75 years into what?

One of the most striking things I find from D Day commemorations is the implicit understanding among most who attend that victory was not inevitable. I think it’s what makes the drama of D Day still so compelling after all these years. The letter of failure prewritten by Eisenhower, how Hitler slept late while panzers sat idle, the blinding courage that seized Omaha Beach before the day ended with elite Nazi infantry separating the Allied beachheads. It all could have gone very differently.

This (and the Eurocentric mindset that permeates a war that essentially began in 1914) makes D Day something more than say, the invasion of Okinawa. Depending on how you count troop or ship numbers, the Allied invasion of Okinawa can be considered the larger and certainly far bloodier affair. But victory in Okinawa was essentially inevitable. It was simply a matter of how many Allied and Japanese would die in battle (alongside a near tragic 50% fatality rate of Okinawan civilians).

D Day is different, a great gambit, one of the most consequential risks in the history of war. Without it, it’s conceivable to consider the ideas of a separate peace with Germany, something less than total victory. A Europe and a world that would look very different. A massive failure of democracy against the worst of totalitarianism.

But to me, the seeds of victory lie in the differing systems at war, the different visions of humanity. Put in the bluntest of military of terms, the Allies win because democracy allows the battlefield flexibility of thought, leadership, and initiative required. Conversely, Rommel has to wait for a dictator to give him the most basic and common sense of tactical orders. One system was doomed to fail, to fall apart under its own contradictions. Something similar happens in the political realm with the Soviets Circa 1989.

So it’s a victory rightly celebrated, honored, and remembered. But I’m always given pause when considering these sorts of events. That was then, a generation guided by a singular purpose to keep their societies free. My own family was among them. How does that stack up with today?

Today speech laws in Britain can get you jailed if you publicly quote the “wrong” words of Churchill. Since that day the vaunted Allied coalition has lost more wars than it’s won, it will soon be in Afghanistan five times longer than it took to win World War II. 75 years after a war to preserve freedom across the globe, very few bat an eye when the Sudanese military guns down over 100 unarmed protestors; because they can, because they know nobody cares.

So D Day into what? I think a much narrower purpose than one would wish for. Perhaps less about freedom or democracy for the globe, but rather the very narrow goal for the planet’s Western powers to defeat the Imperial Japanese and Nazi threat that sought to supplant them. And then immediately after, to confront a Soviet threat that sought to do the same. If you don’t have nuclear weapons, eventually the very opposite Soviet and Western visions would have had to resolve their conflict in battle. But, the threat of mutual destruction left the Soviets to fall politically in 1989, albeit with a miserly amount of proxy wars that broke dozens of the planet’s other nations.

One out of every nine Americans wore a military uniform during this war. The equivalent number is if 30 million Americans were in the military today. Instead, there are more Americans in jail or prison at this very moment than are on active duty service. More Americans are likely to know their smartphone in greater detail than the most basic considerations of D Day. Whole sections of the modern culture think history has nothing to offer us at all, that it needs revision, or even destruction to rebuild society into something new.

It gives one pause, and a wonder about what D Day bought the world 75 years ago. A journey, into what? Toward victory, yes. But then what? That still, even today, is for us to decide. They bought us the chance we all have today. Today, as then, it’s up to us what we do with it.

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we captured 500 penguins

Near my apartment, the train station has a mural on the concrete wall that shows a flock of penguins riding the train.  I don’t get the point of this?  It’s just a bunch of penguins riding the train [cricket, cricket, cricket]  What?

So what I’m gonna do, is get to the bottom of this.  First, what I did is traveled to Antarctica on a tramp steamer hijacked under my authority by a gaggle of C-grade Yugoslavian mercenaries.

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Then, we kidnapped 500 penguins and submitted them to enhanced interrogation techniques developed in concert with a grizzled KGB veteran, a Hollywood mood coach, and the San Diego zoo.

Then, … [blinks hard]

Oh, so, ah, [shuffles papers] anyways, hi there, the ah, the WordPress told me my last post about the Spelling Bee fiasco was this degenerate blog’s 500th post.  I had no idea.  500 is a big number.  I’m quite certain only about 37% of these posts meant anything.  The remainder were probably angry, or nonsense, or incoherent.

Eh, whatever, it is what it is.  [throws confetti; blows kazoo]  For those who are here, especially those of you who’ve been here for quite a while.  Thanks for reading.  I hope you get something out of your time here.

But, still, I remain: I’m so, so sorry you’re here.

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smart kiddies sacrifice life enjoyment for unneeded skill

I can’t remember how old I was but it must have been middle school and I got roped into the National Geographic Society Geography Bee by my school. I didn’t plan on this at all, I don’t even think I knew what it was. They threw all of us into the mix, but I was into history and that comes with maps. So all of a sudden I find myself in the finalists room for the entire school with 30 or so other kids. And I’m like, what the hell just happened?

I get one of the hard questions right and a fellow student of mine is so impressed/mad that he physically punches me in the arm with full force (in today’s stupid bubble wrapped school world, he’d sadly be expelled for such behavior). Then I get derailed by “what causes the planet’s U shaped valleys?” I said the Ice Age, they said glaciers. I still contend I was right enough to get the question called correctly! But back then I wasn’t the internationally recognized flintlock pistol dueling master I am today, so I had to take my loss with grace. I think I placed seventh in a very large school. Good, not bad.

