Bob Proctor’s greatest hits

“The ABCs of Success: The Essential Principles from America’s Greatest Prosperity Teacher” by Bob Proctor

This book is the best compilation of Bob Proctor’s thinking, with 67 different topics neatly categorized into bite size chapters in A-to-Z style that cover everything from business to personal matters.

The chapters themselves consist of nearly 4 decades of wisdom acquired from Proctor’s experience as a speaker, consultant, coach, mentor, lecturer and author of more than a dozen books, wrapped within only 204 pages. Hence, the concise, easy to digest, nature of the book.

Although by today’s standard the majority of what he wrote about have become a common knowledge or practice, the book is an excellent reminder of the good old fashioned values and the perspectives that may have been forgotten along the way. It is akin to a last good conversation with a very wise grandfather. A soothing read, R. I. P. Bob Proctor.

Concise lessons about the human side of money

“The Psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed, and Happiness” by Morgan Housel

I know what you’re thinking, oh great not another personal finance book? At first I also ignored this book ever since it became wildly popular, as I simply had enough of reading the type of cliche personal finance books after reading the last 2 books about money by a certain personal development maestro. But then I stumbled upon Morgan Housel’s interview at the Tim Ferriss Show. And, to be frank, he’s not what I thought he was.

He’s not that typical personality that preach about personal finance from the perspective of “expert slash motivational speaker.” He doesn’t make a sales pitch for some one-size-fits-all formula to get rich, like what most of the so-called finance gurus are offering.

But instead, he’s a market guy who understands the complex dynamism of trading/investing, who is obsessed with behavioural finance as the reasoning for market movements and/or business growth, who explains that our relationship with money is not science or math but dopamine and cortisol, it’s fear and greed, it’s pride and envy and social comparisons, or in short our relationship with money is actually psychological.

Right from the start Housel remarked that doing well with money actually has little to do with how smart we are and a lot to do with how we behave. And behavior is not easy to teach, even to really smart people. He then added, “[a] genius who loses control of their emotions can be a financial disaster. The opposite is also true. Ordinary folks with no financial education can be wealthy if they have a handful of behavioral skills that have nothing to do with formal measures of intelligence.”

Hence, the unbelievable story of Ronald Read at the beginning of the book, a janitor who gave away $6 million to the local hospital when he passed away, in contrast with Richard Fuscone, a Harvard MBA and former Merrill Lynch executive who lost almost everything at the end of his story. This, in essence, is what the book is about, the good approaches towards money that can be implemented even by the janitor (that we should emulate), and the bad ones even by the likes of the Harvard-educated executive (that we should avoid).

And the first thing that we need to understand is that everyone is different. We have different personalities, different childhood backgrounds, different education, different goals, and thus it is only natural that we have different risk tolerances and attitudes towards money, saving and investment. For example, baby boomers that grow up in the Great Depression era will have different attitude towards risk and reward compared with millennials who live under a low inflation low interest rate environment.

Another important point in the book is that tails drive everything. There are around 15 billion lives that were born between 19th and 20th century but imagine 7% of them were never born, such as Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Gavrilo Princip, Thomas Edison, Bill Gates, and Martin Luther King. Or imagine the last century without the small percentage of occurrences such as Great Depression, World War 2, The Manhattan Project, Vaccines, antibiotics, September 11th, and the fall of the Soviet Union. The point is, a small percentage of people or events create the most impacts in history.

The same concept also occur in investing. As Housel describes, since 1980 the Russell 3000 index has increased more than 73-fold, which is a spectacular return. However, if we look closer, 40% of the companies in the index were effectively failures, while the 7% of components performed extremely well and were more than enough to offset the flops. And there’s more. Within the most performing companies in the market there are even more tail events. In 2018, Amazon alone drove 6% of the S&P 500 returns, while Amazon’s growth itself was almost entirely thanks to Amazon Prime and Amazon Web Services, while others such as Fire Phone and travel agencies have failed.

This is also where Housel emphasized the importance of “batting average”, that it is ok to have small losses here and there as long as the wins can more than compensate for the whole performance. This approach is valid for money and any other functions in life.

Moreover, in this immensely informative book in just 183 pages, there are many more lessons on the psychology of money that helps to frame and re-frame our mindsets, such as the relationship between luck and risk, the magic of compounding, the difference between fees and fines, how historical trends are not prophecies, how optimistic-pessimistic outlooks can influence our decision makings, and one important mindset that rarely discussed by any other commercial personal finance books: the importance of contentment.

