“In a word, corruption”

Sean Bell with Sky News is one of my favorite commentators. Generals Keane and Patraeus are excellent also. Then there is the former ambassador from Bozeman (McFaul). The absolute best, right down to his wardrobe and wristwatch, is William Burns. These people are worth listening to. They know what they are talking about.

This is outstanding. It was written almost two months ago and it is spot on to this day.

I struggled with it myself: why is Russia losing to the point of humiliation? I wondered if corruption and terrible leadership is the same thing. Dead soldiers, depleted families, and “morale,” which is hard to define, are obviously not good. But how do you quantify or explain without free speech?

Russia’s economic situation is horrible, but it is incredibly confusing too. Gas and oil sales are down but prices are up; the Ruble has rebounded to pre-war levels vs. the dollar; for the ships seized and assets frozen, only time will tell, but they will eventually hit home in a huge way. Yesterday–if you search you can find anything–there were reports of the war costing Russia $900 million a day and that is money they don’t have. In the longer-term too, gas and oil embargoes, despite China, India, and even parts of the E.U., will hurt because the war is hastening the move to alternative sources elsewhere. Mostly younger and educated Russians have fled. Some 750 Western companies have refused to do business. Russia is cut-off from the world’s wealthiest countries in the world and that may continue indefinitely without an effort to stop it.

Russia’s army is probably depleted to the level of one-quarter to half its previous strength, and that strength was not as strong as suspected. Hampered by an economy experiencing a 15 percent recession, it will take years or decades to rebuild.

Finland and Sweden are in the news. At this moment that news says when they apply they will join NATO quickly. What a defeat for Putin; they are modern and strong on their own and now it is worse. (Kaliningrad, ostracized and without a train route, reportedly wants out, or in, too.)

Russia is destroying Ukraine but is losing the war every day it is fought. What a disaster. Smart countries and their leaders see it as a chance to hurt Putin and deplete Russia without even shooting a weapon. And why not, the Ukrainians are the best, most prepared and intelligent, and the most motivated fighters any of us have ever seen. It is a brilliant strategy on the part of the West (led by Joe Biden, Antony Blinken, and others). What an insult: ‘just like higher energy prices, we can afford it.’ Putin and his flunkies never imagined they would be facing high-tech U.S., U.K., and even Turkish, German, and Australian arms. They put on a show but looked defeated on May 9 Victory Day. Finally, we are seeing the message that world leadership realizes what is happening because we have seen it before. Putin may very well survive until his death, but in my lifetime at least (maybe thirty more years), Russia will never be the same. Even the flow of visiting dignitaries helps by showing the resolve continues. Painting Z’s on tanks will not scare anyone again.

There are micro and macro issues and arguments. I am a student of corruption: In my view it is the highest, most-overriding factor. It means no democracy, no checks and balances, and no every day/every person rights. It means not getting along with others. It means skimming money and looking out only for yourself. It means lousy, unprofitable products and industries. And in this case, it means clinging to fossil fuels and global warning too.

I wish Anna had been more specific as to what defines corruption. “Little things.”

Part 3

It sounds callous, but I am going to write about the personalities. Jens Stoltenberg is in the center. President Biden, Johnson, Erdogen. Macron is kind of a hanger-on. Trudeau on the left, Fiala, Czech Republic. Orban, Hungary, is in the orange tie on the right. I thought I spotted Morawiecki (Poland) but now I am not so sure. The dark-haired woman on the right is perhaps German foreign affairs minister Annalena Baerbock; there is no news about German participation at all.

Many countries, you can Google it and the NATO meeting and find out what they’re up to.

These are the most powerful people in the room world and that is the best I can do without more work. Of course Japan (G7) and Australia are there in spirit, and the latter is there in terms of defense too.

Here is a cheater’s guide. This is my favorite video, Jens looking out for Joe. Make no mistake, Biden has the clout.

Poland’s schools are among the best in the world. When I was a kid there was such a thing as “Polish jokes.” They were the first, or at least biggest, to say our home is yours. Poland, and probably Morawiecki, were behind the creative MiG deal–look, they can have them! We just need to… Why not park them at Ramstein and then, oh look, they were stolen! It was a good idea.

Now we have a month of data–it is about what you do, not what you say. I Googled “French troops Nato” and came up with zero.

There it is for those of us who are mostly ignorant about the former eastern block. Nicolae Ciuca, Romania. Checks trusty picture above, not sure but I think I see him. I just wouldn’t mess with these people. Those, “don’t mess with us,” were the exact words of the Latvian prime minister when he invited U.S. and NATO troops. He also mentioned, “we’ll pay you.”

I can sit here in Colorado. NORAD is about two hours away by car and you can only imagine how long it takes a military jet. I can watch vidoes until I completely run out of bandwidth; I don’t know. These people in Eastern Europe, formerly, western Soviet Union, know.

To be honest, people in the former “Eastern Block” were stigmatized in the U.S.

I couldn’t find a video of Slovakia’s leader in Brussels so this will have to do. (Transcript.) These people are dead serious.

The meetings in Brussels include G7 and EU members. I give up on who’s in the picture. Joe Biden (and Blinken) are worthy representatives. In terms of the meetings, you can tell who the most powerful, and possibly the most experienced, man is.

I’m grateful to be able to spend hours educating myself. That was the main point I was getting to earlier: It is all about information and education. That is why I am so fascinated by Latvia, and Romania, etc. Those people know, and continue to learn while those behind the varying curtains do not. Imagine a world with only “state” videos, news, meetings, protests, and everyday life. It is that cliche, they never had a chance.

