Friday, October 6, 2017

Japan and White Entitlement

A friend referred an interesting blogpost to me the other day about Japan. It is from a British photographer who goes by the handle Uchujin. He had lived in Japan for many years and in the post, he explains in detail his disillusionment with the society and his reasons for ultimately leaving.


Storey is clearly a very smart and creative guy. His bio reveals a number of successes in film making and photography. Thus I cannot help but feel a bit bad being critical of his post on Japan. I was bemused by it. It is a fascinating read in so far as it really exemplifies many white people's incredible sense of entitlement when they go to foreign countries. Here is the short version of his complaints: He is annoyed that Japan does not have a western style criminal justice system, a western style work culture, a western belief in gender egalitarianism, a western belief in multiculturalism, and so on. Why he should expect a non-western country to hold western cultural values is a mystery.

Do foreigners have a right to live in a country for years and then aggressively criticize it? Sure. As I wrote in my piece 'Standing,' foreigners have every right to their opinion. Hell, I even agree with a lot of Storey's complaints. The work culture in Japan is pretty awful. There is an underbelly of racism. The criminal justice system does not have the same protections as in America. The country is so safe that I don't worry about it much, yet if I had to choose between getting arrested in America or Japan, I would definitely pick the former.

Another point I made in my 'Standing' article is that the views of expats need not carry much weight. And Storey is an expat not an immigrant. By his own admission, he only speaks, "a reasonable level of Japanese," after living in the country for 10 years. One might think it praiseworthy that a country is able to allow foreigners to thrive for decades even if they don't bother to learn to communicate with natives. I don't dispute the specific facts and observations in his piece. However if you haven't spent hours drinking with Japanese coworkers after a hard day's work - if you haven't had several lengthy social experiences exclusively speaking and understanding native level Japanese - then maybe people need not put much stock in your opinion when you call an entire race ignorant (as Storey does of the Japanese).

Storey isn't the first case of this. Three times I have met foreigners that have lived in Japan for more than ten years yet did not speak the language. All were white. I have seen tourists in Japan loudly complain about the lack of English signage or the fact that a restaurant only has chopsticks and no forks. Always whites, usually Americans but also sometimes Australians. It never ceases to amuse me - this assumption that western culture is some sort of international default. It is a natural consequence of globalism. Hell you could even call it white privilege - this taken for granted idea that they can fly anywhere in the world and expect to feel at home.

I specifically call out white people here because I almost never see people of other races do this stuff. In Japan I have met Filipinos, Mexicans, Indians, Arabs, Africans, and all manner of nonwhite men and women. Not once have they ever lamented Japan’s lack of progressive values. From the Thai waitress to the Brazilian street musician to the Indian IT worker – every one of them busts their ass to assimilate and make a good life for themselves and their families.

They tend to master the language much faster than white people from wealthy countries, often because they have no choice. They don't have cushy office jobs where people will try to speak to you in English and kiss your butt because you correctly pronounced konnichiwa. The Vietnamese dude working 12 hours a day in some kitchen getting yelled at by a Japanese boss learns real quick how to properly conjugate honorific forms of verbs because he's out on his ass if he doesn't. But even middle and upper-class nonwhites do a better job of acculturating. Nonwhites may not care for a few specific Japanese customs. They may miss some of the foods and traditions of their homelands. But they adapt and thrive in Japan without complaint. Their attitude is generally, “This is Japan. They do things their own way here. It is on me to adjust and get used to it.”

So where does this specific form of white people entitlement come from exactly? At first I thought maybe it was because white countries are wealthier. Perhaps all people from wealthy countries have a kind of arrogance about the superiority of their own culture. This seemed to make sense as it explained why whites from poorer countries tended not to complain as much about Japan in my experience. For example, I have met several eastern Europeans who have lived in Japan for years and absolutely love it. Yet immigrants from wealthy nonwhite societies (South Korea, Singapore, UAE, etc) tended to thrive in Japan. So if the cause isn't economic, could it perhaps be cultural? Is it perhaps something about the nature of societies that value multiculturalism and diversity?

Many predominantly white countries make tolerance one of their most fundamental values. They define themselves by their lack of a norm-imposing identity. This I think gives them a confused understanding of precisely what a culture is. A culture is, at root, a series of norms. Norms can be small or large. A small norm in Japan is that people slurp their noodles loudly when they eat in restaurants. A bigger norm is that women are expected to quit their jobs once they have kids and become housewives.

When your cultural identity is defined by a lack of norms, it can be jarring to try to live in a place where norms are taken for granted. It isn’t merely that you disagree with the specific norms. Rather you are outraged that the people have the nerve to try to impose any sort of norms in the first place. It makes sense that people coming from a culture defined by its ability to accommodate foreigners would find it difficult to live in a place that expects foreigners to adjust themselves. I think this is also part of why we are seeing more ethnic tension in western countries, be it racial division in America or Muslim and migrant populations in Europe. The only culture white western nations can impose is a judgment-free non-culture that leaves a void nonwhites will inevitably fill with their own values.

So in a way the entitlement of white foreigners is kind of sad. It reflects just how thoroughly modernity and globalism have gutted their heritage and shared identity. It's as if they have forgotten what it means to have a culture in the first place. Good immigrants recognize norms in their new homelands and try to either copy them or at least tolerate them. They do this in part because they have an implicit understanding of the importance of norms having come from a homeland that imposed its own.

I have no illusions about Japan after three years living here. I recognize many of its flaws. I don't love every cultural norm. I accept that as a black man I will always be an outsider. That didn't stop me from becoming fluent in the language (not really native level yet, but trying) and assimilating as much as possible. It doesn't stop me from bowing in social situations, buying cheap souvenirs for coworkers when I'm on vacation, and ending meals by saying, "Gochisousama deshita." Japan is my home after all. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Don't get mad that the Romans aren't acting like Egyptians.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Ten Points on the Alt-Right


1. The Alt-Right I think has the potential to be a powerful political movement and do some good. The one area where I strongly agree with them is on the issue of sovereignty and immigration. A nation without control of its borders is not a nation. Demographics are destiny. If a society is to become thoroughly multi-ethnic, or seek to preserve a single ethnic identity, it should do so intentionally and in a principled fashion. There are other parts of the Alt-Right platform (to the extent that that is even a thing) where I have strong disagreements, however this is true of just about any ideology or movement. The goal is to have a robust political conversation with a wide spectrum of views instead of just two flavors of corporatist globalism.

2. Now, as a matter of strategy, The Alt-Right needs to take the advice of the Dead Kennedys and tell the Nazi punks to fuck off. They should do the same to the KKK supporters, skinheads, and even the confederate soldier cosplayers. They are a new movement and this is their Sister Souljah moment.

3. The legitimacy of National Socialism and the actions of Hitler during WW2 are an interesting academic debate worthy of investigation. However the question for the Alt-Right is whether or not openly associating with Nazism is a path to political relevance. This should not be a hard question.

4. Consider the movement for gay rights. From the early days, NAMBLA and other pro-pedophile organizations have tried to piggyback on the success of the homosexual rights movement. Conservatives have continually smeared people who believed in gay rights as secretly endorsing sex with children. Thus gay rights activists for decades went out of their way to disassociate the two movements. As a result, gay marriage is legal throughout much of the western world. Pedophilia is still universally reviled, just as Nazism is. Neither the Nazis nor the pedophiles have had much success normalizing their views over the last 70 years. Thus any political movement that associates with them will likely fail.

