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I would like to thank everyone for participating in the Reader Poll 2016.

The responses have been very helpful and have helped spur me on to make some strategic changes to the way I’ll proceed with my blogging forthwith.

reader-poll-2016-results

First off, it’s good to know that the average “quality of posts” mark was 4.2/5, so I guess deleting my account and doing something more productive online, like mining gold on Warcraft, is premature. The “regularity of posts” marker could do with some improvements. There seems to be general satisfaction with the commenting policy, so I will largely keep to my hands off approach (apart from cracking down on some of the most egregious trolls). Otherwise, since the quality of comments are largely a function of the quality of the blog posts they are responding to – for instance, no-one would bother trolling the blog of someone like pseudoerasmus – the onus here is on me more than anyone else.

In terms of topics – geopolitics, Russia, HBD, futurism – no change is merited. Although my Russia/geopolitics fanbase is the biggest one, it is not absolutely preponderant, and besides, there are plenty of people who like the mix and match approach (e.g. Russia + futurism, geopolitics + HBD, etc). Besides, of the top 5 listed blogs that people read in addition to mine, three are HBD blogs (Sailer, GNXP, West Hunt) while The Saker is only third.

Finally, there is pretty overwhelming demand for me to start writing reviews, which is something I’m entirely happy to accomodate. As a base for future reviews here, I have created a special web page at my home website here: http://akarlin.com/library/

It contains a sortable list of most of the books I’ve (fully) read, the video games I’ve played, and some of the films I’ve watched as well as the categories they belong to, their publication dates, my ratings of them, and where available, links to my already existing reviews of them. That list will remain updated in the future.

The biggest change I will be making, however, is in regards to social media.

zucky-and-peons

Zuck Walks Past His Oblivious VR Addled Peons

I am leaving Twitter and Facebook.

There are good reasons for this, which I will soon expound on, but just in case you mostly follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook, the most convenient way of continuing to do so as well as keep up with multiple other blogs is to use a feed reader. Feedly is generally acknowledged to be the best in existence today, though there are also others such as the The Old Reader which reproduce much of the functionality of the much missed Google Reader. To follow my blog in particular, just insert one of the following feeds:

… into the search/input box on your feed reader and click to subscribe. This is an extremely convenient tool if you follow multiple blogs or even individual columnists. (Most, though not all, news websites now have separate feeds for individual categories, authors, etc).

Now back to the social media question.

The proximate (or “selfish”) reason is that the Reader Poll revealed that I do not depend near as much on social media for my audience as I had imagined. Although a third of respondents follow me on Twitter, only 11% use it as the primary way to follow my posts. A mere two respondents follow me on Facebook. Now if those figures had been inverse, at 90%, then obviously abandoning those platforms would have been unfeasible. But if I only stand to lose at most 10% of my more engaged readers – and that’s assuming none of them switch over to other ways of following my blog (see above) – then its a price worth paying for cutting my reliance on a facet of modern society that I have gradually come to view as being even so much superficial as negative value added.

Yes, that’s right. Much like Soviet factories in the early 1990s, or arguably the metastasized financial sector in the West today, my argument is that social media consumes far more useful resources than the questionable “benefits” it produces. Far from “democratizing” global discourse, as techno-utopians hoped it would in the optimistic days of the first decade of the 21st century, it has in fact privileged soundbytes over sound analysis, confounded and contaminated rather than clarified, decelerated and devalued intellectual progress, and entrenched the power of the economic and political elites.

Let’s look at these bold claims one by one.

First, social media has been heralded for increasing the amount of information at the fingertips of the “global citizen” (a creature that is just as mythical today as he was in the days of its inventor Immanuel Kant). This may be so, but the banal fact is that for a long time now, the problem has not been so much a lack of information as a surfeit of it. (In the big picture, historians only suffer from a paucity of sources as regards pre-Early Modern Europe; since at least the nineteenth century, the struggle has been over what to include and emphasize). There is still a problem of limited access to important information – the Bilderbergers don’t seem to be in any particular rush to open up the minutes of their meetings, for all that their counterparts (largely the same class of people) at Davos wax lyrical about this brave new world of openness and transparency. There has been some formidable theoretical and more importantly, practical and technological work to undermine this, spearheaded by Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and the rest of the “cypherpunk” mileau, but guess what percentage of that had anything whatsoever to do with social media. That’s right – zilch.

This hints at a related problem, a paradox even: Even though there might be a surfeit of information, there is at the same time a deficit of useful information. Nicholas Nassim Taleb, one of the few public intellectuals worthy of the title, made the brilliant observation in Black Swan that “news shared with millions gives you no real advantage,” since it is inevitably already priced into people’s models of the world. Furthermore, apart from wasting your time, there is a real risk that reading newspapers might even “decrease your knowledge of the world” insofar as the media foist upon you a narrative interpretation of reality that often has little or nothing to do with reality itself. Now if this is the case for newspapers, how much more so for Twitter? Taleb’s recommendation is to “denarrate, that is, shut down the television set, minimize time spent reading newspapers, ignore the blogs.” Very good advice, even if mercenary self-interest makes me argue for making at least a partial exception to that last part…

Second, social media has been praised for enabling “people power” and unleashing the revolutionary energies that would overthrow creaky old authoritarian regimes – a Whiggish faith in progress that approaches cult status, or technological solutionism as Evgeny Morozov called it. To be sure, it is true enough that social media has of course played a substantial role in fomenting so-called “color revolutions” across the post-Soviet and Islamic worlds – Moldova, Egypt, Ukraine, Armenia, Syria, etc. (with not inconsiderable help from “activist training programs” run by the State Department and its various affiliates-in-practice-if-not-name, Western oligarchs like George Soros, and the tech giants themselves).

The problem is that a monkey clattering away at a keyboard is still a monkey. Almost without exception, all the countries where color revolutions prevailed have proceeded to collapse in on themselves. This pattern is not surprising to anyone who has bothered to acquaint himself with the accounts of these color revolution activists, many of which are characterized by a distinctive mixture of boorishness, gratuitous profanity, parochial nationalism, and a vindictive authoritarian streak that in the case of Ukraine extended to using the #banderakaratel hashtag to organize the mass abuse of Twitter’s report function to get opposing voices banned from the platform (despite this being an egregious violation of its own TOS, it took Twitter almost two years from the time of Euromaidan to do anything about this, by which point the campaign had long ceased to be very relevant). Once in power, these Yuropean intellectuals turned their attention to renaming everything after Bandera, even as their country collapsed around them. What was prophesied to be a torch for liberty has become a bullhorn for demagoguery and destruction.

Third, and again paradoxically, the real influence of social media – at least as a means for promoting truly original ideas, as opposed to their pastiches – remains highly marginal and circumscribed. Now I realize that this will raise some hackles at a time when Alt Right shitlords on Twitter are seemingly at the forefront of a popular reaction against the elites, while SJWs and Tumblrettes have appropriated the discourse on the Left from crusty old Communists (now “tankies“) and trade unionists. But think about it: In a hundred years, assuming that the Great Filter doesn’t do us in, who of the following will be remembered, and who will be but a footnote in the history books at best? Will it be the ephemeral, half-virtual protest movements, or the writers of the Big Books?

Look around you. Almost none of the hardcore intellectuals are on Twitter. Where is Andrew Wiles? Perelman? Shinichi Mochizuki? At best, they occasionally update their academic home page. Voluntary reclusion seems to be a constant prerequisite for getting serious intellectual work done. Who is the most prominent scientist on Twitter? Neil deGrasse Tyson. A professional publicist whose real achievements in astronomy are close to zero. The same goes for social scientists and historians. Those who are now primarily showmen are active on Twitter. Emmanuel Todd is not.

The flip side of the coin is that there are a number of potential intellectuals who instead crashed and burned on social media. The most prominent example in our parts might be Michael Anissimov, whose rather good and original ideas on neoreactionary political philosophy have been overshadowed by his misadventures on Twitter. The platform might have some marginal benefits in terms of publicity, but it carries the risk of cognitive contamination, and the ROI in terms of time does not look good. This is not something I have been immune from myself. For instance, I might have had a dopamine high from “winning” (perhaps) a debate on HBD/immigration with Leonid Bershidsky, but at the end of the day, he is a highly influential journalist with a column in Bloomberg and I am not.

The banal reality is that if you are a publicist on social media you are probably not near as witty as you think you are, probably quite superfluous, and many other people do what you do much better anyway (for instance, much of the Alt Right can quit any day, safe in the knowledge that Ricky Vaughn will continue hitting out of the ballpark). You are also, in all likelihood, just repeating yourself. My last Facebook post as of the time of writing, dated June 23, is a link to former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul’s Tweet in which he acknowledges that Putin is “not responsible” (for Brexit):

Come to think of it, isn’t this ironic ReTweet more or less what I have been saying since… I started blogging? And haven’t I been writing about the link between IQ and economic development since 2008, when I was less than two years out of high school? Yes I have, but in the meantime, Garett Jones has written an actual book about this, while low energy types such as myself, whom The Donald rightfully mocks, whiled away their time on frivolous activities. Shitlibs LOL. SJWs LOL. Svidomites LOL. Let’s write 140 characters on their latest inanity. It elicits a chuckle and is soon forgotten in the poorly indexed cyberwastes that are social media’s archives.

Social media has pretty much single-handedly killed off the once flourishing discourse across the blogosphere, reminiscent of the “culture of letters” in the long bygone heyday of European civilization. Here is Scholar’s Stage evocative account of what happened in the strategy sphere, though I can confirm from personal experience that exactly analogous processes were under way in the Russia watching world, and almost certainly in many other topical networks:

Many of the 200 word hot takes that would have ended up on a blog or forum in the days of yesteryear now happen on social media sites. Likewise, most commentary that would have ended up in a comments thread is now tweeted and retweeted on Twitter.

This brings me to a broader point I want to make about social media’s intersection with intellectual progress (or the lack thereof).

I was once at a futurist debate where one of the speakers was ranting some technoutopian nonsense about how high-bandwidth brain to brain communication systems would revolutionize science and allow much faster progress. I remarked, not at all facetiously, that we already have such a system: It’s called Twitter.

After all, it’s not the bandwidth or the ease of communications that’s bottlenecking anything; it’s a plain lack of the sort of very high-level intelligence that we increasingly need as the Flynn Effect grinds to a halt and we slam against the technological frontier. Social media do almost nothing to extend it. Bandwidth is already superfluous, more than our Dunbar Number brain can handle anyway, and is swamped by a low signal-to-noise ratio besides. Admittedly, social media does probably make information marginally easier to find, but I would argue that Alexandra Elbakyan’s humble academic paper sharing/piracy project Sci-Hub by itself has already achieved at least as much for global intellectual progress as Facebook and Twitter combined.

Finally, by rewiring so many first class brains from deep analytical mode to dopamine-seeking wisecrack mode – Charles Murray and even (ironically) N. N. Taleb himself might be in the early stages of that – social media might have ultimately retarded progress. This is not to even mention the considerable cognitive effort that has been expended directly to develop and maintain Facebook and its various clones and applications like Farmville, Mafia Wars, etc. as well as Twitter, Instagram, etc. It certainly pales besides the epochal misallocation of cognitive resources that is the modern financial sector, but it is probably quite considerable nonetheless.

Finally, it would be remiss in an extended critique of social media not to touch upon its increasingly cataclysmic political aspects.

In the past five years, social media have become ever more overt instruments of the globalist elites and their geopolitical and domestic agendas. Increasingly, they operate under the principle of “For my friends, everything; for my enemies, the law.” For instance, Russian nationalists who still maintain active Facebook accounts are far likelier to get hit with bans than their Ukrainian counterparts and other assorted color revolutionaries (see above). Ergo for Twitter, even though there has never been a Russian or Novorossiyan equivalent of the #banderakaratel campaign. This goes in tandem with support for pro-Western revolutionary forces across Eurasia, China, and the Islamic world. Ultimately, the major information companies are almost all US based, so it is only natural that they would seek to cater to American geopolitical interests. And needless to say, the Chinese and Russian governments use the tools they have at their disposal, such as domestic alternatives (Vkontakte, Sina Weibo, etc) and a policy of either banning foreign companies entirely (China) or making them keep their data on their own territory (Russia). It might be pointless to rail against this state of affairs, but it is outright dishonest to pretend that geopolitically, social media is some sort of global kumbaya circle.

The domestic agenda will be more familiar to Unz.com readers. Conservative and especially Alt Right voices are far likelier to get banned than their liberal and SJW opposites. When Return of Kings journalist and provocateur Matt Forney experienced a torrent of death threats from SJWs, it was his account that got banned for reporting them. Breitbart resident kebab Allum Bokhari compiled a list of five of the most egregious cases of Twitter unpersonings, which included reporting on (scrupulously documented!) instances of alleged pedophilia, fraud, and abuse on the part of SJW leaders. Meanwhile, a leading SJW and Gamergate critic who uses “set yourself on fire” as a universal comeback to any criticism of her positions has the personal ear of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

That said, these cases are atypical, if demonstrative; for the most part, the social media giants have taken a more nuanced approach to rigging the visibility game, shadowbanning politically inconvenient users (removing or reducing their visibility on search results and timelines) while promoting loyalists to the Eye of Soros. Politically inappropriate hashtags are manually suppressed from the trending lists. These processes are, if anything, even more overt at Facebook, what with the stunning recent revelations that its trending topic curators removed stories popular with conservatives and rumors that Facebook employees asked Zuckerberg if they could try to influence the elections against Trump. Although the Facebook CEO was quick to engage in damage control, his active personal support for Sorosian causes like #BlackLivesMatter and principled stand against all walls (except his own) put his company’s ultimate political neutrality under serious question.

picus-network-deus-ex

Picus HQ, Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

Potentially, Facebook (Google, Twitter) are far more powerful enterprises than even the MSM and the six major corporations that own 90% of it, since they have the power to manipulate and control access to who sees what. /pol/ is always right. So is Deus Ex. We are seeing the materialization of Picus News, a globespanning media conglomerate that directly or incorrectly controls most of the world’s news, complete with shadowy globalist cabal in the background and reinforced not by elite teams of cybernetically augmented assassins but your own Likes and RTs.

Though you might get censored and banned for expressing the wrong viewpoint in the US, at least you won’t go to jail (yet). But warnings, fines, and arrests for expressions of wrongthink about the women and children who are also doctors and engineers on social networks in Europe are now a weekly occurence, and things are only going to get much worse as trans-European regulations on “hate speech” are adopted under the auspices of the EU with the active connivance of Zuckerberg and Merkel, in which “extremism” functionally translates to “anything critical of the EU’s current catastrophic immigration policy.” In practice, these policies will likely extend to the US as well, because of the multinational nature of Facebook’s moderation and its cross-Atlantic ideological unity.

The US plans to start collecting social media profiles as a condition of entry into the country. Apps are being created that scour your social media profiles for financial and political reliability, and in the not too distant future might become a condition of getting hired or taking out credit. These apps have floundered thus far, but this might not be indefinite, as technology advances and the bargaining power of labor gets further diminished by mass immigration and automation. Facebook is taking steps to stake out its territory in Virtual Reality before it has even properly emerged, buying up the Oculus Rift and immediately refocusing it on advertising.

Should we continue feeding this machine? As Zuckerberg himself once said in a private message when founding Facebook, “They “trust me.” Dumb fucks.”

Let’s listen to him.

So we have established that social media contains almost no useful information, yields marginal if not outright returns on intellectual progress, promotes the baser elements of political discourse, and is increasingly blatantly manipulated by a historyless elite that will stop at nothing (except to make a buck off selling your personal information) in pursuit of its chiliastic dreams of social justice and an end to national sovereignty. Perhaps better alternatives will come along in time – for instance, some sort of social network based on the blockchain/Ethereum? – but as of today these systems have become forces for regression across almost all spheres of human activity.

All this is why I’m announcing a permanent end to my presence on Facebook and Twitter.

I will not delete them, because this is ultimately a kneejerk response, and I will feasibly use them twice a year to make very big announcements in the future (e.g. whenever I finally get a book published). Unfortunately, it also has considerable vestigial value as a big network that many people continue to use for its purely social functions like organizing meetups.

But the period in which I made active investments into my social media presence is definitively over.

So to sum it up here are the changes I’ll be making:

1. As per above, an end to social media. Anyway, after so much talk, it’s not like I can avoid the walk.

2. I will read more books, especially Big Books. As a political economy major it is ultimately rather embarassing that I have yet to read Capital in the 21st Century.

Taleb again: “I then completely gave up reading newspapers and watching television, which freed up a considerable amount of time (say one hour or more per day, enough time to read more than a hundred additional books per year, which, after a couple of decades, starts mounting).”

antilibrary

 

3. I will resume studying math – possibly the only intellectual sphere in which BS is impossible in principle, and which is quite possibly the ultimate basis of physical reality.

Not to mention that I have long wanted to explore and understand the real nitty gritty of The g Factor.

Ironically, what inspired me to this was this Tweet by N. N. Taleb. Even more ironically, it is in all likelihood the last ReTweet I will ever make.

4. I will focus anew on whittling down my ridiculous backlog in planned but unwritten books.

books-ak-future

5. As per the wisdom of the Unz.com crowd, I will write fewer short posts and shitposts, and will refocus on the longread and on reviews of books and the better sorts of video games.

The culture of letters might be dead, but perhaps it is not yet too late for individuals to continue to nurture its saplings behind walled gardens, like the Green Man in the Great Blight, in the faith that the day when the Troll-ocs and the other minions of Soros are driven out will eventually dawn.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Administration, Social Media 
106 Comments to "Logging Off"
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  1. 5371 says:

    [batting out of the ballpark]

    Hitting it out of the ballpark. One of very few mistakes you make with English idiom.
    Other than that, this is an excellent post.
    But let me recommend Bumbling American’s twitter account, anyway.

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  2. T. Greer says: • Website

    Twitter is utterly worthless. I use it only because a large percentage of my hits do come from people retweeting my pieces.

    Facebook was utterly worthless for me for a long time, but over the last year it has become quite a bit more important. There are Facebook feeds that are essentially blogs of the old style; there are two I check every day, religiously, as I used to check many blogs. The comment feeds and discussions found there are superior to anything I’ve seen in my comment threads.

    The catch though is that these are all private. You have to know the people–or at least they have to know you–to be invited in to their discussions.

    That might be part of what makes it work though. People are willing to drill down and play with interesting ideas when they don’t have to stake themselves publicly to everything they write. The old blogosphere managed this mostly through pseudonyms, which almost everyone had. In the new social media dominated ecosystem only the trolls are pseudonymous.

    Interesting too that your readers are demanding a contradiction from you. Either one can write less often but longer, or one can write more often but shorter. Asking someone to write both more and write long is much to ask indeed.

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    • Agree: Anatoly Karlin
    • Replies: @kk634_scarlatti

    Interesting too that your readers are demanding a contradiction from you. Either one can write less often but longer, or one can write more often but shorter. Asking someone to write both more and write long is much to ask indeed.
     
