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Monthly Archives: September 2022

20220925 – Fossil Future


This book presents a new and different approach to the “catastrophic global warming problem”. This approach is philosophical, meaning it features a systemic view that includes a cost/benefits analysis of fossil fuels and their role not only as one of the essential sources of electricity but also as one and only viable source of transportation energy. The main inferences are:

  1. Fossil fuels are cheap and effective, and the benefits of their use far exceed all conceivable negative consequences of the resulting increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.
  2. Whatever these negative consequences are, there is no reason to believe that they would match the catastrophic predictions of quasi-scientists with a long history of failed catastrophic predictions such as Paul Ehrlich and political hacks such as Al Gore, which make big bucks off these predictions. 
  3. Using fossil fuels provides humanity with effective technological methods to control microclimate with heating and air-conditioning that allow humans to habituate in all environments, from the extreme cold of the Arctic to the extreme heat of Equatorial deserts.
  4. Nuclear power can not only match but exceed the effectiveness and efficiency of electricity production but there is no alternative to fossil fuels as the energy source for mobile machinery.
  5. Using fossil fuels is highly moral because it supports the well-being of billions of people. In contrast, suppression of such use is highly immoral because it deprives billions of people of good lives or even causes large-scale suffering and death.
  6. Philosophically, the movement against all forms of human impact on the environment derived from philosophical ideas of humans being parasites on nature and Earth and, therefore, should be restricted, suppressed, or even eliminated in the name of some kind of supreme environmental justice.     



I find the approach of this book very interesting, and I mainly agree with the author’s philosophical and technological ideas. I think humans are creatures with big brains that were evolutionary developed to handle rapid climate changes that the genetic evolution could not handle due to its slow processes that mainly rely on random changes in DNA. The only thing that I would like to add is that one should not underestimate environmental warriors’ political, careerist, and profit motivations. The benefits include tenured positions in universities, money made from governmental transfers to multiple “clean energy” boondoggles, and the ability to use government coercion against competitors in the academy, politics, or business. I see this struggle as a small part of the global ideological and political war between supporters of the Hierarchical form of human organization when resources are concentrated under the control of government bureaucrats and distributed from the top down and the Cooperative form of human organization when resources distributed between private owners and then reallocated via voluntary exchange.

20220918 – The Power Paradox


The author wrote this book in a very clear and concise way. Here is how the author defines the central proposition of this book: “The power paradox is this: we rise in power and make a difference in the world due to what is best about human nature, but we fall from power due to what is worst. We gain the capacity to make a difference in the world by enhancing the lives of others. Still, the very experience of having power and privilege leads us to behave, in our worst moments, like impulsive, out-of-control sociopaths.”

The author then defines 20 principles of power, groups them into five chapters, and discusses them in detail. Here they are:



It is a nice try, and while I could agree with some of these principles, others look somewhat unrealistic. So let me go through them one by one:

PRINCIPLE #1 Power is about altering the states of others.

I think it is only partially correct: as much power is sometimes required, not allow others to change one’s state by others.

PRINCIPLE #2 Power is part of every relationship and interaction.

PRINCIPLE #3 Power is found in everyday actions.

The whole area of competitive market interactions contradicts these two statements. Neither buyer nor seller has the power to change the state of other, and the vast majority of potential transactions just never occur, consequently not changing the state of the potential buyer or seller

PRINCIPLE #4 Power comes from empowering others in social networks.

This idea would be a huge surprise for countless dictators, criminals, and dominant chimpanzees who changed the state of others without empowering anybody.

PRINCIPLE #5 Groups give power to those who advance the greater good.

PRINCIPLE #6 Groups construct reputations that determine the capacity to influence.

PRINCIPLE #7 Groups reward those who advance the greater good with status and esteem.

PRINCIPLE #8 Groups punish those who undermine the greater good with gossip.

The groups actually do not exist as thinking or acting entities. They are just a shortcut for designating more or less synchronized actions of many people, with some having more influence than others. The greater or smaller good has nothing to do with possession or lack of such influence. Instead, the objectives of individuals in possession of such influence define the actions of these people.

PRINCIPLE #9 Enduring power comes from empathy.

PRINCIPLE #10 Enduring power comes from giving.

PRINCIPLE #11 Enduring power comes from expressing gratitude.

PRINCIPLE #12 Enduring power comes from telling stories that unite.

Enduring power comes from all above only in the environment of voluntary interactions between people, which is not necessarily the most frequent form of interaction.

PRINCIPLE #13 Power leads to empathy deficits and diminished moral sentiments. PRINCIPLE #14 Power leads to self-serving impulsivity.

PRINCIPLE #15 Power leads to incivility and disrespect.