5. Personally I think the Alt-Right should focus on a more positive message. Instead of arguing about IQ or the “JQ,” focus on rebuilding America's lost civic virtues. Charles Murray's book Coming Apart does a good job explaining the declining rates of marriage, civic engagement, employment, and social trust among white Americans. In the book Murray presents a wealth of data arguing that Americans are no longer as good at working hard, creating healthy families, supporting their communities, and acting honestly. It has led to a society with greater inequality, a perpetual underclass, the normalization of children growing up without a father, greater crime, more ethnic conflict, reduced birthrates, and less overall self-reported contentment.

6. Politically the Alt-Right can still focus on immigration, sure. However as a social movement it would be great to see them work toward rebuilding America's traditional civic virtues – industriousness, family formation, civic engagement (religious or secular, either is fine) and social trust. This could be a grass roots movement – family by family, block by block, town by town, state by state. Teach people how to be productive, manage a household, homeschool, invest, hunt, farm, eat healthy, find a good spouse, etc. etc. That is something regular Americans can get behind. In this regard I was happy to see Tara McCarthy spread the hashtag “AltRightMentorship.”

7. The Left won the culture wars in large part because it was seen as a positive movement. People feel good about supporting equality, social services for the less fortunate, and more political rights. They don't feel good about discriminating against minorities, leaving refugees to starve, or treating women as inferior to men. If you want to promote nationalism, you have to present it in a positive way that makes people feel good about endorsing it. If you want to promote traditionalism or anti-feminism, you have to present gender roles in a positive way. Cheesy as it sounds, people (the young in particular) want to be inspired.

8. Actions speak louder than words. Stefan Molyneux did an interesting video where he talked about the importance of demonstrating commitment. I think there is some truth in this. Traditionalist and Alt-Right folks need to walk the walk. As toxic as western culture might be, nothing is stopping them from building homogeneous communities and having big families. The Amish, the Hasidic Jews, and the Mormons all seem to be doing just fine. Nothing is stopping white people from reliving their 1950's Norman Rockwell glory days if they really want to do so. If they are so scared of dumb and evil brown people ruining their culture then why not focus on fortifying their own communities instead of some pipe dream about exiling nonwhites? If the government gets in the way with forced busing / housing / migrant policies, fight back. They've got a sympathetic administration and Supreme Court at least in the United States.

9. Why am I bothering with trying to aid a movement filled with people that likely despise me because of my skin color? Because I think nationalism is important. World government I think is a terrible evil. Humans are a tribal species. We need a diversity of civilizations to bring out the best in us. We need competition among political philosophies and the ability to vote with our feet by moving to different countries. Given the potential reach of the modern technological surveillance state, a true world government would be inescapable. It would represent the end of history. Unfortunately too many modern liberal and conservative political movements are unquestioningly moving in the direction of global government whether they realize it or not.

10. Nationalism is often bound up with questions of ethnicity. I don't think that is going away because race does matter. So long as we seek to live as homo sapiens, we have to work with the hardware and software nature gave us. We should not be surprised that ethnic groups have different cultures, different outcomes, and often seek to band together. Similarly we should not be surprised that men and women differ in their proclivities and outcomes. If and when technology evolves to a point where all racial and sex differences are easily erased by human augmentation, then we will no longer be dealing with homo sapiens. We will have a whole new slew of tough questions to face at that point. However I am pessimistic about the likelihood of us reaching such a future.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Ten Points on Trump and Charlottesville


This will be sort of free form. I have another set of thoughts on the alt-right generally that I will put in another post.

1. I followed the rally in Charlottesville closely on both cable news and Twitter. It was interesting seeing the contrasting presentations. My impression is that the rally was made up primarily of traditional conservatives and white identitarians (white nationalists). The Nazi / KKK / Confederate component seemed to be a clear minority. The rally appeared to only become violent when the right-wing protesters were attacked. This is a relevant detail.

2. In light of point 1 it is telling that the media characterized the event as a “Nazi Rally.” There is a significant difference between white nationalists and Nazis. There is also a significant difference between white nationalists and white supremacists. One can be an ethnic nationalist without hating all other races. Indeed I think most Japanese people are like this.

3. Trump's response was a blunder. He made a weak initial statement, then (foolishly) tried to appease the media with a second statement, then did a third press conference where he just spoke off the cuff. This set him up to look like he was sympathetic to white nationalists even though he didn't really say anything wrong. He condemned racism. He condemned white supremacy and Nazism. He also pointed out that AntiFa was also violent and partly responsible, which is of course true.

4. The media is attacking Trump for not buying their narrative – that violent Nazis were solely responsible for injuries and loss of life at the rally. This has been a common trope since the election. Even when Trump supporters were attacked and beaten at rallies the media characterized them as violent and gave AntiFa a pass.

5. Trump should have made a passionate defense of free speech in his first and only statement. He should have condemned the Nazis and also AntiFa. He should have then said that both sides have a right to free speech so long as they are not violent.  He should have pointed out that people who supported feminism and civil rights for black people were once deemed offensive and were similarly disenfranchised and deplatformed.

6. On a personal note, this is why I am so dismayed to see big tech companies like Google try to ban white nationalists from using their services. No one who believes in free speech can cheer on a huge corporation censoring a political minority. I too am a minority. It was not too long ago that people felt justified in persecuting people with my skin color. They made the same arguments about private companies having the right to do whatever they want. It is amazing how leftists, who have never met a government regulation they didn't like, quickly become absolutists about private property when they see their political enemies being victimized. It speaks again to the fact that we live in an age where there are no principles, only gangs – only “good guys and bad guys” all seeking power.

7. People forget how quickly moral fashions change. A few decades ago people didn't think twice about a gay person getting beat up for being too “out,” about his sexuality. Decades before that it was totally cool to harass interracial couples and women who tried to enter male career fields. 30 years from now, be it from ecological disaster or political instability, the pendulum could swing back and the moral fashions could be totally different. And then today's leftists could be the ones being disenfranchised and silenced. It will be funny to see them scream and protest in favor of free speech again, as they did in the 1960's before they became the establishment. The only problem is that to anyone with a memory they will have zero credibility.

8. Trump also should have pointed out the evil of the Orwellian idea of removing historical monuments on the grounds that they conflict with today's values. Utopians always do this, be it ISIS, the Taliban, or the Chinese under Mao Zedong. They try to cleanse society of past “mistakes,” to create an eternal purified present. But historical monuments are not blanket endorsements of their subjects. If anything, today more than ever, we need monuments of controversial historical figures that we might learn from them.

9. The random acts of destruction of monuments across the country constitute yet another "trial balloon" on the part of the far left. The naked censorship being practiced by big tech companies is another "shot across the bow." They want to see how much they can get away with. Conservatives predictably have been mealy-mouthed in their response. Republicans were quick to turn on Trump and seek the media's favor. I heard Mark Levin on the radio say essentially that he had no problem with monuments being removed, but that leftists should do it "the right way," and respect municipal process. This will not inspire anyone to change their view. Similar arguments were made against every major revolution and civil rights movement. If something is believed to be morally wrong, passionate people will take matters into their own hands. You have to attack the core moral belief.

10. Ultimately I think those right-wingers at the rally who were protesting the removal of monuments had a legitimate grievance. I think the torches were bad PR, and the fact that they let Nazis and Klan members march along side them spoke volumes about their political savvy. Though the alt-right has become more relevant in the age of Trump, the movement is destined for irrelevance if they keep making it easy for the media to label it a Nazi organization. I have watched interviews with Richard Spencer, one of the leaders of the alt-right. He is not a Nazi, yet he has on multiple occasions been at public events with people doing Nazi salutes and wearing swastikas. So to the extent that he is the face of the movement, he and other alt-right people cannot really be surprised at the media coverage they get.

