The first casualty of war

…is presumably the poor bastard who gets shot first.

Oh, sorry, “truth”.

Before we get into today’s topic, let me apologise for the low frequency of updates here. Life has been hectic, not in a bad way, but something had to give and discretionary time spent here was the loser.

Last week, someone who reads this blog asked me why I had nothing to say on the Russia/Ukraine situation? Here’s my reply:

Because I assume everything I read or watch on the subject is, at best, unintentionally false but more probably, propaganda and misinformation.

But Bill,” they exclaimed, “surely you can’t deny Russia illegally invaded an independent sovereign state and is committing war crimes? It’s right there on the evening news every day“.

I have three words in response; Gell-Mann Amnesia.

“Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.” 
– Michael Crichton (1942-2008)

We’ve just sat through more than two years being spoonfed absolute horseshit whilst being told it was the highest quality truffles and champagne; viruses that didn’t but then suddenly did originate in a Chinese lab, masks that didn’t work then worked so well you’d be arrested for not wearing them, vaccines that stopped the spread so well that nearly everyone you know has now caught the virus at least once regardless of the number of booster shots they’ve had, transitory inflation that seems intent on staying long after the last night bus, etc.

The paragraph above could be far longer, as I’m sure you’ll agree, but that’s enough to illustrate my my point; our governments, opposition parties, doctors, police, state funded scientists, news media and even the independent judiciary have been exposed as incompetent, mendacious and unfit to uphold the principles many of our ancestors were sent off to wars to defend.

Does that statement feel a little strong? Am I using hyperbole unnecessarily?

Do you know someone who lost their job when the government decided to stop the economy? Perhaps you know someone who had to watch the funeral of a loved one over a Zoom call? Or was handed a fine for sitting too close to a friend on a park bench? Or was slammed to the ground by a Melbourne policeman for protesting lockdown? Perhaps you know someone who has lost their job due to vaccine mandates?

These people might not see the paragraph as hyperbolic.

Regardless, you now KNOW we were told utter bullshit, were subject to creative new laws with no basis in logic or scientific observation. People who pointed this out contemporaneously were booted from the internet public square and became non-persons.

We were fortunate with the virus, and therefore the data about it, in that it was “democratic”; everyone with a phone or a keyboard could post new information. Some governments kept their fingers off the scales and published raw data, regardless of whether it agreed with other governments’ narrative. Put simply, some personal effort in searching for answers often paid off with information that better explained and predicted than any of the crap offered up in government press conferences or in the pages of our once trusted newspapers.

The war in Ukraine, on the other hand? It’s back to the old information model; gatekeeper media organisations “embedded” on one side or another and pure unadulterated propaganda from Russia and Ukraine governments or their supporters.

All we can do is select which fire hose to wrap our mouths around and get ready to unquestionably drink in everything we’re given.

Perhaps there’s some truth flowing in among the torrent, but it’s likely to be at a level of dilution even a Homeopathic quack would blush at.

Bill’s Opinion

Is Putin a dangerous sociopath who neutralises his political opponents with methods Stalin would recognise and approve of? Yeah, most likely.

Is Zalensky a hero who has made no misteps and has done nothing we’d consider beyond the pale. I highly doubt it.

Do I have any chance of getting even close to the truth of what is going on, why and how it might play out?

Not a fucking chance.

So, I choose not to play their game. I minimise my consumption of news on the subject. Avoiding it totally would be unadvisable; if I had done that last year, I wouldn’t have managed to get a vaccine exemption certificate before my employer made it a condition of employment.

But I’m generally ignoring the articles offering explanations and predictions from the exactly the same people who got so much wrong, either by accident or design, in 2020 and 2021.

Wrap my battered flathead fillet and hot chips in it, that’s the only use I have for their paper. And don’t skimp on the salt and vinegar.

7 Replies to “The first casualty of war”

  1. Once upon a time I qualified to vote by surviving to the required age. I was a voter in the electorate of Wakefield, held by a very smart gentleman by the name of Bert Kelly. Bert wrote a weekly column for any one of several papers, and sometimes all of them. One of Berts wisdoms was that if a public servant could forecast the future correctly he wouldn’t be a public servant long, and would soon be sitting in the south of France with his feet in a bucket of Champaigne. I read a while ago that most government business is to fix the unintended consequences of their last fix. None of this gives me any faith that you have not overestimated the predictive powers of government staff who have no skin in the game. In my opinion there is probably money to be made from assuming government is always wrong.

  2. Well said. I get shutdown by old friends for even suggesting there is more nuance in the world than our current black/white narrative would permit.

  3. I basically agree with your sentiments, however what’s often lost in our world as we sip our cappuccinos in the comfort of inner urban cafes of is that actions (and in-actions) have consequences. There are prevailing “truths” in the Ukraine situation, and for the affected humanity it’s catastrophic.

    1. Welcome.

      “There are prevailing “truths” in the Ukraine situation, and for the affected humanity it’s catastrophic.”

      I’ll meet you in the middle of that assertion. But with the caveat you and I don’t know what they are.

      If you disagree, please list the most significant or incontrovertible ones.


  4. I’m yet to hear any satisfactory argument as to why I, or anyone without any skin in the game, should actually give a shit about what’s going on in Ukraine. Ukraine bombs Donbass for 8 years, not a peep. Vodka man bad does it and everyone changes their social media pictures and goes into histrionics.

    Likewise the Canadian freedom convoy. Two dodgy flags* – “They’re all nazis!” Ukraine Azov battalion, actual nazis – “It’s a long story bro.”

    Fuck the lot of them. I will never respect nor believe a politician, journalist or public health official again.

    *Most likely agent provocateurs, especially the lame guy with the confederate battle flag.

  5. Zelenskyy. Apparently it’s two “y”s but that Cyrillic alphabet…

    I am the boss in my house. Living with me are my spouse, children, the children’s bedmates, and a couple of extended family. Along comes the neighbour and tells me that’s it’s his house now, because I was getting too pally with his worst enemy. But I am still welcome to stay in the house as before. It’s just not my property anymore. He will choose what colour to paint it, what brand lawnmower I may use, and so on and so on.

    My neighbour collects firearms. He has been known to use them. He has a rap sheet and has pulled the this is my house scam before. On that prior occasion the legitimate owner, whose situation resembled my own, resisted. What he got out of it was his wife ran off, one of the kids was killed dead, and the house was partially destroyed. And the neighbour got the house anyway.

    As the boss of my house I feel responsible, patriarchal hegemony notwithstanding, for the lives and welfare of my tribe. I can say, over my dead body, and the dead bodies of my relatives, or I can say, not that much is really going to change, so on this particular occasion I think I’m going to wuss out.

    As Plato wrote, in a hailstorm even the good shepherd seeks shelter behind a wall.

    So fuck you Zelensky/Zelenskyy, fuck all you patriotic Ukrainians (except the couple of million smart ones who fucked off to Germany and other places west). You made a really dumb choice and helping the bare-chested horseman of the apocalypse to destroy your country gets the response from me, behold the field in which I grow my fucks.

    A few hundred thousand casualties out of the people who entrusted the caretaking of their safety to me is not a price that I would pay.

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