I didn’t ask to live in interesting times


But here we are. It’s been a rough decade — we had a terrible one-term president who appalled most of us with his incompetence and corruption, and seemed to inspire the authoritarians and racists and wanna-be fascists. One of our political parties tumbled down into outright insanity, which isn’t a good thing for a country run by a two-party system. We’re repeating the Gilded Age crap, with billionaires getting richer and richer. The ongoing climate crisis continues to be ignored by our capitalist overlords. Then layer a pandemic on top of all that that has killed a million Americans and triggered another million or so it flamboyant science denial, rapidly spread by the greed of the social network poombahs.

We should cry out like Job, I should think. But now we get a major land war in Europe to add to the world’s tribulations.

I have no idea how that war is going. One thing that has repelled me lately on the media are all the pundits, whether they have a cushy sinecure at some major newspaper or they are Joe Nobody, sitting in his car opining at a camera (oh, how I loathe those videos of middle-class, middle-aged white guys sitting in their cars talking at their phones) telling me which side is going to win. Worse is when they declare why their side is going to when. Near as I can tell, the Right thinks the Russians will conquer because they despise pronouns, while the Left thinks Ukraine will win because Zelensky is sexy. They don’t know. I don’t know. It’s a cacophony of pure noise that isn’t helping.

So, what I do know…

Russia is making a massive effort, throwing all kinds of soldiers and artillery and tanks at Kharkiv. They could win the military battle, it wouldn’t surprise me. Ukrainians are brave, but bravery doesn’t stop a bullet. I have no idea what the outcome of the war will be, other than pain and death and misery, and we’ll have to helplessly wait and see what happens. Isn’t that annoying? Big dramatic bloody events occur, and we here on the other side of the world have to wait.

I do know that Russia is losing the diplomatic war rather brutally. Suddenly, coalitions and alignments and nations that have been around for practically a lifetime are shifting! I haven’t seen this kind of transformation since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Finland is discussing joining NATO? Sweden is increasingly antagonistic to Russia? Ukraine has requested to join the EU, and some countries want to fast-track that application? It’s all happening so scary-fast. We’re racing towards a polarization and alignment of forces that we haven’t seen since the Cold War, and let me tell you, that’s not a good thing.

What I do find encouraging, though, is that the world was quick to react with open condemnation of Russia for invading a sovereign state and killing citizens. I just wish that the world had been equally damning when the US invaded a sovereign state and murdered hundreds of thousands of innocents — we can hope that what emerges out of this new world is an agreement that bullying smaller nations by powerful ones will no longer be tolerated.

Unless, of course, the bullying nation decides everyone needs a good scourging with nuclear fire.

And that’s all I know. Sit. Wait. Watch.

Hey, Job has sort of a happy ending, right? He loses his family, his health, and his security, but God gives him new kids at the end? It’s kind of warped that the Old Testament thinks families and kids are fungible, so I’m not going to take much consolation from that.

Comments

  1. whheydt says

    Minor item… Ukraine has a modest business supplying Medieval Recreationists with good like tents and armor. Several of the Ukrainian armor makers have switched to making caltrops for use against Russian vehicles that have wheels and tires…

  2. submoron says

    Two thoughts:
    1) the increase in radiation from Chernobyl may be Russian demolition of the containment structure and if they are forced out they’ll blow the remainder of the building to dust and blame the Ukrainians.
    2) Putin will demand a corridor from Kaliningrad through Poland and/or Lithuania. They won’t give it and Putin will act ‘to defend Russia’s security’.
    It’s good that I’m such an optimist!

  3. mamba says

    ” I just wish that the world had been equally damning when the US invaded a sovereign state and murdered hundreds of thousands of innocents”

    These innocents are white…those innocents were not.
    The world stops caring about lives lost when the skin colour gets darker on the bodies. History proves it over and over.

  4. davidc1 says

    And a lot of Modelmaking firms are in Ukraine ,the same with Russia(boo,hiss).
    And some model makers on the faceache forms I am on,going to boycott Russian (boo,hiss) Firms such
    as Zvezda(boo,hiss).
    @1 I read there are little grannies in Ukraine busy making Molotov Cocktails.

  5. Susan Montgomery says

    Why not put the time and worry into doing something positive in your local community? Look for something you can do, even if it won’t sway the course of history.

  6. PaulBC says

    Joe Nobody, sitting in his car opining at a camera (oh, how I loathe those videos of middle-class, middle-aged white guys sitting in their cars talking at their phones) telling me which side is going to win.

    I have a simple solution. Don’t watch. I find that, particularly with news that causes me anxiety, it’s best to rely on written reports. I got in a habit of switching off the radio whenever George W. Bush’s voice came on. I restarted the practice with Trump, and for some other reasons, I don’t even listen to NPR anymore (the smugness got to me), let alone rely on news in video form unless there’s no alternative for something important and no transcript.

    It does leave me with a few blindspots in that I reach conclusions that may be a little off-kilter compared to most of the public, including people I agree with. I’m not any less informed though. TV (and video) news is almost entirely entertainment or sensationalism.

  7. Nemo says

    I think the only non-depraved reading of Job is “Here’s what a bastard this God character is.” But then, I feel the same way about Genesis.

    I don’t want to make any predictions, either; but as a die-hard optimist, I’m hoping this is Putin’s last mistake, and in his collapse, he drags drown all his international fans with him.

  8. raven says

    One thing that has repelled me lately on the media are all the pundits,…delete….telling me which side is going to win.

    Yeah, I know.

    As the cartoon says, everyone has gone from being online experts on epidemiology and vaccines (fake virus/Chinese bioweapon and microchips and demons) to being experts on global politics and 21st century militaries and war.

    I have no idea who will win or even what win means in this sort of invasion war. We won our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and look how well that worked out.
    But at least a few things have become obvious.

    .1. The Ukrainians are doing far better than anyone expected. Just a few years ago, Ukraine was a basket case. When Putin took Crimea and invaded the eastern provinces, he thought Ukraine would just collapse. It was a good idea. That didn’t happen. Ukraine managed to pull itself together.

    .2. The Russians are doing far worse than expected for a lot of reasons.
    Part of it is that their army is largely young conscripts, not too far from being children. They don’t really get why they should invade and kill Ukrainians, who haven’t done anything to them and Russia.

    .3. Almost nobody likes or trusts the Russian government these days.
    Why should they?

  9. TGAP Dad says

    Thanks for posting this. I was beginning to feel my general anxiety ebb. Fortunately, you’ve stepped in to reverse that process.

  10. PaulBC says

    It’s kind of warped that the Old Testament thinks families and kids are fungible, so I’m not going to take much consolation from that.

    Especially when there are mandrakes on offer as in Genesis 30.

  11. raven says

    The future has really ended up being overrated.

    When I was a 1950s kid, it was going to be flying cars, jetpacks, colonies on Mars, and cheap nuclear power.

    Here it is 2022, and I’m risking my life in a global pandemic of a newly evolved virus to…go buy cat food in a grocery store. Cat food that is in short supply due to a nationwide shortage. C’mon, we’ve known how to make canned cat food for nearly a century.

  12. mordred says

    raven @14: When I was a kid in the early 80s I found an kiddy science book while visiting relatives which painted a really exciting picture of the future, with tourists travelling to Mars in only 10 years!
    Took me a while to realise that book was probably about 20 years old at that point.
    The future of the 1980s was less bright, quite a few after the end scenarios, environmental destruction, collapsed civilisation and nuclear wastelands. At one point I thought at least we had left the nuclear wasteland behind us…

  13. whheydt says

    Re: raven @ #11…
    From reports I’ve read, quite a few of the Russian soldiers don’t know why they’re in Ukraine, and some of them don’t know that they are in Ukraine. The later think they’re still doing military exercises in Belarus.

    There are also reports of Russian troops knocking on doors asking for food. Apparently, the Russian army has a long history of very poor logistics.

  14. davidc1 says

    I see a Ukrainian woman journalist has teared that twat faced twat johnson a new one,as you amuricans say.at a press
    conference in Warsaw.
    Meanwhile Nato has this to say.

