highly recommended book - dupes by paul kengor
A good portion of the book is available
for browsing (click on the picture of the front cover
“... here is a critical point and lesson: under
communism, totally different national cultures, from
all over the globe, sharing only communism as their
common characteristic, all committed mass violence against
their populations. This violence was an institutional
policy of the new revolutionary order. Its scope and
inhumanity far exceeded anything in the national past
of these cultures”
“ ...a roughly 70-year period that equates to
almost 40,000 deaths per day.”
And foolishly, the author even seems to avoid
the socialist regimes of Hitler
This a long book of over 500 pages with another
100 pages of references.
Dupes is heavily researched
and wide-ranging. it traces communist infiltration and propaganda
from early in the 20th century.
Most particularly, it concentrates on Communist
front organisations with their penetration of leftist and soft
liberal groups in the USA.
The title comes from the constant duping
of lefties, hiding behind lefties and persuading lefties to
support communist objectives.
The book’s timeline goes back to President
Wilson, through Franklin Roosevelt, right up to Barack Obama.
There are sections on Hollywood dupes, on
Vietnam dupes, on Carter and on the House Committee on Unamerican
Another 2003 book on similar topics is Useful
Idiots by Charen.
This book has over 250 pages plus notes and
There is a useful section on Central America, not covered in Dupes.
It is easier to read read than Dupes,
but it is already somewhat out of date and much less detailed.
Dupes: how America’s adversaries have manipulated
progressives for a century by Paul Kengor
Studies Institute,1st edition, 2010
ISI Books; 2nd edition, 2010
Useful Idiots: How Liberals Got It
Wrong in the Cold War and Still Blame America First by
Harper Paperbacks, 2004
Regnery Publishing Inc, hbk, 2003
who is barack
the web address for the article above is
and paid for” - gasparino on obama
I have so far read one third of this book,
and I’m impressed by both the accuracy and the organisation.
I’ve only noticed one small, analytic error so far, but I’ve not
noted it down ☺.
Now completed, this is simply one of the
most useful political books I have read. It is particularly
interesting in analysing the interactions between crony capitalism
and Washington, including the real story of the recent banking
clag-up and political corruption.
The book analyses the incestuous corruption in the USA
between Wall Street, Big Money and government. Bought and paid for details the
large donations from Wall Street to Obama (50% larger than those to the Republican Party).
This book is awarded Five GoldenYaks, and is recommended for anyone who
wishes to understand the nature of big government, instead of
being suckered by the constantly repeated myths peddled by the fossil media.
“The fact of the matter is, when you strip away the name-calling
and class warfare coming from the Obama administration, and when
you ignore Wall Street's gripes about the new financial reform
legislation that will put a crimp in some of its profits, these
two entities are far more aligned than meets the casual eye. They
coexist to help each other-in an unholy alliance against the American taxpayer.”
[p.9, Bought and paid for]
“But he faced formidable obstacles in creating his dream, which a few
years later would turn into the nightmare named Citigroup. Under the
Glass-Steagall Act, a deal of this nature would create something that
was in violation of the law. To forge ahead with his plan, Weill would have
to spend a few million dollars on lobbyists to get the law repealed once and all.
“An even bigger challenge would be more political than financial:
the government's housing advocates, people like Congresswoman Maxine Waters
and others, who would view the potential merger as an opportunity to demand
major concessions from the company in exchange for their vote of approval.
They would protest, hold hearings showing alleged racial disparity in lending
practices, and force Congress to think twice before allowing the merger
—unless Weill's banking empire stepped up its lending to poor communities.
“But Sandy Weill had an answer to that as well: Jesse Jackson.
The famed civil rights activist wasn't above demanding that banks give
more loans to the poor, even if the poor couldn't repay them. Indeed,
he had been using his stature inside Big Government, his access to key
lawmakers, and now his friend President Bill Clinton to achieve his
political and financial goals for years. Lately, he had developed a
simple but lucrative new business model wherein he would threaten
protests of the lack of diversity of various corporations, including,
now, the big Wall Street firms. He labeled this latest campaign the
Wall Street Project, whose purpose was to bring greater diversity to
the nearly all-white and all-male power structure at the typical Wall
Street firm. Jackson told me those firms that donated money to his new
Wall Street Project were simply demonstrating their commitment to
diversity. The firms that gave called the money the price of doing
business and, in a rare moment of candor, a form of extortion.”
