Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Suicidal Empire

There are a lot of behaviors being exhibited by those in positions of power in the US that seem disparate and odd. We watch Trump who is imposing sanctions on country after country, dreaming of eradicating his country’s structural trade deficit with the rest of the world. We watch pretty much all of US Congress falling over each other in their attempt to impose the harshest possible sanctions on Russia. People in Turkey, a key NATO country, are literally burning US dollars and smashing iPhones in a fit of pique. Confronted with a new suite of Russian and Chinese weapons systems that largely neutralize the ability of the US to dominate the world militarily, the US is setting new records in the size of its already outrageously bloated yet manifestly ineffectual defense spending. As a backdrop to this military contractor feeding frenzy, the Taliban are making steady gains in Afghanistan, now control over half the territory, and are getting ready to stamp “null and void,” in a repeat of Vietnam, on America’s longest war. A lengthening list of countries are set to ignore or compensate for US sanctions, especially sanctions against Iranian oil exports. In a signal moment, Russia’s finance minister has recently pronounced the US dollar “unreliable.” Meanwhile, US debt keeps galloping upwards, with its largest buyer being reported as a mysterious, possibly entirely nonexistent “Other.”

Thursday, August 16, 2018

When Truth Becomes the Enemy

In recent times, people around the world, especially in Russia, have been surprised to discover that Americans appear to have lost their minds. For more than a year, ever since the last presidential elections, they have been waxing hysterical over some sort of horrible Russian meddling. At first, it was supposed to be an effort to influence the outcome of the election. After an interminable investigation failed to yield any evidence, the charge was reformulated more vaguely: as interference in the American democratic process. They couldn’t explain what that means, but it sure sounded serious! And then they couldn’t substantiate any of these claims either. Time to reformat the charge again, this time claiming that “the Russians” (the term now used as a sort of racist epithet) are exploiting social media to incite violence or unrest in the US. They can’t be serious! Or can they?


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Censoring Alex Jones

Something happened recently that made me feel like a bit of an endangered species. A set of transnational internet companies, including Google, Facebook, Apple and several others, all synchronously removed content belonging to infowars.com, which is run by Alex Jones. Such synchronicity is a sure sign of conspiracy—something that Alex Jones harps on a lot.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

The Coolest Substance on Earth

It is August, and the northern hemisphere is engulfed in flames. A major conflagration in Greece caused major damage and loss of life; Portugal is ablaze once again; there are uncontained wildfires in Ontario, California and elsewhere. In France, four nuclear reactors have been forced to shut down due to high heat and low water (they are cooled by river water). In a number of regions, entire harvests of cash crops are being lost to droughts. Throughout Europe, tourists are wading into fountains in a futile attempt to keep cool. Many places in Europe, which is experiencing the longest heatwave in 45 years, have broken their all-time temperature records, while overall 2018 is slated to become the fourth hottest year on record.

Under such circumstances, there is only one thing for me to do. I want to do what I can to help everyone cool down. To this end, here is an article about a very cool substance, which I hope will make you feel cool—in more ways than one!

Thursday, August 02, 2018

A Retreat into Bad Poetry

It's been over two weeks since Putin talked to Trump in Helsinki, and the hubbub around this meeting has died down somewhat, making it possible to put together some thoughts on what on Earth that all was. Obviously, there was a lot for these two heads of state to discuss, just to keep the international situation from spinning out of control, and perhaps they did. And, equally obviously, the one thing that these two couldn’t have possibly done is prevent the political situation within the US from spinning out of control.


