A nation-state is like a fingerprint, it is unique. It is different from all others.
And to say it somehow doesn't matter is to say the nonsensical.
It ignores the obvious necessity of love of ones' own.
This is where I was born, this is who I was born to, this is who I love, this is who I hate.
"“You know why the Russians didn’t take Tbilisi in 2008?” Uhtegi asked me. “They were just up the road, 50 kilometers or so, and nothing was stopping them.”
Having spent many years in Georgia, I knew the answer to this one: because Georgians are crazy. Uhtegi barked a laugh. “Yes. Exactly. Georgians are crazy, and they would fight. The idea of this unwinnable asymmetric fight in Tbilisi was not so appealing to the Russians.”
He continued: “There are always these discussions. Like, yeah. The Russians can get to Tallinn in two days. ... Maybe. [The Estonian capital is about 125 miles from the Russian border.] But they can’t get all of Estonia in two days. They can get to Tallinn, and behind them, we will cut their communication lines and supplies lines and everything else.” That dead-eyed Baltic stare fixes me again. “They can get to Tallinn in two days. But they will die in Tallinn. And they know this. … They will get fire from every corner, at every step.”"
via watt. well worth a read in full
"Last year, China paid $260 billion importing chips—60% more than it spent on oil."
"Working with these units in Trojan Footprint, U.S. special operations forces simulated an operation to “clear the way” for a counteroffensive by NATO’s conventional military forces to liberate the Baltics from an invasion.
“I put a lot of stock in the deterrent effect of us being here,” Ferguson said. “Our constant presence in the Baltics sends a clear signal that we’re going to take any sort of shenanigans seriously. I think that’s an important message to send.”
The Special Forces commander paused, narrowed his eyes a touch, and added: “Going to war with America is no joke.”( ... tālāk ... )
“Silicon Valley fears a political solution to privacy. Internet Freedom and crypto offer an acceptable solution”
"Differences in climate made butter and milk a mark of otherness—unlike cheese which kept better in warmer climes. Since the presence of large, powerful cities and cultures in the far north is a relatively modern development, this linked any non-cheese dairy with inferior (or at least less powerful) groups.
Drinking milk wasn’t unknown in places such as Ancient Rome. But for similar reasons, it was linked with the country and lower classes. Until the age of refrigeration, very little fresh drinking milk was consumed in the Middle East. In Rome, due to the inevitability of spoilage, and because fresh milk was available only on farms, it was consumed mostly by the farmers’ children and by peasants who lived nearby, often with salted or sweetened bread. This led to fresh milk’s being widely regarded as a food of low status. Drinking milk was something that only crude, uneducated rural people did and was rare among adults of all social classes."
“The crux of the problem is that the field of artificial intelligence has not come to grips with the infinite complexity of language. Just as you can make infinitely many arithmetic equations by combining a few mathematical symbols and following a small set of rules, you can make infinitely many sentences by combining a modest set of words and a modest set of rules.
No matter how much data you have and how many patterns you discern, your data will never match the creativity of human beings or the fluidity of the real world. The universe of possible sentences is too complex.”
"The returns on (the right kind of) real estate have been so extraordinary that, according to some economists, real estate alone may account for essentially all of the increase in wealth concentration over the past half century."
"On complexity vs sophistication: During the cold war, a US company noticed the USSR had stolen the plans for a natural gas pipeline system, but not the software.
In response, the US introduced an integer overflow bug that was uptime dependent, and took something like 6 months to hit. The bug simultaneously cranked up the pumps and closed all the valves in the network.
It was known that the Soviet economy would crash in under a year without the ability to cheaply move natural gas, so they couldn’t test long enough to find this.
A year or so later, the DoD’s seismographs detected the largest non-nuclear explosion in human history.
The main impact wasn’t the explosion or the short-term economic damage. The main impact was that the USSR stopped trusting stolen software, which set them way further back, economically and militarily.
Arguably, that ~one line of code was infinitely more sophisticated than stuxnet."
"The truth is that domestication makes any animal dumb. You name the species — dogs, cats, cows, horses, sheep, pigs — human selection on “tameness” for thousands of years accumulates a wide array of traits, including floppier ears, shorter snouts, hair color variability and the like, most likely based on more basic inherited alterations in certain stem cell and stress hormone production patterns (see Domesticated: Evolution in a Man-Made World, by Richard Francis, for a great read on all this). Different species show these external traits to different degrees. But the trait that ALL domesticated species demonstrate relative to their wild species is a smaller brain. I’d bet it’s happening with humans, too, but that’s just an observation for another day."
"Latvians (who also had higher literacy rates than the rest of the populace of the former Russian Empire), made it up to the very top of the communist elite. It was hardly surprising that, by the end of the 1920s, four out of eight of the top chiefs of the secret police (so-called collegium) came from the former Jewish Pale; this is explained by the high educational requirements for such positions."
Russia @UN General Assembly, 2001
"One recent Saturday night, two drunk men sitting in a park waved Skinner over. One of the men was trying to console his friend Kenneth, whose girlfriend had kicked him out and taken away his car keys. Suddenly, Kenneth stood up and reached for Skinner, to embrace him. Skinner hugged back.
A few minutes later, Skinner described the scene to an officer-in-training. She was aghast. At the police academy, cops are trained how to position their bodies when interacting with members of the public—one shoulder forward, gun hip always out of reach.
“I know—I lost tactical advantage,” Skinner told her.
“Yeah!” the trainee said.
