Worthwhile Reading & Viewing

From 2018:  The Psychology of Progressive Hostility

Democrats: The Party of Performance Art

The identity cult

One root of cancel culture can be found in how we teach history

Benefits of the decline in higher education enrollments

Title VIII damage remedies as a driver of Wokeness

An experienced battalion commander talks about the 5%, the 15%, and the 80%

Understanding hypersonic missile systems

Stalin scholar Stephen Kotkin on Putin, Russia, and the West

An argument that we will not see a new Age of Empires

Thoughts from China on Ukraine

The winner on Ukraine?…Not Russia, not America, but China

Getting a sense of the Russian soul

Putin’s Russia versus Pushkin’s Russia

Update: Two interesting interviews with Putin, by a political scientist and an art historian.


49 thoughts on “Worthwhile Reading & Viewing”

  1. The point of hypersonic missiles, is that you have no time to defend yourself. Now that will change but now, anti missile systems in place simply cannot deal with incoming missiles at hypersonic speeds.

  2. “Thoughts from China on Ukraine”
    That article’s been floating around for a while, and it’s very clear that it does NOT represent anything like the official Chinese position.
    From today:
    “The sanctions against Russia are getting more and more outrageous,” China’s Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said at security forum in Beijing, adding that Russian citizens were being deprived of overseas assets “for no reason”.

  3. “The point of hypersonic missiles,”

    Is that it depends where you measure sonic. Outer space presents a problem.

  4. “Hypersonic” ain’t the game-changer they’re selling it as. If they were, then they’d have been in use since day one.

    What this most likely represents is a need in the Russian aviation command to show that they’re doing something, something relevant and effective. It’s a propaganda move, both externally and internally.

    They also wouldn’t be wasting the shot on some random depot in Western Ukraine–This would more properly have been directed at, say, Zelensky’s office if he were known to be in it. The fact that they’re blowing up a load of NLAWs, or Javelins goes to demonstrate the utter lack of real ability that their aviation has to influence anything. Were they to have targeted a Russian ammo depot, though… Might have managed to blow the whole thing up. The Ukrainians seem to have embraced Western standards for munitions storage, which means that taking out the entire installation means having to hit each and every igloo.

    This kind of thing looks all impressive and sh*t to the untrained eye. To anyone else? It’s more like “So what?”, because it’s demonstrating more ineffectiveness and incompetence than anything else. WTF are they just now deploying these things? Why such a silly target? Any sort of intelligently-run military would have used them on day one to target actual, y’know… Key targets.

    More I see of this farce, the less seriously I take anything about Russia. They’re demonstrating Tsar-fighting-the-Japanese levels of competence, here…

    Likely going to end the same way for the leadership, too. All those dead kids coming home ain’t going to play well with the folks back home. Remember your demographics–Russia had families with seven kids per, back when they were the Russian Steamroller and could shrug off casualties that would have ended anyone else. That isn’t so, these days… Couple Soviet or Tsarist levels of profligacy with your manpower in a world where your fertility rate is hovering around 1.5? That ain’t ending well. Period.

    My guess is that Putin has already sh*t the bed, politically. It’s just a matter of time–He can’t withdraw from Ukraine, but if he doesn’t? He’ll suffer the exact same fate, no matter which direction he runs. The whole thing is just epically bad for Russia. Each one of those burnt-out trucks and tanks represents a bunch of resources that they couldn’t afford in the first damn place, and which aren’t replaceable. End of all this, Russia is going to be defenseless. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Georgia makes a grab for those regions Putin peeled off, earlier, or if after it’s made clear that there’s no Russia where Russia used to be, that Finland takes back what Stalin stole from them in Karelia.

    That’s how bad this whole thing is, for Russia. I don’t think people really comprehend what they’re seeing being burnt up in Ukraine, and what that’s going to cost the Russians in the long haul. Every one of those tanks and expensive launch systems is a multi-million dollar loss, which they couldn’t really realistically have afforded in the first damn place.

    We have here, yet again, another example of a wannabe despot trying to build or rebuild empire on the cheap and doing it way, way too quickly. All Putin has really accomplished here is killing a bunch of Russian kids, blowing wads of cash, and destroying a lot of equipment he ain’t getting back. Every one of his rational goals with this whole thing, which one presumes would have been the weakening of NATO as the primary one, will have been turned around on him. The Europeans would have been his pawns in just a few more years, as they got hooked on the gas from Nordstream. As it is? Germany is looking at going back to coal, France is upping its commitment to nukes, and even the UK is gaining some sanity on the energy front. In terms of “own goal”, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better example.

    The idiocy on display is breathtaking. Putin has all but nailed the coffin shut on the future of Russia, which I really don’t see lasting out the decade in the form it is in, right now.

    He keeps stripping the other military districts to try and win in Ukraine? LOL… Georgia is just going to walk over the border and change the signs. There won’t be a damn thing left there to stop them. Same-same with everywhere else, one people recognize that the Russian Army is a dead letter. You have to wonder who the hell is going to be stupid enough to show up for the spring conscription this year…? I wager there won’t be all that many.

  5. miguel cervantes…from the American Greatness article: ” In the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia’s government became a puppet state of America and the West…”

    I’ve seen this asserted a lot, in various places, but what does it actually mean? Didn’t the Russian government *choose* what Americans and Europeans they wanted as advisors? Didn’t they choose what trade deals they wanted to engage in or not engage in?…what industries, if any, they wanted to encourage/subsidize?

    This comes pretty close to a claim that the Russians had no agency.

  6. The Russians like to blame others for their problems, but the reality is that they made those choices themselves.

    The end of Communism was going to be a mess, no matter who managed it or how it was done. You don’t unwind 70 years of economic and social distortions overnight to create a paradise on earth–But, that’s what they think they should have gotten.

    I think there’s an essential element of mystic fantasy to a lot of what goes on inside the Russian psyche. There has been a consistent pattern of what can only be termed irrational belief in their leaders, going back to the days of the Tsar, when every serf thought that if only the Tsar knew what their landlords were up to, that he would come and rescue them. Same thing went on with Stalin, and on and on… “If only Stalin knew!!!”, as they were dragged off to the gulag.

    Very little really changed with the transition from Imperial times to the Communist one, in either Russia or China. The outlines of the Emperor’s infallibility can be discerned in both nations, decades after the last one was deposed. The habits of belief are difficult to erase for these cultures, as engrained as they are.

    So, while we can certainly criticize the Americans who were involved in all that, the final responsibility for that whole misadventure can be laid at one door, and one door only–Russians themselves. Unwinding communism was never going to be easy or clean, but too many of them expected it to just magically happen without any thought or intervention. Or, real effort on their parts. They were mostly expecting it to “just happen”, as though it would all be gifted on them by some higher power.

    Acquaintance of mine was over there for a lot of that, and the one thing she said she’d never quite gotten out of her Soviet affairs studies over here in the US was the sheer amount of fatalism and resignation in the Russian psyche–She consulted for a couple of Russian companies who had good, world-class products to offer for export and domestic use, but the principals in the companies were all so certain that they couldn’t compete that it turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy of doom for the entire company. The weird thing was, the people who seemed to have the worst problems navigating everything were the ones who’d been doing most of the work dealing with “fixing” all the issues with making the Soviet system work, the guys who were out improvising everything to make things happen. They seemed to have a lot of trouble adapting to the idea of a world where they could do what needed to be done openly and competitively. A few made the transition and did very well, but most of them just couldn’t shift the paradigm to make it work.

    Interesting woman to talk to… She’d gone over there a very idealistic young woman, fresh out of college. When she came back ten years later, she was one of the most cynical and pessimistic people I’ve ever dealt with, and when you’re talking career Army NCOs…? That’s saying something. I think she finally drank herself to death a couple of years ago, if the grapevine is accurate. Blew up most of her relationships, as well.

  7. David: Don’t Russians, including Putin, and even Solzhenitsyn, look at Yeltsin at having sold Russia out to foreigners in the 90s? I’m pretty sure they don’t say, oh well it was Russians doing the selling out therefore it’s ok…

  8. Pure projection. Most of the crap that was going on, like all the “certificates” issued out to employees of former state-owned enterprises being bought up and then used to swindle ownership of the enterprise over to the nascent oligarchs…? That was all Russian-on-Russian, although they blame everyone else for what happened.

    There wasn’t a hell of a lot of the “selling Russia out” that actually went on. One of the cases that woman I mentioned above was one where they had a really good product, a line of yogurt and other dairy products, but refused to make the necessary investments to keep up with the incoming international competition. They had a better product than Yoplait, but Yoplait completely ate their lunch because they had better, more consistent product/packaging, plus they spent money on marketing. The old Soviet-era managers were all used to a totally non-competitive setup, where they didn’t have to market, they could sell however much they could make. Trying to change that mentality was what drove my informant to distraction–Try as she might, she just couldn’t get them to listen to her. They went out of business, and someone bought the plant and partnered with another European company, which led to complaints about the whole thing being unfair.

    So… Yeah. I take what I hear from Russians about all the internationalists screwing them over with a whole bag of salt. Could things have been managed better, more humanely? I dunno; the same thing could be said about the original collectivization effort, as well. Russians seem to delight in broken eggs, is about all I can observe.

    I mean, when you look at it, how many other cases were there where the Russians did well? Rocket motors ring any bells? ULA was still using the RD-180 right up until recently, when they were blocked from export. That wasn’t a case where someone “took” anything from Russia, was it?

  9. Yeah, that’s unhinged. The Israelis have to tread carefully with Russia, lest the working relationship they have in Syria get blown up.

    Not to mention, how many ethnic Russians and Ukrainians are there in Israel, these days? Ones that might be Jewish, yet still have ties to the old countries? Zelensky is, after all, a Jew.

    Still, any port in a storm to crank up the anti-semitism. If it weren’t so predictable, it’d be amusing.

  10. There’s a simple explanation to the preponderance of Western advisors in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union, that’s the economies that worked. They should have gotten advice from Zimbabwe?

    When you take an imaginary world tour of former colonies, how many have functioning economies, not riven with corruption? If Russia didn’t have nucs, nobody would care about it more than Nigeria. After the present debacle, you have to question how true that is.

  11. Israel and Ukraine: See this article at Tablet. Key excerpt:

    “Putin supplied the deterrence that protected the only foreign policy goal that really mattered to Obama. With Putin in Syria, Israel could only go so far.

    Yet even then, in December 2016, Israel again took Kyiv’s side at the U.N. in a vote on the human rights situation in Crimea.

    How did Vice President Biden show his appreciation for Israel’s principled stance against Putin’s war in Europe? Less than a week later, he strong-armed the Ukrainian president to vote for Security Council Resolution 2334, finding that Israel was in occupation of Palestinian land—which according to the resolution included historical Jewish holy sites. The Ukrainians asked to abstain, but Biden said no. Kyiv then asked for a delay. There was a large and influential Jewish community in Ukraine with family ties to Israel. And after all, what would the optics be of turning against Jerusalem just days after the Israelis had stood with Ukraine? That was not good enough for Biden. So the Ukrainians joined the other powers the Obama team had corralled into voting against Israel.

    The Biden administration’s moves against Israel over Ukraine are part of a ghoulish puppet show. Yes, the administration will sanction the Russian economy until it bleeds—at the same time that the nuclear deal with Iran gives Russia a cash-rich client eager to buy Russian arms. And why not? From the perspective of the Obama-Biden faction, Russia is hardly the main problem. That distinction is reserved for Israel.”


  12. they had done well with chile, poland had it’s hickups, then again it’s a smaller country and only was subject for half as long as the Soviet Union there is the much bandied about notion of a Marshall Plan, but that ignores the reality that much of Western Europe’s industrial base was down for the count because of the War,

  13. Braddock takes a long lens and sees all the things that have gone wrong since 1990, our Delian league moment, that brings us to the present day, the Soviets did have not a small part in the development of the Iraqi weapons programs, the Germans and the French the next largest, the policy makers were split on how to handle Iraq, State wanted Pachauri, who was a relic, Defense wanted the exiles, and a mostly hands off relation, CIA wanted the old Baathist, so they split the baby with a buzz saw,

  14. The Biden administration’s moves against Israel over Ukraine are part of a ghoulish puppet show.

    Speaking of puppets, Adam KInzinger (!) is now threatening Israel.

    Of course, this position directly aligns with the recent changes by Google, Facebook and Twitter to support the Nazi movement in Ukraine by promoting the actions of the Azov battalions now being armed by the U.S. and NATO.

    Which is partially explained here.

    Keep in mind, the western narrative about the battles in Eastern Ukraine are all framed around calling the Ukrainian military, spearheaded by the Azov battalions and the ultranationalists, as the good guys. Nothing could be further from the truth. According to increasingly obvious reports, coming from ordinary citizens in/around Mariupol, the Ukrainian army has been using them as human shields and keeping them from evacuating.

    I don’t believe any of it.

