Bushboy’s Last on the Card Challenge, June 2022

Self is participating in bushboy’s Last on the Card Challenge.

Her Last on the Card for June 2022 is a real heartbreaker: Roman Ratushny’s obituary in The Economist of 25 June 2022.

A Ukrainian activist, Roman Ratushny volunteered the first day of the Russian invasion. He was killed near Izyum on 9 June. He was 24.

The Economist, 18 June 2022: Interview with Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov

Self has such enormous respect for Reznikov. He was Defense Minister for only four months when Russia invaded. He expected “to busy himself with bureaucratic reforms.” Instead, on Feb. 24, he kissed his wife goodbye and went to work. For the next three weeks, he and his core team of advisers “moved around secret sites in the capital: One of the most uncomfortable things was waking up each morning in a new bed.”

No one expected Ukraine to survive. But those canny Ukrainians: in early February, they had already begun secretly moving military units out from their permanent bases. They “hid their air-defence systems and attack aircraft, replacing them with mock-ups.” They rapidly “enacted a new law on territorial defense to arm 100,000 civilians in three days.” Which means they never, not once, entertained the idea of surrendering. All of which would have been clear to Putin or to anyone who’d been paying attention.

Because of this level of preparation, Volodymyr Zelensky made his decision to stay in Kiev. He did not run and form a government in exile. And “with every victory on the battlefield, Western governments began to believe that Ukraine actually had a chance of winning.”

Four months of war. In February, Zelensky had no idea about the kind of wartime leader he would be. Talk about rising to the challenge! He became the leader Ukraine needed.

The Ukrainian people have shown such tremendous courage. “In some areas, Russian forces have ten times Ukraine’s firepower.” Ukraine has lost some territory (Severodonetsk), but whatever gains Russia has made have had to be ground out, inch by inch.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Beginning AFTERMATH: LIFE IN THE FALLOUT OF THE THIRD REICH, 1945 – 1955, by Harald Jahner

Recommended by The Economist.

From the Preface:

  • Even though books like Anne Frank’s Diary or Eugen Kogon’s SS-State disrupted the process of repression, it was only with the Auschwitz trials beginning in 1963 that many Germans began to reckon with the crimes that had been committed in their name.

It is Harald Jahner’s first book.

Never even heard of the book SS-State! Must look up Eugen Kogon.

Stay tuned.

What Future for Ukraine? (Letter to the Editor, The Economist, 26 February 2022)

I read your article on the situation in Narva, a town in Estonia close to the border with Russia (“Who’s next?” 5 February). Today’s 80% ethnic Russian majority is not the result of a “legacy” of Narva belonging to the Russian empire and then to the Soviet Union. In fact, at the end of the 1930s the overwhelming majority of Narva’s inhabitants were ethnically Estonian. The demographic change was made first in 1944 by Soviet carpet bombing that destroyed 95% of buildings and forced survivors to flee. The Soviets then did not allow Estonian citizens to return to their hometown, which had become part of a new Soviet military uranium mining complex.

Native Estonians were not considered trustworthy to live in that area. They were replaced by people resettled from the Soviet Union. Today’s Russian majority was created by local ethnic cleansing.

A reader
Tallinn, Estonia

Mitch McConnell: Winner Takes All

A piece about Merrick Garland in last week’s Economist has self thinking again about Mitch “Leader” McConnell, the state of America, and how we got here.

It is hard to pinpoint a moment at which the Republicans abandoned democratic norms for the end-justifies-the-means power politics that connects Mitch McConnell’s Senate leadership to Donald Trump’s demagoguery. Yet Mr. McConnell’s refusal in March 2016 to hold confirmation hearings for Merrick Garland, an appeals-court judge nominated by Barack Obama to the Supreme Court bench, is a top contender. Though both parties had hitherto been culpable of eroding the Senate’s tradition of compromise and restraint, Mr. McConnell’s ploy raised the damage to a new level. It suggested he would press for maximum partisan advantage at every opportunity, whatever the institutional cost.

The Economist, 22 January 2022

When Biden was elected, “Leader” McConnell delivered a curious speech during which he swore — swore — not to allow even one Biden bill to make it past the Senate floor.

In other words, it didn’t matter what kind of bill Biden presented to the Senate — good, bad, indifferent. Nothing would pass. Why? Because Mitch said so.

One year later, Mitch has made good on that pledge. He also succeeded in making Biden, who won on an unprecedented surge of American hope, look like a bumbling incompetent. YAY for Mitch McConnell winning and winning! Wonder what kind of President Mitch will deliver to the American people in 2024. Judging by his previous offering, in 2016, it will not be good.

Stay tuned.

Sentence of the Day, 1st Sunday of October 2021

George Holliday, who recorded the beating of Rodney King, died on September 19th, aged 61.

Lead sentence, The man on the balcony,The Economist Obituary, 2 October 2021:

  • For near on nine minutes, George Holliday stood outside his second-floor windows with his three-pound Sony Handycam clamped to his eye.

It is quite an amazing article.

China Shuts Ningbo

from The Economist, 21 August 2021, p. 57

A 34-year-old dockworker at Ningbo, who had come into contact with visiting crews, was diagnosed with the Delta variant of covid-19 despite having received two shots of the Sinovac vaccine. On Aug. 11, China shut down operations at Ningbo which, “in the first half of this year . . . handled more tonnes of cargo than anywhere else in the world.”

“The port infection was part of an outbreak that was first discovered on July 20 at Nanjing airport. By August 10, it had spread across a dozen provinces. Unlike other countries, which are learning to live with Delta, China has imposed a hardcore combination of widespread testing and uncompromising quarantines. Anyone who tests positive is whisked to a hospital, even if they are free of symptoms. Anyone judged to have come into close contact with them (based on mobile phone data and other indicators) is quarantined, as are close contacts of these contacts. By August 10th, China had quarantined 50,808 people, more than 20 for any active confirmed case. The government has discouraged non-essential travel between cities and provinces. And two of the worst-hit cities, Nanjing and Zhengzhou, have postponed the start of the school year.

Quote of the Day: The Economist, 3 July 2021

“Claiming to be winning while actually losing . . . Caught between their primary voters and loyalty to the constitution, most have concluded that, unless the Capitol is under siege, the best course of action is simply to stay silent.”

— Leaders, The Economist, 3 July 2021

Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them

Yes, self did blaze through Rules of Estrangement in just two days.

She can’t wait to get to the more “fun” books on her reading list, like Keith Lowe’s Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II.

How did her summer reading get so dark? Blame The Economist, which recommended Rules of Estrangement and Fault Lines.

Quote of the Day: RULES OF ESTRANGEMENT

Self cannot believe she found this book as a result of an article in The Economist — which, as some readers might know, is not into New Age Psychology or anything so CALIFORNIA.

The author, Joshua Coleman (Ph.D. is after his name, so there’s that), is a psychologist with a private practice in Oakland, California.

p. 13:

  • My mission is to help you find healthy ways to reconcile. In general — and there are exceptions — I believe reconciliation is better than staying apart. Better for you and better for our society. And if a reconciliation isn’t possible, I want to help you have a happy, healthy life with or without your kid in it.

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