Wednesday, September 21, 2022



Squelching the Noise about the Ukraine

There are more interesting things for me to write about than this, and I am working on it, but in the meantime here is a quick note on happenings in the Ukraine that will most likely contradict what people can glean by listening to Western mass media sources. Not only that, but some useful idiots right inside Russia have started to hyperventilate as soon as Russian troops pulled back from the Kharkov region, claiming that "This is now a war!" They should go off and read Resolution 3314 of the UN General Assembly from 14 December 1974. That should temper their enthusiasm for declaring wars. It's a Special Operation; if you call it anything else, you are not only mistaken but committing a crime under Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code.
I'll just list some facts about the conflict and leave it up to you to draw your own conclusions.
This morning, Russia's defense minister Sergei Shoigu gave an interview in which he declared Russia's battlefield losses in the course of the Special Military Operation (a state secret until now) to be 5.937 killed. He also said that 90% of those wounded have been treated and have returned to active duty. To put these numbers in perspective, this is 0.004% of Russia's population. Over the same period Russia lost around 5.600 people to auto accidents, over 10.000 to drug overdoses and over 50.000 to alcoholism.
For some further perspective, Shoigu also mentioned some numbers for losses on the Ukrainian side. Losses on the Ukrainian side amounted to 61.270 dead, which is roughly half of the initial Ukrainian army. This puts the kill ratio of over 10:1, and one has to dig deep in the annals of military history to find an invading force that obtained similarly stellar results. The Ukrainians are now scraping the bottom of the barrel and the latest 300.000 that are being drafted into the army, no experience necessary, will probably be of similarly little help against battle-tested Russian soldiers as previous such efforts.
Earlier this morning, Vladimir Putin gave the order to call up army reservists. According to him, the nature and the goals of the Special Military Operation in the Ukraine remain the same. The reservists will be given contracts (they will in essence become salaried employees). Only those with relevant military experience and training will be called up. Shoigu went into further specifics: just 300.000 reservists will be called up in the first phase (roughly 1% of Russia's total reservists), which will coincide with the normal, regularly scheduled annual training of reserves. They will be equipped, trained and sent in with the task of shoring up and straightening up the battle front. To be sure, they will also be called upon to provide security and to suppress enemy activity on both sides of the border.
Given the current configuration of the battle front, which includes a toehold on the Kharkov region, all of Lugansk, most of Donetsk, most of Zaporozhye and most of Kherson, their mission could conceivably come to include driving the Ukrainian forces out of the remainder of Donetsk and Kherson regions and perhaps setting up and maintaining a buffer zone to make it impossible for Ukrainian artillery to reach within what will soon become territory of the Russian Federation.
To this end, referenda will be held starting this Friday in all of the above formerly Ukrainian regions except for Kharkov, which is excluded. According to most recent opinion polling, the idea of joining the Russian Federation is very popular in all of the above: 94% in favor in Donetsk, 93% in Lugansk, 87% in Zaporozhye and 80% in Kherson. And why wouldn't these people want to be part of a peaceful, stable and prosperous state where their native language is the official language rather than stay within a failed state that has been fighting a civil war against them going on nine years? The celebrations that will follow these regions joining Russia are likely to be massive: Crimea 2014 times ten.
Finally, I'd like to add a note on the Russian withdrawal from most of the Kharkov region. The region itself is of no consequence to Russia while the city of Kharkov, with its remaining population of around two million and with Ukrainian heavy armor and artillery hiding among high-rise buildings and using civilians as human shields, would be either a hard target, a humanitarian disaster, or both, were the Russians to try to conquer it. Also, although Kharkov is overwhelmingly Russian-speaking, these are some of the most heavily brainwashed, Westernized, Nazified Russian-speakers on the face of the planet and, from a Russian perspective, just not worth the bother. Thus, the Russian withdrawal to defensible positions behind the River Oskol in the east of the region was the right move.
A major remaining question in my mind is what will become of Nikolaev and Odessa regions. These are both quite valuable to Russia, and absorbing Odessa will provide Russia with a land bridge to Transnistria, yet another Russian region that had found itself outside Russia and where Russian peacekeepers have been keeping the peace for just over three decades. My expectation is that these regions will be left to ripen and fall into Russia's basket mostly of their own accord as the rest of the former Ukraine sinks deeper into failed-statedom while the West loses all interest in it, preoccupied with its own economic and political crises, which are far more interesting, and far more important, than all of the former Ukraine put together.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

