Wednesday 16 February, 2022

Harbingers of Spring?

Seen on a woodland walk the other day.

Quote of the Day

”Frankly, I’d like to see the government get out of the war altogether and leave the whole field to private industry.”

  • Milo Minderbinder in Catch 22

Drone manufacturers have the same idea.

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Eels | Mr E’s Beautiful Blues


Long Read of the Day

The case for defending Ukraine

A counterweight by Natia Seskuria to the essay I posted yesterday asking (sceptically) why the US was so bothered about Ukraine and Putin. Ms Seskuria is an Associate Fellow at the British Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). Since the tensions appear to be easing as I write this (late Tuesday evening), maybe all this stuff will be moot in a week. But here’s a sample.

The current crisis is not only about Ukraine’s sovereignty. It is about protecting the values that the U.S. stands for against Russian attempts to erase the rules-based international order. By issuing non-starter ultimatums on the U.S. and its allies—demanding that they take Russia’s so-called security concerns into consideration and change long-standing NATO policies—Russia is directly challenging America’s influence in Europe.

Until now, the West has largely underestimated or turned a blind eye towards the Kremlin’s malign activities. In many instances this approach has been motivated by the economic benefits of cooperation with Russia: the German government is still reluctant to scrap the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, despite Russia’s use of its energy resources as a geopolitical weapon. American leaders have done little better. Barack Obama held off on providing some lethal weapons to Ukraine to avoid provoking Putin. Although his successor Donald Trump ultimately authorized the purchase of anti-tank Javelin missiles to Ukraine and Georgia, his ambiguity and reluctance to criticize Putin further encouraged the Kremlin to play the game by its own rules.

Interesting piece but basically it’s the same argument ever since Chamberlain signed the deal with Hitler about Czechoslovakia. Giving in to bullies only encourages them.

Happy Valentine’s Day from Facebook. Here’s a Photo of You and Your Ex

Lovely piece by Emily Kling.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Just logging in for a quick scroll? Take your time.

You’re not on here as much as you used to be. Still, we’ll never forget you. In fact, we at Facebook love celebrating the moments and people you’ve worked really hard to forget. So now that you’re here, please enjoy this picture of you and your ex-boyfriend from five years ago.

You really loved that wine bar. Look at how happy you were. And is it just us or is your body snatched in this pic? Do you still own that blouse? Oh, right, it doesn’t fit anymore. Just like your ex, it’s gone now.

What happened anyway? I mean, we’re Facebook; we, of course, know what happened. We’ve read the private messages between your ex-boyfriend and your best friend. Pretty steamy. But also, what happened to you? Bummer that you never fully moved on.

Lovely satire. Do read the whole thing. And then delete your account.

How a journalist used Apple AirTags, Tiles and a GPS tracker to watch her husband’s every move

(with his permission, btw)

Kashmir Hill is a terrific journalist who has been covering the tech industry for a long time. A few years she conducted a remarkable experiment to see whether she could live a normal life without using the services of the tech giants. You can guess the result, but it made an interesting and sobering story.

Her latest investigation involved putting various consumer tracking devices on her long-suffering husband to see how effectively he could be tracked.

In mid-January, my husband and I were having an argument. Our 1-year-old had just tested positive for Covid-19 and was occasionally grunting between breaths. I called urgent care and was told we should take her to the emergency room. But, because I had been up all night with her, I was too exhausted to drive.

“I’m worried,” I told my husband. “I want you to take her to the hospital.”

“Doctors always tell us to take the baby to the E.R. whenever we call about anything,” he replied, exasperated. (This was true.) “She is fine. She is eating and playing and happy. This is not an emergency.”

He eventually caved and set out for the hospital a half-hour away. Knowing he was already annoyed by me, I did not want to pepper him with questions about how it was going.

Instead, I turned to the location-monitoring devices that I had secretly stashed in our car a week earlier.

I put a quarter-sized Apple AirTag in a seat pocket; a flat, credit card-shaped Bluetooth tracker made by Tile in a dashboard pocket; and a hockey-puck-like GPS tracker from a company called LandAirSea in the glove compartment.

It’s a fascinating story, well told. And sobering if you’ve bought Tiles or AirTags. I have one of the latter, but it’s only attached to my house keys. (Thinks) Hmmm… But since I never leave home without my keys doesn’t that mean…?

My commonplace booklet

  • Nissan is going to stop making internal combustion engines (ICEs) Link. I’m not surprised. With the Nissan Leaf they were early into the EV game.

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