Archives for February 2011

A Short Guide To Lifestyle Design: The 7 Core Skills Of The Cyberpunk Survivalist

If we want to optimize life, we must first start from our projections of what the world is going to look in the years ahead.

Generally speaking, it is coming to resemble something out of a cyberpunk sci-fi setting, i.e. “low life, high tech”; a world of instant communications, global markets, fewer resources and growing poverty, and intrusive government surveillance.

In fact, it can be reduced to three major trends:

  • Informatization:  Everything is becoming more interconnected, from online businesses selling Chinese-manufactured goods or India-outsourced services to African peasants looking up local grain prices on their new cell phones. This empowers the entrepreneurial, the tech-savvy, the globalized, and the surveillant.
  • Peak Oil: Is a catch-all term for the growing supply challenges facing the global energy industry – slowing or plateauing extraction; decreasing quality (e.g. heavier, more polluting, less energy-dense); rising geological and political risks. This will be translated into higher fuel and energy prices in the years ahead.
  • Global Warming: Many parts of the world are going to become adversely affected by the consequences of AGW: floods, droughts, strong hurricanes, wildfires, desertification, etc. Due to its runaway nature this will become evident at an accelerating pace. Consequences will include high food prices, climate refugees and international tensions.

The general theme we have is of a world that will be more fragile and fluid. Job security, already a thing of the past, will not return. Many of today’s middle-classes will become impoverished, and will be unable to climb back out, as happened after Argentina’s economic collapse in 2002. But for the entrepreneur – the person who “shifts economic resources out of an area of lower and into an area of higher yield,” as defined by French economist J.B. Say in 1800 – the world will be an oyster as never before in history.

[Read more…]

Guardian Censorship: Some Comments Are Freer Than Others

In a recent editorial, The Guardian complained about the expulsion of their Moscow correspondent, Luke Harding. All the usual Russia tropes were brought up in explanation, including its “shrinking space for a free press.”

But Harding’s “crowning offense”, at least according to the Guardian’s “guess”, was “his association with this paper’s story on what the WikiLeaks material revealed about the views of foreign diplomats and others on the nature of the Russian system as it has evolved, or rather, devolved, under Vladimir Putin.”

By this time, most of my “guesses” were revolving around the question of WTF are the Guardian Editors smoking. Not very diplomatic, true, so I limited myself to just pointing out that their arguments are specious, and why (unfortunately failed to screenshot my response). But the gist of it went something along these lines…

[Read more…]

Russia’s Demographic Resilience V

In summary, the excess deaths from the once-in-10,000-years heatwave canceled out most of the increase in births, causing the rate of natural decrease to fall by only 7,400 relative to 2009. Adding in the 82,500 drop in net immigration for Jan-Nov 2009, and we can estimate that Russia’s population will fall by about 50,000 this year (cf. an increase of 23,300 in 2009).

Continuing my tradition of tracking demography across Eurasia generally, let’s take in the wider picture. A fall in births – probably caused by the POR’s austerity policies – caused Ukraine’s natural population decrease to rise from 172,570 in 2009 to 181,505. An increase in net migration from 11,792 to 14,469 means a population loss of about 167,000 in 2010.

[Read more…]

Luzhkov Flees To Albion On Heels Of Russian Corruption Investigation

Refused residency in Austria and Latvia, we know learn that the disgraced former mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov has been granted an entrance visa to the UK. According to an ITAR-TASS source, it was granted on the basis of “reunifying the family.”

His daughters have already been transferred to a London university. His wife Baturina has also taken to Albion’s shores. Apart from owning a luxurious 18th century palace in the capital, her massive investments in the British economy entitle her to a business visa, and the right to apply for permanent residency and eventually citizenship.

Coinciding with these developments are stunning revelations in the Russian media about the extent of corruption on Luzhkov’s watch. The Audit Chamber, called in to inspect Moscow’s finances by its new mayor, Sergey Sobyanin, uncovered as much as 230 billion rubles ($8 billion) in financial irregularities over the past two years. More details are to be made public on February 4th.

Back on October 8th, I predicted that “within the next 3 months Luzhkov is going to get hit with corruption charges and will either go on trial or seek political asylum in the West.” It appears my forecast is coming to fruition just a bit late.

Is This Blog Anti-American?

So I was looking through my “Incoming Links” today and came across this comment about yours truly:

typical us-living russia-lover/us-hater. expect him to be hired by russia today tv channel.
thing is – i can understand if people hold these views in russia – they are brainwashed. but someone living in the west espousing them makes me think he’s a scumbag or has brain issues. People who I personally know who held similar views had problems adjusting to life in the US, so associated Russia to be great by comparison.

This is hardly the first time I’ve had the anti-America rug thrown at me, so hey, let’s do this democracy thing to settle this. [AK edit: All polls were lost in the transition to the new site]

[Read more…]