Review on “Spin Dictators by Sergei Guriev and Daniel Treisman” and notes-and-words.


I have read “Spin Dictators” by Sergei Guriev and Daniel Treisman. My review is below.


The book took me 7 hours 22 minutes to read, that is 442 minutes. With about 220 pages of readable text (the whole book is almost twice larger, but the rest contains mostly references), this makes it about 2 minutes per page. Not exactly a book for slow reading.

Why is that?

When reading “Spin Dictators”, I couldn’t get rid of a feeling that I had already heard most of the propositions made. Where? In the Russian opposition-leaning media, for the most part, as well as the Western media, mostly left-leaning.

This made me… be critical about the text. I guess I have to give this disclaimer, because to an extent it means that I cannot review the book in an unbiased way. Not because I am pre-disposed to the book, but because I just have had too much exposure to a partisan political agenda.

Does it mean that things said there are a priori false? Not at all, after all, political agendas are sometimes built on genuine understanding, and in the case of “Spin Dictators”, most claims are supported by evidence, even though I haven’t bothered to verify that evidence. However, it did make me approach the text from a critical viewpoint.

So what the authors are saying can be roughly summarised as the following: since the last quarter of the twentieth century, dictatorships are much more based on manipulating and misleading people, rather than on inflicting fear upon them.

The first part of the book defines what a “Spin Dictatorship” is more precisely, and continues to describe its properties, such as its paradigmatic policies to democracy, international relations, propaganda, repression, censorship.

The seconds part of the book tries to establish how those “Spin Dictatorship” appeared, how they might evolve, and how democratic states should work with them.

Overall, this book left me with a feeling of unease. I cannot specify exactly where and why. Those interested may have a look at the notes in the next section of this file.

Perhaps, the most disturbing thought for me is the authors’ firm belief in “international institutions”. After all, international institutions are just institutions, prone to all problems of bureaucratic organisations.

One more thing that bothers me is a really slacky attitude to sovereignty. I mean, naturally, some countries are richer than others. But that approach “do what we tell, and only then we will help you” sounds too fragile to actually work as intended.

Also, they mention that presently countries have about 43% of their economies being used for import-export. This sounds way off from being reasonable. I mean, I like Japanese knives, but do I want to have no domestic knives in a shop nearby? I doubt.

Similarly, I find it hard to believe that “progress” can be achieved by instilling it into people by the more progressive. Something just doesn’t sound right here. Without independence how can there be adulthood?


Chapter 1 : Fear and Spin


  • From Hugo Chávez in Venezuela to Viktor Orbán in Hungary, nondemocratic leaders were using a common set of techniques. Quite a few drew inspiration from the pioneer of this new brand, Lee Kuan Yew.


  • Raymond Aron called these <Nazism and Communism> “secular religions”
  • Socialist revolutionaries like Nasser in Egypt (mobilizational) shared the world stagewith freemarket reactionaries like Pinochet in Chile (demobilizational) and kleptocrats like Mobutu in Zaire (demobilizational).
  • Many scholars, for instance, have sought to explain the stability of classic, violent autocracies — the regimes that we call dictatorships of fear. How do such rulers avoid being overthrown in revolutions?
    It is not normal for people to rebel. People have an “emotional barrier” before they allow that violence to rise up. (?)

    1. intimidate citizens
    2. keep potential rebels from coordinating on a plan
    3. keep them divided—and terrified
  • Most assume that citizens hate the dictator: only fear keeps them from revolting. But what if citizens actually like their ruler and do not want to storm the barricades?
    Is not that democracy?
  • some features of spin dictatorship
    1. hold elections, and not all are empty rituals (ploys, con games, and bureaucratic abuses that autocrats around the world have used to secure victories)
    2. control the media
    3. surveillance and information technologies
  • The key elements
    1. manipulating the media
    2. engineering popularity
    3. faking democracy
    4. limiting public violence
    5. opening up to the world


  • Aristotle: ruler claimed to be not a violent usurper but “a steward and a king,” governing for the benefit of all. spent money to “adorn and improve his city” and cultivated an image of moderation and piety. “not harsh, but dignified.”
  • Machiavelli: use “simu‐lation and dissimulation.” Since most people are influenced by ap‐pearances rather than reality, an ambitious ruler should create illu‐sions. He “need not have all the good qualities … but he must seem to have them.
  • Rules
    1. be pop­u­lar (for example, due to economic prosperity)
    2. ma­nip­u­late in­for­ma­tion
  • here twentieth-century strongmen relished violent imagery — recall Saddam’s “poisoned dagger”
    TODO: thought! Maybe the content of the propaganda does not matter whatsoever? Maybe the mere presence is enough? Make people always have you onto their mind?






