Why America isn’t afraid

There’s a comment on the previous article that’s important enough to warrant making a whole separate article as a response to it.

Dario:
“Third, the Americans are not taking seriously the possibility of getting hit.”

Somehow this still don’t quite get in my head.

I mean, I still remember the first time I read some wikileaks of the reports US was getting from Croatia, Bosnia and neighbouring countries. I was completely blown away how nuanced, detailed and accurate those reports were. I thought to myself, holy shit, these guys really know their stuff, they know everything about everyone. Those reports were so good I’m not even sure any of the local journalists would be able to write so non-biased and in-depth psychological profiles of local mayors and other political figures. So, if they are ready to invest such effort in completely submissive and irrelevant countries, what is to be expected when we speak about Russia and China?

It’s all too obvious that US intelligence gathering network is not their problem, it’s the decisions they make. How can anyone at the CIA think they could survive direct confrontation with modern and well developed nuclear power? Sure they don’t, even if some idiot politician does. Maybe Trump will get some covert help in unexpected ways from those who have brains, I don’t know…

I mean, I’m trying to get into the heads of those who are trying to provoke the Russians into a nuclear exchange, just for the sake of understanding, but I can’t get much sense of it really. Do they think that anti-ballistic missile shield is so good it will turn all ICBMs into free McChickens falling from the sky?

America is a strange country, truly exceptional in at least one important way: it was a major participant in both world wars, but was never attacked in its homeland, the continental USA. When their Hawaii colony got hit by Japanese navy, they got all upset about it. The entire Europe was devastated by the wars, and yet America seems to have gotten a boost from them. They got a tremendous boost from European immigration, and even greater from industrialization necessary for manufacturing weapons. After the second world war, America ended up with people and technology sufficient to create nuclear weapons, rockets powerful enough to put man on the Moon, and make great advances into the fields of particle physics, astrophysics, quantum physics, lasers and semiconductors. Essentially 20th century was invented by the European immigrants in America, from Tesla onward.

The Americans think it’s because of their constitution or some other reason, but honestly, their constitution is neither great nor important. They couldn’t even decide to put abolition of slavery in there and later had a civil war over the issue. Also, they weren’t all that prosperous or advanced in the beginning; they had inferior social organisation, inferior military and inferior anything compared to the British empire, and the only reason why they managed to win their war for independence is because the British had to traverse the ocean to get there. That, apparently, is their claim to fame: the competing militaries can only get there by crossing the ocean, which greatly limits the numbers and strength of any invading force (and that is hugely important – Britain only has a narrow strip of sea between itself and the European mainland, and yet it is impervious to even the most sophisticated of invaders). Also, it started by having probably the best chunk of natural resources available to any nation anywhere – with only the natives with spears and arrows to protect it. Essentially, the Americans had it incredibly easy. Sure, they will whine about how difficult it was to build the nation, but please spare me the tears. They essentially killed off the Indians, started farming, built the railroad for supplies, and the word got around in Europe that there’s shitload of free land in America and you can go there and make it. Much is made about all the technological advances made in America at that time, but honestly, they only achieved parity with Europe after the second world war; before that time, they were a third-world shithole with wild west rules.

This is how some parts of America were in 1942.

Essentially, between late 19th and early 20th century America mostly looked like the present-time Africa. Other than a few isolated areas of wealth, prosperity and advancement, America was a rural backwater plagued with abject poverty. Even technologically, America was inferior to the European countries. Its economy completely collapsed between the two world wars and a significant portion of their population was reduced to starvation.

A destitute American family in the 1930s.

A destitute American family in the 1930s.

Enter the second world war. America only joined the war in Europe after Soviet Union succeeded in turning the tide against Germany, and they wanted to stake their claims there. Afterwards they behaved as if they single-handedly liberated Europe, but realistically, they had less casualties in the whole war than the Soviets had in a single battle, and their contribution, while important, wasn’t decisive in any way. What it did in fact produce was the myth of American victorious military might. The second result of the war was that America stood alone as the one world power that was not destroyed by aerial bombardments and fighting in general. So, basically the whole Western civilization had temporarily relocated to America to keep functioning until Europe was rebuilt. America stood alone as the modern country, hugely industrialized by the war effort, enriched by all the European scientists who had to go to America if they wanted to keep working in their fields, and with a powerful Hollywood propaganda machine that painted a rosy picture of America, the land of freedom and prosperity.

