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Small-Scale Question Sunday for March 19, 2023

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

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Is there a correlation between sports discipline practiced by a man and man's SMV?

There’s an aesthetic that I love and have pieced together from various media. I suppose it could just be Southern Gothic or Dark Romanticism, but I wonder if there’s more vocabulary I can use to describe it. It’s an aesthetic or mood or culture.

Some popular media that depicts its elements: the film Sleepy Hollow, the art of Edward Gorey, the book Series of Unfortunate Events, Edgar Allen Poe, Schopenhauer or Kant (but not seriously), Young Werther, Tim Burton animations, the animation Coraline, 00’s emo.

The elements:

A purely theatrical, symbolic, and fatalistic Christianity. It is not taken seriously, yet is done as a social ritual and respected. The ambiance of the church and the tragedy of Christ’s death are central, with essentially no optimism, but also no negativity — just acceptance. There’s an element of a complete resignation and even continual prediction of sin and death. There’s no room for theology, or even much preaching beyond the basics. There’s certainly sola fide, but not even much care about perfecting the faith. There’s just an inborn acceptance of the church as culture, and its tradition as culture, and Jesus’ death (if ever noted) is simply an analog of the inevitability of demise without avoidance. There is a social dimension, but it’s never forced, and it’s somewhat Anglo (“cold”).

There’s a distaste for vanity and anything that can be construed as a flight from mortality. Yet there’s counterintuitively a maximal reverence for the human being and for the time on Earth as a once in eternity moment. There’s also great care for man’s vision and beholding of the significance and fleeting beauty of life, and eventual sickness and death. These are not in competition, but work together. Death is seen as an eternal home, and humans are like vampires that are briefly awoken from a coffin to spend a weekend among the living. Care is spent to ensure the mind is able to feel and experience and that thoughts are not used for distraction but to experience the pleasure of equanimity and purity. While there’s no care for glory or even over-learning, there is care for a person’s clean spirit and heart and his own drama.

There’s magical thinking, especially of the negative variety. A belief, which is essentially theatrical and dramatic and enjoyed almost as performance, in demons and curses and bad spirits. These a person is to be kept pure from, yet the mind is totally vigilant to its influences — the mind is kept pure almost for the purposes of beholding horrors and death as a curiosity, but not quite.

The drug of choice is opium, to feel deepest peace and disinterest. Stimulants are avoided, because of what purpose is doing more? Alcohol and cannabis would be unimportant, because why be blinded to the vision of life and death?

Attention and beauty is found chiefly in drama, especially involving irrevocable loss. Not as a curiosity, but as a similitude to the essence of human life. Life as revolving around death. Life as purity, perceiving-ness, beholding-ness of all evil.

There’s a great care for the Sublime. Oceans, storms, cliffs. A drug may be used to experience a pessimistic sublimity, but nothing optimistic.

Attention is paid to manners, not as a means of showing one’s breeding, but as a means of ensuring every social moment is predictable and without confusion or unpredictability. There’s almost an appreciation for boredom as a similitude to deathly peace.


Upon writing this, sure, maybe it’s just dark/gothic romanticism. But is there more to explore here?

I think you'd enjoy this youtube channel. Dozens of hours of lectures that all have a similar "vibe" and I think it's similar to what you're describing.

You might also want to look into the "dark academia" aesthetic if you haven't already.

How do you tell whether a CPU is better or worse (other than whether it's more or less expensive)?

With graphics cards, I know that there are more or less CUDA cores or their AMD equivalent, that there's a certain amount of video ram. More is better.

But with cpus, what is there? More cores = more expensive but most applications only seem to use 1 core so what's the point? All CPUs are roughly 3.5 Ghz, maybe going a bit higher on the most expensive models or if you overclock them. I heard that some CPUs manage to get more done in their herz, like the difference between a lamborghini driving a hundred km but only taking two people, vs a truck carrying a dozen people somewhat more slowly. Some CPUs have efficiency cores for background processes or OS, whatever that means. I get that higher numbers means that they're better but how are they better?

Then theres the instructions per clock and the cache and yada yada.

Just use benchmarks of what you plan on doing if you dont plan on getting a computer engineering degree anytime soon.

But if you want a dumb heuristic, then just multiply IPC, n_cores and clkc_freq

most applications only seem to use 1 core

That depends on which applications you use.

Buy a CPU with more cores?

The majority of programs (games included) are lightly threaded, which means they only need a few cores to run. Games released as late as 2013 could easily run on just one core. For a long time, having more than a few (2–4) cores brought no benefits to the overwhelming majority of games.

But the times are changing, and more and more modern games are beginning to take advantage of the extra cores and threads of modern CPUs. As of early 2020, the best CPUs for modern gaming are 8-core CPUs! In the future, if the core count for "best gaming CPU" changes, it will go up, not down.

There is still a lot of truth to the old wisdom though; in particular, single-core and single-threaded performance are still the best determinants of a CPU’s performance in almost every game.

Non-gaming programs that may benefit from higher core counts include file compression, video encoding, 3D rendering, and server applications. If you are going to be using your computer for any of those sorts of tasks, then you may benefit from a more expensive CPU. Otherwise stick with a mid-range CPU, unless money is not a concern.


I heard that some CPUs manage to get more done in their hertz

The technical term is "instructions per cycle". Newer generations of CPUs will have better IPC scores.

All CPUs are roughly 3.5 Ghz

That hasn't been true for a long time now, at least as far as desktops are concerned. That whole "base clock/boost clock" thing is just marketing; if the CPU's "boost" clock is running all cores at 4.5GHz, provided you've kept it cool enough it will run 4.5GHz with the same lifespan you'd expect from a CPU that does not boost (and if you fail to keep it cool, it will fall below its base clock to protect itself). It's not "overclocking" if it's listed on the nameplate (and overclocking is all but dead these days for that reason).

It's slightly misleading that those "maximum boost" clocks are talking about how fast a single core can be run and you have to dig for the all-core "boost" clock to get how fast that CPU will be running most of the time. AMD's fastest part can do 5.1GHz on all cores with a single core on the die able to reach 5.7GHz; Intel will have a part that can run a single core at 6 GHz (no word on all-core, but it'll probably be 5.2 or so up from their current 4.8).

The "base clock" number still does have a use, though, but that's more for predicting the performance of pre-built machines whose builders failed to give them adequate cooling- so even with a stock cooling solution that can only dissipate 120W that's the lowest constant speed you can expect (they'll go to maximum boost until they throttle back to avoid overheating). Both Intel and AMD's CPUs pull twice their rated limits at maximum.

How do you tell whether a CPU is better or worse (other than whether it's more or less expensive)?

Generally speaking, its generation and its maximum all-core speed tell the vast majority of the difference you care about. There are a few complicating factors (especially in Intel's case) but as a general rule of thumb, a CPU from the same market segment but one generation previous at the same clock speed runs 10% slower than a CPU from the current generation. Some generations have much larger leaps (Intel 11th to 12th, AMD Piledriver to Zen), and there are application-specific things that can complicate this (like AMD's X3D models and gaming) but on average that's what you can expect.

Usually I just read the benchmarks (Anandtech, Tom's Hardware, Phoronix, and LTT) in real-world-ish tasks, like "how long does it take to compile Chrome", and draw my conclusions on how much faster the newer generation is based on that. But you're not going to notice the difference between a CPU from 2008 and a CPU from 2018 until you ask them to do something interesting (provided both machines are using the same SSD)- as soon as you do the difference becomes apparent very quickly.

Some CPUs have efficiency cores for background processes or OS, whatever that means.

This is "we turn off the main engine at the stop light, but run a small auxiliary engine so the A/C doesn't turn off at the same time", but for computers, with the side effect that said A/C no longer bleeds power from the main engine. Those cores are designed to handle background tasks so the foreground cores spend less time switching away to deal with them. It doesn't make the machine appreciably faster, though.

I don't know of a good way to work it a priori. I guess chip designers must have a way to be reasonably sure before they make the chips that they'll be faster than their predecessors.

But generally you'll want to use benchmarks, like https://www.cpubenchmark.net/. Benchmarking software runs a computationally expensive test, which is ideally somewhat representative of real-world workloads, to see how a given CPU performs. This is complicated by systems with the same CPU having different other components, but I assume they adjust for that somehow.

On its face, and from my comfy armchair, consuming my western news, the invasion of Ukraine seems like such a colossal waste of human lives and military power.

When I think about other recent conflicts, the ones that come to mind were also incredibly wasteful, but they make sense to me in a way that the Ukraine war does not (maybe because I'm not russian?). The recent examples that come to mind are the American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and the American defense of South Vietnam. These were arguably also very wasteful but maybe not on the scale of the Ukraine war. Are these good analogies for the war in Ukraine?

My initial ideas relate to the idea that Russia had a lot of military power that was sitting around unused and a bunch of petro income that made any sanctions less meaningful. Maybe the invasion/war hasn't actually been costly? Perhaps Russian leaders (and the hawks among them) saw nationalist fracturing of the tech supply chain coming anyways and this just accelerates it?

What does Russia get for the tremendous expenditure of resources in the invasion and following conflict? Is there some piece of context that helps the invasion make sense to a westerner?

the invasion of Ukraine seems like such a colossal waste of human lives

What you are missing here is that "waste of human lives" is not a big deal for Russian powers. It's how Russia has always conducted its wars, and if it requires a million people sacrificed to achieve the geo-political goals or internal goals, whatever they are, it's a success. So for them, it's not a downside - it's an acceptable price, maybe even beneficial in some sense - they send criminals, troublemakers, rabble-rousers, poor people, etc. to die in battle, so they won't be a problem for Russian government inside Russia. Of course, they'd prefer to do it "in 3 days with no casualties" as they bragged, but if that's not on the table, what's happening now is still acceptable to them.

Are these good analogies for the war in Ukraine?

Not really. US actions in Iraq and Afghanistan were aimed at (whatever flawed execution followed) removing a hostile and belligerent government and installing a new one, more calm and less aggressive. US did not plan to make Iraq a state of the Union and force Iraqis to become Americans. Yet it's exactly what the ultimate goal of Russia is in Ukraine - for Ukraine to cease to exist as a country and be assimilated into Russia, both politically, culturally and in every other sense. It should be no more independent than Buryatia (which supplies a lot of troops dying now, btw) or Novgorod oblast - once upon a time, those were independent states, with their own governments, cultures and policies, now they are just zipcodes in Russia. Nobody ever wanted to make Afghanistan a zipcode in the US.

What does Russia get for the tremendous expenditure of resources in the invasion and following conflict

We need to define "Russia" here. With "Russia" as the fascist criminal syndicate holding the power there currently, a lot:

  1. Unprecedented political consolidation - most of the population doesn't dream of opposing Putin now, it'd be treason! It's a long standing tradition to start a war whenever the throne feels a bit shaky. What is a democratic dissent in peace time, is a capital offense at war time.

  2. Unprecedented level of totalitarian control over the society, which may not have been accepted if there weren't a war.

