Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for March 31st, 2022

Where Putin is headed

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David Troy has a Facebook post with links. The post:

I don’t see any signs that Putin will back off from the Dugin playbook. I don’t see many signs that the West understands that. Nuclear war may only be avoidable if Putin’s orders are ignored.

Look, Dugin is nuts. That doesn’t mean his isn’t the playbook being used. In fact, I can find no material departure from his strategy as defined in “Foundations” in the events of the last 5 years.

Dugin throws around the terms “eschaton” and “katechon” a lot. Look them up.

I’m getting tired of warning people about this and being gaslit by casual observers who haven’t studied the work. Been saying this since 2017. Correct so far.

Only question is timing, and whether Putin’s orders will be obeyed. I do not say this lightly. We need to assume this is the strategy, because it absolutely has been so far — nuts or not. Ignore at our peril.

See supporting resources below.

The supporting resources are:

And another:

Another is the Medium article “The Swamp and The Fire: An Urgent Warning to the West

And this article by Jeff Schogol in Task & Purpose: “The Pentagon is now calling Russia an ‘acute threat’.”

And finally an article by John B. Dunlop in Stanford’s The Europe Center, “Aleksandr Dugin’s Foundations of Geopolitics.” That article begins:

One perceptive observer of the Russian political scene, Francoise Thom, noted as far back as 1994 that fascism, and especially its “Eurasianist” variant, was displacing Russian nationalism among statist Russian elites as a post-communist “Russian Idea,” especially in the foreign policy sphere. “The weakness of Russian nationalists,” she emphasized, “stems from their inability to clearly situate Russian frontiers. Euras[ianism] brings an ideological foundation for post-Soviet imperialism.” 1

There probably has not been another book published in Russia during the post-communist period that has exerted an influence on Russian military, police, and statist foreign policy elites comparable to that of Aleksandr Dugin’s 1997 neo-fascist treatise, Foundations of Geopolitics. 2 The impact of this intended “Eurasianist” textbook on key elements among Russian elites testifies to the worrisome rise of fascist ideas and sentiments during the late Yeltsin and Putin periods.

The author of this six-hundred-page program for the eventual rule of ethnic Russians over the lands extending “from Dublin to Vladisvostok,” Aleksandr Gel’evich Dugin, was born in 1962, the son, grandson, and great-grandson of Russian military officers. 3 His father is said to have held the rank of colonel, and, according to one source, he served in Soviet military intelligence, in the GRU. 4 By all accounts, Dugin was a bright and precocious youth with a talent for learning foreign languages. (He is said to have mastered at least nine of them.) While still a teenager, he joined a secretive group of Moscow intellectuals interested in mysticism, paganism, and fascism. Both the “masters” of this group and their “disciples” engaged, inter alia, in translating the works of foreign writers who shared their interests. As one of his contributions, Dugin completed a translation of a book by the Italian pagan- fascist philosopher Julius Evola.

Dugin is reported to have been detained by the KGB for participating in this study group, and forbidden literature was subsequently discovered at his apartment. According to one account, he then was expelled from the Moscow Aviation Institute, where he had enrolled as a student some time in the late 1970s. According to another account, he eventually managed to graduate from the institute. 5

In 1987, during Gorbachev’s second year of rule, Dugin was in his mid-twenties and emerged as a leader of the notorious anti-Semitic Russian nationalist organization, Pamyat’, headed by photographer Dmitrii Vasil’ev. During late 1988 and 1989, Dugin served as a member of the Pamyat’ Central Council.

In 1989, taking advantage of increased opportunities to visit the West, Dugin spent most of the year traveling to Western European countries. While there, he strengthened ties with leading figures of the European New Right, such as Frenchman Alain de Benoist and Belgian Jean-Francois Thiriart. These contacts led to Dugin’s “belated reconciliation” with the USSR, just as that state was approaching its final demise. It appears that, largely as a result of these contacts with the European Nouvelle Droite, Dugin became a fascist theorist. On the subject of Dugin’s indubitable fascist orientation, Stephen

Shenfield has written: “Crucial to Dugin’s politics is the classical concept of the ‘conservative revolution’ that overturns the post-Enlightenment world and installs a new order in which the heroic values of the almost forgotten ‘Tradition’ are renewed. It is this concept that identifies Dugin unequivocally as a fascist.” 6

By the beginning of the 1990s, as the Soviet Union was approaching its collapse, Dugin began to assume a more high-profile political role. He formed an association with “statist patriots” in 

Continue reading.

This is scary stuff, and US effectiveness in meeting the threat is weakened because the US is a house divided against itself — for example, Former President Trump has asked Putin to dig up dirt — that is, make accusations against — President Biden. In other words, Trump is willing to cooperate with Putin to weaken President Biden (and thus the US). And Trump has the support of the Republican party. We’ve not seen anything like that before. 

Written by Leisureguy

31 March 2022 at 6:19 pm

There Is No Liberal World Order

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Anne Applebaum has a strong essay in the Atlantic. It begins:

n february 1994, in the grand ballroom of the town hall in Hamburg, Germany, the president of Estonia gave a remarkable speech. Standing before an audience in evening dress, Lennart Meri praised the values of the democratic world that Estonia then aspired to join. “The freedom of every individual, the freedom of the economy and trade, as well as the freedom of the mind, of culture and science, are inseparably interconnected,” he told the burghers of Hamburg. “They form the prerequisite of a viable democracy.” His country, having regained its independence from the Soviet Union three years earlier, believed in these values: “The Estonian people never abandoned their faith in this freedom during the decades of totalitarian oppression.”

But Meri had also come to deliver a warning: Freedom in Estonia, and in Europe, could soon be under threat. Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the circles around him were returning to the language of imperialism, speaking of Russia as primus inter pares—the first among equals—in the former Soviet empire. In 1994, Moscow was already seething with the language of resentment, aggression, and imperial nostalgia; the Russian state was developing an illiberal vision of the world, and even then was preparing to enforce it. Meri called on the democratic world to push back: The West should “make it emphatically clear to the Russian leadership that another imperialist expansion will not stand a chance.”

At that, the deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, Vladimir Putin, got up and walked out of the hall.

Meri’s fears were at that time shared in all of the formerly captive nations of Central and Eastern Europe, and they were strong enough to persuade governments in Estonia, Poland, and elsewhere to campaign for admission to NATO. They succeeded because nobody in Washington, London, or Berlin believed that the new members mattered. The Soviet Union was gone, the deputy mayor of St. Petersburg was not an important person, and Estonia would never need to be defended. That was why neither Bill Clinton nor George W. Bush made much attempt to arm or reinforce the new NATO members. Only in 2014 did the Obama administration finally place a small number of American troops in the region, largely in an effort to reassure allies after the first Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Nobody else anywhere in the Western world felt any threat at all. For 30 years, Western oil and gas companies piled into Russia, partnering with Russian oligarchs who had openly stolen the assets they controlled. Western financial institutions did lucrative business in Russia too, setting up systems to allow those same Russian kleptocrats to export their stolen money and keep it parked, anonymously, in Western property and banks. We convinced ourselves that there was no harm in enriching dictators and their cronies. Trade, we imagined, would transform our trading partners. Wealth would bring liberalism. Capitalism would bring democracy—and democracy would bring peace.

After all, it had happened before. Following the cataclysm of 1939–45, Europeans had indeed collectively abandoned wars of imperial, territorial conquest. They stopped dreaming of eliminating one another. Instead, the continent that had been the source of the two worst wars the world had ever known created the European Union, an organization designed to find negotiated solutions to conflicts and promote cooperation, commerce, and trade. Because of Europe’s metamorphosis—and especially because of the extraordinary transformation of Germany from a Nazi dictatorship into the engine of the continent’s integration and prosperity—Europeans and Americans alike believed that they had created a set of rules that would preserve peace not only on their own continents, but eventually in the whole world.

This liberal world order relied on the mantra of “Never again.” Never again would there be genocide. Never again would large nations erase smaller nations from the map. Never again would we be taken in by dictators who used the language of mass murder. At least in Europe, we would know how to react when we heard it.

But while we were happily living under the illusion that “Never again” meant something real, the leaders of Russia, owners of the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, were reconstructing an army and a propaganda machine designed to facilitate mass murder, as well as a mafia state controlled by a tiny number of men and bearing no resemblance to Western capitalism. For a long time—too long—the custodians of the liberal world order refused to understand these changes. They looked away when Russia “pacified” Chechnya by murdering tens of thousands of people. When Russia bombed schools and hospitals in Syria, Western leaders decided that that wasn’t their problem. When Russia invaded Ukraine the first time, they found reasons not to worry. Surely Putin would be satisfied by the annexation of Crimea. When Russia invaded Ukraine the second time, occupying part of the Donbas, they were sure he would be sensible enough to stop.

Even when the Russians, having grown rich on the kleptocracy we facilitated, bought Western politicians, funded far-right extremist movements, and ran disinformation campaigns during American and European democratic elections, the leaders of America and Europe still refused to take them seriously. It was just some posts on Facebook; so what? We didn’t believe that we were at war with Russia. We believed, instead, that we were safe and free, protected by treaties, by border guarantees, and by the norms and rules of the liberal world order.

With the third, more brutal invasion of Ukraine, the vacuity of those beliefs was revealed. The Russian president openly denied the existence of a legitimate Ukrainian state: “Russians and Ukrainians,” he said, “were one people—a single whole.” His army targeted civilians, hospitals, and schools. His policies aimed to create refugees so as to destabilize Western Europe. “Never again” was exposed as an empty slogan while a genocidal plan took shape in front of our eyes, right along the European Union’s eastern border. Other autocracies watched to see what we would do about it, for Russia is not the only nation in the world that covets its neighbors’ territory, that seeks to destroy entire populations, that has no qualms about the use of mass violence. North Korea can attack South Korea at any time, and has nuclear weapons that can hit Japan. China seeks to eliminate the Uyghurs as a distinct ethnic group, and has imperial designs on Taiwan.

We can’t turn the clock back to 1994, to see what would have happened had we heeded Lennart Meri’s warning. But we can face the future with honesty. We can name the challenges and prepare to meet them.

There is no natural liberal world order, and there are no rules without someone to enforce them. Unless democracies  . . .

Continue reading. She offers some excellent specific steps to undertake.

Written by Leisureguy

31 March 2022 at 5:17 pm

Lion’s Mane mushroom — tasty

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Above is a lion’s mane mushroom I bought yesterday. The shaving brush is to give an idea of the mushroom’s size.

It’s a solid mushroom. At right you can see a couple of slabs I cut from it to sauté. I cooked them in a little olive oil with a pinch of grey sea salt. 

Lion’s Mane is a tasty mushroom, and it has an impressive array of health benefits. I might use the remained in something I cook, probably after dicing it, but the slabs are quite tasty. 

Some local grower is providing a little neighborhood market with these. They had three, all about the same size. 

Yesterday was a shopping day. I also got some store-made hummus (in a Middle-Eastern deli, a different store) along with some collards and BBQ/spring onions. That may be where I use some of the Lion’s Mane mushroom.

A couple of slabs of Lion’s Mane in the pan —mushroom steaks

Written by Leisureguy

31 March 2022 at 4:27 pm

Facebook paid GOP firm to malign TikTok

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Mark Zuckerberg really is a despicable person. Taylor Lorenz and Drew Harwell report in the Washington Post (gift link; no paywall):

Facebook parent company Meta is paying one of the biggest Republican consulting firms in the country to orchestrate a nationwide campaign seeking to turn the public against TikTok.

The campaign includes placing op-eds and letters to the editor in major regional news outlets, promoting dubious stories about alleged TikTok trends that actually originated on Facebook, and pushing to draw political reporters and local politicians into helping take down its biggest competitor. These bare-knuckle tactics, long commonplace in the world of politics, have become increasingly noticeable within a tech industry where companies vie for cultural relevance and come at a time when Facebook is under pressure to win back young users.

Employees with the firm, Targeted Victory, worked to undermine TikTok through a nationwide media and lobbying campaign portraying the fast-growing app, owned by the Beijing-based company ByteDance, as a danger to American children and society, according to internal emails shared with The Washington Post.

Targeted Victory needs to “get the message out that while Meta is the current punching bag, TikTok is the real threat especially as a foreign owned app that is #1 in sharing data that young teens are using,” a director for the firm wrote in a February email.

Campaign operatives were also encouraged to use TikTok’s prominence as a way to deflect from Meta’s own privacy and antitrust concerns.

“Bonus point if we can fit this into a broader message that the current bills/proposals aren’t where [state attorneys general] or members of Congress should be focused,” a Targeted Victory staffer wrote.

The White House is briefing TikTok stars about the war in Ukraine

The emails, which have not been previously reported, show the extent to which Meta and its partners will use opposition-research tactics on the Chinese-owned, multibillion-dollar rival that has become one of the most downloaded apps in the world, often outranking even Meta’s popular Facebook and Instagram apps. In an internal report last year leaked by the whistleblower Frances Haugen, Facebook researchers said teens were spending “2-3X more time” on TikTok than Instagram, and that Facebook’s popularity among young people had plummeted.

Targeted Victory declined to respond to questions about the campaign, saying only that it has represented Meta for several years and is “proud of the work we have done.”

In one email, a Targeted Victory director asked for ideas on local political reporters who could serve as a “back channel” for anti-TikTok messages, saying the firm “would definitely want it to be hands off.”

In other emails, Targeted Victory urged partners to push stories to local media tying TikTok to dangerous teen trends in an effort to show the app’s purported harms. “Any local examples of bad TikTok trends/stories in your markets?” a Targeted Victory staffer asked.

“Dream would be to get stories with headlines like ‘From dances to danger: how TikTok has become the most harmful social media space for kids,’ ” the staffer wrote.

Meta spokesperson Andy Stone defended the campaign by saying, . .

Continue reading. (again: gift link, no paywall)

Written by Leisureguy

31 March 2022 at 12:25 pm

Two videos on FGF21 and life extension

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I was intrigued to learn that cutting back on excess protein intake led to extended longevity. I had taken in the common idea that a high-protein diet is good. Not so, according to the evidence. Watch these two short videos for more information. On the the NutritionFacts.org site, the videos are accompanied by a transcript and also by a list of links to the studies whose findings are quoted.

It’s a two-part presentation, so two videos.

Written by Leisureguy

31 March 2022 at 12:17 pm

Maggard Razors V2OC and Phoenix & Beau Specialist, with Ginger’s Garden Havana Cognac aftershave

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Phoenix & Beau Specialist was a custom mix for West Coast Shaving: “vanilla, vetiver, malt whiskey, hops, barley, & freshly picked tobacco leaf.” It a good fragrance and makes a good lather, this morning with a Yaqi brush.

Maggard Razors’s V2 open-comb is a clone of the Parker 24/26 head, and it does a very nice job indeed. I have it mounted here on a Maggard handle. Three passes, no problems at all, and a very smooth face. Given how comfortable the head is, it’s efficiency comes as a bit of a surprise.

Ginger’s Garden Havana Cognac has a good feel on the face and, to my nose, a faint fragance. 

The tea this morning is Murchie’s Editors’ Blend: “Murchie’s Editors’ Blend Tea is a rich and smooth blend of black teas: Ceylon adds depth and a brisk sparkling finish, Yunnan provides smoothness and sweetness and Keemun ties it together.”

Written by Leisureguy

31 March 2022 at 10:30 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

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