The problem was, America needed to keep the military industry working in order to maintain prosperity, and so they started the cold war with the Soviets, which furthermore propagandized America as the place of freedom, greatness and technological advancement, and everything else as dubious in some way or another. The cold war propaganda created a specific mentality, where it would have been unpatriotic to question American greatness in any way, and American military was thought of as the greatest in the world, but it would have been unthinkable to actually consider using it because of the inevitable nuclear holocaust. There was a looming threat of mutual destruction that cast a great shadow over America, until that thread became so great in the mid-1980s, that Ronald Reagan decided that the possibility of some miscalculation was too great and basically went to talk to the Russians.

You need to have in mind that the Russian nuclear deterrent is only that, deterrent. They had the nuclear weapons because they were justifiably afraid that the Americans were intent on wiping them out. Their economic system was poorly designed and implemented and was on the verge of collapse since the October Revolution, but since they were under a serious threat of war, they simply endured and did their best. Once the Americans decided to drop the belligerent posture and the cold war formally ended, they decided that the danger is over and they attempted to reform their system. This inept and hasted attempt at reform broke their entire country and it collapsed under resurgent nationalism.

This sudden and unexpected collapse of the Soviet Union had a very strange result: the Americans concluded that they had won, rather than surrendered, the cold war. They decided that the threat of nuclear war is over, that America proved to be superior to the Soviet alternative, and that nothing more stands in the way of its greatness.

They had almost two decades to grow into this attitude, and there are adults now who were born after the cold war, who don’t have personal memories of what actually took place, and who readily accept the American narrative. They don’t remember the majesty that was the Soviet Union, the incredibly close competition it had with America, and the fear that Soviets might have the upper hand, that they might be better, more technologically advanced, that they had better rockets, stronger thermonuclear weapons and better space technology.

The Russians had a very bad decade. Their industry, economy and social structure collapsed, and were reduced almost to the post-apocalyptic levels of predation of the evil over the powerless. This took place under the rule of that drunken fool Yeltsin. However, there was a man in St.Petersburg who was known for his ability to get basic services operational, Vladimir Vladimirovič Putin, and Yeltsin made the best move of his less than stellar political career by making him the prime minister. Putin made it his job to restore basic order and services, and he worked gradually and incessantly until actually restoring Russia to the point where it is superior to the former Soviet Union in all ways but one: its sense of historical mission, pride of achievement and greatness, was crushed in the dire humiliation of the 1990s. Today’s Russia has a much wealthier population, with a healthy economic system, and technological abilities that rival those of the Soviet times, albeit with reduced manufacturing volumes and scale. However, that promotional video from the 1984 no longer matches the self-image of the modern Russia. Modern Russia has a recent memory of a crushing defeat which mars its prosperity, while Soviet Union endured great difficulties on wings of pride of the glorious victory of the second world war, the pride of having rebuilt the nation, flying to space and becoming a nuclear superpower. This pride had the people going even when they had to stand in lines for bread. There are no bread lines in today’s Russia, it is still the great nuclear superpower and it is a great spacefaring nation, but it is like a great fighter who remembers a knockout defeat he once endured. He knows he is not invincible.

And here we come to the main point, to the reason why Americans don’t really believe they will be hurt no matter what they do to others. It never happened to them. They participated in two world wars, and only benefited from them. They were militarily defeated in Korea and Vietnam, but nothing really happened to them as the result of the defeat. Their homes and factories were not destroyed. Whatever happened to the rest of the world, America remained the safe and prosperous place to return back to.