Unspelled version:

A retrIt Hntu PVT pGetrh

Hts PHn GFd tU MIks sHns pUthn tOkt tU trBmp Hn RelsHNki, + Y RBPbP arWnT YHs mIthN RVS TXT TWn sBmMot, mCkhN Ht pOshPl tU pQt tqKEYd sBm yOts On MOt On Dy YVt Ol MOS. OPFhuslh, YEd MOS A lOt fOr YIS tU RETS OF stCt tU ThskBs, JBst tU kIp Y hntdnVznal shjuCzon frOm spHnhN Wt OF kontrGl, + pdRVps YC THT. +, IkMalh OPFhuslh, Y MBn yHN YVt YIS tU kQTnt RVF pOshPlh TBn HS preFEnt Y polHthkl shjuCzon MhYHn Y LU-Es frOm spHnhN Wt OF kontrGl.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A Midsummer Pause

58ºN is the latitude at which we spend our summers. We are 3º south (and 120º west) of Anchorage, Alaska. Currently, the weather here is subtropical, and has been for weeks on end. A pair of shorts suffices as far as clothing (laundered daily by jumping in the river). Jumping in the river is still refreshing, although it's warm enough to spend half the day in without getting chilled.

Daytime temperatures hover around 27ºC; tomorrow's max is forecast to be around 30ºC. There is frequently a thunderstorm and a torrential downpour in the afternoon. Everything, including weeds, is growing much faster than usual. There is a big crop of apples on the way, many of which are being blown to the ground during the afternoon thunderstorms, and picking them up and doing useful things with them is turning into a big job. The only way to deal with so many apples is to build a cider press and a still. Next year there will be Calvados.

With so much going on at the moment, there is less time for me to write, so I will make this one short and to the point. I will publish a longer post on Thursday. For those who want to read it, there will be three options:

1. Register and pledge $1/month or more via my page at Patreon. There, you will find an entire archive of articles that you may have missed out on.

But since some people don't like the idea of a monthly pledge, even a minimal one, or don't like Patreon, or are too Luddite to navigate Patreon's interface, or don't have a credit/debit card, or generally believe that high-quality web content should grow on trees, I offer two other options:

2. Learn French and wait a week or two. Almost everything I write eventually becomes available in French here. (Since 80% of English is actually derived from French, this shouldn't be a problem.)

3. Learn Unspell and read the free, unspelled versions of my paywalled articles. Unspell is even easier to learn than French, since it's actually just spoken English written down without all the spelling mistakes that have found themselves into English dictionaries over the centuries. (Since 80% of English is either misspelled or mispronounced, or both, this is a big problem.)

Meanwhile, I would also like to share with you three observations that I found particularly interesting.

1. Shale oil fields in the US are depleting at an ever-accelerating rate. The most recent drop is half a million barrels per month per day. The Red Queen Syndrome—having to run faster and faster just to stay in one place—is in full swing.

2. With oil prices now higher than they have been in quite a while, you'd expect that the US shale industry would be making money, or at least breaking even. Well, no, it's still hemorrhaging money. We still hear sporadic noises about the US shale industry becoming "more efficient than ever." But what use is efficiency if it just results in more efficient financial losses?

3. The US is currently the world's largest oil producer and has become an oil exporter. But it still isn't producing enough to satisfy its own oil addiction. It depends on oil imports for another reason: shale oil is very light. It is most useful for making gasoline, which is a small-engine fuel. It is not useful for making diesel, jet fuel or heavy oil, which is what industry runs on.

This brings up a number of questions:

• With decline rates this high and rising, how long will it take for US shale oil to crash?
• Once it crashes, what will happen to the mountain of debt it has left behind?
• Since shale oil and shale gas drilling are related, what will this do to the currently fashionable dream of competing against Gazprom in Europe?
• Trump dreams of repatriating offshored industry by imposing tariffs. But industry takes energy, and given that this is what's happening with energy, isn't he just whistling past the graveyard?

Feel free to discuss, and stand by for Tursday. Meanwhile, I have a few wheelbarrows of apples to chop and mash.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Collapse and the Good Life

Much of what I have been writing about for the past 13 years, starting with the article Post-Soviet Lessons for a Post-American Century, has been negative: the topic of the ongoing, slow but accelerating, collapse of the United States is not a happy subject. The negativity is inevitable: my goal has been to inspire my readers to transform their lives in a way that will allow them to avoid getting hurt by the collapse, and the motivation to do so is two-part. One part is negative: understanding what to move away from; the other, equally essential, is positive: what to move toward. The negative part is much simpler to spell out than the positive, because while the negative factors tend to affect everyone, although in different ways and to different extents, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for everyone to embrace and implement.


I understand that some people are opposed to paying $1 a month to read ClubOrlov premium content. For them, I would like to offer another option: to read the premium content in its unspelled version. (Information on how to read Unspelled English.)

kolVps + Y KQT lXf

mBj OF MOt X RVF PHn rXthN vPWt fOr Y pVst 13 LHdS, stArthN MHY Y Arthkl pGst-sGFLet lEsonS fOr A pGst-amErhkan sEnjdh, RVS PHn nEKvthF: Y tOphk OF Y ONKghN, slG PBt vksEldcthN, kolVps OF Y LunXteT stCts HS nOt A RVph sBPJekt. Y negvnHFhth HS hnEFhtaPl: mX KGl RVS PHn tU hnspXd mX rITdS tU trvnsfOrm YEd lXFS Hn A MC YVt MHl blW YEm tU vFOLT KEthN RDt PX Y kolVps, + Y mgthFCzon tU TU sG HS tU-pArt. MBn pArt HS nEKvthF: bnTdstVnThN MOt tU mUF bMC frOm; Y BYd, IkMalh esEnzl, HS pOShthF: MOt tU mUF tqMOrT. Y nEKvthF pArt HS mBj sHmpld tU spEl Wt YVn Y pOShthF, PekOS MXl Y nEKvthF fVktdS tEnT tU vfEkt EFrhMbn, olYG Hn THfdent MCS + tU THfdent ekstEnts, YEd HS nG MBn-sXS-fHts-Ol solUzon fOr EFrhMbn tU emPrCs + Hmplement.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

US Intelligence Community as a Collapse Driver

In today’s United States, the term “espionage” doesn’t get too much use outside of some specific contexts. There is still sporadic talk of industrial espionage, but with regard to Americans’ own efforts to understand the world beyond their borders, they prefer the term “intelligence.” This may be an intelligent choice, or not, depending on how you look at things.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Calling the Deep State’s Bluff

Something happened during the press conference that followed the Putin-Trump summit in Helsinki that is nothing short of remarkable. In what, based on the timing, could only have been an effort by special prosecutor Mueller and the powers behind him to sabotage the summit, immediately before the meeting Mueller issued an indictment against 12 “Russian spies”, alleging that they had hacked into an email server at the Democratic National Committee and conveyed the emails they stole to Wikileaks. The accusations are evidence-free and there is evidence to the contrary: based on the spacing of the time stamps, the emails published by Wikileaks had to have been copied very quickly directly to a flash drive by someone who had physical access to the server, not relatively slowly over an internet connection. It therefore seems likely that this indictment, just like the previous one against a Russian restauranteur and his employees, will lead to a dismissal in the courts. Like the previous indictment, it was a dirty political ploy, sacrificing international relations for the sake of domestic political advantage.


Monday, July 16, 2018

Newsflash! World War III Finally Over!

Palmier Encoberto
Unbeknownst to most, World War III has been raging for very close to three decades now—ever since the collapse of the Berlin Wall. It was preceded by the Cold War, which ended when Mikhail Gorbachev capitulated to the West, causing the Warsaw Pact to dissolve in confusion. In spite of his capitulation, the West never abandoned its plan to destroy the Warsaw Pact along with parts of the former USSR, then conquer and dismember Russia itself. In absence of any military threat from the east, NATO, along with its parasitic twin, the European Union, has relentlessly expanded eastward, gobbling up country after country. It has by now conquered the entire Warsaw Pact plus Moldova and the three tiny Baltic statelets, and is now going after other loose bits of the former USSR: the Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia. The reason almost nobody in the West realizes that World War III has been happening all along is that the West has suffered a mental collapse as profound as the USSR’s physical collapse. Russia has recovered from its collapse; the West probably never will.