2022.01.24

FarCry6 Karlito tank stylized

This one is all about plateaus and precipices. And other things.
Ukraine - precipice

Firtash Ukraine Twilight Struggle graphic tank command and conquer

Global security and politics are a bit out of scope here, but I ran into some interesting stuff during nap time reading. News headlines at the moment are all about Russia potentially reprising its 2014 Crimea invasion with another attack on Ukraine.

These headlines make me think back to when zillennials were convinced that the Soleimani thing meant they would definitely be drafted for a war with Iran. Having been inundated by headlines about Saddam, the Kims, and Putin himself over the years, it feels like these things are rarely more than posturing/distraction. But from the perspective of media and dramanauts, pre-scheduled military exercises are far less exciting than "guaranteed nuclear war".

But like I said, this post isn't about "is he or isn't he", it's more of a disussion of global security and politics. And while I don't really know the first thing about either, I have played Twilight Struggle so I'm something of a foreign policy expert.

One thing that's come up, I didn't realize how heavily propagandized NATO is in Russia. Russian media seems to treat this mutual defense pact as some sort of offensive menace, as if the NATO member states could/would band together and march on Moscow. Somehow this idea has escaped the tiny amount of scrutiny required to dispel it completely.

So while I don't expect anything to come of this crisis, various legitimate entities in Russia have laid claim to Ukraine and expressed a desire to use it as a buffer against the west. That's rather funny in the context of their fear of NATO - their solution to NATO encirclement is to create a significantly larger border with it.

On the homefront, I caught a Steve Innskeep interview with a Bush ambassador who is now working at a think tank. The dude was livid that Biden wasn't rushing forces to eastern Europe. That might be the play, but he didn't even acknowledge that Cold War brinkmanship may be exactly what Putin needs to justify a preemptive invasion. But there's always politicization, i.e. his criticism was just a disingenuous attempt to make the administration look weak.

This all seems fascinating and extremely wasteful in equal measure.


/u/AdvancedAdvance
Time to stop fucking around threatening Russia with sanctions or military action and use some threats with some teeth -- banning Russia for life from EuroVision

/u/weber_md
That and an Adidas embargo will bring them to their knees.

/u/TheBladeRoden
Flood the region with chairs to kill the local squatting industry.

I happened upon a pretty interesting Reddit comment that connected a bunch of dots between this and various news items over the past decade. The author explains that it's a synopsis and up to the reader to validate to their satisfaction. Emphases mine, spelling errors left as-is:


/u/xlDirteDeedslx
Putin sold gas extremely cheap to mobster Dmytro Firtash in Ukraine from the Russian state owned gas company Gazprom. Firtash sold that gas on to Ukraine and Europe for a huge markup. Firtash used the money to corrupt politics, buy out businesses in Ukraine, and install people in power sympathetic to Russia. Firtash also kicked money back from the sales to Putin and his Oligarchs in various ways so they could profit from the state owned Gazprom gas off the books.

Trumps later campaign manager Paul Manafort worked in Ukraine to revamp the image of Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych was a politician, crook, and Putin puppet. Manafort helped to get him elected as leader of Ukraine and Firtash provided the money for him to do so. So basically Manafort and Firtash helped install a Putin puppet leader in Ukraine with discount Russian gas proceeds. Something Manafort himself would repeat in the US years later. Yanukovych proceeded to steal about 1 billion from the people of Ukraine. So basically Russia was in full control there.

Yanukovych was ousted as leader of Ukraine during their revolution in 2014. He refused to sign agreements that would bring Ukraine closer to the West and the people had grown tired of his corruption. He fled before the Parliament could vote to impeach and replace him. Once a new president was chosen they wanted to go after corruption and much of that was in the gas industry that was funding these Russian puppet leaders and corrupt businessmen.

Biden's son Hunter got a job at one of the major gas companies in Ukraine (Burisma) and Joe worked towards getting corrupt officials prosecuted there. They (Western Governments) were going after the politicians and funding behind the corruption more or less. Biden/Obama administration could get nowhere because Firtash had bought out the judicial system including Viktor Shokin the head prosecutor of Ukraine. Biden threatened to withhold 1 billion in aid to Ukraine unless Shokin was removed as prosecutor, Ukraine of course quickly did so.

