Search Results for: lucas

A Gem (or rather, a Ring) from Lucas

The demented Russophobe Edward Lucas has surpassed even his own stellar record of profound insights about the evil empire, this time explicitly comparing Russia to Mordor (the land of shadow in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings) from his Yahoo! list.

Quoted below in its entirety for laughs.

The British author JRR Tolkien always hated any attempt to compare his fantasy world of Middle Earth to contemporary political systems. Yet his books were hugely popular in eastern Europe during the years of communist captivity. The “scouring of the Shire”, in which a prosperous agricultural economy is reduced to destitution and misery by the activities of the “gatherers” and “sharers” bears an uncanny resemblance to the collectivisation of the Baltic states in the early years of Soviet occupation. “A lot of gathering, and precious little sharing” says a hobbit dourly.

But as the skies darken once again over the European continent (or Middle Earth if you prefer) , the temptation to find analogies in the Lord of the Rings trilogy is overwhelming. Mordor is clearly the Russian Federation, ruled by the demonic overlord Sauron (Putin). His email address, to give a contemporary note, might be [email protected] (the suffix is for Middle Earth). The threat from Mordor—symbolised by the Ring—is the combination of dirty money and authoritarian political thinking.

And Sauron’s henchmen the Orcs are clearly the murderous goons of the old KGB. The new twist—the Uruk-Hai, is the mutation of the old Soviet intelligence service with organised crime and big business. Sauron’s allies—the Nazgul—are the Siloviki, the sinister chieftains of the Kremlin’s authoritarian capitalist system. Like the Nazgul, we seldom see their faces.

And what of the opposition? One candidate for Frodo couild Mart Laar, Estonia’s irrepresible former prime minister and someone who has consistently seen clearly the threat from Mordor and what to do about it. His faithful sidekick could be Sasha Vondra, the equally prescient and doughty deputy prime minister of the Czech Republic. Other possible hobbit-heros are Ivan Krastev, Bulgaria’s top foreign-policy analyst, Jüri Luik, Estonia’s ambassador to Nato,

(more suggestions for hobbits welcome)

The Fellowship of the Ring included elves—a strange but awe-inspiring folk whose presence in middle earth was drawing to an end. They are clearly the Americans, whose long-drawn-out withdrawal from Europe is halted but not reversed by the need to fight the titanic battle against the forces of Mordor. Prominent elves include the thinktanker and propagandist Ron Asmus (perhaps Elrond?_Galadriel (possibly Anne Applebaum), Celeborn, Galadriel’s husband is (twisting the plot a bit) could be Bruce Jackson. One candidate for Legolas could be America’s top diplomat for pipelines and energy security, Matt Bryza. Who would be a good Arwen?

What about Eowyn, or Eomer, Aragorn (poss Radek Sikorski or Carl Bild). Misha Saakashvili could be Boromir (desire for forbidden fruits led him to put his own personal interests ahead of the common cause)
Bilbo Baggins, the hero of the Hobbit, could be Vaclav Havel, or Vytautas Landsbergis, heroes of the battle against the evil empire in previous ages,

But who is Gandalf? One candidate would be Lennart Meri, the much-mourned Estonian former president and elder statesman, who had just the right blend of wisdom, courage and mischief and wizard-like abilities with both people and gadgets. Sadly, Lennart died in 2006. But Gandalf disappeared in the mines of moriar—and came back triumphantly in the third volume of the trilogy. Lennart’s many friends and fans hope for the same, at least in spirit.

Picking out the cast on the bad side runs the risk an encounter with England’s ferocious libel laws. It is not too hard, however, to see candidates to be Wormtongue, the slimy propagandist for Mordor who weakens the will of the King of Rohan, Theoden. His kingdom could be almost any country in Europe, but had better be Germany. And it is easy to think who might count as Germany’s foremost expert on Russia and a biographer of Sauron. Saruman is more difficult still—a hero of past wars who has switched sides to disastrous effect. He could be any one of the top West European leaders who have so disastrously forgotten the lessons of the Cold War and have been seduced by Mordor’s dirty money.

Too bad that poor Ed is not only totally disconnected from reality, but his madness isn’t even original.

Book Reviews

Book Reviews

Last updated: Jan 15, 2023

This is a list of all the books I can recall having read, with the ones that I loved the most and/or left the biggest intellectual or emotional impact on me highlighted to various degrees. Books that I mostly read, but not rigorously from cover to cover, are in italics.

Entries with short reviews can be expanded, and those entries with formal blog-level reviews are hyperlinked from the title cell.

Otherwise, do feel free to also check out my Film Reviews and Video Game Reviews. I also have a similar system for my world travels and cuisines.

 

Non-Fiction

RAuthorTitlereadpub.TagsLnotesShort Review:
Akerlof, George A. & ShillerAnimal Spirits220102009EconomicsEN
Anissimov, Michael
A Critique of Democracy
220152015Politics, NRxEN
Assange, Julian et al.Cypherpunks320132013PoliticsEN
Baudrillard, JeanSimulacra and Simulation220041995PhilosophyEN
Bostrom, NickSuperintelligence520152014Futurism, AI, X RisksENbest
Bronze Age PervertBronze Age Mindset320182018PoliticsENunread
Caplan, BryanThe Case Against Education420182018EconomicsENgoodAccording to libertarian economist Caplan, a college degree primarily serves to signal that a certain individual is sufficiently intelligent, conscientious, and conformist to finish a four year degree. Meanwhile, the gains in actual human capital are modest to non-existent (as the author flippantly notes, while anyone can come in and sit in at most college lectures, access to university gyms is tightly controlled). Consequently, promoting and subsidizing mass higher education is a huge misallocation of resources.
Chang, Ha-JoonKicking Away the Ladder [2009]420092002EconomicsENgoodSee main review. Chang is a South Korean proponent of strategic trade. Adopting Friedrich List’s arguments for the early 21st century, he argues that American free trade rhetoric is largely for foreign consumption.
Chomsky, NoamManufacturing Consent520131988Politics, MediaEN
Chua, AmyWorld on Fire420062002Sociology, HBDENgood
Cohen, Stephen F.Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives420122009Politics, RussiaEN
Dawisha, KarenPutin’s Kleptocracy320182014Politics, RussiaENgood
Dawkins, RichardThe God Delusion420082006Theology, AtheismENgoodThe past 1-2 decades have seen a massive retreat in religion – not just in the US, but in most of the rest of the world. I suspect much of this is driven by YouTube atheists, but where did many of them get their ideas from? Objectively, I think this may be one of the most influential books of the 21st century.
Deffeyes, KennethBeyond Oil420092006Energy & ClimateEN
Donovan, JackThe Way of Men420122011SociologyEN
Dutton, Edward & WoodleyAt Our Wits’ End420192018HBDENgood
Finlayson, CliveThe Humans Who Went Extinct420152010AnthropologyEN
Fish, StevenDemocracy from Scratch220101995Politics, RussiaENunread
Ford, MartinRise of the Robots420152015Economics, FuturismENSuperb overview of the role of automation on the future of leisure and employment – already reverberations of that with 2016 candidacy of Andrew Yang.
Friedman, GeorgeThe Next 100 Years [2009]220092009Geopolitics, FuturismENSee main review. China and Russia to fall apart (how convenient). Polish superpower. Mexican superpower. The coming war with Japan. Why does anybody take Friedman seriously?
Fukuyama, FrancisThe End of History and the Last Man520081992GeopoliticsENbestThis is one of the two “foundational” books of the post-Cold War geopolitical order (the other is Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations). The geopolitical ascent of China and the rise of populism in Europe would appear to refute this Panglossian, fin de siècle vision of universal liberal democracy. Or would it? The “Alt Right” of today are more liberal than the American men who stormed the beaches of Normandy.
Gaddy, Clifford & HillThe Siberian Curse420192003Economics, RussiaENgood
Gershenzon, Mikhail et al.Vekhi320161909Politics, RussiaEN
Gladwell, MalcolmThe Tipping Point320052000SociologyEN
Gray, JohnFalse Dawn120061998EconomicsEN
Greene, BrianThe Elegant Universe320051999Science, PhysicsENunread
Greene, RobertThe 48 Laws of Power420111998PoliticsENunread
Greer, John MichaelThe Long Descent520092008CollapseEN
Greer, John MichaelOur Ecotechnic Future420092009CollapseEN
Grey, Aubrey deEnding Aging320142007Science, GerontologyEN
Hanson, RobinThe Age of Em520162016Futurism, AI, H+ENbest
Heilbroner, RichardThe Worldly Philosophers520091953Philosophy, Political EconomyENgood
Hitler, AdolfMein Kampf220041925Politics, Nazi GermanyEN
Hobbes, ThomasLeviathan420091651Philosophy, Political EconomyEN
Hoffman, DavidThe Oligarchs420122001Politics, RussiaENunread
Huntford, RolandThe New Totalitarians420101971Sociology, SwedenENunread
Huntington, SamuelThe Clash of Civilizations520061996GeopoliticsENbestThis is one of the two “foundational” books of the post-Cold War geopolitical order (the other is Fukuyama’s The End of History). Huntington argues that future conflicts will center around ancient cultural and religious identities, which are especially likely to occur in “cleft countries” that contain large demographic blocs identifying with separate civilizations. This was borne out in the Ukraine in 2014.
Hutchins, Chris & KorobkoPutin420112011Politics, RussiaEN
Ilyin, IvanOur Tasks520171956Politics, RussiaRUgood
Jack, AndrewInside Putin’s Russia320042004Politics, RussiaEN
Jensen, ArthurThe g Factor520141998HBDENbestunread
Jones, GarettHive Mind420172015HBD, EconomicsENgood
Kaczynski, TedIndustrial Society and Its Future320051995PoliticsEN
Kahn, HermanOn Thermonuclear War420091959Geopolitics, MilitaryENunreadThe inspiration for Dr. Strangelove, this is – in reality – an attempt to objectively analyze the costs of nuclear war (devastating, but survivable) and the most cost-effective way of mitigating it.
Kaplan, Robert D.Asia’s Cauldron320162014GeopoliticsENunread
Kennedy, PaulPreparing for the 21st Century420051993Geopolitics, FuturismENbest
Klebnikov, PaulGodfather of the Kremlin420082000Politics, RussiaENunread
Klein, RichardThe Human Career320151999AnthropologyEN
Kornai, JanosThe Socialist System420131992EconomicsENunread
Kotkin, StephenArmageddon Averted320122003Politics, RussiaENunread
Kroeber, Arthur A.China’s Economy [2019]420192016EconomicsENSee main review.
Krugman, PaulPeddling Prosperity320061994EconomicsEN
Krylov, KonstantinBehavior [2009]420111997Sociology, ChinaRUSee main review.
Kunstler, HowardThe Long Emergency220092005CollapseEN
Kurzweil, RayThe Singularity is Near520062005Futurism, H+ENbestThe necessary disclaimers: Yes, I think Kurzweil’s method of willy-nilly exponential extrapolations are weak. Actually my criticisms go even deeper, since I view technological progress as being driven primarily by literate “smart fractions,” whereas Kurzweil models it as a function of existing technology.

Moreover, the reality test: As of 2017, it is clear that he was overoptimistic on timelines.

Still, when I read this in 2006 (straight out of high school), this was all extremely new and interesting to me.

