Some comments related to Russia and Ukraine.
First, Madonna introduced the two freed Pussy Riot members in Brooklyn. She said that thanks to them, "pussy" became a sayable word in her household. Her 8-year-old kids are learning to speak and they are already saying "pussy" all the time, making their mom proud.
Madonna's behavior is an example of the pure cluelessness of the mass culture's "celebrities" about politics. Hours after the concert, the two Russian women were finally freed. More precisely, they were fired by Pussy Riot, i.e. by its remaining members (Cat, Garage, Headlamp, Goal, Seraphim, and Schumacher). The reason is that the two babes have talked about the prison rather than about feminism and the separatist resistance that really matters (not to mention that Madonna isn't a p*ssy but rather a c*nt for the group).
Well, the other members may be trying to preserve a part of the trademark and the fame. They have annnounced that the famous babes are not only fired but the group has "lost two friends" while the world has earned two interesting activists.
The Olympic games in Sochi are getting started – without visible problems, despite all the vigorous anti-Russian propaganda. The opening ceremony looks cool (still watching) despite one continent's circle failing (Australia shouldn't be expected to win big, anyway LOL). The previous sentences were written before a would-be terrorist in Turkey tried to divert an aircraft to Sochi.
Now, someone hacked the phone conversation between two top U.S. diplomats who were talking about rather fine details of the Ukrainian opposition. (Some forces in Russia may be linked to the hacking and surely to the leak – the Russian subtitles were added from the beginning.)
Ms Victoria Nuland is the top U.S. diplomat in Europe; Geoffrey Pyatt is the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. They were deciding what the composition of the Ukrainian government after the expected removal of Yanukovitch (by them) should look like. Klitschko shouldn't be allowed, they say. Whether a boxer is right or wrong for a government post, this is nothing to be decided by me or by these two U.S. diplomats. This should be decided by the political process in which the Ukrainian people participate.
For most media (i.e. media written by idiots and for idiots), the most interesting moment was at 3:03 when Nuland argued that the U.N. should be used to glue it, and not the EU. You know what: [have a coitus with] the EU. The male ambassador replies: "Exactly!" The diplomats effectively agreed that the EU is "not doing much", whatever is their idea about what the EU should be doing. Angela Merkel responded that it is unacceptable for the U.S. to [have a coitus with] the EU.
(Merkel has also praised Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign minister of a sort. The EU socialists have nominated the latter lady for the Peace Nobel Prize along with Ivica Dacic, an inconsequential new socialist prime minister of Serbia, and along with war criminal and the boss of several Mafias specializing in drug trafficking and organ trafficking, Hashim Thaci. Thankfully, not only conservative folks but even the Czech social-democratic MEP "Daddy" Falbr, the former boss of the labor unions, was stunned by this nomination.)
If those exchanges are authentic, we at least learn that the U.S. and the EU are not coordinating their interventions in Ukraine much – which may be good news.
I think that it is primarily the American diplomats who are showing their disconnectedness from the reality. They won't be able to control the detailed composition of the Ukrainian government, at least not repeatedly. If they made a bet on a particular puppet, the puppet would be unlikely to repeatedly win elections. If they placed too many agents in the Ukrainian politics, it would become obvious. And the U.S. just can't afford to occupy this large country.
America has interests in Ukraine but it just can't control the Ukrainian life microscopically. I have argued that Ukraine belongs to the East but even if we adopt lots of wishful thinking that Ukraine could soon become a Western-style country, it will still be a country in Eastern Europe. It will not be a country in North America. (I may have often said that I would have preferred Czechoslovakia or Czechia to join the U.S. and not the EU and similar things. But I have always realized that when it comes to substantial things about our life and economy, it would mostly be a formality – or a joke.)
So whether American diplomats and politicians like it or not and whether they realize it or not, they're really not a major player in the Ukrainian events – events 5,000 miles from their homes. If they direct the evolution of Ukraine in some way, they may at most direct it towards the EU or towards Russia. There is no other "third way". All the anti-government rallies were organized by people who wanted the president to sign a pro-EU treaty and the deals offered by Russia are the only real "competition". No major political group in Ukraine wants something else than a closer friendship with the EU or a convergence with Russia. No big group of demonstrators wants Ukraine to join China or North Korea or the U.S. as the 51st state or NAFTA or to be controlled by the U.N. troops like parts of Yugoslavia were.
Moreover, the American diplomats' identification of the U.S. with the U.N. is bizarre. In the past, we would understand that the U.S. often promoted the interests of the free world against the U.N., an organization that gives lots of space to numerous jerks and dictators of mostly failed countries etc. This difference between the U.N. and the U.S. used to be self-evident in various disputes over the Middle East, for example. Now, Obama may have adopted a new doctrine to "dilute the U.S. in the U.N. like a sugar cube in a coffee" but he still apparently misunderstands what the U.N. stands for. Russia is a member of the U.N., and a pretty important one. Because the internal tension in Ukraine is a local reflection of some tension between Russia and the EU and because the EU and Russia may find comparably strong groups of allies in the U.N., the U.N. won't really solve anything.
