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December 16, 2023


My imaginings these days tend more to Ukraine. I try to imagine the country regaining its full territory, and how that might come about. Both with adequate aid from the West, and if (God forbid) the crazies manage to cut off assistance.

Because my sense is that that war only ends one of two ways: Ukraine kicks the Russians out of everything. Including Crimea. Or Russia/Putin takes over all of Ukraine -- probably followed by depopulating the country, either by relocation or execution, and putting in ethnic Russians. Anything inbetween will be, at best, breathing space to ramp up armaments before restarting.

I have less confidence imagining what happens in Russia if/when they lose this war. "Lose" being defined by ending up with zero territorial gains. It's one thing to make massive sacrifices, of wealth and of people (specifically family and friends) in some glorious, and successful, cause. It's quite another to make those same sacrifices for nothing.

Russians have exhibited an incredible (to me, anyway) ability to just accept huge losses and go on. But mostly, e.g. WW II, they could point to something accomplished. This time? Not so much. So, how will they react when the dust settles?

Both with adequate aid from the West, and if (God forbid) the crazies manage to cut off assistance.

Ukraine has indicated that they would like to be firing off 300,000 NATO-standard artillery rounds per month. They have suggested that they need a sh*t-ton of counter-battery radar and targeting systems for their artillery. There are no indications that, crazies or no, Ukraine will get anywhere near those numbers from the West. This is not the style of war NATO ever planned to fight.

I fear the US military planners are about to discover the logistics their near-trillion-dollar budget provides aren't adequate to cover the needs of all of (a) Ukraine, (b) Israel, (c) Taiwan, and (d) Guyana.

Just finishing up the grading for the fall quarter and reading over my students' reflections about how the quarter went and what they have learned. According to their own accounting of their educations, they have been trained to report information about the way that things are, but have rarely, if ever, been asked to consider alternative possibilities or given the opportunity to say what they would prefer to change about the world in which they live. These are students at a Top 10 public university in the US, but they find it hard to think creatively.

The good news is that when they are given the opportunity to synthesize and extrapolate, they engage with it more deeply than they do with their ordinary learning tasks. The ability is latent, but it is there.

I'm also preparing for next quarter, and refining my approach to the research class about climate refugees and the coming Late Anthropocene Migration Period. I'm asking them all to imagine a world in which the livable habitation zone is shrinking and how they wish to prepare their worlds for this.

Given the sort of logistical and budgetary constraints that Michael Cain is talking about, how should our nations attempt to manage this wave of mass human movements in the most humane way feasible?

Another class where I'm trying to put a Hopepunk frame on a challenging future. Have to figure out how to incorporate some Rawls into the discussion without adding any more to an already overstuffed workload.

(in reply to wj on Ukraine)

A third possible outcome is that Russia ends up with a bunch of Ukrainian territory, but what's left of Ukraine joins NATO. I don't see this happening any time soon, but it might happen eventually if the war continues to be something approximating a bloody stalemate. I can envision Zelinsky giving up territory in exchange for a lasting peace. NATO membership for Ukraine would ensure peace unless Putin decides to go to war with NATO.

IIRC, joining NATO requires that there be no current "border disputes"; how strict? Beats me.

Even with a "give up land to Russia for peace" scheme, Putin can keep slicing that salami at a low-ish level to prevent Ukraine joining NATO.

If that "active border disputes" *isn't* a show-stopper, just get Ukraine into NATO tomorrow, and beat the shit out of any Russians remaining in Ukraine immediately afterwards.

Plus crush the separatists between Ukraine and Moldova, and take Kaliningrad for reparations.

Given the sort of logistical and budgetary constraints that Michael Cain is talking about, how should our nations attempt to manage this wave of mass human movements in the most humane way feasible?

In at least some cases, there simple is no humane way to "manage" the migration. Consider Bangladesh. That huge population just can't be absorbed by its neighbors.

India couldn't add that number of people without mass starvation -- both of its own people and the Bangladeshi. And even if India set up tightly controlled paths across its territory to send them somewhere else, the Tibetan Plateau has just too different a climate (in addition to having minimal additional carrying capacity) -- even if the Chinese were to overcome their xenophobia and accept them. And Myanmar isn't going to be welcoming either; they are, after all, busily committing genocide on their existing minorities.

In short, 100 million to 150 million deaths are probably unavoidable there. Unless someone thinks it's possible to build dikes along their entire coast (with provision for pumping the outflow of the Ganges).

And that's only the beginning.

