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Gill Pratt

Gill Pratt

10 months ago

War's Human Cost

War's Human Cost
I didn't start crying until I was outside a McDonald's in an Olempin, Poland rest area on highway S17.


Children pick toys at a refugee center, Olempin, Poland, March 4, 2022.

Refugee children, mostly alone with their mothers, but occasionally with a gray-haired grandfather or non-Ukrainian father, were coaxed into picking a toy from boxes provided by a kind-hearted company and volunteers.
I went to Warsaw to continue my research on my family's history during the Holocaust. In light of the ongoing Ukrainian conflict, I asked former colleagues in the US Department of Defense and Intelligence Community if it was safe to travel there. They said yes, as Poland was a NATO member.
I stayed in a hotel in the Warsaw Ghetto, where 90% of my mother's family was murdered in the Holocaust. Across the street was the first Warsaw Judenrat. It was two blocks away from the apartment building my mother's family had owned and lived in, now dilapidated and empty.


Building of my great-grandfather, December 2021.

A mass grave of thousands of rocks for those killed in the Warsaw Ghetto, I didn't cry when I touched its cold walls.


Warsaw Jewish Cemetery, 200,000–300,000 graves.


Mass grave, Warsaw Jewish Cemetery.

My mother's family had two homes, one in Warszawa and the rural one was a forest and sawmill complex in Western Ukraine. For the past half-year, a local Ukrainian historian had been helping me discover faint traces of her family’s life there — in fact, he had found some people still alive who remembered the sawmill and that it belonged to my mother’s grandfather. The historian was good at his job, and we had become close.


My historian friend, December 2021, talking to a Ukrainian.

With war raging, my second trip to Warsaw took on a different mission. To see his daughter and one-year-old grandson, I drove east instead of to Ukraine. They had crossed the border shortly after the war began, leaving men behind, and were now staying with a friend on Poland's eastern border.
I entered after walking up to the house and settling with the dog. The grandson greeted me with a huge smile and the Ukrainian word for “daddy,” “Tato!” But it was clear he was awaiting his real father's arrival, and any man he met would be so tentatively named.
After a few moments, the boy realized I was only a stranger. He had musical talent, like his mother and grandfather, both piano teachers, as he danced to YouTube videos of American children's songs dubbed in Ukrainian, picking the ones he liked and crying when he didn't.


Songs chosen by my historian friend's grandson, March 4, 2022

He had enough music and began crying regardless of the song. His mother picked him up and started nursing him, saying she was worried about him. She had no idea where she would live or how she would survive outside Ukraine. She showed me her father's family history of losses in the Holocaust, which matched my own research.
After an hour of drinking tea and trying to speak of hope, I left for the 3.5-hour drive west to Warsaw.
It was unlike my drive east. It was reminiscent of the household goods-filled carts pulled by horses and people fleeing war 80 years ago.


Jewish refugees relocating, USHMM Holocaust Encyclopaedia, 1939.

The carefully chosen trinkets by children to distract them from awareness of what is really happening and the anxiety of what lies ahead, made me cry despite all my research on the Holocaust. There is no way for them to communicate with their mothers, who are worried, absent, and without their fathers.
It's easy to see war as a contest of nations' armies, weapons, and land. The most costly aspect of war is its psychological toll. My father screamed in his sleep from nightmares of his own adolescent trauma in Warsaw 80 years ago.


Survivor father studying engineering, 1961.

In the airport, I waited to return home while Ukrainian public address systems announced refugee assistance. Like at McDonald's, many mothers were alone with their children, waiting for a flight to distant relatives.
That's when I had my worst trip experience.
A woman near me, clearly a refugee, answered her phone, cried out, and began wailing.
The human cost of war descended like a hammer, and I realized that while I was going home, she never would

Full article

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Will Lockett

Will Lockett

2 months ago

Russia's nukes may be useless

Russia's nuclear threat may be nullified by physics.

