Election time

I just received ballot for primary elections. Now, time to do a bit of “research” into the background of the candidates as well as the election system in general. Truth is of course that primaries are given far less attention by the media (I sure hope I’m correct on this one) than the final election pitting Democrat vs Republican. Enough that I’ve also paid scant attention to it so far. I haven’t found American politics all that interesting, but that may change. In any case, I found myself looking briefly at the backgrounds of superdelegates of the Democratic and Republican National Committees.

There was also that I read a bit more about the background of Ron Unz, whose site I comment on now, who actually won 30+% of the votes in the California Republican gubernatorial primary back in 1994, as a 32 year old financial software entrepreneur. The winner of that got 60+% of the votes, so he wasn’t exactly close, but regardless, 30+% of the votes means you were actually taken seriously. Not bad for a smart as fuck Jewish weirdo who studied theoretical physics, who, according to this article, was still eating half his meals at Burger King despite being a multimillionaire at age 37. I don’t think he married or had kids. Maybe because he only saw his father, an EE professor, three times in his life, and was afraid that he would end up like that too, who knows. What can I say, his maverick, non-conformist streak certainly has relation to such a background, for reasons of both genes and environment. Honestly, I can’t believe a guy like him managed to be as successful as he was in the game of American politics, which, as far as I can tell, tends to select inverse to merit, past a certain, not terribly high filter at least.

There is much criticism over the election system in America, obviously, especially with regard to the electoral college, which one can think of as a layer of indirection in the voting process. Think of them as virtual votes, which correspond to electors apportioned based on state population (via number of House of Representatives plus two Senators). They actually correspond bijectively to the members of Congress of each state but are not those. They are nominated by the political parties per state, and they vote for the representative of their party in the presidential election, with the exception of cases of faithless electors. There were quite a few in the controversial 2016 election. The one who stood out most was a Native American who instead of voting for Hillary Clinton voted for some Native American activist. On that note, that other smart and weird as fuck Jewish Ron who studied theoretical physics is Ron Maimon, and he once spoke of America as a culturally rotten nation founded on white supremacy and dispossession. This is what I was reminded of when I learned of that faithless elector.

Of course, what’s been the most controversial about the 2016 election is alleged Russian interference. Just a few days ago, there was quite some media backlash there with regard to Trump’s denying it in his summit with Putin in Helsinki, to the extent that Trump was pressured to publicly take back his statement, framing it as an accident of word. I learned of this incident after I started seeing these Facebook posts on Putin/Russia, and I was like, huh, what just happened.

As for Russian interference, they say, among many other things, that Russians hacked into the Democratic National Committee computer network. I would believe that is real. I guess Russian government is doing that for revenge against Ukraine. Reading Andrei Martynov’s book reminded me of the Ukraine coup back in 2013-14 and consequent sanctions against Russia for annexing Crimea. It seems like Russia has pretty much lost hope in trying to make peace with the United States and is going direct confrontational now. I guess Russia might also want revenge for their banning from the Winter Olympics earlier this year for doping, which many there believe was pressured and manipulated by the US.

There were also Russian internet trolls, on Twitter and Facebook especially. I hate to say it, but that’s part of the game of manipulating public opinion. In the US there are these election campaigners who essentially play it professionally. The only way to fend this off would be to have these sites block Russian IP addresses, which I’m sure these sites would be very reluctant to do, as it would mean loss of business for them. Again, the conflict between private interest and “national interest.” Of course, this won’t stop Russians from using proxies in the US to do the same, just as the Great Firewall of China doesn’t stop people from bypassing it via VPNs. There are, I’m sure, companies in the US acting as covers for Russian intelligence activity. Those would be difficult to eliminate, unless America chooses to go full anti-Russian domestically, meaning that the smart Russians with a lot to contribute will come here less and less, and instead make Russia better at home. In any case, Russia has succeeded in undermining public faith in America’s democratic process. My question now is when will the American public wake up and realize that “democratic” is a meaningless political buzzword with a positive connotation artificially manufactured and promoted by the US mass media?

In any case, this shows that Russia is still really politically formidable, *in spite* of her big fall in the 90s. At the core, Russia is still the world’s number two. It’s not China, which I don’t think could have interfered in a US presidential election enough to get as much blame for it even if she really wanted to. Of course, this has to do with that Russians are physically and culturally much closer to the US than China, making it easier for them to blend in when necessary. There is also that Russia is still more technologically advanced than China. Even in computer security, Russia has Kaspersky. Nginx, a real rival of Apache, was created by a Russian in Russia. What does China have there? No web server from there that I know of. In anti-virus, I know of Qihoo 360, but I would not bet on them vs Kaspersky. On this, I’ve written the following:

China is still way behind

Buys its best military gear from Russia. S-400 surface-to-air missile system. Su-35 fighter jet along with Russian engines for its own planes because its own aren’t good enough. Its Comac C919 passenger plane is taking longer than it should, and it’s collaborating with Russia on a better one (CR929). Still not self-sufficient in CPUs/semiconductors. Russian military technology may well be the best in the world now: https://www.unz.com/tsaker/book-review-losing-military-supremacy-the-myopia-of-american-strategic-planning-by-andrei-martyanov/. China is still junior partner just like back in the 50s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wg8Zd-IPHYg.

