Wednesday assorted links

by on December 27, 2017 at 12:10 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1 Andreas Moser December 27, 2017 at 12:42 pm

# 3: The argument that not knowing about the military strength of other countries leads to wars may be correct. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that everybody needs to flex their muscles more. It could also justify more and better espionage. Coincidentally, I am available.


2 Mark Thorson December 27, 2017 at 1:18 pm

Germany greatly underestimated the strength of the USSR in WW2. Goebbels admitted as much in his famous Sportpalast speech. Had they known, they probably would not have attacked.


3 chuck martel December 27, 2017 at 1:26 pm

More evidence, if any is needed, that simply too much information is classified.


4 clockwork_prior December 27, 2017 at 1:28 pm

‘Germany greatly underestimated the strength of the USSR in WW2’

And even more greatly underestimated just how big the USSR was. It is extremely difficult for a European to grasp just how large countries like Canada, Russia, Brazil, or Australia are, and just how empty. The Nazis made a number of other grave mistakes of course, including deciding to fight a two front war again, but they were ignorant of just how ignorant they were when it came to the scale of the USSR, which is what allowed the Russians to absorb a massive invasion.


5 Mark Thorson December 27, 2017 at 2:03 pm

Oh no! You used the B-word! Now we shall have to suffer another lecture on how B is greatest empire in the world, greater than the world has ever seen, greater than Rome, the proper successor to all earlier empires, etc.


6 msgkings December 27, 2017 at 2:14 pm

I think Thiago has finally been truly banished.

7 dearieme December 27, 2017 at 7:07 pm

Mind you, the whole thing seems to boil down to the commonplace observation that the Germans were wonderful soldiers but were led by strategic nitwits. Twice in a row.


8 JWatts December 27, 2017 at 11:01 pm

+1, it’s pretty much that simple

9 Thor December 28, 2017 at 3:48 am

Also underestimated: the mud. And the effects of the cold on the horses and men.


10 y81 December 27, 2017 at 4:55 pm

I have long been skeptical of the argument that invading Russia was Hitler’s big mistake. The Russian regime collapsed twice in the twentieth century, which suggests that it is a fragile state. I think the survival of the Bolshevik regime under the Nazi hammer blows was a near-run thing.


11 Potato December 27, 2017 at 5:10 pm

I think that as always, the narrative has defeated the truth.

Germany planned to take everything west of the Volga. That was the game plan from the beginning. They had zero interest in the vast expanse of the Soviet Union. They wanted the Volga to be the border.

They needed to make the USSR sign an armistice by defeating their field armies and then establishing a defense in depth along the river with a strategic mobile reserve.

Unfortunately for them, Stalin had zero intention of signing an armistice. Also, we were sending tons and tons of military aid to a communist aggressor. Whoops. We almost caused a nuclear Armageddon by supporting the USSR. I imagine in a large % of universes there was a nuclear exchange during the Cold War. Utilitarians should take into account other realities when they weigh choices. If they are truly utilitarians…

Honestly at some point you’d think we would learn the lesson that in the nuclear/radicalism age the enemy of our enemy is not our friend. Our friends are our friends if they espouse our values. If not, they are another enemy.


12 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ December 27, 2017 at 5:28 pm

If you have the time machine, you prevent WWI.

Then you don’t even get the Russian Revolution.

13 Joshua December 27, 2017 at 6:55 pm

Those poor, poor Nazis.

“Our friends are our friends if they espouse our values.”
Strange enough, it never comes up when it is time to suport the Shah, the Saudis, Latin American dictators, Afghanistan’s “freedom”-fighters, Diem, etc.

14 Dude December 27, 2017 at 7:05 pm

You seem to be agreeing, but feeling the need to be hostile for some reason. What could be more 2017?

15 dearieme December 27, 2017 at 7:08 pm

“Our friends are our friends if they espouse our values.” You’d have to be a very agile nation to keep up with the endless fluctuations of American values.

16 JWatts December 27, 2017 at 11:06 pm

“I have long been skeptical of the argument that invading Russia was Hitler’s big mistake.”

