Tuesday, July 22, 2014

10 Absurdities of Russian Propaganda.

Monday, we saw the Russian propaganda machine operating in full force, pumping out one big whopper after another.  So absurd they were, I could not resist mocking them:
  1. "I can say with confidence that if on June 28 combat activities in eastern Ukraine had not been resumed, this tragedy most likely would not have happened." -- Expressing my inner Putin, I can say with confidence that I most likely turned off the stove before I went out.
  2. Putin's repeated point -- that had there been peace in Ukraine this incident would have been avoided -- is a curious one, though, since it was Russia's explicit loosening of its border with Ukraine that allowed arms and personnel to flow into Ukraine to escalate the fight with the implicit guarantor of Russia's military (guns, personnel and tanks) parked at the border.
  3. "At the same time, no one has a right to use this tragedy to achieve their narrowly selfish political ends." -- Which of course, points to the fact that broadly selfish political ends are justified, right?  That this is coming from the guy (Putin) who has used Ukraine as a punching bag to establish his Novorussia, is to be expected.
  4. "We must do everything to provide security for the international experts on the site of the tragedy." -- And by "everything", of course Putin meant "sit around and do nothing but fabricate evidence".  Four days after the fact, and only now he's getting serious about demanding security?  Putin has met his Katrina, I think.
  5. [Officials] "should acknowledge their responsibility both before their own people and before the peoples of those countries whose representatives were among the victims of this catastrophe." -- I wasn't sure...was Putin talking about himself or was he excluding himself from his criticism?  You know, instead of helping, for four days he dithered about what happened in Ukraine.  When the investigators have completed their report and point the finger at Putin's rebels, he's not going to take responsibility.
  6. Russians and their rebels contend that the rebels never had weapons capable of bringing down an airliner at 33,000 feet.  And yet, we have several videos of BUKs being driven around in rebel-held territory and inside Russia near the Russian-Ukrainian border.  So, exactly how did these BUKs manage to pass through all the rebel-controlled check points without their knowledge?
  7. Similarly, one Russian theory of the incident has Ukrainian soldiers firing at MH17 from their own BUKs.  But Russians never explained how it was possible for Ukrainians to sneak into and out of rebel-held territory, through multiple checkpoints, and without any videos, eyewitnesses or photos!  Maybe Ukrainian soldiers were using their special Harry Potter invisibility cloaks?
  8. Four days after the fact, Russia finally found the evidence they needed to prove that a Ukrainian fighter jet was in the region, trailing MH17.  Curious though, because none of the videos of the explosion contain sounds of a jet flying, nor is there any visible contrail.
  9. Actually, there are remnants of a contrail from a ground-to-air missile in the videos.  The people shooting the video shift the video camera up and down to trace the contrail, you see.  So, not only did the missile have to come from within the rebel-controlled area, but it could not have been fired from a fighter jet.
  10. I'm not sure where the Russian media is right now, but at one point, they pushed the theory that Ukraine had shot at MH17 thinking it was Putin, or that MH17 was actually MH370, full of already dead corpses.  
All of this points to the basic truth about humans: We will concoct and trust the most ridiculous narrative in order to relieve our cognitive dissonance.  That the very rebels they were cheerleading for, shot down and killed 298 innocent people, is irreconcilable.  Predictably, the truth must be that the people they despise the most -- pro-Kiev forces -- were responsible for committing this heinous act.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

10 Thoughts about MH17.

  1. I've seen this before: People get into trouble, and despite the evidence made plain to them, dig themselves deeper by redirecting culpability and insisting that there's a conspiracy to fabricate everything.
  2. Here's a list of redirection of culpability:
    1. It was Ukraine's fault -- it's a Kiev conspiracy long in the planning;
    2. It was Ukraine's fault -- they actually shot down the plane;
    3. It was Ukraine's fault -- Kiev shouldn't have tried to restore control over eastern Ukraine;
    4. It was Ukraine's fault -- Kiev had bad aviation security;
    5. It was Malaysia Air's fault -- they shouldn't have flown over the region.
  3. Even a Republican politician has gotten into the redirection game, blaming the incident indirectly on Obama.  You see, for some, politics colors everything they see.
  4. Pro-Russian rebels, as I've noted previously, took credit for shooting down a plane thought to be an AN-26, hours before they tried to deny taking down any such plane, followed by insistence that the dead bodies recovered from the wreckage were staged.
  5. Someone using a Russian Federation government IP was caught trying to edit Wikipedia to blame Ukraine for the downing of MH17.
  6. According to rebels and Russia, the rebels didn't have Russian surface-to-air missiles,except, the videos and still images showing otherwise.
  7. Audio recording intercepts show that Russian military and rebels were talking about the incident, the confusion over what was shot, and the ensuing panic to cover it up.  Oh, and CBS News' Clarissa Ward confirmed the voice of the commander in the recording. 
  8. People may be poaching from the dead, including credit and debit cards.  No respect for the dead, whatsoever.
  9. Rebels might be trying to destroy physical evidence while blocking investigators from the site, but they are a bit shortsighted, as there is no feasible means of removing the most critical evidence that would go to show that a missile hit the plane.  You can't remove every small bit of metal that would go to show that a Russian-made BUK surface-to-air missile was used.  Besides, the best evidence was already provided directly by the rebels themselves.  They'd be fooling themselves if they think that the BUK equipment can be moved out without being noticed, either.  
  10. Had the rebels come out right away and confessed that they had made a tragic error in the middle of a war, they and their sponsor, Russia, would have had a decent chance to come out of all this with just tarnished reputations.  Instead, they've determined to deflect all culpability, which only focuses anger towards both of them, and will result in widespread demands that the International Court take on the issue of rebel war crimes and Russia's role.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Willamette River in the morning.

The best part of summer is the early morning sunrise, giving me the chance go ride the bike outside before traffic picks up -- both riders and vehicles.  At 5:30 am, only the diehard joggers are out there.

I will wistfully enjoy this photo in the middle of January.

The last Portland Rose Festival Fleet Week before 9/11.

I just dug through old CD archives of images in search of some projects.  We're talking thousands of files.  While reminiscing about all the photos I've taken over the years, I came across a bunch from Portland Rose Festival's Fleet Week, the summer just before 9/11.  So if you've been to the waterfront during Fleet Week since 9/11, you're well aware of all the security and restrictions.  These photos are a reminder of a time when people were allowed to float their boats alongside these grand ships coming in.

These photos are also a reminder of a time when the US and Canadian navies would send a bunch of their bigger ships to make this a grand parade.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Russian military weapons used to shoot down planes?

In a week, there have been four planes downed near the Russia-Ukraine border:
  • Three Ukrainian military planes were shot down in the last several days, the most recent, coming yesterday.  In yesterday's incident, a fighter jet was reportedly shot down by a missile coming from across the border in Russia.
  • And just now, a Malaysian airline flight, traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, has crashed in eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border.  
The early evidence pointing to Malaysian MH17 being shot down:
  • Its reported rapid descent from 10,000 meters.
  • Separatists reportedly have Russian surface to air missiles, and such Russian military hardware in the hands of separatists was the reason and target for the Obama Administration's latest round of economic sanctions.
  • Reuters, on the secene, has reporting that the debris of bodies extends 7 miles, suggesting that the plane had broken up mid-air.
  • Debris on the ground, separate from the area on fire, intact without scorch marks; rather, large sections of the plane had been ripped apart;
  • Ukraine has released an official report stating that a leader of the rebels had posted on his page, claiming for shooting down what he thought was a Ukrainian military plane, an AN-26, just prior to the reports of Malaysian MH17 going down.  This is the note (via another blog) in reference, from Igor Girkin's VK page:
17.07.2014 17:37 (MSK) Message from the militia. Sasquatch In the area just knocked the AN-26, lying somewhere in the mine "Progress". Between Kostiantynivka and Donetsk were 3 checkpoint ukrov (away from Konstantinovka on rivet -bull). Now they are removed and leave aside Kramatorsk. Fold, the beds in the car loaded, trucks are for people who are already deployed tanks, guns got (they were entrenched themselves), and all other equipment goes somewhere. Why would it? 13:50 (GMT) From Uspenka through Amvrosievka Ilovaysk proceeded towards 5 and BMP 2 Urals with podtseplennoy gun toward Novoivanovka. Periodically go shelling rare Lugansk. 16:45 (GMT) Re-opened artillery fire dill in Lugansk, strikes are in Upper Kambrody, Alexandrovka Ekaterinovka, Greenhouse.
This last item is central, aside from any forensic evidence they can find.  The Google translation might be a little rough.  Essentially, the post is referencing the Progress Coal Mine, in Torez.  I think this is the direct evidence Ukraine has spoken of.  The location in reference, is just a few miles away from where the plane crashed, in Grabovo.  For reference, see Google Maps.

Can Russia walk away with clean hands?  I don't think so, not this time.  They gave rebels weapons and training, and a rebel group shot down the plane by mistake.  Russia has lost Ukraine for forever.


And it looks like Igor Girkin has realized his mistake and has removed the portion of the post mentioning his attack: "Sasquatch In the area just knocked the AN-26, lying somewhere in the mine "Progress"." The rest of the post remains, but it is too late; Girkin can't hide the truth.

Update 2: This video showing the start of the plane explosion is curious.  It is located in an area surrounded by coal, and is pointed at the precise spot where the plane crashed.  That can't be a coincidence, can it?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

10 Thoughts for July 14, 2014

  1. Republicans want to use the national guard and military force to secure the Mexico-US border.  It does not make sense, because their three options, upon seeing people crossing the border, are to seize more people, shoot them or pretend to shoot at them to scare them off.  The first option results in MORE detentions, processing and backlog while the second option is a geopolitical nightmare and probably illegal, and the third option is a bluff that, once used, is rendered useless.
  2. The Heartland Institute (conservative) offered up the ludicrous notion that global warming would be good for us.  People like that should be made to pay out of their pockets for leading people down the wrong path. 
  3. Never, ever, read Megan McArdle.  Superficial thinking is contagious.
  4. Things that don't make sense: Russia says that Ukraine shot mortar shells into Russian territory.  This doesn't even pass the smell test.  Ukraine has been trying to avoid a direct conflict with Russia, having done nothing to take back Crimea, so why would Ukraine shell Russia?  By the same token, Putin often seems eager to go to war with Ukraine, if only he could find a convenient excuse to do so.  
  5. Republican Louie Gohmert from Texas thinks that "nobody plus nothing equals everything" applies only to the scientific understanding of the Big Bang.  He is wrong.  It is a paradox that applies to either the Big Bang or to God.  The Old Testament never addressed what existed before God, but we know that there was a period before God: "Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me." -- Isaiah 43:10.  In other words, you still need to rely on faith, to resolve the paradox.  With the Big Bang, it seems possible that science -- specifically quantum mechanics -- might yet explain how the universe was created from "nothing".
  6. Doctors are seeing a surge in gonorrhea cases in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.  But they've yet to pinpoint a common factor.  The reason, as Dr. House would say, is that "everybody lies."
  7. With a last push, it looks like PocketScan is about to hit its final stretch goal on Kickstarter.  I'm thrilled for the first project I've ever invested in, on Kickstarter. I even upped my pledge to get the special neoprene case, just so that I could help get them past the final stretch goal.
  8. This ranking of states by quality of food and drink, has Oregon 6th in the nation, because so many national trends in recent years began in Oregon: craft brewing, food carts, local coffee bean roasters and specialty doughnuts.  Hawai'i was ranked 16th, but if you ask me, Hawai'i should be much higher because it has a distinct food culture that isn't found anywhere else, except by replication of what is found in Hawai'i.  That Texas is #2 seems to me to mean that being a gourmand is virtuous.
  9. How to search for a song with your Android device: ask it.  "Okay Google, identify this song."  No need to install Shazam and pull it up as an app.
  10. It looks like Netflix is trying to quietly kill its physical disc market.  Not only have they stopped delivering on Saturdays, but they've slowed processing of my queue.  In other words, Netflix needs some competition to keep it humble and attentive.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Some photos from the last week.

Hawthorne Bridge in the early morning.
Under the Broadway Bridge at sunset
Sunset from the pedestrian bridge over Union Station.