pace it has been, they'll reach replacement rates within 20 years, something that will not happen in Germany or Italy or Japan.

The country is carrying little foreign or public debt, its employment to population ratio (at 0.58) is similar to that of the United States, and its unemployment rate is currently 5.4%.

We could see peak oil demand as early as 2020

I'm not sure you understand what prices do.

Comments for this post are closed