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November Open Thread

by Bjinse Tue Nov 6th, 2018 at 11:50:06 PM EST

Days decrease, and autumn grows, threads in everything


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Earlier I got all misty eyed about an interview by Isa Blumi giving a lot of context to the events in Yemen. I finally got around to reading the book. I must admit that I'm somewhat disappointed.
What I found most eye-opening in the interview was how the interests of the three gulf monarchies often clash and how they are connected to different faction in the US and the greater world. The book mostly sums up the outside forces, at times the British empire, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the US, high finance, as different tools of "empire" while the focus is on the stuff happening in and with Yemen itself.
One point he brings up is the unceasing hostility to the village in all western modes of development. Development that is strictly local is worse than no development at all. I've been thinking about the Soviets having broadly the same idea. The "idiocy of the countryside" in the original text and the conflicts with the peasantry in the early years all point in this direction.
by generic on Fri Nov 9th, 2018 at 02:04:07 PM EST
A few details that were in the book about the recent events: The Hadi transition government signed up to the WTO, because clearly you need no discussion about that. It also had a compromise plan to bring peace to Yemen by splitting the country into six mostly autonomous provinces. Four with all the people and two with all the oil.
by generic on Fri Nov 9th, 2018 at 03:28:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Offhand, I think the early Soviet problems with peasants lay in their resistance to being forced into collective farming (unless anarchist, see Makhno). Later, kolkhozy gave employment and sustained villages and rural life. Certainly post-Soviet developments are an illustration of the abandonment of the countryside and the dereliction of villages.

I used to be afew. I'm still not many.
by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Fri Nov 9th, 2018 at 04:13:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the reminder of that interview. Finally got around to listen to it, it is really good.

In particular I liked when they tried to bring a longer historical perspective on how the British Empire supported top-down interpretations of islam in order to replace local interpretations that took the needs of local society in account with local strong men to make deals with. Islamism as a tool to control muslim populations is an interesting perspective. Also ties in with countryside through central control.

by fjallstrom on Mon Nov 12th, 2018 at 10:01:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which reminds me that I have a Mark Curtis book about British Collusion with political Islam lying around somewhere here. While reading the book I did felt that Blumi might be too upbeat about the Imamate, the old government of North Yemen. There was little information about the early days of the the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, but they certainly were open to British advances in their conflict with Nasser. And what brought on this clash was land reform. Which is presumably when Nasser started telling jokes about the MBs silly idea of putting a veil on every woman in Egypt(total 2:30min).

Now, Blumi quotes Imam Ahmad in 61, shortly before the end of Yemeni participation in the UAR project:

Taking property by forbidden means
On pretext of nationalization, or of justice
Between those who have wealth and those with none,
Is a crime against Islamic law.

The land reforms were in 62. You could certainly read the Yemeni decison as stemming from the Egyptian turn toward a new form of colonialism, and they certainly managed to alienate the Syrians pretty quickly, but I have no doubt that the elite running an agricultural country would need no ulterior motives to oppose anyone suggesting land reform.

by generic on Mon Nov 12th, 2018 at 06:47:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting article in Naked Capitalism showing that the effects of the rebellion remain even today
We find that the rebellion permanently shifted the rebellion areas' development trajectories.In areas that experienced the rebellion, the post-warpopulation increases (compared to the baseline year 1820) remain 38% to 67% lower than in areas that were unaffected by the war, even after the passage of one-and-a-half centuries(see Figure 2). The long-term impact on the population by the rebellion is illustrated in Figure 3, which depicts the evolution over time of the total population and the share of the rebellion areas in the total population of the sample prefectures. The rebellion prefectures' population share has dropped from 34.2% in 1820 to 22.7% in 2000.

Moreover, the rebellion's long-term effects on development are similar to those that emerged in Europe following its devastating experience of the Black Death (Voigtlander and Voth 2013). When augmented with favourable changes in institutions and fiscal capacity, the Rebellion facilitated China's ensuing Malthusian transition - that is, from the Malthusian regime of high population growth and no real-income growth to the modern growth regime of sustained income growth with limited population growth (Galor and Weil 2000). This conclusion is supported by several pieces of evidence.

