This website (akarlin.com) contains all the blog/website archives I have been able to get my hands on, everything that is too minor to go to my Substack but too big to just Tweet out, life observations and events, and most of my book reviews and travel writing.

Review: Wheel of Time S01

Wheel of Time S01 (2022)

The Rafeverse isn’t a different turning of the Wheel as Rafe and Sanderson have claimed, nor even a Turning in which the Dark One won as some have suggested here (if that had happened, he would have been free in all worlds, at all times), but a Mirror World or World That Might Be.

The distinguishing feature of these Mirror Worlds is that while they are possible worlds, their appearance and sustained existence is improbable in the extreme. Stronk women taking down Trollocs with a pocket knife commando-style, while a blademaster can’t kill a single one. Globalized cosmopolitan age levels of ethnic heterogeneity in podunk villages that haven’t received more than a couple of peddlers per year for a millennium. Social mores of a late liberal society persisting after an apocalyptic total war and 3,000 years of upheavals and decivilization. “Darkfriends” managing to erase mention of the Eye of the World from Tar Valon’s libraries

Causality in this world is broken, with all its attendant effects on world self-consistency. Incidentally, this also explains the very low IQ of the characters in the show. Intelligence is only adaptive in worlds governed by consistent rules that can be figured out and then exploited for a competitive advantage. In a world in which an Aes Sedai can’t stop Whitecloaks from burning her at the stake while a bunch of untrained wilders destroy an entire Trolloc horde, or in which a village Wisdom can follow an Aes Sedai’s “tell” which her own Warder cannot, there is no significant payoff to intelligence, hence it was never selected for there. In this sense, Lan is actually rational and smart for not wasting his time training any of the boys in how to use their weapons, this is not how XP is actually gained in this world. He, at least, is fully cognizant of how his world works, and navigates it efficiently.

I would say that the aesthetics of this world tends to back up this theory. It has a washed out look, lack of attention to detail (costumes that spontaneously clean themselves), empty spaces, near empty sets, inconsistent distances and timelines, scales and measures that have no anchor in objective reality, and extreme warped perspectives, as when our heroes go for a Sunday jaunt into the Blight and Trollocs emerge to attack the Gap a few hundred meters behind them (in a normal world, this would beg the question of how they managed to avoid getting caught up in that flood, but not one in which time and distances “bend” in arbitrary ways as in the improbable Mirror Worlds).

One prediction we can make from this is that if the Mirror World theory is true, then it is an already highly unstable and indeed “fragile” existence, and one that may well unravel completely when balefire is weaponized again and breaks the already seeping chains of causality that hold reality in place beyond some critical tipping point. The likeliest point for that to happen is in connection with certain events at the Stone of Tear, i.e. the presumed end of Season 2.

Instead of holding anger against Rafe and the showrunners, I would suggest instead sparing a thought and extending some compassion towards the benighted denizens of this Mirror World, who live tormented and twisted lives with no understanding of how things are really meant to be, and whose very existence will probably soon end, at least bringing with it the small mercy of a final release from the permanent psychosis in which they are forced to live.


WAGMI: The %TOTAL Maximizer

This short story about “AI on blockchain” was originally published at my Substack on November 24, 2021. I subsequently updated it and republished it here, as well as at my Mirror blog Sublime Oblivion, where you can collect it as an NFT.

In the half a year since I wrote it, the concerns implicitly raised in it have become far more acute. Predicted timelines for the appearance of “weak AGI” at Metaculus have compressed sharply in the past few months, as the scaling hypothesis – that is, the concept that banal increases in model size lead to discontinuous increases in capability – has failed to break down. Meanwhile, there are now projects aiming to implement fully on-chain AI. One such project is Giza, which wants to build them on top of a second/third layer on Ethereum that allows for intensive computations while inheriting Ethereum’s security and decentralization.

Why is putting artificial intelligence on chain a good idea?” asks one piece on this topic. Why not indeed. Think of the possibilities! 😉

[Read more…]

Could The Mongols Have Conquered Europe?

One of the most frequently asked questions in alternate history discussions concerns whether China could have been first to the Industrial Revolution had Europe also – or instead – been conquered by the Mongols.

Answer: It’s sort of a moot question. It seems to be quite unlikely that the Mongols were capable of conquering Europe in principle.

In one of the finest comment-essays on the Internet, back in 2002, the commenter Lord of Hosts explained why not.

[Read more…]

10 Years of Blogging

It has now been three years since I moved to the Unz Review, and ten years since I started blogging.

Retrospective here.

There is a more complete account of my writing history, including lists of my best posts, at this page.

My main hope for 2018 is to wrap up my Russia watching career – or at least a major phase of it – with Dark Lord of the Kremlin.

Links 2017

[Read more…]

Game Review: Civilization V

Civilization V (2010) ★★

I think it’s by far the worst of the series. This is “Civilization for Dummies,” so to speak (as one reviewed called it). Consider:

1. The AI is primitive, as if it’s actually going backwards rather than forwards with time. Difficulty levels are determined by artificially giving the computer controlled civs more resources, not improving their intelligence. This was acceptable a decade ago. Now, it most definitely is not.

2. There are now almost as many Wonders as there are normal buildings, and the benefits they provide are seemingly random and unconnected with the actual building. The Kremlin is a modern Wonder. WTF. There is no longer that feeling of anticipation and even “wonder” when you manage to construct a Wonder.

[Read more…]

I Will Now be Blogging at The Unz Review

Tomorrow the Russian Reaction blog at http://akarlin.com/ will go live, so please reorient your bookmarks and feed subscriptions.


The Unz Review is a webzine dedicated to publishing “interesting, important, and controversial perspectives that are largely excluded from the American mainstream media.” You may know Ron Unz, its owner and chief editor, from my old discussions with him at this blog about the evolution of Chinese IQ, as well as from his many other journalistic and political activities. I am honored to join Steve Sailer and Razib Khan as The Unz Review’s third permanent blogger.

[Read more…]

Space Monkeys With Blasters

Basically a summary of the yarowrath “emergence” ideology as taken from his Facebook (h/t Mike Dodd for preserving it).

Tristan is my favourite Facebook friend, because he is very sensitive. So, he provides more high-res map for navigating nuances of American culture than Sia and Korman, who are more reserved.

BTW, Tristan, have you seen my right hand?

It’s from blood brotherhood pact made after a duel. The guy I duelled with is now Russia’s number one Ultranationalist blogger (I used to hold that title back when the duel happened).

Not all duels ended this good. Duel with my favourite occult poet ended with his death.

Me after that duel:

And all these people, me included, aren’t some sort of MMA fighter thugs, they are nerds and bookworms.

Guess what I want to say is that I live in a highly violent traditional society, so any attempts to classify me as Western-style NEO-traditionalist are off the mark. Were Spartans or Vikings Neo-Nazis? No, they weren’t. They weren’t even Nazis. Neo-traditionalists seek to revert civilized society back to savage condition, while countries like mine never actually left it.

I am not neo-traditionalist and I command the most progressive political group in ex-USSR. There are no other radical political groups in ex-USSR (and probably in the world) led by psychonaut hackers with their own cryptocurrency and their own occult system. Of course, my progressivism is savage, just like if Spartans got a hold on tanks.

Remember, Romans treated Jews much worse than Nazis did, and with all these crucifixions and stuff Nazis would look like good guys if they shared same time-space with Romans. I despise Nazis for their traditionalism, white-knightism (“protecting Europe”, etc) and general victim mentality (“we’re being oppressed”), while they don’t like me for not being traditionalist. Russians are not “pro-Nazi”, we’re just Germanophiles, because we have fought Germans for over 1000 years, so we developed kind of mutual admiration. Germans are traditionally more efficient and advanced than us, but we keep defeating them for centuries over and over again, so we can admire their ways without feeling inferior. Germans were a civilized nation that choose to revert to savagery, while Russians are a savage nation that is into military/space technology.

