2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine (Part 2)

I remember seeing some vintage razor advertisement in an old magazine or something with a caption along the lines of “why Ceasar insisted that his soldiers be clean-shaven” and it shows a centurion getting the upper hand in combat by tugging his opponent’s beard. So there’s that very specific scenario, I guess?

But it seems like having additional facial insulation to keep warm in a Ukrainian winter would far outweigh that.


A very nice illustration showing the reduction of Germany’s dependence on Russian gas over the past few years.:

(Sorry for the Twitter link. Un-embedding video and converting to something the BBS likes is a pain in the ass.)


There’s a long history in the West (maybe elsewhere, I don’t know) of beard-pulling as a way of questioning someone’s manhood. As if to symbolically test that maybe the beard is fake and the person is therefore “not a man.” So the beard shaving speaks to a number of centuries-long societal pressures about beards, manliness, and honor.

A recent example from Deborah Pergament, in It’s Not Just Hair: Historical and Cultural Considerations for an Emerging Technology

During the period of the Anschluss and Kristallnacht, Orthodox Jews were subjected to beard pulling, payees cutting, and other forms of hair-related humiliation."

Notably, for Amish, beard-cutting is considered a hate crime.

There are lots of cultural considerations woven into beards.

More historical context:


Back when I was in the Army, there were two reasons. The first being that a gas mask could not make a seal on a beard, so it was important to be clean shaven.

The other, more important reason was that beards broke the desired uniformity. Wearing a beard was a sign that the person didn’t follow orders, and not following orders could get everyone killed.


Or the Germans to change their spots!


I received this newsletter from The Guardian today, about Russian journalists trying to tell the truth to their fellow Russians.

Dear Xxxxxx,

This week, our newsletter comes to you from Latvia, where we’ve been working alongside some of the few brave Russian journalists still trying to tell the truth.

They face formidable odds. They have been condemned as ‘foreign agents’; they’ve been blocked, banned, bullied and banished from Russia; they sit in exile, short of staff, advertisers and funding.

But not short of readers.

Independent news websites like Meduza and Holod say they still reach millions of unique browsers in Russia, thanks to mirror websites, virtual private networks (VPNs) that can dodge the censors, and hard-to-block channels like email and the Telegram app.

Unlike the patsies of Russian television and the press, who spout the Kremlin line about ‘special military operations’ and ‘Ukrainian Nazis’, they strive for a closer approximation of the truth, publishing credible daily news in Russian for an audience desperate for accurate information.

This week Holod has an exclusive about Russian mercenaries recruited from prison. Meduza has liveblogged every single day of the Ukraine war (in Russian).

“In recent years, most of the independent media have been destroyed in Russia, and after the war broke out, only a few remained alive,” Holod’s editor-in-chief Taisia Bekbulatova told me. “Holod is one of them.”

“Our goal is to preserve independent journalism for the future of Russia,” she added. “Despite having to work in exile, we believe in the importance of high-quality journalism and the possibility of destroying a dictatorship. We want to be not just a media, but a true institution of independent journalism.”

For a western world struggling to know how to make a difference in the information war, supporting journalists like this seems an obvious start.

With my colleague Iona McKendrick, we shared some of the things we’ve learned about building a supporter base for the Guardian, in the hope that it might help our Russian fellows secure the funding they need to stay afloat.

The Holod leadership team at a Guardian workshop in Riga last week

The hope has to be that flourishing independent Russian news organisations might persuade ever greater numbers to question the Kremlin’s lies. Glasnost has impeccable form in this regard.

As Taisia puts it: “The support of individuals who value the truth we strive to provide is crucial for our survival. This includes not only financial assistance but also advocacy and technological support. If you can, please consider supporting us to preserve independent voices and fight state propaganda in Russia.”

You can find out more about supporting Holod here and Meduza here.

Until next week

Mark Rice-Oxley
Executive editor, supporters
The Guardian


Fuck it, we’ll do it live.


In the Royal Navy (over 50 years ago when my Father was in - no idea what the rules are today) permission from a senior officer was required to grow a beard; only a ‘full set’ beard was allowed, and permission could be denied if the applicant was deemed not able to grow a full beard, or maintain it properly (neatly). I suspect these rules were more about the image of the RN than anything else. Probably Wagner is more preoccupied with image, too.


Any announcement would be a long-term contribution of Abrams, meaning the Ukrainians will not have them on the ground anytime soon because of the training and getting the sustainment framework established, a former defense official with knowledge of the deliberations told CNN. For now, the pending announcement by the US is more to make Germany feel more comfortable in providing their own tanks.


Doesn’t the Abrams take jet fuel and a different caliber ammo forms its main gun? So, completely different logistics chain as well as training?


The main gun is 120 mm smoothbore, same as on the Leopard and the Leclerc. (The Challenger has a 120 mm rifled barrel, so its ammunition is not interchangeable with other NATO tanks.)

Ukraine’s existing tanks have 125 mm main guns.


That’ll help clesr out unused stock.


Two points:

  • industrial revolution making affordable razors available for the masses
  • WW I and the need to put on a gas mask

WaPo is saying 2 battalions. 80 tanks, total. That it a lot of tank power.

Archived version: archive.ph


ETA, the trip (for those not in UK) was completely wiped off the news here by the unfolding scandals of an ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer having paid penalties for wrongful tax returns to HMRC, and the Chair of the BBC being appointed slightly after having helped Boris to an £800k loan facility.

Apparently he is fuming about this as the visit was supposed to be part of his relaunch/public rehabilitation campaign but nobody noticed.

I do think this minor bit of schadenfreude justifies the evergreen…(all cued up as usual, press play and sing it loud…)

Now, back to Russia. I bet the Germans are heartbroken that Russian-German relations may not be normalised for a while. /s

Russia still fighting the last war as well as their new one, of course.

Russia warns Germany’s ‘extremely dangerous’ tank decision takes conflict ‘to a new level’

The Russian embassy in Germany has accused Berlin of abandoning its “historical responsibility” to Moscow and of taking the conflict in Ukraine “to a new level of confrontation”.

Ambassador Sergei Nechayev said in a statement:

This extremely dangerous decision takes the conflict to a new level of confrontation and contradicts the statements of German politicians about the unwillingness of the Federal Republic of Germany to be drawn into it.

He added:

It destroys the remnants of mutual trust, causes irreparable damage to the already deplorable state of Russian-German relations, and casts doubt on the possibility of their normalisation in the foreseeable future.

The decision to approve the delivery of Leopard tanks to Ukraine means the “final refusal” of the German government “to recognise its historical responsibility to our people for the terrible, timeless crimes of Nazism during the Great Patriotic War, and the consigning to oblivion of the difficult path of post-war reconciliation between Russians and Germans”, he continued.

He said:

With the approval of the leadership of Germany, battle tanks with German crosses will again be sent to the ‘eastern front’, which will inevitably lead to the deaths of not only Russian soldiers, but also the civilian population.


IIRC one airline (SAS?) allowed their crews to wear beards, but had to figure out squaring that with possibly needing an oxygen mask.