David Enzel

Just How Strong is the West’s Support for Ukraine?

David L. Stern writing for The Washington Post:

“Our goal is absolutely clear — to start negotiations on Ukraine’s membership in the European Union,” Zelensky said, flanked by European Council Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Zelensky added that he thought the E.U. would be ready to begin such talks “this year.”

Von der Leyen, however, said there were “no rigid timelines” but rather “goals” that Ukraine needed to reach first. Michel, for his part, said the E.U. was with Zelensky and the Ukrainian people “today … tomorrow and for long as it takes.”

But it is still far from clear that Ukraine will be able to emerge intact from the continuing Russian onslaught. And though Zelensky in recent days has initiated a sweeping crackdown against corruption, Ukraine’s immediate future hinges far more directly on the delivery of weapons, including tanks, to help defend against what is expected to be a major new Russian offensive, perhaps starting within weeks.


Is Lab-grown Meat Kosher?

The Washington Post:

Last week, the leader of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate — a bellwether rabbinical council for religious certifications in Judaism — declared that an Israeli company’s lab-grown steak is “pareve.” That means, in his view, it is not milk or meat and that therefore the eating of the two together by those who follow a kosher diet is not forbidden.

But the declaration was greeted with surprise by Rabbi Menachem Genack, the chief executive of the Orthodox Union Kosher Division in New York. Orthodox Union Kosher is an influential federation of Orthodox synagogues in the United States and Canada. Genack, in an interview with The Washington Post, suggested that his organization may take a different view.


An Example of Mastodon Growth

Jorijn Schrijvershof describing the growth of his Mastodon instance1 in November 2022:

I love everything technical and jumped at the opportunity to start my instance. The days since were a wild ride. If memory serves me well, the first days went like this:

  • November 4th: 60 users
  • November 5th: 600 users
  • November 6th: 6000 users
  • November 7th: 15,000 users

But things have since cooled.

I’m still trying to understand Mastodon :).


  1. This is the instance of Mastodon I am on. ↩︎


Where Are We With Covid?

Dr. Katelyn Jetelina writing on her Substack, “Your Local Epidemiologist“:

We will continue to see the virus ebb and flow—it will mutate, we will get waves, people will continue to miss work and daycare, and people will continue to be hospitalized and die, particularly those over 65 years and immunocompromised. The end of an emergency does not mean the end of disruption or suffering.

Today**, **roughly 500 Americans are dying each day from COVID-19. At this rate, SARS-CoV-2 will be the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2023—about triple the threat of influenza.


Le Monde: ‘L’appel du 18 juin du général de Gaulle reconstitué pour la première fois’

Le Monde Podcast: L’Heure du Monde:

L’appel du 18 juin est l’un des discours les plus célèbres de l’histoire de France. Il n’en existe pourtant aucun enregistrement. Charles-Henry Groult, chef du service vidéo du « Monde », a tenté de reproduire la voix du général de Gaulle grâce à un système d’intelligence artificielle. Pourquoi ce monument de l’histoire de France est-il aujourd’hui introuvable ? Comment recréer la voix d’un mort ? Quelles sont les limites, techniques et éthiques, d’une telle technologie ? Il raconte son enquête.

Spotify

Aussi: Le Monde


Substack Introduces ‘Pledges’

Substack:

Today we are excited to announce Pledges, an easy new way for readers to support your work. Pledges help writers build confidence that readers love and value their writing, and that they could succeed with a subscription model. We started rolling out Pledges in December, and the feature is available to all writers today.

Substack is doing everything it can to monetize blogging and to bring blogs within its platform. I’m not a fan. I much prefer the original model of people just wanting to share with others.

See also, Done with Newsletter Experiment.


January 30: “Machtergreifung” - “Seizure of Power”

DW:

In the German language, January 30 has been marked by the term “Machtergreifung,” or “seizure of power.” But power was not seized by Hitler; it was instead handed to him when Reich President Paul von Hindenburg appointed the Nazi leader Reich chancellor.


Les Russes Nourrissent Autorité

Toutes les données dont nous disposons nous disent que les Russes nourrissent aujourd’hui un désir de verticalité, c’est-à-dire d’autorité. Si nous voulions recourir aux catégories de la psychanalyse, nous pourrions dire que les Russes attendent un chef qui fasse oublier le langage de la mère et se remette à imposer la langue du père.

da Empoli, Giuliano. Le mage du Kremlin (French Edition) (p. 94). Editions Gallimard. Kindle Edition.


Social Media Takes Away From Normal Human Interactions

The 2016 comments of the late Tatjana Patitz on social media in Prestige Hong Kong magazine:

I think social media is going to kill everything, because it has nothing to do with anything. It’s all hashtag-watch-me-on-my-vacation-windblown-and-perfect. It has nothing to do with reality, or art. It’s a feeding frenzy. I feel sorry in one sense, because social media has produced some incredible creative endeavours. But I have a 12-year-old son who is entering this world of social media and hashtags and posts and it’s taking away from people having a normal rhythm of interacting with each other.


When I see a person who hasn’t done shit having millions of followers, having done nothing productive for the planet or otherwise, it pisses me off. I honestly believe it’s going to backfire. People spend so much time on their phones, but they don’t take in moments any more.


Le mage du Kremlin: Greta Garbo

Puis-je vous poser une question ? Savez-vous quelle est la plus grande actrice de tous les temps ? » Poutine, inexpressif, secoua la tête.

« Greta Garbo. Et vous savez pourquoi ? Parce que l’idole qui se refuse renforce son pouvoir. Le mystère génère de l’énergie. La distance alimente la vénération. L’imaginaire de la société russe, de quelque société que ce soit, s’articule sur deux dimensions. L’axe horizontal correspond à la proximité du quotidien, et le vertical à l’autorité.

da Empoli, Giuliano. Le mage du Kremlin (French Edition) (pp. 93-94). Editions Gallimard. Kindle Edition.


Washington, DC (January 29, 2023)


Le mage du Kremlin: ‘Les Russes jouent avec l’argent’

Les étrangers pensent que les nouveaux Russes sont obsédés par l’argent. Mais ce n’est pas ça. Les Russes jouent avec l’argent. Ils le jettent en l’air comme des confettis. Il est arrivé si vite et si abondamment. Hier il n’y en avait pas. Demain, qui sait ? Autant le claquer tout de suite. Chez vous, l’argent est essentiel, c’est la base de tout. Ici, je vous assure, ce n’est pas comme ça. Seul le privilège compte en Russie, la proximité du pouvoir. Tout le reste est accessoire. C’était comme ça du temps du tsar et pendant les années communistes encore plus. Le système soviétique était fondé sur le statut. L’argent ne comptait pas.

da Empoli, Giuliano. Le mage du Kremlin (French Edition) (p. 49). Editions Gallimard. Kindle Edition.


Certes ce roman, achevé par l’auteur en janvier 2021, éclaire l’actualité géopolitique d’une lumière pénétrante. Mais il lui survivra par son implacable lucidité et son style étincelant.

Le Monde (Macha Séry)


Doomsday Clock: ’90 Seconds to Midnight’

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:

This year, the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moves the hands of the Doomsday Clock forward, largely (though not exclusively) because of the mounting dangers of the war in Ukraine. The Clock now stands at 90 seconds to midnight—the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been.


Founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein and University of Chicago scientists who helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock two years later, using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet. The Doomsday Clock is set every year by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 10 Nobel laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to global catastrophe caused by manmade technologies.


January 27 Marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day

The United Nations General Assembly designated January 27—the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau—as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

On this annual day of commemoration, the UN urges every member state to honor the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of Nazism and to develop educational programs to help prevent future genocides.

This year, the theme of the UN Holocaust Remembrance Day is “home and belonging”, two concepts that were systematically ripped away from Jewish citizens, once the Nazi Party took control of Germany in 1933.

The World Holocaust Remembrance Center has specially updated its exhibition, “The Yad Vashem Book of Names of Holocaust Victims” for display at United Nations Headquarters this year. “The Yad Vashem Book of Names of Holocaust Victims” details alphabetically the name of each of the approximately 4.8 million Holocaust victims that Yad Vashem has currently documented and confirmed. Whenever possible, “The Yad Vashem Book of Names of Holocaust Victims” shows the date of birth, home town and place of death of the respective victim. The names are taken from Pages of Testimony in Yad Vashem’s Hall of Names, as well as from various lists compiled during and following the Holocaust, and subsequently reviewed by Yad Vashem experts. The display of “The Yad Vashem Book of Names of Holocaust Victims” at the United Nations is supported by the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations.

At the inauguration of the U.N. installation, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the Nazis tried to rob millions of Jews of their names before killing them during World War II — but explained that they failed and all those slaughtered “shall never be forgotten.”

The exhibition is free and open to the public. Guests are welcome to visit the exhibition during regular hours (Monday-Friday, 9 am – 5 pm). For more information, please, check the United Nations Visitor Centre entry guidelines.


EU Has Sent €3.6 billion to Ukrainian Military, Mostly from Germany

DW:

Soon after Russia began its major offensive on Ukraine last February, the EU made the historic decision to use money from a relatively new fund, known as the European Peace Facility, to back Kyiv. It was the first time it had been used to supply lethal weapons to a third country.

Since then, the EU has committed some €3.6 billion in collective funds to the Ukrainian military, which pays for a combination of lethal and non-lethal aid. Contributions to the European Peace Facility are calculated according to each country’s economic output. As a result, Germany, which has the largest GDP in the bloc, contributes the most.

The EPF can also be used to reimburse member states for aid they have individually sent to Ukraine. For example, Poland — one of Ukraine’s biggest military backers — has indicated it will seek EU funds to cover the cost of Leopard 2 tanks Warsaw wants to send to Kyiv.


Was 2008 the Breaking Point in the West’s Relationship with Russia?

After [Bill] Clinton and his advisors left office, they could only watch in alarm as Bush’s son, George W. Bush, took the keys to the NATO car and gunned it down that open road. Among other stops, the younger Bush attended the alliance’s summits in 2006 in Latvia, the first such event on former Soviet territory, and in 2008 in Bucharest, where he pushed hard for inclusion of Georgia and Ukraine. For Putin, that Bucharest summit—coming on top of Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq and his 2007 decision to erect ballistic missile defenses (in the form of ten ground-based interceptors in Poland and a radar facility in the Czech Republic), all around the time of “color revolutions” in post-Soviet states—proved to be the breaking point.

Sarotte, M. E.. Not One Inch (The Henry L. Stimson Lectures Series) (p. 348). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition (footnotes omitted)


On the Importance of Ukraine in 1991

With roughly 52 million inhabitants at the time, Ukraine was, in population terms, both the second-largest Soviet republic and the size of a major European state; the British and French populations were 57 and 58 million, respectively. 135 Ukraine’s history as an East Slavic and predominantly Orthodox state had long been deeply intertwined with Russia’s. There were millions of ethnic Russians living among, and married to, Ukrainians. If Ukraine decided in its referendum of December 1, 1991 to become fully independent, it would at once commence a painful economic and political divorce from its fellow Slavs and also become a greater nuclear power than either Britain or France. Ukraine’s choices would clearly have such far-reaching effects. From Moscow, [U.S.] Ambassador [Robert S.] Strauss advised Washington that “the most revolutionary event of 1991 for Russia may not be the collapse of Communism, but the loss of something Russians of all political stripes think of as part of their own body politic, and near to the heart at that: Ukraine.”

Sarotte, M. E.. Not One Inch (The Henry L. Stimson Lectures Series) (pp. 126-127). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition (footnotes omitted).


Washington, DC

View from Virginia


Le Petit-Fils du Général de Gaulle S’Exprime

Un entretien avec Pierre de Gaulle, petit-fils du général de Gaulle sur Sud Radio: Il croit que la France de Charles de Gaulle n’existe plus. Je ne sais pas s’il a raison mais c’est tout à fait intéressant.


WordPress: Old School Way of Making a Website?

Øyvind (Ø…I know…Norwegian…just call me Owen):

You should not have to worry about servers, development environments, deployments, and outdated code anymore if you’re building a basic website. Seriously. There are way better services to build and host your website. Webflow is my platform of choice. Or you could go with Squarespace for low budget simple sites. Other no-code platforms to mention are Wix and Weebly. Some times, like in this article, Wix is rated above Squarespace. But for a simple website, I think it has a bit too much freedom and options.

Coming from a background in both development and design, I have been through everything from personally developing an elaborate PHP based CMS (including e-commerce) at the beginning of the century, to being blessed with the amazing tools we as designers and developers have today. Somewhere in the middle of this journey, WordPress was a solid candidate for the typical small business website. But not anymore in my opinion.

This article got me thinking. In my mind, WordPress is the default option. But does that make sense in 2023? For example, this website, which is hosted on Micro.blog, is built on Hugo. It’s really fast but doesn’t have all the features available on WordPress. But in my mind, it’s a good tradeoff. And in my opinion, most Squarespace sites look way better than most WordPress sites and require much less effort to build and maintain. I’ve never tried Webflow so I cannot comment on it. But I now wonder if WordPress is old technology living on custom and momentum.

I have a site on Squarespace. I like it because I was able to create a site I actually like. Its purpose is to write about and share images. I tried the same project on WordPress and it was way more effort and I did not like the result. And along the way, I was looking at theme after theme and plugin after plugin. It was no fun.1 From what I’ve read, Webflow is more powerful than either WordPress or Squarespace and yields faster websites than either WordPress or Squarespace. But I have yet to try Webflow.


  1. I am sure with more time and effort I could have created a site I like on WordPress but given the alternatives I did not see the point. ↩︎


Blogging to Connect with Others Directly

Kev Quirk engages with his readers via an email button at the end of each post. I like that because there is substance to the dialogue. You can’t get that by hitting a like button or through anonymous comments. Kev explains:

I enjoy writing content on here, and I love engaging with people who read my content. So it’s win/win. If something crops up within my email conversations with readers, that I think is worth sharing, I will always ask the person if they’re happy for me to share, then post an update. So other readers get the benefit of those conversations too.


Robert Clary (1926-2022)

The Washington Post:

Robert Clary, a French-born survivor of Nazi concentration camps during World War II who played a feisty prisoner of war in the improbable 1960s sitcom “Hogan’s Heroes,” died Nov. 16 [, 2022] at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 96.

***

Mr. Clary was the last surviving original star of the sitcom that included Bob Crane, Richard Dawson, Larry Hovis and Ivan Dixon as the prisoners. Werner Klemperer and John Banner, who played their captors, were European Jews who fled Nazi persecution before the war.

Mr. Clary remained publicly silent about his own wartime experience until 1980 when, Mr. Clary said, he was provoked to speak out by those who denied or diminished the orchestrated effort by Nazi Germany to exterminate Jews. Twelve of his immediate family members — his parents and 10 siblings — were killed under the Nazis . . .

Clary was liberated from Buchenwald on April 11, 1945. Clary was the only family member to survive.

Hogan’s Heroes ran for 168 episodes (six seasons) from 1965-1971, on the CBS network. It was the longest broadcast run for an American television series inspired by WWII.

Although the show was completely unrealistic, I loved it. It made me laugh then and does so now.


Pont Alexandre III, Paris

Pont Alexandre III, Paris

The Pont Alexandre III is a deck arch bridge that spans the Seine in Paris. It connects the Champs-Élysées quarter with those of the Invalides and Eiffel Tower. The bridge is widely regarded as the most ornate, extravagant bridge in the city. It has been classified as a French monument historique since 1975.

The Beaux-Arts style bridge, with its exuberant Art Nouveau lamps, cherubs, nymphs and winged horses at either end, was built between 1896 and 1900. It is named after Tsar Alexander III, who had concluded the Franco-Russian Alliance in 1892. His son Nicholas II laid the foundation stone in October 1896. The style of the bridge reflects that of the Grand Palais, to which it leads on the right bank.

The next bridge upstream on the Seine is Pont de la Concorde and the next bridge downstream is Pont des Invalides, which is the lowest bridge crossing the Seine.

The Pont Alexandre III is one of 37 bridges in Paris that cross the river Seine.

In the 1985 James Bond movie A View to Kill, Bond jumps from the Pont Alexandre III into a boat to catch a mysterious killer.


Tatjana Patitz (1966-2023)

Vogue:

Tatjana Patitz, the quietest and perhaps the most intense of the original supermodels, has died. She was 56. A representative for the family stated that the cause of death was metastatic breast cancer.

[…]

[T] here was a certain element of mystery to Patitz’s beauty, something in the gentle oval of her face and the shape of her eyes that spoke of self-possession and passion. “Tatjana was always the European symbol of chic, like Romy Schneider-meets-Monica Vitti,” remembered Anna Wintour, chief content officer of Condé Nast and global editorial director of Vogue. “She was far less visible than her peers—more mysterious, more grown-up, more unattainable—and that had its own appeal.”

May her memory be a blessing.


The Guardian


Blogging: ‘A Space of My Own’

Vincent Ritter explaining why he blogs:

This site acts as portal to my past and present self that one day I can look back on, on my steps forward and also missteps along the way. Life isn’t a straight road, so it’s nice to have a space of my own to share and reflect on.


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