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amazon-censorship-in-action

I have finally had it with Amazon.

No, I am not talking of Bezos deleting 1 star reviews of Hillary Clinton’s new book on how the Russians are to blame for her losing to Trump. Though that’s also a factor. It is firmly part of the globalist empire and the day when they start censoring more than just book reviews can’t be too far off.

I’m talking of their “reform” to the highlights system.

Here’s how things work. When you buy books from Amazon you aren’t really paying for the actual product but for “access” to it, the terms of which can be changed at will. The most famous and ironic case was the removal of copies of Orwell’s 1984 from users’ libraries back in 2009, though that was more of a kerfuffle than anything sinister.

More recently, though, they started enforcing publisher limits on the amount of notes and highlights you can export from your Highlights page. What’s even worse is that each publisher has different policies on the amount and length of highlights they allow you to export. These limits tend to be more stringent for academic works – that is, the ones were you can actually be expected to make a lot of highlights. So imagine plowing through some massive opus, making copious notes and highlights on the way, and then discovering that you only have access to the first ten of them.

Judging from my forum thread at Amazon, many people have similar complaints.

Just spent over an hour talking with six different Amazon customer service reps. Most did not even know what the Your Notes and Highlights Page was. They kept passing me higher up until I got to someone who understood the issue. I explained to him that I have thousands of dollars and hours invested in reading and highlighting Kindle books for research and teaching (I have over 1300 Kindle books), and that I can no longer access all my highlights. He said he was sorry, but this is the new system and that nothing can be done. It’s very frustrating because it always worked before, and I no longer trust the Amazon ecosystem.

Customer Support confirmed that the new system is here to stay:

I am sorry about the trouble with exporting your book highlights. Each title in the Kindle Store has limits as to how much of the content can be highlighted or exported, this is set by the author of the book. These limits may vary by title, and cannot be changed.
We don’t have a way to roll back the current reading app version for you.

Fortunately, I transfer my notes/highlights to Evernote as a matter of course whenever I finish a book, so I haven’t truly “lost” all that many notes, except in the case of a few books which I hadn’t finished reading when the new system came online.

Still, in a world where many other content access industries have either adapted (e.g. Netflix for movies, Steam for video games) or been superceded by altogether more “open” solutions (e.g. Sci Hub for scientific articles), Amazon’s boorish decision to rush headlong back into the Triassic of e-book publishing can’t be tolerated.

What makes Amazon’s new policy all the more ridiculous is that not only can many books be downloaded/pirated from sites such as Library Genesis, without any restrictive DRM attached to boot, but there are even software tools to strip the DRM off Kindle books (e.g. certain plugins for Calibre), which you can then read from open source book readers.

But this is where we – or at least, I – hit a snag. The problem is that Kindle for Android – the software that I use to read more of my ebooks on my cell phone – is genuinely good. I have yet to find an e-reader with anything close to its functionality and capabilities.

  • Integrated with the web, mobile, and Kindle e-book reader versions.
  • Books can be organized into collections.
  • Highlights and notes can be easily accessed, including from the web, and exported.
  • Very powerful navigations, with instant access to Table of Contents and a “summary view” with quick scrolling.
  • Nice aesthetic/functional with many different fonts, backgrounds (white, night, aged paper, etc.).
  • Access to popular highlights.

Though it has some very big, and now critical, negatives as well:

  • Uses the proprietory .mobi format.
  • The newly enforced restrictions on numbers and length of highlights.

If anybody has suggestions for book readers that contain most of Kindle for Android’s pluses with none of its minuses, that would be highly appreciated.

The other aspect of DeAmazoning is of course the tedious work of downloading all your Kindle books, renaming them, integrating them into your non-Kindle book library, and stripping the DRM of all of them. Not particularly looking forwards to this part, which will probably take at least a couple of evenings, but I suppose it has to be done sooner rather than later.

Again, any tips will be appreciated, and if/when I’m successfully finished with transitioning to another system, I’ll be sure to write up a guide.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Books, Open Access, Productivity 
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I wasn’t asked, but I’ll answer it anyway.

winegard-top-books

Like Emil Kirkegaard, I would also like to preface this by noting that the order in which I read any particular book is also very important in terms of its “influence” by me. For instance, Arthur Jensen’s The g Factor and Steven Pinker’s Blank Slate are both brilliant, but I read both of them after exposure to the Bell Curve and the HBDsphere, respectively, so neither can make the top 5 in terms of influence.

Moreover, this list is one of non fiction books. While there are several creative works that left a lasting impression on me – Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, Camus’ The Stranger, and Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz come to mind – I find that I am more prone to be influenced by books densely populated with arguments and numbers.

So without further ado…

murray-herrnstein-bell-curve

1. Charles Murray & Richard Herrnstein – Bell Curve

This blockbuster of a book establishes the validity of g, its sociological relevance, the B/W gap in the US and its apparent intractability, and social consequences thereof.

As Steve Sailer and Charles Murray himself point out, twenty years on, the predictions made in Bell Curve have all panned out and the trends identified in it I don’t think it’s possible to conscientiously read this text and come away with the impression that IQ is an invalid or irrelevant concept, which is what the book is ultimately mainly about (even though the race/IQ chapter is what it has become infamous for, regardless of Murray & Herrnstein’s dozens of pages of disclaimers about it).

Quite apart from the IQ/sociology nexus, it is also my opinion that this is one of the key books you need to understand American society, along with David Hackett Fischer’s Albion’s Seed.

kurzweil-singularity-is-near

2. Ray Kurzweil – The Singularity is Near

The necessary disclaimers: Yes, I think Kurzweil’s method of willy-nilly exponential extrapolations are weak. Actually my criticisms go even deeper, since I view technological progress as being driven primarily by literate “smart fractions,” whereas Kurzweil models it as a function of existing technology.

