Leo's Blog: Infinite Insights

Miscellaneous bits of wisdom and resources on personal development, life purpose, philosophy, epistemology, nonduality, psychedelics, etc. Published randomly throughout the week.

  1. penetrating mental vision or discernment.
  2. the sudden act of grasping the inner nature or truth of a situation.
  3. a deep understanding of a person or thing.
synonyms: intuition, discernment, perception, awareness, understanding, comprehension, grasp, apprehension, penetration, acumen, perspicacity, acuity, vision, wisdom, recognition, realization, epiphany, ah-ha moment

Insights here are meant to be quick and half-baked. Consider these food for thought.

I've deliberately disabled comments to keep the blog streamlined. If you want to discuss any of the blog posts, you can do so here: Actualized.org Forum

November 27, 2023

Self-deception and bias runs through every mind. But this does not mean all minds are equally self-deceived and biased.

Okay, here's some heavy and advanced political philosophy for ya:

Alexandr Dugin is a Russian political theorist and philosopher who is influential within the Russian military and with Putin. His philosophy gives an intellectual grounding to Putin's geopolitical strategy. For example, Dugin wrote a book in the late 90s which predicted the invasion of Ukraine as part of Russia's grand effort to break US unipolarity. In this book Dugin basically reveals Putin's grand plan. As Dugin and Putin see it, the invasion of Ukraine is necessary to break the global hegemony of degenerate liberal values.

Dugin's worldview is so interesting because it's so different from anything we hear in the West. It attempts to challenge and undo the last 300 years of Western political advancement since the Enlightenment. And what makes it even more interesting is that Dugin embraces post-modernism and tries to use it to attack liberalism and globalism. Dugin combines post-modernism, occultism, Christian Orthodox mysticism, nationalism, collectivism, and far-right traditionalism into a political agenda to undermine and dethrone the Western liberalism. Dugin's core objection to Western liberalism — by which he means the entire system of Western liberal democracy since the European Enlightenment — is that it is soulless and anti-spiritual, and ultimately Satanic.

It's sort of batshit crazy, but I admire its originality and daring. Unlike your typical American conservative, he's a serious intellectual and philosopher, a sort of Russian Jordan Peterson, but more radical in his political ambitions.

According to Dugin's theory there exist 4 main political movements: 1) fascism, 2) Marxism, 3) liberalism, and 4) Dugin's own "4th way". Fascism and Marxism both lost to liberalism in the 20th century. Dugin likes some aspects of fascism and Marxism, dislikes others parts, but considers both movements dead ends. Dugin considers liberalism to be Satanic because not only is it atheist, materialist, and anti-spiritual, but it is totalitarian in trying to shove these values down everyone's throat. So, Dugin's mission is to pursue a 4th way in which liberalism is ultimately dethroned and destroyed. Dugin wants a quasi-authoritarian, traditional, conservative, nationalist, collectivist, pro-spiritual, super-power Russian state in a multipolar world order. This is Putin's aim as well. In an interview, Dugin said that "we Russians want Putin to be more authoritarian than he is". So Dugin criticizes Putin from the right for not being more vigorous in confronting the Satanic liberal world order.

More videos on Dugin's worldview:

The Most Dangerous Philosopher In The World

From Russia With Evil

Dugin On His 4th Political Theory

I share with you Dugin's worldview not because I support it, but because I want to expand your thinking about politics. It's valuable to see politics from a non-Western liberal perspective. Relative to Dugin, what Americans and Western conservatives like Jordan Peterson consider to be conservative is actually liberal. So Dugin is not just against progressives, he sees even the American right-wing as liberals. Try to imagine a political philosophy which seeks to undo the last 300 years of Western enlightenment! That's some juicy food for thought.

I see an important kernel of truth in Dugin's view, and also some serious problems. The kernel of truth is that we should move to a multipolar world. It is a mistake for the US to maintain unipolarity because in the end every country has to be treated as sovereign. US meddling in the internal affairs of other nations is fundamentally devilish and leads to many negative long-term consequences, and ultimately an unjust world. However, the problem is that not all countries & cultures are on equal footing, as Dugin would like to believe. The key problem in Dugin's philosophy is a misuse of post-modernism. Dugin wants to use post-modernism to over-relativize everything, to say that Russia is no lesser than America, but he fails to account for levels of development. It is a fact that America is more developed than Russia, which is most clearly seen in measures of corruption. The corruption levels in Russia are way worse than in America, and this is not something you can post-modern your around.

Yes, all countries deserve sovereignty. Yes, we should work towards a multipolar world where no one country gets to dominate or bully others by imposing its own value system. However, there is still a notion of universal values which all countries will have to converge on. Values like truth, integrity, transparency, stopping corruption, and human rights, are things that all countries in the global ecosystem will have to respect because they are not just arbitrary relative cultural constructs, these values are crucial for any kind of decent society and peaceful co-existence. But this is precisely what Dugin wants to call "liberalism" and unipolarity. And this is where I think his project must ultimately fail. Because post-modernism is wrong about all truths being relative. If I were to tell Dugin that Russia is objectively more corrupt than America, he would try to deny it by appeals to post-modern relativism. But he would be wrong.

Another problem I see with Dugin's project is that as nice as it might sound in theory, much like Marxism, in practice it will turn into a much uglier thing when fleshed out in the real world. Even though Dugin says that he is not a fascist, that he hates racism, and that his project is "a 4th way", I think that if his philosophy was actually implemented it would devolve into far-right nationalism and racism, with all the cruelty and brutality that usually entails.

I think he's deluded himself into thinking that he has found a better alternative to liberalism. If you look as how Russia and Putin are behaving nowadays, they are definitely not on a trajectory towards something better than liberalism. Just look at the level of authoritarian crackdowns inside Russia. The crackdowns on journalists. The crackdowns on free speech. The crackdowns on LGBTQ. The spread of absurd anti-Ukraine propaganda. The assassinations of oligarchs. The arrest of protestors. The lies. The delusional attempts to rewrite Ukraine out of world history. The delusional levels of Russian nationalism and patriotism. The biased ways in which Putin drafts soldiers into war. The use of violent criminals as cannon-fodder on the front lines. The brutality and war crimes in Ukraine. The use of mercenary forces like the Wagner group. None of this is an improvement over liberalism or the Enlightenment. And it is not equivalent to the devilry of America. Yes, America definitely commits devilry, but Russia commits more devilry because it is a less developed government. Blurring this distinction is an intellectual error.

Dugin's ways are not more evolved, more developed, more advanced, more just, more humane than liberalism. I believe something more developed than liberalism is possible, but whatever Dugin and Putin are doing is not it because they have yet to fully integrate liberalism. They are attempting to transcend a thing which they have not integrated. The most stark example here is this: how can Putin and Dugin claim to transcend liberalism when Putin cannot even follow his own constitution and honor term limits for himself? Dugin would like to use post-modernism to weasel his way out of this by saying that Russia has a uniquely different worldview in which term limits on the President do not apply. But I'm sorry, this isn't serious philosophy, this is devilry. If your country cannot honor its own constitution and its leaders can manipulate the legal system to appoint themselves for life, that is not merely a difference in opinion, values, or culture, that is objectively lower development, and it will produce an inferior society to one that follows liberalism. Because at least liberalism can create a legal system that honors term limits.

Notice how sneaky the mind is here. Notice how easy it is to bullshit yourself with relativism and post-modernism. Here's an analogy to illustrate Dugin's intellectual sleight of hand: Imagine a man and a woman are in a relationship. The man is a psychopath and abuses his woman. The woman is normal and healthy. When the woman complains of abusive treatment, the man responds by reading her some post-modern philosophy which says that "everyone has their unique truth", everyone has their different values, and no value system should impose itself on the other. So when then woman demands to be treated nicely, the man accuses her of imposing her value system on him. And when see accuses him of abuse, he says that everyone in this relationship is equally good. After all, it would be unfair to claim that one party in this relationship is good while the other one is bad, as that would require a universal value judgment. This is the danger of post-modernism and relativism. In the hands of a selfish, biased devil, it can be used to excuse away all bad behavior, because according to post-modernism "bad" is just a subjective notion. But while that may be true in some grand philosophical sense, this cannot work at the relative level of human relations or society at large. In the end it contradicts itself, it defeats itself, because that man himself would start to complain if he was abused by a bigger man. So his post-modernism only holds while it serves him, but flies out the window when the tables are turned.

