Review: ESV Thinline Bible (Genuine Leather, Black)

No; I did not die back a month ago, but I am still experiencing severe health problems. I donated my old NASB bible to the hospital. Relying on my old translation posts (prefer ESV or NABRE), I bought the bestselling ESV Bible off of Amazon.

The translation is of 2016 vintage. Words of Jesus are colored in red; the book is printed in China (my old NASB bible was printed in the United States). Overall, I rate my new Bible four stars (the red lettering appears purple, the bookmark is insufficiently thin, and the pages are too thin). The translation makes some bold, but good decisions (e.g., Mark 15:28 is excluded from the main text entirely and relegated to the footnotes). The footnotes seem more cramped than in my old NASB- there are more of them, but there’s also less space for them. Sadly, references to the deity are not capitalized. Page corners are rounded (yes!!!) to avoid the constant corner-folding problems I had with my old NASB. The outside of the pages is also covered with some kind of fake gilting (which is a turn-off for me) -perhaps a way to test the wear of the pages. The maps are full-color and accurate. The words “GENUINE LEATHER” and the ISBN are imprinted in gold lettering on the back. The front cover is completely blank. The spine contains “Holy Bible”, the ESV logo, “English Standard Version”, and the Crossway logo. Overall, I am quite satisfied with my purchase.

Edit three days later: the text being organized into paragraphs better than verses is a good choice, and something I noticed just now. The gold dust on the page edges is a serious bug; I had to flip through every single page to make the pages not stick together, and the fake gold dust got in my lungs and on my fingers in the process.

Commentary on Genesis 1

Thesis: Since the scriptures had already been codified during the Maccabean period, the Persian period being an unlikely age for their origination, it seems likely the primary part of the Old Testament, from Genesis to 2 Kings, had been codified in the exile, by c. 540 BC, with earlier, late monarchic scrolls being used as sources, as suggests Walter Mattfeld. Of course, it is quite unlikely the Primary History was composed any time before 722 BC, when Judah was merely struggling for survival, and far from attempting to develop a coherent sense of national identity. Such an identity could only have been molded during the days of Hezekiah or the Exile. It is quite impossible that any Middle Bronze oral tradition might preserve accurately anything of the supposed Patriarchs, or that a coherent, codified monotheism existed before the days of the Monarchies. Let us then begin with the commentary.

Commentary on Genesis 1

1-”In the beginning”-i.e., in the beginning of worldly history, supposed heavenly earlier events being too fanciful and in too numerous editions to record.

“God”-that is, Elohim, which, by the late stage the text was composed, had become a mere title for YHWH, who was apparently thought to be the only god in existence. This is definitely a sign of a post-722 BC, but apparently pre-Hasmonean, train of thought.

“created the heavens and the earth”-The author is here describing a logical precursor to the next verse; that the heavens, that is, the vast expanse of space, must exist before anything in it, including light. The listener/reader is not intended to see these, but, rather, merely know that they are there.

2-“The earth was formless and void”-Somewhat reminiscent of the primordial ocean of the Sumerians. Jeremiah 4:23, dating to the days of Nabopolassar, parodies this verse, showing this narrative was existent in the days of Josiah. In v. 6 of this chapter, the earth is explicitly stated to have been covered entirely with water (and, seemingly, nothing else) during this phase.

“And darkness was over the face of the deep”-Making it more clear that the earth was invisible to any viewers, and that the waters of the ocean and sky were united in a great ocean. Other, later Judahite texts of the late 7th-early 6th Cs BC (and Iranian texts of the Early Persian period) state the earth is circular, and has ends. This might imply the later Judahites thought the early earth was very much like a dish, situated upon pillars, as stated in the Book of Job.

“and the spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters”-Apparently added to add some eventfulness to the narrative, and to give a picture of the relationship between God and the primordial Earth.

3- “Then God said”-Apparently written to emphasize the power of God, being able to create by commanding the universe by the spoken word

.

“’Let there be light’; and there was light”-That is, anything but blackness, the thing which allows to see. The light is implied in v. 3 of this chapter to have been mixed with the darkness, and have been a substance, like water or coal.

4-“God saw the light was good”-That is, God could make a value judgment that light was suitable to his goals, which do not seem to have reasons behind their existence.

Oh; ye of little faith

The sly and neurotic Kentuckian Hong Konger Lyman Stone has recently written a piece arguing that China’s population is destined to fall and converge with that of the imperialist countries and their Pacific puppets. While I do agree with some of this argument -China’s high economic growth isn’t going to last forever, much of its demographic stagnation for the next couple decades is built in, and it is doubtful whether the whole country can economically converge with the typical European First World- it suffers from vastly insufficient faith in the Party’s mechanisms to implement its goals. Never mind the specifics of alliances, which can be debated later, I want to argue against this idea that China, of all countries, is destined toward demographic doom.