I can envision Zelinsky giving up territory in exchange for a lasting peace.

Ukraine gave up its ex-Soviet nuclear weapons in exchange for guarantees from Russia to respect its borders. Everyone has seen how that worked out.

Which is why nobody in Ukraine would believe, even for an instant, that they would get a lasting peace from anything short of 100% of their territory. At which point, their treatment would make the Holodomor look like a walk in the park.

Dear wj - I'm sending you a drop code for my class. "Those deaths are unavoidable" is not hopepunk. You don't have to fix the world, you just have to find things to make it less worser and then try for some stretch goals as you go.

It's not how many you lose, it's how many you save who would otherwise have been lost.

Cynical me: Ganges is going to dry up when the Himalayan glaciers have gone (which will be soon), so no pumping necessary.

It's already a problem with the 4 great rivers (all coming from the Kailash region). Instead of the traditional year round flow it's increasingly flooding in spring and water shortage during the rest of the year.

Wow, have just seen footage of the nine mile long river of fire erupting out of the ground in Iceland. nous, your spiritual home is quite something to behold, not for the first time.

Woah - go the Colorado supreme court!

Imagining 50 Coloradoes (and the correct pluralization).

I'm imagining the contortions the RWNJs and hacks on the USSC will go thru to try to make this go away.

  • Item: They can't just decline to hear the appeal, because that lets the finding of "insurrectionist" stand.
  • Item: They want something very narrow, preferably technical/procedural, to keep from addressing the substantive issues involved.
  • Item: They want something broad enough that they don't get deluged by new cases, as other states do similarly.
  • Item: But first of all, they have to decide what the ideologically correct, and/or politically expedient, outcome would be. Hmmm, that's a toughie!

It will be a tough needle to thread. I'm betting on a decision involving a combination of hand-waving with lots of smoke and mirrors.

Hey, look. The Colorado Supreme Court cited Gorsuch’s opinion in Hassan v Colorado when asserting that the state has the right to bar ineligible candidates from the state ballot:


…a state's legitimate interest in protecting the integrity and practical functioning of the political process permits it to exclude from the ballot candidates who are constitutionally prohibited from assuming office.

Since I introduced the Deck-the-halls controversy, it seems apt that I add this to that:
A spontaneous eruption of questionable verse a few minutes ago

Saturnalia celebrate
I-o, I-o, Saturnalia
In Romana civitate
I-o, I-o, Saturnalia
Dona domini donabunt
I-o, I-o, Saturnalia
Servi epulas cenabunt
I-o, I-o, Saturnalia

Pilleos omnes induunt
I-o, I-o, Saturnalia
Servitutem nunc obruunt
I-o, I-o, Saturnalia
Instituta sunt inverta
I-o, I-o, Saturnalia
Aeque fata sunt incerta
I-o, I-o, Saturnalia

Opiniones indicemus
I-o, I-o, Saturnalia
poenam hodie declinemus
I-o, I-o, Saturnalia
Liber' aleas mittamus
I-o, I-o, Saturnalia
Totam noctem et bibamus
I-o, I-o, Saturnalia

Celebrate the Saturnalia
Now in the city of Rome
The masters shall give gifts
The slaves shall eat splendid meals

Everybody dons the freedman's cap
And forgets about servitude
The order (of the world) is turned upside-down
like the fates are uncertain

Let's speak our mind
And - to-day - avoid punishment
Let's freely play dice
And drink all through the night

For anyone who doesn't look at BJ, here's a post with info about and videos of the fire/eruption.

I particularly liked the part "volcanoes are like cats: they do what they want, when they want. And don't care how much stuff they break" (or words to that effect).

They also are all about the warmth.

Nature's building the set for a sci-fi film that will be shot in a few years.

Prediction on the Colorado case: The SCOTUS will rule narrowly that state government cannot restrict what names a state party puts on its primary ballot. Probably 9-0 or 8-1 vote. Neither side wants to open this particular can of worms.

"The SCOTUS will rule narrowly that state government cannot restrict what names a state party puts on its primary ballot."

I, for one, look forward to someone putting an underage non-citizen on the GOP primary ballot, because the Deplorable Six said "okay!"

Oh, they'll probably include some clearly dishonest weaseling to prevent that. Weasel-stomping day is coming, though.

Let's conduct a mental experiment...

The Colorado county caucuses meet, hear people describe the candidates they support, including the underage non-citizen. Assume it's a protest rather than that they've lost their minds. The caucuses select people to go to the state convention. Same arguments, same protest. The convention sends its two names to the secretary of state (who happens to be an elected Democrat) for the ballot. The secretary of state refuses to put the underage non-citizen on the Republican primary ballot. Where do you put the line that the name is free-speech protest on one side, but not on the other. Why there?

I'm not actually arguing that the SCOTUS will reason like that. I'm just saying they'll do something quick and concrete -- most likely, IMO, that state governments may not pick and choose among the names a state party decides to put on the party's primary ballot -- because there's a ton of time pressure. Colorado secretary of state is required to certify ballots by Jan 5.

Hassan v Colorado already addressed the free speech issue and sided with the state. The two differences from this current case are that a) Hassan was an independent candidate and b) Hassan was not born in the US, which is a clearer disqualification than is arguing whether section 3 of the 14th Amendment should be enforced in the current case.

Do political parties have free speech protections that are not granted to independent candidates? (Mind you, I wouldn't put that prospect out of this SCotUS's reach for meddling).

I'd expect the ethical gymnastics to revolve around the 14th Amendment part, but that's a layperson's view from outside of the legal trenches.

Water is getting pretty high under the Calumet Bridge, which is the one in the picture, I think. Kennebec & Androscoggin are still on the rise, last I heard.

Been a tough year for Maine. Hope you're well, Janie.

Thanks, Pete. I was in Westbrook during the storm, and the power never went out where I was. Came home yesterday...only one detour, but the further north I got the more the roads were littered with debris, and the more branches were leaning on power lines. Including one whole tree.... Saw some crews working on stuff but it's going to take a while.

Unaccountably, we got power back at my house yesterday -- unexpected, because though we're on a main road, we're on a spur line that includes only us and some streetlights. During the ice storm of '98 we were among the last people to get power back on. I dunno -- probably the problem this time was somewhere "up" the grid.

I may go in to Augusta tomorrow but we'll see. Will take some pics if I do. I just heard that Farmington is an island -- all roads in and out are either washed out or flooded. What a mess.

Some striking images of striking architecture.

"The most breathtaking church from every state in the US - a thread 🧵"
1. New York: St. Patrick's Cathedral, NYC (1878)

Do political parties have free speech protections that are not granted to independent candidates?

Wasn't Hassan v. Colorado over access to the general election ballot? I don't have the same problem over restricting access to the general election ballot to candidates qualified to serve.

The Colorado Republican Party has already announced that if the state supreme court's ruling is upheld, they will exercise their option to not have a primary, but will use a convention instead. I don't know if that option actually still exists, there have been some changes in the law.

PS for Pete -- i found a reddit thread where there's a pic that makes it look like the Calumet Bridge supports are collapsing. Commenters say it's an optical illusion (I was thinking doctored), and the Portland Press Herald and the KJ say nothing about it. I would think if the bridge were in danger it would be big news. I don't think this is even as big as the flood of 1987, which was just before I moved here, but which my ex saw because he was here for job interviews.

And PS again: some places are having record high water. So I don't know how this is going to compare to '87 in the end. I haven't even had time to follow the news in detail yet...........

1987 was an April snowmelt-related flood. This storm was freaky -- we had 3 windows break in the barn from the force of wind alone. Not well constructed windows, mind you, but they have withstood many decades of storms of various kinds.

CharlesWT -- that's a nice pic. I can only see the one, maybe because I don't have a Twitter account.

Weasel-stomping day is coming, though.

Oh Snarki, FYLTGE.

State administration of party primaries is kind weird to begin with, no? And if a party wants to nominate (by whatever means, election or otherwise) an ineligible candidate for office to run in a general election, that would be their own stupid fault (says me - meaning that they don't get on the ballot for the general election if they're ineligible and couldn't hold office even if they were on the ballot and received the most votes).

State administration of party primaries is kind weird to begin with, no?

For one illustration: for every other office, all Californians can vote for anybody who is running; party membership being irrelevant for both candidates and voters. However, for the Presidential primary, only party members are allowed to vote for party candidates. (Voters who declined to state a party preference when registering get to pick which party's presidential primary they want to vote in. My wife just got her letter from the County Elections folks, asking which one she wants.)

The reality is, having a party try to administer its own primary would be a logistical nightmare. And having each party do so, possibly on different days, would be far worse. I wouldn't have a problem with the state charging the parties for having their primary included with the rest of the ballot. But otherwise, the current situation (however weird) seems like the least bad approach.

I think the Ds in each house of Congress should put forward a motion allowing Trump to run despite his support for the Jan 6th insurrection.

Because it actually is good for democracy for voters to be allowed to vote for their chosen candidate. And because it would be amusing to watch the Rs deciding whether to agree that Trump's an insurrectionist.

Pro Bono:
and if the motion doesn't get 2/3 in both houses: electoral disability remains.

Weasel Stomping Day for your enjoyment.

Pictures from around Central Maine. Some of these are places that I'm very familiar with....

Power at my house went out again in the wee hours, but now it's back on. Fingers crossed.

Snarki: that was previously absolutely unknown to me. I am all for the stomping of metaphorical weasels, despite having a sneaking fondness for many of the live mustelidae.

Janie, I had no idea that this was going on in your neck of the woods. Knew that there's been a storm or storms, but have only really been able to read headlines for several days, for various reasons. Here's hoping all goes well for you and yours, and other Mainers, during the festive season and beyond.

JanieM - Yikes; those photos! At least the floodwaters have receded...

Do you have backup power? At least backup heating? I would think that's a necessity in rural-ish Maine. Generator, most likely; not sure how viable solar is where you are.

CaseyL -- no backup power for me, no backup heating. For my particular situation it's a long story, so I won't go into it. (Bottom line: I rent. It's not my decision.)

Some people do have generators, and a LOT of people have woodstoves. I have neighbors with a woodstove so I could have gone there if the power had stayed out for much longer. A woodstove doesn't solve the toilet-flushing problem, though..... For that, when a bad storm is coming, having some buckets filled with water is a good idea.

During the ice storm of 1998, my heating system had to be drained once the temps were headed below zero. The nearby school functioned as a shelter, so people could hang out there and take showers as well. Community meals were cooked. It was kind of fun -- I met people I never would have run into otherwise, including an exchange teacher from Abidjan who was there to teach French (he spoke 6 languages). I asked him what he missed most about home, expecting him to say warm weather LOL, or the big city -- but he said the food. I was going to Cambridge every month for work in those days, and after that I would bring him back big grocery bags of plantains (one bag of ripe, one of unripe) from a Jamaican grocery store. That was fun!

Some people do have generators...

What I want is a battery (and related electronics) that is relatively inexpensive, has high energy density, and has high round trip efficiency. 40-50 kWh capacity would be ideal. Fully charged, that would cover me for four days in the winter, and three days in the summer if I ran the A/C. Some of the alternate chemistries show some promise of delivering that in the future.

PS for Pete

I saw that reddit photo and I think it was just the odd perspective plus the angles on the bridge supports that made it look like they were failing. Seems like it's ok.

The falls at Lewiston/Auburn! Wow!

Happy to hear you're warm and well. The next few days will be unpleasant for many but at least the temps should warm up a bit for next week.

"You can't get there from here. You could... but now the road is gone."

You can't get there from here:


Rabbit hole......


What I want is a battery (and related electronics) that is relatively inexpensive, has high energy density, and has high round trip efficiency. 40-50 kWh capacity would be ideal. Fully charged, that would cover me for four days in the winter, and three days in the summer if I ran the A/C. Some of the alternate chemistries show some promise of delivering that in the future.

Speed the day!

Not one word about Palestinians. The closest it comes to that is "relevant stakeholders". The other reference to humans is "Israelis".


Quote: "the residents, the people of Israel, who are connected to nature and the land,” said Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman.

SHe's a rightwing hater.

Blut und Boden in its pure form. The 3rd Reich had no official EPA but certain ideas in that direction (and laws on animal protection stronger than those we have to-day in some aspects)* an all fused with the racial ideology, declaring Jews etc. as environmental pollutants (e.g forbidding Jews to enter public parks etc.) declaring that only Germans as true inhabitants of the lands had a real attachment to and appreciation of nature while Jews were by nature rootless and alien to nature (while e.g. the French had just lost the connection that they once possessed and could regain it). Germand would see the value, Jews (and currently the Brits and French) on the other hand only the price.
I hear that the extreme Right in Israel also tries to deny the actual existence of a Palestinian people, in effect also declaring them rootless and thus not attached to the land (while of course the Hebrew roots were never cut in nearly 2000 years of diaspora).

*Perversely, some on the Right in the US turn this on its head and say that because the Nazis protected animals and favored environmental protection* and since the Nazis were evil, those goals are evil as well => all treehuggers and pet sentimentalists are actually Nazis.

**Reality was quite different of course. But hey, with a total war at hand things like that have to take a step back.

This is so unbelievably depressing, but so very important when considering Israeli public opinion on what's happening in Gaza:


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