共产主义何能实现(how to realize communism)

我突然想起在DNA Dreams (中文粗翻译为《DNA梦想》),徐道辉(Stephen Hsu),大概为:if we could shift the mean IQ of a society in one direction, we could bring forth one that would be very qualitatively different in a way that would be unrealistic in the society prior to the shift.

This reminds of communism, communism as in from each according to his ability, to each according to his need. I’ll first say that even capitalist societies are already very much like that. People generally go into professions that they’re talented in. If one has multiple things one can do, one has to make a pick in favor of one, as one has only 24 hours in a day. There are economic incentives now for this, say for one to pick say computer science over physics, which has no jobs and pays below what a schoolteacher or police officer is paid. Another example would be choosing NFL/NBA (where the big bucks are) over track and field.

I have always perceived money as very artificial. I don’t think my life would change that much if I become super rich. How you feel is more determined by what you know and how your brain is wired, and what you actually do, than how much money you have. I also have doubts on the use of money to motivate people to do better work, especially on the creative end. It works and it doesn’t. In fact, I would say in that in an ideal society people, or at least the ones with the ability and spirit, should be able to do creative work without having to worry too much about money, which is far from the case nowadays. Our society is being so money obsessed (or compelled) due to the so called Satanic Trinity (education, health care, housing). People are scared of falling behind on that game that the system forces people to play.

In my silly K-12 social studies class, we were told that communism doesn’t work because people don’t have an incentive. X could be doing all this work and Y could be doing nothing and at the end they’d get the same. This is such a gross oversimplification of a very complex matter, looking at human nature in a binary way essentially. People edit Wikipedia for free. People volunteer for the homeless and disadvantaged, for free. People go into science for almost nothing. In companies, you’ll find that the stars contribute like 10 times or more, or in some cases, infinity times more by solving a problem nobody else can than the median. Those people are generally higher ranked too on the ladder, but their salary is not matched by difference in magnitude of their contribution. The people who do make 10x more, or even 100x, are largely people planted in positions of parasitism by having the right social connections, playing the politics right, etc. That’s just how broken the current system is, and we all have to live with it, or not.

Again, in those social studies classes, we debated why America is the most innovative and the most successful country in the world. People will say freedom. Freedom to do your own thing, to start your own company, to be a non-conformist. While there is an element of that, it’s rather overblown in my opinion. There are other, more influential factors omitted here: such as the exploitation of labor (remember that America is a nation founded on dispossession and slavery), vast natural resources per capita (and also a geographic position that immunes America from war, barring civil war), and import of foreign talent. With such advantages, it’s almost impossible for America not to be number one. Especially, after WWII, when so many of the best and brightest from Europe came to America. Many of the top Manhattan Project scientists were foreigners, many of them Jewish. Many of the top scientists and engineers (like von Braun) of the space program were captured Nazis. In the 90s, America got a huge chunk of the best and brightest of the former USSR and its satellite states. From the 80s on, many of the smartest young people from mainland China came to the US as well. Those people could hypothetically be making China or the USSR/Russia better instead of making America better.

I remember Nassim Taleb has a high opinion of the America system’s tolerance and encouragement of ad hoc tinkering and experimentation. He cites these Europeans who criticize Americans for being uncultured or lacking knowledge or whatever, and it’s like: you guys writing this silly criticism in Microsoft Word, while looking up stuff on Google, on your iPhone, and all of that was created in America! He does have a very good point. Why do Europeans not create and use their own? Is it because their system is too egalitarian and discourages entrepreneurship? I’m not the most qualified to answer this, but I’ll say that Europe is more or less subordinate to America. There’s NATO and the EU and all that. Also, those technologies listed are very marketing, business driven products. For instance, Microsoft won in the reasonable judgment of many mostly due to its business and legal tactics. Also, Taleb has done some cherrypicking. Linux, an arguably better from a technical point of view operating system, was created by a Finnish genius in his early 20s. American cars lost to Japanese cars and they’re nowhere near able to compete with German cars, because they were objectively worse. I know almost nothing about cars, but I know Japanese cars are more fuel efficient and last longer. America as far as I see it is a society very into marketing and superficial things. It does not revere and respect people who do hard science and technology, real things, enough.