  3. Unprecedented level of control over the economy and opportunities for profiteering, while the population has to accept everything as "the hardships of war" and doesn't dare to raise questions about grotesquely corrupt actions of the syndicate.

  4. Grandiose global actions on the geopolitical arena - Russia is not just bombing Ukrainian villages to dust for no reason at all, they are striking a blow in the heart of NATO. Or at least that's what the propaganda says, and at some level they believe it. They hate the West and want to hurt it. Since they can't meaningfully do it directly, they do it by hurting it by proxy - by attacking westernized Ukraine.

  5. Restoring the Russian Empire. It's one thing to be a Fuhrer of some oversized half-frozen gas station, and another - to be an Emperor. Putin wants to be an Emperor and continue the long Russian tradition of conquering whatever neighboring lands they can, just because they can. It is what, in their opinion, great Empires do, and they want to be a great Empire.

  6. Destroying Ukraine is important because Ukraine being westernized and successful (or at least not a hellhole) would destroy a main staple of Russian propaganda - that the western democracy is unsuitable and culturally unacceptable for Russian people. Since the same propaganda holds Ukrainians are just Russians too stupid to realize it, if they have a functioning democratic westernized state, that means Russia could too. But the staple of the state ideology is that the current arrangement is the best fit for Russia and changing it would lead to unspeakable havoc and anarchy. If that doesn't come to Ukraine by itself, Russia has to bring it.

  7. Reliving days of the past glory - WW2 and the Soviet Victory in it (it's only Soviet victory, all the others were at best cheering on the sidelines) is a full-blown fanatical religious cult in Russia, more strong that the Christian Orthodoxy. Giving a chance to the younger population to participate in the re-enactment of the religious sacrifices their ancestors did does great for consolidating the society around the glorious leaders. That's why Ukrainians must be "nazis" - the cult demands it, otherwise it doesn't fit.

With "Russia" as Russian population, a chance of living in "great country" that opposes the decadent West and stands tall and is feared by all. For some, this is enough to die for (or live in squalor for). For others, 10 years imprisonment is threat enough to keep silent and get on with the program.

What does Russia get for the tremendous expenditure of resources in the invasion and following conflict? Is there some piece of context that helps the invasion make sense to a westerner?

Obviously they have little to show for it now. Because they failed at the blitzkrieg. They were never supposed to expend this many resources - just as they didn't in Crimea 8 years ago. We would be in a different world if they hadn't. Just as Iraq wouldn't look so inexplicably silly if Cheney and co. really had been able to make it into a functioning democracy.

As for what Russia wanted, it's still unclear how maximalist their goals were but there are some solid potential benefits Putin was looking at :

  1. Annexing eastern Ukraine and gaining a land bridge to Crimea - which is currently being served by a bridge that - as this war has proven - can be disabled, creating problems for supplying Putin's "big win". The first part of this we can be relatively confident of cause Naryshkin accidentally spilled the plan when Putin was hammering him

  2. Placing a puppet on a diminished Ukraine's throne to prevent or rollback any flirting with the EU and NATO.

Russia is facing demographic and imperial decline. Russian Ukrainians would - if assimilated - be a boon and keeping Ukraine (the second largest post-Soviet state) onside are more than reasonable goals.

Russians believe they're protecting Russians in historic Russian lands from a campaign of anti-Russian hatred by a populous poisoned by western-backed Galicians. They think, or at least thought, of Ukrainians as wayward little brothers who also needed to be protected from western poison seeking to rob both them and Russia generally of real sovereignty.

Russia is facing something of a demographic cliff and as time goes on their power will wain so they were more time limited than the West. Since 2014, they've been preparing their economy for just this. They attempted over years to come to a diplomatic solution ethnic protections and autonomy for parts of eastern Ukraine (Minsk agreements), but Ukraine and the West used this time to heavily fortify eastern Ukraine, using soviet strategy of using cities (and their populations) like fortresses, and raising and training the largest army in Europe behind only Russia while engaging in an 8 year long terror campaign against the populations in Donbass and Lugansk (not to mention the slaughter of pro-Russians in Odessa in 2014).

The Russian perspective is explained by Putin in his speech at the start of the war. And further reinforced in his speech in September (text here). Tl;dr: protect ethnic russians, russian land, fake state and identity, western poison, failed diplomacy, and some more

They attempted over years to come to a diplomatic solution ethnic protections and autonomy for parts of eastern Ukraine (Minsk agreements)

Minsk agreements were never intended to be anything but delays and Russia never seriously considered itself bound by any of it, no more than Budapest agreements.

the West used this time to heavily fortify eastern Ukraine

That is pure fabrication, nothing like that ever happened - that's why Russians initially captured so much land, especially on the south-east - because there was no serious fortification ever made. In fact, quite the opposite - a wide publicized campaign of road building and enhancement was performed just before the war (which roads were then gladly used by the advancing Russian troops). Some opponents still can't forgive Zelensky this.

using soviet strategy of using cities (and their populations) like fortresses,

Again, nothing like that happened - this didn't even happen in Soviet times, and certainly nothing like that was happening during post-soviet times. They did not believe there would be a war, and did not build anything to prepare for it. There were - and still is - some stuff left from Soviet times, but some "city-fortress" dreams are pure fabrications.

raising and training the largest army in Europe behind only Russia

This is complete bullshit, Ukrainian army in 2021 numbered under 200 thousands, and only part of it was combat personnel. See e.g.: https://www.ukrmilitary.com/2021/02/utrymannya.html

This not "largest army in Europe behind only Russia", and that's not accounting for acute lack of materiel and weapons - all the Western weapon supplies came after the start of the war, before it was "helmets and blankets" policy. While Russia had the standing army of over a million.

Russia also had the military budget of $65bn/year, Ukraine had 1/10th of that. And that's not counting "private contractors" - which proved to be the only combat-capable parts of Russian military - which are financed completely from black budgets and aren't counted as official military. And the "special forces" which did the bulk of the job in Ukraine before 2022.

Not that Ukraine weren't justified in upping their army after 2014, when Russia conquered part of their territory - but they didn't. Turns out it was a huge mistake, but that's not the reason to lie and pretend exactly the opposite happened.

while engaging in an 8 year long terror campaign against the populations in Donbass and Lugansk

Again, nothing like that happened. What happened is Russian army, Russian special forces along with a bunch of local criminals seized control over some areas. Russian aren't hiding it for a long time, and yet you insist on repeating their stale lies, which even they since abandoned. Later, some fissures developed between local criminals and their Russian handlers, due to misalignment of their goals. Also, both forces were determined to keep the conflict active, so they periodically attacked Ukrainian forces - which were unable to take back control over their territory. Locals gangs weren't also shy of shelling residential buildings and so on - to keep Russia more involved and pouring in more resources, since they reasonably assumed if Russia withdraws its troops, Ukraine would make short work of them and re-establish control. So the population turned into hostages locked between local gangs and Russian military, both intent to control the territory and both determined not to allow any resolution of the conflict - because creating the conflict is what they were there for.

Imagine Sinaloa cartel, aided by Mexican special forces, taking control over southern Texas - that's what it happened. Except drug cartels have the main purpose to sell drugs, and warmaking is only secondary for them. So maybe not the cartel but Sendero Luminoso or some other pungent group like that. It's pretty terrible thing, but Ukraine has nothing to do with it.

not to mention the slaughter of pro-Russians in Odessa in 2014

Again, there was no such thing. There was an attempt to do in Odessa what they did in Donetsk and Lugansk, instigated by the same sources in Russia, of course, and it did not work out well, and in the process some of the people participating in it - some unwittingly as they didn't know what was happening at the time - died. It's regrettable as much as all loss of human life is regrettable (or almost all) but constantly digging it out as some kind of justification of Russia atrocities only reveals the weakness of Russian propaganda efforts.

It sounds like you are just reading from a sheet of standard Russian propaganda, hitting all the prescribed notes in prescribed sequence. Which, of course, are all lies.

protect ethnic russians, russian land, fake state and identity

The first one of course is grotesque lies again - there are millions of ethnic Russians who are Ukrainian citizens and don't want to do anything with Putin, and many now are fighting him. Yet more are suffering from the atrocities inflicted on them by Russia. Some are already murdered by their "protectors". The second one is of course his wishes - he thinks any land Russia can conquer, or ever conquered in the past, is "Russian land". The third however is the most revealing - he wants to achieve this by cultural and ethnic genocide - since "Ukrainan" identity is "fake", destroying it is good, it's reveling the truth. This also reveals all the other lies - since Russian does not believe that Ukraine is a legitimate state and Ukrainian people exist, all their other claims are unnecessary - it's not because West behaved bad or Ukraine behaved bad, it's because they think it's Russian land and the people are Russian and thus are legitimate property of Putin, and Putin just comes to take his rightful property. That's the real reason. And the "we heroically fight Western decadence" is just the sugar coating for the plebes - maybe you live in shit, and will die in shit for Putin's grandiose ideas, but at least you are not a corrupt soul-less Westerner!

Minsk agreements were never intended to be anything but delays and Russia never seriously considered itself bound by any of it, no more than Budapest agreements.

for Germany and France (and likely most of NATO), it surely was a delay game and they've admitted as much

whether or not Russians considered themselves "seriously bound" by any of it, they did implement their part of it

That is pure fabrication, nothing like that ever happened - that's why Russians initially captured so much land, especially on the south-east

I can see the fortifications built in the Donbass and Lugansk on archived google maps. I read press covering their construction. Were those there in 2014 or did they magicked into existence?

Again, nothing like that happened

I watched in real-time how Mariupol was used this way, including Ukrainian army and their militia pals attacking civilians trying to flee on backroads.

This is complete bullshit, Ukrainian army in 2021 numbered under 200 thousands, and only part of it was combat personnel. See e.g.

"large" = number of men and it is indeed true that Ukraine had more men under arms than any other country in Europe in 2021 behind Russia

you talking about Russia being bigger or spending more money is entirely irrelevant to the statement I made

how many men under arms in 2014? in 2021? Claiming the military didn't grow in size is simply nonsense.

Again, nothing like that happened.

I watched artillery shells targeting apartment buildings and city squares in Donetsk for 8 years with Ukrainian politicians bragging about the children in Donetsk hiding in basements instead of going to school. Or are you going to claim they were shelling themselves?

Again, there was no such thing. There was an attempt to do in Odessa what they did in Donetsk and Lugansk

I watched them being burned alive in the Trade Unions House in Odessa on live stream in 2014.

I stopped reading there. Please read my comments more carefully.

whether or not Russians considered themselves "seriously bound" by any of it, they did implement their part of it

They didn't, and they didn't even try to.

I can see the fortifications built in the Donbass and Lugansk on archived google maps.

Donbass and Luhansk was captured in 2014. You were talking post-2014. Which fortifications specifically do you mean?

I watched in real-time how Mariupol was used this way, including Ukrainian army and their militia pals attacking civilians trying to flee on backroads.