Because ultimately, Housel concluded, “wealth is what you don’t see. Wealth is the nice cars not purchased. The diamonds not bought. The watches not worn, the clothes forgone and the first-class upgrade declined. Wealth is financial assets that haven’t yet been converted into the stuff you see.”

Indeed, the aim of this book is not to sell the author’s service, but it is to give us the complete psychological understanding of our relationship with money, and how to have a better attitude at it. And for that reason, this book offers a fresh perspective in an already saturated personal finance industry. Which is why this is one of the most influential books that I’ve ever read. No wonder it’s so damn popular.

What footballing life is like in Eastern Europe

“Behind the Curtain: Football in Eastern Europe” by Jonathan Wilson

This is a romantic book about life as a football reporter in Eastern Europe, a place where the beautiful game is played a little bit differently, where the line between sports and politics is a little less clear, but with passion for the game unmistakably resonates the universal love like in any other parts of the world.

The book tells the tales of local heroes and legends, the larger than life characters, the rise and fall of the local teams, and the memorable moments in their respective national team’s history. It tells the anecdotes such as why so many supporters eat sunflower seeds in Georgia, or which club’s vice president have pictures of Britney Spears in his leather-bound notebook. And of course it tells about all the iconic football matches – the Dynamo Kyiv, the Spartak Moscow, the Red Star Belgrade, the Steaua Bucharest, the CSKA Sofia, the Hajduk Split -, including the ones that the author, Jonathan Wilson, attended himself, from the big name derbies to an invigorated match in the 3rd division pitch in the Bulgarian FA Cup.

The book also tells about the many stories outside the football field that define the environment of the region. Such as the hatred among the former Yugoslavian countries that are reflected in the matches, the deep mistrust of everyday people in Romania, the hooliganism problem in Hungary, the chilling atmosphere during the dictatorship of Stalin, and the many incredible personal stories such as what happened when French player Youri Djorkaeff went to his ancestral home Armenia, or the story of the last plane leaving Bosnia before the war broke in 1992 that was carrying a future football superstar Hasan Salihamidžić.

Meanwhile, as in other many walks of life in Eastern Europe, corruption and bribery are rampant, while match fixing is not uncommon. And while the countries from Baltic to Balkan to Caucasus have transitioned from a communist subject into independent countries, plenty of the embedded old structures are still pretty much in place in their societies, with Soviet/Yugoslav control replaced by local dictators or oligarchs or gangs of mafia that have vested interests in the football matches.

Thus, reporting about football in this part of the world becomes an intricate job, as it often deals more with the likes of prostitutes, kidnappings and even assassinations than just another injury update or a transfer rumor. This, in short, is what makes this book mighty interesting.

The privatisation of power and their laundromats for stolen money

“Kleptopia: How Dirty Money is Conquering the World” by Tom Burgis

This is Blacklist meets McMafia meets the investigation attempt in Billions. It is a fast-paced narration of a true story of the names that you’ve probably never heard of, but secretly controls a huge chunk of the world’s money.

The book reads like a spy novel and it is gripping right from the very beginning, with so many mind-blowing plot twists that prove the dirty money behind several world occurrences, from election rig in Zimbabwe, to Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal, that Saudi Ritz-Carlton Purge, to the acquisition of ABN Amro by Royal Bank of Scotland.

The story has everything, including the plunder of some countries’ assets, the privatisation of power, the usage of “front men” by dictators to manage their billions, the global money laundering network, assassination of political opponents, the jailing of whistleblowers, the prosecutions of “fall guy”, industrial espionage, bribery and extortion, fake suicide, love and kidnapping, dynastic marriage, a family fallout, stock market manipulation, and one particular chapter that explains how a certain American president fits in this network of schemes: not as someone literally implanted by Russia in the US as a puppet per se, as always suspected, but instead as one of the best in his role as a front or a launderer.

Ultimately, I read this book during Russian invasion on Ukraine, as I wanted to figure out why do the British government is so very reluctant to freeze Russian oligarchs’ assets? The key, as it turns out, lies in the difference between tax evasion and money laundering.