Throughout the 2010s, the party has been encumbered with at least three major problems, completely irresolvable by any of the imperialist countries had such problems been faced by them. Consider Xinjiang. In 2009, the province was chaotic and volatile, with hundreds of Chinese being killed by marauding Uyghurs.  Today, in a stunning demonstration of the success of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, the problem is completely solved, Uyghur fertility has been forced to sub-replacement, nonstate violence in Xinjiang  is nonexistent, the population has been almost completely reeducated in the virtues of Xi Jinping Thought and the necessity of assimilation into Chinese society. Could anybody back at the beginning of the decade have predicted that China would solve its Uyghur problem so thoroughly? Hundreds of American and European ghettos remain -and, indeed, today they are expanding with vicious speed with the enthusiastic encouragement of the state; this does not mean that such a thing would be possible in the People’s Republic of China.

The government faced a severe crisis due to the 2019 autonomist protests in Hong Kong, which crippled that city’s status as a major zone of interaction between East and West. Today, Hong Kong is on its way to being a triumphant showpiece of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the Twenty-First Century, with resistance crushed and the city pacified, with all the American State Department’s promotion of the riots and demonstrations gone to waste.

The People’s Republic of China was, as is well known, the first country to experience a major outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Today, it has, unlike all the countries greater than 50 million other than Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, and South Korea (not coincidentally, all neighbors of China), nearly eliminated the virus, while it continues to spread completely unabated through vast swathes of the United States, its foremost imperial rival.

Anybody who did not have faith in the will and means of the party to achieve its goals of preventing chaos, mass death, and disaster in China utterly failed in his predictions in each of the above three events. While there is no guarantee the Chinese state’s will shall not fail in the question of demographics, its growing comfort in the use of authoritarian methods to enforce its social vision certainly seems likely to grow, not shrink, over the coming decade, and there is no reason to believe this comfort will not extend to the question of increasing Han fertility.

The party state’s will and control of the means of force appear firm. Thus, in a country as willing to use state power as China, the future total fertility rate is entirely dependent on the Party’s preferences. If it wants it to be 12, it will be 12. If it wants it to be 4, it will be 4. And if it wants it to be 2, it will definitely be 2. The methods to achieve heightened fertility are straightforward -bans on women from employment if they fail to bear a sufficient number children, strict and large fines on urban couples if they fail to have children after a certain age, strong incentives for young men to marry, a lowering of the age of marriage, promotion of marriage and childbearing in the means of mass information and among the elite. Given the party state’s already excessive inconveniencing of the public with checkpoints at public transportation, there is no reason to believe the party would sacrifice such a vital national goal as increasing fertility for the sake of some trivial public inconvenience about performing such a biologically necessary and ancient task.

Never mind experiencing demographic doom. With such methods as the party state has already very recently tried and used, China could (and likely will) comfortably expand its population while sending tens of millions of friendly emigrants directly to the West to promote its interests there.

Now, certainly, talk is cheap, it is, thus, firmly appropriate here for me to make a concrete prediction. I thus make two. While America’s White population will certainly decline between today and 2040, China’s Han population will rise. And while America’s White total fertility rate will stay consistently below 2 between now and 2040, China’s will rise to above 2.2 by the year 2035.

We’ll see who’s right soon enough. All I know is that when Xi has talked before, he meant business.

Why the Soviet System Failed

1. The economy was bad

2. The leadership quality was garbage

3. The leadership experienced no negative incentives for bad performance

1. and 2. are quite natural properties of Classical Leninism, which emphasizes socialism in regards to economic matters and the promotion of the working class and ideological dogmatists in matters of government. Though the Soviet economy did experience substantial economic convergence with the West from the end of the Civil War to the mid-1970s, and, due to 2. and 3., it clearly could have squeezed out a few more points of convergence with the imperialist countries, it is very clear the Classical Leninist system has inherent disadvantages over capitalism. 2. and 3. also resulted in the influx of antileninist subversive elements into the sinews of the polity, which ultimately resulted in its destruction politically as well as economically.

America currently experiences 2. and, despite elections being more competitive than ever before in its history, 3. So far, it does not experience 1, which saves it from being discredited from a purely economic standpoint, though by no means saves it from political collapse. Individual parts of the American system may experience penalties for bad performance, but the leadership structure as a whole never does, as the electoral penalty is usually over only one axis of bad performance. The competition is also, quite often, literally over if a person with a red or a blue colored hat, who differ with each other on about 1% of the policies they could realistically diverge on, gets to implement the exact same stupid policy in exactly the same fashion. Even primaries totally fail at producing competent leadership, due to ability to please the crowd being at best imperfectly correlated with ability to competently govern. Consider Cuomo. Also, term limits and powerful incumbency advantage, both de facto and de jure, make it impossible for there to be any political advantage in doing a good job relative to doing a bad job. Thus, no state governor except Steve Bullock so much as bothered to contain the coronavirus. Western-style democracy, as well as the current sovereign democratic Russian system, have failed. Chinese Communism has, so far, succeeded. It is, of course, essential for the thriving of the Chinese economy that the party’s control be laxened in certain areas, but, so far, the leadership has prioritized the economy over the extent of its reach, and has sought to find ways to ensure that there is no contradiction between the two goals.

