This tree is only questionably surviving at all.
Month: February 2022
The current president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, worked as an actor and as a comedian before becoming president.
In this very short bit, he and another comedian review the history of Ukraine-Russia relations.
– Ukraine has always conned Russia!
– Oh, please, it can’t be understood.
– Ukraine has Russia one day…
– and Russia has Ukraine the next!
I don’t very often spend time on youtube, but after finding that short video clip, I ended up spending more than an hour watching some of Zelenskyy’s oeuvre, including an episode of the sitcom that he produced and starred in (in which he plays an everyman that becomes president) that propelled him, via a bewildering life-imitates-art trajectory, to the presidency.
Caveat: Poem #2037 “Violent hopes”
ㅁ ХАЙ ЖИВЕ, ВІЛЬНА УКРАЇНА! historical hopes proud hopes possible hopes revanchist expectations diplomatic action logistical action military action geopolitical advancement necessary war justified war holy war pointless invasion send them in let them fight take the land burn houses get captured shoot it all go to hell righteous violence mud-strewn violence bitter violence violent hopes
Caveat: Tree #1129
Caveat: 내 칼도 남의 칼집에 들면 찾기 어렵다
I found this aphorism in my book of Korean aphorisms.
내 칼도 남의 칼집에 들면 찾기 어렵다 nae kal.do nam.ui kal.jip.e deul.myeon chaj.gi eo.ryeop.da my sword-TOO other-person-GEN sheath-IN fall-IF find-INF hard-PRES If my sword ends up in another's sheath, it's hard to find.
This has the same meaning as English’s “Possession is nine-tenths of the law.”
Caveat: Poem #2036 “Semiotic vacuum”
ㅁ but no words appeared... but nothing had meaning then... but silence ruled us...
Caveat: Tree #1128
Caveat: на хуй
At the geopolitical level, I think Putin and the Russian military have miscalculated.
Despite this (or preliminary to this), I should go on record that I actually agree with their “logic” on one key point: Ukraine, historically, is a part of Russia (or, depending on the point in history and the particular patch of land, Poland). Which is to say, Russian revanchist fantasies have some foundation in historical fact. The separate Ukrainian SSR was only carved off of Russia by Lenin in the 1920’s, and the Ukrainian national identity was essentially an artifice wrought by the half-hearted multiculturalist tendencies of the Soviet experiment. As Lenin said (hypocrisy alert), “The proletariat must demand the right of political secession for the colonies and for the nations that ‘its own’ nation oppresses. Unless it does this, proletarian internationalism will remain a meaningless phrase; mutual confidence and class solidarity between the workers of the oppressing and oppressed nations will be impossible.”
This Russian mistake, however, will be their undoing. If Ukraine lacked a “founding myth” and identity before now, Russia’s invasion is giving them one. From now on and far into the future, this Russian invasion of Ukraine will be the kind of foundational myth for Ukrainians that they never had before – and that will happen regardless of whether they win or lose the current war. If they win, then it will be a myth on the same level as George Washington and the American Revolution. If they lose, they become guerilla partisans like the Palestinians on the West Bank, and forge a distinct Ukrainian identity on that basis.
There is no scenario under which Ukraine fails to become a truly distinct nation in the geopolitical sense, as a direct consequence of Russia’s actions. And personally, I think that’s something that had been in doubt, until now. Putin’s “real-world geofiction” is not going to alter the map in the way that he hopes.
Here is the Ukrainian Highway Signs Agency, contributing to the information war:
The sign has been altered to say, loosely, “Fuck Off / Fuck Off More / Fuck Off Back to Russia”.
Caveat: Poem #2035 “The dream was shown to be an illusion upon waking”
Caveat: Tree #1127
Caveat: Friday Blogroll
Blogs (and blog-like-objects) in my browser right now (in a few very broad categories).
Rationalist or adjacent
Politics, philosophy, culture
- Gray Mirror (far right but intellectual)
- Counterpunch (far left but intellectual)
Caveat: Poem #2034 “Fiftieth stanza”
ㅁ Kiamon doubted they'd ever make sense: ghosts always tended to opt for suspense; speaking at times when she danced for them, true; sadly their meanings gave no single clue.
Caveat: Tree #1126
This tree provided a backup visual for some very weird looking snowcicle thingies hanging off the eaves of the house.
Caveat: rubles ↓
Just so you don’t think I never pay attention to current events, anymore: hey, what happened to the Russian ruble, this morning?
Russian ruble, Ukrainian rubble.
Caveat: Poem #2033 “Compositional context”
ㅁ My window is a darkened square where ghosts can hide and lurk; the night outside is made of snow and inside, here, I work.
Caveat: Tree #1125
This tree registered a complaint with the relevant authorities regarding the apparent continuation of winter.
Caveat: 굶는 집
굶는 집 다섯식구 옥순이 아버지 옥순이 어머니 옥순이 옥순이 동생 옥순이 둘째 동생 더 낳을 힘 없어 둘째가 막내인지 배고파서 하루 이틀 꼬박 굶고 물배만 채워 다섯식구 서로 얼굴보고 앉았다 옥순이 둘째 동생 그 어린 것이 한 마리 소가 되어 짚도 풀도 먹고 고구마 덩쿨도 먹을 수만 있다면
– 고은 (한국시인 1933-)
A Starving House This family of five Ok-soon's father Ok-soon's mother Ok Soon-yi Ok-soon's brother Ok-soon's other brother Lacking the strength to have more children, the third is the youngest Hungry Just starve for a day or two Just drink some water This family of five Sat face to face Ok-soon's second brother The little one Could become a cow, eat straw and grass If only one could eat the sweet potato vine
– Ko Un (Korean poet, b. 1933)
This is my own translation, with quite a bit of assistance from my grammar book and google translate and Naver’s online dictionary. I make no claim to professionalism or accuracy. But it is a quite simple poem, so I thought I’d give it a try.
Caveat: Poem #2032 “Release of electrical spirits”
ㅁ The breaker'd waited long enough to let out wisps of smoke; electrons came, electrons went, and in the end it broke.
Caveat: Tree #1124
This tree was along a long and winding road.
I left the Gift Shop early, today, because we had an appointment with an electrician out here at the house.
This was perhaps (hopefully) the concluding chapter in our saga of the weird brown outs. After looking over our system, and trying some things out, and despite our being able to reproduce the described problem, the electrician decided that we had a corroded main breaker (in the box on the utility pole). I found this plausible, as when he flipped the breaker switch one time, it made ominous buzzing noises, and he said he saw it arcing. Which was kind of scary – the electrician jumped back in alarm at that.
So he installed a new breaker. We’re running the heat pump, no problem, the rest of the afternoon and evening. Meanwhile I set out with the chainsaw to replenish our much-reduced firewood supply – since we’ve been heating the house more with the wood stove these past weeks (due to the heat pump not running).
Here is a picture of the old, corroded main breaker that the electrician removed.
Caveat: various -dles
There is a fad circulating online, for a little online word-game called “Wordle.” It’s okay, I guess. Just a little word-guessing game, and perhaps part of what draws people to it is that you’re only allowed to play once a day, which creates a kind of artificial scarcity.
Frankly, there’s a variation on Wordle called Absurdle that I like better. Unlike Wordle, you’re allowed to play as much as you want. But it’s much, much more frustrating. That’s because instead of the puzzle choosing a random word and you having to guess it, this version makes the puzzle “hostile” – if you guess the word the computer has chosen, but other options are available, the computer will change its mind, and move to a different word. So you’re trying to guess at a moving target. It’s exactly like playing 20 questions with a 6 year old, actually.
And then I found Semantle. This game is, perhaps, superficially a bit like Wordle or Absurdle. But instead of just guessing at spelling out a word that the computer has chosen, instead you’re trying to guess a word based on a kind of “hot/cold”, described relative to some rather complex semantic maps of word use. These are the same sorts of mega-dimensional semantic vectors (co-occurrence matrices, I think) that are used in AI-styled language translators, such as e.g. google translate. Anyway, this last is the game I find most addictive, as I try to think about how the semantic fields play out in a large corpus of sample texts.
Caveat: Poem #2031 “Behind the mountain”
ㅁ The sun was in the sky all day but hid behind the trees and all the same the air was ice embittered by a breeze.
Caveat: Tree #1123
This tree felt dizzy and disoriented due to the direct sunlight striking its needles.
Caveat: Sunbeam #1
Living on the south side of the inlet means we live on the north side of a mountain. And in the winter, at this latitude, that means direct sunlight doesn’t reach us for about 3 1/2 months each year, as the sun is too low in the south to reach over the top of the mountain – we are in its shadow all day.
So I have always meant to try to record the days when the sun reaches over the mountain for the first time, in spring (and likewise, when it disappears in the fall). The problem is that we also live in a very, very overcast part of the world. So we never know quite what day it is. But it’s close to today: today, we had quite chilly but clear weather, for a change of pace.
So the sun peeked between two trees on the mountain’s ridge, and struck through my south-facing window next to my desk. For about 5 minutes.
“Oh,” I said to myself. “A sunbeam. What’s this?” I took a picture.
Meanwhile, we are still waiting to hear back from the electricians about having them come visit to diagnose our weird electrical problem (I think I blogged this before, but if not, the TLDR is: we experience “brown outs” when we pull high levels of current, e.g. the heating system).
I checked in with them this morning, but they are quite busy, as is to be expected, being the only licensed electrical contractors based on the island, as far as I’ve been able to figure out. “Maybe later this week,” the woman reassured me, quite pleasant but clearly clueless as to what their actual schedule might be. Island Time.
Caveat: Poem #2030 “Arabesques”
ㅁ The frost arrived and settled down, and plotted out its plans, drew diagrams and detailed maps across cold wood in spans.