Germany, could have beaten Russia if it hadn’t committed so many other grievous mistakes. Among the many were: delaying the start of the invasion for 6 weeks, not reaching some kind of cease fire before attacking Russia, allowing the German railroad union to take the month of December off and go home to Germany, ensuring that the German home front went to full war time production before 1943, etc. Those were all pretty terrible mistakes that were mostly from pretty poor leadership.


17 rayward December 27, 2017 at 12:47 pm

1. Does Gwern Branwen suffer/benefit from savant syndrome? Jesus taught by using parables which His Disciples never seemed to understand. Gwern Branwen teaches by using gibberish which his disciples can’t understand but pretend they do anyway. Is Gwern Branwen modern culture’s Jesus?


18 Mark Thorson December 27, 2017 at 1:20 pm

No, he’s our generation’s L. Ron Hubbard.


19 Mark Thorson December 27, 2017 at 1:27 pm

I take that back. After reading the article, he’s our generation’s Lyndon LaRouche (as if we needed another one, because the original is still alive at age 95).


20 Brian Donohue December 27, 2017 at 4:20 pm

That seems pretty unfair. Gwern is unfailingly thoughtful and measured in my experience.


21 Thor December 28, 2017 at 3:50 am


22 Goldblatt, Howard December 28, 2017 at 11:27 am

gwern is more of this generations Jan Egeland. For those not familiar with Jan Egeland, Ylvis has done a short biography.

23 Dick the Butcher December 27, 2017 at 2:43 pm

I think you mean “post-modern” culture.

Quoting Jesus (Matthew 16) to Simon bar-Jonah, “Who do you say that I am?”


24 clockwork_prior December 27, 2017 at 2:57 pm

So, here is a quote from the sunken cost article – ‘a supersonic passenger jet despite knowing that it would never succeed commercially (as it did not by its last flight in 2003)’

BA made a profit flying the Concorde – ‘For most of Concorde’s service with BA at least, they were highly profitable, and yes they did pay for the aircraft, some 30% more expensive than a 747 at the time they were built.

BA have been private for 16 years, they would not have operated Concorde if it had not been profitable.

And when some Concorde services afterwards became unprofitable, like the IAD services in the early 1990’s, they were dropped, so forget any ideas about it being all about prestige.

In fact, the process of privatisation was the making of BA Concorde, an operating subsidy which was all about the incompetent BA management of the 1970’s covering their backsides, was rescinded in 1983-4, as part of this BA had to pay 80% of any Concorde profit to the government.
So BA took the plunge, paying a hefty fee to get out of that, as well as buying up much of the spares stock, the simulator and the 1st UK production aircraft as a spares source.

After that, BA were free to operate the aircraft as they wished, and keep all the profits, the highly profitable BGI service and an extensive charter programme were the results, as well as returning a stored aircraft to flight and doing the first of several major cabin upgrades.’


25 anonymous December 27, 2017 at 7:27 pm

That link doesn’t tell you if they were profitable for the British/French governments that developed them. It does tell you they were not profitable for BA/AF/Airbus


26 wiki December 27, 2017 at 12:52 pm

Klein was too kind to the actors. Bland and uninteresting they were, the new ones. Yes.

Aside from that we are in total crapola pulp land of the worst kind. There is no logic to the constraints. They hold until the plot jettisons them.

As people used to say in the Golden Age of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Fantasy works best by assuming away some physical laws but then replaces them with magical laws, preferably, just one. Then it too must rigorously adhere to its new rules. For Star Wars now, it’s always Disney ex Machina or Abrams.


27 aMichael December 27, 2017 at 1:08 pm

I agree that non-constraints are a problem, but were there really constraints on the force in the original Star Wars? With each movie, we saw more and more what could be done with it. The force ghosts are a problem from the get go since it’s unclear why force ghosts aren’t just popping up everywhere to guide the good guys along. This trend of allowing the force to do more and more is also present in the prequels (Jedi’s leaping 100’s of feet, Yoda’s constant spinning in light sabre duels, Darth Sidious sensing something is wrong with Darth Vader though the latter is very far away on a planet on the outer rim). And then there are the “canon” tv shows. Don’t get me started on Darth Maul surviving being cut in half. Oh boy. The force.