How do we ensure the economy is good? Select the best economic policies. The economy is a machine for producing goods and services; finding ways to maximize output is relatively straightforward.

How do we ensure the leadership quality is good? Make the sovereign body (in the United States, the sovereign body is the overly large and unwieldy Congress, which should clearly be much smaller if it is to have impact) run by a council of superforecasters, who all believe exactly the same things and deviate from their understanding of future reality neither to the right nor to the left, which should make resolutions of questions of values much easier.

These superforecasters should freely design incentives for bad performance not just for themselves, but for all levels of society. They should understand the public will is quite malleable and hard to determine, so it is best not to rely too much on that thin reed.

China’s coronavirus response was basically Korea-level

We knew very little about the Chinese response to the coronavirus or about its appropriateness as of the first of January. We knew a lot more as of the first of February. Today, after the experience of over ten dozen countries, we know a lot more than we did on the first of February. It consistently reflects well on China relative to all but half a dozen or so countries, most of which border China- Mongolia, Burma, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Slovakia, and consistently reflects poorly on the imperialist countries.

The novel coronavirus was first discovered in the city of Wuhan on December 26 and was first reported to the WHO on December 31. At the time, the government had almost no information to make decisions off of. How fast did it spread? How did it spread? What was the length of spread? For how long had it been spreading? What was the time from infection to symptom onset? Most importantly, was this basically H1N1 flu (a notorious overreported nothingburger which required no action whatsoever) or a highly deadly infection like MERS? None of the answers to these questions were known in late December. They are known now. It is now known the virus results in a large number of asymptomatic cases. It is now known that asymptomatic spread is quite common, except in children. It is now known that spread varies greatly depending on the nature of activities a person engages in, with mass gatherings with close face to face contact like a seafood market being far more likely to result in a large cluster of symptomatic cases than public transportation on which mask-wearing is universal and talking is rare. It is now known that universal mask-wearing is a great aid to helping keep the reproductive number of the virus down. It is also now known that when a significant spike in deaths is noticed in a city, the number of infections there immediately starts declining, not because of herd immunity, but due to rising social distancing due to growing awareness of the new deaths. It is also now known that counts of cases and deaths are notoriously lagging indicators of actual infections. None of this was known to Chinese authorities at the beginning of this year. Considering all this massive and fully excusable ignorance, their missteps make a great deal of sense and their overall response from December to this day appears quite admirable. The city of Wuhan was limited to some four thousand deaths and four hundred thousand infected, the latter number consistent with by seroprevalence tests and basic logic. Wuhan has the same population as Belgium, but, due to China’s much better response, less than half as many coronavirus deaths. Much worse undercounting took place in Italy; every country that experienced a major pandemic undercounted both coronavirus deaths and cases. The situation in the rest of China isn’t really relevant, since China’s government put out all the sparks emanating out of Wuhan (China’s most important transportation center) successfully, more or less as I expected them to at the time. I was correctly worried about Indonesia and India, though I overestimated the reproductive number in the southerly climes and incorrectly worried about Thailand and Malaysia.

It is pretty clear that China’s original response was less proactive than that of most of its neighbors -Thailand, Korea, Burma, Mongolia, Vietnam, Taiwan, etc. The only truly good way to have prepared for this possibility was to have mandated mask-wearing in indoor areas in public every winter. Ideally, once the novel coronavirus was discovered, Chinese authorities would have engaged in a Vietnam-style strategy to contain its still minor outbreak -massive isolation of contacts combined with a quick rampup of testing to discover asymptomatic cases in order to quarantine them and their contacts, as well as shutting down outbound travel from Wuhan. But given the lack of existing knowledge of sustained community transmission with a high reproductive number until mid-January, this is a rather tall order for a country with no pre-existing knowledge about the peculiar features of the virus, and would have been well above typical First World levels of competence. I, for one, consistently favored the somewhat deficient, but still generally functional Korean-style approach from mid-January until April. Such proactive, affirmative, offensive measures to curb the spread of a virus causing just a few pneumonia cases was an approach only such a sublime republic as Mongolia could pull off with no error. Korea didn’t even begin testing all pneumonia cases for the coronavirus until February 18, more than twenty days after the first recorded case in the country. New viruses are discovered every day. It seems Chinese authorities chose not to respond proactively until more information about the virus could be known to confirm it would neither burn itself out nor would be as as much of a nothingburger as H1N1 flu. The high age of those most severely hit by the pneumonia must also have struck the authorities into some degree of complacency. As a result of mistakes committed by the Chinese authorities, Wuhan had as many as a hundred thousand infections by January 15, when overcrowded hospital videos began to become prominent on Chinese social networks. The long lag between infections, symptoms, and deaths combined with the high rate of asymptomatic cases and spread blindsided the authorities. Wuhan eventually had some four thousand deaths (or possibly as much as 2-3x more). Hong Kong, the pro-CCP leadership of which began to be concerned about the new virus as soon as it was reported and the first government in the world to Tweet out concern over it in English, had four deaths. New York City already has over twenty five thousand, and this pandemic isn’t even over. The situation in Wuhan roughly paralleled that in New York City with a difference of two months, with the exception that Wuhan’s infections obviously fell much faster than those in New York City once the Chinese government began taking anti-pandemic measures there. In both cases, infections during the portion of the epidemic during which they were still increasing were clearly undercounted by the authorities because of lack of early mass testing. It is questionable to the extreme that any but half a dozen other countries could have been as effective in countering the virus had its first superspreader event been within their borders. Overall, I am forced to agree with Ren Yi that “On a 10-point scale, I grade the Chinese government a 9 to 9.5.”. Certainly it confirms China has extraordinary levels of state capacity, far superior to those in any of the imperialist countries, and certainly far superior to any of the other BRICS. Of all the great countries exceeding seventy million in population, it’s clear only China, Vietnam, Japan, and, to a lesser extent, Germany and Turkey have any real ability to combat epidemics (we have yet to see about Ethiopia).