If anything, the fact that I am not a Nazi should scare you more. Imagine if you talked to XVIII century intellectual. He would not be “pro-savage”, but hyper-progressist, and would even be more radical than you because he wasn’t inhibited by same inhibitions as you. Nazis and Neo-Nazis reject these inhibitions, but he wouldn’t even develop them in the first place.

There’s a reason why Russia is the birthplace of both terrorism (Nihilist movement) and transhumanism (Cosmist movement), and why we are perpetually in state of constant revolutions. We have no “tradition” to revert to (we have half-a-dozen of them, which means no true one), no “society” to protect (our “country” is technically younger than most of us, and hasn’t built anything of value yet), and no reason to like the world as it is.

The closest thing to us are apes from 2011 “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” movie (there’s a reason why they named most hardcore ape Koba, after most brutal and successful Russian leader). We’re smart and strong, but we’re new here, and there’s nothing in this world that we can cling to, so we keep building everything from scratch, and are in perpetual conflict with those who occupied this land and this planet before.

When we try to play “Christian traditionalism” or “Neo-Nazism”, it is YOU who we try to mimic. Just look at “Neo-Confederate” flag of Novorossia. “To survive, we need to overcome America, and to overcome America we need to out-America America”. It’s just experiments in survival. Today we’re outlawing LGBT and are outraged that LGBT person won Eurovision – but first LGBT team on Eurovision was sent by us too, and back then we were outraged that Europeans are archaic prudes that consider underage lesbians to be “inappropriate”. In the Ukraine, we’re both “condemning Neo-Nazi revival in Europe” and invite European Neo-Nazis to fight for us, together with European Far Left – we don’t discriminate. I myself switched political ideologies so many times that I hardly remember, inventing weird political hybrids to seize the day, some of them (like Krokodilism/NazDem) being approved by America to be used against Kremlin, while others (“purple” Neo-Eurasianism) approved by Kremlin to be used against America.

We’re cynical and selfish munchkinists, we use whatever gives the most plusses here and now. We want to survive and we want to live good, and if the way to get it is to mutate into something, we’ll mutate into it immediately and without hesitations. So, you aren’t dealing with political reactionaries, but with intelligent hungry monkeys that decided to capitalize on modern reactionary wave in YOUR home countries. Just like when we were “Marxists” what we really did was hijacking popular European political movement for our ends, and when we were “Democrats” we actually tried to gain survival points by making an alliance with America.

If anything, that should upset you more. Reactionaries are limited and predictable. Monkeys are not. Eventually we’ll find a way to mutate into something cool. Until then, we’ll just keep trying. Current “Soviet/Orthodox” revival is reactionary dead-end, IMHO, but we wanted to try it since 90ies, and we have to try everything at least once before moving forward.

Like every Russian, I wanted to become a dictator of Russia once, and was one of the rare people who actually acted on that desire, for which I was arrested, which started a new Batman-style Russian tradition of putting coup leaders into mental asylums instead of prisons. But such power is such a pain in the ass, so much responsibility in micromanaging a country that is in perpetual crisis and underdevelopment, where half a country doesn’t even have water or electricity. Yes, I wanted the nukes, but running sewage is not something I want to be in charge of, and I don’t envy Putin now.

I want to focus purely on mutations and development, be a guy like, say, Deathshead from “Wolfenstein”, with my own high-grade labs and facilities. What I have now is underground semi-legal organization with near-zero budget. I can make stuff like cryptocurrency and primitive biomods that are more aesthetical than practical, but not robotics or rocketry or decent human modification. The fact that I waste my precious time for activities that are below my intelligence level fills me with rage. I have no interests other than curiosity and greed. I am just a space monkey without a blaster that wants to have one. And that is much worse than if I was a Nazi. That’s why “Wolfenstein” franchise switched Hitler to Deathshead as primary antagonist.

If I was born in some developed country I would be a tech entrepreneur and a good guy. But I don’t view myself as bad guy either. I killed people, but not because I wanted to. I am nerdy and sentimental and try to avoid harming even animals and insects. But I was born in a savage land, and I adapted. That’s it.

Book Review: John Durant – The Paleo Manifesto

The Paleo Manifesto” by John Durant, published in 2013. Rating: 5/5.

Most books on the paleo diet follow a set pattern: An inspirational story about how the author wrecked his health with junk food or vegetarianism before the caveman came riding on a white horse to the rescue; an explanation of why, contrary to the popular expression, almost anything is better than sliced white bread; a long and exhaustive guide to the do’s and don’ts of paleo with plenty of scientific explanations; and finally, a list of recipes and suggestions for further reading.

Don’t get me wrong, you’ll still get a solid idea of how to eat, move, and live by paleo principles from John Durant’s THE PALEO MANIFESTO. But at its core, this is no diet book.

It is a bold attempt to situate the paleo lifestyle within the “Big History” of human biosocial evolution, which is divided into four distinct “ages”: Paleolithic, agricultural, industrial, and information. Each of these ages was characterized by diets that created new problems, problems that were in turn partially mitigated by solutions specific to the very age that spawned them. This is a narrative that evokes a whiff of historical materialism, though John Durant is far more of a neo-reactionary than a Marxist.

Well aware of its pervasive violence and cultural backwardness, Durant does not unduly glamorize paleolithic life. (Nor does virtually anyone in the movement, strawmen set up by paleo’s detractors regardless). But one can’t escape the physical evidence that hunter-gatherers were far taller, stronger, and healthier than the early agriculturalists hunched over their hoes. An anthropologist shows off a male specimen who was 5″10 (175 cm) tall and weighed 150 pounds (68 kg), despite having a musculature that would put the vast majority of modern humans to shame. Average heights decreased by 5 inches after the transition to agriculture, and tooth and bone health deteriorated drastically.

The Bible tells the story: Man took up farming and began eating bread, and then cities appeared, famine and disease stalked the land, and childbirth became painful and dangerous. But childbirth also became more frequent, and the vast (if low-quality) caloric surpluses from grains enabled farmer populations – armed with metal weapons and commanded by literate elites – to gradually displace the world of Enkidu. That world might never have been paradise on Earth, but it “probably seemed like the Garden of Eden” compared to the lives of early farmers.

[Read more…]

Could Public Opposition to Life Extension become Lethal?

I have managed to find 3 polls querying people on their attitudes towards radical life extension. By far the most comprehensive one is PEW’s August 2013 Living to 120 and Beyond project. The other two are a poll of CARP members, a Canadian pro-elderly advocacy group, and by Russia’s Levada Center. While PEW and Levada polled a representative sample of their respective populations, the average age of the CARP respondents was about 70 years.

On the surface, public opinion is not supportive of life extension. 38% of Americans want to live decades longer, to at least 120, while 56% are opposed; 51% think that radical life extension will be a bad thing for society. Only 19% of CARP responents would like to take advantage of these treatments, and 55% think they are bad for society. Though a somewhat higher percentage of Russians, at 32%, want to live either “several times longer” or “be immortal” – as opposed to 64% who only want to live a natural lifespan – their question is phrased more positively, noting that “youth and health” would be preserved under such a scenario.

For now, these figures are a curiosity. But should radical life extension cease being largely speculative and move into the realm of practical plausibility – Aubrey de Grey predicts it will happen as soon as middle-aged mice are rejuvenated so as to extent their lifespans by a few factors – public opinion will start playing a vital role. It would be exceedingly frustrating – literally lethal, even – should the first promising waves of life extension break upon the rocks of politicians pandering to the peanut gallery. This is a real danger in a democracy.

Still, there are three or four strong arguments for optimism in those same polls:

[Read more…]