And ultimately I remain a “singularitarian,” in the sense that I view the concept of a “technological singularity” and “transhumanism’ as both feasible and something that it worth striving towards (not least because the alternates are grim).
Land, NickThe Dark Enlightenment320182013Politics, NRxEN
Leonard, MarkWhat Does China Think?420102008Geopolitics, ChinaEN
Levitt, StephenFreakonomics320082005EconomicsEN
List, FriedrichThe National System of Political Economy420111841EconomicsENgood
Liu, XinThe Otherness of Self [2013]120132001Sociology, ChinaENSee main review. Only read/reviewed this because it was assigned in college.
Lovelock, JamesThe Ages of Gaia420061988Energy & ClimateEN
Lovelock, JamesThe Revenge of Gaia220072006Energy & Climate, FuturismEN
Lucas, EdwardThe New Cold War120082008Politics, RussiaEN
Lynas, MarkSix Degrees420062007Energy & Climate, FuturismEN
Lynn, RichardRace Differences in Intelligence420142006HBDEN
Lynn, RichardThe Global Bell Curve520142008HBDENgood
Lynn, RichardIntelligence420152012HBDEN
Lynn, RichardRace Differences in Psychopathic Personality [2020]420202019HBDENSee main review.
Lynn, RichardMemoirs of a Dissident Psychologist420202020Memoirs, HBDEN
MacDonald, KevinThe Culture of Critique220162013Politics, HBDENunread
Marx, KarlCapital120081867EconomicsEN
Marx, Karl & EngelsThe Communist Manifesto420081848EconomicsEN
McGregor, RichardThe Party520112010Politics, ChinaENgoodSome takeaway from this deep analysis of the world’s largest and most powerful political organization:
(1) China remains a thoroughly “Leninist” (or NEPist) state; its largest corporations, including nominally private ones, are connected by “red telephones” to Zhongnanhai.
(2) The overweening role of the Organization Department in choosing cadres.
(3) The CPC has a much tighter grip on both the military and regional branches than the CPSU did in the late USSR.
Meadows, Donella et al.Limits to Growth: The 30 Year Update [2010]520102004Energy & Climate, FuturismENgoodSee main review.
Meier, AndrewBlack Earth420052003Politics, RussiaEN
Moldbug, Mencius (Curtis Yarvin)A Gentle Introduction to Unqualified Reservations320162009Politics, NRxENunreadWill admit I found the foundational text of “neoreaction” to be rather underwhelming. The HBD was obviously not new to me, he seems to believe that supporting Britain in the American Revolutionary War is some great taboo (is that really so?), and engages in long-winded regurgitations of conservative talking points about the supposed global warming hoax.
Moore, MichaelStupid White Men420042001Politics, USAEN
Murray, CharlesComing Apart520172012Sociology, HBD, USAEN
Murray, CharlesFacing Reality420212021Sociology, HBD, USAENunread
Murray, Charles & HerrnsteinBell Curve520131994HBDENbestThis blockbuster of a book establishes the validity of g, its sociological relevance, the B/W gap in the US and its apparent intractability, and social consequences thereof.

As Steve Sailer and Charles Murray himself point out, twenty years on, the predictions made in Bell Curve have all panned out and the trends identified in it I don’t think it’s possible to conscientiously read this text and come away with the impression that IQ is an invalid or irrelevant concept, which is what the book is ultimately mainly about (even though the race/IQ chapter is what it has become infamous for, regardless of Murray & Herrnstein’s dozens of pages of disclaimers about it).

Quite apart from the IQ/sociology nexus, it is also my opinion that this is one of the key books you need to understand American society, along with David Hackett Fischer’s Albion’s Seed.
Myers, B.R.The Cleanest Race420122010Politics, North KoreaENgoodConvincing argument that Best Korea is more of an ultranationalist state than a Marxist-Leninist one.
Naughton, BarryThe Chinese Economy320122006Economics, ChinaENIntroductory textbook to the Chinese economy. Couple of observations:
(1) Chance of dying on the job under Maoism than getting fired;
(2) Perhaps uniquely for any major economy, there were zero positive returns to increasing education until ~1990.
Nietzsche, FriedrichOn the Genealogy of Morality520101887PhilosophyENunread
Orlov, DmitryReinventing Collapse320112008CollapseEN
Papagianni, Dimitra & MorseThe Neanderthals Rediscovered320152013AnthropologyEN
Parshev, AndreyWhy Russia Is Not America [2009]420021999Economics, RussiaRUgoodSee main review.
Pearce, FredWith Speed and Violence320062008Energy & ClimateEN
Pearce, FredWhen the Rivers Run Dry220062008Energy & Climate
Pillsbury, MichaelChina Debates the Future Security Environment320102000Geopolitics, ChinaEN
Pinker, StevenThe Blank Slate520162002Sociology, HBDENgoodunread
Pinker, StevenThe Better Angels of our Nature420132011World, AnthropologyENgood
Pinker, StevenEnlightenment Now320182018WorldEN
Polanyi, KarlThe Great Transformation420101944EconomicsEN
Preston, RichardThe Hot Zone520151994Science, EpidemiologyEN
Putin, Vladimir et al.From the First Person320122000Politics, RussiaRU
Randers, Jorgen2052420122012Energy & Climate, FuturismEN
Rees, MartinOur Final Hour220062003Futurism, X RisksEN
Reid, T.R.The United States of Europe320042005Politics, EuropeEN
Ricon, Jose LuisBack in the USSR420172017Economics, Communism, Russia/USSRENgood
Rindermann, HeinerCognitive Capitalism520192018HBD, EconomicsENgood
Ritchie, StuartIntelligence: All That Matters420182015HBDEN
Rosefielde, StevenRussia in the 21st Century320092004Geopolitics, RussiaEN
Rushton, J. PhilippeRace, Evolution, and Behavior520122000AnthropologyENgoodThis is still, perhaps, the book about the validity of HBD theory.

In this book, a huge mass of data (the endnotes comprise a substantial percentage of the overall text) is marshalled in support of r/K selection theory applied to the three great races of mankind.

When I read it sometime around I was already somewhat “redpilled” on this issue, but this book raised my confidence in the HBD view of reality from “likely” to “almost certain.”

There are several other good essentially “HBD” books – The 10,000 Year Explosion by Cochran and Harpending, or Wade’s A Troublesome Inheritance for those hesitating about… wading into this subject, but this is the book I read first so as it’s the most influential so far as I’m concerned.
Sachs, JeffreyThe End of Poverty320042005EconomicsEN
Sakwa, RichardThe Crisis of Russian Democracy420132010Politics, RussiaENgood
Sakwa, RichardFrontline Ukraine420152014Geopolitics, RussiaENunread
Shafarevich, IgorRussophobia520181982Politics, RussiaRUgoodunread
Schimpfössl, ElisabethRich Russains420202018Sociology, RussiaRUunread
Schwab, KlausThe Fourth Industrial Revolution320212016Futurism, EconomicsENunread
Singh, SimonFermat’s Last Theorem420061997Science, MathEN
Singh, SimonThe Code Book420061999Science, MathEN
Smil, VaclavGlobal Catastrophes and Trends [2009]420092008Futurism, TechnologyENSee main review.
Smith, AdamThe Wealth of Nations520111776EconomicsENgoodunread
Smith, Arthur H.Chinese Characteristics [2013]520131894Sociology, Travel, ChinaENgoodSee main review. One of the best travelogues ever written.
Smith, Laurence C.The World in 2050320102010Geopolitics, Futurism, ArcticEN
Solomon, StevenWater320102010Energy & ClimateEN
Stager, CurtDeep Future420162011Energy & Climate, FuturismENgood
Steyn, MarkAmerica Alone [2009]420092006GeopoliticsENFunny writing style, appeals to American vatnik types, ultimately nonsensical but who cares.
Strahan, DavidThe Last Oil Shock320092007Energy & ClimateEN
Taleb, Nicholas NassimThe Black Swan420122007EconomicsEN
Tegmark, MarkOur Mathematical Universe420162014Science, PhysicsENgood
Thiel, PeterZero to One520212014Economics, BusinessENbest
Todd, EmmanuelThe Explanation of Ideology520141985Sociology, HBDENbest
Treisman, DanielThe Return520112011Politics, RussiaENgood
Trenin, DmitryShould We Fear Russia?320172016Geopolitics, RussiaEN
Trubetzkoy, NikolayEurope and Mankind [2009]520091920Politics, RussiaRUbestSee main review.
Trump, DonaldThe Art of the Deal320161987Memoirs, BusinessEN
Turner, Jonathan AdairJust Capital520052001EconomicsENgood
Wade, NicholasA Troublesome Inheritance420152014Anthropology, HBDEN
Ward, PeterUnder a Green Sky320102007Energy & ClimateEN
Ware, TimothyThe Orthodox Church420121963Theology, ChristianityENgood
Wegren, Stephen et al.After Putin’s Russia320102009Politics, RussiaEN
Weisman, AlanThe World Without Us420092007CollapseEN
Wolff, MichaelFire and Fury320182018Politics, USAENunread
Yang, AndrewThe War on Normal People [2019]420192018Politics, Futurism, AI, USAENSee main review.
Zhavoronkov, AlexThe Ageless Generation320192013Futurism, GerontologyENunread
Zygar, MikhailAll the Kremlin's Men20172016Politics, RussiaENunread

 

History

RAuthorTitlereadpub.TagsLnotesShort Review:
Acheson, David1089 And All That520042002Science, Math, Children'sENgood
Arnove, Robert & GraffNational Literacy Campaigns320141987Economics, LiteracyEN
Beevor, AnthonyStalingrad220041999Military, WW2EN
Bellamy, ChrisAbsolute War520122007Military, WW2ENbest
Bloom, HowardThe Lucifer Principle [2010]520101995World, HBDENgoodSee main review.
Brogan, HughThe Penguin History of the USA220081985History, USAEN
Bryson, BillA Short History of Nearly Everything420022003ScienceEN
Burleigh, MichaelThe Third Reich420052001History, Nazi GermanyEN
Chanda, NayanBound Together220082007Economics, WorldEN
Clark, GregoryA Farewell to Alms520142008Economics, HBDENbest
Clark, GregoryThe Son Also Rises420162014Economics, HBDEN
Cochran, Gregory & HarpendingThe 10,000 Year Explosion420142009World, HBDEN
Dartnell, LewisThe Knowledge420162014Science, TechnologyENgood
Diamond, JaredGuns, Germs, and Steel [2009]520031997World, AnthropologyENgoodSee main review.
Diamond, JaredCollapse320072005World, Anthropology, CollapseEN
Doyle, WilliamThe Oxford History of the French Revolution220041990History, FranceEN
Dunham, WilliamJourney through Genius520071991Science, MathENgood
Dupuy, Trevor N.A Genius for War420151977Military, WW2ENgood
Durocher, GuillaumeThe Ancient Ethnostate520222021Ancient, HBDENgood
Emmerson, CharlesThe Future History of the Arctic420102010History, ArcticEN
Ferguson, NiallEmpire320082003History, BritainEN
Ferguson, NiallColossus320082004History, USAEN
Ferguson, NiallThe War of the World220092007History, WW2EN
Ferguson, NiallThe Pity of War520061998Military, WW1ENbest"The Pity of War: Explaining World War I" does justice to its subtitle, boldly reinterpreting most of the standard narrative through vivid statistical argumentation.

For instance, the claims that there was widespread enthusiasm for the conflict at the outset seems to be pretty much false. This was also the book that introduced me to the work of Dupuy et al., who have calculated that the Germans were consistently much more combat effective than the Anglo-French forces; conversely, he also very effectively shows why the war was lost for Germany after the end of the Spring Offensive.

