Saturday, August 27, 2022


Agatha Bas by Rembrandt, 1641

When a friend became a shadow,
And a friend walked around the house to sleep,
Death seemed to be near
Give them both the fig.

But one among creations
I lived like people — among the houses,
He carried a poem in his hands,
Like in a parade — the enemy flag.

The longer he carried the tree of poem,
The more often the shadow talked to him
That the world is like a stone,
As ancient as it is, it is indestructible.

~ Nina Kossman


IN MEMORY OF DEAN YOUNG (some favorite lines)

Is reality just a failure of the imagination?
That’s not what the dandelion thinks
Breaking through the asphalt.

from a love poem:

Every question, conversation
even with almost nothing, cricket, cloud,
because of you I’m talking to crickets, clouds,
confiding in a cat. Everyone says
Come to your senses, and I do, of you.
Every touch electric, every taste you,
every smell, even burning sugar, every
cry and laugh. Toothpicked samples
at the farmer’s market, every melon,
plum, I come undone, undone.

and from another love poem, Changing Genres

I was satisfied with haiku until I met you,

jar of octopus, cuckoo’s cry, 5-7-5,

but now I want a Russian novel,

a 50-page description of you sleeping,

another 75 of what you think 
staring out 
a window.

The final lines of his last manuscript:

Ecstasy is willingness.
I dare you to find a river any other way.
I dare you to breathe.
Some cries never reach us
Even though they’re our own.
The best endings are abrupt.

Here is an excerpt from a poem (Scarecrow on Fire) in which he alludes to his heart condition:

Once you get close enough, you see what
one is stitching is a human heart. Another
is vomiting wings. Hell, even now I love life.
Whenever you put your feet on the floor
in the morning, whatever the nightmare,
It’s a miracle or fantastic illusion:
the solidity of the boards, the steadiness
coming into the legs. Where did we get
the idea when we were kids to rub dirt
into the wound or was that just in Pennsylvania?
Maybe the poems are made of breath, the way water,
cajoled to boil, says, This is my soul, freed.


“All of writing is a huge lake. There are great rivers that feed the lake, like Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky. And then there are mere trickles, like Jean Rhys. All that matters is feeding the lake. I don't matter. The lake matters. You must keep feeding the lake.” ~ Jean Rhys

Jean Rhys is the author of Wide Sargasso Sea, a prequel to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre

Misha Iossel shared: “A monument to the Ukrainian national poet Taras Shevchenko damaged by Russian army in Borodyanka, Kyiv region.

This photo encapsulates the very nature of Russian army's barbarian and a priori failed, suicidal mission in Ukraine: to kill Ukrainian culture, to eradicate its national selfhood.”

“Every time I hear a political speech or I read those of our leaders, I am horrified at having, for years, heard nothing which sounded human. It is always the same words telling the same lies. And the fact that men accept this, that the people’s anger has not destroyed these hollow clowns, strikes me as proof that men attribute no importance to the way they are governed; that they gamble – yes, gamble – with a whole part of their life and their so called 'vital interests’.” ~ Albert Camus, Notebooks 1935-1942


~ Karl Marx died on 14 March 1883. At the funeral three days later, Friedrich Engels wasted little time on their 40-year friendship, focusing instead on Marx’s legacy. ‘Just as Darwin discovered the law of development of organic nature,’ Engels said, ‘so Marx discovered the law of development of human history.’ His friend had died ‘beloved, revered and mourned by millions of revolutionary fellow-workers – from the mines of Siberia to California, in all parts of Europe and America … His name will endure through the ages, and so will his work!’

Engels made sure of this. In the following years, he devoted himself to organizing and publishing Marx’s ideas. From a mélange of fragments and revisions, he produced the second and third volumes of Das Kapital, in 1885 and 1894 respectively. He meant to publish a fourth but died before he got to it. (It was later published as Theories of Surplus Value.) Still, the most peculiar project born from Marx’s notes was released a year after his death. Engels titled it The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. I’ll call it The Origin, for short.

The Origin is like Yuval Noah Harari’s blockbuster Sapiens (2014) but written by a 19th-century socialist: a sweeping take on the dawn of property, patriarchy, monogamy and materialism. Like many of its contemporaries, it arranged societies on an evolutionary ladder from savagery to barbarism to civilization. Although wrong in most ways, The Origin was described by a recent historian as ‘among the more important and politically applicable texts in the Marxist canon’, shaping everything from feminist ideology to the divorce policies of Maoist China.

Of the text’s legacies, the most popular is primitive communism. The idea goes like this. Once upon a time, private property was unknown. Food went to those in need. Everyone was cared for. Then agriculture arose and, with it, ownership over land, labour and wild resources. The organic community splintered under the weight of competition.

The story predates Marx and Engels. The patron saint of capitalism, Adam Smith, proposed something similar, as did the 19th-century American anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan. Even ancient Buddhist texts described a pre-state society free of property. But The Origin is the idea’s most important codification. It argued for primitive communism, circulated it widely, and welded it to Marxist principles.

Today, many writers and academics still treat primitive communism as a historical fact. To take an influential example, the economists Samuel Bowles and Jung-Kyoo Choi have argued for 20 years that property rights coevolved with farming. For them, the question is less whether private property predated farming, but rather why it appeared at that time. In 2017, an article in The Atlantic covering their work asserted plainly: ‘For most of human history, there was no such thing as private property.’ A leading anthropology textbook captures the supposed consensus when it states: ‘The concept of private property is far from universal and tends to occur only in complex societies with social inequality.’

Historical narratives matter. In his bestseller Humankind (2019), Rutger Bregman took the fact that ‘our ancestors had scarcely any notion of private property’ as evidence of fundamental human goodness. In Civilized to Death (2019), Christopher Ryan wrote that pre-agricultural societies were defined by ‘obligatory sharing of minimal property, open access to the necessities of life, and a sense of gratitude toward an environment that provided what was needed.’ As a result, he concluded: The future I imagine (on a good day) looks a lot like the world inhabited by our ancestors…


Primitive communism is appealing. It endorses an Edenic image of humanity, one in which modernity has corrupted our natural goodness. But this is precisely why we should question it. If a century and a half of research on humanity has taught us anything, it is to be skeptical of the seductive. From race science to the noble savage, the history of anthropology is cluttered with the corpses of convenient stories, of narratives that misrepresent human diversity to advance ideological aims. Is primitive communism any different?

According to the Aché, former hunter-gatherers living in Paraguay, they first met Kim Hill when he was a child. They adopted him, raised him, and taught him their language. Hill, however, remembers their first encounter differently. It was Christmas of 1977. He was 24 years old. He had persuaded the Peace Corps to fly him out to a Catholic mission with newly contacted hunter-gatherers. A priest welcomed Hill, but ‘he had a lot of duties across the border in Brazil,’ Hill told me. ‘So he drove me into the mission, dropped me off, and said “Here’s the keys to my house.”’ Then the priest left for two weeks. Thus began ‘the most exciting, fun adventure I could imagine’.

The Aché that Hill first met had recently been contacted and settled at the mission. They didn’t know how to farm, so they regularly packed up and headed to the forest, sometimes for weeks at a time. The priest warned Hill not to join them. ‘He said: “You don’t have enough skills – it’s really rough – they’re going to walk really far – you won’t be able to eat the food” – blah blah blah.’ So, ‘of course, the first thing I did was ignore his advice completely.’

The first trip was tough. The Aché didn’t have clothes, so Hill went barefoot and wore nothing but gym shorts. The forest shredded his feet. Vines and spiny plants lacerated his legs. He later wrote in his diary: ‘I have seen my blood every single day for the past month.’ At night, the Aché slept on the ground. Struggling to keep warm, children crawled on Hill, making it hard to catch more than 10 minutes of sleep. He enjoyed hunted meat, but he was less prepared for the hundreds of fat palm larvae sitting between him and starvation.

It was on that first trip that Hill saw the Aché share their meat. A man returning from a hunt dropped an animal in the middle of camp. Another person, the butcher, prepared piles for each family. A third person distributed. ‘At the time, it seemed kind of logical to me,’ Hill said. The scene reminded him of a family barbecue where everyone gets a plate.

Yet the more he lived among the Aché, the more astonishing food-sharing seemed. Men were forbidden from eating meat they’d acquired. Their wives and children received no more than anyone else. When he later built detailed genealogies, he discovered that, contrary to his expectations, bandmates were often unrelated. Most importantly, food-sharing didn’t just happen on special days. It was a daily occurrence, a psychological and economic centerpiece of Aché society.

What he started to see, in other words, was ‘almost pure economic communalism – and I really didn’t think that was possible.’

Hill’s first trip to Paraguay got him hooked on anthropology. After the Peace Corps, he returned to the United States and wrote a PhD thesis on Aché foraging. Now, four decades later, he is professor of anthropology at Arizona State University and renowned for his work on hunter-gatherers and remote peoples. According to his CV, he has spent 190 months – nearly 16 years – conducting fieldwork.

Not all of that has been with the Aché. In 1985, he started working with another group, the Hiwi of Venezuela. He didn’t expect dramatic differences from the Aché. The Hiwi, too, were hunter-gatherers. The Hiwi, too, lived in lowland South America. Yet Hiwi society felt like a new world. 

The Aché lived in mobile bands of 20 to 30 people. The Hiwi lived in villages of more than 100 people for most of the year. The Aché neither did drugs nor danced. The Hiwi snorted hallucinogens and had tribal dances near-daily. The Aché spent most of each day strenuously getting food. The Hiwi foraged for barely a couple hours, preferring to relax in hammocks. The Aché divorced constantly. The Hiwi, virtually never.

Then, there was food-sharing. In the primitive communism of the Aché, hunters had little control over distributions: they couldn’t favor their families, and food flowed according to need. None of these applied to the Hiwi. When meat came into a Hiwi village, the hunter’s family kept a larger batch for themselves, distributing shares to a measly three of 36 other families. In other words, as Hill and his colleagues wrote in 2000 in the journal Human Ecology, ‘most Hiwi families receive nothing when a food resource is brought into the village.’

Hiwi sharing tells us something important about primitive communism: hunter-gatherers are diverse. Most have been less communistic than the Aché. When we survey forager societies, for instance, we find that hunters in many communities enjoyed special rights. They kept trophies. They consumed organs and marrow before sharing. They received the tastiest parts and exclusive rights to a killed animal’s offspring.

