Saturday, April 16, 2022

Russia/Ukraine conflict observations (from my Facebook page)

I find myself facing a bit of a moral quandary regarding the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. I don't have a personal "dog in the fight" beyond that of any other spectator. To the degree I can trace my family history, there seems to have been no one from what is now either country, and I have no modern attachments to anyone from either country beyond my modest financial support of a certain Russian vlogger I will not identify for his/her personal security. So my approach to analyzing what I can discover about the conflict is based upon my understanding of the principles and practices developed by Sun Tzu in his seminal work The Art Of War.

In my judgement, neither country is especially admirable from a US-type constitutional republic type of government viewpoint. Culturally, both countries seem to be only slightly less culturally, politically, and financially corrupt than China is and always has been. Let me take this opportunity to observe that there are any number of personally non-corrupt Russians, Ukrainians, and Chinese (Han or otherwise) individuals. But the cultures they all live in basically assume that, given the opportunity, people will act in what a modern American would regard as corrupt - morally, financially, what have you. The concept of (national) politics being downstream from (national) culture is an important aspect of this; none of these country's are especially culturally admirable despite each being remarkably culturally interesting. That individuals from these cultures are themselves notably admirable is a testament to their personal integrity, not a reflection of the cultural standards they rise above.
Recent case in point, via the Jeff Bezos blog, which I hope will give others insight into my observations on events now occurring in Ukraine:

Thursday, March 31, 2022

"... all US citizens in Russia and Ukraine should depart immediately."

The US State Dept. has "updated" its official instructions to US travelers in Russia and Ukraine, warning all US citizens depart either country "immediately". This seems to be the news report Jack Posobiec tweeted about earlier today.

"American nationals should immediately leave Russia and Ukraine, the State Department said Thursday, citing potential arrest by Russian security officials."

So, probably not the invasion by US/NATO troops I speculated about on the Twitter.



I wish the Obama Curse* wasn't real.

(*"Never underestimate Joe's ability to fuck things up."

Friday, March 25, 2022

Scary Story Time

How implausible is it that Russia possesses the capability to successfully imitate an Iranian submarine?
Diesel/electric boat presumably, something that puts out a mix of known Iranian boats drive and powerplant noises. Have it show up on US sonar technology initially somewhere in the south Atlantic. Finally goes silent west of the Azores maybe. Briefly heard for the last time due south of Cuba. Two to three days later a complex nuclear device detonates 100 miles due south of New Orleans, Louisiana. The resulting tsunami would stretch from Key West, Florida in an uninterrupted wall of water all the way to the north-eastern point of the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. Cuba wouldn't actually cease to exist.

I sincerely doubt Iran has the capability to even approach pulling off a scenario like this, but I'm reasonably certain Russia does

I have heard others now describing what's happening in and around Ukraine as forcing Vladimir Putin into deploying tactical nukes in Ukraine, if only to have some expectation of surviving. At all, not just politically. According to that Fount of All Knowledge, Wikipedia, tactical nukes can range in explosive power between tens of kilotons to hundreds of kilotons and delivered by hand or, as noted above, torpedo. If two 500 KT tactical nuclear devices were situated approximately 200 feet from each other on a true east/west alignment and detonated simultaneously, the physics of the resulting mushroom cloud would make clear the number and thus the size of the devices involved to anyone 50 miles away or so. The point is, Ukraine might not be the most advantageous spot on the surface of the Earth for Vlad to pop off a nuke.

Plausibly pointing the finger of guilt at somebody else is a critical touch for long term success, but Vlad's almost 70, so maybe a Highly Important secondary consideration then.

To the extent any of these maunderings has any such thing, the point of all this is that, as the level of violence deemed acceptable ramps up, so too does the range at which inflicting that violence reach further. If Vladimir Putin decides that the end of Russia as an independent country is a possible result of the combat in Ukraine, then the potential target list expands beyond that country's borders. This is the point of the decision tree where things start to get messy.

A plausible story is essential to success. Obviously, the more plausible the better, but how much is enough? In how much time? Added to this, tactical nukes usually don't require National Command Authority for tactical release as prescribed by doctrine. Only Putin can decide if/when to detonate this weapon though, which circumstance already attracts too much attention as is. Presumably Russian bureaucratic lethargy is no worse then our own, so the mascarovka should mostly be in place. 

In order for a plausibly deniable story to exist the supporting elements have to be put in place which takes time even in bad fiction. If the Russian Navy needs 10 days to do their part, that means the Russian Army has to wander around Ukraine not winning anything for an extra week or so, at least. If that all starts to look a lot like losing, the device is already in place.  

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Whither war now?

