The Best of Egyptian art?

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Typical Egyptian painting

If you’ve ever spent a few minutes looking at Egyptian art, you’ve probably noticed something odd: their human figures are remarkably stiff. In paintings and relief carvings, all of the figures strike the same awkward pose: shoulders toward the viewer, hips forward. Here is a typical example:

Statue after statue stands rigidly still, hands at its sides, feet together. (Some sit rigidly.) Walk into the Greek gallery next door and the contrast is remarkable. Greek statues don’t sit, they sprawl. They don’t just stand, they lean. They run. They saunter. They struggle. Greek statues feel alive.

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Typical Greek painting of a woman

The ancient Egyptians were not bad artists. This ring decorated with tiny horse statues is exquisite. The faces on their best statues rival the Greeks, and they outshine the Greeks in rendering women, whom the Greeks oddly could not draw. Paintings of Greek men look like actual humans; paintings of Greek women, however, are stylized–here is an example, because otherwise you won’t believe me. Take a good look at her face. Note the way her forehead descends directly to the tip of her nose in a straight line, without curving as it passes the eyes, nor out along the nose. It would be quite disconcerting if you saw such a profile on a real person; to make it work, they would need a pointed forehead that juts out considerably and “curves” into the skull in a box-like straight edge beneath their hair. 

(By contrast, Greek men were sometimes allowed a normal nasal bridge.)

Their renderings of non-human subjects, like scarabs and hippos, are also excellent. All in all, the Egyptians were clearly skilled artists who for some reason did not draw human movement.

One theory I have seen is that the Egyptians simply did not know how to draw humans in different poses. They could look at people, they could copy various details about people, like their faces and clothes, but they couldn’t come up with the mental idea of drawing a figure that didn’t have its shoulders facing the audience.

This is essentially the ratchet theory of culture. It proposes that talent is common, but true innovators are rare. Once an innovation occurs, however, it enters the cultural lexicon and talented people can copy it.

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Terra cotta figurine, predynastic period, about 3500 BC through 3400 BC. From the Brooklyn Museum

But this theory depends on the assumption that the Egyptians couldn’t do any better. What if their style was a choice?

So I went looking for ancient Egyptian art that didn’t fit the mold, pieces that aren’t stereotypically Egyptian, and I found them pretty quickly. Take this statuette from the Brooklyn Museum. Their website states:

Based on images painted on jars of the same date, the female figure with upraised arms appears to be celebrating a ritual. The bird-like face probably represents her nose, the source of the breath of life. The dark patch on her head represents hair, also a human trait. Her white skirt indicates a high-status individual.

Now, this is a very primitive piece, and very old. The sculptor did not bother with fiddly details like “a face”. But it clearly expresses movement, and it is not an isolated piece–as the museum notes, similar figures were painted on jars at the time. Clearly the Egyptians of circa 3,450 BC understood “movement” and could express it in art.

Here is a painting of two Egyptian dancing girls (and flute players). Given the technical limitations of paint and surfaces, they are as well drawn as a great many Greek works.

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Battle scene from King Tut’s tomb

Here is one of my favorite Egyptian pieces, a battle scene from King Tut’s tomb.

Yes, the figures are mostly placed in the typical Egyptian posture, shoulders toward us, hips away, but their usual stasis is gone. The painting is a riot; people are everywhere.

Here is a much older depiction of the aftermath of an Egyptian battle, showing a lion and carrion birds feasting on corpses:

It is obviously a more primitive piece, carved before Egyptian style had been completely standardized. But we still see that the figures are allowed to lie every which way; some are in the typical pose, but others, like the captives at the top, are not.

In general, Egyptian art is more expressive when the figures involved have lower social status. Pharaohs are grandiose statues with chiseled pecs, staring quietly into the middle distance; captured slaves are allowed to look around.

One of my favorite pieces I found during this search is this statuette of a boy (warning, nudity.) It is not actually exceptional, but it made me laugh. Children were often depicted without clothes in Egyptian art, and he’s not flipping us off (my first reaction), but putting a finger to his lips in a “childlike” pose. This stele of Ramasses II as a child also features the finer to the lips pose; here is another child with his finger to his lips, in the statue of Nykara and his family.

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Akhenaten and Aten, the sun

We do have some records of what the Egyptians thought of their art. Akhenaten, a pharaoh of the 18th dynasty who died around 1335 BC introduced a radical suite of reforms, including an attempt to convert Egypt to monotheism and demands that his artists sculpt his potbelly and scrawny arms rather than make him super buff. He was also depicted in more natural settings than other pharaohs, like this carving of the royal family playing with their children. (Though the artist seems to have never seen a child.)

This artistic shift produced a few statues that are so strange looking that they have inspired theories that he was part alien. I think it more likely that he was an ordinary guy who didn’t exercise and ate too much, maybe with a bit of inbreeding in his family tree. (I don’t know about his parents, but Akhenaten himself married his half-sister, Nefertiti.) I find speculation that he had Marfan’s syndrome more credible than the alien hypothesis.

After Akhenaten’s death, not only were his reforms rolled back, but many of his statues were defaced and subsequent rulers basically tried to make everyone forget about him.

At any rate, Akehnaten’s demand that artists change their style to depict him more realistically gives it away: artists were depicting their subjects unnaturally on purpose. Clearly at least some ancient Egyptian artists could depict people in realistic poses, but they chose not to develop this style because it didn’t fit with the (usual) purpose of their art. Most pharaohs did not want their statues to be realistic; they wanted them to command the fear and awe of the masses.

If someone were judging the quality of American artists based on portraits of our presidents, they would also note an absence of naturalistic posing or movement. They’re all standing or sitting, even that rather unusual one with Obama. Few of our monuments–take the Lincoln Memorial–feature dynamic sculptures.

