28 February 2022

Invasion insanity

The news coming out of Ukraine grows increasingly bizarre.  The Russian army, an alleged superpower military force operating just a few miles from its home territory, has so far failed to capture even one major Ukrainian city.  Russia has not completely destroyed Ukraine's air defenses or achieved full air superiority.  There are reports of Russian armored vehicles running out of fuel, of Russian soldiers looting grocery stores for food or trying to trade gasoline for food, of soldiers taken prisoner who did not even have maps or other basic supplies.  If even half these stories are true, the level of logistical incompetence revealed is astounding.  US intelligence says that the Russians didn't bring enough fuel because they didn't expect such strong resistance (not enough fuel for four days???).  This is not the Red Army that once ground the mighty Wehrmacht into the dirt, that's for sure.

There have been graphics in the media showing the huge advantage Russia's military has over Ukraine's in manpower and weapons.  Remember, though, that not everything Russia has is available for use in Ukraine.  As a huge country with global aspirations, Russia has many other places of importance -- borders, bases, etc -- which must be manned and armed.  It can't just forget everything else and send all those weapons and men to Ukraine.  The Ukrainian military, by contrast, is 100% committed to this war.  Its country is being invaded -- there is nothing else for it to do except fight back against that.  This does not create a level playing field, but the real imbalance is not so huge as comparing the total forces of the two countries would suggest.

Putin is said to be furious, having expected Ukraine's resistance to collapse almost immediately.  His frustration probably reflects deeper concerns than just Ukraine itself.  His goal is to assert Russia's strength and restore the superpower status it held in Soviet times.  His invasion of Ukraine is increasingly doing the opposite -- making Russia look weak and incompetent.

Russia's weakness is being revealed in a subtler but equally important way.  Putin's efforts to draw Ukraine back under Russian domination consisted of threats which ultimately escalated into actual military force, first in Crimea and Donbas in 2014, then with the current invasion.  When Sweden and Finland reacted to the invasion by talking about joining NATO, he threatened them with unspecified nasty consequences if they did so.  Now he's responding to the West's rapidly-escalating sanctions with vague but scary talk about putting Russia's nuclear forces on alert.  Threats are all he has.  Russia can bully, but it cannot entice.  Since the Soviet collapse, the countries of eastern Europe have been gravitating toward the West because they want to, because the West represents democracy, prosperity, freedom, pluralistic societies, and a colorful and variegated mass culture, things that people actually want.  Russia under Putin can offer only grey fascism, corruption, censorship, economic stagnation, brutality toward dissenters, and the weary migraine background noise of omnipresent propaganda that eastern Europeans remember all too well from Soviet times.  Nothing could induce anyone to choose this over fellowship with the civilization represented by London and Paris -- nothing, that is, except threats.  And even threats aren't working any more.

I'm wondering if this might be the beginning of the end of Putin's regime.  Nuclear saber-rattling in response to economic sanctions sounds unhinged, and it's not only the West that has reason for concern.  If Russia's military and its powerful oligarchs start to worry that Putin might escalate this conflict into a nuclear war that would destroy Russia itself, they're in a position to do something about it.
A few more links of interest:

Part of the reason Ukrainians hate Russian domination is that Stalin deliberately starved millions of them to death in the 1930s.

Germany is committing to a huge rise in military spending.  What decades of US pressure could not do, Putin has accomplished in four days.

Verified charities here to help Ukraine.

This is another way of understanding the Russia-Ukraine relationship.

Pictures here from pro-Ukraine demonstrations around the world.

This surreal encounter between a Ukrainian motorist and a Russian tank crew on a country road suggests how weird things are getting.  And this short clip purports to show a farmer stealing a tank.

Even PornHub is imposing sanctions on Russia.

[Image at top:  smoke after a missile hit an apartment building in Kyiv]

26 February 2022

Link round-up for 27 February 2022

Posting it early this week because I may not be able to do so tomorrow (personal issue).  This applies to approving comments in moderation as well, so if you leave one and it doesn't appear within the usual time frame, please don't take it personally.

o o o o o

Don't go near this intersection.

Enhance your life by trying this new bedroom pleasure.

Maybe don't let the cat on the counter (gag, barf).

Oh, what hideous suffering this young man must have endured.

Can I get a car like this?

Reject the evil, hateful, bigoted CERV!

A daring rescue under scary conditions.

Click here for the world's first dick pic (found via Big Whack Attack).

YouTube ads are really annoying.

I can't imagine what the function of this thing is.

Wingnuts double down on the piss-drinking.

Fashion designers are obviously just bullshitting us at this point.

With these customers, use a creative sales pitch.

He contacted the correct person.

It's just two circles.

Yellowdog Granny's blog has been restored at its original URL.

Blogger Carol Seidl describes a less-than-enjoyable beginning to a language-learning stay in Montpellier.

Is the US comparable to the Roman Empire in decline?

The more you stare, the more you see.