One need not always buy into his arguments – ironically, I am rather skeptical of his “Anglophobic” thesis that it was England most at fault for making WW1 into the carnage it was – but his counterintuitive takes strike home sufficiently frequently to justify this as a must-read in addition to the more conventional histories.
Fischer, David HackettAlbion’s Seed520181989History, USAENbest
Gat, AzarNations520172012WorldENgoodunread
Grass, GunterPeeling the Onion420102006Memoirs, Nazi GermanyEN
Gumilev, LevFrom Rus’ to Russia420082008History, RussiaRU
Harris, WilliamAncient Literacy420141989Economics, Ancient, LiteracyEN
Harrison, Mark et al.The Economics of World War II420171998Economics, WW2ENunread
Harrison, Mark et al.The Economics of World War I420172005Economics, WW2ENunread
Hart, MichaelUnderstanding Human History220132007World, HBDEN
Jones, E.L.The European Miracle420141981Economics, Medieval, EuropeEN
Keegan, JohnThe Face of Battle320021976MilitaryEN
Keegan, JohnThe First World War320041998Military, WW1EN
Kennedy, PaulThe Rise and Fall of the Great Powers520031987World, GeopoliticsENbestCovering 500 years of history in 500 pages, the historian Paul Kennedy exhaustively argues that the root of military and geopolitical power is heavily dependent on economic power, which supports the munitioning potential to equip gunpowder armies. From the Third Years War to the Cold War, it has been deeper pockets, not military elan or morale, that have won.

This seems pretty obvious and self-explanatory, but many people don’t seem to get it. Although there are now many things I would quibble with it – I read it sometime around 2004 – its basic framework is still one I use when thinking about Great Power geopolitics.

I can also say that this book formed the wellspring of my interest in economic history. Statistics about pig iron production in 1910 seem pretty boring until you start imagining it going into Dreadnoughts and Krupp guns.
Khlevnyuk, OlegStalin: Life of a Leader420202015BiographyRUunread
Korotayev, Andrei et al.Introduction to Social Macrodynamics [2009]520092006World, CliodynamicsENbestMost people think of history as a narrative of names and dates interlinked with “happenings” that historians try to explain and contextualize. But there has been very little progress on the methods of history since Thucydides. The cliodynamicists are to history what Alfred Marshall was to economics – they want to start modeling history.

Although the best known name in this field is Peter Turchin’s, I was more influenced by Korotayev et al’s Introduction to Social Macrodynamics, a very short but formula heavy book that laid the framework for how I have thought about pre-industrial Malthusian societies ever since. Here is my main review of it.

One of my very long-term ambitions is to try to integrate psychometrics with cliodynamics models.
Landes, DavidThe Wealth and Poverty of Nations420081998Economics, WorldENgood
Malia, MartinRussia under Western Eyes520092001History, RussiaENgoodunread
Martin, JanetMedieval Russia, 980-158420201995History, Medieval, RussiaENgoodunread
Martin, TerryThe Affirmative Action Empire520182001History, RussiaENunread
McMeekin, SeanThe Russian Revolution520182017History, RussiaENgood
McMeekin, SeanStalin's War220222021History, Russia, WW2ENunread
Menzies, Gavin1421220052002History, China, ConspiracyEN
Merridale, CatherineIvan's War420162005Military, WW2, RussiaENunread
Mitterauer, MichaelWhy Europe?420152010Economics, Medieval, EuropeENunread
Morris, IanWhy the West Rules–For Now420142010WorldENgood
Morris, IanThe Measure of Civilization420142010WorldEN
Murray, CharlesHuman Accomplishment520142009Science, HBDENbest
Overy, RichardWhy the Allies Won520061995Military, WW2ENgood
Overy, RichardRussia’s War420061997Military, WW2EN
Pomeranz, KennethThe Great Divergence [2011]520112000Economics, World, ChinaENgoodSee main review.
Roberts, JohnThe New Penguin History of the World320062007WorldENunread
Robinson, PaulRussian Conservatism520192019History, RussiaENgood
Schama, SimonCitizens520041989History, FranceENgood
Schrad, MarkVodka Politics420162013History, RussiaENgood
Schwartz, BenjaminIn Search of Wealth and Power [2013]420131963History, ChinaENSee main review.
Scott, JohnBehind the Urals [2009]320091941Memoirs, Russia/USSRENSee main review.
Sheehan, James J.Where Have All the Soldiers Gone?420042008History, EuropeEN
Shirer, William L.The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich520041960History, Nazi GermanyENgood
Slezkine, YuriThe Jewish Century520112004History, JewsENbestunread
Tainter, JosephThe Collapse of Complex Societies [2018]420091988History, Anthropology, CollapseENgoodSee main review.
Tombs, RobertThe English and Their History520172015History, BritainENunread
Tooze, AdamWages of Destruction520172015Economics, Nazi Germany, WW2ENbest
Tuchman, BarbaraThe Guns of August520091962Military, WW1ENbestThis may not be the most groundbreaking WW1 book, but it may well be the best from a literary perspective. Seriously, just read her opening paragraph:

So gorgeous was the spectacle on the May morning of 1910 when nine kings rode in the funeral of Edward VII of England that the crowd, waiting in hushed and black-clad awe, could not keep back gasps of admiration. In scarlet and blue and green and purple, three by three the sovereigns rode through the palace gates, with plumed helmets, gold braid, crimson sashes, and jeweled orders flashing in the sun. After them came five heirs apparent, forty more imperial or royal highnesses, seven queens – four dowager and three regnant – and a scattering of special ambassadors from uncrowned countries. Together they represented seventy nations in the greatest assemblage of royalty and rank ever gathered in one place and, of its kind, the last. The muffled tongue of Big Ben tolled nine by the clock as the cortege left the palace, but on history’s clock it was sunset, and the sun of the old world was setting in a dying blaze of splendor never to be seen again.

Whether one agrees with her thesis that it was Germany that was overwhelmingly culpable or not – though I suppose it helps that I do – her skill at bringing the increasingly agitated diplomatic activity in the buildup to the war and the military maneuvers in its first few months is unrivalled. This is history that reads like fiction, and I mean that in a good sense.
Turchin, PeterWar and Peace and War [2010]520102006World, CliodynamicsENbestSee main review.
Turchin, PeterUltrasociety520172015World, CliodynamicsENgood
Turchin, PeterAges of Discord320172016USA, CliodynamicsENunread
Turchin, Peter & NefedovSecular Cycles520122011World, CliodynamicsENbestunread
Werth, AlexanderMoscow War Diary [2009]320091942Memoirs, WW2, Russia/USSRENSee main review.

 

Literature

RAuthorTitlereadpub.TagsLnotesShort Review:
Alighieri, DanteDivine Comedy: Hell320031472Play, ItalyEN
AnonThe Bible32000100Classics, Theology, ChristianityENgood
Borges, Jorge LuisLabyrinths520101964PhilosophyENbestunread
Brown, DanThe Da Vinci Code520062003ThrillerEN
Buchan, JamesThirty-Nine Steps219991915Thriller, SpyEN
Camus, AlbertThe Myth of Sisyphus420101942PhilosophyEN
Camus, AlbertThe Stranger520101942PhilosophyENbest
Clancy, TomRed Storm Rising420091986ThrillerEN
Boccaccio, GiovanniThe Decameron420211353Fiction, ItaliyEN
Defoe, DanielRobinson Crusoe120031719Fiction, EnglandEN
Dostoevsky, FedorCrime and Punishment520061866Fiction, RussiaRUgood
Dostoevsky, FedorThe Brothers Karamazov520071879Fiction, RussiaRUbest
Doyle, Arthur ConanThe Adventures of Sherlock Holmes420031892DetectiveENgood
Doyle, Arthur ConanThe Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes420031894DetectiveEN
Doyle, Arthur ConanThe Hound of the Baskervilles520031901DetectiveEN
Doyle, Arthur ConanThe Return of Sherlock Holmes420031905DetectiveEN
Dumas, AlexandreThe Three Musketeers420051844Fiction, FranceEN
Evola, JuliusMeditations on the Peaks320151974PoliticsEN
Fleming, IanDr. No320041958Thriller, SpyEN
Fleming, IanOn Her Majesty’s Secret Service320041963Thriller, SpyEN
Fleming, IanYou Only Live Twice320041964Thriller, SpyEN
Fyodorov, Vitaly (Afrika)Notes of a Terrorist420162016Autobiography, War Story, Ukraine WarRUunread
Golding, WilliamLord of the Flies320041954Fiction, EnglandEN
Grisham, JohnThe Firm520081991ThrillerEN
Haggard, Henry RiderKing Solomon’s Mines420051885Fiction, EnglandEN
Haywire, RachelThe New Reaction220152015Politics, NRxEN
HomerThe Odyssey42012-800Classics, Epic, GreeceEN
Houellebecq, MichelSubmission [2013]420212015PoliticsENSee main review.
Istvan, ZoltanThe Transhumanist Wager220142013PoliticsEN[2013] review - This must be one of the most overhyped books I have ever read. I really don't understand all the 4/5 and 5/5 reviews. Two dimensional characters and cardboard cutout villains who speak in multi-page, sleep-inducing monologues; a sophomoric "philosophy" that pretends to be original but is really just Objectivism with a transhuman accent, promoted with all the nuance and subtlety of a sledgehammer by a fanatical and thoroughly unlikable ideologue full of strange and unexplained contradictions (despite his worship of rationalism); in large parts, hilariously technologically illiterate, despite the fetishization of technology.
Kafka, FranzThe Trial120061925PhilosophyEN
King, StephenCarrie520071974HorrorENgood
Kundera, MilanThe Unbearable Lightness of Being520071984PhilosophyENgood
LaoziDao De Jing32010-550Classics, Theology, TaoismEN
Larsson, StiegThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo320102005ThrillerEN
Limonov, EduardThe Other Russia320092004Politics, RussiaRU
London, JackThe Call of the Wild220031903Fiction, USAEN
MacDonald, Andrew & PierceThe Turner Diaries120081978PoliticsEN
Machiavelli, NiccolòThe Prince520081532Politics, Political EconomyENgood
Nabokov, VladimirConversation Piece, 1945420101945Fiction, RussiaRU
NestorTale of Bygone Years420121113Classics, Epic, RussiaRU
Nikitin, AfanasyA Journey Beyond the Three Seas20201475Classics, Russia, TravelRUunread
Pushkin, AlexanderRuslan and Ludmila519941820Poetry, RussiaRUgood
Pushkin, AlexanderThe Queen of Spades520061834Fiction, RussiaRU
Rand, AynThe Fountainhead420101943PoliticsENunread
Remarque, Erich MariaAll Quiet on the Western Front520041929Fiction, War Story, WW1EN
Sachar, LouisHoles420021998FictionEN
Shakespeare, WilliamRomeo and Juliet420041595Play, EnglandEN
Shakespeare, WilliamMacbeth420011606Play, EnglandEN
Sheriff, R.C.Journey’s End420021928Fiction, War Story, WW1EN
Solzhenitsyn, AlexanderOne Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich420051962Fiction, RussiaRU
Stevenson, Robert LouisTreasure Island220031883Fiction, EnglandEN
SunziThe Art of War32005-500Classics, Military, ChinaEN
Tolstoy, LevThe Death of Ivan Ilyich520041886Fiction, RussiaRU
Twain, MarkThe Adventures of Tom Sawyer320041876Fiction, USAEN
Twain, MarkThe Prince and the Pauper320041881Fiction, USAEN
Unamuno, Miguel deSan Manuel Bueno, Martyr520091930PhilosophyENgood
VirgilThe Aeneid2201119Classics, Epic, RomanEN
Wheatley, DennisThe Quest of Julian Day520031939ThrillerEN
Wyss, JohannThe Swiss Family Robinson120031812Fiction, EnglandEN
Zhuchkovsky, Alexander85 Days in Slavyansk520182018War Story, Ukraine WarRUunread