They had recent victories in conventional wars, over enemies whom they overpowered more than ten to one, with all the advantages on their side, and they decided that this makes them invincible, and proves their military superiority over Soviet technology, because Iraq happened to have some Soviet equipment that it used poorly. Since the cold war ended, and having seen that terrible humiliating decade that Russia had to endure, they decided that not only Russia isn’t an admirable opponent, but that it can’t really be feared for its nuclear power because Russia, it’s those Youtube videos of drunken Russians doing stupid shit.

Americans also don’t understand the phenomenon that is Putin. They think he’s some puny dictator with an inferiority complex, and that he’s a hardass because he’s KGB. That’s all completely false. First of all, Putin is a hardass because he’s a martial arts expert. In KGB, he was more of a field operative, a James Bond like character, than a high-level analyst. He retired with the rank of colonel, and I saw the retired KGB general Oleg Kalugin, who looks kind, gentle and grandfatherly, and was Putin’s superior officer several times removed.

No, what Putin is about is his ability to get shit done. He’s the guy who gets his hands dirty and gets a factory working, he gets water and electricity running, he connects people, makes things work, and he works and works and works, for decades now, incessantly, and there are results. The difference between today’s Ukraine and today’s Russia is Putin. Putin is the best leader Russia had since the times of Peter the Great. He’s a pragmatic, modern, moderate, rational politician, not governed by haste and passion, with profound self-control and discipline of a martial arts expert.

Putin, essentially, is the best politician of today’s world, and a match for anyone in history. He towers above all others today in his control over himself, respect he commands with his people, and ability to implement constructive plans over the span of decades. He’s literally the savior of his nation, the one who rebuilt it from the ashes of humiliation, defeat and chaos. I listened to him speak, and I watched him think in realtime. He’s by far the best mind that entered the field of politics since Bismarck, and what’s most important, he retained the down to earth practicality that I saw only in the martial arts people. He’s someone who’s confident enough to be himself and not act for the media, he’s confident enough to make jokes, to display restraint, kindness, compassion and humor, and firm enough to make oligarch billionaires wet their pants at the mere thought of fucking with him.

Essentially, because of Putin and the group of people around him who are practiced in actually using their brains and functioning as sentient, complete human beings, Russia is a sentient organism with a brain. America, on the other hand, is an instinctual organism that is driven by emotions and hormones.

Because America, as a collective entity, believes that it won the cold war, that Russians are some funny defeated people who delude themselves into thinking they can be great again, that Putin is some silly bullying dictator who tries to pump up his weak nation’s confidence, America can’t take Russia seriously. And when I say “America”, I mean their zeitgeist, not their intelligence analysts. The problem with zeitgeist is that if you have opinions that are opposite to the trend, it’s dangerous to your career. If you warn about how great Russia is, you are “un-American”. People underestimate how powerful those trends are. If an analyst in CIA, who’s as intelligent and informed as I am, offered an analysis which said that Russia at this point has significant advantage over America in several crucial spots and that the advantage is increasing as a function of time, he would have been demoted or fired. Only analyses that state American greatness and superiority are accepted and result in promotion. After a few decades of that trend, Americans now completely believe in their own bullshit. They believe that the Russians only have the rusted-out Soviet shit, and that they are the Star Trek nation with iPads.

The most dangerous of all, the Americans believe that the nuclear weapons are the thing of the past. Nobody will use them because it would be too horrible. Case closed. Since nobody will use the nuclear weapons, American advantage in conventional armament is all that matters.

America is the country that calls a pressure cooker filled with firecrackers a weapon of mass destruction. If they think about the danger of nuclear weapons, they think of some rogue country like Iran or North Korea having one poorly constructed weapon it can use in the manner of state terrorism. They think they won the cold war, that Russia lost and it should stay defeated forever, and any information to the contrary is seen as irrational behavior of a defeated enemy who needs to be beaten again to learn to stay down the next time.

And that’s the zeitgeist, that’s the trend, that’s the manistream, and that’s the line of thought which you need to accept in order to participate in their system, to receive promotions and to join the “in” crowd. Anything else and you’re un-American, you’re a revisionist, conspiracy theorist, you’re suspected of aiding the enemy and subverting American greatness.