I’ll also say that America is very much a nation of taking advantage of and breeding the ignorant, for the benefit of people with capital. If people were smarter, it would be harder for banks to get people to not pay their credit cards or take on shitty deals. It would be harder for universities for fool people into paying so much for such a shitty education that gets most people nowhere. America also de-emphasizes discipline and self-control. Hey, even Einstein said that imagination is more important than knowledge. Also, isn’t discipline and self-control counter to creativity, to the freedom that makes America so successful? This might seem the case intuitively to a naive one, but creative people will tell you that’s so not the case. With everything, there’s a right, systematic way of doing things that is required to be creative. I’m somewhat of an iconoclast I suppose, but I have a high opinion of discipline and self-control. In any case, these words are so vague, mean so little, that it’s rather pointless to use them. You need to be more specific.

I have asked a friend of mine in his 30s, who’s seen much more of the world than I have, if we’ll ever reach the point where education and health care are more or less free, where people don’t have to worry about money much. He, very optimistically in my view, said probably in 30 years or so. I sure hope so, because the current system is very obsolete with respect to the level of technology and production we have available. Self driving cars, AI, will only put more people out of job, and we need to find a place for them.

I recall that in the 50s and 60s, it was widely believed, especially in the socialist camp, that there would be a world revolution and that we would eventually attain communism. This had arguably reached its height in the mid 50s. In the early 50s, America was in a rather passive position ideologically, especially when it was not successful in the Korean War. McCarthyism did not happen for no reason. As a law of nature, any entity whose survival at risk will go to extremes. The denunciation of Stalin by Khrushchev in fact weakened the prestige of the Soviet Union tremendously. Many pro-left people in the West lost hope from that. There was a great ideological rift between the USSR and China following that. The Chinese believed that the Soviets were being revisionists and that their party leadership was being gradually infected by ones who secretly wanted to restore capitalism, or whatever you call it. It was widely believed, according to the writings of Chinese party leaders, that the transition from capitalism to socialism to communism was to be this great social transformation that would span decades or even centuries, with importance, scale, and qualitative difference equal to that of the transformation from feudalism to capitalism in Europe, and that the process would need much consolidation over a long period of time. To them, without that, there could easily be a relapse, and there was, as evidenced by the disastrous (you can look up the increased death rates in Russia that was coupled with prolonged economic depression) disintegration of the USSR and to a lesser extent by the Chinese economic reform. On the opposite view, such was viewed by liberals in the West as the “end of history,” as termed by Fukuyama.

This end of history theory is becoming increasingly discredited more with China’s success and rise. In the 90s, however, it was quite mainstream. In this talk, Kong Qingdong characterized himself as having become political out of what he perceived as the need for him to do so, referring to how in the 90s, the atmosphere in China was so dangerously liberal and pro-West, which is not surprising as the failure of the USSR made everyone suspicious of the whole system and ideology that it had promulgated. If not that, he said he, as a very well-behaved kid, would have become purely a scholar, an academic in a more or less apolitical way. He spoke of how in the 90s, writings in China which criticized America or imperialism had difficulty being published, and in addition to that, he mentioned the laying off of millions of workers from the privatization of many state owned enterprises that enriched many with party connections. The 90s was in some sense a low point, akin to China from the 1927 through the 30s or the Bolsheviks following the failed 1905 Russian Revolution.

