Substack Library


Russia Is Becoming More North Korean

If someone forwarded this to you, my name is Paul. You can read about who I am here. This Substack grows via word-of-mouth, so please forward to your friends. If you like this writing, you will enjoy my books Master, Minion and Raising a Thief. Subscriptions are a vote of confidence and book and podcast reviews help lead others to my work.

Putin Context

If someone forwarded this to you, my name is Paul and you can read about me here. I encourage you to read my books Master, Minion and Raising a Thief and become a paid member of this Substack. If you read my books and liked them, please submit an Amazon review. If you don’t like them, I’m curious for your feedback, email me.

A Soldier’s Perspective

Today I’m sharing a conversation with Lt. General (ret.) Mark Hertling. This is part of my effort to understand the Ukraine war. I’ve been frustrated by some news coverage, like a weekend article from The Wall Street Journal warning “Some Western Backers of Ukraine Worry That Time Might be On Russia’s Side.” These stories lack a rigorous economic and military analytical framework.

Letter From Riga

Still Press is less a person than an idea—to create content that is thoughtful, mind-bending (the world “Still” connotes two things at once) and that helps put our existence into perspective. It’s a team effort. The sound of the podcasts, the look of the book covers, all of it comes from a group. Your feedback is also crucial and helps direct us down the right path. So far, I have written all the posts. Today, is our first guest post.

Beating Putin Is Easier Than It Looks

For those of you new to these posts, you can find out more about what I am up to and who I am on my website. Frederik Gieschen was kind enough to have me on his podcast to discuss Master, Minion. You can hear the episode here.

Russia’s Post Putin Future

It takes a while for hype to converge on fair value. But eventually the physics of frauds, fads and fanatics plays out. That’s been true of technology stocks twice in my life, true with artists and bitcoin and true with leaders, including Vladimir Putin, once viewed as a real-life Darth Vader and now revealed to be an impulsive, reckless tyrant.

The Psychology of Extremist Leaders

“Narcissists thrive in chaotic times.” —Michael Maccoby, Narcissistic Leaders, the Incredible Pros, the Incredible Cons, Harvard Business Review.1

Putin’s Battle With Modernity

In the fall of 1991, I landed in St. Petersburg for what would turn out to be a three-year stint living in Russia. As we taxied to the terminal, I looked out the window. A worker was cutting the grass …with a scythe. In Russia, the ancient permeates the day-to-day.

Opening Black Boxes

For most of its inhabitants, the modern world is full of black boxes, devices whose internal workings remain—to different degrees—a mystery to their users.”—Vaclav Smil.

Russia, One-Off or Precedent

Observing Russia is disturbing. How disturbing is in part a function of distance. When the war broke out, I was a few hours away in Cyprus. Later, in New England, an ocean separated me and I felt safer. Last week, driving Palo Alto’s Sand Hill Road, the idea of a Russia-like swing in US politics felt implausible. But what if what is unfolding in Russia is a disease that can spread?