Formal portraits tend to be quite static, and the Egyptians made a lot of formal portraits.

And since the Egyptians generally didn’t bother making realistic looking portraits, they didn’t develop the talent.

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From the MFA

Once the Greeks and Romans show up, Egyptian art changes quite a bit. Take this mummy mask of a young woman, from about 100-130 AD. The Greek influence is particularly noticeable in her hairstyle and in the side view, available on the MFA website, which reveals the sharp, Greek-style edge where her forehead ought to curve smoothly into her skull.

This statue from the same era also looks very Greek-inspired.

Of course, the fact that the Egyptians could pick up an art style once they were exposed to it doesn’t tell us whether they could have developed it on their own. Perhaps they could have, with a few more rulers like Akhenaten, brave (or brazen) enough to break the mold, or if art had become a more mass-market phenomenon.

 

 

 

 

 

Call for Bullshit Submissions

I have long wanted to construct a general bullshit detection system that helps people detect bad or spurious arguments, and for that I need some good examples of bullshit (and non-bullshit).

Making a specific bullshit detector is easy: just learn about the subject. For example, if you say that you’ve carbon dated some dinosaur bones, then I automatically know you’re lying because carbon dating only works for things that are younger than about 50,000 years, and dinosaur bones are at least 65 million years old. (Also, dinosaur bones don’t contain a lot of carbon.)

But knowing more about the subject than the person you are talking to doesn’t generalize–for practical reasons, it is impossible for everyone to know everything.

So what’s a bullshit argument that you’ve encounter related to a field that you know but I don’t? For example, I know very little about chemistry, how the electrical grid works, or the Belorussian national anthem. I don’t know what temperature melts steel beams nor medieval Chinese history.

Each example of bullshit needs to be paired with a comparable piece of non-bullshit from the same field, otherwise I’ll automatically know it’s bullshit. Don’t tell me which is which.

Links, memes, Facebook posts, blog posts, youtube videos, “try googling this,” etc, are all fine. The arguments should be framed and phrased the way their proponents actually make them, because phrasing and formatting might be important.

I would love to assemble a really vast data set, and super appreciate anything and everything you send.

Links Post and Open Thread

Christmas+crab-1Hey guys, I’m working on a post about Christmas but I’m not quite done double checking my sources, so tell me about your New Years’ resolutions.

Here are some interesting links in the meanwhile:

The Catch-22 of Energy Storage :

Pick up a research paper on battery technology, fuel cells, energy storage technologies or any of the advanced materials science used in these fields, and you will likely find somewhere in the introductory paragraphs a throwaway line about its application to the storage of renewable energy.  Energy storage makes sense for enabling a transition away from fossil fuels to more intermittent sources like wind and solar, and the storage problem presents a meaningful challenge for chemists and materials scientists… Or does it?

Red Cross built Exactly 6 Homes in Haiti with half a Billion Dollars: 

In late 2011, the Red Cross launched a multimillion-dollar project to transform the desperately poor area, which was hit hard by the earthquake that struck Haiti the year before. The main focus of the project — called LAMIKA, an acronym in Creole for “A Better Life in My Neighborhood” — was building hundreds of permanent homes. …

The Red Cross says it has provided homes to more than 130,000 people. But the actual number of permanent homes the group has built in all of Haiti: six. …

In statements, the Red Cross cited the challenges all groups have faced in post-quake Haiti, including the country’s dysfunctional land title system.

“Like many humanitarian organizations responding in Haiti, the American Red Cross met complications in relation to government coordination delays, disputes over land ownership, delays at Haitian customs, challenges finding qualified staff who were in short supply and high demand, and the cholera outbreak, among other challenges,” the charity said.

… While the group won’t provide a breakdown of its projects, the Red Cross said it has done more than 100. The projects include repairing 4,000 homes, giving several thousand families temporary shelters, donating $44 million for food after the earthquake, and helping fund the construction of a hospital.

 

Is the age at which British women are having babies changing?

Wikipedia: Prostitution among Chimpanzees

Was there a vast back-migration of Eurasians into Africa? As of 2016, Razib said no. (Of course, things could have changed since then.)

Gene-Culture Co-Evolution in Killer Whales: 

Analysing population genomic data from killer whale ecotypes, which we estimate have globally radiated within less than 250,000 years, we show that genetic structuring including the segregation of potentially functional alleles is associated with socially inherited ecological niche. Reconstruction of ancestral demographic history revealed bottlenecks during founder events, likely promoting ecological divergence and genetic drift resulting in a wide range of genome-wide differentiation between pairs of allopatric and sympatric ecotypes. Functional enrichment analyses provided evidence for regional genomic divergence associated with habitat, dietary preferences and post-zygotic reproductive isolation. Our findings are consistent with expansion of small founder groups into novel niches by an initial plastic behavioural response, perpetuated by social learning imposing an altered natural selection regime. The study constitutes an important step towards an understanding of the complex interaction between demographic history, culture, ecological adaptation and evolution at the genomic level.

Pygmy Genetics:

African Pygmies practicing a mobile hunter-gatherer lifestyle are phenotypically and genetically diverged from other anatomically modern humans, and they likely experienced strong selective pressures due to their unique lifestyle in the Central African rainforest. To identify genomic targets of adaptation, we sequenced the genomes of four Biaka Pygmies from the Central African Republic and jointly analyzed these data with the genome sequences of three Baka Pygmies from Cameroon and nine Yoruba famers. … Our two best-fit models both suggest ancient divergence between the ancestors of the farmers and Pygmies, 90,000 or 150,000 years ago. … We found that genes and gene sets involved in muscle development, bone synthesis, immunity, reproduction, cell signaling and development, and energy metabolism are likely to be targets of positive natural selection in Western African Pygmies or their recent ancestors.

