Monday, 9 May 2022

Toomas Karmo: Observing the 9th of May, In Terms that Offer Something to Everyone: как культурно, разумно и приятно

Thank you, President Putin, for not doing the thing I feared you might do, namely celebrating today, May 9, with a tactical nuclear detonation at Azovstal. Thanks also to the people who carried out the successful NTV Plus-Rostelecom-Wink hack, causing online viewers in Russia to see a nice, clear "No to war" caption as commentary on coverage of the big parade:

From https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/18504544/putins-victory-day-parade-coverage-hacked-2/

Some will have appreciated the parade today, whether because of the hack or because they like parades. Such viewers might now enjoy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Smz6j9wZdoI (YouTube video entitled "Lambeth Walk: Putin Style (2021)", uploaded seven months ago by YouTube user "Wassermelone"). Others, for instance I here in rural Estonia, will have a more American taste in YouTube clips, and might accordingly now enjoy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmfeNq5x5aQ (YouTube video entitled "God Bless America Sung by Kate Smith - This is the Army 1943 HD", uploaded a year ago by YouTube user "Inter-Pathé"). That's how the Internet works, folks: there is something for everyone. 

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Monday, 18 April 2022

Toomas Karmo: Open Letter to His Eminence the Titular Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, Regarding Tactical Nuclear Weaponry

Quality assessment: 

On the 5-point scale current in Estonia, and surely in nearby nations, and familiar to observers of the academic arrangements of the late, unlamented, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (applying the easy and lax standards Kmo deploys in his grubby imaginary "Aleksandr Stepanovitsh Popovi nimeline sangarliku raadio instituut" (the "Alexandr Stepanovitch Popov Institute of Heroic Radio") and his grubby imaginary "Nikolai Ivanovitsh Lobatshevski nimeline sotsalitsliku matemaatika instituut" (the "Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky Institute of Socialist Mathematics") - where, on the lax and easy grading philosophy of the twin Institutes, 1/5 is "epic fail", 2/5 is "failure not so disastrous as to be epic", 3/5 is "mediocre pass", 4/5 is "good", and 5/5 is "excellent"): 3/5. Justification: it is arguable that I knew enough to treat my subject adequately within the limited scope I set myself.

Revision history:

UTC=20220427T182100Z/version 1.1.0: Kmo made tiny change needed for accuracy regarding Tõravere cafeteria: queue, not trays. 

UTC=20220418T135800Z/version 1.0.0: Kmo uploaded base version. He then planned to continue producing, in a way not documented here, minor tweaks, over the coming 96 hours, as versions 1.0.1, 1.0.2, ... . . 

Your Eminence: You know as well as I, perhaps better than I (for I write as a layman, without significant links to any national government) that now, on the Monday which is 2022-04-18, one question above all others is taxing the best minds in Foreign Ministries and Ministries of Defence in Europe and North American, in Australia and New Zealand, and now crucially also in China. The question is: How, without precipitating a nuclear tit-for-tat and World War Three, do we respond to the small, and yet no longer negligible, possibility of a Russian tactical nuclear detonation in Ukraine? For China, in particular, with so much to lose from any widened conflict, and with so much commercial leverage over Russia, the question has surely the following accompaniment: What mixture of commercial threats and commercial blandishments can we in Beijing make, in secretly arranged concert with our Western trading partners, to dissuade Russia from detonation?

Although the prospect remains small, it looms somewhat larger from one day to the next as long as Mr V.V. Putin clings to power, evading the religious reclusion which remains his last and best personal hope. Mr Putin may be gone days or hours from now, following what is on at least some assessments the sad recent  fate of Defence Minister Sergei Kuzhugetovich "cardiac patient" Shoigu. But (I repeat) Mr Putin's departure, if possible or probable, is not now a certainty. 

And the prospect of a nuclear detonation might continue looming even after the conceivable departure of Mr Putin. Events have their own terrible inner logic, beyond the control of individuals. 

We can breathe more easily once the anniversary date of 9 May is behind us. Until then, it is as in the Taizé Passiontide hymn (use, for instance, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmAOcHqvS0Q) "Stay here with Me, remain here with Me, watch and pray..." 

You therefore need to see to it that your team, including your Patriarch, prepare a plan, especially as the politically and militarily charged anniversary date of 9 May (central in the contemporary militarized Russian culture) approaches. Perhaps the tactical nuclear strike will never happen. But if it does, say in the period of maximum current peril, around 1 May or 5 May, when the Kremlin is specially anxious to parade some kind of "success" in Ukraine, what will your team do?

You might collectively today, on the Monday which is 2022-04-18, consider that the Kremlin government would be right in using a tactical nuke, as enhancing the nobility and moral worth of that thing-which-looks-like-a-war-but-is-not-even-though-tens-of-thousands-are-already-dead, that "special military operation", that специальная военная операция. In that case, your team at the Patriarchate must  have a reasoned theological case written out, ready for publication at just a few minutes' notice, to reassure a public suddenly in acute need of spiritual guidance. 

You and your Patriarch might, on the other hand, follow me in considering a tactical nuclear detonation to be a criminal atrocity, akin to those clear atrocities which were Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or again akin to those clear atrocities which constituted the Shoah. In that case, once again, your team must have a reasoned theological argument written out, ready for publication at just a few minutes' notice. To undertake less preparation than that - no matter what your particular stance regarding the morality of a nuclear detonation - is in my respectfully submitted assessment to leave your flock inadequately shepherded. 

****

It is helpful in the current situation to reflect on the historical, physical realities of the Passion and Resurrection. I would in this particular Easter season recommend the anatomist Dr Pierre Barbet (1884-1961), as an early worker in a line of investigation which has in more recent decades amassed additional scientific practitioners. You can find Dr Barbet's 1950 book, in a 1953 English translation, in PDF format, by searching on such text strings as 

  barbet doctor at calvary translated by earl of wicklow pdf

I would suggest that despite its great age, this is the work of a correctly disciplined scientific mind, and that subsequent investigations are likely to have altered Dr Barbet's findings in details, not in essence. Self-discipline, such as Dr Barbet musters, fortunately proves possible not only in maths and physics, but also in the fuzzier worlds of history and medicine.

It will to some minds appear unfortunate that Dr Barbet starts with the Shroud of Turin. Some, possibly including you, will join me in finding this a problematic beginning, since the Shroud has been dated by Carbon 14 measurements in our own day as mediaeval, not as a relic of classical antiquity. I for my part do note, however, admittedly without writing from any position of diligent study, that the Carbon 14 dating result has been recently called into question. We must on all accounts  follow physical truth ruthlessly, being prepared to abandon our Faith itself should science give us conclusive reason for doing so, and to endure in that act of abandonment our own little crucifixion at the hands of community authorities. However, it may now be that a careful reexamination of Carbon 14 dating, far from undermining the plausibility of the Shroud, will leave the question of its dating once again open, as it was open for the so-careful Dr Barbet. 

The entire book is a bit long, as I have myself found on being forced to read it in a hurry. But it suffices to read Chapter 12, which recapitulates the essentials of Chapters 1 through 11 while adding fresh insights. In the 1953 publisher's page numbering, this is the chapter that starts on page 158. The start of Chapter 12 corresponds to “page 80” in the numbering imposed by my own Microsoft computer's PDF display software, and very likely imposed by your software also.  

A caveat is necessary. Dr Barbet's key Chapter 12 is marred by a perceptible and hideous, although not quite in-your-face-Nazi, antisemitism. To my own mind, hideous though the author's antisemitism is, it gives his words added force, reminding one of the barbaric era in which he is himself anchored. One literally cries out at the computer screen, noting the author’s own historical limitations as well as the unspeakable details of his ancient-Jerusalem researches. 

You may now reflect, Your Eminence, as a (1995) doctorally qualified theologian from the same leading British school which gave me a 1979 philosophy doctorate: this thing, this Roman execution,  happened, even as the assassination of "Ivlivs Caivs Caesar" happened, and its medical details are likely to correspond, in a reasonable approximation, to Dr Barbet's anatomically informed reconstructions: in the face of this thing, I, Hilarion the Titular Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, have as a shepherd of souls a duty to make up my mind now regarding the morality or immorality of a possible tactical nuclear detonation in Ukraine. 

Here "now" means "now, in the week of 2022-04-18", not next week, and not in procrastination as late as the week of 9 May. You, being as a Western-educated Titular Metropolitan no stranger to the realities of public life, can picture still more clearly than I the eventual national panic under the minute-to-minute pressure of events in the geopolitical crisis which a detonation would precipitate. The detonation, if it comes, will see television programmes not in Russia alone, but in every industrialized nation, interrupted for special bulletin upon special bulletin. The horror, if it comes, may well see parts of the media, including parts accessible to ordinary Russians, indicating to their terrified audiences that Kremlin decision-makers have been spotted exiting Moscow. You cannot wait for images of exit helicopters to fill your personal screen. To do less than prepare now, this week, would be to abdicate your personal pastoral responsibility at the foot of the Cross. 

****

Easter is a time of rebirth. What might rebirth mean in the present circumstances, with a morally resolute Ukraine standing up to a brutalized and depressed Red Army, and with a pampered and decadent West now seeking for itself a moral courage at least dimly mirroring Ukraine's?

I will not examine possibilities for the West here, beyond saying that if some expanding 2022 nuclear war does not destroy us all, then over coming decades Western people can unite in peaceful and legal ways against those twin Western evils which are (a) the supranational corporations (the past beneficiaries, in many instances, of post-1991 Russian commerce)  and (b) the corporate facilitators,  our corrupt (our hired, our purchased) Western parliamentary factions. These are not factions on the "Populist Right" alone, but factions ranging across much of the current Western parliamentary spectrum, in most or all Western democracies, here in Estonia and far afield. 

One such peaceful and legal way will be the rejection of a consumerist lifestyle, and concomitantly with that rejection a return to personal minimalism - through a simple, straightforward, "Refusal to Buy", through a straightforward "Insistence on Simple Living", in any case needed as we Western citizens strive alongside our often-clumsy governments to support Ukraine. 

As  regards Russia, I suggest that scant hope can be now placed in government. How can a government structure be endorsed which recruits even infants to its cult of war, as reflected in those familiar Internet photos? You are unlikely to need such photos yourself. And yet to ensure that my point becomes fully clear I do supply you with two of them. They will serve to remind you and my wider readership of the extent to which public authorities now betray the Gospel, or at any rate connive in its betrayal:

Photo: Moscow Times, 2019-05-10, reporting 9 May festivities in Pyatigorsk.
  
Photo: https://therussianreader.com/2021/12/28/yigal-levin-do-russians-want-war/

Some hope remains, on the other hand, for the efforts of your Russian natural scientists, your Russian historians, and your other Russian intellectuals, as local witnesses to Truth. 

And there is hope, if we care to see it, in your own Russian Orthodox Church. You know better than I the decay which has for centuries beset Russian Orthodoxy. The Vatican has the unfortunate distinction of having in recent years operated (owned? leased?) a helicopter, capable of shuttling at least between Vatican City and the suburban Castel Gandolfo. You, on the other hand, have perhaps yourself boarded, as I have not, the yacht "placed at the disposal of the Patriarch" should his pastoral duties happen to take him to the isolated monastery of Valaam. Pope Francis lives in a kind of hostel-for-prelates, foregoing the private traditional papal apartments, and is said to take his meals in a cafeteria alongside ecclesial colleagues, much as we do at the observatory campus here in Tõravere, with our humble cafeteria queue. In the Patriarchy, simplicity is less prized. 

Further, you have likely set foot, as I have not, in the new Moscow Oblast "Military Cathedral". You, Your Eminence, know this gargantuan celebration of militarism better than I, and my other readers can quickly research it through (for example)

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/20/orthodox-cathedral-of-the-armed-force-russian-national-identity-military-disneyland

It remains the case that your Church has the graces to lead a national spiritual revival, in concert with constructive, anti-consumerist, social forces in the West, notably with forces allied to the Holy See. It has the graces to lead that revival in the teeth, if necessary, of whatever enigmatic factions may this year be emerging in some enigmatic post-Putin Kremlin. 

I do not call you to martyrdom in the manner of  Rev. Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Saint Franz Jägerstätter or Saint Edith Stein. In calling you to articulate your stand in the face of a possible tactical nuclear strike in Ukraine, I call you only to what seems possible from a human standpoint. 

I additionally herewith join, as an obscure Catholic layman, with western ecclesial authorities, including a former Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, in calling for a Ukraine ceasefire to mark the Russian Orthodox Easter, and I join with Pope Francis in the recent prayers consecrating Russia and Ukraine to Our Lady. 

Finally, I herewith enjoin you from the theologically unassailable position of a lay pastoral supplicant, obedient to my Bishop, to my local Nuncio, and to the Vatican - and I do so in the name of Christ, thereby presuming even to bind you - to acknowledge receipt of this present (e-mail, papermail, and blogspot) communication. My previous efforts at obtaining receipts of communication from you have failed,   in large part through my own ineptitude. As time passes, however, I become better in my various methods, and I remain in this Easter season hopeful of success. 