How exactly did you watch it in real time? You were present in Mariupol at that time? Where exactly and what did you do there? How did you get out?

number of men and it is indeed true that Ukraine had more men under arms than any other country in Europe in 2021 behind Russia

No it didn't. Italy has more even if you stretch "men under arms" to include non-fighting personnel. France has more. UK has more. Germany maybe has more too, hard to say since I didn't find exact figures, but I think that's enough.

Not that it would be any problem if Ukraine has 2x more military and above France and UK and Italy taken together - but they didn't.

you talking about Russia being bigger or spending more money is entirely irrelevant to the statement I made

It is extremely relevant as Ukraine's military was minuscule compared to Russia's and so was Ukrainian military budget, and you're trying to present it as if Ukraine was trying to beef up to wage war on poor peaceful Russia. While what happened was the opposite - Russia has been beefing up their military for years, spending tons of money on it, and Ukrainians were largely dicking around before 2014, and continued to half-ass it after because they believed Crimea is as much as Putin would dare to go.

I watched artillery shells targeting apartment buildings and city squares in Donetsk for 8 years

No, you watched some propaganda lies on TV (or Youtube, same difference). Now you are parroting them. In fact, in 2021 in Donetsk area there were 7 civilian causalities of war and in Luhansk - 1 civilian. For the whole year. This is "official" data from the Russians controlling Donetsk and Luhansk themselves, so they didn't have any incentive to undercount (and also it may mean that "civilians" were same gangsters just without official uniform - but we don't have a way to know it). This, of course, incompatible with constant shelling apartment buildings - what happens when that happens, we can see very well when Russians do it - not in propaganda lies, but in reality. One Russian attack produces more casualties usually than the whole fighting (instigated by Russians) produced for a year before Russians decided to "protect".

From the same source, overall number of casualties since the beginning of 2014 Russian invasion - both military and civilian - was 5038 (likely about 90% of them military). In 2022, the casualties among mobilized in Donetsk/Luhansk were in tens of thousands, and the number of civilian casualties unknowable. I guess this is how the Russian "protection" works.

Ukrainian politicians bragging about the children in Donetsk hiding in basements instead of going to school

Could you provide the names of three such Ukrainian politicians and where they bragged about that? This sounds very much like blatant propaganda, next thing you will tell me they crucified a little boy in underpants?

Or are you going to claim they were shelling themselves?

No, the kids in the basement obviously weren't shelling themselves (if such kids existed at all). But very possibly the gangsters that controlled the territory were shelling them, such cases were documented - the reason varying from infighting to just stirring shit up to promote one's own standing among other warlords. Or the Russian military, whose stormtrooper-like aiming capacities are widely famous now. Whatever they did, they probably couldn't top downing of a civilian airliner, so it was all small change to them undoubtedly.

I watched them being burned alive in the Trade Unions House in Odessa on live stream in 2014.

You seem to get around - you were personally present in Donetsk, Mariupol, Odessa... Or wait, do you mean you watched some propaganda videos carefully prepared, edited and narrated to you, by Russian TV perchance, that's what you mean? Oh. I see then. You saw a video of a fire. Somebody told you some narrative about what happened in this fire. Since you saw the picture of a fire, you somehow believed this narrative is the holy truth and now consider yourself an eye-witness. If you don't understand the difference, I probably have no hope of penetrating the armor of your belief. But if you would care to research what happened, you'd know there was a fight between pro-Putin and pro-Ukraine protestors, which unfortunately devolved into throwing Molotov cocktails on both sides. Only one of the sides - the pro-Putin one - fortified themselves in the building. Which turned to be a very stupid idea when having an incendiary device fight - because when the fire followed, inevitably, they didn't have the means to retreat from it. But nobody forced them into the building, and they were giving as much as they were getting - so the "slaughter" here is not appropriate. They went out looking for a fight, they had the fight they were looking for, and they died, because of how they chose to conduct that fight. Regrettable, but hardly innocent lambs led to slaughter.

Please read my comments more carefully.

I don't know any way of carefully reading parroted propaganda lies that would make them anything but parroted propaganda lies, sorry.

I don't know any way of carefully reading parroted propaganda lies that would make them anything but parroted propaganda lies, sorry.

pot meet kettle

that ends this discussion

So you admit to deliberate posting of parroted propaganda lies and accuse Jar of doing the same?

no

in the future, if you were looking for something resembling a genuine dialogue, this is not how one would start it

cheers

The invasion makes more sense if you consider the underlying assumptions at the start of the conflict. Everyone expected the Russian army to roll up the entire country in a matter of weeks if not days. Furthermore, America hadn't sanctioned Russia in any meaningful way after the 2008 invasion of Georgia or the 2014 annexation of Crimea, and it was unclear whether Europe, let alone the world, would go along with anything more sweeping in the event the US tried to do something. It was assumed that Germany's dependence on Russian gas, not just for energy but for the feedstock of its chemical industry would leat to a split in NATO that could potentially be exploited later. All of these assumptions turned out to be wrong, and Putin didn't seem to have had a contingency for the possibility that he wouldn't be able to take Kiev.

Also given how reluctant US and EU was to help Ukraine before the war, and how pathetically US performed in Afghanistan, Putin wholly expected the West to roll over and give him Ukraine. And he wasn't entirely wrong - that was exactly what the West was prepared to do, until it turned out Ukrainians are not rolling over, and then it became too shameful to concede when Ukrainians didn't.

Interesting, @netstack expressed a similar sentiment below.

That makes sense to me (that the invasion was a miscalculation), but why continue the conflict now? If that were truly the case why wouldn’t Russia seek to de-escalate and extricate itself to rejoin the global economy?

Also, my recollection is that after 2014 Russia began saving up a rainy day fund of a few hundred billion dollars in foreign currency, which when combined with ongoing income from exporting natural resources meant they could withstand sanctions for a few years. Wouldn’t that indicate that they believed a prolonged sanctions regime was possible before they invaded?

From both sides, it’s now a face-saving thing. If NATO fails after giving Ukrainians their most advanced stuff, it looks fairly weak. We’re admitting that our best equipment, our intelligence, and our logistical support couldn’t drive back an army of a country with a third rate military. This would undermine Western hegemony in other parts of the world, countries would be more willing to challenge us openly, or to create groups that are not aligned with the International Community (which is run by and for the west and runs on westerners rules). China would be much more likely to try to take Taiwan and continue to try to control the South China Sea. The Middle East might well dump petrodollars for petro-yuans if the rate is better.

For Russia, their credibility as a cohesive country is at stake. Putin is playing for an empire, though I suspect he’s also sending a warning to other central Asian countries to not stray too far. This only works if Putin can take and keep Eastern Ukraine and prevent the rest of Ukraine from joining NATO and the EU. If that doesn’t happen, he reveals Russia as a weak country that cannot project power to its near neighbors. Which seems to me to encourage Central Asian leaders to look to other places for trade and support and so on.

I think China wins no matter what as long as the war can be dragged out long enough to deplete our weapons stockpiles. Every weapons system sent to Europe is one that cannot be sent to Taiwan.

If NATO fails after giving Ukrainians their most advanced stuff, it looks fairly weak.

NATO has not even started doing this (unless modern planes and long range missiles started to be delivered in large volumes - or any at all).

Modernish tanks and artillery was delivered but in small quantifies.

HIMARS was delivered in tiny volumes and had noticeable impact and continues to produce hilarious Russian claims.

Every weapons system sent to Europe is one that cannot be sent to Taiwan.

That is based on assumption that noone made any procurement based on what happened. This is not true in general, and not fully true even for Germany.

That makes sense to me (that the invasion was a miscalculation), but why continue the conflict now?

Because the Great Emperor Putin can't just tuck his tail between his legs and admit he'd been beaten. And not just by some mighty American Jedi, but by stupid Ukrainians who are routinely laughed at and despised by Russians as stupid country yokes talking in stupid broken Russian and aren't capable of anything but serving as entertainment for the real great nations. They can not lose, because the whole world model that they have been building for years says they can not lose. And also, losers do not stay in power for long in Russia. If you kill 150 thousands Russians, and win - you are a military genius. If you kill 150 thousands Russians and lose - well, then you'd have to have some answers. So, they can not stop now.

Wouldn’t that indicate that they believed a prolonged sanctions regime was possible before they invaded?

They probably predicted some sanctions, but not as coordinated and deep as it is going to be now, because they expected Ukraine to collapse and the West to accept it with some token protests. Same as happened in 2014 and with Georgia and many times before. They certainly didn't expect the wide boycott, but what they're going to do now - admit it? They'd pretend it's all planned and go begging to China.

They'd pretend it's all planned and go begging to China.

Which is particularly interesting, because I saw some commentators talking about how the war in Ukraine was causing big problems for many of the (relatively) poor debtors in china’s belt-and-road initiative, making china unhappy about the war and less likely to aid Russia.

I saw this idea (that belt-and-road debtors would be hard-hit by economic fallout from the war) floating around before the grain deal was struck, so maybe the state of the global economy is different now. There was that big showy meeting between Putin and Xi recently.

Also, isn’t it in China’s interest to have a weaker northern neighbor?

It's absolutely in China's interest to make Russia weaker - Russia has juicy resource-rich Siberia which is much closer to China than to any major Russian centers, and also getting some cheap oil and selling some low-quality phones and weaponry with inflated price tag wouldn't hurt either. China is ecstatic to see the West and Russia fight. But they don't want to lose the Western markets - so they'd help Russia as much as they can (and extract as much cash as they can from it) without pissing off the West enough to cause them to agree to suffer all the economic hardships that detachment from China would cause. Which leaves them not infinite, but pretty substantial space for maneuver. China is clearly the beneficiary there, and is interested in prolonging the conflict as much as possible, but not much in Russia winning (it's probably better for them if Russia loses, but after a very long war).

That makes sense to me (that the invasion was a miscalculation), but why continue the conflict now?

How long did it take the US to give up on Iraq and Afghanistan, nations culturally distinct and geographically distant from it? Now, imagine how long the US would fight to keep Canada or Mexico from joining an enemy bloc

Ukraine is the second largest nation of Russian speakers, it directly abuts Russia. Putin is also an autocrat, he can't just go "my bad" and walk away, unlike Bush (and, even then, a highly critical Obama couldn't just back out of everything).

And what does he get if he leaves? He'll have handed NATO an unconditional win, he would have strengthened the links between NATO and Ukraine and within NATO, left a more formidable enemy on his border and discredited himself at home.

If he keeps fighting he can try to lock in his gains, such as they are. Or hope that things get bad enough that the coalition breaks or tires and leans on Ukraine for some sort of peace. Things have gone badly but it's far from over.

Everyone expected the Russian army to roll up the entire country in a matter of weeks if not days.

Everyone meaning who? The underlying assumptions of who? Many non-western commentators didn't make these assumptions or claims.

The only way this would have been true given the invasion force was for the Ukrainian government to totally collapse. Many people did not think the Ukrainian government would immediately collapse. If anything, such claims from entirely Western sources evidenced their own failures (or ulterior motives) and not some clear outcome absent Russian failure or incompetence. Ukraine had been fortified for 8 years and had raised the largest army in Europe apart from Russia.