It seems though now that China may well surpass America, with its only being a matter of time, a proposition that would have been beyond the pale in the 90s. Back then, people had serious doubts on China’s ability to innovate with its system, coupled with aspects of traditional Chinese culture viewed as not conducive to non-derivative R&D. People cited how the successful countries were all democracies, and the Chinese dissident Fang Lizhi, who produced some first rate work in astrophysics, had openly said that in order for China to become developed, it would need to adopt the parliamentary democratic system. The financial crisis in 2008-9 ruined America’s credibility enormously, especially given that China in many ways appeared virtually unscathed by it. Since then, China has made enormous progress technologically as well. Representative examples are its high speed trains as well as the development of its passenger aircraft. China has also developed an indigenous CPU, Loongson, which is already proliferating across government and military organizations in China. It is their goal to create a whole software ecosystem around their hardware, as has been done for Intel’s. Of course, there is all this military technology too, the details of which are highly classified. A guy from China once said to me that the system there, with its network of state owned enterprises, can complete projects with little delay. Some might say that none of that is very creative, as it is all large scale engineering. As for that, there is basic science, and while China is quite a ways away there, they seem to be improving rapidly. In that respect, Chinese have done exceedingly well in America. Now with more money, many of the best scientists abroad can be lured back and a higher percentage of the best of the younger generation will stay in China to conduct their research. The career prospects in America for scientists are quite dismal, and China I would say has a chance of competing there. As a consequence, a much higher percentage of people in China will be able to enjoy the luxury of doing basic science research. Rather beside the point, but I’d like to note that Fields Medallist Alain Connes has written that the European system is better for breeding truly original thinkers in math who open up new fields, with its having less pressure for grants and for results produced on a shorter time frame than the American tenure system. He expressed his belief that the Soviet mathematicians would have done better had they stayed in the old Soviet system, where the job was just to talk about science. We can see how Perelman solved the Poincare back in Steklov Institute in Russia after America offered him no tenured position and how Yitang Zhang was failed by the American system, where you need to play it safe to secure your next position.

There is even a camp of scholars who believe with confidence that the future will be China’s, that of the IQ proponents, representative figures of which include Philippe Rushton and Richard Lynn. Richard Lynn has written here that China will win after discovering the genes for IQ. It is definitely not impossible, and Steve Hsu has already worked with BGI on that. This goes back to Steve Hsu’s remark on that hypothetical society that can function in a way that the current one cannot because its constituents, its ones in positions of power especially, are too unintelligent. On this, I see a parallel between two highly politically sensitive words in America, which are communism and IQ. I’ll say, judging from their writings, that many of the leaders and scholars of and associated with the Chinese Communist Party in the 20s were highly intelligent, as were Marx, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao, all of whom were philosophers very profound and one could say, attaching a somewhat subjective judgment, visionary in their thinking. Mao wrote some of the most beautiful and high quality Chinese poetry, from a literary point of view. It seems that the Chinese with extraordinary literary or verbal gifts are more Maoist leaning, with on the other hand, Deng Xiaoping’s, dubbed by many on the left in China as the father of its corruption, for having promoted short-sighted people like Zhao Ziyang and Hu Yaobang who contributed to negative outcomes of the Tiananmen Square protests, being noted for having a dumb mouth and a dumb pen. Examples include Kong Qingdong, Li Ao, and Lang Xianping. I see the possibility of what many would perceive as too far-fetched: China’s becoming more communist as it closes in on the mystery of human intelligence.

When I was a kid, I thought over-simplistically, not having the intellectual capacity to reason rationally and rigorously. I could not imagine all those people who did crazy things, from geniuses to suicide bombers. I believed that what was easy/difficult for me would be the same for others and that people who struggled were not working hard enough. As I grew cognitively, I became increasingly aware that free will was bunk, that people are not in control of the way they are in a strict sense of the word. The way they are wired biologically correlates with what they become in a statistically predictable way. Science and the American Dream are in opposition to each other. We have in theory the resources for the most part to provide people with what is appropriate for them. This does not happen though in many places due to special interest groups, the hoarding of wealth, and deficiencies in resources affordably accessible to the public at large, based on needs of individuals. America, as unequal as it is, has an irrationally egalitarian education system that comes with stuff like No Child Left Behind. In America, the school one attends is based finely on where one lives, a proxy for parental socioeconomic status, or one of those fancy shmancy prep schools for kids whose parents can afford it, whereas in many other countries, like Germany, it is determined by what is most suitable for the kid given his performance and ability. In America, many employers now require a bachelors for jobs with nothing to do with academic learning, and colleges see this as a way to inflate their tuition, further oppressing the majority of people. There is also the medical system, which I will not go into. America will only further discredit itself by doing this; its facade cannot go on forever.

Let’s see what happens in the 21st century. Humanity may well undergo arguably its most revolutionary transformation ever yet, the ability to predict and control the types of people being born and from doing so realize a resemblance of the ideal society envisioned by Marx.