It is unclear to me whether Dugin philosophizes in good faith or not. Is it the case that Dugin honestly believes that Russia and America are on a totally equal footing because he believes in post-modernism, or is he just cynically using post-modernism as a tool to advance his political agenda to dethrone America? Does Dugin actually want a multipolar world, or is Dugin just saying that in order to get a foothold which he will then use to push his Russian values on the rest of the world, as is happening in Ukraine? Since he values traditional values so much, I suspect that he doesn't actually believe in post-modernism, he's merely using it as a tool to advance Russian power. After all, if Dugin truly believed in a multipolar world and respecting the values of every nation, what about respecting the values and sovereignty of Ukraine? Putin and Dugin both believe that Ukraine should side with Russian values vs Western liberal values. But who are they to decide? In a truly multipolar post-modern world, Ukraine should make that choice for itself. But this is precisely what Putin will not allow because he has deluded himself into believing that any desire on behalf of Ukraine to side with the West is due to CIA meddling and not their own free choice. Within Putin's worldview, that someone could genuinely reject his value system does not compute. This is true not only of his attitude towards Ukraine but to internal dissenters. Putin genuinely believes that any Russians who want Russia to adopt Western liberal values — such as Navalny — are just puppets of the West. But there are plenty of patriotic Russians who just want Russia to be a liberal Western democracy along the lines of Germany or the UK. But Putin silences such people and doesn't allow a free and open democratic debate to take place, as he clings to power. How convenient for someone who wants to violate all term limits and stay in power as President for life to say that term limits are just a relative and not a universal value. As if Russia culture is so unique, so spiritual and scared, so incommensurable, that Russians don't believe in term limits! Ha! What a load of self-serving shit. This is the height of intellectual devilry.

Here's the problem: Russia wants to be a super-power — which it deserves to be — but Russia lacks the development needed to be a responsible world leader. A deeply corrupt state will create problems on the world stage. Which is why the US opposition to Russia is not purely American egotism — although ego is certainly present. The reason America is such a great world leader is that it has a relatively uncorrupted government. Of course this government still makes bad and selfish decisions like the invasion of Iraq, but all things considered you'd rather have America lead the world than Russia. Because corrupt states will not be able to help infecting the whole world with their corruption. And this corruption is not a subjective, relative matter. All sane humans want to live in a less corrupt society, unless they personally benefit from the corruption. If you think America is bad, consider how bad Russia would be if it had as much power as America. It's easy to judge abuse of power when you don't have it. The real test is when you get it. A lot of minor countries love to judge American abuses of power, but if those countries were given as much power as America, if Iran or Palestine or Afghanistan or North Korea was given as much power as America, does anyone honestly believe they would act less abusively? If you believe that, it's you who is blinded by bias.

You can even see this in how nations wage war. Although the US invasion of Iraq was a grotesque travesty, it was not the same as Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Firstly, the US did not try to capture any territory. Secondly, the US did not indiscriminately bomb the shit out of civilian infrastructure. Because the US is too developed for that. Yes, American troops did commit some war crimes, because that's almost inevitable in war, but they pale in comparison to the war crimes committed by Russians in Ukraine. And that is because development level makes an objective difference. Highly developed countries will wage war in more humane ways while underdeveloped and corrupt countries will wage war in more barbaric ways. And so, in this sense, not all poles of the multipolar world order are equal. As imperfect as American democracy is, it is far better than Russian "democracy". As bad as American media is, it is far better, far more open and truthful, than Russian media, which is nothing more than state propaganda at this point. These things are not equivalent as Dugin would like you to believe. The problem in Dugin's worldview is that he sees the problems of liberalism, but his solution is coming from below, not from above. Yes, there can be something above liberalism, but Dugin and Putin are not going to offer it because they have yet to integrate the lessons of liberalism, and they don't want to, because they are more interested in pushing their own agenda down people's throats. So, ironically, while Putin and Dugin accuse the West of pushing our values down everyone throats, they are even more guilty of this, as seen in Ukraine.

In the end, domination, pushing your agenda on others, is anti-consciousness, anti-truth, anti-wisdom. It is an inferior way to live, not just from the American or Western POV, but from anyone's POV who isn't directly benefiting from the domination. Putin's style of government is domineering. As is Dugin's philosophy. The issue isn't even that Dugin is trying to dominate the West but that he's dominating his own citizens. Not everyone in Russia agrees with Dugin's arch-conservative worldview. Many people in Russia want a Western-style liberal government. But Putin and Dugin will not allow it, shutting them up by force. And this is a real problem which goes far deeper than Western chauvinism. You are going to run into serious error if your worldview does not acknowledge that there are real, "objective" stages of development.