Here are six misconceptions about ancient Egypt (found via Miss Cellania).  Much more good info here.

But is everybody having the same dream?

Calvin's dad is checking the mail, with insight.

If you like good bread, live here.

This is Petra, capital of the pre-Islamic Arab kingdom of Nabataea.

Views of Ukraine here, from before the invasion.

You are in this picture.

This is cancel culture in a nutshell.

Darwinfish 2 looks at more wingnut dishonesty.

I'm so glad I got out of academia.

Autistic people have no choice but to deal with the world as it is, not as they wish it to be.

No one can argue that this belief system isn't utterly ridiculous.

Tumblr's warped culture trades on oppression cred.

If you use Windows 10, disable these settings.

The US economy since 1980 is very different from before.

Those who try to limit what opinions you can read are always your enemies, never your friends.

Religio-anti-vaxers are hypocrites.

65% of rural voters view the Democratic party unfavorably, meaning that at least 35% are gettable -- unless we drive them away by being the party of critical race theory, "defund the police", and men using the girls' bathroom.

Wingnuts just can't do tech.

Evangelicalism makes men pathetically afraid of their own sexuality -- and blames women for it.

Support justice, not "social justice".

Parents will not keep on voting for a party identified with this crap.  Those who ignore the problem will share the blame for the electoral consequences.

Abortion pills, harder for forced-birth-fetishist legislators to ban than surgical abortions are, now account for more than half of all US abortions.

Public prayer is a divisive practice.

No, Hitler was not a Darwinian.  His ideology had quite different roots.

The media are flat-out lying about trans sports-participation laws.

Between a liberal Christian and a conservative atheist, how would you vote?

The campaign to get a sex-work-decriminalization measure on this year's ballot here in Oregon is back in action, having previously been suspended over a technicality.

Evangelicals fear the honest questioning of Christian belief.

Greg Abbott is right to oppose surgical mutilation and dangerous hormonal treatments for minors diagnosed as trans (do read that -- there's a lot of solid information), but the specific policy in Texas errs by targeting parents rather than the quacks who are actually committing these atrocities.

In what should be an uncontroversial move, the Arizona senate voted to ban sex-change operations for minors.  Every Democrat voted the wrong way.  We have a problem.

The house-price bubble is being inflated by parasitic speculators.

Mr Menno speaks in Cardiff on the new homophobia.

Hadley Freeman reviews the gender madness engulfing the left and academia in the UK.

The West is providing more armaments to Ukraine, and the option of cutting Russia off from SWIFT is back on the table.  Ukraine claims to have killed 3,500 Russian soldiers in the fighting so far.  More than 150 senior Russian government officials have signed an open letter condemning Putin's invasion of Ukraine (found via Miss Cellania).

Even if Russia conquers Ukraine, it will face great further difficulties.

Russia apparently asked Kazakhstan to send troops to help with the invasion of Ukraine, but Kazakhstan refused.  Such a request suggests that the invasion is going much worse than Putin expected.

As the US goes backward, others go forward -- Colombia has legalized abortion.

In Venezuela, the difference between the working class and abject poverty is visible from the air.

When a Mexican woman in Qatar reported being raped, the court imposed a sentence of a hundred lashes and seven years in prison -- on her, not on the rapist.  She was also offered the option of marrying the rapist.

Gangster states stick together.

Don't be fooled -- this is what most of China looks like.

Islamists in Senegal are demanding even harsher prison terms for homosexuality.

More links at The Honest Courtesan and Fair and Unbalanced.

o o o o o

Video of the day -- steps toward sanity

The fever dream is starting to break.  A substantial minority of Trump supporters are becoming disenchanted with their false idol and are groping their way back toward reality.  How should the left respond?

It's important to avoid over-interpreting this.  Guys like McConnell and Pence are not even remotely liberals, and neither are their supporters.  But they're not Trump.  A sane right wing is better for the country than a deranged one.  Never make the mistake of believing that all right-wing voters are a homogenous mass, all alike.  They aren't, any more than the left is.

And a lot of Trump's voters are not even right-wingers in the strict sense.  Remember how many people voted for Obama both times and then voted for Trump.  These people aren't fascists, they're angry and confused rebels.  There's a vast pool of voters in the political center who are not ideological but are massively discontented with the way things are, and want change.  Some of them are reachable, by the right kind of Democrat.  Not all, but some.

The extremist fringe on each side exhorts everyone on their own side to damn and demonize everybody outside their own camp.  Whichever side is best able to ignore such yammering and reach out to the sensible center is the side that will ultimately win.

25 February 2022

Latest from the Russian invasion of Ukraine (updated)

The best news source I've found on the war is the live update page on Kyiv Independent.  It reports on specifics of events from different parts of Ukraine, with details where known, with no distracting blather about Western domestic politics or Western leaders making empty speeches.

The UK Ministry of Defense assesses that Russian forces are not yet achieving their objectives, due to fierce resistance all over Ukraine.  It estimates that Russia has lost about 450 soldiers so far (Ukraine is claiming 800, vs losses of 137 military and civilians on the Ukrainian side).

