Friday, December 25, 2015

A Christmas Present for the Whole World!

Merry Christmas, World!

I have done more than my share of spreading collapse-related doom and gloom, and to make up for it today I am spreading a bit of cheer, in the form of a pleasant, useful, family-friendly booklet titled

The Pitfalls of English: A Guide and Reference

It is a dictionary of English heterographs, heteronyms and contronyms. (If you don't know what they are, read on!) The amazing thing about this book is that up until now it didn't exist. But then, as Nassim Taleb pointed out, how many centuries did it take for people to realize that maybe they should put suitcases on casters(US)/castors(UK)?

If you are reading this, then this book is for you. Maybe you want to avoid making a fool of yourself when speaking or writing English. Or maybe you just want to devise devilishly clever puns. Or maybe you need a thoughtful gift for that special person whose sloppy spelling annoys you. In short, it's a good book to have, provided you either know or would like to know English. It's very reasonably priced, so please buy two, keep one copy as a reference and use the other to slap people with when they make mistakes. Better yet, buy a whole bunch, and give one to every English teacher you know. And if you are an English teacher, have the school buy one for each of your students (at a large quantity discount).

Here is the introduction that lays out the entire rationale for this book:

English is an incredibly handy language. In fact, if you only know one language, but it’s English, you’ll probably manage to get by somehow. It’s almost incomparably easier to learn than Chinese, Arabic or Russian. Even Spanish, which is another incredibly handy language, and also fairly easy to learn, has quite a bit more grammatical machinery to it than English: grammatical gender, inflections and so on.

This is why English is in such widespread use all over the world. If a Chinese, a Russian and an Arab meet and have a conversation, it’s a safe bet that they will be speaking English. There are many reasons why it’s so easy to learn: English grammar is small and simple; English vocabulary is international, much of it borrowed from Latin, Greek, French and other languages; and a bit of English is easy to pick up simply by paying attention, because it has excellent penetration throughout the world via popular music, movies and the Internet.

So far so good. But there is another side to English which makes it rather unnecessarily complicated. While spoken English is easy, written English is so confusing that kids in English-speaking countries spend several more years just learning how to read and write than kids who grow up speaking much more complicated languages, such as the aforementioned Chinese, Russian and Arabic. About half the kids end up having serious difficulties with learning to read and write English.

All the trouble comes from the fact that most English words are still written pretty much the same way they were when they first entered the language—which was often hundreds of years ago, when they sounded very different. For example, when the English first started using the word “nature,” they most likely pronounced it “nah-TOO-reh.” Now they pronounce it “NAY-chuh,” but they still write it as if it were pronounced “nah-TOO-reh.” What this means is that for a great many English words (some 40 percent of them) you have to memorize both how they sound and how they are written, separately. And that, as an English person might put it, is “a bit of a bother.”

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

On the 19th day of Christmas...

[Am 19. Tag der Weihnachtszeit...]
[En el diecinueveavo día de Navidad...]
[Priez pour un hiver doux en Ukraine…]

With all the action in Syria, the Ukraine is no longer a subject for discussion in the West. In Russia, where the Ukraine is still a major problem looming on the horizon, and where some 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees are settling in, with no intentions of going back to what's left of the Ukraine, it is still actively discussed. But for the US, and for the EU, it is now yet another major foreign policy embarrassment, and the less said about it the better.

In the meantime, the Ukraine is in full-blown collapse—all five glorious stages of it—setting the stage for a Ukrainian Nightmare Before Christmas, or shortly after.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

License to Kill

Jakub Rozalski
[Permis de tuer]
[Lizenz zum Töten]
[Licenza di uccidere]

[This post is, once again, a rerun, but its subject seems quite timely. As you watch the political establishment in the US go through its usual antics, ask yourself: are they even capable of understanding the fact that they have already lost the empire?]

The story is the same every time: some nation, due to a confluence of lucky circumstances, becomes powerful—much more powerful than the rest—and, for a time, is dominant. But the lucky circumstances, which often amount to no more than a few advantageous quirks of geology, be it Welsh coal or West Texas oil, in due course come to an end. In the meantime, the erstwhile superpower becomes corrupted by its own power.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

The Imperial Collapse Playbook

[Il libretto del Collasso Imperiale]
[Das Imperiale Kollaps – Drehbuch]
[Manuel pratique de l’effondrement impérial]

[This is a rerun, which seems timely given the recent American efforts to poison relations between Turkey and Russia. The shoot-down of the Russian jet was clearly a well-poisoning exercise either directly ordered or, at the very least, approved by the Pentagon. In a future blog post, I will explain why this same old strategy isn't going to produce the same old results the Americans have come to expect.]

Some people enjoy having the Big Picture laid out in front of them—the biggest possible—on what is happening in the world at large, and I am happy to oblige. The largest development of 2014 is, very broadly, this: the Anglo-imperialists are finally being forced out of Eurasia. How can we tell? Well, here is the Big Picture—the biggest I could find. I found it thanks to Nikolai Starikov and a recent article of his.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Shrinking the Technosphere, Part VIII

[Réduire la techno-sphère, Partie VIII]

This series of blog posts offers a preview to a book which is yet to be written. Since it is turning out to be a rather long series, it seems fair to recap, to give you an idea of where we have been and where we are going. We started with a discussion of how the contemporary living arrangement, in the US specifically, but also in various other so-called “developed nations,” has become entirely untenable, because it forces us to rely on a suite of technologies that is unsustainable and catastrophic for the environment. These technologies are forced upon us by a set of political technologies that rob us of our power and will to pick and choose what technologies we use. We have also reviewed another set of political technologies—ones that are used to destroy nations around the world should they prove unwilling to go along with the deranged master plan.

We haven’t yet discussed what political technologies can be used – and are used with an increasing degree of success – to bring this forced death march to a halt. But that’s coming. Instead we took a grand detour, to look at what the best-case scenario looks like if it is, in fact, brought to a halt, if the political technologies that are being used to destroy both society and the biosphere are swept away. And it turns out that the best-case scenario is still pretty bad, because of all the unwelcome developments that are already baked into the cake, such as: