Putin’s war on the West

[T]he contest he (Putin) insists on can no longer be dodged. It did not begin in poor Ukraine and will not end there. Prevailing will require far more resolve than Western leaders have so far mustered.

via The view from the Kremlin: Putin’s war on the West | The Economist.

Putin has held power in Russia for 15 years.  What has he gained?

From his tantrums over the Middle East to his invasion of Georgia and multiple misadventures in Ukraine, Mr Putin has sometimes seemed to stumble into accidental disputes with the West, driven by a paranoid fear of encirclement. In hindsight it seems that, given his outlook, confrontation may have been inevitable.

Putin has driven a wedge between the US and Europe over how to deal with him, and thus weakened both.

For Mr Putin the only good neighbour is a weak one; vassals are better than allies. Only the wilfully blind would think his revanchism has been sated. Sooner or later it may encompass the Baltic states—members of both the European Union and NATO, and home to Russian minorities of the kind he pledges to “protect”.

So what is the West to do?  Options include arming Ukraine,which some Americans but no Europeans want.  Putin wins.

Or, provide Ukraine with foreign aid that allows it to build a better state, which will then side with Western powers.  Putin loses.

Which way will the US and Europe chose?

Where’s the Midwest?

Which States Are in the Midwest? | FiveThirtyEight.

more on vernacular regions.

Every Tree

Where the Trees Are : Image of the Day.

4 pixels per acre map of forest cover in the continental US, about 30 meter resolution.

40 maps that explain food in America | Vox.com

40 maps that explain food in America | Vox.com.

The second-largest religion in each state


The second-largest religion in each state

The second-largest religion in each state.

Christianity is by far the largest religion in the United States; more than three-quarters of Americans identify as Christians. A little more than half of us identify as Protestants, about 23 percent as Catholic and about  2 percent as Mormon.

And by county:

Where do you fit in?

Fast Train to China


Chinese engineers said to be in talks over high-speed rail link to U.S. | Al Jazeera America

Chinese engineers said to be in talks over high-speed rail link to U.S. | Al Jazeera America.

Across Siberia, and under the Bering Strait – China proposes to link America and Asia with a high-speed train.

Billed as the “China, Russia, Canada, U.S. line,” news of the project comes amid a wider bid by Beijing to export a construction sector that some economists say is building above demand at home.

According to the Beijing Times, the proposed railway would run from northeastern China, up through Siberia, and under the Bering Strait to Alaska, where it would head south through Canada and into mainland United States.


It’s a Small World


Sulfur Dioxide from the Kliuchevskoi Eruption over the Midwest United States – Wired Science.

A volcano erupted on the Kamchatka peninsula last week. Volcanoes release more than just lava – many different gases and ash are expelled into the atmosphere.  The map above shows that just one week later,

the plume [is] over parts of Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and eastward. So, if you’re in that part of the country, you can look up and know that somewhere above you are particles of sulfur dioxide from the eruption of Kliuchevskoi.

These aerosols spread rapidly across our planet.

 Sulfur dioxide (converting to sulfuric acid droplets in the atmosphere) can heat the upper atmosphere by absorbing solar radiation and thus end up cooling the lower atmosphere by blocking that light. 

What affect would a large-scale eruption have on Earth?  And are we ready for it?

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