  • Vis­it­ing Sin­ga­pore in 1978, Deng had been amazed at what Lee had made of the once im­pov­er­ished colo­nial out­post. In the eleven years since then, Lee had set out to men­tor Deng and his team, ad­vis­ing them on eco­nomic pol­icy.
  • The next year, Li Peng, who, as China’s pre‐mier, had or­dered the troops into Tianan­men Square, vis­ited Sin­ga‐pore. Lee be­rated him for stag­ing such a “grand show” be­fore the world me­dia. Li Peng, ac­cord­ing to Lee, replied with hu­mil­ity: “We are com­pletely in­ex­pe­ri­enced in these mat­ters.”
    FFS. I didn’t know that.


  • West un­der­went a rev­o­lu­tion in pe­nal phi­los­o­phy and prac­tices be­tween 1760 and 1840. The de­lib‐­er­ate in­flic­tion of pain gave way to more “hu­mane” and in­vis­i­blepun­ish­ments, some­times com­bined with at­tempts at re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion <…> Why things changed is not en­tirely clear, al­though many sup­pose that En­light­en­ment val­ues played a key part.
    Very interesting. (TODO?) I doubt the values.
  • Fou­cault also ar­gued, more con­tro­ver­sially, that the re­place­ment of cor­po­ral pun‐­ish­ment with less vis­i­ble forms of dis­ci­pline fa­cil­i­tated the spread of such power mech­a­nisms into a broad range of so­cial set­tings.
    Hm… ? I need to read Foucault.
  • Un­der him, Ital­ians fought a “Bat­tle for Grain,” a “Bat­tle for Land,” and even a “War on Flies.”53 Com‐­mu­nists en­gaged in “ ‘strug­gle’ and ‘com­bat’ on ‘fronts’ to achieve ‘break­throughs’ in pro­duc­tion and cul­tural ‘vic­to­ries.’
    Easy to process, but hard to keep the brain focused.


  • Psy­cho­log­i­cal re­search sug‐­gests per­ceived dan­gers—even those un­re­lated to pol­i­tics—can make peo­ple more pes­simistic, risk averse, and sup­port­ive of au­thor­i­tar­ian poli­cies and lead­ers.
    Indeed! Making people confused is more efficient than making them scared of something definite.


  • His of­fi­cials tightly reg­u­lated stu­dent or­ga­ni­za­tions and vet­ted new fac­ulty for sound­ness.
    Regulating something is a surer way to kill something than outright prohibiting it.
  • Kazakh of­fi­cials made fre­quent study trips to Sin­ga­pore.


  • The mind games could be sub­tle. In one case, Stasi agents snuck into a woman’s apart­ment and re­ar­ranged the fur­ni­ture.
    Very important. Corrosion should be subtle.


More or less lists the things that are used.



  • In Asian so­ci­ety dis­ci­pline and or­der are more im­por­tant than democ­racy, which has to de­velop over time.”


Well, dictators use both mobilising and de-mobilising propaganda.


  • Why bother to con­trol what peo­ple said or thought if they had al‐­ready been ter­ror­ized into obe­di­ence? Our an­swer is that all these mea­sures helped make re­pres­sion more ef­fec­tive.
  • To the lin­guist Vic­tor Klem­perer, who lived through the Nazi years in Dres­den, Hitler’s tirades gen­er­ated a kind of sus­pense rem­i­nis­cent of “Amer­i­can cin­ema and thrillers.” This was de­lib­er­ate. Goebbels aimed to cre­ate an at­mos­phere of tense fore­bod­ing, what he called “thick air“ (dicke luft).
    “Amer­i­can cin­ema and thrillers.” (sic!)
  • Be­sides dis­tin­guish­ing “good” from “bad” and jus­ti­fy­ing vi­o­lence, ide­olo­gies de­cen­tral­ized re­pres­sion to or­di‐­nary cit­i­zens.
  • A smart in­flu­encer, the same ex­pert adds, will make his ap­peals “sim­ple and mem­o­rable.”50 The com­mu­nists cre­ated a dis­course that was bor­ing and ar­cane.
  • old model’s strength was not in its power to per­suade. <…> Hitler’s speeches dur­ing his rise to power had a “neg­li­gi­ble” im­pact on his elec­toral per­for­mance.


  • In­stead of the old threat—“Be obe‐­di­ent, or else!”—the new line seems to be: “Look what a great job we’re do­ing!
  • The act is more chal­leng­ing when per­for­mance is clearly bad.
    Can a “spin dictatorship” really exist in a closed system?
  • We are prag­ma­tists,” Lee Kuan Yew in­sisted. “We are not en­am­ored of any ide­ol­ogy.”
    Make it more confusing!
  • Some have at­trib­uted com­pa­ra­ble per­son­al­ity cults to spin dic­ta‐­tors such as Chávez and Putin.85 But, in fact, what these lead­ers de­vel‐­oped were not per­son­al­ity cults but celebrity—of the tacky kind that sur­rounds West­ern per­form­ers
    Very important!
  • Be­sides redi­rect­ing blame for poor per­for­mance, spin dic­ta­tors who can­not con­ceal bad news try to con­vince the pub­lic that any al‐­ter­na­tive leader would do worse.
    Very important!


  • The one ex­cep­tion is Pres­i­dent Eisen­hower, who—al­though a demo­crat—served at an in­tense mo‐­ment of Cold War con­fronta­tion and so had much to say about mis‐­siles and mil­i­tary threats.
    Note: read Eisenhower’s speeches for colourful epithets.


Alberto Fujimori
  • Fu­ji­mori had made two mis­cal­cu­la­tions. First, his at­tack on democ­racy and the press had pro­voked the fury of hu‐­man rights or­ga­ni­za­tions around the world. The U.S., Ger­man, and Span­ish gov­ern­ments froze all aid ex­cept hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance. Venezuela and Colom­bia sus­pended diplo­matic re­la­tions and Ar‐­gentina re­called its am­bas­sador. The Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Amer­i­can States be­gan dis­cussing sanc­tions; some mem­bers called for Peru’s sus‐­pen­sion.
    Why is any of that important?


  • If a block­age can be blamed on tech­nol­ogy, gov­ern­ments can avoid po­lit­i­cal back­lash.


Fear dictatorships censor openly, Spin dictatorships censor covertly.


  • Mov­ing from no 3G cov­er­age to full cov­er­age led to a drop in gov­ern­ment ap­proval of 6 per­cent­age points.


Hugo Chávez


  • Carl Schmitt, <…> re­jected the as­so­ci­a­tion of democ­racy with any par­tic­u­lar way of elect­ing gov­ern­ments. <…> it meant sim­ply iden­tity of pur­pose be­tween a leader and his fol­low­ers.


  • Fu­ji­mori’s se­cu­rity chief, Vladimiro Mon­tesinos, sent teams of SIN agents to pose as taxi driv‐­ers and gather in­sights from chat­ting with their clients.


Dictators use fraud to increase their outcome from 55% to 65%.


  • mul­ti‐­party elec­tions surged again in the age of spin, reach­ing 78 per­cent of au­toc­ra­cies in 2018


What is this chapter about? International relations? Emigration?


  • From the 1960s, East Ger­many ef­fec­tively sold thou­sands of would-be émigrés to Bonn for around $2,500 a head. By the 1980s, East Ger‐­man tech­nocrats were said to fac­tor such pay­ments—now made in bartered cop­per and oil—into the coun­try’s five-year plans.
  • East Ger­many, ac­cord­ing to its last in­te­rior min­is­ter, was “an El­do­rado for ter­ror‐­ists.”


Spin Dictatorship usually do not fight wars. Except Putin, and even he tried to make them short.


  • (Black Cube) Har­vey We­in­stein hired an Is­raeli pri­vate se­cu­rity firm founded by for­mer Mossad agents to in­ves­ti­gate a woman who ac­cused him of rape
    Can pro-democratic opposition do the same?



  • Nazarbayev’s team was flus­tered at first by the 2006 re­lease of Sacha Baron Co­hen’s com­edy Bo­rat, which por­trayed Kaza­khstan as an anti-Semitic, misog­y­nis­tic back­wa­ter. But they soon re­cov­ered. As one As­tana-based PR spe­cial­ist put it, of­fi­cials quickly re­fo­cused on “how to ex­ploit such an un­ex­pected spot­light on the coun­try.” The for­eign min­is­ter later thanked the film for boost­ing tourism: visa ap­pli­ca­tions, he said, had jumped ten­fold.