 

SciFi

RSeriesAuthorTitlereadpub.TagsLnotesShort Review:
Eis-1Abnett, DanXenos420182001SciFi, WH40KEN
Asimov, IsaacI, Robot520101950SciFi, AIEN
Asimov, IsaacThe Last Question520101956SciFiENbest
Bacigalupi, PaoloThe Water Knife320162015Post-ApocEN
FBaxter, StephenFLOOD4~Post-ApocENtheseries
F-1Baxter, StephenFlood420142009Post-ApocEN
F-2Baxter, StephenArk420142010Post-ApocENgood
Brooks, MaxThe Zombie Survival Guide520092003Post-Apoc, ZombiesEN
Brooks, MaxWorld War Z220102006Post-Apoc, ZombiesEN
RRBrown, PierceRED RISING3~DystopiaENtheseries
RR-1Brown, PierceRed Rising420152014DystopiaEN
RR-2Brown, PierceGolden Son320152015DystopiaENunread
EG-11Card, Orson ScottEnder’s Game320151985SciFiEN
Carter, PaulThe Last Objective420201946Short Story, Military SF, Post-ApocENNot the best sci-fi story, not the worst. Implicit commentary on the futility of war, evidently hates military psychologists, elements of horror towards the end. Interesting portrayal of underground subterrene combat.
HGCollins, SuzanneHUNGER GAMES4~DystopiaENtheseries
HG-1Collins, SuzanneThe Hunger Games420122008DystopiaENgood
HG-2Collins, SuzanneCatching Fire420122009DystopiaEN
HG-3Collins, SuzanneMockingjay220122010DystopiaEN
Crichton, MichaelCongo420101980SciFi, ThrillerEN
Crichton, MichaelJurassic Park420111990SciFi, ThrillerENgood
Crichton, MichaelPrey420102002SciFi, ThrillerEN
Crichton, MichaelState of Fear120122004SciFi, ThrillerEN
Crichton, Michael & Richard PrestonMicro220132011SciFi, ThrillerEN
MR-1Dashner, JamesThe Maze Runner320112009DystopiaEN
Doyle, Arthur ConanThe Lost World520031912SciFiEN
Doyle, Arthur ConanThe Poison Belt420031913SciFiEN
Doyle, Arthur ConanThe Land of Mist120031926SciFi, EsotericEN
Egan, GregPermutation City420221994SciFi, ParadoxENunread
Ellison, HarlanI Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream420211967Short Story, HorrorENgood
Fehervari, PeterGenestealer Cults420212016SciFi, WH40KENunread
Forstchen, WilliamOne Second After520142009Post-ApocENgood
Gibson, WilliamNeuromancer420141984CyberpunkENunread
MGlukhovsky, DmitryMETRO4Post-ApocRUtheseries
M-1Glukhovsky, DmitryMetro 2033520102005Post-ApocRUbest
M-2Glukhovsky, DmitryMetro 2034420162009Post-ApocRU
M-3Glukhovsky, DmitryMetro 2035220162015Post-ApocRU
Hackett, JohnThe Third World War320021982Alt History, WW3EN
Harris, RobertFatherland520171992Alt HistoryENgoodunread
D-1Herbert, FrankDune420151965SciFiEN
Hertling, WilliamAvogadro Corp420152014SciFi, AIEN
SHowey, HughSILO4~Post-ApocENtheseries
S-1Howey, HughWool520152012Post-ApocENgood
S-2Howey, HughShift420152012Post-ApocEN
S-3Howey, HughDust320162012Post-ApocEN
Huxley, AldousBrave New World520051932DystopiaEN
King, StephenThe Stand520071978Horror, Post-ApocENbest
King, StephenCell420082006Horror, Post-ApocEN
King, StephenThe Long Walk420081979Horror, DystopiaENgood
King, StephenThe Running Man320081982DystopiaEN
Kunstler, HowardWorld Made by Hand [2009]220092008Post-ApocENSee main review.
Leiber, FritzA Pail of Air320151951Short Story, Post-ApocEN
Lukyanenko, SergeyKnights of the Forty Islands420121992DystopiaRUgood
Lukyanenko, SergeyNight Watch420122004Urban FantasyRUunread
NMather, MatthewNOMAD2~Post-ApocENtheseries
N-1Mather, MatthewNomad420192016Post-ApocEN
N-2Mather, MatthewResistance320192017Post-ApocEN
Miller, Walter M.A Canticle for Leibowitz520061960Post-Apoc, WW3ENbest
AutMoody, DavidAUTUMN3~Post-Apoc, ZombiesENtheseries
Aut-1Moody, DavidAutumn420012012Post-Apoc, ZombiesEN
Aut-2Moody, DavidThe City320052012Post-Apoc, ZombiesEN
Aut-3Moody, DavidPurification320042012Post-Apoc, ZombiesEN
Aut-4Moody, DavidDisintegration320112012Post-Apoc, ZombiesEN
Aut-5Moody, DavidAftermath320122012Post-Apoc, ZombiesEN
Aut-6Moody, DavidThe Human Condition220052012Post-Apoc, ZombiesEN
Orwell, GeorgeAnimal Farm420031945DystopiaENgood
Orwell, George1984520051949DystopiaENbest
Panshin, AlexeiRite of Passage320131968SciFiEN
Robinson, Kim StanleyThe Years of Rice and Salt520132003Alt HistoryENgood
Stephenson, NealThe Diamond Age420151995CyberpunkENunread
Stephenson, NealSeveneves420152015Post-ApocENgoodIt took me 2 days to read the first two thirds of Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. It is taking me an excruciating 2 weeks (and counting) to finish the last third. The genetic technology to produce the post-Hard Rain races is just about plausible (I am assuming this book is set in a techno-optimistic version of what 2025-2030 would be like or thereabouts). However, the idea that racial admixture would be low enough to result in the continuance of distinct races even though they spend the first 4,000 years of the Hard Rain scooped up in cramped living quarters isn't very plausible.
EvStirling, S.M.EMBERVERSE5~Post-ApocENtheseries
Ev-1Stirling, S.M.Dies the Fire520112004Post-ApocENgood
Ev-2Stirling, S.M.The Protector’s War520112005Post-ApocEN
Ev-3Stirling, S.M.A Meeting at Corvallis520112006Post-ApocENbest
Strugatsky, Arkady & Boris StrugatskyThe Inhabited Island520221969SciFi, DystopiaRUbestunread
Swallow, JamesDeus Ex: Icarus Effect320162014SciFi, CyberpunkEN
Verne, JulesJourney to the Center of the Earth420021864SciFiEN
Verne, JulesAround the World in Eighty Days520001873SciFiENbest
Vinge, VernorTrue Names520081981SciFiENbest
Voinovich, VladimirMoscow 2042 [2018]220021986DystopiaRUSee main review.
Vonnegut, KurtCat’s Cradle420141963Post-ApocEN
SHWeber, DavidSAFEHOLD3~SciFiENtheseries
SH-1Weber, DavidOff Armageddon Reef320202016SciFiENunread
Wells, H.G.The Time Machine520041895SciFiEN
Wells, H.G.The Island of Doctor Moreau420041896SciFiENgood
Wells, H.G.The War of the Worlds420041898SciFiEN
CK-3Wingrove, DavidThe Middle Kingdom220111989DystopiaEN
Yudkowsky, EliezerA Girl Corrupted by the Internet is the Summoned Hero?!220172016SciFiEN

 