==END OF CURRENT BLOGSPOT POSTING==

 

Saturday, 9 April 2022

Toomas Karmo: Nähtavalt Eredaimate Tähtede Astrofüüsiline Ülevaade, 2022 / Astrophysical Overview of the Visually Brightest Stars, 2022


Kuvatõmmis minu Debian GNU/Linuxi arvutilt. Ühes brauseri aknas eredaimate tähetede essee oma 2022.a. versioonis, nagu seda saab lugeda RASC serverist, teises brauseri aknas minu 2019-01-19 blogspot essee varema versiooni teemal, kusjuures ka mõned fotod talvisest Tartu observatooriumi pimedataeva linnakust, mõni sada meetrit minu töötoast. Xterm akendes jooksevad vaated 2022.a. versiooni tugimärkmetesse. Nagu alati blogspotis, saab pilti suurendada klõpsuga esimesele (vasakpoolsele) hiirenupule. - Screenshot from my Debian GNU/Linux computer. In one browser window is my brightest-stars essay in its 2022 version, as avilable from the RASC server, and in the other browser window my 2019-01-19 blogspot essay on the topic of an earlier version.This is accompanied by some photos of the Tartu Obsrvatory dark-sky campus, a few hundred metres from my workroom. In the xterm windows are views into the 2022 version working notes. As always in blogspot, the image can be enlarged by clicking on the first (the leftrmost) mouse button. 



Kvaliteedihinnang: - Quality assessment:


Selle viiepallilise skaala kohaselt, mis kehtib praegu Eestis, ja kindlasti ka naaberriikides, ja on tuttav kadunud, mitte tagantjärele leinatud, NSVL-i akadeemilise elu vaatlejatele (siin rakendades neid kergeid, lõtvu, kriteeriume, mida Kmo rakendab oma nõgises fantaseeritud "Aleksandr Stepanovitsh Popovi nimelises sangarliku raadio instituudis" ja oma nõgises fantaseeritud "Nikolai Ivanovitsh Lobatshevki nimelises sotsialistliku matemaatika instituudis" - kus, fantaasias ette kujutatud kaksikinstituutide lõdva ja vähenõudliku hindamisreeglite kohaselt 1/5 on "eepiline läbikukkukmine", 2/5 "läbikukkumine, mis pole nii katastrofaalne, et eepilusust saavutada", 3/5 on "kehvavõitu läbipääsemine", 4/5 on "hea" ja 5/5 on "eeskujulik": 2/5. Põhjendus: Teema ei võimaldanud sügavat käsitlemist. -  On the 5-point scale current in Estonia, and surely in nearby nations, and familiar to observers of the academic arrangements of the late, unlamented, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (applying the easy and lax standards Kmo deploys in his grubby imaginary "Aleksandr Stepanovitsh Popovi nimeline sangarliku raadio instituut" (the "Alexandr Stepanovitch Popov Institute of Heroic Radio") and his  grubby imaginary "Nikolai Ivanovitsh Lobatshevski nimeline sotsalitsliku matemaatika instituut" (the "Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky Institute of Socialist Mathematics") - where, on the lax and easy grading philosophy of the twin Institutes, 1/5 is "epic fail", 2/5 is "failure not so disastrous as to be epic", 3/5 is "mediocre pass", 4/5 is "good", and 5/5 is "excellent"): 2/5. Justification: The chosen theme did not provide opportunities for depth.  


Variandikroonika: - Revision history:

Kõik kalendrip
äevad-kellaajad variandikroonikas on ära toodud UTC-s. UTC, ehk "Maailmakell", on vana GMT-i, ehk "Greenwich Mean Time"-i, täpsustus. Tarvitusel on ISO ettekirjutatud YYYYMMDDThhmmZ ajastembi formaat (kusjuures YYYY on UTC aasta, MM UTC kuu, DD UTC kuupäev, hh UTC tunniarv, mm UTC minutiarv). UTC praegu jookseb Toronto tsiviilkellast 4 tundi ette, Tallinna tsiviilkellast 3 tundi taga. - All times in these blog "revision histories" are stated in UTC (Universal Coordinated Time/ Temps Universel Coordoné,  a precisification of the old GMT, or "Greenwich Mean Time"), in the ISO-prescribed YYYYMMDDThhmmZ timestamping format. UTC currently leads Toronto civil time by 4 hours and currently lags Tallinn civil time by 3 hours.

  • 20220409T084200Z/versioon 1.0.0 : Kmo koostas algversioonii, jättes endale õiguse teha timmimisi, kui siin mitte dokumenteeritud versioonid 1.0.1,1.0.2, ... , järgmise 96 tunni ookul. - Kmo produced a base version, reserving the right to make small adjustments, as here-undocumented versions 1.0.1, 1.0.2, ... , over the coming 96 hours. 

Uueaasta päeval 2018.a., minu viimase Kanadas elamise aasta alguses, ma postitasin oma peamisele blogiruumile, kui http://toomaskarmo.blogspot.com/2018/01/toomas-karmo-visually-brightest-stars.html, esssee pealkirjaga "The Visually Brightest Stars (Fresh RASC Publishing Initiatives)". Siin "RASC" on Kanada amatööastronoomide selts, ametlikult "Royal Astronomical Society of Canada". Mainitud 2018.a. "Publishing Initiatives", ehk "kirjanduslikud algatused", hõlmasid RASC-i vaatleja käsiraamatu seni laiemat raamatuturule pakkumist, nüüd kahes paralleelses variandis. 2018. aastast saadik oli üks variant suunatud Kanada, teine aga USA lugejaskonnale. Selle juures oli ka minu visuaalselt eredaimate tähtede astrofüüsilise ülevaate esimene koostamine RASC-i serveril, kui PDF-väljaanne kättesaadav ülemaailmsele lugejaskonnale (nii RASC-i liikmetele kui ka laiemale avalikkusele, kasvõi Eestis). Sama teema on käsitletud siin ka kuupäeval 2019-01-19, kui https://toomaskarmo.blogspot.com/2019/01/ - On New Year's Day in 2018, at the start of my final year of residence in Canada, I posted to my principal blogging space, as http://toomaskarmo.blogspot.com/2018/01/toomas-karmo-visually-brightest-stars.html, an essay under the title "The Visually Brightest Stars (Fresh RASC Publishing Initiatives)". Here "RASC" is Canada's association for amateur astronomers, formally the "Royal Astronomical Society of Canada". These 2018 "Publishing Initiatives" included a widened offering of the RASC observer's handbook to the book market, now in two parallel variants. From 2018 onward, one variant was directed to  Canadian, the other to USA readers. Along with this was my own first compilation of a brightest-stars astrophysical overview on the RASC server, as a PDF accessible world-wide (both to RASC members and to the general public, Estonia included). The same theme is discussed here also under the date 2019-01-19, as  https://toomaskarmo.blogspot.com/2019/01/.