Languages

I find myself increasingly into languages and the humanities, more exclusively verbally loaded things. This is in contrast with my high school self, who was quite weak with that. I recall struggling greatly with English class. I dreaded reading novels and writing those BS literary analyses of them because there were so many places where I’d be completely at sea, and plus, I wasn’t very good with writing or communication in any way. Also, I lacked common sense and general knowledge, indispensable for literature. From that I could only conclude that I’m very naturally bad at literature and at verbal things.

I also remember being having really low self-esteem in third grade because I couldn’t read Harry Potter, which many of the other kids seemed to have with ease and with great enjoyment. I only started learning English at almost 6.5 years of age, so I guess I do have some excuse for sucking at these things. Also, there was also this slang I didn’t know even in middle school, which the other kids taunted me for. I was also overly literal minded and couldn’t get jokes or idioms. Maybe because I was borderline autistic? Who knows.

Anyhow, with some more years of age all this has mostly disappeared. I still wouldn’t consider myself super high V, like +4 sigma at this. If I were, I wouldn’t have to look up so many Russian words despite having studied it (entirely independently, with some long hiatuses) since fall of 2013! That I did by accident on my desire to understand the lyrics of Катюша (Katyusha), which is such a beautiful song. From this, I was brought into the beauty of Soviet music, which I listen to regularly to this day. Those composers were such high aesthetic discernment! I can’t think of any national music that is better than Soviet music!

Because I’m not a genius, unlike Pushkin or Lenin, I feel like I actually have to do deliberate practice; I can’t just learn by osmosis, even with internet dictionaries and Google translate. Sure, one can say I never had formal training, but I don’t think formal training makes much difference. The genuinely gifted tend to be able to learn things on their own without feeling like they’re trying. And needless to say, no matter what instruction you are given, it’s still up to you to form the mental processes required for mastery.

The best way to do deliberate practice is to perform some translations, at my current level. I’ll do one here, on this writing of Lenin on anti-Semitism. From doing this, I can hopefully remember all the words that I don’t know permanently. To be less uncreative, I’ll do it in a very analytical way, you’ll see what I mean.

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Антисемитизмом называется распространение вражды к евреям. Anti-Semitism is on called enlarged spread of enmity towards Jews. Когда проклятая царская монархия доживала свое последнее время, она старалась натравить темных рабочих и крестьян на евреев. What time сursed Tsarist monarchy to lived its through track time, she tried on incite dark workers and peasants on Jews. Царская полиция в союзе с помещиками и капиталистами устраивала еврейские погромы. Tsarist police in union with through place and capitalists with concrete purpose build Jewish through thunder. Ненависть измученных нуждой рабочих и крестьян помещики и капиталисты старались направить на евреев. Not on see from wear out by need workers and peasants landlords and capitalists tried on drive on Jews. И в других странах приходится видеть нередко, что капиталисты разжигают вражду к евреям, чтобы засорить глаза рабочего, чтобы отвлечь их взоры от настоящего врага трудящихся – от капитала. And in other countries motion inwards go see without sparsity, that capitalists enlarged burn enmity towards Jews, what conditionally cover waste eyes of workers, what conditionally away attract them in dawn away on standing enemy of working people – from capital. Вражда к евреям держится прочно только там, где кабала помещиков и капиталистов создала беспросветную темноту рабочих и крестьян. Enmity towards Jews holds firmly only there, where bondage of landlords and capitalists with built without having light darkness of workers and peasants. Только совсем темные, совсем забитые люди могут верить лжи и клевете, распространяемой против евреев. Only with all dark, with all with beaten people can believe lies and libel, enlarged spread against Jews. Это – остатки старого крепостного времени, когда попы заставляли сжигать еретиков на кострах, когда существовало рабство крестьян, когда народ был задавлен и безгласен. These – of stay of old serf time, what time priests with to make burn heretics on stake, what time existed slavery of peasants, what time on humanity were on weighed and without voice. Эта старая крепостническая темнота проходит. Народ становится зрячим. This old feudal darkness through go. People become able to see.

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I stopped after the first paragraph. There are few more. I won’t continue on like this because it’s a bit too tedious and not the best use of my time. This exercise did help much educationally for me.