    “Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance would not send troops or combat jets to support Kyiv as it does not want to become part of the conflict”.
    Maybe I am thicker than the offspring of bible spice sarah paiin and the Snatch Snatcher,but isn’t that
    the main point of being in an alliance?

  15. davidc1 says

    PS,and it seems the Poles are not allowing African and other brown students studying in Ukraine,and trying to flee,entry
    into Poland.I wonder why?

  16. chrislawson says

    Some levity, triggered by the Biblical discussions above… There was a recent paper on the horse-like skeletons of ancient Sumeria that, according to DNA analysis, are the remains of the earliest known agricultural cross-breeding. Fascinating stuff. Gizmodo reported with one of the great typos of history:

    “That animal is a kunga, which the researchers show was a cross between a female donkey and a male Syrian wild arse.”

  17. PaulBC says

    raven@14 Technology doesn’t disappoint me at all, even if it’s not space colonization, and who cares about flying cars anyway? (Human beings disappoint mean but that’s for another day.)

    I’m not all that impressed by social media or mobile devices. The sheer amount of computing power is stunning, though, and greatly in excess of predictions. Here’s Arthur C. Clarke’s year 2276 in Imperial Earth, written around 1975.

    A pattern of bright lines had appeared on the screen, showing the set of all twelve pentominoes fitted iato the six-by-ten frame. It held for a few seconds, then was replaced by another obviously different, though Duncan could not possibly remember the arrangement briefly presented to him. Then came another . . and another, until Grandma canceled the program. “Even at this fast rate,” she said, “it takes five hours to run through them all. And take my word for it–though no human being has ever checked each one, or ever could-they’re all different.”

    OK, I haven’t tried to write a pentomino solver, but I am pretty sure I could enumerate solutions a lot faster than that by applying a SAT solver on inexpensive consumer hardware (even a phone). A friend of mine enumerated 6 piece chess endgames in the early 90s on the now ancient CM-2, and that’s a lot harder than pentominoes. It does not require a supercomputer today.

    Another case in which Clarke (who’s probably as good as anyone at this) gets information technology wrong is in his description of “tapeworms” who record everything happening in their life–not because these people don’t exist, but because the technology to do so is ubiquitous now and not limited to a tiny subculture with special-purpose hardware centuries in the future.

    In Imperial Earth, humans have settled the solar system, so there is that.

    Complete gene sequencing is another mind-blowing technological advance. Even individual medical discoveries, like the fact that ulcers are caused by bacteria, or that lumpectomy with chemo and/or radiation is often an effective treatment for breast cancer, can improve life in ways that flying cars don’t.

    So (I think I have a point) I get a little frustrated when people grouse about yesterday’s future. Yeah, we got it wrong. No graphite and glitter taking us undersea from New York to Paris in 90 minutes. And while I’m for graphite and glitter, if you actually had to go back and live in the 50s or even the 80s, you’d notice a lot of things missing you take for granted. It would suck and you’d die of stuff you can be treated for now.

  18. davidc1 says

    @17 They live off the country,and they are not fussy which country.
    That joke was stolen from the Will Hay film.”Oh Mr Porter”,if you have never heard of him,shame on you.
    Knocking on doors and asking for food,Their Grandfathers used to kick the door in and shout “Frau Komn.”

  19. says

    The process for joining the EU is slow and careful for a reason. Fast-tracking a Ukrainian entrance will just take all the problematic stuff people are suddenly trying to pretend doesn’t exist and enable it and expand it and spread it through the EU. There’s already enough trouble with Poland and Hungary — who are both pushing really hard for this now.

    You know the Ukrainian neo-nazis? (If you’re going to deny their existence on the grounds that Putin talks about them and you don’t like Putin, don’t bother — they exist, they’re part of the Ukrainian military and government and are pretty well-documented.) We here in the US just explicitly made it legal to openly fund and arm them, specifically. They train other neo-nazi militias from the EU and elsewhere and have been caught sending weapons to North Korea, so I’m sure that’s going to work out really well, because it has always worked out well when the US funded and armed far-right militias in the past because they agreed with our short-term goals, right? Putin is an enemy, but that doesn’t make neo-nazis our friends, and it doesn’t erase the reasons why they were being excluded. Please exercise better judgement than that. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” was never meant to be taken literally.

  20. says

    I’m starting to purge Facebook friends who play “whatabout” over this. They mention US and NATO crimes only to distract from Putin’s war crime. It doesn’t help the people harmed by the US and it minimizes the current suffering in Ukraine.

  21. raven says

    I’m starting to purge Facebook friends who play “whatabout” over this. They mention US and NATO crimes only to distract from Putin’s war crime.

    Yeah, it is irrelevant.

    The moral calculus is simple.
    Vietnam wrong
    Iraq wrong
    Russia into Ukraine wrong

    A huge number of people have consistently opposed all three of these wars and a lot more.

  22. PaulBC says

    chrislawson@20 I guess it could happen if you overcorrect American to British English. You’d be right most of the time.

    Anyway, the male Syrian wild arse, unlike its equine counterpart, is not extinct. They’re the ones in charge.

  23. chrislawson says

    Vicar@23–

    Russia has its own neo-Nazi groups like RNU whose members were welcomed into the pro-Russian forces that annexed Donbas in 2014. So if Putin wants to go on a denazification purge, he should start with his own paramilitaries rather than invading a country whose President is (1) Jewish, (2) lost family members to the Holocaust, and (3) whose grandfather fought for the Russian Army in WW2.

  24. raven says

    For Russian speakers in Ukraine, a candidate talking their …https://www.france24.com › France 24 › Live news

    Apr 16, 2019 — A native Russian speaker himself from the central city of Kryvyi Rig, Zelensky appears on track to deal an upset defeat to incumbent Petro …

    Odd factoid.

    They head of Ukraine today, Zelensky is… a native Russian speaker.

    One of the odder things about this war is how interrelated and intermingled the Ukrainians and Russians are. Google says that 30% of the Ukrainian population are native Russian speakers. It is even more complicated. A lot of self identified Ukrainians are…native Russian speakers.

    US Airforce website February 28, 2022

    In Ukraine, the Russian speakers’ potential level of support toward Russia is very complex because of the country’s history and the divided nature of allegiances that are visible on a regional basis. Ukraine is divided between the mostly Ukrainian speaking western region and the mainly Russian-speaking eastern region.8 What complicates this situation, however, is that determining who is ethnically Russian does not always coincide with who is a Russian speaker. Ethnicity in the Ukrainian census is shown by self-identification and we know that ethnicity is malleable according to the theoretical literature.

    AFAICT, a lot of ethnic Russians and/or native Russian speakers in Ukraine support Kyiv and not Moscow.

  25. stuffin says

    War can’t give life It can only take it away,
    oh War, huh, What is it good for?
    Absolutely nothing, say it again

  26. robro says

    raven @ #11

    .2. The Russians are doing far worse than expected for a lot of reasons.

    No expert, but from my reading they are doing about as well as expected. Not only are their troops inexperienced, under-trained, and…importantly…unmotivated, their equipment and logistical systems are not up to the task thanks in no small part to rampant corruption in their procurement systems. Tanks and other vehicles have reportedly been running out of gas. If that’s true, it would be telling that one of the world’s largest suppliers of petroleum can’t keep their tanks filled up. Also, a fair amount of the Ukraine environment is not very friendly to heavy equipment when it goes off road. Tanks sink in the muck. What this means is that the columns are forced to stay on the roads which makes them easier targets and slows progress. So, after 6 days the Russian army has not actually taken control of any major Ukraine cities. Again assuming what I read is true, Putin is furious at the slow pace because a quick victory was essential to his plan. The delay could thwart the operation because of the increased cost to Russia (billions a day) and the tightening grip of economic sanctions. So, now they are negotiating again. I don’t have high hopes for that but at least there’s the pretense of talking.

  27. robro says

    submoron @ #4

    2) Putin will demand a corridor from Kaliningrad through Poland and/or Lithuania. They won’t give it and Putin will act ‘to defend Russia’s security’.

