I live on a farm and know more about towing than the average Joe. My cardinal rule of towing is don’t do anything stupid. It is really easy to get hurt while towing if you do not have the right equipment or a bad plan. On April 14th the Russian cruiser, Moskva, caught on fire. The cruiser started to sink after the fire ignited some rocket fuel or munitions. Later in the morning, the ship sent out a distress signal and everyone abandoned the ship. There are an unknown number of casualties. A ship responding to the distress signal would rescue as many Russian sailors as possible and then quickly move to a safe distance. A couple of hours later the Russian authorities announced that the ship had sunk while being towed to a nearby port. Under normal circumstances towing the largest Russian warship in the Black Sea would be a challenge. You need an ocean-going tug boat. These tug boats are rare and expensive but rescuing those cruise missiles may be worth it. Making this an even greater challenge is that the ship is on fire with unexploded munitions on board. The ship’s structural damage is unknown. A tow line would put you dangerously close to the warship if it blows up or sinks. Who did the Russians get to connect a tow line to this sinking ship? This looks dangerous and stupid.
President Vladimir Putin of Russia says Ukraine’s government is “openly neo-Nazi” and “pro-Nazi,” controlled by “little Nazis,” a few of us were confused. We thought President Putin was talking to Westerners. Actually, he was talking to the Russian people, not the West. Over sixty years after World War II, the word Nazi has a personal meaning to Russians. This invective is reserved for those people who are in direct opposition to Russia and the Communist Party. For westerners, we would describe Ukraine as fervently anti-Russian. For Russians, it is a little more personal.
Recently my wife and I watched the documentary, Ukraine On Fire. Despite it reflecting a pro-Kremlin viewpoint both my wife and I thought it was informative.
The film associates the Ukrainian 2004 Orange Revolution and 2014 Revolution of Dignity with Ukrainian radical right and antisemitic political organizations, such as the Right Sector, and with WWII-era western Ukrainian far-right paramilitary organizations.
The film might be correct about the participation of far-right paramilitary organizations in the demonstrations but it did not result in legislators in Parliament. When I watched the demonstrations I saw far more blue and yellow flags than the red and black flags of right-wing organizations. The documentary made a point of saying that symbols are important to revolutions. In this case, the demonstrators wanted an independent Ukraine.
My biggest complaint about the documentary was the omission of the Great Famine between 1932 and 1933. During this time period between 3.5 million to 10 million Ukrainians died. Although the far-right organization activism was significant in the demonstrations, I think the current deep-seated dislike for Russian meddling in Ukrainian affairs goes back to the famine. It is the famine that unites the right, center, and left political parties in Ukraine for independence from Putin’s vision of a reconstituted Soviet Union. Wikipedia says it best,
Some scholars conclude that the famine was planned by Joseph Stalin to eliminate a Ukrainian independence movement. Others suggest that the famine was a concomitant of rapid Soviet industrialisation and collectivization of agriculture. Nevertheless, the famine’s widespread impact on Ukraine persists to this day.Holodomor
Over 3.5 million dead Ukrainians are saying never again. For Ukrainians, it is personal.
The questions about anti-semitism and government corruption are more nuanced. Historically there was antisemitism in Ukraine but the situation has changed in recent years. As the current president of Ukraine, President Zelenskyy, reminded President Putin, he is a Jew. To complicate the matter further there are Jewish members of the ultra-right Azov Battalion. Once again I think Ukrainians have united around a common enemy, Russia.
A similar situation exists around government corruption. Ukraine unsuccessfully tried to develop trade agreements with both the European Union and Russia. Russia threatened to turn off the gas pipeline going through Ukraine if Ukraine did not comply with Russian demands. The United States threatened to turn off the United States and IMF funding if Ukraine did not comply with US demands. Compromise is not in the air.
The first four days of the Ukrainian war was a war on the Ukrainian people. Every day thereafter was a war on the heart and soul of the Russian people. So much pain and so little to show for it. Stupid wars are stupid.
When I look at the stalled Russian Army convoy it makes me think they have a logistics problem. The rumors floating around are that the convoy is running low on fuel and food. It makes me wonder where the soldiers are getting water, going to the bathroom, and sleeping. I suspect that there are no Porta-Potties and the gas stations along the road are out of fuel. I assumed the convoy was en route to a temporary base where they would regroup. Every day they are stuck on the road, the operational readiness of this group drops down a notch. This is no way to run a war!
Historically the importance of logistics is well understood by logisticians and generals.