Based on the OLS and 2SLS estimates, in 2010, one-and-a-half centuries after the Taiping Rebellion, fiscal revenue per capita in the Taiping areas are at least 50% (0.6 standard deviations) higher than in other areas - a huge effect. This supports the war-induced state-capacity hypothesis. Furthermore, based on the OLS, Taiping areas have a significantly higher share of modern sectors - these areas' share of manufacturing in GDP is higher by 4.6% (0.4 standard deviations). Based on the 2SLS, the Taiping areas' average schooling level is 13% higher - again a large effect. These results support the Malthusian transition hypothesis.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Nov 12th, 2018 at 12:03:29 PM EST
The Qing dynasty was on a downswing already, struggling to manage and tax increased population (and opium demand and supply...) The industrialization became tragicomically prolonged, particularly compared with Japan. How is Japanese Malthusian transition to be compared?

The Taiping Rebellion, from 1851 to 1864, was the deadliest civil war in history.
So it beats Mao's Long March (and then Giant Leap)?
by das monde on Mon Nov 12th, 2018 at 01:17:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great Leap
It is widely regarded by historians that The Great Leap resulted in tens of millions of deaths.[ A lower-end estimate is 18 million, while extensive research by Chinese historian Yu Xiguang ests the death toll from the movement is closer to 55.6 million.
So if the figure of 70 million deaths from Taiping is correct, the answer is yes. (I can't check the 70 million figure, as the source is in Chinese. I thought the standard figure was 20 million).
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Nov 12th, 2018 at 01:28:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Steve Pinker algebra

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Nov 12th, 2018 at 02:12:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Radio War Nerd EP #74--Taiping Rebellion | Gary Brecher on Patreon
Guest: Carl Zha

The Taiping Rebellion was the deadliest war of the 19th C, maybe in history--between 20 million and 100 million died in fighting between a Chinese cult leader's army in southern China, and the decaying Qing dynasty . .

by generic on Mon Nov 12th, 2018 at 03:17:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Chinese cult leader" ... He was the younger brother of Jesus Christ.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Nov 12th, 2018 at 04:14:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wikipedia says "20-30 million dead (best estimate)", and "estimates of the war dead ranging from 20-70 million to as high as 100 million".

The 1927-1949 war: "c. 8 million casualties total", plus "c. 7 million" under the Japanese occupation.

by das monde on Mon Nov 12th, 2018 at 03:30:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
China's brightest children are being recruited to develop AI 'killer bots'
Beijing Institute of Technology recruits 31 'patriotic' youngsters for new AI weapons development programme

Expert in international science policy describes course as 'extremely powerful and troubling'

by das monde on Thu Nov 15th, 2018 at 11:53:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Except for the "AI" nonsense the major power have been working on this for decades.  The basic technology for micro-drone swarms has been lying around since the mid-80s.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Thu Nov 15th, 2018 at 04:54:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Seneca Rebound: Why Growth is Faster after Collapse. Explaining the European World Dominance
the expansion of the European social system didn't go on smoothly, but in bursts. Over some two millennia, the European population grew from a few tens of millions up to the current 700 million people. In the process, it underwent at least three major crashes but, every time, it restarted growing. This bumpy expansion trajectory is typical of complex systems which tend to show what I call the "Seneca Effect," cycles of slow growth and fast collapse.

[...] The disappearance of a large fraction of the population frees some previously cultivated land for forests to regrow. Then, when the population starts re-growing, people find the new forests as a near-pristine source of wood and -- once cut -- of fertile soil, and the cycle restarts. The new cycle may grow faster than the earlier one because society still remembers the social structures and the technologies of the previous cycle. This is the "Seneca Rebound" -- growth may be faster after collapse.


by das monde on Mon Nov 12th, 2018 at 01:17:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"broken window" fallacy, restated

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Nov 12th, 2018 at 02:14:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I find the lack of population data curious - births per woman, age of mother at first birth, etc. If they want to measure a shift from what they call a Malthusian regime, checking if such a shift occurs seems to be step one.

And then expanding the economic model until present time without mentioning what happened with different provinces during the time after the studied period, but before the present time, is just irresponsible. It reads like a fishing trip for data that supports the theory without looking at error sources.