The decision to restrict within-country travel was easily the smartest decision Chinese authorities made relative to most of the world. It greatly decreased the number of sparks the various provincial governments had to put out in the majority of the country while the situation in Wuhan was getting under control. Very few other countries prevented outbound travel from their leading pandemic epicenters. Ultimately, however, the Chinese authorities’ delay in restricting internal travel might have been a highly salutary thing. It demonstrated to the entirety of the world that democracy had no impact whatsoever on good governance, that the Chinese system (so far) is largely superior to that of the First World, and that the West’s riches did not result from current “good institutions” so much as a set of past institutions that resulted in the creation of an innovative private sector in much earlier days. Had the Chinese government snuffed out its pandemic without it spreading to the rest of the world, the rest of the world might have thought China’s mistakes during its pandemic were demerits against its system, rather than common problems the rest of the world currently faces. The Chinese lockdown (or stay-at-home order), the portion of the response that most hurt its economy, was, in retrospect, a blunt, dumb, and unnecessary measure, and was seen as so by Western media at the time. But given the sheer number of supposedly competently administered countries that adopted it, it may well have been one of China’s smartest moves, as it demonstrated the imperialist countries were too racist to learn from their own vassals in Korea and Taiwan. Without the mass unemployment caused by the American lockdown, would the Anglo-American riots of May-June 2020 have even happened? Today in America, Britain, and Sweden, ideologues on both the left and right are actively encouraging people to spread the virus and work to obstruct contact tracing. But Biomaoist America and its English and Swedish pals are so much better than Dengist China!

On a related note, Australia has once again proven itself to be by far the most dynamic country in the Anglosphere in general, and, thus, the White world.

Thank Xi Jinping

Five years ago, I wrote my “strange utopia”, doing a bit of forecasting into America’s grim future. The situation now has become much worse than I ever expected it to be.

I was clearly right on one thing: the rise of China both in income and (relatively) in morals. Thousands of Taiwanese have moved to the mainland. Communist China has been praised by over fifty countries for its remarkable achievements in the field of human rights. Rather than supporting mass bloodshed around the world, deadly pandemics, and social anarchy within their own country, the Communist Party of China has used its traditionally blunt tactics to prove that simple methods can work, and are often superior to the toxicity of the imperialists. The jihadist problem in Xinjiang was quelled, to the consternation of every al-Qaeda supporter in America’s Congress (i.e., every member but the two Kentucky libertarians – proof that libertarians are the only anti-establishment force operating to any degree in American politics). Rather than being rapidly multiplying forces for instability in both China and the rest of the Muslim world, the Uyghurs of Xinjiang were made to become model Chinese citizens. The Hong Kongers were, instead of being coddled, forced to become involuntary members of the reality-based community. Despite being the first country to notice a mass pandemic of SARS-CoV-2, China managed to limit its fallout to less than ten thousand deaths -at least twenty times less than the United States, which itself, despite making every possible attempt at failure, fared substantially better than Western Europe, which failed to even keep even remotely believable statistics. The leadership of Chinese diplomats in the public sphere has become a model for the whole world. China is now attempting (though far too late) to restore its total fertility rate to a respectable level, and will likely succeed in this task by 2035. The next step must be reunification with homosexualist Taiwan, before sclerosis sets in its own system.

America, in contrast, is fundamentally a bad country run by bad people. It is a nation of orange pigs, with its president not being its occupier, but its apotheosis. It has been Number One at causing so much blood and death over the past two decades -in Venezuela, Bolivia, Syria, Ukraine, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Libya by war and in its own country due to the virus. It is its two great failures in the first half of this year that convinced me of this most fully: the coronavirus and the riots.