Skinner smiled. “I’m not looking for tactical,” he said. “I’m looking for strategic.” ♦
"[T]he Kremlin believes that superiority in information operations will decide the global power struggle. To implement this vision, the Russian armed forces have established information warfare units in each military district. For example, the main target for the Western Military District information warfare unit is NATO and its member states. The purpose of these units is to undermine the adversary´s resistance before a military conflict and to maintain a dominant position once it has begun. It is important to note that the Kremlin doesn’t draw a distinction between peacetime and wartime; the informational confrontation is constant. The capabilities of these units are uneven; one may say they are currently weak. Still, with the determination inherent to the military and with the help of experience from GRU psychological operations, we may witness another wave of disinformation campaigns directed against our defense forces, population, and governments."
"Putin’s decision-making is almost formulaic. He sees almost every issue as first and foremost an intelligence problem. The intelligence services also happen, not coincidentally, to be the most capable organizations in Russia. Consequently, Putin’s use of them as the principal instruments of state power should come as no surprise.
While Kennan argued for blocking Soviet efforts at expansion, his approach was essentially defensive and reactive in nature. Only when Reagan came to office did the U.S. begin not just to confront, but move to roll-back Soviet power.
That shift in strategy was premised upon two main pillars. The first, and most well known, was a massive build-up in U.S. defenses that the Soviets were ultimately unable to match. The second key element of Reagan’s approach was most notably articulated by the president himself in a 1982 speech in the British House of Commons when he said, “The objective I propose is quite simple, to state: to foster the infrastructure of democracy, the system of the free press, unions, political parties, universities, which allows a people to choose their own way to develop their own culture, and to reconcile their own differences through peaceful means.”
It was the Reagan’s decision to shift to an offensive strategy of building up our military strength while at the same time working through overt and covert means to support those resisting Moscow’s rule and fostering democratic ideals inside the Evil Empire itself that brought about Soviet defeat in the Cold War.
Reagan understood that the very idea of democracy was anathema to those who ruled the Soviet Union, and that the unleashing of the democratic virus would undermine the legitimacy of Soviet rule. Like tsars and Soviet general secretaries before him, Putin’s main concern is regime stability. Moreover, by virtue of his own actions in repressing internal dissent and mounting intelligence operations intended to denigrate democratic ideals and governments, Putin is indicating to us his understanding that the idea of democracy is his greatest vulnerability. That vulnerability is a weakness we can exploit if we are to force him to alter his behavior.
In short, we can make Putin think more about protecting his power than asserting it. There are, as in all such cases, risks inherent in such a strategy, to include enhanced repression of democratic forces within Russia – though it is hard to see how much difference this would make given that the Russian security services have already falsely branded them as being in league with foreign intelligence services. But the greater risk is to leave Putin unchecked and free to continue inflicting damage on the very ideals that are our greatest strength."
"Central banks should be tasked with mitigating bubbles before they get out of control, instead of focusing on strengthening economies. [The Fed] doesn’t want to move against bubbles because Congress and business do not like it and show their dislike in unmistakable terms."
"[I]n no other NATO member state are Russian spies caught as often. The Estonian Internal Security Service (Kaitsepolitseiamet – KaPo) is an intelligence service considered one of the best and most resistant to Russian infiltration in the former Eastern Bloc. The Russians themselves admit this, as the Estonian service has for years been one of their most difficult opponents in Europe."
"Estonians do not hush up nor minimize the cases of detained and deported Russian spies. In the annual report on state security (“Aastaraamat”) issued since 1998, the Kaitsepolitsei exposes Russia’s operating methods, naming people and organizations (and showing photos) of those suspected of contacts with Russian intelligence. This detailed report on the operation of the agency was the first publication of its kind in the world. The fact that Estonia has one of the best services in the East is attested to by its effective information warfare; not just in regards to making espionage cases public, but also the severity of justice: spies usually get the maximum penalty."
"Estonian counterintelligence is said to be one of the most effective in NATO, begging the question as to the reasons for his effectiveness. Starting from square one, using extreme vetting as well as the de-Sovietization of the security apparatus certainly helped. [ Pretēji Latvijai, kur drošības dienestus veidoja bijušie VDK darbinieki, piemēram, VDK pretizlūkošanas daļas virsnieks Andris Trautmanis]"
"It is known that Russian diplomats catalogue and detail all the bridges in southern Estonia lying on the east-west line. Their focus is upon structures along the expressway connecting the Russian border with the Baltic Sea and the strategic railway line."
"Diplomatic status is increasingly rare, while more and more often they are illegals operating in the country or agents operating under the cover of being businessmen and journalists. Due to Moscow’s wariness of Estonian counterintelligence, Russian case officers usually meet their informants in third countries."
Tas tā, runājot par "katrai valstij savi risinājumi".
“In Latvia, we have the best legislation,” said former justice minister Janis Bordans. “The problem is in enforcement. Who is the controller?”
"[O]ne thing seems clear: Latvia’s role as the “Switzerland of the Baltics,” a business model eagerly cheered by European and American consultants and officials in the early 1990s, seems over."
"There are two types of internet based attacks. The first is “cyberwar” or the kinetic attacks that cause real world destruction. This is the kind the US has always been fascinated with and excelled at.
The second kind is the more broad “cyberwarfare” which encompasses the political / psychological. The eastern countries (Russia, China, etc) have for a long time always been more deft at political and psychological offensives.
What if cyberkinetic attacks aren’t the best way to kill millions? What if simply enflaming tensions over Facebook, leading to revolutions and more ”Arab Springs” will kill tens of millions more?"
"The $1.4 million was sent to 17 Black in November 2015, via ABLV, a Latvian bank recently closed down due to money laundering violations."
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