A few Russian units have reportedly entered at least one district of Kyiv.  Kyiv is a fairly large city (population three million), so a small number of enemy troops does not, in itself, mean the capital is in imminent danger of capture.  It is, however, under ongoing missile bombardment.

Ukrainian intelligence says that Russia's immediate goal is to capture as many top members of the Ukrainian government as possible and force them to sign a peace on Russia's terms, either agreeing to a partition of the country or forming a kind of Vichy puppet state which would accept Russian domination.

There are reports of Russian forces shelling hospitals, which is odd since this would serve no obvious military purpose.  Perhaps they are getting angry over stiffer-than-expected resistance.

After Kyiv, the largest cities in Ukraine are Kharkiv, just thirty miles from the Russian border, and Odesa on the Black Sea coast.  Intense fighting has been going on around both.

Thousands of Russians turned out to protest against the invasion in dozens of cities across Russia; 1,700 were arrested.

President Macron of France has promised €300 million in military aid for Ukraine.

Updates:  The US agrees with the UK's assessment that Russian forces are meeting greater resistance than they expected.

France has declared its support for cutting off Russia from the SWIFT system.

Here's a video report on the experiences of Ukrainian civilians:

Putin's work!

Ukraine strikes back into Russia itself, with a missile attack on a military base ten miles on the Russian side of the border.

[Image at top:  one of several Russian tanks destroyed near Kharkiv]

24 February 2022

Reacting to the attack on Ukraine (updated)

Putin has now launched a full-on attack against Ukraine, including cross-border shelling, missile attacks on cities all over the country, an amphibious landing near Odesa, and apparently armored vehicles crossing the border.  At least several dozen Ukrainian civilians and military personnel have been killed.  Ukraine claims to have shot down several Russian warplanes; Russia denies this.  The mood in Ukraine appears to be defiant.  Here's an overview of the situation at the moment; here's a Ukrainian news site which carries frequent updates in English.

As for Western reactions to the attack, I'm seeing essentially nothing except economic sanctions, which should certainly be imposed but which have about as much chance of stopping this aggression as wishing upon a star does, and forceful rhetoric from politicians, which has absolutely zero chance of doing anything whatsoever.  The two economic steps generally said to be most impactful are stopping the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which Germany has already done, and cutting Russia off from the SWIFT international payments system, which the US is already backing down on doing.

The only response likely to be truly effective is sending the Ukrainians as many weapons as we can (sending any Western troops to fight in Ukraine is, rightly, off the table).  UK prime minister Boris Johnson announced an increase in military aid to Ukraine just before the actual attack began, and Mitch McConnell called for more military aid two days ago.  I haven't seen any official announcements on the subject since the start of the attack, but it's only been a few hours at this point.

We need to face reality, however much it may distress some people.  The only measures that will actually help in this situation are those which maximize the killing of Russian soldiers.  Putin is not going to back down and pull his troops out because a bunch of banks get their assets frozen.  The only thing that will get the Russians out of Ukraine is what got the Soviets out of Afghanistan and the Americans out of Vietnam -- unacceptable casualties with no hope of the situation improving over time.  And yes, as in Afghanistan and Vietnam, this is likely to involve a long conflict, perhaps more a guerilla resistance to occupation than conventional warfare.  In this connection, the Ukrainian government recently took steps to loosen the country's strict gun-control laws and make it easier for civilians to obtain firearms.  It remains to be seen whether there is still time for large numbers of Ukrainians to arm themselves in preparation for guerilla warfare.  The West must prepare to provide help to resistance fighters, possibly for years, as we did with the resistance in countries under Nazi occupation during World War II.

For make no mistake -- if Putin conquers Ukraine and gets away with it, with no penalty except a bunch of economic sanctions, that's going to look pretty good to him, and he'll feel emboldened to commit further aggression in the future.  This reckless and delusional man has made the stakes clear.  Now the Ukrainians, with our aid, must force him to face reality.

UpdatesNumerous brief videos here of scenes from the war.

The Russian stock market has crashed.

Detailed hour-by-hour live updates here.  It appears that the Ukrainian military is fighting back fiercely.

23 February 2022

Canada and the wingnut fantasy world

Reading right-wing blogosphere posts about the anti-vax trucker insurrection in Ottawa and its recent end is like reading dispatches from some bizarre parallel universe.  A belligerent mob which blocked traffic, blasted local residents awake for days with truck horns, and shitted on the porches of people's houses was a "peaceful protest".  Trudeau's scandalously-late action to clear the streets and lift the siege of the capital was a lurch into full-blown fascism which will end with concentration camps unless resisted by armed force.  A tiny group (a small minority of Canada's truckers), trying to intimidate an elected government, was really the voice of the Canadian people, who will now launch a general strike or an armed uprising.