The Last Jedi doesn’t do anything with the force that hasn’t already happened in the movies and tv shows to some degree. And Luke’s astral projection does have constraints — he dies after doing it, so maybe that’s why it’s rarely been done before. I’m also bothered by people who are bothered by Lea using the force. It’s been 30 years since the last movie and 10 years at most since Luke went into exile. That’s 20 years that she had the opportunity to learn a bit about the force from her brother or the thousands of force ghosts that must be out there. If there’s ever a place where a basic force pull could easily move a person, it’s in gravity free space!!! And don’t get me started on the stories of how people in an emergency and a rush of adrenaline are suddenly able to lift up cars.

So, yeah, the force is the energy the binds the whole universe, so it seems like it can do whatever it damn well pleases and that’s just the way it is and always has been.


28 aMichael December 27, 2017 at 1:20 pm

Tyler, I forgot to post a spoiler warning on this comment that I’m replying to about the Last Jedi. Can you please delete it!!!


29 msgkings December 27, 2017 at 1:22 pm

People can do what they want, but to me it’s a mistake to look at Star Wars through a rigorous ‘hard’ sci-fi lens. It never was, it was always a fantasy ‘magic’ story set in space. Knights with light sabers instead of lances, and anthropomorphic aliens and robots with emotions. We Gen Xers saw it as kids and loved it, and now as adults some of us are disappointed it doesn’t make sense as a serious ‘adult’ series. It’s not. I still like it, even though it’s full of plot holes and always has been.


30 wiki December 27, 2017 at 1:31 pm

They can’t have it both ways. They keep making stuff up while trying to give it a somewhat darker and more adult feel. Going from the Republic serial type story of the first three films and then switching to the new JJ Abrams look has led to a mishmash. I was certainly both bored and not entertained by this new one as it just seemed they made it up as they went along.
I just keep repeating: Lucas died after making three movies and it’s a shame no prequels ever were released.


31 msgkings December 27, 2017 at 1:36 pm

That’s certainly one way to handle it. But I have kids now so I enjoy these films on their level still. It’s not really that much darker than Empire Strikes Back anyway.

32 aMichael December 27, 2017 at 3:26 pm



33 aMichael December 27, 2017 at 1:19 pm

Tyler, I forgot to post a spoiler warning on my comment above about the Last Jedi. Can you please delete it!!!


34 Mark Thorson December 27, 2017 at 1:32 pm

Too late, too late. You ruined it for me, you bastard!


35 Zzbot December 27, 2017 at 2:46 pm

You didn’t know Luke dies and Lea uses the Force to do a basic pull in gravity free space? How nice you have internet at your cave.


36 Judah Benjamin Hur December 28, 2017 at 7:22 am

@Mark Thorson

+1 Hilarious.


37 aMichael December 27, 2017 at 12:54 pm

#4. Uh-oh… Dan Klein is a Star Wars dogmatist (i.e., has strong priors on what the force can and can’t do as if it’s a law of physics) who forgets that it’s a franchise that has always been targeted at a broad audience and selling toys, which means humor, cute aliens and robots, and dismembering.

(Not sure why movies targeted at a broad audience need dismembering, but George Lucas sure thinks they do… Maybe it’s a way to make both “adults” and kids happy with the movie. The stuff aimed at “adults”, like dismembering, helps the “adults” get over the stuff aimed at kids, like cute aliens, slapstick, and robot comedian duos. It allows the “adults” to enjoy the kid stuff and tell themselves that it’s not really for kids because… dismembering.)


38 msgkings December 27, 2017 at 1:24 pm

Agree 100%, but kid stuff has plenty of dismembering, even back to Peter Pan (Captain Hook’s hand) and before.


39 clockwork_prior December 27, 2017 at 1:00 pm

Please, don’t replace the excellent Kevin Lewis with Gwern. For example, could anyone ever think of another reason to explain this? – ‘But now my mailman is a younger middle-aged woman. That seems like a good reason for a shift in delivery times (perhaps she drives faster).’ Here are three in about 30 seconds – perhaps the routes were redone, perhaps she does drives the route differently than the older mailman, or possibly she is less attentive in terms of carefully putting the mail into slots/boxes. Oddly, a reason that Gwern himself could have pointed out is that the old mailman was potentially more attentive to his postal customers, thus slowing him down.

created: 27 December 2017; modified: 27 Dec 2017; status: finished; confidence: boundless; importance: clearly 11 on a scale of 10


40 Massimo December 27, 2017 at 1:03 pm

I have a favour to ask to the community. I am looking for figures to compare the gdp per capita in the Holy Roman Empire (or some of its components) vs the GDP per capita in England, France or any other European state or city-state. Could be before or after Westphalia. I did not find anything concrete. Any suggestion? Sorry for bother and thanks in advance.