    I incline to believe readers want him to spend more time on writing for them, augmenting both piece lenght and quantity.

    My say is, he should write less, and more in depth (like this very post we are commenting on is ideal).
  3. “Taleb’s recommendation is to “denarrate, that is, shut down the television set, minimize time spent reading newspapers, ignore the blogs.”

    Eh…I don’t watch television for information, read newspapers only very selectively (and don’t support mainstream newspapers financially in any way since I want to see the Lügenpresse go down), and only follow a few blogs…but if I’d totally follow Taleb’s advice, how would I keep being informed about current events? Self-improvement by reading serious books is nice, and one should certainly avoid getting caught up in superficial silly controversies…but on some level one needs to know what’s currently going on.
    And you’re going to write reviews about video games? Though I’ve bashed video gaming as a waste of time in the past, I’m looking forward to this…will be interesting to see how that turns out (most writing about games is pretty stupid, would be nice to see something better).
    And good to hear that you’re quitting Twitter and Facebook…that kind of social media shouldn’t be supported.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    I see where you're coming from. I think he's exaggerating, as you say, it's still quite important to keep tabs on the news. Nowadays I mostly just use /r/worldnews on Reddit to get a gauge of the headline news and Project Syndicate to keep tabs on what the elites are thinking.

    I'll probably start it off with Hearts of Iron IV - Paradox strategy game, at least somewhat thematically relevant, and respectably NEETish. I decided to play my first game as Belgium to learn the ropes and experience Goetterdaemerung around 1939-1940. Instead, Hitler decided to smash his armies in frontal attacks against the Maginot Line, which eventually allowed Belgium Stronk to conquer northern German clay all the way to Berlin. Not a good start! (in that it reflects badly on the game's realism). OTOH, the Allies and I are now getting crushed by the Soviet Union with its 700 divisions. So its quite engaging at least!
    , @JL
    @German_reader

    I believe Taleb argues that if an event is really important enough, its existence will make itself known to you without you actively seeking it out.
    , @pink_point

    And you’re going to write reviews about video games? Though I’ve bashed video gaming as a waste of time in the past, I’m looking forward to this…will be interesting to see how that turns out (most writing about games is pretty stupid, would be nice to see something better).
     
    Isn't life a waste of time? Do you bash living?
    , @NoseytheDuke
    You don't get good information from news media you mostly get disinformation which is worse than not knowing much about current events.
  4. Blitzstat says:

    Registered an account on twitter a few months ago ( yes yes I’m slow to adopt “big” things ), but completely agree with your assertion regarding the lack of any worthwhile info to be found there. Reams of shitposting, trolling, meme-circulations and other bollocks. Glad that you’re back to writing longer posts on your blog.

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  5. inertial says:

    Short (and frequent) posts are great if they are interesting. In fact, this is the best format for the Russia-related stuff.

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  6. Glossy says: • Website

    Twitter IS a time sink. I got on it late, during the early stages of the Ukrainian crisis, before it turned into a war. I got obsessed with that story and Twitter turned out to be the fastest way to get lots of news on it.

    But yes, you will be ultimately remembered for the books that you write. Don’t stop blogging though. I like reading and commenting on these posts.

    In the big picture, historians only suffer from a paucity of sources as regards pre-Early Modern Europe; since at least the nineteenth century, the struggle has been over what to include and emphasize

    I’ve heard it said that classic (i.e. Greco-Roman) scholarship is the only academic discipline (meaning an area of knowledge that merits its own departments at lots of universities) that can be known completely. It’s possible for a single scholar to read everything that’s come down to us from Greco-Roman antiquity.

    I think that’s true of the Western Dark Ages too though. Not sure about Byzantium. I would guess that in Western history the point where the amount of surviving text become too large for a single scholar to read is somewhere between 1000 AD and 1200 AD.

    “news shared with millions gives you no real advantage,” since it is inevitably already priced into people’s models of the world. “

    The reason that I don’t play the stock market is that I assume that most of the consistent winners in it are trading on inside info and that to win money they need a large body of dupes (people who get all of their info from CNBC and other public sources) to lose it to them. Knowing human nature, the potential rewards and the corruptibility of our society’s institutions this seems very likely. And I have no inside info.

    “while SJWs and Tumblrettes have appropriated the discourse on the Left from crusty old Communists (now “tankies“) and trade unionists.”

    By that logic the people who support the US State Dept.’s and associated NGOs’ goals are dronies, water-bordies, and of course tankies as well.

    As Zuckerberg himself once said in a private message when founding Facebook, “They “trust me.” Dumb fucks.” Let’s listen to him.

    I clicked that link. Wow.

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    • Replies: @Glossy
    "It’s possible for a single scholar to read everything that’s come down to us from Greco-Roman antiquity. "

    By the way, this isn't remotely true of the ancient Near East. From the Wikipedia:

    Between half a million[2] and two million cuneiform tablets are estimated to have been excavated in modern times, of which only approximately 30,000[3] – 100,000 have been read or published. The British Museum holds the largest collection (c. 130,000), followed by the Vorderasiatisches Museum Berlin, the Louvre, the Istanbul Archaeology Museums, the National Museum of Iraq, the Yale Babylonian Collection (c.40,000) and Penn Museum. Most of these have "lain in these collections for a century without being translated, studied or published,"[2] as there are only a few hundred qualified cuneiformists in the world.[3]

    The reason is that ancient Mesopotamians wrote on clay, which becomes brick, which is quite durable, while the classic-era Greeks wrote on papyrus, which rots.
    , @Anatoly Karlin

    I think that’s true of the Western Dark Ages too though. Not sure about Byzantium. I would guess that in Western history the point where the amount of surviving text become too large for a single scholar to read is somewhere between 1000 AD and 1200 AD.
     
    It might be possible to answer this. There were ~10K manuscripts (surviving ones, presumably) produced in the 6-7C, 40K in 8C, ~200K in 9-11K, 800K in 12C, 1.8M in 13C, 2.7M in 14C, and 5M in 15C.

    Meanwhile, there were 12.5M books printed in 1454-1500, exploding to more than 200M in 16C.

    What is the length of the average medieval manuscript? (Modern novella/50K words?). And what percentage were originals? (Probably a small one - 1%?). Anyway, a very bad guesstimate should be just about possible.

    Interesting source: https://www.quora.com/How-much-writing-from-ancient-Greece-is-preserved-Is-it-a-finite-amount-that-someone-could-potentially-read

    While there are 105 million words in the TLG, most of them are Byzantine. I did a count of the words in the corpus in Lerna VIc: A correction of word form counts in 2009; because there is not massive growth in the number of known ancient texts, the counts still apply.

    If we define ancient Greece as up to the fourth century AD, and we exclude Christian works and technical works (so just literature, as opposed to writing), it's 16 million words. If a novel is around 100,000 words, that corresponds to 160 books; so yes, someone could potentially read it. If we cut it down to strictly Ancient times (down to the fourth century BC), it's 5 million words.
     
    --> http://hellenisteukontos.blogspot.com.au/2009/07/lerna-vic-correction-of-word-form.html

    Ancient Greece is, as you surmised, quite doable for someone dedicated. The Byzantine Empire has twice as much so it might be doable for someone very very dedicated. I would guess that Byzantine manuscript production might have been comparable to that of the most advanced medieval European region in the earlier centuries, though Western Europe surged well ahead by the late medieval period while the Byzantine Empire shrank both intellectually and demographically so they were no longer comparable by then.

    Anyhow, let assume Byzantines produced an average of 40K manuscripts (=11C Italy) during the rough millennium of its existence separate from Rome. Total = 400K, translating to ~90mn unique words, translating to 900 books as per the above. Probably just about doable in a professional lifetime for an especially dedicated and obsessed scholar. How many centuries for Western Europe to get to 400K total manuscripts/900 original modern book equivalents? As per Zanden, you have almost exactly 400K total manuscripts by 1000 AD. The next century increases that number by a further 50%, by which point even the nerdiest scholars will stumble and start to read more selectively. So...

    I would guess that in Western history the point where the amount of surviving text become too large for a single scholar to read is somewhere between 1000 AD and 1200 AD.
     
    Yikes! Congrats on a brilliant intuition.
  7. Glossy says: • Website
    @Glossy
    Twitter IS a time sink. I got on it late, during the early stages of the Ukrainian crisis, before it turned into a war. I got obsessed with that story and Twitter turned out to be the fastest way to get lots of news on it.

    But yes, you will be ultimately remembered for the books that you write. Don't stop blogging though. I like reading and commenting on these posts.

    In the big picture, historians only suffer from a paucity of sources as regards pre-Early Modern Europe; since at least the nineteenth century, the struggle has been over what to include and emphasize

    I've heard it said that classic (i.e. Greco-Roman) scholarship is the only academic discipline (meaning an area of knowledge that merits its own departments at lots of universities) that can be known completely. It's possible for a single scholar to read everything that's come down to us from Greco-Roman antiquity.

    I think that's true of the Western Dark Ages too though. Not sure about Byzantium. I would guess that in Western history the point where the amount of surviving text become too large for a single scholar to read is somewhere between 1000 AD and 1200 AD.

    "news shared with millions gives you no real advantage,” since it is inevitably already priced into people’s models of the world. "

    The reason that I don't play the stock market is that I assume that most of the consistent winners in it are trading on inside info and that to win money they need a large body of dupes (people who get all of their info from CNBC and other public sources) to lose it to them. Knowing human nature, the potential rewards and the corruptibility of our society's institutions this seems very likely. And I have no inside info.

    "while SJWs and Tumblrettes have appropriated the discourse on the Left from crusty old Communists (now “tankies“) and trade unionists."

    By that logic the people who support the US State Dept.'s and associated NGOs' goals are dronies, water-bordies, and of course tankies as well.

    As Zuckerberg himself once said in a private message when founding Facebook, “They “trust me.” Dumb fucks.” Let’s listen to him.

    I clicked that link. Wow.

    “It’s possible for a single scholar to read everything that’s come down to us from Greco-Roman antiquity. “

    By the way, this isn’t remotely true of the ancient Near East. From the Wikipedia:

    Between half a million[2] and two million cuneiform tablets are estimated to have been excavated in modern times, of which only approximately 30,000[3] – 100,000 have been read or published. The British Museum holds the largest collection (c. 130,000), followed by the Vorderasiatisches Museum Berlin, the Louvre, the Istanbul Archaeology Museums, the National Museum of Iraq, the Yale Babylonian Collection (c.40,000) and Penn Museum. Most of these have “lain in these collections for a century without being translated, studied or published,”[2] as there are only a few hundred qualified cuneiformists in the world.[3]

    The reason is that ancient Mesopotamians wrote on clay, which becomes brick, which is quite durable, while the classic-era Greeks wrote on papyrus, which rots.

    Read More
    • Replies: @5371
    It's certainly true of Latin, and almost true of Greek. I don't think anyone can read all the scraps of administrative documents on papyrus that have been found in Egypt. On the other hand, it's easy to read enough of them to tell that the rest is unlikely to be worth reading. The same is true on the whole of the Mesopotamian documents that remain untranslated.
  8. 5371 says:
    @Glossy
    "It’s possible for a single scholar to read everything that’s come down to us from Greco-Roman antiquity. "

    By the way, this isn't remotely true of the ancient Near East. From the Wikipedia:

    Between half a million[2] and two million cuneiform tablets are estimated to have been excavated in modern times, of which only approximately 30,000[3] – 100,000 have been read or published. The British Museum holds the largest collection (c. 130,000), followed by the Vorderasiatisches Museum Berlin, the Louvre, the Istanbul Archaeology Museums, the National Museum of Iraq, the Yale Babylonian Collection (c.40,000) and Penn Museum. Most of these have "lain in these collections for a century without being translated, studied or published,"[2] as there are only a few hundred qualified cuneiformists in the world.[3]

    The reason is that ancient Mesopotamians wrote on clay, which becomes brick, which is quite durable, while the classic-era Greeks wrote on papyrus, which rots.

    It’s certainly true of Latin, and almost true of Greek. I don’t think anyone can read all the scraps of administrative documents on papyrus that have been found in Egypt. On the other hand, it’s easy to read enough of them to tell that the rest is unlikely to be worth reading. The same is true on the whole of the Mesopotamian documents that remain untranslated.

    Read More
    • Replies: @El Dato
    Ah yes.

    One day someone will stumble upon High-Integrity Cloud Bunkers with IT data storage that survives 100'000y w/o bit loss (still to be invented) and can actually be read because the data format is comprehensible and open ... and it will contain hedge fund numbers, collateral debt obligation information, how many billions the FED farted out the last week and random Goldman Sachs crud.

    Also:

    1) Epic blogpost

    but then...

    2) Reading Piketty

    Better read something about actual economics. And it's next to GEB, for added injury. Rothbard, however, is always fun.

    Also, "The Road to Reality" is too compressed if one has not wrestled heavy math before and also too Penrose-speculative-centric in the end. It's probably better to read Zee's book on QFT (as if I had the time). Or replace it it with "Quantum Computing Since Democritus" which blows the mind and is accessible to anyone with a modicum of interest.
  9. El Dato says:
    @5371
    It's certainly true of Latin, and almost true of Greek. I don't think anyone can read all the scraps of administrative documents on papyrus that have been found in Egypt. On the other hand, it's easy to read enough of them to tell that the rest is unlikely to be worth reading. The same is true on the whole of the Mesopotamian documents that remain untranslated.

    Ah yes.

    One day someone will stumble upon High-Integrity Cloud Bunkers with IT data storage that survives 100’000y w/o bit loss (still to be invented) and can actually be read because the data format is comprehensible and open … and it will contain hedge fund numbers, collateral debt obligation information, how many billions the FED farted out the last week and random Goldman Sachs crud.

    Also:

    1) Epic blogpost

    but then…

    2) Reading Piketty

    Better read something about actual economics. And it’s next to GEB, for added injury. Rothbard, however, is always fun.

    Also, “The Road to Reality” is too compressed if one has not wrestled heavy math before and also too Penrose-speculative-centric in the end. It’s probably better to read Zee’s book on QFT (as if I had the time). Or replace it it with “Quantum Computing Since Democritus” which blows the mind and is accessible to anyone with a modicum of interest.

    Read More
  10. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    A few more possible corrections:
    > that directly or incorrectly controls
    “that directly or indirectly controls”?
    >yields marginal if not outright returns
    “yields marginal if not outright negative returns”?

    I think using social media is high-intensity brain process that obviously competes with intellectual endeavours for resources.

    “Is that guy higher ‘rank’ or lower? Is he friend or foe? Should i praise him or put him down? What is expected response here? Should i go beyond it or not?” – those are not easy questions to answer from seeing just 140 characters once! This kind of “social calculus” can easily beat math in complexity despite brain being wired for it (or perhaps because of it).

    Read More
  11. El Dato says:

    Completely unrelated:

    There is a typo on the bio:

    Especially important, useful, and regularly updated resources are marked by an asterix,

    It’s an “asterisk”. Using an “asterix” will likely result in nastygrams from “Intellectual Property” lawyers of “Les Editions Albert René” as happened to (these guys http://tuxmobil.org/mobilix_asterix.html) back before the Wart on Terror happened.

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  12. @German_reader
    "Taleb’s recommendation is to “denarrate, that is, shut down the television set, minimize time spent reading newspapers, ignore the blogs.”

    Eh...I don't watch television for information, read newspapers only very selectively (and don't support mainstream newspapers financially in any way since I want to see the Lügenpresse go down), and only follow a few blogs...but if I'd totally follow Taleb's advice, how would I keep being informed about current events? Self-improvement by reading serious books is nice, and one should certainly avoid getting caught up in superficial silly controversies...but on some level one needs to know what's currently going on.
    And you're going to write reviews about video games? Though I've bashed video gaming as a waste of time in the past, I'm looking forward to this...will be interesting to see how that turns out (most writing about games is pretty stupid, would be nice to see something better).
    And good to hear that you're quitting Twitter and Facebook...that kind of social media shouldn't be supported.

    I see where you’re coming from. I think he’s exaggerating, as you say, it’s still quite important to keep tabs on the news. Nowadays I mostly just use /r/worldnews on Reddit to get a gauge of the headline news and Project Syndicate to keep tabs on what the elites are thinking.

    I’ll probably start it off with Hearts of Iron IV – Paradox strategy game, at least somewhat thematically relevant, and respectably NEETish. I decided to play my first game as Belgium to learn the ropes and experience Goetterdaemerung around 1939-1940. Instead, Hitler decided to smash his armies in frontal attacks against the Maginot Line, which eventually allowed Belgium Stronk to conquer northern German clay all the way to Berlin. Not a good start! (in that it reflects badly on the game’s realism). OTOH, the Allies and I are now getting crushed by the Soviet Union with its 700 divisions. So its quite engaging at least!

    Read More
    • Replies: @German_reader
    "Not a good start! (in that it reflects badly on the game’s realism)"

    I don't know...it's not like the fall of France in 1940 was inevitable...if the French leadership hadn't been amazingly incompetent, it arguably shouldn't have happened.
    Don't have any experience with Hearts of Iron IV myself (probably the type of game that's too complex for my tastes...), but sounds like an interesting choice for a review.
    , @silviosilver
    How do you compare HOV IV to Europa Universalis IV (assuming you've played the latter)?

    Got you beat on Facebook too - I never even signed up.
    , @Anonymous
    You should check out The Great Permutator, the overlooked puzzle for VHIQPs, Very High Iq People.
  13. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    There was a sort of “golden age” of blogs in the first decade of this century. When blogs were the primary medium, people had to produce written content that was relatively substantial or at least interesting to attract a regular audience and get on blogrolls.

    Now though with the rise of social media, it’s more about keeping up with the constant flow of news. Instead of writing original content for your audience, it’s about sharing the latest piece of news with your audience, with a short comment or witty remark about it.

    Read More
  14. @Glossy
    Twitter IS a time sink. I got on it late, during the early stages of the Ukrainian crisis, before it turned into a war. I got obsessed with that story and Twitter turned out to be the fastest way to get lots of news on it.

    But yes, you will be ultimately remembered for the books that you write. Don't stop blogging though. I like reading and commenting on these posts.

    In the big picture, historians only suffer from a paucity of sources as regards pre-Early Modern Europe; since at least the nineteenth century, the struggle has been over what to include and emphasize

    I've heard it said that classic (i.e. Greco-Roman) scholarship is the only academic discipline (meaning an area of knowledge that merits its own departments at lots of universities) that can be known completely. It's possible for a single scholar to read everything that's come down to us from Greco-Roman antiquity.

    I think that's true of the Western Dark Ages too though. Not sure about Byzantium. I would guess that in Western history the point where the amount of surviving text become too large for a single scholar to read is somewhere between 1000 AD and 1200 AD.