Putin seems nostalgic and wants to relive the Cold War. He's started a deadly war to reclaim the old Soviet state of Ukraine and is threatening the West with nuclear war. NATO can't risk starting a global nuclear war that could wipe out humanity to support Ukraine's independence as much as they want to. Fortunately, nuclear physics may have rendered Putin's nuclear weapons useless. However? How will Ukraine and NATO react?

To understand why Russia's nuclear weapons may be ineffective, we must first know what kind they are.

Russia has the world's largest nuclear arsenal, with 4,447 strategic and 1,912 tactical weapons (all of which are ready to be rolled out quickly). The difference between these two weapons is small, but it affects their use and logistics. Strategic nuclear weapons are ICBMs designed to destroy a city across the globe. Russia's ICBMs have many designs and a yield of 300–800 kilotonnes. 300 kilotonnes can destroy Washington. Tactical nuclear weapons are smaller and can be fired from artillery guns or small truck-mounted missile launchers, giving them a 1,500 km range. Instead of destroying a distant city, they are designed to eliminate specific positions, bases, or military infrastructure. They produce 1–50 kilotonnes.

These two nuclear weapons use different nuclear reactions. Pure fission bombs are compact enough to fit in a shell or small missile. All early nuclear weapons used this design for their fission bombs. This technology is inefficient for bombs over 50 kilotonnes. Larger bombs are thermonuclear. Thermonuclear weapons use a small fission bomb to compress and heat a hydrogen capsule, which undergoes fusion and releases far more energy than ignition fission reactions, allowing for effective giant bombs. 

Here's Russia's issue.

A thermonuclear bomb needs deuterium (hydrogen with one neutron) and tritium (hydrogen with two neutrons). Because these two isotopes fuse at lower energies than others, the bomb works. One problem. Tritium is highly radioactive, with a half-life of only 12.5 years, and must be artificially made.

Tritium is made by irradiating lithium in nuclear reactors and extracting the gas. Tritium is one of the most expensive materials ever made, at $30,000 per gram.

Why does this affect Putin's nukes?

Thermonuclear weapons need tritium. Tritium decays quickly, so they must be regularly refilled at great cost, which Russia may struggle to do.

Russia has a smaller economy than New York, yet they are running an invasion, fending off international sanctions, and refining tritium for 4,447 thermonuclear weapons.

The Russian military is underfunded. Because the state can't afford it, Russian troops must buy their own body armor. Arguably, Putin cares more about the Ukraine conflict than maintaining his nuclear deterrent. Putin will likely lose power if he loses the Ukraine war.

It's possible that Putin halted tritium production and refueling to save money for Ukraine. His threats of nuclear attacks and escalating nuclear war may be a bluff.

This doesn't help Ukraine, sadly. Russia's tactical nuclear weapons don't need expensive refueling and will help with the invasion. So Ukraine still risks a nuclear attack. The bomb that destroyed Hiroshima was 15 kilotonnes, and Russia's tactical Iskander-K nuclear missile has a 50-kiloton yield. Even "little" bombs are deadly.

We can't guarantee it's happening in Russia. Putin may prioritize tritium. He knows the power of nuclear deterrence. Russia may have enough tritium for this conflict. Stockpiling a material with a short shelf life is unlikely, though.

This means that Russia's most powerful weapons may be nearly useless, but they may still be deadly. If true, this could allow NATO to offer full support to Ukraine and push the Russian tyrant back where he belongs. If Putin withholds funds from his crumbling military to maintain his nuclear deterrent, he may be willing to sink the ship with him. Let's hope the former.

Bloomberg

Bloomberg

10 months ago

Expulsion of ten million Ukrainians

According to recent data from two UN agencies, ten million Ukrainians have been displaced.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates nearly 6.5 million Ukrainians have relocated. Most have fled the war zones around Kyiv and eastern Ukraine, including Dnipro, Zhaporizhzhia, and Kharkiv. Most IDPs have fled to western and central Ukraine.

