Archive for July, 2018

A Midsummer Pause


58ºN is the latitude at which we spend our summers. We are 3º south (and 120º west) of Anchorage, Alaska. Currently, the weather here is subtropical, and has been for weeks on end. A pair of shorts suffices as far as clothing (laundered daily by jumping in the river). Jumping in the river is still refreshing, although it\’s warm enough to spend half the day in without getting chilled.

Daytime temperatures hover around 27ºC; tomorrow\’s max is forecast to be around 30ºC. There is frequently a thunderstorm and a torrential downpour in the afternoon. Everything, including weeds, is growing much faster than usual. There is a big crop of apples on the way, many of which are being blown to the ground during the afternoon thunderstorms, and picking them up and doing useful things with them is turning into a big job. The only way to deal with so many apples is to build a cider press and a still. Next year there will be Calvados.

With so much going on at the moment, there is less time for me to write, so I will make this one short and to the point. I will publish a longer post on Thursday. For those who want to read it, there will be three options:

1. Register and pledge $1/month or more via my page at Patreon. There, you will find an entire archive of articles that you may have missed out on.

But since some people don\’t like the idea of a monthly pledge, even a minimal one, or don\’t like Patreon, or are too Luddite to navigate Patreon\’s interface, or don\’t have a credit/debit card, or generally believe that high-quality web content should grow on trees, I offer two other options:

2. Learn French and wait a week or two. Almost everything I write eventually becomes available in French here. (Since 80% of English is actually derived from French, this shouldn\’t be a problem.)

3. Learn Unspell and read the free, unspelled versions of my paywalled articles. Unspell is even easier to learn than French, since it\’s actually just spoken English written down without all the spelling mistakes that have found themselves into English dictionaries over the centuries. (Since 80% of English is either misspelled or mispronounced, or both, this is a big problem.)

Meanwhile, I would also like to share with you three observations that I found particularly interesting.

1. Shale oil fields in the US are depleting at an ever-accelerating rate. The most recent drop is half a million barrels per month per day. The Red Queen Syndrome—having to run faster and faster just to stay in one place—is in full swing.

2. With oil prices now higher than they have been in quite a while, you\’d expect that the US shale industry would be making money, or at least breaking even. Well, no, it\’s still hemorrhaging money. We still hear sporadic noises about the US shale industry becoming \”more efficient than ever.\” But what use is efficiency if it just results in more efficient financial losses?

3. The US is currently the world\’s largest oil producer and has become an oil exporter. But it still isn\’t producing enough to satisfy its own oil addiction. It depends on oil imports for another reason: shale oil is very light. It is most useful for making gasoline, which is a small-engine fuel. It is not useful for making diesel, jet fuel or heavy oil, which is what industry runs on.

This brings up a number of questions:

• With decline rates this high and rising, how long will it take for US shale oil to crash?
• Once it crashes, what will happen to the mountain of debt it has left behind?
• Since shale oil and shale gas drilling are related, what will this do to the currently fashionable dream of competing against Gazprom in Europe?
• Trump dreams of repatriating offshored industry by imposing tariffs. But industry takes energy, and given that this is what\’s happening with energy, isn\’t he just whistling past the graveyard?

Feel free to discuss, and stand by for Tursday. Meanwhile, I have a few wheelbarrows of apples to chop and mash.

Collapse and the Good Life


Much of what I have been writing about for the past 13 years, starting with the article Post-Soviet Lessons for a Post-American Century, has been negative: the topic of the ongoing, slow but accelerating, collapse of the United States is not a happy subject. The negativity is inevitable: my goal has been to inspire my readers to transform their lives in a way that will allow them to avoid getting hurt by the collapse, and the motivation to do so is two-part. One part is negative: understanding what to move away from; the other, equally essential, is positive: what to move toward. The negative part is much simpler to spell out than the positive, because while the negative factors tend to affect everyone, although in different ways and to different extents, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for everyone to embrace and implement.


I understand that some people are opposed to paying $1 a month to read ClubOrlov premium content. For them, I would like to offer another option: to read the premium content in its unspelled version. (Information on how to read Unspelled English.)

kolVps + Y KQT lXf

mBj OF MOt X RVF PHn rXthN vPWt fOr Y pVst 13 LHdS, stArthN MHY Y Arthkl pGst-sGFLet lEsonS fOr A pGst-amErhkan sEnjdh, RVS PHn nEKvthF: Y tOphk OF Y ONKghN, slG PBt vksEldcthN, kolVps OF Y LunXteT stCts HS nOt A RVph sBPJekt. Y negvnHFhth HS hnEFhtaPl: mX KGl RVS PHn tU hnspXd mX rITdS tU trvnsfOrm YEd lXFS Hn A MC YVt MHl blW YEm tU vFOLT KEthN RDt PX Y kolVps, + Y mgthFCzon tU TU sG HS tU-pArt. MBn pArt HS nEKvthF: bnTdstVnThN MOt tU mUF bMC frOm; Y BYd, IkMalh esEnzl, HS pOShthF: MOt tU mUF tqMOrT. Y nEKvthF pArt HS mBj sHmpld tU spEl Wt YVn Y pOShthF, PekOS MXl Y nEKvthF fVktdS tEnT tU vfEkt EFrhMbn, olYG Hn THfdent MCS + tU THfdent ekstEnts, YEd HS nG MBn-sXS-fHts-Ol solUzon fOr EFrhMbn tU emPrCs + Hmplement.