Fantasy

RSeriesAuthorTitlereadpub.TagsLnotesShort Review:
#FLAbercrombie, JoeTHE FIRST LAW5~HeroENtheseries
FL-1Abercrombie, JoeThe Blade Itself520112006HeroENgoodThe world-building doesn’t amount to much more than cardboard cutouts of TV Tropes realms – The Union (=The Federation), Gurkish Empire (=The Empire), The North (=”It’s Grim Up North”). The plot is forgettable, and sometimes barely made sense. Yet despite all that, Abercrombie proves that in literature, it is the characters that carry the day: Years on, I still remember the crippled torturer Glokta, the doofy aristo Jezal, and of course the berserker Logen and his band of warriors.
FL-2Abercrombie, JoeBefore They Are Hanged520122007HeroEN
FL-3Abercrombie, JoeLast Argument of Kings320122008HeroEN
Dahl, RoaldCharlie and the Chocolate Factory420001964Children'sEN
Dahl, RoaldCharlie and the Great Glass Elevator420001972Children'sEN
Dahl, RoaldThe BFG420001982Children'sEN
Dahl, RoaldThe Witches420001983Children'sEN
Dahl, RoaldBoy: Tales of Childhood420001984Children's, AutobiographyEN
Dahl, RoaldMatilda420001988Children'sEN
CTFriedman, C.S.COLDFIRE TRILOGY3~HorrorENtheseries
CT-1Friedman, C.S.Black Sun Rising [2013]420121991HorrorENSee main review.
Friedman, C.S.When True Night Falls220121993HorrorENunread
SoTGoodkind, TerrySWORD OF TRUTH2~EpicENtheseries
SoT-1Goodkind, TerryWizard’s First Rule220091994EpicEN
RWJacques, BrianREDWALL5~Children'sENtheseries
RW-1Jacques, BrianLord Brocktree420012000Children'sEN
RW-2Jacques, BrianMartin the Warrior420001993Children'sEN
RW-3Jacques, BrianMossflower519981988Children'sENgood
RW-4Jacques, BrianThe Legend of Luke419991999Children'sEN
RW-5Jacques, BrianOutcast of Redwall419991995Children'sEN
RW-6Jacques, BrianMariel of Redwall419991991Children'sEN
RW-7Jacques, BrianThe Bellmaker419981994Children'sEN
RW-8Jacques, BrianSalamandastron519981992Children'sENgood
RW-9Jacques, BrianRedwall519971986Children'sENgood
RW-10Jacques, BrianMattimeo419981989Children'sEN
RW-11Jacques, BrianThe Pearls of Lutra519981996Children'sENgood
RW-12Jacques, BrianThe Long Patrol419981997Children'sEN
RW-13Jacques, BrianMarlfox420001998Children'sEN
Jacques, BrianSeven Strange and Ghostly Tales420001991Children's, HorrorEN
DMJarvis, RobinDEPTFORD MICE4~Children'sENtheseries
DM-1Jarvis, RobinThe Dark Portal420001989Children'sEN
DM-2Jarvis, RobinThe Crystal Prison320001989Children'sEN
DM-3Jarvis, RobinThe FInal Reckoning320001990Children'sEN
WoTJordan, RobertTHE WHEEL OF TIME4~EpicENtheseries
WoT-0Jordan, RobertNew Spring320082004EpicEN
WoT-1Jordan, RobertThe Eye of the World520031990EpicENbest
WoT-2Jordan, RobertThe Great Hunt520031990EpicENgood
WoT-3Jordan, RobertThe Dragon Reborn520031991EpicENgood
WoT-4Jordan, RobertThe Shadow Rising420031992EpicENbest
WoT-5Jordan, RobertThe Fires of Heaven520031993EpicENbest
WoT-6Jordan, RobertLord of Chaos420041994EpicENgood
WoT-7Jordan, RobertA Crown of Swords320041996EpicEN
WoT-8Jordan, RobertThe Path of Daggers220041998EpicEN
WoT-9Jordan, RobertWinter’s Heart220042000EpicEN
WoT-10Jordan, RobertCrossroads of Twilight120042003EpicEN
WoT-11Jordan, RobertKnife of Dreams320052005EpicENgood
WoT-12Jordan, Robert & SandersonThe Gathering Storm420092009EpicEN
WoT-13Jordan, Robert & SandersonTowers of Midnight320102010EpicEN
WoT-14Jordan, Robert & SandersonA Memory of Light220132013EpicEN
WoT-14+Jordan, Robert & SandersonA Memory of Light: River of Souls420142014EpicEN
DTKing, StephenDARK TOWER2~Epic, WesternENtheseries
DT-1King, StephenThe Gunslinger220081982Epic, WesternEN
ESLe Guin, UrsulaEARTHSEA CHRONICLES4~EpicENtheseries
ES-1Le Guin, UrsulaThe Wizard of Earthsea420041968EpicENgood
ES-2Le Guin, UrsulaThe Tombs of Atuan520041971EpicENgood
ES-3Le Guin, UrsulaThe Farthest Shore420041972EpicEN
CoNLewis, C.S.THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA5~Children'sENtheseries
CoN-1Lewis, C.S.The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe520011950Children'sENgood
CoN-2Lewis, C.S.Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia420011951Children'sEN
CoN-3Lewis, C.S.The Voyage of the Dawn Treader420011952Children'sEN
CoN-4Lewis, C.S.The Silver Chair420011953Children'sEN
CoN-5Lewis, C.S.The Horse and His Boy420021954Children'sEN
CoN-6Lewis, C.S.The Magician's Nephew420021955Children'sEN
CoN-6Lewis, C.S.The Last Battle420021956Children'sEN
Lovecraft, H.P.The Call of Cthulhu520121928HorrorEN
ASoIaFMartin, G.R.R.A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE5~EpicENtheseries
ASoIaF-1Martin, G.R.R.A Game of Thrones520131996EpicENbest
ASoIaF-2Martin, G.R.R.A Clash of Kings520131999EpicENbest
ASoIaF-3Martin, G.R.R.A Storm of Swords520132000EpicENbest
ASoIaF-4Martin, G.R.R.A Feast for Crows520132005EpicENbest
ASoIaF-5Martin, G.R.R.A Dance with Dragons520132011EpicENgood
TwMeyer, StephanieTWILIGHT2~YAENtheseries
Tw-1Meyer, StephanieTwilight220092005YAEN
Pullman, PhilipThe Firework-Maker’s Daughter420051995Children'sENgood
Pullman, PhilipClockwork420051996Children'sENgood
HDMPullman, PhilipHIS DARK MATERIALS5~Children'sENtheseries
HDM-1Pullman, PhilipThe Golden Compass520121995Children'sENbest
HDM-2Pullman, PhilipThe Subtle Knife520121997Children'sENgood
HDM-3Pullman, PhilipThe Amber Spyglass420122000Children'sEN
HCReeve, PhilipHUNGRY CITIES3~YAENtheseries
HC-1Reeve, PhilipMortal Engines420142001YAEN
HC-2Reeve, PhilipPredator’s Gold220142003YAENunread
HPRowling, J.K.HARRY POTTER4~Children'sENtheseries
HP-1Rowling, J.K.Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone520041997Children'sEN
HP-2Rowling, J.K.Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets520041998Children'sENgood
HP-3Rowling, J.K.Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban520041999Children'sENgood
HP-4Rowling, J.K.Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire520052000YAENgood
HP-5Rowling, J.K.Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix520052003YAEN
HP-6Rowling, J.K.Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince520062005YAENgood
HP-7Rowling, J.K.Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows520072007YAEN
MBSanderson, BrandonMISTBORN5~YAENtheseries
MB-1Sanderson, BrandonThe Final Empire520092006YAENbest
MB-2Sanderson, BrandonThe Well of Ascension420092007YAEN
MB-3Sanderson, BrandonThe Hero of Ages520092008YAENgood
MB-1+Sanderson, BrandonMistborn: Secret History520162016YAEN
CSSanderson, BrandonSTORMLIGHT CHRONICLES5~EpicENtheseries
SC-1Sanderson, BrandonThe Way of Kings520102010EpicEN
W&WSanderson, BrandonWAX & WAYNE4~YAENtheseries
W&W-1Sanderson, BrandonThe Alloy of Law420122011YAEN
W&W-2Sanderson, BrandonShadows of Self420152015YAEN
W&W-3Sanderson, BrandonThe Bands of Mourning420162016YAEN
Sanderson, BrandonThe Emperor’s Soul520122012Short StoryENbest
ReckSanderson, BrandonTHE RECKONERS3~YAENtheseries
Reck-1Sanderson, BrandonSteelheart420132013YAEN
Reck-1+Sanderson, BrandonMitosis320142014YAEN
Reck-2Sanderson, BrandonFirefight320152015YAEN
Reck-3Sanderson, BrandonCalamity320162016YAEN
WSapkowski, AndrzejWITCHER4~EpicENtheseries
W-1Sapkowski, AndrzejThe Last Wish420221993EpicENunread
Tolkien, John R.R.The Hobbit520001937Children'sENbest
LotRTolkien, John R.R.THE LORD OF THE RINGS5~EpicENtheseries
LotR-1Tolkien, John R.R.The Fellowship of the Ring520011954EpicENbest
LotR-2Tolkien, John R.R.The Two Towers520011954EpicENbest
LotR-3Tolkien, John R.R.The Return of the King520011955EpicENbest
Tolkien, John R.R.The Silmarillion320021977EpicEN
Yudkowsky, EliezerHarry Potter and the Methods of Rationality520152015YA, FanFicENbest
Yudkowsky, EliezerDark Lord’s Answer320162016HumorEN

 

Self-Help

RAuthorTitlereadpub.TagsLnotesShort Review:
Allen, DavidGetting Things Done420142002ProductivityEN
Bell, James ScottWrite Great Fiction3420132008WritingEN
Carnegie, DaleHow to Win Friends and Influence People220081936SocialEN
Charles, H.W.The Money Code420132012Money, JewsEN
Demarco, M.J.The Millionaire Fastlane520122011MoneyENbest
Durant, JohnThe Paleo Manifesto [2013]520132013Health, PaleoENSee main review.
Ferriss, TimThe Four Hour Workweek520092007Productivity, MoneyENbest
Ferriss, TimThe Four Hour Body320092010Health, PaleoENgood
Fox, Chris5,000 Words per Hour420152015WritingEN
Kearny, CressonNuclear War Survival Skills320091987SurvivalismEN
King, StephenOn Writing420082000WritingENbest
Kresser, ChrisThe Paleo Cure420142013Health, PaleoEN
Lowndes, LeilHow to Talk to Anyone420131999Social
Roosh VBang!520112007SocialENgood
Sisson, MarkThe Primal Blueprint420132009Health, PaleoEN
Sisson, MarkThe Primal Connection420132013Health, PaleoEN
Snyder, BlakeSave the Cat!420162005WritingENunread
Strauss, NeilThe Game520082005SocialENbest
Wade, PaulConvict Conditioning [2013]420132010Health, FitnessENSee main review.
Wolf, RobbThe Paleo Solution320132010Health, PaleoEN

 

Iran Takes II: How the Iran War Will Be Fought

PS. Events overtook my writing of this blog post. Looking forwards to a resolution of the Stealth Question and the Aircraft Carrier Question.

How would an Iran War be fought?

I already addressed this question on several occasions, most notably on The Road to World War III (see 2.c. The Persian Gulf), as well as here and in a few other places.

Quick overview of different scenarios/strategies in approximate order of severity:


Iranian Strategies

I certainly don’t expect military miracles from a (largely brain drained) 90 IQ nation with largely obsolescent military technologies. It will need outside support from the real Great Powers – that is, Russia and China – to hope to come away with something better than a Pyrrhic victory (at best).

Regardless, Iran does have the capacity to make life hard for the US.

Cyberwar: Advantage = low cost, but will nonetheless likely invite US retaliation, even though the US has been waging cyber war on Iran for years (Stuxnet). I also don’t see it accomplishing much.

Resumption of nuclear program: This is a no brainer at this point, though – if the declarations are seriously followed through upon – they will almost certainly invite eventual Israeli/American strikes. OTOH, Iran has had many years to harden its nuclear facilities. I assume it didn’t sit on its hands during this period, and making blast-resistant concrete is one of the few (only?) areas in which Iran is a world technological leader. If successful, can achieve lasting security, though the end spurt will be fraught with severe dangers.

Attacks on US troops in Iraq: Continuation/intensification of existing policy. The Shiites now hate the US again, enough for them to vote to eject them out of Iraq (with the US apparently refusing to do so while making noises about sanctioning Iraq if it does). So this makes this than even easier option.

Increase support for Houthis: Presumably will happen, though don’t know if they can do much more than what they are already accomplishing.

Missile attacks on US bases: Coffins will make for a visceral show of vengeance, but won’t kill many US soldiers, consolidate the US against them, and will invite a devastating response.

Missile attacks on Israel: Bombing Tel Aviv is very based, redpilled, and powerful (see right), but what happens next? You’ll kill a couple dozen civilians – maybe 100 if you get lucky and get a square hit on an apartment block – but you will now be at war with both Israel and the US with nothing to really show for it. Those missiles would probably serve more productive uses elsewhere. Besides, Iran has Hezbollah to do the heavy lifting in this theater. Too bad for Lebanon, but oh well.

Missile attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure: Oil infrastructure is actually surprisingly resilient to missile attacks (oil and gas pipelines aren’t hard to repair). Iranian IRBMs aren’t very accurate. Perhaps relying on special forces will be more effective, or even better drones, as we saw last June. Of course point defenses at these installations will be strengthened and low hanging fruits will be rapidly picked off. That said, I don’t believe Iran has any chance whatsoever of making a major dent in Saudi oil production even over the medium term.

Close Strait of Hormuz: I have written about this at length before (see links above). This is Iran’s current most feasible “nuclear” option, so long as it doesn’t have actual nukes. I’ll just quote in extenso from my April 2018 article:

Anti-ship missiles: The bulk of the Iranian arsenal is based on Chinese C-802 missiles, which are similar to Harpoons and Exocets. Unless fired in salvoes, the USN can probably deal with them, though they would pose a credible threat to passing oil tankers – enough of a risk, possibly, to get insurers to stop covering the Strait of Hormuz route (which is ultimately what really matters). Ironically, at this point, many of them might start using the Northern Sea Route.

Mines: Iran’s naval mine stockpile is opaque, though its possible that it would be even more of a threat to shipping. It would be helpful to begin mine-laying operations before open outbreak of hostilities if at all possible, since doing so would become far harder afterwards. (However, since the US will be very much on the watch out for this in the wake of its destruction of Syria, a covert mine-laying operation will not stay secret for long).

One solid option would be to keep most of the anti-ship missiles in reserve, and use them primarily to attack US mine-clearing ships (which are less well defended than its capital ships, and far more fragile than double-hulled, multi-compartment oil supertankers). This might even force the US into launching ground operations on the Iranian coast, which will add body-bags to economic pain and possibly plunge it into political crisis.

Major problem – even back then US oil production had reached record highs, and has continued soaring into the stratosphere throughout 2019, so that it now produces more than 50% as much as Russia and Saudi Arabia. In a stunning refutation of the peak oil thesis, it is now close to self-sufficiency in petroleum and other liquids production. The North American continent as a whole would not be in overall surplus.

Of course oil is a globally traded and highly fungible commodity, so while an oil shock would be great for shale oil producers it would still be ruinous for the US economy. However, self-sufficiency opens the possibility of closing off the American or North American market, mitigating the price shock at home while making it even more acute abroad… and tanking the Chinese and European economies in the process. Which would admittedly be a pretty nice side benefit!