NY Times, blaming people for their own deaths:

If only people knew how much the past sucked, they’d die less.

From 2015, but still a good example of the absurd and arbitrary nature of the state we live in: Texas police hit Organic farm with Massive SWAT Raid:

A small organic farm in Arlington, Texas, was the target of a massive police action last week that included aerial surveillance, a SWAT raid and a 10-hour search.

Members of the local police raiding party had a search warrant for marijuana plants, which they failed to find at the Garden of Eden farm. But farm owners and residents who live on the property told a Dallas-Ft. Worth NBC station that the real reason for the law enforcement exercise appears to have been code enforcement. The police seized “17 blackberry bushes, 15 okra plants, 14 tomatillo plants … native grasses and sunflowers,” after holding residents inside at gunpoint for at least a half-hour, property owner Shellie Smith said in a statement. The raid lasted about 10 hours, she said.

 

History: The Extinction of the Australian Pygmies

 

That’s all for now. Whatever you celebrate, have fun with your loved ones and enjoy the holidays.

 

The Economics of 3D Printing

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The finished Eevee, resting on a crafting table. (Original model by 7Fish on Thingiverse.)

In preparation for the holidays, I have been 3D printing (and crocheting) like a madman. Right now I am printing what will eventually be an 8-inch tall Eevee, a Pokemon.

But is 3D printing worth the cost?

My very rough, back of the envelope calculation after about a year of printing is that if you have enough things you want to print, then 3D printing is easily worthwhile.

A spool of PLA printer filament + shipping runs about $25. You can get more expensive filaments, or you can get the cheaper ones and paint them. I paint. (I’ve run the numbers on recycling waste filament/making your own, but filament is cheap enough that it isn’t worth it unless you’re running a really big operation.)

I usually print toys or educational items like Neanderthal skulls for my kids. I’m not sure exactly how many prints you can get off a single spool of filament–it depends on what you’re printing, how much infill you use, how many supports you need, etc–but I haven’t run out of any of my spools, yet.

Here is a nice set of hominid skull (reproductions) being sold for $368 (on sale! Normally $472!) It’s not clear exactly what the dimensions on these are, but let’s assume they’re full size. Given how much I’ve printed so far without running out, I could probably print at least two skulls per spool, for a printing cost of <$75.

That works out to almost $100 of savings per spool of home-printed skulls.

Of course, that’s because someone is massively over-charging for skulls, and besides, how many skulls does the average person want hanging around their home?

Here is a FunkoPop Eevee, similar to the one I am printing right now, for $11. The material on these is probably a little nicer than PLA (which is pretty rigid), but mine will be twice as tall and less than half the price.

If toys are too silly for your tastes (perhaps because you don’t have kids,) rest assured that you can print many tools and technical items, and the cost is still quite low compared to buying to buying them.

The sheer variety of 3D printers available on Amazon these days is overwhelming–Resin printer for $250? Troxny for $240? I know nothing about these brands because I don’t own one, but they have good reviews. While the highest quality printers still cost over $1000, I think it is safe to say that you can get a good printer for $500 or less, and if you are the sort of person who would otherwise buy (or sell) the things you can print with it, you can easily make back the cost.

The biggest expense in 3D printing is, surprisingly, not the machine or the filament, but your time. Printers are fiddly machines and there’s a fair amount of trouble shooting. (I recommend getting one with the auto-bed-leveling feature.) Getting prints to stick well enough that they don’t come off the plate while printing, but not so well that you can’t get them off after printing, is tricky.

20191217_114248 The printer needs supervision while printing because sometimes prints come off the plate anyway, filament starts going everywhere, and the machine has to be shut down. And sometimes the nozzle gets clogged and needs cleaning.

So it’s probably best to get a 3D printer only if that sounds like the sort of thing you’d enjoy.

Here’s a side view of Eevee so you can see its tail.

The Urge

migration-probability-by-age-for-men-and-women

Man in his natural state, upon reaching adulthood, is struck with the urge: the urge to travel, to struggle, to conquer, and ultimately triumph (or die trying).

Migration is a goal of the young.

To be young is to struggle: against nature, against society, against himself, against the elements, against hunger, against failure.

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By Snowy plover girl at English Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0,

To throw himself against the mountains, against the storms. To track and kill his own food. To survive against bears, monsters, enemies. To forge a path in the wilderness, chop down trees, build his own home.

Lion, wolf, or elephant, the young male is unlikely to stay in the pack of his birth. He must leave his mother’s side and forage in the wilderness until he has the strength to lead the pack or found his own.

Biological dispersal:

Some organisms are motile throughout their lives, but others are adapted to move or be moved at precise, limited phases of their life cycles. This is commonly called the dispersive phase of the life cycle. The strategies of organisms’ entire life cycles often are predicated on the nature and circumstances of their dispersive phases. …

Due to population density, dispersal may relieve pressure for resources in an ecosystem, and competition for these resources may be a selection factor for dispersal mechanisms.[14]

Dispersal of organisms is a critical process for understanding both geographic isolation in evolution through gene flow and the broad patterns of current geographic distributions (biogeography).

A distinction is often made between natal dispersal where an individual (often a juvenile) moves away from the place it was born, and breeding dispersal where an individual (often an adult) moves away from one breeding location to breed elsewhere.[1]

Modern man, in modern cities, is deprived of struggle. The land is already cleared. The houses are already built. The food arrives pre-killed in the grocery store. The map has already been drawn and your GPS tells you where to go.

We have made ourselves a paradise and find it wanting.

Like a rooster told not to crow, modern man flings himself at a structure with nothing but ersatz struggles: video games, online flame wars, antifa larping. We turn to empty screeching to make ourselves feel like we’re doing something good.