[pp.71-72, Bought and paid for]
“With that, the firms began feeling good about themselves
as they partied on more than $140 billion in bonus money
for 2009, doled out during the early part of 2010. It was
as if 2008 had never happened, and in the minds of most
of Wall Street, it hadn't.” [p.194, Bought and
“The firms would have to hold more capital to cover
trading activities, but there would loopholes for those
that played ball with Big Government: Banks would given
breaks on the capital standard for so-called community-based
or socially responsible lending.”
Mae and Freddie Mac wouldn't be touched
by the reform. In fact, as I write this, the Obama administration
and Congress are feeding the monster once again, trying to revive
the agencies, which are now completely wards of the state,
with a bailout estimated at $1 trillion.” [p.209]
“Even worse, government will be intruding in the financial
system more than ever before, based on the false premise that
a lack of regulation caused the financial crisis, rather than
the nanny state of bailouts over the past three decades (most
notably in 2008) that let Wall Street believe consequences
did not go hand in hand with risk taking.” [p.236]
Bought and Paid
For: The Unholy Alliance Between Barack Obama and
Wall Street by Charles Gasparino
Sentinel, hbk, 5 Oct 2010
- judgment and experience
- what really goes on in his head
the web address for the article above is
on china destroying itself, and maybe the
rest of us: when a billion chinese jump by watts
I’ve read over 200 pages (over a half) of When a billion chinese jump.
It is useful background so far. The author has a bit of a heavy
potato style and a definite list to the left, but I can live
From the half that I’ve read so far, this is an excellent
travelogue around modern China. It puts into context fossil media hype claiming that
China will soon rule the world. I would recommend this book as an introductory reader
for any relevant studies, as well as being very useful background for those trying to
keep abreast of a rapidly changing modern world.
At least four GoldenYaks within its ambitions.
Here are some extracts:
On the tragedy
of the commons and pollution in China:
“The deregulation of herd sizes in the early 1980s
prompted nomads to buy as many goats, sheep and yaks as they
could afford. Subsequent policies that, for the purposes of
taxation, valued yaks four times as highly as sheep led to
a surge in the numbers of the latter, which were far more
damaging to the grasslands. The situation was not helped by
a ban on polygamy that encouraged status-conscious Tibetan
men to compensate for the loss of wives .by increasing the
size of their herds.
As a result, swaths of grassland were so overgrazed they turned
to desert. This was calamitous. Denuded of its thatch covering,
the roof of the world was less able to absorb moisture and
more likely to radiate heat. The result? The mountains of
Tibet warmed more than any other part of China.
“To make matters worse, the high Kunlun and Himalayan
ranges acted as a chimney for water vapour to be convected
high into the stratosphere instead of being trapped at a lower
level and released as rain or snow. This was bad for three
reasons: first, water vapour has a stronger greenhouse gas
effect than carbon dioxide; second, its dispersal over a wider
area potentially deprives arid areas of China of water; and,
third, it mixes with pollution, dust and black carbon from
India and elsewhere, which creates brown clouds that spread
over the region. Xiao Ziniu, the director general of the Beijing
Climate Centre, told me Tibet's climate was the most sensitive
in Asia and impacted other parts of the globe. Changes in
the soil here fed back rapidly into the atmosphere, affecting
global air circulation just as rising ocean surface temperatures
affected storm patterns.” [pp. 45-46]
On China’s water reserves:
“At 4,776m, this was one of the great doorways to
the top of the world. It was also the northern shore of a
vast sea of permafrost that stretched more than 600km across
the plateau towards Tibet and the Himalayas, prompting some
to describe it as the third pole of the world. It was an apt
term. The plateau and the mountain ranges around it contained
37,000 glaciers, some of which were 700,000 years old. Together
they contained the largest body of ice outside of the Arctic
and Antarctic.” [p.47 ]
On panda breeding:
“Zhang told me his breeding techniques had been developed
after twenty years of trial and error. No experiment, it seemed,
was too bizarre. Concerned that the captive-bred pandas might
lack basic instincts, the keepers provided sex education in
the form of wildlife videos showing the animals mating in
the forests. When this panda porn failed to boost the beasts'
sex drives, the scientists tried the remedy used by millions
of humans: Viagra. 'We'll never do that again,' Zhang said
with a wry smile. 'The panda was excited for twenty-four hours.
We had to beat his erect penis with a stick.'