GFd Y LHdS, XF trXT tU prESent FErhus oltDnathFS, sBm OF MHj X RVF tEsteT Wt, + Ol OF YEm Ar entXdlh lVkhN Hn LunhFdsVlhth. PBt YHs HS hnEFhtaPl.

mX fDst mCJd lXfRvk MOS KEthN rHT OF Y RWs + Y kAr + lHfhN vPOrT A sClPgt. YHs vlWT mI tU elHmhnct Ol TEt, tU TramVthklh kBt mX PDn rCt + tU kMHklh vmVs sCFhNS, MXl MDkhN kOrpdbt KHKS MhYHn MOkhN Or PXshklhN THstans OF Y marIna MEd Y sClPgt MOS pArkt. mX MXf + X Olsg sClT arWnT kMXt A lOt. MI stCT On POrT Vftd Wd sBn MOS POrn, + RI KrU Bp vPOrT bntHl CJ fXF. RI mHseS lHfhN On Y PGt nW YVt MI Ar On lVnT.

X ThstHlT Wd ekspHrienseS Hntu A PGt TeSXn prOJekt — kMHTnon, “A RwsPgt YVt sClS.” Y TeSXn prOses HS ONKghN, + Ht lQks lXk Xl RVF Y fBnTS tU stArt PHlThN Ht nEkst LHd. mX KGl HS tU mCk kMHTnon Vn vfOrTaPl Opzon fOr EnhPoTh RU MOnts tU mCk A KG OF “sIsteThN.” PBt lHfhN vPOrT Hsnt fOr EFrhMbn; sBm pIpl KEt sIshk + lOts OF pIpl arnt RVnTh enBf tU tCk kEd OF A PGt.

vnBYd lXfRvk X trXT HS gFdMHnThN rEnt-frI Hn Y trOphks OF sEntral amErhka. YEd Ar plEnth OF kEdtckd opdtLUnhtiS—enBf fOr EnhMbn RU MOnts MBn, + MI fWnT MBn kMXt IShlh. nOt EFrhPoTh kVn lIF Y LU-Es, Or sBm BYd kolVps-rETh kBntrh YVt YC RVpen tU PI stBk Hn, fOr ekstEnTeT pHrhoTS OF tXm, PBt Ht’s PekBmhN Vn hnkrIshnKlh KQT xTIa. Ht HS Vn espEzblh KQT xTIa tU mUF tU A plCs MEd fUT kVn PI KrGn Or kOt LHd-rWnT olmGst Efdtleslh, MEd RIthN HS bnnEsesdh + Ed konTHzonhN HS prgFXTeT PX Y trCT MHnTS, + MEd YEd Ar lGklS arWnT sdFXFhN On olmGst nG mBnh.

vlON Y MC X konEkteT MHY KrEK JEfdS + pBPlhzt RHS PQk prOspdus GmsteThN. KrEK trXT A THfdent vprGj: KHFhN Bp On sHth lXf + zOphN fOr fUT Hn fCFd OF lXf On A sElf-sbstCnhN RGmsteT. RI MDkt Wt Y mxkrgekonOmhks OF rBnhN A RGmsteT, VS osGST tU rBnhN A fArm. Y THfdens HS YVt A fArm fITS pIpl RU TOnt lHF On Y fArm, MXl A RGmsteT fITS YGS RU TU (+ mCks A PHt OF mBnh yrU sCl OF lXFstok). fArmhN HS A fUl’s KCm—bnTdpET, rHskh, gFddEKLulcteT MDk; RGmsteThN HS A lXfRvk.

KrEK rIsentlh rGt tU tEl mI YVt RHS nEkst PQk—On MDkhN MHY ROrseS—MHl PI rETh sBmtxm sUn. (RHS fDst PQk RVS sGlT kMXt MEl.) ROrseS Ar Vn esEnzl pArt OF Y sHstem RI RVS vTOpteT MBns RI fWnT Wt YVt trVktdS fCl tU Dn YEd kIp (plBs YC fCl tU reprgTLUs, TOn’tI rBn On KrVs + Arnt nHdlh VS pDsonaPl). TrVKhN lOKS Wt OF Y MQT lOt Or RHlhN potCtgS MHY A RG HS PvkPrckhN MDk — bnlEs LU RVF A ROrs, prefDlh A tIm OF ROrseS, pQlhN fOr LU.

PBt lHfhN On A RGmsteT Hsnt fOr EFrhMbn XYd; LU RVF tU RVF A KrBPstck tU PX Y lVnT + sEt Ht Bp, PI fHt enBf fOr lOts OF fHShkl lCPd, PI KQT MHY VnhmalS +, pdRVps mGst hmpOrtantlh, LU RVF tU PI LBN enBf (+ mEriT enBf) tU PEd + PrHN Bp A PBnj OF RGmsteThN jHlTren RU MHl tCk GFd Y rBnhN OF Y RGmsteT, sG YVt LU kVn retXd Vt 40, PekOS LOr RGmsteT MHl Olsg prgFXT fOr LOr retXdment.

X Olsg trXT mCkhN A fOrC Hntu rXthN vPWt komLUnhth-PHlThN, sIhN VS MOt pVseS fOr komLUnhth Hn Y LU-Es + BYd gFdTeFElopt, kolVps-rETh kBntriS Hsnt MDy rXthN vPWt. YEd HS pdRVps mOr tU PI sET On Y sBPJekt, PBt Y sVT rialhSCzon HS YVt Y PEst prVkthseS X bnkBFdT Ar nOt VplhkaPl tU mGst pIpl’s shjuCzonS. komLUnhtiS YVt vPXT kVn’tI PI OrKvnxST arthfHzllh; YC Ol eFOlF, mGstlh PX KGhN yrU TXd sDkbmstvnseS + sdFXFhN. pdRVps sBm OF YEm MHl tCk zCp Hn Y VftdmvY OF kolVps, PBt YHs HS bnlXklh tU RVpen VS prepdCzon fOr kolVps. stHl, YEd HS Vn hmpOrtant lEson RHd: sdFXFhN kolVps HS A lOt IShd Hf LU Ar MHY LOr Gn pIpl rVYd YVn Hn A TxFDs, multhkAljdal, RXlh hnThFhJualHsthk, CliencteT sEthN. YHs HS sDtanlh bnMElkom nLUS fOr pIpl RU Ar TxFDs, multhkAljdal, hnThFhJualHsthk + CliencteT.