Ironically, exercise of Iran’s nuclear option may well actually be much worse for its putative (if fair weather) friend China than for its American nemesis.


US Strategies

US goals seem to consist of some combination of the following elements, although they are implemented in a somewhat haphazard fashion.

  • Contain Iran’s potential as a Shiite hegemon in the Middle East.
  • Even better, regime change it into a US ally and alternative gas supplier to Europe vs. Russia.
  • Avenge the Holy 52.
  • Assure Israel’s security in the Middle East, esp. as the sole nuclear power there.

Obama’s policy pursued the more modest objections, containment and denuclearization. The Trump regime’s objectives are more maximalist and have been aggressively pursued, up to and including outrageous human rights violations such as depriving Iranian gamers of League of Legends, as well as much more minor things such as destroying their economy and whacking their generals.

Should they step up their game:

Aeronaval campaign: My take is that modern automotive infrastructure basically annulls air power’s capacity to really cripple an economy (roads are quickly repaired, and there are millions of trucks). Serbian SAMs, despite being heavily outdated, continued posing a threat to NATO fighters to the very end of the campaign. Iran has ten times as many people as Serbia, and 20 times the land area. It is a good bet that Iran is not going to be subdued through pure air power.

Limited occupation: Strait of Hormuz clash is unpredictable IMO since it will test US naval capabilities against Shkvals, Bastions, etc. Geography favors Iran, since there’s plenty of islands and inlets for the Bastions to shelter behind, and the shallow seas will maximize the effectiveness of its three  diesel subs. Also depends on whether Iran can get the jump on the US. May have to undertake limited occupation of Iranian southern coastline to put an end to it, especially if Russia provides support.

Occupy Iran: The US would need at least half a million troops – more likely a million – to effect a wholesale occupation of Iran. This is more or less flat out impossible short of a draft.

Relying on contractors is one thing. But average Americans themselves are not what they once were. The one really nice thing about the “Great Awokening” is that it crimps US capacity to fight imperialist wars.

At this point, it will be politically extremely unpopular and may topple the US into unrest if not insurrection.


Chinese/Russian Strategies

Although Iran is hardly an ally or even a good friend of either Russia or China, neither can afford it getting vassalized by the Americans. So we will likely see limited involvement from both of them in support of Iran.

Chinese involvement: Iran’s ability to threaten the Strait of Hormuz presents it with another possibility. China in particular has been recalcitrant about standing up for Iran against the US, e.g. forbidding Kunlun Bank from handling Iran payments (as it did with the pre-JCPOA sanctions). The implicit threat of closing down the Strait of Hormuz may encourage China to play a more cooperative role, especially with respect to financial support, perhaps weapons supplies, etc.

Incidentally, there were already rumors of big deals in the works several months ago:

Among other benefits, Chinese companies will be given the first refusal to bid on any new, stalled or uncompleted oil and gasfield developments. Chinese firms will also have first refusal on opportunities to become involved with any and all petchems projects in Iran, including the provision of technology, systems, process ingredients and personnel required to complete such projects.

“This will include up to 5,000 Chinese security personnel on the ground in Iran to protect Chinese projects, and there will be additional personnel and material available to protect the eventual transit of oil, gas and petchems supply from Iran to China, where necessary, including through the Persian Gulf,” says the Iranian source.

In reality, as pointed out by an Iranian commenter, this was very likely a leak by the Iranians to signal to the Americans that they have options should they refuse to drop sanctions and the Europeans make no effort to mitigate them. Now sure, this would not be optimal from Iran’s perspective, since it would basically make them into an economic colony of China. But they’d hardly have other chances in the event of a “warm” or outright hot war with the US.

Russian involvement: Russia would be stupid to avoid making a US air campaign against Iran even harder, so it would probably support Iran by default. This would presumably involve helping Iran with oil exports (selling its oil as its own), providing weapons, training crews, and perhaps even going head to head against American fighters under conditions of plausible deniability (as during the Korean and Vietnam wars). At the narrow level, this will hone skills and provide access to American miltech. At the broader level, it will create an opening for exploring geopolitical feasibilities elsewhere in its Near Abroad.

Involvement in Iran is not entirely riskless, since Russia’s position in Syria remains vulnerable. But they are substantially mitigated by Russia’s ability to escalate outside that theater (e.g. the Baltics).


Archive

Archives

Last updated: Jan 15, 2023

This page is a curated archive of my best posts since I started blogging here in January 2008, before moving to The Russian Reaction in 2015 and to Substack in October 2021.

You can read a short introduction to my work at About Me.

If you like my work, please do subscribe to my Substack and feel free to join our Community Discord.


Blog Organization

Projects

Community

Pages/Misc

The following sections contain a structured archive of my articles [best] since I started blogging, beginning with a list of scientific publications and ongoing projects.

 


Library

This section largely deals with my non-Russia related output. While I am really an pundit without portfolio, there are a few areas that I am especially interested in:

  • Geopolitics
  • HBD, psychometrics, and their application to economics and economic history
  • Political science
  • Futurism and transhumanism
  • Cryptocurrencies

(Regrettably), I have yet to complete any books. But here are some of the Projects I’m working on.

 


Scientific Research

I am mostly a blogger and pundit, not a researcher, but I do very occasionally publish scientific research. New articles will tend to appear on my Google Scholar profile.


Publications

 


Geopolitics

Ukraine War (2022+)

Sinotriumphalism


Futurism

 


Philosophy & Transhumanism

 


Age of Malthusian Industrialism

One possible future scenario: since all personality traits are heritable, and desired fertility is one such trait, a “business as usual” future scenario is that the demographic glut will reverse and lead to a renewed population explosion; in tandem with technological stagnation brought on through dysgenic reproduction patterns, this will eventually lead to the industrial economy reaching its carrying capacity, ushering in the Age of Malthusian Industrialism.

Search all AoMI-related tags.

 


Cryptocurrency


HBD/IQ

Hive Mind: IQ & Success

National IQ


Apollo’s Ascent

Apollo’s Ascent is a series of posts, a theory, and hopefully a future book making the argument that the rate of technological progress can be modeled as a function of existing technology, literacy, and the IQ distribution.

 

 


Politics

America

Europe


Economics


Society


Demographics


History


Culture


Creative Writing/Short Stories

  • WAGMI (2021): The %TOTAL Maximizer: A Halloween Story

Predictions

Note that as of June 2020, I am tracking my predictions at PredictBook.

Successfully predicted:


Obituaries


Self-Help

Health & Fitness

Learning

Productivity


Coronavirus/COVID-19

Note I maintain 2 pages on this topic: COVID-19 Resources | COVID-19 Survival Guide.


Quantified Russia

I started blogging as a “Russia watcher”, so to this end I segregated all related posts so that they wouldn’t dominate the other sections. This section consists of selections from The Best of Da Russophile, a large archive I made in 2014 to mark the formal end of the Da Russophile blog, as well as consequent Russia-related posts I have made since moving to the Unz Review.


Core Articles


Politics & Democracy

Russian Elections

Media

Liberal Opposition


Economy


Society & Culture


Corruption


Demographics


Foreign Policy


Foreign Policy: The Near Abroad


History

 


The AK


This initial section deals with milestones in my life blogging. In other parts of the Archive, posts where I am substantively involved (e.g. personal journalistic coverage) are tagged The AK.

 


Talks, Podcasts, & Videos


My YouTube channel has a large percentage of my videos, podcasts, etc., and I plan to expand my content offerings in the following months.

 

 


Translations


Kholmogorov Translations

My former blog at The Unz Review is the primary source for English translations of Russian national-conservative philosopher Egor Kholmogorov, which were carried out over the course of a few years by the translator Fluctuarius Argenteus and myself.

Here is a sample of our translations:

Eventually, we hope to convert it into an English language anthology. The project page is The Kholmogorov Reader.


Russian Spectrum

Translations from the short-lived The Russian Spectrum translation project in 2013 (see more details here).

Uncle Sam Having a Harder Time Recruiting Russians

This has apparently been getting harder (h/t Betlo):

The panel also noted that it is now more difficult to recruit intelligence sources inside Russia than it was during the Soviet era. During the Soviet era, the CIA relied upon “volunteers” who would approach American intelligence officers, Bearden said, but the pool of Russians willing to betray their government largely has dried up. It is not entirely clear why this is the case, but Bearden suggested that given previous Soviet and Russian penetration of American intelligence services, it is possible that the fear of compromise has driven away many potential sources.

Clement suggested that Russian perceptions of the United States have deteriorated so badly that even educated Russian liberals take a dim view of Washington—making the recruitment of spies extremely difficult. Moreover, many Russians who might have betrayed their government in previous eras no longer feel compelled to risk imprisonment or death by working for the CIA. Instead, those dissidents can simply leave Russia for the West—which was not an option during the Soviet era.

Beebe, however, suggested that in the information age—where biometrics and social media are prevalent—the age of recruiting traditional human intelligence sources is over. “Biometric data means essentially that you can’t put someone under cover here in Washington and then have them travel around the world, pose under diplomatic cover and recruit people,” Beebe said. “Doesn’t work. Who they are, their identity is instantly known to governments that want to know who they are.”

Other reasons:

  1. The Russian Federation is 85% Russian, not 50% like the USSR. The guy who revealed the Soviet biological weapons program to the US was called Kanatzhan Alibekov.

  2. Internal Russophobia is on the decline. This can even be seen amongst the liberals, where the most odious of that lot have been utterly marginalized, and are demographically dying off (e.g. Novodvorskaya) and/or have moved abroad (e.g. Kasparov).

When the Soviet system existed, there were plenty of people with a strong ideological opposition to the regime, such as Vasily Mitrokhin, who secreted away huge chunks of the KGB archives and later transferred them to the UK. When it collapsed, and in the absence of any other positive (nationalist) values – indeed, bearing in mind their suppression under the old regime – it was replaced by pure materialism, so you had a vast upsurge in treason during the late 1980s and 1990s.

  1. This materialism factor was accentuated by the sheer material poverty Russia fell into during the 1990s. Selling secrets for a nice suburban house in California makes much more sense when you are an impoverished civil servant who lives in a khrushchevka and hasn’t been paid for months than when you are getting a PPP-adjusted salary of $2,000, live in a nice modern apartment, and possess a car and can travel to Turkey or Crimea a couple of times a year.

4. Conversely, whereas anti-Soviet dissidents could plausibly imagine that they were betraying an ideology, not their own people, this has become more and more implausible as the gradient of Western ethno-Russophobia veers ever upwards.

  1. Another factor could be declining competence amongst Western spooks focusing on Russia. The intelligence services have never attracted the very best – far from the James Bond stereotype of them being suave, well-informed mystery men, in reality they tend to be mediocre, and idiotic conspiracy theories run rife amongst among them – and this should be even more true today, when the best talent is sucked up by Big Finance and Big Tech to an extent unparalleled during the Cold War. Russia Studies have also been neglected and underfinanced since the end of the Cold War until recently, with bigger and bigger jokers taking the limelight with every passing year (from Edward Lucas to Molly McNew). Combine the two trends, and this too would explain a collapse in Russia recruitment.

Gloomy Presentiments

Tucker: “What is the American national interest that will be served by regime change?”
Senator: “If you care about Israel… we have a strategic interest there.”

I don’t think I have a reputation for panicking. But I do think that we are now at probably the most dangerous point in world affairs since Russian and NATO troops faced off at Pristina Airport in 1999, if not since the Cold War.