The most important privilege hunters enjoyed was selecting who gets meat. Selective sharing is powerful. It extends a bond between giver and recipient that the giver can pull on when they are in need. Refusing to share, meanwhile, is a rejection of friendship, an expression of ill will. When the anthropologist Richard Lee lived among the Kalahari !Kung, he noticed that a hunter named N!eisi once ignored his sister’s husband while passing out warthog meat. When asked why, N!eisi replied harshly: ‘This one I want to eat with my friends.’ N!eisi’s brother-in-law took the hint and, three days later, left camp with his wives and children. By exercising control over distributions, hunters convert meat into relationships.

To own something, we say, means excluding others from enjoying its benefits. I own an apple when I can eat it and you cannot. You own a toothbrush when you can use it and I cannot. Hunters’ special privileges shifted property rights along a continuum from fully public to fully private. The more benefits they could monopolize – from trophies to organs to social capital – the more they could be said to own their meat.

Compared with the Aché, many mobile, band-living foragers lay closer to the private end of the property continuum. Agta hunters in the Philippines set aside meat to trade with farmers. Meat brought in by a solitary Efe hunter in Central Africa was ‘entirely his to allocate’. And among the Sirionó, an Amazonian people who speak a language closely related to the Aché, people could do little about food-hoarding ‘except to go out and look for their own’. Aché sharing might embody primitive communism. Yet, Hill admits, ‘the Aché are probably the extreme case.’

Hunters’ privileges are inconvenient for narratives about primitive communism. More damning, however, is a starker, simpler fact. All hunter-gatherers had private property, even the Aché.

Individual Aché owned bows, arrows, axes and cooking implements. Women owned the fruit they collected. Even meat became private property as it was handed out. Hill explained: ‘If I set my armadillo leg on [a fern leaf] and went out for a minute to take a pee in the forest and came back and somebody took it? Yeah, that was stealing.’

Some proponents of primitive communism concede that foragers owned small trinkets but insist they didn’t own wild resources. But this too is mistaken. Shoshone families owned eagle nests. Bearlake Athabaskans owned beaver dens and fishing sites. Especially common is the ownership of trees. When an Andaman Islander man stumbled upon a tree suitable for making canoes, he told his group mates about it. From then, it was his and his alone. Similar rules existed among the Deg Hit’an of Alaska, the Northern Paiute of the Great Basin, and the Enlhet of the arid Paraguayan plains. In fact, by one economist ’s estimate, more than 70 per cent of hunter-gatherer societies recognized private ownership over land or trees.

The respect for property rights is clearest when someone violates them. To appreciate this, consider the Mbuti, one of the short-statured (‘pygmy’) hunter-gatherers of Central Africa.

Much of what we know about Mbuti society comes from Colin Turnbull, a British-American anthropologist who stayed with them in the late 1950s. Turnbull was kind, strong and courageous. From 1959 until his death, he lived in an openly gay, interracial relationship, eventually resigning from the American Museum of Natural History under charges of discrimination against him and his partner. He spent his later years campaigning for death row inmates and, upon his death, donated his entire estate and savings to the United Negro College Fund. ‘Throughout his life,’ wrote a biographer, ‘Turnbull was motivated by a deep-seated wish to find goodness, beauty and power in the oppressed or ridiculed and, by making those qualities known to the world, reveal the evils of Western civilization.’

For some, these motivations clouded Turnbull’s descriptions of the Mbuti. He has been criticized for painting an ‘idealized picture’ of the Mbuti as ‘simple and childlike creatures’ living ‘a romantic and harmonious life in the bountiful rain forest.’ Yet, even if he did idealize, his writings still undermine claims of primitive communism. He described a society in which theft was prohibited, and where even the most desperate members suffered for violating property rights.

Take, for instance, Pepei, a Mbuti man who in 1958 was 19 years old and still unmarried. Unlike most bachelors, who slept next to the fire, Pepei lived in a hut with his younger brother. But instead of collecting building materials, he swiped them. He snuck around at night, plucking a leaf from this hut and a sapling from that. He also filched food. He was an orphan after all, and a bachelor, so he had few people to help him prepare meals. When food mysteriously disappeared, Pepei always claimed to have seen a dog snatch it.

‘Nobody really minded Pepei’s stealing,’ wrote Turnbull, ‘because he was a born comic and a great storyteller. But he had gone too far in stealing from old Sau.’

Old Sau was a skinny, feisty widow. She lived a couple of huts down from Pepei, and one night caught him skulking around in her hut. As he lifted the lid of a pot, she smacked him with a pestle, grabbed his arm, twisted it behind his back, and shoved him into the open.

Justice was brutal. Men ran out and held Pepei, while youths broke off thorny branches and thrashed him. Eventually Pepei broke away and ran into the forest crying. After 24 hours, he returned to camp and went straight to his hut unseen. ‘His hut was between mine and Sau’s,’ wrote Turnbull, ‘and I heard him come in, and I heard him crying softly because even his brother wouldn’t speak to him.’

Other foragers punished stealing, too. The Ute of Colorado whipped thieves. The Ainu of Japan sliced their earlobes off. For the Yaghan of Tierra del Fuego, accusing someone of robbery was a ‘deadly insult’. Lorna Marshall, who spent years living with the Kalahari !Kung, reported that a man was once killed for taking honey. Through violence towards offenders, foragers reified private property.

Is primitive communism another seductive but incorrect anthropological myth? On the one hand, no hunter-gatherer society lacked private property. And although they all shared food, most balanced sharing with special rights. On the other hand, living in a society like the Aché’s was a masterclass in reallocation. It’s hard to imagine farmers engaging in need-based redistribution on that scale.

Whatever we call it, the sharing economy that Hill observed with the Aché does not reflect some lost Edenic goodness. Rather, it sprang from a simpler source: interdependence. Aché families relied on each other for survival. We share with you today so that you can share with us next week, or when we get sick, or when we are pregnant. Hill once saw a man fall from a tree and break his hip. ‘He couldn’t walk for three months, and in those three months, he produced zero food,’ Hill said. ‘And you would think that he would have starved to death and his family would have starved to death. But, of course, nothing happened like that, because everybody provisioned him the whole time.’

This is partly about reciprocity. But it’s also about something deeper. When people are locked in networks of interdependence, they become invested in each other’s welfare. If I rely on three other families to keep me alive and get me food when I cannot, then not only do I want to maintain bonds with them – I also want them to be healthy and strong and capable.

Interdependence might seem enviable. Yet it begets a cruelty often overlooked in talk about primitive communism. When a person goes from a lifeline to a long-term burden, reasons to keep them alive can vanish. In their book Aché Life History (1996), Hill and the anthropologist Ana Magdalena Hurtado listed many Aché people who were killed, abandoned or buried alive: widows, sick people, a blind woman, an infant born too soon, a boy with a paralyzed hand, a child who was ‘funny looking’, a girl with bad hemorrhoids. Such opportunism suffuses all social interactions. But it is acute for foragers living at the edge of subsistence, for whom cooperation is essential and wasted efforts can be fatal.

Consider, for example, how the Aché treated orphans. ‘We really hate orphans,’ said an Aché person in 1978. Another Aché person was recorded after seeing jaguar tracks: “Don’t cry now. Are you crying because you want your mother to die? Do you want to be buried with your dead mother? Do you want to be thrown in the grave with your mother and stepped on until your excrement comes out? Your mother is going to die if you keep crying. When you are an orphan nobody will ever take care of you again.”

The Aché had among the highest infanticide and child homicide rates ever reported. Of children born in the forest, 14 per cent of boys and 23 per cent of girls were killed before the age of 10, nearly all of them orphans. An infant who lost their mother during the first year of life was always killed.

(Since acculturation, many Aché have regretted killing children and infants. In Aché Life History, Hill and Hurtado reported an interview with a man who strangled a 13-year-old girl nearly 20 years earlier. He ‘asked for our forgiveness’, they wrote, ‘and acknowledged that he never should have carried out the task and simply “wasn’t thinking”.’)

Hunter-gatherers shared because they had to. They put food into their bandmates’ stomachs because their survival depended on it. But once that need dissipated, even friends could become disposable.

The popularity of the idea of primitive communism, especially in the face of contradictory evidence, tells us something important about why narratives succeed. Primitive communism may misrepresent forager societies. But it is simple, and it accords with widespread beliefs about the arc of human history. If we assume that societies went from small to big, or from egalitarian to despotic, then it makes sense that they transitioned from property-less harmony to selfish competition, too. Even if the facts of primitive communism are off, the story feels right.

More important than its simplicity and narrative resonance, however, is primitive communism’s political expediency. For anyone hoping to critique existing institutions, primitive communism conveniently casts modern society as a perversion of a more prosocial human nature. Yet this storytelling is counterproductive. By drawing a contrast between an angelic past and our greedy present, primitive communism blinds us to the true determinants of trust, freedom and equity. If we want to build better societies, the way forward is neither to live as hunter-gatherers nor to bang the drum of a make-believe state of nature. Rather, it is to work with humans as they are, warts and all. ~


The discussion of primitive communism was eye opening. One of the things it demonstrates is how apt we are to accept and believe in stories that "feel right." We are story makers and story tellers, always seeing a plot in any circumstance, passionate in our insistence that things make sense. The idea of a prehistoric golden age, an Eden, a state of natural grace, that we have fallen away from, into history and all the sins of civilization, is common to more than Marxism. What is most interesting is that the rules of communal sharing are not based in virtue, not coming from love and good will, but from the stringent reality of interdependence.

At first that sounds lovely, the web of interdependence connecting each to each other in the group. But this sharing is not altruistic, or empathetic; it is a necessary bargain, made to lessen the threat of starvation in communities living in a subsistence economy. This economy is unforgiving, and demands hard choices. Those who are or become only burdens pose a threat...and the solution is one we find too distasteful to accept. The solution is elimination, infanticide, murder, abandonment...those who would tax the system are removed before they can cause an irremedial imbalance, dangerous to all.

And the tribal culture can even codify such measures, so that they don't demand individual decisions. The tribe that "hates orphans" demands their removal, and that removal is not a crime, but an obligation. Not a crime, but a strategy for survival. This rubs some of the gilding off our idyll of prehistoric communal life.

I would speculate in tribal groups who live in environments rich enough they need only spend a few hours a day in hunting/gathering there will be much less infanticide and orphan killing. Not because these people are more moral, more altruistic, more empathetic, but because they have the edge, the luxury, the bounty, that makes such parings unnecessary. All our virtues are circumstantial, not essential.


~ General Thomas S. Power, Commander-in-Chief of Strategic Air Command placed SAC at DEFCON 2 on his own orders without informing JFK.