cats and dogs


Of Cats in a Dark and Cluttered Room

I've been getting requests to comment on the recent Ukrainian counterattacks, with some people musing that perhaps "the tide has turned." There have been two counterattacks, one in the Kherson region in the south, which was repelled, with the Ukrainian forces suffering casualties in the thousands, filling every hospital and morgue in the region and requiring emergency blood drives. That little caper cost the Ukrainian side around 100 tanks and other vehicles, 4000 dead and 8000 wounded. Rest assured, some people are quite happy with this turn of events—especially those who profit by cutting livers, lungs and kidneys out of the corpses and shipping them off to clinics in Israel and points beyond for transplantation (given the large number of casualties, this has turned into quite an industry at this point, along with money laundering and weapons smuggling). In another attack, supposedly much more successful, the Ukrainian side recaptured areas around Izyum and Balakleya, with equally impressive losses.
Since this is the only instance of Ukrainians actually gaining ground since the start of the operation, some people instantly started to hyperventilate and claim that now the Russians will surely be routed from Crimea. I will do no such thing and instead explain why Russia, having committed perhaps as much as 16% of its professional soldiers (no draftees or reservists but increasing numbers of volunteers), is actually succeeding in its mission to demilitarize and denazify the Ukraine, provide for the security of the Donbass region and, beyond that, to shift its relationship with the West (if any) to a more equitable basis. Everything is going according to plan, and although we don't know the details of that plan ahead of time (it is normally a state secret) we can discern some of its details as it unfolds.
First, it is important that while for the West the action in the Ukraine is an existential "total war" (as stated by the French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian), for Russia it is a Special Military Operation, and Russia is ready to simultaneously engage in three, perhaps four of them without having to mobilize or to call up reserves. The reason it is an existential question for the West has to do with energy. With Peak Oil well in the past and the fracking phenomenon in the US ready to fizzle out over the next year or two, Russia's oil and gas, and many commodities that require cheap oil and gas for their production, are absolutely essential if the West is to maintain even a trace of its dominant position in the world. What's more, Russian oil and gas have to be made very cheap, whereas they are now far too expensive for the West to sustain its industrial capacity, with chemical and metallurgical plants, and even bakeries, closing daily. Thus, if the West is to survive, Russia must be destroyed and its treasure trove of fossil fuels and other commodities looted.
For Russia, the conflict serves an entirely different set of functions. First, politically, it is beneficial for Russia to expand its territory and to regain some of the most interesting Russian territories it lost to the whimsical, artificial country called the Ukraine which was formed when the USSR fell apart. Second, given the level of anti-Russian hostility inculcated in the Ukrainian population, it is incumbent upon the Russian military to render what remains of the Ukraine maximally innocuous, destroying its warmaking capacity and ruining it economically by destroying its infrastructure—turning the Ukraine into the Uk-Ruin.
The most advantageous time to do this is before inclement weather sets in, and with it what in Russian is called "raspĂștitsa", or roadlessness—a time when dirt roads turn to impassable mud. That, plus a few rocket strikes against roads, railroads, bridges, electric transformer farms, pumping stations, refineries, fuel depots, etc., will be enough to make sure that nothing much moves or operates as winter weather descends. This part of the plan now seems to be in operation and at present many parts of the Ukraine don't have electricity as a result of recent rocket strikes.
Capturing a maximum amount of territory as quickly as possible is not advantageous at all because this territory would then have to be controlled, defended and rebuilt to Russian standards, as is now happening in Donetsk, Lugansk, Mariupol and Kherson. Capturing and occupying large cities such as Kharkov, Kiev or Odessa would have meant having to supply them; why not let the West do it instead, and exhaust itself in trying? Another reason for advancing slowly was to allow the Ukrainian population to sort itself out. Do they want to be one with Russia (as in Donetsk, Lugansk and Kherson) or do they wish to remain as Western parasites for as long as possible, feeding their native sons, along with some clueless mercenaries, into the meat-grinder that is the eastern front?
A similar reason for moving ahead slowly has to do with the pro-Western tendencies of a small but influential part of the Russian population that is concentrated in a few big cities (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and a few others). These people have been conditioned, over the past 30 years, to look up to and ape the West and are naturally compelled to ingratiate themselves with it even to the point of committing treason against their own country. Some of them, hilariously labeled "frightened patriots" by the cryptically ironic Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, fled to the West or to Israel as soon as Russia had announced its Special Operation. A lot of them have since come back, along with many Russians who had been living in the West. It takes time for all of the above to realize that there is nothing good out there for them any more in the increasingly wild West and that Russia is the best place for them.
