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visits-russia-patriotic

Russian nationalists and “patriots” – much like the “Alt Right” and Alt Lite in the United States – each have their own media ecosystems, though overlap is inevitable.

As in the United States, “patriotism” is at least an order of magnitude more prevalent than nationalism (indeed, it is one of the defining strands of Putinist ideology in general). As regards the media scene, one example of a flagship “patriotic” resource would be Komsomolskaya Pravda, with more than 50 million monthly visits (despite the name, it has nothing to do with the USSR). A few other examples would be RT Russian, LIFE News, and Argumenty i Fakty. Whereas in the United States there are several CNN’s and MSNBC’s for one FOX, in Russia the division between “patriotic” and “liberal” (Vedomosti, Gazeta.ru, etc.) is more even.

Towards the right end of the “patriotic” spectrum the two big (>10 million) strongly players would be VZ.ru (the brainchild of Konstantin Rykov, the United Russia deputy who promotes Maria Katasonova, Russia’s premier cheerleader for Trump and Le Pen) and the military-affiliated Zvezda TV channel (which for a time employed British Donbass correspondent Graham W. Phillips).

Also rather influential, with around 10 million monthly visits between them, are the blogs of Colonel Cassad (Boris Rozhin) and El Murid (Anatoly Nesmiyan). Both are one-man content factories, forged in the fires of the Donbass War, who have now shifted their attentions to the Syrian Civil War and general geopolitical and military matters. Rozhin is a Crimean Communist (and chess master); Anatoly Nesmiyan is associated with Igor Strelkov, who also has a blog, though not a very influential one. However, both Nesmiyan and Strelkov are strongly skeptical of the Putin regime, so it’s more accurate to describe them as “national patriots” than “patriots.”

In my article on Russian Nationalism 101, I described Tsargrad TV as a semi-nationalist resource, especially after its ouster of the Eurasianist Alexander Dugin and replacement by the conservative-nationalist Egor Kholmogorov. It is also perhaps Russia’s closest approximation of Breitbart, down to the oligarch funding (Mercer/Malofeev) and American conservative-style focus on religion and “culture war” issues (the most recent example being its furore over the film Matilda), and ambiguous relation with Russian nationalists (Egor Kholmogorov also used to contribute articles to Prosvirnin’s Sputnik i Pogrom, but more recently, Tsargrad included Prosvirnin in its list of the country’s top 100 Russophobes). In any case, it has been interesting to see its visitorship numbers this past year skyrocketing from around the level of Sputnik i Pogrom to 50% of the level of Zvezda/VZ, and 20% of Komsomolskaya Pravda. (That said, questions have been raised as to what extent this sharp uptick is legitimate traffic).

visits-russia-national-patriotic

Sputnik i Pogrom (Egor Prosvirnin), the flagship magazine of Russian nationalism, was at 1.5 million monthly visits and on an upwards trend until the Russian censorship authority Roskomnadzor blocked it this July on trumped up reasons. The drop in readership has not been as catastrophic as might have been expected, probably because its texts are highly K-selected and its audience tend to be young, intelligent, and technically literate. It is highly oppositionist in nature, but it is read by a wide swathe of the Russian political elites regardless.

Regardless of this setback, Sputnik i Pogrom’s visits number are still comparable to those of Nikolay Starikov and Zavtra and Nikolay Starikov, the two main flagships of “Soviet nationalism” and the most hardcore/zealous strain of “patriotism“, respectively.

Nikolay Starikov is a sort of “uber-patriot” who peddles in Stalin apologetics and petrodollar conspiracy theories. He is also slavishly loyal to the Kremlin and Putin: After spending early 2014 demonizing the “Nazi junta” in the Ukraine, he made an abrupt heel turn, coming out against the recognition of the LDNR and stressing the necessity of a “united Ukraine”… so as to avoid being drawn into an evil American plot to draw Russia into WW3. This was essentially a Kremlin talking point – the decision against overt military intervention had been made early on in the conflict – but couched in a language understandable to Starikov’s rabid, foathing-at-the-mouth uber-patriotic herd. With a few exceptions, the articles there are highly r-selected.

Zavtra is the newspaper of Alexander Prokhanov, a Soviet ultranationalist who supported the hardliners during the coup attempt of 1991. However, they have not evolved since, and as a result their articles inevitably follow a set of themes: Praise for Lenin and Stalin; condemnations of Gorbachev for “betraying” the USSR; and other staples of Third Position political rhetoric, such as the petrodollar conspiracy theories. Also a liberal dose of late Putinist era multinationalism: Just checked back, and Prokhanov appears to be writing odes to the Kadyrovs nowadays. It is hard to avoid the impression that Zavtra is fading into obscurity.

However, at least some people still visit it. The same cannot be said of Alexander Dugin’s two Eurasianist sites, Katehon and Geopolitica.ru – they have no more than 500,000 combined monthly visits. As I have long pointed out, Dugin is far more popular amongst Western neoliberal Intellectuals Yet Idiots and confused US Alt Rightists than he is in Russia itself. That is because there are few Russians who have much use for Dugin’s fusion of “anti-imperialist”/”anti-racist” Soviet-Eurasianism and the more obscurantist strains of Orthodoxy liberally, speckled with conspiracy theories about the liberal “sixth column” responsible for Islamist terrorism and the Atlanticist evils of surfing (no, seriously).

google-trends-dugin-limonov-prokhanov

Google Trends: Dugin; Limonov; Prokhanov – Russia – Last 5 years

The National Bolshevik Eduard Limonov is somewhat more prominent than Dugin, and also has gigs at more mainstream “patriotic” places like RT Russian. Although his ideas have become dated, as with Dugin and Prokhanov, he is, at least, more entertaining than either one of them, which might explain his greater prominence. This is more of a subjective observation, but I would also note that as someone who has spent some time in France and the United States, he is also more realistic about many aspects of the world relative to his Eurasianist and Soviet peers.

Sut’ Vremeni (Essence of Time) is another Soviet-nostalgic movement led by Sergey Kurginyan. It has zero intellectual content and frankly comes off like a cult, but is allowed to exist thanks to its slavish loyalty to the Kremlin.

It is important to note that just as the Right Altsphere in the United States can’t compete with the collective Vox, so Russian nationalists, Far-Rightists, and sundry “national patriots” and “national conservatives” of whatever flavor are far more marginal relative to neoliberalism.txt’s Russia branch. The two flagship Far Liberal outlets, Echo of Moscow and Meduza.io (successtor to Lenta) each have 30 million monthly visits; TVRain, whose crew is a fixture at any Navalny demonstration, has 12 million visitors; The Village, the journal of Moscow’s SWPL’s, gays, and SWPLy gays, has 8 million; the highly K-selected Republic.ru (formerly Slon) has around 3 million. The nationalist/liberal gap isn’t quite as loaded in favor of the latter as in the United States or Europe, but it is still very big.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Blogging, Russian Media 
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visitors-alt-media

We seem to be doing pretty well, if SimilarWeb stats are anything to go by.

The Unz Review is clearly the dominant website amongst the “Intellectual Dissident Right” (we are far ahead of VDARE, Takimag, and are even catching up on the normies at The American Cuckservative).

It is also strongly competitive amongst the “Intellectual Anti-Imperialist Left,” being far ahead of the Antiwar.com (I recall it being the alt news site during the Iraq War era), overtaking the libertarian LewRockwell, and even edging closer to Counterpunch, another stalwart of the old altsphere.

This is all the more remarkable considering that The Unz Review is run on a shoestring budget, its lack of attention to SEO or social media frills, and the bold notion of publishing both Far Right and Far Left content (I am still not sure if that repels or attracts people, on average). Meanwhile, we still manage to retain a high degree of intellectual respectability by hosting some of the most “serious” people like James Thompson.

I also included the more intellectual Alt Right publications (Kevin MacDonald’s Occidental Observer and Greg Johnson’s Counter-Currents). They are both pretty much an order of magnitude less influential than the Unz Review.