fXnalh, X sIm tU PI mVnvJhN tU komPXn Ol YIS strVnTS tqKEYd. MI mUFT PVk tU rBza, MEd X MOS POrn + KrU Bp, + MEd X hntdOpdct + PlEnT Hn MHY Y sIndh kMXt sImleslh. RHd, MI spEnT Y sBmdS Vt Wd sBmd RWs (Taja) Hn A smOl FHlaJ. YEd Ar Gpen fIlTS, A rHFd tU sMHm Hn + lOts OF MQTS fQl OF PEriS + mBzrumS. Y OrjarT, Y kHjn KArTen + Y KrInRws Ar prgFXThN Bs MHY A stETh strIm OF prOTLus. PBt Ht’s nOt kMXt komplIt VS A sElf-sbfHznt RGmsteT — olYG Ht MBns MOS + Ht kQT PI vKEn Hf Y shjuCzon TemVnTeT Ht. Hn fVkt, YEd Ar fLU RGsteTdS lEft Hn YIS pArts. mGst pIpl prefD tU gFdMHnT Hn tWnS + sHtiS, + Y rBzon ekOnomh HS TGhN mBj tU MEl tU mCk fQl-tXm RGmsteThN vtrVkthF fOr tU mEnh pIpl.

Y lVk OF LHd-rWnT rEShTents HS A prOPlem fOr kIphN lXFstok. PBt mGst BYd prOPlemS sHmplh TOn’tI eKSHst RHd. RX-spIT Hntdnet HS arWnT $10/mBny, mCkhN Ht pOshPl tU MDk remGtlh. A kBpl OF LHdS’ MDy OF fXdMqT, TelHFdT PX Y Tbmptrbk lGT, HS arWnT $100. elektrHshth HS $0.045/kHloMat-WdS — rBflh RVf OF MOt Ht HS Hn Y LU-Es. mGst BYd ekspEnseS — tVkseS, hnzUrans, konstrBkzon pDmhts, etsEtda., Ar XYd FErh lG Or noneKSHstent. YEd HS nGPoTh tU KHF LU A tHket fOr plVnthN krOps Hn LOr frBnt LArT Or fOr fClhN tU mG LOr lOn. (MOt lOn?) fIlTS fOr kblthFCzon kVn PI lIst frOm Y KBFdnment Vt arWnT $50 pD LHd pD Ckd. olYG mEnh pIpl RHd Gn kArS, MI RVF PHn CPl tU KEt PX MhYWt MBn. tVksi sDFhs HS vFClaPl EFrhMed + HS kMXt jIp — $7 fOr A rXT fOr Y nHdest tWn — + YEd Ar trCnS + PBseS frOm YEd tU sEFdal lArJ sHtiS.

Ht Olsg tDnS Wt tU PI A KQT plCs tU PHlT PGts. YEd Ar Ol sOrts OF zOps + ksHlT pIpl Hn Y FhsHnhth, MXl Y plXMqT, OF Y sOrt nITeT tU PHlT A kMHTnon, kOsts nXn tXmS lEs RHd YVn Hn Y LU-Es. BYd hnKrITients, sBj VS fXPdKlvs + epOksh, MXdhN + elektrOnhks + sG On, kOst Y sCm VS EnhMed Els. Ht HS lXklh YVt Y fDst kMHTnon RBl MHl PI PHlt rXt arWnT RHd, pdRVps nEkst sBmd, On Y PVNk OF A nVFhKaPl rHFd, + Olsg tEsteT arWnT RHd, On A nHdPx lCk. Vt 67,500 skMEd khlOmetdS, lCk Hlmen HS nOt PHK enBf tU PI kOlT Vn HnlvnT sI, PBt Ht’s PHK enBf fOr A prUFhN KrWnT. MBns Y zCkwt HS komplIt, kMHTnon MHl PI CPl tU mUF tU Y Palthk sI, FIa rHFd FOlRoF, lCk lAToKa, rHFd nEFa + Y KAlf OF fHnlvnT, + frOm YEd tU Y MDlT. tCkhN A rXt hnstET OF A lEft Vt lCk lAToKa + fOlghN A sHriS OF rHFdS, lCks + kvnVlS, MQT tCk MBn tU Y mXth rHFd FOlKa + frOm YEd tU Y PlVk sI + Y mIT — A trHp OF A lXftxm.

fXnalh, Y FHlaJ A KQT plCs tU PrHN Bp nVjdalhsts. X rIsentlh tQk TelHFdh OF A Tbmptrbk fQl OF fXdMqT + mX sBn MOS RElphN mI stVk Ht Hn Y MQTzeT. TLUrhN Y TC Or sG YVt pVst PetMIn Y TelHFdh + Y stVkhN A fIlT mWs TesXTeT tU mCk A nEst BnTd Y pXl OF fXdMqT + KHF PDy. mX sBn ThskBFdT Y PCPh mXs MXl pHkhN Bp MQT fOr mI tU stVk. YC MD nCkeT + PlXnT, + mX sBn lQkt Vt YEm Hn vmCSment MXl Y mWs skDiT arWnT. YEn RI nGthst YVt MBn PX MBn Y PCPh mXs MD ThsvpHdhN! Vftd A MXl MI fHKdT Wt MOt MOS RVpenhN: Y mWs TesXTeT tU rilGkct tU Y MQTzeT + MOS trVnsporthN Y PCPh mXs tU Y nLU nEst Hn RD mWy. X nLU YVt kVts THT YHs, PBt mXs? MEl, Ht MQT vpHd YVt Ol MVmalS RVF prHth mBj Y sCm sEt OF mvtDnal HnsthNkts. YHs MOS A trUlh eksXthN ThskBFdh fOr A sHks-LHd-GlT. sBj tIjaPl mGments, plBs Y mEnh tVsks MEd jHlTren kVn RElp Wt, PlDhN Y lXn PetMIn MDk + plC, Ar prXsles — + frI.