This opened the door for the corrupt politicians and business owners puppeted by Russia to be prosecuted. Firtash got arrested on an unrelated bribery charge and he wanted a stay of extradition to the US from Trump. To get it he offered Guliani manufactured dirt on the Bidens and sent two men on his payroll Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman to accomplish it. Parnas and Fruman were in the states funneling dirty Russian money to Republican politicians.

They all ended up getting caught because the whole quid pro quo phone call got leaked. So the whole thing was because Firtash wanted revenge against the Bidens for dismantling his corrupt empire that let him buy out everyone in Ukraine. Guliani tried to paint it as Joe Biden got the prosecutor fired in Ukraine because Hunter was corrupt and Joe didn't want him to be investigated. In reality the prosecutor was fired because he wouldn't investigate criminals because he was bought out by Firtash and Russia. Putin took Ukraine via corruption and now that's ended he wants to take it by force.

This is a summary and accurate to the best of my knowledge. Best way to learn about all this is research the names above especially Dmytro Firtash.

Edit - Just remember this is a summary people, not an investigative report. To learn the full story and details RESEARCH, lots of articles out there.

Russia Foundations of Geopolitics cover

Some of that discussion pointed to a book I've heard referenced over the years. Because nap time, here I finally went so far as to read the Wikipedia page. Published in 1997, the book - well, as wiki quotes - "reads like a to-do list for Putin's behaviour on the world stage".

Russia should use its special services within the borders of the United States to fuel instability and separatism, for instance, provoke "Afro-American racists". Russia should "introduce geopolitical disorder into internal American activity, encouraging all kinds of separatism and ethnic, social and racial conflicts, actively supporting all dissident movements extremist, racist, and sectarian groups, thus destabilizing internal political processes in the U.S. It would also make sense simultaneously to support isolationist tendencies in American politics".

I remember this came up during that Maria Butina thing. And bringing it back to current events:

Ukraine should be annexed by Russia because "Ukraine as a state has no geopolitical meaning, no particular cultural import or universal significance, no geographic uniqueness, no ethnic exclusiveness, its certain territorial ambitions represents an enormous danger for all of Eurasia and, without resolving the Ukrainian problem, it is in general senseless to speak about continental politics". Ukraine should not be allowed to remain independent, unless it is cordon sanitaire, which would be inadmissible.

Postscript 1

George Orwell Animal Farm Snowball seven commandments

I guess the State Department has an interesting writeup on popular Russian disinformation campaigns. The TLDR:
  1. Russia is an innocent victim (sarcasmquotes)
  2. Historical revisionism (espescially the Great Patriotic War)
  3. The collapse of Western civilization is imminent (sarcasmquotes again)
  4. The US instigates/sponsors events such as the Arab spring
  5. Truth isn't truth (Brandolini's Law via RT and Sputnik news)

Postscript 2

Vladimir Putin The Atlantic

A JHU/AIS professor and former State Department dude wrote an insightful piece in The Atlantic.

But the stakes are higher for Russia. It can temporarily insulate itself from economic sanctions, but the cost of war with Ukraine will eventually be even more instability at home. The secret police can poison, imprison, or kill dissident leaders such as Alexei Navalny, but it will have a lot more difficulty massacring crowds of angry mothers of wounded or dead soldiers. A Russia isolated from the West and punished by economic sanctions will become, more than it already is, a kind of vassal state to China, and Russian diplomats and soldiers know that the Chinese are unsentimental in their treatment of their dependents and satellites.

The Western reaction thus far has been prudent and effective. The United States has led effectively, and President Joe Biden has behind him a remarkably bipartisan consensus. The administration has made appropriate threats, prepared appropriate sanctions, and begun taking the most important step, delivering anti-tank and antiaircraft missiles to the willing hands of Ukrainian soldiers.
Far Cry - plateau

Far Cry6 helicopter cargo ship sunset

J and I have hit the Ubi plateau - that part of every open world Ubi game where the difficulty curve and newness have both flattened. Luckily it plays well and has fun characters, so while we're not going to grind out every hostage rescue, we'll probably do all the major side tasks.