But for those who have just arrived, getting to the city alone is a success.

Legal Conclusions

I was going to write another post about Legal Systems Very Different from Ours, but it turns out that about half the book is bibliography and endnotes. There are several chapters of conclusion, but not much new worth highlighting.

The authors’ main point, I suppose, is that there are many different but still functional  legal systems; I have a slightly different theory, that legal systems, whatever their form, adjust to the needs and characters of the people using them. Of course, I also suspect that legal systems often “work” because people route around them.

This is an interesting thread on how the US legal system treats people merely accused of crimes, many of whom are, of course, innocent:

RTWT.

Responding to crime requires balancing between punishments harsh enough to deter serious crime, and soft enough to make people willing to report crimes.

There are a variety of disputes that break out between people that need solving but don’t rise to the level of wanting the other guy in prison–take many disputes between relatives.

There are also crimes that people don’t think the police prosecute adequately, and so have taken to prosecuting by other means–take college rape tribunals.

Beyond just “there are many valid legal systems,” I think the authors of LSVDFO would also like to propose that we can have effective legal systems that aren’t run by the state–and that perhaps such systems could be more effective than our current one.

Opinions?

And since LSVDFO is over, what would you like to read next?

Sunken Lands and lost Paradises: Beringia

caribou_feed_on_lichens_and_moss-_the_bird_is_an_alaskan_raven_-_nara_-_550384Beringia is the now-lost land between Alaska and Russia that was, during the last ice age, a vast grassland. It is believed that humans lived here for thousands of years, hunting mammoths, woolly rhinos, bison, and equines. The probably fished as well, just like modern humans in the area.

It was a land of frigid abundance, of herds of giant beasts that probably put the buffalo to shame.

Here is a nice podcast by Razib and Spencer on the lost paradises of Beringia, Sundaland, and Doggerland.

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Old map of a mysterious, non-existent blob-land

Humans lived in Beringia for thousands of years before they made it into the rest of North America, because the rest of the continent was blocked off, then, by a giant impenetrable ice sheet. This period is therefore referred to as the “Beringia pause” because humans “paused” here during their migration from Siberia to the Americas, but this name obscures the lives and purposes of the people who lived here. They weren’t consciously trying to get to North America and pausing for thousands of years because their way was blocked; they were happily living their lives in a land of abundant resources. We could equally say that Europeans “paused” in Europe for thousands of years before some of them migrated to the Americas, or that anyone on Earth has “paused” in the place they are now.

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DNA of the Eskimo/Inuit and related peoples, from Haak et al

According to an article published recently in Nature, The Population History of Siberia since the Pleistocine, by Martin Sikora et 53 other people, these folks in Beringia have their own interesting and complex population history, full of migration and back-migration, conquering, splitting, and joining:

Northeastern Siberia has been inhabited by humans for more than 40,000 years but its deep population history remains poorly understood. Here we investigate the late Pleistocene population history of northeastern Siberia through analyses of 34 newly recovered ancient genomes that date to between 31,000 and 600 years ago. We document complex population dynamics during this period, including at least three major migration events: an initial peopling by a previously unknown Palaeolithic population of ‘Ancient North Siberians’ who are distantly related to early West Eurasian hunter-gatherers; the arrival of East Asian-related peoples, which gave rise to ‘Ancient Palaeo-Siberians’ who are closely related to contemporary communities from far-northeastern Siberia (such as the Koryaks), as well as Native Americans; and a Holocene migration of other East Asian-related peoples, who we name ‘Neo-Siberians’, and from whom many contemporary Siberians are descended. Each of these population expansions largely replaced the earlier inhabitants, and ultimately generated the mosaic genetic make-up of contemporary peoples who inhabit a vast area across northern Eurasia and the Americas.

There is a lot of interesting material in this paper (and some nice maps and graphs), but I’m too tired to summarize it all and not lose accuracy, so I encourage you to read it yourself; perhaps the most interesting part involves migration from Alaska to Siberia, across the now-Bering Strait, of people like the Ekven (are these the same as the awkwardly named Evens?)

The polar world is a fascinating circle.

Death Memes, pt 2

This is part two: Why are there suicide memes? If you don’t know what a suicide meme is, please see part one: What are Suicide Memes?

Memes, as used on this blog, are units of ideas. A suicide meme happens when you adopt the memes of people who want you dead. To the gazelle, the lion is a monster; to the lion, the gazelle is lunch. It does not benefit a gazelle to adopt the lion’s idea that gazelles are tasty, nor does it benefit the lion to sympathize with the gazelle.

Concurrent with the suicide memes infecting the West is an increase in actual suicides, which carry over into an overall increase in death:

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From the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

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Source: New research identifies a “Sea of Despair” among white, working-class Americans

Suicide memes aren’t exclusive to America. They pervade the West, from Britain to New Zealand. If you are inside the meme, you likely cannot see it–the world is simply operating in a rational way; once you are outside the meme, you cannot unsee it–the world is absurd.

The moment of fully understanding the suicide meme and realizing society is filled with them is, for many people, gut-wrenching. It is like having the ground suddenly pulled out from under you. Many people refer to it as “taking the red pill,” in homage to the scene in The Matrix in which Neo decides to wake up from delusion.

ETA: A friend linked me to this excellent account of the feeling: 

As I read the article about the photos, I felt a sense of disbelief. I wasn’t quite sure what I was reading was correct. … I spent the next few hours searching the subject online and found quite a bit more information, but no serious or credible refutation of the stories I’d just learned. The facts therein did not appear to be in much dispute. …

Then the strangest feeling came over me. …

The best description I can come up with is that it was a regret so intense it morphed seamlessly into guilt, as though I were responsible for something terrible, though I didn’t know exactly what. …

I sat in front of my computer and put my face down on the keyboard. I stayed in that position for a few minutes, energyless and drained. When I lifted my head I was surprised to find a few tears on my cheeks.

