When people think of "extremely functional microstates that just work for hard-to-explain reasons" they always leave out Mongolia and it's infuriating.

Mongolia has had *negative* excess deaths in 2020 y'all.
When we give examples of successful introduction of participatory demcoracy, rapid economic development, etc, we should really be giving Mongolia as a textbook example.
I am partly pro-Mongolian because they have anomalously high TFR for their income level, because Mongolians love the babies.

Also, lowkey, this is, um, a thing that is happening:
Of course it's important not to overstate that. Here's non-laity in each faith. Buddhist monks still vastly outnumber Christian religious workers, though could be debated how comparable that is.
Mongolia basically has three problems:
1) Serious, endemic, but mostly petty corruption. The politicians are all getting a cut.
2) Air pollution. It's actually a macro-significant problem for the country.
3) The neighborhood. Have you met Russia and China?
1) and 3) are linked: the huge business interests are often connected to Russia and China and advance their interests in various ways. Broadly, Russia and China's interest in Mongolia is "keep them quiet, unaligned, and open for business."
This has been pretty good for Mongolia for a while. But increasingly, the democratic demands of the people for more accountable politicians are running into the Chinese/Russian interests in unfettered commercial access.
And while you might think "populist Mongolia-first candidate tackles air pollution" is a natural avenue, this is mistaken.

Much of the air pollution is due to trash-burning and fuel-burning in the yurts around the capital.
Broadly speaking, "As a True Mongolian, I'll stand up to the Russians and the Chinese!" is hard to combine with "And also we must regulate traditional yurt-culture out of existence in populated areas."
And yes I know they're actually called gers not yurts but commoners don't know what a ger is but can visualize a yurt so that's why I said yurt.
After the 2019 winter, raw coal was banned, to be replaced by coke, a less polluting product. However, a cursory glance at recent AQI readings would seem to suggest this has had at most a very modest impact.
Probably the best thing that could happen to Mongolia would be that they get "discovered" for cultural and scenic tourism. Creating an alternative industry which is not heavy, promotes English language-learning, transfers wealth to rural areas, and balances Russia/China...
WOuld be useful.


Mongolian AirBnBs include many rural yurts where they will pick you up at the airport in a jeep, drive you to their yurt, you live with the clan, and you go out on horse to see stuff.
This was on our to-do list for 2020 before COVID ruined that plan. We were super on board with doing whatever Mongolian parents do to ride a horse with their baby.
Also I am fond of Mongolia because: eccentric local music, yokel stereotypes, horse culture, rapacious coal barons, strong honor-shame norms, a deeply rooted culture of egalitarianism?

It's the Kentucky of Asia!
As another aside....

.... a lot of people like to share that Mongolian metal video. It's very cool. I agree.

But wildly enough, it's also an important political artifact!
In countries like Mongolia which are 1) small 2) threatened 3) rather ethnically homogenous, ideas about ethnic and national identity can be extremely politically important. Think of Israel, or Georgia or Armenia, or North Macedonia, etc.
So much so that individuals who are in some sense personally culturally significant can also turn out to be politically significant.

Meet Javkhlan Samand, the popular Mongolian folk singer and one of the few opposition candidates in the Great Khural! facebook.com/jfftyv/
Samand Javkhlan is a cultural and ethnic figure who to many Mongolians is a plausible contender for a kind of cultural political figurehead.... and also an environmental and anti-air-pollution advocate!
That's the plausible "blood and soil" fusion you'd expect to see: you'd expect to see Mongolian cultural particularists advocating for this stuff. But it's rarer than you'd think due to the awkward place of air pollution and traditional housing!
And also as an aside, one thing Mongolia absolutely should not do is solve the air pollution issue by building big apartment blocks and re-housing the nomads. Don't make Greenland's catastrophic mistake!!
Also I feel this is a good time to mention that the Mongolian ethnicity has one of the largest "separated diasporas" of any ethnic group on the planet. More Mongolians live in China than in Mongolia!
Also a weird thing is because the SOviets were big into homogenization whereas Maoism traditionally allowed ethnic minorities some space, Mongolians in Mongolia use a Cyrilic script for the most part, while Mongolians in China use the traditional Mongolian script.
However, this is started to change, with some in Mongolia trying to revitalize interest in the traditional script, even as the change in policy in China is leading to attempts to push Mongolian kids towards dominant use of Mandarin.
So there you have it.

Mongolia = Good People
People hating on me for calling Mongolia a microstate clearly do not understand my long-term investment in arguments about how to rhetorically characterize Mongolia! You do not know how deep this take runs! medium.com/migration-issu…

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More from @lymanstoneky

15 Jan
i mean by my count is 550,000 but YMMV
The math on this pretty simple.

First, you take CDC's reported deaths. Then you make an adjustment for underreporting of recent deaths. Various ways to do that I won't get into here, but all methods yield similar results.
Then you compare deaths in each week to deaths in each week in prior years.

Various ways to set a baseline. But one uncontroversial way to set a *maximum* expectation for "normal deaths" is to take:
1) maximum deaths in a given week 2014-2019
2) multiply by pop growth
Read 6 tweets
14 Jan
I get the desire to punish everybody associated with Trump but "a bunch of people who've been running the country for 4 years and have a bunch of political supporters and cash being angry and bored" is perhaps not actually the ideal outcome.
One of the issues to reckon with is that Reconstruction didn't go far enough, but attempts at strict Denazifiction were widely regarded as mistakes. De-Baathification has been seen as a catastrophe for IRaq.
I'm not sure what defines the differences. But study of authoritarian regimes most definitely does *not* support the idea that you should always purge as much as possible!
Read 7 tweets
14 Jan
listening to Dan Carlin's Supernova in the East and super irritated that he focused on Hiro Onoda instead of the 10-million-times-more-interested Teruo Nakamura.
The last Japanese holdout to ever surrender was not Japanese imperial fanatic from the home islands but...

.... a Taiwanese aborigene who decided not to surrender with his unit but just build himself a hut on a deserted island and lived quietly until accidentally discovered
Also I guess I shouldn't call him Teruo Nakamura since he did not actually speak Japanese (or Chinese!). His name in his own language was Attun Palalin.
Read 13 tweets
13 Jan
Saw @mattyglesias tweet about a poll of QAnon support (linked). I think it's a *bit* mistaken tho: the table he shared was QAnon support *among those who had heard of it*. But TONS more liberals have heard of QAnon than conservatives!
Here's the net favorability of QAnon (double-weighting the "very" folks) accounting for differences in who's even heard of QAnon.
Key to understand is Democrats and liberals are EXTREMELY anti QAnon not only because they are very unfavorable to it but because large shares of Rep/Con folks ***have never heard of QAnon***.
Read 22 tweets
13 Jan
I think it's fair to criticize US support of the Saudis in this war.

I also think it's unreasonable to argue that we should be providing even humanitarian aid in a region where we know both sides will steal it and use it to enhance their exploitation of the local people.
During the US Civil War, the Confederates starved because the Union starved them.

Food aid to the Confederacy would not have gone to slaves, folks. It would have gone to slave-owners.
It's possible to say both "we should not support the inhumane Saudi war effort" and also "if the Houthis want Iranian support, let Iran feed them."
Read 13 tweets
13 Jan
reading the self-important and vaguely-cultish textbooks by bayesians makes me want to go out and kill a sufficiently large number of bayesians that i can estimate the mean pitch of their screams
"when we have multiple models, we should choose one using Bayesian statistics"


you should do both and publish an appendix showing robustness tests, you cultist
"but my bayesian model takes 4 weeks to process i can't run 1,397 robustness tests"


Read 33 tweets

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