This is what happens when people confine their news consumption entirely to sources which agree with whatever ideology they already hold.  Most likely these bloggers genuinely don't know how the anti-vaxers in Ottawa were actually behaving or how most truckers (and Canadians generally) reacted.  They really believe that it was a peaceful protest and that most Canadians support it.

It's reminiscent of the more unhinged US wingnut rhetoric about the January 6 insurrection and its aftermath, and there are clear cross-border influences at work here.  Among the Ottawa insurrectionists were adherents of the Jericho Marches (found via Hackwhackers), a militant "Christian nationalist" movement with roots mainly in the US.  Beyond Ottawa, right-wing thugs across Canada have been menacing and attacking the press in ways not normally associated with that country, but quite typical of the behavior of intolerant ideological fanatics in the US.

Now a group of American wingnuts, taking inspiration in turn from their Canadian fellows, are planning a similar truck convoy from California to the DC area.  They claim to expect one thousand trucks to join, but historically, actual participation in right-wing events of this kind tends to fall far short of early pronouncements.  The capital city, being forewarned, is making preparations to maintain order.  The US truckers might be well-advised to skip the mass horn-blasting of residential areas.  People who are kept awake for days tend to get very angry, and Americans tend to have guns.

A similar mob of anti-vax goons have been encamped for two weeks in Wellington, capital of New Zealand, and have been violently assholing as the police close in.

It will be interesting to observe the reactions on these same blogs when no mass uprisings (or much of anything) follow from the clearing away of these gangs from the capital cities they besieged.  Most likely they'll just forget about it entirely and move on to whatever appealing violent fantasy comes along next.

[Second image found via Octoberfarm]

21 February 2022

Video of the day -- democracy vs fascism (updated)

Deutsche Welle interviews US historian Anne Applebaum about the Ukraine crisis and Putin's objectives.  Ultimately this isn't about NATO expansion or rebuilding the Soviet empire -- it's about democracy, and Putin's fear that its appeal might spread into Russia and undermine his kleptocratic gangster-regime.  If Ukraine, which is so culturally similar to Russia, can establish a stable free society, it will show Russians that they themselves could do the same.

The emerging consensus in the West is that if Russia invades, Western countries will not send troops to fight the Russians, but will impose economic sanctions and send Ukraine weapons.  It's the latter measure that will be the most important.  Putin is unlikely to be impressed by threats of sanctions, but he has very good reason to fear large-scale casualties among his forces.  Ukraine is more capable of fighting back than most Westerners think -- it has a tough and professional army, and while Russia looms huge on the map, its advantage in population over Ukraine is only about three-to-one.  Large-scale assistance in the form of Western weapons (which is already under way) could turn Putin's hoped-for quick conquest into a long-drawn-out meat-grinder for the Russian army, as Afghanistan was for the Soviets.  The Russian people already seem to have little enthusiasm for a war in Ukraine; a steady flow of body bags back home from such a war would do more to stoke mass anger and destabilize Putin's regime than any other strategy we could use.

Update (9:10 PM):  No, sending troops into a couple of fake separatist "republics", which have been under de facto Russian control for years anyway, does not constitute an invasion.  Extending them diplomatic recognition, too, is not changing the actual situation on the ground -- it's empty symbolism, like the Beijing regime's claim that Taiwan is part of China or some governments' diplomatic fiction that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel.  The West is right to condemn these actions and impose some sanctions, but this is not the real invasion everyone has been worrying about.  If Putin goes no further, these moves should be seen as a face-saving measure by which he backs down from an actual invasion while still being able to claim domestically that he asserted Russia's power and gained something.

Many observers have been baffled by Biden's repeated statements that an invasion has already been ordered and is imminent.  Electoral-Vote takes a shot at explaining what he might be doing.

20 February 2022

Link round-up for 20 February 2022

Various interesting stuff I ran across on the net over the last week.

o o o o o

Would you eat the brownies?

It's just her normal morning routine.

The wind is..... big.

Check to see if you're actually a cat (four of these apply to me).

Here's why humans live so long and waste most of it.

Call the cops!  But don't strike a match.

Really bad driving here.

Alien has been remade in a 60-second version.

FFS, imagine all the shit.

This is the most elaborately-decorated toilet I've ever seen.

Not so smart.

Learn how to wash a cat.

Click here for dumbth about fish, prostitution, Sarah Palin, and more.

This is Cork, Ireland in 1902.

NFT twits undergo pwnage by an Australian hacker.

One is law, the other is not (found via YellerDawg Granny).

Are Apple products really this bad?  I've heard a thing or two about modern cars.

You don't need to blindly go along with what everybody else is doing.

Architect Paul R Williams built houses for neighborhoods he wouldn't have been allowed to live in.

This is Elon Musk.

"Selling your body" or destroying it?

Mumble mumble mumble.

The AMA has lost its mind.

"No one wants to work" -- well, not if you keep shitting on them (found via YellerDawg Granny).

RO is back with popular music, petty theft, TV series, and more -- but is hinting she may be giving up blogging.

What is God?