    There is an existing rail corridor to Kaliningrad through Lithuania, although the Oblast borders Poland on the south. Both Poland and Lithuania are now in NATO so the status of the area is problematic for Putin. Lithuania and Poland could shut down Russian transportation through their territory, thus blocking Russia from it’s only ice-free port on the Baltic Sea. That might trigger Putin to take military action. Then things get really scary.

    Incidentally, Kaliningrad is the only city in Russia still named for a Soviet era leader. Historically it was part of Prussia…East Prussia between WWI and WWII. After WWII it was annexed to Russia and the German population expelled. It was the home of Immanuel Kant

  28. Akira MacKenzie says

    Why not put the time and worry into doing something positive in your local community?

    Well, in my neck of the woods, doing “something positive” will result in me being a Satanic, Communist, baby-killer who hates Jesus and “Murica and shot by my redneck neighbors. Besides, what’s the point? We’ll all be dead shortly as soon as Putin decides to launch the nukes.

    I just hope I die immediately, Radiation poisoning is a long, slow , horrible way to go.

  29. PaulBC says

    raven@26 “Don’t invade other sovereign nations.” works for me. Even if they have an icky government, like, oh, the emirate of Kuwait, which I seem to remember being invaded once upon a time. So I don’t really think there is much to discuss about whether Russia should be sending tanks on multiple fronts into a neighboring country. It may be “calculus” but it’s not rocket science.

  30. davidc1 says

    @25 Sorry,I thought it was,and if that is the case,why are the European nations sticking their oar in?
    Plus America.

  31. asclepias says

    As far as stuff we peons can do that may or may not change the course of things, buy some Dazbog coffee. Per CBS local in Denver (where Dazbog originated), the cofounder of the chain will be donating 5 percent of this week’s sales to Red Cross operations in Ukraine. It seems this man was born in Russia in 1970, and his family fled to the U.S. in 1979. I know 5 percent doesn’t sound like much, but think of it like the pandemic; the naysayers kept complaining that only 1-3 percent of people were supposed to die, but that’s still a sizable number. I have no idea what Dazbog pulls down a week, but it’s better than nothing.

  32. says

    @38
    Because Ukraine wants to join EU and reform itself towards democratic and Putin wants to conquer it to stop them from doing that

  33. says

    I have some issue with posting comments here so sorry in case I double post

    @5 Russia can be brought down with sanctions. USA not.
    Also everyone except tankies assumes Russia is bad, it’s not the same with USA
    And central europe specific point, Ukrainians fight and send their wives and kids to safety, that’s just part of our nation building ethos. You may disagree with that but in Central Europe it is important.

    @19 that is stupid lie, but as it confirms your preexisting bias so you are happy to believe in it.
    Shame on you.

    Neither polish authorities nor journalist (both pro and anti-government) couldn’t confirm such claims.
    The issue is, Ukrainian males age 18-60 are not allowed to leave Ukraine during war so 300 thousand refugees who crossed the polish border in last few days are overwhelmingly kids, women and elderly and they are prioritized by Ukrainians in train stations in Kiev and Lviv. There were confirmed cases of young strong man from african and middle eastern countries claiming to be international students pushing into buses by force taking space that was prepared for women with children.
    It’s possible that non-ukrainian looking people are deprioritized by Ukrainians during war.
    Also even now there is still passport control on the border (I’m in two minds about that but can’t say how and why this process is how it is, Schengen and NATO border and all that) and on every border there is a set of priorities – people from Schengen area usually get through faster, people from countries with deals with Poland will also get priority over 3rd country. try landing on US airport from abroad with a friend without US passport.
    There were cases of people without proper or any documentation. In that cases they are still admitted but are taken to border control facilities to check their identity.
    The waiting is horrendous and many people are annoyed, it is possible there are some arguments between people in line. Many people left their cars and are going by foot, some go by buses, some go by cars and every group has an issue when other queue is served at the moment not theirs.
    Most of the refugees on the polish side are pretty quickly fed/clothed/transported by volunteers with their private transportation and most of them can get accommodation for free at least for now all over the country and it seems that people prefer to help Ukrainian mother with kids over someone looking differently. It is sad and annoying. However points organized by local or state authorities and volunteer organizations are helping everyone regardless of nationality or color.
    There is no policy against people of color. And if not every volunteer treats every refugee equal – can you say that in the event of Chinese invasion of Canada your neighbours would help Canadians and Somali fleeing from Canada the same way?
    Racism is everywhere, Poland is just like everywhere else, but any claims that they were treated badly by polish authorities seem to be just complaining for the general conditions on the border.

  34. davidc1 says

    @35 I would rather be vapourized it would save forking out for a cremation.
    And why am I getting the red squiggly line under vapourized?

  35. PaulBC says

    robro@33 I did find it unnerving to see this NYT opinion piece claiming

    Yet as we have searched for Russian phantoms behind every misinformed Facebook post, Russia has replaced the poorly equipped army it inherited from the Soviet Union with a modern fighting force, featuring everything from new missiles to advanced electronic warfare systems. Today the threat to Europe’s security is not hybrid warfare but hard power, visible in the cruise missiles that have struck across Ukraine.

    This briefly supplanted my “hot take” when I saw the map that Russia seemed to be making a mistake I used to make playing Civilization and just getting overeager to capture a whole lot at once.

    “Blitzkrieg for Dummies” was my other reaction. Not that any of this was reassuring. I was just confused.

    Now I still don’t know. I doubt Russia is any better at occupation than the US. It doesn’t look like a lot of Ukrainians are going to happily accede to being part of Russia. Russia still has a lot more force on its side, but “winning” by bombing civilians doesn’t work that well either.

    In short, I have no fucking idea.

  36. says

    @23
    Your points about Azov battalion are example Russian propaganda gish gallop. I’ll try to begin to unravel why are you wrong and it will take me 3 times more space. Everyone who debated creationists will know the feeling
    Yes, that is true, Azov battalion exists. And even though they disagree with that, describing them as Nazi may be justified – they are against both Russia and NATO and European Union. But they are not part of government, Nazi-like parties in Ukraine got 2.5% votes in last elections. You may find AfD in Germany or Salvini in Italy or LePen in France or Konfederacja in Poland more troubling (and all of them are sponsored by Kremlin money).
    Neo nazis are in every country, USA has their supremacy groups and boogaloo boys, there are some in UK, in Spain.
    What is not typical is Azov Battalion which is a military force to be reckoned with. But for the last 8 years they are fighting the war with Russians posing as separatists, yes, in such situation it is nazis with their love of violence who go and take arms and die, not social democrat types. Ukraine doesn’t have much choice and just put every volunteer unit into some organizational structure to have some control over them. They are right now between Russians invading from annexed Crimea and Russian controlled Donetsk and Luhansk Republics, so probably the issue will solve itself.
    Also [citation needed] on selling the weapons to north korea. It makes no sense whatsover.
    One more thing – before WW2 baltic states and Ukraine were occupied by Soviet Union. When Germany invaded Soviet Union, many people who wanted to fight communists joined the fight the only way it was possible for them – they couldn’t join Wehrmaht so they joined Ukrainian, Latvian and other SS-units. While I really hate that, SS-symbolism has a lot of antirussian/anticommunism mixed in there in that part of the world and it doesn’t mean the same as it would mean in Germany.
    Now, what about Wagner group, which is bigger, state sponsored, and also like neonazi symbolism? And are known war criminals used by Russia for dirty work?

  37. davidc1 says

    @19 I did done read it in an English newspaper,so it can’t be a lie.
    “That is stupid lie, but as it confirms your preexisting bias so you are happy to believe in it”.
    Please tell me what my pre existing biases are,I just love it when people on the interweb
    say I am things that I am not.

  38. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 42

    That’s what I’m hoping for. I want to be close enough to the detonation where I’m reduced to plasma before I would feel any sort of pain. Knowing my luck, I’m going to die slowly, trapped in rubble, burned to a crisp while the lethal dose of hard radiation I took slowly turns my internal organs to goo.

  39. whheydt says

    Re: PaulBC @ #21…
    I once wrote a Soma cube solver. The complete set–758 (? IIRC)–took a 360/50 4.5 hours. It was written in ALC, the IBM S/360 assembly language.