I have also included Social Matter, a central aggregator for the NRxsphere (thanks in large part to Nick B. Steve’s prodigious weekly roundups) and, at around 100,000 monthly visits, probably the most popular NRx blog overall – Nick Land’s Xenosystems is the 2 millionth most visited blog in the world, The Future Primaeval is likewise in the doldrums, only Dalrock that I’m aware of continues to eke out a presence around the 100,000 monthly visits mark. Otherwise, the public face of NRx is pretty much dead, confined to mailing lists, secret forums, and (perhaps) infiltration of the institutions.

It is also important to keep a wider perspective that in the large picture alt media remains a fairly marginal phenomenon. Any of the major flagships of the American MSM – NYT, WaPO, The Guardian, Buzzfeed, etc. – have two orders of magnitude more visits (hundreds of millions) than even the most prominent alt outlets like Counterpunch and this very publication. Even the very K-selected MSM outlets like Vox.com and FiveThirty Eight have an order of magnitude more visits. It’s an uphill struggle.

The HBDsphere

I haven’t bothered compiling detailed stats like Pumpkin Person did in 2015 since apart from The Unz Review, which hosts a huge percentage of active HBD/IQ writers, there is otherwise no real competition. Within the Unz ecosystem, Steve Sailer is of course by far the most dominant figure, accounting for perhaps half of our total traffic.

The single most influential independent HBD blogger as of today would be Robert Lindsay, the originator of the “Alt Left” (i.e. leftist HBD realists, as opposed to the object of Trump’s ramblings, for whom there is a much better name anyway: The Ctrl Left). In fairness, however, Lindsay’s was never a primarily HBD blog, and he has pretty much dropped writing about it all since Trump’s election. (Also, for whatever reason, Lindsay appears to have the strange distinction of being the only person on here to have his website blocked in Russia).

Otherwise, the most popular HBD/IQ blogger, with around 100,000 monthly visits, is… Emil Kirkegaard. This is especially remarkable since his writing tends to the highly technical and he doesn’t have even open comments.

Razib Khan and Greg Cochran both have around 50,000.

The others are barely competitive. Steve Hsu had a massive surge this past month, but is otherwise at around 20,000. hbd*chick has stopped blogging. Audacious Epigone isn’t prominent enough to get stats from SimilarWeb, through he surely deserves to with his Stakhanovite efforts in GSS mining. Ergo for Pumpkin Person, Lion of the Blogosphere, and several others.

I suppose it might also behove to mention gwern.net, a brilliant polymath who writes highly K-selected essays about the genomics of IQ and many other LessWrongy subjects like nootropics, cryptocurrencies, and the control problem. He also gets around 100,000 per month. However, classifying him as an IQ, let alone an HBD, blogger would be a massive stretch. He is much sooner part of the Less Wrong/SSC/”rationalist” cluster.

The Alt Right

visitors-alt-right

The defining feature of the Alt Right-sphere in the past year has, of course, been the meteoric rise of Andrew Anglin’s The Daily Stormer – and its near complete oblitration in the wake of Charlottesville.

When you need to change domains every other week in between confinements to the deep web, you can’t have much of a popular readership. I suspect visitorship has plummeted by an order of magnitude.

This hasn’t helped the old-school Neo-Nazis of Stormfront, long in terminal decline, to recover. They have been overtaken by The Right Stuff podcast – apparently, the recent scandal about one of their members Mike Enoch having a Jewish wife did nothing but attract them publicity and more visitors – and now joins a bevy of other sites such as Amren and Heartiste at around the one million mark.

AltRight.com has disappointed to date. Apart from some of Vincent Law’s longer pieces, their content is much less intellectual than that of Radix Journal – some of the latter’s best writers such as Guillaume Durocher and Gregory Hood failed to make the move to the new venue – so visitorship numbers should be much higher. But they’re failing to accelerate.

As with the “Dissident Right”, the influence of the Alt Right should not be overestimated, even within the general Tea Party Plus/Alt Lite/pro-Trump movement. Visitorship is capped at around 5 million. The eponymous website of the movement has no more than a million. In contrast, just Breitbart/The Daily Caller/Infowars have around 150 million monthly visits between them. There is a similar gap on Twitter, with Richard Spencer having only 80,000 followers – that’s less than Alt Lite parvenus like Laura Loomer, to say nothing of the many hundreds of thousands following Mike Cernovich, Baked Alaska, and Jack Posobiec.

The Alt Russophiles

visitors-alt-russia

Russia is distinctive in that the volume of Western MSM lies and misrepresentations about it has traditionally been so bad that it is pretty much the only country to have carved out a sort of “niche” for itself within the Western Altsphere.

Ten to five years ago, this area of the Internet was essentially a constellation of pro-Russia blogs that ranged from the highly considered and data-heavy, to the unhinged and “Russia stronk” hurrah-patriotic (I myself got my start in blogging as “Da Russophile“). Since then, they have been gradually displaced by large websites – primarily Russia Insider (Charles Bausman) and The Duran (Peter Lavelle, Alexander Mercouris, and some others) – and the universal scourge of social media. There are still a few bloggers that fall into the old categories – Paul Robinson, Patrick Armstrong, and Mark Chapman come to mind – but their visitorship numbers are basically irrelevant (they are all at around the 4 millionth mark globally).

Russia Insider and The Duran remain the two behemoths of this world, with seemingly stable visitorship numbers. However, Russia Insider reprints many of its articles, while The Duran writes about many issues other than Russia. The Duran team launched Russia Feed half a year ago to provide an outlet more specifically dedicated to Russia matters, which seems to be growing steadily, but from a low base.

There were a number of pro-Russia outlets that proliferated at the outbreak of the Donbass world, with Fort Russ (Kristina Kharlova) being probably the most prominent of these – at least of those which survived in the long-term.

Unsurprisingly, many of these outlets have connections to the wider Altsphere. For instance, Russia Insider has good relations with AltRight.com, and they reprint my articles semi-regularly (with my permission). The Saker, as most probably know, also blogs at The Unz Review, as well as (occasionally) at The Duran. So does Israel Shamir, who also writes Russian language columns for RT Russian, Komsomolskaya Pravda, and Zavtra.

On this note, I am also going to have a post on the relative performance of Russian alt news outlets in the near future.

* CORRECTION: All the graphs should state “monthly visits,” not “monthly visitors.”

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Blogging, Western Media 
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About time to update my sidebar (current one dates from November 2015).

Blogroll: Added a few sites, removed a few. Version with slightly more links here: http://akarlin.com/links/

My linking policy is that if your blog is at least somewhat active and interesting, and if you link to me, or if you make a… contribution (just make sure to let me know), then I will reciprocate with a link under the Friends/Allies section.

Removed the Quotes section at the bottom, since it was taking up too much space. I now have a dedicated quotes page at my website: http://akarlin.com/quotes/

Thank to everyone who responded to my first donations drive! (esp. Bruno and Ben via Paypal, my seven patrons on Patreon, and whoever sent the 4.31979mBTC). As I said, while I’m under no imminent danger of immiseration, if you think that what I do is positive value added, well – money is always good for greasing the wheels of productivity.

***

ANATOLY KARLIN joined the Unz Review in January 2015 to blog about Russia, geopolitics, HBD/IQ, and futurism.

Here is a guide to my various websites and projects.

***

Panhandling

karlin-cliodynamicsThe more help I get from my readers, especially of the pecuaniary kind, the more time I can devote to my blogging and original research.

You can donate to me via one of the following methods:

(1) Sponsor me on Patreon
(2) Payment to my email address with Google Wallet
(3) Paypal donation
(4) If you bank with Wells Fargo, you can use Surepay (go to “Transfer and Pay,” “Send Money”) to send money to my email address
(5) Bitcoin: 17tDufZUEK3DvQh3rY75F3xtVgxj4TzdtB

***

Blogroll

This is not so much meant to be comprehensive as to illustrate the themes and individual thinkers whom I follow and am inspired by.