I have a separate post I will publish soon about the alt-right.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Response to Millenial Woes



I happened to catch a bit of a recent Tara McCarthy livestream. Since my discussion with her a few months ago she seems to have grown in popularity and become one of the faces of the alt-right movement. In the above livestream she spoke with Millennial Woes, another white nationalist from Great Britain. The two spoke at length about the idea of establishing white ethnostates in Europe and in the United States. It was an interesting look at the ideology of unapologetic racism.

I joined the chat at the end of the livestream right when they were talking about what would be done to minorities and interracial couples in their ideal all white ethnostate. Woes advocated for exiling nonwhites with the goal of getting to a 90 to 100% white United States and / or Europe. What struck me about this portion of the discussion was the level of anguish he expressed. He kept saying how it wouldn't be "nice" having to tear apart families and forcibly deport dark-skinned people. He seemed legitimately upset about the prospect.

In the comments I cheekily asked, "What about high IQ blacks???" and Tara noticed the comment and actually asked him. He said I should go to Africa. I appreciated his integrity in being comfortable saying that directly to me.

But here's why that's dumb:

First of all, telling someone like me to "Go back to Africa," doesn't make sense because I have never been to Africa. Neither have my parents, or their parents. My family, like millions of American blacks, is generations removed from that continent. We know nothing of the culture. Our skin is lighter in color. We would be treated as foreigners, ostracized, and generally made to struggle to make a decent life. Telling me to "Go back to Africa," makes as much sense as telling me to "Go back to Vietnam." I have never been there and cannot call it my homeland.

But let's be charitable and say Woes understands this. Let's remove the "back" in "Go back to Africa." Perhaps he is advocating that all people should go reside in their ancestral racial homelands.

This is even more insane.

First of all, it is completely unworkable given our species' thousands of years of mixing and migrating across continents. Attempting to calculate precisely what percentage of which racial DNA requires a person to move to exactly which country, would be an exercise in futility. Rational nation states simply must tolerate some degree of miscegenation and immigration if they are to function. Seeking to attain absolute purity leads to becoming like North Korea.

Yet there is an even greater irony. If millions of American blacks were to move to African countries, they would inevitably destroy the native African cultures. They would supplant and Americanize it. This is a funny thing for a supposed nationalist to advocate. I think Woes and Tara really really want to believe that a person's culture and values are solely a product of their race. But anyone who has met an American born Chinese kid and a Chinese kid raised in China, would know this isn't true. Race matters, sure, but not that much.

There are an estimated 9.5 million Americans with Polish ancestry. The population of Poland is just under 40 million. Imagine if all Polish Americans were to move to their ancestral ethnic homeland. They could demographically dominate the country. Their Polish blood would not magically make them adopt the Polish value system. Most likely they would end up Americanizing the country. They could spread socially liberal ideas, enact gay marriage, and support open borders. The historic Polish culture and heritage would likely not survive. At best, it would be dramatically transformed. Irish Americans could do the same to Ireland, as there are more Irish Americans today than there are Irish people in Ireland.

I have said before that living in Japan has made me understand why some people believe in the importance of ethnostates. If Americans and Europeans want to make their countries more white, that is their right. Sovereignty is important because diversity is important. Unfortunately, many alt-right people want to obsess over IQ, terrorism, and crime, with the explicit belief that nonwhites just make their countries worse. And here on a livestream we hear them talk about how the way to get to a 99% white society is to banish all the darkies and force mixed families to send their nonwhite members to some racial "homeland" they have never even seen.

Arguing for nationalism on the premise of white supremacy with the stated goal of breaking up multiracial families and exiling native born citizens of a darker complexion - this is a sure fire way to make certain your movement stays on the political fringe. This is a unique moment in history. Donald Trump is president. Nationalism is on the rise, and populists like Bernie Sanders are growing in power. People are becoming tired of political correctness and SJW's. Now is the chance for alternative voices to challenge the decadent incumbents in politics and media. Those voices need to come up with visions that unite people. They should also try to make arguments that don't suck.

More than a third of Americans are nonwhite, most of them citizens too. There is no ethical way to force them to leave. It is their country too. If white Americans wanted racial purity, they wouldn't have done silly things like enslaving millions of Africans, importing thousands of Asians to build their railroads, and generally leaving their borders open for decades. If they now want those nonwhites to leave, their only moral option is bribing them, and they likely don't have nearly enough money. The only other alternative is forced exile via the military, or concentration camps like Nazi Germany. However the country that employs those sorts of methods would not be America anymore.

America will likely never be a 90 or 99% white country if only because of the simple fact that most white Americans don't want it to be. It may have 99% white regions. In fact it already does. Forced integration I think is wrong. If Americans choose to partition and self-segregate, that is their right. But realistically, those concerned with long-term national demographics, be it in America, Europe, or anywhere, should focus more on immigration, border control, and birthrates, and less on forced exile and DNA tests. Securing the border, deporting illegal immigrants, revising legal immigration rules, and incentivizing more marriage and fertility, are all peaceful and politically feasible. By the time the political climate has shifted to a point where people are worrying about who to deport based on ancestry, the ethno-nationalists will have already won.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

What I Like About Twitter

Twitter has been around for a while now but I only started using it over the last couple of months. It seemed really pointless to me until I created my own startup as a side project and had a need to promote the site on social media. The business account became a useful way to spread information about the site. I also began using my personal account more as well, mostly just to talk politics and science with random people online.

I discovered that Twitter could actually serve as a really powerful curated stream of news and opinion. I use the term 'curated' because you do have to be careful about who you follow. It is very easy to have it become an echo chamber much like Facebook. You start by following a few people you like. Then Twitter recommends people similar to them. You follow those people and before you know it, you have one hundred different news sites and writers all telling you the same thing. For many people, this is precisely the value they seek from Twitter; the reassurance of dozens of people all affirming their opinions in subtly different ways.

I took a different approach. I went out of my way to carefully follow a diverse range of sources. I have conservative sources and liberal ones. I follow libertarians, socialists, moderates, alt-right white nationalists, progressives, anarchists, and everything in between. I follow Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, President Trump, and Rand Paul.

Whenever a major story breaks - the sort where everyone feels a need to comment on it - I get to hear a million different spins. Trump makes a speech, and in one place I can see the opinions of Richard Dawkins, Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton, and Julian Assange. That to me is the really simple and cool thing about Twitter. Sure, I could hack together something similar with other content feed systems. But thanks to its user base, Twitter has done a pretty neat job of aggregating things for me.

I don't claim that this more broad set of viewpoints makes me automatically better informed. Reality is partisan after all. On a science topic often the opinion of one good expert is worth far more than a that of a hundred different pundits. The useful thing about have a wide range of views in your stream is that it helps you to avoid ideological gang membership. It undermines the tendency to premise all of your political views with an us-vs-them filter that inevitably leads to a complete inability to empathize with people who disagree with you. I might disagree with conservatives on a lot of issues, but I would never say that I just cannot understand how any of them believe what they believe.

Twitter has been a pleasant discovery also for following news about science, movies, gaming, and various other odd interests of mine. Suffice to say I have done a complete 180 on the app. Yet still I have my frustrations with it. I sort of understand why they have struggled with monetization. The app has a number of flaws.

There are lots of things they could do to improve the UI. I wish it were easier to follow conversations. I would love to be able to pin or tag people I follow. Also, I would like a way to group the people I follow. I would love to be able to just create a 'Liberal' group, and add all applicable accounts to it. Then in the UI I could just click 'groups' and then 'Liberal' and instantly dive into that world. Does not need to just be political either. I would love to make groups for 'Gaming' and 'Table Top' as well.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

An Honest Conversation about Race

I write about rhetoric. I sometimes call out bad arguments. I did that recently for Tami Lahren and her remarks on abortion. I intended to do that again for RageAfterStorm, a popular German alt-right youtuber.