    My sister wrote pentomino solvers on an IBM 1620 in SPS (the 1620 assembly language). IIRC, there are a bit over 2200 solutions to the 6×10, but only 2 to the 3×20 arrangement.

  40. says

    @45
    I assume you expected either polish to be racist or every time race is involved to assume there is racist discriminaiton, judging from your semi rhetorical “I wonder why” and a glee with which you raised specifically that issue.
    I’ve seen few such reports in english press, coming every time from social media grievances of few people where details doesn’t add up and no counterpoint is offered. I tried to explain it how it is possible that for people it may seem they are targeted.
    It created a huge stir here and both sides of our political spectrum are trying to chase that story and nothing is found.

  41. davidc1 says

    @44
    “One more thing – before WW2 baltic states were occupied by Soviet Union”.
    No they were not,they were only occupied after WW2 had started
    Two of them came under the influence of the Soviet Union,as per the August 1939 secret bit of the German /Russian pact.
    The remaining one was in the German sphere of influence.Russia later bought it off the Germans.

  42. says

    @49, yeah I was imprecise. I wanted to write they were occupied by Soviet Union BEFORE Germans come so later some of them joined Germans to fight soviet union. Doesn’t change anything in my point there, so?

  43. davidc1 says

    @48 Well ,a lot of Poles are racist,before WW2 they were second only to Nazi Germany in their
    anti-Semitism,and some Polish Jews wanting to return to Poland just after WW2 suffered yet
    more violence by some of the population.

  44. says

    @51 Thank you for confirming your bias.

    I had one more response to the @38 that I wanted to post but it doesn’t show up, so if I flood the blog with double comments by accident, sorry

  45. imback says

    Re Kaliningrad. From 1255 to 1945 it was called Königsberg. Yes it was the home of Kant, but it was also famous among mathematicians for the problem of traversing its seven bridges which led to the development of graph theory.

  46. says

    Ukraine is the most good vs evil conflict you can imagine.
    You have an autocrat who keeps a wounded empire in fascistic grip who wants to restore its former glory by force and violence (novichok murders, blowing up ammo depot in Czechia, hack and leaks of political private messages, founding of anti EU far right groups). To keep his grip on his own country he has to show everyone “West is as bad as we are” and he employs a huge propaganda machine for that.
    You have Ukrainians, who were fed up with corrupt government doing Russia’s bidding. they overthrew corrupt president, they elected democratic government and decided to reform the country towards democracy. They are far from perfect but they are coming in the right direction.
    And they are invaded precisely to stop that. Because if they can become democratic and prosperous, it will be impossible to hide it from average Russians. So they have to be curbed the same way like Putin helped Lukashenka keep power in Belarus.
    You cannot be anti-Ukraine today and talk about right to self determination of nations or about democracy.
    Western values, whatever they are, are now defended on the streets of Kyiv. NATO decided not to use the military force (and I understand that) but we should all stand by Ukraine until last brick, lamppost and park bench in Kyiv are repaired.

  47. says

    Is there some technical glitch or is there some autocensoring on this site?

    Some of my comments don’t show up, I even got “double post” info (so the coment should went through) but comment is not there.

  48. says

    Ukraine is the most good vs evil conflict you can imagine.
    You have an autocrat who keeps a wounded empire in fascistic grip who wants to restore its former glory by force and violence. To keep his grip on his own country he has to show everyone “West is as bad as we are” and he employs a huge propaganda machine for that.
    You have Ukrainians, who were fed up with corrupt government doing Russia’s bidding. they overthrew corrupt president, they elected democratic government and decided to reform the country towards democracy. They are far from perfect but they are coming in the right direction.
    And they are invaded precisely to stop that. Because if they can become democratic and prosperous, it will be impossible to hide it from average Russians. So they have to be curbed the same way like Belarus.
    You cannot be anti-Ukraine today and talk about right to self determination of nations or about democracy.
    Western values, whatever they are, are now defended on the streets of Kyiv. NATO decided not to use the military force (and I understand that) but we should all stand by Ukraine until last brick, lamppost and park bench in Kyiv are repaired.

  49. Pierce R. Butler says

    Trying to find the relevant background info on the Ukraine situation gets frustrating.

    My current question – did the eastern-European nations which joined NATO do so from a sincere desire for protection from Russia, because of pressure/bribes from the US (& allied) military-industrial complex, or for other reasons?

    If you care to answer this, please supply links.

  50. imback says

    PZ mentions climate in passing. Yesterday the IPCC released its report section on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. And of course people are all talking about these other things. The report essentially says there are several resilience measures we must take to successfully get through a 1.5°C warming. If the warming goes above 2°C we’ll have mass suffering no matter what we do. So there’s that too.

  51. seachange says

    You are possibly looking for Ave Maria, not Job, PZ. You are not concluding that some nebulous thing (not god, because you are atheist) is still great despite the horror.

    You are sitting and watching. Making an appeal to some nebulous thing. Like the beautifully virtuous, noble but powerless, fabulously-voiced ladies singing of their impending “marriage” in opera do.

    There was a more shriek-y version of the Ave Maria written in response to teh genocides in the Balkans, but apparently I don’t remember the name of it. Otherwise, I’d link it for you.

  52. PaulBC says

    Gorzki@55

    You cannot be anti-Ukraine today and talk about right to self determination of nations or about democracy.

    Speaking only for myself, being anti-Ukraine is about the furthest thing from my mind. Russia’s clearly the aggressor here. Personally, it is hard for me to consider taking Russia’s side at least since Yushchenko’s poisoning with dioxin.

    They are far from perfect

    Unlike the US… wait, we have plenty of neo-Nazis here too. I’m not about to invite in Putin to fix it for us, not even MTG and Madison Cawthorn.

  53. Rob Grigjanis says

    Pierce R. Butler @56:

    For President Vaira Vike-Freiberga of Latvia, that is why the choice on NATO couldn’t be more straightforward. The main argument for joining the alliance, she said in a recent interview, is simply this: “the fact that you can go to bed and not worry about somebody knocking on the door and putting you on a train for Siberia.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/2002/10/07/tensions-with-russia-propel-baltic-states-toward-nato/1804f0bf-fbe2-4355-9485-f099d0837e47/

    Many of my relatives went on those trains after WWII. A lot of those that made it back were damaged, physically and psychologically. People don’t forget shit like that.

  54. Dennis K says

    @57 imback — I read a commentary by James Hansen just a few days ago wherein he claims our chances of staying under 2°C are now practically zero.

  55. Rob Grigjanis says

    I’ll add that a lot of the former Warsaw Pact countries have long felt a closer affinity, culturally, to Western Europe than to Russia.

  56. Pierce R. Butler says

    Rob Grigjanis @ #s 60 & 63 – Thanks, much the sort of thing I ‘ve been looking for.

  57. davidc1 says

    @52,HAHA,what exactly is my bias?Also some of the three Baltic republics you mentioned were also very anti-Semitic.
    Some citizens joined in the killings of the Jews.

  58. unclefrogy says

    Please tell me what my pre existing biases are,I just love it when people on the interweb
    say I am things that I am not.

    Well davidc1 I would not presume to know anything about you that was not written here by you so the only thing I know for sure is you are grouchy whether it is justified or not i know not but grouch comments are to be expected.

  59. davidc1 says

    @66 You clearly haven’t been paying attention,I am a baby eating, racist, sexist,anti-Semite,I also
    run down animals in my car.
    Also, I am an ex- serial killer,I am trying to get back into it,but I am having difficulty renting a basement.
    Renters seem a tad put off when I ask them if it is ok to dig a hole in the basement floor,also
    when I enquire about how sound proof is it, I normally get shown the front door.

    Yeah,I have plenty to be grouchy about.

  60. says

    I suspect most europeans view Ukraine as somewhat poor, shitty and corrupt, but considering almost a century of communist mismanagement what can you expect? Besides, nobody deserves that. If we don’t face this now we will have to deal with it on our soil later. This shit never ends.

  61. bumblebug says

    @davidc1
    The EU is joining in because war crimes and human rights abuses are bad. Also Ukraine has asked for help. And if Russia takes over Ukraine, there is a high likelihood that they will continue.

