Trust the government


That’s what it looks like when idiots try to pursue an ill-conceived ideological agenda and they aren’t even able to do simple logistics. And those are the people who would teach us moral virtue, brow-beat us for disobedience, and wage war with Russia and China.

The problem with these idiots is that they “trust their feelings” about “what is right” instead of doing the math, like, we want electric cars, let’s see if it’s doable. How long does the battery last, how frequently do you need to charge it and for how long, where do you need the charging stations and how many, how much electricity can you pull through the existing installations and is it enough for charging electric cars, what do you need to upgrade, and is there enough electricity in the grid to support this additional load?

The same idiots sanctioned Russian gas and oil for “moral reasons” (because waging a war against a Nazi puppet-state of your strategic enemy who is developing bio-weapons there, specifically designed to preferentially kill Russians and have “plausible deniability” about the source, -> oh they must have eaten bats, those crazy primitive Russians; waging war against them is incredibly immoral and everybody should do something to support the Nazi puppets, because that’s the right thing to do, because those who attack are always in the wrong and that’s why we all supported Saddam… oh wait), the Americans told them they’ll provide them with the “freedom gas”, it’s going to cost a bit more but that’s the price of freedom, and what did I say, I said there isn’t any American gas, it exists only in the PowerPoint presentations. Guess what happened, there actually isn’t any American gas, Europe is going to have a very cold winter and its industry is going to die, and even more importantly, its agriculture is going to die and then everybody is going to starve to death, and it’s all a part of someone’s plan because the goal is to kill you all because you’re bad for the environment.

Basically, the people who plan to kill us all because we are bad for the environment are the same people who are too stupid to install chargers for the electric cars because they just suck at planning and doing basic logistical math.

Yeah, but by all means, trust them with all your lives because they mean well and they know what’s right. It doesn’t matter that they are stupid and can’t organize a public toilet properly; what matters is that their hearts are in the right place. 🙂

Looking into the eyes of pure evil

For the last week or so, the Ukrainians have been shelling the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant (that has been taken by the Russians at the very onset of the war and not part of any military action). The Russians have arrested two Ukrainian agents inside the plant, who have been providing the Ukrainian military with the coordinates guiding artillery fire.

The danger isn’t from them hitting the reactors; nothing short of a nuclear bomb could penetrate the reactor dome. The main problem is the interruption to the power supply to the water circulation pumps in the reactors, which is what triggered the Fukushima Daiichi incident, because this is the weak point of the solid fuel fission reactors; if you either cut the cooling, or the moderator rods get stuck on the outside position, you get a meltdown. You can guard against this by initiating a complete reactor shutdown. The second problem is the spent fuel rods pool, which is nowhere near as well protected as the reactors. However, in my opinion this can cause only a localized incident, since you need a reactor meltdown for shit to really hit the fan, because it is then that the superheated steam carries the vast amount of highly radioactive particles high into the atmosphere, from where they spread globally, which took place in Chernobyl. In my opinion, threat to the reactor coolant circulation pump power supply is the greatest danger in any solid fuel fission power plant.

The Western press has been spreading Ukrainian lies, such as this one:

KYIV, Aug 14 (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has warned Russian soldiers who shoot at Europe’s largest nuclear power station or use it as a base to shoot from that they will become a “special target” for Ukrainian forces. (Reuters)

Yeah, somehow the small Russian military contingent that basically guards the powerplant against potential Ukrainian attempts to blow it up (which showed amazing foresight by the Russians, by the way) are “threatening” the power plant and the poor Ukrainians simply have to defend themselves by trying to cause the next Chernobyl, and the Western press is just spreading this propagandistic lying garbage.

By the way, Ukrainian artillery fire is being guided by the Americans, to the point where the American specialists are both providing the Ukrainians with coordinates and entering those coordinates into the American weapons. Which makes one think which country meets the definition of a sponsor of international terrorism.

I’ve been talking about good and evil recently, and if this isn’t an obvious example of evil, then I don’t know what to say. Systematically shelling a nuclear power plant in attempt to cause a radiological incident that could spread across Europe, and brazenly lying about it to shift blame, that’s just evil. If that isn’t evil, then nothing is.

Tiers of good

I wrote an article about the tiers of evil using the Witcher in-game universe as illustration, but when I wanted to write a similar article about the tiers of good, I encountered a problem. You see, the pool of good but powerful characters in Witcher is so shallow, I had nothing to write about. I’ll give it a try, just so that you see what I mean.

The first ther are good and helpful, but ordinary beings, such as Tomira the herbalist, Dudu the doppler, Dandelion, Roche, Zoltan, Crach an Craite and others. They basically mind their own business, but they try to help people and join good causes.

Next come the witchers; they go around the world and basically remove things that kill people, making it a better place. Sure, they charge money, but considering how they spend it all on gear, it turns out they actually don’t profit from their labor at all, and in fact do it out of pure altruism. They could, in fact, use their skills for evil and be much better paid as hired assassins or thugs (and some, in fact, do), but the vast majority of them don’t, which means it’s a choice for good, and it produces significant good consequences. Geralt is an outstanding example even in that company, because he makes very deliberate and calculated choices to improve the world by his actions, and is personally very powerful.

