Kyiv Today

And to make your evening even better, this is Kyiv earlier today:

It’s the National Day of Vyshyvanka (traditional embroidery), and people always take it very seriously.

Remain Human

Here’s a good, positive story for a nice finish to your day.

A Ukrainian drone spotted a Russian soldier in a trench and positioned itself to kill him.

It’s OK, I promise, this is a positive story.

The Russian soldier didn’t want to die, so he started raising his hands, showing he wanted to surrender himself.

The drone dropped a box which the Russian soldier first mistook for a grenade, almost expiring from terror.

But the box contained a note in Russian saying “Follow me, and you’ll live.”

For the next two hours, the Ukrainian drone operator led this Russian soldier across the frontlines to safety. Russian troops tried hard to shoot him in the back but missed.

The drone led the surrendered soldier to the Ukrainian side. He’s very happy, giving interviews. I saw the whole thing on video. It’s very surreal.

The point of the story is that some people will always remain human.

And others will never become human.

Real and Faje

A box of takeout steamed carrots, broccoli and snap peas at the local grocery store has a large label on it saying “plant-based.” This is annoying because a carrot isn’t “plant-based.” It’s a plant. And the expression “plant-based” reminds one of the horrible fake meat branded as “plant-based steak.”

It’s as if real food needed to gain legitimacy by pretending to be fake.

Sensitivity as a Competitive Advantage

Buzzfeed fired all its writers and will use AI instead. Immediately, people started asking, “But did anybody even know the names of these “content creators “? Did they stand out in any way?” The answer is of course not, and yes, the stuff they wrote can easily be reproduced by AI.

Here’s the thing, though. This is an economic model, the neoliberal model, where you need to stand out, make a name for yourself, be different, be special – and a lot of economic benefit will accrue. But if you can’t, then go talk to the Buzzfeed content creators.

It’s not possible for everybody to stand out. By definition, “special”, “unique” and “different” is for a small minority. Is it surprising, then, that people chop off their body parts, cultivate lists of imaginary disorders, affect exceptional sensitivity, and compile lists of identity grievances? People are trying to generate a competitive advantage while removing from the competition those who prove to be less sensitive (read special).

What can humans do that machines never will? Feel, obviously. So we see these “devastated victims of horrific abuses” pose on social media. They are simply trying to show off their only marketable skill.

Disembodied Lives

Yes, but it’s more than that. People themselves increasingly can only feel like they are thriving in a disembodied digital medium. The reality of their own bodies, of other people, of material circumstances of life are too complicated, scary and fraught. They declare war on their bodies, on social formations and on materiality because these are too hard to handle. Painful, grating, traumatic.

A Reader’s Journey

Today was the first time Klara was called weird for her love of reading. They had a year-long reading competition at school, which Klara obviously won, taking home every possible prize, including a bunch of gift cards. Of course, another kid expressed displeasure and told her she was weird. Thus begins a long journey towards acceptance on the part of a voracious reader.

Of course, what really matters is self-acceptance. I struggled for years with accepting myself as a reader because my mother hated my reading and taught me to be ashamed of it. Klara won’t have that burden.