If anything, this simply points out how so many fell victim to obvious frame setting by NATO-mouthpieces to portray anything other than something which almost certainly would never have happened as failure and everything since then has been in the same vein.

The western media apparatus' shock and awe campaign was truly a sight to behold and its silliness continues to bear fruit.

Putin didn't seem to have had a contingency for the possibility that he wouldn't be able to take Kiev

absent government collapse, anyone who thinks <30,000 men were going to "take Kiev," a city of ~3m people is not a person worth paying attention to on these matters

how would it seem Putin didn't have a contingency despite having multiple other fronts which immediately took large swathes of land? if he was certain he was going to take kiev in 3 days or whatever with 30,000 men, why did he bother with the other stuff?

What pro-Russian sources or telegrams do you look at?

absent government collapse, anyone who thinks <30,000 men were going to "take Kiev," a city of ~3m people is not a person worth paying attention to on these matters

That's exactly what was expected - governmental collapse. Zelensky flees to the US, local Russian agents placed there beforehand take power, and in the matter of days the population finds itself under the new rule, which is fully controlled by Russia. Of course there expected to be resistance - but not from organized military, but from disorganized bands of poorly armed and poorly organized guerilla fighters, which could be suppressed with overwhelming force. That's why it went so poorly for them once the initial plan failed - some of the troops were "riot control" troops and not military, and the military expected more of "intimidating the guerillas into submission" than "fighting a well-organized military" mission.

It wasn't something that they just dreamed - they took Crimea this way more or less. They expected Ukraine to be harder, but not as hard as it proved to be.

Also, as far as I understand, the Russian leadership was sold a bill of goods about how much support Putin has in Ukraine and how many agents there are placed in key positions in Ukraine, while in reality most of the money allocated to that were stolen, and most of the people Russia bought were either not key people or too cowardly to do anything once the main plan failed. Though some places - like Kherson - were taken pretty easily, and there are still questions to be answered how exactly that happened. And some pretty key people - like the owner of the biggest Ukrainian aircraft engine manufacturer - were indeed working for Russia. So it wasn't total waste, just not as good as it was sold, and thus unable to deliver as promised.

if he was certain he was going to take kiev in 3 days or whatever with 30,000 men, why did he bother with the other stuff?

Taking country of 40 million is a lot of work. Decapitating the government is just the part of it. Capturing key strongholds the other part. Controlling the energy infrastructure, the road infrastructure, etc. Even with the collapse it would be a large and complex plan. Russia didn't just intend to destroy Ukraine, it intended to take over - and taking over such a large territory and such a large population is a massive undertaking. Of course they needed a lot if "other stuff" beyond taking Kiev.

I've been following this pretty closely from sources on both sides of the conflict, sources which have proved to make true claims for years, and, frankly, I don't think we have something close to a similar enough view of what happened to really discuss this without getting into bickering "sources" wars about specifics, e.g., the make-up of the <30,000 soldiers in the Kiev push.

Decapitating the government is just the part of it.

The <30,000 soldiers and a few hundred VDV landing at the airport were going to do a decapitation strike, but the entirety of the Russian aeroforce couldn't be bothered to use a single missile to target government leaders? This isn't believable. What is believable is a pinning maneuver to establish a landbridge to crimea if the government collapse didn't happen, except if that is accepted one also has to admit contingency plans.

Ukraine government collapse was a possibility and a hope, it was not a foregone expected conclusion.

entirety of the Russian aeroforce couldn't be bothered to use a single missile to target government leaders

Not sure what do you mean here. Russian airforce did quite a lot of strikes. But hitting "the government leaders" isn't as easy as you think - first, you have to know where they are. Second, you need to get there - and these places would be ones of the best protected. Third, you need to actually strike the target - which Russians were consistently dismally bad at, unless the target it "any random residential building in the two-mile radius". Fourth, your strike has to have some effects - and if you saw the actual buildings we're talking about (I did), they are pretty sturdy. Not accounting to what defenses were built in in the soviet times (that I don't know but I am sure there's at least the basement there).

This isn't believable.

The goal of Russians never was to convince you, so they may have omitted a couple of steps to make it believable to you. They didn't try to carpet bomb Kiev for the chance to hit Zelensky because a) Ukrainians have anti-aircraft missiles and fighters too (which btw Russians declared destroyed but very very soon found out they aren't) and b) they would spend a lot of effort to bomb one place and Zelensky would be in another place. If they had a way to know where Zelensky is at any given moment, they could kill him a hundred of times, because he has been visiting places within direct artillery or missile strike from Russian forces many times. They just didn't know where he is. You, of course, are free to believe whatever makes you feel better.

What is believable is a pinning maneuver to establish a landbridge to crimea if the government collapse didn't happen, except if that is accepted one also has to admit contingency plans.

Yes, of course they wanted the landbridge to Crimea. If they didn't want it, they wouldn't capture it, obviously. But that was one part of the plan. The other was the decapitation. Somehow in your mind, the capturing of the land bridge to Crimea contradicts the decapitation plan, but however I try, I just can't see how.

Speaking of the bridge, btw, the south was where the collapse in parts did happen - that's where the strategy of recruiting local traitors worked the best, and that explains how Russia captured so much territory with almost zero resistance. They expected the same to happen everywhere, but it didn't. So they had to scramble for the plan B - which means mass mobilization, for which their army absolutely wasn't ready (one more proof they didn't expect needing it) - in fact, some in the military now saying if they do another mobilization like that, the army would not survive, because the chaos and disorganization it caused was horrible (for them, of course, for Ukrainians it was what allowed them to stop the Russia's advance).

Ukraine government collapse was a possibility and a hope, it was not a foregone expected conclusion.

It was an expected occurrence, though not the conclusion of the war, just the decisive phase of it - the composition and arrangement of the forces all point to it, so does contemporary propaganda, which nowhere nearly mentioned the possibility of year-long exhausting campaign requiring sending entire Russian prison population to serve as soil fertilizer. Everybody - including top generals and the Khuylo himself - expected quick collapse of the governmental structure. They certainly expect the war not end at it, but they expected the war to be won. It could take a lot of time from the decisive moment to the full victory - in WW2, it took several years - but the break had to occur quickly. It didn't, so now they need to conduct the campaign which they didn't expect to have to conduct.

Not sure what do you mean here. Russian airforce did quite a lot of strikes.

Was there even one attempt at targeting government leaders? Your claim is that Russia had an extensive network of people ready to take over who chicken out, but they couldn't feed adequate enough intel for Russians to engage in a specific strike against government leaders in a "decapitation strike"? Instead, you want to claim the VDV + <30,000 soldiers were them doing this. Or was it the mysterious cowardly agents who were going to rise up but didn't? This isn't a strong argument.

The goal of Russians never was to convince you

What isn't believable is your argument given what actually happened in the opening stages of the war for the reasons I specified in my comment. It is difficult and yet they didn't try to do it at all. Or are you claiming they did try, but it's hard and they didn't succeed a single time? I haven't seen anything to support that. When I read a breakdown of the things destroyed in the opening stage of the war, none of it was government buildings.

But that was one part of the plan. The other was the decapitation.

Please read my comments carefully. My argument is the claim Russia thought government collapse was a foregone conclusion because Putin "seemingly had no contingency," is poor because the large force moving to take the land bridge is evidence there was a contingency if the Kiev push didn't arrive to a collapsed government. The contradiction is in the claim I originally responded to in a discussion you injected yourself into.

So they had to scramble for the plan B - which means mass mobilization

if memory serves, this was at the end of September (6 months post invasion)

What I saw in the opening month makes me think it was a hope, but would serve as a pinning force for Russians to get into position inside Ukraine if this didn't come to pass, which it did.

Was there even one attempt at targeting government leaders?

Not a successful one. Obviously, I can't know about unsuccessful ones. There were attempts to send attack groups to capture/kill the leaders, but those were stopped way before they could reach their goals. That was the part of the decapitation attempt, yes.

Your claim is that Russia had an extensive network of people ready to take over who chicken out, but they couldn't feed adequate enough intel for Russians to engage in a specific strike against government leaders in a "decapitation strike."

Yes, they had a lot of people who kinda liked Russia, even more people that were willing to take money from Russia, but way less, and not enough people to actually do something for Russia, and not high enough to be able to feed that high level of classified info. I'm not sure why it surprises you. If Putin wanted to capture the US and offered some US people tons of money, probably there would enough people who would take the money. There are people supporting Putin in the US right now. None of them would be able to tell Putin the exact location and schedule of the US president. For that, you need completely different level of access. Russia has some scores there - as I said, they gained a lot on the south basically for free, and has - and still have, on the occupied territories - people glad to work for them. But way not enough to achieve their goals.

Instead, you want to claim the VDV + <30,000 soldiers were them doing this.

Part of it, yes. The VDV's mission was primarily to capture the airports to allow reinforcements to land closer to Kiev, which is the standard Russian strategy, and at which they failed. It is also the standard strategy - not only for Russia - to first capture vital points with small and rapid force and then keep it until the bulk of the force arrives, while denying the enemy coordination and ability to mount any defense. That's why their attack looks kinda spiky if you look at the map - the direction is at major centers, like Kiev, Kharkiv, Kherson, Maruipol, Odessa. At those, they had success at Kherson, and after much struggle, Mariupol which by then was undefendable. All others failed.

And the planned size of Russian force was never <30K. It was 150-170K. Of course, only part of it was dedicated to Kiev specifically.

if memory serves, this was at the end of September (6 months post invasion)

No, it started much earlier. As always, in Russia the official state of affairs and the real state of affairs is much different. At first, as you described, they thought it could be done with small forces and the rest mopped up at leisure. Then they had to involve other army units (remember, they had more than a million at hand, even though obviously they couldn't use them all at once) - initially they publicly promised no enlisted personnel at all will be fighting in Ukraine, only volunteers on contract, since this was not a war, but "special operation". In fact, you could be jailed (maybe still could) just for calling it a war. Then they started "volunteering" other military units. In April, the first summons to reservists started to appear. Those were weakly enforced t first, but for those silly enough to show up, they were pressured to sign "voluntary contracts" with the promise (false of course) that they will be only used as supply units in the rear and never see the frontline. Some were stupid enough to buy it. On May 28 Putin signed an order removing age limits for such recruitment. In June, they started enlisting prisoners. In Donetsk and Luhansk, the mobilization started in February, and by June became compulsory, with frequent manhunts, for any able-bodied man (they surely felt very protected by Putin by then). Most of the mobilized were dead or disabled soon after arriving at the frontlines, because nobody bothered to adequately train or supply them. And only after exhausting all these options, in September indeed, Duma officially passed the law serving as the base for the official mobilization.

