Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Trump policy in Asia appears to be neoconservative via Bolton

Did some digging, and found that Trump's phone call to Taiwan was right in line with Bolton's direction. Neocon foreign policy appears to be in play now in Asia. People and rapidfire media are too quick to jump to the conclusion that Trump is just winging it, ignoring the fact that he has advisers. It's no coincidence that Breitbart published an article politically rehabilitating the neocon to be acceptable to their alt-right readership, who reject neocons. On the plus side, Bolton is too experienced for accidental war to be likely, though he's tough enough for brinkmanship. As for incendiary statements out of China, their newspaper equivalent of Fox News suggested boosting military capability for invading Taiwan. A lot of heated words, but action is the real tell.


"Dreyer noted that it was highly unlikely Bolton would make the comments without Trump’s prior consent. But since Trump hasn’t spoken publicly, he could plausibly deny knowledge of it. Chinese generals, she added, often make incendiary statements, and the Chinese government regularly responds that they speak only for themselves and do not necessarily reflect official policy."

The phone call shouldn't have entirely been a surprise to China, as Bolton had advocated earlier for Obama to take a harder line with China. I predict some brinkmanship to continue until a new equilibrium is reached.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Troll detection in games may be repurposed for the Chinese surveillance state

Recently, China's Tencent acquired full control of Riot Games, which had been pioneering automated troll detection and account bans. Tencent has collaborated with Chinese authorities in the online surveillance state, with QQ being among their many tools. It's but a small step to leverage the deep learning technology used to identify trolls automatically and turn it toward automated detection of any politically undesirable speech online.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Bedroom brainwashing and ISIL

Lurid headlines regarding UK schoolgirls fleeing to Syria like "brainwashed in their bedrooms" intuitively appeal to contagion models of why people go bad. We saw this during the Red Scare, where exposure to communist ideology was tantamount to contamination which had to be purged from organizations. However, despite intuitive appeals, it's clearly wrong, as a contagion model clearly does not explain why more people aren't affected.

Given the objectively small numbers, a more useful model to consider would be why women fall for serial killers. Although videos of serial killers in action and their aftermath are rare, photographic evidence and accounts are readily available on the Internet as well. That subject isn't very well studied, but there's no shortage of more plausible speculation as to why women may fall for men who kill. Schwyzer's proposed mechanism of envy while trapped in a highly demanding situation seems to fit, particularly given that the 3 schoolgirls were all reportedly straight A students and therefore likely under high pressure to perform:

the fascination may be less about attraction than about a strange kind of envy of the shows' sociopathic villains. How many bright, talented, acutely sensitive young women have occasionally fantasized about having an internal "mute button" that could silence the judging, nagging, needy voices of all around them?