On the plus side, China has mostly completed its Beidou satellite navigation system (though Russia’s GLONASS still came first), and it’s being incorporated into Chinese defense industry and tech companies. Baidu Maps probably uses it now.

It’s not just technology of course. It’s also the political posture, though surely, that part is hard if you don’t have really strong indigenous military technology to back it up. In that respect, everybody else is still << United States and Russia. And maybe Martyanov is right that there, as far as quality is concerned, we are having Russia > United States. Though perception wise, I don’t expect that for a while.

On Russia and Russians

I was told yesterday by that uber pro-American anti-communist American Jew that American liberals actually hate Russia more than they hate China. I was surprised. He said that this is seldom realized, and that

if you compared xi to putin people would consider that offensive even
people have a double standard against white countries when it comes to human rights

So, the logic is because Russia is white, they should be held to higher standards for human rights and democracy, and the extent to which Russia is “freer” (than China, which blocks Google and Facebook and is still a one-party totalitarian state) is not enough to offset the differentiated standard.

I don’t get it, why are Western liberals so intent on hating Russia, why why why? Because Russia is such a threat to their world domination? (The USSR is gone and there’s basically zero hope of Russia recovering to that level, but that’s apparently not enough.) I had also heard that in the UK it’s the Russians, not the Muslims, who are most resented, for being tall, blonde, and alpha and taking the tech jobs. It’s another one of those they’re hated for being too good. Russians being good attracts more resentment than admiration, they must have failed politically somewhere.

From my experience working, observing, reading, and interacting, it does seem like Russians are technically extremely powerful. Of course, the ones here in America are a select group. At a place where I worked, there was this big Russian guy who was quite an ubermensch programmer doing much of the technical heavy-lifting. He was also a higher up in the company, though not terribly high up, and it took him some time in officially low ranking positions (where I’m sure he contributed a ton) to get there. There is good reason to believe the pattern of Russians being ranked (much) lower in American tech companies relative to their ability and contribution, given how political promotion and performance reviews are, and the extent to which salary is determined by one’s “circumstances.” There seem to be very few Russians high up in corporate America, despite their ability. On this, I can’t help but think: could it be that the American elite only wants them to do the hard technical work (where they contribute much more than they get) and find them too threatening to allow into positions of power? It seems though that as a group, they’re more or less accepting of this treatment, content with a very intellectually stimulating job. My Russian friends tells me that very few go back due to lack of opportunity, notwithstanding that Russia has Yandex (which was, curiously, founded before Google) and vKontakte, and its own military ecosystem.

I know that there is the widely stereotype that Russians are smart and really creative, while Chinese are smart but lack spark. There is some truth to that as far as I can tell. On TopCoder and CodeForces and at the ACM ICPC, all of which I’ve participated in, with mixed success, the Chinese still cannot beat the Russians, even when they seem to try really hard. Petr was superhuman, and ACRush, while also an ubermensch, was still a notch below Petr. Though ACRush, with his Chinese connections, has started his own self-driving car company, while Petr is still working for Google. CodeForces, created by Russians, is now much better maintained and consequently more popular across the world to competitive programmers.

I’ve observed that Russians are not as obsessed about prestigious schools here in the US as Chinese are. Plenty of really smart ones only attend state schools, to save money, and also maybe because the elite schools discriminate against them too, because their being Russian and worse connected in American society would be a disadvantage for them in the career world.

From what I’ve seen, Russians are very well-rounded too, actually smart and capable in all respects. Even in athletics, they’re feared and targeted (with reference to the Olympic ban). This might mean that they’re not very good at putting on a stupid smile and going along with all the stupid bullshit that goes on in this society. If they’re this good, maybe they instead of being taken advantage of by American capitalists who only want to extract as much as they can out of them for as little as they can get away with should build their own technology and institutions in Russia, where they actually end up having ownership. They did that in the USSR days (but bad luck and stupid political decisions blew it all away), maybe they should continue to do so.

To conclude, I’ll say that I’ve heard that “Russians/Eastern Europeans get macho and that leads to individualism/isolation in the workplace.” Maybe because they’re pissed that they (the ones in America are some of the best and brightest) have to answer to idiots who they have a hard time pretending to respect.