“I laughed in sympathetic horror. Funnier and more
pitiful still was the matchmaking deception used to minimise
the risk of. inbreeding. Male pandas were a discerning bunch.
Left to their own devices, they would all mate with the sexiest
females, which would shrink an already small genetic stock.
To avoid this, researchers had to find a partner for even
the least alluring females. How did they do that? 'We tricked
them,' Zhang said with another mischievous grin. The ruse
was to put a fertile and attractive female into a breeding
pen, where the point for the zoo-keepers to bring in another,
less attractive female scented with the urine of the animal
she replaced. The 'ugly panda' was introduced into the mating
pen rear end first, so the male could not see the face of
his partner until they finished copulating.
“ 'Don't they get upset?' I asked, incredulous.
“ 'Oh yes,' Zhang replied. 'When the males find out,
they get very angry and start fighting the female. We have
had to use firecrackers and a water hose to separate them.'
On refuse dumps:
“I left with a mini-scoop and a major feeling of guilt.
The Guangdong recyclers were clearing up the world's mess,
yet they were treated as if they created it. Pushed ever further
out of sight along with the rubbish, they helped to maintain
the illusion of environmental improvement in developed Western
nations and rich cities like Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai.
In reality, there was no clean-up, just a widening of the
distance between consumption and its consequences. This was
the opposite of responsible self-governance but Guangdong
- despite its lawless history. 4·was not primarily
to blame. Sniffing around the province’s waste dumps,
I had found a stinking pile of hypocrisy. The stench followed
me all the way home and beyond, to other, supposedly wealthier,
cleaner parts of China.” [p.121]
“During years travelling around China, I saw the beginnings
of what Watts describes. What staggered me in his book was
this: in the West we are suffering fear and loathing of the
Chinese Century and China's impressive 10 per cent national
growth, compared with our paltry advances. But I didn't know
that the World Bank, as Watts shows, has calculated the annual
bill for Chinese pollution - health costs, premature deaths,
damaged infrastructure and crops - at 5.8 per cent of GDP.
That lowers the Chinese miracle to our level. And if you add
in erosion, desertification and environmental degradation,
the World Bank calculates there is an 8 to 12 per cent bite
into China's GDP, stopping the miracle in its eroded tracks.
Watts suggests that if we factor in climate change and the
gobbling up of non-renewable resources around the planet,
'it becomes conceivable that China's environmental crunch
contributed to the global financial crash of 2008'.”
[Quoted from literaryreview.co.uk]
“Collieries destroy arable land and grazing
pastures, erode topsoil, worsen air and water pollution,
increase levels of river sediment (raising the risk
of floods), and accelerate deforestation (especially
if the coal is used to make charcoal). The country's
most pressing environmental problems - acid rain, smog,
lung disease, water contamination, loss of aquifers
and the filthy layer of black dust that settled on many
villages - can all be traced back in varying degrees
to this single cause.”
“ More than 170,000 miners have been killed in
tunnel collapses, explosions and floods, a death rate
per tonne at least thirty times higher than that in
the United States....” [Quoted from danwei.org]
There’s an interview at
“One of the sub-themes of the book is an exploration
of China’s Daoist side. There have always been
competing philosophies in China. It intrigued me that
you can’t really have a Daoist civilization –
it’s almost an embrace and acceptance of the wild,
of anarchy and chaos. Most of the time Confucianism
has been the predominant philosophy, though there have
been times that China is more Legalist. However, in
Chinese history, you hear that some Mandarins were Confucians
while working in their official positions, but when
they went home they tended their gardens, or wrote poetry,
and gave space to their Daoist sides. Maybe that's one
of the secrets of Chinese civilisation and why it has
lasted so long: that balance of the two sides.”
When a billion
Chinese jump: how China will save mankind—or
by Jonathan Watts
Scribner, original edition, 26 October 2010
the web address for the article above is
Peoplequake by Fred Pearce - a review
Peoplequake is a useful survey
of current knowledge on demographics, looking at some myths
concerning over-population, immigration and the like. It is
previous book by Fred Pearce reviewed here, in the form
of somewhat notey articles cobbled together, rather than as
an organised book. This book is overloaded in the rhetoric department,
but reads easily. It is a good antidote to many uninformed beliefs
regularly paraded in the fossil media and by politicians seeking
the votes of the naive and innocent.
Four GoldenYaks awarded by virtue of
its usefulness and information. Highly
recommended for background and general education, and
for civic courses.