****

Praegu juhiksin tähelepanu ülevaate värskeima, ehk 2022.a., versiooni ilmumisele RASC-i serveril, ikka kui PDF kättesaadav igas riigis. Ülevaade on aastast aastasse kasvanud. Praegune, ehk 2022.a., versioon hõlmab 106 lehekülge. Sissejuhatavas essees, 2022.a. umbes 26 lehekülje ulatuses, pannakse erilist rõhku spektraalsele (Morgan-Keenan ehk "MK") klassifitseerimisele, tähtede evolutsioonile MK kontekstis, Be-fenomenile (kus noorevõitu, kuum, kiiresti pöörlev täht heidab välja ekvatoriaalselt ümbritseva, nii fotomeetriliselt kui spektroskoopiliselt tajutava, hiigelketta) ja (esimest korda 2022.a.) binaarsete süsteemide iseärasustele. - I would now direct attention to the publication of the most recent, i.e. the 2022, version on the RASC server, still as a PDF accessible from all countries. The overview has grown from year to year. The current (2022) version comprises 106 pages. In the prefatory essay, in 2022 running to about 26 pages, special emphasis is placed on spectral (Morgan-Keenan, or "MK") classification, on stellar evolution in the MK context, on the Be phenomenon (where a youngish, hot, rapidly spinning star ejects a huge surrounding equatorial disk, observable both in photometry and in spectroscopy) and (for the first time in 2022) the properties of binaries. 

Eesseele juurdekuuluvas tabelis, kus on käsitletud  umbes 320 eri visuaalselt ereda tähe astrofüüsilisi omadusi, ma juhiksin hetkel erilist tähelepanu delta Sco umbes leheküljepikkusele kirjeldusele. Binaarne süsteem delta Sco, viimastel aastakümnetel hakanud ootamatult esitlema Be-fenomeni tunnuseid, läbib oma periastroni 2022.a. maikuus. Sealjuures on spektroskoopia ja fotomeetria soovitavad, ka amatööride tasemel, nii enne kui ka mitu kuud pärast periastroni. - In the table accompanying the essay, which examines the astrophysical propertiesof about 320 visually bright stars, I would at the moment direct particular attention to the discussion (about a page in length) of delta Sco. The binary system delta Sco, which in recent decades has unexpectedly begun to present the Be phenomenology, is passing through periastron in May of 2022. Spectroscopic and photometric observations are desirable, including observations at an amateur standard, both before the periastron and for many months after it. 

****

PDF-i kätteleidmiseks võib (a) külastada koduleht https://www.rasc.ca/, siis (b) "Publications" menüüst valida "Observer's Handbook", siis (c) antud "Publications" lehekülje vasemal asuvast menüüst valida "Supplemenents" ja siis lõpuks (d) antud "Supplements" leheküljelt klõpsutada hüperlingile "Brightest Star supplemental essay as on p. 275 of OH 2022". Ma pakuksin aga siinsamas ka otsese ajutise lingi, mis vist töötab kuni praegusi versiooni väljavahetamiseni, kunagi 2023.a. esimestel kuudel:  https://www.rasc.ca/sites/default/files/Brightest_Stars_OH2022a.pdf . - To access the PDF, one may proceed as follows: (a) visit the homepage https://www.rasc.ca/; then (b) from the "Publications" menu, select "Observer's Handbook"; then (c) from the menu near the left edge of the "Publications" page, select "Supplements"; and finally (d) from the "Supplements" page, click on the hyperlink "Brightest Star supplemental essay as on p. 275 of OH 2022". I would also here offer a direct temporary link, liable to remain live until the updating of the current version, at some point in the first months of 2023: 
https://www.rasc.ca/sites/default/files/Brightest_Stars_OH2022a.pdf .

****
Selgeid taevaid kõigile!  - Clear skies to all! 

==PRAEGUSE BLOGSPOTI POSTITUSE LÕPP / 

END OF CURRENT BLOGSPOT POSTING==

Sunday, 3 April 2022

Toomas Karmo: Open Letter to Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, and to His Eminence the Titular Metropolitan of Volokolamsk

Quality assessment: 

On the 5-point scale current in Estonia, and surely in nearby nations, and familiar to observers of the academic arrangements of the late, unlamented, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (applying the easy and lax standards Kmo deploys in his grubby imaginary "Aleksandr Stepanovitsh Popovi nimeline sangarliku raadio instituut" (the "Alexandr Stepanovitch Popov Institute of Heroic Radio") and his grubby imaginary "Nikolai Ivanovitsh Lobatshevski nimeline sotsalitsliku matemaatika instituut" (the "Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky Institute of Socialist Mathematics") - where, on the lax and easy grading philosophy of the twin Institutes, 1/5 is "epic fail", 2/5 is "failure not so disastrous as to be epic", 3/5 is "mediocre pass", 4/5 is "good", and 5/5 is "excellent"): 2/5. Justification: it is arguable that I knew enough to treat my subject adequately within the limited scope I set myself, an d yet the scope was VERY limited. (Sorry, although I did at first try to award myself 3/5, the Institutes insisted on going down to 2/5. Even the grubby hinterland has its standards.) 

Revision history:

UTC=20220403T1645000Z/version 1.0.0: Kmo uploaded base version. He then planned to continue producing, in a way not documented here, minor tweaks, over the coming 96 hours, as versions 1.0.1, 1.0.2, ... . . 

War is liable to bring out the worst in everyone, not only in the people we oppose but within our own ranks. We recall, for instance, the problematic course of the Royal Air Force (RAF) in the 1939-1945 war. Their fight - conducted with an entire nation, arguably much of an entire continent, under existential threat - fell safely with in the scope of Catholic "Justified War" theory. By the time the war was in its later phases, however, the RAF was carpet-bombing German civilians. The RAF became (to take one example from several possible) complicit in the July 1943 Hamburg firestorm. From that firestorm, German civilians in basements sheltered in vain. Winds in the streets attained speeds estimated at around 65 m/s or 70 m/s, in other words approximating the worst of all recorded hurricanes. So intense was the heat that even asphalt burst into flame. In some instances, the number of casualties in basements had to be estimated roughly, from the quantity of human ash. 