    "news shared with millions gives you no real advantage,” since it is inevitably already priced into people’s models of the world. "

    The reason that I don't play the stock market is that I assume that most of the consistent winners in it are trading on inside info and that to win money they need a large body of dupes (people who get all of their info from CNBC and other public sources) to lose it to them. Knowing human nature, the potential rewards and the corruptibility of our society's institutions this seems very likely. And I have no inside info.

    "while SJWs and Tumblrettes have appropriated the discourse on the Left from crusty old Communists (now “tankies“) and trade unionists."

    By that logic the people who support the US State Dept.'s and associated NGOs' goals are dronies, water-bordies, and of course tankies as well.

    As Zuckerberg himself once said in a private message when founding Facebook, “They “trust me.” Dumb fucks.” Let’s listen to him.

    I clicked that link. Wow.

    I think that’s true of the Western Dark Ages too though. Not sure about Byzantium. I would guess that in Western history the point where the amount of surviving text become too large for a single scholar to read is somewhere between 1000 AD and 1200 AD.

    It might be possible to answer this. There were ~10K manuscripts (surviving ones, presumably) produced in the 6-7C, 40K in 8C, ~200K in 9-11K, 800K in 12C, 1.8M in 13C, 2.7M in 14C, and 5M in 15C.

    Meanwhile, there were 12.5M books printed in 1454-1500, exploding to more than 200M in 16C.

    What is the length of the average medieval manuscript? (Modern novella/50K words?). And what percentage were originals? (Probably a small one – 1%?). Anyway, a very bad guesstimate should be just about possible.

    Interesting source: https://www.quora.com/How-much-writing-from-ancient-Greece-is-preserved-Is-it-a-finite-amount-that-someone-could-potentially-read

    While there are 105 million words in the TLG, most of them are Byzantine. I did a count of the words in the corpus in Lerna VIc: A correction of word form counts in 2009; because there is not massive growth in the number of known ancient texts, the counts still apply.

    If we define ancient Greece as up to the fourth century AD, and we exclude Christian works and technical works (so just literature, as opposed to writing), it’s 16 million words. If a novel is around 100,000 words, that corresponds to 160 books; so yes, someone could potentially read it. If we cut it down to strictly Ancient times (down to the fourth century BC), it’s 5 million words.

    –> http://hellenisteukontos.blogspot.com.au/2009/07/lerna-vic-correction-of-word-form.html

    Ancient Greece is, as you surmised, quite doable for someone dedicated. The Byzantine Empire has twice as much so it might be doable for someone very very dedicated. I would guess that Byzantine manuscript production might have been comparable to that of the most advanced medieval European region in the earlier centuries, though Western Europe surged well ahead by the late medieval period while the Byzantine Empire shrank both intellectually and demographically so they were no longer comparable by then.

    Anyhow, let assume Byzantines produced an average of 40K manuscripts (=11C Italy) during the rough millennium of its existence separate from Rome. Total = 400K, translating to ~90mn unique words, translating to 900 books as per the above. Probably just about doable in a professional lifetime for an especially dedicated and obsessed scholar. How many centuries for Western Europe to get to 400K total manuscripts/900 original modern book equivalents? As per Zanden, you have almost exactly 400K total manuscripts by 1000 AD. The next century increases that number by a further 50%, by which point even the nerdiest scholars will stumble and start to read more selectively. So…

    I would guess that in Western history the point where the amount of surviving text become too large for a single scholar to read is somewhere between 1000 AD and 1200 AD.

    Yikes! Congrats on a brilliant intuition.

    Read More
    • Replies: @The Alarmist
    I can just picture someone in a millenium or so trying to figure out if the tens of thousands of Federal Register pages issued each year in this epoch are actually worth translating. Chances are they will conclude they are not.
  15. Twinkie says:

    This hints at a related problem, a paradox even: Even though there might be a surfeit of information, there is at the same time a deficit of useful information.

    This has been a problem in intelligence-gathering and analysis for a while now. To put crudely, it used to be that noise was filtered into data, data filtered into information, and information was in turn filtered into intelligence (and then, some would argue, intelligence would be filtered into wisdom). Now, policy/decision-makers demand and get raw noise/data directly. So the decision-making cycle (the OODA loop) may be faster, but the soundness/quality of decisions may have worsened, because surfeit of noise/data serves to confuse rather than inform.

    Two decades ago when I was active in the field, analysts typically spent 95% of time gathering data and 5% on the actual analysis. I am fairly certain that the disparity today has only increased. So policymakers see and hear more, but make poorer decisions.

    will refocus on the longread and on reviews of books and the better sorts of video games.

    Video games? Why would you waste your productive mind and valuable time on garbage? Do you want to make a difference in the world or appeal to children?

    Read More
    • Replies: @reiner Tor

    Video games? Why would you waste your productive mind and valuable time on garbage? Do you want to make a difference in the world or appeal to children?
     
    Let me second that.
    , @vinteuil
    Video games don't have to be garbage. They can be great tools for teaching people about history, military tactics, &c. Instead of just trashing them, why not think about ways to use them?
    , @Anatoly Karlin

    Video games? Why would you waste your productive mind and valuable time on garbage? Do you want to make a difference in the world or appeal to children?
     
    yawn
  16. JL says:
    @German_reader
    "Taleb’s recommendation is to “denarrate, that is, shut down the television set, minimize time spent reading newspapers, ignore the blogs.”

    Eh...I don't watch television for information, read newspapers only very selectively (and don't support mainstream newspapers financially in any way since I want to see the Lügenpresse go down), and only follow a few blogs...but if I'd totally follow Taleb's advice, how would I keep being informed about current events? Self-improvement by reading serious books is nice, and one should certainly avoid getting caught up in superficial silly controversies...but on some level one needs to know what's currently going on.
    And you're going to write reviews about video games? Though I've bashed video gaming as a waste of time in the past, I'm looking forward to this...will be interesting to see how that turns out (most writing about games is pretty stupid, would be nice to see something better).
    And good to hear that you're quitting Twitter and Facebook...that kind of social media shouldn't be supported.

    I believe Taleb argues that if an event is really important enough, its existence will make itself known to you without you actively seeking it out.

    Read More
  17. @Anatoly Karlin
    I see where you're coming from. I think he's exaggerating, as you say, it's still quite important to keep tabs on the news. Nowadays I mostly just use /r/worldnews on Reddit to get a gauge of the headline news and Project Syndicate to keep tabs on what the elites are thinking.

    I'll probably start it off with Hearts of Iron IV - Paradox strategy game, at least somewhat thematically relevant, and respectably NEETish. I decided to play my first game as Belgium to learn the ropes and experience Goetterdaemerung around 1939-1940. Instead, Hitler decided to smash his armies in frontal attacks against the Maginot Line, which eventually allowed Belgium Stronk to conquer northern German clay all the way to Berlin. Not a good start! (in that it reflects badly on the game's realism). OTOH, the Allies and I are now getting crushed by the Soviet Union with its 700 divisions. So its quite engaging at least!

    “Not a good start! (in that it reflects badly on the game’s realism)”

    I don’t know…it’s not like the fall of France in 1940 was inevitable…if the French leadership hadn’t been amazingly incompetent, it arguably shouldn’t have happened.
    Don’t have any experience with Hearts of Iron IV myself (probably the type of game that’s too complex for my tastes…), but sounds like an interesting choice for a review.

    Read More
    • Replies: @reiner Tor

    it’s not like the fall of France in 1940 was inevitable…if the French leadership hadn’t been amazingly incompetent, it arguably shouldn’t have happened.
     
    I read Bundeswehr Colonel Frieser's book The Blitzkrieg Legend. (He wrote it originally in German in the 90s, so you might want to read the original and not the translation.)

    His opinion was that the German tactical advantage (their flexibility etc.) was such that the French would've crumbled anyway, although it might have taken longer and at the cost of much higher German losses. (Oh, and don't forget the British: on the tactical level they weren't any better in Belgium against the Germans than the French.)

    It's interesting to note that the Polish army for example was one of the strongest in Europe (obviously weaker than the greater powers), and the fact that the Germans could defeat it in a couple of weeks was shocking.

    In 1940 only the Germans had any experience of and doctrines and suitable flexibility to wage motorized warfare. So it's unlikely that the French (who didn't even have any armored divisions at all, except a couple they started organizing in spring 1940) could have defeated or stopped the Germans in spring 1940. I mean, theoretically both manpower and weaponry were there, but they didn't have what it takes to use these resources.
    , @Philip Owen


    The Germans took a big risk coming through the Ardenne forest. If they had been discovered on those single track roads lined with trees, their progress would have been halted by very moderate air power and even heavy infantry. As it was, they emerged to the rear of the Franco-Brits and exploited their mobility. Without that, they would have had to tackle an army head on. Perhaps they would have won anyway but slowly and with considerable loss.

    That said, the BEF was almost as underequipped and trained as the Ukrainians in 2014. (Almost, its very difficult to be that bad). The French were not. If Von Rundstedt's Army Group A had been detected before or during the forest transit the French could have stopped them.
  18. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    Can you review the new Pokemon Go game? I imagine you’re not personally into Pokemon, but I think a review would be interesting given the popularity of the new game.

    Read More
  19. @Twinkie

    This hints at a related problem, a paradox even: Even though there might be a surfeit of information, there is at the same time a deficit of useful information.
     
    This has been a problem in intelligence-gathering and analysis for a while now. To put crudely, it used to be that noise was filtered into data, data filtered into information, and information was in turn filtered into intelligence (and then, some would argue, intelligence would be filtered into wisdom). Now, policy/decision-makers demand and get raw noise/data directly. So the decision-making cycle (the OODA loop) may be faster, but the soundness/quality of decisions may have worsened, because surfeit of noise/data serves to confuse rather than inform.

    Two decades ago when I was active in the field, analysts typically spent 95% of time gathering data and 5% on the actual analysis. I am fairly certain that the disparity today has only increased. So policymakers see and hear more, but make poorer decisions.

    will refocus on the longread and on reviews of books and the better sorts of video games.
     
    Video games? Why would you waste your productive mind and valuable time on garbage? Do you want to make a difference in the world or appeal to children?

    Video games? Why would you waste your productive mind and valuable time on garbage? Do you want to make a difference in the world or appeal to children?

    Let me second that.

    Read More
    • Replies: @German_reader
    Well, to some extent I agree...I've bashed video games as a waste of time on this blog before, and I'm somewhat embarrassed about the significant part of my life I've spent on gaming.
    On the other hand though, Razib Khan regularly writes about fantasy literature and the Game of Thrones television show, and no one complains. Are most fantasy books, let alone TV shows really on a significantly higher cultural level than somewhat complex strategy games set in real-life historical eras?
    I don't know...but I think it might at least be worth a try to see if AK finds something wortwhile and interesting in discussion of games (which are after all a major cultural phenomenon...e.g. I suppose a lot of young men have their views of WW2 shaped by games like Call of duty, deplorable as that may be).
  20. @reiner Tor

    Video games? Why would you waste your productive mind and valuable time on garbage? Do you want to make a difference in the world or appeal to children?
     
    Let me second that.

    Well, to some extent I agree…I’ve bashed video games as a waste of time on this blog before, and I’m somewhat embarrassed about the significant part of my life I’ve spent on gaming.
    On the other hand though, Razib Khan regularly writes about fantasy literature and the Game of Thrones television show, and no one complains. Are most fantasy books, let alone TV shows really on a significantly higher cultural level than somewhat complex strategy games set in real-life historical eras?
    I don’t know…but I think it might at least be worth a try to see if AK finds something wortwhile and interesting in discussion of games (which are after all a major cultural phenomenon…e.g. I suppose a lot of young men have their views of WW2 shaped by games like Call of duty, deplorable as that may be).

    Read More
  21. @German_reader
    "Not a good start! (in that it reflects badly on the game’s realism)"

    I don't know...it's not like the fall of France in 1940 was inevitable...if the French leadership hadn't been amazingly incompetent, it arguably shouldn't have happened.
    Don't have any experience with Hearts of Iron IV myself (probably the type of game that's too complex for my tastes...), but sounds like an interesting choice for a review.

    it’s not like the fall of France in 1940 was inevitable…if the French leadership hadn’t been amazingly incompetent, it arguably shouldn’t have happened.

    I read Bundeswehr Colonel Frieser’s book The Blitzkrieg Legend. (He wrote it originally in German in the 90s, so you might want to read the original and not the translation.)

    His opinion was that the German tactical advantage (their flexibility etc.) was such that the French would’ve crumbled anyway, although it might have taken longer and at the cost of much higher German losses. (Oh, and don’t forget the British: on the tactical level they weren’t any better in Belgium against the Germans than the French.)

    It’s interesting to note that the Polish army for example was one of the strongest in Europe (obviously weaker than the greater powers), and the fact that the Germans could defeat it in a couple of weeks was shocking.

    In 1940 only the Germans had any experience of and doctrines and suitable flexibility to wage motorized warfare. So it’s unlikely that the French (who didn’t even have any armored divisions at all, except a couple they started organizing in spring 1940) could have defeated or stopped the Germans in spring 1940. I mean, theoretically both manpower and weaponry were there, but they didn’t have what it takes to use these resources.

    Read More
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    Just to clarify, Frieser's hypothetical was about the Germans using the original plans (the Schlieffen-redux that the French got from the plane crash in Belgium) instead of the totally surprise attack based on the plan of von Manstein and Guderian.
    , @German_reader
    "I mean, theoretically both manpower and weaponry were there, but they didn’t have what it takes to use these resources."

    Yes, that was the major problem with France's military as I understand it (haven't yet read that book by Frieser you mentioned, though it's on a list of books I intend to read eventually)...they had a lot of material which in some ways was even superior to that of the Germans (e.g. French tanks in 1940 were supposedly much better than the German models), but it was used ineffectually because of outdated doctrines.
    Still, what would have happened if France had attacked Germany during the Polish campaign? I find it difficult to believe this wouldn't have caused major problems for Germany.
    , @Anon 2
    Once the Polish troops realized there was no point
    in resisting the German Blitzkrieg (and the simultaneous
    invasion from the east by the Soviet Union in September
    1939), they did the rational thing and hundreds of thousands
    of them quickly made their way to Western Europe, becoming
    one of the largest armies in exile. The Polish contingents, for
    example, played a decisive role in liberating the Netherlands
    in 1944.

    It's so sad today to watch Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the
    Will (1935) and see the Germans so easily deceived by Hitler,
    almost like children. What Hitler should've said was, "I promise
    you that in several years millions of you are going to die,
    even more millions of your women will be raped, your country
    will be completely destroyed, and you will lose one third
    of your territory." For a small and weak country like Germany
    to think they could defeat the whole world was the apex of
    irrationality. Germans are very proud of being rational. Yes,
    but it's rationality in the service of madness
  22. @reiner Tor

    it’s not like the fall of France in 1940 was inevitable…if the French leadership hadn’t been amazingly incompetent, it arguably shouldn’t have happened.
     
    I read Bundeswehr Colonel Frieser's book The Blitzkrieg Legend. (He wrote it originally in German in the 90s, so you might want to read the original and not the translation.)

    His opinion was that the German tactical advantage (their flexibility etc.) was such that the French would've crumbled anyway, although it might have taken longer and at the cost of much higher German losses. (Oh, and don't forget the British: on the tactical level they weren't any better in Belgium against the Germans than the French.)

    It's interesting to note that the Polish army for example was one of the strongest in Europe (obviously weaker than the greater powers), and the fact that the Germans could defeat it in a couple of weeks was shocking.

    In 1940 only the Germans had any experience of and doctrines and suitable flexibility to wage motorized warfare. So it's unlikely that the French (who didn't even have any armored divisions at all, except a couple they started organizing in spring 1940) could have defeated or stopped the Germans in spring 1940. I mean, theoretically both manpower and weaponry were there, but they didn't have what it takes to use these resources.

    Just to clarify, Frieser’s hypothetical was about the Germans using the original plans (the Schlieffen-redux that the French got from the plane crash in Belgium) instead of the totally surprise attack based on the plan of von Manstein and Guderian.

    Read More
  23. @reiner Tor

    it’s not like the fall of France in 1940 was inevitable…if the French leadership hadn’t been amazingly incompetent, it arguably shouldn’t have happened.
     
    I read Bundeswehr Colonel Frieser's book The Blitzkrieg Legend. (He wrote it originally in German in the 90s, so you might want to read the original and not the translation.)

    His opinion was that the German tactical advantage (their flexibility etc.) was such that the French would've crumbled anyway, although it might have taken longer and at the cost of much higher German losses. (Oh, and don't forget the British: on the tactical level they weren't any better in Belgium against the Germans than the French.)

    It's interesting to note that the Polish army for example was one of the strongest in Europe (obviously weaker than the greater powers), and the fact that the Germans could defeat it in a couple of weeks was shocking.

    In 1940 only the Germans had any experience of and doctrines and suitable flexibility to wage motorized warfare. So it's unlikely that the French (who didn't even have any armored divisions at all, except a couple they started organizing in spring 1940) could have defeated or stopped the Germans in spring 1940. I mean, theoretically both manpower and weaponry were there, but they didn't have what it takes to use these resources.

    “I mean, theoretically both manpower and weaponry were there, but they didn’t have what it takes to use these resources.”

    Yes, that was the major problem with France’s military as I understand it (haven’t yet read that book by Frieser you mentioned, though it’s on a list of books I intend to read eventually)…they had a lot of material which in some ways was even superior to that of the Germans (e.g. French tanks in 1940 were supposedly much better than the German models), but it was used ineffectually because of outdated doctrines.
    Still, what would have happened if France had attacked Germany during the Polish campaign? I find it difficult to believe this wouldn’t have caused major problems for Germany.

    Read More
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    Without motorized divisions they couldn't have advanced much. Besides, the Germans were very good and tough at defending, too, even if they were numerically and in terms of equipment quite inferior (as they had ample opportunity to show 1942-45), and they had very favorable terrain (mountainous or hilly in Saar, the Rhein as a formidable water obstacle), so I highly doubt much would've come out of it. Actually the French launched some sort of attack I think in September 1939, but after maybe a thousand KIA (and Poland defeated anyway) they gave up.
  24. @German_reader
    "I mean, theoretically both manpower and weaponry were there, but they didn’t have what it takes to use these resources."

    Yes, that was the major problem with France's military as I understand it (haven't yet read that book by Frieser you mentioned, though it's on a list of books I intend to read eventually)...they had a lot of material which in some ways was even superior to that of the Germans (e.g. French tanks in 1940 were supposedly much better than the German models), but it was used ineffectually because of outdated doctrines.
    Still, what would have happened if France had attacked Germany during the Polish campaign? I find it difficult to believe this wouldn't have caused major problems for Germany.

    Without motorized divisions they couldn’t have advanced much. Besides, the Germans were very good and tough at defending, too, even if they were numerically and in terms of equipment quite inferior (as they had ample opportunity to show 1942-45), and they had very favorable terrain (mountainous or hilly in Saar, the Rhein as a formidable water obstacle), so I highly doubt much would’ve come out of it. Actually the French launched some sort of attack I think in September 1939, but after maybe a thousand KIA (and Poland defeated anyway) they gave up.