It's a total mystery why more and more women are committing weird sex offenses.

On parental leave, the US lags pitifully behind other countries.

The "Jesus and Mo" barmaid reviews the Koran.

"Nadar" won notoriety in 19th-century France with his caricatures of cultural icons.

Live life to the fullest.

Forgive, except.....

Locking kids in "time-out rooms"?  Is this real?

Even on LinkedIn, she tells it like it is.

Dave Chappelle 1, out-of-touch whiners 0.

Some publishers are now using "sensitivity readers" to water down books into bland slop.

There exist some unsupported but popular dogmas that aren't linked to religion.

This 15-year-old's level-headed intelligence in a terrifying situation helped bring a serial killer to justice.

Would you send your fifth-grade daughter to a camp where this was happening?  How long do you think parents will keep voting for a party that supports laws like the one that caused this?

Here's how you can know that you're recovering from trauma (found via Silverapplequeen).

This wingnut ruined his own business by dragging ideology into it.

Women are badSex is bad.

A bare 52% majority of Republicans now recognize that Pence didn't have the authority to overturn the 2020 election result, as Trump has claimed he did.

Visitors and workers still aren't returning to Portland's mob-violence-wracked downtown.

The ACLU resorts to lying about a proposed law in Indiana.

The crimes of child molesters and their enablers should be covered up to protect the reputation of the Catholic Church and its leaders.

Vote suppression doesn't harm the Democrats, it harms your rights (found via Fair and Unbalanced).

"Those [companies] that are requiring employees to come back to the office five days a week are experiencing a bigger backlash than they had anticipated -- so much so that the Great Resignation could accelerate in the coming months."

The stigmatization of sex work ruins women's chances to choose a different career (found via The Honest Courtesan).

Religion promotes disgusting self-hatred to intimidate people into obedience.

The polls now are probably underestimating how well Republicans will do in November.

Even in San Francisco, voters dump woke school-board members by huge margins.

Wingnuts cheer some criminals for doing the very same thing that they condemned other criminals for.  Sorry, blocking traffic is harassment of innocent bystanders no matter who's doing it or why.  They should go hassle whoever is actually causing whatever problem they're protesting about.

The Great Resignation hasn't yet spread among schoolteachers, but it will.

A minor error in wording by one Arizona Catholic priest has rendered thousands of baptisms invalid, putting the innocent victims in deep shit with God -- and highlighting the absurdity of bureaucratic, scribe-and-pharisee-style religion.  I discussed a comparable case here.

One man is more important than hundreds of women.

Autism makes kids more susceptible to sexual abuse.  There are plenty of warning signs to watch for.

It's natural that evangelicals are drawn to authoritarian politics.

Sex work set her free.  Then covid-19 happened.

The Democratic party is vanishing from rural America, mostly due to an association with toxic far-left stances.

The internet is becoming too besotted with video.  It's not always the best format.

Intelligent design is dead, but there's a new faith-based attack on evolutionary biology.

The covid-19 death of anti-vax QAnon qrackpot Cirsten Weldon is fueling a new wave of conspiratardia.

Elon Musk does horrible shit to monkeys.

Women across the US are being legally persecuted for stillbirths and miscarriages.

Post-pandemic covid-19 won't be like the flu, it will be like smoking.

An explicitly-violent Christian extremist movement is metastasizing across the US (found via Hackwhackers).

The Ottawa trucker insurrectionists and their backers are hit with a class-action lawsuit.  Most Canadian truckers are not insurrectionists, and most insurrection leaders are not truckers (found via Fair and Unbalanced).  Canadian blogger Jenny_o has more details and background.

Prince Charles, the likely successor of the UK's current queen, is a foolish and ignorant man.

Many male prison inmates who claim to be women so they can go to women's prisons go back to identifying as male once they're released.

Women in Scotland are turning away from the SNP and other leftist parties that don't respect their rights.

Prince Andrew is finished as a public figure after settling with Virginia Giuffre.  The US still needs to properly investigate the high-profile American associates of Epstein and Maxwell, notably Donald Trump and Bill Clinton.

Schools in Wales are installing mixed-sex toilets, and the kids are so determined to avoid using them that many are skipping school.

Biden's rallying the West against Putin is an impressive achievement.

Ukrainians are getting exasperated with constant Western predictions of invasion.  This scholar of Russian history suggests another outcome; Atlantic Council advisor Harlan Ullman predicts it won't happen.  Even threatening an invasion is a serious blunder in the long term.  But if it does happen, expect a wave of targeted arrests and killings (found via Fair and Unbalanced).

Russia continues its long-standing practice of cheating at the Olympics.

Biden is getting close to restoring Obama's nuclear deal with Iran -- but can he overcome the US reputation for violating agreements?

Religious barbarians stone a mentally-ill man to death for blasphemy in Pakistan.

In 2016 Amazon bought Westland, one of India's greatest publishing companies.  Now they've destroyed itMore here.