Then we have the good mages – Triss, Yennefer, Ermion and others – who are sometimes annoying and irritable, but powerful and helpful. They are powerful in different ways than the witchers – more magical power, but also more sensitivity to physical attack – which means they complement with the witchers most excellently; if a witcher defends the mage from physical attack while the mage does his thing, the result is more than the sum of its parts. Also, you can pretty much reduce a mage to an ordinary person with a dimeritium bomb, while a witcher will shrug it off and kill you with a sword.

The next level are the higher vampires, specifically Regis; they don’t use powerful magic, but they possess innate abilities that look like magic, and they are extremely powerful, and also extremely hard to kill. When such a powerful being makes a conscious choice for good, like Regis, the result is someone who is powerful, smart and helpful, and when he combines powers with someone like Geralt, they use detective work, alchemy, magic and brute force to great effect, and they are also fun to watch and they always have interesting opinions about human society and politics. Also, if you observe what a mess a higher vampire can make when he is ruled by rage or malice, it makes you appreciate the good ones even more, because you get to see it’s a willing choice, and not at all an easy one. They are prone to strong passions as a species, and a choice for good requires quite a bit of discipline and control for them.

And here we bump into my problem – there are no gods in the Witcher universe. There are no super-powerful angelic beings. The best I can think of is the Lady of the Lake, who tries to promote and enforce some basic principles, or Gaunter O’Dimm, who is not really good in any true definition of the term, but more of a predator who selectively destroys evil, arrogant and worthless beings. He is occasionally helpful to the good ones, but excessive help from him comes at a high price that is seldom worth it. However, if we see him as some kind of a super-devil that selectively plucks the evil people out of existence and thus shows that a choice for evil and callousness might not be worth it, I am forced to classify him as a phenomenon useful for enforcing positive moral principles. The “gods” of the Witcher universe, however, are all false and ridiculous. The “prophet” Lebioda is an obvious caricature of Jesus designed by atheists; other “gods” such as Freya or Melitele probably don’t even exist, which is what “allgod”, the lardass sylvan living in a basement of an elven ruin, actually points out: sure, he’s not a real deity, but unlike all other false gods he actually exists enough to talk and offer some advice to the peasants. Basically, all the religions in Witcher are exactly what atheists think of religions, and this is why the Witcher imagery is useless for describing the actual good that exceeds normal human metrics. Furthermore, this is the case with basically every other fictional universe imagined by humans: they apparently don’t know what powerful good beings feel like, to the point where they can’t even imagine them properly. Also, since the experience of darshan is apparently rare among writers, they can’t write from actual experience.

And so, if people aren’t even capable of writing fictional good characters due to their lack of experience with actual powerful good beings, what does this say about this world, about religions, and so on? It’s something to think about, in any case.

Tiers of evil

I’ve been thinking about various definitions of evil, and since I’ve been playing Witcher 3 a lot, I’ll use that as illustration.

The simplest type of evil is something that is universally harmful. For instance, a plague is universally harmful. It kills everybody equally and doesn’t discriminate between good and evil people. However, since a plague is not a conscious entity, you can’t really see it as evil; it’s merely a force of nature, like floods and avalanches. However, we can use this as a reliable standard – for something to be classified as evil, it needs to behave as a plague or a flood, only there needs to be a consciousness behind it.

Going by that, drowners in a pond are evil: if someone finds himself there, they will kill him. They have as much consciousness as wolves, though, so we can’t really talk about very organized evil. Basically, these are localized predatory beings that are universally harmful. In our world, a pond inhabited by crocodiles or a sea inhabited by sharks qualify as habitats of localized predatory beings that will eat you if you go there. The problem is, it’s easy to prove that crocodiles and sharks are dangerous to humans, but are they in fact evil? Is a hawk evil because it eats rabbits?

There’s a human equivalent of this kind of evil: bandits. Order of the Flaming Rose, for instance, consists of former knights that manufacture drugs, kill people and extort peasants. There are also gangs of deserters, pirates and cannibals that are quite similar to packs of wolves, drowners, necrofages, nekkers or ghouls; basically, they inhabit some place, and if you wade in, they attack you, no different from any other kind of pestilent monsters. Are they evil? They are certainly not good in any way I can think of. They are universally harmful, and they are harmful by choice and strategy, so there’s that. If you wanted a conscious plague, bandits are the closest thing. As you can see, the more conscious will and intelligence there is behind harmful actions, the closest we get to being able to easily define something as evil, so it’s obviously more about a state of consciousness, than actions themselves.

Next incremental step would be some sort of a serial killer, for instance that higher vampire that attacked Priscilla and others in Novigrad. He is a believer of the holy fire cult and targets people who are “sinful” in the eyes of his religion, and is much more conscious and deliberate than a pack of wolves and drowners, and also much more cruel, since he works very hard to inflict as much pain to his victims as possible, before he actually kills them. Geralt calls him a sick fuck, which is not wrong, but here we also have a very good taste of true evil.