I do not bother including any MSM outlets, since I’m sure they can do just fine without my publicity.

Blogs which I consider to be particularly good and/or prominent are highlighted in bold, and blogs that appear to have gone dormant appear at the end in italics. While I try to keep these things objective, if you include me in your blogroll that does vastly increase the chances that I’ll reciprocate.

/pol/, HBD, H+

Journals/Websites

Politics & Geopolitics

HBD & Psychometrics

History, Economics, Futurism

Russosphere

Alt Media (Russia)

Russosphere

Friends & Allies

Friends/Allies (Politics)

Friends & Allies (HBD, Futurism)

Friends/Allies (Russia)

.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Administration, Blogging, Open Thread 
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karlin-cliodynamicsThis appears to be my 1,000th post at The Unz Review (including the archives from my old blogs).

Coincidentally, it will also be my 100th post this year, which would represent an almost threefold increase in intensity relative to 2015-2016.

So I guess now is as good a time as any to launch my first ever fundraising drive.

Back when I was in California I didn’t feel too comfortable asking for gibs, since I spent most of my working time on unrelated freelance jobs and my volume of blogging didn’t merit much in the way of donations. Since then, though, I’ve moved back to Russia, and started doing all this effectively full-time.

Now please don’t feel obligated. Only give if you like what I do, if you can afford to, and if a much more deserving charity or cause doesn’t come to mind. I am not going to starve anytime soon, and my long-term financial plans still revolve around writing books.

That said, if you like what I do, want to see more of it and sooner, and are not yourself impoverished, I could certainly do with your alms.

(1) Sponsor me on Patreon
(2) Payment to my email address with Google Wallet
(3) Paypal donation
(4) If you bank with Wells Fargo, you can use Surepay (go to “Transfer and Pay,” “Send Money”) to send money to my email address (advantage: No extra fees)
(5) Bitcoin: 17tDufZUEK3DvQh3rY75F3xtVgxj4TzdtB

This is my first time panhandling, and I haven’t thoroughly tested all of these methods, so please let me know if anything goes wrong. I would also very much like to know if there are any good alternatives to the above methods.

Thanks in advance for your generosity!

***

Moving on, a few administrative announcements.

Following my blog

Back in the “golden age” of blogging a decade ago, feeds and feed readers were all the rage. Then along came Twitter and Facebook, Google Reader closed down, and the golden age was over. However, with Twitter’s problems, I suspect we might soon see a resurgence of the old ways.

So why not get ahead of the curve if you haven’t already. If you’re the sort of person who likes keeping up with many different blogs and columnists, I suggest getting a feed reader such as Feedly, or 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:

A few months ago, I also set up a Twitter bot that automatically reposts everything I write here and at my other blogs – follow https://twitter.com/KarlinBot.

Last but not least, you can also keep tabs on my recent posts not just from The Unz Review’s interface, but also from my main website at http://akarlin.com/.

***

Blogging Plans

Almost a year ago, I carried out a large survey on what I could do to improve my product.

The one thing for which there was overwhelming demand for was more in the way of reviews. Unfortunately, I singularly failed at that. The pace of history has picked up radically of late, and commenting on breaking news stories has been trumping other considerations.

Still, the publicity (and monetary) success of Gregory Cochran’s recent review of Testosterone Rex by Cordelia Fine does demonstrate there is a demand for good reviews, so I’ll commit to filling in this lacuna.

I wouldn’t want to fail my 2017 predictions, after all.

  • I will write 30+ book reviews: 50%.
  • I will write 5+ game reviews: 50%.
  • I will write fewer than 5 movie reviews: 80%.

***

New and Ongoing Projects

Some other stuff I’m doing at the moment:

ROGPR

Weekly podcast on the Russian Occupation Government with Kirill Nesterov and @smug_vatnik on Russian realities from an IQ/HBD-realistic perspective.

We are the official podcast of United Russia and the Republican Party. /s

If you speak Russian, or are learning it, you can follow it at ROGPR.com or directly at SoundCloud.

Note that I also have a Russian language blog at http://akarlin.ru/, though I don’t update it all that regularly.

Books

ami-book-name As I mentioned above, now that I have more free time (no longer have to do freelance work), I can finally get on with my book plans.

While I’m still very serious about getting Dark Lord of the Kremlin and Apollo’s Ascent written, I am taking a small break to write a shorter book on my Age of Malthusian Industrialism concept.

Incidentally, I need a name for it. Looking for something that crisply conveys at least some of the following ideas/themes/feelings:

(1) Far from the best possible outcome, though not catastrophic either
(2) Industrial economy
(3) Idiocracy
(4) Overpopulation – due to selection for higher fertility preferences reversing the demographic transition. my estimate is that our current technological level translates to a theoretical global carrying capacity of approximately 100 billion people.
(5) Possible the “Clarkian selection” that will follow afterwards.
(6) The idea of the millennial delay/opportunity cost it would impose.

Current preference is “Dark Equilibrium,” but its not optimal.

Papers

In the meantime, I’m also currently involved in writing two papers, which I hope will be ready to be published sometime by the summer.

***

Updated Blogroll

I also have a new blogroll and quotes page, which I will soon integrate with my column’s sidebar at Unz.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Admin, Blogging, Open Thread, Panhandling 
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I just finished updating my Unz Review custom blogroll, along with an expanded set of “inspirational” quotes.

Here it is:

***

karlin-sketch

ANATOLY KARLIN joined the Unz Review in January 2015 to blog about Russia, geopolitics, HBD/psychometrics, and futurism.

For a comprehensive overview of my past and present projects, as well as links to my current social media accounts, please visit my website akarlin.com.

***

Blogroll

This is not so much meant to be comprehensive as to illustrate the themes and individual thinkers whom I follow and am inspired by.

I do not bother including any MSM outlets, since I’m sure they can do just fine without my publicity. Most of my “front page” news I get via /r/worldnews, /r/russia, and RCW.

Especially important, useful, and regularly updated resources are marked by an asterix, while blogs that appear to gone dormant appear at the end in italics. And while I try to keep these things objective, if you include me in your blogroll that does vastly increase the chances that I’ll reciprocate.

Politics

Politics & Geopolitics

Russosphere

Library

HBD & Psychometrics

History & Economics

Philosophy & Futurism

 

***

Inspiring Quotes

Politics

He who does not love his mother more than other mothers and his country more than other countries, loves neither his mother nor his country. – Charles de Gaule (on validity of nationalism).

When will Russia get an idea for which one can live for and create for? Galina Dmitrievna, – for our children, our grandchildren, for our Motherland, Russia, it always was, is, and will be worth living for and creating for. What else is there? However we might try to come up with a national idea, it has to be said directly: There is nothing closer to someone than his family, his close ones, and his own country. – Vladimir Putin (on uselessness of ideology).

There is no left or right, only nationalists and globalists. – Marine Le Pen.

After communists, most of all I hate anti-communists. – Sergei Dovlatov.

Whoever speaks of Europe is wrong. Europe is a geographical expression. – Bismarck (answer to the “Is Russia Europe or Asia?” debates).

I am an atheist, but an Orthodox atheist! – Alexander Lukashenko.

He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. – Luke 22:36, NIV (they don’t teach this kind of Christianity nowadays).

Everyone who isn’t us is an enemy. – Cersei Lannister (clannishness defined in 7 words).

Don’t trust these three: The woman, the Turk, and the teetotaler. – Based Peter the Great.

Science & Futurism

Intelligence is what you need when you don’t know what to do. – Carl Bereiter.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) expressed it tersely when he heard a noted historian pro­ claim that it was by virtue of their very different gifts that Caesar became a great commander, Shakespeare a great poet, and Newton a great scientist. Dr. Johnson replied, ‘ ‘No, it is only that one man has more mind than another; he may direct it differently, or prefer this study to that. Sir, the man who has vigor may walk to the North as well as to the South, to the East as well as to the West.” – Arthur Jensen, The g Factor (its most poetic elucidation?).