With all eyes on Russia, don't forget the other big bully on the block.

More links at The Honest Courtesan, Fair and Unbalanced, and The Psy of Life.

o o o o o

My own posts this week:  the fiasco of Beijing's genocide Olympics, how Republicans could lose this year and in 2024, how to protect a blog in the time of cancel culture, and a sample troll comment.

[Image at top:  The Monastery of St Michael in Kiev, Ukraine -- photo taken by me when I was there in 2007.  It was just down the street from where I was staying.]

19 February 2022

More trash

Another sample of what the trolls are trying to deposit in the comment threads here.  The second-to-last line is of course a reference to the famous homosexual rape scene in the film Deliverance, during which the rapist taunts the victim by saying "squeal like a pig".  I will continue to deploy the comment-moderation pooper-scooper against their leavings.

18 February 2022

Blog survival

As the poison of cancel culture metastasizes across the internet, those of us who feel potentially in the crosshairs must look to our defenses.  The recent termination of Exulansic's YouTube channel and deletion of Yellowdog Granny's blog were warnings, as was the take-down of Vox Popoli blog (the latter's content is about as repulsive and despicable in my eyes as it's possible for a blog to be, but it's the principle of the thing).  Thugs determined to silence anyone who expresses views they disapprove of are on the march, and as a target myself of a two-year campaign of hateful, harassing, and often perverted trolling, I definitely have grounds for concern that it could happen to me.

The good news is that in all three cases, the cancelers were defeated.  Exulansic already had all her videos backed up on a censorship-free platform, and she continues her prolific posting there (some other YouTubers are taking the same precaution).  Yellowdog Granny was restored with a new URL, though it took time.  Vox Popoli, having long anticipated deletion, had a back-up blog ready to go, and continued without interruption.

I'd advise any blogger who posts controversial material, or anything that some set of prigs or other might decide to be "offended" by, to give some thought to how they would get back online if this happened to them.  Preparation clearly helps toward quick recovery if a blogger gets canceled.  As I've mentioned before, I have been doing research on-and-off trying to find a blogging platform that would suit my needs and be guaranteed censorship-free if I needed to create a new blog.  I've also been making frequent back-ups of my blog's entire content.

In addition to that, I've started making screencaps of the posts I'd be most interested in preserving if this blog got deleted and I needed to set up a new one.  Re-posting them in image form wouldn't be an ideal solution (hyperlinks would be lost, for example), but it is, at least, pretty much guaranteed to work.  The back-up process creates a 70-megabyte block of HTML, and I have no idea whether it would be easy or even possible to reconstruct the blog from that on a new platform; but any platform enables a blogger to post images.  In the case of a few link-heavy posts, I've made copies of the HTML; reconstructing a single post from that would be a chore but certainly doable.

I've also been strategic by prioritizing back-ups of the posts which the trolls would be most likely to object to.  The aim here is to deter any effort to get me canceled since the very posts they most want to get rid of would immediately be restored as soon as I got a new blog up (and I'd still be linking to other material opposing their cause in the Sunday link round-ups, which would continue on the new blog).  Indeed, it's their own persistence in harassing me over the last two years that first motivated me to focus so much on opposing their cause (though since then I've come to deeply admire the brave and inspirational people who are taking a stand against that nonsense), and if they actually got my blog taken down and put me through the hassle of setting up a new one, obviously I'd become even more determined to contribute all I could to the fight against them.

I still think that my blog disappearing is fairly unlikely.  The Blogger platform seems to be open to a very wide range of viewpoints, and I've never had any indication from them that they had a problem with anything I wrote or linked to.  But in the current menacing situation, with others having fallen prey to cancellation, I'd be foolish not to be preparing for the possibility.  And if you are a blogger, and if you post viewpoints (left, right, or whatever) that some shitty fascist-minded prig might believe shouldn't be allowed, you'd be well advised to do the same.  I'd be interested to know what precautions others are taking, in case there's anything I've missed that I could be doing.

16 February 2022

How the Republicans could lose

Most of the recent polling I've seen suggests that we're heading for landslide Republican wins this year and in 2024.  However, this is not grounds for giving up and joining the moan-groan-doom-gloom crowd.  2016 and 2020 showed that the predictive value of polling is not what it used to be, especially when so many elections are so close (this also means that if the polling starts to look better, it's not grounds for complacency).  More to the point, there are still more than eight months to the election, and a lot can change in that time.  Here are some of the possibilities.

1) Trump saddling the Republicans with bad candidates.  Trump still has immense influence among the party's voters, and his endorsement carries weight in the primaries.  However, his main criterion for endorsing candidates is loyalty to himself and to his lies about the 2020 election being stolen, not electability.  If his candidates sweep the primaries, many will go on to lose in the general election.