 

Rage is part of a recent influx of young females into the alt-right youtube scene. I have seen a few cropping up since my chat with Tara "Reality Calls" McCarthy. Overall I think this is a good thing, as the Social Justice Warrior crowd has been due for some competition in the social media world. It is also a good sign for the alt-right movement, as all marketers know that nothing is better for advertising than attractive young women. Most of them aren't terribly original or insightful, but at least they are easier on the eyes than Pat Buchanan. Here's a collage from our friends on /pol/ (Some, like Coulter and Malkin, are not so recent and some do not self-identify as alt-right):


Rage recently did a video about race and IQ. Unfortunately her video got pulled from YouTube. Basically she made the argument that the high rate of criminality in the black community is caused by their lower than average IQ. This is a common belief among alt-right commenters such as Tara McCarthy and Jared Taylor.

I had planned to write a long post debunking this claim but instead I'll just offer a few sentences before continuing with my main point. While there is a general correlation between lower IQ and higher rates of criminality, it is inaccurate to suggest that a group's average lower IQ is the primary cause of its rate of criminality. Evidencing this is the fact that black Americans had far lower rates of crime before the Civil Rights act. Black Americans also had far lower rates of divorce and illegitimacy in the earlier half of the 20th century. There is little evidence that a sudden change in IQ led to the dysfunction we started seeing in the black community in the 1960's. It is instead more probable that cultural change led to the spike in criminality.

One of the things I find most distasteful about the alt-right is their proclivity for abusing research about IQ and human biology. Low IQ == crime is an alt-right sacred cow that one can easily debunk with a bit of research. There are actually numerous examples of relatively low IQ communities that also have lower rates of crime than higher IQ groups. Crime is a consequence of social and cultural systems. Low IQ societies with strong social systems (such as religion) can often enjoy low rates of crime.

Now I understand why many alt-right people fall into this type of thinking about IQ. After decades of brow beating from the Left, the pendulum is simply swinging back. Having been forbidden from even talking about IQ for so long it is understandable that right wingers are making a kind of idol of it. Positioning themselves as edgy truth-tellers, alt-right commenters are twisting research about IQ to push an emotionally satisfying simplistic narrative.

That isn't to say they get it entirely wrong. Race does matter. We should speak honestly about crime and race. Black crime in America is a huge problem. However we need to be really careful before we start blaming things on genetics or IQ. While there is decent evidence showing differences in IQ between races, the link between genetics and crime is far more tenuous. If the alt-right is essentially a white nationalist movement, it should seriously consider whether the best way to win people over is with the argument that nonwhites are genetically inferior (more prone to commit crime). In an earlier era of history this might have been effective. In the current year, I doubt it.

My time living in Japan has made me more open-minded on the idea of ethnic nationalism. I believe the alt-right can be an important part of the political conversation in western nations. I really don’t have a problem with white people wanting to preserve their historical homelands. It seems that the alt-right is applying two contradictory arguments though: 1. We should limit the number of brown people coming into our countries because brown people are idiots and criminals who will make our nations worse 2. We should limit the number of brown people coming into our countries because this is our homeland and those people already have their own.

To me argument #2 is much stronger. Argument #1 I don't think has much mass appeal in modern western nations. For one it immediately turns off 99% of nonwhites. To that some alt-right people would say, "who cares what nonwhites think?" and I would respond, "the politicians whose votes they use to keep the borders open." Furthermore, Virtually all white people have nonwhite friends, a nonwhite bartender, a nonwhite coworker, a nonwhite brother-in-law, etc. They don't feel comfortable associating with a movement that brands people they care about as inferior. Argument #2 is much more defensible. Few people criticize the Japanese, the Chinese, the Kenyans, or the Chileans for preserving their homelands. It is intuitive for both whites and nonwhites living in western nations.

Even though I think the alt-right gets a lot wrong about race, I am still glad to see them at least talking about it openly. If we really want to have an honest conversation about race, we need to be willing to hear controversial points of view, and we need to be civil when people get it wrong. We need the freedom to make mistakes, to bounce ideas off of one another without fear of being lynched by some internet hate mob. I give Rage props for being part of the conversation and putting herself out there. That takes more guts than many of her critics will ever show.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Random Thoughts V

A Good Quote

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.

~ Bertrand Russell

Review of Logan


This was a good film. It wasn’t quite great because of some of the narrative choices in the third act. Yet it was still very good. Patrick Stewart is wonderful as a vulgar, senile Professor X. Hugh Jackman is in top form with his weathered, beaten down swan song performance as Wolverine. Few comic book movies have achieved this level of pathos. The scene where Wolverine buries the Professor was genuinely moving. I loved how unapoligetically bleak it all was. The X-Men are dead. The mutants are all gone – killed off by the machinations of human scientists. They’ve perfected mutant clones capable of easily besting the originals.

It’s over. The good guys lost. All that is left for these larger than life characters – Wolverine and the Professor, men who have saved the world countless times across the years – is to scratch out a meager living for the few days left to them and ultimately sacrifice it all for one last bout of heroism. It is indeed quite similar to The Last of Us in that way. The first two thirds of the film are almost perfect. I loved that they got their money’s worth with the ‘R’ rating as the action and language are a treat. For me the movie slipped in its final act with the children. That section felt like it belonged in another movie. I think Wolverine’s clone Laura should have remained mute. I would have preferred the ending focused on just the two of them instead of the formulaic big action set piece against a contrived final boss. These weaknesses aside, it’s still a great sendoff for the character.

The Conundrum of Miserable Women in Saudi Arabia


Frequently people will talk about women in Saudi Arabia to condemn Islam. They will point out that Saudi Arabian women suffer all manner of unfair treatment such as the fact that they are not even allowed to drive. This begs a very basic question: Are women in Saudi Arabia happy? The implications are interesting whether the answer is ‘yes’ or ‘no.’

If women in Saudi Arabia are generally happy, then it means that women can be happy living under the subjugation of men. It is not a universal truth that women must attain equality with men to be content. If women in Saudi Arabia are not happy, then it begs a follow up question: why don’t they do something about it? If they are really so oppressed and miserable, why do they not riot, or protest, or go on a sex strike, or fight back somehow? The logical conclusion is that they can’t. They are under the thumb of men, which leads to the uncomfortable conclusion that women’s rights only exist if men choose to let them.

Some might argue that Saudi Arabian women could successfully resist if they chose to, but the women are too indoctrinated and brainwashed to do this. Yet this does not change the conclusion, as now this implies men are so powerful that they can successfully collude to control the thoughts and desires of all women in a society.

So which is it? Are women in Saudi Arabia happy? Or are they unhappy? Which uncomfortable reality must we accept? That women may choose to live as the chattel of men? Or that women’s rights are conditional upon men’s preferences? Or perhaps both?

Body Positivity is Bullshit


I am overweight for my height. Through a combination of exercise and low calorie diets, over the last year and a half I lost about 40 pounds. I need to lose at least another 20. It has been a struggle. Some weeks I float up a few pounds. Some weeks I go back. It has focused my mind a lot and strengthened me. I feel overall much healthier than I did when I was severely overweight. I can run around a bit more with my friends and I enjoy long walks in the city. It is a delight to discover gradually what my body is capable of as it sheds excess fat and builds muscle.