I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of science, whatever the matter may be. – Lord Kelvin (on the necessity of quantification).

Personally, I’ve been hearing all my life about the Serious Philosophical Issues posed by life extension, and my attitude has always been that I’m willing to grapple with those issues for as many centuries as it takes. – Patrick Hayden (on life extension).

There are two kinds of scientific progress: the methodical experimentation and categorization which gradually extend the boundaries of knowledge, and the revolutionary leap of genius which redefines and transcends those boundaries. Acknowledging our debt to the former, we yearn, nonetheless, for the latter. – Academician Prokhor Zakharov (Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri).

The Orks are the pinnacle of creation. For them, the great struggle is won. They have evolved a society which knows no stress or angst. Who are we to judge them? We Eldar who have failed, or the Humans, on the road to ruin in their turn? And why? Because we sought answers to questions that an Ork wouldn’t even bother to ask! We see a culture that is strong and despise it as crude. – Uthan the Perverse (Warhammer 40K)

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age. – H.P. Lovecraft (the ultimately fate of the noosphere?).

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Blogging 
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As you can see the site has had a major redesign, and new blog posts will start appearing as of this Monday.

Here are the major changes:

(1) Back to self-hosted, after a year and a half at WordPress.com. There will be no repeat of the pharma hack that torpedoed the old Sublime Oblivion. My security measures are much better now. And even if fate throws a wrench at my face and someone hacks the site, my new host will fix it for free.

(2) There has been a major reorganization! You can now browse not only by Categories and popular Tags (see sidebar), but also by new custom taxonomies “Themes” (the main navigation menu) and “Qualia” (e.g. Reviews, Featured Posts, Guest Posts, etc).

(3) I have finally completed the arduous but rewarding task of uploading all my book highlights – I read almost everything electronically nowadays – to my Evernote. Ready access to all the best passages from a book allows one to quickly recall its content and arguments, and to quickly pen a detailed review of it.

So expect a lot more reviews.

(4) I will have more posts on futurst and transhumanist topics (relative to HBD) in the next few months, as I’ve somewhat fallen into that crowd. Incidentally, I’ll be speaking at one of their conferences next February (my topic will be cliodynamics). Get your tickets now if you live in the SF Bay Area and wish to guarantee yourself a spot there!

(5) The new managed hosting isn’t cheap, so once you start seeing a steady stream of posts again from me please consider offsetting some of my expenses by donating via Paypal or Bitcoin.

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Blogging 
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This June I had the pleasure of once again attending and speaking at the World Russia Forum. The event now happens twice a year, in Washington DC and Moscow, and is intended to draw together Russian and American experts, academics, journalists, and policy-makers in an effort to improve relations between these two nations. An account of it, and the subsequent reception at the Russian Embassy to mark Russia Day, follows below:

1 - me in DC

It was raining with near monsoonal intensity when I disembarked off the train*. I have no complaints; these downpours dispel the sultry oppressiveness inherent to a city originally built on swampland, so far as I was concerned the more rain the merrier.

2 - al jazeera bus

The Qataris sure know how to get their message out!

3 - hotel gathering

Four of the WRF’s speakers in the hotel dining room. From left to right: Pamela (Patrick’s wife); Martin Sieff; Patrick Armstrong; William Dunkerley; your humble servant.

4 - wrf 2013

From farther to nearest: Patrick Armstrong, Martin Sieff, Edward Lozansky, Nicolai Petro, and William Dunkerley (plus Sergey Markedonov, but he was absent when the photo above was taken). Lozansky, the organizer and financier of the World Russia Forums, is giving the keynote speech.

Each of us gave a 5-10 minute presentation on what we saw as the problems of – and possible solutions to – strained relations between Russia and the US. Common themes included the malevolent roles of aggrieved oligarchs (like Berezovsky and Khodorkovsky); the lack of economic ties making Russia a convenient punch-bug (can’t offend your Chinese bankers or Saudi oilmen too much); the weakness and lethargy of the Kremlin’s PR, as expressed in its slow – and at times, non-existent – response to media stories that portray it in a bad light.

Then we talked about possible solutions. Patrick Armstrong, for instance, has long pushed for creating a list of “Russia memes” that are commonly accepted as fact in the media but have no factual basis (e.g. Putin’s billions of dollars in Swiss bank accounts, that sort of thing). Martin Sieff stresses that responses have to be very quick, since a rule of thumb in the media is that as soon as the first 30 minutes pass, the story becomes set, no matter its truth value. It would be a good idea to combine these two points in the form of a PR team checking stories in the Western media against a handbook of these “Russia memes” and sending out corrections, complaints, letters to the editor, etc. as appropriate.

The main problem is, of course, implementation. Both Nicolai Petro and William Dunkerley raised this issue, as an academic and a media expert, respectively. Contrary to what has been scribbled about this group in some corners of the Internet, it is not affiliated with the Kremlin nor does it even have its official support; it is the product of a private American citizen’s personal initiative and enthusiasm. This translates into a frustrating reality in which a lot of good ideas are generated in these meetings but all too many of them are never followed through for a lack of official coordination, financial, or official support. This is why I can only laugh when the likes of Lucas start raving about Kremlin-paid “agents of influence” hiding beneath every bed and whatnot. The banal reality is that Russia is not very competent at PR (unlike Israel or Saakashvili’s Georgia), and what money it does give out typically goes to big, disinterested firms like Ketchum that eke out a couple of “pro-Russian” articles for The Huffington Post in exchange for millions of dollars.

My own speech, naturally, focused on The Russian Spectrum. I have already explained why that project is a great idea for improving Russia’s image, so I won’t bother doing so again.

5 - wrf 2013

William Dunkerley had the funniest and most interactive presentation.

After that there were questions from the audience and lively discussions. Here are a few observations:

Tons of journalists from Voice of America, some from Voice of Russia including its new US bureau chief. None from RIA (there might have been a couple but I didn’t run into them). Some representatives of Russia/America business forums, PR and “knowledge transfer agencies,” etc.

A former bureaucrat who mentioned that there is already a program that translates foreign media into English. (Those of you subscribing to the JRL will have come across some of their translations). The only problem with it? Unlike Russia’s Inosmi, which is free, only certain government employees and private businesses willing to fork over many thousands of dollars per year can have access to it – even though it’s funded by the American taxpayer. He said he’d inquire about opening it up to the general public, but the chances of success are minimal for obvious reasons. If the bureaucracies that be were interested in public access, then the public would already have access.

A senior editor at The American Conservative. Knows Ron Unz, pro-Ron Paul, libertarian, White Russian – also anti-Putin, and supports Magnitsky Act, but otherwise doesn’t want confrontation with Russia specifically. If China and Saudi Arabia aren’t being confronted, both states with far worse human rights records, then why on earth should Russia be confronted? This outlook I suppose is all quite consistent with libertarian, minimal state/constitutional rights/isolationist principles).

A senior member of a family values organization from the Mid-West. Described how he went from thinking of Russia as an atheist evil empire type of place to viewing it as the modern equivalent of the kingdom of Prester John (I do exaggerate, of course, but that’s the gist of it), to the extent that the next major summit of his organization is going to be taking place in Moscow. This stands to reason, as conservatives in the American heartland are increasingly discovering that in many if not all respects ordinary Russians and even the Russian government shares their values.

One lady sewed together some peace rugs for the UN and treated us all to a 15 monologue about it. Absolutely fascinating. :|

6 - newseum

After that I visited the Newseum, a museum about the news. Although its basically a shrine to the Mainstream, and got anodyne at times, there were nonetheless a lot of fun things to see there. My favorite section was the one with the ancient books and historical articles/editorials/ads (“Spanish Indian woman that can do all sorts of of Houshold Work with her Boy about half a Year old: To be sold Inquire of Mr. William ManBrasier in Dock-square, Boston” – yes, the world sure has changed quite a bit).

