Nightmare Fuel Rods

Last Wednesday was the wrong night to wake up at one a.m. and habitually check Twitter. Realising that the Russian army had started shelling the largest nuclear power plant in Europe wasn’t exactly conducive to sleep. Thoughts of Chernobyl had already been at the back of my mind during the first week of the war, even before the Russians took that notorious site over, but Zaporizhzhia seemed an even better candidate for “accidentally” turning into a giant dirty bomb. Just the fact of Russia attacking either is reason to worry very, very much.

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10 March 2022

In the Mud

The situation in Mariupol on the coast of southern Ukraine is desperate, with water supplies cut after days of Russian bombardment. But further north, there may be cause for hope. A Russian thermobaric bomb launcher got captured by Ukrainians because “it tried to go off-roading … in springtime”, when the ground hasn’t frozen as usual this winter. Meanwhile, poor Russian Army truck maintenance practices implied by a photo of a gun-missile system’s right rear pair of tyres have significant implications for Russia:

When you leave military truck tires in one place for months on end … the side walls get rotted/brittle such that using low tire pressure setting for any appreciable distance will cause the tires to fail catastrophically via rips. … The Russians simply cannot risk them off road during the Rasputitsa/Mud season. … Given the demonstrated levels of corruption in truck maintenance … their wheeled AFV/truck park is as road bound as Russian Army columns were in the 1st Russo-Finnish War.

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3 March 2022

Crushing Thoughts

This war is likely to be long-lasting. But the most important issue has already been decided.

Russian warship, Иди Hаxуй.

The information war.

Putin has overestimated his ability to win a propaganda war.

Debunking a staged “provocation” in the Donbas.

What Russian nationalists think about the invasion.

Analysts overrate the Russian army, underrate Ukraine’s, and misunderstand Russian strategy and goals.

We’re already in World War III. We have been for some time.

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2 March 2022

Sunflower Seeds

It’s a few hours short of four days since Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Defying his expectations and everyone’s fears, he has failed to take its capital quickly, and the valiant example of Ukraine’s president and people is rallying the world to its cause. Far from weakening them, Putin’s actions could end up strengthening NATO and the EU. But the situation remains fraught with the potential of escalating into something far worse, with Putin today putting Russia’s nuclear defences on alert in response to the West’s sweeping economic sanctions, and Belarus reportedly committing its ground and air forces to his cause. Kyiv could yet fall. Every night Europe is holding its breath.

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27 February 2022

Over the Brink

Timely lessons on Ukrainian history from Timothy Snyder: King of Ukraine, Part I · II · III · IV · V · VI · Kyiv’s ancient normality. And on the present (before 24 hours ago, when there was still hope that Putin wouldn’t invade): What is Putin thinking? Is there a simple solution? Putin has an exit. How Putin makes his enemies do all the work: “If all one does is provoke, then all one sees is provocation.”

Having Russian military in large numbers in Belarus meant Putin had to decide to invade or go home “before those of his soldiers who aren’t incapacitated with Covid drink themselves to death after robbing his army blind leaving it unable to fight and stuck in a country they’ve trashed”.

The supposed films of Ukrainian “attacks” made by Russia’s fake factory. Bellingcat on previous Russian disinformation campaigns.

The view from Finland.

22 February 2022

Falling Down

The twentieth anniversary of 9/11 felt more significant than in a while, probably because the fall of Kabul to the Taliban last month had already taken the world right back to 2001. I wouldn’t add much to my comments of those early years, but some of the articles that did the rounds were worth a look.

“The Falling Man” is still you and me.

My mother died on 9/11. Every year, her absence feels larger.

9/12, by Edward Snowden.

The wildest shit from ’01 to ’06.

I also watched 102 Minutes That Changed America, which because we didn’t have a TV in September 2001 was the first time I’d seen the footage at such length. A waking nightmare.

18 September 2021

Enemy State

The Brexit of small things.

Antiques no-show.

Have things improved?

“I can’t see any positives.”

Food exporters are having to cut ties with the EU.

Europe’s trust in Britain has gone.

Enemy state.

“After Calais it is the north pole.”

Why the UK isn’t winning Eurovision.

What will replace the United Kingdom?

9 June 2021

The Benefit of Hindsight

Nobody could have predicted the insurrection.

Nobody could have predicted the insurrection.

Nobody could have predicted the insurrection.

Nobody could have predicted the insurrection.

Among the insurrectionists that nobody could have predicted.

A Night at the Garden.

The American Abyss.

Russia cultivated Trump for 40 years.

I see no choice but to resign from this Death Star as it begins to explode.

20 March 2021

Mr Bun the Baker

Brexit is coming apart at the seams. Everything that they promised is coming unstitched.

It clawed at the seam where I felt connected to the country I called home.

The Conservatives have ripped us from our only possible home.

How did a man with no shame come to haunt our times?

I was completely and utterly horrified by what I felt was almost a coup.

We had to be complicit in the fallacy that these things could just work.

When something has gone wrong and you need to distract the audience, you send in the clowns.

Title from the greatest of all Brexit tweets.

20 March 2021


A year ago today was my last day in the office before the first lockdown, with our university telling us all to work from home a week before the prime minister did. For almost three months we’ve been in Scotland’s second lockdown, which is only now starting to ease: older primary school kids (including ours) went back to physical school full-time yesterday, and younger high school kids (including ours) have started going back a day a week until Easter.

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16 March 2021