Then he send an uncoded messages to all his nuclear forces and told them to report their readiness condition in the clear so the Soviet listening posts would pick up these radio transmissions.

The Soviet learned in a matter of minutes the US had 2,613 bombers and tankers on alert and 224 ICBMs with ability to drop 3,382 Mt on the Soviet Union within 8 hours.

This is when the Soviets tossed in the towel as they realized they couldn’t win a nuclear war against this massive force. ~


Of course there would be no winners in case of a nuclear war. That was the basis of MAD — Mutual Assured Destruction. That’s what it took to prevent the dropping of another nuclear bomb (as an act of war, that is; the radiation released during testing was bad enough).

I do remember the crisis. That morning, my classmates just couldn’t sit down and be quiet. The class was buzzing with agitated voices. The teacher — I think it was the chemistry teacher, whom I particularly disliked — decided to “make an announcement.” With a fake wide smile, she said, “Comrade Khrushchev just saved the world peace.” One boy, the son of high party officials, said out loud, “Nevertheless, this was a defeat for the Soviet Union.”

And all fell silent. It was a magnificent silence — truth had been spoken. Unopposed. Sacred.

P.S. The deposition of Khrushchev that eventually followed caused another “buzz” in my classroom. In all Polish newspapers it was front-page news. Curious about the Russian coverage, after school I bought that day’s Pravda. Nothing. The front page carried some story about the harvest. That too deeply registered on me. It illustrated a saying I was familiar with: “The real Iron Curtain is between Poland and the Soviet Union.”

One joke of the times was the “Polish-German dog.” Each day the dog kept crossing the border into East Germany, and then back into Poland. Finally someone asked the dog, “Why do you go to Germany?” ~ “To eat, friend, to eat,” the dog replied. “And why do you go back to Poland?” ~ “To bark, friend, to bark.”


~ Daria Dugina, the daughter of Eurasianist philosopher and ideologue Alexander Dugin, died behind the wheel of a Toyota Land Cruiser on the evening of August 20. The vehicle exploded while in motion — the result of a bomb placed under the driver’s side of the car. Just two days later, Russia’s Federal Security Service accused the Ukrainian intelligence community of orchestrating the murder, pinning it on a Ukrainian national named Natalya Vovk (arguing that she deliberately targeted Dugina, not her father). Though the Zelensky administration has denied any involvement in the incident, many Russian politicians and pro-Kremlin media figures are calling it a Ukrainian terrorist attack and demanding retribution.

In the years before her death on Saturday, Daria Dugina became one of her father’s closest associates, fashioning herself as a popular “political expert” and pundit who criticized the West with every breath and welcomed the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Meduza recalls how Dugina transformed from a typical, curious philosophy student into an outspoken advocate for war and wild conspiracy theories.

Much of the reporting and commentary about Daria Dugina’s violent death on August 20 revolves around her father, Alexander Dugin — a philosopher whose`scholarly misadventures over the decades are well-documented and whose supposed influence over Kremlin decision-making is notoriously exaggerated in the West. Dugina’s own story is relatively obscure and far briefer, but she, too, was an intellectual force in Russia. Or she was shaping up to become one, at least.

Meduza spoke to multiple sources who studied with Dugina in the early 2010s at Moscow State University’s philosophy department, where she shined as one of the brightest, more talented students. In college, Dugina was fascinated with the Platonist school of thought, she played the flute, and she had her own “electronic music project” with a name inspired by Heidegger's work on existentialism. Several times, she plotted to run away from home. She won an academic scholarship to study at the Bordeaux Montaigne University in France from 2012 to 2013. People who knew Dugina at this time in her life point out that she was interested in many things, but not her father’s Eurasianist ideas.

And then something changed.

By the late 2010s, Dugina started appearing as a “political expert” in the mass media, commenting on foreign and then domestic events. She now embraced the philosophical and political theory of Eurasianism — namely, the idea that Russia is the core of a geopolitical entity that stands in opposition to Great Britain and the United States. Dugina talked about Europe as the “Rimland” between the Anglo-Saxons and Eurasia, and she championed a Russian-led empire to battle against “Atlanticism” for control of the continent.

For Dugina, the empire that would confront Western hegemony was also a “voluntary alliance” formed “for the collective defense of [its members’] sovereignty.” She used organic metaphors to explain the ties that will bind this union, arguing that Russians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians are all “branches of a tree with shared Eastern Slavic roots” (though she also acknowledged that Ukrainians increasingly reject this understanding). Dugina’s Eurasianist empire would need to accommodate the identities of its constituent peoples, including Russians. In other words, the project requires the articulation of a “new, clear, and ambitious formulation” of the idea of Russia itself.

Dugina wrote frequently about the “death of liberalism,” and she welcomed the end of France’s “Macron era” in 2017 and again in 2020. She described Marine Le Pen as the voice of the people, characterized French politics as “a real war,” and hoped that Donald Trump’s presidency in America would redirect Washington’s “all-seeing globalist eye” to East Asia and give Europe “a chance to gain its sovereignty and escape the U.S. diktat.”

Europeans would come to see Russia as an “island of freedom” and an “anti-totalitarian front” against “liberal dictatorship.” Dugina’s ideal Russia merged leftist economics (but not the “gender theories” or “queer satanism” of “leftist politics”) with right-wing conservativism. She reasoned that this marriage of ideas was natural in the Russian context, despite being irreconcilable in the West:

“Look at how the Russian people respond to socialism and how they accept it — almost like a religion, like a faith, and the USSR was a state like a religion, except the Soviet man, not God, was revered. Just look at all the mysticism in early Communism […].”


On February 24, 2022, hours after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Dugina wrote that she’d had a premonition the night before about Russians on the march: “I had in my head the slogan, ‘Let there be empire!’ and the empire had come true by the time I awoke.”

In June, Dugina visited Mariupol, now occupied by Russian troops. After inspecting the catacombs of the Azovstal iron and steel works (where Azov Regiment soldiers mounted their last stand while defending the city), she appeared on a YouTube show and called the factory “a great place for dark rituals.” Dugina also recognized the “fearlessness” of the Azov fighters, albeit in the most insulting way imaginable: “There was some element of Russianness found in them, but only some — they surrendered, after all,” she said.

Reporting from the Azovstal factory, Dugina also collaborated with Graham Phillips and Haukur Hauksson — two foreign bloggers whose dubious work the Russian state media sometimes cites and recirculates as authoritative Western journalism. U.S. fugitive and conspiracy theorist John Dougan — a former police officer who claims to have political asylum in Russia — later published the video report on YouTube, where it currently has almost 40,000 views.

In the Nutcall database, Daria Dugina’s phone number is listed as the press secretary’s contact for her father. Speaking at multiple events organized by the Eurasianist movement, Dugina was listed in promotional materials as “a political expert, philosopher, and mentor of the Eurasian Youth Union.” Just a few days before her death, she delivered a lecture on the “metaphysics of the frontier” at a Eurasianist summer conference in Sergiyev Posad, northeast of Moscow.

Dugina worked closely with the publishing house “Black Hundred” (named after the reactionary, monarchist, and ultra-nationalist movement in Russia in the early 20th century). Developing her ideas about the “frontier horizon” and channeling the inspiration she experienced while visiting “liberated” eastern Ukraine, she had planned to write an essay to be included in one of Black Hundred’s forthcoming books: “The Book of Z,” a collection of stories from combatants and eyewitnesses in the Ukraine war. “Philosophy is born where life and death coexist […]. For me, Novorossiya [a proposed confederation of Russia and Eastern Ukraine] is a space of philosophical meaning,” Dugina wrote after returning from Mariupol.

In her last “academic paper,” written for the ARMY-2022 international military exhibition, Dugina expounded on the “synergetic effect” of “information flows” in wartime and claimed that the executions by Russian soldiers of civilians in towns outside Kyiv were “staged” and then verified by “actors” posing as bystanders — all with the covert goal of influencing Western audiences and both radicalizing and terrorizing Ukrainians. Dugina also noted sinisterly that linguists have observed that the name of the town “Bucha” (where the first Russian atrocities were reported) resembles the English word “butcher.”

In her final interview, recorded just hours before she was killed, Dugina defended the invasion of Ukraine as “the last nail in the coffin of this global hegemon.” She also accused Bill Gates of using vaccines to shrink the population of Africa and warned against the West’s environmentalist agenda, its veganism, its freeganism, the battle for transgender rights, and the “conversion of people to homosexuality.”


In an interview last year, Daria Dugina thanked her parents for her intellectual upbringing, reminiscing about her childhood interactions with cultural figures like writer and dissident Eduard Limonov and poet and musician Egor Letov. She said being her father’s daughter was a “big honor.”

The son of a Military Intelligence Directorate (GRU) general, Alexander Dugin bounced between schools of thought for decades before establishing himself as a leader of Eurasianism. In the 1970s, he explored metaphysical realism in a working group with novelist Yuri Mamleev. A decade later, after flirting with the occultism of another writer named Evgeny Golovin, Dugin got involved with the “Memory” National Patriotic Front — an ultranationalist, Orthodox Christian movement. Dugin was anti-Soviet until the attempted coup in 1991. In 1993, he joined the doomed defense of the Parliament against President Boris Yeltsin in Russia’s constitutional crisis.

Dugin joined the faculty at Moscow State University in 2008, becoming head of the school’s Conservative Studies Center and the director of its international relations program. (A source close to the Putin administration told Meduza that Dugin owed this appointment not to the Kremlin but to Vladimir Dobrenkov, the dean of the university’s sociology department and an avowed conservative.)

In 2014, however, MSU Rector Viktor Sadovnichy fired both Dugin and Dobrenkov after the former advocated the murder of anyone who tolerated violence against Russia’s supporters in Ukraine.


A source close to the presidential administration’s domestic policy team admitted to Meduza on August 21 that he’d only learned of Daria Dugina’s existence from the news about her death. Two other sources with ties to the Kremlin said they had seen Daria’s work republished on popular Telegram channels, but they’d not connected her to Alexander Dugin because she wrote under the pseudonym “Daria Platonova.”

One of Meduza’s sources said “Platonova” was one of the “new talking heads” cultivated and propagated by the Kremlin’s media team, but she’d never been invited to join any of the administration’s “serious projects” (such as commenting for the business-focused news media, like the newspapers Kommersant and Vedomosti). “Judging by her statements, she was an ideological person. Now it’s clear why,” explained Meduza’s source.