  15. there may be a similar element to what happened in the lead up to the Kosovo war, the KLA which was funded by various sources, lead attacks against Serbian forces in the Drenica valley, the Serbs retaliated and this served as the pretext for the intervention, in mu novel, I have the long time Al Queda mole in the Company, as the provocateur, very convenient when this happened, similar to the Markale mortar attack, that provoked the first round of NATO airstrikes,

  16. Like I have been saying, Brian… This is the death-ride of the status-quo in modern Russia. Those grandmothers are all going to be seeing their grandchildren coming home in zinc boxes, along with their futures.

    This was a terrible, terrible idea for Putin. Russo-Japanese War level of terrible. Even if they somehow pulled off a “win” tomorrow, the aftermath of it all is going to bleed them dry over the next several years, because those 48 million Ukrainians aren’t going to go quietly under the yoke this time. I foresee a situation that will cost Russia billions upon billions of rubles attempting to pacify Ukraine, and for what? Increased security? The idiots have provoked the other set of idiots in NATO to wake up and smell the coffee, so odds are fairly good that they’re going to wind up with Sweden and Finland as NATO members while bleeding out on the ground in Ukraine, and provoking a rearmed and reinvigorated NATO. What did our Wiley E. Coyote suuuuuuper-geenious Putin actually accomplish, here?

    There’s really no way out of this cleanly, for Russia. If Putin had pulled off his hypothetical perfect 72-hour operation to decapitate and take over the whole of Ukraine, and the Ukrainians were so mesmerized by the spectacle…? Maybe. As it is, this is a tar-babyesque nightmare they’re never going to recover from in this half-century. It’ll be even worse if the various other “pacified regions” decide it’s a perfect time to recover their lost territories. Or, if China decides that Siberia is a better bet than getting Ukrainized in Taiwan…

    The whole thing is so ‘effing unnecessary… Like about every other war in history. Morons, the lot of them.

  17. @Miguel,

    At this point, the whole thing has been so thoroughly politicized that I wouldn’t trust anything coming out in terms of studies. The people behind those studies have a vested interest in discrediting Ivermectin, so even with the best will in the world, the distortions are going to be there, the biases unstated. They can’t come out and say that Ivermectin is an efficacious cure or even ameliorative treatment, because if that does come out, then the knives will be coming out not soon after for the too-early mRNA vaccine approvals and mandates.

    So, basically… Those “studies” can’t be trusted. At. All.

  18. Thats why i tagged it, doesnt tell you doses the condition of the subjects et al
    Crimean war is remembered for lord raglans failure but it backfired on czar nicholas 1st

  19. Conservatives, when given power, have for too long confused inaction with conserving. Progressivism always progresses; the verb not the noun. Conservatives largely lean toward avoidance to govern when given the people’s voice. So I must say with great enthusiasm that recent actions and trends in Florida (Team DeSantis and Scott) and Virginia (Team Younkin/Sears/Miyares and involved parents) bring glimmers of hope and examples of how conservatives can actively lead and govern out of this leftist onslaught

    David, I agree with some of this post at Ricochet but I finally quit the blog because of the NeverTrump tone. They had most of what they wanted but it wasn’t enough. Scott, for example, is a very controversial person. He wrecked Hospital Corporation of America when he took it over in his pre-politics days. Now, he is pushing for war with Russia. I like DeSantis but he is following Trump’s lead in most policies. I wonder if Ricochet is still a Romney fan? I finally quit when I was suspended for a week for calling Romney a “Vichy Republican.”

  20. Anyone see the video of that plane crash in China? Thing was flying straight down. Looks like suicide by pilot maybe? If so we’ll probably never know for sure, the aviation industry never admits that is possible…

  21. I finally quit when I was suspended for a week for calling Romney a “Vichy Republican.”

    Sheesh; ‘Vichy Republican’ is what we call Romney on those rare days when we’re feeling somewhat nice toward him.

  22. I, Too, find the Chinese crash very strange. The plane was B737-800, a very well regarded plane with a long track record and hundreds in service. The plane was at cruising altitude, well into its flight at a height that would have allowed the pilots a good many minutes to deal with something like a complete loss of power and certainly communicate with the ground. It encountered the ground at a very high angle but debris seems to be spread over miles. My guess is an explosion or very major structural failure at altitude.

  23. The tinfoil hat suspicion about that crash relates to the fact that reports show a lady named Fang Fang was on the flight. The same Fang Fang who was making whoopee with a Democrat Congressman? Who knows? There are 1,400 Million Chinese, so there could well be two Fang Fangs of the same age.

    Anyway, the tinfoil hat conspiracy theory is that Fang Fang was carrying a bunch of documents that prove negative things about prominent Democrats — so the dastardly Americans used their remote kill facility on Boeing airplanes to send it into the ground.