The experience was something akin to being married for thirty years, thinking your husband loving and faithful, and then by chance coming across evidence that he’d been living a double life all that time, with a wife and kids in another town. A sense of deep betrayal of a basic trust.

Waking up to the fact that you are surrounded by liars is not psychologically simple. How much of what you thought you knew is actually false? It is easy at this stage to feel like you are falling down a rabbit hole, to accept things as true simply because they go against popular narratives, to decide that reality must lie in some other, starkly different direction. Attempts to bring you back to reality are resisted because “reality” has already been proven to be a malicious lie bent on destroying you.

By coincidence, as I write this, Zero Hedge opines:

How to account for Americans being the most anxious, fearful, and stressed-out people among the supposedly advanced nations? Do we not live in the world’s greatest democratic utopia where dreams come true? 

What if the dreaming part is actually driving us insane? What if we have engineered a society in which fantasy has so grotesquely over-run reality that coping with daily life is nearly impossible. …

You end up in a virtual world of advertising and agit-prop where manipulation is the primary driver of human activity. That is, a world where the idea of personal liberty (including any act of free thought) becomes a philosophical sick joke, whether you believe in the possibility of free will or not. You get a land full of college kids trained to think that coercion of others is the highest-and-best use of their time on earth — and that it represents “inclusion.” You get a news industry that makes its own reality, churning out narratives (i.e. constructed psychodramas) to excite numbed minds.

When people realize they are surrounded by lies and suicide memes, they start looking for someone to blame. If there are death memes, then someone must be trying to kill them.

This is when people start blaming the Jews.

Explicit aside: I don’t.

A young man recently walked into a synagogue in Poway, California, and opened fire. His rampage was stopped by an off-duty border patrol agent who was also carrying a gun, otherwise it most likely would have been far worse; as it was, one person died.

Why a synagogue? The Poway shooter blamed the Jews for the “white genocide” he saw around him.

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Graph of change in population demographics by race of California from 1970 to 2015 from the Public Policy Institute of California

“But there is no white genocide,” you might be objecting. Remember that the shooter lived in California. In 1970, California was 77% non-Hispanic white. Today, it is 38% white. 27% of Californians are immigrants, born in other countries. Since the Hispanic population is growing much faster than the others, the population of Californian children is 51% Hispanic and only 27% white.

Whether you call that “genocide” or not, the shooter is in fact living through a time when he can observe his own ethnic group shrinking as a share of the population. Meanwhile, housing prices in California have become absurd and the middle class is being squeezed out, but any suggestion that maybe immigration levels should be curbed is met with charges of racism, fascism, or worst of all, being a closeted Donald Trump lover.

So this guy looks around, realizes something is not right, and concludes that someone must be doing it on purpose. Of course, the Jews:

To my family and friends. I can already hear your voices. “How could you throw your life away? You had everything!…” I understand why you would ask this. But I pose a question to you now. What value does my life have compared to the entirety of the European race? Is it worth it for me to live a comfortable life at the cost of international Jewry sealing the doom of my race? …

“How does killing Jews help the European race? The European race is doomed? What are you talking about? These Jews were innocent!” Every Jew is responsible for the meticulously planned genocide of the European race.

So… he’s a bit off.

The real reason society has gone off the tracks is far less exciting than international conspiracies cackling in the night–the real reason is technology.

The internet is an interesting place. You have sites devoted to every possible interest, from coffee to AfroPop; you have communities at every level of reputation, from total anonymity to real names only. And it has long been observed that communities which allow anonymous posting swing more to the right, while communities where people use their real names swing to the left.

Reputation, at least in our society, is liberal.

There are several reasons for this, but the core, underlying one is probably mathematical: there are more people who aren’t you than are you. There are more people who aren’t white than are white. If you are talking to everyone (as social media platforms strive for) and you care about your reputation, then you want as many people as possible to like what you have to say.

“I love me and want to benefit myself at the expense of everyone else,” is not a message that is popular with everyone else.

“I love everyone else and want to benefit them at the expense of myself,” is a message that everyone else loves.

And that, right there, is how the suicide meme is born. The more time you spend on the internet in real-name, real-reputation circles, the more pressure you will feel to espouse leftist values, because these are high-status memes and because if you don’t, an angry mob might get you fired. See: James Damore.

When we come right down to it, most people are greedier than they want to appear. We’d all like to look like angels while not exactly acting like angels, and we’d like our neighbors to actually act like angels. There’s a lot of social pressure on people to behave like angels, and on the internet, where words are all that we see, the pressure to behave and desire to seem get blended into one enormous holiness spiral.

By contrast, in anonymous circles, things you say have much less impact on your reputation. It’s hard to holiness spiral if your words have no connection to you.

But let’s back up a minute, before the creation of WEIRD societies. HbdNrx on Twitter has a thread that perfectly sums up what I want to say, so this is a quote with some expansions: 

homicide_in_europe_1200_2000“For the first few million years of our existence, humanity consisted of hunter-gatherer tribes who constantly conquered and raped and pillaged each other. Even chimpanzees fight wars over territory, killing and cannibalizing other chimps in the process. Violence was ubiquitous.

“The development of agriculture allowed larger settlements to form. Civilization began, first in the Middle East. Of course, people used their new-found technology and organization to firmly conquer and pacify their neighbors, in an orgy of violence followed by peace; we can still see the results in studies of Y-chromosomal diversity–it plummeted.

