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.)

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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.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Individualism as a Risk Factor

The United States attracts a great many people. In 2017 a million and a half people immigrated to the US, most of them from India, China, Mexico, Cuba and the Philippines, in that order. In spite of outdated infrastructure, a failing educational system that ranks 17th in the world, a costly and ineffective medical system, a legal system that is an impenetrable maze and numerous other problems and shortcomings, the US is still seen as attractive—not in general, but for one specific purpose: for a chance to make some money. To a large extent, by now the rest of the world’s countries have carved up their endowments of wealth, leaving little loose change for anyone to easily grab. But in the US its very failures provide opportunities for foreign-born opportunists.

There are close to 44 million first-generation immigrants currently in the US, but taking into account all immigration over its entire history since the beginning of European colonization 98% of its population consists of immigrants and their descendants, and except for some number of notable exceptions (the slave trade; the Irish fleeing famine; the Jews fleeing the Holocaust) they were all opportunists who came for the opportunities.

Although many of them clung to their own tribes for a generation or two, forming ethnic enclaves, again, except for some number of notable exceptions (the Jews, the Armenians, etc.) after a few generations most of them became entirely “Americanized”, intermixed through intermarriage and ethnically denatured. Clearly, the opportunities they came for were individual opportunities, not opportunities for their ethnic groups as a whole, and those still living in ethnic enclaves generation after generation are the least successful. This process has resulted in a country that is extremely well stocked with opportunistic individualists.


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Taking Refuge in Insanity

Reality can be harsh. “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley,” quoth Robert Burns. The more ambitious the plans, the harder the gods laugh in our faces when they come to nought. As our struggle to achieve our aims hardens into deadlock, so does our conviction that our cause is righteous, petrifying into a blind faith that is impervious to contradictory facts. Instead of reassessing our aims and reexamining our strategy we simply push harder and harder in the same direction, going by the dictum that if brute force doesn’t work then we just aren’t using enough of it.

But the seemingly impenetrable, fact-proof façade obscures a delicate and vulnerable organism sheltering behind it: every contrary word that gets through causes a wound; every grain of truth becomes an irritant. As the laughter of the gods grows louder, we shut our eyes and plug our ears, and yelloch our sacred slogans through amplifiers turned up all the way to eleven. But a time comes when the reality of our failure can no longer be ignored, and then it is time for a break—a psychotic break.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

An Immersive Experience

I generally stay away from subjects as trivial as sport. Various physical games are useful in bringing up healthy children, but professional sport is part of a system of organized distraction—entertainment. I like draw a distinction between entertainment and fun: it’s fun if you make it yourself and it requires some amount of work on your part; if you just passively sit and soak it in, it’s entertainment. Hiking up a mountain is fun; watching someone climb Mount Everest—unless you are preparing to do so yourself—is entertainment and therefore a waste of your time. I have a lot of fun observing the as of yet incomplete collapse of Western civilization, and this is not a waste of my time—or yours—because I am preparing to survive it, as should you.

But I suppose there are times when the form of organized distraction that is professional sport escapes the realm of the trivial and approaches the sublime, and it’s starting to seem that the World Cup that is currently underway in Russia is just such a happening, and it has forced me to pay attention to it—by no means just for the sake of football, although the twists and turns of this tournament have been quite curious. Nobody could have predicted that some of the strongest teams—Germany and Spain—would be eliminated before the quarter-finals, or that the latter of them would be eliminated by Russia. Russian footballers are not known for winning internationally. A popular joke goes: What does Russia want for New Year? (Christmas, which is on January 7th, is not a gift-giving occasion.) New legs for its footballers! That Russia made it into the quarter-finals is already a huge victory and a minor miracle, and there is much dancing in the streets. Akinfeev, the Russian goalkeeper to whom the team owes its victory over Spain several times over, has become a national hero and an internet meme.