And that’s why Americans can have excellent analyses of some unimportant shithole like Croatia or Serbia, but they can neither accurately perceive nor report on Russia. That’s why only the leaders obedient to America are “democratic” and those who oppose America are “dictators” – because Americans, in their mindset, think that the natural state of all free human beings is to serve and obey America, and anyone who opposes America is evil. And since America is axiomatically great, it is invincible, invulnerable, protected by God, and destined to attain victory over “evil”. That’s why they can’t take the idea of being destroyed seriously. The idea is un-American, un-patriotic. It should not be indulged by true American patriots.

It wasn’t always so. They once knew they are vulnerable:

But now, this is what they comfort themselves with. To them, this is the true reality of Russia:

They think they have nothing to fear. If they think that nobody will ever use the nukes, problem is solved. Besides, how can those drunken silly people ever be a threat?

So yeah, this is a train wreck in slow motion, and unless the Americans realize that they have to fear things that are much worse than a pressure cooker filled with firecrackers, we are all doomed.

Assessment and prognosis

So, what’s new in Syria.

The Russians threw all but the kitchen sink at it. They moved in their capital naval assets, their capital aerospatial defense assets, airforce assets and probably have several satellites covering it at all times.

Essentially, they put enough of their forces there to perform three functions. First, that Syria doesn’t follow the pattern of Iraq and Libya in becoming a jihadist post-apocalyptic banana republic. Second, that Americans don’t succeed in destroying all Russian allies one by one, and fencing off Russia with a five meter tall concrete wall, according to the principle of “Is the wall finished? – Yes. -Then start filling with water.”

The third function of the military buildup is drawing a line. If the Americans attack any government assets in Syria, it will be an attack on Russia, which will be dealt with swiftly and violently. Essentially, Syria is now under Russian military umbrella.

What does that mean? First of all, it means that a no-fly zone administered by Russian armed forces has been established in Syria. It doesn’t mean that Americans and their allies can’t fly there, just that they aren’t allowed to perform offensive acts without permission from Russian and/or Syrian government. If they do, they will be taken down. And yes, that includes “stealth” aircraft, because “stealth” is bullshit, it’s a problem the Russians solved more than a decade ago with a few lines of code, basically saying that if something with radar signature of a ping-pong ball flies at supersonic speeds it’s not a seagull, it’s an American jet, so don’t delete it as noise from the radar screen, but instead define it as a priority target. If you believe that the Russians couldn’t do it, you’re a fucking idiot. All Russian radar-guided missiles can shoot down “stealth” assets without any difficulty.

Let’s make a high-probability tit-for-tat scenario.

Americans attack a Syrian government asset. The Russians stage a layered response: first, they send a “cease and desist” order. Second, they send in the fighter jets to intimidate the Americans. If that doesn’t work, they shoot them down. This, of course, makes the Americans mad, and so they retaliate against some Russian asset, for instance they barrage the aerospatial defense battery with cruise missiles. The Russians then destroy the asset that was used to launch the missiles. The state of war is then declared between Russia and America. Russia then uses cruise missiles to knock out all important American assets in the middle east and Europe in preparation for a strategic nuclear exchange. I would expect that they knock out all satellites from orbit, starting with the GPS network and all the military assets, tear down all transatlantic cables and start sinking American Ohio class submarines and Nimitz class aircraft carriers, knock down the electric grid in America, knock down the command chain and the nuclear silos, essentially forcing America to immediately surrender without killing off its population.