41 uair01 December 27, 2017 at 1:06 pm

If you want to binge on leftist literature then Verso Book has its yearly 90% off sale. It’s worth a browse even though I have mixed experiences. Approximately 1 in 3 books I buy during these sales is really good. The rest stay unread after a few pages. And to balance that out … Biteback Publishing has 50% off. I bought only 4 books from them but all were good.


42 Anon. December 27, 2017 at 1:19 pm

I recommend the works of Giovanni Arrighi from Verso.


43 uair01 December 27, 2017 at 1:47 pm

I’ll have a look at Arrighi, his titles sound interesting. … I succumbed to my book addiction while posting this and I bought four books. We’ll see if this was good impulse buying. From leftist Verso: and From rightist BiteBack: and


44 Donald Pretari December 27, 2017 at 2:52 pm

Thanks for pointing that sale out. I’m going to feast on the 90% off ebooks. Verso books are very high quality, including a few classics from my teacher Paul Feyerabend.


45 Thor December 28, 2017 at 3:59 am

No they are not high quality. Only a small percentage are worth reading, among them Feyerabend’s, as — wrong though he might be, he is worth reading.


46 Mc December 27, 2017 at 1:25 pm

a frog blinks, a day passes, a time is again this year


47 Mc December 27, 2017 at 1:27 pm

what went down here, even if a quasar is going to evaporate that someday, is magical


48 Mc December 27, 2017 at 1:37 pm

singing the big songs, late night, on the am radio — up to your ear in bed, communicating thru the airwaves, the enlightenment, bottler trip, tuxedo


49 Mc December 27, 2017 at 1:39 pm
50 Brian Donohue December 27, 2017 at 1:39 pm

#5. Good list. Little by little… Here on the homefront, we are enjoying the lowest unemployment this century (4.1%) and the highest median real household income ever ($59,039 in 2016.)

Anecdotally, bellyaching continues to hit new highs daily.


51 Ray Lopez December 27, 2017 at 2:12 pm

@#5 – terrible list. For example, note the Gambian strongman only stepped down when ECOWAS (which did a number on Charles Taylor too) stepped in. And this: “The number of people living in extreme poverty, making $1.90 or less per day, continues its steady drop, falling from roughly 35 percent of the world’s population in 1990 to 8.4 percent in late 2017, according to the Vienna-based World Data Lab.” – is that inflation adjusted? If not, then the drop is roughly due to inflation. Even BD knows that nominal is not real. Right BD? Oh wait, money illusion for you!


52 Tom December 27, 2017 at 2:27 pm

Hi Ray, yes it’s inflation-adjusted. It was defined as 1$ a day in 1996. Your complaint is invalid.


53 Tom December 27, 2017 at 2:29 pm

In fact the World Bank went out of their way to recalculate it in 2015 to ensure that it reflected the same level of consumption that 1$ in 1996 and $1.25 in 2005 represented, I’m guessing because of the increase in food prices over that period.


54 Yoda Had One Job December 27, 2017 at 4:29 pm

Go back to bed. This is what happens when you comment at 4:00 AM.


55 Dick the Butcher December 27, 2017 at 2:47 pm

That plus every day we were treated to Dems/liberals wailing and gnashing their teeth.

I doubt 2018 can be any better.


56 Elite December 27, 2017 at 10:32 pm

Poor Dick. Such a snowflake.


57 Uribe December 27, 2017 at 1:43 pm

4. What is “the mentality of anti-excellence”?


58 clamence December 27, 2017 at 2:37 pm

If you comment on MR, you probably live it every day of your life.