US Intelligence Community as a Collapse Driver


In today’s United States, the term “espionage” doesn’t get too much use outside of some specific contexts. There is still sporadic talk of industrial espionage, but with regard to Americans’ own efforts to understand the world beyond their borders, they prefer the term “intelligence.” This may be an intelligent choice, or not, depending on how you look at things.

First of all, US “intelligence” is only vaguely related to the game of espionage as it has been traditionally played, and as it is still being played by countries such as Russia and China. Espionage involves collecting and validating strategically vital information and conveying it to just the pertinent decision-makers on your side while keeping the fact that you are collecting and validating it hidden from everyone else.

In eras past, a spy, if discovered, would try to bite down on a cyanide capsule; these days torture is considered ungentlemanly, and spies that get caught patiently wait to be exchanged in a spy swap. An unwritten, commonsense rule about spy swaps is that they are done quietly and that those released are never interfered with again because doing so would complicate negotiating future spy swaps. In recent years, the US intelligence agencies have decided that torturing prisoners is a good idea, but they have mostly been torturing innocent bystanders, not professional spies, sometimes forcing them to invent things, such as “Al Qaeda.” There was no such thing before US intelligence popularized it as a brand among Islamic terrorists.

Most recently, British “special services,” which are a sort of Mini-Me to the to the Dr. Evil that is the US intelligence apparatus, saw it fit to interfere with one of their own spies, Sergei Skripal, a double agent whom they sprung from a Russian jail in a spy swap. They poisoned him using an exotic chemical and then tried to pin the blame on Russia based on no evidence. There are unlikely to be any more British spy swaps with Russia, and British spies working in Russia should probably be issued good old-fashioned cyanide capsules (since that supposedly super-powerful Novichok stuff the British keep at their “secret” lab in Porton Down doesn’t work right and is only fatal 20% of the time).

There is another unwritten, commonsense rule about spying in general: whatever happens, it needs to be kept out of the courts, because the discovery process of any trial would force the prosecution to divulge sources and methods, making them part of the public record. An alternative is to hold secret tribunals, but since these cannot be independently verified to be following due process and rules of evidence, they don’t add much value.

A different standard applies to traitors; here, sending them through the courts is acceptable and serves a high moral purpose, since here the source is the person on trial and the method—treason—can be divulged without harm. But this logic does not apply to proper, professional spies who are simply doing their jobs, even if they turn out to be double agents. In fact, when counterintelligence discovers a spy, the professional thing to do is to try to recruit him as a double agent or, failing that, to try to use the spy as a channel for injecting disinformation.

Americans have been doing their best to break this rule. Recently, special counsel Robert Mueller indicted a dozen Russian operatives working in Russia for hacking into the DNC mail server and sending the emails to Wikileaks. Meanwhile, said server is nowhere to be found (it’s been misplaced) while the time stamps on the files that were published on Wikileaks show that they were obtained by copying to a thumb drive rather than sending them over the internet. Thus, this was a leak, not a hack, and couldn’t have been done by anyone working remotely from Russia.

Furthermore, it is an exercise in futility for a US official to indict Russian citizens in Russia. They will never stand trial in a US court because of the following clause in the Russian Constitution: “61.1 A citizen of the Russian Federation may not be deported out of Russia or extradited to another state.” Mueller may summon a panel of constitutional scholars to interpret this sentence, or he can just read it and weep. Yes, the Americans are doing their best to break the unwritten rule against dragging spies through the courts, but their best is nowhere near good enough.

That said, there is no reason to believe that the Russian spies couldn’t have hacked into the DNC mail server. It was probably running Microsoft Windows, and that operating system has more holes in it than a building in downtown Raqqa, Syria after the Americans got done bombing that city to rubble, lots of civilians included. When questioned about this alleged hacking by Fox News, Putin (who had worked as a spy in his previous career) had trouble keeping a straight face and clearly enjoyed the moment. He pointed out that the hacked/leaked emails showed a clear pattern of wrongdoing: DNC officials conspired to steal the electoral victory in the Democratic Primary from Bernie Sanders, and after this information had been leaked they were forced to resign. If the Russian hack did happen, then it was the Russians working to save American democracy from itself. So, where’s the gratitude? Where’s the love? Oh, and why are the DNC perps not in jail?

Since there exists an agreement between the US and Russia to cooperate on criminal investigations, Putin offered to question the spies indicted by Mueller. He even offered to have Mueller sit in on the proceedings. But in return he wanted to question US officials who may have aided and abetted a convicted felon by the name of William Browder, who is due to begin serving a nine-year sentence in Russia any time now and who, by the way, donated copious amounts of his ill-gotten money to the Hillary Clinton election campaign. In response, the US Senate passed a resolution to forbid Russians from questioning US officials. And instead of issuing a valid request to have the twelve Russian spies interviewed, at least one US official made the startlingly inane request to have them come to the US instead. Again, which part of 61.1 don’t they understand?

The logic of US officials may be hard to follow, but only if we adhere to the traditional definitions of espionage and counterespionage—“intelligence” in US parlance—which is to provide validated information for the purpose of making informed decisions on best ways of defending the country. But it all makes perfect sense if we disabuse ourselves of such quaint notions and accept the reality of what we can actually observe: the purpose of US “intelligence” is not to come up with or to work with facts but to simply “make shit up.”