And then they have to actually move back, which is rarely an easy process. People have to find jobs, places to live, sometimes get their papers in order, ship their belongings and so on. Right now schools in St. Petersburg and Moscow are seeing an influx of children who have been hounded out of schools in the UK, the US or Canada. They are often disoriented, poorly socialized, and typically behind in every subject except English. The process of moving back is getting more complicated: there are no longer direct flights, containers with possessions have to be shipped via third countries and funds often cannot be wired directly due to sanctions. Russians are famously foolhardy, often getting stuck in various risky places and giving the Foreign Ministry headaches when the time comes to try to rescue them. I am probably at the opposite extreme, having moved my family back five years before it became absolutely necessary.
In all, it is to Russia's advantage to sustain maximally hostile relations with the collective West (while continuing to nurture lower-level contacts with individual friendlier EU countries such as Italy or Hungary) but to not rush things too much in order to extract maximum profits from endlessly rising natural gas and commodity prices and to negotiate maximally advantageous trade deals with friendly countries. After this winter, most Europeans will be made to understand that there is no replacement for Russian energy and other resources, whether or not their leaders, many of whom lack basic economic literacy and are outright American plants, are specifically paid not to understand this simple fact. It would be to Russia's advantage to have these clowns voted out, but another simple fact is that Russia's future lies with the East, not with the West, and no amount of sincere apologies will compensate for the West's now obvious degradation and decay or its vast legacy of abetting and coddling Nazis, most recently Ukrainian ones.
In this light, even the recent setback in the Kharkov region, which resulted in the surrender of Izyum and Balakleya, has certain advantages. It helped to further clarify the situation politically: those people who waxed hysterical, claiming that "all is lost" or that "this is the beginning of the end for Russia" just because a few dozen square kilometers changed hands at a cost of thousands of Ukrainian lives have essentially outed themselves as, at the very least, untrustworthy and unreliable, in essence presenting themselves with their own special Darwin award within Russia's political ecosystem. A simple back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that if the Ukraine were to reconquer all of its territory with similar battlefield losses, its population would be zeroed out well before it reached that goal.
Russia's Special Military operation in the Ukraine, now in its sixth months, has succeeded in "liberating" (if you accept the Russian term) roughly the third of the Ukraine's population and territory that is most valuable, all the while maintaining a three-to-one disadvantage in troop numbers against the Ukrainian side and in spite of the Ukrainian's eight-year lead in establishing fortified defensive positions. This is an achievement without precedent in the annals of military science. Throughout this period, the Russian strategy has been designed to minimize casualties among the Russian military and the civilian population. Meanwhile, losses on the Ukrainian side have been very high, with much of the original contingent either no longer alive or no longer fit for action. The exact numbers will be kept secret until the operation's conclusion, but informal estimates of the kill ratio are in the neighborhood of ten to one. The latest innovation of surrendering not particularly valuable bits of territory to an all-out Ukrainian onslaught, then perhaps gaining it back as per usual, improves this kill ratio to perhaps a hundred to one.
To explain, let me use an analogy. Suppose your job is to rid of feral cats a large, dimly lit and cluttered room. You need to grab each cat by the scruff of the neck and stuff it in a bag. There are three possible tactics the cats might deploy. The first is for them to try to hide from you, forcing you to move heavy furniture away from walls and to clear passageways so that you might find them and flush them out of their hiding places. This is equivalent to blasting the Ukrainians out of their fortified positions. The second is for them to try to run away from you, forcing you to chase after them, perhaps tripping over furniture and hurting yourself in the process. This is the equivalent of advancing while subjecting retreating Ukrainians to artillery barrages. And the third is rile up the cats and to get them to try to attack you. If you are properly dressed for it and agile (good armor and a highly mobile defensive strategy) you should be able to grab the smaller cats and stuff them in the bag, fight off the larger ones, and leave the room quickly with a bag full of cats having sustained a few bites and scratches.
Thus, the strategy of gaining, then surrendering, then regaining noncritical bits of territory is superior to both picking apart entrenched positions using artillery and to advancing steadily as the Ukrainians retreat. Some people bemoan the fate of civilians who are caught in the crossfire. These civilians have been given the opportunity to evacuate to Russia, where camps have been set up to receive them, stocked with food, medicine and everything else necessary, there to wait out the hostilities. Those that chose to remain are the ones who are unwilling to decide whether they want to be with Russia or with the Ukraine; if so, why should the Russians be particularly concerned with risking their own lives to defend theirs?
A historical note on the patch of ground recently surrendered by the Russians: Balakleya, from the Turkic "fish river," was first mentioned in a chronicle in 1571, as a defensive outpost of the Moscow state. It was initially a Crimean Tatar settlement that was replaced by a Cossack outpost in 1663. It fits the definition of noncritical territory. It is vastly less important than driving the Ukrainians away from Donetsk, so that they can no longer continuously shell its schools, hospitals and markets using US-supplied weapons.
But these are all minor details. The sweeping panorama is of a great winter of Western discontent, with lack of heat, shortages of electricity, expensive and increasingly scarce food and a great show of financial, economic and political dysfunction. Once the snow melts, we will be in a brave new world in which, we should hope, the collective West will suddenly become much more reasonable and more willing to seek peaceful accommodation with those on whose kindness its survival depends. Here is Gazprom's take on it.