While tax evasion sucked money out of the country into tax havens, money laundering has the opposite effect of pumping money into the country. “If you could stop yourself thinking about its origins”, remarked Burgis, “those inflows of dirty money from around the world were just another source of investment into otherwise declining economies.”

And the City of London serves as the laundromat for oligarchs (such as the Trio for Nursultan Nazarbayev – the main focus of the book – or the Russian front men for Vladimir Putin) and their dirty money, where riches from the looting of the ex-Soviet states are sent to Britain and laundered into properties, stocks, businesses, cars, fashion, and other legitimate assets, including a football club.

Hence, the infamous nickname of Londongrad, Boris Johnson’s refusal to publish a parliamentary report on Russian interference in British politics, and the Tory government’s odd decisions in regards with their stance on Ukraine invasion and the sanctions toward Russia. Read the book, and it all adds up.

The book is 465 pages long but I’ve managed to read it cover to cover in just over 3 days as it is so damn engaging. It is with this in mind that I refrain to spill anymore details that could spoil the plot of the story for anyone who wants to read it, despite the massive urge to tell it all. So very highly recommended.

The human story behind the legend

“The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin” by Benjamin Franklin

This is a charming little book that serves as the self-narration of the life of Benjamin Franklin. It is about his hopes and fears, about his education, his mistakes, his relatable love of books, his apprenticeship and vocations before life as a founding father, and what life’s like after the American independence.

The book is kinda messy, however, more like a scrappy diary of a busy person rather than a memoir. It is largely broken down into 4 eras with big gaps between the eras, written with untidy narration, which ended abruptly and unfinished as he passed away.

But nevertheless, there’s something about being unfinished and imperfect that makes this memoir feel authentic, that it gives us the raw and unfiltered insight into the person behind the many hero tales and legends about him. And talking about unfinished…

Grown-ups are really very odd

“The Little Prince” by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry

There’s nothing like reading a classic book given by a dear friend, on a rainy Sunday, that reminds us of the simplest lessons that are somehow forgotten as we get too busy growing up. Lessons that are narrated through the kind of imagination fit for one of those Tim Burton movies.

It is about the “silly” ego, ambitions, entitlements, sorrow, greed, lies, and seriousness, that grown-ups slowly develop as they get older, which make them look foolish from the perspective of a child.

It is also about the little things in life that bring us joy, things that we cannot buy with money, things that can make time stood still. Because “it is only with one’s heart that one can see clearly”, said the fox, and “what is essential is invisible to the eye.” A truly heart warming book.

A behind-the-scene account on how peacemaking and peacekeeping work

“A Billion Lives: An Eyewitness Report from the Frontlines of Humanity” by Jan Egeland

Jan Egeland is a remarkable human being. He has an illustrious long career that include positions at Amnesty International, the Norwegian Red Cross, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and most prominently his work as the undersecretary-general for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator at the United Nations, which is what the book is mostly about.

During his tenure he met warlords, mass murderers, dictators, as well as peacemakers, relief workers, and human rights activists. And it weren’t just during some ordinary occurrences at the office.

Instead, he negotiated face to face against warlord Joseph Kony in Ugandan jungle, became the intermediary between FARC and the government of Colombia for their peace agreement, dealt directly with a difficult Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, helped broker the Oslo Peace Accords 1993 between Israel and Palestine, and again years later help to end the war between Israel and Hezbollah, and coordinated the intricate disaster relief in many places including Iraq after the 2003 US-led attack, Ivory Coast after the civil war, and the boxing day Tsunami 2004.

Although not all of his attempts were successful – such as the unresolved violence in Darfur, and the collapse of the Oslo Accord after Benjamin Netanyahu took over power – it seems that Egeland can manage to untie the most complicated knots in almost every disaster and war zone in the world, and created a better pathway towards compromise for his successors.

And this memoir shows the minute by minute account on how these humanitarian deals and coordinations were planned, debated, compromised, failed, re-attempted, and finally achieved in the room, which is a demonstration of a masterclass on negotiation and diplomacy. Very well written, gripping from start to finish, five stars.

How the modern media works

“Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator” by Ryan Holiday

At the age of 25, before he wrote about Stoicism, Ryan Holiday wreck havoc the media and marketing world by telling the insider’s truth of what he personally experienced and witnessed as a professional within the industry. As Holiday remarked, “[m]y job is to lie to the media so they can lie to you. I cheat, bribe, and connive for bestselling authors and billion-dollar brands and abuse my understanding of the internet to do it.”

