As today seems to be the day of cool visualizations on this blog, so on this note I'd like to highlight a really cool way of analyzing the influence of various people (philosophers, coding languages, etc) on history. One of the basic strategies is to feed the information in Wikipedia info-boxes into a computer program... Read More
Pomeranz, Kenneth – The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy (2001) Category: economy, history, world systems; Rating: 5*/5 Summary: Brad DeLong's review; The Bactra Review; Are Coal and Colonies Really Crucial?
One of the biggest questions in global history is why it was Western Europe that industrialized first, and ended up colonizing most of the rest of the world. As late as 1450, the possibility of such an outcome would have been ridiculed. By almost any metric, China was well in the lead through the medieval... Read More
Depressingly fatalist, morbidly truthful, irresistibly Nietzschean. That's Howard Bloom's "The Lucifer Principle" in a nutshell: a meandering trawl through disciplines such as genetics, psychology and culture that culminates in a theory of evil, purporting to explain its historical necessity, its creative potential and the possibility of it ever being vanquished. The odds do not appear... Read More
Then you might get something like Peter Turchin's War and Peace and War, which I've finally read on the recommendations of Kolya and TG. Ranging from Ermak's subjugation of the Sibir Khanate to the rise of Rome, Turchin makes the case that the rise and fall of empires is reducible to three basic concepts: 1)... Read More
One of the most interesting emerging sciences today, in my opinion, is cliodynamics. Their practitioners attempt to come to with mathematical models of history to explain "big history" - things like the rise of empires, social discontent, civil wars, and state collapse. To the casual observer history may appear to be chaotic and fathomless, devoid... Read More
While trawling through my computer archives, I stumbled across this book review of Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel" from five years ago. Overall, it's a great book, better than his follow-up "Collapse", which is also interesting - especially in the psychological aspects of "collapse", like creeping normalcy and "landscape amnesia" - but far from... Read More
Realism has been falling out of favor since the end of the Cold War, condemned by the Kumbaya crowd, avoided by the liberal, PC-gone-wild intelligentsia, and denigrated by "end of history" ideologues (many of whom all too cynically remain realists while cloaking it under the mantle of "liberal interventionism"). What they all have in common... Read More
A while ago I wrote Education as the Elixir of Growth on DR, in which I noted that in most countries the educational profile is closely correlated to their level of productivity. The major exceptions are nations with resource windfalls (inflated productivity) and socialist legacies (deflated productivity). Furthermore, the greater the gap between the 'potential... Read More
I am a blogger, thinker, and businessman in the SF Bay Area. I’m originally from Russia, spent many years in Britain, and studied at U.C. Berkeley.
One of my tenets is that ideologies tend to suck. As such, I hesitate about attaching labels to myself. That said, if it’s really necessary, I suppose “liberal-conservative neoreactionary” would be close enough.
Though I consider myself part of the Orthodox Church, my philosophy and spiritual views are more influenced by digital physics, Gnosticism, and Russian cosmism than anything specifically Judeo-Christian.