So as you can imagine I don't have much patience for any social movement that would come along and try to say that I should have just accepted my unsightly overweight body and been "proud of my curves." In general this is only suggested to women I find. It seems to be part of a larger campaign to undermine beauty standards out of some misguided notion of egalitarianism and tolerance. This is a fool's errand. My parents are doctors. I have a very thorough understanding of the health risks of being fat. I understand well the burden obese people put on the healthcare system, on their friends, their family, their fellow travelers on an airplane, and in many other areas of society. Furthermore, obesity correlates with low IQ, thus it is unbecoming of a Mensan.

Body positivity should be about encouraging everyone to live healthy and discover the best version of their bodies.

Review of Injustice 2


This is a very fun fighting game if you do two things: 1. Ignore the story and 2. Do not take it seriously or try to play it competitively.

It plays fine for casual fighting game fans. I like the roster a lot. I love being able to play as Black Canary, Doctor Fate, Poison Ivy, and a host of other lesser appreciated DC characters. I don't love all of the designs and costumes, but with the massive character gear and enhancement system, you at least have a lot of room to customize. There is a massive roster of DLC characters and "premium skins" (different character but identical move set to someone on the roster) as well, though they aren't free of course. Still, my friends and I have had a lot of fun with the game. The supermoves are really cool and I love the unique character dialogues at the start of each fight.

The game has a number of balance issues that make it not suitable for competitive play, at least not until it gets a few patches. The super meter system gives zoning characters a significant advantage. Furthermore, the story is pretty awful. It's yet another Batman love letter with Superman again made the villain. It's honestly getting tired. We've been over this in The Dark Knight Returns, Batman vs. Superman, and even the first Injustice game. It isn't really that interesting anymore - this humanistic conceit that if a person is just really clever, he can defeat a nearly omnipotent Alien.

It doesn't bear any scrutiny and in the end it creates a world where super powers don't matter. In every interaction Batman can turn on and off Superman's powers like a light switch with his infinite supply of red sun grenades and gold kryptonite. The plot even has him solo fight Wonder Woman and Black Adam with no special tricks, and win. Who cares that Wonder Woman is a goddess or that Black Adam can destroy cities with his lightning. This dude in a rubber batsuit can beat both of them hand to hand. The inconsistency is just jarring in a plot that takes itself so seriously.

Some Cool Songs

Here are some links to some cool songs I like:

(Old school hip hop) Camp Lo - Luchini: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXyFYNiV-9I
(Pop rock) Marvelous Things - Eisley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lci0pnWk7nM
(60's alt rock) Fire - Arthur Brown: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=en1uwIzI3SE
(old rock folk) Wimoweh - Karl Denver: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09SXTH699xE
(classic rock) Apeman - The Kinks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEep67akIn4
(videogame music) Kuzunoha Detective Agency - Shoji Meguro: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_kQqQvIsRQ

Separating Rhetoric from Reason

I read a blogpost a while ago about logical fallacies. It was framed as a reference to help people avoid making bad arguments. I found this interesting because I do not think it is accurate to describe logical fallacies as "bad" arguments. The quality of an argument is dependent on its ability to persuade people of something. The vast majority of people are readily convinced by logical fallacies. Even very intelligent people are easily swayed by emotional appeals, bandwagon arguments, and ad hominem tactics.

We need to make a distinction between rhetoric and reason. Logical fallacies are important to avoid when exercising pure reason. When engaging in scientific or philosophical investigation, one needs to rigorously apply reason to ensure that the conclusions they reach are logical. This is not the case when it comes to rhetoric. Rhetoric is the art of persuasion. It is about making statements that cause people to adopt your point of view.

Most people are not convinced by pure reason. They like to think that they are, but they aren't. Humans greatly overestimate their own rationality. In general they put far more energy into after-the-fact rationalization than into actual decision making. If you wish to change someone's opinion about something, pure logic, evidence, and reason are not likely to work. Any salesman will tell you that the real trick is to get the other person to feel good about adopting a specific opinion. You have to make them feel like changing their mind makes them a better, smarter, more compassionate human being.

Most people make important decisions with their emotions. This is why memes are so powerful and part of why Trump won. People did not support Trump out of logic. They supported him because it felt good. The memes made them feel like they were fighting an evil establishment. The slogans appealed to their sense of shared outrage and frustration.

If ever you want to change someone's mind, figure out how to make them feel good about changing. Better still; make them feel as though they are changing on their own terms - as if they are deciding everything on their own and not being manipulated by some other person.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Black Panther the Alt-Right Superhero



I recently saw the trailer for the new Black Panther movie. It looks fun as any other MCU movie. I have not actually read any of his comics (I don’t read a lot of Marvel actually) so I just did some research on his background. I was surprised to discover that he is an alt-right character.
 

Some things I discovered:
 

- He is an ardent nationalist who unapologetically puts his kingdom and his people first

- Wakanda, the nation he rules, is a hereditary monarchy. They do not believe in democracy.


- Wakanda is racially homogeneous and intentionally remains that way


- Black Panther goes out of his way to protect his nation from outsiders. Immigration is not only restricted; it is impossible.


- Black Panther refuses to help poorer African nations and even turns a blind eye to struggling refugees and migrants throughout the continent, believing it is not in his people’s interest to help them.



- Wakanda is an anti-globalist society with little interest in sharing its wealth and resources. In the trailer Klaw explains how the nation's supposed poverty is all a front.


- Wakanda is anti-multiculturalism and a traditionalist society. They have proudly retained numerous religious, ethnic, and gender-based traditions for centuries.


T’Challa, the Black Panther, would not have much interest in Black Lives Matter or contemporary progressive politics. Sure, he would support black nationalists and fight white racists (he fought the Ku Klux Klan in one comic). However he showed more interest in empowering his own people than in trying to win handouts from whites. In the Doomwar story arc he even went so far as to destroy all of the vibranium upon which his nation relied, forcing his people to become prosperous and independent without it.


I am certain there are some turbonerds out there that could contest my characterization by finding some comic panels where Black Panther demonstrates liberal beliefs and opinions. Much of the tension of his character arc is the struggle between tradition and modernity. Still I think my basic point stands.

There are other examples of very nationalist / traditionalist royal characters in comics. Wonder Woman and Aquaman are both very protective of their people and often cultural chauvinists. However since neither of them are even human, it is hard to apply contemporary political labels. Black Panther is human and he leads a nation on a real continent – Africa.


Alt-right people should support the Black Panther movie. They should meme it all over social media and attend screenings en masse. Proudly show solidarity with him. It would mess with a lot of people's heads.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Random Thoughts IV

Learning the Japanese Anthem



It took a bit, but I finally memorized the Japanese anthem. I can sing it fairly well now.

Why did I bother to learn this? Have I gone full weeb? Well, maybe. I'm an immigrant. I live here now. I think knowing the anthem is the least I can do to show appreciation for my new home culture. I think it is actually a decent litmus test for immigrants and their level of assimilation.

The Denial of Identity

All human beings look to the sky and struggle with one basic existential question: Who am I? They answer this by looking inward and outward. They derive an identity. Our identity is a composite of our biology and environment. We get it from family, friends, neighbors, television - the wider culture. We also get it from those immutable unchosen characteristics - our sex, our ethnicity, our height, etc. These things matter. Being a man is fundamentally different from being a woman. Most black people would be offended at the suggestion that white people can fully understand what it is like to be a minority. Being black makes us different. Stand up comics, friends talking honestly among themselves, and individuals in their private moments all understand this. And it isn't a bad thing.

This is an area where I disagree with leftisim. The militant insistence that there are no differences between races, no differences between men and women - it takes something away from us. Healthy well-adjusted people learn to appreciate their identity. Most women I think are happy to be women, and appreciate men for the ways in which men are unique. Men I think often enjoy being around only men, but at the same time love femininity in women. Living in Japan has made me appreciate the ways in which Japanese people are unique. We've got to celebrate our differences.