Overall, there was a clear expectation at each step that they have enough resources and wouldn't need more, only to need more within the next month or two. Initially, they denied the mobilization would be needed - but with time, they realized this is the only thing that would save them from immediate collapse. Yes, it took time - given severe resource constraints and the vast sizes of the arena (over 1000km battle line). During that time, Russia was persisting in denial that they are at war and that they will need more resources. But gradually they had to recognize it. This does not match the idea that they expected the long at hard campaign from the start - they absolutely did not. They expected a quick win. Then maybe a not-so-quick win. Then maybe a moderately long win. Then maybe a slow win. Then "at least something we could declare a win without losing face". Now they expect maybe at least not lose what they had in 2021. It will get worse for them.

There were attempts to send attack groups to capture/kill the leaders, but those were stopped way before they could reach their goals. That was the part of the decapitation attempt, yes.

Where, based on what, targeting who and this is proved by what? I have never seen any supporting evidence of anything remotely like this. I have seen lots of evidence of the opposite, i.e., Russians knowing about where government leaders were and not attacking them.

They sent waves of missiles which destroyed important military targets all over the country from Karkov to Lvov. There are countless examples of this. And yet not a single civilian leadership building was destroyed? Your entire claim rests on soldiers attempting, but failing, at targeting government leaders, but I haven't seen good evidence of this.

There are people supporting Putin in the US right now. None of them would be able to tell Putin the exact location and schedule of the US president

"Government leaders" != only the President, the most guarded and secretive government leader of any country

Lots of those people could indeed say where mayors were, where deputies were, where representatives were, etc. Difficult? Yes, for some. Impossible for all? No.

And the planned size of Russian force was never <30K

I have always been speaking specifically about the Kiev push.

In April, the first summons to reservists started to appear. Those were weakly enforced t first, but for those silly enough to show up, they were pressured to sign "voluntary contracts" with the promise (false of course) that they will be only used as supply units in the rear and never see the frontline

My understanding is that summonses to reservists are a normal part of the operation of the Russian military, absent if a war is going on or not. Is this accurate? Russia's hybrid military system is very foreign to me. In the US, reservists are regularly called up for all sorts of functions and are regularly deployed anyway as normal operation of the military irrelevant of wars or whatever else.

So they received summonses, but then they weren't enforced, and if they did show up then they would sign voluntary contracts despite them being reservists and receiving summonses anyway? What happened if they showed up and didn't sign "voluntary" contracts? Do you have any idea how many people this happened to?

More comments

I will admit that I don't look at pro-Russian sources very much. That being said, do you have any examples of pro-Russian or otherwise non-Western sources who argued that Ukraine would be difficult to take and likely to lead to stalemate? And what ulterior motives could the West have possibly had for intentionally underestimating Ukraine's defense capabilities? To convince Russia that Ukraine was a soft target so that they'd invade and get bogged down? It's possible, but if that was the case, and there was plenty of non-Western concern about Ukraine's capabilities, then Russia took the bait hook, line, and sinker. I'm not sure exactly what you're trying to argue here. You seem to be at least mildly pro-Russian, but you're essentially arguing that Russia is incompetent because they knew that situation was likely to turn into the fiasco it has become but decided to go in anyway. That's why the OP was asking what the point was, because from where things stand now, the war doesn't look rational.

how would it seem Putin didn't have a contingency despite having multiple other fronts which immediately took large swathes of land? if he was certain he was going to take kiev in 3 days or whatever with 30,000 men, why did he bother with the other stuff?

Simultaneous pressure is a pretty standard military tactic. If he thinks he can take Kiev in a few weeks, his job is made a lot harder if the Ukrainians concentrate their forces there. If he attacks on a broad front from the South and East, in addition to the North, the Ukrainians have to spread themselves more thinly—defending Kiev is kind of pointless if the Russians roll across the rest of the country unopposed. Moscow had also been pushing the idea for years that Russian-speaking Ukrainians were an oppressed minority who would prefer to be part of Russia, and there was some thought that heavily Russian regions of Ukraine would lie down like Crimea did in 2014.

There is a chasm between Ukraine being "difficult to take" and "rolled within weeks or days." No, I do not have a ready list of examples from over a year ago. Do you have a single Russian source making that claim? How many examples of pro-Russian sources would convince you Russians didn't think they would take Ukraine within weeks or days?

And what ulterior motives could the West have possibly had for intentionally underestimating Ukraine's defense capabilities?

If you frame something which almost certainly won't happen as the measure of "success," because it's simply expected, then the thing which won't happen will be evidence of your enemy's failure. It sets up a narrative of the heroic defense and given the laughable propaganda stories pushed by major Western outlets for the last year, e.g., ghost of kiev, spaghetti sauce anti-air, snake island defense, and many more, it sets the opportunity to help. Ukraine is winning, they're engaged in heroic defense, Russian failure is immense, their military is totally incompetent, and they could be defeated with just some help.

To convince Russia that Ukraine was a soft target so that they'd invade and get bogged down?

The media campaign starkly changed before the invasion and after the invasion. It went from years talking about beefing up Ukrainian defenses and army to Russia conquering Kiev in 3 days or else they're a joke. I have seen nothing to think any of this western "info"tainment had any effect on Russian decisionmaking at all.

You seem to be at least mildly pro-Russian, but you're essentially arguing that Russia is incompetent because they knew that situation was likely to turn into the fiasco it has become but decided to go in anyway. That's why the OP was asking what the point was, because from where things stand now, the war doesn't look rational.

I am not pro-Russian. I have been following this war since the maiden coup in 2014. I am arguing none of that. I answered the OP in another comment.

Simultaneous pressure is a pretty standard military tactic.

Yes, that's the point. You don't need to wildly speculate about motives, understandings, or anything, you can simply read what Russians are saying. It's odd most of the people on this board refuse to do any of that (they're lying after all) and at the same time swallow NATO talking points through their obvious mouthpieces in western media and have formed their entire opinion based on it.

Do you have a single Russian source making that claim?

Not only this - there are Russian sources widely available that had, in the first days of the war, proclaimed this already happened. They already had the content prepared for the collapse of the Ukraine government and the glorious Russian victory, and in the rush to be the first to celebrate, somebody hit the button a little too early and that content became available to all. With all the texts about Ukrainian nazi government collapsing and Ukraine gladly joining the brotherly embrace of Russia and all that. Yes, I saw those with my own eyes, as did everybody in the internet who understands Russian (not sure if it was ever translated? Google probably can do it well enough by now).

you can simply read what Russians are saying.

You can, just don't believe what they are saying this minute has anything to do with the truth. They say a lot of things, and only some of them can be believed. They also say a lot of diametrically contradicting things, and a lot of things that are plain lies. So you need to correlate what they are saying with what they are doing. If they say "we are going to smash Ukraine because it's fake state and it all belongs to Russia" and then they try to smash Ukraine - then it's clear they were telling the truth. If they say "we are here only to protect the civilian population" and then they blow up a theater full of refugees and a residential neighborhood - they it's clear they were lying.

Neat. So what? I didn't make the claim that no Russian said it.

Perhaps this is true and perhaps you did, but the person I am responding to did not and that's part of the point of my post. He writes as if this was some sort of universally agreed upon outcome and it didn't happen because of reasons X, Y, or Z, all of which he believes because he only looks at particular sources while not seeing anything else even while acknowledging those sources are comically biased and have incentives to lie.

You can, just don't believe what they are saying this minute has anything to do with the truth.

they say a lot of things, and only some of them can be believed.

you cannot simultaneously claim these things

I didn't write Russians only tell the truth. What has been done is what Russians are saying now and have been saying for decades is ignored and instead in its place are the rambling speculations of NATO funded "thinktanks" printed in op-eds across Western media to present a narrative to support the debacle in Ukraine.

you cannot simultaneously claim these things

Yes I can. Russians will say whatever serves them at the moment (or at least whatever they think does, most of them aren't geniuses). It could be the truth, or it could be lies, it could be revealing their intent or concealing it. You need to consider who said it, when, why and in what context - and then even lies can reveal some truths behind them. For example, Russian lying about Ukraine being "fake state with fake nation" reveals the truth that Russia wants to destroy Ukrainian statehood and not just secure a couple of enclaves with Russian-speaking population. You can't believe their words but you can believe the intent behind them.

What has been done is what Russians are saying now and have been saying for decades is ignored

Exactly the opposite. Exactly from studying what they lied for decades and what they are lying now, and identifying the rare cases they didn't lie and when these cases happened, we could deduce so much about their real thought process and their real intent. You are confusing "ignoring" and "taking at face value". One absolutely shouldn't ignore them and also absolutely should never ever take it at face value.

are the rambling speculations of NATO funded "thinktanks" printed in op-eds across Western media to present a narrative to support the debacle in Ukraine.

I'm not sure what this means. Nobody on the West supports Russian invasion into Ukraine (at least nobody that has access to op-eds, there are all kinds of people around of course). So what narrative are you talking about?

Okay, you only meant to make a comment on the intent of the speaker. Many Russians and pro-Russians sources do in fact care about how closely their statements reflect reality, i.e., the truth, and this is evidenced by them being consistently correct about statements they have made about the conflict.

You are confusing "ignoring" and "taking at face value". One absolutely shouldn't ignore them and also absolutely should never ever take it at face value.

No, I mean the Western media literally ignored them for the most part, i.e., didn't bother to address the statements they were making for the reasons they didn't any particular thing or disagreed with any particular thing. I agree no statements should be taken at face value when there are reasons to think they're not. However, this cuts both ways in this conflict.

So what narrative are you talking about?

The narrative of the conflict. How it began, the history of the conflict, how it's going now, which side is good, which side is bad, etc. It is true no one writing op-eds in WaPo or similar "news" orgs support Russian invasion of Ukraine and this has caused much of the problem of perceptions in places such as these compared to realities on the ground or the history of the conflict.

Instead of addressing Russian statements of concern or demands, they're simply waived away and instead convenient narratives about what really happened and what Putler really wants fill the pages of Western media. Looking at both sides of the media complexes, whether or not Russians would love to manipulate and lie or not, their capability to actually do so isn't even on the same planet as the shock-and-awe campaign carried out by Western media on their various populations in order to establish support for proxy war in Ukraine. Almost comical lies have been disseminated and are still believed by large portions of people in the West, e.g., the snake island last stand, ghost of kiev, spaghetti sauce grandma anti-air extroidinaire, casualty numbers, etc.

Small scale, huh?

I’m not an expert, and I think trawling Twitter for OSINT and tell-all insiders is a waste of time. So my suspicion is not specific to Russia. No, I think what we’re seeing today is the natural consequence of two factors.

First, waging war is hard. Consider the Falklands War: one side was a second-rate Cold War navy, and the other was Argentina. In less than 3 months, over 1000 people were killed, three times as many were injured, and millions of dollars of aircraft, ships, and munitions were thrown into the ocean. Ultimately, the UK held the islands and their population of less than 2,000 souls.

For a more thorough write up, I recommend SSC user @bean’s rather extensive series, especially Logistics at Ascension and Siege Pt. 1. Suffice to say that getting materiel in place was hard, avoiding mishaps was hard, but contact with an enemy was harder. Imperfect information and tactics made for a series of bloody jabs rather than any decisive action.