And so, in practice, all this philosophy boils down to something less developed than the run-of-the-mill liberalism which Putin and Dugin consider to be Satanic. Another way to frame it is like this: Yes, liberalism is Satanic, but it is less Satanic than whatever Putin and Dugin are doing. I would love to sit down face to face with Dugin and ask him: If you believe that Satanic behavior is possible, do you acknowledge that there are degrees of Satanism? And if there are, then why do you act as though America and Russia are on equal footing? Of course, deep down, I think Dugin believes that America is more Satanic than Russia, which is what fuels his own philosophy and political project. But this contradicts post-modernism. And my claim is that it's these sorts of internal contradictions which make Putin and Dugin's political system objectively inferior to liberalism. Because in the end, truth and integrity are not merely a relative matter. Truth exists. But it exists less in Russia. And that is why Russia is a backwards, under-developed nation. And it will continue to be until leaders with more integrity than Putin, and intellectuals with more integrity than Dugin, rise to prominence. It is not anti-Russian or biased to say this. It would be biased not to say it.

But here's where things get extra interesting: Everything I said above is coming from my perspective as a liberal American. Maybe I have been so brainwashed with America liberalism and Satanism that do not see the situation clearly. Who is to say? Dugin and Putin would say that I am brainwashed and biased. But I can accuse them of the same. And so, what is the truth? Is there a truth? Or do they have their Russia truth and I have my American truth? You might say that I am right and they are wrong. But you are probably making that judgment from a liberal country that brainwashed you with a liberal worldview. So who's to say that you judgement of the situation isn't also biased? So what is the truth here? Is there's a truth there? This is the dilemma identified by post-modernism.

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Some points problems I see in Dugin's philosophy:

Dugin says that liberalism is dangerous because it erases traditional identity. Under liberalism, for example, there is no longer the notion of man and woman — since you can be queer or trans. And, he says, this slippery slope will continue until even the notion of being "human" is erased, at which point all hell will break loose as humanity loses itself and becomes soulless machines. Otherwise known as trans-humanism. Dugin casts this as a sort of abomination, an affront to God and good ole traditional values.

But here's the mistake in his logic. Yes, of course, "human" is just a constructed identity, same as "man", "woman", "Christian", and "Russian". Recognizing the constructed nature of all such finite identities is not a bug, it's a feature! Yes, it is scary and socially destablizing, but it is also aligned with Truth, God, and Love. By realizing you are not human you have the opportunity to realize that you're God! Which is the whole point of Orthodox Russian religion and mysticism, which Dugin wants to defend and conserve. Now, of course, this trans-humanism can and will be abused. Some people will drop the human identity, plug themselves into the metaverse and become obese, godless slugs who play video games 12 hours a day and jerk off mindlessly to their VR AI girlfriend. Others will chop off their dicks and replace them with mechanical robotic ones. All of this will create societal and political problems. However, that does not mean that there are not healthy forms of trans-humanism. Orthodox religion also came in healthy and unhealthy forms. That does not invalidate it.

The highest forms of religion/spirituality ARE trans-humanism. But people like Dugin and Jordan Peterson are too conservative, fearful, biased, and myopic to open their minds to that. Trans-humanism can lead to inhumane outcomes, but it can also lead to hyper-humane outcomes if done properly, as in the case of Awakening & God-Realization. As the Christians themselves would admit, Jesus was MORE than human, and this wasn't a bad thing, this was the best thing. Their problem is that they don't realize that Jesus does not have a monopoly on trans-humanism. The goal of Actualized.org is to make you trans-human in a healthiest way.

A healthy transcending of the human identity is not only possible, it is truthful and necessary. By properly transcending the human, man does not become a machine, man becomes God. Which is the whole point of development and evolution. So ultimately Dugin's, Jordan Peterson's, and Putin's worldviews will fail — precisely because what the Christians say is true: God exists. But he is you.