Above is a photo of a Nezavisimaya Gazeta editorial or op-ed or whatever from immediately after the abortive 1991 coup attempt: “The bloody political dealings of these “S.O.B.’s were just going on and on. We got tired of being afraid. This is why the coup failed.” No-holds barred approach of the hero journalist!

6.5 - hero journalist

Speaking of “hero journalists“… Now THAT is a hero journalist! Yulia Latynina? I’m afraid having a crazy hairdo and the hots for our favorite Georgian tie-muncher doesn’t qualify.

7 - embassy invite

JUST WHAT IS THIS?! I suppose it will now be impossible for me to deny being a Kremlin flunky ever again.

8 - democratic protesters

Protests at the Embassy. One of the guys had the placard, “Putin eats babies.” Supporters of Pussy Riot chanted slogans next to a burqa-covered woman with a Syrian flag. Most unlikely allies…

The Embassy itself was a big, square, solid, monumental structure. Apparently it was built by Soviet laborers specifically imported for the task so that the NSA people wouldn’t get a chance to lay any bugs. They did try to remedy the situation by digging a tunnel under the Embassy, but the plan was foiled thanks to FBI turncoat Robert Hanssen.

9 - russian embassy

They sure know how to throw a party. The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Sergey Kislyak gave the keynote speech. As expected with such events, the focus was mostly on networking – and the big businessmen, professional politicos, and military attaches who were generously represented there were out of my league as far as practical matters are concerned. Still, I had a lot of fun there, along with the other Forum members invited to the reception.

* Yes, you read that right. I took a train all the way to DC from San Francisco, and stopped by at many of the cities in between. I will be posting an account of this journey at the other blog.

(Republished from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 
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I’m writing this from an Internet café in Seattle, so I’ll be brief.

(1) Congratulations to SWSPires – the winner of the promised $25 Amazon gift certificate for participating in The Russia Debate during its first month! Incidentally, he was only the sixth member to be drawn by lot from the members pool; it’s just that the others had no posts (as of yet) to their names. And to be in the running, you needed to have made at least one post, in addition to registering.

(2) If you are a Russia expert (or just curious), please feel free to join the 2013 World Russia Forum in Washington DC this June 11th. It will be located at The Russian Cultural Center:

1825 Phelps Place Northwest
Washington, DC 20008

The theme for this year will be “the role of NGOs, Public Diplomacy, and Media in formulating the agenda for US – Russia political, educational and cultural cooperation.” That is, soft power, which we’ve discussed here of late. The Russian Spectrum ties in with this well and will be the main focus of my representation.

(3) Speaking of The Russian Spectrum – I’m on a “working holiday” of sorts, so I will not be doing any translations until I return on June 25.

I’m now quite happy with the site as it exists and functions, and I’m sure its “base” is now firm enough to support significant scaling up. That is not, however, within the capabilities of one person. It needs at least one more editor and regular contributors for it to start offering something resembling comprehensive coverage, from all slivers of the spectrum. And for that it needs financing.

That is going to be my priority orientation for the next weeks and months.

(Republished from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Admin, Blogging, The Russian Spectrum 
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From a Freedom House publication:

quoted-by-freedom-house

(Republished from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Blogging, Elections, Human Rights, Humor, Politics 
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Here is the list of US citizens publicly barred from Russia in response to the US Magnitsky List. Are you familiar with any of them?

Individuals alleged to be involved in the use and legalization of torture and indefinite confinement of prisoners – the “Guantanamo list”:

1. David Spears Addington – Chief of Staff of the U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney (2005-2009);
2. John Choon Yoo – Legal adviser at the U.S. Department of Justice (2001-2003);
3. Geoffrey D. Miller – Commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, which administers the U.S. military detention centers at the U.S. Guantanamo Naval Base on Cuba (2002-2003)
4. Jeffrey Harbeson – Commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo (2010-2012)

Individuals alleged to be involved in abuse of Russian citizens’ human rights abroad:

5. Jed Saul Rakoff – U.S. District Judge for Southern District of New York;
6. Preetinder S. Bharara – U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York;
7. Michael J. Garcia – Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York;
8. Brendan R. McGuire – Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York;
9. Anjan S. Sahni – Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York;
10. Christian R. Everdell – Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York;
11. Jenna Minicucci Dabbs – Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York;
12. Christopher L. Lavigne – Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York;
13. Michael Max Rosensaft – Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York;
14. Louis J. Milione – Senior Special Agent of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration;
15. Sam Gaye – Senior special Agent of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration;
16. Robert F. Zachariasiewicz – Special Agent of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration;
17. Derek S. Odney – Special Agent of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration;
18. Gregory A. Coleman – Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation;

I’m familiar with two of them.

John Yoo, of course – the guy who provided much of the “legal” basis for both Guantanamo and the Iraq War. I don’t view him as a war criminal or anything like some of the liberal leftists do. Nonetheless, if Russia is providing a “symmetrical” response to the Magnitsky List, it couldn’t bar a more appropriate person. Yoo himself seems to be taking it in good stride.

The other guy I’m familiar with (too familiar with) is Preet Bharara who was just now the subject of a gushing hagiography from Mark Galeotti. In reality he is a thug who thinks who thinks that going after online poker players’ money is a good use of US investigative resources. Oh, I know full well that he was really blacklisted for his actions against Viktor Bout – a legitimate arms trader who the US only took a disliking to after he started selling weapons to the wrong people. But while I may not care much about Bout, I do care about my money, especially that which was frozen after Black Friday, and the hit to my expected earnings once the biggest online poker vendors pulled out of the US in its aftermath. (How else do you think I blog and write books without a regular day job?). So for this reason I am extremely happy to see Bharara on that list in the knowledge that maybe, just maybe it will cause him some spot of inconvenience one day.

(Republished from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 
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Confessions of an Online Hustler by Matt Forney, published in 2013. See the Amazon version of this review. Rating: 4/5.

confessions-of-an-online-hustler-matt-forney Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: This book isn’t for the casual reader. Despite the title, it’s not a “life interest” story with a morass of prurient and scandalous details, nor is it a deep social or philosophical commentary. It is very specifically written for those who want to grind a living from online writing and punditry (especially those who write on controversial subjects like HBD and feminism, as does Matt Forney). If that doesn’t describe you, I can’t in good conscience recommend you buy this book. On the other hand, if you enjoy writing and wish to make a living as an iconoclastic blogger, then this book will definitely add much value and save you a lot of trouble.

Much of the book is taken up with the technical details of setting up a WordPress blog and publicizing it. As someone who has been blogging for 5 years and counting, I can testify that this book has an accurate and succinct summary of all the most important things you need to bear in mind. You can find the same information for free elsewhere, but the problem is that the Internet has a low signal to noise ratio – it will take time, and may well lead you down dead ends. Why not fork up the equivalent of an hour’s worth of a minimum wage job and spend a single evening’s reading time to avoid going through all that?

But at least to me the most interesting and original part was Matt’s (well, not entirely his, but he refined it) concept of “tiered blogging.” I have come to much the same conclusions on my own, if via annoying and costly errors, but it was great to see it so lucidly formulated and systematized. Here’s the lowdown. A Tier-3 blog is an everything-that-interests-me kind of blog, where you post whatever the fuck you feel like. The problem is that unless you develop a cult of personality, like Tucker Max, then you’re not going to get massive amounts of traffic (or money) through that alone. But you will notice that some posts of yours are going to get a much better response than others. Say, to take my own example, while most readers couldn’t care less for my ramblings on Human Biodiversty and dog pictures at AKarlin, a great many of them are interested in reading my ramblings on Russia. So I create a far more narrowly specialized Tier-2 blog like Da Russophile that is specifically about Russia just for them. This audience is much more homogeneous than my AKarlin audience – they, at least, are all interested in Russia at a minimum, whereas the AKarlin folks may be interested in HBD, dog pictures, professionally trolling me, and any combination thereof.