Fifty percent of Russians support the war, some 65% supported annexing regions… I can’t forget that one woman. She is in a more Russian part of eastern Ukraine. These people are so well-spoken, so composed. Paraphrasing, she said ‘If we didn’t have the army to protect us, what would we do?” She feels Russia protects her. She feels Russia provides the protection she needs. She has a very different perception of the world than, for example, most people in the former Soviet republics.

It is all about making people think you are protecting them.

And that is Putin’s influence.

Ukraine, Part 2

http://mgoblogging.blogspot.com/2022/02/ukraine.html

The first week was kind of cool–all this all this teaming-up of the mostly Western allies, the huge payments, the generous humanitarian efforts, and even the protests. This is what I still check as a measure of the defense. The news we could see said it was going well for the Ukrainians: the convoy was bogged down, the cities are prepared for siege warfare, Russians are deserting, etc. All these international legionnaires are signing up. There is no way Putin can hold Ukraine even if they conquer pieces.

Someone wrote that if it goes on longer than ten days Russia will lose.

What do they call it, the news cycle? Or maybe it is just a matter of an attention span.

Since it started on February 24, this is now day 17.

Now there is nothing cute or cool about it. It is worth paying attention and remembering. Put another way, for those of us lucky enough to be just watching, it is nothing like Lori Daybell or Gabby Petino. I stopped watching all the videos on DW and France Live on Youtube, and BBC live news. I still read everything on the Washington Post but that is not enough.

Day 17. It seems like Day 37 and I’m not even there. I need a total catch-up. What is the status today. Are the generals still on TV saying it can’t last?

Continue reading “Ukraine, Part 2”

I would rather write

There may be a verdict in my mailbox, but…

It has been four months since I have shopped at Walmart and I have no break-up or withdrawal pains. Amazon has replaced the main online shopping experience, Safeway takes care of groceries and most local shopping, and Discover fulfills my cash needs.

Lost in this whole thing is customer satisfaction. It is supposed to be a pleasant experience. They are expected to want your business. Someone has to be responsible and they are have to correct it; that is a big part of the problem–there is no conduit, no way to reach someone empowered.

Empowered to do what? Someone empowered to stop the fraud.

Amazon

The only way I can explain how dispensable Walmart is is to start with Amazon. Several years I pretty much stopped using them because of delivery problems and nonexistent customer support to deal with problems.

Walmart and others: void where prohibited

If you want to be good at it you have to want to do it.

It is not the same as enjoying doing something. It could be work. It must be worthwhile. And it is always something that just needs to be done.

5. Walmart is the hardest, or at least most time consuming, so I’ll save that for last.

Colorado Consumer Protection Act

I’m ignorant; my guess is all states have something similar.

5. Walmart is the hardest, or at least most time consuming, so I’ll save that for last.

Walmart

Scott is the rush hour until closing manager at the local Safeway. He is now probably around fifty but he has been at it for at least twenty years. Outwardly, from what I see in the store, he is the definition of officious–always there and just as predictably following the rules. Just through longevity and repetition, he seems a bit more sociable in recent years.

I have never exchanged niceties with him but, but now he is friendly. He know that I am not stealing and perhaps he even knows that other long-time employees are better at recognizing local customers. The longest engagement I have had with him was when I printed the cookies redemption and told him that the store did not have 16-count cookies. He solved that by approving it with his complete authority and omnipresence when I paid.

That incident engendered respect toward me and, if possible, a correction of the discrepancy between the store and the website. He was glad to know it. He may have realized that one customer with a problem likely foretells others.

Joy Division

Frente!?

I am just about to settle on that. Bizarre Love Triangle is my current favorite song and the Bernard Sumner acoustic version may turn-out to be the winner, but it–or rather he–has flaws.

It all leads to and from Joy Division.

But that is not to say it is necessarily a worthwhile destination. Their short existence and output of 45 songs and 120 shows promise or, the future version, potential.

There are several good songs, e.g., Atmosphere, and they live on YouTube just like everyone and everything else. They even made a music video, just one (Love Will Tear Us Apart). These two songs were never on albums but they are easily found today, and they still earn royalties.

That’s it. Joy Division is just a long Google search.

The DNL

65 DNL is the administrative construct the FAA uses as a general indicator of excessive noise. More specifically:

“The FAA uses the DNL metric and the 65dB noise threshold to make policy assessments.” (https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/policy_guidance/noise/history/)

These things are incredibly complicated at first glance. Once you understand them they are quite simple.

In this case, as it applies to Evergreen, Colorado, the NextGen FAA rollout is illegal and must be reversed. For various other reasons the City and County of Denver is liable as is, potentially, Jefferson County, Colorado, but those are subjects for another time.

For now the topic is 65 DNL. It is a day/night measurement of noise and it is only partially related to airplanes:

The calculation for DNL considers the time of day an aircraft operated and applies a 10-decibel penalty on aircraft arriving or departing between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.; the output is a numeric value in decibels that represents a 24-hour average noise exposure value. The current federally-established threshold of significance is 65 dB DNL.

https://www.macnoise.com/faq/what-dnl-terms-aircraft-noise

That is a simple description of the DNL and not accurate in several ways. What it shows is that it is a calculation, seemingly linked with actual aviation or airport data, with a day/night component and a penalty calculation component.

Remember, the definition says 65 DNL and 65db noise threshold.