Saturday, March 13, 2010

Some YouTube Links

I waste a lot of time on YouTube, so I thought I'd share a few links here.

First, some Russian clips. I don't follow modern Russian pop music closely, mostly because it's so much worse than the Soviet-era pop songs I still remember from childhood. I love this relatively recent song by a band named Любэ though. It sounds very Russian. I've always loved the open, cozy, big-hearted, melancholic, dreamy and unhurried feel that all such music has. This one, from the same band, is also good.

Going back in time, here's the waltz from the 1978 Russian movie "My Sweet and Tender Beast". I've heard it so many times, that I can't tell anymore whether I love it because it's that good or because it's just very, very familiar. Everyone in the clip is wearing old clothes and looks dignified because the movie was based on a novella by Chekhov.

Sinking even deeper into the swamps of sentimentality, I'm going to link to the only piece of music that ever made me cry. The big number 80 behind the stage in the clip means that this must have been recorded when I was 5 years old. The lyrics are mostly about the innocence of childhood. I'm sure that at the time this had no meaning for me whatsoever, but a few years ago, when I accidentally heard it for the first time in at least two decades, the lyrics and the melody hit me both at once, and with force. Half the YouTube comments under the clip are about people crying at hearing it at well, so I'm far from being alone here. I'm sure that even to younger Russians, let alone to anybody else, the visuals would look too choreographed and phony, but that's not how I look at it all. It's one of the least phony things I know of.

Moving away from Soviet-related material, here's some British guy's pretty impressive version of Bach's Toccata and Fugue.

Years ago, while reading something about Bach, I searched the file-sharing app of the moment for fugues. One of the hits was not a fugue, but this French song, which I loved, even though at the time I didn't understand any French. Now that I do, I love it even more - the lyrics are a gem. Here's another song by the same guy, from the same concert.

Next is a link to Nick Drake's "The Day Is Done". The intro to that song is my favorite bit of acoustic guitar playing ever.

This piano version of The Unforgiven probably wouldn't sound as good to those who've never heard the original Metallica track as it sounds to those who have. The work of comparing the two that your mind unconsciously performs while listening to the cover is probably pleasurable in itself, the same way that complicated jokes, which you have to think to figure out, are more pleasurable than simple ones.

Continuing with the same theme, here's a cool instrumental version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps. And this is George Harrison's own alternate version. I wouldn't say it's better than the one on the album, but, boy is it good. And, finally, here's the version played at his memorial concert.


  1. Your comments on "The Asian of Reason" blog regarding Jewish participation in the IR suggest that you understand the reason for antisemitism of the Bayreuth Circle kind.

    Jews are great at making money and not so good at creating wealth.

    The Forbes 400 in some years has classifieds its members by the source of their wealth. About 25% of the list is Jewish, but 90% of fortunes in finance and entertainment are Jewish.

  2. Well, I'm as inclined to be proud of my group as the average guy, perhaps more so. It's true that Jewish contributions to science tend towards theory, as opposed to immediate application, but in a discipline like physics theory is important. Sometimes, as in the case of nuclear energy, theory has to come before any applications are possible.

    I do believe that imbalances in verbal intelligence can cause an excessive amount of what HS calls value transference. This can cause resentment and conflict. I don't believe that it's the only cause of ethnic conflict or that humans necessarily need a cause to come to conflict, but yes, it is one cause of conflict.

    The old USSR, at least after the war, dealt with this problem, as well as with others, by outlawing all value transference activities. There was no stock market, lending money at interest was illegal, as was buying things to resell them at a profit. I happen to think that for a while this worked well for everyone concerned, including the Jews, partly because it decreased the aforementioned resentment and conflict. I realize that this is not a popular opinion and obviously there is a middle ground between a complete government ban on value transference by individuals on the one hand and an unregulated market on the other hand.

    A guy named Boris Berezovsky started his working life as an engineer and a scientist in the former USSR. He published over a hundred articles in scientific journals, mostly on information theory and higher math. Then, in the 1990s, immediately after value transference became legal in Russia, he went into that business, eventually becoming one of the leading oligarchs.

    I'm pretty sure that Berezovsky's career as a billionaire was more conducive to ethnic resentment than his career as a Ph.D. in cybernetics. And no one in his right mind would argue that he did more good for humanity as a billionaire than as a scientist.

    I ended up viewing the Soviet privatization of the 1990s negatively both on my own, narrow ethnocentric grounds, as well as on wider "what's good for humanity" grounds.

    I guess this is one reason why I'll never be a libertarian.

  3. More on the same topic:

    As the hard science Nobel statistics show, this sort of heavily verbal intelligence IS regularly used for value creation. I'm sure that the average guy, of whatever background, who got a Nobel in physics, chemistry or medicine has created a million times more value than I ever will. Since we're talking about ethnicity, I will point out that Jews do well in those kinds of statistics.

    Of course like every tool, this kind of intelligence can be used in less laudable ways as well. I agree with you that high finance is mostly, if not wholly, value transference. If there was an effort out there to steer talented individuals of all backgrounds away from high finance and into hard science, I'd be all for it.

  4. "I do believe that imbalances in verbal intelligence can cause an excessive amount of what HS calls value transference."

    Not only half sigma calls. This way of speaking is straight out of Capital. (Which is a good thing.)

    The Ashkenazi Jews do score higher in the verbal factor. Attributing this entirely to biology is fashionable and wrong and shows an ignorance of Jewish culture even when the attribution is made by Jews. As cultures go that of the Ashkenazi Jews is most likely to produce scholars and high verbal IQ scores.