Other individuals with knowledge of the Putin administration reject speculation published in the Western press that Alexander Dugin has ever “advised” the president or any senior national defense officials, though some sources say he does have contact with high-ranking officials in Russia’s Federal Security Service.

Dugin’s relationship with prominent religious figures is complicated, as well, though he is rumored to enjoy financial support from Konstantin Malofeev, a devout reactionary who values “empire and statehood above Orthodoxy,” said one source who knows the oligarch. Malofeev allegedly hired “political technologists” to promote himself publicly as a “Russian Donald Trump, advised by Alexander Dugin,” but the Kremlin has ensured that the campaign remains a flop. In fact, multiple sources told Meduza that Dugin’s collaboration with Malofeev only further proves his lack of clout with Russia’s leadership.

Alexander Dugin’s Eurasianist ideas have gradually become more mainstream in Russia, but this is more a testament to his intellectual foresight than his political influence, someone close to the Kremlin told Meduza. “[Dugin’s] views,” he explained, “now largely coincide with the views of the country’s leadership.” ~

Misha Iossel:

Speaking at his daughter's funeral today (August 23) in Moscow, Alexander Dugin says her first words as a child were "Russia," "our mighty state," and "our empire.”

For real.

These people are insane.


The moment I learned that Daria regarded Ukrainians as “subhuman” and to be exterminated, I lost all sympathy for her. On the other hand, the very fact that all these explosions and assassinations are happening in Russia indicates an instability. It may be too early to predict the collapse of the Russian Federation, but suddenly it has become a possibility. 

Here is a statement made by Daria's father:

I can't imagine any Western politician, even the most reactionary, making a statement calling for the genocide of Mexicans, for instance. This is unbelievably sick.



~ Within hours of the attack Kremlin propagandists accused others of guilt as well: the "pro-Ukrainian intelligentsia" in Russia, or more precisely, those who are against the war. Margarita Simonyan, head of the Russian propaganda television channel RT, wrote that “Everyone making fun of Dasha's death with snotty remarks and trolling — all those municipal council members, bloggers and activists should be arrested. Time to take out the trash.”

State Duma deputy writer Zakhar Prilepin cast a wider net, blaming "the civilized world, all Europe, the collective Angelina Jolie, all those writers and songwriters" for the attack.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Maria Zakharova explicitly demanded that they "find a way to extend the available legal norms to information violence." In normal language this means: time to begin repressions.

No matter who is responsible for this tragedy, it will be used to intensify repressions inside the country. As journalist Yulia Latynina asked right after the attack, "Is the murder of Dugin's daughter the new assassination of Kirov?" This refers to the Stalinist reign of terror, which began with the assassination of party leader Sergei Kirov in 1934.

Lyubov Sobol, a colleague of Alexei Navalny's at the Anti-Corruption Foundation, tweeted: "By the next morning the murder already seemed to make no sense — no one cared about Dugin, and especially his daughter. But now it’s clear that it was some kind of primitive FSB false flag operation.”

All terror has its logic. Today Putin is in a very tough situation: the war looks like it will drag on for years with no victory in sight. Russia can only hold the occupied territories through violence and bayonets. Sanctions are slowly killing the economy. It is impossible for a dictator to admit defeat, and someone must be blamed for all the failures.

This is what Stalin always did. Putin is unlikely to find a better solution. ~



~ After claiming responsibility for the car bombing that killed the daughter of Russian ultra-nationalist Aleksandr Dugin, the Russian NRA (National Republican Army) released portions of their manifesto:

"We are Russian activists, military personnel and politicians, currently also partisans and fighters of the National Republican Army, and we are outlawing the warmongers, thieves and oppressors of the peoples of Russia!”

“We declare President Putin to be a usurper of power and a war criminal who has violated the Constitution, unleashed a fratricidal war between Slavic peoples, and sent Russian soldiers to a certain and senseless death.”

“We will overthrow and destroy Putin! We declare all Russian government officials and regional administration officials to be accomplices to the usurper. We will kill every one of them who fails to resign.”

“We declare all business owners who profit from corruption and personal connections to government officials to be traitors of the Motherland and accomplices to the usurper. We will destroy the property of everyone who fails to repent and publicly express their opposition to this government and its war, and we will kill every one of them.”

“We declare everyone who works for the security forces to be accomplices to the usurper. We will kill everyone who fails to lay down their arms and step down from their positions.”

“We declare military cargo, and the cargo of everyone who is profiting from the war or helping to finance it, to be legitimate targets that will be destroyed by us.”

“We call on the soldiers of the Russian army to stop firing on our brothers from other countries: Georgia, Syria, Ukraine and other countries.”

"We will protect everyone who responds to our call.”

The NRA then went on to encourage all Russian citizens to join their ranks. ~ Izzy Luggs, Quora



~ Sergej Sumlenny—a German political expert with a particular focus on Russia and Eastern Europe—told Newsweek he doesn't believe that the NRA exists at all, and claimed it could even be a creation of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB). He said:

I don't believe it [NRA] exists, why? Russia is a state with very strong surveillance and a lot of informants among all potential groups.

He continued:

This is how Russian terror groups are being created. So to think that some anti-Putin liberal pro-European movement has appeared, which is not infiltrated by the FSB, which has skills to assemble a bomb, to put this bomb into a car and to let it explode remotely. It's impossible. ~


~ Russia has a hurried and slovenly work culture, in which cutting corners is a norm. Standards and regulations are often skirted and unenforced.

Inspectors are perceived as leeches who need to be bribed off so they stop returning to look for non-existent issues.

Critical thinking and causality are not taught at schools nor universities. Consequently, “don’t you worry” bravado approach takes over critical reasoning and data collection.

Eventually, this type of working culture coupled with magical thinking result in big disasters, from Chernobyl to diesel spill into waterways in Norilsk.

Investigators find the scapegoats at the lowest level of bureaucracy apparatus, and slap them with very light sentences to cover up and protect guilty politicians at higher levels.

Apparatchiks are interested only in saving themselves, and without a second thought, readily sacrifice search for truth and justice. Eventually, wronged truth and justice have their revenge and the system collapses.

Russian people tend to forgive easily and find refuge in personal grief rather that look for flaws in the system to fix, unintentionally bringing the system closer to disintegration.

One such disaster occurred in 1989, claiming 575 lives, 181 of them children, and injuring 800.

At 1:15 am, two passenger trains carrying 1,300 vacationers to and from Novosibirsk and Black Sea resort Adler, exploded, 11 kilometers from Asha, Chelyabinsk Oblast.

A faulty gas pipeline 900 meters from the line had leaked
liquid natural gas. The gas accumulated across the plane, creating a flammable cloud along the railway.

The explosion occurred after wheel sparks from the two passenger trains heading in opposite directions ignited this flammable cloud.

The cause was a powerful explosion of gas estimated to be the equivalent of 10,000 tons of TNT.

The gas pipeline with the diameter of 720 mm and length of 1852 km had been built at an accelerated pace in the early 1980s. During the construction process, it was decided to redesign the almost completed oil pipeline into a gas pipeline.

Technical regulations prohibited the transportation of liquefied gas under pressure through oil pipelines with a diameter of over 400 mm, but this requirement was ignored.

Due to haste and slovenliness, other violations of construction technology were also committed.

The trial went on for six years. Two construction managers were sentenced to two years in a penal colony and later amnestied.


At 1.15 am, on a quiet summer night, the inhabitants of Asha and neighboring villages, those who had not yet slept within the radius of 100 kilometers, saw an enchanting spectacle in the atmosphere.

A sphere silently lit up in the sky, several kilometers in diameter, with a luminosity comparable to the brightness of the sun.

It burned absolutely silently. As the glow gradually faded away, after about a minute, everyone heard a terrible growing rumble.

Trees swayed violently in towns and villages near the center of the explosion, shabby rooftops flew off the houses and buildings, and glass exploded in the windows, terrifying the population.
This, lagging behind the speed of light, has come a sound shock wave.

"What we saw at the scene of the train disaster a sick imagination wouldn’t conjure. Trees burned like giant candles, cherry-red warped train carriages smoked along the embankment. There was an impossible wail of pain and a singular sight of hundreds of dying and burnt people. The forest was ablaze, train carriages were ablaze, people were ablaze, many of them children. We rushed to catch running living “human torches", bring them down, take them closer to the road, away from the fire. It was a real apocalypse.

The seriously wounded, 100 percent of burns, were placed on the grass outside of the hospital. There was no time for anesthetics, such is the rule. If you help one person in critical condition, you will lose twenty who you would’ve still managed to save.

 . . . “I would especially like to speak about residents of Asha. Each patient had a volunteer on duty, and there was still a line to take their place. They brought cutlets, potatoes, every type of food the wounded asked for. Patients had to be kept hydrated, but I could not imagine such a quantity of compotes (homemade drink with pieces of fruit and sugar) that Asha residents had brought -- all the windowsills were lined up with them, and the entire floor. The area in front of the building was filled with volunteers. All the town of Asha have come to help.” ~

Vlad Samotovka:

Even in former USSR most people didn’t remember this horrible accident.

Just one of many preceding collapse of the country.

David Rishel:

My God…how many more tragedies like this happened during Soviet times that the world never knew about? God rest their poor souls…

Dmitri Medvedev:

The safety protocols are very often ignored by workers.

Well at least by Soviet generation of workers. I know little about workers who are from my generation (who grew up in the 90-ies) and more young generations.

For example, in one gas processing plant that our design bureau designed and built, workers forgot to install liners (прокладки) between pipe connectors and we can literally see liquefied gas escaping into air in these places. Workers also disabled automatic system that shuts everything down and makes VERY LOUD SOUNDS when gas is detected because “alarm was sounding all the time”. I don’t know from which mental health institution these idiots were unleashed but that was what we saw. Most of the time though construction workers were not that stupid.

Another story is my father told me he saw in city Nevinnomysk, where at one factory cite he saw a charred corpse of a man sitting on power line tower: this idiot climbed the tower because he wanted to steal the cables… which were powered of course, so when he moved his scissors close to the cable he was killed and fried almost immediately. Plant manager told my father that these events happened often and they decided to not remove a corpse these time so it served as a warning to other would-be power cable thieves.


Sounds a lot like my country, India, to me. Here, even to repair a pothole on a road, a death has to happen.


To be sure, accidents, including serious ones, happen in the US and every other country in the world. Perhaps the difference is that in the U.S., Canada, and most of Europe, human life is not “cheap.” There are consequences, being sued for heavy damages being one of them. Both the businesses and the government will often tighten precautions as result.