I could reinforce this lesson in human wartime depravity by first documenting the high moral tone of the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, then citing those American war crimes, with still more civilian victims than in Hamburg, which were Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 

And I recall from my Estonian-exile childhood, in Canada, an album (I saw it in the Reader's Digest Condensed Books version) entitled German Faces. There were photo portraits of brave, civically minded 1945-era Germans. There were photo portraits of opportunistic 1945-era Germans working the black market; of complacent 1945-era Germans (fortunate in never being bombed), cold toward their own internal refugees; of embittered Germans; and of at least one youthful fanatical German, praising the songs he had been accustomed to singing under the now-extinguished Reich.

I was much taken at the time, and I still recall with anguish, the portrait photo of a mother and child, some quite tiny "Gerhard" or "Heinz". The mother explained to the author how things had gone for her with the Red Army. Since I do not have text and photo in front of me here in Estonia, I can now only paraphrase. What I read back then, roughly six decades ago, ran something like this: "So they did it, in the snow. I don't know how I kept track, but I did keep track: twenty-two times. One of them was different from the others, shy. The others said, 'Go on, do it, do it.' He did not want to, but eventually he did it too. I like to think that he is the father of little Heinz, here."

****

Now we have Monsieur le Président Vladimir Vladimirovich inflicting spiritual harm, committing an assault, on Syrian men. Details can be had from various sources, for instance from 

The current Russian President's deal is this: You, a Syrian, can fight in Ukraine; we will pay you many times more than you could hope to earn in Syria; and in the event of your death, your family members back home will receive a monetary death benefit.

I need not dwell on the morality of dangling such an obscene temptation before traumatized men with starving families. You, Your Eminence the Titular Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, will agree with me that your President errs in proffering such a temptation. You will agree with me, as a trained theologian from my own UK university and sharing my own Faith, that the judgement of history may prove heavier on your current President than on those poor Syrians who in their weakness may soon be taking his bait. I beg of you in Christ, as I renew my efforts to get letters to you, that you discuss the theology with him directly, or alternatively with him through your Patriarch, pressing me also into back-channel service in any way you can devise.  

****

War (to reiterate) is liable to bring out the worst in everyone, from the brutalized rank-and-file of the 1940s Red Army right up to the 1940s RAF élite. What, now, would be an appropriate response from Kyiv to the emerging Syria problem? How can the Ukrainian side, at least, avoid sinking into Mr Putin's theological morass?

If Syrian mercenaries should come, Kyiv must avoid the temptation to a reciprocal brutality. "They are combat-hardened soldiers" - it might be pleaded in extenuation - "accustomed to inflicting cruelty, and moreover fighting over here from commercial motives; let our lads give them what they deserve." Very well then: let those Syrians be as hardened as we may choose to imagine; let them share even in the brutality of 1945 Red Army personnel in Berlin: brutality must on no account be reciprocated with brutality. 

Some skilled people within the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine may now be able to reach out in Arabic and English to these incoming wretches, in terms that they will understand, despite their limited access to information, and moreover in terms that do not ask the emotionally impossible of them. Let there be no preaching. Let us reserve our homilies for Monsieur le Président Putin, via (so I hope and pray, admittedly still here groping in darkness) His Eminence my so-far-silent Oxford confrère the Titular Metropolitan of Volokolamsk. For the mercenaries, let Kyiv make merely an offer, of the simplest kind, by way of a counter-offer to the offer that brought them into Ukraine: If in a spirit of adroit cooperation you let yourself be "captured" by "unexpectedly materializing Ukrainian forces", then we for our part will provide you employment in some steady and physically safe capacity in the west of Ukraine, far from the killing fields. In legal documentation, you will be a prisoner of war. In physical reality, on the other hand, you will be a manual worker. Paying due regard to your de facto status of worker, we will pay you ten percent more than  Moscow would have paid you to fight in the far east of Ukraine. Additionally, mindful of your sad reasons for having attempted to fight, we will facilitate the remitting of your pay (should you desire this) to your impoverished family back home in Syria. 

****

Servant of God Екатерина Фёдоровна де Гук-Дохерти, урождённая Колышкина, witness to the spiritual mission of Russia in the family of nations, intercede for us now.  
 

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Sunday, 27 March 2022

Toomas Karmo: Immediate Monastic Reclusion Advisable: An Open Letter to President V.V. Putin and His Eminence the Titular Metropolitan of Volokolamsk

Quality assessment: 

On the 5-point scale current in Estonia, and surely in nearby nations, and familiar to observers of the academic arrangements of the late, unlamented, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (applying the easy and lax standards Kmo deploys in his grubby imaginary "Aleksandr Stepanovitsh Popovi nimeline sangarliku raadio instituut" (the "Alexandr Stepanovitch Popov Institute of Heroic Radio") and his grubby imaginary "Nikolai Ivanovitsh Lobatshevski nimeline sotsalitsliku matemaatika instituut" (the "Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky Institute of Socialist Mathematics") - where, on the lax and easy grading philosophy of the twin Institutes, 1/5 is "epic fail", 2/5 is "failure not so disastrous as to be epic", 3/5 is "mediocre pass", 4/5 is "good", and 5/5 is "excellent"): 3/5. Justification: it is arguable that I knew enough to treat my subject adequately within the limited scope I set myself.  

Revision history:

UTC=20220327T1644000Z/version 1.0.0: Kmo uploaded base version. He then planned to continue producing, in a way not documented here, minor tweaks, over the coming 96 hours, as versions 1.0.1, 1.0.2, ... . . 


I write herewith, in the format of an Open Letter, both to Monsieur le Président Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and to a putatively solid professional theologian, Hilarion Alfeyev, Titular Metropolitan of Volokolamsk (in previous secular life Dr Grigoriy Valerievich Alfeyev). 

I turn to the titular Metropolitan as a person from my own University, although not from my own College (St John's in my case, Pembroke in his), and not quite of my own generation (we have an age difference of just over 13 years, and consistently with this he and I finished our doctoral work at university in 1995 and 1979 respectively), and not of comparable standing canonically (he, a person of high authority in the Moscow Patriarchy, and I an obscure layman under the Holy See, unconnected to any national government). Although one does not normally work the academic "Old Boy Network", working this network does become advisable in the current diplomatic emergency.  

I now solemnly ask of the Metropolitan, and I ask it in the name of Christ, daring in that Name even to bind, to the extent that a layman can in conscience bind: Your Eminence, do not leave this letter unacknowledged; have someone in your team (optimally you yourself; otherwise, some other official) acknowledge receipt, somehow, in terms that I can make publicly known, through such means

Your Eminence, you may initially ask to what extent a layman can presume to bind. In answer to this I note that if I were to seek the Sacrament of Penance from you, you could not in conscience turn me away, and that here I approach you in an analogously grave pastoral context.  