    Read More
    • Replies: @German_reader
    "Actually the French launched some sort of attack I think in September 1939"

    Yes, I know, that wasn't very impressive:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saar_Offensive
    Can't really add more to the discussion, I'll probably have to eventually look at that book by Frieser. I somehow got the impression Adam Tooze in his Wages of destruction book argued that Germany got extremely lucky in its victory over France in 1940, mainly due to French and British incompetence (at least given their colonies and better access to crucial resources France and Britain should have been much stronger than Germany), but I haven't yet read that either, so I may be wrong. Interesting topic anyway.
    , @5371
    The experience of the start of WW1, when at the last moment the French inserted an offensive of their own in their war plans and it achieved nothing at the cost of staggering casualties, was hard for them to ignore.
  25. @reiner Tor
    Without motorized divisions they couldn't have advanced much. Besides, the Germans were very good and tough at defending, too, even if they were numerically and in terms of equipment quite inferior (as they had ample opportunity to show 1942-45), and they had very favorable terrain (mountainous or hilly in Saar, the Rhein as a formidable water obstacle), so I highly doubt much would've come out of it. Actually the French launched some sort of attack I think in September 1939, but after maybe a thousand KIA (and Poland defeated anyway) they gave up.

    “Actually the French launched some sort of attack I think in September 1939″

    Yes, I know, that wasn’t very impressive:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saar_Offensive

    Can’t really add more to the discussion, I’ll probably have to eventually look at that book by Frieser. I somehow got the impression Adam Tooze in his Wages of destruction book argued that Germany got extremely lucky in its victory over France in 1940, mainly due to French and British incompetence (at least given their colonies and better access to crucial resources France and Britain should have been much stronger than Germany), but I haven’t yet read that either, so I may be wrong. Interesting topic anyway.

    Read More
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    The French were incompetent in the sense that they didn't understand how fast things could happen in modern warfare. They thought they had time, and when they realized they didn't, it was already too late. Unlike the British, they didn't have the English Channel to protect them, nor did they have vast spaces like the Russians.

    I think in a lot of sense the French were doomed for these reasons.

    The Germans were lucky, but they had a very easy victory. With less luck it would've been a more difficult victory. But it's hard to imagine the French learning modern mobile warfare on the job in a matter of weeks.
    , @Anatoly Karlin
    Tooze is interesting but I get the impression he was too much of an economic reductionist.

    Also possibly a case of narrative fallacy.

    From a more purely military POV, I think the German victory over France is much less surprising. The Germans were always doctrinally one or two steps ahead, even in WW1. Also probably just better soldiers and generals, in general (consistent 20-25% superiority in combat effectiveness over the Western Allies in both world wars).

    Its just that in WW1 warfare was much more static, so the French and British could largely hold their positions even though they got lost more blood from the mutual attrition. In WW2, technology enabled the Germans to exploit their combat superiority with real breakthroughs (which multiplied the effects of that constant superiority in combat effectiveness).
  26. 5371 says:
    @reiner Tor
    Without motorized divisions they couldn't have advanced much. Besides, the Germans were very good and tough at defending, too, even if they were numerically and in terms of equipment quite inferior (as they had ample opportunity to show 1942-45), and they had very favorable terrain (mountainous or hilly in Saar, the Rhein as a formidable water obstacle), so I highly doubt much would've come out of it. Actually the French launched some sort of attack I think in September 1939, but after maybe a thousand KIA (and Poland defeated anyway) they gave up.

    The experience of the start of WW1, when at the last moment the French inserted an offensive of their own in their war plans and it achieved nothing at the cost of staggering casualties, was hard for them to ignore.

    Read More
  27. Fun with Hearts of Iron 4 so far:

    Conquer Italy as Yugoslavia. Serbia Stronk!

    Take over South America as communist Brazil. Reactionaries in Peru joined the axis, so I was at war with them (was not in the Comintern). Meanwhile, perfidious Albion dislikes my South American war mongering, and justifies and declares on me. I call in the USA (still neutral) because of Monroe doctrine, and laugh pretty hard.

    Axis attacks USSR anyway, and because sitting in South America twiddling my tumbs isnt fun, I sent 50ish divisions to help out the Soviets around the black sea (after taking the British stuff that was remotely interesting for me).

    For some effing reason, anything I take in the USSR from the Germans stays mine, so now Ukraine is administered by communist Brazilians. Oh yeah, USA invaded the UK in Scotland, while Japan managed to land in San Francisco because the US is too busy invading the UK.

    Meanwhile, my Commie Brazil is trolling (you dont want to know what Stalin thinks about me having Ukraine, I think he will declare war on me too, which would result in me being at war with all 3 major factions!) everyone and watching the world burn.
    Ahistorical but fun.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin

    For some effing reason, anything I take in the USSR from the Germans stays mine, so now Ukraine is administered by communist Brazilians.
     
    It's happening.

    He carries a battle-axe into combat. He never wears body armor, and laughs at the idea of wearing a helmet. When it’s hot, he wears a tank top and a kilt. He keeps his hair and beard long, sometimes pulled into braids. When it’s time to assault, he runs with the fury of a madman.

    When they ask for volunteers on a particularly dangerous missions, his hand is the first one raised.

    He is Rafael Lusvarghi, the Brazilian Viking of Donbas.

    “Truly, I don’t care if I die in combat,” he said, with a perfect white smile, and a benign shrug, “ because I will go to Valhalla.”
     
  28. it also has considerable vestigial value as a big network that many people continue to use for its purely social functions like organizing meetups.

    Well, that’s the main reason for its existence, to be able to see pictures of your ex-classmates’ children living thousands of miles away, and to be able to organize a reunion.

    By the way social networks are very destructive from a purely economic viewpoint, too, because they are very often used during working hours. I.e. they are distracting people from their lives and from their works.

    Read More
  29. @German_reader
    "Actually the French launched some sort of attack I think in September 1939"

    Yes, I know, that wasn't very impressive:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saar_Offensive
    Can't really add more to the discussion, I'll probably have to eventually look at that book by Frieser. I somehow got the impression Adam Tooze in his Wages of destruction book argued that Germany got extremely lucky in its victory over France in 1940, mainly due to French and British incompetence (at least given their colonies and better access to crucial resources France and Britain should have been much stronger than Germany), but I haven't yet read that either, so I may be wrong. Interesting topic anyway.

    The French were incompetent in the sense that they didn’t understand how fast things could happen in modern warfare. They thought they had time, and when they realized they didn’t, it was already too late. Unlike the British, they didn’t have the English Channel to protect them, nor did they have vast spaces like the Russians.

    I think in a lot of sense the French were doomed for these reasons.

    The Germans were lucky, but they had a very easy victory. With less luck it would’ve been a more difficult victory. But it’s hard to imagine the French learning modern mobile warfare on the job in a matter of weeks.

    Read More
    • Replies: @TheJester
    The Germans got inside the 3-day French decision cycle, which meant that the Germans were never where the French though they were. The French were always acting on yesterdays "news" ... outdated intelligence. In more modern parlance, their situational awareness was hopelessly outdated.

    This feat was not hard for the Germans. As a remnant of WWI, the French decision cycle went something like this: Day 1 - Get intelligence and forward it to headquarters. Day 2 - Assess and analyze yesterday's intelligence and issue orders and resource reallocations. Day 3 - Execute the orders and resource reallocations. As the saying goes, everything military the French tried seemed a "day late and a dollar short ...."

    This surprised the Germans. The German armored columns found themselves roaming the French rear with limited opposition. Consistent with German operational doctrine, the local commanders seized the initiative and kept going. In retrospect, this was called the Blitzkrieg based on its effect, but it was accidental. It was not anticipated or intended.

    The preferred German military doctrine at the outbreak of the war was also WWI-based ... the Kesselschlacht or "cauldron battle" ... using maneuver and shock to surround an enemy and annihilate them, primarily with artillery. The Kesselsclacht was successfully used by the Germans in Poland and later in the outset of Operation Barbarossa against the Soviets. In 1939, the French front collapsed too early for a German envelopment -- a Kesselschlacht -- to take place.

  30. colm says:

    So, Anatoly, do you think we lack the intelligence to reach the Kurzweilian paradise?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    It's an unknown.

    But Kurzweil's arguments are very bad because they treat only existing information technology as an input (which generates all his exponential curves).
  31. @Anatoly Karlin
    I see where you're coming from. I think he's exaggerating, as you say, it's still quite important to keep tabs on the news. Nowadays I mostly just use /r/worldnews on Reddit to get a gauge of the headline news and Project Syndicate to keep tabs on what the elites are thinking.

    I'll probably start it off with Hearts of Iron IV - Paradox strategy game, at least somewhat thematically relevant, and respectably NEETish. I decided to play my first game as Belgium to learn the ropes and experience Goetterdaemerung around 1939-1940. Instead, Hitler decided to smash his armies in frontal attacks against the Maginot Line, which eventually allowed Belgium Stronk to conquer northern German clay all the way to Berlin. Not a good start! (in that it reflects badly on the game's realism). OTOH, the Allies and I are now getting crushed by the Soviet Union with its 700 divisions. So its quite engaging at least!

    How do you compare HOV IV to Europa Universalis IV (assuming you’ve played the latter)?

    Got you beat on Facebook too – I never even signed up.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    As an excellent poster noted, EU4 is notable for being the only Paradox Plaza where the historical process is believable (because it has a pseudo-HBD mechanic).

    In HoI4, a Belgium led by a neophyte can conquer Germany.

    That said, two reasons this assessment isn't worth much:

    (1) I never really got into EU4 or even CK2.

    (2) HoI4 isn't really comparable to them because it is currently without the many years' worth of tweaks and DLCs that those two have.
  32. It sounds like you guys are talking about War Thunder. It’s a Russian production.

    Read More
  33. TheJester says:
    @reiner Tor
    The French were incompetent in the sense that they didn't understand how fast things could happen in modern warfare. They thought they had time, and when they realized they didn't, it was already too late. Unlike the British, they didn't have the English Channel to protect them, nor did they have vast spaces like the Russians.

    I think in a lot of sense the French were doomed for these reasons.

    The Germans were lucky, but they had a very easy victory. With less luck it would've been a more difficult victory. But it's hard to imagine the French learning modern mobile warfare on the job in a matter of weeks.

    The Germans got inside the 3-day French decision cycle, which meant that the Germans were never where the French though they were. The French were always acting on yesterdays “news” … outdated intelligence. In more modern parlance, their situational awareness was hopelessly outdated.

    This feat was not hard for the Germans. As a remnant of WWI, the French decision cycle went something like this: Day 1 – Get intelligence and forward it to headquarters. Day 2 – Assess and analyze yesterday’s intelligence and issue orders and resource reallocations. Day 3 – Execute the orders and resource reallocations. As the saying goes, everything military the French tried seemed a “day late and a dollar short ….”

    This surprised the Germans. The German armored columns found themselves roaming the French rear with limited opposition. Consistent with German operational doctrine, the local commanders seized the initiative and kept going. In retrospect, this was called the Blitzkrieg based on its effect, but it was accidental. It was not anticipated or intended.

    The preferred German military doctrine at the outbreak of the war was also WWI-based … the Kesselschlacht or “cauldron battle” … using maneuver and shock to surround an enemy and annihilate them, primarily with artillery. The Kesselsclacht was successfully used by the Germans in Poland and later in the outset of Operation Barbarossa against the Soviets. In 1939, the French front collapsed too early for a German envelopment — a Kesselschlacht — to take place.

    Read More
  34. vinteuil says:
    @Twinkie

    This hints at a related problem, a paradox even: Even though there might be a surfeit of information, there is at the same time a deficit of useful information.
     
    This has been a problem in intelligence-gathering and analysis for a while now. To put crudely, it used to be that noise was filtered into data, data filtered into information, and information was in turn filtered into intelligence (and then, some would argue, intelligence would be filtered into wisdom). Now, policy/decision-makers demand and get raw noise/data directly. So the decision-making cycle (the OODA loop) may be faster, but the soundness/quality of decisions may have worsened, because surfeit of noise/data serves to confuse rather than inform.

    Two decades ago when I was active in the field, analysts typically spent 95% of time gathering data and 5% on the actual analysis. I am fairly certain that the disparity today has only increased. So policymakers see and hear more, but make poorer decisions.

    will refocus on the longread and on reviews of books and the better sorts of video games.
     
    Video games? Why would you waste your productive mind and valuable time on garbage? Do you want to make a difference in the world or appeal to children?

    Video games don’t have to be garbage. They can be great tools for teaching people about history, military tactics, &c. Instead of just trashing them, why not think about ways to use them?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Twinkie

    Video games don’t have to be garbage. They can be great tools for teaching people about history, military tactics, &c. Instead of just trashing them, why not think about ways to use them?
     
    Video games *can* be useful teaching tools, but commercial video games today simply are not.

    Years ago, for a part of my Ph.D. methodology requirements, I chose wargaming and spent a lot time doing research at Carlisle Barracks. I also corresponded in great detail with early commercial developers such as Avalon Hill, SSI, and SPI, especially designers such as Jim Dunnigan and Gary Grigsby. I am probably more knowledgeable about the usefulness and limitations of what wargames can do in policymaking context than all but a few handfuls of people in the world.

    But today's commercial video games are so far from such endeavors that they cannot be discussed in the same context. I would suggest that people can more profitably learn about "history [and] military tactics" by reading relevant books. Highly specialized wargames (in video format or no) can be useful supplements to that education, but commercial, especially popular wargames, would misinform rather than edify.
  35. FD says:

    AK,

    What sort of math are you interested in, and how far did you get previously?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    About 1 years worth of undergrad stuff (multivariable calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, analysis). Then I switched. Dat cognitive threshold 2 high 4 me. Was probably a mistake though.

    I intend to focus more on statistics now.
  36. Max Payne says:

    Don’t review games. Every sister fister and his mother has a game review blog, vlog, or some other homosexuality along those lines.

    Unless they are strategy games, the last vestige of the elite PC-gaming Aryan race… of course.

    Even so the educational strategy games like DefCon or Enemy of Mine are only educational playing it, not reading about someone playing it. RTS games and those “brutal realistic” war game simulators have communities of their own. And you know modern gamers today… lowest common denominator… very averse to reading. All that time could be spent on anything else really (articles, working on those books).

    Deus Ex 1 is forgivable. Some events parallel today’s world (politically, environmentally, technologically). I don’t think anyone has done a serious look at that. But that would only appeal to such a small number of people.

    As for social media… too vain for me. And I’m a pretty vain individual in real life.

    Read More
    • Replies: @German_reader
    "Deus Ex 1 is forgivable. Some events parallel today’s world (politically, environmentally, technologically). I don’t think anyone has done a serious look at that. But that would only appeal to such a small number of people."

    I don't know...I actually played through Deus Ex 1 a few months ago for the first time (yes, I know, there are better ways to spend my time...), and apart from some flaws in the gameplay (eventually gets repetitive, bad AI) the biggest minus for me was the ridiculous plot. It does have some interesting elements (nanotechnology, criticism of global elites, the UN and the EU), but in the end it gets totally silly with all the elements of truly demented conspiracy theories like black helicopters, FEMA spreading viruses, even the Illuminati and the Templars. Sort of X-Files meets Dan Brown...very much a product of its time. Don't know if one can write a "serious" analysis of that game...
    , @colm
    How about the paper wargames? Are they still good?
  37. @colm
    So, Anatoly, do you think we lack the intelligence to reach the Kurzweilian paradise?

    It’s an unknown.

    But Kurzweil’s arguments are very bad because they treat only existing information technology as an input (which generates all his exponential curves).

    Read More
  38. @Twinkie

    This hints at a related problem, a paradox even: Even though there might be a surfeit of information, there is at the same time a deficit of useful information.
     
    This has been a problem in intelligence-gathering and analysis for a while now. To put crudely, it used to be that noise was filtered into data, data filtered into information, and information was in turn filtered into intelligence (and then, some would argue, intelligence would be filtered into wisdom). Now, policy/decision-makers demand and get raw noise/data directly. So the decision-making cycle (the OODA loop) may be faster, but the soundness/quality of decisions may have worsened, because surfeit of noise/data serves to confuse rather than inform.

    Two decades ago when I was active in the field, analysts typically spent 95% of time gathering data and 5% on the actual analysis. I am fairly certain that the disparity today has only increased. So policymakers see and hear more, but make poorer decisions.

    will refocus on the longread and on reviews of books and the better sorts of video games.
     
    Video games? Why would you waste your productive mind and valuable time on garbage? Do you want to make a difference in the world or appeal to children?

    Video games? Why would you waste your productive mind and valuable time on garbage? Do you want to make a difference in the world or appeal to children?

    yawn

    Read More
    • Replies: @Twinkie

    yawn
     
    Mr. Karlin, this response does not convince me that video games are a worthwhile endeavor for serious adults.

    You strike me as an intelligent individual and author who was seeking reader input. I gave mine. Perhaps you can try again and present some cogent arguments of why video games and reviews of the same are worthy pursuits.
  39. @German_reader
    "Actually the French launched some sort of attack I think in September 1939"

    Yes, I know, that wasn't very impressive:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saar_Offensive
    Can't really add more to the discussion, I'll probably have to eventually look at that book by Frieser. I somehow got the impression Adam Tooze in his Wages of destruction book argued that Germany got extremely lucky in its victory over France in 1940, mainly due to French and British incompetence (at least given their colonies and better access to crucial resources France and Britain should have been much stronger than Germany), but I haven't yet read that either, so I may be wrong. Interesting topic anyway.

    Tooze is interesting but I get the impression he was too much of an economic reductionist.

    Also possibly a case of narrative fallacy.

    From a more purely military POV, I think the German victory over France is much less surprising. The Germans were always doctrinally one or two steps ahead, even in WW1. Also probably just better soldiers and generals, in general (consistent 20-25% superiority in combat effectiveness over the Western Allies in both world wars).

    Its just that in WW1 warfare was much more static, so the French and British could largely hold their positions even though they got lost more blood from the mutual attrition. In WW2, technology enabled the Germans to exploit their combat superiority with real breakthroughs (which multiplied the effects of that constant superiority in combat effectiveness).

    Read More
    • Replies: @Twinkie

    The Germans were always doctrinally one or two steps ahead, even in WW1. Also probably just better soldiers and generals, in general (consistent 20-25% superiority in combat effectiveness over the Western Allies in both world wars).

    Its just that in WW1 warfare was much more static, so the French and British could largely hold their positions even though they got lost more blood from the mutual attrition.
     