As for work ethic in general, the situation Misha describes reminds me of the poor work ethic in Poland during the Soviet era. The saying was, “They pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work.” But as soon as the Soviet system collapsed, work ethic appeared astonishingly fast. When you get rewarded for good work (and could be fired for only pretending to work), there is an incentive.

As for working really hard, going beyond the line of duty, we have to understand that Pareto’s law is most likely going to prevail: 20% of employees do 80% of the work. That’s just reality, and as long as the overall system is sound, it produces reasonable quality. Now, quality control — that’s another chapter, best left to experts. But such experts better be there, doing their best.

It would be too easy, however, to blame the Russian people for “not fixing the system.” The country is a dictatorship, not a democracy. Putin changed the constitution to make himself president for life — and his successor may prove even worse. The country would have to be de-Sovietized the way Germany was de-Nazified. But in Germany the process was started during foreign occupation right after the war. Russia needs to cleanse itself from within. No one has proposed a viable method. Invading Russia is not in the cards: one doesn’t have to be a historian to realize that you just don’t invade Russia.

Aside from the right leadership, it would take a lot of bright young people. And bright young people tend to leave Russia, “voting with their feet.”

Willy Daglish:

Arguably, the greatest long term damage done to Russia will be the flight of the “best and brightest”. Losing those young enough, brave enough and educated enough to build a new life elsewhere.

This leaves a rapidly aging, often poorly educated, low productivity population to bear the cost of repairing the country and caring for the tens of thousands of widows and orphans and the tens of thousands of mentally and physically damaged young men inflicted on Russia by Vlad the Mad.

William Lebotschy:

The Soviet system was built to fail, as it was held together by threat of punishment. China has a longer lasting form, in that the people are free to do most things, but CANNOT threaten the status of the party , as the only authority to govern.


And now Putin is again trying to hold Russia together with the fear of punishment. Interestingly, the opposite has been happening in Christianity, which for the most part lowered the threat of punishment, and has been in decline for quite some time now. But when the important institutions are ingrained, and led by the same "Old Guard" and their hand-picked favorites, change becomes very difficult. But we may see something catastrophic, perhaps connected to Russia's demographic collapse in the relatively near future (if Misha Firer is correct at estimating Russia's birth rate at 1.1 births per woman).


~ The USSR was destined to become the best at covert operations, espionage, and secret police work.

It came about as a Marxist project. Marxism is all about a class war—the war that requires a lot of weapon and money, but must be won in human heads. This is the battle best fought by priests, salesmen—and spies.

It was founded by professional revolutionaries. These are clandestine people par excellence. Their business was to dodge the Czarist secret police, look for chinks in the armor of a much mightier enemy, and strike at its weakest points: its brain, its heart, its senses. When they took power in 1917, they naturally assumed that the entire world was teeming with invisible enemies trying to do the same to them. Had to act on that.

Our Communists spent a lot of time abroad in emigration. They were internationalists. Many of them were of Jewish origin who knew how to recruit the support of liberal Jews in Europe and the US, even though most of these did not share Communist ideas. This let them have them the global footprint that they exploited to the full well into the 1950s, before the US caught their drift and decided to add a counter-espionage dimension to the containment strategy.

Communism gained prominence in the watershed between two paradigms: the old aristocratic rule, and the era of new mass politics of Fascism/Nazism and Communism. Many among the forward-looking aristocratic elite saw in the Soviet totalitarianism the familiar pattern of the selected few showing the way to uneducated masses. Hence the strange inclination of wealthy intellectuals, British intelligence officers and American entrepreneurs to turn into supporters of the Communist cause. They brought the wealth of their contacts and knowledge to the KGB arsenal.

With productivity and innovation in the Soviet industry sadly lacking, stealing industrial secrets from the West brought a marvelous ROI (return on investment).

From start to finish, the Soviet Union remained the weaker party in our confrontation with Capitalism. A strong intelligence and effective subversion were relatively inexpensive yet powerful tools. This is how you wage asymmetric warfare against a stronger, more resourceful enemy. ~ Dima Vorobiev, Quora

Oleg Gordievsky, a KGB colonel and a double agent for the British MI6. Two of Gordievsky's most important contributions were averting a potential nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union, when NATO exercise Able Archer 83 was misinterpreted by the Soviets as a potential first strike, and identifying Mikhail Gorbachev as the Soviet heir-apparent long before he came to prominence. Indeed, the information passed by Gordievsky became the first proof of how worried the Soviet leadership had become about the possibility of a NATO nuclear first strike.

Karim Jabari:

Great answer. I would like to add that socialism was attractive to scientists and intellectuals also because it presented a vision of society that was secular and rationalist. This was in stark contrast with the still very religious culture of the US during the cold war.

Igor Gleb:

And up to the 70s Communism was still fashionable, plenty of intrinsic good intentions and attacking the evils of the profound worldwide inequality.

In Brazil there were a lot of supporters that were also in all other countries.

“When a youth is not a communist he has no heart, but if he grows old as a communist he has no brains.”

Ravi Vaish:

All the espionage in the world couldn’t ultimately save communism and the erstwhile Soviet Union. There are some macroeconomic problems that cannot be simply arrested, shot or packed off to a Gulag. This would be like trying to put handcuffs on a cloud in the sky…


~ Modern cities such as Sydney are becoming “ghettos of rich people” where few working people can afford to live, award-winning architects Jean-Philippe Vassal and Anne Lacaton warn.

Known as the “never demolish” architects, Vassal and Lacaton won the Pritzker Prize, the world’s most prestigious architectural prize, in 2021 for a series of projects where they refused to raze existing public housing, apartment blocks and museums.

At workshops at Sydney University this week, the visiting French architects encouraged architecture students to reimagine a future for Waterloo estate’s public housing – slated for redevelopment and future demolition.

The brief: don’t destroy anything. Not even a tree.

In a public lecture at the Seymour Centre on Thursday night, Lacaton said they believed “architects should never demolish, never subtract, never remove, always add and transform”. They see demolition as an act of violence, and a waste of energy, history and materials.

In one case, they refused to do a fancy update of a triangular piazza in Bordeaux, France, after consulting locals who were happy with the old, dusty square. They told officials, “Embellishment has no place here.”

Vassal told the Herald that the quality of a city was determined by a diversity of residents, incomes and jobs.

Cities had become “speculative spaces” because of the rising value of land compared with the relatively low cost of construction.

“They are becoming places only for tourists,” he said. Workers, artists and craftspeople and others on low income had been pushed out. “Most of the time we talk about ghettos of poor people, but the biggest problem is ghettos of rich people.”

In the public lecture, Lacaton and Vassal outlined the philosophy that has guided them for nearly 40 years.

Rather than starting with the premise that something should be demolished, such as existing public housing in France, they started by interviewing residents to see what they valued, and what they saw as the problems.

“Living well in the big city is the most important challenge of our time and our generation,” Lacaton said. “This issue involves many crucial topics and challenges, such as climate change, sustainability, energy savings, cost of the land, densification, affordability, integration, social equality and, simply, quality of life. Any strategy for making the city starts from the quality of housing for all.”

Speaking in turn at the Seymour, the couple – in life as well as work – said they believed good design began with kindness, love and respect for residents of all incomes.

Vassal said they aimed to double living space for residents in public housing, often achieving that at less than half the cost of demolition and rebuilding and without the cost to the climate.

Working with architect Frederic Druot, the couple transformed a 1960s Parisian public housing block and increased the size of each unit by removing the concrete facade, and adding balconies. In other housing projects, they have restored the original blocks and added new units on the grounds in a similar style.

Buildings are beautiful when people feel good in them and, when people feel at home, they are better able to participate in society, Lacaton said.

That could explain why Vassal said architects should see themselves as “kind of like doctors of the city” and get out into the city to find and solve problems, instead of waiting in the office for commissions.

The couple developed their philosophy in the 1980s as new graduates visiting Nigeria, where they built their first home – a straw hut with a thatched roof – out of what few materials they could find. They added a shaded area to sit with friends outside.

“Transforming the city means coming back to what we learnt in Africa, and using what already exists,” Vassal told the audience at the Seymour. “It means making do, with the people, with the climate, with minimum materials. It means trees, soil, flowers, animals, all should be considered with delicacy and kindness, so it is never possible to cut a tree.”

It also meant building larger, even double, at the same cost, Vassal continued. They achieved this by using inexpensive materials.

The goal? Vassal said: “To feel that incredible moment when you are at home in an armchair, and you open the window and look at the clouds. A dwelling should always be more than the minimum.”

Lacaton and Vassal were appointed the inaugural Garry and Susan Rothwell Chairs in Architectural Design Leadership at Sydney University in 2020, but because of the pandemic this is their first visit.

Sydney University architecture student Sophia Swift said it had been incredible to learn from them. “It has been inspiring,” she said. “Just the notion of not demolishing is a really important foundation for the way an architect moves forward, particularly in response to human-driven climate change.

Anne Lacaton and Jean-Phlippe Vassal, the "never demolish" architects, in Sydney


Cities becoming "ghettos of the rich," poor women and men suffering onset of chronic illnesses 10 to 15 years earlier than rich men and women, and dying a decade or more much depends on poverty and wealth. Even the dangers of industry and its associated pollutants fall unequally...the poor live closer to areas of high toxic risk, in places that get named Chemical Valley or Cancer Alley, and suffer the health burdens of toxicity people wealthy enough to afford homes in cleaner, more pollution free areas can avoid.

The architects who want to avoid all demolition, and transform already present places into ones kinder and more welcoming for human life will only succeed if they can make this kind of sustainability profitable. It is a revolutionary idea that goes against the grain of capitalist development, with its dedication to endless growth.

I see it where I live, in a city whose basic industry is tourism and most jobs are in service and entertainment. Those jobs do not provide salaries that allow their workers to live in the city where they work. Only the wealthy can afford the available housing, and the new housing is aimed at that same demographic. There is an actual building frenzy going on, bulldozing large wooded areas (demolishing not individual trees but forests) paving over the earth and putting up house after house, none affordable to the average worker. And there's no real consideration given to pressures on the water supply, local wildlife (much of it supposedly protected) or the infrastructure of roads, bridges, sewage and all those other unglamorous aspects of development.

All these problems, like the plastics problem, won’t be solved by ignoring them, and certainly not by digging ourselves in deeper.