What Lenin described is basically a common tactic used by colonialists (and current day corporate executives), namely directing their enemy against a harmless, easy to target group, to distract them, in this specific case with Jews as the scapegoat. Compared to divide and conquer, where British colonialists incite X Indian to kill Y Indian, after which British colonialists kill X Indian, this is actually rather mild. I wonder what pieces Lenin wrote on the divide and conquer tactic.

In light of divide and conquer, the communists lost the Cold War after many great triumphs because they fought too much against themselves. The Sino-Soviet split weakened the socialist camp tremendously. By the 80s, the USSR was more behind, and America through soft, ideological means successfully brought about its implosion. The same almost happened with China with the 89 protests, but China did not do what the USSR stupidly did.

There’s also what Michael O Church loves to say, that in Silicon Valley, the executive scumbags love to fuel tensions between the working class and intellectual class. To those throwing rocks at Google shuttles, it’s like dude, you’re attacking the wrong people! This also brings to mind the classic tactic of enticing one’s enemy group with wealth and benefits to bring them to your side. The American elite did that during the Cold War to its working classes and they won with that, and after the pressure on them (from an external power) was over, they believed they could get away with depriving medical care and creating a higher education bubble and did just that. My friend loves to say that we won’t have a revolution because it’s much easier now for rich people to give poor people a little more to get them to shut up. People aren’t starving anymore.

I’ve read writing about how psychopathy, or the willingness and ability to take advantage of others, propels people to the top. Psychopathy I’m sure also runs in families. Now the question is how much longer will the world be ruled by psychopaths who suck people’s blood. I can’t imagine that changing in the next century. Humans are too awful and defective. However, maybe once we discover the genes for psychopathy, we can do something about that. 😉

The chosen people

I have always had a fascination with Jews as a group. They are after all this super high achieving, creative ultra minority group that accounts for like 25% of the people at the top of various disciplines. Most notable are mathematics and physics. In math, you have von Neumann, Grothendieck, Paul Cohen, etc. In physics, the list is even longer: Einstein, Feynman, Gellman, Landau, Teller, too many to name. And these are the brainiest fields. But also, Jews excel at the highest levels in literature and music and in softer sciences. Marx, Freud, Chomsky, etc. They also excel in finance, law, and entrepreneurship. Look at the founders of some of the important SV firms and the top Wall Street hedge funds. This is rather universal. Even in the Soviet Union, some of the most prominent musicians and film producers were Jewish. Sergei Eisenstein, Iosif Kobzon. And many of the most infamous Russian oligarchs are Jewish too. In that realm, comes to mind Roman Abramovich, that guy who, in addition to marrying a trophy wife, bought the world’s best soccer team!

People use IQ as an explanation. Jews as a group, as we all know, have a very high median IQ (with extra advantage at verbal), and we all know what effect such has on the far tail (assuming same sigma (even there, Jews may be higher)). But could IQ alone account for most of such disproportionate achievement? A highly talented math PhD of Jewish origin has hypothesized (and communicated such directly to me) that Jews, aside from cultural and socioeconomic advantages, have higher aesthetic discernment, which enables them to be more creative. We all know that in science and the arts, horsepower is important, but there is also the taste and vision aspect.

I know some Jews, some of whom have lived in Israel, and I enjoy talking with them enormously. One of them I consider far smarter than I am. On the other hand, one of them, who is quite deficient academically and spouts a lot of nonsense, I have a rather low opinion of. He once sent me photos of military hardware that China bought and cloned from Israel to express to me how uncreative Chinese people are. I had already know, from talking with people in China, that China imported some cutting edge military technology from Israel, especially in the 80s. Earlier today, I glanced through the page on the Six Day War, the one in which Israel decisively defeated Arab countries that the Soviet Union had supported during the Cold War. It further reinforced my impression of how formidable the Israeli military is. I know that they have nuclear weapons, and are widely believed to possess thermonuclear ones as well, which they are very confident work despite not having tested them. A guy I talk to, who is doing a PhD in string theory at a top school, of very neutral Indian origin, however, says that they didn’t develop them on their own. (In contrast, it is almost universally accepted that China developed those independently in the 60s after the Soviet experts left.) To my great surprise, Gwydion Madawc Williams, who is highly knowledgeable about history and politics in an objective way, has publicized his doubts as to whether Israel would even survive in the long run. That seems to me quite far-fetched. Even though the demographics, and perhaps even public opinion, is against them, they are too competent and powerful (with weapons of mass destruction) not to survive. I may be wrong though in that judgement, with my near total lack of knowledge at the detailed level.