“My logisticians are a humorless lot … they know if my campaign fails, they are the first ones I will slay.”Alexander The Great
Transgender bathrooms and Critical Race Theory are linked together because they are pushed by the same people. So when the Loudon county rape gets linked to a recently enacted transgender bathroom policy, it is inevitable that Critical Race Theory and its proponents will get criticized, too. Shortly after the rape was exposed, Loudoun County, Virginia school board member, Beth Barts, who allegedly colluded with other school board members to push critical race theory resigned. It is tough enough to explain to parents that kids should be taught that racism is found in every situation and interaction. Answering parents’ rape questions concerning transgender bathrooms was probably too much to handle. Then we find out that the school board knowingly violated state law by not reporting sexual assaults. Was there a reason for not reporting sexual assaults other than it made transgender bathroom policies look bad? There may be a transgender bathroom policy that alleviates the risk to female students but the current Loudon County policy is not it. If Loudon County School District usurped parents’ responsibility to protect the students, does this make the School District criminally negligent? They knew the risks and ignored them. How do you prevent stupid from happening again?
There is no question that Loudon County board decision-making failed the students, parents, and teachers. From that aspect, it looks like a local problem. For the parents in other counties in Virginia, they have to wonder if this failed leadership is systemic? If Loudon County failed the students, what is my school board doing to prevent transgender rapes? A Virginia gubernatorial candidate, Terry McAuliffe, seems to have stepped into this mess with a politically inept statement when he said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” So if the parents are not supposed to fix flawed school policies, who is? Be careful with your answer! Parents have no tolerance for rape! A good politician will know the correct answer.
I chose to get vaccinated. When I was very young I got chickenpox from my sister. This was the old-fashioned way children in my generation got immunity from chickenpox. If an unvaccinated person chooses the old-fashioned way to get COVDI-19 immunity, who am I to complain. They might have underlying medical conditions in which a preventative treatment with ivermectin is a safer choice. If I follow the science then I am immune from COVID-19. If I am not fully immune, science says it is highly likely that I will have a low-grade illness which will result in natural immunity. That works for me! I like that scenario better than a COVID-19 booster. Don’t mandate COVID-19 vaccinations on other people for my sake. Let the unvaccinated people make their own medical decisions.
When I look at the current 3.5 trillion dollar spending package it reminds me of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. At the time economists were anticipating 3.5% GDP growth and the economy never reached its potential. For the next eight years, we had a very tepid economy and job growth.
The economic conditions surrounding the current economy are more challenging than in 2009. The supply-chain problems are going to leave some retailers without sufficient inventory during the most important buying season of the year. For retailers whose survival depends on Christmas spending, they are screwed regardless of what the government does. COVID-19 restrictions are going to continue to hinder restaurants, entertainment, and travel. Government spending is not going to help them either. The economy in 2021 looks like an economy with no slack and no opportunities to increase capacity until we fix the supply chain and COVID-19 restrictions. The challenge we face is that if government spending does not increase consumer spending by more than 3.5 trillion dollars, we are screwed. Most of the ideas in the spending package are never going to show up on the economic growth bottom line. 3.5 trillion dollars spent on “feel-good projects” is a lot of debt to saddle future generations with.
My first impression about the January 6th Armed Insurrection was that it was a clown show. In the middle of 2020, the pundits warned everyone listening that this election would be prone to massive voter irregularities due to the increase in mail-in voting and the removal of voter integrity controls. The presidential election did not disappoint. Several precincts made errors. Some of the mistakes were innocent mistakes. Other mistakes are suspicious and warranted a non-partisan investigation. According to the media, the guys in this picture represent or are spokespeople for the “Big Lie”. When I look at photos of the insurrection, I do not see anyone who looks like a leader. Recently Reuters reported that the FBI has concluded that there was no conspiracy or coordinated effort behind the events at the Capitol on January 6. So why did the media select these guys? I think the press promoted these guys as leadership because it made for an entertaining news story even though they knew it was false.
When I think of an “armed insurrection”, I see it as the most extreme protest form. As an example of armed insurrection, I think of the first battle of the Revolutionary War at Lexington and Concord. The Americans were armed and wanted to overthrow British rule. People got shot, and there was no turning back.
Domestic terrorism is another example of extreme protest. Two examples of domestic terrorism are the 2017 Congressional Baseball shooting and the 2009 Fort Hood shooting. Both of these incidents involved a person shooting people they disagreed with for political reasons. However, unlike these events, no protester shot anyone on January 6.