~ Over the past few years, the paradox of plastic as both a miracle for and a menace to society has become a platitude. There are countless stories in the media and popular culture about our fraught relationship with plastic, focusing on our addiction and dependence. However, this way of framing the problem actually serves to perpetuate it. Plastics are plural. There are tens of thousands of plastics, each with different physical properties, including not only flexibility or durability, but also toxicity. By lumping plastics together into a singular entity with both beneficial and harmful features, the double-sided narrative assumes that the two sides can never be separated. By blaming us all for our dependence on plastic, questions of corporate responsibility and unequal toxic risks are avoided. Ultimately, the paradox of plastic conveys a sense of inescapability that the industry can tap into.

“Let’s talk realistically about plastic” is the title of a campaign launched in October 2020 by the Danish Plastics Federation, featuring short videos with plastic reality-check messages: “Without plastic… cars would use more fuel”; “No plastic… no bike helmet.” The punchline: “Frankly, we need plastic where it makes sense. But a world without… creates more problems than it solves.” The U.S.-based Plastics Industry Association regularly tweets and blogs similar messages. For example, one blog post decried the public’s “knee-jerk reaction” of proposing plastic bans and substitutions to deal with plastic litter as “overly simplistic,” “outlandish,” and “impractical… like when a child proposes that the solution to global warming is eliminating cars.”

While this line of argument is “overly simplistic” itself, the industry is right in some ways. Plastic cannot be separated neatly into different piles of societal value: essential versus wasteful, or desirable versus toxic. Many plastics are indeed essential for health and safety, transport, and connectivity, yet are also toxic and wasteful. There are no easy solutions to such a complex problem. However, we can stop the plastics crisis from spiraling even further out of control.

Many plastic products can and should be banned or substituted to protect health, the environment, and the climate. Policymakers, researchers, and activists have rightly focused on the need to eliminate or substitute the production of toxic plastic products (to protect health), single-use plastics (to stop the plastic waste crisis), and virgin (fossil fuel-based) plastics (to address the climate crisis). There are many barriers and dilemmas involved in such proposals, but reducing harmful plastics production is not an unrealistic goal. On the contrary, it is both possible and necessary. An important start is to interrogate corporate half-truths as well as untruths.

The industry’s “realistic versus impractical” narrative is a pragmatic twist on a related narrative that has long been popular with the industry: “reality versus fiction,” used to make truth claims about the benefits and nontoxicity of plastics. Since the beginning of the plastic age, the industry has tirelessly promoted the essential and desirable characteristics of plastic products, while denying their harmful effects. The discovery of synthetic plastics more than a century ago was seen as miraculous, saving animals by replacing ivory and tortoiseshell, and natural resources by replacing wood, silk, and glass.

More importantly for a capitalist system, plastics were cheap. After World War II, new plastic household products entered the market, fostering the growth of mass consumer society. Steadfastly, the industry extended its reach into other markets, to building materials, shopping bags, medical equipment, toys, electronics, water bottles, and food packaging. People were sold not only plastics but also the idea of disposability.

Yet the public has never been fully sold on plastics. From the start, labor, consumer, and environmental groups have questioned the production and use of plastics. In fact, the petrochemical and plastics industries have often been accused of using the playbook from Big Tobacco by manufacturing doubt and uncertainty about the hazards of their products. I wish that I could say that these accusations are exaggerated, or oversimplify a more complicated situation, but if anything, they are understated.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, the American and European petrochemical industries conspired to conceal scientific links between vinyl chloride, cancer, and other illnesses, in order to protect their markets. The news about vinyl chloride and cancer broke in 1974, leading to public alarm and swift regulations, but it took decades for researchers and lawyers to expose the corporate lies and cover-ups. Meanwhile, the plastics industry learned how to anticipate regulations, refining its “deceit and denial” tactics in later controversies over carcinogenic and hormone-disrupting plastics.

Beyond high-stakes battles over truth, corporations often ignore issues of toxicity altogether, especially given that the burden of proof for harm rests on communities, not corporations. In spite of decades of environmental justice struggles around the world, toxic hazards from plastics remain disproportionately located in minority, low-income, and working-class communities. In Canada, my home country, the Indigenous Aamjiwnaang First Nation is located next to a number of toxic polluting petrochemical plants in “Chemical Valley” in Sarnia, Ontario, and local residents have reported a number of illnesses.

This parallels the infamous case of “Cancer Alley” in Louisiana, an 85-mile stretch of former plantation land along the Mississippi River with a high concentration of petrochemical facilities and oil refineries situated in close proximity to rural Black residential communities. Indeed, around the world there are hundreds of “cancer villages” and cancer clusters related to plastics production, incineration, and disposal. Some corporations have been held to account for negligent toxic waste, and air quality regulations have been introduced in many places, but most companies have continued with business as usual. Despite the risks and negative social and environmental impacts, corporations across the plastics value chain will deploy whatever tactics they can in order to create, protect, and expand plastics markets. ~


That "new car smell," so prized by many? It's the outgassing of vinyl chloride, a carcinogen.


~ Since the early 1980s, generations of Americans have been raised and schooled to believe that everything the government, researchers, scientists, and engineers say is always a lie, and the government is not capable of accomplishing anything.

Their argument is “there’s no way we could do it in 1969 but can’t do it today.” That’s a complete rubbish argument, of course. We did it in the 1970s too (many moon landing deniers are so uneducated they actually don’t know we sent multiple missions to the moon), and we could’ve gone in the 80s and 90s if we wanted to.

We didn’t lack the technology, we lacked the money.

People today have no idea how expensive it was. In inflation-adjusted dollars, the moon program cost $280,000,000,000. For that money, we put 12 people on the moon and brought back about 840 pounds of rocks.

The rocks turned out to be basalt. Whee!

Richard Nixon canceled the last moon mission, after the astronauts were trained and the rocket built, so that he could spend the money on the war in Vietnam.

Since then, Congress hasn’t wanted to allocate that enormous pile of money to go back. Why would they? The Cold War was over.


There is one thing you could not do with 1960s tech: fake it.

Moon landing deniers are generally incredibly poorly educated. They think we only went once, and they think the short clips on YouTube are all there were.

In fact, every TV station broadcast the footage from the moon with no commercial breaks for hours and hours and hours, continuously. The Soviet Union listened in. People built science fair projects to receive the signals directly. They came from the moon.

The deniers don’t know that. They think the government handed TV stations a videotape or something, and the TV stations just played it. They don’t know that everyone from Soviet intelligence to people making backyard dish antennas streamed the video from the transmitters on the moon.

So are they stupid? No.

Ignorant? Yes. Uneducated? Yes. Prone to conspiracy thinking? Yes.

Stupid? No.

Beginning with Ronald Reagan, who won election in part by courting the extremist Evangelical vote, the official narrative of one of the two political parties in the US became “nothing the government does works. The government cannot accomplish anything. Government is inevitably inimical to any sort of enterprise.”

As part of that, and largely at the urging of Evangelical Christians who felt their worldview was threatened by science, Republicans began a long-standing attack on public education.

In 2012, the Texas Republican Party platform officially lists abolishment of critical thinking in public school education as one of its planks.

As a result, modern American public education is poor. People honestly don’t know anything about the moon program. They were never taught how to evaluate evidence or think critically; a YouTube video with slick graphics says “the shadows are wrong!” and they accept it without question, because it appeals to their existing belief that the government cannot accomplish anything, so of course no government program could reach the moon.

It’s not stupidity. It’s far more mendacious than that. ~ Franklin Veaux, Quora

Matthew Perkins:

The best argument that I've heard confirming the moon landing is that the Soviet Union was tracing where the transmission was coming from. They would have jumped at the chance to prove we hadn't landed there. The very fact that the Soviet Union admitted it was true is proof.

Eddy B:

The existence of the USSR was invented as part of the backstory to add credence to the fake moon landings. [joke]

Randall Bondi:

It's very sad that you had to point out that was a joke.

Linda Jenkins:

You’re underselling a salient point. The lunar rocks weren’t just basalt. It was a freaky lunar basalt with a titanium-rich mineralogy unlike anything known on earth at the time. Entirely new mineral species were discovered in those 840 pounds of moon rock (e.g. Armalcolite - Wikipedia). Lunar basalts look very different from their terrestrial counterparts under a microscope, making those samples solid proof we’ve been to the moon and back.

Eric Wurm:

It actually started before the 70s. This kind of thinking began in the 1950s, according to this book, which is absolutely a prediction of things to come.

Vivek Agarwala:

It is said that about a third of Americans are prone to conspiracy thinking. So the 17% moon-landing deniers isn’t all that bad. How long might it take for the % believing in a stolen election to go down to 17%?

Eric Henderson:

What I find difficult to understand is that most of these deniers are right or far right, constantly droning on about patriotism and how proud they are of their country yet also deny one of their country's greatest achievements.

Charlie Watts:

Each Saturn V launch cost 1 billion dollars. The Apollo program was consuming more than 5 per cent of the total US budget. That’s might be justified as a Cold War effort, but once the goal is achieved and repeated 5 times, it’s just not sustainable. Throw in the OPEC oil embargo and economic impact, and the cost of the Vietnam War as well. At the time we did not know it (at least the public) but Apollo 13 was not an anomaly. Almost every mission faced some critical problem and life ending event. The Apollo 10 Lunar Module (top portion) almost crashed into the Moon — it went into a spin and was seconds away from cratering; Apollo 12 Saturn V was hit by lightning; Apollo 15 (the lunar module) landed in a crater and was tilted 11 degrees — a few more and it would have been a difficult launch. No president wanted blood on their hands especially with such a prominent program.


I can’t help but group people who deny that the Moon landing was real with those who think the Covid vaccine contains microchips. If not stupidity, what is it? Perhaps just very deep ignorance. And a lack of imagination: if walking on the Moon seems impossible, it must be impossible. And besides, the Earth is flat.

 Earthrise seen from the Moon (Apollo 11)


~ As the poet W.H. Auden put it, “Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”

One of the main reasons water is so critical to life processes is that it is the ideal vehicle for transporting critical substances in and out of living cells. "The way they're bonded together makes water this wonderful universal solvent," which means that almost every substance can dissolve in water, said Brian Glazer, an oceanographer at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. From regulating body temperature, transferring nutrients into cells and energizing muscles, controlling calorie intake, lubricating joints and flushing waste from the body, water is essential to life.

How much water should you drink every day? According to the Institute of Medicine, healthy adult men should have about 13 cups (3 liters) of total beverages each day and healthy adult women about 9 cups (2.2 liters). Their recommendation isn't too far off the popular rule of eight glasses a day, which is about 1.9 liters.