PRINCIPLE #16 Power leads to narratives of exceptionalism.

All these “leads” are highly dependent on the personality of individuals possessing power and their objectives in life. Generally, the very process of power acquisition causes the selection of individuals with the propensity of resorting to all the above.

PRINCIPLE #17 Powerlessness involves facing environments of continual threat. PRINCIPLE #18 Stress defines the experience of powerlessness.

PRINCIPLE #19 Powerlessness undermines the ability to contribute to society. PRINCIPLE #20 Powerlessness causes poor health.

People very seldom, if ever, are powerless. It is more of a choice that people make. Even a slave has a choice: to comply with the demand of a master or take the punishment for non-compliance. In the worst-case scenario, it could be a choice between life and death, but one could hardly call powerless a soldier rising from the trenches to attack the enemy.  

20220910 – Free Speech


This book traces the history of free speech, or, more precisely, the history of censorship from its ancient beginning to its current condition and potential future development. It mainly reviews the co-development of technology and people’s use of it to express their ideology and suppress the expression of the ideology of others. The book strongly stresses the value of free speech as the necessary condition of prosperity in all its forms: material or psychological. Here is the main point as the author presents it:” To impose silence and call it tolerance does not make it so. Real tolerance requires understanding. Understanding comes from listening. Listening presupposes speech. By connecting past speech controversies with the most pressing contemporary ones, I hope to demonstrate just how much humanity has gained from the gradual spread of free speech—and just how much we stand to lose if we allow its continued erosion in this most recent digital phase of the age-old conflict between authority and free expression.”



I think free speech is vital for all people’s good life and prosperity. However, it is obvious that the speech could be used as a weapon to condition a mass of people to commit all kinds of not very nice things, from high school bullying to genocide. I do not believe that suppression of speech could effectively fight fake news or hate speech. It was proved historically many times over and quite convincingly. Neither suppression of Bolshevik propaganda in czarist Russia nor suppression of Nazi propaganda in Weimar Germany prevented the rise to power of two of the most disgusting regimes in human history: the Third Reich of Nazis and Communists’ Soviet Union. I think the one and only tool against propaganda should be a massive and necessary coercive increase in speech. Here is how it could work:

Step 1. Some propaganda outlets, like New York Times or CNN, massively promote the false story of Trump being a Russian spy.

Step 2. Trump formally accuses them in a specially designed legal forum. Let’s call it the Special Information Court.    

Step 3. Special Information Court conducts a public hearing online when both sides can present the material proving for their position.

Step 4. The Special Information Court decides that Trump is right and there is no evidence of his connection to Russia, leave alone being a Russian agent.  Then the punishment should be a coercive presentation of materials supporting Trump’s position in the same amount of time and prominence as was previously used for propaganda operations.

In other words, if New York Times published 1000 articles on the front-page accusing Trump of being a Russian spy, it would have to publish 1000 articles with the same or a close number of words on the front page by individuals designated by Trump to compensate for the damage. Similarly, CNN would have to allow the same amount of prime time to present Trump’s side of the story.

Unlike the current situation when retraction is limited to the two lines on the last page and has no real effect, such a remedy would be very effective without limiting the freedom of CNN and the New York Times to present their original story as they wish.  

20220904 – The Rule of Law


This book is about the history of laws, where and why they came from, who and how used these laws, and the direction of their future development. The idea is to understand the necessity of laws for the proper functioning of a complex society and the inseparable link of the laws to the general ideological makeup of the society, including dominant religions and/or quasi-religions such as communism, fascism, and wokeism. Another idea is to provide a comparative analysis of laws and human behavior in major civilizations: European with its Judeo-Christian foundation, Mideastern with its Islamic foundation, Chinese with its semi-secular Confucian and other foundations, and Indian with its Caste-based foundation. In addition, the book also looks at laws created outside of the states by all kinds of groupings of the people who managed to escape the cage of states: from tribes to gangs.     



This book provides an excellent review of the development of law in various civilizations and the application of these laws in real life. I think that laws are pretty much a tool used by people within a hierarchy of power to assure algorithmically maintained transfer of decisions from the top down with minimal distortion and control over the application of these decisions. The growing complexity of societies led to the slow transformation of laws from easily changeable by top leaders’ set of rules unequally applied to individuals at lower levels of the hierarchy to the independently existing in the minds of the population beliefs about wrong and proper behavior and methods of control over it. Eventually, it led to the emergence of civilizations in which leaders of the state hierarchy were expected to be enforcers of the rules rather than givers. Moreover, it required equal application of rules to everybody, consequently significantly decreasing the arbitrary power of leaders. In short, the algorithmic and non-arbitrary application of laws became imperative.