It has become fashionable to complain about identity politics of late. So long as people seek an identity, identity politics are not going anywhere.

Are Transgender People Offensive?


I had a conversation with a conservative Chinese girl the other day and she expressed strong opposition to transgender women. She said that she found it offensive that a man could put on a wig and a dress and have equal standing with natural born women. "These men do not know what it is like to grow up as a girl. They never get a period. They can never get pregnant. They don't have our hormonal differences. All they do is mimic some female stereotypes. They degrade the concept of womanhood with their role-playing." I expressed a more agnostic view. While I think gender dysphoria is a real mental condition I am skeptical of surgical reassignment as a proper clinical response given the high suicide and depression rate among transgender people. Still I respect people's right to do as they wish with their bodies.

This girl then brought up Rachel Dolezal and asked me how I felt about white people claiming to be black after darkening their skin. "How would you feel about a white guy putting on baggy clothing, talking Ebonics, and acting stereotypically black and then claiming he is now a black man?" I thought about it and decided that yeah, that would actually be pretty offensive. It wouldn't matter if he had some weird brain condition that made him act that way. Being black is not about matching some stereotypes. Hell, I don't match most common black stereotypes at all, yet I am a black man and my being black is a fundamental component of my identity. A man who likes wearing dresses and acting feminine is still a man, just as a tomboy with short hair and a gun collection is still a woman. Again, I don't have any personal issues with transgenders, but I get why other women would not see them as "true" women.

That Poppy


I am becoming obsessed with this girl. What is her deal exactly? Her music is tolerable, but the weird "promo" videos she does on her main channel are hypnotic. There seems to be some subtle political and cultural commentary. For example Famous Politician and This Red Pill. Her "creator", Titanic Sinclair also has his own goofy channel. I really appreciate high concept art and just the commitment to a bit shown here. I'm genuinely captivated. Looking forward to see where they go with it.

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy 2


The Marvel formula is not complicated: 1. Lots of humor 2. Lots of snazzy special effects 3. Charismatic and sexy leading men. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Doctor Strange, and Guardians of the Galaxy have all successfully applied this template. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 continues the tradition with two hours of reddit-approved fluff. You get another disposable one-off villain. You get plenty of 80's references and music. You get an inoffensive story that (happily) isn't connected to all the other Marvel movie madness and basically leaves things in the same position as the start of the film. There are two legit awesome action scenes, a few solid one-liners, and a surprisingly powerful ending that will give you the feels for a brilliantly cast supporting character. Overall I enjoyed it. It's a simple movie that entertains without leaving much of an impression. It is the cinematic equivalent of cotton candy or a 90 second roller coaster ride.

Japan Hologram Girlfriend



Japanese men are apparently turning to virtual girlfriends more and more as the technology gets better. This new hologram girlfriend offers an interesting example. Many commenters call the men who use such things "pathetic," and lament that it will only reduce Japan's birthrate. The thing that struck me however, is just how little these artificial girlfriends actually do. They don't cook, they don't have sex, they don't earn money. All they do is greet you cheerfully in the morning and say nice things. To think that a man might actually buy such a thing and then conclude he now has no need for a wife or girlfriend. It shows just how little men actually want from women. Men are simple, self-sufficient creatures. Ladies, take this to heart: You don't need to be beautiful. You don't need to be a gourmet chef. You don't need a fancy job. You don't need to be a sex goddess. You don't need to be smart. All men want is that little bit of sugar - that little bit of feminine sweetness. Just smile, be cheerful and nice to a man, and he will happily serve you until the day he dies.

Neoteny and Japanese Women


Neoteny is the phenomena of adult organisms retaining characteristics from their childhood. Karen Straughan did a good video thoroughly covering the topic. (start at 12:11 for the key part) The fact that women are far more neotenous than men is extremely important. Neotenous features are perceived as more attractive by males and inspire an instinct to protect and provide. In general men are attracted to youth. This is why cosmetics for females are designed to make them look younger.

In Japan female neoteny is on another level. For one, Japanese women just tend to look much younger than they are. I have seen women in their 50's that would easily pass for late 20's. Furthermore, the whole concept of 'kawaii' is centered around a kind of childish innocence. It isn't just the schoolgirl fashion or makeup either. It is the behavior. The high voices, the childish mannerisms, the body language, the attitude toward sex - all of it creates this general cultural feeling of masculine = parent and feminine = child. I think a similar dynamic exists in most societies actually just because of how we have evolved as a species, however it is just hyper-emphasized in Japan. It can be very hard for westerners to adjust to this, particularly some of the lolita artwork you might see that appears to sexualize children. Excessive fetishization of neoteny leads to pedophilia.

A Movement Not a Club

I have seen a lot of silly Twitter arguments in both left and right wing communities lately that always seem to boil down to purity testing. People always want to have these different litmus tests to decide if you are a proper right-minded progressive or conservative. On some fundamental issues I think this is fair, but it is important for activists to understand the difference between a movement and a club. A private club can be as pure as it wishes. In fact that's precisely what the membership like about clubs - that they are exclusive. In this regard I think it is great for men, women, Asians, Star Trek fans - whoever, to have spaces to themselves. A social movement by contrast has to grow in order to create change. Progressives handicap themselves to the extent that they are hostile toward whites and males. Similarly the Alt-Right has a lot of people that seem to want to hang a "No Girls" or "Whites Only" sign on their front door. Good luck getting anything done that way.

A Quote

"Programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute." ~ SICP first edition

Keiyaku Kekkon Update


My side project: https://keiyakukekkon.com

Still fixing bugs in my spare time. Got some help from a contractor on some annoying UI things. The site has a few dozen users and is still coming along. Probably a few weeks out from what I would comfortably call a Beta version - something stable enough to market aggressively.

I think the Japanese Konkatsu (marriage matchmaking) industry is ripe for disruption. There are so many sites and services these days and many of them charge ridiculous prices. People are just so desperate to find a partner. I think with the right marketing Keiyaku Kekkon could be a major player.

I also think there is a wider market out there for someone creative enough to tap it. The basic concept behind Keiyaku Kekkon is the idea of pre-negotiated peer-to-peer relationship contracts. A person wants some type of relationship with another human being. Instead of cruising bars / churches / 4chan, they use a web platform with a community of people offering contracts. The closest thing I can think of to this today is Craigslist with its personals section, but this is far from optimized. Whether you want offer a spare room in exchange for having a tall woman throw tomatoes at you, or you need a friend to help you fix old motorcycles - we all have things we can offer in exchange for getting some type of desired interaction from a fellow homo sapien.

Keiyaku Kekkon is, to my knowledge, the first stab at this idea in a formalized way. I hope to see the concept validated.

The Perils of Remote Work

I have worked remotely a lot over the years. Here are some things to look out for if you are seeking to get into the "work all day in my pajamas" game.

1. Physical Health


Having to commute to a job guarantees a minimum amount of exercise. Working from home does not. You can easily have days go by where you never leave the house. This could be because you are swamped with work or responding to alerts, or any number of things. Since you are working alone you don't get those natural little bits of physical activity from office life - going for a walk with a manager, grabbing lunch with someone, walking over to a colleague's desk to ask a questions, etc. You have to make a conscious effort to get out daily and do something. This can be harder than you think if you're an introvert. You may have several days where there is really just no need. So you need to get a good routine in place lest you end up putting on weight.

