Julia Ioffe, a Soviet refugee who knows more about Russia than just about any other American journalist, fills in the gaps on Russian dictator Vladimir Putin's childhood. In sum, he's an angry, insecure street kid from the 'hood:
The West’s obsession with Putin’s K.G.B. past often misses the biographical detail that for most Russians, especially those of his generation, is especially glaring: Putin is the street urchin, all grown up. The way he sits, slouching contemptuously; the way he only trusts childhood friends (and doesn’t fire them despite their incompetence); the way he punishes betrayal because he values loyalty above everything else. The way he enforces social hierarchy, like waiting until oligarch Oleg Deripaska was seated at the other end of a long table to ask for his pen back. The way he talks, using the slang of the dvor that, because of where so many of these street boys ended up, is also the argot of the vast Russian penal system.
[My Russian family] all see, for example, how much [Putin] is still bothered—despite his age, wealth, and absolute power—by the fact that he is short. Being so short and slight would have been a massive handicap in the dvor, and it bred bitterness, resentment, and insecurity in the boys unfortunate enough to be petite late bloomers. You can see it to this day: Putin has a designated photographer who knows which angle will transform the Russian president, making him look no smaller than his interlocutor.
The dvor taught Putin many things, lessons that shape his thinking and actions to this day: that might makes right, that existing hierarchies can only be changed through violence, that force is the only language that matters, that power is always a zero-sum game. There are no win-win outcomes in the dvor.
Putin is a little punk who now controls 3,000 nuclear weapons. So don't worry about whether he's rational; he is. But he rationally evaluates the world as a little kid on the streets of Leningrad in post-WWII rubble, where he learned people get farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with just with a kind word. Just like Al Capone.
At 7am Monday, it was 12°C at Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters. By 6pm the temperature had gone up to 26.5°C, then 29.8°C at 2pm Tuesday, then 29.1°C at 3:15pm yesterday, before a cold front finally ploughed through and got us down to lovely sleeping weather right before I turned in:
The slow rise in my indoor temperature from 7am to 5pm was just my normal A/C program, as was the decline when the A/C turned on at 5. Then at 6, I discovered that the cold front had gone through, so I opened the windows.
Overnight, though, this happened:
This did not lead to a restful sleep, but did apparently lead to a backache.
I'm going to leave my windows open out of optimism that the forecast is accurate and today's high will only hit 27°C. But if it's above 25°C at 6pm, I'm giving up and turning on the A/C. I need sleep.
Such is the end of spring in Chicago.
Update, 3:15pm: I tried, man. But after sweating through two meetings and watching Cassie move from the couch to the hardwood flor, I gave up and turned on the AC. Now it's 31.5°C outside and a dry 24.4°C inside:
Welcome to an extra stop on the Brews and Choos project.
Brewery: Mikkeler Bar, 34 Mason St., San Francisco
Train line: BART, Powell
Time from Chicago: about 4½ hours by air
Distance from station: 200 m
While in San Francisco last weekend, I happened across a brewpub that would fit the Brews & Choos ethos perfectly, were it in Chicago. The Mikkeller Bar in San Francisco serves a variety of craft beer, mostly their own Danish brews, but also some American varieties.
I tried three beers, the Weldwerks Mosaic Extra Extra Juicy Bits (DIPA, 8.6%), Mikkeller's Hop Opera NEDIPA (9%), and Mikkeller's Windy Hill (NEIPA, 7%). Of the three, I liked the Windy Hill enough to have a second.
It's an interesting place with a vibe that I assume came from a collision between Denmark and Northern California. It also has some deeply weird elements, like this, which rumor says came from the building's previous owner, presumably after he no longer needed it:
I'm glad I stopped in. Pity, though, that not a lot of breweries in the Bay Area would fit the Brews & Choos Project. But hey, it was a fun surprise.
Beer garden? No
Dogs OK? No
Serves food? Full menu
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes
I popped out to San Francisco this past weekend, then had a ton of things to work on today that precluded posting any of these photos.
So, from south to north order, starting with Moss Beach, including a WWII-era anti-aircraft bunker on the left:
Just a short way from there is what used to be a scary section of the Pacific Coast Highway, now a bike trail:
The Powell end of the Powell & Mason cable car, at Market St:
The Ferry Building:
Looking up California St. from Sansomme:
And the MUNI F line at its terminus in North Beach:
And finally, when I left for San Francisco on Saturday morning, it was 10°C and sunny. Here we are about 76 hours later and it's 30°C. We really don't have spring or fall here some years.