But perhaps a bigger question is, what kind of water is better: bottled or tap? With more that $100 billion spent each year on bottled water around the globe, it’s clear that there is a demand for bottled water. In some parts of the world, particularly developing countries where local clean water isn’t always readily available and boiling water isn't always convenient, bottled water is a solution. 

But bottled water is a massive industry even in the U.S., where Americans spend nearly $12 billion on bottled water each year, more than 10 percent of the global total.

Bottled water manufacturers would like us to believe that bottled water is safer than tap water because it goes through a filtration process, which improves the color, taste and smell, and eliminates specific contaminants. However, bottled water is not required to be 100-percent contaminant-free.

"Tap water and bottled water are generally comparable in terms of safety," notes Katherine Zeratsky, a licensed dietician with the Mayo Clinic. "So the choice of tap or bottled is mostly a matter of personal preference." 

Zeratsky adds that the Food and Drug Administration, which oversees bottled water, and the Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates tap water "use similar standards for ensuring safety.”

The EPA mandates that water utilities that serve your home’s tap water provide annual quality reports that include information about levels of contamination and potential health effects. The agency also sets regulatory limits on certain waterborne contaminants provided by public water systems. (The EPA does not regulate well water, so if your water supply comes from a private well, you should get it tested regularly.)

Tap water is also treated with chlorine, a disinfectant that kills harmful bacteria and some viruses, while also protecting the water from recontamination when it’s stored for later use. The EPA mandates that chlorine levels in drinking water should be no higher than 4 milligrams per liter.

In addition, the EPA mandates that fluoride is added to public water (also at the level of 4 milligrams per liter), to help prevent dental disease, specifically cavities. There is a strong consensus in the international medical community that water fluoridation is a good idea. The EPA says fluoridation also provides some protection against skeletal fluorosis, a painful joint condition.

Thanks to the mandate given the EPA by the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, public tap water is safe. Of course, there are instances, like the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, in which this is not the case. But generally speaking, the argument that bottled water is safer than tap water based on the filtration process simply doesn’t hold water.

In fact, the negative health impact appears to be more with plastic bottles than with tap. A 2006 Canadian study found that plastic bottles leach chemicals into the water they contain. The researchers found that the longer the water sits inside the bottle, the higher the concentration of certain chemicals, like antimony, a metallic element that can cause dizziness, nausea and even depression. "If you bottle water in Europe and ship it to Asia, what is the antimony concentration in that water by the time somebody buys that water and drinks it?" said the study’s lead author William Shotyk, director of the Institute of Environmental Geochemistry at the University of Heidelberg in Germany.

"Bottlers of water generally capitalize on consumer concerns about municipal water supplies, creating demand for their product via an association with pristine environs," writes Mark Baumgartner of ABC News. But according to a report commission by World Wildlife Fund International, the only real difference for some bottled waters (antimony contamination notwithstanding) is that they distribute water through plastic bottles instead of pipes. In fact, more than 25 percent of bottled water is simply tap water that a company has filtered and packaged in a bottle.

“There are more standards regulating tap water in Europe and the United States than those applied to the bottled water industry,” according to WWF. In addition to saving money, turning to tap water over bottled water also helps the environment, as every year, some 1.5 million tons of plastic are used to manufacture all those bottles, noted Biksham Gujja, head of WWF International's Fresh Water Program. Plastic production and plastic waste disposal produce carbon emissions and releases toxic chemicals.

Plastic is made from either petroleum, or more likely in the United States, natural gas. The extraction of these fossil fuels releases a toxic stew of air pollutants, greenhouse gases and known carcinogens, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, methane, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide. (The nonprofit environmental group Earthworks compiled a list explaining these and other contaminants associated with oil and gas production.)

Another main concern of plastic water bottles is the fact that many people do not actually recycle their bottles, which can take up to 450 years to decompose, further releasing contaminants into the soil, water and air. But even though they degrade, plastic bottles don't disappear altogether. "All remain as plastic polymers and eventually yield individual molecules of plastic too tough for any organism to digest," said Genevieve Johnson, education director and marine coordinator of the Voyage of the Odyssey, a five-year program launched in 2000 by the oceanographic research nonprofit Ocean Alliance to gather the first-ever data on synthetic contaminants in the world's oceans.

Johnson knows firsthand that countless plastic bottles end up polluting the world’s oceans and waterways, killing a wide variety of animals, from fish and birds to marine mammals like dolphins and whales, all of whom inadvertently consume our plastic waste. The U.S. recycling rate for plastic is just 23 percent, meaning that only about one in every four or five bottles finds another use. The rest pollute the environment and kill wildlife.

The bottled water industry is also a water waster. In 2013, the International Bottled Water Association, an industry trade group, commissioned the first-ever study to determine how much water is required to produce one liter of bottled water. It found that North American water bottling firms use 1.39 liters to make one liter of water. But even that number isn't the true amount, as it doesn't include all the water use across the full supply chain.

For example, says Ertug Ercin of the nonprofit Water Footprint Network, a significant amount of groundwater is used in drilling for the fossil fuel to make the plastic. He suggests that, when you add up all the water that goes into the packaging, a half-liter bottle might require three liters of water to produce. And there is another environmental cost beyond producing and disposing plastic water bottles, and that’s transporting and keeping them cold, which also increases the climate footprint of bottled water.

It’s hard to overlook the convenience factor of bottled water, particularly when you’re thirsty and on the go. But a little forethought can go a long way, especially considering the many options of portable and reusable bottles, which are better for the environment and your pocketbook.

Some people argue that bottled water just tastes better. But that, it turns out, is just a perception. The nonprofit group Ban the Bottle found that "countless" taste tests conducted by Corporate Accountability International’s Think Outside the Bottle campaign and various media outlets showed people could not tell the difference between the two:

“Ultimately, however, the point isn’t whether one tastes better than the other—it’s how our tastes are shaped by advertising, rather than by what’s good for us. Between 10 and 15 percent of the price of a bottle of water goes to cover advertising costs. We not only buy their myths, it turns out we pay extra for them.”

In the final analysis, tap water is cheaper, tastes better, is significantly better for the environment and just as safe or even safer than bottled water. We’ll drink to that. ~


I've returned to tap water over a year ago. I got tired not only of the bottles, but of the hassle of the various filters (Brita being the simplest, but still trouble). And I think the calcium and magnesium found in tapped water are good for us.


~ In 1906 Klara Hitler would notice a lump on her breast. She chose to ignore it. This would prove to be a fatal mistake. It wasn’t until January of 1907 that she chose to seek medical attention from the family doctor, Dr Bloch, after developing severe pain in her chest. His prognosis was grim with only a sliver of hope if she were to get a mastectomy. The Hitler’s, Adolf included, agreed.

“[Adolf Hitler’s] long, sallow face was contorted. Tears flowed from his eyes. Did his mother, he asked, have no chance?”

Tragically, the surgery only revealed more devastating news. Her cancer had metastasized. Hitler, who had been living in Vienna at the time, returned home. For the next few months, Hitler became her caretaker. He would cook, clean, and sleep in a chair beside her bed just in case she required anything.

“The face of the boy was streaked with tears, and his eyes were tired and red. He listened until I had finished speaking. He has but one question. In a choked voice he asked: "Does my mother suffer?” 

Despite her terminal condition Dr Bloch suggested a final treatment option. There was an experimental form of chemotherapy known as iodoform. Adolf agreed. Every day iodoform soaked gauze would be applied to her incisions in an attempt to burn away cancer cells. The treatment left her in excruciating pain and unable to swallow.

“An anguished grimace would come over him when he saw pain contract her face. There was little that could be done. An injection of morphine from time to time would give temporary relief; but nothing lasting. Yet Adolf seemed enormously grateful even for these short periods of release.”

Klara Hitler would quietly pass away the night of December 20th, 1907. Hitler was grief-stricken. It would be hours before he allowed the neighbors to remove her body as he sat by her bedside sketching her.

“In all my career I have never seen anyone so prostrate with grief as Adolf Hitler.” ~ Dr Bloch

Adolf was 18 at the time of her death.

"I shall be grateful to you forever” were Adolf Hitler’s parting words to Dr Bloch.

As is often pointed out, Dr Bloch was Jewish. Hitler would go on to refer to him as the “noble Jew” and personally exempted him from most of the discrimination that others in Germany faced. This included keeping his license and money when he moved to America.

As a personal consequence, Hitler would go on to develop a fear of cancer. He believed that eating meat, alcohol, and smoking were all major contributors. As chancellor of Germany, he led one of the largest anti-smoking campaigns of that time and often encouraged those around him to quit.

Hitler would carry a photo of his mother until his own death on April 30th, 1945.

~ Halle Schultz, Quora


~ It’s very unlikely that Russia can successfully adopt the Chinese system of government. A major modification would be needed for that.

The top three reasons:

The current system of state-oligarchical one-party authoritarianism in China has a strong meritocratic and modernizing component. This is bad. For the mass of Russians, meritocracy and modernization are firmly associated with Bolsheviks, Liberals, and other progressivists who many times tried to transplant on our ground alien Western innovations and experiments.

We don’t have Chinese work ethic. My impression is that the Chinese are busy every waking moment, and sit down only to eat or take a power nap. I know many Russians who are like this. Yet, “don’t work hard, work smart” is the mantra of the average Russian workplace. When Putin once tried the line “been working like a galley slave” about himself, he caused a nationwide hilarity. This attitude to work is rippling throughout the entire government from top to bottom. No wonder the Russian word for “leader” or boss is rukovodítel, literally “hand-pointer” or “hand-gesturer”.

We don’t have the Confucian ethic of responsibility among our elite. Our rulers hold themselves accountable only before the close circle of their family and friends, if anyone. The rest of the nation for them is just a resource to be mined for whatever project they fancy to pursue.

Below you see a giant piece of art by Ilyá Glazunóv. He was the our prime nativist painter of the last few decades. The title is “Holy Russia”.

You see our national saints and heroes who face down the eternal evil emanating from the hordes of progressives, modernizers, and meritocrats. Spirituality, order and the deep sense of justice is what it takes to defeat them.

Take note how the sky over the Kremlin in the background to the left is a serene Caribbean blue. While the skies above St. Petersburg—the viper’s nest of progressivists —on the right side is infernally red. This means traditional Russia is good as it is, and we will become a happy land once we all together find the path back to our old roots. ~ Dima Vorobiev

David Arnold:

The Chinese Communist Party has got nothing to do with communism which is an ideology impossible to achieve anyway.

Mao once said: "thousands of years of continuation of Qin dynasty’s institution.”

Every government regime in China carried the core Chinese characteristics embedded in their culture and history.