Yes, I know almost nothing about Jewish culture or even about Israel. I recall learning about it in my bull shit history class senior year of high school, which had the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as one of its major units. I know who Herzl was, what the Balfour Declaration was, and other such commonly known facts. However, how could a 17 year old possibly understand something like that in any deep, non-trivial way? Maybe in my spare time, I can actually accumulate all that requisite knowledge of biblical history as well as of the modern one. And learn some Hebrew too. If only I had the intellectual horsepower to devour that alongside Chinese language and history, which is already boundless enough. In spite of the great degree of my lack of JvN, I’ll do what I can. I could at least do better than all those Jews I’ve talked to who’ve said completely ridiculous things about Chinese culture and history to me. Jewish culture is little known and misunderstood outside those who practice it, but Chinese culture is far more so, with China having been traditionally isolated from and developed almost entirely independently of the West, alongside the freeze in relations with America following the Korean War that lasted for 20 years, the legacy of which is still ubiquitous today in America, around which global culture revolves. Though I grew up almost entirely in America, someone as intelligent as I am inevitably realized over time that the American or Western portrayal of Chinese culture, both the traditional one, and the PRC one, is more or less nonsense, and factually inaccurate in many ways. To de-brainwash myself on that one, I did what any reasonable person would do: read a ton of Chinese online, learning it in the process.

I’ll conclude by writing that as far as I see it, Jewish intellectual supremacy is hard to deny. As a group, Jews really do seem to produce a lion’s share of the geniuses, and by genius, I mean one who radically changes a field, who produces revolutionary work, as opposed to one who merely becomes professor at first rate university. It won’t be a surprise if this persists for quite a while, perhaps through the 21st century. People love to talk about now how in the young generation, it is the East Asian students who are outperforming, with their domination now of the IMO and Putnam contests, and other olympiads, as well as their increasing population in hard STEM departments in universities. There is still however some doubt on their ability to create new fields, to alter the face of science, as there is the widespread belief that East Asians are not as creative. Though I definitely cannot say with confidence, at this point, that Jewish ultra intellectual elite can be matched, I do think the aforementioned hypothesis regarding East Asians is rather overblown. I’ll explain why in the next paragraph.

First of all, I’ve come to realize that Japan has been producing ceiling creative people at a very high rate since they’ve been a developed country. This is true for mathematics, for physics, for engineering, for video games, for anime. That Jewish math PhD cited earlier in this post feels the same. Their high performance in science is evident from the plethora of Japanese names at the apex of various scientific fields who created their own directions which turned out to be extremely important and fundamental. In theoretical fields, Yoichiro Nambu, Hideki Yukawa, Goro Shimura, Kiyoshi Ito, Kenkichi Iwasawa, too many to name. Japanese have won a lion’s share of Nobel Prizes in the 21st century. Given such, it’s ironic that Satoshi Kanazawa wrote that Asians can’t think. People then will point to China and its underperformance. For that, one needs to keep in mind that China did not begin rapid modernization until the 1950s, whereas Japan was already more or less an advanced country during WWII. The high level of poverty, the great need for applied work, which diverted many of the smartest people away from pure science, and political movements such as the Cultural Revolution that substantially disrupted pure research all contributed to this. China following the reforms had many of its best and brightest go to American PhD programs, with most of them not returning, many of them eventually becoming professors in good or top American universities. It seems like that that cohort of mainland Chinese in America did exceedingly well, many becoming quite distinguished. As for conformism, if one knows the slightest about 20th century Chinese revolutionary culture and history, it will be apparent that Chinese are plenty non-conformist. That way smarter than me guy with Jewish blood, who I talk to regularly, once said that Jews produce the greatest extremes in virtually every direction, from Benjamin Netanyahu to Norman Finkelstein, from Garry Kasparov to Bobby Fischer, which I could not disagree with. As I learned more about 20th century Chinese history and culture though, I feel like Chinese are plenty crazy too. Politically, there is the very original culture and political system created by the Chinese communists, and on the other direction, you have liberal anti-communists like Fang Lizhi as well as Liu Xiaobo and other Tiananmen Square liberals who are now saying crazy things in America in the likes of Kasparov and Fischer. The Chinese communists developed one of a kind methods of warfare that proved to be highly successful, that enabled them ultimately to fight successfully against the most powerful country in the world, proving Chinese military ability in the modern era for the first time. However, due to cultural and linguistic isolation, coupled with political bias from the West, this is little known by the rest of world.

