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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: 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...
  • requesting inclusion on your blogroll

    I linked to one of your articles once http://tinyurl.com/mhnxngq

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  • no the exile / mark ames?

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  • @Ant
    You are welcome for the mBTC, here are 20 more. Thanks for the great work, keep it up!

    Thanks!

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  • @David
    Maybe I wasn't paying attention as much, but it seems to me that your blog has become more interesting and more accessible (easier to read) since your return to Russia. Yet, I do wonder what became of your American cat.

    I gave him away to a Russian/Armenian couple in Walnut Creek and acqaintances of mine, who conveniently already had one cat.

    Bringing him over to Russia via the UK would have been an expensive and pretty complicated logistical operation. As a street cat who had only spent a year with me, I don’t think the damage to the animal’s psychology would have been excessive.

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  • Maybe I wasn’t paying attention as much, but it seems to me that your blog has become more interesting and more accessible (easier to read) since your return to Russia. Yet, I do wonder what became of your American cat.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    I gave him away to a Russian/Armenian couple in Walnut Creek and acqaintances of mine, who conveniently already had one cat.

    Bringing him over to Russia via the UK would have been an expensive and pretty complicated logistical operation. As a street cat who had only spent a year with me, I don't think the damage to the animal's psychology would have been excessive.
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  • You didn’t mention this guy.
    Nicolas Dupont-Aignan. Gaullist, Souverainist. He strongly advocates return to the Franc and calls the Euro a ” racket.”
    He took 4.7% in the first round, when many Right-wingers ( you, me, 99% of your readers )thought that Marine Le Pen had underperformed. Nobody factored this guy in.
    This is just the beginning. Jean-Marie Le Pen was a one man band and had no external support.
    NDA is the first true Gaullist to reach an agreement with MLP. There will be more to come.

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  • You are welcome for the mBTC, here are 20 more. Thanks for the great work, keep it up!

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Thanks!
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Yevardian
    I notice Robert Lindsey got canned from your roll. I enjoy his content, but there's a smell something distinctly *off* about the man.

    No, he’s still there, under the “Friends/Allies (Politics)” section.

    Don’t have anything against him, though I think he had a sort of breakdown after Trump bombed Syria, and defriended every one of his friends and acquaintances who had supported the Republican (he posted about that a few weeks ago).

    That said, I’m still on his blogroll, so he remains on mine.

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  • I notice Robert Lindsey got canned from your roll. I enjoy his content, but there’s a smell something distinctly *off* about the man.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    No, he's still there, under the "Friends/Allies (Politics)" section.

    Don't have anything against him, though I think he had a sort of breakdown after Trump bombed Syria, and defriended every one of his friends and acquaintances who had supported the Republican (he posted about that a few weeks ago).

    That said, I'm still on his blogroll, so he remains on mine.
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  • In case someone is interested, I wrote a very detailed blog post, in which I examine the evidence about the recent chemical attack in Syria and compare the situation with what happened after the chemical attack in Ghouta in August 2013. I argue that, in that previous case, the media narrative had rapidly unravelled and that, for that reason, we should be extremely prudent about the recent attack and not jump to conclusions. It’s more than 5,000 words long and I provide a source for every single factual claim I make. I really believe it’s the most through discussion of the allegations against Assad with respect to his alleged use of chemical weapons out there. I have already advertised this post here, but since this is an open thread, I hope Mr. Karlin won’t mind if I do it again. I plan to write more about this soon, in particular about the role Bannon’s removal from the NSC and the Russian nonsense played, but I will also reply to criticisms that have been raised against my original post. It’s taking me longer than I originally thought, in part because I’ve been busy with the French presidential election, but I hope it will be up on my blog sometime next week.

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  • I would like to thank everyone for participating in the Reader Poll 2016. The responses have been very helpful and have helped spur me on to make some strategic changes to the way I'll proceed with my blogging forthwith. First off, it's good to know that the average "quality of posts" mark was 4.2/5, so...
  • The library link above: “Page not found”, nor did I see a library link elsewhere.

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

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

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

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

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

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  • the better sorts of video games

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

    Basic 2d graphics

    No love interest or females or emotional issues to address

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

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

    Aliens to kill as well

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Philip Owen [AKA "Soarintothesky"] says:
    @Twinkie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Germans were in demand as soldiers throughout history.