What is modernisation and why it happens?
  • Trade and in­vest­ment flows knit economies to­gether, while global me­dia link their news cy­cles and in­for­ma­tional fields. In­ter­na­tional move­ments and coali­tions of states form to pro‐­mote the new val­ues—most im­por­tantly, the re­spect for hu­man rights. Some­times these global in­flu­ences drive even dic­ta­tors with less ad­vanced economies to re­place fear with spin.
    “Coalitions of states form to promote the respect for human rights”? Seriously? Are you kidding me? This is the single point that I don’t find plausible as an argument in any way.
  • Al­though eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment cre­ates pres­sures for gen­uine democ­racy, some au­to‐­crats man­age to de­lay the tran­si­tion by fak­ing it.
    Why exactly do they pressure for genuine democracy?

    Seemingly, the pressure from the outside should be the pressure by threat. But here there seems to be no threat.

    Where are the stimuli? Or the energy balance.


  • In this pe­riod, a “postin­dus‐­trial so­ci­ety” re­placed “in­dus­trial so­ci­ety,” as man­uf­ ac­tur­ing lost ground to ser­vices and—most im­por­tantly—to cre­at­ing and pro­cess‐­ing in­for­ma­tion.
  • The prob­lem for au­to­crats is that higher ed­u­ca­tion is in­trin­si­cally linked to free­dom of thought. Col­lege cour­ses are al­most im­pos­si­ble to san­i­tize com­pletely.
    The “woke left academia” is, seemingly, proving otherwise.
  • The knowl­edge that en­abled tech­ni­cians to serve the au­thor­i­ties also helped them cut through cen­sor­ship.
    To make VPNs :).


  • As more and more coun­tries make the postin­dus­trial tran­si­tion, con­nec­tions pro­lif­er­ate among their economies and me­dia.
    What about the balcanisation of the Internet? What about COVID?
  • By the mid-2000s, it was ex‐­port­ing 43 per­cent of out­put—about twice the pre-World War II peak —and spend­ing 33 per­cent of GDP on im­ports.
    Assuming this is correct, I would say that 43% is insanely high. Nobody would be happy about such a proportion.


How about distinguishing between “human rights” and “citizen rights”? I think it is conflated a lot in this chapter.
  • small groups of ed­u‐­cated pro­fes­sion­als with pro­gres­sive val­ues and of­ten le­gal train­ing linked up in the late twen­ti­eth cen­tury into a net­work of lib­eral NGOs. They used the global me­dia, in­ter­na­tional law, and a range of in­no­va‐­tive tac­tics to fo­cus pres­sure on bru­tal dic­ta­tors
    Dictators? Really? Why do Guriev and Treisman mentions displaced dictators I have never heard of? The Mexican on and the Ivorian one.
  • When ac­tivists pub­li­cize abuses in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, re‐­search sug­gests multi­na­tion­als in­vest less in them.
    Which makes them poorer and less likely to rebel?
  • The pre­vi­ous year, the U.S. Con­gress had cut $4 mil­lion from mil­i­tary aid to the coun­try to protest hu­man rights abuses and cor­rup­tion.
    What about foreign military aid from not USA? Say, Iran?
  • But Ghana at the time re­ceived the World Bank’s big­gest lend­ing pro­gram in Africa.97 And Rawl­ings took se­ri­ously—per­haps too se­ri­ously—hints that con­tin­ued aid hinged on po­lit­i­cal change. “We were forced by the State De­part­ment—oh yes, forced—to adopt mul­ti­party democ­racy,” he com­plained in 2009. He had had to “force democ­racy down the throats” of his re­luc­tant com­pa­tri­ots, he told po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist An­toinette Han­d­ley, be­cause “the State De‐­part­ment was say­ing that there’ll be no more IMF and World Bank fa­cil­i­ties for us.”
    Very interesting. Are these guys permanently in debt, or somehow manage to get out?
  • But from 1974, the U.S. Con­gress started ban­ning as­sis­tance to coun­tries guilty of gross abuses.
    Do as we say, and we will give you the money?




  • The para­dox is that while de­vel­op­ment threat­ens dic­ta­tors, eco­nomic growth helps them sur­vive.
    Still, what about going the North Korea way?
  • As in the Gulf states, mod­ern­iza­tion had been shal­low. As of 2010, fewer than 3 per­cent of adults in Venezuela had a col­lege de‐­gree, hardly more than in 1980.
    What about closing the damn universities?