Since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, 3.6 million people have crossed the border to seek refuge in neighboring countries, according to the latest UN data. While most refugees have fled to Poland and Romania, many have entered Russia.

Internally displaced figures are IOM estimates as of March 19, based on 2,000 telephone interviews with Ukrainians aged 18 and older conducted between March 9-16. The UNHCR compiled the figures for refugees to neighboring countries on March 21 based on official border crossing data and its own estimates. The UNHCR's top-line total is lower than the country totals because Romania and Moldova totals include people crossing between the two countries.

Sources: IOM, UNHCR

According to IOM estimates based on telephone interviews with a representative sample of internally displaced Ukrainians, over 53% of those displaced are women, and over 60% of displaced households have children.

B Kean

B Kean

19 days ago

To prove his point, Putin is prepared to add 200,000 more dead soldiers.

What does Ukraine's murderous craziness mean?

Photo by Anastasiya Romanova on Unsplash

Vladimir Putin expressed his patience to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet. Thousands, even hundreds of thousands of young and middle-aged males in his country have no meaning to him.

During a meeting in March with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of Israel, Mr. Putin admitted that the Ukrainians were tougher “than I was told,” according to two people familiar with the exchange. “This will probably be much more difficult than we thought. But the war is on their territory, not ours. We are a big country and we have patience (The Inside Story of a Catastrophe).”

Putin should explain to Russian mothers how patient he is with his invasion of Ukraine.

Putin is rich. Even while sanctions have certainly limited Putin's access to his fortune, he has access to everything in Russia. Unlimited wealth.

The Russian leader's infrastructure was designed with his whims in mind. Vladimir Putin is one of the wealthiest and most catered-to people alive. He's also all-powerful, as his lack of opposition shows. His incredible wealth and power have isolated him from average people so much that he doesn't mind turning lives upside down to prove a point.

For many, losing a Russian spouse or son is painful. Whether the soldier was a big breadwinner or unemployed, the loss of a male figure leaves many families bewildered and anxious. Putin, Russia's revered president, seems unfazed.

People who know Mr. Putin say he is ready to sacrifice untold lives and treasure for as long as it takes, and in a rare face-to-face meeting with the Americans last month the Russians wanted to deliver a stark message to President Biden: No matter how many Russian soldiers are killed or wounded on the battlefield, Russia will not give up (The Inside Story of a Catastrophe).

Imagine a country's leader publicly admitting a mistake he's made. Imagine getting Putin's undivided attention.

So, I underestimated Ukrainians. I can't allow them make me appear terrible, so I'll utilize as many drunken dopes as possible to cover up my error. They'll die fulfilled and heroic.

Russia's human resources are limited, but its willingness to cause suffering is not. How many Russian families must die before the curse is broken? If mass protests started tomorrow, Russia's authorities couldn't stop them.

When Moscovites faced down tanks in August 1991, the Gorbachev coup ended in three days. Even though few city residents showed up, everything collapsed. This wicked disaster won't require many Russians.

One NATO member is warning allies that Mr. Putin is ready to accept the deaths or injuries of as many as 300,000 Russian troops — roughly three times his estimated losses so far.

If 100,000 Russians have died in Ukraine and Putin doesn't mind another 200,000 dying, why don't these 200,000 ghosts stand up and save themselves? Putin plays the role of concerned and benevolent leader effectively, but things aren't going well for Russia.

What would 300,000 or more missing men signify for Russia's future? How many kids will have broken homes? How many families won't form, and what will the economy do?

Putin reportedly cared about his legacy. His place in Russian history Putin's invasion of Ukraine settled his legacy. He has single-handedly weakened and despaired Russia since the 1980s.

Putin will be viewed by sensible people as one of Russia's worst adversaries, but Russians will think he was fantastic despite Ukraine.

