Caveat: comedian-in-chief

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”

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

– a quennet.

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    nam.ui           kal.jip.e deul.myeon  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: 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: Tree #1126

This tree provided a backup visual for some very weird looking snowcicle thingies hanging off the eaves of the house.

picture[daily log: walking, 3.5km; dogwalking, 3.5km]

Caveat: Tree #1125

This tree registered a complaint with the relevant authorities regarding the apparent continuation of winter.

picture[daily log: walking, 3.5km; retailing, 6hr]

Caveat: 굶는 집

굶는 집

옥순이 아버지
옥순이 어머니
옥순이 동생
옥순이 둘째 동생
더 낳을 힘 없어 둘째가 막내인지
하루 이틀 꼬박 굶고
물배만 채워
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
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: 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.

picture[daily log: walking, 3km; retailing, 3hr; chainsawing, 1hr]

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: Tree #1123

This tree felt dizzy and disoriented due to the direct sunlight striking its needles.

picture[daily log: walking, 3km; dogwalking, 3.5km]

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: Tree #1121

This tree has been featured on this blog before. It is by the pond at Rockpit City Park. The colors on the pond this morning struck me, for some reason.

picture[daily log: walking, 4.5km; dogwalking, 2.5km]

Caveat: Documentation of layers

I have been trying to develop some user-friendly documentation for the map layers on the main website (where I am server host and technical administrator). I have written quite a bit over the last 24 hours, and posted it to two articles on the OpenGeofiction wiki.

For those who might think I’m just a layabout and don’t do much, here is evidence to the contrary.

Caveat: Poem #2028

My uncle's not good company,
he's really getting old.
The room he's in is loud and hot,
because he's deaf and cold.

– a quatrain in ballad meter.

Caveat: Friday Blogroll

Blogs (and blog-like-objects) in my browser right now (in a few very broad categories).

Culture, internet, economics, politics, policy (some of these are hard to put in one category, right?)…

Science, physics, philosophy…

Kind of a blog, but also really a weird, on-line philosophy book thing…

Not really a blog, more of an aggregator for interesting maps…

The dominance of the substack platform in intellectually-inclined blogs (as evidenced above) is become quite disturbing. If this here blog thingy (AKA Caveatdumptruck) ever gets moved to substack, you’ll know I’ve sold my soul to the devil.


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