Where do we go from a vampire serial killer belonging to a sick murderous cult? How about Caleb Menge, the chief witch hunter of Novigrad, the one hunting, torturing and burning mages, alchemists and non-humans in Novigrad? The main difference between him and the vampire is that the vampire is an amateur, and Menge is a professional, someone who organizes a whole movement of torture and murder in the name of madness. Can we go into the next level of abstraction, and say that the theologians who invented the religion that released and organized such evil in the world are the greater evil? Sure, but now we are venturing into very abstract territory, where we might end up with someone who didn’t actually burn witches at a stake, or torture anyone in his basement, and yet we must conclude that he’s more evil than those who do, because this is the logical conclusion we were heading to when deciding that a conscious murderer is a greater evil than a plague or a flood, because harm alone without consciousness does not constitute evil; consciousness, however, without actual direct harm, might prove to be the endpoint of this adventure of logic.

Let’s go further – the Crones of Crookback Bog. They are very easy to see as evil, because they kill and eat humans, with a particular taste for children, they are physically deformed and disgusting, and they are also mentally and emotionally deformed and vile. However, it might actually be that they are worse than that: in a very far past, they poisoned and perverted the ancient oak of Velen that served as some sort of a nexus of a druid circle, a tree of life if you will, and they are keeping it barely alive and feeding it broth cooked from human flesh every year, which might actually be the real reason why Velen is the worst place in the world, full of misery, dark evils, hunger and death. This is a regional evil, so to speak; it’s localized, but at a far wider locale than drowners in a lake, or a vampire serial killer. It is dark, perverted, disgusting, and profoundly evil in every sense something can be evil, from murder to spiritual darkness, and it envelops an entire region of the world.

The next greater evil on this scale is Radovid, the king of the united North, who actually started the persecution of mages, and who enveloped the entire North in the smoke of pyres, insane religions and slaughter. He is so incredibly evil and insane that I chose to conspire to kill him every single time I played the game. I’m not sure whether he’s worse than the Crones, but he happens to more selectively target good people, and turns the world into a hellish nightmare much more quickly and with less regional constraints.

The worst of all, and that’s already something considering the competition, is Emhyr var Emreis, Emperor of the Nilfgaardian Empire, the person who directly initiated the process that turned the North into a war-ravaged post-apocalyptic nightmare in which all lesser evils flourished. He is a cold, ruthless evil that wishes to grasp and swallow the entire world, to rule over all even if it means dancing on a barren graveyard.

Interesting, eh? In the world filled with monsters, and frequently monsters with super-powers, the two worst monsters I could think of are human.

Zerg rush vs. geopolitical judo

Let’s return to the Ukraine war.

The things are proceeding slowly, but conforming to my predictions; the Russians are slowly grinding down the Ukrainian fortifications in Eastern Ukraine, and apparently they are treating this as part of their military training; they are rotating troops with the apparent goal of providing as much of their military with combat experience, while limiting strain to individual units. The goal of this is to have as much of their military as possible in the state of greatest possible battle readiness in case of a much bigger war.

Also, we need to look at this from a strategic viewpoint. The declared strategic goal of NATO is to weaken and cripple Russia, both economically and militarily. Ukraine is only a weapon, a sacrificial country whose purpose is to die on the sacred altar of harming Russia. From Russian perspective, the strategic goal is to apply geopolitical Judo – don’t directly oppose force with force, use the enemy’s actions against them (and I don’t mean the Ukrainians), trip them out of balance, avoid being caught into something that will prove to be a death spiral as a function of time, always see the big picture and try to get long-term outcomes that are favourable. Seeing Russia as a bear is popular in the west, but it’s very deceptive, because that picture would make sense during the reign of that lumbering drunkard Yeltsin. The Russians are trying to navigate a complicated line between traps and pitfalls, avoiding a nuclear confrontation if at all possible, avoiding huge military losses if at all possible, avoiding situations where their enemies have the upper hand, and keeping their economy in a good condition. Winning the war in Ukraine exists only in the context of those priorities, meaning that they don’t care about finishing it quickly. They want to finish it in a way that will minimize their losses and maximize the difficulties and financial pressures to their enemies; “quickly” doesn’t even enter the equation, because it’s not some super-expensive war across seven oceans and seven mountains; it’s their own back yard, with supply lines so short, it might as well be a standard military exercise. Yes, people die, but the Americans and the British made sure they would die in any case, so it might as well be on Russian terms.

If American type of warfare is a “Zerg rush”, Russian type of warfare is geopolitical science. It’s actually weird how it conforms almost perfectly to a mathematically ideal model of minimal expenditure of resources. If Americans intended to bleed Russia, they achieved the opposite, because the Russians can keep this up indefinitely, while their enemies created a black hole for resources that is sucking in their collective economies.