59 msgkings December 27, 2017 at 2:54 pm



60 Mc December 27, 2017 at 2:02 pm
61 Adrian Ratnapala December 27, 2017 at 2:10 pm


Klein sees an anti-excellence theme, but I saw an authoritarian one, in which Mom (whose name is sometimes Luke) knows best, and has it all under control even if she won’t explain how. This is why the Canto Bight stuff had to go nowhere, and also why Finn had to be thwarted, those heroic plans were not handed down from upon high.

Now a little bit of that stuff is fine, as when Pilot Poe initially received a slap-down for his high-cost heroics. The problem is that he then never sets a foot right until he settles down an obeys. But real life we is not like that: we have to both respect and challenge the social order. And heroes in good stories find such a balance.

Nit 1: Rose is not inherently “anti-excellence”, she could easily be good old fashioned greatness-in-a-humble-package. But her development is stunted and peverted by the independent-action-is-bad ethic I describe above.

Nit 2: The Yoda appearance is fine. Jedism (especially as represented by Yoda) always looked a bit Buddhistic, and Buddhists are always pointing out the fact that stuff is impermanent, even if there is a larger continuity. Luke was pompusly pretending to understand this, but was crippled by silly emotional attachments. So Yoda arrived to mock him.


62 Doug December 27, 2017 at 3:22 pm

Poe was right all along. If he had not led the attack to destroy the dreadnought, the dreadnought would have immediately destroyed the entire resistance fleet with those giant cannons as soon as the First Order tracked the fleet through hyperspace, and the story would have been over in 15 minutes. Laura Dern’s plan after the jump was also objectively worse than Poe’s, even though his plan ultimately failed, because her plan allowed almost all of the people in the resistance fleet to be killed, and only led the few remaining survivors to a death trap. None of them would have survived at all if not for Rey showing up at the end and ferrying them away in the Falcon. Which, by the way, only “worked” because the First Order killed so many people on the un-shielded shuttles (which Poe didn’t want them to get into in the first place), that the number of remaining survivors was so low that they could all fit on one small ship. At least Poe’s plan gave the entire fleet a chance at survival. Laura Dern’s plan was guaranteed suicide from the get go.

I thought Yoda was great. It was a return to the wise but mischievous and unpredictable Yoda from Empire Strikes Back.

The moralizing was both heavy handed and silly and the casino scene was awful.

I’m also surprised that people seemed to view this as less of a rehash of the original trilogy than Force Awakens. The plot is basically a complete re imagining of Empire Strikes Back the same way that Force Awakens was a redo of New Hope. After the destruction of the death star, the rebels are on the run, the empire has tracked them down to a remote planet from which they narrowly escape annihilation by AT-ATs. The main hero goes to learn the ways of the Jedi from a retired master who is not what the hero expected. The main hero leaves said training to confront the evil force user, and learns a disturbing truth about his/her own parentage. Ultimately, the hero and the evil force user both live to fight in the next film. Meanwhile, a side group of heroes travel to a fantastic world (the cloud city/casino world) seeking help from a shady character who then betrays them to the empire. The only real difference is that Rey didn’t get her hand chopped off, and no one was captured to be rescued at the beginning of the third film. Which leads me to believe that the third film will start with someone being captured, so that the obligatory rescue mission can place before the final assault to wipe out the First Order and redeem Kylo Ren.

Overall though, I liked it. The visuals are amazing, and bring back the star wars feel that the prequels were missing. The chemistry between Rey and Kylo was really good, and the plotline with Luke was OK. But the whole side story with Finn and Rose, and Laura Dern’s stupid “plan” were both pretty bad.


63 Adrian Ratnapala December 28, 2017 at 5:11 am

By “Poe was right all along”, I assume you mean that it is your interpretation of the events shown. But it it certainly not was message which the writers sent to the audience. But now that you explain it I agree with most of your interpretation.

The exception proves the rule: the high losses on the shuttles were supposedly Poe’s fault, because their existence wsa leaked as a result of his plan. But this relies on a big helping of movie BS: the First Order apparently has the technology to do “cloaking scans”, but only bothers to do them when Poe’s traitor points it out.


64 jack December 27, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Re 3, Nice that the New Yorker review of Davis’s book on WW2 points out that Davis’s opinion pieces in the National Review on immigration are “tiresome” — would hate to have to read a single review in the New Yorker or NYT that did not contain some irrelevant virtue signaling.