What kind of historians have written this? Oh, they are economists. Never mind.

by fjallstrom on Mon Nov 12th, 2018 at 01:19:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Periodic "fertility" surveillance of ROW by westworld tends to presume preponderance of live births per female in aggregate, ceteris paribus. Frequency of live births must be the only explanation for catastrophic population growth brought to bear by ROW. Which is ironic, never mind current estimation of ROW morbity and mortality or current estimated ROW census figures, contenporaneously reported by local jurisdictions. Those are assumed corrupt, as is the custom. Inherent corruption and ignorance necessitates restatement over time-space: besserwissen.

The purpose of these polemical exercises is not to communicate "objective" facts.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Nov 12th, 2018 at 02:45:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not having Peterson videos here. Done with this shit.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 12th, 2018 at 01:45:40 PM EST
Counted just 1, 2 short threads on him here, without direct videos. So we just crawl under a rock?
by das monde on Mon Nov 12th, 2018 at 03:38:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lots of rocks around to crawl under. Just not on here.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 12th, 2018 at 03:53:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not we, but Peterson. He's the lobster, isn't he?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Nov 12th, 2018 at 03:55:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If we have to ignore that #1 book in Sweden, we appear to be short of serotonin and acetylcholine under this rock.
by das monde on Mon Nov 12th, 2018 at 04:27:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've been ignoring Sixty Shades of Grey for years and can't attest to any ill effects.

As to Peterson: I read a long article over at Viewpoint magazine that makes a, to me, convincing case that he tends to misrepresents, or hasn't read the works of the schools of philosophy he critizes and a similarly long review of his book in Current Affairs that finds it, using extended quotes, to be full of unprovable gibberish. With those I'm reasonably confident that I haven't missed any big revelations, but I suppose if you have another article to demonstrate I'm wrong, go for it. I specify article since I'd have to scrutinise it cosely.

by generic on Mon Nov 12th, 2018 at 08:13:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd call Peterson a wanker, but I doubt he possesses the requisite equipment.  I also won't call him a fascist apologist or dupe because I think he's actually the genuine article; his "don't think about it, just feel the truth" arguments reek of Rocco and Goebbels.  Of course, he IS a psychobabbleist, and that field punishes reason and logic.
by rifek on Tue Nov 13th, 2018 at 04:51:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll see your "12 Rules for Life" and your "60 Shades of Grey"

I'll raise you 40 Rules of Love by Elif Shafak.

I'm not claiming that Sufism is morally superior to fascist psychobabble or to S&M. But it's a damn sight more useful.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Nov 13th, 2018 at 10:44:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If Peterson is so vague, trivial, cliche (as those two snark reviews claim), would he have odds to be so influential?

Stemming from his psychological background, Peterson speaks in a proactive language of participatory living, rather than in an armchair, observational language accepted as academically objective. Similarly, Marx said:

The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.
Ironically, Marx was rather just talking, while the Rockefellers, Carnegies were prototypical examples of changers at the same time. To understand the impact of Peterson's elaborate, unprovable, unfalsifiable, unintelligible theory, some CBT, NLP-ish (or say Baptist) exposure is a bonus.

There is really much discussion on post-modernism on the so-called Intellectual Dark Web. Peterson's vantage is not the most accurate or interesting, but it touches the practicable impact and counter-resonance well enough.

How to learn to stop worrying and love Peterson? Here is one starting point. Listening through that BBC interview without much prejudice is fitting.

P.S. I remembered #3 mention here.

by das monde on Tue Nov 13th, 2018 at 11:50:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If Peterson is so vague, trivial, cliche (as those two snark reviews claim), would he have odds to be so influential?

If "influential" = "right", we're in trouble. Trump, for instance, doesn't have an ounce of wrong about him, anywhere.

Without wishing to insult you, there are an awful lot of dickheads around believing in all sorts of crap. Notoriety is no proof.

I used to be afew. I'm still not many.

by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Tue Nov 13th, 2018 at 12:09:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If he is influential without being right, ignoring him portends a very big trouble. There is something to learn from him for the resolute left.

As for dickheadness, Mother Nature could eventually have a dickhead bias you won't protest. The latest highs of the Identity Politics (with #MeToo just over a year old) could, after all, be the last luxury of good times where masculinity has no approved value.

by das monde on Tue Nov 13th, 2018 at 12:32:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If Peterson is so vague, trivial, cliche (as those two snark reviews claim), would he have odds to be so influential?