    1. The Germans were *not* "always doctrinally one or two steps ahead." During the early interwar years, German military mechnization advocates such as von Thoma and Guderian avidly read foreign, especially British, theorists on mechanized warfare because the latter were ahead of the Germans. They caught on quickly, acquired more practical experiences (in field exercises in Russia in the early years prior to the rise of Nazi government; later in Spain with actual combat experiences), and then exceeded Allies by the beginning of the Second World War.

    Of course, I am not suggesting that they were entirely behind - they were ahead, for example, in infantry infiltration tactics (and related artillery techniques) as exemplified by the Ludendorff Offensive, but due to their lack of a well-developed motor industry, they were quite behind in mechanization and related doctrines by the end of the First World War.

    2. The German reputation for being "just better soldiers and generals" today is largely a product of the 19th and 20th Centuries. They had outstanding performances from the German Unifications Wars through the Second World War. But in some previous historical periods Germans were not exactly considered the greatest soldier material - with the exception of the Frederickian interlude, German soldiery was frequently considered lower quality than the French, the British, the Spanish, and even the Dutch and the Swiss.

    3. As for their "consistent 20-25% superiority," I'd like to note that while that may be true (or close to true enough) *on average,* the actual performances widely varied depending on circumstances. In fluid mobile battles (whether on offense or defense), the German superiority over the Allies in World War II was probably well in excess of that 20-25%. In static, positional battles their effectiveness was probably no better or only very marginally better than their Allied counterparts.
  40. @Mightypeon
    Fun with Hearts of Iron 4 so far:

    Conquer Italy as Yugoslavia. Serbia Stronk!

    Take over South America as communist Brazil. Reactionaries in Peru joined the axis, so I was at war with them (was not in the Comintern). Meanwhile, perfidious Albion dislikes my South American war mongering, and justifies and declares on me. I call in the USA (still neutral) because of Monroe doctrine, and laugh pretty hard.

    Axis attacks USSR anyway, and because sitting in South America twiddling my tumbs isnt fun, I sent 50ish divisions to help out the Soviets around the black sea (after taking the British stuff that was remotely interesting for me).

    For some effing reason, anything I take in the USSR from the Germans stays mine, so now Ukraine is administered by communist Brazilians. Oh yeah, USA invaded the UK in Scotland, while Japan managed to land in San Francisco because the US is too busy invading the UK.

    Meanwhile, my Commie Brazil is trolling (you dont want to know what Stalin thinks about me having Ukraine, I think he will declare war on me too, which would result in me being at war with all 3 major factions!) everyone and watching the world burn.
    Ahistorical but fun.

    For some effing reason, anything I take in the USSR from the Germans stays mine, so now Ukraine is administered by communist Brazilians.

    It’s happening.

    He carries a battle-axe into combat. He never wears body armor, and laughs at the idea of wearing a helmet. When it’s hot, he wears a tank top and a kilt. He keeps his hair and beard long, sometimes pulled into braids. When it’s time to assault, he runs with the fury of a madman.

    When they ask for volunteers on a particularly dangerous missions, his hand is the first one raised.

    He is Rafael Lusvarghi, the Brazilian Viking of Donbas.

    “Truly, I don’t care if I die in combat,” he said, with a perfect white smile, and a benign shrug, “ because I will go to Valhalla.”

    Read More
    • Replies: @colm
    He is probably as "Brazillian" as Giorgio Bergoglio, the current Pope born in Argentine.
  41. @FD
    AK,

    What sort of math are you interested in, and how far did you get previously?

    About 1 years worth of undergrad stuff (multivariable calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, analysis). Then I switched. Dat cognitive threshold 2 high 4 me. Was probably a mistake though.

    I intend to focus more on statistics now.

    Read More
    • Replies: @FD
    Don't sell your cognitive abilities short. Analysis without a dedicated proofs/foundations course beforehand had to be very, very nasty, especially if you attended a strong university. If you have the time, you should try working through such a course. It unlocks many beautiful things.
  42. duderino says:

    Anyone else find it extremely difficult to limit twitter use? It’s getting to the point where I have to use blocking apps to stop myself.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Dave Pinsen
    I don't use blocking apps, but I do find Twitter very addictive.

    But useful as well.
  43. Dave Pinsen says: • Website
    @duderino
    Anyone else find it extremely difficult to limit twitter use? It's getting to the point where I have to use blocking apps to stop myself.

    I don’t use blocking apps, but I do find Twitter very addictive.

    But useful as well.

    Read More
  44. Twinkie says:
    @vinteuil
    Video games don't have to be garbage. They can be great tools for teaching people about history, military tactics, &c. Instead of just trashing them, why not think about ways to use them?

    Video games don’t have to be garbage. They can be great tools for teaching people about history, military tactics, &c. Instead of just trashing them, why not think about ways to use them?

    Video games *can* be useful teaching tools, but commercial video games today simply are not.

    Years ago, for a part of my Ph.D. methodology requirements, I chose wargaming and spent a lot time doing research at Carlisle Barracks. I also corresponded in great detail with early commercial developers such as Avalon Hill, SSI, and SPI, especially designers such as Jim Dunnigan and Gary Grigsby. I am probably more knowledgeable about the usefulness and limitations of what wargames can do in policymaking context than all but a few handfuls of people in the world.

    But today’s commercial video games are so far from such endeavors that they cannot be discussed in the same context. I would suggest that people can more profitably learn about “history [and] military tactics” by reading relevant books. Highly specialized wargames (in video format or no) can be useful supplements to that education, but commercial, especially popular wargames, would misinform rather than edify.

    Read More
  45. Twinkie says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    Video games? Why would you waste your productive mind and valuable time on garbage? Do you want to make a difference in the world or appeal to children?
     
    yawn

    yawn

    Mr. Karlin, this response does not convince me that video games are a worthwhile endeavor for serious adults.

    You strike me as an intelligent individual and author who was seeking reader input. I gave mine. Perhaps you can try again and present some cogent arguments of why video games and reviews of the same are worthy pursuits.

    Read More
  46. Twinkie says:
    @Anatoly Karlin
    Tooze is interesting but I get the impression he was too much of an economic reductionist.

    Also possibly a case of narrative fallacy.

    From a more purely military POV, I think the German victory over France is much less surprising. The Germans were always doctrinally one or two steps ahead, even in WW1. Also probably just better soldiers and generals, in general (consistent 20-25% superiority in combat effectiveness over the Western Allies in both world wars).

    Its just that in WW1 warfare was much more static, so the French and British could largely hold their positions even though they got lost more blood from the mutual attrition. In WW2, technology enabled the Germans to exploit their combat superiority with real breakthroughs (which multiplied the effects of that constant superiority in combat effectiveness).

    The Germans were always doctrinally one or two steps ahead, even in WW1. Also probably just better soldiers and generals, in general (consistent 20-25% superiority in combat effectiveness over the Western Allies in both world wars).

    Its just that in WW1 warfare was much more static, so the French and British could largely hold their positions even though they got lost more blood from the mutual attrition.

    1. The Germans were *not* “always doctrinally one or two steps ahead.” During the early interwar years, German military mechnization advocates such as von Thoma and Guderian avidly read foreign, especially British, theorists on mechanized warfare because the latter were ahead of the Germans. They caught on quickly, acquired more practical experiences (in field exercises in Russia in the early years prior to the rise of Nazi government; later in Spain with actual combat experiences), and then exceeded Allies by the beginning of the Second World War.

    Of course, I am not suggesting that they were entirely behind – they were ahead, for example, in infantry infiltration tactics (and related artillery techniques) as exemplified by the Ludendorff Offensive, but due to their lack of a well-developed motor industry, they were quite behind in mechanization and related doctrines by the end of the First World War.

    2. The German reputation for being “just better soldiers and generals” today is largely a product of the 19th and 20th Centuries. They had outstanding performances from the German Unifications Wars through the Second World War. But in some previous historical periods Germans were not exactly considered the greatest soldier material – with the exception of the Frederickian interlude, German soldiery was frequently considered lower quality than the French, the British, the Spanish, and even the Dutch and the Swiss.

    3. As for their “consistent 20-25% superiority,” I’d like to note that while that may be true (or close to true enough) *on average,* the actual performances widely varied depending on circumstances. In fluid mobile battles (whether on offense or defense), the German superiority over the Allies in World War II was probably well in excess of that 20-25%. In static, positional battles their effectiveness was probably no better or only very marginally better than their Allied counterparts.

    Read More
  47. 5371 says:
    @Twinkie

    The Germans were always doctrinally one or two steps ahead, even in WW1. Also probably just better soldiers and generals, in general (consistent 20-25% superiority in combat effectiveness over the Western Allies in both world wars).

    Its just that in WW1 warfare was much more static, so the French and British could largely hold their positions even though they got lost more blood from the mutual attrition.
     
    1. The Germans were *not* "always doctrinally one or two steps ahead." During the early interwar years, German military mechnization advocates such as von Thoma and Guderian avidly read foreign, especially British, theorists on mechanized warfare because the latter were ahead of the Germans. They caught on quickly, acquired more practical experiences (in field exercises in Russia in the early years prior to the rise of Nazi government; later in Spain with actual combat experiences), and then exceeded Allies by the beginning of the Second World War.

    Of course, I am not suggesting that they were entirely behind - they were ahead, for example, in infantry infiltration tactics (and related artillery techniques) as exemplified by the Ludendorff Offensive, but due to their lack of a well-developed motor industry, they were quite behind in mechanization and related doctrines by the end of the First World War.

    2. The German reputation for being "just better soldiers and generals" today is largely a product of the 19th and 20th Centuries. They had outstanding performances from the German Unifications Wars through the Second World War. But in some previous historical periods Germans were not exactly considered the greatest soldier material - with the exception of the Frederickian interlude, German soldiery was frequently considered lower quality than the French, the British, the Spanish, and even the Dutch and the Swiss.

    3. As for their "consistent 20-25% superiority," I'd like to note that while that may be true (or close to true enough) *on average,* the actual performances widely varied depending on circumstances. In fluid mobile battles (whether on offense or defense), the German superiority over the Allies in World War II was probably well in excess of that 20-25%. In static, positional battles their effectiveness was probably no better or only very marginally better than their Allied counterparts.

    The Swiss soldiers were Germans.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Twinkie

    The Swiss soldiers were Germans.
     
    "Mountain Germans," eh? And I guess that makes the Dutch "Swamp Germans."

    By the way, I should note, as a follow-up, a couple of things regarding military doctrines during the interwar years. One area in which the Germans exceeded the Allies early on was communication. Guderian, who was a leading proponent of mechanized warfare, was a signals officer earlier in his career and strongly emphasized improved and widespread communication equipment (radios) for mechanized units as vital to the whole thing. In this area, the Germans were far ahead until the United States entered the war.

    Second, the Soviet Union actually had very advanced and sophisticated mechanized warfare doctrine during the interwar years. But many of the intellectual cadres for the doctrine perished during the Purges, the greatest loss being probably Mikhail Tukhachevsky, whom some credit as being the father of the Deep Battle. That, combined with the generally low levels of education and mechanical aptitude among the ordinary troops, greatly retarded able execution of the doctrine in World War II, especially in the beginning.
  48. Anon 2 says:
    @reiner Tor

    it’s not like the fall of France in 1940 was inevitable…if the French leadership hadn’t been amazingly incompetent, it arguably shouldn’t have happened.
     
    I read Bundeswehr Colonel Frieser's book The Blitzkrieg Legend. (He wrote it originally in German in the 90s, so you might want to read the original and not the translation.)

    His opinion was that the German tactical advantage (their flexibility etc.) was such that the French would've crumbled anyway, although it might have taken longer and at the cost of much higher German losses. (Oh, and don't forget the British: on the tactical level they weren't any better in Belgium against the Germans than the French.)

    It's interesting to note that the Polish army for example was one of the strongest in Europe (obviously weaker than the greater powers), and the fact that the Germans could defeat it in a couple of weeks was shocking.

    In 1940 only the Germans had any experience of and doctrines and suitable flexibility to wage motorized warfare. So it's unlikely that the French (who didn't even have any armored divisions at all, except a couple they started organizing in spring 1940) could have defeated or stopped the Germans in spring 1940. I mean, theoretically both manpower and weaponry were there, but they didn't have what it takes to use these resources.

    Once the Polish troops realized there was no point
    in resisting the German Blitzkrieg (and the simultaneous
    invasion from the east by the Soviet Union in September
    1939), they did the rational thing and hundreds of thousands
    of them quickly made their way to Western Europe, becoming
    one of the largest armies in exile. The Polish contingents, for
    example, played a decisive role in liberating the Netherlands
    in 1944.

    It’s so sad today to watch Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the
    Will (1935) and see the Germans so easily deceived by Hitler,
    almost like children. What Hitler should’ve said was, “I promise
    you that in several years millions of you are going to die,
    even more millions of your women will be raped, your country
    will be completely destroyed, and you will lose one third
    of your territory.” For a small and weak country like Germany
    to think they could defeat the whole world was the apex of
    irrationality. Germans are very proud of being rational. Yes,
    but it’s rationality in the service of madness

    Read More
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    I think it's oversimplification to call the Germans "rational". I'm not even sure that's so prominent in their self-image. German Romanticism was very strong, and some of the most prominent German cultural figures (like Beethoven, Wagner, Hölderlin, or Nietzsche) cannot be said to be epitomes of rationality, they rather held up Romantic ideals.

    In a sense, Hitler was a Wagnerian hero who asked people to follow him into battle, consequences be damned, and he only promised them the chance of either a victory or a valiant death.
    , @reiner Tor

    Once the Polish troops realized there was no point in resisting the German Blitzkrieg (and the simultaneous invasion from the east by the Soviet Union in September 1939), they did the rational thing
     
    By the time the USSR attacked, the Polish lines were already broken and the army in disarray, in essence they were already defeated.

    The Poles were brave and fought well and hard (at least, I have never heard nor read anybody who accused them of cowardice in battle), but simply had no answer to the motorized warfare of the Germans.
  49. FD says:
    @Anatoly Karlin
    About 1 years worth of undergrad stuff (multivariable calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, analysis). Then I switched. Dat cognitive threshold 2 high 4 me. Was probably a mistake though.

    I intend to focus more on statistics now.

    Don’t sell your cognitive abilities short. Analysis without a dedicated proofs/foundations course beforehand had to be very, very nasty, especially if you attended a strong university. If you have the time, you should try working through such a course. It unlocks many beautiful things.

    Read More
  50. @silviosilver
    How do you compare HOV IV to Europa Universalis IV (assuming you've played the latter)?

    Got you beat on Facebook too - I never even signed up.

    As an excellent poster noted, EU4 is notable for being the only Paradox Plaza where the historical process is believable (because it has a pseudo-HBD mechanic).

    In HoI4, a Belgium led by a neophyte can conquer Germany.

    That said, two reasons this assessment isn’t worth much:

    (1) I never really got into EU4 or even CK2.

    (2) HoI4 isn’t really comparable to them because it is currently without the many years’ worth of tweaks and DLCs that those two have.

    Read More
  51. @FD
    Don't sell your cognitive abilities short. Analysis without a dedicated proofs/foundations course beforehand had to be very, very nasty, especially if you attended a strong university. If you have the time, you should try working through such a course. It unlocks many beautiful things.

    Noted.

    Read More
  52. @Anon 2
    Once the Polish troops realized there was no point
    in resisting the German Blitzkrieg (and the simultaneous
    invasion from the east by the Soviet Union in September
    1939), they did the rational thing and hundreds of thousands
    of them quickly made their way to Western Europe, becoming
    one of the largest armies in exile. The Polish contingents, for
    example, played a decisive role in liberating the Netherlands
    in 1944.

    It's so sad today to watch Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the
    Will (1935) and see the Germans so easily deceived by Hitler,
    almost like children. What Hitler should've said was, "I promise
    you that in several years millions of you are going to die,
    even more millions of your women will be raped, your country
    will be completely destroyed, and you will lose one third
    of your territory." For a small and weak country like Germany
    to think they could defeat the whole world was the apex of
    irrationality. Germans are very proud of being rational. Yes,
    but it's rationality in the service of madness

    I think it’s oversimplification to call the Germans “rational”. I’m not even sure that’s so prominent in their self-image. German Romanticism was very strong, and some of the most prominent German cultural figures (like Beethoven, Wagner, Hölderlin, or Nietzsche) cannot be said to be epitomes of rationality, they rather held up Romantic ideals.

    In a sense, Hitler was a Wagnerian hero who asked people to follow him into battle, consequences be damned, and he only promised them the chance of either a victory or a valiant death.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anon 2
    A German-born acquaintance of mine (who, by the way,
    loves Poland and wanted to study at the Polish film school
    in Łódź) said that to me in the U.S. a couple of years ago.
    He said effectively, "The Germans pride themselves on being
    rational but ..." I question this as well but he may have
    been thinking of the strange German obsession with physics, chemistry,
    and machinery, esp. the killing machines (even today Germany
    is one of the largest arms exporters in the world. Sweden,
    the "moral leader" is the No.1 exporter of killing machines
    on a per capita basis IIRC). Quantum mechanics was pretty
    much a Germanic creation (e.g., Planck, Heisenberg, Schrö-
    dinger), etc But, he said, as a result, German actors are incapable of
    emoting on film. It looks artificial and forced when they try to
    do it, and this lowers the quality of German cinema. On the
    other hand, he said, emoting on film comes easily to Polish
    actors, and this was one reason he went to Poland in the mid-'90s
    to study film (but never finished).

    Things have changed since that time. Nowadays German
    universities are unable to attract enough students interested
    in majoring in physics or computer science - a worldwide
    phenomenon in the industrialized countries. Even Caltech
    has problems. Back in the '60s in California the student activists
    started referring to scientists as "whores servicing the military-
    industrial complex," and this appellation has stuck, helped
    by the environmental movement (e.g., the famous line "Plastics"
    in the 1967 movie The Graduate. Better Living Through Chemistry
    - my foot!). Today many (non-Asian) students are repelled by
    science for moral reasons, and even the Silicon Valley is acquiring
    a penumbra of evil
  53. @Anon 2
    Once the Polish troops realized there was no point
    in resisting the German Blitzkrieg (and the simultaneous
    invasion from the east by the Soviet Union in September
    1939), they did the rational thing and hundreds of thousands
    of them quickly made their way to Western Europe, becoming
    one of the largest armies in exile. The Polish contingents, for
    example, played a decisive role in liberating the Netherlands
    in 1944.

    It's so sad today to watch Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the
    Will (1935) and see the Germans so easily deceived by Hitler,
    almost like children. What Hitler should've said was, "I promise
    you that in several years millions of you are going to die,
    even more millions of your women will be raped, your country
    will be completely destroyed, and you will lose one third
    of your territory." For a small and weak country like Germany
    to think they could defeat the whole world was the apex of
    irrationality. Germans are very proud of being rational. Yes,
    but it's rationality in the service of madness

    Once the Polish troops realized there was no point in resisting the German Blitzkrieg (and the simultaneous invasion from the east by the Soviet Union in September 1939), they did the rational thing

    By the time the USSR attacked, the Polish lines were already broken and the army in disarray, in essence they were already defeated.