2. Mental Health


Some people are antisocial. For them the isolation of remote work is a feature not a bug. I found this true for myself to some extent. I genuinely like being alone when I can. However over the long term, working remotely will blunt your social skills. Whether or not you consider your coworkers friends, the daily close proximity I think is helpful to most people if only because it keeps them practiced in manners and social cues. In the worst case scenario the isolation of remote work can exacerbate other mental health issues - everything from minor neuroses to depression. When you are around other people there is at least the chance that someone might notice if there is something wrong with you.

Having an active social life outside of work hours can mitigate much of this. That will at least help you to avoid the sense of loneliness that can sneak up on remote workers. The trouble is that even if you keep busy outside of work, you are still missing out on an important category of socialization - professional interactions in a work environment. I experienced this firsthand after a long stretch of working remotely and then attending a company conference. It was really jarring. I recall feeling very anxious and being really awkward around everyone. After enough time passes you sort of forget how to act in an in-person team meeting, or business conference.

3. Work Habits



What's the old quote? There are lies, damn lies, and working from home. It is true that working from home requires more accountability. The office environment at least offers peer pressure. Every now and then someone might look at your screen and catch you on reddit. If you are slacking you might notice it in people's body language and eye contact. You can feel the atmosphere and detect a lot of nonverbal cues. When you're on your own at home, you have to hope that your manager is giving you sufficient feedback and that your JIRA ticket record speaks for itself. Unfortunately I think it is human nature to take advantage sometimes - to squeeze in an errand or some Dark Souls PVP because why not? I've got two monitors and extra time. Who's going to know? There exceptions to this issue of course. Some people do their best work from home. Still it's something to keep in mind.

4. Acculturation


This is only an issue for immigrants. I have found that working remotely while living in Japan has stalled my ability to properly integrate into society. Since I am not in a Japanese office with coworkers, I don't get to practice my Japanese speaking as much as I would like. I have found that my knowledge of Japanese social etiquette is lacking, and that I am not as up on current events and culture as I would like. In other words, working remotely in a foreign country can solidify your position as an outsider. Again, it's solvable with planning and deliberate efforts, but the problem largely disappears by just working on-site.

5. Career Progression



This one can sneak up on you. In a company where most of the employees are on-site and a handful are remote, it is easy for the latter workers to be overlooked when promotion time rolls around. It is a natural human bias to have more trust and concern for people that are physically present. Sure, Andy out in Toronto pushed some great features last quarter. But he wasn't out drinking with me until 1 am like Tim. I haven't been able to shoot the shit with him in the break room like with Mike. I don't actually see him with that determined look in his eye at his desk 10 hours a day reviewing code like I do with Sarah.

No matter how great Andy is, he just can't leave the same type of impression as the people that are there. I have seen some orgs where it is implicitly understood that off-site guys are not to be considered for leadership roles. Sometimes it is explicit, as happened with Yahoo and their crackdown on remote work. This issue is the hardest to solve because ultimately it is out of your hands as an individual. It is up to your company to have a strong remote work culture that puts off-site people on an equal footing. That doesn't just happen - it takes effort and entails a cost to the company. Most will not incur that cost if they do not see the benefit.

Conclusion

The point of this post is not to trash the concept of remote work. I think remote work is extremely important for the future of the global economy and all developed societies. It is critical that we have more flexible work arrangements, particularly for parents with small children and talented people with other unique situations that make on-site work difficult.

However there are pitfalls to consider. It's not as simple as having a wacky Slack chatbot. All of the issues I bring up in this article are solvable. The problem is that the solutions often take carefully planned deliberate efforts. People are not always capable of this. Thus you have to look at the real human toll of long-term remote work arrangements and find ways to mitigate the negatives. Remote workers need to be mindful of the physical and psychological effects over the long term. Companies need to be honest about how remote work can influence career progression.

Like anything else people need to consider the tradeoffs. Remote jobs can be a godsend or a curse depending on your situation.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

What is Keiyaku Kekkon?


 Here's a good song for this post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5CuZzIexfc&feature=youtu.be&t=18

"Keiyaku Kekkon" is a Japanese phrase that literally means "Contract Marriage." It is basically a marriage arrangement where the husband and wife write down their expectations of one another for their relationship. The contract can include anything from housework, to financial responsibilities, and even sex life details. The concept of "Keiyaku Kekkon" became popular in Japan over the last year because of television drama called Nigeru No Wa Haji Da Ga Yaku Ni Tatsu. (The drama also created the Koi Dance meme)

I watched that drama and got the idea of creating a Contract Marriage service.

So why is Contract Marriage a good idea?

Imagine going on a date with someone and knowing, before you even shake their hand, that this person has the exact same vision of married life as you. All the hard questions about children, career, household roles - all of it is already settled.

That's basically what Keiyaku Kekkon does by matching people on contracts. It removes a lot of the anxiety men and women have about committed relationships. Many men today are skeptical about the benefits of marriage. With Keiyaku Kekkon, they can see up front and in writing exactly what they stand to gain from having a wife. Women similarly benefit. They need not waste years of their time trying to entice a man to commit to marriage. They can know at the start whether the man intends to support her career, allow her to be a stay-at-home mom, or seek some middle ground.

I think the concept has value to a lot to people who dream of marriage but worry about finding a compatible partner. It may ultimately be a niche market, but we have to start somewhere to try to improve the institution of marriage. Marriage is important for society. Healthy cultures encourage marriage. But unfortunately marriage has been in decline in developed countries for some time. Declining marriage rates lead to a number of social, economic, and demographic problems. I think there are four big reasons for the decline of marriage:

1. The economy - the transition to two-income households
2. The culture - attitudes about marriage, sex, and gender
3. The legal system - family courts and welfare policies
4. The logistics of dating and matchmaking

I will dive into these issues in more detail in later writings. For now I'll just say that the severity of each of these problems differs by country. In Japan for example, I think number 4 is a much bigger issue given the relatively high rate of virginity and the greater separation between men and women. In America I think numbers 2 and 3 are much more serious. Keiyaku Kekkon cannot do much to help with problems 1 and 2, but it can help a bit with problem 3 and a lot with problem 4.

Keiyaku Kekkon is only a week old. It is still in alpha and only has a few dozen users. It is completely free to use during this period, so I encourage people to sign up and tell their friends. Over the next few weeks I will be busy fixing bugs, promoting the site on social media, and going to startup events to pitch the idea. I have spoken with a few seed investors and registered Keiyaku Kekkon with several startup sites. With a little funding, I think I could make the site much nicer and do more aggressive marketing.

Check out the site to learn more. Still in need of more alpha users for feedback. Let's make marriage great again!

https://keiyakukekkon.com

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Alpha Launch

https://keiyakukekkon.com

So there it is. Keiyaku Kekkon. It actually works.

I'm quite proud of myself. Even though it is still a buggy piece of shit, at least it's finished. I have so much trouble actually following through and finishing my various side projects that it feels good to actually see an end product. It is a real thing that could actually be useful to other people. Maybe it won't ever get any traction. Maybe it will never amount to much. But no matter what, it exists.

The site is in an alpha testing period, so I am not promoting it too aggressively. Just hope to see a few users trickle in so I can get feedback and squash more bugs. Once I feel like it is battle tested, I'll move into a beta period and have regular paid accounts.

Once it gets to beta I'll probably promote on Reddit and do a "Show Hacker News" post. Going to need to think a bit about marketing and business development. Marketing isn't really my area so I'll probably have to do some research on how to advertise. Still, I think the basic business concept has legs if it is pushed the right way. Time will tell!

Theme for this post:

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Book Review: A Troublesome Inheritance by Nicholas Wade



Since joining Mensa (and Japan Mensa) I have met literally hundreds of exceptionally brilliant people. In all of the gatherings, I have always been the only black person. This spurred my interest in studying racial differences in intelligence ultimately leading me to the ‘race realism’ movement and discussions with various alt-right figures. To gain more insight I decided to do more serious reading on the subject. I had already read The Bell Curve by Charles Murray some years ago. I sought out something more focused on biology and evolution. Thus I was led to Nicholas Wade’s A Troublesome Inheritance.