****

Appealing, then, to what I consider an unassailable pastoral-theology position as supplicant, I proceed boldly. 

Your Eminence, what may I respectfully and humbly I ask from you, having now gained the ear which you are in correct pastoral theology obliged to turn to me? I ask, once again in the name of Christ, that having in the first instance caused receipt of my letter to be acknowledged, you as a next step cause this Open Letter to be seen by appropriate persons, in such a way that its content becomes known over the coming hours to Monsieur le Président V.V. Putin. One possible intermediary in your work might be your canonical superior Patriarch Kirill, who I believe has in at any rate peacetime been in a position to communicate directly and personally with the President. But perhaps other possibilities exist for you also.  

****

Monsieur le Président, events have evolved in ways worse than those rationally conceivable when I composed my Open Letter to you on 2022-01-24. I could not resort to deliberately inaccurate language in writing to you in Open Letter format at toomaskarmo.blogspot.com on 2022-01-24. I said, in due honesty back then, that I did not think you would be so ill-advised as to launch a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine. Still less can I resort to deliberate inaccuracy in writing to you now, on the one hand (as before, on 2022-01-24) through open publication at toomaskarmo.blogspot.com and on the other hand now through the private intermediation of His Eminence the Titular Metropolitan of Volokolamsk.  

Without being exhaustive, and in particular without venturing into the details of alleged war crimes (although I do note in passing the current forensic salience of the Донецкий академический областной драматический театр in Mariupol), I set down three key points. From these you can construct the rest, as a paleontologist might reconstruct his entire dinosaur from jawbone, vertebra, and femur:

  • Your communications are in disarray. I have seen an image of absurdly primitive Red Army radio gear, allegedly deployed in Ukraine, in the form of a cheap, perhaps two-band, VHF portable, lacking encryption. This is the type of gear that might have been sold 30 years ago by Radioworld in Toronto to some frugal youngster who had just passed his Industry Canada "Basic" amateur-radio exam. And in my Internet headphones, I hear what purports to be the recording of a Red Army voice conversation regarding a search for avenues of retreat. Consistently with that primitive VHF walkie-talkie image, I note that both sides in what I hear are transmitting en clair, contrary to elementary military communications discipline. 
  • Your fuel and food are in disarray. Monsieur le Président, you can find, as I have, Internet material alleging the deliberate spillage of fuel by Red Army personnel, desperate for their own safety, seeking to halt an advance, or again YouTube ciné material showing Red Army personnel looting the shelves of a small grocery shop, or again an Internet still photo showing package documentation for a Red Army Meal-Ready-to-Eat ("MRE"). According to the photo, 2015 was the year of expiration. 
  • Portions of your troops are already in open rebellion. Monsieur le Président, I would draw your attention to Ukrainian television-interview footage of penitent Russian soldiers, begging forgiveness as they recall their participation in what I myself would characterize as a fratricidal mission. Again, I would respectfully draw your attention to the Daily Mail allegation (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10652501/Russian-commander-deliberately-run-tank-soldiers-DIED.html) that Colonel Yuri Medvedev, from the 37th Motor Rifle Brigade, died from a vehicle attack mounted by his own men. 

Monsieur le Président, if this situation is allowed to continue, you face something more radical than the already-commenced destruction of your economy. You face something more radical than the already-commenced ruin of Russia's standing within the United Nations. You face, if not today then in 2023 or 2024 or 2025 or so, the situation V.I. Ulyanov (operationally "V.I.Lenin") faced after 1917 - the descent, namely,  of Russia from mere disorder into civil war.

****

In my "Open Letter" of 2022-01-24, I noted to you that politics is the art of the possible and the second-best. Today I address you not in terms of Realpolitik, but in ethical and theological terms, with the duly skilled assistance of His Eminence the Metropolitan of Volokolamsk. Your life has not been fully safe for years. Now, however, every day and hour counts. To extract good from your disintegrating situation now, you must use what time remains to make yourself the instrument, however weak and damaged, of God. Your position has deteriorated to a point requiring your monastic reclusion not in the near-term future, but today. 

Let others grab the levers of government, perhaps initially under your own guidance from behind monastery gates. How much power is left to you now? Surely there is some residual power, which you can exercise even from religious reclusion, should you succeed - as I conjecture you can succeed - in arranging robust, persistent, encrypted Internet communications for yourself. You retain that power through a sheer volume of administrative knowledge, amassed over two or three or four decades. Your residual power can be used to guide some events for some modest span of time, as you steer your successors away from the 2023 or 2024 or 2025 precipice of Russian civil war. 

In the monastery, you will be what you cannot hope to be outside it, namely a living refutation of the Marxist-Leninist conception of historical developments as determined and inevitable. On that dark conception, individuals are depicted as the hapless captives of overwhelming, ultimately politico-economic, "dialectical" materialist forces. You are  Christian, and His Eminence the Titular Metropolitan of Volokolamsk is a Christian, and I am a Christian; I know in the light of Easter that this dark conception is mistaken, and so does His Eminence, and so do you. 

****

Having disclaimed the intention to write in Realpolitische terms, I nevertheless do append a single Realpolitische point. With every passing hour, not only the safety of Russia at large, but your own personal safety in your alleged three principal bunkers-of-refuge, with their allegedly identical television broadcasting studios, becomes progressively less assured. From a monastery, you will be placing some physical distance between yourself and at least some of those whom I presume to be now seeking your liquidation. This is particularly the case if, working the back-channels of Holy See diplomacy, you succeed in securing refuge in some monastery outside Russia,  perhaps under the canonical jurisdiction of Rome rather than of Patriarch Kirill. 

Suppose, to take an extreme example, that you were to obtain refuge not even at some monastic foundation in Estonia or Sweden or Switzerland or the like (helpful though that would already be), but in Vatican City itself. You would in that case have abundant specialist personnel, in the form of the trained and prayerful Cohors Pedestris Helvetiorum a Sacra Custodia Pontificis, to protect you from plutonium tea, from Новичок, from treacherous doctors, and from other such hazards.  

Admittedly, if you were to take refuge in some foreign monastery or other, you might eventually - depending, perhaps, on your concrete choice of host nation - face extradition either to the International Criminal Court (ICC) or to some ad hoc war-crimes tribunal. Here, again, however, things are not quite black for you. God is merciful. Upon successful extradition from your selected monastery into civil custody, for instance at The Hague, your level of personal protection would not decline. On the contrary, it would rise still farther. No ICC panel, not even any ad hoc tribunal in the style of 1946 Nürnberg, could want its proceedings perturbed by the ill health of the individual under trial. 

