Friday, October 28, 2022

Links 28 October 2022

Headdress from Sogdia, 300-500 AD

Vox ponders the strange deaths of 15 prominent Russian businessmen since the invasion of Ukraine.

Tolkien on fairy stories and "eucastrophe," his word for a sudden turn from disaster to salvation.

NYC mobster Anthony Zottola is convicted of having his father rubbed out in a murder-for-hire scheme; the key evidence included a conspirator who found out he was being cheated on the price and a long series of text messages from the conspirators laying out the plot. They did write in code but it was obvious to the jury what they really meant. (NY Times, CNN)

Winners and others from the Nature Conservancy photo contest, 2022. And the finalists in the comedy wildlife photography contest.

Study finds that air pollution (particulate matter) has significant impacts on the mental development of children, and that around 20 percent of the educational difference between black and white children in the US can be accounted for by greater pollution exposure.

So the UK finally has a nonwhite Prime Minister, but Rishi Sunak is a Brahmin, the son of a doctor, a graduate of Winchester (where he was Head Boy), Oxford, and Stanford, and a former Goldman Sachs banker; he then married a billionaire's daughter, quit his job and got into politics. Tell me what matters more in the modern world, race or class?

The big news about the new British cabinet is that it is the first ever Tory cabinet with no graduates of Eton. Anyone care to estimate what percentage of British adults have graduated from Eton?

Somewhat interesting essay by an Indian American woman on teaching the south Asian diaspora to a class full of Asian American kids. Young Americans are so determined to be oppressed.

The first paleogenetic study of a Neanderthal community suggests they were patrilocal, since more women were outsiders.

Rewilding in Spain, where so many people have left some rural areas that it was easy to find 850,000 nearly empty acres (350,000 hectares) for the reintroduction of wild cattle, horses, lynx, and other species. Note that the biggest threat to the trees in this area is logging for biomass energy production, which is utterly absurd and would not happen except that the EU counts biomass energy as carbon neutral.

Water tank and pipes uncovered in Roman villa, looks amazingly modern.

For the curious, and those who play a certain kind of game, here's a list of the gear soldiers should carry when investigating an underground tunnel complex.

The Wall Street Journal estimates that one million Russians have left the country since February 24. One of the top destinations, especially for tech workers, is Serbia. "Nearly 700 Russia-linked firms have opened branch offices employing thousands of Russians, and around 1,500 Russian citizens have set up new companies since February." Interesting that the "special relationship" between Russia and Serbia, which goes back to before Serbia became a modern nation, is still strong.

Short thread summing up the "alienation/belonging" theory of conspiracy belief.

The strange lives of freshwater mussels.

David Brooks takes note of the negativity of America and the world in the 2020s: news headlines are angrier and more negative, hit song lyrics are angrier and more negative, surveys find that people are less happy. (NY Times)

The US Dept of Defense is getting ready to issue a report debunking claims that UFOs spotted by pilots are alien spaceships. They think some are drones, others aerial trash. (NY Times)

Ukraine Links

This guy has been stuck in a trench for too long.

Short video showing a Ukrainian squad, accompanied by a tank, assaulting a small Russian entrenchment.

Long Reuters piece about what the documents captured in a Russian command post in Balakliya reveal about the state of the Russian army before Ukraine's September offensive: supply shortages, units at 20% strength, insubordination, etc.

Interview with Ukrainian soldier/poet Pavlo Vyshebaba, who remains positive and optimistic about the war.

Artilleryman Thomas Theiner lays out his wish list for NATO weapons acquisition, based on what he has seen in Ukraine. The list would not be cheap. The arms race between new ways of attacking (suicide drones, missiles, drone-guided artillery) and ways of defending (Hardkill Active Protection Systems, lasers) is accelerating.

Badly translated but gripping video in which a Ukrainian tanker relates a battle in the first days of the invasion.

Thread on Russian accusations that Ukraine is preparing to use a "dirty bomb."

Kyiv's top techno club reopens for one night.

Putin: "Ahead of us is the most dangerous and unpredictable decade since the end of WWII." 

More Russian infighting: Ramzan Kadyrov attacks Col. Gen. Lapin, blames him for Ukrainian successes, says he is "nowhere to be found."

20-minute video explaining Russia's capabilities in "seabed warfare" and how it might attack undersea cables and pipelines.

As of 7:00 AM EDT today, rumors are spreading that Ukrainian forces have broken through Russian lines south of Svatove and cut a key highway.


David said...

"Ahead of us is the most dangerous and unpredictable decade since the end of WWII."

Obviously Putin means whatever Putinish, threatening thing he means by this. But I've been thinking this for a while, and not just in the context of the Ukraine war or Trump. Even if it mainly amounts to a further slide into inequality and heat waves, things feel pretty grim.

In the Brooks article, I was struck that 20% of Indians and 20% of Chinese rate themselves a zero on a scale of 0-10 in happiness, where ten is "your best life." I don't think this is the anomie of the safe and privileged. It's something worse.

szopeno said...

@David Re: this data about Chinese. Is there data re their relationship status? There is huge surplus of Chinese males, I believe?

David said...


I wondered about that too. There wasn't anything in the David Brooks essay, which was really just a short opinion column in the New York Times. As for the original, official study, I don't know if they mentioned such issues or factored them in, or whatever.