    Most countries in the world have been strongly antisemitic throughout history. There is a valid criticism to make in comparing how readily many countries take in Ukrainian refugees vs refugees from other wars (Syrian, Afghan, Iraqi, etc). But in the current situation there is also the confounding factor that men between the ages of 18-60 are not allowed to leave Ukraine. This should obviously not apply to non-Ukrainian men, but there’s a war going on and things are already moving quite slowly/inefficiently. Right now children and the elderly are being prioritized.

    Finally, could you please stop using my genitalia as an insult? It is very hurtful.

  62. says

    Beau of the fifth column showed something interesting: link

    Putin’s talk was all lies. It’s about power and imperialism;

    Russia is restoring its historical fullness, gathering the Russian world, the Russian people together – in its entirety of Great Russians, Belarusians and Little Russians.

    It seems to me that the people of Ukraine don’t want to be “little russians”, though.

  63. bumblebug says

    @davidc1
    Thanks for the disrespect, I guess?

    I’m not sure which of my points you think is so funny. I assume it is the request to stop using gendered insults. You’re really not worth the education, but for people who don’t want to be a piece of shit, using words like “twat” as an insult implies there is something bad about those genitalia (which belong to cis women). Gendered insults like this imply a connection between “bad” and “(cis) female”. This is particularly icky to me when insulting a man and praising a woman – who (likely) owns a twat.

  64. says

    davidc1, you are an asshole, are you aware of that?
    Since when is using gendered insults not frowned upon here?

    @Pierce R. Butler
    Czechia joined NATO ten years after the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1999, at a time when the forceful occupation of our country by USSR tanks was still in relatively fresh memory. The internet barely started to exist by then, so I cannot provide links from that era, but the decision was generally approved by the voting public.
    Ever since then, consistently over 60% of the voting public were inclined that being NATO is either very beneficial or at least somewhat beneficial, with the last numbers being 75%. Most people opposing our membership in NATO are communists, and they can go fuck themselves, they were destroying this country for four decades and are to blame for a lot of what came after that too.
    For the polling look here, but the site is in the Czech language -click-.
    I have a lot of reasons to suspect that Putin’s attack on Ukraine will push these numbers even higher.

  65. birgerjohansson says

    Regarding Russian oligarchs buying influence – I have discovered the rarest of animals; a honest tory MP.
    “MP uses parliamentary privilege to name lawyers helping Russian oligarchs ”
    https://youtu.be/CyVZqVNNWHE

  66. Tethys says

    The commenter that is using gendered slurs has been told to stop by PZ, and it has repeatedly been explained why using them is misogynist. They are being a shithead very deliberately in this thread, as usual.

    I think a good old-fashioned disemvoweling is in order. At least we will get a good last laugh at Sir borderline personality.

  67. Walter Solomon says

    The ongoing climate crisis continues to be ignored by our capitalist overlords.

    Wouldn’t it be ironic that after all the worrying about global warming the world could end with nuclear winter?

  68. Tethys says

    @Brony

    I commend your desire for precision but I don’t think either form of BPD or chronic pain is a valid justification for acting like an asshole.

    It was in a thread about spiders, possibly the one that failed to moult?

  69. Walter Solomon says

    Gorzki

    that is stupid lie, but as it confirms your preexisting bias so you are happy to believe in it. Shame on you.

    Tell that to the Africans they’re discriminating against. It’s easy to dismiss it if you’re not the one being denied. The students themselves, including women, have said they’re being discriminated against. Why should I not believe them?

  70. John Morales says

    Walter @78, nah.

    Even a full-blown nuclear winter would only last on the order of a few years.

    The greenhouse gases already present will last (at least) for decades.

    (And, of course, any event that can cause a nuclear winter will also add a shitload more gases to the atmosphere)

  71. John Morales says

    [Tethys, davidc1 has made it very very clear and explicit that he will keep using it because it offends people here. Classic reactance.]

  72. Walter Solomon says

    bumblebug @69

    Most countries in the world have been strongly antisemitic throughout history.

    Ironically, the countries whose population mostly practiced an Abrahamic faith were the main offenders with Christian countries leading the pack.

    Jews have had a presence in non-Abrahamic countries, such as India and China, for centuries — there are/were Jewish ethnicities native to these countries — and never faced any persecution there.

  73. Walter Solomon says

    John Morales @81

    Even a full-blown nuclear winter would only last on the order of a few years.

    Your description of nuclear winter is much more innocuous, to say the least, than the one described by the American Geophysical Union according to Wikipedia:

    A study presented at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in December 2006 found that even a small-scale, regional nuclear war could disrupt the global climate for a decade or more. In a regional nuclear conflict scenario where two opposing nations in the subtropics would each use 50 Hiroshima-sized nuclear weapons (about 15 kilotons each) on major population centers, the researchers estimated as much as five million tons of soot would be released, which would produce a cooling of several degrees over large areas of North America and Eurasia, including most of the grain-growing regions. The cooling would last for years, and, according to the research, could be “catastrophic”.[18][54]

  74. unclefrogy says

    @84
    well depending on the extent of the damage, the number of urban centers gone and the reduction in the population I would also expect that the demand for fossil fuel and the ability to deliver it would be reduced and therefor maybe even getting the CO2 level increase reduce at least.

  75. jrkrideau says

    I do know that Russia is losing the diplomatic war rather brutally.

    China is basically totally in support of Russia. Check some of the recent Xi—Putin statements.

    A couple of interesting points:

    We’re Europeans, Christians, Whites seem to suggest some people are seeing racism in Europe & probably the USA .

    In another post M. K. Bhadrakumar points out that “Not a single Muslim country has voiced support for Washington in its confrontation with Russia.”

    Not even Saudi Arabia or the UAE.! Also noticeable nor has India.
    The author is a retired Indian ambassador

    I’d say that the USA has a lot less support outside of old Europe than it might think.

  76. bumblebug says

    @83 Walter:
    I suppose I should amend that statement. That was definitely very western/euro-centric of me. Thanks for that correction.

  77. Tethys says

    The history between Ukraine and Russia extends much further back than Stalin.

    Bessarabia is a good search term. Within the wiki on Bessarabia are maps that show the various wars and partitions that occurred under Imperial Russian rule. Those maps also show Trajan’s Wall, and Athanarics wall. Snake Island was once Gepid territory, and there are a few mentions of its strategic location in the context of the Gothic Wars.

    I can only hope that history repeats. Anyone who has seen The Princess Bride knows that starting a land war in this region is one of the classic blunders. Just ask Napoleon and Cyrus.

  78. StevoR says

    @62. Dennis K : ” I read a commentary by James Hansen just a few days ago wherein he claims our chances of staying under 2°C are now practically zero.”

    I’d like to read that grim as it is. Please can you provide more info and ideally a link to that?

    @67. davidc1 : Good thing people don’t take your words at face value and won’t believe you’re telling the truth there but will assume – as I do – that you are being sarcastic. Not funny really. Metaphors, language, how do they work huh? And also when doesn’t it work and when does it cause needles splash damage that hurts and annoys people that don’t deserve to be hurt and annoyed? Hmm.

    As noted before in an earlier thread some days / weeks (?) ago, you really aren’t helping yourself here or in general by using your grouchiness / bad nmood / physical pain as an excuse to make others grouchy at you and what you’re doing. But then you know that yet continue so .. (Shrug.) Your choice and I suspect PZ’s patience with you is rapidly running out.

    (It did for me after much longer than I then deserved nearly a decade ago and I then regretted my previosu douchebag comments for years afterwards in case that makes you think.Commenting here is a privilege.)

    As for “.. why am I getting the red squiggly line under vapourized?” (#42) I suspect it’s because the auto-language-standardiser at least “thinks” it should be spelled with an ‘s’ ie vapourised. Or maybe doesn’t like the ‘u’ in it? Easy to play around & work out by trying lexical variants I guess.

    @ 88. jrkrideau : On China’s complicity with Russia here the two seem roughly and historically allied and I think this is a pretty good analysis explaining that :

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-02-21/ukraine-crisis-why-does-china-remain-quiet/100835804

    FWIW.

