Category Archives: Ukraine

Beware of narrative brainworms

This blog post is going to be about some Ukraine-related happenings.

To say there’s been a great deal of propaganda involved with reporting on what’s happening with the actual war in Ukraine would be an understatement. The Russians and Ukrainians have waged massive propaganda campaigns, that make it hard to even really understand what’s happening in this conflict. I’ve relied a good bit on the UK Defense Ministry assessments, but even there I’m wary. After the Afghanistan withdrawal debacle and the bold-faced lies coming from the US Pentagon, it pains me to say I don’t trust the Biden-run Pentagon to be truthful. Along with the reporting on the conflict, there’s been a massive propaganda effort to paint Zelensky as the most noble, heroic leader ever, but here’s a reality check. Zelensky deserves credit for mobilizing and uniting his country to fend off a full-scale invasion by Russia, but he’s also engaged in a massive propaganda effort, creating a staged production that he’s used to influence the world.

In this process, propaganda has masked a whole lot of truths about Ukraine, how the Russian-Ukraine situation has evolved, the US and European roles in setting the stage for this confrontation and the reality that Ukraine has been a massively corrupt country for many years and a lot of money laundering went on there… heck, just look at Hunter Biden and his Burisma deal. Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Russia naturally fed stories in western media hyping the Ukraine corruption and no less than Poltifact, that “fact-checker” site run by liberals, who carry water for Democrats decreed: No, Ukraine isn’t the money laundering or child sex trafficking capital of the world. Case closed… well, not really.

Fast forward to July 20, 2022 and this story at liberal NPR caught my attention: Corruption concerns involving Ukraine are revived as the war with Russia drags on.

So, in April if you mentioned Ukraine’s history of corruption, you were subject to being labeled as carrying water for Putin or being a Russian bot, but now in July, NPR is running a story on Ukraine corruption. Here are the first two paragraphs from that NPR article:

“WASHINGTON (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s dismissal of senior officials is casting an inconvenient light on an issue that the Biden administration has largely ignored since the outbreak of war with Russia: Ukraine’s history of rampant corruption and shaky governance.”

“As it presses ahead with providing tens of billions of dollars in military, economic and direct financial support aid to Ukraine and encourages its allies to do the same, the Biden administration is now once again grappling with longstanding worries about Ukraine’s suitability as a recipient of massive infusions of American aid.”

This sort of dramatic narrative shift bugs me, because, pardon the bad puns, but the liberal mass media narratives become brainworms, that once the media yammer on about 24/7, quickly destroy all functioning brain cells and people just jump on-board the next narrative train and all memory of the previous narrative is wiped clean from their memory.

Here’s my hunch about what’s happening. The Russians slowed down gas flowing to Germany through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline (some turbines needed repair). The Germans were in a panic, worrying that Russia would shut down the flow of gas permanently, so the Germans pressured the Canadians, who had the turbines in Canada where Siemens Canada was repairing them. Some Canadian lawmakers are upset that Canada returned the turbines to Russia. Here’s a paragraph from Harretz (an Israeli news organization) article, Russia Resumes Gas Supply at Nord Stream 1, but a Full Cut-off Hangs Over Europe’s Head, dated July 21, 2022:

“German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in an interview with RND that “The Canadians said, ‘We have a lot of questions,’ so we said, ‘We understand that, but if we do not get the gas turbine, we will not get more gas, and then we will not be able to give Ukraine any support at all, because we will be busy dealing with a popular uprising.'” However, she later clarified that her statement was “perhaps too exaggerated”, but is a possible scenario.”

I think the Germans and French want Ukraine to make a deal of some sort with Russia, as this conflict looks like it’s going to become a long, border war and Ukraine is bleeding NATO countries, the EU and the US dry, with needing a constant, massive flow of military and humanitarian aid. Many European countries also have taken in large numbers of Ukrainian refugees and added to the last round of Europeans being invaded by a largely NGO-orchestrated (imo) refugee crisis from the Syrian conflict, well, let’s just say countries can only absorb so many refugees and when push comes to shove most people become more ethnocentric and take an attitude of “we need to take care of our own people first.” Add in that several European countries rely heavily on Russian gas and oil and they have no feasible plan to deal with what to do if Russia turns off the spigots.

So what to make of all this, well, I think with NPR now speaking what was deemed “Russian disinformation” only a few months ago, that the Biden administration, Germans and French want an off-ramp out of the Ukraine-Russia conflict. The UK is an unknown at the moment with their prime minister choice undecided: How Liz Truss, Russia’s Nemesis, Could Change Ukraine War if She Becomes PM. In America, we’ll likely know which way the Biden administration is headed when the liberal media/pundit crowd and blue checkmark Dem crowd on Twitter remove the Ukrainian flags next to their names and replace them with some new climate change flag or symbol. If they bug out on Ukraine virtue-signaling, that will be akin to the Vatican smoke signals... heralding a new narrative has been selected.

Yes, I believe the Ukraine conflict is about to be relegated to old news and go the way of the Afghanistan withdrawal debacle, never to be a lead news story by liberal media again, unless something unforeseen happens and things escalate. I believe climate hysteria will be igniting the news… and lots of stories pushing eating bugs. Here’s a BBC piece from July 20, 2022: For most people in Europe and the US, the idea of eating crickets and grasshoppers can seem revolting, but they are a popular snack in parts of Africa and Asia. Not only are they packed with nutrients but they are less harmful to the climate too.

Now, you now why I posted the YouTube video at the beginning…

Have a nice day.

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Filed under Foreign Policy, General Interest, Politics, Ukraine

K.I.S.S works, especially when SHTF

The sanctions on Russia are impacting ordinary Russians, but it remains to be seen how it impacts Putin’s war in Ukraine. I saw a YouTube video of a Russian guy shopping for groceries and he said a lot of the prices have doubled in one week:

Also, President Biden said food shortages are going to be real and he blathered on about how the sanctions on Russia will impact Europe and the US too, but truthfully Biden made some very disastrous decisions from the moment he took office that are exacerbating economic problems here at home. Fall-out from the sanctions will just add to the economic chaos.

If the continuing shortage issues and escalating inflation in the grocery store haven’t motivated you to stock up on food, water, necessities and try to grow some of your own food, well, I don’t know what will. Anyway, there you have it from President Biden – food shortages are going to be real. Of course, if you watched this White House’s handling of any crisis, don’t count on them having any sort of plan to deal with this one either.

Information can be a blessing or a curse, especially when we’re inundated with so much and trying to sift through it all. There’s a very sound principle that’s commonly used around the military and my husband said it often – K.I.S.S., which means Keep it simple stupid:

“The acronym was reportedly coined by Kelly Johnson, lead engineer at the Lockheed Skunk Works (creators of the Lockheed U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird spy planes, among many others).[3]

While popular usage has translated it for decades as, ‘Keep it simple, stupid’, Johnson translated it as, ‘Keep it simple stupid’ (no comma), and this reading is still used by many authors.[7] There was no implicit meaning that an engineer was stupid; just the opposite.[3]

The principle is best exemplified by the story of Johnson handing a team of design engineers a handful of tools, with the challenge that the jet aircraft they were designing must be repairable by an average mechanic in the field under combat conditions with only these tools. Hence, the ‘stupid’ refers to the relationship between the way things break and the sophistication available to fix them. The acronym has been used by many in the United States Air Force and the field of software development.” https://military-history.fandom.com/wiki/KISS_principle

When large (global) complex systems fail (which is what’s happening now) there is no way to prepare for all the chaos and misery likely to follow, but if you simplify your finances and your lifestyle, you’re way more likely to weather the chaos. I mention the Amish frequently, because their belief system is centered on simple living and community, which allows them to thrive even in bad times.

I’ve fallen prey to letting information overload, when googling or watching YouTube videos on “how to” do various things, make me overthink things or believe that I need all the fancy doodads and equipment before embarking on new projects. It’s easy to think you need to buy all the “right” fancy equipment before trying new things, but I know my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother didn’t have all of that and they managed to do all sorts of stuff, from preserving food, making home medicinal remedies to sewing beautiful needlework and quilting, etc. The K.I.S.S principle can be applied to almost every aspect of preparedness too. By simplifying how you approach tasks, it can save you time, money and a whole lot of stress worrying about not having all the “right” prepper stuff.

How to manage personal finances advice abounds, especially with the economic chaos roiling now. I’ve seen online recommendations from take all your money out of the bank to various investment options and I’ve got no advice there, except I believe it’s good to have some cash on hand, in case the electronic banking system goes down for a while. The federal government has been warning about cyberattacks, so it’s not just me fearmongering. Being debt-free and mortgage free were my high priorities and having emergency savings, so that’s been my simplified living plan and how I choose to live. I do think a lot of people will be moving into a time crunch period as the economy worsens quickly and they didn’t make any efforts to streamline their lifestyle or finances, didn’t stock up on basics, and where they’ll end up making rash decisions, as inflation and shortages get much worse.

If you can pay off even one credit card or debt in the next few months, that will free up the money you were using for that monthly payment. That extra could help off-set the extra costs of inflation or be a little to put aside in savings or use for stocking up basics. There’s still time to work on paying off debt and stocking up.

I’m a list person, because often when I’m shopping I forget items that I intended to buy, but I also pick up a lot of extra things, especially since 2020. Certainly as more people become concerned about the worsening economic situation a lot more people will be stocking up and also panic-buying. There’s no perfect prepping process, but even now staying calm and thinking through your own financial situation and seriously looking through your fridge, freezer and pantry and making a list is a good idea. I prefer to stock up mostly on basics that I can use as building blocks for many meals. I’m working at growing some of my own vegetables and herbs, but store-bought canned goods are also good to have. Frozen vegetables are still cheap where I live and I continue to dehydrate frozen vegetables, because they will last much longer dehydrated than frozen and it clears up freezer space.

One thing I’ve noticed over the years with the rise of foodie culture (especially things like Food TV and the growing interest in becoming a chef) is a lot of people begin to buy into a lot of “trendy” things, like now it’s “pink Himalayan salt” or eating only “non-GMO” foods. Look, canning salt, which is a fine, plain salt with no anti-caking agents or potassium iodide added is important in home canning, but for general cooking and baking – any kind of salt will work – from fancy, expensive salt to cheap iodized salt that’s under a dollar a canister. Iodized salt is often recommended, because we don’t get iodine (potassium iodide) in our diets. Stocking up on salt is important, because beyond making food taste good, salt is vital for our health. Salt also has a lot of uses beyond cooking – from medicinal to cleaning.

There is no scientific evidence that GMO foods are less safe to eat than non-GMO foods. When the choice becomes eating or not eating – no one’s going to be fussing over whether the food is non-GMO. If you’re planting a garden, well, then I can see people being a bit choosier, because of the difference between heirloom and hybrid seeds, if you plan to collect seeds. However, here again, there are some benefits to hybrid seeds as many of them have been developed to produce plants that grow better in some climates and are resistant to plant diseases. I did buy some hybrid tomato seeds that are supposed to be good for my growing zone, because years ago before my husband became ill, when I used to plant a vegetable garden here, I struggled with getting tomato plants to thrive in my backyard.

I’m not very picky about brands and will buy store brands, except I am very partial to Heinz ketchup and have stocked up quite a bit, lol. However, if the choice came to some other brand or no ketchup, I would certainly buy the other brand. I also have plenty of cookbooks and think I can make a passable ketchup substitute, if push came to shove. And that reminds me ketchup requires vinegar and vinegar should be on a basic food supply list too and it has uses way beyond cooking and food preservation.

Hopefully, grocery costs here don’t rise like the video above with the Russian man talking about prices in his grocery store, but the craziness seems likely to hit everyone around the world, so trying to prepare however you can now is just common sense. Although common sense isn’t really that common these days, but I believe if you’re able to type in “how to” in Google or YouTube, you can probably come up with some usable information to get you started toward learning how to do millions of things. If you’re really ambitious you can hunt down some books about those topics or find someone who knows how to do those things and acquire even more skill sets.

The one thing we should all be learning from seeing what’s happening in Ukraine, is that when SHTF, most people still work hard to persevere and they focus on the basics each day. The K.I.S.S principle can be applied to almost every aspect of your life and even complex or arduous undertakings will be more achievable if you simplify as much as possible and take things one step at a time – especially in a crisis.

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Filed under Emergency Preparedness, General Interest, Ukraine

More on Ukraine reports

A couple days ago I posted two YouTube videos by an Estonian soldier, whose commentary (and accent) is quite interesting. He’s definitely very pro-Ukrainian. Here’s another YouTube channel by Nicholas Moran, whose bio link states he is Wargaming America’s resident tanker and amateur historian. Along with interesting points about the war videos we’re all seeing, he raises questions about what all we’re not seeing in these videos and sounds some cautionary notes about drawing large conclusions from edited snapshots we see in videos. He also has a very charming accent:

Moran mentions a Russian truck tire analysis in this video and that analysis was in a Twitter thread on March 2nd:

Telenko’s Twitter commentary is also very interesting.

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Filed under General Interest, Ukraine