real dog



Friday, September 2, 2022

Friday, August 19, 2022

potatoes, tomatoes, and flowers

 Sttorming the bastille:

Bird house grown:


And, because man does not live by bread alone:

Monday, August 15, 2022

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Thursday, June 9, 2022

cross-eyed owl

 It's all about perspective:

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Friday, June 3, 2022

For my money, this is Prince's...

 ... most open honest and confessional song. Not his best song. It's rather conventional, a bit too orderly, but the lyrics speak of a man facing up to his personal inner truth. His is Jesus and all that. Yours may be... do you have one? If not, go  look for it. Quick-like.

Holy River

We will pass over in silence the video accompanying the song.

Let's go down to the holy river
If we drown then we'll be delivered
You can still see the picture upon the wall
One eye staring at nothing at all
The other one trying to focus through all your tears
You can try and try but there's nothing to hide
You can't run from yourself and what's inside
You got to find the answers to the questions that you most fear
So over and over you ask your soul
Why'd you come down to a world so cold?
And the voice inside says tonight the truth will be told
You surrounded yourself with all the wrong faces
Spending your time in all the wrong places
Putting your faith in things that only make you cry
People say they love you when they want to help
But how can they when you can't even help yourself?
The more they say they love you, the more you just want to die
So here we go again, the self-analysis
Have another glass of Port and forget this
The band's playing at the club tonight and they're bound to groove
There you are, you think you're high
You can't ask yourself because you'd only lie
If you had a dollar for every time you tried
You can't call nobody because they'll tell you straight up
Come and make love when you really hate them
Relationships based on the physical are over and done
They're over and done (they're over and done)
You'd rather have fun
With only one, with only one
Only one... One (one)
And then it hit you like a fist on a wall
Who gave you life when there was none at all?
Who gave the sun permission to rise up everyday? (Ooh, oh yes)
Let me tell it (go on)
If you ask God to love you longer
Every breath you take will make you stronger
Keeping you happy (happy) and proud to call His name (go on and say it)
Jesus (Jesus)
And over and over you ask your soul
Why'd you come down to a world so cold?
And the voice inside says tonight the truth will be told
And this time I was listening, hear me
Let's go down to the holy river
If we drown then we'll be delivered (yes we will)
If we don't then we'll never see the light (no)
If you die before you try
You'll have to come back and face the light (oh yes)
When you believe it, you got a good reason to cry (oh my, my)
So I went on down to the holy river
I called my girl and told her I had something to give her
I asked her to marry me and she said yes, I cried
Oh, that night I drowned in her tears and mine
And instead of a glass of sorrow and wine
Looking back y'all, I don't miss nothing except the time
And when I see that picture upon the wall
The one eye staring at nothing at all
My eyes trying to focus but these are much different tears
Oh, yes they are
Let's go down to the holy river
Let's go down to the holy river
Let's go down to the holy river
Let's go down to the holy river
Let's go down to the holy river
Let's go down to the holy river

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Saturday, March 19, 2022

movie madness

I experimented. Even the red shoes/tap heels/'there's no place  like home'  magic has failed me:

I remain, as you can see, stuck in the X-dimension woven into a modern cineplex lobby carpet.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022


 <A HREF=>Sans Mojo Equals Death</A>

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Monday, December 13, 2021

Friday, December 10, 2021

danger, wr!


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Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Friday, November 19, 2021

Thursday, November 18, 2021