Wasu Koysiripong:

The Chinese don't value hard work though we do often work hard, we value outcomes. As long as you achieve the desired outcome, nobody cares if you have worked hard or not. The reason why we work hard on many occasions is merely to achieve the desired outcome.

A concept very common among most Chinese across the World is reflected by Deng Xiaoping’s famous quote “It doesn't matter if a cat is black or white, as long as it can catch mice.” He said this in around 1978, but it is just exactly what most of the Chinese have been thinking for thousands of years. The Chinese way of thinking is all about pragmatism.

The downside of this is that you can find many Chinese who try to get rich by whatever means.

“It doesn't matter if the means is black or white, as long as it can make me rich.”

Kate Kobzen:

I would say “work only when the boss is watching, otherwise smoke and drink tea” is mainly the mantra of the Russian workplace (this first and foremost applies to civil servants these days).

Dima Vorobiev:

Proverbs like “work loves fools”, “virtuous labor won’t earn you a mansion of stone” and “works makes humpbacks, not riches” seem to inspire way more people than the likes of “without work, you won’t even haul a fish from the pond”.

Dmitriy Sintsov:

Capitalist industry was developed in Europe by Protestants and partially by Jews. So Monotheism itself does not prevent from developing advanced tech. Orthodoxy and Islam are another thing; they are much less individualistic and less material goal oriented.

One of the huge tragedies of Soviet Russia was losing the support of the Jews, first by Stalin’s purges of “rootless cosmopolitans”, second by supporting the Arab side in Arab-Israeli wars. As a result, the country has become weak, while USA, which stayed on the Jewish side, has become powerful. But sadly, Orthodoxy has disliked Jews for centuries and it led to a tragic fate for my country.

Another tragedy was crushing Old Believers in Nicholas I Russia. Old Believers were like European Protestants — one of the driving force of Russian industry.


I have my doubts about Old Believers being progressive in any way. Many countries have agrarian religious nuts, but these are generally fringe groups and not a driving force of anything.


~ 60-year-old woman in England’s poorest areas typically has the same level of illness as a woman 16 years older in the richest areas, a study into health inequalities has found.

The Health Foundation found a similarly stark, though less wide, gap in men’s health. At 60 a man living in the most deprived 10% of the country typically has the burden of ill-health experienced by a counterpart in the wealthiest 10% at the age of 70.

The thinktank’s analysis of NHS data also shows that women in England’s poorest places are diagnosed with a long-term illness at the age of 40 on average, whereas that does not happen to those in the most prosperous places until 48.

Impoverished women spend 43.6 years, or 52% of their lifespan, beset by diagnosed illness, while for their best-off peers it is 41 years, or 46% of their life cycle.

In addition, women from the most deprived backgrounds die on average at 83.6 years old, more than five years sooner than the 88.8-year life expectancy of well-off women.

Likewise, the poorest men are expected to spend 42.7 years free of disease, whereas it is much longer among the best-off 10% of the population – 49.2 years. And their life expectancy is 78.3 years, compared with 87.1 for the richest.

The findings underline Britain’s wide and entrenched socio-economic inequalities in health, which the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted. Ministers have promised to make tackling them a priority as part of the commitment to levelling up, but a promised white paper on that has been delayed.

Researchers led by Toby Watt said their findings were likely to be the most accurate published so far because they were based on data detailing patients’ interactions with primary care and hospital services, and unlike previous studies did not rely on people’s self-reported health.

“In human terms, these stark disparities show that at the age of 40, the average woman living in the poorest areas in England is already being treated for her first long-term illness. This condition means discomfort, a worse quality of life and additional visits to the GP, medication or hospital, depending on what it is. At the other end of the spectrum, the average 40-year-old woman will live a further eight years – about 10% of her life – without diminished quality of life through illness,” Watt said.

Throughout the rest of her life the impoverished 40-year-old is more likely to have breathing difficulties from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, experience alcohol problems, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and suffer a heart attack or stroke at younger ages. If she makes it to 80, which is less likely, she will still be receiving treatment for and living with more severe illness than her wealthier counterparts.”

He and his team found that inequalities in the burden of disease start in childhood and persist and change in nature through adulthood into older age. However, they are largely explicable over the life cycle by just a handful of illnesses: chronic pain, diabetes, severe breathing problems, anxiety, depression, strokes, heart attacks and drinking-related problems.

In a speech last year, Sajid Javid, then health secretary, identified “the disease of disparity” as a major cause of preventable death and promised to address its underlying causes.

Watt urged whichever of Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak becomes the next prime minister to treat health inequalities as a top priority. Doing so would involve focusing on “good quality jobs, housing and education” and not simply more action by the NHS, he added.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “The pandemic shone a light on the stark health inequalities that exist across the country – we are committed to leveling up the health of the nation so that everyone can live longer, healthier lives, regardless of their background.

“We have set up the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities to drive progress in improving health and reduce these unacceptable disparities, focusing on the places and communities where ill health is most prevalent.

“We are aware women live on average for longer than men but spend more of their life in poor health, which is why we published the women’s health strategy on 20 July 2022 to work towards closing the gender health gap.” ~


~ New research has found that supplementing older people with GlyNAC – a combination of glycine and N-acetylcysteine – wards off several key indicators of aging and keeps people healthier as they age. Not only that, but older people also appeared to be fitter and stronger with slimmer waistlines after taking the GlyNAC supplement.

As reported in the Journals of Gerontology Series A, scientists at Baylor College of Medicine studied the effect of GlyNAC supplementation on 24 older adults and 12 younger people in a randomized, double-blind human clinical trial.

After 16 weeks, the GlyNAC supplementation was found to be associated with a host of benefits for key hallmarks of aging and age-associated defects. This included oxidative stress, glutathione deficiency, mitochondrial dysfunction, mitophagy, inflammation, insulin resistance, endothelial dysfunction, genomic damage, stem cell fatigue, and cellular senescence. Meanwhile, no improvements were seen in those receiving a placebo.

In turn, the older people who received doses of GlyNAC acquired stronger muscles, lower blood pressure, and smaller waist measurements. They could exercise harder, and their walking speed improved — slow gait is a surprisingly reliable indication of ill-health in old age.

The researchers explain that the key to GlyNAC’s benefits lies in its ability to restore mitochondrial health and the correction of oxidative stress.

Mitochondria – the “powerhouse of the cell” as school textbooks like to say – generate most of the energy needed to fuel the cell's biochemical reactions. As we age, however, they become less efficient at producing energy. Just as their previous mice studies have suggested, this clinical trial showed that GlyNAC supplementation appeared to lift the mitochondrial function of older people to levels found in young people.

As for oxidative stress, this describes the process in which the body takes damage from high levels of toxic waste products, known as reactive oxygen species or free radicals, resulting in the breakdown of cells and DNA damage. Our body produces a natural anti-oxidant – glutathione – to counteract this, but levels of this also drop as we age. The latest trial showed that GlyNAC supplementation helps to remedy this glutathione deficiency and lowers oxidative stress in older humans.

The GlyNAC supplementation also appeared to have some real impacts on the participants’ health and wellbeing. Older people that received GlyNAC experienced improvements in muscle strength and increased exercise capacity, as well as a significant improvement in walking speed, which is known to be linked to increased chances of survival in old people.

“One of the intriguing questions from this trial is why so many improvements occur toward promoting health. We believe that this is due to the combined effort of three separate components – glycine, cysteine (from NAC), and glutathione, and not just due to glutathione itself. Glycine and cysteine are both very important for cellular health on their own, and GlyNAC provides both,” Dr Rajagopal Sekhar, corresponding study author and professor of medicine at Baylor, explained in a statement.

“Glycine and cysteine are building blocks to form glutathione, which also has health benefits. We believe that the improvements in this trial and in our previous studies are the result of the combined effects of glycine and NAC and glutathione, and we refer to this combination as the ‘Power of 3,”  he added. ~



~ A powder blend of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and glycine was tested at three different daily doses: 2.4 g of actives (1.2 g NAC + 1.2 g glycine), 4.8 g of actives (2.4 g NAC + 2.4 g glycine), and 7.2 g of actives (3.6 g NAC + 3.6 g glycine) per day. Each dosage was split into two doses consumed in the morning and in the evening. ~


~ Most of the carbs you consume, such as those in grains, pasta, and potatoes, are starches.
Some types of starch are resistant to digestion, hence the term resistant starch.

They act like fiber, providing food to friendly gut bacteria.

However, only a few foods contain high amounts of resistant starch.

Furthermore, the resistant starch in foods is often destroyed during cooking.


Resistant starch functions similarly to soluble, fermentable fiber. It helps feed the friendly bacteria in your gut and increases the production of short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate.

Short-chain fatty acids play a key role in gastrointestinal health. For instance, some research indicates that they help prevent and treat colon cancer.

Studies have shown that resistant starch can help with weight loss and benefit heart health. It can also improve blood sugar management, insulin sensitivity, and digestive health.

Interestingly, the way you prepare starch-containing foods affects their starch content, as cooking or heating destroys most resistant starches.

However, you can recapture the resistant starch content of some foods by letting them cool after cooking.

Cooking and cooling starchy foods will increase their resistant starch content. This is true of foods already high in resistant starch as well as foods like pasta, sweet potatoes, and corn tortillas. ~


When you eat food that contains plenty of resistant starch, such as purple yams, greenish bananas, or slightly unripe plantain, they will typically taste starchy — almost unbearably so in the case of a truly green banana (it will also be very hard to peel).

Cooked and chilled potatoes and rice, eaten cold, may be an easier way. The problem with eating a really green banana is that it can make you feel bloated — and the taste is not exactly pleasant. But by trial-and-error, you can find a way of providing resistant starch to your bacteria (which have a huge influence on your health) without making yourself miserable.

Personally I enjoy purple yams. They make a great snack straight out of the refrigerator after being cooked and then chilled.

The trick is to feel full rather than bloated. Remember: resistant starch passes through your intestines, and is digested in the large colon by your super-important bacteria.

Right now I’m experimenting with purple yams. Chilling them and eating them cold actually improves their taste. I feel so lucky that my Asian market sells them.

Cooked and chilled potatoes, cut into pieces, are probably the easiest introduction to consuming more resistant starch — but make your own potato salad with good fats.

The Chinese eat three times as much resistant starch as typical Americans. 


I suspect the same is true of the Japanese as well, since they eat a lot of cooked and cooled rice in their sushi.


ending on beauty:


What syllable are you seeking,


In the distances of sleep?

Speak it.

~ Wallace Stevens