    @ 54. Gorzki : I gather certain words and phrases are banned here and will automatically send a comment into moderation or stop it being posted but I could be mistaken. Hmm..assuming that is the case, it might be time to update the list of banned words.

  79. John Morales says

    [Tethys, you somehow used a <code> tag — results in monospaced text and that colour]

  80. Tethys says

    John. Thanks for your info, however I did not put any tags in my comment. Thus weird. ;)

  81. PaulBC says

    Maybe FTB has an AI that automatically emphasizes important advice, such as not starting a land war in Asia.

  82. chigau (違う) says

    re: use of “twat” as an insult:
    PZ, the standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

  83. StevoR says

    @23. The Vicar :

    Putin is an enemy, but that doesn’t make neo-nazis our friends, and it doesn’t erase the reasons why they were being excluded. Please exercise better judgement than that. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” was never meant to be taken literally.

    Does the excluded “they”” there mean the neo-nazis or the Ukrainians? Those are different groups. Ukraine has a Jewish president and many good people as well as, yes, like, sadly, much of the world, some neo–nazis too.The presence of some neo-nazis in Ukraine isn’t why Russia is invading the country – rhetoric by Putin aside – .and even if true does NOT justify an invasion of an entire mostly non-nazi nation.

    On the off-chance that your comment wasn’t just a drive by, why not tell us with your Trump-supporting “better judgement” what you think Biden should do now? Launch a war against Russia? Impose more sanctions and, if so, which ones? Stand closer behind Ukraine and if so how? Distance ourselves more from Uktraine and if so how? What exactly would you have Biden or the rest of us do now in the circumstances we’re in here? What are the likely consequences and results of what you’d advocate for here too?

    Oh, and if you’d had your way and had your incorrect prediction of an “inevitable” Biden-Harris election loss come true then what do you Trump would be doing now and would it really be better? If so how and why?

  84. chigau (違う) says

    StevoR #93
    Your banning was not because of “douchebag” comments, it was because of racist, genocidal, warmongering comments.
    As far as I recall.

  85. says

    @80 every time I write something more detailed it doesn’t allow me to posts so I will not go into details
    What’s going on in the border is really difficult with people waiting over a day in some cases, different queues depending on mode of transportation and type of documents you have.
    If you want to find someone who is annoyed and believes was treated unfairly, you will.
    Polish government has (rightfully) bad rap.
    So finding together few disgruntled people who believe they were discriminated against even if that’s just how it is to cobble the short story that fits the established narrative is easy, especially if it fits your bias (and I assume that you either believe that Poland is racist or generally you tend to assume that when someone claims they were discriminated, they are).

    Journalist (both pro and anti government) looked into this story but there was no way to identify anything from it, all important details were missing.
    People of color interviewed on-site after were not expressing such sentiments
    Polish government wants to score much needed PR points by showing themselves as refugee haven for people fleeing this war.

    That’s why I don’t believe in any ORGANIZED discrimination (TBA)

  86. says

    I seriously have huge issues adding comments here, most of them are not going through and I tried cutting links, shortenint them, nothing really helps, so I don’t think I will be trying to write here anymore

  87. raven says

    Gorzki

    I seriously have huge issues adding comments here, ..

    I almost never have problems. Rarely a comment will not show up for unknown reasons.

    I’m guessing your problems are because of where you are posting from which is Poland, near as I can tell. As to why that matters, no idea. I’m not a computer expert.

    Your comments are welcome as someone who is much closer to the situation than we are and living through what we only read about. Try breaking up your comments and making a lot of short comments. The bigger the target, the more it might get caught in moderation.

  88. chrislawson says

    Gorzki — thanks for your comments from the crucible. Keep safe.

    As for the Putin apologists — they’re more noisy than influential, especially when their posts are rarely anything other than irrelevanices, bothsiderisms, or blatant ahistorical lies so transparent that they will convince nobody who wasn’t already convinced.

  89. llyris says

    I’ve always hated the book of Job. Do you mean we should cry out like Job for, like, twenty chapters of self pitying drivel? While engaging in a kind of passive aggressive ‘worship’ of his abuser? In the hope that if he grovels enough the abuse will stop? (For those playing along at home, God is boasting to Satan, Satan says it’s easy to praise God if you have the perfect life, so God orders him to go and torture Job. I place the blame and the abuse firmly on God’s hands).
    Then, in what can only be described as pure unrealistic fantasy, the abuser miraculously decides the victim has grovelled enough and rewards him with some more humans to love, as though people are inanimate objects, and as though that can (and apparently does) erase the murder of his family.
    It’s basically a book of how to blame the victims of domestic violence.

  90. anat says

    llyris @106, while Job starts out self-pitying, he goes on to demand justice for himself – he wants to sue Yahweh, except there was no court that would accept such a suit. All while his ‘friends’ keep telling him he must have done something to bring such misfortune on himself. And in the end he gets Yahweh to admit he had a point (a few seconds before Yahweh gets all blustery once more).

  91. jrkrideau says

    @ 11 raven

    their army is largely young conscripts, not too far from being children

    You might want to check that. Last I read, about 2 years ago, the Russian army was about 80% or more “Contract” which I take to mean regulars. The high command realized after Chechnya that conscript were not a good idea.

    Also it looks like some of the relatively slow advance in some places is that there is a strong effort to keep infrastructure damage and civilian deaths to a minimum. If the Russians were using the US “shock and awe” approach à la Iraq progress would likely be faster but dead cousins and a wreaked water supply that you will have to repair may be slowing them down.

  92. StevoR says

    @ 99. chigau (違う) : Yes. That’s correct. Ouch.Also my apologies again. I hope I’ve learned to do and be better now and deeply regret those past comments here.

  93. Walter Solomon says

    Gorzki

    generally you tend to assume that when someone claims they were discriminated, they are).

    If they’re from a oft- discriminated against minority group in a part of the world that has known problems with racists, then, yes, I’ll tend to believe them.

    There was post in the infinite thread that there are anti-immigrate groups in Poland targeting African and Middle Eastern students. Obviously these people likely have nothing to do with the Polish government, but I would hope if this is true these students are receiving adequate protection.

  94. Walter Solomon says

    Gorzki

    I assume that you either believe that Poland is racist

    You’d be incorrect here. I know every country has a problem with racism, certainly my own country does, and I know Poland isn’t exempt from that. I also know that, like the US, they’re not exempt from electing dumb, far right leaders either. That said, I have no preconceived notions that Poles are particularly racist.

    Furthermore, from the accounts I’m reading, much of the discrimination is coming from the Ukrainian authorities. Frustration is one thing and discrimination is another. I would know if I’m being discriminated against and I trust most people do as well. If you’re hearing the same thing from multiple non-white students, you take it seriously. I’m sorry if that’s inconvenient in light of recent events but that’s how it goes.

  95. says

    @ 108 jrkrideau

    The slow advance of the Russian forces is a result of Putin believing he would be done with this war by last saturday, that Ukraine would simply fall over if the mighty Russian bear entered the country in force. He had already a victory message prepared that was accidentally posted on saturday on RT and then hastily deleted but can still be found online.

    https://web.archive.org/web/20220226051154/https://ria.ru/20220226/rossiya-1775162336.html

    As a result he didn’t bother preparing for the long haul and logistics have always been a dicey issue for the Russian army anyway. Any lines of Russia taking the slow and methodical approach now or are trying to minimise infrastructure damage are simple damage control by the Kremlin and should be disbelieved. They thought they’d be greeted as liberators and that Seleknskiy would run at the first sign of trouble. They were wrong.

  96. John Morales says

    I know that Poland has every reason, historically, to be worried about Russia flexing its military.
    I doubt there’s a lot of love there.

    Not that relevant to its treatment of refugees in general, and any inferred bias (ahem) thereby, but still:
    NYTimes

    (Article title)

    At the Polish Border, Tens of Thousands of Ukrainian Refugees

    They have been warmly welcomed in a country whose border guards last year beat back mostly Afghan and Middle Eastern migrants with batons.