If America still manages to squeeze off a few hundred ICBMs toward Russia, I would expect 10 out of 200 to pass the Russian anti-ballistic shield, destroying Moscow, St.Petersburg and several other major cities in Russia. The Russians will then get very angry and destroy all major cities in America, killing about 250 million Americans instantly, and the rest will starve, die of various illnesses and resort to murder, plundering and cannibalism before eventually perishing. America will disappear from history, China will take over as the world’s greatest power, Russia will rebuild within a few decades, Europe will be engulfed in a major civil war with the Muslim population, Japan and South Korea will make a peaceful alliance with China, North Korea will be taken over and transformed peacefully by the South, and Israel will be in shit creek without paddles. Within a hundred years, the American wasteland will be colonized by the Latin-American population from Mexico and turned into a typical Latin-American shithole of violence, corruption and poverty. Russia will be reduced to China’s protectorate. Europe will become a war-torn shithole. All the rich people who escaped to New Zealand will be dug out of their holes, killed and their carcasses thrown to the dogs, as everybody will understand it’s all their fault. Australia will be commandeered by China. Chinese economy will collapse, as it is based on export which will vanish, and popular revolt will destroy their socio-political system, turning them into a civil-war-torn shithole.

Everybody who will have anything positive to say about America will be seen the same way as the neo-nazis are seen today. Civilization, as it is now, will never recover. There will be endless regional wars that will prevent any accumulation of wealth, global connectivity will be permanently lost, and the world will descend into savegery. This will continue until the next ice age, which will raise the probability of human extinction to double-digit values. It’s anyone’s guess whether human species will exit the ice age at all, and in what condition. So that’s my prognosis if the Americans follow the course they are most likely to follow. They will of course think that they have the military superiority over the Russians, but they are miscalculating because they indeed do have the conventional advantages, but the Russian nuclear forces are two decades ahead of them and the conflict will escalate to nuclear level very quickly. The Americans simply don’t calculate with the fact that they are dealing with a spacefaring opponent now, who can strip them of their high-tech layer and proceed to dismember them very quickly and efficiently. They would be idiots to mess with Russia, but yeah, that’s what they are, so they inevitably will.

As I see it now, there was a reasonable probability of mankind avoiding a nuclear war before the Sochi Olympics; since then, the probability of war rose sharply with every attempt of America to cow the Russians into submission, and now, I put it at 99.9%, because the only way it can be avoided is if America miraculously starts acting opposite to everything it’s been doing since the 1990s. The only way I see the nuclear war being avoided is if the Gods pull the plug first, which is what I hope will happen, because I would seriously dislike dying of dysentery while eating garbage and drinking filthy water in a post-nuclear wasteland.

Some photography stuff

I’m now going to write about something I usually don’t write much about, but which makes possible all the stuff that I publish online. Hardware.

Why I don’t write about it, well, because I just assume it implicitly. Computers, cameras, lenses, they are tools. If they work well, I don’t give much fuck about them. When they fail or become a pain in the ass, I have to think about them and do something. Such as now.

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This is my main camera, Canon EOS 5d dSLR which I bought in 2006. I used it to record a huge number of photos, including majority of stuff used on a photo exhibition and in my commercial work (corporate and private websites).

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This is the second time the mirror fell off. The first time I glued it back with superglue. The second time I did the same, but I no longer have that much faith in the process. There’s a factory recall for it, and of course I could have it professionally serviced, but the problem is, it’s 10 years old. Technology did manage to advance significantly in the meantime and while worth fixing, it’s not worth keeping as my main camera. As in, I need a new camera body to put my Canon lenses on.

This is my secondary camera:

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It’s the Olympus E-PL1, a micro four-thirds body that I use to mount legacy Minolta lenses and macro extenders. It creates excellent images, almost on-par with the Canon 5D.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The problem is, everything on the camera except the sensor is a pile of shit. It’s the most awkward, uncomfortable, unergonomic camera imaginable and despite great image quality it made photography a huge pain in the ass for me, especially since it’s usually my walkaround camera of choice, being small and light. It also doesn’t have a viewfinder so I can only take pictures holding it at arm’s length, like a phone. This doesn’t help with image stability. Also, you can’t see shit on the screen during strong sunlight, which happens to be when there’s best light for translucent motives. Essentially, I put it on the floor, guesstimate the focus and pray. That’s not how you’re supposed to do things. On a tripod, of course, it’s great, but having the smallest possible camera and then taking a tripod along that’s several times the weight and bulk of your proper camera, that doesn’t make much sense.