The more setbacks Mr. Putin endures on the battlefield, the more fears grow over how far he is willing to go. He has killed tens of thousands in Ukraine, leveled cities, and targeted civilians for maximum pain — obliterating hospitals, schools, and apartment buildings while cutting off power and water to millions before winter. Each time Ukrainian forces score a major blow against Russia, the bombing of their country intensifies. And Mr. Putin has repeatedly reminded the world that he can use anything at his disposal, including nuclear arms, to pursue his notion of victory.

How much death and damage will there be in Ukraine if Putin sends 200,000 more Russians to the front? It's scary, sad, and sick.

Monster.

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Simon Egersand

Simon Egersand

8 months ago

Working from home for more than two years has taught me a lot.

Since the pandemic, I've worked from home. It’s been +2 years (wow, time flies!) now, and during this time I’ve learned a lot. My 4 remote work lessons.

I work in a remote distributed team. This team setting shaped my experience and teachings.

Isolation ("I miss my coworkers")

The most obvious point. I miss going out with my coworkers for coffee, weekend chats, or just company while I work. I miss being able to go to someone's desk and ask for help. On a remote world, I must organize a meeting, share my screen, and avoid talking over each other in Zoom - sigh!

Social interaction is more vital for my health than I believed.

Online socializing stinks

My company used to come together every Friday to play Exploding Kittens, have food and beer, and bond over non-work things.

Different today. Every Friday afternoon is for fun, but it's not the same. People with screen weariness miss meetings, which makes sense. Sometimes you're too busy on Slack to enjoy yourself.

We laugh in meetings, but it's not the same as face-to-face.

Digital social activities can't replace real-world ones

Improved Work-Life Balance, if You Let It

At the outset of the pandemic, I recognized I needed to take better care of myself to survive. After not leaving my apartment for a few days and feeling miserable, I decided to walk before work every day. This turned into a passion for exercise, and today I run or go to the gym before work. I use my commute time for healthful activities.

Working from home makes it easier to keep working after hours. I sometimes forget the time and find myself writing coding at dinnertime. I said, "One more test." This is a disadvantage, therefore I keep my office schedule.

Spend your commute time properly and keep to your office schedule.

Remote Pair Programming Is Hard

As a software developer, I regularly write code. My team sometimes uses pair programming to write code collaboratively. One person writes code while another watches, comments, and asks questions. I won't list them all here.

Internet pairing is difficult. My team struggles with this. Even with Tuple, it's challenging. I lose attention when I get a notification or check my computer.

I miss a pen and paper to rapidly sketch down my thoughts for a colleague or a whiteboard for spirited talks with others. Best answers are found through experience.

Real-life pair programming beats the best remote pair programming tools.

Lessons Learned

Here are 4 lessons I've learned working remotely for 2 years.

  • Socializing is more vital to my health than I anticipated.

  • Digital social activities can't replace in-person ones.

  • Spend your commute time properly and keep your office schedule.

  • Real-life pair programming beats the best remote tools.

Conclusion

Our era is fascinating. Remote labor has existed for years, but software companies have just recently had to adapt. Companies who don't offer remote work will lose talent, in my opinion.

We're still figuring out the finest software development approaches, programming language features, and communication methods since the 1960s. I can't wait to see what advancements assist us go into remote work.

I'll certainly work remotely in the next years, so I'm interested to see what I've learnt from this post then.


This post is a summary of this one.

Alex Mathers

Alex Mathers

22 years ago

400 articles later, nobody bothered to read them.

Writing for readers:

14 years of daily writing.

I post practically everything on social media. I authored hundreds of articles, thousands of tweets, and numerous volumes to almost no one.

Tens of thousands of readers regularly praise me.

I despised writing. I'm stuck now.

I've learned what readers like and what doesn't.

Here are some essential guidelines for writing with impact:

Readers won't understand your work if you can't.

Though obvious, this slipped me up. Share your truths.

Stories engage human brains.

Showing the journey of a person from worm to butterfly inspires the human spirit.

Overthinking hinders powerful writing.

The best ideas come from inner understanding in between thoughts.

Avoid writing to find it. Write.

Writing a masterpiece isn't motivating.

