Saturday, April 30, 2022

Saturday stuff: funny, and of course dogs!

First up, boy is this ever true! Now that spring is here, the rabbits from the nearby park are making their evening circuts through our cul-de-sac and our dogs are going NUTS! Maybe you saw this already, but its worth seeing again:

Today's news: TGIF

As John Oliver says, just a few things to wrap up the week: 

First up, so to speak, wasn't it great that the Mets pitched a no-hitter today -- I loved this tweet about it:
Yes, indeed. I do love that Pfizer glow! 
Next, there was an interesting piece on Ask A Manager this week about people noticing a significant increase in hostile, grumpy and rude behaviour lately -- check out the jerks in downtown Ottawa, for example.  
Commenters were blaming the anxiety about Covid, disruptions to schools and workplaces and family gatherings and everybody's social life going down the tubes. Yes, I know what they mean, I haven't been a ray of fucking sunshine myself either. 
Here's some of the Ask A Manager comments:
 ...there is a really weird level of – I don’t know – grandiosity and entitlement and prickliness and lack of empathy – that is grinding a lot of us down
.....something about the Covid-19 calamity caused certain people to be rendered incapable of self-regulating and to become the absolute worst, most despicable and harmful version of themselves. These outraged individuals of course have found each other, and formed a coalition; from that point forward they have lived in an evil echo chamber where they’ve incubated a grossly inflated sense of entitlement and collectively demanded extreme consequences that are wildly disproportionate to the situation at hand.... 
 ...There has been a definite increase in what I’d call incoherent anger. People are just MAD. At me, at the system, at everything, and too often I just happen to be the last straw for their fraying nerves. A big part of it is that everything takes forever these days. Every process I can think of has slowed down dramatically, and that is hard to deal with, especially when you’re already living on the margins.... 
...I have colleagues at libraries nearby who have had to call the police because grown adults have had complete meltdowns around mask/distancing policy [and] the person began yelling, threatening, cursing at, and physically intimidating the librarians..I had one patron yell that the Library “should have never even closed down, because we are supposed to serve EVERYONE and NOT EVERYONE believes in the pandemic.” (Yes, really, he used those exact words).... 
...Controversial, angry, divisive posts generate the most clicks and page views, and so the algorithms push those to the top of the feeds. It is not a bug. It is a feature. There’s money to be made by painting everyone who’s not you as an “other”, and blaming all your problems on “them”. You’ll keep clicking to get that rush of being right and being better than “those people”. It’s a vicious cycle that corrodes civility and the social contract. Why be polite to those who obviously don’t deserve it? Someone called it “irritainment”. It’s more dangerous than that...
... people came out of lockdown “feral.” I’ve noticed a general rudeness/impatience/unhelpfulness everywhere I look whether it’s at work or at the supermarket.... Perhaps we are all just burnt-out from 2 years of pandemic related anxiety, 2 years of realizing some of our fellow humans don’t care who lives and who dies as long as they get to do what they want, on top of 6+ years of noxious political turmoil..
But I am hopeful that maybe soon we can get our equilibrium back.  

Friday, April 29, 2022

Today's News: Explaining Norway to a duck

I think Elon Musk may finally be meeting his comeuppance. 
He's used to people telling him how brilliant he is: But for all Twitter's faults, it doesn't flatter people.  Adoring tech-bros and greedy investors can get all fluttery when Musk invents subways and buses but Twitter reveals a person's essential personality very quickly - as demonstrated by Bret Stephens and Mark Hamill and Dolly Parton and J. K. Rowling and many more.
For the last couple of days, Twitter's main character has been Elon Musk. 
And the Twitter verdict isn't a flattering one.  "Sadly ill-informed" is one of the kinder takes. All in all, explaining Twitter to Musk is like trying to explain Norway to a duck:
Here's some recent Musk antics: It still not clear whether Musk is actually going ahead with the Twitter purchase deal or not. But as Josh Marshall notes: "My own sense is that the guy will likely rue the day he purchased Twitter." 