The “intelligence” the US intelligence agencies provide can be anything but; in fact, the stupider it is the better, because its purpose is allow unintelligent people to make unintelligent decisions. In fact, they consider facts harmful—be they about Syrian chemical weapons, or conspiring to steal the primary from Bernie Sanders, or Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, or the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden—because facts require accuracy and rigor while they prefer to dwell in the realm of pure fantasy and whimsy. In this, their actual objective is easily discernible.

The objective of US intelligence is to suck all remaining wealth out of the US and its allies and pocket as much of it as possible while pretending to defend it from phantom aggressors by squandering nonexistent (borrowed) financial resources on ineffective and overpriced military operations and weapons systems. Where the aggressors are not phantom, they are specially organized for the purpose of having someone to fight: “moderate” terrorists and so on. One major advancement in their state of the art has been in moving from real false flag operations, à la 9/11, to fake false flag operations, à la fake East Gouta chemical attack in Syria (since fully discredited). The Russian election meddling story is perhaps the final step in this evolution: no New York skyscrapers or Syrian children were harmed in the process of concocting this fake narrative, and it can be kept alive seemingly forever purely through the furious effort of numerous flapping lips. It is now a pure confidence scam. If you are less then impressed with their invented narratives, then you are a conspiracy theorist or, in the latest revision, a traitor.

Trump was recently questioned as to whether he trusted US intelligence. He waffled. A light-hearted answer would have been:

“What sort of idiot are you to ask me such a stupid question? Of course they are lying! They were caught lying more than once, and therefore they can never be trusted again. In order to claim that they are not currently lying, you have to determine when it was that they stopped lying, and that they haven’t lied since. And that, based on the information that is available, is an impossible task.”

A more serious, matter-of-fact answer would have been:

“The US intelligence agencies made an outrageous claim: that I colluded with Russia to rig the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. The burden of proof is on them. They are yet to prove their case in a court of law, which is the only place where the matter can legitimately be settled, if it can be settled at all. Until that happens, we must treat their claim as conspiracy theory, not as fact.”

And a hardcore, deadpan answer would have been:

“The US intelligence services swore an oath to uphold the US Constitution, according to which I am their Commander in Chief. They report to me, not I to them. They must be loyal to me, not I to them. If they are disloyal to me, then that is sufficient reason for their dismissal.”

But no such reality-based, down-to-earth dialogue seems possible. All that we hear are fake answers to fake questions, and the outcome is a series of faulty decisions. Based on fake intelligence, the US has spent almost all of this century embroiled in very expensive and ultimately futile conflicts. Thanks to their efforts, Iran, Iraq and Syria have now formed a continuous crescent of religiously and geopolitically aligned states friendly toward Russia while in Afghanistan the Taliban is resurgent and battling ISIS—an organization that came together thanks to American efforts in Iraq and Syria.

The total cost of wars so far this century for the US is reported to be $4,575,610,429,593. Divided by the 138,313,155 Americans who file tax returns (whether they actually pay any tax is too subtle a question), it works out to just over $33,000 per taxpayer. If you pay taxes in the US, that’s your bill so far for the various US intelligence “oopsies.”

The 16 US intelligence agencies have a combined budget of $66.8 billion, and that seems like a lot until you realize how supremely efficient they are: their “mistakes” have cost the country close to 70 times their budget. At a staffing level of over 200,000 employees, each of them has cost the US taxpayer close to $23 million, on average. That number is totally out of the ballpark! The energy sector has the highest earnings per employee, at around $1.8 million per. Valero Energy stands out at $7.6 million per. At $23 million per, the US intelligence community has been doing three times better than Valero. Hats off! This makes the US intelligence community by far the best, most efficient collapse driver imaginable.

There are two possible hypotheses for why this is so.

First, we might venture to guess that these 200,000 people are grossly incompetent and that the fiascos they precipitate are accidental. But it is hard to imagine a situation where grossly incompetent people nevertheless manage to funnel $23 million apiece, on average, toward an assortment of futile undertakings of their choosing. It is even harder to imagine that such incompetents would be allowed to blunder along decade after decade without being called out for their mistakes.

Another hypothesis, and a far more plausible one, is that the US intelligence community has been doing a wonderful job of bankrupting the country and driving it toward financial, economic and political collapse by forcing it to engage in an endless series of expensive and futile conflicts—the largest single continuous act of grand larceny the world has ever known. How that can possibly be an intelligent thing to do to your own country, for any conceivable definition of “intelligence,” I will leave for you to work out for yourself. While you are at it, you might also want to come up with an improved definition of “treason”: something better than “a skeptical attitude toward preposterous, unproven claims made by those known to be perpetual liars.”

Calling the Deep State’s Bluff


Something happened during the press conference that followed the Putin-Trump summit in Helsinki that is nothing short of remarkable. In what, based on the timing, could only have been an effort by special prosecutor Mueller and the powers behind him to sabotage the summit, immediately before the meeting Mueller issued an indictment against 12 “Russian spies”, alleging that they had hacked into an email server at the Democratic National Committee and conveyed the emails they stole to Wikileaks. The accusations are evidence-free and there is evidence to the contrary: based on the spacing of the time stamps, the emails published by Wikileaks had to have been copied very quickly directly to a flash drive by someone who had physical access to the server, not relatively slowly over an internet connection. It therefore seems likely that this indictment, just like the previous one against a Russian restauranteur and his employees, will lead to a dismissal in the courts. Like the previous indictment, it was a dirty political ploy, sacrificing international relations for the sake of domestic political advantage.


Newsflash! World War III Finally Over!