Once you get your Tier-2 hustle going, you can start thinking of making money. But it’s not as simple as putting up a ton of ads and retiring with your laptop to the Caribbean; unless you manage to become a “superstar” blogger, it is extremely unlikely that you will ever make any significant money from running ads. It’s virtually impossible if you are an original thinker and would rather cut off your hands than engage in the vacuous vapidity that passes for mainstream commentary. Getting money through donations and affiliate marketing can be more profitable, but they will (realistically) only get you a modest secondary income – and an unstable one at that. Selling information products is where the real game is at: DVD’s, software, music, and, of course, books. This is Tier-1, the “summit of hustle mountain.” Almost every “professional” pundit does that: Liberals like Glenn Greenwald and conservatives like Steve Sailer, players like Roosh Vorek and “online hustlers” like Matt Forney himself. And for that matter I too will soon be joining their ranks with my upcoming book The Dark Lord of the Kremlin about the Western media’s war against Putin’s Russia.

But at this point, I have to make my own confession. I lied to you back there. In reality, I got the whole “tiered blogging” thing ass backwards. I started out writing at Da Russophile, but did not have the discipline to keep it confined to Russia period, and started mixing it up with unrelated things like peak oil and my shifting political ideologies. That drove away a lot of people. Only gradually over several years did I realize the vital importance of compartmentalizing my interests – which can be fickle as well as controversial – away from “hustles” with dedicated but easily alienated audiences. To illustrate the concept, say my Da Russophile audience consists of 100 liberals, 100 conservatives, and 100 people who care nothing for anything not Russia related. Now suppose that for every post about Russia there I were to also write a post defending gun rights and a post on global warming. I would alienate both the liberals and the conservatives, bore the hardcore Russia watchers, and create three times the work for myself to boot. It’s raving lunacy!

But unfortunately, that’s only obvious in retrospect. I could have saved myself a lot of time and disillusioned readers had I practiced “tiered blogging” from the very start.

This does not mean I agree with everything here. I think Forney’s attitude to regular blogging is too strict and disciplinarian, and may well be part of the reason that writing a new blog post now brings him about as “as much joy as a crack whore sucking off another dirtbag behind the club dumpster.” While there’s no disputing that discipline in blogging is a good thing, is it really worth it if it sucks all the joy and passion from what should really be a hobby? If that’s how you look at it, then how is it any different from your bog-standard, soul-crushing 9-5 job then?

I appreciate Forney’s nods to the Cracked school of writing that intersperses bouts of flippant levity in between paragraphs of actual information. This makes it much more readable than your standard, dry as a nun’s nasty self-help book. (See what I did there?). For all that, perhaps the reader could have done with a couple less allusions to pasty-faced virgins and homosexual orgies, Matt.

The one very substantial issue I disagree with him is on optimal book pricing, especially as applied to e-books. He claims that $10 is an entirely normal price for a Kindle book, and that charging less can even hurt your total sales because customers have learned to associate low prices with poor quality. A nice and plausible enough theory, with only one problem: Actual data doesn’t support it. The “sweet spot” for Kindle books in terms of maximizing revenue has been convincingly demonstrated to be $3-$4 (with a 40% markup if said book is non-fiction).

Self-improvement is a roadmap, not a guided tour. There can be no guarantees of success – as Matt himself, unlike the vast majority of self-help gurus, is honest enough to admit. Nonetheless, it is safe to say that reading this book will appreciably improve your chances of success. And considering that a hell of a lot of money can depend on this – maybe even a new career – this book way more than pays for itself in terms of the additional positive expected value it generates for you. If you wish to make serious money through blogging – well, through writing books and propagandizing them on your blog – then you could do a lot worse than getting hold of Matt Forney’s literary debut and spending a couple of hours digesting the hard-won wisdom in its 120 pages.

At the very least, as Matt himself might say, it would be “healthier than some of the other things people do in their spare time, like going to furry conventions.”

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
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For background see here, here.

Russia Voices is good because it powerfully hints at what the project is all about: Giving the Anglo-sphere some sense of what Russians from all sides of the political spectrum are saying. But downside is it’s similar to Voice of Russia (a radio station), and besides, the more “intuitive” Russia nVoices.com has already been taken.

RossPress is succinct and powerful; my innumerable thanks to the glorious Craig J. Willy for suggesting it. Only downside is that many Westerners don’t know that Russia, in Russian, is Rossiya.

I can’t say I’m 100% happy with either choice but c’est la vie. This issue should be gotten out of the way sooner rather than later.

RossPress (RossPress.com) 24
Russia Voices (RussiaVoices.com) 17
Other 3

Only vote “Other” if you really hate both of them (preferably provide an alternative in that case). Thank you all for your participation.

Finally, I’d like to note that today I have translated the first two articles ever specifically for RV/RP. They are:

I have chosen to translate liberals because to date I have mostly only translated “patriots”, conservatives, and Putin supporters. This is to demonstrate and affirm that the site will be a non-partisan affair to the maximum feasible extent possible.

Edit 2013/2/2: As there is strong support for both options, I will test them out via Google Adwords and come to a decision by next week (which is when I plan to launch the site anyway).

(Republished from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 
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As long-term readers will be aware, I am working on two big projects: A book on myths about Russia, and a website specializing in translating articles from the Russian press into English.

(The idea being that even if it does nothing else, Western institutions will no longer be able to credibly say Russia’s level of media freedoms are on par with Zimbabwe’s).

While the preliminary name I’m going with before the site is unveiled is “Russia Voices”, this is far from set in stone. First, it would sound better as “Russia n Voices.” Second, a Voice of Russia already exists. Maybe there is a better alternative? I would appreciate it if you could vote on and provide feedback on other possible names for this site.

Update: Guess there’s no longer a need to keep the poll running. It’s already clear that Russia Voices is the only one of the original suggestions with any support. The majority of you think that it needs to be something else.

Russia Voices (russiavoices.com) 4
Russian Points of View (russpovs.com) 2
Press of Russian Federation (pressrf.com) 1
Other 12

Please feel free to make your own suggestions. Note that the .com hyperlink has to be available for a name to be seriously considered. Thanks.

(Republished from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Admin, Blogging, Opinion Poll, Russian Media 
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I have recently been cleaning up my old posts.

When I moved from Sublime Oblivion to here, the pictures remained hosted at the old site (there were too many of them to auto-import). So I’ve been going through ancient posts, manually reattaching pictures (so that they are now hosted at wordpress.com) and making the categories and tags system more comprehensive.

This allowed me the opportunity to reread (or rather, skim) many of my older posts. I summarize the experience here.

In short, the original Da Russophile at blogger was… too Russophile. Unreasonably so.

The Sublime Oblivion of 2009-2010 in its Russia coverage was characterized by a “bizarre fusion” of eco-leftism, Stratforian realism, and Spenglerian mysticism. As in 2008 there were many good articles, but overall it was patchy and frequently ideologized… and falling far short of the punchy, trope-breaking spirit that characterizes it today, and which it should have always aspired to.

In 2011 I moderated, the Russian coverage at S/O reached its peak, and I got into journalism. The pharma hack of early 2012 that crippled S/O was, in retrospect, a blessing in disguise: It allowed me to finally partition the Russia stuff and the everything else stuff into different domains.

As of today, I objectively believe my blog has never been better – and there are ambitious plans for a new translation website and ongoing work on the book Dark Lord of the Kremlin.

Since I started in January 9, 2008, Da Russophile (first in blogger; then as part of Sublime Oblivion; and finally, as now, as its own WordPress.com site) has been visited a total of nearly one million times. Thank you all for reading.

(Republished from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Admin, Blogging, Statistics 
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It all began on January 9, 2008.

It began, as it is now, as Da Russophile over at blogger. And I was a Russophile then, perhaps unreasonably so. That said I did do some useful work back then. I am most proud of the demographic models by which I predicted:

  1. Russia will see positive population growth starting from 2010 at the latest.
  2. Natural population increase will occur starting from 2013 at the latest.

Bullseye!

I was not nearly so accurate on the economy. The severe recession in 2009 forced me to readjust my expectations.