  • cut­ting fi­nan­cial ties re­duces a dic­ta­tor’s own lever­age over West­ern elites
    (keep in mind)
  • com­pared to the few global TV net­works and wire ser­vices of the 1980s, to‐­day’s me­dia over­flow with de­tail about au­thor­i­tar­ian so­ci­eties
    Because that is distracting from domestic affairs?
  • Among 14 de­vel­oped democ­ra­cies in 2020, a large ma­jor­ity viewed the UN fa­vor­ably in all ex­cept Japan.
    Has this changed after Covid?



  • France re­mained loyal to some un­sa­vory old friends in Africa such as Congo’s De­nis Sas­sou Nguesso and Chad’s Idriss Déby, while Britain and the United States soft-ped­aled the hu­man rights abuses of clients such as Uganda’s Yow­eri Mu­sev­eni.
    Are they even independent countries in reality?
  • the West needs to de­vise a smarter ver­sion of in­te­gra­tion
  • Anony­mous shell com­pa­nies should be banned
  • Be­sides hav­ing greater moral au­thor­ity, an al­liance of democ­ra­cies, backed by in­de­pen­dent an­a­lysts and co­or­di‐­nat­ing with global hu­man rights or­ga­ni­za­tions, would be more ef­fec‐­tive than a myr­iad of agen­cies op­er­at­ing sep­a­rately.
    Really? Why? One body can be dealt with. Many competing bodies cannot.


Okay, so the “West” should use the “idea of democracy” to educate the world.

Words [0/61]

[ ] spin
[ ] pegged
[ ] entrepôts
[ ] schmooze
[ ] suave manipulator
[ ] murky
[ ] Carnation Revolution”
[ ] scribblings
[ ] relish
[ ] state coffers
закрома родины?
[ ] scoop
[ ] scathing
[ ] restive regions
[ ] stilted
[ ] quipped (to quip)
[ ] as if on cue
[ ] queasy
[ ] knuckle-duster
[ ] to snarl
[ ] hatchet
[ ] tough and flat-footed
[ ] ham-fisted
[ ] Syngman Rhee
[ ] disbursing
[ ] pillory (public execution?)
[ ] churro
[ ] to don the garb
[ ] effete
[ ] pounced on the un­doc­u­mented claim
[ ] squawk about
[ ] Zersetzung
[ ] vying
[ ] turgid
[ ] obsequiousness
[ ] administrative elbow grease
[ ] pas­tiche
[ ] dou­ble en­ten­dres
[ ] con­trite
[ ] gut­ter press
[ ] mil­i­tary fa­tigues
combat uniform
[ ] pli­ant
[ ] comp­trol­ler
[ ] quipped
[ ] fly­pasts
[ ] romped home
[ ] hound out
[ ] bick­er­ing
[ ] dab­bled in so­ci­ol­ogy
[ ] pore over polling data
[ ] squalor
[ ] rus­tle up
[ ] hob­nobbed
[ ] stooge
[ ] anti-West­ern gad­flies
[ ] rote tasks
[ ] sac­ri­le­gious
[ ] um­pires
[ ] cause célèbre
[ ] sleaze
[ ] lee­way
[ ] (no term)

Networking for Systems Administrators by Michael W Lucas, a review.


This book review is going to be really short, well, partly because the book itself is short. However, short here does not imply lack of value. I have discovered that the books by Michael W Lucas always seem to play a role that is at the same time very niche, and very valuable. So I have taken writing this review as an opportunity to also reflect on this niche.

Continue reading “Networking for Systems Administrators by Michael W Lucas, a review.”

A short review on “Professional CMake” by Craig Scott.

I have read “Professional CMake” by Craig Scott. This is short review. This time the review is, indeed, going to be short, because I cannot really say that the book was a paradigm-changing read. Nevertheless, I have decided to make reviews on most books I read, and this one is not an exception.


Continue reading “A short review on “Professional CMake” by Craig Scott.”

A review on “Little Soldiers” by Lenora Chu.


I have gone through the book in the title. I am no saying “have read”, because for quite some time already, since first grasping this trick while conquering Baudrillard’s “Simulacra”, I am getting through a lot of material via listening to Text-to-Speech, rather than reading directly. Not just is it very handy when there is a “sunken” time during which it is not possible to execute tasks that require full concentration. This, however, comes at a price, namely, certain details are perceived differently, compared to reading in a traditional way.

Anyway, I have listened through the book, and it was an enlightening experience, which I would like to share with the world in this short review.