The Olympus has one absolutely great quality: it shows you exactly what the sensor sees, including 100% magnification, which is great for manually focusing with precision that’s completely beyond any autofocus system that I’ve tried. This means you can really nail the sharpness, if you work slowly of course. Which I do. Also, you can overlay the live histogram on the display, very accurately nailing exposure without retrying. Also, it has in-body image stabilization, which is incredibly helpful for hand-held work in low light, which is about 50% of everything I do. Those things are so helpful that I’ve found myself neglecting the Canon for the Olympus, with the result of not being able to use all the Canon lenses that I have.

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What can Canon do, that Olympus can not? This.

As a result, I figured out that my ideal camera would be something that has live view with the articulated screen (so that I can put it in the grass, and tilt the screen upwards to see what I’m doing), a quick high-resolution viewfinder, 35mm sensor with the same image quality as I have on the Canon, to be small enough not to be bothersome when I take it with me for a long walk, it needs to have sensor-based image stabilization (because none of my lenses have IS) and it has to be able to work with lenses adapted from both Canon EF and Minolta MC/MD mounts, so that I could use everything I already have because it’s good and I don’t feel like wasting money on duplicating optics.

As it turns out, such a camera exists: all three Sony A7 second-generation models fit all my requirements. Since A7S II is specialized for video (which I don’t shoot) and too expensive, and A7R II is too expensive, I decided to get the A7 II. Advantages: not too expensive, and has the same goodies as the other two, minus the super-fancy viewfinder and the super-fancy backside-illuminated ultra high-res sensor from the R model. I decided I can live without those for the benefit of costing half the money and being identical in all other regards. As for the resolution, I shoot at 12-13 MP and from that I routinely make B2 sized prints. 24MP will be just fine. Yes, I’m competent enough to actually utilize the R-model’s 42MP sensor, but for the difference in price I can get all the lenses I would want, and those are worth more to me.

I recently bought a used Sony R1 for my kid, and I tried taking pictures with it myself. The image quality, when used properly, is so similar to Canon 5D that it looks like two shots taken with the same camera and different lenses. It has gorgeous image quality on low ISO, paired with a lens that is excellent when stopped down properly.

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The problem is, it’s a perfect camera for slow tripod work and shitty camera for hand-held work, especially in low light. No image stabilization of any kind, very noisy above base ISO, and very difficult to focus accurately due to shitty AF and very low resolution viewfinder and display without any indication of in-focus areas. Also, the lens is not sharp on close focus, especially wide open, which is how I use it for more than half of my photography. Also, it only has that one lens, so no macro extenders, and no extreme wide angle. Not good for me. Great for my kid to learn photography, though, so it’s still a big win.

Regarding lenses, I have a love-hate relationship with the “mid-range zooms”. I had several excellent ones – Minolta MD 35-70mm f/3.5 and Zuiko Digital 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5, for instance, and also Canon EF 35-70mm f/3.5-4.5. The last one isn’t really appreciated but I made most of my closeup and landscape shots with it.

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EF 35-70mm f/3.5-4.5 “shit lens” with macro extension tubes

