Art and Design

Read Soviet Seasons

Read Soviet Seasons

In Soviet Seasons, Arseniy Kotov reveals unfamiliar aspects of the post-Soviet terrain in sublime photographs. From snow-blanketed Siberia in winter to the mountains of the Caucasus in summer, these images show how a once powerful, utopian landscape has been affected by the weight of nature itself.

Loved the photography, learned a lot from the detailed descriptions of each photo. I liked the organization into seasons — winter and fall were my favorites. Fantastic collection.

More photos at his website.


How the war in Ukraine reduces the risk of nuclear war

Liked Nuclear war! by Timothy Snyder (Thinking about…)

Why it isn’t happening

Our nuclear talk is a way to claim victimhood, and then to blame the actual victims.  Once we turn our attention to a hypothetical exchange of missiles, we get to imagine that we are the victims.  Suddenly the actual war no longer seems to matter, since our lives (we imagine) are at risk.  And the Ukrainians seem to be at fault.  If only they would stop fighting, then we could all be safe.  This, of course, is exactly how Russian propagandists want us to reason. And it is wrong.


It is an example of a narcissistic fantasy that looms over discussions of American foreign policy: the fantasy of omnipotent submission.  This is the notion, birthed in American exceptionalism and impatience, that since America is the power behind everything, all will be well if America does nothing.  If we do what the Russian propagandists want, and do nothing for Ukraine, then (in this fantasy) there will be no nuclear war.

Culture History

An ongoing history of ethnic cleansing by the Russian state

Bookmarked Holodomor (Derek Kedziora)

It’s worth taking a few minutes to understand the the long history of genocide and ethnic cleansing along the southern edge of the Russian Empire, which culminated in Stalin’s artificial famines that were intended to absolutely destroy Ukrainian, Kazakh and other non-Russian groups in Ukraine and Southern Russia.

This story constantly repeats itself in Russian history. Brutally eliminate peoples that can’t be russified or easily subjugated such as Crimean Tatars and Circassians, resettle and russify people from the Western parts of the Russian Empire such as Ukrainians, Belarusians, Baltic peoples, Poles, etc., or force groups into a sort of feudal servitude such as the Buryats, Chechnians and Dagestanis.

(Her newsletter: Mariam on Ukraine)


7 factors in outcome of war

Bookmarked The State of the Russo-Ukrainian War by Timothy Snyder (Thinking about…)

The TELLMES tell us that Russia is losing

seven underlying factors that tend to decide the form of armed conflicts: time, economics, logistics, landscape, mode of combat, ethos, and strategy (the TELLMES)

History Learning Political Commentary Reflection

Background on Ukraine and Russia

Watched Ukraine and Russia: What Caused the War? by vlogbrothers from

In which John explores historical and political context to understand what caused the Russian government’s invasion of Ukraine, and how we arrived at this awful now. There is a LOT of misinformation in comments, so why not read directly from SOURCES? But first, CORRECTIONS:

The official language of Ukraine is Ukrainian. “National languages” as a phrase was confusing. I should’ve just said that 30% of Ukrainians speak Russian as their first language. Also, the etymology of “Ukraine” is not settled as “borderlands.” Many Ukrainian linguists argue that the etymology of Ukraine comes from words meaning “In My Land,” not “borderlands.” Thirdly, I misspelled Kyiv as Kiev. If I made further mistakes, let me know and I’ll amend here.


Putin’s claims that Ukraine never had “real statehood” have been stated in both essays and speeches. Here’s some coverage of one such speech:

And a fact-check of the same speech:

If you want to read Vladimir Putin’s essay where he expounds his theory that Ukraine “was created entirely by Russia,” you can read Putin’s meandering, surreal, ahistorical essay about it here: (This is an insecure site owned by the Kremlin so bear that in mind)

This article goes into far more detail about Putin’s theory of Ukraine’s illegitimacy than I could cover in the video:

You can learn about the Holodomor here: or at this thoroughly researched wikipedia page:

And about Stalin’s forced deportation policies here:

Putin’s reference to assault in the context of invading Ukraine:

The 1991 Independence referendum results:

Huge thanks to Rosianna Halse Rojas for editing the script and help sourcing images.

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I am realizing the shortcomings of my science degree lately, that I missed out on a lot of liberal arts, including history. The only history classes I took in college were ancient / classical history, medieval art history, and Central and South American history at colonization – all of which were interesting but I’m now left with a knowledge gap of modern nation states. High school world history only spanned WWI to the Vietnam War, so I’m missing like 1500 to 1920 European history *and* 1970 to 2000 world history – two chunks of time that seem to be important in understanding current affairs. (I mean and basically all Asian history despite taking a class on India but that’s less immediately important to understanding what’s going on in Ukraine.)

I’ve also realized I know very little about what distinguishes Ukrainian culture from other former Soviet nations. 😅

I can’t beat myself up too much for not knowing this stuff, it’s not as though I’m not constantly learning new things and I have other areas of knowledge – but I think a little more attention to history and working to fill some specific gaps can help my understanding of things improve.

Things that stood out to me in this video:

  • The Terror Famine – wtf did he say 1 in 8 Ukrainians died in two years? (Or was that a different bad time)
  • Uh wow Russia has treated Ukrainians like utter shit no wonder they want nothing to do with joining Russia
  • 92% of Ukrainians voted for independence after the fall of the USSR – that’s unheard of numbers for a non rigged election – clearly these are a people with their own cultural identity who don’t want to be subsumed by Russia (again)
  • the echo of forced movement from Soviet era to today – that’s how you destroy culture and identity and frankly the world has lost more than enough uniqueness and cultural heritage
Art and Design

Ukrainian ornamental folk art

Liked UNESCO – Petrykivka decorative painting as a phenomenon of the Ukrainian ornamental folk art (

The people of the village of Petrykivka decorate their living quarters, household belongings and musical instruments with a style of ornamental painting that is characterized by fantastic flowers and other natural elements, based on careful observation of the local flora and fauna. This art is rich in symbolism: the rooster stands for fire and spiritual awakening, while birds represent light, harmony and happiness. In folk belief, the paintings protect people from sorrow and evil.

Onions by Iryna Ulianivna Pylypenko, 1979 – reminds me of Rifle Paper Co Anna Bond’s floral compositions
Maria Tykhonivna Shyshatska, 1976 – this color palette definitely feels very seventies 🙂
‘Ladies’ choice’ by Fedir Savych Panko, 1983 – this makes me think of Disney’s Cinderella for some reason? Maybe making that up 🤷‍♀️

Came across Petrykivka’s decorative floral motifs through UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage.

Political Commentary

Crowdfunded war


A special kind of modern hell.