“Broadly speaking, in most areas suitable for agriculture, tribal disputes gave way to larger wars with armies. Cooperation was needed to compete. The spread of Christianity and the Catholic Church through the Roman Empire resulted in the break-up of tribal affiliations and reduced cousin marriage, especially within the Hajnal Line. IQ and cooperation were selected for during the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance was the eventual result.

“The printing press and base-ten numbers were imported and literacy exploded. We can probably blame Protestantism directly on the press, as with literacy and book ownership came the idea that ordinary people could read the Bible and form their own relationship with God. The power of the Church weakens, feudalism begins to fade, and parliaments are strengthened. Ideas like equal rights under the law are established during the Enlightenment.

“Slavery had been around since the tribal era, but now even slaves could read and write. For example, In 1789, Olaudah Equiano, an Igbo who had been kidnapped, enslaved, and then earned his freedom, published his autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah EquianoThe book (plus the actions of other members of abolitionist societies) soon convinced the British to abandon slavery.

“Pretty soon whites across the literate world were saying, in essence, “Hey, those slaves are people too, why don’t they have rights?” Slavery was abolished in Britain in 1807; in 1794 and again in 1848 in France; throughout much of Latin America around 1826; Canada in 1833; the US fought a war that ended slavery in 1865. (By contrast, Mauritania didn’t abolish slavery until 1981, and Amnesty International estimates that 43,000 people are still enslaved in Mauritania. Slavery is also still a problem in Libya, and of course the territory controlled by ISIS.)

“So ideas about equality and cooperation were extended further and further, from slavery to voting to the Civil Rights Act. Whites, being fair-minded people who deeply believe in equality, listened to complaints from nonwhites of oppression and tried to make things better–so we got busing, school integration, affirmative action, and now, cities just straight up not prosecuting crimes.

“The point here is that there’s a trend from the very beginnings of civilization toward expanding circles of equality–from tribe to nation/empire to the inclusion of other racial groups (and animals, especially among vegetarians), and white people have been selected more for this than any other people on the planet.

“The trend is a natural result of technological changes, from literacy to the internet, and the need for broader cooperation in order to compete in the new tech environment–it takes a lot of trustworthy people working together to build a nuke or a railroad. Fast boat and air travel enabled mass immigration, and radio, TV, and the internet allowed us to hear the voices of those who might formerly have been called savages. The current “anti-racism” ideas are an extension of this trend, into the new memevironment of social media.

“A substantial portion of whites would never have been able to resist pleas for equal rights nor open borders. These whites look at the apparent unfairness of borders or seemingly arbitrary rules like apartheid and they naturally sacrifice to increase fairness. At least 20% of whites in the US are fundamentally hippie libs like this. Much of the ideological problem is that these people look at disparate outcomes and assume that there must be something unfair causing this inequality (completely ignoring biology and culture).

“Then you have the cuckservative types–the people with no ideological defense to the liberal accusations who just go along with it, and the people who actively promote cheap labor because it’s in their immediate interests. Most of them see themselves as “conservatives” simply because they believe in the liberalism of 30 years ago, rather than today. That’s most of the mainstream Republican party, >30% of whites.

“So we have at least half of whites basically opposed to doing anything to stop this trend, and we have nearly all the nonwhites advocating for their own interests. If you’re looking for people to blame, there it is–a majority of the population.

“Of course, we can also blame individuals like LBJ and other politicians at the time who pushed the civil rights act and the immigration act, and we can blame some of the acceleration of identity politics on postmodernist academics and the Frankfurt school. But by and large the trends are bigger than all of them, especially now that we have social media accelerating everything.

“These values of equality and cooperation are deathwish values in the global context, as we can see by the declining white % globally. So, the trend toward increasing equality and cooperation won’t go on forever because its strongest proponents are being selected against.”

In other words:

Technological and economic progress have expanded people’s social circles from their immediate tribes to cities and nations. These changes promote the spread of universalist memes. Many of these ideas were probably adaptive when they first arose, when people were just dealing with other people in their immediate communities, but are no longer adaptive due to our rapidly increasing ability to travel and communicate.

Horizontal (viral) memes have proliferated and adapted in the new environment of the internet, with nonwhites, especially, advocating for their own interests with the language of fairness/oppression.

Meanwhile, in academia, postmodernism–the idea that we should analyze why someone wrote what they wrote and how their background identity influences their opinions, rather than analyze what they actually wrote–has kicked objective reality out the window. See, for example, this list:characteristics of white supremacy

In general, suicide memes are a natural development of social and technological activity, although some groups are more into them than others. High-IQ, high-class people tend to favor suicide memes because they want to signal to potential partners their willingness to cooperate, not defect. Most of these people are well-meaning.

To summarize:

First, new technology makes communication easier, giving us suicide memes.

Second, people notice suicide memes and conclude that someone is trying to kill them.

Third, they decide that the Jews (who are disproportionately represented in academia and the real-name parts of the internet due to social status,) are trying to kill them.

Fourth, they strike back.

If you’re Jewish, this is a good time to realize that this trend is not working in your favor. (Please see my Open Letter on this subject.)

So how do I know the Jews aren’t secretly conniving in backrooms to fling open the borders and offer Affirmative Action to all?

Because the Lutherans are just as bad. Ever since the Biafran Airlift:

The Biafran Airlift was an international humanitarian relief effort that transported food and medicine to Biafra during the 1967-70 secession war from Nigeria (Nigerian Civil War). It was the largest civilian airlift, and after the Berlin airlift of 1948-49, the largest non-combatant airlift of any kind ever carried out. The airlift was largely a series of joint efforts by Protestant and Catholic church groups, and other non-governmental organizations (NGO)s, operating civilian and military aircraft with volunteer (mostly) civilian crews and support personnel. Several national governments also supported the effort, mostly behind the scenes. This sustained joint effort, which lasted one and a half times as long as its Berlin predecessor, is estimated to have saved more than a million lives.[1]

–or perhaps before–Christian churches in the US have played a significant role in both aid to Africa and resettling refugees in the US. The Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota, Catholic Charities, and Arrive Ministries are responsible for resettling at least 10,000 Somalis in Minnesota–a coincidentally very profitable business.