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

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

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

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

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

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  • @Twinkie

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

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

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

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

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    • Replies: @Twinkie

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

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

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

    The high reputation of Germans as good soldiers is almost entirely due to the rise of the Prussian "nation-in-arms" and the superb performances of the Germans in the 19th and 20th Centuries.
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  • @reiner Tor
    The German advantage was the Auftragstaktik, which was very well suited to modern mobile warfare. In WW1 it was less of an advantage, because warfare was much slower, so the Allies had time to fix the problems. Mobile warfare in WW2 was much less forgiving.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    • Replies: @Glossy
    During the Renaissance most Italian states used German mercenaries from Switzerland and what's now southern Germany instead of native Italian troops. I think only Venice habitually used its own troops. During the American Revolution both sides used German mercenaries (Hessians). Germans were in demand as soldiers throughout history.
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  • When Twit and Fake came out I thought it was the dumbest thing I had ever heard of and still do. I refuse to be a twit or fake.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

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

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

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

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  • Congratulations on kicking the social media habit.

    When you say

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

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

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

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  • @reiner Tor

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

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

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

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

    Another point that rarely gets mentioned about the period immediately after the war relates to the "war crimes" trials. In addition to the more well-known trials, such as Nuremberg, trials were held in other locations, such as Finland. The Finnish leaders were tried, and sentenced-- for waging war against the USSR. Remember, this was the "Good War," folks...
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  • I see you’ve attracted the attention of quite a few trolls. Quite unusual.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    *Rentals and cyber do not count.

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

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

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

    *Rentals and cyber do not count.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    • Replies: @German_reader
    I agree to a large extent, but that raises the question: where can you get reliable information? A lot of people (myself included) have turned to blogs, alternative media on the net etc., but you get a lot of nonsense and idiocy there as well which you have to filter out. I really don't see any easy solutions here.
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  • @Anonymous
    A.Karlin. Blogger, gamer, social media failure, tryhard Russian, polymath wannabe with rather amateurish opinions on everything.

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

    *Rentals and cyber do not count.

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

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

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

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

    *Rentals and cyber do not count.

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

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


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

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

    *Rentals and cyber do not count.
     
    A nerdy Chinese one would be best, IMO. I'm sure math nerd Derb would concur.
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  • I understood from the outset that Twitter is actually Twat, of what is enough already all around.
    BTW, N.N. Taleb is an Orthodox Christian.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

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

    more than 100 book = 400 hours of reading?

    He didn’t mean serious books then.

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

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

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

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

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  • @pink_point

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

     

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Getting into math at an older age?? Bizarre. And inherently useless (triply so if you were never a math prodigy). To say nothing of the negative effect it will have on your wittiness, humor, and your felicity of language (which you have, big time). It dulls those things. Immersing yourself in math just sounds like an existential crisis in your life. Most men just take up 10k mud runs and get into some martial art or exercise or diet. No offense, but judging from your pictures it wouldn’t hurt you to consider this outlet.

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  • @Twinkie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    • Replies: @Twinkie

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

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

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

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

    The purge of the Red Army and Military Maritime Fleet removed three of five marshals (then equivalent to six-star generals), 13 of 15 army commanders (then equivalent to three- and four-star generals), eight of nine admirals (the purge fell heavily on the Navy, who were suspected of exploiting their opportunities for foreign contacts),[30] 50 of 57 army corps commanders, 154 out of 186 division commanders, 16 of 16 army commissars, and 25 of 28 army corps commissars.[31]
     
    With that kind of disruption, surely operational capacity was greatly disturbed, let alone less immediate concerns such as training and doctrinal development.
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  • @Twinkie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    It says Swiss German right there on the tin.

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  • Ivy says:

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

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

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

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

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

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  • @colm
    How about the paper wargames? Are they still good?

    Is that like Warhammer and Dungeons and Dragons?

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

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

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

    Perhaps my fond memories of it are making me biased.

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  • @Anatoly Karlin

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

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

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

    He is Rafael Lusvarghi, the Brazilian Viking of Donbas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    How about the paper wargames? Are they still good?

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

    I have nothing against it, just not my cup of tea.
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  • @reiner Tor

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

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

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

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

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

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  • @5371
    The Swiss soldiers were Germans.

    The Swiss soldiers were Germans.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    , @Philip Owen


    My college drinking song, written pre WW1 included the phrasing "there's the highland Deutsch and the lowland Deutsch, the Rotterdam Deutsch and St Cuthbert's." At times, maps of the Holy Roman Empire included the Dutch.
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  • Good for you /u/akarlin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    • Replies: @Max Payne
    Perhaps my fond memories of it are making me biased.
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  • The person who assassinates Zuckerberg will be a global hero.