Well yes, if we insist on giving every bit of clickbait massive platforms. How the fuck do you think we ended up with Trump and Brexit?

He's providing yet another justification for regressive toxic masculinity in pursuit of money. I do not intend providing a platform for that shite.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 13th, 2018 at 12:40:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If we have to protect a few souls... But no!
by das monde on Tue Nov 13th, 2018 at 01:14:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If Peterson is so vague, trivial, cliche (as those two snark reviews claim), would he have odds to be so influential?

Sure.

Ironically, Marx was rather just talking, while the Rockefellers, Carnegies were prototypical examples of changers at the same time.

Yet a few decades after he was just talking half the world was ruled by regimes claiming descent from his ideology and the biggest public works projects in Vienna still bear his name. Maybe he talked good?

I also want to note that the "intellectual dark web" is one of the more revealing examples of the mainstream pushing the branding strategy of those long suffering mavericks they are presumably harassing unfairly. Sam Harris still isn't cool, sorry.

Since I asked, I'll take a look at the article. I'll put paraphrases in italics and chapter titles in bold. Direct quotes go into "" and I'll put my comments into [].


First few paras: Introduction, Peterson is meaningful and intellectually stimulating to me[No examples given]
Next few paras (Breaking my silence): All the Left is against Peterson and while I admit he is bad on social-economic inequality and I'm therefore not a cultist, there are mobs after me for saying this.
The Downward Spiral: Peterson is obviously intelligent, yet the Left and journalists portray him as an alt right idiot. I'm scared of the activists for saying this.
"We desperately need a revitalized Left that's capable of speaking to today's pressing issues of socio-economic inequality[On which Peterson is bad I thought?], environmental devastation, and spiritual malaise[????] in informed, intelligent, and inspiring ways. Instead, we're inundated by shallow ideological crusades dedicated to demonizing thoughtful conservatives like Peterson, who actually have some important ideas to offer--just not on the issues that properly concern the Left."[Still no examples of those ideas]
Repositioning Peterson:
I'm a life-long lefty yet I like Peterson. Maybe I'm not alone?
I was a political science Prof so I have context. Peterson is not the American kind of conservative that only champions corporate capitalism but wants to understand "the human condition"
"Rather, it is concerned with issues such as the fragility of cultural norms that help provide individuals with a sense of purpose, and enable societies to remain relatively peaceful and functional."
Conservatives of this kind are conservative [I'm not even paraphrasing much here.]
"They believe that there is such a thing as `human nature,'[Who doesn't?] and that it's highly fallible, and inevitably bedeviled by problems such as envy, corruption, and greed[Who doesn't?]"
Conservatives are still conservative and think revolutions are bad
Not Stupid:
Peterson studied Jungian Psychology, he is still a conservative
[Now we come to ideas]
"For example, Peterson is concerned with how postmodern anti-foundationalism undercuts longstanding cultural norms. "[So he doesn't like Nietsche? The Viewpoint Mag article I linked is probably relevant to the way "postmodern" is used here.]

"He sees the `social justice' Left as filling the resulting vacuum with shallow anti-oppression platitudes."[So the Left is bad, because it is stupid?]
 He believes that human existence is inevitably full of suffering and that it's not easy to chart an ethical course through life.[Who disagrees?] The upside is that the struggle to do so provides a vital sense of meaning and purpose."[Did he invent that?]
"More examples could be given" [but are not]
He reinterprets bible stories in a way that resonate with me. Doing so is not stupid.
Peterson has said some bad things, I'm still not a cultist, but the Left is much worse and unfair in its criticism. They call him names and act self-rightous.
Breaking Out of the Box:
The Left alienates people, some of them will vote "anti-PC"
The Left has left social-economic issues to the populist right. Things get worse for the middle and lower classes, the Left says nothing about it.
"Yes, I am aware that many individuals and organizations are working enormously hard on such issues. Yet, as far as I can see, the culture war dynamics that have engulfed Jordan Peterson are overshadowing their efforts." [So the Left has no time for economic issues, because they hurl insults at Peterson?]
Peterson would talk with the Left, but they won't.[At least we aren't willing to pay his speaking fee. I'm sure the Current Affairs guy would be willing]
"Personally, I see him as a worthy interlocutor for those of us who believe that our societies need paradigm-shifting reforms[I thought he was against those? How can he speak for you then?], but reject the drive towards destruction for destruction's sake that currently animates the most extreme fringes of the Right and Left alike."[Way to assume motivations here]

Sorry if this is a bit of an unreadable mess. Please point out if you think I unfairly paraphrase at any point.