It’s a pathetic-looking creaky plasticky thingy that makes jaw-dropping pictures if you know how to use it. So it’s obvious why I like this type of lenses. The reason why I hate them is that when I have one, I tend not to take it off my camera because it’s convenient, and so I end up using it in places where it sucks and it degrades the quality of my work. Especially when I use the 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 on the E-PL1, which is optically my worst lens and is just fucking terrible in all ways but one: it’s small and light, and so I end up using it instead of proper, albeit heavy pieces of glass.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So, of course, I got a mid-range kit zoom for the Sony, the 28-70mm thing that everybody says is soft and has low contrast. The problem is, the alternative is the Zeiss 24-70mm which has better contrast and it looks nicer, but most copies seem to be soft and can be actually worse than the cheaper kit zoom. So I said, OK, let’s get the plasticky cheap one because it was almost free (the kit with the lens was barely more expensive than the body alone), and I can use it on a tripod stopped down to f/13-16 which is where I take most of my tripod photography on 35mm, and it better be tack sharp there. But if it’s any good, I’ll have one light walkaround autofocus lens if I just want to have something better than my phone with me and not carry several kilos of gear, and if I want sharp, I have lenses that do just that. The 24-70mm Zeiss, it’s simply too expensive for me to buy without testing the specific copy extensively prior to purchase; it’s a thousand-euro lens, for fuck’s sake. For that kind of money, it better give blowjobs and make great coffee. But according to all reports, it’s optically sub-par, and if I want a really sharp one in that range, I’ll probably try something from the Sigma’s Art series, like the 24-105mm. If I want light, I’ll have the plasticky cheap one, and if I want something that’s both light and good, I’ll get the 35mm f/2.8 Zeiss. That one is almost pocketable, it’s really sharp, and it can still cut the depth of field well enough for my uses. Also, 35mm is probably my favorite focal length for landscapes, because anything wider usually grabs telephone poles and similar stuff that I want to omit in normal situations, and is still wide enough to make sense. I also love how the other Sony-Zeiss prime, the 55mm f/1.8, draws, but that one is more of a specialist tool. It does portraits and closeups excellently, but for those I would actually prefer the 90mm f/2.8 macro. For walkaround photography, the 55mm is too long; my walkaround lenses are usually the 17-40mm or the 15mm fisheye, and it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if I end up using the fisheye as the mainstay on the Sony.

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Someone will say, what about the lack of autofocus on the adapted lenses? Honestly, I usually work slowly and turn the damn thing off anyway in most cases. The only thing for which I really prefer autofocus are the portraits, because with manual focusing it’s really difficult to get the eyes critically sharp on as shallow depth of field as I prefer it to be, because the model’s breathing motions are usually all it takes to bring the iris out of focus. Accurate focus confirmation, however, might be enough for me to get accurate focus with MF lenses.

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Olympus E-PL1 with Minolta MD 50mm f/1.7, manual focus

I anticipate the question: why do you whine so fucking much when it’s obvious that you manage to make similarly good pictures with any kind of equipment you get your hands on? Because the process of making the pictures is supposed to be fun. If something is painful to use, I will stop using it. Some pieces of equipment had the result of making me turn away from photography almost completely. Equipment is important in the sense that it can either feel nice and wonderful to work with, or it can feel like having your nails pulled with rusty pilers. I tried both, I don’t have to tell you what kind I prefer.

Anyway, it’s just me thinking out loud about it. You’ll see the pictures when the actual camera arrives. If the Americans don’t cause a nuclear war first.

The current situation with Syria

An American army general directly threatened Russia with war.

Russians are taking the threat seriously and are currently performing extensive civil defense drills for 40 million people, who are test-driving the nuclear shelters and hazmat suits.

Prior to that, Americans stopped the bilateral talks with the Russians over Syria and are now contemplating a military solution to overthrow Syrian legitimate government which they don’t like because they prefer the jihadists, according to a recent leak.

The Russians responded to this “leak” by stating that Syrian army is under their defensive umbrella and any attacking aircraft will be promptly taken down without much investigation where it came from. They also mentioned that “stealth” is bullshit and that their radars see American “invisible planes” just fine.

https://www.rt.com/news/361800-russia-syria-usa-aistrikes/

Essentially, Syria is now a no-fly zone for America and their slave-countries. Technically, they can fly, but they cannot perform combat actions. OK, technically they can perform combat actions too, once.

America can now back down and try to achieve their goals in some way that is less hazardous. But that’s not the America we all know. More likely, they will try to immediately push against the imposed boundaries.

But let’s put it this way. Russia is not really bathing in money. Nuclear shelters for 40M people cost serious money. Massive drills that encompass such a huge portion of the populations are also expensive. This means they are perceiving a serious and direct danger of an all-out nuclear war. And I don’t mean all-out for Harambe.