 ****

How now to proceed? 

Monsieur le Président, you may find it helpful to meet your Metropolitan quietly, perhaps even with me present. Should I seem to your staff to be a potentially helpful facilitator - I stress that although you and I are culturally somewhat distanced, His Eminence the Metropolitan and I would meet as academic peers, both of us of course communicating in impeccable English from backgrounds of humanistic erudition, and with his Eminence additionally helping the three of us overcome the hurdle which is my scanty Russian - do please have your people make rapid contact with me. 

Setting personal caution aside, I respectfully suggest, Monsieur le Président, that when your people communicate, under duly convincing authentication (three-minute personal interview in your Tallinn Embassy, with your Head of Mission, with my camera running?) the wish to conduct a one-hour three-way meeting, I will boldly strive to overrule the conceivable objections of my Foreign Ministry, will cross from Estonia into Russia at some such convenient point as Koidula or Narva with my Estonian passport (being an excellent hiker, I can easily walk the final few kilometres on foot), and will pay my own economy-class fare from your frontier to Moscow by suitable buses or trains. I would seek the operational assistance of your team only in the matter of securing simple, low-cost, no-frills accommodation for one or two or so nights in Moscow, optimally in some monastery. 

E-mail obviously works (Toomas[dot]Karmo[at]gmail[dot]com). But so also does voice telephone and basic SMS text message (in both cases, as three-seven-two five-eight-six-four-six-five-four-zero). 

****

Sainte Thérèse de Lisieux, pray for us; Saint Franz Jägerstätter, pray for us; Servant of God Екатерина Фёдоровна де Гук-Дохерти, урождённая Колышкина, witness to the spiritual mission of Russia in the family of nations, intercede for us now. 

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Sunday, 20 March 2022

Toomas Karmo: Short Open Letter to Russian Diplomats and Russian BGP-Router Administrators

 Quality assessment: 

On the 5-point scale current in Estonia, and surely in nearby nations, and familiar to observers of the academic arrangements of the late, unlamented, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (applying the easy and lax standards Kmo deploys in his grubby imaginary "Aleksandr Stepanovitsh Popovi nimeline sangarliku raadio instituut" (the "Alexandr Stepanovitch Popov Institute of Heroic Radio") and his grubby imaginary "Nikolai Ivanovitsh Lobatshevski nimeline sotsalitsliku matemaatika instituut" (the "Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky Institute of Socialist Mathematics") - where, on the lax and easy grading philosophy of the twin Institutes, 1/5 is "epic fail", 2/5 is "failure not so disastrous as to be epic", 3/5 is "mediocre pass", 4/5 is "good", and 5/5 is "excellent"): 3/5. Justification: I knew just barely enough to treat my subject adequately within the limited scope I set myself.  

Revision history:

UTC=20220320T172025Z/version 1.0.0: Kmo uploaded base version. He then planned to continue producing, in a way not documented here, minor tweaks, over the coming 96 hours, as versions 1.0.1, 1.0.2, ... . . 


In a time of crisis, we must all do what we are able to do, without harbouring illusions regarding our spiritual and intellectual capabilities. Not everyone is cut out to be a hero. God has granted heroism to some, for instance to Jan Palach (1948-1969) in Soviet-occupied Prague and to Sophie Scholl (1921-1943) under the Reich. Both paid the ultimate price for their convictions - Jan Palach through the morally defective means of public suicide, Sophie Scholl through the time-honoured, morally impeccable, means of martyrdom. Most of us are, in contrast, mediocre. 

I would apply this sobering assessment not only to myself, or again to the municipal politicians I dealt with in Canada when helping in vain from 2007 through 2018 (in those years, so many of us strove in vain for the correct conservation of the David Dunlap Observatory woodland), but even to that figure of current public ridicule which is President Vladimir "Special Military Operation" Vladimirovich Putin. 

Former KGB sleeper agent Jack Barsky (1949-; born Albrecht Dittrich; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Barsky) was able to observe a young Mr Putin working in Dresden, I believe with Mr Putin then holding the KGB middle-management rank of pod-polkovnik. Jack Barsky has made it clear that in at any rate his own personal assessment Mr Putin is no genius, but on the contrary is a person who rose in the Cold War intelligence community to a respectably modest rank fitting his respectably modest abilities. 

That assessment is to my mind consistent with Mr Putin's long 2021 essay on the imagined unity of Russia and Ukraine. On reading this all the way through a little rapidly, one has much the same impression as one gains from dipping into Mein Kampf. The impression in both cases is that any B.A. student attaining  Lower Second-Class Honours, and with enough time on his hands, could, if sufficiently nutty, achieve the same literary result. Mr Boris Johnson, himself no Palach or Scholl, summed up the position deftly, a few days ago, at some podium microphone: that long 2021 essay is "Nostradamus meeting the Russian Wikipedia". 

"Kuda sam Tsar eedyot pyeschkom", people say when going to the lavatory: "where the Tsar himself proceeds on foot". Here, then, is a Tsar who rides no horse when in the loo, a Tsar who uses lavatory paper like the rest of us.   

****

The Tsar's long-term spiritual welfare I have discussed already at http://toomaskarmo.blogspot.com/, in an Open Letter to him dated 2022-01-24. I arguably ought soon to discuss it again, if briefly. I wrote that 2022-01-24 letter exactly one month before the Tsar's fatal 2022-02-24 Polenfeldzug. Back then, late in January, it still seemed that the Tsar had enough intellectual and executive ability to refrain from an outright invasion of Ukraine. I thought back then that his downfall and personal disaster impended not immediately but in the medium term. My essential 2022-01-24 points to him still hold, even though he has with his own late-February irrationality now arguably undermined his personal security even in the short term. Who, among even the best analytical minds at FSB, SVR, MI6, and the CIA, can now tell what happens with him over the coming twenty-four months, or even over the coming three?  

The concern of this present essay is not the now-perhaps-doomed Tsar but middle-management persons under him, notably in two crucial cohorts, each comprising perhaps just a few hundred highly educated persons - on the one hand his diplomats, in his embassies and consulates around the globe, and on the other hand the people within Russia who administer a particular component in his nation-wide Internet infrastructure, his ensemble of BGP-conversant routers.  

These two classes of mission-critical officer, having been vetted prior to appointment, are unlikely to include many Jan Palachs or Sophie Scholls. Although we may hope on the one hand for diplomats defecting noisily and nobly at the United Nations and on the other hand for BGP-monitoring router administrators silently leaking root passwords to GCHQ and NSA (traditional papermail, I would suggest, is a refreshingly "retro" alternative to that modern classic which is the VPN), we must not set our hopes high. Politics is in all jurisdictions the art of the possible, the art of the second-best. 