    The Poles were brave and fought well and hard (at least, I have never heard nor read anybody who accused them of cowardice in battle), but simply had no answer to the motorized warfare of the Germans.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Twinkie

    The Poles were brave and fought well and hard (at least, I have never heard nor read anybody who accused them of cowardice in battle), but simply had no answer to the motorized warfare of the Germans.
     
    The Germans certainly thought the Poles put up a much tougher fight than the French did.

    Heinz Guderian, in his "Panzer Leader," recounts an anecdote about having to stiffen up a green German infantry unit in the early part of the Polish campaign - the said unit (I think it was the 2nd Motorized Infantry Division) heard that the Polish mounted lancers (!) were about to attack its position and started to withdraw rearward. Its commander had to be shamed by Guderian into holding the position. Something to the effect of "Have you ever heard of Pomeranian Grenadiers being broken by enemy cavalry?"
    , @robt
    I think the saddest thing is how Poland was treated after the war ended. They weren't even allowed to join the Victory parade in England, for fear of upsetting Stalin.
    Ostensibly, WWII was fought to protect and preserve Poland (though this was tactically and even strategically impossible), but at war's end Poland was given to the USSR (along with many other countries) in complete contradiction to the Atlantic Charter and the propaganda about fighting for freedom that was dispensed while the War was being fought.
  54. @Max Payne
    Don’t review games. Every sister fister and his mother has a game review blog, vlog, or some other homosexuality along those lines.

    Unless they are strategy games, the last vestige of the elite PC-gaming Aryan race… of course.

    Even so the educational strategy games like DefCon or Enemy of Mine are only educational playing it, not reading about someone playing it. RTS games and those "brutal realistic" war game simulators have communities of their own. And you know modern gamers today... lowest common denominator... very averse to reading. All that time could be spent on anything else really (articles, working on those books).

    Deus Ex 1 is forgivable. Some events parallel today's world (politically, environmentally, technologically). I don't think anyone has done a serious look at that. But that would only appeal to such a small number of people.

    As for social media... too vain for me. And I'm a pretty vain individual in real life.

    “Deus Ex 1 is forgivable. Some events parallel today’s world (politically, environmentally, technologically). I don’t think anyone has done a serious look at that. But that would only appeal to such a small number of people.”

    I don’t know…I actually played through Deus Ex 1 a few months ago for the first time (yes, I know, there are better ways to spend my time…), and apart from some flaws in the gameplay (eventually gets repetitive, bad AI) the biggest minus for me was the ridiculous plot. It does have some interesting elements (nanotechnology, criticism of global elites, the UN and the EU), but in the end it gets totally silly with all the elements of truly demented conspiracy theories like black helicopters, FEMA spreading viruses, even the Illuminati and the Templars. Sort of X-Files meets Dan Brown…very much a product of its time. Don’t know if one can write a “serious” analysis of that game…

    Read More
    • Replies: @Max Payne
    Perhaps my fond memories of it are making me biased.
  55. Twinkie says:
    @5371
    The Swiss soldiers were Germans.

    The Swiss soldiers were Germans.

    “Mountain Germans,” eh? And I guess that makes the Dutch “Swamp Germans.”

    By the way, I should note, as a follow-up, a couple of things regarding military doctrines during the interwar years. One area in which the Germans exceeded the Allies early on was communication. Guderian, who was a leading proponent of mechanized warfare, was a signals officer earlier in his career and strongly emphasized improved and widespread communication equipment (radios) for mechanized units as vital to the whole thing. In this area, the Germans were far ahead until the United States entered the war.

    Second, the Soviet Union actually had very advanced and sophisticated mechanized warfare doctrine during the interwar years. But many of the intellectual cadres for the doctrine perished during the Purges, the greatest loss being probably Mikhail Tukhachevsky, whom some credit as being the father of the Deep Battle. That, combined with the generally low levels of education and mechanical aptitude among the ordinary troops, greatly retarded able execution of the doctrine in World War II, especially in the beginning.

    Read More
    • Replies: @5371
    It says Swiss German right there on the tin.
    , @reiner Tor
    The Dutch were impossible to tell apart from Germans living across the border in the 18th century. They were often difficult to tell apart as late as after WW2, when it was seriously proposed that the Netherlands would get some German territories, and the High German-speaking population (mostly city-dwellers) would be forcibly removed (deported), while the (mostly rural) population still speaking the local dialect (almost the same as the Dutch spoken on the other side of the border) would be retained and "Dutchified". Swiss German dialects close to the border are very very similar to the Swabian dialects in Germany (and the Vorarlberg Austrian dialect), but because of centuries of High German education the Germans and Austrians usually speak High German in official settings and only speak their dialects in informal or family settings.

    It must be noted that the good Swiss soldiers (including the Papal Guard) were not coming from the Italian speaking Ticino canton (which was conquered by the German-speaking core cantons), nor from the French-speaking cantons (of which Geneva needed military protection from the German-speaking canton Bern, the rest were IIRC simply conquered by the German-speaking cantons), all of these good soldiers came from German-Switzerland. (Deutschschweiz.)

    What this means is that when talking about events in the 18th century and before, you cannot meaningfully talk about the German national character while excluding the Dutch and the Swiss.
    , @reiner Tor
    The German advantage was the Auftragstaktik, which was very well suited to modern mobile warfare. In WW1 it was less of an advantage, because warfare was much slower, so the Allies had time to fix the problems. Mobile warfare in WW2 was much less forgiving.

    Regarding the Soviet purges, most of the generals who perished were considerably less talented than Tukhachevsky (probably most victims were party hacks themselves), and the new generation put into leading positions had its share of talent. In other words, the purges probably didn't have much of an effect. Regardless of the brilliant ideas of Tukhachevsky, it must be noted that his ideas required a well trained and adept military force to execute, something which the Red Army was not before or after the purges.

    It must be noted that Tukhachevsky's colleague General Svechin had ideas that were easier to implement (retreat into the depth of the country and using deep defense and attrition to weaken and eventually defeat the enemy), and which were inadvertently (and very badly) carried out 1941-43. He also fell victim to the purges.

    In any event, the Soviets crumbled not because they lacked brilliant ideas, but because their military cadre was mostly incompetent on all levels. And this was not caused by the purges (most of those purged, like Rokossovsky, were back in service a couple years later), but by the fact that they never had a competent cadre in the first place.

    , @Philip Owen


    My college drinking song, written pre WW1 included the phrasing "there's the highland Deutsch and the lowland Deutsch, the Rotterdam Deutsch and St Cuthbert's." At times, maps of the Holy Roman Empire included the Dutch.
  56. Twinkie says:
    @reiner Tor

    Once the Polish troops realized there was no point in resisting the German Blitzkrieg (and the simultaneous invasion from the east by the Soviet Union in September 1939), they did the rational thing
     
    By the time the USSR attacked, the Polish lines were already broken and the army in disarray, in essence they were already defeated.

    The Poles were brave and fought well and hard (at least, I have never heard nor read anybody who accused them of cowardice in battle), but simply had no answer to the motorized warfare of the Germans.

    The Poles were brave and fought well and hard (at least, I have never heard nor read anybody who accused them of cowardice in battle), but simply had no answer to the motorized warfare of the Germans.

    The Germans certainly thought the Poles put up a much tougher fight than the French did.

    Heinz Guderian, in his “Panzer Leader,” recounts an anecdote about having to stiffen up a green German infantry unit in the early part of the Polish campaign – the said unit (I think it was the 2nd Motorized Infantry Division) heard that the Polish mounted lancers (!) were about to attack its position and started to withdraw rearward. Its commander had to be shamed by Guderian into holding the position. Something to the effect of “Have you ever heard of Pomeranian Grenadiers being broken by enemy cavalry?”

    Read More
  57. colm says:
    @Max Payne
    Don’t review games. Every sister fister and his mother has a game review blog, vlog, or some other homosexuality along those lines.

    Unless they are strategy games, the last vestige of the elite PC-gaming Aryan race… of course.

    Even so the educational strategy games like DefCon or Enemy of Mine are only educational playing it, not reading about someone playing it. RTS games and those "brutal realistic" war game simulators have communities of their own. And you know modern gamers today... lowest common denominator... very averse to reading. All that time could be spent on anything else really (articles, working on those books).

    Deus Ex 1 is forgivable. Some events parallel today's world (politically, environmentally, technologically). I don't think anyone has done a serious look at that. But that would only appeal to such a small number of people.

    As for social media... too vain for me. And I'm a pretty vain individual in real life.

    How about the paper wargames? Are they still good?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Max Payne
    Is that like Warhammer and Dungeons and Dragons?

    I have nothing against it, just not my cup of tea.
  58. colm says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    For some effing reason, anything I take in the USSR from the Germans stays mine, so now Ukraine is administered by communist Brazilians.
     
    It's happening.

    He carries a battle-axe into combat. He never wears body armor, and laughs at the idea of wearing a helmet. When it’s hot, he wears a tank top and a kilt. He keeps his hair and beard long, sometimes pulled into braids. When it’s time to assault, he runs with the fury of a madman.

    When they ask for volunteers on a particularly dangerous missions, his hand is the first one raised.

    He is Rafael Lusvarghi, the Brazilian Viking of Donbas.

    “Truly, I don’t care if I die in combat,” he said, with a perfect white smile, and a benign shrug, “ because I will go to Valhalla.”
     

    He is probably as “Brazillian” as Giorgio Bergoglio, the current Pope born in Argentine.

    Read More
  59. Max Payne says:
    @German_reader
    "Deus Ex 1 is forgivable. Some events parallel today’s world (politically, environmentally, technologically). I don’t think anyone has done a serious look at that. But that would only appeal to such a small number of people."

    I don't know...I actually played through Deus Ex 1 a few months ago for the first time (yes, I know, there are better ways to spend my time...), and apart from some flaws in the gameplay (eventually gets repetitive, bad AI) the biggest minus for me was the ridiculous plot. It does have some interesting elements (nanotechnology, criticism of global elites, the UN and the EU), but in the end it gets totally silly with all the elements of truly demented conspiracy theories like black helicopters, FEMA spreading viruses, even the Illuminati and the Templars. Sort of X-Files meets Dan Brown...very much a product of its time. Don't know if one can write a "serious" analysis of that game...

    Perhaps my fond memories of it are making me biased.

    Read More
  60. Max Payne says:
    @colm
    How about the paper wargames? Are they still good?

    Is that like Warhammer and Dungeons and Dragons?

    I have nothing against it, just not my cup of tea.

    Read More
  61. Anon 2 says:
    @reiner Tor
    I think it's oversimplification to call the Germans "rational". I'm not even sure that's so prominent in their self-image. German Romanticism was very strong, and some of the most prominent German cultural figures (like Beethoven, Wagner, Hölderlin, or Nietzsche) cannot be said to be epitomes of rationality, they rather held up Romantic ideals.

    In a sense, Hitler was a Wagnerian hero who asked people to follow him into battle, consequences be damned, and he only promised them the chance of either a victory or a valiant death.

    A German-born acquaintance of mine (who, by the way,
    loves Poland and wanted to study at the Polish film school
    in Łódź) said that to me in the U.S. a couple of years ago.
    He said effectively, “The Germans pride themselves on being
    rational but …” I question this as well but he may have
    been thinking of the strange German obsession with physics, chemistry,
    and machinery, esp. the killing machines (even today Germany
    is one of the largest arms exporters in the world. Sweden,
    the “moral leader” is the No.1 exporter of killing machines
    on a per capita basis IIRC). Quantum mechanics was pretty
    much a Germanic creation (e.g., Planck, Heisenberg, Schrö-
    dinger), etc But, he said, as a result, German actors are incapable of
    emoting on film. It looks artificial and forced when they try to
    do it, and this lowers the quality of German cinema. On the
    other hand, he said, emoting on film comes easily to Polish
    actors, and this was one reason he went to Poland in the mid-’90s
    to study film (but never finished).

    Things have changed since that time. Nowadays German
    universities are unable to attract enough students interested
    in majoring in physics or computer science – a worldwide
    phenomenon in the industrialized countries. Even Caltech
    has problems. Back in the ’60s in California the student activists
    started referring to scientists as “whores servicing the military-
    industrial complex,” and this appellation has stuck, helped
    by the environmental movement (e.g., the famous line “Plastics”
    in the 1967 movie The Graduate. Better Living Through Chemistry
    - my foot!). Today many (non-Asian) students are repelled by
    science for moral reasons, and even the Silicon Valley is acquiring
    a penumbra of evil

    Read More
  62. Ivy says:

    Re social media: the once-positive impact has been diminished by the higher volume and lower quality of news and subsequent reactive responses. That maybe characterized as analogue or example of Gresham’s Law. That state may be explained in part by the demonstrable increased fear among the younger demographic who have only known the less stable world. Their focus on immediate interaction and premature demand for results given shorter attention spans. That yields an all-or-nothing ethos leading to riskier behavior, influenced by a pervasive amnesia or ahistorical framework. That is effectively an infinite discount rate applied to life decisions, and doesn’t seem sustainable.

    Read More
  63. 5371 says:
    @Twinkie

    The Swiss soldiers were Germans.
     
    "Mountain Germans," eh? And I guess that makes the Dutch "Swamp Germans."

    By the way, I should note, as a follow-up, a couple of things regarding military doctrines during the interwar years. One area in which the Germans exceeded the Allies early on was communication. Guderian, who was a leading proponent of mechanized warfare, was a signals officer earlier in his career and strongly emphasized improved and widespread communication equipment (radios) for mechanized units as vital to the whole thing. In this area, the Germans were far ahead until the United States entered the war.

    Second, the Soviet Union actually had very advanced and sophisticated mechanized warfare doctrine during the interwar years. But many of the intellectual cadres for the doctrine perished during the Purges, the greatest loss being probably Mikhail Tukhachevsky, whom some credit as being the father of the Deep Battle. That, combined with the generally low levels of education and mechanical aptitude among the ordinary troops, greatly retarded able execution of the doctrine in World War II, especially in the beginning.

    It says Swiss German right there on the tin.

    Read More
  64. @Twinkie

    The Swiss soldiers were Germans.
     
    "Mountain Germans," eh? And I guess that makes the Dutch "Swamp Germans."

    By the way, I should note, as a follow-up, a couple of things regarding military doctrines during the interwar years. One area in which the Germans exceeded the Allies early on was communication. Guderian, who was a leading proponent of mechanized warfare, was a signals officer earlier in his career and strongly emphasized improved and widespread communication equipment (radios) for mechanized units as vital to the whole thing. In this area, the Germans were far ahead until the United States entered the war.

    Second, the Soviet Union actually had very advanced and sophisticated mechanized warfare doctrine during the interwar years. But many of the intellectual cadres for the doctrine perished during the Purges, the greatest loss being probably Mikhail Tukhachevsky, whom some credit as being the father of the Deep Battle. That, combined with the generally low levels of education and mechanical aptitude among the ordinary troops, greatly retarded able execution of the doctrine in World War II, especially in the beginning.

    The Dutch were impossible to tell apart from Germans living across the border in the 18th century. They were often difficult to tell apart as late as after WW2, when it was seriously proposed that the Netherlands would get some German territories, and the High German-speaking population (mostly city-dwellers) would be forcibly removed (deported), while the (mostly rural) population still speaking the local dialect (almost the same as the Dutch spoken on the other side of the border) would be retained and “Dutchified”. Swiss German dialects close to the border are very very similar to the Swabian dialects in Germany (and the Vorarlberg Austrian dialect), but because of centuries of High German education the Germans and Austrians usually speak High German in official settings and only speak their dialects in informal or family settings.

    It must be noted that the good Swiss soldiers (including the Papal Guard) were not coming from the Italian speaking Ticino canton (which was conquered by the German-speaking core cantons), nor from the French-speaking cantons (of which Geneva needed military protection from the German-speaking canton Bern, the rest were IIRC simply conquered by the German-speaking cantons), all of these good soldiers came from German-Switzerland. (Deutschschweiz.)

    What this means is that when talking about events in the 18th century and before, you cannot meaningfully talk about the German national character while excluding the Dutch and the Swiss.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Friedrich List (writing in the 1840s) was convinced the Dutch were Germans and should be incorporated into the Reich upon unification.
    , @Twinkie

    What this means is that when talking about events in the 18th century and before, you cannot meaningfully talk about the German national character while excluding the Dutch and the Swiss.
     
    Of course the Dutch and the Swiss are very much related to the Germans in "Germany proper," that's why I half-jokingly called them Swamp Germans and Mountain Germans, respectively, earlier.

    But, prior to the 19th Century, with the exception of the Frederick the Great's interlude, Germans from Germany proper (those from Rheinland and the Hanseatic cities as well as various kingdoms and principalities such as Bavaria et al.) were often considered poorer quality soldier material compared to, say, the dashing French or the experienced Spanish soldiery (especially the men of the Tercios who formed the backbone of the Habsburg Spanish army) or even Italian militias.

    In the modern era, it's only with the rise of Prussia as a "nation-in-arms" that the German military reputation began to emerge, an assessment that became entrenched with a string of "shocking" Prussian and German military successes in the 19th Century (and later in World Wars I and II).
  65. @Twinkie

    The Swiss soldiers were Germans.
     
    "Mountain Germans," eh? And I guess that makes the Dutch "Swamp Germans."

    By the way, I should note, as a follow-up, a couple of things regarding military doctrines during the interwar years. One area in which the Germans exceeded the Allies early on was communication. Guderian, who was a leading proponent of mechanized warfare, was a signals officer earlier in his career and strongly emphasized improved and widespread communication equipment (radios) for mechanized units as vital to the whole thing. In this area, the Germans were far ahead until the United States entered the war.

    Second, the Soviet Union actually had very advanced and sophisticated mechanized warfare doctrine during the interwar years. But many of the intellectual cadres for the doctrine perished during the Purges, the greatest loss being probably Mikhail Tukhachevsky, whom some credit as being the father of the Deep Battle. That, combined with the generally low levels of education and mechanical aptitude among the ordinary troops, greatly retarded able execution of the doctrine in World War II, especially in the beginning.

    The German advantage was the Auftragstaktik, which was very well suited to modern mobile warfare. In WW1 it was less of an advantage, because warfare was much slower, so the Allies had time to fix the problems. Mobile warfare in WW2 was much less forgiving.

    Regarding the Soviet purges, most of the generals who perished were considerably less talented than Tukhachevsky (probably most victims were party hacks themselves), and the new generation put into leading positions had its share of talent. In other words, the purges probably didn’t have much of an effect. Regardless of the brilliant ideas of Tukhachevsky, it must be noted that his ideas required a well trained and adept military force to execute, something which the Red Army was not before or after the purges.

    It must be noted that Tukhachevsky’s colleague General Svechin had ideas that were easier to implement (retreat into the depth of the country and using deep defense and attrition to weaken and eventually defeat the enemy), and which were inadvertently (and very badly) carried out 1941-43. He also fell victim to the purges.