Palmier Encoberto

Unbeknownst to most, World War III has been raging for very close to three decades now—ever since the collapse of the Berlin Wall. It was preceded by the Cold War, which ended when Mikhail Gorbachev capitulated to the West, causing the Warsaw Pact to dissolve in confusion. In spite of his capitulation, the West never abandoned its plan to destroy the Warsaw Pact along with parts of the former USSR, then conquer and dismember Russia itself. In absence of any military threat from the east, NATO, along with its parasitic twin, the European Union, has relentlessly expanded eastward, gobbling up country after country. It has by now conquered the entire Warsaw Pact plus Moldova and the three tiny Baltic statelets, and is now going after other loose bits of the former USSR: the Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia. The reason almost nobody in the West realizes that World War III has been happening all along is that the West has suffered a mental collapse as profound as the USSR’s physical collapse. Russia has recovered from its collapse; the West probably never will.

Although the West pretends to be battling Russia, that is pure fantasy. Russia’s defensive posture is such that no military strategy against it is even plannable. Russia’s military doctrine stipulates that no more wars will be fought on Russian soil: if invaded, it will immediately take the fight to the enemy using precision long-range weapons that have global reach. It also stipulates that it will respond to any existential threat using nuclear weapons if need be. And so the Pentagon, with NATO in tow, no longer even dreams of attacking Russia. That dream was alive at one point, when the US thought it possible to eliminate Russia’s nuclear deterrent capability using a nuclear first strike, but since then Russia has rearmed with weapons more advanced than anything the US has or will have any time soon, and that dream is now dead.

Instead, the effort is to “counter Russian aggression”—which doesn’t exist. Russia simply isn’t interested in invading anyone; it already has all the land and all the natural resources it could ever want. Having rearmed and having proven its mettle in Syria, Russia is now cutting its defense spending in favor of domestic programs that will be of benefit to its people. Compare that to the defense spending in the US and the rest of NATO: it is setting new records. Clearly, the West is not fighting Russia. It is battling against itself, and therefore it is, by definition, both losing and winning at the same time. With its military spending—by far the largest and the most senselessly wasteful in the world—the US has set itself on a course toward fiscal oblivion previously sailed by the USSR.

While pretending to battle Russia, the West has been attacking and destroying countries around the world—mostly quite successfully, but with a few exceptions. Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya now lay in ruins. This success becomes tempered somewhat wherever Russia becomes tangentially involved; in these cases the inevitable result is a fractured, semi-defunct state: the Ukraine minus the Donbas and Crimea, Georgia minus Abkhazia and South Ossetia and the booby prize of the Idlib Province (the designated gremlin reservation) minus the rest of Syria. Wherever Western thrashing about and shadow-boxing impinges on Russian interests, Russia easily enforces some red lines and the West dares not escalate.

The only kind of “hot” war between the West and Russia (which is really only lukewarm) is in the area of economic sanctions, and here Russia is most grateful. These sanctions have been most valuable in stimulating import replacement and in providing a much-needed impetus for dedollarization, and for developing alternatives to Western finance, while the countersanctions against EU’s agricultural exports have stimulated Russian agriculture. Since the sanctions were imposed at the insistence of the US but have largely harmed the EU, they furthered the cause of Western disunity. In all, Russia couldn’t ask for a better enemy: impressive only on paper and always eager to pound the ball into its own net.

But all good things must come to an end eventually, and even World War III can’t go on forever. This realization is slowly sinking in, resulting in treasonous behavior within the Western camp as various recently conquered states turn restive and start looking toward Moscow. Moldova’s president Dodon is on record stating that its EU membership will not jeopardize its good relations with Russia. The textbook colored revolution in Armenia resulted in the supposedly pro-Western new president in a rush to reassure everyone that Armenia will remain a loyal ally of Russia, EU cooperation agreements notwithstanding.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic Ocean, the various fraudulent financial schemes that have allowed the US, with NATO in tow, to spend itself into oblivion, are showing signs of breaking down. Tariffs on countries with which the US runs trade deficits will force production to shift to domestic producers. But there is a reason why these products have been imported: the US is a relatively high-cost producer. De-offshoring production will therefore drive up inflation. And since a lot of US debt is indexed to inflation, interest payments will quickly swallow up the federal budget. The only solution is for the US to start adding to its mountain of debt at an even faster rate, but then dedollarization is proceeding apace around the world and demand for US debt is dropping.

Can this looming shortfall in defense spending be made up elsewhere? Well, no; France and Germany—the countries that make up the core of the Western Imperium—are balking at US demands for increased defense spending, realizing, in spite of their own rhetoric, that this is a waste of money pure and simple. It is gradually sinking in that Russia’s new defensive and offensive weapons systems have made most Western armaments obsolete and will preclude Western forces from operating in areas where these new weapons are deployed. Consequently, they are in high demand around the world. Turkey, NATO’s second-largest member, is looking to acquire several battalions of Russian S-400 air defense systems, in spite of vehement American protests. Saudi Arabia, a staunch American ally, is looking to do the same, having realized that the Raytheon-made Patriot missiles it had acquired are worse than useless. Stuffing more money into the pockets of Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, BAE Systems or other US defense contractors will make a few rich people even richer, but it won’t make their products more affordable or more effective.

Meanwhile, NATO continues to chug along—a runaway train to nowhere. NATO is a bureaucratic juggernaut plus a handful of soldiers who haven’t carried out a successful mission in decades. The bureaucracy concentrates on empire-building, always looking for more spots on the map to color in, with the goal of… adding to the size of its bureaucracy, of course! But there is nowhere for NATO to expand once the tiny crumbs of Montenegro and Macedonia have been swallowed. Neither the Ukraine nor Georgia are digestible since these two countries no longer even control their own territories. In desperation, NATO bureaucrats decided to expand into… Columbia, making this South American nation into a “NATO partner.” Perhaps a name change is in order—dropping the “N” for “North” Atlantic?
Or perhaps it is time to shut down the whole operation; but how? The answer is obvious: World War III must end with the West declaring a resounding victory… over itself. How exactly this is to be done is a question of propaganda, but since in the West most media organizations are in very few hands and largely under the control of the CIA, the script-writing effort should be easy to organize. Note that it doesn’t need to have anything to do with reality. It can be a transparent ruse, like “Russian aggression” (whereby Russia stands poised to invade Lithuania or Estonia—a suggestion that makes the Russians laugh out loud), or like the idea that Russia “invaded” Crimea or Eastern Ukraine. Western media outlets lie all day every day, be it about Syrian chemical attacks or about “highly likely” Russian Novichok poisonings in England. Populations in the West are already inured to being lied to, so this would be more of the same.