The U.N. may treat Ukraine as a failed state and send new observers who will watch some new early elections. But that changes nothing about the problem whatsoever. The last elections that brought Yanukovitch to power were totally legitimate. Even after the next legitimate elections in Ukraine, there may be semi-violent rallies against the government, whoever will be in it. Not to mention the fact that those who would consider the current removal of the democratically elected Yanukovitch to be an unacceptable coup would be right – and would probably show their dissatisfaction in many ways. The problem won't go away. The same tension we see in Ukraine exists in the U.N., too; it's just not manifesting violently because the U.N. is largely a fictitious castle made of hot air.
And if the U.S. is thinking about more radical changes, like the split of the country, then it is indeed a very bad idea for its diplomats to [have a coitus with] the EU because the European (which means, in most cases, EU) countries will have to deal with the consequences of these radical changes because of the geographic proximity. The folks in Brussels may look passive to the American diplomats but the fact is that individual European countries care even less about Ukraine. Russia does care a lot and the EU as a would-be empire cares "comparably" – but no one else does: Ukraine is just not that important for European countries. For example, for Czechia, Ukraine mostly matters as an abstract original homeland of the 20,000 (official) or 100,000 (estimated) Ukrainians (largely from West Ukraine) on our territory who are mostly doing good work these days.
So the diplomats' usage of the expletives is really the smallest symptom of their cluelessness. They're clueless because they don't understand the actual options – and the non-existence of others. They don't understand the issues and forces that are pushing Ukraine in the two main directions. They don't understand that microscopic politics is hard. They don't understand that microscopic politics is never going to copy their desires or expectations.
Planet X: when pranks stop amuse you
A different topic. When I was a Rutgers grad student, I created a UFO page as a prank (I haven't been able to erase the page since 2001). It claims that I am an extraterrestrial alien with a Chinese name who learned Czech and who has some unusual chemical composition etc. It pandered to the theories of various groups of Czech crackpots as well as individual whackos etc. I thought it was funny to humiliate them in this way.
However, I have received dozens of e-mails from many people who have dreamed about meeting an extraterrestrial alien for years. Finally, they had found me, and so on. Of course, even when I tried to assure them that they bought a cheap and silly prank, they still continued that their basic belief was correct. My joy about the prank was replaced by the sorrow for the unlimited human stupidity.
A week ago, astronomer Kyle Kaplan announced the discovery of Niburu, the hypothetical new trans-Uranian planet that is also said to be a deadly brown dwarf, from the Macdonald observatory in Texas. Despite his low age, he presented himself as Prof Kyle Kaplan. He listed the coordinates of Nibiru and recorded the way how we was neutralized by some agents or whatever it was. The video got lots of attention because he had real professional telescopes and the right jargon but he was still saying the same things as the Niburu whackos. Concerning the latter, check e.g. the Summer 2013 video that claimed that the (non-event) comet ISON is nothing else than Niburu that was going to kill us. The video is a sequence of nonsensical claims from the beginning to the end but it still earned about 750,000 views. (If you ask what they do now when comet ISON is safely gone, well, the official interpretation is that NASA has forced the filmmakers to create the video in order to discredit Niburu watchers.)
Needless to say, Kyle Kaplan's discovery was a prank by Mr Kyle Kaplan who is easily found to be a grad student over there. See the 20-minute video explaining why he did it, how one could easily find out that the story wasn't real (the e-mail from his bosses was actually seen to be an e-mail from himself to himself; he was chuckling at the most dramatic points, and so on), and why we're sure that no such new planet is out there. (Some serious enough people took Kaplan's original video too seriously so they posted serious rebuttals, too.)
So the guy who believes in Niburu and who originally sent me the new "proof" of Niburu initially changed his opinion to the opinion that Kaplan was just forced to say it was a prank by the conspiracy. When I showed him the places in the original video that show it was a prank from scratch, this guy would change his interpretation once again: Kaplan was hired by the conspiracy to debunk Niburu. (Yes, it's the same "waterproof" and universally usable interpretation as one applied to the Niburu-ISON conspiracy above.) Why can't this e-mail correspondent of mine accept the most natural explanation, namely that Kaplan was just making fun of these weirdos and pretending that he became one as well? Because this e-mail correspondent never wants to admit to himself that he has done or believed something really stupid; not even that he looks like a whacko to others. But admitting mistakes and silliness when there's overwhelming and growing evidence they were mistakes or silliness is needed for one to learn, to make intellectual progress.
Well, if someone is preferring an ever weirder conspiracy theory over the sensible, highly likely if not virtually guaranteed-to-be-right explanations, he is likely to end up as a clueless believer in the most insane conspiracy theories and know nothing about the ways in which the real world actually operates.