  97. KG says

    It is not necessarily apologia for the fascist* Putin’s unprovoked and brutal attack on Ukraine to report the claims of black residents of Ukraine that they are being discriminated against in escaping Ukraine for Poland (the Polish government is after all undeniably racist), nor to note the racism expressed in western media, nor to point out the existence and official incorporation into Ukranian forces of the neo-Nazi Azov battalion. The last in particular can now be seen, whatever its pragmatic justification, as a grave political error, giving as it does a hook on which Putin’s propagandists can hang the otherwise absurd claims that the invasion is aimed at “de-Nazifying” Ukraine. But it becomes so if it is used to minimse Putin’s responsibility, or to suggest that “we” should not take sides, or to excuse others (such as China and India) equivocating.

    *Again, the term is not used loosely. This article by Timothy Snyder (which I think someone – SC? – has already linked to) shows Putin repeatedly referencing the Russian fascist Ivan Ilyin (who claimed that Russian fascism was formulated earlier and better than that of the Johnny-come-lately Mussolini!), and his actions appear wholly in line with this ideology.

  98. says

    @114 KG

    I would say Putin’s known support for world-wide fascism renders any argument in that direction moot. However many neo-nazis serve in Ukrain’s armies, it pales compared to the damage Putin’s troll factories and monetary support to far-right groups have caused. He had a hand in getting Trump elected and Brexit after all.

  99. unclefrogy says

    Putin is not it appears to me to be very much of a charismatic leader. I do not hear his speeches and I do not think he was brought to power by some movement or clamor from the public. He came to power by force and intimidation, fear and manipulation it is what he holds power. He is also extremely interested in money and has stolen a vast fortune from his country It is his weaknesses his lust for power, his lust for money and the things money can buy including people, his utter callous disregard for other human beings, he cares more for himself then he does for his homeland and its people and everyone knows. He has managed to put himself in the center of the inner circle of power and is utterly trapped there alone people still are doing what he wants them to do some reluctantly but not everyone everywhere many would gladly see him die slowly he knows it it is the nature of that kind of power
    he is also aging his time will not last forever and democracy is still making some advances very close to him.
    it is too bad for the rest of us that he has so little wisdom and so much cunning and greed.

  100. KG says

    AugustusVerger@115,
    I agree – but the Azov battalion is regularly raised by Putin apologists, and we can’t pretend it doesn’t exist.

  101. says

    jrkrideau@88 India isn’t saying anything because Russia is one of their main arms suppliers. The Russians are even leasing them an Akula class nuclear attack sub to replace an Akula they previously leased to India. I suspect Modi also doesn’t want to draw attention to some of the actions of his government towards minorities by getting involved.

  102. says

    I linked to a tweet about it @ #119, but I might as well cross-post with the Infinite Thread a longer report – from today’s Guardian liveblog:

    The United Nations has voted overwhelmingly for a resolution deploring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and called for the immediate withdrawal of its forces, in a global expression of outrage that highlighted Russia’s increasing isolation, Julian Borger writes.

    In an emergency session of the UN’s general assembly, 141 of the 193 member states voted for the resolution, 35 abstained and five voted against.

    The resolution, which was co-sponsored by 94 countries, said the UN “deplores in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine”. It demanded that “the Russian Federation immediately cease its use of force against Ukraine” and “immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces”.

    The resolution is not legally binding, but is an expression of the views of the UN membership, aimed at increasing pressure on Moscow and its ally, Belarus.

    On Friday, Russia was the sole vote against a similar resolution in the security council, but because Russia is one of the five powers with a veto, the resolution was not upheld, so Ukraine’s allies referred the matter to the general assembly.

    It is first time in 40 years, the security council has referred a crisis to the assembly and only the 11th time an emergency session of the UN general assembly has been called since 1950.

  103. says

    By the way, jrkrideau, I noticed what you did @ #88, responding to PZ’s paragraph about shifts in Europe and making it all about alleged “support” for “the USA.” Nice try.

  104. davidc1 says

    @113 There is a two volume history of Poland by Norman Davies,called Gods Playground.
    I wish I could afford them,but I am poorer than a very poor church mouse.
    I have read two other books by him,plus Microcosm,a book he wrote with another bloke about the city of Wroclaw.

  105. Walter Solomon says

    PaulBC

    davidc1@123 Don’t you have a public library? I almost never buy books.

    I don’t know how the library system works in the UK, but if there isn’t an Interlibrary Loan program there, those particular books may be unavailable in his location. There’s a great library system in my area, a large number of volumes and a great sight and sounds department, with the Enoch Pratt Library but there are many times I’ve depended on the ILL for films and books that weren’t available.

  106. whheydt says

    The Register (UK-based IT news site) has an article abut Ukrainian claims to have released records on 120,000 Russian army personnel, here https://www.theregister.com/2022/03/02/russian_soldier_leaks/

    Some of the comments are worthy of Pharyngula. I particularly like the one about the Ukrainian great-grandmother with the Kalashnikov and surprisingly good aim. (Who knows…perhaps she got her original practice in the Great Patriotic War.)

  107. efka says

    @ 56 I know I’m late and I don’t have any links for you, but the implication that eastern countries were bullied or manoeuvred into joining NATO is just so …bizarre for me. When Poland joined NATO the feeling in general was that the west owed it to us to let us join. That it was the least they could do after they betrayed us in 1945 and left us to the mercy of USSR.

  108. says

    @103 raven
    I tend towards word diarrhea. I’ll try to be brief and if necessary break up comments. I’m far from being on the ground, just have access to polish press, social media and some context
    @105 chrislawson
    I’m in Warsaw, as long as I don’t go near the train stations turn on tv or internet I can pretend nothing happend so I am comfortable not just safe. I don’t have any specific skills required nor do I have perfect health conditions to help much so I just keep earning money and donate what I can and follow any “help/stuff needed” in local groups in case I have something that is needed.
    BTW – 2 days after the war started all the sleeping bags in big chains with sport equipment around warsaw were sold. Buying one requires you too look in smaller shops and hoping.

    @110 Walter Salomon
    I have the issue with “multiple” There are thousands of non white students that crossed the border and only tens of people claiming they were not let inside and thousands of people passing this information.
    Also I am used to stories from Poland where someone claims to be discriminated but in reality they are treated the same like everyone else, just didn’t knew it. Situation on the border is likely to cause such feelings.
    Social media tend to blow out of proportions that what makes you angry and seems to fit your bias. And people tend to know more people who share their bias and that can be exploited. So either that or misinformation war is in full swing, because there are several narrations running amok now.
    People of color, people from Africa and some people of the west focus on story of people of color being discriminated. And that story will stick, long after everyone except Ukrainians forgets about everything else.
    Pro far right, antivax, footbal hooligan circles are 100% certain there are bands of middle eastern men raping and looting and are going to “patrol the streets”. There was 1 real video (and some fakes from different conflicts), police in the area reports no significant increase in crime rate (considering near border some cities have 50% extra population and huge migration it is amazing) – but that was enough to spin the narrative, also a lot of accounts that take part in it are proven russian misinfo accounts.
    Leftist circles in Poland are convinced that hordes of hooligans are attacking refugees near the border. There were few scuffles and accidents reported but nothing that would justify panic.
    Social media are the best source of information and misinformation at the moment. They are great of noticing some rare event, there are terrible in judging whether event is typical or near impossible to happen again.
    I try to sift through journalist reports and filter what they write through their known bias.

    @113 John Morales
    You are partially right, this is another complex issue but to make things simple
    Ukrainians are women and children (whose husbands fight for their country, this is huge in our psyche), fleeing from hot war that just started from their own country to the next country, attacked by Russia with clear good vs evil, Ukrainians tend to integrate well in Poland and plan to go back as soon as possible
    People from Middle East are mostly men, who claim to run away from the old conflict (where they didn’t fight and we don’t really care about this conflict because it is too complex), from already safe (safe-ish) place, brought by Belarus (Russian puppet) secret police in special operation to flood polish border, tend to have issues with integrating and will not come back.
    All that influences the level of empathy for both groups, people are overwhelmingly welcoming refugees from war, people are generally divided on the issue of refugees/migrants from Middle East. Some oppose them vehemently, some risk huge trouble to find and help them.
    Does race and religion matter here? Yes probably, but remember that after Chechen war refugees were welcome. We understand how world is fooled to not see how evil Russia really is and we will always focus on helping those who suffer from Russia, this is our duty like Middle East is yours.
    International law on that matter of refugees and migrants was written in peaceful times and has no enforcement mechanisms, so countries basically ignore it anyway. Even definition of refugee is murky and problematic.