But since the West has been fighting World War III against itself, its victory will also be its defeat. Indeed, not only is it losing, but it is also being invaded—by mobs of migrants from the various countries it has destroyed, having used them as surrogate enemies in its notional battle against Russia. Give it a few more decades, and at this rate the West will be no more, its slow-breeding population replaced by the much more fecund newcomers. The countries that make it up will dissolve in a sea of migrants and will come to resemble the more crowded parts of the third world. This will no doubt make the Russians a little bit sad; after all, they couldn’t have asked for a nicer enemy.

Individualism as a Risk Factor


The United States attracts a great many people. In 2017 a million and a half people immigrated to the US, most of them from India, China, Mexico, Cuba and the Philippines, in that order. In spite of outdated infrastructure, a failing educational system that ranks 17th in the world, a costly and ineffective medical system, a legal system that is an impenetrable maze and numerous other problems and shortcomings, the US is still seen as attractive—not in general, but for one specific purpose: for a chance to make some money. To a large extent, by now the rest of the world’s countries have carved up their endowments of wealth, leaving little loose change for anyone to easily grab. But in the US its very failures provide opportunities for foreign-born opportunists.

There are close to 44 million first-generation immigrants currently in the US, but taking into account all immigration over its entire history since the beginning of European colonization 98% of its population consists of immigrants and their descendants, and except for some number of notable exceptions (the slave trade; the Irish fleeing famine; the Jews fleeing the Holocaust) they were all opportunists who came for the opportunities.

Although many of them clung to their own tribes for a generation or two, forming ethnic enclaves, again, except for some number of notable exceptions (the Jews, the Armenians, etc.) after a few generations most of them became entirely “Americanized”, intermixed through intermarriage and ethnically denatured. Clearly, the opportunities they came for were individual opportunities, not opportunities for their ethnic groups as a whole, and those still living in ethnic enclaves generation after generation are the least successful. This process has resulted in a country that is extremely well stocked with opportunistic individualists.


Taking Refuge in Insanity


Reality can be harsh. “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley,” quoth Robert Burns. The more ambitious the plans, the harder the gods laugh in our faces when they come to nought. As our struggle to achieve our aims hardens into deadlock, so does our conviction that our cause is righteous, petrifying into a blind faith that is impervious to contradictory facts. Instead of reassessing our aims and reexamining our strategy we simply push harder and harder in the same direction, going by the dictum that if brute force doesn’t work then we just aren’t using enough of it.

But the seemingly impenetrable, fact-proof façade obscures a delicate and vulnerable organism sheltering behind it: every contrary word that gets through causes a wound; every grain of truth becomes an irritant. As the laughter of the gods grows louder, we shut our eyes and plug our ears, and yelloch our sacred slogans through amplifiers turned up all the way to eleven. But a time comes when the reality of our failure can no longer be ignored, and then it is time for a break—a psychotic break.

The transition from denial to psychosis may not be easily detectable, but it is similar to a phase change. A physical phase change results in a substance with different physical properties: you can walk on ice, but only Jesus can walk on water, and even then only figuratively. Similarly, a psychological phase change results in individuals, and entire populations, with different psychological properties.

People who are in denial are not entirely outside of consensual reality. They are just taking a break from it but remain normal semi-social animals and therefore generally conformist: as soon as they see that a critical mass of those around them have come out of denial, so will they. Moreover, plenty of them will pretend to have been in the vanguard of this exciting new trend, for fear of being viewed as laggards. Their path back to reality may be overgrown with the thorns of their self-induced, willful ignorance and strewn with minor and major embarrassments, but it does exist.

Not so with the individuals and the populations that have become psychotic: they inhabit their own imaginary realms, and whatever happens in the real world does not penetrate theirs except as muffled noises and shifting shadows. If reality pushes them too hard they become violent or self-destructive, catatonic or hysterical. For them, a path back to reality may not exist at all. But how can we be sure of this? Looking in from the outside, they may seem relatively normal and simply refusing to pay attention to subjects they find difficult, uninteresting or unpleasant.

Some—especially those who are forced by their circumstances to live on the streets—may find themselves in need of some chemical help in maintaining the firewall between their own world and the real one, and self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. But others—those who are well cared for and have access to medical treatment—may be perfectly content to reside within their own fictional realms, separately or in like-minded groups. They may even be high-functioning, with savant-like abilities, and inhabit prosperous enclaves.

Their psychological problems may surface if they are not sufficiently sheltered—if the safe spaces they inhabit are not safe enough, or if their basic needs are not sufficiently well provided for; but all of these reduce to just one problem: insufficient quality of care. The richer societies can more thoroughly obscure the magnitude of the problem: they have fewer people sleeping rough, permanently drunk, and more people living comfortably on the psycho pharm. In those societies that are humane enough to take good care of their psychotics, the few that are observable in public are but the tip of the iceberg.

Another iceberg floating about is made up of those who are neither in denial nor psychotic. The tip of this iceberg is made up mostly of those who, through a lifetime of experience, have amassed an abundance of insights into the workings of various fields and disciplines; who are lucky enough to no longer be beholden to the corporate, academic or governmental guardians of the status quo (through retirement, academic tenure or being independently wealthy); and who have a penchant for speaking the truth. Thanks to the internet, mass media gatekeepers no longer have the ability to silence them while governments find it problematic to restrict access to publicly available information or to ban expressions of opinion, confining their efforts to issues of secrecy, confidentiality and intent.