A funny phenomenon within philosophy is that you can be so wrong that you're almost right. But in the end your being close makes no difference because you're still wrong. It is not enough to be 99% right about God because that last 1% is what really makes or breaks you. To reach God you must be 100% right. Errors in philosophy are not linear, they are exponential. One crucial error can bring an otherwise great philosophy to ruin. This phenomenon is also seen within science. Science is so deceptive because it's 99% right. But that 1% it gets wrong is so fundamentally wrong that it makes the other 99% irrelevant. This phenomena makes philosophy so tricky and dangerous. Nobody appreciates the seriousness of these tiny-seeming errors. In philosophy, what seems tiny can actually be huge. So watch your step.

So, this gives you some sense of what the Ukraine war is really about. It's a clash of philosophies: Western liberal global hegemony (represented by America, NATO, and the EU) vs a multipolar nationalism (represented by Russia, China, Iran, India, etc.).

Over the last year Dugin's daughter was assassinated in a car bombing orchestrated by Ukrainian operatives who were targeting him. Why did they target him? Because his philosophy plays a big role in the Russian military. Dugin has gone to Russia military academies to spread his philosophy. All this goes to show that philosophy is never purely academic. Philosophy has serious consequences. It could even lead to WW3. So you better make damn sure that your philosophy is good.

- - - - - - -

Note: Even though I generally believe that liberalism is objectively better for the world than whatever Dugin and Putin are concocting, this does not mean that I support a kind of liberal chauvinism where the West rams liberal values and government down the rest of the world's throats. There is something beyond liberalism and Dugin's 4th way, which I will call the 5th Way. The 5th Way is Spiral Dynamics Tier 2, Stage Yellow+, Conscious Politics. The 5th Way recognizes respects the sovereignty and unique culture and value system of each nation, but it also recognizes certain universal values which all nations can agree upon given sufficient development — values such as truth, integrity, anti-corruption, love, non-manipulation, transparency, human rights, etc. The 5th Way recognizes that all countries exist at various stages of development and that all countries are capable of reaching the higher stages, if they are willing to do the work and given enough time. The 5th Way also recognizes  that while not all countries are equal in their development, more developed countries have a responsibility to help and not dominate or exploit underdeveloped countries. 5th Way politics is post-liberal in the sense that it seeks a truly multipolar world and does not seek to undermine other countries. 5th Way politics does not use military force or covert intelligence agencies to interfere with the internal affairs of other countries. 5th Way politics honors the Star Trek Prime Directive. My single biggest criticism of US foreign policy is that it does not understand the important of the Prime Directive, which creates hate for America around the world.

Note: Even though I generally believe that liberalism is objectively better for the world than whatever Dugin and Putin are concocting, this does not mean that America or the West is always right. There are many instances where America behaves badly, criminally, corruptly. In general, America needs to be more sensitive to the values, agendas, and needs of other nations so as not to trample on them. America must earn its position as a global leader and superpower, not through military force but through truth, integrity, consciousness, and love. This is the real source of leadership and power. American's most precious commodity is INTEGRITY. American leadership has yet to realize this. As Americans we need to stop trading our integrity for peanuts.

November 27, 2023

I recently made a post about post-modernism, sharing some videos, but after much reflection decided that this is a much better explanation. I wanted to be careful not to strawman post-modernism, which is all too easy to do.

And this episode on Post-Modern Rationality & Logic is just amazingly good. Must watch. It's the best of the series. Realizing the relativity of logic is mindblowing. Make sure you contemplate this matter deeply.

The audio quality is terrible but the content is worth it.

November 24, 2023

Iran is a surprisingly cool place:

November 23, 2023

Such a brilliant film:

They don't make 'em like this anymore.

November 20, 2023

"The empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide. Thus it has ever been."

-- Luo Guanzhong

November 20, 2023

People do not appreciate the psychology — really, the Mind — that it takes to be a visionary leader. Your mind has to be structured differently than ordinary people. Vision is a very rare thing among humans. If you have vision, you're in the top 1% of mankind and you have a unique responsibility toward fulfilling it. Most humans do not know how to have truly original thoughts. If you possess this ability it's like you possess a golden goose that lays golden eggs. But, now you have to work your ass off to make something of it, because visions do not actualize themselves.