According to my Garmin, I got almost 18 hours of sleep the past two nights, but also according to my Garmin (and my groggy head), few of those hours made a difference. I take some of the blame for that, but on the other hand, someday I want to stay in a hotel room where I can control when the air conditioner turns on and off.
Anyway, while I slept fitfully, these stories passed through my inbox:
And finally, good news for the Brews & Choos Project: Lagunitas plans to re-open their taproom later this year.
A little-known United Nations agency would like its $22 million back, please:
At the United Nations, two officials had a problem. The little-known agency they ran found itself with an extra $61 million, and they didn’t know what to do with it.
Then they met a man at a party.
Now, they have $25 million less.
In between was a baffling series of financial decisions, in which experienced diplomats entrusted tens of millions of dollars, the agency’s entire investment portfolio at the time, to a British businessman after meeting him at the party. They also gave his daughter $3 million to produce a pop song, a video game and a website promoting awareness of environmental threats to the world’s oceans.
Things did not go well.
Transparency and accountability: it's not just a good idea, it's the law.
(The headline comes from this traditional Anglo-American song. Grift goes back to the beginning of speech, it turns out.)
Chicago actually had clear skies and lovely spring weather today. That said, I'm in San Francisco this weekend, where the weather is almost exactly the same (12°C and clear).
Posting will be sporadic until Tuesday.
Gray skies, day 45: they say the sun will come out tomorrow. I would not bet my bottom dollar on that.
In any event, I'll be in San Francisco for a couple of days, where they've had sun on and off for a while, with sun predicted tomorrow and Sunday. Then, if the predictions hold true, I'll come back here Monday in time to throw open all my windows.
We'll see. But I am really sick of the rain and clouds already.
South Texas College of Law Houston Law Professor Josh Blackman sketches out a timeline pointing to a right-wing Justice's clerk as the likely source of the Dobbs leak:
First, where did the leak come from? Most people are presuming this leak came from someone with access to the opinion, such as a Justice or a clerk. That presumption is probably correct, but it is also possible there was some illegal exfiltration of the document. ... People who are fanatical about abortion may go to great lengths to support their cause.
Fourth, Politico got the scoop. Not the Washington Post or New York Times or WSJ or NPR. Or, perhaps other outlets had a copy of the opinion, but only Politico was willing to run it. I still think WSJ had the opinion last week, in light of their editorial. The Supreme Court is in worse shape than I could have imagined.
Josh Marshall draws lines between Blackman's dots:
[T]he rapid-fire follow-up reporting on John Roberts’ position on the Mississippi case, just hours after the Politico exclusive, made me think at the time that the leaked draft opinion wasn’t a one off thing. It seemed part of a larger breakdown of secrecy or on-going leaks tied to the Mississippi abortion case. You don’t come up with details about the Chief Justice’s position and arguments from internal deliberations on one of the biggest cases in decades in an hour and a half if you’re beginning from a cold start. Then this morning I found out about this Wall Street Journal opinion page editorial from April 26th in which they fairly transparently write about current Court deliberations in the Mississippi case, specifically that John Roberts was trying to pull an unnamed conservative Justice back from fully overturning Roe.
[W]hy the column in late April? And why the specifics? It certainly reads like the authors had an inside read on on-going deliberations and fears that Roberts might be in the process of sneaking a defeat from the jaws of victory.
It reads even more like that when you read the piece in the context of the subsequent leak.
Blackman is a big advocate for overturning Roe. But that’s mostly neither here nor there for our present purposes. What’s interesting is that he’s written extensively about previous cases when Roberts nudged the Court toward less right-wing decisions and cases where there were leaks and pressure campaigns trying to prevent him from doing so. So Blackman is something of an expert on this on-going pattern and history. He seemed to spot it from his first read of the Journal editorial. Indeed, if I’m reading his piece correctly he seems to think the Journal may well have had a copy of the Alito opinion too.
(Emphasis in original.)
So, some clerk in Justice Alito's (R) or Thomas's (R) office gave photocopies of Alito's first draft to a number of right-leaning outlets, and Politico published first. All of this to push the Court towards a more extreme position than Chief Justice Roberts (I) can agree with.