The reaction of the Republicans to the coronavirus problem was so well-documented as to need no elaboration. The outbreak of a newly discovered and rapidly spreading virus in China’s most important transportation center was treated as a non-issue until it already hit pandemic levels in both Western Europe and the United States. The Republicans then proceeded to say the president did nothing wrong and everything was the fault of China, the only country in the world to go so far to hurt itself to protect the rest of the world from the virus as to bar outbound travel from a strategic city of over eleven million people, and even unto this day be so thoroughly concerned with combating the spread of the virus both within its country and without as to mandate quarantine for anyone attempting to travel between provinces. The reaction on the Democratic side was yet more amazing. Rather than doing the obvious things -calling for an expropriation of Trump’s wealth and using it to compensate COVID victims and championing their only half-decent administrator (Steve Bullock)- they proceeded to praise their own party’s biggest killers, create tremendous and lengthy economic damage for no justifiable reason other than to help Amazon, and not directly attack Trump at all for killing over a fifth of a million Americans -something which in most countries is called a “crime against humanity”. And yet, the polling evidence clearly indicates that Americans are as oblivious to their leaders’ failures as ever, Republicans more so than others, but don’t doubt for even a tenth of a second that Democrats would be enthusiastically supporting the exact same response were Joe Biden in office instead. Regardless of all evidence, Americans still think other nations are their subjects and that the metropole has nothing to learn from its colonies. This, combined with an almost early 19th century Chinese sense of their superiority, turned crisis into catastrophe, while Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma, Tunisia, Korea, Thailand, and the vast majority of China combined experienced barely more deaths than a year’s worth of American mass shootings. Of all the nations of Southeast Asia, only lackadaisical Indonesia and Albophilic Singapore experienced any real trouble with the virus.

As the virus was continuing to rage and unemployment spiked to the highest level since the Great Depression, the accidental police killing of a negro criminal, newsworthy precisely due to its extreme rarity, sparked massive outbursts of concern in this country not for the people victimized by him… but demands for the arrest of the police officer who restrained him! Rather than accepting and loudly promoting the simple fact destructive and violent riots complaining about an altogether imaginary problem have no legitimate grievances whatsoever, that appeasement invariably breeds aggression, and that random acts of violence by a totalitarian establishment against people’s livelihoods might, in fact, be bad, what rotten chunk of flesh that passes for the right in this country demanded “Those responsible for George Floyd’s death must be brought to justice“. Indeed, rather than learning from the events of Ferguson that rioters complaining about imaginary disproportionate police killings of unarmed negroes do not have even the slightest shred of a legitimate grievance and must never be given the slightest inch, the so-called “right” in America didn’t even so much as advocate for even the most basic measures of self-defense before Donald Trump -an orange conman as useless as he is malicious. Xi Jinping, at least, learned from China’s 2014 protests and their escalation in 2019. The leadership of Thailand learned from the protests against its regime, and that of Burma certainly has no sympathy to its own minority terrorists. On the Democratic (or cultural ruling party) side, a great many, though far from all, politicians as well as all America’s social media companies and much of its media class enthusiastically supported the rioters and their destruction of their very own congressional districts, a move supported unanimously by the falsely called “anti-establishment” left. This support for arson, looting, and vandalism was something that we never saw at all except among the fringes of the fringe during the Ferguson riots. Say what you will about the Romans, but they never possessed the stupidity to support its Vandals or their cause. No wonder I so enthusiastically supported the riots from the start. They are laser-targeted to hit exactly the individuals who most deserve experiencing some life and property damage from them. Anybody who didn’t learn from Ferguson that police are useless and that relaxing around Blacks is never a good idea deserves every last thing he or she gets.

I do not sympathize with these orange pigs. Any Sinophobe or Ameriphile deserves not a shred of respect from anyone. From now on, the death of every American will fill me with joy, from whatever the cause, in whatever the context. They deserve it, and much more. They support Cuomo, they support Trump, they support the spread of ghetto crime, they support the virus. Their desire for their own deaths, as well as the deaths of those who support them, should not be opposed. To all leaders of foreign countries, I beg of you: Americans are pigs. Expunge them from your realm. Block their propaganda. Save yourselves from this plague. Liberate yourselves from your slavery.

It is no wonder, then, that I changed my avatar from Michelangelo’s David to Prayut chan-o-cha. He is the man of the time we need. His government, as well as those of Xi Jinping and Moon Jae-In remind us, the inhabitants of the White countries, that a better world is still possible. And that is a powerful insight everyone should embrace. The world has a lot of potential, despite its occasional collapses. The vision of progressive improvement should never be abandoned.

On China’s Economic Potential

The best functional equivalent of today’s China isn’t India or the E.U. or the United States. It’s the Roman Empire, were it still around today. Both have ancient origins. Both are fairly diverse both climatically and demographically, but not as diverse as the post-1492 European empires. The Roman Empire region’s population today is half that of China (at the Roman Empire’s height, its population was basically equal to that of China). Like China today, the Roman Empire was a nominal Republic that was in practice a despotism. Both empires were similarly technologically advanced when the Roman Empire was at its height.