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Today's News: Blundered by the Right


When I looked at today's news, I saw a lot of blundering today by conservatives - thus my 

But first, I want to do a Ukraine roundup. 
I thought this first tweet was very true and certainly something we all need to be aware of as 
the Ukraine Russia War continues: Tonight, Kos writes
The May 9 Victory Parade should prove an inflection point: does Vladimir Putin use the occasion to call for a mass mobilization to bolster the war effort, or will he keep pretending that it’s merely a “limited military operation” that remains splendidly on track, dooming the entire effort? 
Ukraine’s regular army and Territorial Defense Forces have bought time for those 300,000 reservists out west to train and get equipped. A couple more months, and they’ll be riding into battle in Polish T-72s, American and European armored personnel carriers, and lots of sweet, sweet, modern artillery.
 How will Russia respond, even as it attrits its existing forces on the daily? 
Observers are increasingly concerned that the longer the Ukraine Russia War goes on, the more 
difficult it will be to keep it contained. See this whole thread, but here's the beginning and 
end of it: But on the other hand, this:
 I thought this was a very interesting piece today:
And ain't this the truth?

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Today's News: Riding madly off in all directions

Another #FluKlan Convoy is planning to roar into Ottawa this weekend - bikers this time - and I hope it's not going to turn into another clusterfuck. 
But Ottawa people are simply furious -- though police have announced that no vehicles will be permitted in the Parliament Hill area and that extra police will be arriving to help, Ottawa people just don't believe them.  And nobody can figure out why they're doing this anyway - like, what's the point?
Here's a crazy Evan Soloman interview with this guy: I hope Ottawa police are aware that the people of Ottawa want justice this time, and they no longer trust the police to handle these people:

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Today's News: Just a few things to talk about

Well, things are looking up. 
The horrible cold I have been battling for 2 weeks seems to be gone at last. 
 And after this month's cold and snow, our spring is springing! The pelicans are back! The Raptors are finally doing great and Canada is feeling it:

Monday, April 25, 2022

Today's News: Dogs of Ukraine

Here is a post that collects some of the great tweets and photos I have found that highlight the dogs of Ukraine:

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Today's News: "Ukraine's military can win this war"

As Ukraine forces continue to resist Russian advancement, I think their resistance itself is making progress. Here's today's latest from Ukraine: People are freaking out about Boris Johnson saying Russia could win this war, but of course he is correct, it could happen if Europe and the United States and Canada don't continue to send support:

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Saturday stuff: mostly animals being amazing!

Here's a few clips of funny stuff, and some animals that impress me greatly!

Today's News: We will win this war or we will get another

Here is Andriy Khlyvnyuk of the Ukrainian band BoomBox singing in Kyiv.
And here are other beautiful versions too: And this: Here's a very perceptive article from Mark Summer about the importance of the Ukraine Russia War for all of us: 
...with every day that goes by, the importance of what’s happening in Ukraine and the scope of what’s at stake seem to increase.... 
Every day, as Russia pushes in more forces, and the West responds by abandoning any pretense when it comes to providing Ukraine with the weaponry to fight back, the do-or-die nature of this conflict becomes more the United States and every other western nation, two months into this conflict, is that if this isn’t enough to stop Putin, we will have to do it ourselves. We win this war, or we will get another.
... there’s almost no end to the things Russia is doing wrong... The only tactic they have been able to engage that has been by any definition successful is that they have committed war crimes at a scale and pace not seen since World War II. 
Russia doesn’t have the ability to engage successfully with a peer military. It does have the ability to bomb the shit out of children, hospitals, and blind grandmothers. It has the ability to slaughter whole civilian populations and toss them into enormous mass graves. Russia can’t execute intelligent tactics to win battles in the field, but it’s perfectly capable of grinding forward with dumb tactics that pulverize cities and lives. 
Unless, of course, someone makes them stop. Which is where we are now. To really win this thing, Ukraine can’t fight the Russian army to a draw or force them to halt their advance. Ukraine has to destroy the Russian army in a way that keeps it from committing mass murder of civilians, not just right now, but for a long time to come. That is a very big task.
Russia is now walking back its claims of total conquest and pretending it only wanted southern Ukraine all along. 
But if Ukraine gets the arms it needs, and if they have enough soldiers, then maybe they can succeed in pushing Russia back to its own borders. 
Oh, I hope they can. 
Because now Russia is taking aim at Moldova and likely, after that, Romania.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Today's News: Just a smile and a cup of coffee

What a great smile! Olena is an officer in Ukraine's 128th Mountain Assault Brigade – the Transcarpathian Legion. Photo is from this tweet.

There's a tweeter in Kyiv, Yaroslava Antipina, who posts every morning as she sips her coffee, and she calls this #warcoffee. She is now joined by dozens of people in countries around the world: 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Today's News: Doing the tell of history back


Artwork found here. 