But while allowing people to stay in denial (and keeping safe spaces safe for the psychotics) is a major industry, actually informing people about the true state of the world and its prospects is definitely not. It is at best a cottage industry and is really more of an artisanal pursuit. This is because denial sells better: reality is harsh, and it is always easier to sell sweet dreams than sad truths. Plus knowing sad truths can create problems of its own: we are semi-social animals that like to run with the herd, and the more social of us may get sad and lonely when the herd is grazing on one side of a wall of denial while we are stuck on the other.

When eventually reality intrudes and the laughter of the gods at our combined folly grows deafening, we may be cheered to see those around us coming out of denial, somewhat shamefaced but generally amenable to reason, or we may be driven to despair in realizing that we have been dwelling among psychotics and will be spending the rest of our days in Bedlam. There may be ways of finding out which of these it will be ahead of time. For example, in today’s United States, you can find out a lot about the mental status of the population by asking people a simple question: “Who is your president?” If the answer is some insane ranting about Russians—well, there’s your answer!

An Immersive Experience


I generally stay away from subjects as trivial as sport. Various physical games are useful in bringing up healthy children, but professional sport is part of a system of organized distraction—entertainment. I like draw a distinction between entertainment and fun: it’s fun if you make it yourself and it requires some amount of work on your part; if you just passively sit and soak it in, it’s entertainment. Hiking up a mountain is fun; watching someone climb Mount Everest—unless you are preparing to do so yourself—is entertainment and therefore a waste of your time. I have a lot of fun observing the as of yet incomplete collapse of Western civilization, and this is not a waste of my time—or yours—because I am preparing to survive it, as should you.

But I suppose there are times when the form of organized distraction that is professional sport escapes the realm of the trivial and approaches the sublime, and it’s starting to seem that the World Cup that is currently underway in Russia is just such a happening, and it has forced me to pay attention to it—by no means just for the sake of football, although the twists and turns of this tournament have been quite curious. Nobody could have predicted that some of the strongest teams—Germany and Spain—would be eliminated before the quarter-finals, or that the latter of them would be eliminated by Russia. Russian footballers are not known for winning internationally. A popular joke goes: What does Russia want for New Year? (Christmas, which is on January 7th, is not a gift-giving occasion.) New legs for its footballers! That Russia made it into the quarter-finals is already a huge victory and a minor miracle, and there is much dancing in the streets. Akinfeev, the Russian goalkeeper to whom the team owes its victory over Spain several times over, has become a national hero and an internet meme.

But you can read all about it elsewhere. This is one of the few occasions where the Western press is providing reasonably accurate coverage. What is far more interesting to me is the reaction to the thousands of people from all over the world who have flooded into Russia to watch this event and to take part in the festivities, including ten thousand football fans from the US whose national team didn’t even qualify to compete. Such a large American presence is surprising, since their countrymen tend to prefer various homespun games, such as the one in which men run around a field clutching an oblong object and give each other concussions, or the ball-and-stick game in which men mostly just stand around, spit a lot and endlessly adjust their caps. Most of the rest of the world doesn’t care at all about them; the truly international game is football.

What’s really important is that all of these football fans got to see Russia for themselves, without any unhelpful interference from Western media mouthpieces which see it as their mission to endlessly smear Russia. Many people, Europeans and Americans especially, went to Russia expecting to find it as described by their media: a dark, gloomy place, run down and dirty, with rude and unhelpful service, thuggish and corrupt officials, and, to top it off, very dangerous. What they found instead was a friendly, hospitable, clean, safe, brightly lit country geared up to create the best party atmosphere imaginable. It was a public relations breakthrough. Their firsthand experience of life in Russia will make it a bit more difficult for their national media back home to continue selling them disinformation about Russia. But I am sure that it will still try, because of a combination of institutional inertia and ingrained anti-Russian bias.

As an example of such failing efforts at cooked up, slanted coverage, a couple of British correspondents wrote of people giving the Nazi salute and singing “Hitler youth songs” in a bar. This was in Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad, where the Nazi invaders were stopped and turned back—a place where wartime memories are still fresh and where, you’d think, someone giving the Nazi salute would get thrashed. The entire vignette, as reported, seemed much too ludicrous, and so some Russian journalists went in to investigate. Sure enough, they did discover that some people in a bar in Volgograd gave the Nazi salute. They were drunk, and they were… British football fans. Nobody there took offense or gave them any trouble. Perhaps it wasn’t just drunken stupidity but a bit of reconnaissance-in-force: go to Stalingrad and pretend to be a Nazi, just to see if the place is really safe. Three decades ago some Russian friends of mine did something similar in the US: they bought a few jugs vodka, stole a fire truck and drove it across a state line into Alabama drinking vodka and hollering Russian songs. For this rambunctious behavior they got to spend a couple of nights in county jail and were released. The US was safe… at the time.

Slanted reporting and outright provocations aside, several hundred thousand foreign football fans who have visited Russia, plus several hundred million television viewers throughout the world who have watched the reporting from Russia, got to see one country—an open, welcoming, beautiful, safe and prosperous one. This is a victory for Russia, and a defeat for CNN, New York Times, Washington Post and Hollywood, all of which have been straining to portray Russia as a menace. This portrayal of Russia is not entirely wrong; it all depends on their (or, rather, their owners’) intentions. Those hell-bent on world domination will have only themselves to blame: the Russians will indeed rip their heads off every single time. But those who go to Russia to kick a football around a field, or for any other peaceful purpose, and remain friendly and respectful, are sure to have a good time. The choice is theirs—and yours.