This comparison is extremely useful today in understanding where China will end up over the next few decades, first economically and secondly in terms of national power. China’s current per capita GDP is similar to Mexico’s. The best predictor of per capita GDP in a country is its human capital. Both China and the Roman Empire region contain areas of very high and very unimpressive human capital. As a result, we should expect China’s GDP per capita to end up around where Roman Empire’s would be were it a modern-day Mediterranean state.

All evidence shows math is a special strength of the Chinese (especially Southeastern Chinese, e.g., Hakka and Fujianese), but math scores as not a useful predictor of economic development once one already has Verbal/Science scores. Korea and Japan are basically as rich as Britain and France, even though their math scores are obviously superior. Beijing-Shanghai-Jiangsu-Guangdong’s 2015 smart fraction for PISA Science was right between Britain and Belgium (verbal scores were relatively worse). The population of B-S-J-G is around 240 million. Half of this would be 120 million -precisely as one would expect if China were comparable to the Roman Empire region and England, France, and the Netherlands were comparable to B-S-J-G. The 2018 numbers released last year were clearly gamed (as the Chinese leadership is wont to do) and are, thus, worthless for analysis. Fujian and Zhejiang are, I presume, comparable in non-math human capital to Switzerland, Northern Italy, and the formerly Roman-occupied parts of Germany.

So where is China’s equivalent of the Muslim Mediterranean? One would expect it to exist. China is, after all, the fairly recent origin of the Filipinos/Maori/Polynesians, as well as of the Thais and Laotians. None of these groups have large smart fractions. And, indeed, though evidence is far from conclusive, there are strong indications that China’s equivalent of the Muslim Mediterranean does exist in the regions of Guangxi, Guizhou, Yunnan, Jiangxi, Anhui, Hebei, and Sichuan. Though the test used in the paper linked to isn’t particularly predictive of national outcomes, and the idea intellectual will and ability in these provinces are actually the lowest in the world seems extremely doubtful, the assumption that the state of human capital in Guizhou and Jiangxi is not much different from that in -and these regions are not richer than- Indonesia and Egypt seems a fairly safe one to make.

Since China for obvious reasons cannot hope to economically surpass the most successful post-Communist countries -Slovenia and Czechia- and since it is already almost at Bulgaria’s (≈Mexico’s) level of GDP per capita, a reasonable observer should conclude China will probably stop its above-trend growth with its current institutions at a level of GDP per capita somewhere in between these -say at around that of Croatia, Latvia, or even Hungary. Given China’s not as impressive as advertised human capital state, this indicates a rather positive assessment of current Chinese Communist economic institutions- that they are at least as good as those that can be expected from the post-Communist European Union. Further institutional reform (since all agree China’s economic institutions are far from ideal -an identical Chinese worker will never earn as much in real terms in a comparable part of China as in Taiwan, and especially not under current Chinese Communist economic institutions) would thus surely guarantee China’s economy being at least as large as the U.S. by exchange rates, and more than twice the size of the U.S. by PPP.

Calculating Partisan Gerrymandering (Part III of a III-part series)

Transforming a percentage into a probability of victory is fairly easy. Convert a percentage into the log odds of the percentage, multiply that by some integer, and convert that back into a percentage.

By what integer should I multiply the log-odds(percentage)? The answer varies.

I first tried this out with Michigan’s presidential vote in 2012. Michigan is known, after all, to be a high-quality gerrymander on the federal level. The result, somewhat surprisingly, was that given low enough number the log-odds(percentage) is multiplied by [i.e., given high enough values of voter swinginess] it was the Democrats who were favored under that House map (i.e., the 2011 House map in MI was a dummymander), due to the safety of the Dem seats and the complete lack of safety of the Republicans’ seats (or so it appeared) that year.

The first row in the below table is the number the log-odds (percentage) was multiplied by to produce the estimated probabilities of victory in the below rows.

However, by the 2016 presidential election numbers, the Republicans became clearly favored due to the newfound safety of their seats and a newfound danger to the Dem seats:

Note: the two-party HRC percentage is listed as over 50% in the above table due to more Democratic districts having lower voter turnout, and each district being counted equally during averaging the vote.

The number one should multiply the log-odds percentage by remains to be debated with historical statistical evidence; but I would be surprised if it were not within the range of three to twenty.

How to actually measure partisan gerrymandering (Part II of a three-part series)

I. NC plan>>>PA plan
In the previous post, I attempted to show the tradeoffs available to a designer of a gerrymander with this graph (see previous post for an explanation):

This approach would work well in states in which the districts of the favored party are all roughly equal in partisanship, such as North Carolina.