The ANTIFA/BLM “mostly peaceful” protests in the summer of 2020 are more examples of extreme protests. These protests were far more organized and had a wide selection of non-lethal weaponry. Rocks, canned goods, and frozen water bottles were staged at strategic points for the protesters to throw. Some protesters carried commercial fireworks, lasers, and the occasional gun. When you compare the Armed Insurrection protesters to the sophistication of the ANTIFA/BLM protesters, the Armed Insurrection protesters were practically unarmed. Their weaponry appears to be bear spray and the occasional fire extinguisher once they got inside. It does not look like the majority of the protesters planned to breach the Capitol and were surprised it happened so quickly.
The final part of the unraveling narrative about the January 6th Armed Insurrection is the Capitol Police plan to defend the Capitol. When you look at the non-lethal weaponry employed by the police, you have to wonder whether they planned to defend the Capitol at all? I am pretty sure tear gas would have chased most protesters away. If that did not work, I suspect spraying the protesters with water in the middle of winter would have been a good deterrent, too. I did not see any tear gas in the photos and far too many physical confrontations between police and protesters. It was a stupid position to put the police in where tear gas would do. If you do not have the non-lethal weaponry, then the only plan left was for the Capitol Police to retreat. Most of the Capitol Police officers followed this plan. One officer did not and ended up shooting an unarmed Ashli Babbitt while she crawled in a window. She was not a lethal threat to the officer. Since the officer did not have pepper spray or other non-lethal weaponry to encourage her to retreat, the officer was responsible for de-escalating the situation by retreating. Just because the only weapon the officer had was a gun does not excuse the officer from the responsibility to withdraw and not to kill her.
The “Armed Insurrection” was neither armed nor an insurrection. President Biden and Speaker of the House Pelosi thought they could pin the protest on “white supremacists” and President Trump. They probably thought they could shut up President Trump and his supporters forever. The problem is that the facts do not support their position. First, the FBI has concluded that there was no conspiracy or coordinated effort. So it wasn’t Trump. Now the Department of Justice is left with indicting people for selfies. Second, the protest was about a stolen election. Although I remain skeptical that the voter fraud investigations will indict anyone or overturn the Presidential election, investigations in several states lead me to believe that it is now more likely than not that voter fraud turned several states. Thus, the “Big Lie” narrative was a coverup. As for shutting up President Trump, I don’t think it is working either!
My mother-in-law broke her hip last week. When she was admitted to the hospital, the hospital administered a COVID-19 test. Despite showing no COVID-19 symptoms and have been given the first COVID-19 shot earlier in the month, she tested positive for COVID-19. The doctors said she would have to be transferred to a medical facility housing COVID-19 patients. My wife was upset and demanded a second test. Not surprisingly, the second test came back negative. Although my mother-in-law has probably developed some immunity from the first shot, it is unlikely she has enough immunity to survive the viral load in a COVID-19 ward. The doctors almost made a dreadful mistake. Thanks to my wife, my mother-in-law dodged that bullet.
Many years ago I signed up for Twitter because I thought it would be fun. At that time the phrase “don’t be evil“, was embraced in Google’s corporate code of conduct and we had a warm, fuzzy feeling about the social media companies. Well, things have changed. The fun is gone and the arrogance of social media companies has grown unbearable. They may have thought they had a good reason for censorship but their actions are scaring the rest of us. I no longer trust social media companies to do the “right thing”. In this brand new world, it makes sense to review my privacy exposure and get rid of any social media I am not actively using. Goodbye, Twitter.
When I was in kindergarten my older sister came home with the chickenpox. Although we did not have a “pox party” per se, my parents believed it was better to “get over” chickenpox and measles at an early age. Since we have safe and effective vaccines for Chickenpox and Measles today, doctors frown on this method of immunization. Immunization from COVID-19 is different. The soonest we expect to have a COVID-19 vaccine is 2021. It looks like the low-risk part of the population is tired of the lockdown. Their solution is a good old fashion COVID-19 “pox party”.
On July 5th, the seven-day moving average of COVID-19 confirmed cases was 953 per day. The long term trend was 460 per day. Part of this increase can be explained by 17,275 tests per day. This is at least 50% more than two weeks ago. Despite the confirmed case surge, the most important COVID-19 statistics are hospitalizations, ICU, and deaths, and the seven-day moving averages have dropped below long-term trends. On Friday, we had zero deaths. This probably means the elderly with pre-existing conditions are not being adversely affected by the surge in young people getting infected. The sooner the young people get over COVID-19, the closer we get to herd immunity. This is the next best thing to a vaccine.