Now compare Russia. More troops, more armor, more artillery. Shorter supply lines and more reliable communications. Which brings us to the second point: people don’t want to believe the first. They want to improve on Blitzkrieg and take out all major resistance with their superior military. Seems like a much better deal, yeah? Especially when imperfect information strikes again. I don’t know if Putin’s advisors are yes-men or incentivized to boast, but for one reason or another they gave the wrong assessment of Ukraine’s durability.

So it is a waste—but it might not have been.

Small scale, huh?

Fair point, I looked it up, and the Vietnam war is much bigger in scale (so far).

If I recall correctly, NATO estimates casualties in the hundreds of thousands for either side in the Ukraine war (to be fair these claims aren’t necessarily accurate because there is an ongoing conflict)

On the other hand, the sum total of the American casualties for the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan (including 1991) are far lower than for either side in Ukraine.

Seems like materiel losses in those conflicts (excluding Vietnam) are similarly much lower. This indicates to me that whatever benefits were gleaned from those conflicts had a lower cost than whatever Russia will get out of invading Ukraine.

(Civilian casualties are another matter, I’m mostly interested in the military cost/benefit here)

I used this resource to estimate American casualties in all of the Middle East conflicts: https://dcas.dmdc.osd.mil/dcas/app/conflictCasualties

Interesting series on the Falklands War, thanks for that. One of the comments on the glossary mentions a book with the approximate title “A Citizen’s Guide to Stupid Wars” which sounds about like what I’m looking for.

It seems like what you’re suggesting is that:

  • The expected result of the invasion for Russia was a short conflict (days or weeks) followed by the installation of a pro-Russian regime (Belarus II?), somewhat like the US invasion of Iraq

  • This turned out to be wrong, and the question for Russia became “What now?”

  • The new reality has become an attritional conflict to maintain control of the captured territory in the east while the Russian government figures out how to unfuck everything?

I guess the next question is what does Russia do now? It’s more isolated from the global economy than before (and my understanding is that it was already isolated). Does Russia just fade into obscurity as its economy and power wither?

Edit: @rov_scam said essentially the same thing here with additional context about the expected behavior of the west/Germany

Anyone else here have dreams of becoming a writer, but spends too much time working/procrastinating etc? Life just seems to busy to really carve out time for writing - even though I don't have kids.

Perhaps I'm just making excuses, but full time work + keeping up with the house cleaning + social life + family obligations takes a lot out of you.

“Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but nobody wants to lift no heavy-ass weights.”

I wrote a 100k word novel once, and it was worth it. But it was also an incredible volume of work. The highs are very high, but most of the writing process is tedious. I don't blame GRRM and others for wanting to "be" a writer, without, you know.

Congrats on the novel, I’d imagine it is definitely tedious.

What was your life situation like when you wrote it, working full time or what?

Yes, though I wasn't keeping up with those house cleaning + social life + family obligations you speak of. Easy peasy computer job with time for eg Reddit browsing, though that didn't help with novel writing. Too many interruptions. You need to block out time to get anywhere.

I may be contradicting myself, but the time commitment isn't that crazy — reserving an hour a day for pure writing got me there after a year. It's just that the time you spend is not pleasant at all. Writing a novel is a vacuum cleaner for spare mental energy. You're thinking all day how you're going to translate a few bullet points into a chapter. And then you type your thoughts, one by one, in grueling ego battle. Often you end up staring at a page of work you grunted out and thinking, wow, this is worthless, I'm probably going to cut this in editing. And you do.

Not very fun compared to spending that same time browsing The Motte.

Yes. It's more irritating because there have been periods of my life where I actually carved out a routine and made it happen for a while. I wrote some short stories and novellas. I even had a nonfiction piece published in a local anthology last year. I'm not truly a good writer - just look at my comments on this website for evidence of that - but when I put my mind to it, I have had genuine success.

But for some time now I've been in yet another one of those phases where my job is sucking the life out of me; in the morning I play with my cat, in the evenings I go to the gym, do chores, read, and sleep, and doing something really creative feels totally beyond me. I know I should man up and pursue my dreams, but for right now, I'll just lay down and wait to die...

I will note something that I want to act on soon. Recently I read the novel Shane by Jack Schaefer - better known today for its 1953 film adaptation, but a well-loved novel in its own right. Anyway: Schaefer, at the age of 38, started "writing fiction after hours as a way of calming down." He escaped into the world of the Old West through his writing. By doing this - he put out several very popular novels which are still remembered now. Not by struggling and grinding to the limit: he found a way of doing it which felt good, an escape which felt relaxing. Couldn't we do that, ourselves?

We can dream, brother. We can dream.

I am a writer because I write. Regardless of skill, quality, or volume, I write because it is my means of expression. Perhaps you aren't published, fine. Neither am I. I still write. What's stopping you? It's free. Write and forget about any stupid bullshit holding you back from embodying what you want to become. Do it because to not do it would mean death. Don't do it because you dream, do it because imagining yourself doing anything else makes you sick to your stomach. Being a writer is as simple as pen to paper, finger to keyboard, mind to word. So just do it.

I like this idea! I do write a lot even if it’s not necessarily organized into a book.

I know I am a bad writer, so I don't really worry about chasing that dream. I have a detailed outline that I should sit down and turn into a proper short story just so I can say that I walked that road once and have no intention of walking it ever again.

I'm also pretty convinced that I don't actually have many interesting story ideas, at least not ones that I could execute with any skill.

Read enough Sci-fi, especially, and realize that most thoughts you've had for story concepts aren't original, and someone already flawlessly executed them 20 or even 40 years back.

You've just described, like, 81% of the American public.

Among lawyers, I wouldn't be surprised if that figure asymptotically approached 99%. It seems like every lawyer I meet is an aspiring author--and not just the English undergrads who went to law school because they failed to write their novel.

This even applies to successful authors--George R.R. Martin and Patrick Rothfuss are in the midst of doing the literary equivalent of bouncing checks to their readership. It turns out that spending ungodly sums of money on whatever strikes your fancy is way more fun than writing more books.

In connection with graduate school, I often give the advice "don't go to graduate school unless you simply can't see yourself doing anything else." I think something similar applies to writing, except in graduate school at least you have some structure and feedback built into the process. Until it is the thing that you have to do, you will probably never become a writer.

Bouncing checks?

Shit, I’m as annoyed as the next guy that Rothfuss is running D&D campaigns or whatever instead of publishing more. But I didn’t buy his nonexistent third book yet, just the first two.

I suppose there’s an argument that those first two are devalued, and I wouldn’t have bought them if I expected the series to remain unfinished…That’s certainly now how I thought of it at the time. Perhaps my lifetime of internet fiction has raised my tolerance for unfinished stories.

I’ve been so burned by Pat and George I refuse to start series now unless they’re finished.

Bouncing checks?

I first hear this phrase used to describe the ending of Lost (the TV show)--the writers wrote a bunch of narrative checks that failed to clear, or words to that effect. I thought it was apt. I think, as long as Rothfuss and Martin fail to deliver on their promises, they are meaningfully blameworthy. I appreciate Neil Gaiman coming to Martin's defense ("George Martin is not your bitch" or whatever he said) but the only reason I have to respect Gaiman's opinion on the matter is that Gaiman finishes what he starts, so his white knighting here turns out to be a bit self-undermining. Whatever people want to say about muses or mental health or whatever--I'm not saying Martin deserves the electric chair, or even a small fine. I'm saying he and Rothfuss are morally on par with people who have written checks while failing to deposit sufficient funds for those checks to clear.

Perhaps my lifetime of internet fiction has raised my tolerance for unfinished stories.

Perhaps! But also it's a very small thing, in a world of big things. I rarely think about it, except in the context of people finishing books. Most writers don't--new writers, yes, of course, but also, often, successful authors who clearly could (they've done it before!), if they actually cared enough to try.

Yes, except my problems are that I’m lazy, distracted, and also a bad writer.

It's a shaky conjecture, in my opinion. While there are definitely men who use the trans movement for their direct benefit (male rapists claiming they are women to get into women's prisons or antisocial schoolboys claiming they are girls to get into girls' bathrooms and showers), they all do this because they have nothing to lose in a total institution and because they can get away with not conforming to their new role.

If you try to pull this kind of non-conformance in a non-total institution ("Would you tell Janice over there she can't use he/his pronouns and remain a woman? Would you tell her she has to wear make-up to remain a woman? Would you tell her she can't have facial hair and remain a woman? Would you tell her she can't change her name to a historically male one and remain a woman? I am also a woman and demand to be treated like one!") you will be outed as a phony by those who are recognized as trans, neither attaining that new "marginalized minority" status nor retaining your "honest white male" status.

Is going on "full trans" really worth it? Would you put on a mask you aren't allowed to take off, a mask that comes with a bunch of hormones you have to pump into your body? Would you do that for an annual raise of $100K? $200K? I sincerely doubt cynical men who are willing to disfigure their bodies and live a life of deception outnumber those who are sincerely dissatisfied with their lives as men and think living as women will make them happier.

(This is probably a conversation for the culture war thread, not SQS, but whatever)

I sincerely doubt cynical men who are willing to disfigure their bodies and live a life of deception outnumber those who are sincerely dissatisfied with their lives as men and think living as women will make them happier.

I don't think that the latter category is necessarily excluded from "white males trying to become a marginalized group". That is, cynical exploitation of the system is sufficient but not necessary for this to be a factor. Some men are sincerely dissatisfied with their lives, and have been convinced that men are privileged oppressive patriarchs who oppress everyone else, and viscerally reject that identity because they don't feel privileged or oppressive and don't want to be. Instead, they are bullied and socially outcast and don't fit in with more masculine men, and thus feel that they must be part of an oppressed group. They are being oppressed by other white men (the bullies/normies), so they must be something other than a white man, hence trans.

Or something like that. I am not a clinical psychologist, I don't purport to know exactly what goes through the mind of someone in this situation (I was a weird social outcast, sort of, but very much not woke so I coped in completely different ways). And each individual is different so will have different responses to this situation. But it seems very plausible to me that social outcasts will look for reasons and excuses as to why they are different from everyone else, and why the people who pick on them are inherently evil in a morally objective way that makes them truly the bad guys. Taking on an oppressed identity makes your bullies into bigots and allows you to unite allies against them, even if they were previously bullying you for reasons unrelated to your identity. And, importantly, you don't need to be a cynical opportunist or a sleaze trying to sexually assault women, just be hurt and confused and subject to the same mental biases that everyone has that let us justify beliefs that are beneficial to ourselves.

Would you put on a mask you aren't allowed to take off, a mask that comes with a bunch of hormones you have to pump into your body? Would you do that for an annual raise of $100K? $200K? I sincerely doubt cynical men who are willing to disfigure their bodies and live a life of deception

You don't have to go on hormones or have surgery if you're operating under self-identification policies.