At the end of the year, I moved my blog to WordPress and renamed it to Sublime Oblivion. From now on I would no longer write exclusively about Russia.

Around 2009, I also started having a major ideological shift that in retrospect was regrettable and wrong. It was a weird fusion of eco-leftism, Stratforian realism, and even mysticism (remember the “belief matrices“?). Back then my ideological/political arguments were not firewalled from my Russia stuff – as they are today with the Da Russophile / AKarlin division – and as such there appeared many downright bizarre articles like this, this, and this. Despite a few gems, foremost of which was perhaps the translation of the infamous “Stalinist” textbook, this was a year best forgotten.

This pattern continued into 2010. Recall Green Communism and the Collapse Party? By the way, it’s not like I abandoned my views on Limits to Growth/unsustainability and the necessity of radical solutions. I just stopped caring about them.

I also initiated a series of interviews with leading Russia watchers back then, taking over from Andy Young of Siberian Light. But I didn’t keep it up.

2011 was a very productive year. I dropped a lot of the ideological nonsense in favor of practicalities, wrote a great series comparing the US/UK/Russia, and tilted my Russia coverage away from the unalloyed Russophilia of 2008 and the weird splashes of Spenglerian mysticism and obsession with geopolitics that marred it in 2009-10. It also marked my outbreak into mainstream journalism with me appearing on RT and starting to write op-eds for Al Jazeera.

The most interesting and critical year so far was 2012. It began ingloriously with a pharma hack of my blog. This destroyed my SEO ratings, but also presented an excellent opportunity to start over. I split the blog into Da Russophile (Russia stuff) and AKarlin aka this one (everything else).

Up to that time, my blog had enjoyed almost 800,000 visits. Since then, AKarlin.com has hosted a further 178,347 visits, and Da Russophile a further 164,745.

The Russia stuff continued on its upwards ascent. I continued with op-eds for Al Jazeera, wrote the classic 5 Types of Russian American, and started writing short pieces for the US-Russia.com Experts Panel (now regularly translated and republished at Voice of Russia).

The everything else part tilted into a sharply controversial direction. This was defined by my definitive embrace of Human Biodiversity theory with all the inevitable attendant consequences stemming from that decision (before I had avoided explicitly engaging with it by talking in terms of “human capital”). And if I’m going to openly write about HBD then I might as well openly write about game. I lost some regular readers, including a few who have since developed a visceral hatred for me, but I see that as no big loss. On the plus side I got many new ones thanks to associations with the HBDsphere. More importantly, I would not have to tiptoe around topics that I felt were important and highly relevant (by way of their explanatory power) to the world around us.

But then I had a few problems. The blog went into limbo for a few months.

This is not a permanent death and never will be if I can possibly help it. The aforementioned “problems” have now been solved, so regular blogging will return here in the near future – hopefully by the beginning of February.

As 2013 dawns on us, and I am finally free of the RL time constraints that held me back in previous years, there are five main directions to my work:

  • Continuing what I’m doing at Da Russophile.
  • Writing the book Dark Lord of the Kremlin.
  • The “Russian Inosmi” project called Russia Voices.
  • More journalism at Al Jazeera and Voice of Russia.
  • Resuming regular posting at AKarlin.com.

So please continue checking back here on this blog too. There will soon be a fun piece on my trip to Las Vegas.

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
• Tags: Al Jazeera, Blogging 
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I feel that my blogging in terms of influencing the discourse on Russia has leveled off into something resembling a plateau. I now write the occasional op-ed; appear every so often in magazines, research articles, and even books; and the blog itself attracts about 500 daily visitors. But truth is I am barely making a dint relative to the likes of Harding or Lucas.

To this end I am embarking on two big projects that will consume the bulk of my creative efforts for at least the next year.

(1) I am writing a book with the preliminary title PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME: How Western Journalists Are Fueling A New Cold War Against Russia. (I’m not 100% happy with it and will welcome alternate suggestions).

As I have argued for close to 5 years now, Western media coverage of Russia tends to be woefully biased, frequently malicious, and – most unforgivably – factually wrong. This does not mean there is nothing to criticize about Russia and Russians and I will not refrain from doing so in the book. However, said criticisms must be grounded in statistical data, an appreciation of the viewpoints of ordinary Russians, and a judicious comparative perspective (which is NOT equivalent to “moral relativism” or “whataboutism” as many hardcore Russophobes claim).

In 1926, Will Rogers said, “Russia is a country that no matter what you say about it, it’s true.” It is high time to make this way of thinking obsolete.

The book will be divided into about a dozen chapters, covering all aspects of Russia which are either heavily misrepresented, or around which there exist powerful misconceptions. Here is a short sample list of such “Russia tropes”:

  • “Dying Russia”
  • The Manichean view of Russian politics
  • “If This Happened in Russia”
  • Putin the fascist, Stalinist, neo-Tsarist, kleptocratic mafia thug
  • Stagnation
  • Pariah state
  • The strange obsession with “Kremlin TV”, i.e. Russia Today
  • How big bad Russia raped plucky democratic Georgia

In addition to my own original work, the book will also feature guest articles from various political and legal experts, as well as original translations from the “unfree” Russian media. By revealing the lies and misrepresentations on which so much Western commentary on Russia is rooted, the book will hopefully serve as a catalyst for rethinking and concrete change. Ведь так больше жить нельзя.

(2) As blog readers will recall, back in May I attended a Washington conference, chaired by Edward Lozansky, devoted to brainstorming ways to improve Russia’s dismal image abroad. Several fruitful suggestions came out of the meeting, one of which has already been brought into being: The site US-Russia.org.

My own modest contribution was a site devoted to translating the Russian media into English, a reverse-Inosmi if you will. Its preliminary name is RUSSIA VOICES.

There are several core structural features that make Western coverage of Russia as bad as it is. One of these is that there are more questions than can be answered; as argued by Patrick Armstrong, it takes 10x longer to write a rebuttal to a lying article, than the lying article itself (and claims of Kremlin-paid bloggers to the contrary, – I wish! – we don’t have a hundredth of either the resources or the media exposure of the Lucas and Harding types). Other such features include the “propaganda model” and exiled oligarch funding of anti-Putin kompromat. These are systemic forces that need a systemic response.

Should it become a significant feature of the media landscape, RUSSIA VOICES will accomplish three major things:

  1. Improve perceptions of Russian media in general (i.e., not Zimbabwe).
  2. Improve perceptions of Russia in general (i.e., complex array of liberal, Kremlin, statist, patriot, nationalist, & leftist forces; NOT a Manichean struggle between Padawan Navalny and Darth Putler).
  3. Publicize Russian voices on global affairs (e.g. Syria).

After all, what would YOU, as a media consumer, rather read about: Top Russian sci-fi novelist Sergey Lukyanenko’s thoughts on the Russian elections, or Miriam Elder on how Putin stole her dry-cleaning ticket?

Exactly. And I am sure the same goes for many academics, students, expats, businesspeople, and intelligent open-minded laymen. RUSSIA VOICES will translate from all sides of the ideological spectrum, be they pro-Kremlin or anti-Kremlin; Western media consumers will then have the freedom to independently judge exactly how “unfree” is the Russian media (and Russia in general) for themselves.

The only problem is that unlike the book, RUSSIA VOICES will require not insubstantial funding to get off the ground. Translators gotta be paid. I will be working on this issue in the next several months.

Blogging here will not come to a stop, nor at the other site. But intensity probably will fall off a bit.

(Republished from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 
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Though I do wonder about those six people who voted “none of the above” in my poll of attitudes towards the 10 odd theories that figure prominently in the Karlinist Weltanschauung… with all due respect, but what are you guys doing on this blog then? :)

The vast majority agree with Peak Oil, Limits to Growth, Intelligence Theory, and Human Biodiversity. The first three are not surprising, as they have been covered extensively since the blog’s inception, but I am somewhat surprised about the popularity of HBD – after all, I’m only an (open) convert to it fairly recently.