It is now clear that there will almost certainly be strikes by the US against Syrian targets in coordination with France, Britain, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, and that the scope of this attack will be much greater than last year.

  • Naval force capable of a cruise missile strike is already off the coast of Syria, namely the destroyer USS Donald Cook and the cruise missile submarine USS Georgia. The destroyer Laboon will soon join up with them, while Carrier Strike Group 8 (USS Harry S. Truman) will be in the area in a week’s time.
  • The French frigate Aquitaine is also in the area, and British forces in Cyprus are allegedly mobilizing for strikes.
  • Russian Su-24’s have harassed the Donald Cook and Aquitaine, and the Black Sea Fleet has been placed on combat alert. Several senior officials have said there will be military retaliation if Russian troops are targeted, although there have been no clear commitments even as regards that. Current Russian naval forces in the area include two Kilo submarines. From my limited research, the Moskva cruiser is out of theater.
  • Trump has canceled scheduled visits to Latin America to instead “oversee the American response to Syria”, while James Mattis has canceled visits to Arizona and California.
  • Civilian overflights over Syria have completely ceased as Eurocontrols declares a no fly zone over the East Mediterranean for the next 72 hours.
  • The US and Russia vetoed each others Douma investigation resolutions at the UN Security Council. The reason Russia vetoed is that the American version had a reference to Chapter VII, which would have opened an avenue for the US to go to war against Syria – that is, for the same reasons it vetoed the US resolutions in 2017. The Libyan experience taught Russia to pay attention to wording.
  • While the US “welcomes” the OCPW mission to establish the facts on the ground, it openly says it will not affect the US decision on a response to Syria (sic). What can one say? At least they’re utterly forthright in their pretensions to exceptionalism.
  • There has been a remarkable show of unity over this issue in Europe, and not just the usual suspects. Days after approving it, Angela Merkel chose today to announce that Nord Stream 2 must preserve a transit role for the Ukraine. This kind of annuls its entire purpose and puts the capstone on the Kremlin’s dismal gas policy and outreach to Germany.
  • Meanwhile, Congress is already moving to enact further sanctions against Russia (forbids transactions relating to new Russian sovereign debt).

The Western media is beating the drumbeat for war, and unlike in 2003, during the Libyan Crisis, or even last year, I see hardly any skepticism about it in the comments. The few skeptics are invariably labeled Russian trolls. I am really getting the impression that the degree of popular hate in the West towards Russia is approaching what Allied citizens must have felt towards Nazi Germany by 1941. Kudos where its due: Neoliberalism.txt has programmed its peons well.

I still don’t think this will boil over into a major war, but the chances of that are now well above 0%.

If it does, though, it will constitute a stupidly appropriate end to Western civilization as we know it. As one commenter here has noted, current decision-makers make the statesmen of 1914 seem sane and rational.

Punishing Putler

So it looks like the British reaction to The Skripal Affair is assuming very serious proportions, especially with the most recent allegations that the nerve agent in question was Novichok.

(Incidentally, it is a gas so potent – an order of magnitude more so than VX – that carpet bombing a middle-sized city with it is projected to wipe out most of its population, but was apparently unable to even kill its main target).

PM Theresa May has now given Russia a two day deadline to prove it was not behind the attack, or else… Well, all sorts of wild suggestions are now flying on the Internet how the UK and “the West” ought to “punish” Russia.

I suppose this makes it as good a time to address this topic as any, in approximate order of severity.

Boycott FIFA World Cup 2018

The positive side is that the UK – so, presumably, England – will not have to worry about getting poisoned by the Russians “to slow them down” (as suggested by professional Russia basher Edward Lucas).

Not that anyone would notice.

On the other hand, if they could cajole the other Western countries into boycotting as well, it would be yet another humiliation for the kremlins, who seem to think they can buy their way into international handshakeworthiness by hosting very expensive international sporting events.

On the other hand, I don’t think that’s even a bad thing.

Kick out RT

This is being actively discussed.

This is going to seriously hurt RT’s international operations, since London hosts one of its two main foreign HQs. However, this gives Russia perfectly good cause to kick out the BBC and other British outlets. Hence why pro-Western journalists such as Max Seddon and Alexey Kovalev are beseeching Britain not to do it.

Since RT is not that successful anyway – viewership numbers are underwhelming, and 40% of its website visitors come from Russia itself – this will hurt Britain more than it hurts Russia.

The chances of other Western countries joining in are minimal, but if they do, I suppose the only result will be an across the board fold-up of the remaining major Western news bureaus in Moscow.

Further Financial Sanctions

E.g. prohibiting British investors from buying Russian sovereign debt, but this will have even less of an effect than the US doing it, which Mercouris explained here:

  • Russia has massive foreign currency reserves (currently $450 billion) and its budget remains essentially balanced.
  • Nothing stops it from floating bonds in the Asian money markets

So the effects from this will be negligible.

Step up Support for the Ukraine

Weapons supplies to the Ukraine are always an option but frankly Britain is unable to substantively change the military balance by itself.

However, the UK could recognize the DNR and LNR to be terrorist organizations.

This will, amongst other things, enable the UK to effect much more aggressive prosecution of Novorossiya supporters, should it also recognize the DNR and LNR to be terrorist organizations (which currently only the Ukraine does). In this case, Graham Phillips and Patrick Lancaster might want to apply for asylum in Russia.

Along with the nuclear/novichok “terrorism,” this will also lay further groundwork to:

Designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism

With associated further financial sanctions down the line, should the UK convince the US (realistic if Blackpill Timeline continues to pan out) and the EU (less likely but imaginable) to follow suit.

Cut Russia off from SWIFT

This is not something that the UK, nor even the US, can do by themselves; the organization itself is based in Brussels, Belgium, it is subject to Belgian and EU law, and is owned by its member financial institutions.

When Iran was booted out from SWIFT in 2012, it required the agreement of all 27 EU countries.

Russia has domestic alternatives to SWIFT (РАБИС, БЭСП) for commercial banks, and since 2014, the Mir payment system has been created for ordinary citizens. It is likely that internal transactions can be carried out without a hitch even in the event of a serious Western financial embargo.

As Alexander Mercouris points out, since 2014 the large state-owned banks that dominate the Russian banking system have been effectively cut off from borrowing in Western financial markets anyway. Consequently, it will be Western companies and businessmen with Russian investments who would be the most seriously affected, not to menton SWIFT itself, which will lose out from the loss in Russian institution membership fees.

Export Controls on Tech

Russia depends heavily on European (esp. German) machine tools.

A resurrection of Cold War style export controls on technology transfers to the USSR would hurt Russia badly. But this is not something that the UK or even the US seem to be capable of pushing on Germany and/or the EU.

Confiscate Russian oligarch assets in the UK/The West

This, ironically, presupposes a lack of rule of law in the West to an extent barely even imaginable in Russia. (For instance, nobody was confiscating Poroshenko’s chocolate factory in Lipetsk, to the chagrin of Russian nationalists).

But let’s suppose British judges are willing to overturn a millennium of legal norms just to punish Putler.

First, the UK will, at a single stroke, solve a large chunk of Russia’s problems with comprador elites, who make (or suck out) their money in Russia and spend it in London (Miami, Nice, Courchevel, etc.). The remote risk of losing your money due to a falling out with one of Putin’s henchmen sure beats the certain risk of losing your money by dint of being a “Russian oligarch” in the West.

Second, this will, to a great extent, constitute “friendly fire.” The Russian economic elites, especially those with ties to the West, are far more pro-Western than the population at large, and most Russians in London actually vote against Putin during elections.

Third, far from turning the oligarchs against Putin, it will just increase the already considerable control he has over them even further. This idea that pissed off oligarchs will feed Putin his own polonium tea is a beloved fantasy at places like /r/politics, but in the real world, it is 2018, not 1998, nor even 2003; Russia is no longer an oligarchy, but a “silovarchy” of security men clustered around Putin. With the “oligarchs'” remaining assets parked within Russia, their ability to create trouble for the regime will be even further diminished.

Cut Russia off from the Internet

This would again require the cooperation of the entire West, and if done forcibly – e.g., cutting the underwater cables connecting Saint-Petersburg to the world, as the Royal Navy quietly did to German telegram cables on August 4, 1914 – it would amount to a more or less overt declaration of war.

Will it cripple the Russian Internet? Of course not. The Internet perceives censorship as damage, and reacts by bypassing blockages. The West is not the world; short of NATO seizing control of the entire Russian border, it will retain access to the worldwide web, even though speeds will be much slower. The internal Internet (Runet) should not be greatly affected, since like China, Russia has taken care to build in redundancies that will enable it to function autonomously (ironically, efforts that Russian liberals have long interpreted as part of a totalitarian scheme to cut Russia off from the worldwide Internet).

Seizure of Russian Foreign Gold & Currency Reserves

Obviously, this is not something that the UK can do anything meaningful about, since less than 10% of Russia’s foreign currency reserves are in pounds sterling.

The USD and Euro each account for a bit more than 40% in Russia’s foreign currency basket, as well as a symbolic amount of yuan. Most of Russia’s sizable gold reserves ($80 billion) are parked in Russia itself.

Needless to say, seizing these assets will be illegal, extraordinary, and close to a declaration of war.

If anybody is going to do it in any possible universe, it is going to be the US (Europe is too fissiparous to push something like that through).

I am certainly not one of those people who predicts the Final Collapse of the petrodollar and US imperialism every year. But this will be a real risk if the US does something this insane. While seizing the assets of small and economically irrelevant “rogue states” is nothing special, doing this to Russia – as one of the world’s core Great Powers – will be an entirely different ball game that will discredit the American-dominated global financial system, most critically in the eyes of China (since what stops the US from eventually pulling something similar on them?).

Since this system massively favors America – the US dollar’s global reserve status artificially lowers risk premiums in the US, making foreigners willing to “irrationally” invest in US bonds at rates well beyond equilibrium – its unraveling will likewise hurt the US more than anyone else. This could even be the trigger that snaps the US back down to an economic level more correlated with the quality of its human capital.

Total Embargo

The Russian economy will crater, but Russia is at least self-sufficient in food and energy, while many EU countries – especially the former eastern bloc ones – depend on Russian gas to power their factories and heat their homes during the winter.

Now it’s not like they’ll be freezing to death. However, they will be paying through the nose for LNG imports, and the disruptions from the temporary interruption in Russian oil supplies will plunge the EU and probably the world into a depression.

Over time, Russia will orientate itself towards East Asia, especially China. Despite the necessity of it, this will not be a fast process, due to the paucity of the needed infrastructure as well as Russia’s poor understanding of Chinese realities. But this will be bridged with time, and as China continues to break out into technological leadership, the lack of access to Western tech and knowhow will become less and less of a debilitating factor for Russia.

Assassinate Putin

I do see this seriously suggested every now and then in comments (if not in official rhetoric, thankfully). Hopefully that’s because most non-crazy people recognize the downsides.

Conclusions

Some common themes:

  • Most prospective sanctions are some combination of: Ineffective, hurt its initiators as much as Russia, or carry grievous geopolitical implications.
  • Are not credibly capable of changing (alleged) Russian misbehavior
  • Most of them are likely to stoke even further Russian resentment against the West, discredit its domestic pro-Western forces, and strengthen the regime politically, even where they weaken Russia economically.

But by far the most crucial factor is that those measures that do have the capacity to truly wreck the Russian economy need the cooperation of Asia, and by Asia, I mean China.

This is why Russia’s development of China ties has been Putin’s single greatest foreign policy success, besides which everything happening in Syria is basically irrelevant. No wonder that this development has been consistently decried by the liberal fifth column.

