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This is a (very preliminary) prologue to a sci-fi novel I've been thinking of writing for some time. It's called 100 YEARS TO VICTORY, but obviously liable to change. My sole question is: Would you continue reading the rest of this book? It’s been nearly a decade since I built my first cage. It was... Read More
Black Sun Rising (Book 1 of the Coldfire Trilogy) by C.S. Friedman, published in 1991. Rating: 3/5. The Coldfire Trilogy is sometimes described as a successful fusion of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. So what better work to start reviewing on this site? I will be forthright: By far the most wondrous and intriguing element of... Read More
There is a certain Russian expression: "Москва — не Россия" (i.e. Moscow, isn't Russia), to denote the idea that while the capital may be rich, at least by Russian standards, the rest of the country languishes in grinding poverty. This is a trope is frequently taken up by the Western media, which at times presents... Read More
Apart from direct falsifications, which were extensively discussed here, the other really big criticism of the Russian elections process is that it isn't a level playing field. As said by an OSCE bureaucrat, "The point of elections is that the outcome should be uncertain. This was not the case in Russia." Well wait a second.... Read More
This post is a follow-up to a similar one for the 2011 Duma elections. It contains an extensive list of blogger, pundit and “expert” opinions on the extent of fraud in the 2011 Duma elections. Interspersed among these opinions and analyses are results from federal opinion polls, election monitors, and other evidence. In general, it... Read More
Remember Sergey Shpilkin? He is the mathematician, blogging as podmoskovnik, who estimated 16% fraud for the Duma elections (also the one whom the WSJ plagiarized off). He got this figure by assuming that in a fair election, the share of the vote for each candidate at each level of turnout had to be a constant... Read More
It's all so predictable. In its main piece on the elections, The Economist wrote: Note that the "at least" (my emphasis) part is supposed to give the impression that Putin's result may well have been less than the 50% needed to avoid a second round, thus making him illegitimate. They totally glide over the inconvenient... Read More
Did you know that elections in Britain and the US are marred by mass fraud? At least that would be the inescapable conclusion if they were to be subjected to the most popular methods to "prove" that Russian elections are rigged in favor of Putin and United Russia. Below I have a translated a delightful... Read More
Once again, a picture that's worth a thousand words, courtesy of Alex Kireev: A map of how Russians abroad voted in the 2012 elections (see below). Quantitatively, they split into three main groupings, each accounting for about a third of the votes from abroad: (1) Residents of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Pridnestrovie; (2) Other republics... Read More
Sometimes a single picture is worth a thousand words. This is one. Though Russia remains a highly dangerous country by developed country standards, it has improved immeasurably in the past decade. Fewer Russians today die from alcohol poisonings, homicides, suicides, and even - despite a near doubling of car ownership rates - transport accidents that... Read More
Since yesterday, the following image from an article by liberal journalist Evgenya Albats has been making the rounds on the Internet. It shows that whereas Putin's official tally was 65%, independent observers put it close to or below the 50% marker that would necessitate a second round, such as Golos' 51% and Citizen Observer's 45%.... Read More
Analysis of the election data is now trickling in, so I feel I can now make some real preliminary estimates of the degree of fraud (eventually, I will compile a list of estimates as I did for the 2011 elections). My assessment is that in these elections it was on the order of 3%-4%, which... Read More
Before the 2012 Russian Presidential elections, 23 particularly courageous (or foolhardy?) netizens and Russia watchers participated in a contest on this blog to predict its results for the chance of eternal glory and a free S/O T-Shirt. The winner is the person with the least aggregate error, i.e. the sum of the absolute discrepancies between... Read More
Latest results are getting in that Putin got 63.8%. That a second round would be avoided was never really in serious doubt for the past month, nonetheless the election would still be important from several other perspectives, such as the level of falsifications (in particular, in comparison with 2011), and the relative performance of Zhirinovsky,... Read More
Here it is: Reading the Russian election. Please comment at their site, rather than here, if possible.
