Ukraine and Russia, Again

Published at 17:52 on 24 January 2022

The story is still in the news, in fact the situation seems to be escalating, so let’s look into it some more.

First, that it is escalating should be no surprise. As I wrote before, multiple factors favor Putin ordering the troops under his command to invade.

What could be done to stop him? Ultimately, not much. Putin is not stupid. To reiterate, knows that NATO won’t consider it worth their soldiers’ lives to contest the issue militarily. Putin is a dictator and the leaders of most NATO nations are freely elected. Putin does not have to answer to citizens nearly so much; this also gives him significantly more freedom to escalate.

Probably the best thing NATO can do is drive home that they are really willing to make Putin pay (via measures that nonetheless fall short of military ones) if he invades, even if that means some sacrifices on the part of the NATO nations. The question is how much sacrificing the European NATO nations are willing to make. Many of them are addicted to Russian natural gas; confronting Putin could well cause an energy embargo with all the attendant economic harm that does. The threats must be plausible; Putin will call the bluff for ones obviously unlikely to be followed through on.

Even for plausible ones, he may call NATO’s bluff. In that case, it is imperative to follow through. So it’s critical to get things right in terms of the sacrifices the NATO nations are willing to make. See how tricky this all is? It is why I believe Putin will go in.

All that said, if sanctions are tolerable enough on the NATO side to be followed through with, yet harsh enough to the Putin regime, they may well prompt a recalculation on Putin’s part as to the wisdom of aggression.(And note that the invasion would still happen. There would just be a recalculation on Putin’s part (and maybe, just maybe, the consequences would drive Putin from power). But all that, as they say, is a pretty big if.

Which Party Is Really the Stupid One?

Published at 08:31 on 20 January 2022

Let’s interrupt all this smug mocking of how stupid righties can be for a moment. Because yes, they were stupid for doing that. Big deal, they were basically selected for their stupidity. They are the rubes who fell for Trump’s rhetoric to show up at the Capitol. Then they do something else stupid as well. Big surprise.

What I am interested in is the big picture. Which party has more overall average stupidity? Anyone can pick the game of cherry-picking a particularly stupid subset of the other side’s adherents to make fun of, so exercises like the one engaged in by the linked article really do not say much.

So, which party, in the aggregate, is stupider?

  • Which party is smart enough to figure out how to prevail (and prevail repeatedly) despite being at a minority when it comes to the popular vote? Which party repeatedly has its lunch eaten, despite having that popular majority?
  • Which party talked about “build back better” and “bipartisanship” as it took office in the wake of a coup attempt, as if nothing fundamentally had changed?
  • Which party blew a once-in-a-lifetime political opportunity posed by widespread public shock at a coup attempt conveniently aligning with a new president’s honeymoon period, by using that opportunity to aggressively push for measures to defend the basic democratic political order?
  • While the above two things were happening, which party quietly continued consolidating its advantages, via legislation and redistricting at the state and local levels?
  • Which party sets the political narrative? Which party willingly lets the other party set the political narrative, by answering the other’s allegations, thus participating in the other party’s narrative, as opposed to countering with narrative-setting of its own?

So spare me the self-satisfied smugness about how some cherry-picked members of the other party (generally, those without much power in it) are stupid, Democrats. If you want to see real political stupidity, look in the mirror.

Really, Now, Why Wouldn’t Putin Threaten Ukraine?

Published at 09:25 on 19 January 2022

I mean, sure, he runs a disgusting right-wing authoritarian regime. I don’t like Putin either. Check.

That formality dispensed with, why wouldn’t Putin threaten Ukraine? It’s a far weaker power, so Russia can get away with it.

Russia is unlikely to invade all of Ukraine, for the simple matter that doing so would be taking a bite of something way too big to chew. There would be resistance. Russia might well be able to eventually prevail over it, but it would take a major effort. It would not be a convenient little war.

So Russia is more likely to whittle off yet another chunk of Ukraine by force. Russia already forcibly annexed Crimea, and got away with it. And Russia would likely get away with whittling off another chunk.

NATO members are likely to be upset about it, but the level of upset will not rise to the level where anyone is willing to put the lives of their own troops on the line. This is particularly the case when one realizes how much of a has-been power NATO is.

This is because NATO relies primarily on the USA, and the USA is a seriously compromised nation with an extremely powerful domestic fascist movement with pro-Russia sympathies, a movement poised to almost certainly take power soon. And you better believe that latter fact is entering Putin’s calculus, too.

Work S.N.A.F.U.

Published at 19:01 on 14 January 2022

I have a performance review coming up at work next month.

To say I am pessimistic would be putting it mildly.

The root cause of the matter is that never have been hired at a position where I was expected to learn more, yet at the same time never have I been hired where management does less in the way of technical onboarding. I’ve basically been left to fend for myself while being expected to decipher terse assignments relayed in cryptic shop-specific jargon. And it tends to be like pulling teeth to get anyone to meet with me and explain what it is I am expected to do. Then, when I fail to deliver on a time frame commensurate with extensive in-company experience (surprise, surprise), the sense of disappointment is almost palpable.

Every other place I’ve been hired, there was much more onboarding for much less new position-specific knowledge. I’m at a loss to understand just what they expected to happen, given the general parameters of the situation they created for me. My best current theory is one of conflicting objectives: higher-ups wanting growth while my immediate manager is satisfied with the existing size and composition of his team. Result is an immediate manager under pressure to hire even though he does not want to. Solution is to hire someone but then engineer failure.

Now the question is what, if anything, I can do or say to prevent the coming performance review from being the corporate analogue of a Stalinist show trial with a pre-decided outcome.

That, and what this all will do for my current status in Canada under a temporary work permit.

Revisiting the Eclipse IDE

Published at 12:21 on 7 January 2022

It’s the officially recommended IDE of choice where I work, so I decide to give Eclipse another try, despite my history of bad experiences with it.

Fairly early on, it hangs. Hard. I kill it, and relaunch. Eclipse proudly announces its workspace is now corrupted, and exits.

So I use IDEA (the allowed alternate) instead. As a bonus, it is more familiar to me, due to sharing a code base with Android Studio. A few days later, I learn that’s what most developers use here. The official encouragement to use Eclipse is mostly a show to keep licensing costs for IDEA down.

We Need More of This… but Won’t Get It

Published at 20:39 on 6 January 2022

Biden’s much-belated decision to speak forcefully about the coup attempt a year ago is exactly the sort of thing we need more of. Alas, odds strongly disfavor seeing much more of it. Everything I have observed about the Democratic Party points to its almost total uselessness as an institution when it comes to confronting fascism and preserving democracy.

And lo, in the article linked to above, we see the following: “Biden’s remarks do not mark a permanent shift in strategy about how to handle Trump, according to the president’s aides and allies.”

There really is no plausible scenario for the next forty of fifty years except for the USA to become a fascist state much like Portugal under Salazar or Spain under Franco. That will do the historically necessary task of burning the Democratic Party to the ground. Then, eventually, a better generation of Americans, painfully cleansed of the shortcomings that paved way for Trumpist fascism, can rise and burn the Republican Party to the ground, a task even more historically necessary.

Out of all those ashes there will be hope for something better, but only then.

Maybe I’m wrong. I hope I’m wrong. But all the evidence I see today points to a scenario similar to the above.