He was most certainly not the only one doing this, however, in fact later on as the book progresses he mentions some of the best (or worst?) in the industry, the creme de la creme of the media manipulator, who funnel millions of dollars to online publications to get page views, control the scoops and breaking news that fill our Facebook and other social media feeds, and some tricks and unbelievable sins that would make our jaw drop in disbelieve.

But before any of this, he first confessed to his own sins. “I have flown bloggers across the country,” Holiday admitted, “boosted their revenue by buying fake traffic, written their stories for them, fabricated elaborate ruses to capture their attention, and even hired their family members. I’ve probably sent enough gift cards and T-shirts to fashion bloggers to clothe a small country. Why did I do all this? Because it was the best way to get what I wanted for my clients: attention.”

And that’s the key word that is repeated again and again in this book, attention. All of these clickbaits, polarisations, provocative comments, advertisement placements, social media algorithms, and all the sensational and viral contents are all generated to grab our attention in an increasingly saturated world for, well, attention.

Because the truth of the matter is, as the philosopher and journalist Chris Hedges wrote, “[i]n an age of images and entertainment, in an age of instant emotional gratification, we neither seek nor want honesty or reality. Reality is complicated. Reality is boring. We are incapable or unwilling to handle its confusion.”

So instead, according to Holiday, “[t]he most powerful predictor of virality is how much anger an article evoked.” In other words, the fake news and fake headline that “feel true”, information that is distorted into something that will stick to the emotional spectrum of the audience, which ultimately will turn into something that spreads and drive people to click on the news.

Indeed, the reality on the ground is the media don’t actually care about the issues they are provoking much outrage about, and neither do social media. Instead, they only care about what it means for them: how much traffic and time spent on site that these issues generate.

As Holiday puts it, “[t]hings must be negative but not too negative. Hopelessness, despair—these drive us to do nothing. Pity, empathy—those drive us to do something, like get up from our computers to act. But anger, fear, excitement, laughter, and outrage—these drive us to spread. They drive us to do something that makes us feel as if we are doing something, when in reality we are only contributing to what is probably a superficial and utterly meaningless conversation.”

This, in essence, what helps create the artificial modern world where everybody are competing to get their 15 minutes of fame, where “netizens” can quickly take down and belittle some people as quickly as making them a superstar trending topic, which make the rise of the clickbait culture, polarising online debates, and the rise of yotubers, instagram influencers, etc, a little bit more sense.

As Holiday commented, “It used to be that someone had to be a national hero before you got the privilege of the media and the public turning on you. You had to be a president or a millionaire or an artist. Now we tear people down just as we’ve begun to build them up. We do this to our fameballs. Our viral video stars. Our favorite new companies. Even random citizens who pop into the news because they did something interesting, unusual, or stupid. First we celebrate them; then we turn to snark, and then, finally, to merciless decimation. No wonder only morons and narcissists enter the public sphere.”

Moreover, this book also provides tremendous insights into the inner workings of the online publishing industry (or what Holiday refer as blogs) as well as social media, with all their structures, and their means for surviving and thriving. It touches the complicated subject of subtle corruption (which involve no direct bribe money) and how it is being done rampantly, the ugly picture of the economics behind the spread of news online, how to create the perfect clickbait articles, even how reality TV sucks in viewers.

It also exposes the problem of journalistic credibility, such as the scary rate of reporters using wikipedia as a source (and how a simple edit on the wikipedia page can lead to a false or advantageous reporting from the media), and the ever increasing revolving door problem between bloggers and the giants that they supposed to report on with objectivity, as Holiday commented: “what blogger is going to do real reporting on companies like Google, or Twitter when there is the potential for a lucrative job down the road? What writer is going to burn a source if they view their job as a networking play?”

Reading this book has made me able to differentiate between a real investigative reporting and a viral scoop taken from smaller blogs or social media. I can now see the invincible hands working behind a viral story, or when there’s a story fabricated from thin air to generate more clicks, or when a multiple media deliberately use an already misled claims and watch it spread like wildfire, and I can see all the progress of the scoop in the scale between obscurity and viral sensation.