The book tells a story of an American couple with two children living in Shanghai for a few years, who’s elder son had a chance to attend classes in a Chinese kindergarten (as opposed to what typically happens to the expat children in China – they attend foreign-style kindergartens, which are especially plentiful in Shanghai).

The book was especially interesting to me, as I am not an original product of either American, or Chinese culture, so I had a chance to see the story from a third-party perspective.

Continue reading “A review on “Little Soldiers” by Lenora Chu.”

I’ve hacked a simple script for drawing a file system tree as a graph with graphviz. Sounds fun?

Once I realised than a file system tree is like a MindMap…

Here’s the gitlab link:

Contrary to the name, it is actually in Chibi, not in scsh. I initially thought that scsh would be better due to more exensive posix support, but it turned out to be that Chibi was good enough.

It is a small-ish (500 lines of code) script to generate a graph from your filesystem tree. It accepts a few options (editable directly at the file top) and duplicates quite a lot of the GNU Find functionality, but I didn’t find a way to avoid doing that, as it has to use heuristics in order to prune the tree to a reasonable size.

The resulting image is like this:


Small, 1Mb

Large, 44Mb

I plotted the Slarm64 (Unofficial Slackware for Raspberry Pi) repository tree, just for the demonstration purposes.

The size of the images above is 1×2.5 metres. It’s large, but my original goal was to plot my whole file system. The ’size=’ parameter is tunable. I think it is reasonable to assume that you need to have at least 4 square centimetres per node, so a graph that large would accommodate about 4000 nodes. In my opinion, 8000 is still possible, but too tight.

With the default settings the script ignores regular files, but traverses symlinks. In theory it also supports hardlinks, but you would need to turn on drawing regular files manually.

I made this script, because I started to feel that I am starting to forget what I have on my hard drive, that has amassed quite a lot of life history for the past 20 years. (Since hard drives became reasonably priced.)

Use-cases and pull requests welcome. One more reason to create this script was to prove that Scheme can be a practical programming language.

Technologically, this code is not terribly advanced, the only trick that may be interesting to programming nerds is having the r7rs module and the main function in the same file (like scsh/scheme48 suggest doing), which requires procedural module analysis.

I had to glue on a couple of C bindings for sys/xattr.h, those are now available at the Snow-Fort repo. Those are Chibi-specific.

Hope you will enjoy it.

Solving SICP

This report is written as a post-mortem of a project that has, perhaps, been the author’s most extensive personal project: creating a complete and comprehensive solution to one of the most famous programming problem sets in the modern computer science curriculum “Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs”, by Abelson, Sussman, and Sussman (\cite{Abelson1996}).

It measures exactly:

  • How much effort SICP requires (729 hours 19 minutes (over eight months), 292 sessions).
  • How many computer languages it involves (6).
  • How many pieces of software are required (9).
  • How much communication with peers is needed.

It suggests:

  • A practical software-supported task management procedure for solving coursework.
  • Several improvements, on the technical side, to any hard skills teaching process.
  • Several improvements, on the social side, to any kind of teaching process.

The solution is published online (the source code and pdf file):

This report (and the data in the appendix) can be applied immediately as:

  • A single-point estimate of the SICP problem set difficulty.
  • A class handout aimed at increasing students’ motivation to study.
  • A data source for a study of learning patterns among adult professionals aiming for continuing education.
  • An “almost ready” protocol for a convenient problem-set solution procedure, which produces artefacts that can be later used as a student portfolio.
  • An “almost ready”, and “almost convenient” protocol for measuring time consumption of almost any problem set expressible in a digital form.

Additionally, a time-tracking data analysis can be reproduced interactively in the org-mode version of this report. (See: Appendix: Emacs Lisp code for data analysis)

Read full paper

A marvelous sample of chinese propaganda

Yesterday I posted an unremarkable Chinese propaganda poster, I believe, created in order to sweeten for the kids the necessity to go back to school.

As it is school-oriented, of course it is profession-related. That is, it is a manga/tradition Cbhinese scroll stylized depiction of potential professions.

The post received an unexpected amount of attention, so I am publishing an extended version.

The poster

The border guard

The cosmonaut

The banker

The firefighter

The musician and the farmer

The photo reporter

Cultural activist?

Industrial climber

5G Engineer

Cleaning staff


Digital marketer


Livestock farmer


Flight attendant




Criminal Lawyer






Public maintenance



Civil engineer



Drone pilot