No, but you have to make a serious effort or you'll get called out for trolling. Most men would love to hang out in the women's showers at a gym, but most men wouldn't just walk in there as-is and say it's okay because they're actually trans or non-binary or whatever. Chances are the gym is just going to kick you out and only relent after some rights group makes a stink about it, which isn't going to happen unless you can convince them that you're legitimate. If you're willing to put in the work, yeah, you can get the status, but it's not something that can be held casually. You're name is going to be in the news and the community will view you as a member of the LGBT community because why the hell else would an LGBT advocacy group be raising a stink about this? For the gym's part, it's a rare enough occurrence that they'll take their chances on kicking out obvious men and issue an apology later and chalk it up to a training issue or whatever. Given the horniness of the average male, the fact that there isn't a total inundation of women's locker rooms by this point is pretty good evidence that it isn't the problem some people, myself included, were concerned about.

Is going on "full trans" really worth it?

I agree that the hypothesis goes too far, but regarding this question I have to ask - have you ever been love bombed? Particularly when your life consisted solely of experiences of being a shy barely tolerated misfit? For a lot of people just this factor alone will be worth it, at least until the high wears off.

I thought the latest panic was that young women were hardest hit and want to leave their marginalized group. Grass is greener I suppose.

“Why is the trans movement trying to be all things to all people?”

I haven’t seen ‘leaving their marginalized group’ as the explanation so much as ‘puberty is awkward and difficult and the trans memeplex is overpowering’.

panic

Are you implying this is not happening? The data is pretty clear on that.

No it's just annoyed commentary on the perspective that the problems of women are society's and men's problems are their own, plus a request to keep the explanations parsimonious, or failing that, non-contradictory.

I think that's two different hypotheses describing two different phenomena. Teenage girls suffering from a mass psychogenic illness. Men trying to outwit radical feminism and intersectionalism.

Is there a good writeup on how AI might affect employment in software engineering in the next 3 years or so?

More jobs at AI startups, especially for people that can make Python code run faster? Of course, that depends a lot on whether the fed will continue printing money (likely so, you all see what happens if they try to stop).

Now if you asked 30 years... that may be a harder question.

GPT-4 performance on programming competition problems drops precipitously on problems written after 2021.

In general, people who work outside of a field have a poor understanding of what people in that field actually do - which can manifest as an underestimation of how difficult it is to automate various tasks.

At the time of this writing, the ArtStation job board has 83 open listings for concept artists, even though that should be the niche that AI art generators excel at the most.

I believe you're over-generalising from your personal work situation and if i still worked in mgmt consulting i might have done the same.

A lot of the stuff that junior consultants do is highly vulnerable to GPT-style AI replacement, and so is Indian outsourcing resources for the same stuff. I assume it's similar with junior analysts ans the like in commercial banking, based on what I've heard from friends working in that sector it seems very similar, as are junior lawyers at big firms.

These are fairly small groups of people and it's well known that a lot of what they do is practically slave labour for fairly uncomplicated stuff while dangling great future positions, working with high level people straight out of university (and learning) in front of them.

This isn't the case for most jobs in industrial sector and large governmental organisations though, and there are vastly more people employed there.

I'm not saying that these organisations are doing more complex work, only that the lower level stuff is less vulnerable to near term AI replacement, if for no other reason that the actual work doesn't consist all that much of (that kind of) symbol manipulation, even if people like to pretend otherwise.

You just stated this without justification though. I think it’s totally plausible, maybe even the most likely scenario, but I’d like to see some kind of reasoning for it, preferably with numbers.

Any of you ever lost a friend to transgenderism? How'd it happen and how'd you cope?

This is kind of borderline for the SSQ thread. It's pretty explicitly culture war, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that it's a real question and not just bait.

It happened to me recently and I wanted to know if anyone else went through it. But it doesn't really seem like anyone else has had a comparable experience. Similar, yes, but mine ended in a huge blowout argument.

I also didn't want to post my own answer along with the question lest I be accused of, well, asking a question for the sole purpose of answering it myself.

Yep. One of my friends was a standard fat gamer programming nerd until the pandemic. Funny, if a bit incel-y in personality (he made some occasional sexist comments that were annoying but not fatal to our friendship). During the pandemic he finally lost the weight and I was thinking "Hey, maybe we can finally get this guy a date. Funny, decent job, tall enough, starting to look like a viking" I wouldn't date him myself for a couple of reasons, but get some good pictures for an online dating profile and we can improve his quality of life a lot (he's prone to depressive episodes and loneliness).

I brought up the topic and he said "actually, I'm not thinking about dating at all right now because I've been seeing a gender therapist for a year." We've hung out five or six times since then (over two years), with each hang out getting more uncomfortable and creepy, and now I'm dodging his calls (I'm not misgendering btw, he's never formally asked me to change names or pronouns). Somehow "man wearing a dress" freaks me out less than "man wearing a dress and boobs." It's much more 'it rubs the lotion on its skin'. He did finally (briefly) date someone (an older woman) during this process, but broke up with her because she obviously saw him as a man.

So yes. We're not close enough for me to suck it up and lie and not distant enough for me to just be polite. Hence the avoiding.

You say you're not going to "suck it up and lie." But then why do you say one paragraph before "I'm not misgendering [my friend]" because "he's never formally asked me to change names or pronouns?" Would you capitulate to that request, if he were to make it? Wouldn't accepting such a request also be lying?

I've known people that did sex change, but not very closely - more like professional relationship. Wasn't really impacted by the sex change - in my line of work, the sex bits aren't very relevant anyway.

This might be the first time I’ve seen someone mention the other half of Blanchard’s model in this community. (I will continue to argue that his autogynophilic model doesn’t reflect the modern trans movement, and is usually brought up to score points.)

I have to say I don’t know any MtF who switched to preferring men. The closest example clearly has a preference for other MtF transitioners, but clearly still likes biological women, and is adamant that makes her a lesbian. So that’s loosely in line with your friend, except she was never into men. I won’t pretend to understand what hormone therapy does to attraction or to sense of propriety.

But I suppose the error bars on this have to be incredibly wide, even before considering the tiny sample sizes.

Pretty CW-ish but I've gone through it a couple of times.

I saw a post on here recently that resonated with me - that it's not uncommon for transgender folks to be those that failed at being their birth gender. I don't know if that post cracked down and settled whether it's the chicken or the egg in terms of dysphoria.

One of my best male friends in college was an excellent, left-libertarian presence in my life. He had a history of performing very poorly with women, had passed the age of acceptable virginity, and took much of the feminist-consent culture war stuff far too seriously, and so was considered a pussy even when he got a date.

This culminated in him finally getting a girlfriend but arriving at her apartment to see himself being viciously cuckolded by her roommate. It was obvious he had been treated as such throughout the whole experience.

Their hair got longer, the friend group got smaller and more queer, the politics got less freedom-y. The white-collar job fell through with a surprise weed hair test. 6 months later they added an 'e' to their name and swapped genders.

The common thread among all the trans people I know is extremely strong social pressure to not identify as cis. If you live in an environment long enough where being trans has such cachet, I feel like your chances of at least experimenting with it become comparatively massive.

My friend was someone who I was considering as a groomsman at my wedding, but now the experience of talking to them long distance while they eke out a meager existence in an alien social situation is difficult. I don't know what to say when you have an engineering degree but have made such incorrect personal choices that you can barely afford rent in a low COL area.

The white-collar job fell through with a surprise weed hair test.

I'm suspicious. Maybe they were looking for an excuse to fire him? Or some sort of defense or civil engineering company that takes drugs seriously?

In my limited experience my employers wouldn't dare drug test engineers. Far too many would get caught for weed and it is massively too hard to hire competent engineers.

This was day 1 of the job, they'd never mentioned it, and it was in the deep south. Pretty stupid IMO, even down here everyone smokes.

I saw a post on here recently that resonated with me - that it's not uncommon for transgender folks to be those that failed at being their birth gender.

I've heard the term "transmaxxing" thrown around the past couple of years to describe a portion of this phenomenon.

Transition is a "fuck you, I quit" to the problems of gender.

Nope. Going full "aro ace" - aromantic asexual is the ultimate fuck you to all gender problems, the ultimate liberation.

Fly the sunset flag and be chill.

My best friend is getting really into drag, and her state (Kentucky, where I also once lived) just passed laws limiting drag shows in public spaces. I hope we never talk about it, because I'm not going to lie and say I disagree with the law.

Related, but not the same admittedly. I do not currently know any trans people, although I have friends of friends that are.

Indeed not. Just a lesbian natal female with no inclination towards crossdressing, transitions, etc. as far as I've ever known. Her interest in drag is evidently only as a spectator and participant in wider LGBTQ culture.

Not that I have seen, but so far Musk is getting pretty standard treatment for any celebrity figure that dares to be publicly not woke. Peterson, Thiel, etc. Of course, the fact that he owns Tesla and wokes love Teslas adds some spice to the mix, but otherwise nothing out of the routine thoughtcriminal bashing.

I've never seen the same kind of outrage about others among the nerds

I've been seeing it everywhere since 2016. The nerds, who imagined themselves philosopher-kings by proxy, were completely shocked and outraged that their obvious choice - which, on their opinion, wasn't really a choice at all, just confirming the obvious - hasn't been implemented. They have been determined ever since to not let it be repeated - and explicitly said so, many times on many occasions. To achieve it, extreme intolerance to anybody who does not align themselves with the party line, is necessary, thus the outrage directed at those who dare to break the ranks. Musk didn't just slightly broke the ranks - he captured one of their major platforms, and let his hordes rampage through it. The hate is fully expected.

They are still fantasizing about Twitter going down, and you even see media outlets constantly writing about Twitter's "problems" since Musk too over.

Remember that they murdered Parler (1.0) and tried to murder Gab. And, as you can witness looking at the address bar of your browser, cleansed Reddit of thoughtcriminals. And they destroyed a number of smaller platforms. Of course they want Twitter to go down - it's captured by the enemy! They want every single no-woke site to go down. And of course the media will savor any problem with Twitter - it's the problem that the enemy has, it should be highlighted to confirm that the enemy is stupid and evil.

What's interesting is that Musk haters is not just the woke, you'll find even libertarians and conservatives in the mix.

Well, any celebrity has base amount of haters (sometimes deservedly, nobody is perfect and being a celebrity highlights the faults). Musk just has that plus all the wokes hate him by default.

Has anyone here written about Musk Derangement Syndrome in detail?

No, no one here wrote how totally and completely deranged Elon Musk is.

What Elon wants? What are his goals?

According what he says, it is to get mankind to Mars and then onward to stars. Nothing else matters, either we make the universe our own or we all die on this dirty mud ball.

He had a good start on his goal, but it is all just first step on journey of ten thousand light years. There is so much to be done.

And what Elon does? He insists on sabotaging himself in the stupidest way possible - by going against all current things, by alienating all powerful and influential people, by messing with things (both culture war and world politics) no one, not even a centi billionaire shouldn't mess with.

Does he sees himself as invincible? Does he think he is irreplaceable part of MIC? Does he thinks he is uncancellable?