Far Cry 6 treasure hunt emerald skull

Like a lot of games, many of FC6's side tasks are formulaic; variety and intrigue are carried by the main quest. That being said, some of the treasure hunts are pretty neat. The Emerald Skull and Goonies-like Sword-Crossed Lovers hunts were both excellent.

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thumbnail Far Cry 6 sinking McKay ship thumbnail Far Cry 6 sunken ship Goonies sword crossed lover
Playoffs - what's after the precipice? Oh yeah, demise.

NFL football meme Derek Carr Tiger King Raiders Bengals

The memes were good but alas, the Raiders were bested by the Bengals.

Meme text Twitter before memes Anchorman
Stonks - precipice?

SPY January 2022

Is this the correction? Who can even say. Friday looked grim. Today the major indexes dropped several percent only to finish the day in the green? Wild times.

Netflix nflx Cramer tweet WSB WallStreetBets earnings

While last week was pretty bloody, the sideshow was Netflix's 20% pullback after earnings. On Friday NFLX dropped from $500 to $400 and had crazy-high IV; 0DTE $395 puts were selling for $4.50. I could not resist. There was no second leg down, but toward the end of the day it looked like I might be the proud owner of some NFLX at $395. A last minute pump triggered my $50 exit price and made for a fun day of F5ing.
Home - plateau


Roof's done, no falls off of this plateau. Except for once through scaffolding, but that was months ago.


Luckily the veranda roof was not immediately destroyed by the 1-3' tsunami that I was warned of just in time.


Tsunamis notwithstanding, it's good weather for getting outside.

Gloomhaven Cragheart stump pressure plate door Lavaflow

The Unnatural Ones have twice failed our smash and grab scenario, despite the superb Cragheart/Cloak of Phasing combination.


Following my last post's extensive discussion of neural graphics editing, I threw together the gui and business logic to make it work nicely. And now, some banter:


KO
Yeesh.
But then again Em is gawaii neoi.
You are good.
You lost me on neoi... Gwaii is ghost. What's neoi?
Connie
Gwaii is good.
Neoi is daughter.
Bwahaha!!! Okay I got the pronunciation down.
She's a gwaii neoi, but Liam is a kwaii jai.

KO
Hahahah.
And CR is gwai lo.
[Ghost emoji]

[Eyes emoji]
ME3 - precipice


Adrea Shepard is onto the final stretch of the ME trilogy and its Season 8-tier ending. I never did see the 'extended' ending that EA/Bioware was quick to release when the fan response was "wait, wtf?"

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thumbnail Mass Effect 3 Legendary Liara Tuchanka krogan statues
thumbnail Mass Effect 3 Legendary Tuchanka reaper thumbnail Mass Effect 3 Legendary Shepard black widow snow base thumbnail Mass Effect 3 Legendary asari Rila Banshee
thumbnail Mass Effect 3 Legendary Tuchanka thresher maw Kalros reaper combat thumbnail Mass Effect 3 Legendary Javik Shepard thumbnail Mass Effect 3 Legendary quarian fleet Normandy map
thumbnail Mass Effect 3 Legendary quarian geth space battle Normandy thumbnail Mass Effect 3 Legendary geth ship Legion captured thumbnail Mass Effect 3 Legendary Tali Rannoch shotgun fire
thumbnail Mass Effect 3 Legendary Shepard Garrus Tali
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thumbnail Mass Effect 3 Legendary Shepard Tali Rannoch conversation
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thumbnail Mass Effect 3 Legendary Tali combat
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thumbnail Mass Effect 3 Legendary Tali Shepard conversation thumbnail Mass Effect 3 Legendary asari commando banshee gunship thumbnail Mass Effect 3 Legendary Garrus Shepard calibrating

Citadel DLC


I read the gamefaqs just to make sure I didn't miss anything big, they all recommended playing the Citadel DLC just before the final series of missions. Centered on some shore leave hijinks, the DLC is campy and lighthearted and brings together characters from all three games. I think the faqs are wrong. It'd be better to play it before the main character deaths that occur mid-game.

thumbnail Mass Effect Legendary Citadel asari sushi restaurant thumbnail Mass Effect Legendary Citadel Garrus art Anderson apartment thumbnail Mass Effect Legendary Citadel Wrex melee combat thumbnail Mass Effect Legendary Citadel asari kepesh yakshi
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