I posted the below as a comment to a Facebook posting by Stephen Michael Stirling and wish to preserve easier access to it for future reference and discussion. My intention is to inspire discussion of ways and means whereby this, and potential future, combat can be resolved in a positive and self-sustaining manner if possible.


Coming up on a full month of active combat between Russia and (reinforced) Ukraine, I think it is no longer deniable that neither country either possesses, or is willing to expend, the military assets necessary to militarily defeat the other. Discussion of that circumstance will no doubt go on for years, if not decades, and the potential for catastrophic misinterpretations of same will continue to exist for at least as long.

That noted, both sides can effectively maintain the current pace of infrastructure and population destruction essentially for ever (that timespan being measured in the endurance of those not actively fighting). Stipulating all that as true, now is the point in the conflict when active support efforts should begin to publicly bombard all parties with proposals structured to be at least minimally acceptable to both of the main combatants as well as their separate supporters internationally. Herewith my initial suggestion:
The Black Sea is a unique body of water in many ways. All countries directly bordering on the Black Sea to participate directly in a joint research project structured to maintain (or restore where technologically able) that body of water to known historic conditions. Additionally, there be created a joint search and rescue organization to monitor and support general maritime operations on the Black Sea and all connecting waterways. All direct bordering countries to jointly coordinate sponsorship or other diplomatic support efforts from other national or private parties by mutual negotiation between the directly involved parties.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Declaring My Position

 It's too late on a Friday night to even think about linking sources, but I want to state publicly my belief that the end of the active combat phase of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia is steadily approaching. Sadly, such a process inevitably takes far too long in the best of circumstances, but I believe an end to active combat will have been mutually declared by not-later-than the end of April, 2022.

Everybody hauling there stuff back home will probably go on for years, though hopefully the overwhelming majority of materiel will be crossing somebody's border before Autumn arrives. Those with the talent to do so probably ought to be arranging to keep an eye on on-line trading sites/pages for war-related equipment being put up for offer. Maybe set up something for the US .gov to use to just buy it all. What they choose to do after taking receipt is on them.

Peace On Earth, Good Will To Men is completely ban worthy, non-PC Wrong Think, but maybe we can dust it off before December this year.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Strategic Fail

I wrote this in response to something famed SF/AH author Stephen Michael Stirling posted on Facebook and wanted to archive it here:

Maajid Nawaz has been making the point (most recently on his appearance on Tim Pool IRL, combine that with his name to find the relevant episode) that the fighting in Ukraine is becoming a radical activist factory on a scale at least equal to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Given the percentage of Islamic practitioners in modern European countries (he cites France as being +10% for instance, with similar numbers for Britain), how many of these "freedom fighters" flocking to Ukraine for experience will reappear in their home countries (or someone else's) once the active phase of the current combat ends (or only begins to taper off militarily)?

This isn't only an "Islamic" problem either; see the video of Azov Bge personnel dipping their rifle ammo into pork lard "for the Chechen Muslims". How does one go about making sure the people one is shooting at amongst all of the other "Russians" are of a specific religion?
That aside, a significant percentage of these people can be expected to survive combat and return - further radicalized, regardless of ideology - to "continue the fight" with whoever happens to be available to fight with at home.
Any strategy which doesn't actively take this circumstance into account while the fighting is on-going is a failed strategy.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Did Ukraine just DOX the invading Russian soldiers?

You decide.

Can't wait for the Laws Of War experts to go after each other over this.

May I suggest that we just automatically review and update existing treaties routinely every decade or so.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

On the question of Atlantis

Do you like the pretentious title?

I'm also a Randall Carlson fan (so shove over Joe Rogan :)), and his more recent discussions of the topic of Atlantis and the development of modern research that relates to its possible historic existence as more than a Platonic delusion (see here for example) has been a pleasure to follow. An idea that he doesn't seem quite willing to commit to, but seems obvious to uneducated me, is that what can only be honestly described as an empire (per Plato, Atlantis was but one of ten kingdoms - possibly the capital of the empire, but that isn't addressed directly by Plato's source Solon) must have been scattered over an area of the Atlantic Ocean easily the size of Libya, which historically was basically most of the N. African coastal region west of Egypt (at least to the Pillars of Heracles). Since the largest submerged land form adjacent to the Straits of Gibraltar is the Azores Plateau, which isn't that impressive a fraction of the area the ancient Greeks called Libya, it has to be surmised that the total area of the Atlantean empire member Kingdoms would be the proper understanding of Solon's description, and not of a single land mass.