Moreover, the reality test: As of 2017, it is clear that he was overoptimistic on timelines.

Still, when I read this in 2006 (straight out of high school), this was all extremely new and interesting to me.

And ultimately I remain a “singularitarian,” in the sense that I view the concept of a “technological singularity” and “transhumanism’ as both feasible and something that it worth striving towards (not least because the alternates are grim).

kennedy-rise-fall-great-powers

3. Paul Kennedy – The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers

Covering 500 years of history in 500 pages, the historian Paul Kennedy exhaustively argues that the root of military and geopolitical power is heavily dependent on economic power, which supports the munitioning potential to equip gunpowder armies. From the Third Years War to the Cold War, it has been deeper pockets, not military elan or morale, that have won.

This seems pretty obvious and self-explanatory, but many people don’t seem to get it. Although there are now many things I would quibble with it – I read it sometime around 2004 – its basic framework is still one I use when thinking about Great Power geopolitics.

I can also say that this book formed the wellspring of my interest in economic history. Statistics about pig iron production in 1910 seem pretty boring until you start imagining it going into Dreadnoughts and Krupp guns.

korotayev-intro-cliodynamics

4. Andrey Korotayev, Artemy Malkov, and Daria Khaltourina – Introduction to Social Macrodynamics

Most people think of history as a narrative of names and dates interlinked with “happenings” that historians try to explain and contextualize. But there has been very little progress on the methods of history since Thucydides.

The cliodynamicists are to history what Alfred Marshall was to economics – they want to start modeling history.

Although the best known name in this field is Peter Turchin’s, I was more influenced by Korotayev et al’s Introduction to Social Macrodynamics, a very short but formula heavy book that laid the framework for how I have thought about pre-industrial Malthusian societies ever since. Here is my review of it.

One of my very long-term ambitions is to try to integrate psychometrics with cliodynamics models.

rushton-race-evolution-and-behavior

5. J. Philippe Rushton – Race, Evolution, and Behavior

This is still, perhaps, the book about the validity of HBD theory.

In this book, a huge mass of data (the endnotes comprise a substantial percentage of the overall text) is marshalled in support of r/K selection theory applied to the three great races of mankind.

When I read it sometime around I was already somewhat “redpilled” on this issue, but this book raised my confidence in the HBD view of reality from “likely” to “almost certain.”

There are several other good essentially “HBD” books – The 10,000 Year Explosion by Cochran and Harpending, or Wade’s A Troublesome Inheritance for those hesitating about… wading into this subject, but this is the book I read first so as it’s the most influential so far as I’m concerned.

Here are some books that were close but missed out on the Top 5:

  • Charles Murray – Human Accomplishment
  • Samuel Huntington – The Clash of Civilizations
  • Kenneth Pomeranz – The Great Divergence
  • Yuri Slezkine – The Jewish Century
  • Nick Bostrom – Superintelligence, and his articles in general
  • Gregory Clark – A Farewell to Alms
  • Jared Diamond – Guns, Germs, and Steel
  • Donella Meadows et al. – Limits to Growth: The 30 Year Update
  • Jonathan Adair Turner – Just Capital

You might be asking why there are no Russia books, considering my repertoire ever since I started blogging.

The reason there are none is part of why I started blogging about Russia.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Books, Reading 
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Just to confirm that progress on DARK LORD OF THE KREMLIN is in full swing, with about 40% of the first draft done. I am aiming for publication around October.

Here are the chapter titles to whet your appetites – as you can see, I spare no tired trope when writing about the Putin kleptocracy. :) If it’s 40% done, that also means four of the ten chapters. Try to guess which ones.

Intro: “If It’s About Russia, It’s True”
1. The KGB Colonel
2. Mafia State
3. Kremlin Media
4. Potemkin Russia
5. Caviar Roads
6. The Dying Bear
7. Neo-Soviet Revanchism
8. Stalin Worship
9. Crimes of the Regime
10. Russia and the West

PS. It will also need a front cover. I’m thinking of something flippant like Putin riding a shark Nazgul steed in front of the Kremlin. If you have graphic design moxie please feel free to contact me, we can discuss price.

(Republished from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 
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It’s already a pretty big list, so I won’t be taking nominations for more. I hope to write reviews of all of them as they’re (re)read.

  • The Return (Daniel Treisman) – the best Russian politics books out there. 5/5
  • Armageddon Averted (Stephen Kotkin) – TBR (to be read)
  • Putin (Chris Hutchins, Alexander Korobko) – TBR, but has to be good as it quotes me.
  • Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives (Stephen Cohen) – 5/5
  • Virtual Politics (Andrew Wilson) – too much PoMo, but solid. 4/5
  • Drug, Sex and Libel in the New Moscow (Mark Ames, Matt Taibbi, Edward Limonov) – TBR, for the lulz.
  • From the First Person (Putin) – all Western journalists would benefit from reading this series of telling interviews. 5/5
  • The Oligarchs (David E. Hoffman) – TBR
  • Popular literature with satires of politics/economics including Metro 2033 and works by Pelevin.
  • The New Cold War (Edward Lucas) – to remind myself of hack enemy talking points. 1/5
  • Vekhi (anthology) – key book from 1909 that informs current Kremlin ideology.
  • Putin’s Comeback (Chen Xiaomeng) – TBR, can’t say I’ll read all or even most of it, as it exists only in Chinese and my Chinese isn’t that good, but it will sure make a refreshing change from Western harping.

Obviously these are just the books, I’ll be looking over tons of papers and news articles too.

(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.