If I were Elon? I would paint all my rockets with rainbow and trans colors (+ Ukraine colors after Feb 2022), named them after murdered trans women of color, stood hard against racism and transphobia and followed (and lead) all current things. To preemptively silence all criticism, I would announce my transition at the most opportune time.

All hail Elonia, Queen of Mars!

edit: blue bird links just for illustration

Wouldn't 'supporting the current thing's go against his long term goal?

If he gave an inch by painting the rockets, wouldn't they ask for the mile?

Wouldn't they ask for affirmative action in his rocket engineering teams?

The 'current year' people are apparently debating the ethics of who to put on a rocket.

It seems to me that giving in to these people is a sure way to fail.

If you want to argue that he should do at least the minimum X amount of signaling, then how do we know that this is not dooming the future either?

How many generations of rocket engineers do we hope to breed if we're signaling to this generation that rocket engineering is GAY?

How can we expect honest engineering if the only competent people we want to hire have to spend a non-negligible amount of time and effort navigating dishonest mission statements, hiring practices, etc?

Wouldn't 'supporting the current thing's go against his long term goal?

Every long term goal is composed of short term steps.

If he gave an inch by painting the rockets, wouldn't they ask for the mile?

Wouldn't they ask for affirmative action in his rocket engineering teams?

Easy. Rocket engineering teams announce their transition and discover their POC identity, helped by generous benefits offered to BIPOC LGBTQ+ employees.

The 'current year' people are apparently debating the ethics of who to put on a rocket.

This is thought experiment unconnected to anything real, such "lifeboat" scenarios were debated by science fiction nerds before our parents were born.

If we take this scenario literally, human race is doomed anyway (no way you can get viable population out of eight people).

If you want to argue that he should do at least the minimum X amount of signaling, then how do we know that this is not dooming the future either?

The minimum he could do would be do not alienate both woke people and deep state simultaneously. Just shut up, about both culture wars and Ukraine.

How many generations of rocket engineers do we hope to breed if we're signaling to this generation that rocket engineering is GAY?

Breeding? You can as well ask what model of ox driven wagon is best for trip to Mars. If organic humans ever get to space, they will be designed, not bred.

How can we expect honest engineering if the only competent people we want to hire have to spend a non-negligible amount of time and effort navigating dishonest mission statements, hiring practices, etc?

This is work for lawyers and PR people, not engineers.

In past times the only possibility go towards stars was through creating (useless, but cool) vengeance weapons for Greatest Leader of Aryan Race or (even more useless, but way cooler) cold war propaganda stunts for Freedom and Democracy.

Wernher von Braun understood it, and was willing to wear both Nazi uniform and American business suit to get closer to his dream. And he achieved it.

Surely Musk can wear dress and wig.

Face it: space is deeply hostile, if humanity wants to spread there it must transform. Transhumanism is the only way to the stars, and transgenderism is the only way to transhumanism in current conditions.

"Yes, I assembled world's top scientific talent and I am spending billions on researching human cloning and creating artificial wombs. Why? This is the only way to help trans people to fulfill their dreams to affirm their gender identity by having children of their own. Do you want to say they are not valid?"

"Yes, I am spending tens of billions on researching human brain, on genetic engineering, on growing organs and body parts of cell cultures. Why? Hundreds of millions of trans people all over the world are waiting for their gender affirming treatments. Do you want to deny them their rights?"

"You dare to call me Nazi? You dare to call me eugenicist? You dare to call me Frankenstein? Are you against trans health care? Are you a TRANSPHOBE?"

If organic humans ever get to space, they will be designed, not bred.

Would they still be humans then?

if humanity wants to spread there it must transform. Transhumanism is the only way to the stars, and transgenderism is the only way to transhumanism in current conditions.

If they transform from human, are they still human?

Surely Musk can wear dress and wig.

Why? Maybe that's not his plan. Maybe he doesn't value 'space' above everything else.

Transhumanism is the only way to the stars, and transgenderism is the only way to transhumanism in current conditions.

Or he could just start working for China instead. That'd be less alienating.

Not that I know of. It is remarkable how much of Goldstein he has turned into among the online set.

Goldstein

What do you mean by that?

Probably a reference to Emmanuel Goldstein from 1984?

To be fair, the Elon fanboys are just as bad (in the opposite direction). But I do agree it's ridiculous. Elon is neither a hero come to save us all, nor is he a mustache-twirling villain straight out of a morality play. He's just a guy. He does things that are stupid, smart, good, and bad. I see no real reason to believe that he is particularly skewed on any of those axes.

Don't think "skew", think "high variance". The most consistent thing you can say about Musk is that he really tries to live up to his engineering protocol, under which it's a bad sign if you're not doing stupid things often enough because that means you're not trying radical enough changes or you're not testing them fast enough.

This is a very good thing in unmanned rocket development, where even a prototype that blows up teaches you something invaluable about how to replace it with a better one.

This is not such a good thing in social media development, where a user base exodus may be irreplaceable if bad decisions blow up in your face.

I agree on Elon having the tendency to make people deranged in any direction, not just against him, but saying he is "just a guy" seems similarly wrong. He's certainly quite unusual, probably very smart in at least some way, also clearly socially awkward & extremely petty (which codes as "bad" for large parts of current society, whatever your opinion might be), and with the achievements he has already accomplished he will probably be considered at least a notable celebrity for decades.

Among all people currently alive he also seems to be among the ~top 10 most likely or so to actually have a considerable influence on the course of history I guess? Hard to make a judgement call on that, but with all the weird things he has done and plans to do it seems likely that something is going to stick that would not have happened if it wasn't for him.

When I said he's just a guy I didn't mean that his achievements are pedestrian. No doubt the dude has done some impressive things. I meant that in the sense of how one should feel disposed towards him. I don't think of him as some kind of hero or business genius who can't lose due to his successes, nor as a villain.

So, what are you reading?

Still on Count Zero. It lacks the unbearable tension and intellectual fervor of Neuromancer, but it somehow feels more workmanlike. It's considerably more heavy on the jargon, and with little explanation. A pleasant read so far.

I'm rereading Christopher Columbus, Mariner by Samuel Eliot Morison. Morison is a mariner himself, and sailed the routes Columbus took on his four voyages to the Americas. Morison's experiences in seamanship give him insight where book-learning is likely to fail, such as in this anecdote, from just before the actual sighting of America:

At 10 P.M. ... Columbus and a seaman, almost simultaneously, thought they saw a light, "like a little wax candle rising and falling." Others saw it too, but most did not; and after a few minutes it disappeared. Volumes have been written to explain what this light was or might have been. To a seaman it requires no explanation. It was an illusion, created by overtense watchfulness. When uncertain of your exact position, and straining to make a night landfall, you are apt to see imaginary lights and flashes and to hear nonexistent bells and breakers.

Morison's characterization of Columbus, aided no doubt by their shared experience on the open water, is generally favorable. Columbus was guided by strong religious sentiment, ambition, and greed -- motivations shared in varying proportions by nearly every European explorer during the period of discovery following the Reconquista. Morison plainly discuss the sufferings inflicted on the American Indians. But unlike many modern retellings of this story he doesn't allow this to dampen the feelings of admiration toward Columbus' courage, nor to obscure the obvious fact of how immense and profitable Columbus' discovery was.

You know, I actually found Count Zero and other, later Gibson works very hard to deal with for specifically that reason. A friend of mine keeps trying to get me to read The Peripheral, but I spend so much time just trying to understand what is going on that I end up bailing out. I do understand the appeal I think, but a little bit more explanation than what he gives us would be welcome.

I'm nearly at the end of Haruki Murakami's Novelist as a Vocation, in which he reflects on his process and on his career. There's something about the way Murakami writes about writing, that makes you the reader think you could do it too: that while there is a minimum talent threshold, if you clear that then it's just a matter of having enough work ethic and self-reflectiveness. Perhaps that's true. But another takeaway from the work, and something which Murakami never truly addresses or reflects on, is that he obviously has a really immense work ethic himself. He drives himself quite hard, and also seems to have no interest in the kinds of distractions which are so disruptive to younger generations. To hear him tell it, he genuinely spends all of his time writing, exercising, reading, and listening to music. Good recipe for productivity if you can stick to it.

In the end, it's a crime story. The jargon, infighting and dubious motives honestly makes it feel like a good novel to read on vacation to me. Trying to analyze it deeply would lose the momentum. Neuromancer only seemed different because it pulled you into Case's mindset so deeply that one only notices at the end that the story had little intrinsic drive beyond being a crime story. Of course, that was also where the greatness lay.

Have you read 1Q84 by chance, I've often wondered how much autobiography there is in his characters, and one of the main characters is a male writer. I'll have to keep my eye open for a copy of Novelist at my local used book shop.

I have, and I think it's quite wonderful. The feeling I got when the buildup in that book finally pays off, it still sticks with me now. I remember where I was and what time of day it was, when I read the pivotal moment in that book.

Having said that - I think South of the Border, West of the Sun and Hear the Wind Sing are the Murakami books with the most autobiographical elements. Especially the first one: the protagonist actually runs a jazz bar as Murakami did in his 20s. (Also: South of the Border, West of the Sun is my favorite novel ever, largely for personal reasons. No other novel so perfectly captured so many things that I felt at a particular time in my life.)

Thanks for the recommendations, I'll look for those. I think Wild Sheep Chase had the best written one I've read so far, but Wind Up Bird Chronicle is a personal favorite.

Wow, I just finished that today! It was a much better book when it was named A Deepness in the Sky.

Mildly interesting that both it and We Are Legion (We Are Bob), another book about humans shuttling about in spaceships and describing aliens in a dry, uninteresting manner were published the same year. Something in the air I guess.

The "cooperating is good, war is always bad" theme was slathered on, but not quite as heavily as Perihelion Summer, Greg Egan's global warming book, which I also read recently, and had prose as leaden and mechanical as a row of bricks. I could easily imagine Greg pounding out the entire novel in a month to pay for his mortgage.

I agree with @basalisk_respecter that Vinge's Zones of Thought books are better, but I did really like Children of Time.

If you want to see uplift done better, though, try David Brin.

Deepness is dramatically better in every respect. Read A Fire Upon the Deep first, though. (Which takes place later in-canon but several minor plot points only make sense if you have read that book)

Yeah I had to quit that series too. Disappointing because it's a fascinating world, but the writing and plot are just not great.

Tales of the Ketty Jay is a light fun read if you are interested. It’s steam punk fantasy.

No worries. I’ve got a whole list with rankings if you’re interested, mostly SFF

I'm reading Atlas Shrugged. It started out pretty good but man did it slow down a LOT. I'm pretty much just wading through miles of chest-deep sewage in the form of essays delivered directly from author to me, through the character's mouths.

I enjoyed The Fountainhead more, because to me it seems to have less of that, and more of actual story. I actually think Rand is a pretty good storyteller and prose stylist - but she spends so little of her novels on that. I wish she had tried her hand at a romance or an adventure story. Imagine.