Write for five minutes to simplify. Step-by-step, entertaining, easy steps.

Good writing requires a willingness to make mistakes.

So write loads of garbage that you can edit into a good piece.

Courageous writing.

A courageous story will move readers. Personal experience is best.

Go where few dare.

Templates, outlines, and boundaries help.

Limitations enhance writing.

Excellent writing is straightforward and readable, removing all the unnecessary fat.

Use five words instead of nine.

Use ordinary words instead of uncommon ones.

Readers desire relatability.

Too much perfection will turn it off.

Write to solve an issue if you can't think of anything to write.

Instead, read to inspire. Best authors read.

Every tweet, thread, and novel must have a central idea.

What's its point?

This can make writing confusing.

️ Don't direct your reader.

Readers quit reading. Demonstrate, describe, and relate.

Even if no one responds, have fun. If you hate writing it, the reader will too.

Yusuf Ibrahim

Yusuf Ibrahim

1 year ago

How to sell 10,000 NFTs on OpenSea for FREE (Puppeteer/NodeJS)

So you've finished your NFT collection and are ready to sell it. Except you can't figure out how to mint them! Not sure about smart contracts or want to avoid rising gas prices. You've tried and failed with apps like Mini mouse macro, and you're not familiar with Selenium/Python. Worry no more, NodeJS and Puppeteer have arrived!

Learn how to automatically post and sell all 1000 of my AI-generated word NFTs (Nakahana) on OpenSea for FREE!

My NFT project — Nakahana |

NOTE: Only NFTs on the Polygon blockchain can be sold for free; Ethereum requires an initiation charge. NFTs can still be bought with (wrapped) ETH.

If you want to go right into the code, here's the GitHub link: https://github.com/Yusu-f/nftuploader

Let's start with the knowledge and tools you'll need.

What you should know

You must be able to write and run simple NodeJS programs. You must also know how to utilize a Metamask wallet.

Tools needed

  • NodeJS. You'll need NodeJs to run the script and NPM to install the dependencies.
  • Puppeteer – Use Puppeteer to automate your browser and go to sleep while your computer works.
  • Metamask – Create a crypto wallet and sign transactions using Metamask (free). You may learn how to utilize Metamask here.
  • Chrome – Puppeteer supports Chrome.

Let's get started now!

Starting Out

Clone Github Repo to your local machine. Make sure that NodeJS, Chrome, and Metamask are all installed and working. Navigate to the project folder and execute npm install. This installs all requirements.

Replace the “extension path” variable with the Metamask chrome extension path. Read this tutorial to find the path.

Substitute an array containing your NFT names and metadata for the “arr” variable and the “collection_name” variable with your collection’s name.

Run the script.

After that, run node nftuploader.js.

Open a new chrome instance (not chromium) and Metamask in it. Import your Opensea wallet using your Secret Recovery Phrase or create a new one and link it. The script will be unable to continue after this but don’t worry, it’s all part of the plan.

Next steps

Open your terminal again and copy the route that starts with “ws”, e.g. “ws:/localhost:53634/devtools/browser/c07cb303-c84d-430d-af06-dd599cf2a94f”. Replace the path in the connect function of the nftuploader.js script.

const browser = await puppeteer.connect({ browserWSEndpoint: "ws://localhost:58533/devtools/browser/d09307b4-7a75-40f6-8dff-07a71bfff9b3", defaultViewport: null });

Rerun node nftuploader.js. A second tab should open in THE SAME chrome instance, navigating to your Opensea collection. Your NFTs should now start uploading one after the other! If any errors occur, the NFTs and errors are logged in an errors.log file.

Error Handling

The errors.log file should show the name of the NFTs and the error type. The script has been changed to allow you to simply check if an NFT has already been posted. Simply set the “searchBeforeUpload” setting to true.

We're done!

If you liked it, you can buy one of my NFTs! If you have any concerns or would need a feature added, please let me know.

Thank you to everyone who has read and liked. I never expected it to be so popular.