    That those most successful in the Yeshiva had more children seems the most plausible explanation for biological superiority (if there is any) to me.

    Much more to say but afraid it'll bore.

  5. I will say, at the risk of appearing a fool, that:

    I too have noticed that Jews are concentrated in theory. They are relatively underrepresented in organic chemistry (East Asians are overrepresented) for example.

    The role of theory in nuclear power and nuclear energy may be exaggerated. The Jews are great at promotion.

    The first chain reaction was carried out by the Italian Fermi. The discovery of fission was made by the German chemist Hahn.

    The extraction and refining of uranium is all a very goyish enterprise.

  6. "Attributing this entirely to biology is fashionable and wrong and shows an ignorance of Jewish culture even when the attribution is made by Jews."

    A large (though falling) percentage of modern Jews have little or no connection to traditional Judaism, and yet are drawn to highly verbal activities like law anyway. A large percentage, including me, doesn't even believe in any of that stuff, much less expend any effort on studying it.

    Fashionable or not, I suspect that most differences in national characters are inborn.

  7. I know all that, but the culture which loves study and values learning for its own sake survives the death of religious belief.

    The intellectual achievement of the Jews and their uniquely intellectual culture cannot be a coincidence.

    They must be related in some way. The question is how.

    Read Tractate Avot or a few midrash.

  8. "For its own sake" is kind of true, and has a negative side to it. There's often little willingness to connect one's theories with any facts, a disconnect from reality. When one goes on in this way, one can talk oneself into almost anything. This is related to what you said about promotion. You're right in general about promotion, though I don't know enough about physics to know if it applies to atomic research.

    I don't have any personal experience with Jewish religious study, but my impression is that it's kind of like that - lots of complicated textual arguments disconnected from facts, quoting and fanciful interpretations of text being more important than any references to facts out in the real world. It's very much "for its own sake".

    Native European intelligence is more reality-based, which is probably a big reason why science ended up being born in Europe.

    Of course these are all generalizations, and there are always exceptions.

    I'll try to read the stuff that you suggested when I have some free time.

  9. One of the Anons said, "The first chain reaction was carried out by the Italian Fermi." — However, Fermi was half Jewish.
    Glossy, referring to Berezovsky, you say "And no one in his right mind would argue that he did more good for humanity as a billionaire than as a scientist." Consider this hypothesis:
    The love of money is the root of 40% of the world's evils and 60% of the world's goods. If one guy becomes a billionaire, then aren't many, many others motivated to work harder and smarter?
    In the Wall Street Journal, I once read, "The love of money is the root of all motivation." People are motivated by self-interest and selfish DNA — that's the reality of life. Ashkenazim are outstanding in finance, entertainment, mathematics, theoretical physics, and theoretical computer science — all of those things have their good and bad aspects. Financial speculation adds liquidity to a market and sends valuable informational signals but sometimes has devastating consequences — in the short run and in the long run. Culture and Darwinian selection acting upon selfish DNA made the Ashkenazi, in a statistical sense, genetically superior in scholarship, intellect, and mercantile aptitudes — humor and creativity seem to be also a part of the Ashkenazi genetic inheritance. Clearly there are good and bad aspects to this cultural and genetic situation.
    Glossy, you say, "Fashionable or not, I suspect that most differences in national character are inborn." Would you say a 60%/40% split in favor of genes over environment might be plausible?
    Also, Glossy, could the truth about race and ethnicity tend to cause a blood bath?
    In a statistical sense, it seems to be a scientific fact that group B is genetically mentality inferior to group A. Oy vey! Ethnic conflict from the shtetl to the Siberian labor camp? Academic Stalinism, anyone?
    Didn't a Soviet scientist get sent to Siberia for claiming that chromosomes exist?

  10. "Also, Glossy, could the truth about race and ethnicity tend to cause a blood bath?"

    Well, before the 20th century nobody ever disputed the truth about race and ethnicity. The modern PC mindset was unknown. In absolute terms the 20th century - the first one in which anyone tried to deny these truths - was bloodier than any other. In relative terms it must have been at least in the top three since records have been kept. If we look at the current situation, the people who are most enthusiastic about the Iraq and the Afghanistan wars are politically correct to the extreme.

    I'm not saying that conscious tribalism can't lead to conflict. I'm saying that lefty ideologies, most of which deny the truth about race, have managed to surpass even conscious tribalism on that score. If most of the US public agreed that democracy is impossible in a place like Iraq for HBD reasons, perhaps the war would have been less likely.

    "If one guy becomes a billionaire, then aren't many, many others motivated to work harder and smarter?"

    To work at what? Some men have become billionaires by creating value, others by transferring it. I fully agree with Half Sigma on this. A guy like Steve Jobs has shown others that one can become a billionaire by organizing the process of creation of new, useful and fun products. This is doing well by doing good. A guy like Berezovsky has shown others that one can become a billionaire by transferring wealth, by playing games with money and by bribing politicians. If he has motivated anyone, the world is worse off for it. The same applies to most people who've gotten rich on Wall St.

    "Would you say a 60%/40% split in favor of genes over environment might be plausible?"

    Obviously, both play a role, but it's hard to quantify this. Yes, I know that there are estimates out there of the contribution of genetics to IQ differences, but HBD is about much more than IQ. Ethnicities differ on every personality trait imaginable.

    I'm a bit confused by your mention of Stalin in this context. Stalinism completely agreed with modern PC on the issue of ethnic differences.