Remember this?

We Are the World” is a charity single originally recorded by the supergroup United Support of Artists (USA) for Africa in 1985. It was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and produced by Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian for the album We Are the World. With sales in excess of 20 million copies, it is one of fewer than 30 retail singles to have sold at least 10 million copies worldwide. …

Before the writing of “We Are the World”, American entertainer and social activist Harry Belafonte had thought for some time to have a song recorded by the most famous artists in the music industry at the time. He planned to have the proceeds donated to a new organization called United Support of Artists for Africa (USA for Africa). The non-profit foundation would then feed and relieve starving people in Africa, specifically Ethiopia, where around one million people died during the country’s 1983–1985 famine.[1][2]

There are a lot more Christians trying to resettle refugees in the US than Jews.

Moreover, undermining Western Civilization doesn’t benefit the Jews. America is the least anti-Semitic country in the world. Antisemitism is much higher in Latin America than the US. It’s much higher in Africa and China. It’s a little higher in most of Europe. It’s way higher in Islamic countries. So outside of a couple other WEIRD countries in northwest Europe, immigration from pretty much any other country on Earth is bad for the Jews.

Jews don’t want to die, and they bleed just like anyone else. I’ve met Jews who’ve fled South Africa, Detroit, New York, and LA. Always because of violence (sanitized as “crime”).

Here’s Bret Weinstein, formerly of Evergreen College, on the death memes that drove him out:

There’s an excellent three-part documentary on Youtube about how the (mostly) black students at Evergreen rioted, hunted Bret down with bats and tazers, and eventually drove him out of the university for the literal crime of teaching on campus while white.

Bret’s Jewish, in case you missed that. As far as non-whites are concerned, Jews are white and are treated accordingly. It’s in the Jewish interest for America and Britain to be nice, civilized, non-antisemitic countries that support Israel; not for them to degenerate into crime-ridden, antisemitic shitholes where Jewish wealth is taxed to fund welfare programs for non-whites.

If you’re looking for someone to blame, maybe blame the guys hunting down white academics with bats and tazers.

Of course, even if they aren’t trying to destroy civilization to benefit themselves, Jews could just be accidentally doing it because they’re stupid. This wouldn’t be a conspiracy, but people do actually do stupid things rather often. Jews are, in fact, disproportionately left-wing in the US (but not in other Western countries–in Britain, for example, they vote for the Tories).

But there is very little functional difference between liberal Jews and liberal non-Jews. Unitarian Christians and Reform Jews are practically the same (and many Reform Jews attend Unitarian churches). Orthodox Jews are conservative, keep to themselves, and basically avoid American politics; they certainly aren’t encouraging people to crossdress or get abortions, and most of them voted for Trump (54%–which is identical to the percent of whites who voted for Trump.)

Okay, so we know we have a problem: suicide memes, and we have a second problem: people who are getting violent about suicide memes.

What are the solutions? Getting violent isn’t a solution. Violence only works if you have the support of society behind you, and society supports people with high-class reputations. Society supports death memes; society does not support fighting back against death memes. Right-wing violence does not work because reputation is leftist. Making things worse is not a solution, but getting around the reputation problem could be.

The next bright idea I’ve seen people advocate is trying to convince everyone that humans races don’t exist.

This is a lie, and lying to people who are already onto the fact that you are lying to them is not going to work. They will just conclude that you are lying because you want to kill them. Remember that one of the indicators that genocide is likely to happen–as articulated by Genocide Watch–is “Systematic official denial of the existence of particular distinct groups.” By claiming that races don’t exist, you are walking straight into the paranoia of people convinced that you are trying to genocide them.

The truth of the “human races share 99.9% of their DNA in common” statement lies in the fact that the changes to our DNA that make genes do different things are, in fact, very small. The lie is that the size of the changes matters at all.

Mike came in the house, put away the groceries, cooked dinner, set the table, and said, “Let’s eat, kids!”

Mike came in the house, put away the groceries, cooked dinner, set the table, and said, “Let’s eat kids!”

These sentences are over 99% identical. What’s the big problem?

And besides, humans managed to slaughter their neighbors for millions of years before we discovered genetics; we’ll certainly be able to keep slaughtering each other even if we forget about genetics.

The best solution I can think of to suicide memes is to become aware of them,  stop spreading them, and point out when others spread them.

 

By the way, if you haven’t read my previous work on memes or aren’t very familiar with meme theory, here are a few relevant posts: Dangerous Memes, Mitochondrial Memes, and more memes. 

Who were the Jomon?

 

700px-Historical_expanse_of_the_Ainu.svg

The modern people of Japan are descended from two main groups–the Yayoi, rice farmers who arrived in the archipelago around 800 BC, and the Jomon, hunter-gatherers who arrived thousands of years before.

The oldest known skeletons in Japan are about 30,000 years old. The first 20,000 years of Japanese history are the Paleolithic; the Jomon period, marked by distinct pottery, begins around 14,000 BC.

Despite being hunter-gatherers, the Jomon reached a relatively high level of cultural sophistication (Wikipedia has a nice collection of Jomon art and buildings,) probably because Japan is a naturally lush and pleasant place to live. (The popular perception of hunter-gatherers as poor and constantly on the brink of death is due to the best land having been conquered by farmers over the past few thousand years and enormous population growth over the past hundred. Neither of these factors affected the Jomon at their peak.)