“For me, environmentalists are at their best
when they alert us to the dangers - and at their worst
when they succumb to the belief that their worst predictions
are designed to come true. The optimists are at their
best when they convince us that anything is possible
- and at their worst when convinced that we don't have
to change in order to achieve it. That all we need to
do is to trust in god or the markets.” [p.247]
list of carbon intensity for different national economies.)
“The stage is set for population peak and decline.
Europe is into negative growth already. Its native population
could halve by mid-century. By 2100, on current fertility
trends, Germany could have fewer natives than today's
Berlin, and Italy's population could crash from 58
million to just eight million. Even if fertility recovers
to about 1.85, Ukraine will lose 43 per cent of its
population, Bulgaria and Georgia 34 per cent, Belarus
and Latvia 28 per cent and Romania, Russia and Moldova
each more than more than 20%.” [p. 294]
The population replacement rate is often quoted
as 2.1 children per female. More careful analysis plumps for 2.3 children
per female. In fact, the replacement rate per female varies considerably
between societies. it may be 2.1 in an advanced western society, and go as high as 3.5
in an African society riddled by AIDS. Another major reason that a higher replacement rate can
be required is the widespread killing, abortion and neglect of females east of Suez. [See pp. 150,151]
total world fertility rate, listed by country
Note: be cautious when reading the above numbers and tables.
Such figures can often be unreliable or changeable, according to the assumptions made.
Mass Migration, Ageing Nations and the Coming Population
by Fred Pearce
Eden Project Books, pbk, 2010
Transworld Digital, 2010, Kindle 573kb
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
the web address for the article above is
sampling problem - on Fooled by randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
There are badly written books in the field of science,
and there are worse. This book is well up for a prize
in the category of ‘worse’. Unfortunately,
Fooled by randomness
may also have some interest. It is written by an author
who clearly does not have first language fluency in English.
To add to his problems, he has the arrogant belief that
his writing will be improved as long as no editor tries
to interfere with it. Surprisingly, Penguin Books seem
to have accepted these standards, possibly on the basis
that it sells as a word-of-mouther ☺.
The book concerns itself with what I would call ‘the
sampling problem’, a false belief that a
short (several years) time-series sample, especially in
the area of financial instruments - stocks, bonds, etc.
- is representative of long-term behaviour,
- conforms to a random/normal/Gaussian distribution.
Some will recognise this under headings such as ‘the
induction problem’ or ‘the
black swan problem’. Even while knowing the problem
exists, it is very easy to get carried away, to overlook or
ignore the problem - to apply a perceived pattern to circumstances
where it no longer applies.
Very few people can think clearly about statistics. For
those people, the hard work of reading this book may even
repay the investment in time and irritation.
Any competent statistician should already have a good feel
for these problems. As previously said, the subject matter is
not generally covered sufficiently, while many people who appear
quite highly educated in mathematics have insufficient grasp
of statistical realities required or necessary to exercise adequate
In among the rambling text are amusing or sad (according to
your taste) stories of Wall Street high-flyers stumbling, unaware,
into ginormous losses by trusting abstract mathematical formulae
above that nasty real world stuff.
If I give this book a One GoldenYak award, then those that
should read it might think it useless. If I give Four GoldenYaks,
then those who don’t need it might waste their time. So
I’ve decided to avoid the problem!
misuse and abuse of statistics
by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life
and in the Markets
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
[amazon.co.uk] Penguin, pbk, 2007
Random House, 2nd hbk edition, 2008
the web address for the article above is
Quants: How a Small Band of Maths Wizards Took Over Wall
Street and Nearly Destroyed it - Scott Patterson
is an Amazon review. By and
large, I regard it as fair comment.
This book is, as another review says,
“sophomoric”. It looks like an eager student
assiduously taking notes on a subject he can hardly understand.
However, he does copy down some useful references, some
of which will be followed up.
The author, in my view, misuses terms
on a grand scale, and he misapplies ‘blame’
to those who were merely ‘doing their jobs’.
He seems to have not the slightest
grasp that the problems were primarily political errors,
while those ‘playing the markets‘ are mostly
little different than those playing Las Vegas.
So, this book is a useful, but very
crude, history by an diligent ‘reporter’ with
very little intellectual depth.
How a Small Band of Maths Wizards Took Over Wall
Street and Nearly Destroyed it
by Scott Patterson
Crown Business, Feb. 2010
the web address for the article above is