Our daughter asked me today for a short re-cap of why Russia started this terrible war in the first place - did they really think their nation was in danger of attack by Nazis? Did they really think they were threatened by NATO? 
So to begin tonight's post, "I's looking behind us now into history back". 
First, I found this short BBC article from a few days ago that seems to summarize the history of it pretty well - Why has Russia invaded Ukraine and what does Putin want? 
... Launching the invasion on 24 February {Putin} told the Russian people his goal was to "demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine", to protect people subjected to what he called eight years of bullying and genocide by Ukraine's government. 
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke of freeing Ukraine from oppression. 
 ...The claims of Nazis and genocide in Ukraine are completely unfounded but part of a narrative repeated by Russia for years. Moscow even made wild allegations that Ukraine was building a plutonium-based dirty bomb.
 ...Russian officials continue to speak the fictional language of "denazification" but they are now focused on seizing the two big eastern regions and creating a land corridor along the south coast, east from Crimea to the Russian border. It is not yet clear if they hope to control the entire southern region of Kherson and capture more territory along Ukraine's Black Sea coast. 
.... US President Joe Biden has labelled [Putin} a war criminal and the leaders of both Germany and France see this war as a turning point in the history of Europe. 
Second, for a few more details, here is Mark Summer's article from three weeks ago:
...almost as soon as Vladimir Putin rose to power, he saw that Ukraine was a threat. It wasn’t so much having NATO on the doorstep that bothered the Russian dictator, it was the idea of a functioning democracy with a growing economy that bothered him. After all, many Russians and Ukrainians have close personal and familial links. How was Putin going to keep everyone in Moscow happy with an economy slogging forward under the burden of an authoritarian kleptocracy, if they were always comparing their lives to cousin Sasha’s thriving democracy? 
So Putin set out to end that.
Finally, here is this succinct description of Putin's rationale, which I had quoted in a post two weeks ago
 ... it’s not too hard to reconstruct at this point what was likely going through Putin’s mind as he gave the order to attack. 
First, he thought he could make a lightning strike at Kyiv and install a puppet. 
Second, he thought he could seize what he calls “Novorossiya” as far as Odesa and absorb Kharkiv, Dnipro, and Mariupol. 
Third, he thought that in those places, which are largely Russian-speaking, he would be welcomed.
Fourth, he knew that he could not conquer western Ukraine, and he never intended to try. 
 ...In sum, he counted on a quick, easy operation: strategic objectives achieved, equilibrium restored, done and dusted. 
 ...on this reasoning, Putin was not nuts, not deranged, not isolated, etcetera. It was all a reasonable bet—by his strange lights—except that every one of the premises turned out to be wrong. 
As to where it will end, we don't know. We just don't know. History is galloping riderless across the landscape now. 
"Time counts and keeps counting, and we knows now: finding the trick of what's been and lost ain't no easy ride, but that's our track. We got to travel it, and there ain't nobody knows where it's gonna lead."

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Today's News: Yes, there is still art in Ukraine. Even now. Especially now.

Picasso said 
"What do you think an artist is? ...he is a political being, constantly aware of the heart breaking, passionate, or delightful things that happen in the world, shaping himself completely in their image. Painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war."
So tonight I have been looking at some of the work of Ukraine artists.
First, I found this article from the art critic of the London Times about his recent trip to Lviv 
to find out how the museums there are making sure their art treasures will not be damaged 
or destroyed by war:
It’s what art does in times of war. It rallies the national spirit and focuses it. That’s why the entire collection of our own National Gallery was moved to safety in a cave in Wales during the Second World War. It’s why Henry Moore stopped carving modernist Madonnas during the Blitz and began drawing huddled survivors hiding from the bombs in the tunnels of the London Underground. When things grow dark, art gets real. And it suddenly matters more. ... 
 Next, here are some of the remarkable Ukrainian art that matters now, from photo-journalists, 
painters, illustrators and other media, which I found when searching through twitter:
There is a twitter event every four months called Portfolio Day where artists post examples 
of their work in hopes of sales or commissions. Here are some incredible artists from Ukraine 
who posted at last week's Portfolio Day:

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Zinger tweets: "Candidate for Prime Minister of Canada"

Well, the other day Pierre Poilievre changed his twitter bio to call himself "candidate for Prime Minister of Canada" -- dumb, of course, because Canadians do not elect their Prime Minister directly and Poilievre should know this, he's been a federal politician his entire adult life after all. 
Of course Twitter rocked with laughter and people immediately started declaring themselves to be "Candidate for Prime Minister of Canada" too. 
Here some of the better zingers:

Today's News: The Battle of Donbas is beginning

I don't know where it was taken or when, but this is one of the Ukraine photos Zelenskyy shared in a recent Ukrinform post.
The news of the day is that the Battle of Donbast is beginning. Here's the area where it will be fought:

This map is from Markos, showing the Russian pipe-dream fantasy of how they think they might stop the Ukraine Donbas offensive. Kos writes: 
Every meter costs Russia equipment and troops it can no longer easily replace, while extending frail supply lines they struggle to protect and maintain. And while that terrain is mostly flat and open, there are also trees growing their spring leaves, and destroyed houses perfect for future ambushes. 
In this salient, Russia only controls the roads, and even so, only tenuously. General Mud will be around for a while. Plenty of time for Ukrainian artillery to keep pounding cold, wet, miserable Russians and separatists waiting to die. Also time for new Ukrainian artillery to arrive, adding to the pressure. Russia’s pipe-dream pincer maneuver ain’t happening. And at this point, neither is any major offensive.
More at the link.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Today's News: Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst

My theme tonight is from a Maya Angelou quote: "“Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between.” First, the Ukraine refugee crisis had topped 5 million: So in just the last 6 weeks, more than 5 million Ukrainians have had to refugee from their homes in Ukraine. There are already likely some military lessons to be learned from the Russia Ukraine War, but one lesson I think we also need to consider is the importance of getting civilians out of the way of war more quickly. 
That kind of planning didn't appear to be happening in Ukraine last winter, even though the CIA was telling the US government last fall that Putin intended war, and Biden was highlighting this information publicly.
Then when disaster struck in February, millions struggled to get out and to get their children out - no time anymore to assemble "go" bags or set up transportation, they were poorly organized, unpacked, lacked medicines and money, abandoned their pets and farm animals. 
Here's a typical article from md-February, nine days before Putin's war began:
...For several weeks, residents of the capital dismissed the Russian buildup as posturing and the US warnings as overblown. Pulled between Zelensky’s calls on the West to refrain from creating a panic, Moscow’s denials of any intention to invade and the drumbeat of warnings from Western leaders on missions of shuttle diplomacy, Ukrainians went about their lives with admirable calm. Shops in the capital remained stocked, there was no run on the banks and there were no signs of panicked shopping for necessities. 
 And here's another one, from just three days before Putin invaded
Even as tensions boil with more than 150,000 Russian troops along the border in annexed Crimea and in neighbouring Belarus, just one in five Ukrainians think the full-scale conflict is inevitable. 
Only 20.4 percent of Ukrainians believe that a “full-scale invasion” will happen soon, and only 4.4 percent are adamant it is “definitely” taking place, according to a survey by the Gorshenin Institute, an independent pollster, conducted between February 2 and 14. 
A staggering 62.5 percent think the invasion is not going to happen “in the nearest future”.... 
But we all should have known what Putin would do to cities in Ukraine, because he has done it before. A March 16 AP story describes the horror and despair as the hundreds of thousands remaining in Mariupol realized they could not get out
This agony fits in with Putin’s goals. The siege is a military tactic popularized in medieval times and designed to crush a population through starvation and violence, allowing an attacking force to spare its own soldiers the cost of entering a hostile city. Instead, civilians are the ones left to die, slowly and painfully. 
Putin has refined the tactic during his years in power, first in the Chechen city of Grozny in 2000 and then in the Syrian city of Aleppo in 2016. He reduced both to ruins.
Damn it, we all knew what Putin would do to people he considered nothing but animals. 
But we just didn't want to believe it. Ukraine didn't want to believe it. Nobody wants to believe it. Its a dangerous kind of wishful thinking that we have to stop indulging ourselves in.
And by the way, Canada's own Emergency Preparedness Week is coming up May 1 to 7 -- you owe it to yourself, and your family, to check this out and pull your own kit together.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

On the lighter side

So many of my posts are about wars and politics. Here's some tweets I have assembled from the "lighter side" that everyone will enjoy, I hope: Be sure to follow the thread for this one:

Today's News: A mind is a terrible thing to lose

Does anyone remember the time Vice President Dan Quayle mangled the United Negro College Fund line "A mind is a terrible thing to waste" when he said " What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is." But really, at least every decade or so, the United States actually does seem to lose its collective mind. 
As Republicans turn over every rock searching for something they can use to pummell the Democrats in the midterms, they're losing their minds again: And now it's happening in Canada too: Scrimshaw writes
...the Tories have decided it is better politically for them to lie than to fight honestly – and part of the reason is the spinelessness of the media. 
 What is the penalty accrued to the Conservative Party for lying? They’re still booked on every edition of Power and Politics, every edition of Power Play, their leader’s response still gets in the video package for every Trudeau announcement on The National, they bend over backwards to book Conservative strategists for two segments of debate, and they bump important stories to cover a political party who are 50/50 to be lying in every public statement. What penalty does the Conservative Party pay, what consequence accrues, for lying to the public? Nothing, because the media lets them get away with it. 
Canadian media are busy right now tying to turn Polliver into a "he's -too- sexy- for- his- cat" version of Trump -- "the rallies! look at the rallies!" -- but they're in Alberta for heaven's sake. 
Polliver just isn't going to be as popular in suburban Toronto. 
Meanwhile, from Ukraine, here are the stories I am reading today: 

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Today's News: Catching up

DeAdder does such great cartoons, doesn't he. 
And yes, I also believe that the only reason Elon Musk is interested in Twitter is because Trump desperately wants to tweet again.
Here's another related comment: Turning to the latest from Ukraine, first I want to share a tweet I sent out today, related to my blog post from a few days ago: The nuclear question is the riderless horse in this metaphor -- we just don't know what will happen. Today, I read more news of possible nuclear threats, and more discussions about whether to take this seriously or not:

Friday, April 15, 2022

Today's News: Spring is here

(Image from Daily Kos)

A few weeks ago, in response to someone's tweet about Russia vehicle movements in Ukraine, I replied "Spring is coming". 
It seemed to confuse people - they didn't understand what I meant. 
First, it was a minor homage to the ominous "winter is coming" line from Game of Thrones. 
Second, I also meant it ominously -- I knew Russia had started its war too late, and if Ukraine could only hold out until winter was over and the Ukraine fields were no longer frozen, it would be virtually impossible for Russia to drive masses of tanks and heavy artillery equipment into the fields of Ukraine -- even driving ordinary trucks on their dirt roads would be terrible. 
I think many who live in cities, or who come from different kinds of agricultural areas, have never seen and may not even be able to imagine gumbo mud - the soupy, sticky, thick, slippery, tire-grabbing, wheel- spinning, sink- to- the- axels mud that winter leaves behind in good silty-soiled wheat-growing fields, here in southern Saskatchewan and there, in southern Ukraine. It lasts several weeks after the snow melts and throughout the May rains, before the spring winds dry the fields enough for planting. 
Now that spring has sprung across the southern and eastern Ukraine steppes, Russia is finding out: Russian media have been lying for years about how strong Russia is and how weak Ukraine is. Now that Russia is losing the war they have lost their minds: And I was afraid Russia would think it could resort to nukes at some point. I expect the West will not stand for this: Finally, I can't seem to find any new information tonight about whether Mariupol still lives or not.


Thursday, April 14, 2022

Today's News: Putting on the pressure

Russian warship, go fuck yourself!

In the last two days, we're had news that Ukraine hit an important north-eastern railway line over a bridge outside of Belgorod, Russia. Earlier, we heard they hit a fuel depot also in this city. 
Then today Ukraine scuttled the warship Moskva in the Black Sea south of Odesa -- this was the warship told by the Snake Island squad "Russian warship, go fuck yourself!" in the first days of the war, a moment now commemorated by a Ukrainian stamp.
Seems like Ukraine is hitting at a fairly wide range.
And Russia is simply furious! Russia keeps announcing that Mariupol has fallen, and it keeps not being true. When Russia finally does defeat Mariupol, this is what it will get: And here's an interesting thread, an analysis that the Russian soldiers fighting and dying in Ukraine are from the poorest and most ethnic areas of Russia. Not a single soldier from Moscow has died yet: Some other Ukrainian stikes: More to come:

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Today's news: More American support

I love this photo, from this tweet.
Carefully and cautiously, the United States appears to be taking a larger and more direct role in the Russia Ukraine War. 
I'm not sure whether this will end up being a good thing for Biden and the world -- Jen Psaki has been very clear at the White House press podium that US voters didn't elect Joe Biden to make war on Russia, and of course there's that pesky risk of nuclear armageddon! -- but Biden and most western leaders now appear to be on the same page, agreeing that Ukraine is their line in the sand, that Putin cannot be allowed to win this war if Ukraine can prevent it, and that Ukraine actually will be able to prevent it if they get more military help. Tonight all over twitter and in articles across the internet, I'm seeing an increasing concensus on the crucial importance of timely military aid.
The US military is taking a more active role too: