SL 870

I had another morning of special ed meetings, and now I’m trying to shift mental gears. In the background, a special report on CNN is telling us that things are not going well in Ukraine. My local YMCA is presently collecting medical supplies for the Ukraine, so I need to head out to get some gauze and bandaids. Then I drive Ian to therapy, pick up Steve from the train station, get some nice vegetarian pizza, and then off for ashes at church. But first some quick links:

“The crisis in Ukraine is not a spontaneous event or a weekend influencer pop-up — it’s the result of decades’ worth of geopolitical strife. And in this conflict, contrary to our comfortingly predetermined story lines, there is no playbook showing that the underdogs will win.” The situation in Ukraine is not a meme, a game, or a viral tweet. Treat this situation with respect and responsibility. People are dying and a lot more will die. Please be serious.

From the WSJ: “Jack Sweeney, the Florida teenager who garnered attention for tracking the private jet of Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Elon Musk, is now publicizing the movements of planes owned by Russian oligarchs and aircraft associated with Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

Steve thinks that Biden is trying to create a scenario where the Russian Uber-rich are going to kill Putin in order to preserve their yachts and penthouses in Manhattan, London, Los Angeles.

Parents with special education children spend an unbelievable amount of money getting help for their kids and trying to force schools to actually educate their kids. One example of the money that we shell out is for outside evaluations, which go for around $7,000 now. That money is not reimbursed by the schools or by health insurance. It’s just $7,000 out of pocket. Good-bye money. I spent $10,000 during the pandemic to pay for tutors, because my kid didn’t have school for 18 months. I’ll never get that money back. I’ve been looking at programs to help high functioning autistic kids after high school. Those programs cost $80,000 and you can’t supplement those costs with student loans or health insurance.

Actually, I found that David Leonhardt has been TOO timid with too many disclaimers on his articles.

What did you think of Biden’s SOTU? It was crazy like the past four addresses, so that was good. But it also wasn’t terrible inspired either.

Cooking and Picture: Lemony White Bean Soup with Turkey and Greens

Shopping: I’m going down to Florida at the end of month with my mom to visit a sick relative. And we’ll be in North Carolina in early April. So, I need some cute spring dresses. I’m liking these at the Gap.

21 thoughts on “SL 870

  1. Some cute stuff at Banana Republic Factory, too. I always like it when you get new spring dresses. Do you get rid of old ones when you do? I am feeling retail therapy these days but that doesn’t work if I don’t get rid of old things.

    There are a lot of weights on the world right now. Am trying to find some that I can do even a little bit about.


  2. ““The crisis in Ukraine is not a spontaneous event or a weekend influencer pop-up — it’s the result of decades’ worth of geopolitical strife. And in this conflict, contrary to our comfortingly predetermined story lines, there is no playbook showing that the underdogs will win.”

    Eventually they will…but the question is how much unnecessary suffering, death and destruction there’s going to be first. Long-term, the Russians cannot hold Ukraine, especially not after this. An occupation is too big a commitment (especially considering the possibility of porous borders with several friendly NATO members), and without an occupation, the Ukrainian people will chuck out any puppet leader, as they have before.

    It mostly depends on one man, but at the same time, I think that enough Russians in the street could turn the tide. Navalny, the imprisoned Russian dissident who inspired huge mass protests, is calling for major demonstrations, and he’s told people when to do it.

    “Steve thinks that Biden is trying to create a scenario where the Russian Uber-rich are going to kill Putin in order to preserve their yachts and penthouses in Manhattan, London, Los Angeles.”

    I’ve said, “It’s time for the polonium soup!” at least once. There’s a reason that these days, Putin is always photographed 15+ feet away from anybody. (COVID, too, but I bet he has assassination fears.)

    “Those programs cost $80,000 and you can’t supplement those costs with student loans or health insurance.”

    I wonder–can tax-free college savings accounts be used for those programs?


    1. Some dictators are rumored to use body doubles. What if…Putin died of Covid? It’s harder to pick out small details at a distance.

      I don’t think the oligarchs will step in. As far as I can tell, it’s very medieval–the oligarchs hold property at the pleasure of the king (Putin.) Oligarchs who displease Putin have come to bad ends.

      For example:

      The superyachts are being seized. I don’t know what the market is for a used superyacht.


      1. “Some dictators are rumored to use body doubles.”

        OMG, this reminds me that everyone should be watching The Great on Hulu.




    2. Cranberry wrote, “Some dictators are rumored to use body doubles. What if…Putin died of Covid? It’s harder to pick out small details at a distance.”

      Ooooh. That’s not a bad point about body doubles.

      I don’t think they’d be doing an invasion if Putin had died, though.

      Speaking of Putin, this is quite the clip:

      He’s doing a pivot from his usual role as Mr. Orthodox McSlav to some sort of feel-good Russian (imperialist) multiculturalism.

      He praises the Russian armed forces (and specifically the heroism of a guy from Dagestan from a minority I’ve never heard of), saying looking at them, ““I’m a Dagestani, I’m a Chechen, Ingush, Russian, Tatar, Jew, Mordvinian, Ossetian.”

      I had to look up a couple of those. Uncharitable thought: those small, non-Slav Russian minorities are the ones he expects to kill Ukrainians for him.

      Putin points out that there are more than 300 nationalities in the Russian Federation. He says he’s proud to be part of this powerful, multiethnic nation.

      Then he does a quick pivot to saying that he doesn’t think that Ukrainians and Russians are separate peoples, but that some portion of Ukrainians have been frightened (by some unnamed “they”).

      I’m getting a lot out of my Russian this week.


  3. There had been a lull in anti-war demonstrations in Russia (and some clips had been replayed a lot), but here’s a big, new demonstration in St. Petersburg. This is one of the biggest anti-war demonstrations in Russia that I have seen this week. Interestingly, I do not see the masses of security forces that were a fixture at other demonstrations. There were a lot of security forces proportionate to number of demonstrators at previous protests. These protests are highly illegal. What I have noticed is that at previous protests, it’s holding a sign that seems to especially attract police attention.

    Long-term, Ukraine will win. Short-term, it’s Russians who have the best shot at stopping the war.

    I have to say, though, the news coming out of the new round of Russia-Ukraine isn’t great. The Russian side was, I kid you not, snarking at the Ukrainians for being late to the talks. I don’t think that there’s a ceasefire, either…


  4. Here’s an hour and a half long version of the clip above.

    Lots of riot police in this version and plenty of arrests. I’m going to be watching or skipping through the whole thing.


  5. In other news, Vinay Prasad had a video March 1, where he talked about the new data on COVID vaccine effectiveness for 5-11.

    For this age group, you get 65% protection from infection two weeks out from vaccination…and then 12% protection at 28-34 days.

    This vaccine regimen is pretty weak tea for this age group.

    Prasad points out that this finding undermines the case for school vaccine mandates for elementary kids, vaccine passports, and disparate quarantine rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated kids.

    He says that the failure of the vaccine regimen to make much of a difference in kids 5-11 has some implications for the 6mo-4yr group, which has already had very disappointing results. There was initially a big push for 6mo-4yr, and then that had to be walked back.

    Prasad notes that two big FDA people quit over White House pressure on boosters, and he argues that the failures that we’ve been seeing with regard to children’s COVID vaccines may be related to the fact that the independence of the FDA has been compromised.


    1. Here’s a Feb. 28 piece from Prasad: “Another FDA Blunder: How the Food and Drug Administration botched the vaccine-approval process for young children.”

      Based on the fizzling of 5-11 effectiveness, we have to expect that 6mo-4yr third dose results may be underwhelming, especially since the two-dose regime was ineffective.

      It’s very early days with regard to COVID vaccination, and it’s very unlikely that we’ve already figured out which vaccine is the best to use for each age group, what the doses should be, how big the spacing should be. It’s very likely that optimizing will require some changes and that we need a more up-to-date version of the vaccine for kids.

      We vaccinated our 9-year-old starting in Nov. 2021, with a second dose in January, but we’re in the minority in the US and many other developed countries. Only about a quarter of US parents of kids 5-11 have gotten them vaccinated against COVID.

      It looks like there might have been an error in my previous comment. Prasad said 65%, whereas it seems to have been 68% effectiveness:

      NBC says, “Researchers from the New York State Department of Health found that the vaccine’s effectiveness dropped to 12 percent from 68 percent in the age group in December and January, when the omicron variant of the coronavirus began circulating widely in the United States.”

      That’s a really dramatic drop. Vaccine passports for kids 5-11 are pretty meaningless in this environment.



    “Former citizenship chief urges Biden to halt Russian visas.”

    “Roughly 150,000 Russians in an average year enter the U.S. as students, academics, professional athletes, investors or, most commonly, as visitors on tourism or business trips.
    With the stroke of a pen, President Biden and his team could shut down all of it.”

    For goodness sake, why? What goal is served by trapping Russians in Russia? The more evil and repressive Russia is, the more willing we should be to grant visas.

    I also have doubts about the wisdom of wholesale cutting off communication and transportation ties between Russia and the outside.

    I know it’s hard to figure out which wires to snip, but a little more caution is in order. I have some friends who are trying to get out of Russia right now, and they are frantic to get out while they still can. There’s the expectation that Russia itself is about to slam the door shut.


    1. Our own economy (US & EU) is in danger from the sanctions and the war.

      First, famine will come. Russia and Ukraine are major food exporters for the world. There’s a looming shortage in fertilizer, because it is produced from natural gas. Bloomberg reports that European fertilizer producers are cutting production, because the rise in prices make it uneconomical.

      Second, industrial materials are endangered. Factories that create feedstock for plastics are reducing production.

      Ukraine produces neon from materials produced by Russian steel plants. Neon is necessary for semiconductor chip production.

      Trading in nickel has been halted. Prices had soared to $100,000 a ton.

      Then there’s the unforeseen effect when Western investors face margin calls because they’ve invested in Russia, and those investments became worthless overnight.

      This is unknown territory.


  7. Laura tweeted mention of a rumor that Putin has colon cancer.

    A lot of people have noted (as my dad did the last time we talked) that Putin is not looking like his usual trim self. He looks puffy. On the one hand, he’s 69, so maybe it’s just that his age is catching up with him. On the other hand, maybe he does have some sort of terminal illness.

    That would explain why he went full-on COVID paranoiac the past couple years–maybe it’s not paranoia, maybe he has good reason to believe that he’d have more trouble with COVID than the average 69-year-old.


    1. This article lists some reasons to think he is ill:

      Here’s a theory. Maybe he had Covid (evidence: the coughing fit.) Covid can be treated with steroids, which would explain his face. You can catch Covid twice, which is a reason for the long tables (as well as a fear of assassination.) This week the news is buzzing over reports of a study that even mild covid can cause brain shrinkage, “as much as a decade of aging.”

      That could explain this stupid invasion.

      I am reminded of the story of the Delphic oracle’s answer to Croesus, “if you attack the Persians, you will destroy a great empire.” Looking at the online chatter from people who have dedicated their lives to understanding Eastern Europe, no one expected the Ukrainians to do so well.

      I am very worried. It is worthwhile to look for translations of Putin’s speech explaining his decision to invade.


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