2) Republican infighting.  A few Republican leaders are trying to loosen Trump's grip, including McConnell, currently the most powerful Republican elected official.  Trump's support among the Republican base, while still strong, is eroding (scroll down to the part about the January NBC poll).  By November there may be enough anti-Trump voters that the Republicans will be split into two factions, Trumpist and anti-Trumpist, with many in each faction refusing to vote for the other's candidates in the general election.  If Trump is indicted (or imprisoned, by 2024), it will further shrink the Trumpist majority of the party and enable the anti-Trumpists to mount a more serious challenge.

3) Election lies backfiring.  Telling your voters that the system is rigged against them is dangerous.  They may decide voting is a waste of time if the election will just be stolen anyway, and stay home.  Even a small percentage doing so could swing a close election.  This issue seems to have already played a role in the Georgia Senate run-offs.

4) Return to pre-pandemic normalcy.  Covid-19 infection and death rates are dropping rapidly as the omicron surge subsides.  Most states are planning to drop mask mandates in the next month or two.  If a return to real normalcy is achieved and holds steady, voters will count this as a win for the Democrats.

5) Democrats getting their act together (1).  If the Democrats can pass more major legislation that brings immediate benefit to a large number of voters, or if clear benefits are seen from the big bills passed earlier this year, that will help.  But it would need to be something with fast-acting effects.  Passing something that will show concrete results a year from now won't do any good.

6) Democrats getting their act together (2).  This is a long shot, but the Democrats could jettison the radical fringe issues that are dragging them down and return to their roots, focusing on economic and class issues so that voters no longer associate them with police-bashing and men using the girls' bathroom.  Youngkin in Virginia demonstrated a winning strategy for Republicans: focus on attacking wokeism and identity politics, and refrain from talking crazy wingnut shit.  Democrats need to do the equivalent -- explicitly name and attack the wingnut lies and insanity saturating the Republican party, drop the fringe-left woke stuff that turns normal people off, and emphasize the concrete benefits of Democratic policies.  If they keep hairsplitting about what exactly "defund the police" and "critical race theory" mean, they'll lose.  If they repudiate those things firmly and unambiguously, they'll start winning.

Remember, it is all about winning persuadable voters in the center.  The radicals have lately started bleating that there are no such voters any more and that only motivating the base matters.  They are totally, unambiguously wrong, as is shown by all the people who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 and then for Trump in 2016, by the growing shift of Hispanics and women toward the Republicans in recent years, and by reality and common sense.  Most people are not ideological -- they want to know who will work for their personal prosperity and safety in daily life, and protect them from having crazy ideological shit pushed on them (or on their kids in school).  Voters lost so recently to the Republicans can be won back.  And they far outnumber the radical fringe.

o o o o o

From Canada, this Tumblr post reports an interesting (if true) example of citizen action succeeding where government failed.  According to it, citizen groups in Ottawa have aggressively confronted the anti-vax trucker insurrection and driven the insurrectionists out of at least part of the downtown.  If true, it makes a stark contrast with the feckless authorities who did nothing for two weeks while the insurrectionists blocked traffic and harassed the citizenry, abjectly failing to provide the "peace, order, and good government" those citizens are paying taxes for.  I have not been able to find verification of this post in mainstream news sources, however.  A lesser but verifiable example is this Ottawa resident who got a court injunction to stop the constant horn-blaring with which the insurrectionists had been tormenting the local people.  Apparently the government couldn't even do that on its own.  Trudeau needs to go down for letting this attack on a major city rage unopposed for two weeks.

15 February 2022

Video of the day -- behind the scenes at the Olympics

Laowhy86, an American who lived in China for ten years, explains the messy fiasco unfolding at the "genocide games".

13 February 2022

Link round-up for 13 February 2022

Various interesting stuff I ran across on the net over the last week.

o o o o o

Giraffe power must be respected.

Oh no, even the Navy's gone gendery (made by Far Corner Café).

Robots are rebelling.

If these things worked, what would be the result?

Listen to the wise fisherman.

Laugh at the phony leftists.

Animals are funny.  Sometimes they misbehave.

Birds sing.

French is hard.

A brazen thief films his own getaway.

Even a little kid gets it about Boris Johnson.

He's just driving around, inspecting the zoo.

This is an excellent use for rotten eggs.

Witches raise their wands against patriarchy.

Foreigners try to understand the US.

A traffic reporter sings his warning about icy roads.

Procrastinating Donkey blog fearlessly exposes fake dog trampoline videos.

A cat becomes a drama queen when taken to the vet.

Rules are made to be broken.

Perhaps Europe will soon be free from the plague.

Education is.....

Type in two terms, and this AI story-writer will generate a brief one-paragraph story intro using them (found via Mock Paper Scissors).

Strange trees here.

Interesting art by Calder Moore here.

Cas d'intérêt has a couple of films for cold weather.

A more advanced form of life evolved and quickly wiped out almost all the other life on the planet.

This is the Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading in Rio de Janeiro.

Languages don't differ in what they allow you to say, they differ in what details they require.

Mars isn't really red.

See video from a space probe which reached the upper atmosphere of the Sun.

Octopuses self-destruct after reproducing.