    At this moment volunteers mostly have a procedure to deal with Ukrainians both on border and train station – most of them have some family, friends on the west or someone already contacted them and offered help.
    With people of color, both students and other, it seems to work less efficiently so they tend to gather. They are less priority unfortunately, over half refugees from Ukraine went through Poland, 1 in 80 people in our country is a refugee today

    @114 KG
    there is a difference between raising an issue and overblowing it.
    Azov Battalion is ethno-nationalist military group that is defending their immediate surrounding (look where Azov sea is) from fascist state aggression but this is still insignificant group with no real political power in Ukraine – but everyone in US left starts their opinion on Ukraine with “Azov Battalion”.
    At the same time Russia is fascistic autocratic country with their own paramilitary which is outright neonazi and does Russia’s dirty work all around the world with plausible deniability and no one cares.
    Ukraine is at war for 8 years, should they kill their most experienced fighters just to avoid dishonest talking point? How much should we sacrifice to avoid dishonest criticism?
    Maybe NATO could say “Ukraine will not join” to be able later to say “see, Putin never cared about Ukraine in NATO”. But that would be the first time in history when NATO caved to outside demand and meddling and sacrificing 73 year old policy to get “gotcha” talking point.
    Yes, polish government is racist, but less than Trump and in that case they made a point of taking in everyone. Yet few cases where someone claims discrimination are more discussed among left in the west then thousands of non ukrainian non white people who went through without problem and hundreds of thousands of refugees who are taken care of.
    Stop being part of the circular firing squad please

  109. davidc1 says

    @123 Libraries,what are them? The tories during their 12 years of misrule have closed a vast number
    of Libraries.And I am in the countryside,the nearest town is 13 miles away.But there are smaller ones closer.
    And I don’t think there would be much demand for a two volume history of Poland.

  110. richardh says

    PaulBC@123: davidc1@129
    davidc1@123 Don’t you have a public library? I almost never buy books.

    Random (anecdotal, YMMV, I’m assuming davidc1 is in England or it’s irrelevant) data point: I just looked at my local county library’s website and they have a copy of both the books in question.
    Thanks to the events of 1939-45 there are a lot of people of Polish ancestry living in the UK so I’d expect demand greater than zero.

  111. Greg Tingey says

    In the UK we now have TWO SETS OF TRAITORS.
    – The first, though obvious ( J Corbyn & fellow “useful idiots” ) are largely “harmless” & simply need slapping round the face with a wet fish.
    – The second, though: EVERYBODY who pushed Brexit &/or took Putin’s money, or that of his friends “the oligarchs” … that’s right our fucking PRIME MINISTER & J Grease-Smaug & Nugent Farrago & all the rest of them.
    – Weakening Europe, taking our enemies money, whilst posturing & capering ( Like IQ 45, in fact ).

    And now we have this major land war, as you point out.
    How nice

    BTW – Zelensky’s previous stint as a comedian is showing up in his public wind-ups of the Russian idiots – most effective.

    Way back up … P R Butler asked about the “Baltics”
    They joined the EU & NATO as INSURANCE – “NEVER Again!” is theor watchword as regards the Sovunion &/or Russia

  112. Pierce R. Butler says

    efka @ # 128: … the implication that eastern countries were bullied or manoeuvred into joining NATO is just so …bizarre for me.

    Among leftists in the US, many assert (or did before 2/24) that NATO persisted after the USSR imploded primarily because the functional necessity for interoperative equipment creates a giant market for US weaponry corporations (note, for example, recent reports about Poland using Lockheed-Martin F-16s and F-35s).

    Since the US government often generously subsidizes such purchases, you may not have seen much reporting about the billions of dollars routinely involved – but here on the paying end, this has usually seemed to me a valid point, which goes unmentioned in the corporate news media for obvious reasons. Reports of skulduggery and corruption so often prove true in our national politics, such accusations start out with more than a little credibility.

  113. says

    @134
    I can assure you, american corporations did golden deals on selling Poland their equipment. They may have been a factor in convincing US politicians, but Polish government pushed to join NATO even before Soviet troops left polish soil.
    That was one constant since 1989, every government, every poll, we wanted to be in NATO.
    Even our russian fifth column who try to push us to polexit from EU don’t try to talk about leaving NATO.

    I got one update about non white refugees on the polish border,
    In today’s interview with Le Monde, Charles Michel, president of the European Council said (my translation from polish summary, original is in French behind paywall)
    “Russia started hostile propaganda, trying to raise suspicions in african countries at the time, when we applied diplomatic pressure in United Nations against Russian aggression on Ukraine.”

    He also added there were long lines due to number of people and necessity to ascertain their identity, he visited the border and there were no cases of intentional discrimination.

    Seriously, amount of russian propaganda accounts is terrifying and they target quite precisely their message, to each group catering their own.
    Ukrainians are trying to do the same.

  114. PaulBC says

    Pierce R. Butler@134

    Among leftists in the US, many assert (or did before 2/24) that NATO persisted after the USSR imploded primarily because the functional necessity for interoperative equipment creates a giant market for US weaponry corporations (note, for example, recent reports about Poland using Lockheed-Martin F-16s and F-35s).

    I can imagine it being part of the motivation. On the other hand, I notice an odd tendency among “the left” to explain everything in terms of filthy lucre and ignoring every other shameful human motivation. The flip side is their insistence that people who vote on cultural issues and against their material interest are always being duped rather than simply assigning priorities in a particular way. What explains this? Is it just a kneejerk reaction against capitalism? Many capitalists are assholes, but they’re not the only ones.

    I think the preservation of an institution like NATO is probably better explained by human values such as loyalty or the desire for power and prestige. Anyone whose entire career was formed int he NATO command structure is unlikely to want to say “Oh yeah, NATO, don’t need that anymore what with the Cold War. Heck, maybe I should retire too.” Some might, but a lot won’t. Likewise, Poland was probably motivated in the same way any nation is to join an alliance. They want a way to protect national boundaries.

    I mean, some people are going to profit from any set of circumstances, but I don’t get how you look at circumstances, try to match them with what you understand about what human beings care about, and then decide… oh no, that’s all a big hoax. It’s just the corporations manipulating us.

  115. KG says

    gorski@129,
    You’d be more convincing if you dropped crap like this:

    everyone in US left starts their opinion on Ukraine with “Azov Battalion”.
    At the same time Russia is fascistic autocratic country with their own paramilitary which is outright neonazi and does Russia’s dirty work all around the world with plausible deniability and no one cares.

    I’m not in the US, I’m well aware that Russian fascism is far more dangerous than the Azov battalion, Putin being in effect the head of a fascist international. That doesn’t make it acceptable to incorporate neo-nazis into the armed forces.

  116. PaulBC says

    KG@137 I just took it to mean that I’m definitely not a member of the “US left” because it certainly isn’t how I start* my opinion. I am not sure where this view comes from, though I do have an acquaintance (generational and self-identified hippie) who said some of his leftwing friends are more worried about fascists in Ukraine, which he found stunning. My millennial niece, also more leftwing than I am, shared a “What about Yemen?” post to facebook. So while there is no “US left” fitting Gorski’s description, I am sure there is a serious Russian disinformation campaign going on and at least some on the left are falling for it. (And not exclusively on the left I’m sure.)

    *Which usually starts with “You don’t invade other nations.” Boring, but still I think the root of the problem.

  117. KG says

    PaulBC@138,
    Of course if gorski’s claim had been correct, that would greatly have strengthened my assertion that incorporating the Azov Battalion into Ukraine’s armed forces was a serious political error!

    I know that in the UK there is a significant part of the left that is unable to see that anyone other than “US imperialism” ever does anything wrong (or if they do, it’s somehow really the fault of the US imperialists). I may have lost a friend over this.

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