Overall, I don't see how this is supposed to convince anyone who is skeptical about the Lobster prophet. We have a lot of claims about thoughtfulness and profound ideas the Left can't ignore, but even after reading this I have seen no evidence of those.

by generic on Tue Nov 13th, 2018 at 04:04:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps there is no set of forceful evidence ready on a plate for left critics. I did not say that he is academically right. But if you are curious what generates his (possibly dangerous) appeal, the best way would be to go down a little his YT rabbit-hole like countless others. Why be dismissively superficial?  Shouldn't we dig what is so badly alienating of progressive politics according to him, just for the sake of next elections? The form of IDW critique is not vile. People will make their own conclusions about identity milestones, regardless of media branding or keen activism.

(Apparently, evolution should be taught starting from lobsters.)

by das monde on Tue Nov 13th, 2018 at 07:06:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I said: he provides justifications for regressive toxic masculinity. Nice easy answers.

His stuff isn't new, or profound. We've seen it before. This is the "maybe this new climate change denier is right" school of argument.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 13th, 2018 at 07:40:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps there is no set of forceful evidence ready on a plate for left critics.
Maybe because there is no such evidence? Frankly, I feel I have done enough due diligence. His ideas have no merit.

I'm also not in the least surprised by his comparable popularity. Telling the right that the Left were the real Nazis is a pretty old racket.

With surprising little innovation since Buckley

Lobster guy has added a bit of self-help pablum to the mix to get to the top of the grifter pile, but only time will tell if he will flame out by defending pedophilia like other recent college grievance merchants or if he will hang around for decades like Ayn Rand's rotting carcass.

by generic on Tue Nov 13th, 2018 at 07:57:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The abandonment of economic matters and the recent cultist embrace of identity politics looks like a surrogate takeover of progressive/leftish/socialist causes the world hasn't seen since the 1930s. Don't be surprised if you would be convinced late.
by das monde on Wed Nov 14th, 2018 at 10:38:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suspect this perception dépends on who you're talking to. I hear plenty of economics.

"Identity politics" is a keyword which indicates that the user belongs to the hegemonic group (typically a white male) and disapproves of the "minorities" getting uppity. Why can't we all just get along. With me on top.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Nov 14th, 2018 at 02:10:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most people would rather follow than be "on top". An apologetic white male is least acceptable there, I guess.
by das monde on Wed Nov 14th, 2018 at 02:24:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Identity politics in the 1930s? Yeah, if it hadn't been for all those LGBTQ marches, the Nazis would never have seized power

(giving women the vote in 1918 was the beginning of the end)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Nov 14th, 2018 at 02:13:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It started in Babylon.
by das monde on Wed Nov 14th, 2018 at 02:29:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At 56:05

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Nov 13th, 2018 at 12:20:07 PM EST
10 great English proverbs that are obviously bollocks
Don't put all your eggs in one basket
You go to the supermarket to buy a dozen eggs, but you take one egg out of the box and put it in a separate basket and then take both baskets to the check-out. And then you put the single egg into an entirely separate bag. Remember to bring an empty egg box - or an old jam jar with some cotton wool in it - to protect the single egg until you get it home and place it safely in the mini-fridge where you keep your solitary eggs.
by generic on Tue Nov 13th, 2018 at 01:11:54 PM EST
From "Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar":

Put all your eggs in the one basket and - WATCH THAT BASKET."

From your link:

A watched kettle never boils

If the kettle is in full working condition, is plugged in, switched on, contains water and there are no problems with your electricity supply, it can't not boil.

Ignorance is bliss

Brexit.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Nov 13th, 2018 at 01:15:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by das monde on Thu Nov 15th, 2018 at 12:03:29 PM EST


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