Slightly fewer agree with the precepts of AGW, Game, and 80/20 principle & Parkinson’s Law. Again, this is fairly surprising to me. After all, AGW is socially accepted nowadays; the exceptions are easier to list (e.g. American conservatives), whereas Peak Oil and Limits to Growth are still very controversial concepts with opponents from both sides of the ideological spectrum. “Game” gets an impressively good showing, though this kinda makes sense – it is almost intractably linked with HBD, since by accepting fundamental race differences, doing likewise for gender is a no-brainer. The 80/20 Principle & Parkinson’s Law is admittedly vague, but in essence it is meant to encapsulate the arguments contained within Tim Ferriss’ The Four Hour Workweek, i.e. that there are structural reasons for why organizations and their employees are very inefficient, and that there exist ways for committed individuals to break that cycle through shortcuts like “muses” (location-independent revenue streams) and geoarbitrage. I highly recommend readers look into these theories because just as with Game for dudes, they have the potential to massively improve life quality.

Only very modest support is voiced for Transhumanism and Technological Singularity, and understandable thing because (1) few people are deeply aware of them, even committed netizens, and (2) they are in ostensible contradiction to core AK themes like Limits to Growth and Peak Oil. But there is no contradiction. My longstanding view has been that IF global civilization manages to avoid collapse or severe degradation in the dangerous mid-century period, when pressures from energy shortages and climate change are likely to heat their peak, then transformative technological change is very likely to occur based on reasonable projections from current trends. Lifespan has already been successfully multiplied by several factors in laboratory mice by genetic tinkering, and it is surely only a matter of time before it these methods can be upscaled to large mammals including humans. Technological singularity is a more iffy possibility, despite Ray Kurzweil’s best attempts to argue for its imminent inevitability, but regardless I am of the opinion that the mind can be simulated on silicon substrates, that “mind uploading” is theoretically possible and may be achievable in practice sooner rather than later because of the exponential nature of growth of computing power, and that even if these exotic possibilities don’t materialize this century it may not be that big of an issue thanks to massively extended longevity.

Low carb diets (paleo, caveman) have by far the lowest approval rating. So I should definitely write a bit more on that. I think the arguments of their proponents are logical, humans simply have not had time to evolve to eat complex grains let alone have them constitute the bulk of their diet. Doing so leads to obesity, diabetes, and a host of other chronic ailments that plight rich country populations. As such I think the standard “food pyramid” advice peddled by nutritionists is bunk and even criminal taking into account the mounting evidence against it.

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
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I’m curious to hear what my readers think of the various concepts and theories that frequently come up on this blog, and of the key assumptions underlying the Karlinist Weltanschauung.

social-contrarian-poll-akarlin

Very quick n’ dirty summaries of terms and their discontents:

Peak oil: Oil is limited in quantity, and at some point its production will inevitably decline – with severe repercussions for the economy; but can also be shorthand for more general problems of declining EROEI and resource depletion. Mainstream conservatives, polluters, big business hate it; Serious People usually dismiss it.

AGW: The world is warming, and human activities are largely responsible for it. Mainstream conservatives, polluters, big business hate it.

Limits to growth: Unsustainable trends in resource consumption and pollution set the world up for a severe socio-economic collapse in the 21st century. Serious People usually dismiss it; mainstream conservatives hate it.

Intelligence theory: Individual life outcomes are significantly dependent on IQ (i.e. wealth, risk of criminality, etc), while the rate of development significantly depends on the national level of human capital. Universal taboo.

HBD: A significant proportion of the differences between human groups (or races) can be attributed to differences in genotypes, which express themselves in areas such as IQ, physical abilities, character, etc. Universal super-taboo.

Game: Chicks respect alphas and despise betas; nice guys don’t get laid. At the macro level, the combination of female hypergamy and sexual revolution has led to a kind of “soft polygamy” in the US. Great for alphas, but life for sexless betas is ever more hellish. Universal taboo.

Low-carb diet: The typical US high carb diet has greatly contributed to huge obesity rates; paleo, Atkins, 4HB-type diets are the way to go. Lazy fat people who want to rationalize and excuse their own obesity tend to hate it, as do many vegetarians with their misplaced empathy.

80/20 principle/Parkinson’s Law: You accomplish 80% of things in 20% of the time, but unfortunately work expands to fill up all the time available for it – but it is possible to find one’s way out of limbo (e.g. muses/location-independent revenue streams; aggressive outsourcing; mini-retirements). Lazy people / office plankton who worship their jobs and don’t want to take a risk make fun of and dismiss this.

Transhumanism: Human enhancements, e.g. cognitive (ranging from nootropics to chip implants if the technology appears for it) and especially longevity (e.g. SENS). Technophobes are against this, i.e. most people.

Technological singularity: This quote by John Good encapsulated it: “The first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make.” Technophobes are against this, i.e. most people.

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
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I was recently honored to be invited to the World Russia Forum 2012, an annual event organized by Edward Lozansky that aims to promote US-Russia cooperation. You can read Eugene Ivanov’s write-up on last year’s forum here. The theme for this year will be “the role of NGOs, Public Diplomacy, and Media in formulating the agenda for US – Russia cooperation.” Below is a list of round-table participants; some of the names will be familiar to blog readers and sundry Russia watchers.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

10.00 AM – 5.00 PM with Lunch Break: Remarks by Round Table Participants

Patrick Armstrong – Former analyst with Canadian Government
William Dunkerley – Publishing Consultant
Julia Fominova – Gorchakov Foundation
Gordon Hahn – Center for Strategic and International Studies
Eugene Ivanov - Russia Beyond the Headlines, The Ivanov Report
James George Jatras – Squire Sanders Public Advocacy
Anatoly Karlin – Da Russophile Blog
Edward Lozansky – American University in Moscow and Kontinent USA
Sergei Markedonov - Center for Strategic and International Studies
Alexei Pankin – Publishing Strategy and Practice
Nicolai N. Petro – University of Rhode Island
Dimtry Petrov - writer, Petropavlovsk Foundation
Anthony Salvia – American Institute in Ukraine
Martin Sieff – Chief Foreign Correspondent, the Globalist
Darren Spinсk – Global Strategic Communications Group

6.00 – 7.00 PM: Concert dedicated to A.S. Pushkin’s birthday
7.00 – 9.00 PM: Concluding Reception

Although I have my own ideas on how to influence the generally woeful Western media coverage of Russia for the better, I would still appreciate suggestions from readers. The forum is open so you may alternately show up in person to give your two cents.

(Republished from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 
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Today I had the pleasure of meeting up with Nick Eberstadt, an analyst at the AEI who specializes in Korea and Russian demography. He was dropping by SF and we had drinks at the excellent Samovar Tea Lounge.

As readers will know, we do obviously have many disagreements on Russia demography, with Eberstadt representing the “pessimistic” side and myself, the more optimistic one; and his assumptions and methods have at times been objects of criticism at this blog. If I may be so bold, recent data – population growth since 2008, and perhaps even a natural increase this year – has, at least thus far, favored the “optimistic” variants more than the “pessimistic” ones (though one can validly argue that the “echo effect” of the 1990′s baby bust has yet to make its play).

Nonetheless, I should emphasize that he is a deeply knowledgeable and conscientious scholar, who is receptive to new data and convincing counter-arguments, and a very interesting and entertaining conversationalist in person. It would be good for Russia watchers in general to meet up more often, as online interaction just isn’t the same thing. If you’re ever passing by the Bay Area, feel free to drop me a line.

(Republished from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 
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Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

I am a blogger, thinker, and businessman in the SF Bay Area. I’m originally from Russia, spent many years in Britain, and studied at U.C. Berkeley.

One of my tenets is that ideologies tend to suck. As such, I hesitate about attaching labels to myself. That said, if it’s really necessary, I suppose “liberal-conservative neoreactionary” would be close enough.

Though I consider myself part of the Orthodox Church, my philosophy and spiritual views are more influenced by digital physics, Gnosticism, and Russian cosmism than anything specifically Judeo-Christian.