The Great Degeneration

(How Institutions Decay and Economies Die) (Niall Ferguson, 2014) This compendium of Reith Lectures by historian Niall Ferguson given in 2012 is no less topical a decade later. In fact it is a fortiori, given that the subsequent years have borne out many of the predictions made. For example, the author quotes ‘cliometrician’ Peter Turchin predicting “the next instability peak [of violence] should occur in the United States around 2020.” Orwell’s pigs have taken over Manor Farm: “What Charles Murray has called the ‘cognitive elite’, educated at exclusive private universities, intermarried and congregated in a few ‘super zip codes’, looks…

Continue Reading →

The Contrarian

(Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power) (by Max Chafkin, 2021) After reading this entertaining, rather facile book, Peter Thiel remains, at least to us, “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”  For a contrarian, he often went with the flow. He had at times a gift for successfully betting the other way, such as his heroic support of Mr. Trump in 2016. For someone who has acquired substantial wealth and significant power, he seems to unsure what to do with them. An introvert who craves attention, a control freak who at times throws caution to the…

Continue Reading →

Me and White Supremacy

July 21, 2022 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Non-Fiction, POLITICS, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

“How to Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World” by Layla F. Saad (2020) This is the book for me: I am white and regard myself as Supreme, although not for that reason. So this “deep-diving self-reflection tool” sets a 28 day work schedule of “reflective journaling and inner excavation.”  I did the work: but an alternate journal is set out below. This one-of-a-kind personal antiracism tool, an activist education program for confronting white privilege and dismantling white supremacy, helps us honkys check our privilege and “take ownership of [our] participation in the oppressive system of white supremacy.”…

Continue Reading →

Liberté! Egalité! Fraternité!

July 14, 2022 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY, Non-Fiction |

July 14, 1789 We have spoken of the ‘glory’ of Bastille Day; let us instead hear more from Carlyle on how inglorious it really was: “…De Launay could not do it. Distracted, he hovers between two; hopes in the middle of despair; surrenders not his Fortress; declares that he will blow it up, seizes torches to blow it up, and does not blow it. Unhappy old De Launay, it is the death-agony of thy Bastille and thee! Jail, Jailoring and Jailor, all three, such as they may have been, must finish….For four hours now has the World-Bedlam roared: call it…

Continue Reading →

The Riddle of the Labyrinth (Margalit Fox)

“This is the true story of one of the most mesmerizing riddles in western history and, in particular, of the unsung woman who would very likely have solved it, had she only lived a little longer”, begins Fox’s telling of the decipherment of Linear B. As with so many of the early, imaginative theories of the meaning of the Linear B script, however, this is less accurate and more enticing than the truth. Alice Elizabeth Kober’s role in the solving of this mystery was overshadowed, but not ‘unsung’ as was Rosalind Franklin’s role in the decipherment of the structure of…

Continue Reading →

© Copyright 2014 The Varnished Culture All Rights Reserved. TVC Disclaimer. Site by KWD&D.