Ironically, many firms now require their employees to read Trust Me I’m Lying, while many blogs and journalism schools also ask their writers and student to study this book. It is similar like how Michael Lewis’ Liar’s Poker – a book that exposed the rotten culture of 1980s Wall Street – somehow attracts people to work at Wall Street. Although at this point it makes perfect sense for these people to understand all of these tricks (for better or worse), but still, this tells a lot about the state of the industry. The mad men of the 1950s Madison Avenue would be very proud.

The history of engineered substances called modern food

“The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals” by Michael Pollan

How can people in France or Italy are able to eat all the “unhealthy” meals filled with pasta, bread, and the likes of foie grass but can wind up healthier, thinner, and happier compared to those who consume supposedly healthy diet of low-carb, high protein, and good fat?

This book is the long history of our meal since the dawn of civilisation. The author, journalist Michael Pollan, went back to the very beginning of the food chain to track the process of food manufacturing, from the nature to the plate. And the result is this best-selling book that has since become one of the main go-to guides for healthy eating for more than a decade.

So, what did Pollan discover? The Omnivore’s Dilemma is about the three core food chains that sustain us today: 1. The organic 2. The hunter-gatherer 3. The industrial. While they differ greatly, all three food chains are systems with similar functions that are linking us to the fertility of the earth and the energy of the sun, through what we eat. Even the Twinkies. As Pollan remarks, “all life on earth can be viewed as a competition among species for the solar energy captured by green plants and stored in the form of complex carbon molecules.”

And a food chain is a system for passing on those calories to species that lack the plant’s ability to synthesize them from sunlight. And this lies the problem with the industrial food chain, as the supposedly natural carbon molecules are being greatly modified for profitability.

As Pollan explains, each of us can only eat approximately 1500 pounds of food a year. And unlike many other products – such as shoes or CDs – there is a natural limit to how much food that we can consume until we reach our ultimate limit. This is a bad news for the food industry and its Wall Street investors, with the food industry’s natural rate of growth is only around 1% per year (in the US).

This left corporations like McDonald’s and General Mills with 2 options if they hope to grow faster: 1. Figure out how to get people to spend more money on the same amount of food, or cutting the cost of production for the same amount of food 2. Figure out a way to make people eat beyond their natural limitations. And the food industry pursue these 2 strategies simultaenously and complementarily, mainly by using cheap (but unhealthy) corn for cost cutting.

Indeed, there are around 45,000 items in the average American supermarket, and more than a quarter of them now contain corn. One of the most common examples for cost cutting is replacing sugar with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), because HFCS is few cents cheaper than sugar (thanks to government subsidy) and the change went unoticed by the consumers, such as the one conducted by Coca-Cola and Pepsi in 1984. Besides in soda drinks, HFCS can also be found in bread, candy, canned fruit, sweetened yoghurt, juice, and many more, including in salad dressings.

As Pollan remarks, “very simply, we subsidize high-fructose corn syrup in this country, but not carrots. While the surgeon general is raising alarms over the epidemic of obesity, the president is signing farm bills designed to keep the river of cheap corn flowing, guaranteeing that the cheapest calories in the supermarket will continue to be the unhealthiest.”

And with all the nutritions aren’t met with these “junk” food, in search for the required amount of nutritions our body then demands us to eat more and more food and snacks, which normally also still lack the nutritions needed, thus leads to the epidemic of obesity (but fulfilling the corporations’ 2nd goal to make people eat beyond their natural limitations).

Moreover, in the quest of cutting down the cost of production, the meat industry also opted to use these subsidied corn to replace grass as the main source of feeding for cows, with an added advantage of speeding up the fattening process for the cows since corn is a compact source of caloric energy.

As Rich Blair – a person who runs a “cow-calf” operation (the first stage in the production of a hamburger) – commented “in my grandfather’s time, cows were four or five years old at slaughter. In the fifties, when my father was ranching, it was two or three years old. Now we get there at fourteen to sixteen months.” And Pollan added, “cows raised on grass simply take longer to reach slaughter weight than cows raised on a richer diet, and for half a century now the industry has devoted itself to shortening a beef animal’s allotted span on earth.”

As a result of these changes corn-fed cows get fatter in a much quicker time. And their flesh also marbles well, giving it a texture and taste that American consumers have come to like. In the industry terms, it seems that the factory is becoming more efficient in increasing production at a lower cost.

