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20221127 – The End of Stress


This book does not just discuss stress and its impact on the human body. Here is the author’s definition:” This book was written to emphasize the following paradox: stress protects under acute conditions, but when activated chronically it can cause damage and accelerate disease. In our more jaded moments we view being stressed out as the normal, even inevitable, consequence of life in a fast-paced world. But although stress in the sense of challenging events is inevitable to some degree, being stressed out is not. It is not inevitable or normal for the very system designed to protect us to become a threat in itself.”

The basis of the discussion contains two crucial notions:

  1. Homeostasis is often described as an organism’s need to maintain a steady internal state.
  2. Allostasis is produced by a swift and intricately organized system of communication. It links the brain, which perceives a novel or threatening situation; the endocrine system (chiefly the adrenal glands), which is primarily responsible for mobilizing the rest of the body); and the immune system for internal defense. Allostasis is often thought of as the fight-or-flight response because, taken to the extreme, it prepares for just those two eventualities. The main idea is to get maximum energy to those parts of the body that need it the most.

The author points out that stress is a very beneficial adaptive process when it is brief and used to support the “flight or fight” process, but when it is long-lasting and cannot be resolved quickly, it produces a strong negative effect on the human body.  The author calls it the “Allostatic Load” and describes its workings and impact in detail.



I think it is a valuable review of stress-related processes in the human body and that everybody who cares about the good functioning of their body could use the provided information to ensure such good functioning.

20221120 – How Mind Change


This book is about persuasion and techniques developed by psychologists to apply it successfully. The author defines the objective this way: “Persuasion is not coercion, and it is also not an attempt to defeat your intellectual opponent with facts or moral superiority, nor is it a debate with a winner or a loser. Persuasion is leading a person along in stages, helping them to better understand their own thinking and how it could align with the message at hand. You can’t persuade another person to change their mind if that person doesn’t want to do so, and as you will see, the techniques that work best focus on a person’s motivations more than their conclusions.” The book provides multiple examples of successful changes of mind that occur internally when a person experiences some kind of cognitive dissonance resulting in such change. However, the bulk of the book is dedicated to presenting the research results and reviewing successful methods of manipulation applied to changing people’s minds. For example, the author describes in detail such methods as “Deep Canvassing” and “Street Epistemology” used by democratic activists. Here are the steps:


  1. Establish rapport. Assure the other person you aren’t out to shame them, and then ask for consent to explore their reasoning.
  2. Ask how strongly they feel about an issue on a scale of one to ten.
  3. Share a story about someone affected by the issue.
  4. Ask a second time how strongly they feel. If the number moved, ask why.
  5. Once they’ve settled, ask, “Why does that number feel right to you?”
  6. Once they’ve offered their reasons, repeat them back in your own words. Ask if you’ve done a good job summarizing. Repeat until they are satisfied.
  7. Ask if there was a time in their life before they felt that way, and if so, what led to their current attitude?
  8. Listen, summarize, repeat.
  9. Briefly share your personal story of how you reached your position, but do not argue.
  10. Ask for their rating a final time, then wrap up and wish them well.


  1. Establish rapport. Assure the other person you aren’t out to shame them, and then ask for consent to explore their reasoning.
  2. Ask for a claim.
  3. Confirm the claim by repeating it back in your own words. Ask if you’ve done a good job summarizing. Repeat until they are satisfied.
  4. Clarify their definitions. Use those definitions, not yours.
  5. Ask for a numerical measure of confidence in their claim.
  6. Ask what reasons they have to hold that level of confidence.
  7. Ask what method they’ve used to judge the quality of their reasons. Focus on that method for the rest of the conversation.
  8. Listen, summarize, repeat.
  9. Wrap up and wish them well.

Here is a very nice graphic example of how successful change in attitudes to family occurred over time:



I think it is an excellent summary of manipulative techniques when a well-trained activist could influence an unprepared person of another persuasion. The key here is to make sure that one deals with unprepared persons who do not have the tools and knowledge to defend their views. Actually, I do not think that all this is that new. The salespeople used a lot of this for ages, albeit it was developed not in psychological laboratories but rather based on empirical experience in the field. 

Another essential caveat is to avoid substantial discussion that could easily backfire by strengthening the views of ideological others if their position is more realistic and beneficial to them. As long as the substance could be avoided, these others could be moved in small steps away from the original position, or at least to develop doubt in its validity.

The problem for leftists overall, either Soviet communists or American democrats, is that the reality comes in every time after achieving political power. Whether this power was achieved via mass violence and could be held for generations or via manipulation of people and falsification of election results, therefore lasting only until the next election, the reality of leftists in power is always painful. This pain could come in the form of starvation and misery for decades or in the relatively benign form of high inflation and economic stagnation. Still, in either case, it eventually leads to the removal of leftists from power, at least until the economy is restored, life becomes better, and, once again, people become open to manipulation.