So, Dear Reader, suppose you are a diplomat or a BGP-trained router sysadmin, skilled on the one hand in your foreign languages and on the other hand in such router adjuncts as Astra Linux shell-script programming, but lacking the inner strength of a Jan Palach or a Sophie Scholl. What to do? 

Two ideas come to mind. Firstly, you can do your work not as well as before. You are perhaps in a position to plead to your superior, truthfully if vaguely, something regarding your "private emotional difficulties in the current evolving public situation", as you miss the occasional deadline and allow your diplomatic sitrep cables or the police-and-military end of your Russian BGP communications to degrade a bit. 

Secondly, you can, without attempting outright sabotage, signal quietly and truthfully that your loyalty to Vladimir "Special Military Operation" Vladimirovitch is now conditional, is now becoming a bit shaky. For juridical safety, that signal might be best conveyed not by words but by your facial expression and tone of voice. Words can be used against you in court if the Tsar somehow manages to stay in power, raised eyebrows and an ironic tone of voice not so much. To your superior, your truthful signal, however exactly you may opt to communicate it, means that you cannot now be relied on to execute silly instructions over the coming weeks. You might execute them, and then again you might not: it will all depend, from hour to hour, on the level of silliness being demanded. When this signal game is played skillfully enough, military planning gets undermined. (For what Kremlin politician can plan in confidence, if he is uncertain whom his Paris and London and Vienna and Berlin attachés might be meeting when venturing from one to another convenient First Class compartment on the train? Or what general or police supremo can plan in confidence, when he can no longer predict what his geographically dispersed lieutenants will do, as the networking among his LANs and WANs slowly degrades?) With the progressive undermining,  the current "Special Military Operation" is made progressively more difficult, and lives get saved. 

****

I compose this unavoidably troubling letter as a private Estonia-resident Estonian national lacking significant current contacts at any level of government, beyond the merely municipal, in any country. I do ask that readers try to forward the letter to senior levels within the Kremlin government and the Moscow Patriarchy. I will myself quietly bring it to the attention of the Catholic Church. If anyone feels I have overstepped moral boundaries, straying from a sincerely intended corrective messaging into outright sin, I do ask them to contact me. In the particular case of the Moscow Patriarchy, I would envisage publishing their conceivable theological rebuke, and analyzing it, here on this blog. A lack of communication from the Patriarchy to me this spring is to be construed not as an indication of their political agreement, but nevertheless as an indication that they harbour no significant theological concern with my own chosen political stance. 


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Saturday, 5 March 2022

Toomas Karmo: Methods for Accessing Content of BBC-or-Similar from within Russia

Quality assessment: 

On the 5-point scale current in Estonia, and surely in nearby nations, and familiar to observers of the academic arrangements of the late, unlamented, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (applying the easy and lax standards Kmo deploys in his grubby imaginary "Aleksandr Stepanovitsh Popovi nimeline sangarliku raadio instituut" (the "Alexandr Stepanovitch Popov Institute of Heroic Radio") and his grubby imaginary "Nikolai Ivanovitsh Lobatshevski nimeline sotsalitsliku matemaatika instituut" (the "Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky Institute of Socialist Mathematics") - where, on the lax and easy grading philosophy of the twin Institutes, 1/5 is "epic fail", 2/5 is "failure not so disastrous as to be epic", 3/5 is "mediocre pass", 4/5 is "good", and 5/5 is "excellent"): 2/5. Justification: I worked in a public emergency on a task of limited scope, from a position of limited knowledge.  

Revision history:

UTC=20220308T065415Z/version 3.0.0Ö Kmo added information on a BBC TikTok presence and on BBC re-broadcasting through participants in the European Broadcasting Union. He raised his quality assessment for this blog posting from 1 to 2. 

UTC=20220305T153340Z/version 2.0.0: Kmo added information on BBC shortwave radio English-language broadcasts. 

UTC=20220305T085830/version 1.0.0: Kmo uploaded base version, regarding BBC Web content, as simply a bare-bones advisory. 


0. Background

Much Western news content is now banned in Russia. The BBC now offers advice, however, on the accessing of its content from within Russia. 


1. Accessing BBC content in a Web browser


On 2022-03-04, the BBC press office gave advice on using a Web browser. 

Here is their 2022-03-04 advice in English: 



Here is their 2022-03-04 advice in Russian: 



Here is their 2022-03-04 advice in Ukrainian: 


The live-stream written-word reporting at the BBC tries to cover developments in such terse terms that readers do not suffer information overload. In the same Web-page display as it uses for its live stream, the BBC provides point-form summaries for readers who have time only to absorb the essentials. In addition to live-stream reporting, the BBC has longer articles, on Web pages separate from the live feed. 

On 2022-03-07, the BBC live Web news feed stated that it would now "be increasing access to its reporting by launching TikTok accounts dedicated to videos of the war in Ukraine in both English and Russian."

2. Listening to BBC on Traditional (Non-Internet) Radio

On 2022-03-05, the BBC live Web news feed indicated that shortwave broadcasting, in English, is now available for 4 hours each day, in transmissions which can be received in Ukraine and in parts of Russia. 

Arrangements are as follows:

  • 14:00 UTC to 16:00 UTC: 15.735 MHz (in the 19-metre shortwave broadcast band)
  • 20:00 UTC to 22:00 UTC:  5.875 MHz (in the 49-metre shortwave broadcast band) 

On 2022-03-07, the BBC live Web news feed stated that the BBC would now "be making a daily half-hour news bulletin available free-of-charge to other broadcasters who are members of the European Broadcasting Union."

I supplement the BBC information with a couple of my own remarks. 

UTC, or "Universal Coordinated Time!", lags EET, or Eastern European Standard Time, by 2 hours. UTC lags MST, or Moscow Standard Time, by 3 hours. EET is as at 2022-03-05 the normal civil time of Kyiv. MST is as at 2022-03-05 the de facto normal civil time of Donbas. 

The performance of a cheap shortwave receiver can be improved by attaching a long wire (the longer the better) to its telescoping antenna rod, and if possible leading at least a part of this wire outdoors. As a protection against both lightning and certain types of electronic warfare (the "electromagnetic pulse bomb", or EMP), the wire should be disconnected from the antenna rod when not in use. Additionally, a receiver can be protected against EMP by being enclosed in a metal box or wire-mesh cage when not in use. 



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