(X-axis is the name of the district, the Y-axis is the two-party Democratic vote share on the presidential level in each district)

However, not all states wanted to create a bunch of Likely Favored Party districts that would give the incumbent party supermajorities in neutral years, but would risk the opposing party gaining every seat in the state in a wave year favorable to the opposing party. An example of this is Pennsylvania’s House districts (note Tom Marino of PA was selected to be the President’s Drug Czar just today, so this post is perfect timing).

Pennsylvania has, in my judgment three tossup districts, all of which are held by Republicans, two Lean R districts, six Likely R districts, and two Safe R districts (one of which is Marino’s). There is also one Lean D heavily Obama-Trump district (PA-17), which actually was close enough in 2012 as to be acceptable for a wiser (or more partisan) Republican state legislature to turn into a Lean R district even then under more aggressive lines, and actually went for Trump by its present boundaries by more than both the Lean R districts and, naturally, all three of the the tossups. The fact it has a Democratic representative now is a huge and inexcusable failure of the Republican state legislature in 2011. The current Pennsylvania plan is, in my judgment, a mess, much inferior to North Carolina’s, and unnecessarily creates opportunities for the Democrats where, by any Republican’s judgment, there should be none. It would be relatively easy to create a redistricting plan for Pennsylvania with four Safe D seats and the other fifteen Likely R. My judgment is that the risk of all seats going to the opposing party in a wave year is worth it, and is much superior to being subject to the whims of “moderates” who are afraid of alienating their district’s swing voters in a general election while the favored party is in power. But how does one judge plans such as PA’s, anyway?

II. How does one measure the utility of tossup seats?

Another question, obviously related to the above one, is how does one measure the utility to a party of redistricting a district from Likely Opposing Party to Lean Opposing Party. For example, here’s my proposed Republican gerrymander of Indiana (no county splits, resulting in some serious malapportionment in Marion, but that’s not important here). The 2016 U.S. Senate race is used as a guide:

IN-01: In green. Two-party vote for Bayh: 52.47%. Rating: Lean D, instead of the current Likely D. This is an Obama-Trump district. The right kind of Republican can definitely get elected here. Certainly it would not be left the only uncontested seat in Indiana, as it actually was.
IN-02: In dark blue. Two-party vote for Bayh: 44.32%. Rating: Likely R.
IN-03: In red. Two-party vote for Bayh: 42.14%. Rating: Likely R.
IN-04: In orange. Two-party vote for Bayh: 38.21%. Rating: Safe R.
IN-05: In light blue. Two-party vote for Bayh: 39.84%. Rating: Safe R.
IN-06: In white. Two-party vote for Bayh: 36.52%. Rating: Safe R.
IN-07: Marion (yellow). Two-party vote for Bayh: 61.87%. Rating: Safe D.
IN-08: In light yellow. Two-party vote for Bayh: 44.35%. Rating: Likely R.
IN-09: In purple. Two-party vote for Bayh: 39.18%. Rating: Safe R.

For the current (actual) Indiana map, see here and here -click on the districts for info about them.

HRC got 47.50% of the two-party vote in my IN-01 and Obama in 2012 got 54.70%. In real life, HRC got 56.57% of the two-party vote in the actual IN-01 in 2016 and Obama in 2012 got 62.01%. Obviously, my redistricting plan significantly improved the GOP’s position in Indiana’s first district while not reducing the utility of the rest of the GOP-held seats for the GOP. The reason my IN-01, which has very similar political demographics to the actual PA-17, is more acceptable in Indiana is because Indiana is a more Republican state. Thus, it would be an improvement over the present plan. But how does one measure that? How does one display that using this curve?

I do not see a way for the above curve to be useful in cases in which districts within each side’s are of heterogeneous partisanship.

After thinking about it, the best advice I can give in regards to measuring gerrymandering is to multiply each seat by the probability of victory of the favored party. The maximization of these seat equivalents should be the measure of the worth of a gerrymander. Relative to the actual Indiana House map, my redistricting plan increases the chance of a GOP victory in IN-01 by more than it increases the risk to the Republican-held districts. I thus consider it a better gerrymander for the GOP than the actual GOP plan.

Measuring the probability of victory of the favored party in each district should be fairly simple (I will do this in the third post of this series), and historical data should be used for this purpose. Of course, the most important variable for determining the probability of victory of a party in a district is the district’s presidential vote. If it’s lower for the favored party, the probability of victory for that party is, all else being equal, lower. Historical swing data for congressional districts for the past few cycles should also be brought into account.

So, the above is how to measure a partisan gerrymander.

III. A fair map

Of course, for every villain -the partisan gerrymander- there necessarily has to be a hero to compare it to -the fair map. Of course, the question now becomes: what is a fair map? Certainly, a fair map cannot be a map in which each district is representative of the state in an identical fashion. Otherwise, Massachusetts’s map would be called a fair map, and Tennessee’s map would be considered as biased toward the Democrats. Obviously, neither is the case. Ideally, a fair map should have its median seat (now it enters into play) be representative of the state, though this is obviously not important (as I’ve shown in the previous post, comparing the median seat to the state is not an important measure of gerrymandering).