Who were the Jomon? Were they descended directly from the paleolithic peoples of Japan, or were they (relative) newcomers? And what happened to them when the Yayoi arrived? Did they inter-marry? Are the Ainu their modern descendants?

An interesting new paper posted on BioRxiv, Jomon genome sheds light on East Asian population history, examines the DNA of a 2,500 year old individual:

After the major Out-of-Africa dispersal of Homo sapiens around 60 kya, modern humans rapidly expanded across the vast landscapes of Eurasia[1]. Both fossil and ancient genomic evidence suggest that groups ancestrally related to present-day East Asians were present in eastern China by as early as 40 kya[2]. Two major routes for these dispersals have been proposed, either from the northern or southern parts of the Himalaya mountains[1,35].

So far the genetic studies have suggested a southern migration route, but archaeological evidence suggests a northern route or at least significant northern trade routes.

Note: the paper claims that the Jomon invented the world’s first pottery, but this appears to be incorrect; according to Wikipedia, the oldest known pottery is from China. However, the Jomon are very close.

To identify the origin of the Jomon people, we sequenced a 1.85-fold genomic coverage of a 2,500-years old Jomon individual (IK002) excavated from the central part of the Japanese archipelago[15]. Comparing the Jomon whole-genome sequence with ancient Southeast Asians, we previously reported genetic affinity between IK002 and the 8,000-years old Hòabìnhian hunter-gatherer[15]. This direct evidence on the link between the Jomon and Southeast Asians, thus, confirms the southern route origin of East Asians.

Ideally, it would be nice to have a bunch of much older samples, but is difficult to get older DNA from Japanese skeletons because Japan is generally warm and humid, which interferes with preservation. It’s really amazing that we can get what little old DNA we can.

I’m going to call IK002 “Ikari” from here on.

Ikari’s mother hails from mitochondrial haplogroup N9b1, which previous studies have established as common in ancient Jomon people. It’s quite rare in modern Japan, however–which is somewhat unusual, since invading armies usually like to turn the local women into war brides rather than wipe them out entirely. The mitochondrial DNA of Latin American people, for example, hails primarily from native women, while their Y chromosomes hail primarily from Spanish conquistadors.

jomon
“Principal component analysis (PCA) of ancient and present-day individuals from worldwide populations after the out-of-Africa expansion. Grey labels represent population codes showing coordinates for individuals. Coloured circles indicate ancient individuals.”

Then we get to the exciting part.

The authors use numerous methods to compare Ikari’s DNA to that of other people, ancient and modern. The graph at right shows Ikari (the red diamod) closest to the Kusunda, a modern day people living in Nepal! According to Wikipedia, there are only 164 Kusunda left, with only one surviving speaker of their native language, itself an isolate. (Though the Wikipedia page on the Kusunda language claims that 7 or 8 more speakers were recently discovered.)

The other shapes close to Ikari on this graph are are Sherpas and another iron-age individual from Tibet.

The Ainu are not shown on this graph, but Ikari is closely related to them, as well.

Second, when using a smaller number of SNPs (41,264 SNPs) including the present-day Ainu[34] from Hokkaido (Fig.S1), IK002 clusters with the Hokkaido Ainu (Fig.S4), supporting previous findings that they are direct descendants of the Jomon people[14,3441].

200px-Mongoloid_Australoid_Negrito_Asia_Distribution_of_Asian_peoples_Sinodont_Sundadont(I have written previously about the Ainu, who are, of course, still alive:

Taken together, all of the evidence is still kind of scanty, but points to the possibility of a Melanesian-derived group that spread across south Asia, made it into Tibet and the Andaman Islands, walked into Indonesia, and then split up, with one branch heading up the coast to Taiwan, Okinawa, Japan, and perhaps across the Bering Strait and down to Brazil, while another group headed out to Australia.

Later, the ancestors of today’s east Asians moved into the area, largely displacing or wiping out the original population, except in the hardest places to reach, like Tibet, the Andaman Islands, Papua New Guinea, the Amazon Rainforest, and Hokkaido–the fringe.)

That was quite speculative, but an actual genetic link between Tibetans (broadly speaking, peoples of the Tibetan plateau) and the modern Ainu is pretty exciting.

Of course, the Jomon did not die out entirely when the Yayoi arrived–about 10% of the modern Japanese genome resembles Ikari’s, along with 6% of the nearby Siberian Ulchi people’s.

By contrast, the Yayoi are more closely related to the modern Han Chinese.

Further analysis reveals more fascinating details about the ancient peopling of Asia and the Americas: Ikari’s ancestors likely split off from the other Asians before the Native Americans headed to Alaska, giving us a rough time estimate for the Jomon’s arrival–older than the 26,000 year old split between East Asians vs Siberians & Native Americans, but younger than a particular 40,000 year old group that split off in China, found in Tianyuan.

This indicates that the Jomon are most likely descended from the Japanese Paleolithic people, who arrived around 30,000 years ago and simply developed pottery a few thousand years later, rather than more recent migrants.

220px-AinuManStilflied
Ainu Man showing off his beard

People have long speculated about whether the Ainu are related to Caucasians (whites, Europeans, Westerners, whatever you want to call them,) due to their abundantly bushy beards. There is some West-Eurasian admixture in the ancestors of East Siberians and Native Americans that pre-dates the peopling of the New World, but this admixture is not found in Ikari; the Ainu likely did not get their beards from wandering European hunter-gatherers.

As the tooth studies suggested, however, the Jomon and Ainu are related to the Taiwanese Aborigines, like the Ami and Atayal. (However, the final portion of the paper is a little confusing, so I may have misinterpreted something. Hopefully the authors can clarify a bit in their final form.) It is otherwise a fine paper, and I encourage you to read it.