One of the key criticisms of my last post on the tight connections between (educational) human capital and economic performance is that correlation need not imply causation. An alternate (and PC-compliant) explanation is that "you get the education system you could afford, and the level of human capital in the kids is mostly determined by... Read More
Inspired by Kireev's similar posts in Russian, I'm asking S/O readers to predict (1) The official results of the elections, and (2) The actual, i.e. non-falsified, results. Please give them to one decimal point, and include all the five candidates as well as the share of invalid votes. They will be displayed in the table... Read More
Just in case you thought the correlation between human capital and economic development was an artifice of the post-socialist world, here is a similar graph (R2=0.4273) for all the world's countries that have participated in the Math and Science portions of the PISA or TIMMS (8th grade) international standardized student assessments. The methodology is the... Read More
That title sure caught you attention? Good. Now for the 1000-words-in-a-picture evidence. Human capital refers to educational attainment, as measured by the results of the PISA and TIMMS standardized tests*. As you can see, there is a very close correlation between human capital and GDP (PPP) per capita. The exceptions all confirm the rule. For... Read More
Sergey Zhuravlev is a Russian economist who runs a wonky but eminently readable and very useful, interesting blog and writes for Expert (author profile), which I may add is an excellent publication. You have met him previously on my blog as the inventor of a clever - if, in my opinion, flawed - argument that... Read More
In the wake of Putin's article on national security for Rossiyskaya Gazeta, there has been renewed interest in Russia's ambitious military modernization plans for the next decade. I am not a specialist in this (unlike Dmitry Gorenberg and Mark Galeotti, whom I highly recommend), but I do think I can bring much-needed facts and good... Read More
I will have a much longer and detailed post on this in the future, with new projections, but this breaking news (at least as far as it comes with dry demographic statistics) so I can't refrain from writing a preliminary post on the matter. For all intents and purposes, Russia's demographic crisis - the infamous... Read More
it being a sad and fearful prospect, in my opinion a totalitarian reversion for a certain period of time is possible. But the danger lies not in the law enforcement agencies, the power organs, and not even the Army, but in our own mentalities - our people's, our population's, in ourselves. It all seems to... Read More
A few weeks back Navalny brought my attention to this lovely song extolling Putin's achievements by Tolibjon Kurbankhanov, a Tajik singer from exhorts his minions to spread this clip far and wide. The writing between the lines is obvious. His reasons aren't nice and altruistic, but utterly insidious, playing on xenophobia towards Central Asians. The... Read More
Russia has a long and proud drinking culture; according to the chronicle of its founding, the main reason it chose Christianity over Islam was the latter’s prohibition of booze. Vodka has been distilled there since at least the 12th century. As of the time of writing, it is the world’s largest spirits market by volume... Read More
The above photo, part of a photo report by Ridus, shows the Anti-Orange protest at Poklonnaya Gora in Moscow on February 4th. Does that look like 35,000 people to you, let alone 20,000 or 15,000? Because those were the most commonly cited figures in the Western media, apart from those cases where they ignored them... Read More
It is not a secret to longtime readers of this blog that I rate India's prospects far more pessimistically than I do China's. My main reason is I do not share the delusion that democracy is a panacea and that whatever advantage in this sphere India has is more than outweighed by China's lead in... Read More
[AK: All old polls are gone - reason, but I recall Putin winning with a good 70% or so.]
In terms of new cars, they now are. According to 2011 statistics, Russians bought 17.6 new automobiles per 1000 people. This indicator is still quite a bit below most of Western Europe, such as Germany's 38.5, France's 33.4, Britain's 31.9, Italy's 30.1, and Spain's 20.0. However, it has already overtaken most of East-Central Europe, whose... Read More
The Press Freedom Index issues by Reporters Without Borders is a good starting point for assessing journalistic freedoms in global comparative perspective. However, much like all attempts to measure democracy or Transparency International's assessment of corruption perception, their methodology relies on tallying a number of intangibles that cannot be objectively estimated: Censorship, self-censorship, legal framework,... Read More
This is the Karlin Freedom Index for 2012, a political classification system I formulated more than a year ago in response to systemic bias on the part of traditional "freedom indices" such as Freedom House and The Economist Democracy Index (hint: they give massive bonus points for neoliberalism and pro-Western foreign policy orientations). The explanation:... Read More
In the years since 9/11, the US has built a mosaic of national security powers that undermine its claim to be the "land of the free." According to this useful summary by Jonathan Turley, these include: Assassination of its own citizens; warrantless searches; use of secret evidence and secret courts; the rise of an unaccountable... Read More
Courtesy of Evgeny's comment at Mark Adomanis' blog, I found a very interesting piece by Sergey Lukyanenko - the bestselling Russian sci-fi writer best known for his Night Watch series, which was later converted into Russia's first blockbuster film in 2004 - on the recent turmoil in Russian politics. It is a bit dated, from... Read More