Perhaps this could be a fair map for a 60% Democratic state:

Of course, when each district becomes 10% more Democratic, the state as a whole won’t become 10% more Democratic, because districts 1 and 2 in the above graph cannot get any more Democratic. Of course, Dem chance of victory can also be used in place of Dem vote share in the y-axis of the above graph.

IV. Issues with the Princeton Gerrymander Tests

The Princeton Election Consortium developed three tests for gerrymandering. I don’t think the current ones are especially valid or useful.

The first test is right out; Texas is penalized because of Will Hurd’s narrow victory, despite the fact he’s obviously going down in 2018. A streak of luck in closely-contested tossup races is obviously no sign of a gerrymander, it’s just a sign of a side’s better campaigning.

The second test is also barely useful; it only measures the partisanship of one seat, the median seat, and, as the authors of the site admit, isn’t very useful at all in safe states.

The third test is a votes-seats curve. To which extent the specific votes-seats curve used is accurate is debatable.

The biggest problem with the tests is that they use the House vote instead of the presidential vote. The problem with this is that this makes no sense due to candidate heterogeneity. Collin Peterson ain’t Keith Ellison. The presidential vote should be used instead of the House vote to account for such differences.

House district partisanship map-link will be updated as news arrive

https://fusiontables.google.com/embedviz?q=select+col5%3E%3E1+from+1QVyAZxFvArMqkEAVnTeLmAhebS0bwzgiDhn3qdhK&viz=MAP&h=false&lat=37.05628800013914&lng=-93.02554824999993&t=1&z=4&l=col5%3E%3E1&y=2&tmplt=2&hml=KML
The “composite” is calculated as thus.

If the seats were uncontested, 2/3 of the weight is on the 2012 presidential vote, the rest on the 2016 presidential vote; i.e., uncontested seats are treated as if they were open seats. I have also calculated the open seats listed as open in 2018 in Wikipedia in this fashion. The weighing is based on David Shor’s data. https://gist.github.com/davidshor/5ea3e6c4e80cdc87243253e47c47bc41

If they are seats contested in 2016 with an incumbent, 50% of the weight is on the 2016 House vote, 30% is on the 2016 presidential vote, and 20% is on the 2012 presidential vote. This weighing is roughly based on comparing the 2014 and 2016 House elections and taking note of the increased importance of the 2012 presidential vote in the 2017 specials relative to 2016’s House races.

All data is from the Daily Kos.

The rank is the ranking of the districts by partisanship by the composite index.

You can get the source data by clicking “source” in the map legend.

The districts held by the 2017 special election GOP winners are calculated as though their House members in 2016 were still serving today, without regard to the 2017 special election results (as different from the 2016 results as apples are from oranges) as they really cannot be viewed as open seats in 2018.

No attempt is made to account for asymmetric deterioration of incumbent bonuses in bad midterms for a president’s party, as happened in 2006 and 2010 (thus Collin Peterson and other Trump district Dems are probably underrated with this composite).

Other House district maps:
2016 House (two-party):
https://fusiontables.google.com/embedviz?q=select+col5%3E%3E1+from+1Dg51R3pGS5r0HrSuoHSUXR_IxZIfcClrwl7gsLXk&viz=MAP&h=false&lat=37.05628800013914&lng=-93.02554824999993&t=1&z=4&l=col5%3E%3E1&y=2&tmplt=2&hml=KML
2016 presidential vote by congressional district (two-party):
https://fusiontables.google.com/embedviz?q=select+col18+from+1_NolOUGbBkWbAl5TMMZrpba-OazN7DBf7dvSTUie&viz=MAP&h=false&lat=37.05628800013914&lng=-93.02554824999993&t=1&z=4&l=col18&y=2&tmplt=2&hml=GEOCODABLE
2012 presidential vote by congressional district (two-party):
https://fusiontables.google.com/embedviz?q=select+col18+from+1T2Q2YVeHXfCqiV466yZqciXyOF48DMGD3cZ2hxac&viz=MAP&h=false&lat=37.05628800013914&lng=-93.02554824999993&t=1&z=4&l=col18&y=2&tmplt=2&hml=GEOCODABLE
Two-Party Swing between 2012 and 2016 presidential vote:
https://fusiontables.google.com/embedviz?q=select+col18+from+18XmouMM-7G0SD_6dykEyD9gfgNnGmoiPpfbIdMYV&viz=MAP&h=false&lat=37.05628800013914&lng=-93.02554824999993&t=1&z=4&l=col18&y=2&tmplt=2&hml=GEOCODABLE
Two-party House Dem vote performance over two-party HRC vote in 2016:
https://fusiontables.google.com/embedviz?q=select+col18+from+1IdPacdK9LIHkbXRyC2l4WdZx5E6RXCqDmwS70jSK&viz=MAP&h=false&lat=37.05628800013914&lng=-93.02554824999993&t=1&z=4&l=col18&y=2&tmplt=2&hml=GEOCODABLE