Stipulate, if you will, that Plato essentially got it right; where did all of the people go who weren't trapped in one of the cities of the empire on the day? As a sea-going civilization, it has to be ordinary for a significant percentage of the population (sail and oar-powered ships remember) to be "underway" during the events that resulted in the destruction of their various home ports. As well, some further percentage of the population would have lived at sufficient altitude to survive the initial Melt Water Pulse B floodwaters that flooded the cities of the empire. From this it seems likely that there were sufficient survivors to not lose the empire's accumulated technology and ideology post deluge (not to mention the tectonic upheavals that followed). Possibly the Phoenicians were the eventual result of that, with the added possibility of the people western history records as "The Sea Peoples". 

One other possibility to consider is the civilization that preceded the Egyptian Dynasties initiated by Narmer. Not much is known about this civilization, but one of the current hypotheses is that at least some of the Egyptian pyramids were constructed by them, at least in part (it is supposed that succeeding dynasties adapted these structures to their own purposes many years/centuries? later). 

No opinion on any of that. 

Back to Plato and his telling of Solon's story of Atlantis, Solon plainly states that the Egyptian priests he spoke with stated that the Greeks only knew about one cataclysm that ended civilization; they believed their records identified up to 10 such events. Where but from this preceding civilization could these records have come (other than priestly imaginations - I don't think I'm quite that cynical. Yet.)?

If any of this has any relationship with reality, then we have to be willing to consider it is all true. Which would mean that Homo Sapiens Sapiens has achieved civilization on par with our current efforts before this, possibly several times. Thinking positively, we know of at least 13+ thousand years since whatever caused Melt Water Pulse B, so let's use 15k as our historical periodicity. There are archeological discoveries of late which seem to date our species to at least 150k years ago. By no coincidence, a multiple of our working date number.

Out of ten periods in which modern humanity had time to develop civilization, it seems likely to me that we've done some variant of all of this before. [Quick segue: some months ago the PRC space program reported that their lunar rover on the Far Side had identified an object that appeared artificial. Could it also be of - really old - human origin?] Oh, not the same technology, although one suspects the effects of what we call physics have always been universal, but an effectively equivalent level of capability. An unoriginal idea that the Egyptian pyramid builders used an application of sound waves that exerted a physical force on the object it was directed at doesn't appear to be out-right impossible, we just haven't quite figured it out yet. I personally like the idea of using the usually predictable wind blowing upriver to inflate sails to "float" the gigantic stones along the river to the build site and then into place. And who can say which is ultimately the more plausible supposition? The point being that there are distinct technologies capable of achieving the same end result, so the thought of some previous iteration of ourselves at least equaling our achievements can't really be considered unthinkable. Unprovable, so far, but that's where you find the intellectual challenges, don't you?

All of which ignores the possibilities of the rest of Homo Sapiens genus. Homo Sapiens Florencis, Homo Sapiens Neanderthalus, along with all the rest, surely had sufficient time some when along the way to make their own mark on the physical universe at least to the degree we have. If such an artifact were to have survived undiscovered until now, Luna Far Side might be the only place possible that we can reach. It's currently fashionable to humble-brag about the percentage of Neanderthal DNA in your own DNA (or so the company doing the DNA work would have us all believe :)). Wouldn't it be a hoot, sorry - not sorry, if it turned out that proof of Homo Sapiens Sapiens DNA being designed from modified Neanderthal DNA is found inside that Far Side "structure" the PRC claims to be investigating as I type this? By Neanderthals, necessarily. 

Even without the CBD, my imagination doesn't stretch quite that far (who knew sleeping alone could be this fun?), and I believe we can safely leave space exploration to Elon and his competitors for the moment, but what of Randall Carlson's theory that "Atlantis" existed on the Azores Plateau - presumably at the depth of what would have been the shoreline prior to the Younger Dryas. Such a survey is eminently possible with current technology, and not even THAT cutting edge; James Cameron probably already owns most of what would be needed, for only one example. A large yacht capable of supporting say 6 people in addition to crew requirements for 3-ish weeks without replenishment, that can also support the necessary cable for RV's working down to 600' minimum. Being able to do side-scanning sonar simultaneous to down-looking sonar bottom scans ought to provide sufficient evidence of any possible structures that resemble Solon's measurements of the city of Atlantis. Perhaps a big enough yacht support vessel would work.

I won't commit myself to pay my own way, but I would work for room and board to be a member of that expedition.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

How long do you think it will take?

Given the increasing public support for the truck drivers convoy arriving in Ottawa, Canada, I wonder how long it will take for US federal government office holders to declare a similar event in Washington, DC preemptively illegal.

Convoy to DC 2022


Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Exit question

Following the Biden press conference/interview today, an exit question for the room at large:

Who has WW III on their 2022 Bingo card?