However, according to Pollan, “this corn-fed meat is demonstrably less healthy for us, since it contains more saturated fat and less omega-3 fatty acids than the meat of animals fed grass. A growing body of research suggests that many of the health problems associated with eating beef are really problems with corn-fed beef.”

So, how to counter the health problems? They inject the cows with antibiotics. As Pollan discovered, “what keeps a feedlot animal healthy—or healthy enough—are antibiotics. Rumensin buffers acidity in the rumen, helping to prevent bloat and acidosis, and Tylosin, a form of erythromycin, lowers the incidence of liver infection. Most of the antibiotics sold in America today end up in animal feed, a practice that, it is now generally acknowledged (except in agriculture), is leading directly to the evolution of new antibiotic-resistant superbugs.”

This partly explains why French and Italian people are healthier despite their [perceivedly bad] diet. Because they eat more high quality organic food, they do less snacking because they eat more good fat and in overall they meet the required nutritions. In addition, they also use less chemically altered vegetables oil (that will trigger insulin resistance), they use non gmo food, no artificial vitamins, and all other changes as a result of industrialisation of the food chain.

Or in other words, the French and Italians simply eat real food while in America people eat a manufactured, chemical-filled, substance that they label as food.

The remaining of the book then tells the story of Pollan’s journey to several places in America to experience first-hand how organic food chain (aka real farming) and hunter-gathering food chain should look like. And the result of this reporting is a massive game changer. Since the book was published in 2006, the reactions within the food industry have been overall positive.

In Pollan’s own words, “there are now more than eight thousand farmers markets in America, an increase of 180 percent since 2006. More than four thousand school districts now have farm-to-school programs, a 430 percent increase since 2006, and the percentage of elementary school with gardens has doubled, to 26 percent. During that period sales of soda have plummeted, falling 14 percent between 2004 and 2014. The food industry is rushing to reformulate hundreds of products to remove high fructose corn syrup and other processed-food ingredients that consumers have made clear they will no longer tolerate.”

Moreover, Pollan continues, “sales of organic food have more than doubled since 2006, from $16.7 billion in 2006 to more than $40 billion today. The kind of grass-finished beef and pastured eggs that Joel Salatin produces at Polyface Farm were so exotic in 2006 that national sales figures for them didn’t exist; now, you can find these foods in many supermarkets, and both categories are growing by double digit percentages each year. (Carl’s Junior, the fast food chain, introduced a grass-fed hamburger in 2014.) From California to Georgia, there are now hundreds of farms modeled on Polyface’s intricate choreography of animals. And Joel Salatin himself has become an international celebrity farmer, a social type I don’t think existed in 2006.”

Hence, when today you see an evolution towards organic eating, ethical farming, and an overall healthy living, you can trace back the evolution to this book as one of the main instigators. A must read for those who care about where our food is coming from.

What the current tension between NATO and Russia is about

“Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World” by Tim Marshall

The current rising tension between NATO and Russia over Ukraine can be explained by the 2nd paragraph of the introduction of this book:

“If God had built mountains in Ukraine, then the great expanse of flatland that is the North European Plain would not be such encouraging territory from which to attack Russia repeatedly. As it is, Putin has no choice: he must at least attempt to control the flatlands to the west. So it is with all nations, big or small.”

Indeed, Ukraine plays the role of a geographic buffer for Russia against the North European relative flatlands. Because there’s no mountains like the Himalayans (that provide natural borders between China and India), Russia “needs” to control the immediate countries that borders with NATO-allies Europe. Hence, their vested interest on controlling Ukraine and Belarus.

Tim Marshall also argues that if Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova ever going to join NATO it will spark a war. This scenario is like Canada or Mexico decide to join the Russian alliance (remember the Cuban missile crisis?)

And so, here we are. With NATO trying to lure Ukraine into joining them, Putin, as a reaction, is trying to put a Kremlin puppet in Ukraine so that they won’t join NATO.

Because for Russia to lose control over Ukraine is like China losing their strong grip over Xinjiang (which borders with 8 other countries in China’s West). It’s all about geographic buffers, while the natural resources are bonuses.

So who’s to blame in this scenario? All of them. It’s assholes against assholes, playing politics and war games over someone else’s country. Ukraine is analogically caught in the middle of a custody battle between 2 toxic parents.