65 Adrian Ratnapala December 27, 2017 at 9:10 pm

The internet edition of Victor Davis Hanson is often vituperative conservative tub-thumper. Sometimes I find him tiresome too, even though I am closer to his politics.


66 Roger Sweeny January 4, 2018 at 12:52 pm

He’s actually doing Hanson (and his book) a favor. Otherwise, people will comment, “You neglected to mention he’s an awful conservative who writes for National Review. Therefore, the book is not worth reading and your positive review is garbage.”


67 Roger Sweeny January 4, 2018 at 12:55 pm

The virtue signalling is a way of saying, “I know his politics are awful and he’s not on our team, but the book is worth reading.”


68 Paul December 27, 2017 at 2:42 pm

4. Sorry. The whole movie is wretched. It’s a mash-up of bits from the earlier ones with no logic, no meaningful constraints on what’s possible or not at any given moment, the Kylo character is random, and nothing original. No coherent universe any more. Snoke came from nowhere and meant nothing.

I think out of nostalgia reviewers are straining to find a logic for this mush.


69 Doug December 27, 2017 at 4:11 pm

I agree about the lack of logic and constraints, but I thought Kylo’s character was pretty good in this one. I also somewhat like the fact that Snoke was left a mystery. At the end of Jedi what did we really know about Palpatine? About as much as we know about Snoke, if not less.


70 Potato December 27, 2017 at 4:47 pm

You cannot start the hero’s journey at the end.

And there has to be some flaw to overcome. And there needs to be a question of whether the hero can overcome her flaw or if she fails.

Rey is already the most powerful Jedi in the universe, she already beat Kylo once and saved his ass in a fight against…red storm troopers?

The main antogonists are a suffering emo manchild hipster who has literally never won a lightsaber fight and a Charlie Chaplin Hitlerian buffoon.

Imagine the original trilogy with Darth Vader crying and kvetching and the Admiral being an unserious child.

I think the movies were overrated to begin with but had a cool internally consistent universe.

That’s gone. I’ll forgive Disney if they make a Revan trilogy for the adults.

Rogue One was good. So it’s not impossible.


71 Doug December 27, 2017 at 7:55 pm

What flaw did Luke overcome? The very first time he got in a fighter he destroyed the most powerful battle station ever constructed.


72 Potato December 28, 2017 at 4:46 pm

Did you skip ESB?

His intransigence causes him to lose a hand, Han, Chewy…

Empire Strikes Back is the part of the hero’s journey where the hero faces setbacks as a result of his/her flaw. Rey has no flaws and thus has no journey. She is perfect from stage one, defeats Darth Vader in the first movie and bests him in the second.

73 Rimbaud December 27, 2017 at 3:39 pm

4. He refers to episodes 7 and 8 as 12 and 13, respectively.


74 Daniel Klein December 28, 2017 at 2:17 am

Fixed (Aarphhh!!). Thank you.


75 Allan December 27, 2017 at 4:48 pm

#4 Why are the Kochs ghost writing Star Wars reviews? And have Barney, the Dinossaur, raped that guy? Why all the hatred? And, yeah, the second trilogy political aspects were so well-handed (sarcasm sign).


76 Transnational Pants Machine December 27, 2017 at 5:34 pm

You know, if the Kochs are STILL your bogeymen, you should go back to your Get Smart DVDs and let the grown-ups talk.


77 Tenhofaca December 27, 2017 at 7:10 pm

The Hymie episodes will enthrall him.


78 middyfeek December 27, 2017 at 5:23 pm

Rothman finds Hanson’s political writings “tiresome”. Of course. He wouldn’t be writing for the New Yorker otherwise.

He doesn’t make clear that the Allies had war thrust upon them. They bent over backwards to appease Hitler until they finally had to recognize that he wouldn’t be appeased. Hitler had his own problems. He was an economic illiterate. Speer (and perhaps Schact) made clear to him that without autarky Germany could not maintain the status quo (after the fall of France).

Since he couldn’t invade Britain he invaded Russia. Within six months it became clear that he (and his generals) had badly underestimated Russian strength. From that point on, even though the war lasted another three and a half years, it was just a matter of time.