It's been a great year! To recap, in rough chronological order, 2011 saw: The most popular post (with 562 comments and counting; granted, most of them consisting of Indians and Pakistanis flaming each other); Visualizing the Kremlin Clans (joint project with Kevin Rothrock of A Good Treaty); my National Comparisons between life in Russia, Britain,... Read More
One of the central (I would argue, the central) conundrum of all discussions about Russian elections fraud at the macro-scale is that the major pieces of evidence simply don't fit together. On the one hand, you have pre-elections polls that uniformly gave United Russia 50% or more of the vote; in fact, the last Levada... Read More
On December 28th, the WSJ published an article on "Russia's Dubious Election" by Gregory White and Rob Barry (it's behind a paywall, but you can read it here). In it they described the most famous argument for the 15% Club (i.e., the purported scale of fraud in the 2011 Duma elections) - namely, that of... Read More
Despite Olga Kryshtanovskaya's disapproval, I thought it would be interesting and useful to compile a comprehensive list of blogger, pundit and "expert" opinions on the extent of fraud in the 2011 Duma elections. Interspersed among these opinions and analyses are results from federal opinion polls and other evidence. In general, it seems we can identify... Read More
In the aftermath of the 2011 Duma elections, the Russian blogosphere was abuzz with allegations of electoral fraud. Many of these were anecdotal or purely rhetorical in nature; some were more concrete, but variegated or ambiguous. A prime example of these were opinion polls and exit polls, which variably supported and contradicted the Kremlin's claims... Read More
Citing evidence revolving around pre-elections opinion polls and exit polls, in my Al Jazeera article on the Russian Duma elections I made the argument that "the aggregate level of falsifications is probably at around five per cent, and almost certainly less than ten per cent" (with the caveat that it was far worse in several... Read More
Russia's winter of discontent? from Al Jazeera's Stream. Overall, fairly balanced. I appear at 8:50 to ask a question about the suspicious timing - two months before the actual elections - of the creation of the website promoting the White Ribbon as the symbol of the anti-Kremlin speaking, I'm skeptical about the more grandiose claims... Read More
Imagine a respected American financial newspaper such as the WSJ writes an article investigating elections fraud in favor of the Democrats. To illustrate the rightness of their point, they include a photo of a ballot for the Republicans that - they allege - wasn't tallied by the dodgy Solyndra machines rolled out for use in... Read More
The long-promised post is out, but not here but at Al Jazeera: Truth and falsifications in Russia. It has also been translated into Russian at Inosmi.ru (Правда и фальсификации в России). In the spirit of democracy, I am adopting Alexander Kireev's poll (kireev) to ask you guys what YOU think about how falsified these elections... Read More
For now I'm just making the data available without commentary. Make of it what you will. Levada (18-21 Nov), VCIOM (19-20 Nov), and ISI (4-10 Nov) predictions of election results based on polls. Election results as of Dec 9th 2011, 16:55 Moscow time, 99.99% counted. VCIOM (62 regions), FOM (80 regions), and ISI (24 regions)... Read More
On reading Western commentary on the upcoming Russian Duma elections, I realized that they can't decide between two narratives: either the popularity of United Russia is sinking faster than Herman Cain's following his sex abuse scandals, thus meaning that it will manipulate the votes to get its desired majority; or Russian elections are complete shams... Read More
As readers of this blog know, I have long regarded the return of economic crisis as an inevitability (because the core energy and no-growth predicament facing the Western world wasn't solved in 2008-9 but merely kicked further down the road by increasing debt and printing money). It looks like 2012 will be the crunch year,... Read More
At least, surely more so than Obama, winner of 2009's Nobel Peace Prize. Let's do it by the numbers. Russia under Putin fought one war, in response to Georgian aggression against Ossetians with Russian citizenship and UN-mandated Russian peacekeepers. In contrast, Obama has participated in two wars of aggression: the Iraq War he inherited from... Read More
Here's the video. Big thanks to the guys at RT, the channel that has been at the forefront of covering OWS for providing me with this was contacted by RT after they noticed my post on why OWS isn't happening in China and Russia. As befits a program aimed at an American audience, however, the... Read More
As repeatedly noted by Mark Adomanis, the Russian liberals and the Western media have predicted about 10 of the last zero Russian revolutions. Likewise, the "Jasmine Revolution" in China that was the subject of so much talk about a year ago has fizzled out like a wet firework. Meanwhile, the Arab world remains in the... Read More
It is now increasingly evident that Russia's population has settled on a small but decidedly firm upwards growth trend. I have been vindicated. According to the latest data, in the first eight months of the year births fell by 1.4% (12.5/1000 to 12.3/1000) and deaths fell by 6.2% (from 14.6/1000 to 13.7/1000) relative to the... Read More
The river of time flows on, and empires crumble, leaving behind only legend that becomes myth, while new polities arise to take their place. This process of decay and creation is going to receive a boost from "peak energy" and, above all, climate change - which will redraw the maps of power to an extent... Read More
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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.