    In any event, the Soviets crumbled not because they lacked brilliant ideas, but because their military cadre was mostly incompetent on all levels. And this was not caused by the purges (most of those purged, like Rokossovsky, were back in service a couple years later), but by the fact that they never had a competent cadre in the first place.

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    • Replies: @Twinkie

    The German advantage was the Auftragstaktik, which was very well suited to modern mobile warfare.
     
    I am a big fan of mission-type tactics (Auftragstaktik as opposed to Befehlstaktik), but we Americans tend to overblow the conceptual differences a wee bit.

    When General Hermann Balck was interviewed after World War II, the American interviewer (an advocate for Auftragstaktik) tried to get him to extol its virtue, but Balck would not play along. Instead of singing its praises, he responded, characteristically, along the lines of "It's not a big deal. If you have a clever fellow as a subordinate, you tell him the mission and let him decide the tactics on the spot. If you have a stupid fellow, you have to tell him what to do and where to go at every step."

    In any event, the Soviets crumbled not because they lacked brilliant ideas, but because their military cadre was mostly incompetent on all levels.
     
    Hence my statement earlier "That, combined with the generally low levels of education and mechanical aptitude among the ordinary troops, greatly retarded able execution of the doctrine in World War II, especially in the beginning."

    And this was not caused by the purges (most of those purged, like Rokossovsky, were back in service a couple years later), but by the fact that they never had a competent cadre in the first place.
     
    But this is over-playing the card. Yes, the effects of the Purges were overblown in the early Western assessment (and many of those purged were later reinstated), but the effects were nonetheless substantial: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Purge#Purge_of_the_army

    The purge of the Red Army and Military Maritime Fleet removed three of five marshals (then equivalent to six-star generals), 13 of 15 army commanders (then equivalent to three- and four-star generals), eight of nine admirals (the purge fell heavily on the Navy, who were suspected of exploiting their opportunities for foreign contacts),[30] 50 of 57 army corps commanders, 154 out of 186 division commanders, 16 of 16 army commissars, and 25 of 28 army corps commissars.[31]
     
    With that kind of disruption, surely operational capacity was greatly disturbed, let alone less immediate concerns such as training and doctrinal development.
  66. Getting into math at an older age?? Bizarre. And inherently useless (triply so if you were never a math prodigy). To say nothing of the negative effect it will have on your wittiness, humor, and your felicity of language (which you have, big time). It dulls those things. Immersing yourself in math just sounds like an existential crisis in your life. Most men just take up 10k mud runs and get into some martial art or exercise or diet. No offense, but judging from your pictures it wouldn’t hurt you to consider this outlet.

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  67. Yes, that’s right. Much like Soviet factories in the early 1990s, or arguably the metastasized financial sector in the West today, my argument is that social media consumes far more useful resources than the questionable “benefits” it produces. Far from “democratizing” global discourse, as techno-utopians hoped it would in the optimistic days of the first decade of the 21st century, it has in fact privileged soundbytes over sound analysis, confounded and contaminated rather than clarified, decelerated and devalued intellectual progress, and entrenched the power of the economic and political elites.

    Did technocrats really hope the Internet to widen actual debate, and “democraticize”?
    Aren’t they interweaved with the “economic and political elites”?

    Whatever milestone achievement in information technology will potentiate the possibilities for democracy; but, given the human mind functioning, it all will turn into a tool in the hands of the elite.

    It’s “milieu”, not “mileau”. This stroke me as unexpected, given your manifest passion for rich and articulated terminology.

    This hints at a related problem, a paradox even: Even though there might be a surfeit of information, there is at the same time a deficit of useful information.

    Reading well-chosen books is still the way to go.

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    • Replies: @pink_point
    Morozov can denounce his time's follies, but nothing will halt humanity from merging with machines, sadly.

    The problem is that a monkey clattering away at a keyboard is still a monkey. Almost without exception, all the countries where color revolutions prevailed have proceeded to collapse in on themselves.
     
    What was wrong with you at the time you made that choice of term, "monkey"?
    That's not a thoughtful choice of term, trust me.
    If we are monkeys, all of us are.
    And I'd concern myself with the manipulator monkeys on top of the ladder, rather than their manipulated victim monkeys.

    Color revolutions bankrupted the countries they took place in because they weren't natural events, but engineered implantations from the outside.
    You don't hope the most advanced people in the world stop tormenting all the rest, do you?

  68. @pink_point

    Yes, that’s right. Much like Soviet factories in the early 1990s, or arguably the metastasized financial sector in the West today, my argument is that social media consumes far more useful resources than the questionable “benefits” it produces. Far from “democratizing” global discourse, as techno-utopians hoped it would in the optimistic days of the first decade of the 21st century, it has in fact privileged soundbytes over sound analysis, confounded and contaminated rather than clarified, decelerated and devalued intellectual progress, and entrenched the power of the economic and political elites.

     

    Did technocrats really hope the Internet to widen actual debate, and "democraticize"?
    Aren't they interweaved with the "economic and political elites"?

    Whatever milestone achievement in information technology will potentiate the possibilities for democracy; but, given the human mind functioning, it all will turn into a tool in the hands of the elite.

    It's "milieu", not "mileau". This stroke me as unexpected, given your manifest passion for rich and articulated terminology.


    This hints at a related problem, a paradox even: Even though there might be a surfeit of information, there is at the same time a deficit of useful information.
     
    Reading well-chosen books is still the way to go.

    Morozov can denounce his time’s follies, but nothing will halt humanity from merging with machines, sadly.

    The problem is that a monkey clattering away at a keyboard is still a monkey. Almost without exception, all the countries where color revolutions prevailed have proceeded to collapse in on themselves.

    What was wrong with you at the time you made that choice of term, “monkey”?
    That’s not a thoughtful choice of term, trust me.
    If we are monkeys, all of us are.
    And I’d concern myself with the manipulator monkeys on top of the ladder, rather than their manipulated victim monkeys.

    Color revolutions bankrupted the countries they took place in because they weren’t natural events, but engineered implantations from the outside.
    You don’t hope the most advanced people in the world stop tormenting all the rest, do you?

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  69. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    It certainly pales besides the epochal misallocation of cognitive resources that is the modern financial sector, but it is probably quite considerable nonetheless.

    When didn’t humans pour all their mental power into achieving power, and strengthen their domination?
    I mean, that’s no news.

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  70. 2. I will read more books, especially Big Books. As a political economy major it is ultimately rather embarassing that I have yet to read Capital in the 21st Century.

    I recommend Cal Newport’s Deep Work, which backs up everything you just said with research, and examples, eg, Carl Jung’s buying an isolated cabin in which he could think in peace.

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  71. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    Taleb again: “I then completely gave up reading newspapers and watching television, which freed up a considerable amount of time (say one hour or more per day, enough time to read more than a hundred additional books per year, which, after a couple of decades, starts mounting).”

    more than 100 book = 400 hours of reading?

    He didn’t mean serious books then.

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  72. @T. Greer
    Twitter is utterly worthless. I use it only because a large percentage of my hits do come from people retweeting my pieces.

    Facebook was utterly worthless for me for a long time, but over the last year it has become quite a bit more important. There are Facebook feeds that are essentially blogs of the old style; there are two I check every day, religiously, as I used to check many blogs. The comment feeds and discussions found there are superior to anything I've seen in my comment threads.

    The catch though is that these are all private. You have to know the people--or at least they have to know you--to be invited in to their discussions.

    That might be part of what makes it work though. People are willing to drill down and play with interesting ideas when they don't have to stake themselves publicly to everything they write. The old blogosphere managed this mostly through pseudonyms, which almost everyone had. In the new social media dominated ecosystem only the trolls are pseudonymous.


    Interesting too that your readers are demanding a contradiction from you. Either one can write less often but longer, or one can write more often but shorter. Asking someone to write both more and write long is much to ask indeed.

    Interesting too that your readers are demanding a contradiction from you. Either one can write less often but longer, or one can write more often but shorter. Asking someone to write both more and write long is much to ask indeed.

    I incline to believe readers want him to spend more time on writing for them, augmenting both piece lenght and quantity.

    My say is, he should write less, and more in depth (like this very post we are commenting on is ideal).

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  73. @German_reader
    "Taleb’s recommendation is to “denarrate, that is, shut down the television set, minimize time spent reading newspapers, ignore the blogs.”

    Eh...I don't watch television for information, read newspapers only very selectively (and don't support mainstream newspapers financially in any way since I want to see the Lügenpresse go down), and only follow a few blogs...but if I'd totally follow Taleb's advice, how would I keep being informed about current events? Self-improvement by reading serious books is nice, and one should certainly avoid getting caught up in superficial silly controversies...but on some level one needs to know what's currently going on.
    And you're going to write reviews about video games? Though I've bashed video gaming as a waste of time in the past, I'm looking forward to this...will be interesting to see how that turns out (most writing about games is pretty stupid, would be nice to see something better).
    And good to hear that you're quitting Twitter and Facebook...that kind of social media shouldn't be supported.

    And you’re going to write reviews about video games? Though I’ve bashed video gaming as a waste of time in the past, I’m looking forward to this…will be interesting to see how that turns out (most writing about games is pretty stupid, would be nice to see something better).

    Isn’t life a waste of time? Do you bash living?

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  74. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @Anatoly Karlin
    I see where you're coming from. I think he's exaggerating, as you say, it's still quite important to keep tabs on the news. Nowadays I mostly just use /r/worldnews on Reddit to get a gauge of the headline news and Project Syndicate to keep tabs on what the elites are thinking.

    I'll probably start it off with Hearts of Iron IV - Paradox strategy game, at least somewhat thematically relevant, and respectably NEETish. I decided to play my first game as Belgium to learn the ropes and experience Goetterdaemerung around 1939-1940. Instead, Hitler decided to smash his armies in frontal attacks against the Maginot Line, which eventually allowed Belgium Stronk to conquer northern German clay all the way to Berlin. Not a good start! (in that it reflects badly on the game's realism). OTOH, the Allies and I are now getting crushed by the Soviet Union with its 700 divisions. So its quite engaging at least!

    You should check out The Great Permutator, the overlooked puzzle for VHIQPs, Very High Iq People.

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  75. Seraphim says:

    I understood from the outset that Twitter is actually Twat, of what is enough already all around.
    BTW, N.N. Taleb is an Orthodox Christian.

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  76. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    A.Karlin. Blogger, gamer, social media failure, tryhard Russian, polymath wannabe with rather amateurish opinions on everything.

    I got a real challenge for you : try getting a girlfriend*.

    *Rentals and cyber do not count.

    AK: In which case one wonders why you waste your time commenting here? (Don’t answer. I’ve already done you the favor of putting my new moderation policy in practice.)

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    • Replies: @5371
    Perhaps a link to evidence of your own journalistic, intellectual and sexual exploits would be in order?
    , @Anonymous


    A.Karlin. Blogger, gamer, social media failure, tryhard Russian, polymath wannabe with rather amateurish opinions on everything.

    I got a real challenge for you : try getting a girlfriend*.

    *Rentals and cyber do not count.
     
    A nerdy Chinese one would be best, IMO. I'm sure math nerd Derb would concur.
  77. 5371 says:
    @Anonymous
    A.Karlin. Blogger, gamer, social media failure, tryhard Russian, polymath wannabe with rather amateurish opinions on everything.

    I got a real challenge for you : try getting a girlfriend*.

    *Rentals and cyber do not count.

    AK: In which case one wonders why you waste your time commenting here? (Don't answer. I've already done you the favor of putting my new moderation policy in practice.)

    Perhaps a link to evidence of your own journalistic, intellectual and sexual exploits would be in order?

    Read More
  78. @German_reader
    "Taleb’s recommendation is to “denarrate, that is, shut down the television set, minimize time spent reading newspapers, ignore the blogs.”

    Eh...I don't watch television for information, read newspapers only very selectively (and don't support mainstream newspapers financially in any way since I want to see the Lügenpresse go down), and only follow a few blogs...but if I'd totally follow Taleb's advice, how would I keep being informed about current events? Self-improvement by reading serious books is nice, and one should certainly avoid getting caught up in superficial silly controversies...but on some level one needs to know what's currently going on.
    And you're going to write reviews about video games? Though I've bashed video gaming as a waste of time in the past, I'm looking forward to this...will be interesting to see how that turns out (most writing about games is pretty stupid, would be nice to see something better).
    And good to hear that you're quitting Twitter and Facebook...that kind of social media shouldn't be supported.

    You don’t get good information from news media you mostly get disinformation which is worse than not knowing much about current events.

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    • Replies: @German_reader
    I agree to a large extent, but that raises the question: where can you get reliable information? A lot of people (myself included) have turned to blogs, alternative media on the net etc., but you get a lot of nonsense and idiocy there as well which you have to filter out. I really don't see any easy solutions here.
  79. @NoseytheDuke
    You don't get good information from news media you mostly get disinformation which is worse than not knowing much about current events.

    I agree to a large extent, but that raises the question: where can you get reliable information? A lot of people (myself included) have turned to blogs, alternative media on the net etc., but you get a lot of nonsense and idiocy there as well which you have to filter out. I really don’t see any easy solutions here.

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  80. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @Anonymous
    A.Karlin. Blogger, gamer, social media failure, tryhard Russian, polymath wannabe with rather amateurish opinions on everything.

    I got a real challenge for you : try getting a girlfriend*.

    *Rentals and cyber do not count.

    AK: In which case one wonders why you waste your time commenting here? (Don't answer. I've already done you the favor of putting my new moderation policy in practice.)

    A.Karlin. Blogger, gamer, social media failure, tryhard Russian, polymath wannabe with rather amateurish opinions on everything.

    I got a real challenge for you : try getting a girlfriend*.

    *Rentals and cyber do not count.

    A nerdy Chinese one would be best, IMO. I’m sure math nerd Derb would concur.

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  81. Eskaton says:

    Thanks for shilling for me on Twatter (ironically, I was on a semi-break from social media, building up a content pile to start my own blog). Looks like there are even fewer reasons to open TweetDeck now.

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  82. Kristen says:

    About five years ago I unplugged, and eventually trashed, my television. I don’t miss it until I see someone else’s: I was at a Chinese restaurant recently and was glued to endless reruns of the weather on local news. I’m not sure why it was such an attraction.

    I had a spell of about six months on Facebook, and have never returned except when someone online references it. Never do twitter though I have bookmarked Vaughn’s feed, just for laughs.

    I ditched my cell phone six months ago, replacing it with one of those pay-for-minutes devices. Occasionally, I wish I had it, as when I was lost in Denver a couple months ago. More money in my pocket … more time.

    So true is the comment upthread about the golden age of blogging from the beginning of this century to about the time Obama was first elected. Still, there are many thoughtful and provocative blogs, such as this one, at times, that are worthy of my time. I spend about 1.5 hours daily reading good blogs. Even that, though, has rewired my mind.

    And that’s what concerns me. I’ve noticed my attention span narrowing. For the past two months, I’ve been trying to learn Sanskrit, and my ability to memorize has been almost destroyed. Why? Does the time I spend reading blogs and commenting (rarely) correspond to a shortened attention span and a inability to focus and memorize? If so, why?

    As an aside, I’ve noticed that reading on my reader doesn’t quite match reading a physical book. I seem to concentrate more on a physical book. Furthermore, the choice of books available to me online is wide but not deep. The best part of reading on a reader is the ability to take notes into a separate document, but Amazon, now, makes it impossible to retrieve those notes unless taken from their own books and put into their own cloud. Thus, I no longer use my reader.

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  83. “I will resume studying math – possibly the only intellectual sphere in which BS is impossible in principle, and which is quite possibly the ultimate basis of physical reality.”

    Russell and Whitehead’s dream with Principia in 1919, crushed by Goedel within a decade.

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  84. Blitzstat says:

    I see you’ve attracted the attention of quite a few trolls. Quite unusual.

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  85. robt says:
    @reiner Tor

    Once the Polish troops realized there was no point in resisting the German Blitzkrieg (and the simultaneous invasion from the east by the Soviet Union in September 1939), they did the rational thing
     
    By the time the USSR attacked, the Polish lines were already broken and the army in disarray, in essence they were already defeated.

    The Poles were brave and fought well and hard (at least, I have never heard nor read anybody who accused them of cowardice in battle), but simply had no answer to the motorized warfare of the Germans.

    I think the saddest thing is how Poland was treated after the war ended. They weren’t even allowed to join the Victory parade in England, for fear of upsetting Stalin.
    Ostensibly, WWII was fought to protect and preserve Poland (though this was tactically and even strategically impossible), but at war’s end Poland was given to the USSR (along with many other countries) in complete contradiction to the Atlantic Charter and the propaganda about fighting for freedom that was dispensed while the War was being fought.

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    • Replies: @No_0ne
    So, you're saying that the British and French commitments to "defend" Poland were not only worthless, but probably harmful, since they encouraged Polish intransigence on coming to some kind of agreement with Germany over Danzig (95% ethnic German at the time) and the Polish Corridor? Good point. Poland probably would have come out far better had they negotiated with the Germans, rather than trusting the British and the French.

    Another point that rarely gets mentioned about the period immediately after the war relates to the "war crimes" trials. In addition to the more well-known trials, such as Nuremberg, trials were held in other locations, such as Finland. The Finnish leaders were tried, and sentenced-- for waging war against the USSR. Remember, this was the "Good War," folks...
  86. CanSpeccy says: • Website

    Congratulations on kicking the social media habit.

    When you say

    I might have had a dopamine high from “winning” (perhaps) a debate on HBD/immigration with Leonid Bershidsky, but at the end of the day, he is a highly influential journalist with a column in Bloomberg and I am not.

    remember, that the other guy’s audience consists only in the dupes and dopes, mostly, who follow Bloomberg, whereas you have a more enlightened audience here.

    If this excellent post (I cut and pasted a bit of it here) is indicative of the contents, I look forward to reading your forthcoming book

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  87. CanSpeccy says: • Website

    There’s one thing useful about social media, though — blogs anyhow (I’ve never twittered of F-booked). They provide a useful guide to the nonsense memes and BS arguments pushed by the globalists for the destruction of the Western nations, and the advocates of many other causes contrary to the public interest.

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  88. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    Is the problem about social media, or its client software having become so shiny and idiot-friendly? Myspace/Facebook/Twitzer extended the franchise to people too dumb to learn how to use a computer (including many professional journalists). That’s how I’ve always looked at it.

    cf. 90s-era debate about USA Today vs. “real” broadsheet newspapers
    80s-era distinction of users vs. hackers
    70s real punk rok vs. bandwagon acts

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  89. @Anatoly Karlin

    I think that’s true of the Western Dark Ages too though. Not sure about Byzantium. I would guess that in Western history the point where the amount of surviving text become too large for a single scholar to read is somewhere between 1000 AD and 1200 AD.
     