The basic thesis of the book is that there are meaningful biological differences between races that influence not only physiology but also behavior and intelligence. He argues that human evolution has been, “recent, copious, and regional.” By “recent” he is referring to the last 50,000 years, the point in time when scientists believe the first humans migrated out of Africa eventually settling in Asia and Europe. These three groups gradually adapted to their local environments beginning a process of differentiation that would have eventually led to them becoming separate species. The clearest evidence of these regional adaptations is the difference in appearance – skin color, bone structure, face shape, etc.

At this level few people argue the biological reality of race. Where things get thorny is when we examine what evolution may have done to differentiate our brains. Wade dives deep into studies of the human genome and presents evidence of differences between ethnic groups in the expression of alleles that influence the brain. The evidence, though not conclusive, suggests that some of the differences in behavior and intellect between races may in fact be genetic.

With race relations in America as tumultuous as ever, the question of group differences has only grown more relevant. What the national dialogue needs is more clarity, honesty, and courage. Wade brings all three to the table in Inheritance. He engages critics head on in every chapter. He skillfully tackles the "race does not exist" argument. He addresses the legitimacy of IQ studies. He examines the cultural and economic arguments for group differences. Perhaps most importantly, he makes the case for why we must not be afraid of examining human biodiversity. Wade cites several examples of social scientists willfully ignoring evidence of racial differences out of fear that it could lead to unpleasant consequences. Early in the book Wade discusses the reasonableness of this fear by showing how the American eugenics movement influenced Nazi Germany. Yet in spite of this Wade argues that in order to improve the lots of people all around the world, we must follow the science, and the science points to race being a very influential phenomena.

He makes a strong argument. Why would evolution halt virtually all progress 50,000 years ago choosing to change nothing about humans save their appearance? Clearly there is more difference between say Africans and Chinese than just their appearance; under the hood there seems to be some different wiring. Evidencing that this isn’t simply culture is the fact that those differences tend to persist even when these groups are put into different environments and even across generations.

The popularity of websites like Ancestry.com and 23andme suggest that people are actively seeking out this knowledge. People want to know their ethnic heritage. It is the most fundamental of human questions: Who am I? Clearly race is part of the answer in most people’s minds. Blacks, Asians, and Hispanics all intuitively recognize that their race constitutes part of what makes them unique. We see this in memoirs, stand up comedy, and unfiltered conversations among friends. The same is true of sex. We understand much about our fundamental nature by identifying as a man or a woman. I wish Wade had actually tackled the subject of evolved differences between the sexes but alas, that topic needs its own book.

Inheritance is a great read because it is not very long (~200 pages) and yet it is extremely informative. The subject matter does not feel dumbed down, as many science books for lay people often are. Wade’s prose does a lot to help the medicine go down. He knows how to spin a good analogy. Each chapter tells its own little story. The structure of the book is excellent as it leaves you feeling like you are learning something tangible every few pages. One great example of this is in his section on Ashkenazi Jews and how their unique history has led them to a position of disproportionate success and influence in the modern world.

The difference in outcomes among the various ethnic groups is a key topic and one that Wade handles carefully. He walks a tightrope, arguing on the one hand that there are evolved differences that have led some racial groups to greater success in the modern world and on the other hand that no group can claim to be superior to all others. Though you could call it a “race realist” book, it does not support White Supremacism or racial discrimination against any group. Nazi types looking for evidence of the superiority of their Aryan genes might be a bit disappointed by the evidence and history presented here.

By what standard would we argue that Whites are superior to other races? They are not the smartest – east Asians have a higher average IQ and Jews outperform them by numerous measures. They are not physically the most capable - Africans, the 'prototype' and most genetically diverse racial group, consistently outperform them in athletics. They are not the fastest growing – Africans, Indians, and Middle Easterners have far higher fertility, evolution’s gold standard for a group’s success. They don’t control the most territory anymore – Europe abandoned its colonies last century for various reasons. As the Indians and Chinese get better at copying Caucasian economic and technological ideas, Whites will eventually lose their title as the wealthiest and militarily strongest.

The argument I generally get from the Stormfront crowd is an appeal to history - the impressiveness of European innovations and cultural dominance over the centuries. Yet even this is a weak argument. Caucasians dominated for only a few hundred years, far less than the Egyptians, Chinese, and Saracens. For most of their history, Caucasians were at the mercy of their neighbors, lucky to benefit from geographic land barriers and well-timed plagues and civil wars among their enemies. Europeans just happened to dominate at a historically important moment – a technological tipping point leading toward a new globalist paradigm.  When we take the longer view of human history, the claim that Caucasians have been the "master race" becomes ludicrous.

So no, Whites are not the superior race. But then again, neither are any of the other racial groups. As Wade meticulously explains, each group simply adapted to its unique environment. This led to the founding of very different cultural institutions. The European adaptations led eventually to the concept of the rule of law and capitalism. White Europeans pioneered the very concept of liberalism and open societies. The idea of the 'melting pot' - the notion that a foreigner can come to a country, settle for a few years, and then enjoy the same standing as a native - this is a uniquely western idea. It is alien to Japanese, Arabs, Nigerians, etc. This concept enticed the best and brightest from other civilizations to immigrate to White western countries, fueling their economic growth. This migration has proliferated in recent decades, perhaps best demonstrated by the illegal immigration problem in the United States and the refugee crisis in Europe. Given demographic trends, it is possible that western civilization may ultimately be undone by its own value system. Or perhaps not so much 'undone' as displaced or transformed.

This would not be a good outcome for our species. Diversity actually is a strength. I strongly agree with the point made by Wade towards the end of the book – that humanity has benefited tremendously from the fact that different races evolved in the first place. Had our ancestors all stayed in Africa 50,000 years ago, we would likely not have advanced as much as a species; we may very well still be living in huts just as the Europeans discovered Africans were a few centuries ago.

I genuinely hope a thousand years from now there are still Africans, Asians, and Caucasians. For this reason I respect the right of people to establish ethnostates – nations that willfully maintain a dominant ethnicity. While I think some migration and miscegenation is also good for our species, I think primarily single ethnicity states can have lots of advantages, as my time in Japan has shown me. In fact the majority of nations today qualify as ethnostates anyway. Whether it is South America, Africa, Asia, or Europe – what you find is that most countries have a single racial group that vastly outnumbers all others. People generally do not seem to take issue with this except for in the case of majority Caucasian countries, which may seem curious but actually makes sense in a way. It is only the Caucasian countries that have espoused a philosophy of liberalism and pluralism, thus people are simply holding them to that standard while not expecting other countries to follow suit.

Inheritance does not prescribe solutions to this or any other dilemma. Wade suggests that there may be evolutionary reasons for why some racial groups (such as blacks) perform below the level of Caucasians by various metrics. He does not make any sort of recommendations as to how to resolve this. There are no easy answers offered here and for that I give Wade credit. A less confident or less honest writer would have opted for some cliched feel-good call to action. A topic this serious deserves better. Inheritance is a concise book to a fault. My biggest criticism is that it does not offer enough evidence to feel very conclusive. To be fair much of that comes from the fact that the jury is still out on a lot of the science. We still know relatively little about how specific genes affect the brain. Inheritance will put ideas in your head, but it will not make you an expert. Still, I liked the starkness of the book's concluding sections. The ending feels like a splash of cold water in the face. It spurs you to think harder about the issues raised. I know I did.