I’ll conclude by saying that all of this, on Jews, on East Asians, is rather consistent with theories derived from psychometrics. Psychometrics would predict, based on their higher base IQs, that those two groups would be vastly overrepresented within the intellectual elite, as they are. And it also seems to me that higher IQ really does make people more likely to be non-conformist and extreme, not only intellectually but also politically. Genius and madness go together.

STEM and pseudo-STEM

I will say pretty bluntly that I am the type of person who reveres most genius, theoretical genius in the brainiest disciplines, like math and theoretical physics and the likes. They are much more worth idolizing than people who obtain great success in other ways, such as through entrepreneurship. After all, mathematics represents in some sense the pinnacle of human civilization, the peak of human intelligence. Every civilization worth talking about developed seemingly effortlessly crafts, music, literature, engineering (of the non-modern kind), but it took so long for us humans to discover those fundamental theoretical truths. The pioneering of the axiomatic method, which planted the seed for modern science, of the Greeks, is in many ways as significant and as epoch-making in the long run of history as the controlled use of fire or invention of written language. This was something other great civilizations did not develop. The Chinese, for instance, as remarkable as they were in the practical arena, did not develop mathematics of that nature, and scholars in the area are more or less in consensus that such was why modern science could not spring in China as it had done in the West. It is worth noting that Euclid’s Elements was translated to Chinese jointly by Jesuit Matteo Ricci and Chinese scholar Xu Guangqi in the early 17th century, but it did not have the impact on Chinese thinkers and scholars that it should have had.

In virtually every nation, students who study math and theoretical physics are commonly seen as the smartest. Those are the fields that are widely seen as only for the geniuses. They are abstract in a way that many if not most people who excel in more practical, concrete disciplines, such as engineering, cannot handle. For instance, I’ve seen many computer science students struggle with the delta epsilon definition of limit, despite trying very hard and having had it explained to them by people who understand the subject matter well. From this, one can only hypothesize the high cognitive threshold associated. There must be something about their brain structure that renders it impossible or at least very difficult for those people to form the mental process for accurately understanding that abstract definition.

There is hard science, where there are 100% objectively correct answers, and there are softer sciences, where there is a lot of bull shit and much subjective judgement involved, and lots of people things and politics involved. I’d put computer science unambiguously in the latter category, especially the software engineering side of it. Computer science, as far as I see it, is a very marketing driven field. It is not a hard engineering. It is not making a chemical plant or sending a satellite into space where there is essentially no human component involved. Needless to say, software is much easier to get right than hardware. Just about any country can make a decent search engine (if they buy the hardware), but very few nations can make a decent CPU. In this respect, America is far far ahead, with Intel, AMD, Nvidia. Making a CPU requires learning not only of the VLSI but also mastery of the fabrication process, which has some pretty cutting edge applied physics. (Okay, I know nothing about that, just saying what seems to be true to me.)

It is rather odd that people, or the mass media, associate “innovation” and “technology” so much with these soft engineering companies, those who make products for regular end users. Google, Microsoft, Facebook. I recall this guy with a PhD in solid mechanics, who later did compiler development’s saying that EE is so much harder than software engineering but pays less for economic reasons. In contrast, Facebook is just a website, but it makes so much money! It is quite obvious (or at least it should be) that most of the most cutting edge technology is firstly developed for or by the military, and military use generally precedes civilian use.

It does appear though that nowadays the smartest people are staying away from the hard technology and science because there’s no money in that. They’d rather do some bull shit work at a SV firm or work in finance because it pays. In hard STEM, there are so many high IQ immigrants from China, Eastern Europe, India, driving down wages. Some of those people are so brilliant and intellectually powerful and know it all that it’s hard to imagine competing with them. This I find to be quite a pity, because in the ideal society the smartest people should be working on the hardest problems.