Science adjusts its conclusions as the evidence changes; religion can't.  That's why religionists misunderstand what science is.

We rule you, we fool you.....

Comparison here of the speaking styles of Biden and Trump in similar situations.

Bill Maher discusses karma and the scorched-earth mean-spiritedness pervading the US.  It's an eight-minute video, but the substantive part starts at 4:20.

Important reminders for reading on the internet here.  AO3 is a "safe space" from the prigs, not for them.

More evidence surfaces that the rapid growth of the human brain over the last two million years wasn't caused by meat-eating.

Patheos has introduced content restrictions, leading many bloggers to abandon the platform.

Stop being shitty to creative people on the internet.  If you don't like something, just go find something you like better.

This man is a disgusting abuser.  His wife should dump him.

It's science vs morons (found via YellerDawg Granny).

Outsourcing production to fascist shithole countries means we get low-quality goods.

Insist on your right to question nonsense.

The combination of cryptocurrency bullshit and MAGA grifting creates a black hole of non-value (found via Hackwhackers).

Smartphones are turning people into assholes.

Follow the basic rules of logic.

Handle dogs like guns.

Twitter is incredibly stupid.

Washington state, facing public opposition to its policy of putting male inmates in women's prisons, is considering a law to hide information about the policy.

Germany has a different attitude toward homeless people than the US does (found via SickoRicko).

Tumblr's NSFW ban cut it off from its roots.

The self-destruction of the anti-vaxers continues (data are for New York city).

One of these things is not like the other.

Happy people don't "find God".

Major companies are backing away from cryptocurrency.

The governor of  Missouri believes that leaders cannot make decisions unless they hold beliefs unsupported by evidence.

It's madness to let your job be your source of identity and meaning.

Cancel culture is mob rule.

Shitty car companies are punishing customers for right-to-repair laws.

This school punished the whistleblower rather than the wrongdoer.

Darwinfish 2 considers the future of local retail.

Tumblr bloggers sound the alarm about the EARN IT act (I don't have independent knowledge of this proposed law and don't know whether it's as dangerous as they say).

Bruce Gerencser takes on the old "what if you're wrong about God not existing" question (I addressed it here).

It's time to take a side.

"Race pride" is irrational.

This miracle-cure scam boasts a claimed success rate of just one in 3,700,000.

A billionaire's wealth represents time stolen from you.

"Buried within the wail of 'accountability' is the self-nomination and declaration that it is to them and their feelings that you must answer."

Democratic leaders must stop making themselves look like hypocrites -- or the party needs to start forcing them out of office à la Boris Johnson.

A proposed Oklahoma law would fine or fire teachers for teaching pretty much any real science (found via Hackwhackers).

Jourdon Anderson was a slave in Tennessee before the Civil War; he escaped during the war and settled in Ohio.  After the war, his former master wrote to him inviting him to come back to work for him again as a paid employee.  Here is the letter Jourdon Anderson wrote in reply.

NPR and the New York Times are becoming vehicles for superstitious drivel.

Appeasers of Islamist thuggery are not liberals or progressives.

The indictment of Trump needs to be done slowly and carefully to get things right.  Too many bloggers are like the little kid in the back seat going "Are we there yet?  Are we there yet?  Are we there yet?" at the adult driving.

You need to be aware of who Bayard Rustin was.

"I recently made the switch from blue collar [to] white collar and the difference is astounding.  Much more woke, much more divorced from the struggles of the working class, much more intolerant of differing opinions."

Fauci says the "full-blown pandemic phase" of covid-19 is nearing its end.

A much-ballyhooed study claiming that lockdowns didn't help against covid-19 was seriously flawed.

There's money to be made in cutting off healthy body parts.  We are living in a horror movie.

The University of Chicago is a cesspit of anti-Semitism.

The anti-vax trucker assholes in Canada are a small minority of all that country's truckers, a few hundred cranks trying to coerce a government elected by millions.  They're messing things up in the US as well.  Ideas here on how the insurrection might end.  A Canadian blogger has some observations.

Home abortion pills will remain legal in the UK after the pandemic ends.

British Cycling faces a revolt against its effort to silence criticism of its demented gender policy.

"He said that rejection of an officer's advances was frowned upon."

French police won't let anti-vaxers stage an Ottawa-like harassment-fest in Paris (found via Hackwhackers).

In Europe, the tide is turning against the trans madness.

Some Russian officers and officials are dubious about invading Ukraine.

China's "genocide Olympics" launches amid a sea of protests world-wide.

The North Korean regime is losing an internet fight with one ordinary hacker.

More links at The Honest Courtesan and Fair and Unbalanced.

o o o o o

My own posts this week:  courageous women in Iran, a few thoughts from the bright minds, and the annoying but useful Mr W.

11 February 2022

Video of the day -- finding his place

The constantly-annoying Mr W finally gets a chance to feel useful and wanted.  Found via Esme's Cloud.

10 February 2022

A few thoughts from the bright minds