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

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

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

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

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

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    • Replies: @Twinkie

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

    Heinz Guderian, in his "Panzer Leader," recounts an anecdote about having to stiffen up a green German infantry unit in the early part of the Polish campaign - the said unit (I think it was the 2nd Motorized Infantry Division) heard that the Polish mounted lancers (!) were about to attack its position and started to withdraw rearward. Its commander had to be shamed by Guderian into holding the position. Something to the effect of "Have you ever heard of Pomeranian Grenadiers being broken by enemy cavalry?"
    , @robt
    I think the saddest thing is how Poland was treated after the war ended. They weren't even allowed to join the Victory parade in England, for fear of upsetting Stalin.
    Ostensibly, WWII was fought to protect and preserve Poland (though this was tactically and even strategically impossible), but at war's end Poland was given to the USSR (along with many other countries) in complete contradiction to the Atlantic Charter and the propaganda about fighting for freedom that was dispensed while the War was being fought.
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  • @Anon 2
    Once the Polish troops realized there was no point
    in resisting the German Blitzkrieg (and the simultaneous
    invasion from the east by the Soviet Union in September
    1939), they did the rational thing and hundreds of thousands
    of them quickly made their way to Western Europe, becoming
    one of the largest armies in exile. The Polish contingents, for
    example, played a decisive role in liberating the Netherlands
    in 1944.

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

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

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

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

    Things have changed since that time. Nowadays German
    universities are unable to attract enough students interested
    in majoring in physics or computer science - a worldwide
    phenomenon in the industrialized countries. Even Caltech
    has problems. Back in the '60s in California the student activists
    started referring to scientists as "whores servicing the military-
    industrial complex," and this appellation has stuck, helped
    by the environmental movement (e.g., the famous line "Plastics"
    in the 1967 movie The Graduate. Better Living Through Chemistry
    - my foot!). Today many (non-Asian) students are repelled by
    science for moral reasons, and even the Silicon Valley is acquiring
    a penumbra of evil
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  • @FD
    Don't sell your cognitive abilities short. Analysis without a dedicated proofs/foundations course beforehand had to be very, very nasty, especially if you attended a strong university. If you have the time, you should try working through such a course. It unlocks many beautiful things.

    Noted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I intend to focus more on statistics now.

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

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Noted.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @reiner Tor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Swiss soldiers were Germans.

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    • Replies: @Twinkie

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

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

    Second, the Soviet Union actually had very advanced and sophisticated mechanized warfare doctrine during the interwar years. But many of the intellectual cadres for the doctrine perished during the Purges, the greatest loss being probably Mikhail Tukhachevsky, whom some credit as being the father of the Deep Battle. That, combined with the generally low levels of education and mechanical aptitude among the ordinary troops, greatly retarded able execution of the doctrine in World War II, especially in the beginning.
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  • @Anatoly Karlin
    Tooze is interesting but I get the impression he was too much of an economic reductionist.

    Also possibly a case of narrative fallacy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    • Replies: @5371
    The Swiss soldiers were Germans.
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  • @Anatoly Karlin

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

    yawn

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

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

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    • Agree: Triumph104
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  • @vinteuil
    Video games don't have to be garbage. They can be great tools for teaching people about history, military tactics, &c. Instead of just trashing them, why not think about ways to use them?

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

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

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

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

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

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

    But useful as well.

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

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

    But useful as well.
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  • @FD
    AK,

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

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

    I intend to focus more on statistics now.

    Read More
    • Replies: @FD
    Don't sell your cognitive abilities short. Analysis without a dedicated proofs/foundations course beforehand had to be very, very nasty, especially if you attended a strong university. If you have the time, you should try working through such a course. It unlocks many beautiful things.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Mightypeon
    Fun with Hearts of Iron 4 so far:

    Conquer Italy as Yugoslavia. Serbia Stronk!

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

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

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

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

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

    It’s happening.

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

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

    He is Rafael Lusvarghi, the Brazilian Viking of Donbas.

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

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    • Replies: @colm
    He is probably as "Brazillian" as Giorgio Bergoglio, the current Pope born in Argentine.
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  • @German_reader
    "Actually the French launched some sort of attack I think in September 1939"

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

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

    Also possibly a case of narrative fallacy.

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

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

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    • Replies: @Twinkie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    yawn

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    • Replies: @Twinkie

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

    You strike me as an intelligent individual and author who was seeking reader input. I gave mine. Perhaps you can try again and present some cogent arguments of why video games and reviews of the same are worthy pursuits.
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  • @colm
    So, Anatoly, do you think we lack the intelligence to reach the Kurzweilian paradise?

    It’s an unknown.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I don't know...I actually played through Deus Ex 1 a few months ago for the first time (yes, I know, there are better ways to spend my time...), and apart from some flaws in the gameplay (eventually gets repetitive, bad AI) the biggest minus for me was the ridiculous plot. It does have some interesting elements (nanotechnology, criticism of global elites, the UN and the EU), but in the end it gets totally silly with all the elements of truly demented conspiracy theories like black helicopters, FEMA spreading viruses, even the Illuminati and the Templars. Sort of X-Files meets Dan Brown...very much a product of its time. Don't know if one can write a "serious" analysis of that game...
    , @colm
    How about the paper wargames? Are they still good?
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  • I have been thinking about how to optimize my blogging and I would like to ask for your input with the following one page survey: http://darussophile.polldaddy.com/s/june-2016-akarlin-reader-survey In particular, I would like to hear from you on the following questions: What should I write more about? What should I write less about? What sorts of posts...
  • Anatoly, hope to see you here, whatever the social media situation. I use the Facebook for 5 minutes/week to look up what my kid and a couple of friends are up to, but it’s basically retarded, the entire thing. Twitter, not at all. Twitter and the rest of those are beyond retarded and you are correct, they are making us less than we could be, smarts-wise.

    May we continue to see your work (especially on Russia, who ARE our friends) at this particular salt mine. Kudos, salute, all that.

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  • I would like to thank everyone for participating in the Reader Poll 2016. The responses have been very helpful and have helped spur me on to make some strategic changes to the way I'll proceed with my blogging forthwith. First off, it's good to know that the average "quality of posts" mark was 4.2/5, so...
  • AK,

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

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

    I intend to focus more on statistics now.
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  • @Twinkie

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

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

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

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

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    • Replies: @Twinkie

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

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

    But today's commercial video games are so far from such endeavors that they cannot be discussed in the same context. I would suggest that people can more profitably learn about "history [and] military tactics" by reading relevant books. Highly specialized wargames (in video format or no) can be useful supplements to that education, but commercial, especially popular wargames, would misinform rather than edify.
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  • @reiner Tor
    The French were incompetent in the sense that they didn't understand how fast things could happen in modern warfare. They thought they had time, and when they realized they didn't, it was already too late. Unlike the British, they didn't have the English Channel to protect them, nor did they have vast spaces like the Russians.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • It sounds like you guys are talking about War Thunder. It’s a Russian production.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    (2) HoI4 isn't really comparable to them because it is currently without the many years' worth of tweaks and DLCs that those two have.
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  • So, Anatoly, do you think we lack the intelligence to reach the Kurzweilian paradise?

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

    But Kurzweil's arguments are very bad because they treat only existing information technology as an input (which generates all his exponential curves).
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  • @German_reader
    "Actually the French launched some sort of attack I think in September 1939"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • it also has considerable vestigial value as a big network that many people continue to use for its purely social functions like organizing meetups.

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

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

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  • Fun with Hearts of Iron 4 so far:

    Conquer Italy as Yugoslavia. Serbia Stronk!

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

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

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

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

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin

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

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

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

    He is Rafael Lusvarghi, the Brazilian Viking of Donbas.

    “Truly, I don’t care if I die in combat,” he said, with a perfect white smile, and a benign shrug, “ because I will go to Valhalla.”
     
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  • @reiner Tor
    Without motorized divisions they couldn't have advanced much. Besides, the Germans were very good and tough at defending, too, even if they were numerically and in terms of equipment quite inferior (as they had ample opportunity to show 1942-45), and they had very favorable terrain (mountainous or hilly in Saar, the Rhein as a formidable water obstacle), so I highly doubt much would've come out of it. Actually the French launched some sort of attack I think in September 1939, but after maybe a thousand KIA (and Poland defeated anyway) they gave up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Also possibly a case of narrative fallacy.

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

    Its just that in WW1 warfare was much more static, so the French and British could largely hold their positions even though they got lost more blood from the mutual attrition. In WW2, technology enabled the Germans to exploit their combat superiority with real breakthroughs (which multiplied the effects of that constant superiority in combat effectiveness).
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  • @German_reader
    "I mean, theoretically both manpower and weaponry were there, but they didn’t have what it takes to use these resources."

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

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

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

    Yes, I know, that wasn't very impressive:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saar_Offensive
    Can't really add more to the discussion, I'll probably have to eventually look at that book by Frieser. I somehow got the impression Adam Tooze in his Wages of destruction book argued that Germany got extremely lucky in its victory over France in 1940, mainly due to French and British incompetence (at least given their colonies and better access to crucial resources France and Britain should have been much stronger than Germany), but I haven't yet read that either, so I may be wrong. Interesting topic anyway.
    , @5371
    The experience of the start of WW1, when at the last moment the French inserted an offensive of their own in their war plans and it achieved nothing at the cost of staggering casualties, was hard for them to ignore.
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  • @reiner Tor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • @Twinkie

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

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

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

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

    Let me second that.

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

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    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.