20221113 – The End of the World


The main idea of this book is that the post-Cold War world of the last 30+ years, with its globalization and security, is coming to an end, but it is not really the end of the world. This current world is based on American military and economic dominance, which protected trade routes across the globe, provided the dollar as the global currency, and more or less enforced international legal order. However, unlike many observers, the author does not expect it to result from the American decline and rise of authoritarian regimes like China and Russia. Instead, he sees it as a result of Americans losing interest in maintaining the global world order and turning inside to developing and protecting their well-being, economic prosperity, and security. The author foresees massive structural changes in American society, making Americans too busy fixing their society to look after anybody else.  “This is round seven for those of you with minds of historical bents. Americans survived and thrived before because their geography is insulated from, while their demographic profile is starkly younger than, the bulk of the world. They will survive and thrive now and into the future for similar reasons. America’s strengths allow her debates to be petty, while those debates barely affect her strengths.” Without American involvement, there is nobody else with sufficient economic and military power to either maintain the existing global order or establish the new one. The author dismisses the fashionable idea of future China dominance. He believes that this country is on the brink of disaster due to its demographic decline, the rise of ideological control that would stifle the economy, and the generally low probability of producing conditions that would attract others to join the world of Chinese dominance. 

So, the author’s prognosis is that 2020-2040 will be decades of struggle and disasters for many countries while Americans are busy rebuilding and reindustrializing their country. After this process is completed, America will return, and his prognosis is:” In the coming age, the gap between North America and the bulk of the world will be, if anything, starker. Never before in human history has the premier power from the previous era emerged so unassailably dominant at the beginning of the next.”



In my opinion, this is a pretty good analysis, and I agree with most of its inferences. However, I think that America would never return to the isolation of the XIX century or anything close to this because Americans are way too much interconnected with the world. Instead, I expect the world’s new, albeit temporary, division into two parts. It would be the free world that includes America and most developed countries that belong to the ideologically Westers world and the poorly coordinated authoritarian world from China to Russia and their ideological siblings with a multitude of ideologies from communism to Islamism and everything in between.  Instead of the Iron Wall, I would expect something that would look more like a Stainless steel wall. This wall should be impenetrable for the flow of technology from the free world to the authoritarian world and have a few gates for individuals who prefer another world to the one they were born into. I hope that eventually, the deep understanding will sink in that any interaction providing this hostile authoritarian world access to high technology causes highly negative military implications. The complete isolation of authoritarians would make its self-destruction much more straightforward and save the free world from a need to compete technologically in the military area. History clearly shows that the Cold War would have ended much earlier without the mass transfer of technology from the West to the Soviets in the 1940s, including nuclear weapons and whatnot.  It would also end with the complete destruction of anti-human communist ideology rather than with a transfer to another form of authoritarianism – oligarchical capitalism.      

20221105 – The Immigrant Superpower


The essential point of this book is that immigration is power, and the USA became big and powerful to a significant extent due to the massive immigration in the XIX century when waves of European immigrants settled the territory between two oceans. This history extends to the present time when after some 60 years of hiatus from the 1920s to 1980, the mass inflow of immigrants resumed, this time from Latin America and Asia. Here is an excellent graphic presentation of this process based on the percentage of foreign-born:

In addition to providing an excellent and detailed narrative of emigration history and its economic, political, and technological impacts, the book reviews the current political struggle around the issue of immigration, both legal and illegal. Here is how the author defines the objective of this book: “I hope this book has made an effective case for the strategic advantages of immigration—brains, brawn, and bravery—in addition to its centrality to the national creed.” The author also offers five strategies that should improve the situation:

  1. Utilize immigration as a foreign policy tool.
  2. Develop immigration alliance agreements.
  3. Redefine the refugee program to promote human rights.
  4. Set standards, not ceilings.
  5. Executive action: overhaul work visas



As a legal immigrant from the former USSR, I find a typical framework of immigration discussion somewhat meaningless and sometimes even hilarious. For example, complaints that illegal immigrants violate immigration laws, which American bureaucracies routinely ignore. Similarly, the funny expectation that businesses would comply with laws violation of which never punished while generating significant profit.

I also find it curious that democrats believe that legal and illegal immigrants could become their reliable voting bloc in the long run. Immigrants, by definition, are people with higher-than-average energy, ambition, and entrepreneurship levels. Otherwise, they would not leave their habitual environment for the vagaries of immigrant life. Sure, in the short run, they use all give aways and free staff they can get, supporting democrats. But a few years later, when these higher-than-average qualities bring immigrants success and quality of life unachievable in their old countries, democrats would not find worse enemies than these people.

The final point I’d like to make. With a minor exception when some Muslims with fundamentalist religions or quite a few people with nationalistic beliefs put these beliefs ahead of the American creed, the immigrants are more patriotic than native-born mainly because native-born have no clue how lucky they are to be Americans. The table below shows that ability to compare America with other nations, inherent to the immigrant experience, makes people significantly more patriotic than natives.