People who are into real STEM are a very small minority. They ignore those in SV tech who don’t know a thing about real math and science for instance. Yes, there are people in software engineering or computer science who don’t know what an eigenvalue is or what divergence or curl are. Many of the people in that field are more interested in the latest app and the latest IPO than in actual science and technology. This is especially so in the US, where the math and science education is quite dismal, and where the society is very money driven. It didn’t take me that long to realize that the undergraduate requirements are quite a joke. Students, who come in with minimal knowledge of math, physics, chemistry, take general courses for two years and major courses for the final two years. In contrast, education in Eastern Europe is 5 years and the students there take general STEM their first few years and specialized courses after that, and when they graduate they’re already at a very high level. Of course, at the top US undergraduate programs, the students are much better, and some extremely good, but even there, many of them are ill-prepared.

I really dislike marketing and faking it, though I see the need for it. There are some things that are simply impossible to fake, and the more you try to do so, the more pathetic you will seem. Nassim Taleb once said that it’s easier to buy and sell than to fry an egg. Steve Hsu has also said, in response to a comment on charity and service to the community with regard to college admissions, that one can fake that by volunteering in soup kitchens but on the other hand, one can’t fake the SAT or fake math contests. Richard Feynman once said that nature cannot be fooled. I myself look down on those who insist on denying what is objectively true. When one does that, it’s impossible to argue with him, and one should just let history prove him wrong and make a farce out of him. In Chinese, one can say that 事实胜于雄辩, which means that [objective] reality triumphs over oratory.

Since truth cannot be indefinitely hidden, let us strive for a culture of honesty and openness. Let us create a society where such is the norm, where one can speak the truth without fear of repercussions. Only then will we have genuine free speech, not the pseudo one granted to us by the constitution.

A cute find closed form of sum problem

19692339_10155494787829320_1775528957_n

A friend pinged me this on Facebook. I decided to look at it to exercise my technical chops. Well, the value of the denominator is given by the hint. In the sum of the first n triangular numbers, k is summed n+1-k times, and the number of ways to split n+1 items in a line and pick one on each side of the split is the same as the number of ways to select 3 items from n+2, with the middle one representing the split point. Finally do a partial fractions to telescope. You’ll get \frac{1/2}{n} - \frac{1}{n+1} + \frac{1/2}{n+2}.

Another characterization of compactness

The canonical definition of compactness of a topological space X is every open cover has finite sub-cover. We can via contraposition translate this to every family of open sets with no finite subfamily that covers X is not a cover. Not a cover via de Morgan’s laws can be characterized equivalently as has complements (which are all closed sets) which have finite intersection. The product is:

A topological space is compact iff for every family of closed sets with the finite intersection property, the intersection of that family is non-empty.

Grassmannian manifold

We all know of real projective space \mathbb{R}P^n. It is in fact a special space of the Grassmannian manifold, which denoted G_{k,n}(\mathbb{R}), is the set of k-dimensional subspaces of \mathbb{R}^n. Such can be represented via the ranges of the k \times n matrices of rank k, k \leq n. On application of that operator we can apply any g \in GL(k, \mathbb{R}) and the range will stay the same. Partitioning by range, we introduce the equivalence relation \sim by \bar{A} \sim A if there exists g \in GL(k, \mathbb{R}) such that \bar{A} = gA. This Grassmannian can be identified with M_{k,n}(\mathbb{R}) / GL(k, \mathbb{R}).

Now we find the charts of it. There must be a minor k \times k with nonzero determinant. We can assume without loss of generality (as swapping columns changes not the range) that the first minor made of the first k columns is one of such, for the convenience of writing A = (A_1, \tilde{A_1}), where the \tilde{A_1} is k \times (n-k). We get

A_1^{-1}A = (I_k, A_1^{-1}\tilde{A_1}).

Thus the degrees of freedom are given by the k \times (n-k) matrix on the right, so k(n-k). If that submatrix is not the same between two full matrices reduced via inverting by minor, they cannot be the same as an application of any non identity element in GL(k, \mathbb{R}) would alter the identity matrix on the left.

I’ll leave it to the reader to run this on the real projective case, where k = 1, n = n+1.