The Skripal Affair

Since nobody knows anything, as Alexander Mercouris points out, I haven’t bothered following this closely.

Still, I suppose it’s big enough that I should post something about it. This comment from for-the-record seems not entirely implausible:

What seems eminently clear is that whoever did it knew that this would be attributed to the Russians, and either didn’t care (a Russian “fuck you” to the West, just like Syria’s repeated gas attacks that everyone knows all about), or actively desired it.

So why not consider the following scenario:

What if Christopher Steele (“author” of the famous dossier), unable to personally travel to Russia, engaged Skripal to dig up the “dirt” on Trump?

What if Skripal either manufactured or was fed “dirt” (false information) by his Russian connections?

What if now, with the heat on Steele, Skripal got nervous (knowing the information he provided was false and that he was in danger of becoming the fall guy, or the guy who knew too much)?

What if Skripal, living alone in the UK, then decided that his life would be more meaningful (and longer) if he were to return to Russia and be close to his daughter?

What if, using his Moscow-based daughter as an intermediary, he came to an agreement that would have allowed him to return to Russia in return for a “confession” about his role in manufacturing the dossier at the behest of British intelligence?

What if this became known to certain people in the UK?

What would their likely reaction have been?

Is this scenario any less plausible than the idea that the Russians would have done this in such a blatantly obvious manner, shortly before their Presidential elections and three months before the World Cup they are hosting?

I suppose we’ll soon see about that.

I suppose if the UK – so, presumably, England – are ordered to boycott the World Cup, they will not have to worry about getting poisoned by the Russians “to slow them down” (as suggested by professional Russia basher Edward Lucas).

Not that anyone would notice.

On the other hand, if they could cajole the other Western countries into boycotting as well, it would be yet another humiliation for the kremlins, who seem to think they can buy their way into international handshakeworthiness by hosting very expensive international sporting events.

10 Years of Blogging

January 9, 2017 marks the day I began blogging a decade ago.

 

Donations

I suppose now’s as good a time as any to launch my second panhandling drive.

If you like the words that I write, and want me to write more of them, you can personally make that happen: http://akarlin.com/donations/

 

Looking Back

My first (non-intro) post: Reading Russia Right. On rereading it, I see that all of my main themes were already present. I might have perhaps been rather too pollyannaish about Russia’s prospects – after all, I did start off blogging as “Da Russophile” – but I don’t think anything there was actually cardinally wrong.

In contrast to the brief and more personalized account that follows, you can read a more detailed history of my blogging career here: http://akarlin.com/start/

akarlin-pageviews-2008-2017

The mid-2000s to the early 2010s were the golden age of blogging, and I hitched myself on about midway through the process.

There were considerable successes – although I never cared much for catering to popular trends, my blog(s) were getting around 750,000 annual pageviews by the early 2010s, despite a nasty pharma hack destroying my SEO ratings in early 2012. I also started openly incorporating HBD insights around mid-2012; just in time to scare off lefty Russophiles (majority in the West then), but too late to be one of its early adopters (I was writing about the importance of IQ from the very start in 2008, but had up till then been careful to maintain racial agnosticism, largely for education/work-related reasons).

But there were failures too. Part of this was due to blogging in general falling into a sort of dark age as social media ravaged community after community like an online venereal disease. But the main reason was that at the end of the day, blogging was a hobby for me. The disparate projects I had tried to launch in 2013 – most prominently, The Russian Spectrum translation portal and The Russia Debate forum – had all floundered, and I was increasingly busy with other things. I produced a total of about 5 posts in 2014. I did have some loose plans to resume serious blogging at that time, but to be fair, I am not 100% sure I would have ended up following through on them. Maybe in an alternate timeline, my blogging career would have ended around then.

akarlin-pageviews-2008-2017-monthly

But then Ron Unz wrote an email to me on Jan 2, 2015 offering me to resume blogging at The Unz Review, and the rest is history.

I more or less recovered my visitorship and pageview numbers in my first two years at The Unz Review, despite continued depreciation of my old websites, and blasted past them in last year, when I returned to Russia and began doing this and other related things more or less as a job instead of as just a hobby.

Items PWords Comms CWords Visits Views
2008 70 139,021 304 37,218
2009 72 254,052 867 152,868
2010 81 209,939 1,594 200,483
2011 75 152,706 3,159 406,353
2012 172 153,634 5,164 662,995
2013 167 132,173 1,986 259,421
2014 5 5,154 1,023 147,549
2015 130 156,592 5,504 664,553 128,326 382,574
2016 128 120,956 6,204 597,092 188,570 493,156
2017 262 190,137 17,326 1,808,417 237,477 791,675

That said, I still have some ways to go. For instance, Steve Sailer gets an order of magnitude more pageviews (c.11 million in 2017).

 

Looking Forwards

What next for the Russia blogosphere?

My impression is that things are becoming dumbed down, very r-selected. The Russia commentary now is dominated by folks who make La Russophobe (remember it?) look like the apex of nuance and reason. Which doesn’t stop the likes of Louise Mensch, Eric Garland, and Molly McKew from having a couple of orders of magnitude more Twitter followers than myself (or other minimally sane people, such as Bryan MacDonald, Ben Aris, or even Leonid Bershidsky).

It has to be admitted that grounding the Russia discourse in reality, a goal which I was seriously pursuing as late as 2013, has completely failed – and that the New Cold War is here to stay, even though it was a ridiculous prospect when Ed Lucas first wrote the eponymous Russia-baiting book. I do not care to participate in this information war on either side of the trenches, since I am not making money off it, and because my goals and values are orthogonal to those of the Kremlin elites and the globalist elites anyway.

With this in mind, I now feel more strongly than ever that I need to put a capstone to my Russia watching career in the form of a book: Dark Lord of the Kremlin.

Yes, yes, I know I have been promising it to my long-suffering readers for years now – but I really do think 2018 will be the year.

Could the increasing inanity/censorship of social media drive resurgence of a blogging?

I sure hope so, but there’s tentative signs that social media usage is falling off.

However, it seems many of them are migrating to other media formats, not back to bloggers.

Video seems like best way to reach the masses.

Our ROGPR YouTube channel (Alt Right politics and video gaming for Russians) now has 4,200 subscribers after half a year of intermittent new content.

People like RAMZPAUL have become media sensations, up to the point that Ron Unz has opened up a videos section on this journal.

This is certainly something I will delve into deeper, though not in 2018. Spreading oneself too thin is a mistake, and one that I have made more times than I should have.

Other potential projects

  • Dark Equilibrium: Book length version/expansion of my essay on The Age of Malthusian Industrialism.
  • A post-apocalyptic sci-fi book (if I manage to get DLK and DE done this year).
  • Apollo’s Ascent: Book length version of this essay. Realistically speaking, not going to happen until 2021 at the earliest, since it’s a massive undertaking and I frankly don’t have the necessary background to adequately realize it yet.

What next for HBD, futurism?

Momentum is building up at a blistering pace, with new discoveries in the genomics of IQ made seemingly every week.

In the long-term, the political hysterias of today (Ukraine, Russiagate, Trump, etc.) will fade into irrelevance, but the future dynamics of genetic editing + IQ augmentation will pretty much determine who gets to rule the 21st century (unless machine intelligence cuts humanity out of the loop early). And I will gradually – especially after the publication of DLK – want to reorient more in that direction after 2018.

Definitely seems a good idea to get in on early on this for both publicistic and commercial reasons.

Open Thread 33: Linkman Soup

Dmitry Hvorostovsky, one of the Russia’s best and most beloved artists, died this week of brain cancer.

 

Main News

“The Kremlin is of course very proud of this whole Russian interference story. It shows they are not just a group of old K.G.B. guys with no understanding of digital but an almighty force from a James Bond saga,” Mr. Volkov said in a telephone interview. “This image is very bad for us. Putin is not a master geopolitical genius.”

One of the few points on which many svidomy Ukrainians and progressive Americans differ with Russian liberals is that while the former basically view Putin as a God, the latter tend to take a much dimmer view of Putin’s actual talents, influence, and capabilities (for the record, I am sooner in the second camp, though I am not a Russian liberal).

russian-liberal-putler-shillsThis has resulted in the rather amusing spectable of America’s handshakeworthies and Blue Checkmarks now regularly accusing the likes of Alexey Kovalev and Leonid Bershidsky – both liberal anti-Putinists, who, nonetheless, inhabit the reality-based universe, the one in which Putin is your typical Internet-challenged boomer and a few modest Russian Facebook campaigns are irrelevant for determining the results of an elections whose total costs run into the billions of dollars – of being shills for Putler (see right).

It’s all so hilarious, and I even feel a bit sorry for them, since they’d be much more successful if they didn’t suffer from a certain degree of respect for reality and honesty, like the Russia Experts of the Current Year (Louise Mensch, John Schindler, Eric Garland, Molly McKew, James Kirchick, etc) who make the old generation of propagandists like Ed Lucas appear like paragons of intelligence and objectivity.

Commenter CanSpeccy added a cool video:

I have at times speculated about how to increase the effectiveness of terrorist attacks with modern technology. I think one of the most promising ideas that’s already very technically feasible is to mount guns with tracking systems onto drones. Can do a huge amount of damage if you could set it loose at an open air concern or a mass protest…

This slaughterbot idea is even more elegant… but is probably still a decade or two off. First and foremost, it needs to have sufficient intelligence for indoor navigation without the use of GPS, and for face recognition. Both tasks are computationally intensive, so we either need much more progress on minituarization, or a reliable Internet connection to a server farm (wouldn’t it be hilarious to  to be murdered through your own WiFi… or to be saved by Comcast’s incompetence).

Also battery longevity might be an issue, though minituarization is progressing fast.

 

Russia

* LNR Coup – to be covered separately.

More on this:

Incidentally, re-net neutrality: I think this is essentially Comcast and Time Warner vs. Google, Facebook, and Twitter on who gets to be Picus News in our cyberpunk future.

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  • More Google censorship: YouTube removes the channel of Russian Faith, a Christian side project of Russia Insider run by David Curry, without even bothering to cite a reason why.

Hundreds of videos have been lost.

* Mikhail Batin: Patriarch Kirill preaches against transhumanism

 

World

  • Trump/Ballgate. Trump picks his culture wars well. As usual, snarking libs don’t realize they’re getting played.

NFLgate showed them to be unpatriotic. Now they come off as literal dindus.

Could the Ancients Have Had an Industrial Revolution?

Vanagaite’s specific crime was to question whether the celebrated partisan Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas, who Lithuanians honor for his struggle against the Soviet occupation, was an appropriate choice as a symbol for 2018—the year the nation will be celebrating the centennial of its original independence. …

Many Lithuanians had already had enough of Vanagaite with her 2016 book Our People. In it she, an ethnic Lithuanian and descendant of Holocaust perpetrators, wrote openly about her countrymen’s (and her family’s) role in annihilating Lithuania’s 220,000 Jews. She found herself on the receiving end of personal threats and disparagements, including accusations of being on the take from the Kremlin. …

The latest episode, however, seems to have been too much even for most of her supporters. As a result of a public storm, Vanagaite’s long-term publisher Alma Littera severed its relationship with her, announcing that all her five books would be pulled off the shelves and pulped—including those books that have nothing to do with the subject. A patriotically-minded group filed a suit against her with the prosecutor general alleging slander and denigration of memory of a deceased person.

Naturally, this gets about 100x less attention that Russia’s politicization of history.

Print

  • Result of China dropping its One Child Policy in 2015? Births rise by 7.6% to 18.46 million in 2016, with the biggest increase (+62%!) in Beijing.

 

Culture War

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