Russian Roulette

The Russian Roulette Scene from The Deer Hunter film (1978)

Today is Friday August 26th, 2022. Kia ora!

It feels as though Russian Roulette is being played on several levels…

Today it’s wet and cloudy again. It’s very grey. It was nice to have it dry for a couple of days!  It was mild this morning, but turned much cooler at midday. Someone from Access came to do some cleaning, and I changed the towels and tidied up a bit. Actually because she came a week ago, the house hasn’t had time to get as messed up as it sometimes does.

This morning I listened to the final episode of the British Scandal podcast about the abdication of Prince David (briefly King Edward VIII, then the Duke of Windsor) in 1936.  While I had been led to believe that he and Wallis Simpson were faced with an impossible situation, it’s more nuanced in fact. A biographer has shown, now that certain documents have been revealed, that the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were traitors to Great Britain – a choice they made deliberately, although, of course, the Duke may have felt that he was treated very unkindly and forced into being disloyal. Advising the Nazis to bomb London was surely extremely disloyal not only to his family, but also to the British people. He was a bit of a rake, certainly, and despite his popularity, it was felt that he wasn’t suitable to be king. His infatuation with Wallis Simpson was almost fortuitous, although one can’t help feeling rather sorry for them, being forced into critical situation which made their lives very difficult. They were probably not very well suited to each other.

I have read almost half of the new Stalingrad book.  Although I struggle to keep up with all the military tactical information, some depth of the struggle is being conveyed to me, nonetheless. The eye-witness accounts from both sides, and the dilemmas faced by the Germans, are very interesting

It’s now Saturday August 27th.

It’s cloudy today, and quite cold, but not raining where we are. Last night we watched The Blues Brothers on the Bravo channel.  According to the TV Guide, is started at 8:30 pm; evidently it started at 7:30 pm. JD had seen it before; I enjoyed it, especially the amazing musical acts. A great many cars seemed to be destroyed in this pre-digital era (the film was made in 1980).

I woke early this morning and listened to two Lawfare podcasts, a Rational Security one (featuring the Podfather, Benjamin Wittes), and an update with Roger Parloff on January 6 trials and convictions. Both were very interesting. Apparently some of those indicted for their part in the January 6 insurrection knew about the fake electors. Now that is a surprise.

In the US, the affidavit for the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago has been revealed, with redactions. It has transpired that Trump took 300 documents to his Florida club, most of it highly classified. This was not the FBI’s (or perhaps the National Archive’s) first attempt to retrieve documents, a lawyer of Trump’s signed that everything had been returned back in June. That was clearly not correct. It seems Trump reviewed the documents himself. And where exactly did he store them? Some of the documents were only allowed to be viewed in a Scif. You certainly couldn’t take them out of the White House.  It seems that there was a widespread search of Trump’s quarters at Mar-a-Lago, since confidential documents were not safely stored. It would seem.

In Ukraine, there are various concerns, the main one concerning the nuclear power plant at Zaporizhia. Apparently the power to it has been cut off – then restored – then cut off again. It’s posited that Putin will use it as a bargaining chip; already, there are grave concerns about it, not least about switching off the power to it. This is not a Chernobyl-type situation; this plant was built with much greater care and a robust risk assessment; they didn’t expect it would be fired on, though. That dynamic situation, and Dugina’s sudden death, make for a very highly charged environment in Ukraine and in Russia. Is Ukraine trying to take back Crimea? Who knows. The stakes are incredibly high, and I’m thankful again to be a long way away from that sad situation.

It’s also reported that Putin is burning (wasting) oil, seeing that it can(not) be supplied to most countries in the EU. Meanwhile the Germans are rationing power. A very frustrating situation.

The Ministry of Health is seeking to do its daily 1 pm update on weekdays only, so I’m not sure if there’ll be a report today. Still, the numbers seem to be falling, although people are still dying from Covid 19.  It seems there is no Covid 19 report today.

As has become our custom, we went shopping at New World in Thorndon, where I bought lettuce, tomatoes, oranges and bananas; bread; salads and pies, chocolate, Afghan biscuits with walnuts on top, and coffee beans, and a pizza bread.  We would have bought a large quiche, but they were best before 29/08/22, so I didn’t think we would get to use one up in that time. What a treat!  It wasn’t that busy, and everyone was masked. We didn’t have to wait at checkout. Now it’s fine and sunny!  Woo-hoo!

I have listened to lots of podcasts about the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago, including one where Michael Moore went to Mar-a-Lago, and found there was virtually no security there. Rather than being asked to leave right away, or being roughed up, he found lots of media people and celebrities there who wanted selfies with him! Meanwhile there are many reports of classified documents being – where, exactly? Some of them in Trump’s private quarters. Republicans are maintaining radio silence now; no one is commenting. My reaction is – why did the FBI not carry out a search sooner than this?  This story just gets worse and worse – for everyone involved.  And in how many ways is the country’s security at stake? What spies might be rumbled?  What nuclear weapons secrets might have been divulged?  How many times have these documents been photographed – and disseminated?  And what’s the information on French President Emanual Macron?

It’s now Sunday August 28th.

Last night I did not sleep well; I listened to lots of podcasts.  This morning I zoomed into a church service, and begged out of a visit I was going to do with a friend this afternoon. The church service was lovely, and my friend was playing the organ. Sometimes the sound was turned off during the music, but it was left on at the end, when the organist plays a special piece of music.  There didn’t seem to be many people physically at church.

In Ukraine, danger persists at the Zaporizhia nuclear plant, where it’s uncertain  whether the power is on or off, and what if any power is being supplied to the rest of Ukraine. What a perilous, ghastly situation. It’s been going on for six months now, and shows no signs of stopping any time soon.  Is Ukraine trying to take Crimea back? Who knows. Reports are murky and contradictory. During the recent Independence Day in Ukraine, 22 people were killed when another area  – Chaplyne- was shelled.  On the other hand, there was a procession in Kyiv of Russian tanks destroyed by Ukrainians.

Today it’s fine, and mild-ish.  We went to one of my son’s house for dinner. That was nice. When we came home, we watched Brokenwood Mysteries, although we missed the initial scenes. The episode made sense, however, and what about the wonderful jackets? After this we watched another episode of Line of Duty – which was incomprehensible to me. It was quite cold. We’d turned all the heaters off before going out, and although we weren’t out for long, it was very chilly when we got home.

It’s now Monday August 29th.

Last night I slept well – woohoo!  I slept until some time after 6 am.  It’s fine today, the sun is shining, but we didn’t have a frost, which is just the way I like it. I get up fairly early, however, and am disappointed too find that the target puzzle is repeated from yesterday’s paper. One less challenge then.

I have almost finished reading The Lighthouse of Stalingrad, my new book by Iain MacGregor. I am now reading the final pages, about how the undoubtedly heroic stories were mythologised in the Soviet media. The book would have benefited by closer proof-reading – I’ve come across several typos, and MacGregor has, at times, a rather strange way of writing, but I’ve found it very interesting, nonetheless.

Los Pumas. The national rugby team of Argentina, has beaten the (not so) mighty All Blacks here in new Zealand last Saturday night. So some of the nation are in a state of mourning. Ian Foster again gets to bemoan his possible fate. Honestly, who’d want to be the All Blacks head coach?

In the US, President Biden has announced some student loan debt forgiveness. This has given Americans something else to get up in arms about – I haven’t gone into the arguments for and against; I just think it shouldn’t lumber you with debt to get a “good” education, assuming that’s what you get, and you’re intelligent enough to study and pass exams. After all, who wants an inferior surgeon operating on them after having a heart attack, or a brain tumour? Or designing a car, for that matter? Or a space ship? Or managing air traffic control?

Today’s Covid 19 report is much better; perhaps, if you stop reporting the results, they improve? There are 1,653 new community cases, and there have been 6 further deaths. There are 341 people in hospital, including 3 in Intensive Care. Over the weekend, there were 228 new cases at the border.

On the deaths being reported today, four were from the Auckland region, one was from the Wellington region and one was from Southern. One was in their 60s, one was in their 70s, two were in their 80s and two were aged over 90. Five were women and one was a male.  One wonders how many people there still are out there in their 90’s. There are now a total of 1869 deaths confirmed as attributable to Covid-19, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor.

We watched the end of My Life is Murder on television one, starring Lucy Lawless; there’s something really annoying about this series, but JD quite likes it. We also watched another episode of Superpumped on Prime; what an odious character young Travis is!  Amongst other things, the battle with Lyft has primacy; Travis also gets to meet Larry Page at the Googleplex. Like many bad people, he is fascinatingly awful. 

There seems to be no Telegraph update on Ukraine today.  It’s reported that people in Ukraine living near the nuclear plant in Zaporizhia have been given iodine tablets.  The situation remains fraught.

Tomorrow I’m to visit a friend, and the next day I’m meeting another friend for coffee.  What treats!

That’s it for now. Slava Ukraini!  Ngā mihi.

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