    Of course, this could be merely a marketing rumor started by the dastardly Europeans at Airbus. Trust No-One!

  24. The plane was in a sustained dive at 30,000 feet per minute, that’s 341 miles per hour straight down. The pilots probably had other things than the radio on their minds. The flight data recorder and voice recorder have been recovered I think, so in the fullness of time we may know something. The investigation is under Chinese jurisdiction but with involvement from Boeing and NTSB.

    I suppose I’d rather not believe that even marginally competent pilots could lose control so completely as to fly a functioning airplane into the ground from 30,000 feet. But then I remember the French Airbus where I think, five or six pilots flew a perfectly airworthy plane into the Atlantic because one sensor failed.

  25. My money is on the horizontal stabilizer jackscrew, which has been a notorious point of failure for 737-series aircraft. Poor maintenance or counterfeit parts, failure of the stabilizer in flight, and you have a crash with a similar profile to this one.

    I doubt the pilots had time to react, or even recognize what was going on.

  26. Miguel Cervates…a total engine failure would just put the airplane into a glide. I believe the glide ratio for the 737 is about 1:11, or about 2 miles horizontally for each 1000 feet vertically. Gives the pilots some time to communicate and try to figure out what is going on.

  27. Yeah what David says. Planes really don’t want to fly straight down. That ain’t normal.

    Dunno if that’s the same Fang Fang who did the Bang Bang w Swallow-well. Don’t see how taking her out would accomplish anything, or how it would make sense to take out a whole plane.
    For a real tinfoil conspiracy, did you see the Ghislaine Maxwell judge just got promoted? “Her” name is Alison Nathan. Gosh, wonder when any of the customers she got convicted of trafficking kids for will get arrested, I’m sure it’ll happen any day now…

  28. Would the flight path be more erratic that plane that crashed in the south atlantic was a glide path.

  29. Nose-diving into the ground from altitude argues for either someone at the controls with a serious death wish, or a complete failure of the horizontal/vertical stabilizer at the tailplane. This accident was in 1967, but it’s got a similar profile:


    Basically, you lose the tailplane for one reason or another, and you’ve got near-immediate loss of control and you’re going straight down. That appears to be what happened here, and it could be from any number of causes. My guess, given “China” and “737” would be a poorly-maintained jackscrew or maybe counterfeit parts. As well, there could have been a tailplane stall due to icing, but…. We will have to see.

    Similar profile accident:


    If there hadn’t been an accidental activation of the push-to-talk switch by one of the crew, we’d likely have little or no idea what was going on during that crash.

  30. The rather poor video seems to show the plane intact as it hits the ground. Here’s a pretty good examination of what is in the public domain now:

    The flight profile shows what looks to be an impossible change from the 30,000 FPM decent to a slight climb. I think it might be an artifact of the way that data was generated from radar and transponder altitude transmissions. If it’s real, it would have put an enormous, probably catastrophic, stress on the air frame. Eventually the answer will come out but these things take a lot more time than you’d hope for. Haven’t heard if China Eastern has ungrounded their 737-800’s. They’re a big part of their fleet.

  31. It will be interesting to see what happens in the investigation, or “investigation”. Both Boeing and China will not want to get the blame, so it could be a fight…

  32. Whatever comes out of the investigation will have to convince a great many very knowledgeable people including, most especially, purchasers of Boeing aircraft. Those purchasers do have a choice and a very personal interest in maintaining safety. No system is perfect but the one we have now has managed to make this sort of thing vanishingly rare.

    In the event that something in the design contributed to the crash, Boeing has a much stronger interest in correcting it than covering it up for the moment until it would, inevitably, come back to bite them. Where any hint that they may have tried to mislead authorities might be a company ending mistake. This isn’t Boeing’s first crash investigation and it won’t be their last, They survived the 737Max, barely, as well as other problems coming to light at the scene of a crash over the years.

    The Chinese have no incentive to cover for Boeing, they are trying to enter the commercial market themselves. At the same time, if they ever want to see those planes fly outside of China, they will have to convince the civil aviation authorities that they are trustworthy to get them certified. I doubt those authorities would even attempt to pass on these planes unless they were convinced of the good faith of their Chinese counterparts.

    Our present system works as well as it does because all the parties accept that their long term interest is in the complete truth, whatever the short term pain for any of them. As I said, there will be a lot of eyes on this, belonging to people with a lot of knowledge and experience that will not accept anything else.

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