79 Al December 27, 2017 at 5:47 pm

#2 was very good. Excellent throughout.


80 Joël December 27, 2017 at 7:44 pm

#3 was a very good review, and I definitely will read the book. Of course, the premise that the axis forces could not in any possible world win against USSR, UK and the US combined is not original: it is, I think, the official view now, and it was even clear to people with a good mind and a knowledge of military matters at the beginning of the war, like Churchill and de Gaulle. But trying to justify this intuitive evaluation by precise statistics and analysis, as the book does, seems quite original.

It may also shed some light on some questions of alternative history that I find intriguing. For example, could the axis have won against the UK and USSR alone, with the US staying neutral? Imagine for instance (neglecting diplomatic realism) that Japan, in 1941, instead of preparing Pearl Harbor, attacks USSR at Vladivostok with its navy and airfare, and begins invading south-eastern Siberia with its ground forces from Manchuria. Could this have been enough for the axis to win over USSR, assuming the US stay out?
One could imagine that Stalin would have to divert some precious resources fighting against the Germans (and Italians, Hungarians, etc.) to stop the invasion from the East. Or perhaps not, perhaps just the immensity of Siberia would have been a strong enough defense, and leaving Vladivostok to the Japanese something of no big importance? Or on the contrary, could the Japanese have progressed quickly in empty Siberia and become a vital threat against the Russian war industry in the Ural? I really do not know. Perhaps this book can bring some answers to this kind of question that are more informed than the ones we get by just lazy imagination.


81 Peter Akuleyev December 27, 2017 at 8:43 pm

But trying to justify this intuitive evaluation by precise statistics and analysis, as the book does, seems quite original

It isn’t. Tooze made all the same points a decade ago in detail in Wages of Destruction. Hanson is making a similar argument from a military historian perspective rather than an economist’s.


82 ChrisA December 28, 2017 at 5:42 am

My guess is Siberia is just too big and there is really only one transport route, the railway, which would have been easy to sabotage. There is little oil in Eastern Siberia (at least with the technology of those days) and the Japanese were really just after the oil.

The most realistic alternative to WW2 playing out like it did would have been more support by the Germans to the North Africa campaign with the goal of winning the Mid East. If the Germans had put the same resources into that campaign instead of invading the USSR they probably would have won against the British fairly easily. Then with the Mid East in the bag and probably the Turks on board, a Black Sea based invasion of the USSR oil fields in Azerbaijan would have been possible. Once the USSR lost its energy supplies a full scale invasion would begin.


83 Transnational Pants Machine December 27, 2017 at 10:38 pm

PSA for all the Dems out there who are desperate to say that the USA is heading down the toilet, but are tired of looking like idiots for screaming about something that CNN reported the other day, but it turned out to be false for the 224th time in a row (hello, EPA banned words!!):

The very existence of #1 — the mail part — is pretty good ammo for you. Although you can’t point it at Trump, so you’ll probably ignore it.


84 clockwork_prior December 28, 2017 at 2:13 am

‘hello, EPA banned words’

Or the CDC, for those who don’t care about CNN in the least.


85 Judah Benjamin Hur December 28, 2017 at 7:36 am

#4 is spot on (far better than our gracious host’s review).

Like most people, I enjoy serial fiction, but it usually ends up running around in circles (or worse). The original Star Wars was one of the most enjoyable films ever crafted. It was a complete (if simplistic) story without need for any sequels (or prequels). We were fortunate to get another masterpiece with Empire (with a brilliant score by John Williams). We probably would have been better off ending there, but instead we get decades of playing Charlie Brown trying to kick the football.


86 Ali Choudhury December 28, 2017 at 10:28 am

#4 – The thing for me that beggars belief is that after 35 odd years of Republic government their military leadership could fit into a minivan and have seats left over. Disney just want to use lazy default of heroic rebels vs tyrannical empire out of fear of offending old fans.


87 mosha December 29, 2017 at 3:05 pm

After the house passed the corporate tax cuts a bunch of corporations committed to giving bonuses to their workers. I’m surprised MR hasn’t talked about this because it is a nice real illustration of how corporate tax is distributed. Though, I guess Tyler can’t write positive stories about Trump because his friends will stop inviting him to dinner parties. monkaS


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