As a visionary, it took me a long time — 3 decades — to realize that very few humans are visionaries. Not knowing any better I just assumed everyone was like me. But it turned out that I have a very rare type of mind. But nobody told me that, I had to figure it out all on my own. If you happen to be a unicorn, a problem that can arise is that you don't even realize you are a unicorn until late into the game. As a unicorn isn't extra important that you don't doubt yourself.

My mind is structured in such a way that I look for new ideas all the time. If it's not new and original, I'm just interested in it. Innovation is one of my highest values, but it took me a lot of self-reflection to make that explicit to myself. No one even told me that innovation could be a high value. But it's a core feature of the operating system of my mind. Which is why I am able to do groundbreaking intellectual work. But the downside of having such a mind is that you can't be bothered to care about mundane, conventional things.

November 19, 2023

Amazing documentary:

November 17, 2023

Every 6 years or so I build myself a new PC. I've been doing this since I was a teen.

Here's my newest build, which I'll be assembling next week:

Total Cost: $2,185

This should last me for 6 years.

November 16, 2023

This is the coolest insect design ever. I can't believe this thing is real. It looks like a creature from Dark Souls.

November 15, 2023


You may have noticed that I share a lot of documentaries about far-off countries on this blog, a lot of documentaries about global politics and geography.

In my effort to gain a deep understanding of global politics and mankind, I've come to realize that I just don't have enough raw experience of how people live in all the countries around the world. There's just a lack of data in my mind. There are some countries which I didn't even know exist, never mind knowing their living conditions and culture. So I've come up with a challenge to address this lack of awareness. The challenge is to watch at least one documentary about each country on the planet over the next 2 years, at a rate of 2 documentaries per week. There are 195 countries in the world. Most people don't know even half of them. But you can find outstanding documentaries on YouTube about each country just by doing a search. I am taking on this challenge. And I will be starting with the most obscure and least-known countries (mostly in Africa) and working my way towards the most-known countries, one documentary at a time. I am especially interested in learning about each country's geography, climate, culture, lifestyle, level of development, political situation, style of government, economy, and wildlife. I am especially interested in the least developed and most obscure countries.

I encourage you to take this challenge with me. Imagine how much deeper your understanding of the world will be 2 years from now if you complete this challenge. All you have to do is watch 2 documentaries per week for 2 years.

To make this challenge more fun I'm purchasing a scratch-off world map to track my progress.

If you want to join me, purchase a scratch-off map or globe for yourself:

If you have kids, encourage them to do this challenge along with you. This will be a great foundation for their general education and personal development. This is one of those investments that will pay dividends for the rest of your life. It also makes a great gift.

This is not a trivial challenge. I've come to the conclusion that to really understand mankind requires experiencing how all of mankind lives, otherwise you're just looking at the world from a very narrow geographic, cultural, and developmental bubble. Of course, ideally you would travel of many of these countries. But this being expensive, impractical, and dangerous, the next best thing is to at least educate yourself about what is going on in all these obscure countries around the world. This will be a theoretical foundation which you can further flesh out later in life through travel.

Keep in mind, that as great and important as travel is, don't overlook the power of documentaries. Even if you travel to many of these countries you will not get a deep a look into the underbelly of how a country works as a typical tourist. This is what makes documentaries so invaluable: you can see things which no tourist would ever see.

This challenge is a big part of what it takes in order to develop Conscious Politics, Tier 2 politics, beyond the shallow, biased, partisan kind of politics which is found everywhere online.

As extra credit for this challenge, I will also be reading the Wikipedia page for each country after I watch its documentary.

You can find documentaries on every country by searching on YouTube: "[country name] documentary". For example: "Canary Islands documentary". I prefer to watch longer documentaries, at least 1hr in length. And for some countries I will be watching multiple documentaries per.

The overall goal of this challenge is not to memorize random geographic trivia but to expose yourself to the radical differences in lifestyle found around the world, to help you break out of your narrow way of life. The geography and culture of where you happen to live limits the scope of your mind. This is key to realize.

The internet is an amazing source for mind expansion, but only if you use it in a deliberate and self-directed manner, not by mindlessly consuming the low-consciousness click-bait that social media algorithms serve up to you. So, part of the value of this challenge is that you are taking conscious control of your social media intake and seeking out higher quality educational content.

We have a mega-thread on the Actualized Forum where you can share your favorite documentaries and progress on this challenge: Leo's Geography Challenge Mega-Thread