    It might be possible to answer this. There were ~10K manuscripts (surviving ones, presumably) produced in the 6-7C, 40K in 8C, ~200K in 9-11K, 800K in 12C, 1.8M in 13C, 2.7M in 14C, and 5M in 15C.

    Meanwhile, there were 12.5M books printed in 1454-1500, exploding to more than 200M in 16C.

    What is the length of the average medieval manuscript? (Modern novella/50K words?). And what percentage were originals? (Probably a small one - 1%?). Anyway, a very bad guesstimate should be just about possible.

    Interesting source: https://www.quora.com/How-much-writing-from-ancient-Greece-is-preserved-Is-it-a-finite-amount-that-someone-could-potentially-read

    While there are 105 million words in the TLG, most of them are Byzantine. I did a count of the words in the corpus in Lerna VIc: A correction of word form counts in 2009; because there is not massive growth in the number of known ancient texts, the counts still apply.

    If we define ancient Greece as up to the fourth century AD, and we exclude Christian works and technical works (so just literature, as opposed to writing), it's 16 million words. If a novel is around 100,000 words, that corresponds to 160 books; so yes, someone could potentially read it. If we cut it down to strictly Ancient times (down to the fourth century BC), it's 5 million words.
     
    --> http://hellenisteukontos.blogspot.com.au/2009/07/lerna-vic-correction-of-word-form.html

    Ancient Greece is, as you surmised, quite doable for someone dedicated. The Byzantine Empire has twice as much so it might be doable for someone very very dedicated. I would guess that Byzantine manuscript production might have been comparable to that of the most advanced medieval European region in the earlier centuries, though Western Europe surged well ahead by the late medieval period while the Byzantine Empire shrank both intellectually and demographically so they were no longer comparable by then.

    Anyhow, let assume Byzantines produced an average of 40K manuscripts (=11C Italy) during the rough millennium of its existence separate from Rome. Total = 400K, translating to ~90mn unique words, translating to 900 books as per the above. Probably just about doable in a professional lifetime for an especially dedicated and obsessed scholar. How many centuries for Western Europe to get to 400K total manuscripts/900 original modern book equivalents? As per Zanden, you have almost exactly 400K total manuscripts by 1000 AD. The next century increases that number by a further 50%, by which point even the nerdiest scholars will stumble and start to read more selectively. So...

    I would guess that in Western history the point where the amount of surviving text become too large for a single scholar to read is somewhere between 1000 AD and 1200 AD.
     
    Yikes! Congrats on a brilliant intuition.

    I can just picture someone in a millenium or so trying to figure out if the tens of thousands of Federal Register pages issued each year in this epoch are actually worth translating. Chances are they will conclude they are not.

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  90. @reiner Tor
    The Dutch were impossible to tell apart from Germans living across the border in the 18th century. They were often difficult to tell apart as late as after WW2, when it was seriously proposed that the Netherlands would get some German territories, and the High German-speaking population (mostly city-dwellers) would be forcibly removed (deported), while the (mostly rural) population still speaking the local dialect (almost the same as the Dutch spoken on the other side of the border) would be retained and "Dutchified". Swiss German dialects close to the border are very very similar to the Swabian dialects in Germany (and the Vorarlberg Austrian dialect), but because of centuries of High German education the Germans and Austrians usually speak High German in official settings and only speak their dialects in informal or family settings.

    It must be noted that the good Swiss soldiers (including the Papal Guard) were not coming from the Italian speaking Ticino canton (which was conquered by the German-speaking core cantons), nor from the French-speaking cantons (of which Geneva needed military protection from the German-speaking canton Bern, the rest were IIRC simply conquered by the German-speaking cantons), all of these good soldiers came from German-Switzerland. (Deutschschweiz.)

    What this means is that when talking about events in the 18th century and before, you cannot meaningfully talk about the German national character while excluding the Dutch and the Swiss.

    Friedrich List (writing in the 1840s) was convinced the Dutch were Germans and should be incorporated into the Reich upon unification.

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    • Replies: @5371
    The Dutch were at a pretty low ebb in general during most of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th.
  91. Barbara says:

    When Twit and Fake came out I thought it was the dumbest thing I had ever heard of and still do. I refuse to be a twit or fake.

    One of the best books I ever read was Krishnamurti’s “The Awakening of Intelligence”.

    Jill Stein is the only intelligent choice. She’s honest, moral, and will serve the people. How novel.

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  92. Twinkie says:
    @reiner Tor
    The Dutch were impossible to tell apart from Germans living across the border in the 18th century. They were often difficult to tell apart as late as after WW2, when it was seriously proposed that the Netherlands would get some German territories, and the High German-speaking population (mostly city-dwellers) would be forcibly removed (deported), while the (mostly rural) population still speaking the local dialect (almost the same as the Dutch spoken on the other side of the border) would be retained and "Dutchified". Swiss German dialects close to the border are very very similar to the Swabian dialects in Germany (and the Vorarlberg Austrian dialect), but because of centuries of High German education the Germans and Austrians usually speak High German in official settings and only speak their dialects in informal or family settings.

    It must be noted that the good Swiss soldiers (including the Papal Guard) were not coming from the Italian speaking Ticino canton (which was conquered by the German-speaking core cantons), nor from the French-speaking cantons (of which Geneva needed military protection from the German-speaking canton Bern, the rest were IIRC simply conquered by the German-speaking cantons), all of these good soldiers came from German-Switzerland. (Deutschschweiz.)

    What this means is that when talking about events in the 18th century and before, you cannot meaningfully talk about the German national character while excluding the Dutch and the Swiss.

    What this means is that when talking about events in the 18th century and before, you cannot meaningfully talk about the German national character while excluding the Dutch and the Swiss.

    Of course the Dutch and the Swiss are very much related to the Germans in “Germany proper,” that’s why I half-jokingly called them Swamp Germans and Mountain Germans, respectively, earlier.

    But, prior to the 19th Century, with the exception of the Frederick the Great’s interlude, Germans from Germany proper (those from Rheinland and the Hanseatic cities as well as various kingdoms and principalities such as Bavaria et al.) were often considered poorer quality soldier material compared to, say, the dashing French or the experienced Spanish soldiery (especially the men of the Tercios who formed the backbone of the Habsburg Spanish army) or even Italian militias.

    In the modern era, it’s only with the rise of Prussia as a “nation-in-arms” that the German military reputation began to emerge, an assessment that became entrenched with a string of “shocking” Prussian and German military successes in the 19th Century (and later in World Wars I and II).

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    • Replies: @Glossy
    During the Renaissance most Italian states used German mercenaries from Switzerland and what's now southern Germany instead of native Italian troops. I think only Venice habitually used its own troops. During the American Revolution both sides used German mercenaries (Hessians). Germans were in demand as soldiers throughout history.
  93. Twinkie says:
    @reiner Tor
    The German advantage was the Auftragstaktik, which was very well suited to modern mobile warfare. In WW1 it was less of an advantage, because warfare was much slower, so the Allies had time to fix the problems. Mobile warfare in WW2 was much less forgiving.

    Regarding the Soviet purges, most of the generals who perished were considerably less talented than Tukhachevsky (probably most victims were party hacks themselves), and the new generation put into leading positions had its share of talent. In other words, the purges probably didn't have much of an effect. Regardless of the brilliant ideas of Tukhachevsky, it must be noted that his ideas required a well trained and adept military force to execute, something which the Red Army was not before or after the purges.

    It must be noted that Tukhachevsky's colleague General Svechin had ideas that were easier to implement (retreat into the depth of the country and using deep defense and attrition to weaken and eventually defeat the enemy), and which were inadvertently (and very badly) carried out 1941-43. He also fell victim to the purges.

    In any event, the Soviets crumbled not because they lacked brilliant ideas, but because their military cadre was mostly incompetent on all levels. And this was not caused by the purges (most of those purged, like Rokossovsky, were back in service a couple years later), but by the fact that they never had a competent cadre in the first place.

    The German advantage was the Auftragstaktik, which was very well suited to modern mobile warfare.

    I am a big fan of mission-type tactics (Auftragstaktik as opposed to Befehlstaktik), but we Americans tend to overblow the conceptual differences a wee bit.

    When General Hermann Balck was interviewed after World War II, the American interviewer (an advocate for Auftragstaktik) tried to get him to extol its virtue, but Balck would not play along. Instead of singing its praises, he responded, characteristically, along the lines of “It’s not a big deal. If you have a clever fellow as a subordinate, you tell him the mission and let him decide the tactics on the spot. If you have a stupid fellow, you have to tell him what to do and where to go at every step.”

    In any event, the Soviets crumbled not because they lacked brilliant ideas, but because their military cadre was mostly incompetent on all levels.

    Hence my statement earlier “That, combined with the generally low levels of education and mechanical aptitude among the ordinary troops, greatly retarded able execution of the doctrine in World War II, especially in the beginning.”

    And this was not caused by the purges (most of those purged, like Rokossovsky, were back in service a couple years later), but by the fact that they never had a competent cadre in the first place.

    But this is over-playing the card. Yes, the effects of the Purges were overblown in the early Western assessment (and many of those purged were later reinstated), but the effects were nonetheless substantial: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Purge#Purge_of_the_army

    The purge of the Red Army and Military Maritime Fleet removed three of five marshals (then equivalent to six-star generals), 13 of 15 army commanders (then equivalent to three- and four-star generals), eight of nine admirals (the purge fell heavily on the Navy, who were suspected of exploiting their opportunities for foreign contacts),[30] 50 of 57 army corps commanders, 154 out of 186 division commanders, 16 of 16 army commissars, and 25 of 28 army corps commissars.[31]

    With that kind of disruption, surely operational capacity was greatly disturbed, let alone less immediate concerns such as training and doctrinal development.

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  94. Glossy says: • Website
    @Twinkie

    What this means is that when talking about events in the 18th century and before, you cannot meaningfully talk about the German national character while excluding the Dutch and the Swiss.
     
    Of course the Dutch and the Swiss are very much related to the Germans in "Germany proper," that's why I half-jokingly called them Swamp Germans and Mountain Germans, respectively, earlier.

    But, prior to the 19th Century, with the exception of the Frederick the Great's interlude, Germans from Germany proper (those from Rheinland and the Hanseatic cities as well as various kingdoms and principalities such as Bavaria et al.) were often considered poorer quality soldier material compared to, say, the dashing French or the experienced Spanish soldiery (especially the men of the Tercios who formed the backbone of the Habsburg Spanish army) or even Italian militias.

    In the modern era, it's only with the rise of Prussia as a "nation-in-arms" that the German military reputation began to emerge, an assessment that became entrenched with a string of "shocking" Prussian and German military successes in the 19th Century (and later in World Wars I and II).

    During the Renaissance most Italian states used German mercenaries from Switzerland and what’s now southern Germany instead of native Italian troops. I think only Venice habitually used its own troops. During the American Revolution both sides used German mercenaries (Hessians). Germans were in demand as soldiers throughout history.

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    • Replies: @Twinkie

    During the Renaissance most Italian states used German mercenaries from Switzerland and what’s now southern Germany instead of native Italian troops.
     
    Yes, but the quality of such troops varied greatly. Swiss mercenaries had a deservedly good reputation, but many German mercenaries (usually mobilized through the use of press-gangs from "excess" population) were not highly rated. Furthermore, many such mercenaries were utilized due to lack of native manpower by the major powers (or to spare their own, valued, manpower), not because the mercenaries were necessarily of higher quality.

    During the American Revolution both sides used German mercenaries (Hessians).
     
    The Hessians were noted for their high desertion rates in North America (many fled and settled in what became the United States). Indeed, after the American Revolution, the Hessian mercenary system essentially broke down and was not utilized again.

    Germans were in demand as soldiers throughout history.
     
    Mainly because Germany was the major battlefield, not necessarily because they were thought superior soldiery.

    The high reputation of Germans as good soldiers is almost entirely due to the rise of the Prussian "nation-in-arms" and the superb performances of the Germans in the 19th and 20th Centuries.
  95. 5371 says:
    @Anatoly Karlin
    Friedrich List (writing in the 1840s) was convinced the Dutch were Germans and should be incorporated into the Reich upon unification.

    The Dutch were at a pretty low ebb in general during most of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th.

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  96. mtn cur says:

    I got rid of my TV in 84, being stupid enough already, I saw no need to keep watching it. Newspapers no longer contain enough square footage to be useful garden mulch; however, the notion that internet is an environmentally sound alternative is belied by the use of weird metals and VOCs in their mfg., to which I add the toxic events and activities which they now enable. I have found much of UNZ review so interesting that it is now a wasteful time sink, rendering me a mere consumer, rather than a producer of anything worthwhile.

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  97. Twinkie says:
    @Glossy
    During the Renaissance most Italian states used German mercenaries from Switzerland and what's now southern Germany instead of native Italian troops. I think only Venice habitually used its own troops. During the American Revolution both sides used German mercenaries (Hessians). Germans were in demand as soldiers throughout history.

    During the Renaissance most Italian states used German mercenaries from Switzerland and what’s now southern Germany instead of native Italian troops.

    Yes, but the quality of such troops varied greatly. Swiss mercenaries had a deservedly good reputation, but many German mercenaries (usually mobilized through the use of press-gangs from “excess” population) were not highly rated. Furthermore, many such mercenaries were utilized due to lack of native manpower by the major powers (or to spare their own, valued, manpower), not because the mercenaries were necessarily of higher quality.

    During the American Revolution both sides used German mercenaries (Hessians).

    The Hessians were noted for their high desertion rates in North America (many fled and settled in what became the United States). Indeed, after the American Revolution, the Hessian mercenary system essentially broke down and was not utilized again.

    Germans were in demand as soldiers throughout history.

    Mainly because Germany was the major battlefield, not necessarily because they were thought superior soldiery.

    The high reputation of Germans as good soldiers is almost entirely due to the rise of the Prussian “nation-in-arms” and the superb performances of the Germans in the 19th and 20th Centuries.

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  98. Philip Owen [AKA "Soarintothesky"] says:
    @Twinkie

    The Swiss soldiers were Germans.
     
    "Mountain Germans," eh? And I guess that makes the Dutch "Swamp Germans."

    By the way, I should note, as a follow-up, a couple of things regarding military doctrines during the interwar years. One area in which the Germans exceeded the Allies early on was communication. Guderian, who was a leading proponent of mechanized warfare, was a signals officer earlier in his career and strongly emphasized improved and widespread communication equipment (radios) for mechanized units as vital to the whole thing. In this area, the Germans were far ahead until the United States entered the war.

    Second, the Soviet Union actually had very advanced and sophisticated mechanized warfare doctrine during the interwar years. But many of the intellectual cadres for the doctrine perished during the Purges, the greatest loss being probably Mikhail Tukhachevsky, whom some credit as being the father of the Deep Battle. That, combined with the generally low levels of education and mechanical aptitude among the ordinary troops, greatly retarded able execution of the doctrine in World War II, especially in the beginning.

    My college drinking song, written pre WW1 included the phrasing “there’s the highland Deutsch and the lowland Deutsch, the Rotterdam Deutsch and St Cuthbert’s.” At times, maps of the Holy Roman Empire included the Dutch.

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  99. Godel, Escher, Bach is a massive waste of time. It uses vast amounts of space to make a small number of points. Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance for IT types. best book of philosophy/science I’ve read was Origin of Virtue by Matt Ridley. It stresses some HBD nature/nurture assumptions too. (always excluding the Gospel of St Luke).

    Something new needs to happen in Russia for Dark Lord of the Kremlin to be saleable. There are more than enough negative books published about Putin. Russian fiction is a challenge. 2020 and stuff like that is awkward to read and hasn’t really sold much.

    I monitor original Russian sources for positive news on Russian trade and investment to pump out onto Twitter and Linkedin. Wading through the government and company press releases takes over an hour daily. (I use Feedly/Feedity to assemble them). I am skimming them for interest, not reading and analysing. I get very little response from potential clients. Some response from genuinely useful potential associates but it’s not worth the time. Sticking an ad on a freelancing site is at least as effective. So yes. Contributing to Twitter is vanity. We all have our imperfections.

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  100. No_0ne says:
    @robt
    I think the saddest thing is how Poland was treated after the war ended. They weren't even allowed to join the Victory parade in England, for fear of upsetting Stalin.
    Ostensibly, WWII was fought to protect and preserve Poland (though this was tactically and even strategically impossible), but at war's end Poland was given to the USSR (along with many other countries) in complete contradiction to the Atlantic Charter and the propaganda about fighting for freedom that was dispensed while the War was being fought.

    So, you’re saying that the British and French commitments to “defend” Poland were not only worthless, but probably harmful, since they encouraged Polish intransigence on coming to some kind of agreement with Germany over Danzig (95% ethnic German at the time) and the Polish Corridor? Good point. Poland probably would have come out far better had they negotiated with the Germans, rather than trusting the British and the French.

    Another point that rarely gets mentioned about the period immediately after the war relates to the “war crimes” trials. In addition to the more well-known trials, such as Nuremberg, trials were held in other locations, such as Finland. The Finnish leaders were tried, and sentenced– for waging war against the USSR. Remember, this was the “Good War,” folks…

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  101. Randal says:

    the better sorts of video games

    I’m as partial to a military strategy game as the next male of the species, but it struck me when I saw a review of it that Factorio must surely be the ultimate male-orientated computer game:

    Basic 2d graphics

    No love interest or females or emotional issues to address

    Basic task: build, organise and tweak for maximum efficiency a…..factory production line

    Plenty of numbers and graphs to provide feedback on further tweaking needs

    Aliens to kill as well

    And a train set to build as part of the production supply line process!

    Note, though, I haven’t picked it up for myself. It’s got “danger: obsessive open-ended pointless time sink” written all over it.

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  102. Philip Owen [AKA "Soarintothesky"] says:
    @German_reader
    "Not a good start! (in that it reflects badly on the game’s realism)"

    I don't know...it's not like the fall of France in 1940 was inevitable...if the French leadership hadn't been amazingly incompetent, it arguably shouldn't have happened.
    Don't have any experience with Hearts of Iron IV myself (probably the type of game that's too complex for my tastes...), but sounds like an interesting choice for a review.

    The Germans took a big risk coming through the Ardenne forest. If they had been discovered on those single track roads lined with trees, their progress would have been halted by very moderate air power and even heavy infantry. As it was, they emerged to the rear of the Franco-Brits and exploited their mobility. Without that, they would have had to tackle an army head on. Perhaps they would have won anyway but slowly and with considerable loss.

    That said, the BEF was almost as underequipped and trained as the Ukrainians in 2014. (Almost, its very difficult to be that bad). The French were not. If Von Rundstedt’s Army Group A had been detected before or during the forest transit the French could have stopped them.

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  103. Mitleser says:

    Have you ever considered playing Republic: The Revolution, a polit simulator from 2003 where you have to take over a fictional post-Soviet Slavic country?

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  104. The library link above: “Page not found”, nor did I see a library link elsewhere.

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