I never ended up ever doing it again. It just didn’t matter to me and eventually I aged out of the competition’s block. I had other things to do too, I played oh so many, many, many sports, loved family and friends, read a lot, watched a bunch of television, played video games. As in, I was a kid. Later in life I ended up catching some of the Geography Bee on television (I can’t remember why or where) but I see this kid win it all. And in the victory interviews his Mom is like, (I’m paraphrasing), “Oh, all he does is read atlases.” And I feel so, so sorry for this kid. Somebody get the kid a baseball glove! For fuck’s sake.

Yesterday eight kids simultaneously won the Spelling Bee. Because apparently kid competition talent is so elite and trained these days that spelling “erysipelas” is a no brainer for 2/3 the side of a soccer team of kids. Spoiler alert, these kids don’t play soccer. They sit at home and read a dictionary. Some of them or even all of them actually hire private spelling tutors to compete in these events.

All for what? Well, $50K certainly helps. But really who needs to spell obscure words? I’m not sure how many common words are used in the course of a normal English conversation, but I’m pretty sure erysipelas isn’t needed. So is this a useable skill for these kids in their lives? No. Is $50K nice? You bet. Is it worth channeling these kid’s lives into a single comprehensive goal? No way. It’s why I find television cooking competitions for kids so personally offensive. I love to cook, but man, those kids, all they do is cook. It’s wrong. Kids should be kids.

And in general, I don’t really like the idea of a kid (or any human for that matter) channeling a life into one supreme task. There are too many awesome things to do in life. I don’t want to be the best at geography, I want to be good at many, many things. Or even average at a whole bunch of things. Kids should be the same way. We have a whole bunch of belligerent ideas on this degenerate blog, but I’d ban the Geography Bee, Spelling Bee, Robot Bee, Accountant Bee, Human Resources Bee, all of it. Let kids be kids.

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go get a basketball! immediately

Game of Thrones will provide an ending that each individual viewer deserves

Once upon a time Ian McShane (a first rate actor who for whatever reason received the most bit of bit parts in Game of Thrones) got himself in a lot of trouble for leaking part of the plot prior to airing. McShane’s response has remained one of my favorite quotes for some time: “I was accused of giving the plot away, but I just think, get a fucking life. It’s only tits and dragons.” They should put that quote on the Blu-ray box cover for this series.

If you remember back to the very beginning, that’s all this show was originally intended to be. When David Benioff and D. B. Weiss pitched this to HBO they spouted a whole bunch of high minded nonsense, but what this show really was always meant to be is a play on the typical fantasy genre, just with the sex and violence thrown into overdrive. It was kitty litter for men who loved Lord of the Rings but didn’t get the level of nudity and decapitations they wanted.

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But, somewhere along the way this show became mainstream. For example, routinely the number one most read Washington Post article on the Monday after each new episode is Game of Thrones:

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Somewhere in this fact is a weird (and very disturbing) correlation and theory that the newspaper readers of the capitol’s elite are also big time Game of Thrones fans.

We’ve long been haters of Game of Thrones on this blog.

To paraphrase, the criticism has always focused on the nihilism, the manipulation of base instincts, the lack of any character to really cheer for, and generally the lack of any real point. Game of Thrones has had such an influence on the screen and many other shows have sought to copy it. Here’s what I wrote back in 2017 whilst ripping apart Ripper Street:

“This is very much in the vein of Game of Thrones. I no longer watch Game of Thrones but generally keep abreast of what happens in the show. And I’m always struck in discussions with friends or coworkers who still watch and who try to self-rationalize what they see on screen. They seem to think somehow that by the end of Game of Thrones it will all somehow all work out. They talk themselves into it. Almost as if they need it.

They typically will focus on Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen as an example of the good one, or the one to root for, or the one who by the end of the series will emerge with at least some sense of accomplishment. This is in fact a specific plot point brought up within the show itself, where Danny is there to break the cycle, to stop the chaos, to bring some sense of peace to an absolutely horrific world.

But I always ask my friends and coworkers why this must be so? Why must, or should, Game of Thrones end in such a way? Why can’t the white walkers just kill everybody in the last episode? Why can’t Daenerys end up on the throne atop a pile of murdered corpses? Why must there be any redemption or peace at all, when all that’s occurred thus far is chaos and has no meaning?”

And so here we are, Game of Thrones is almost done and indeed Daenerys has ended up on the throne atop a pile of murdered corpses. To which I’ll say, what were viewers expecting? What did they think this show actually was?

It has greatly amused me to read the online reviews from professionals and ordinary people as they try to come to grips with the reality of what this show actually is, and always has been.

Myles McNutt over at A.V. Club had this to say after the white walker battle a few weeks ago:

“This is yet another large-scale battle, similar to the Battle Of The Bastards, where the moment you start getting your breath back and begin taking stock of what happened, the spell of the immersion breaks and you realize that there’s not as much “there” there as you were hoping for.”

It’s because there’s not a “there” actually “there”. The only thing that’s “there” is tits and dragons.

Or here’s a Twitter quote from ordinary average person “carol”:

“turning daenerys the mad queen because everyone betrayed her, making her look like a fool and weak, kill her dragons… in this essay I will explain why mean can’t write female characters”

This brings up another point I’ve always found weird, that Game of Thrones is some progressive icon movement, which probably helps to explain the Washington Post popularity. But to “carol” I guess I again come back to what did you expect? Game of Thrones was your feminist icon show? Really? Spare me.

Before I stopped watching this show I remember the scene where Petyr Baelish (played by the always excellent Aidan Gillen) gives a monologue soliloquy on why he’s such a manipulator. Gillen is so talented, this is a scene worthy of Shakespeare. Except, during the entire scene behind Gillen are two women engaged in extremely hardcore lesbian sex. Did “carol” or other people forget that this scene (and many other like it) happened? Or did they think that Game of Thrones matured? Or did they try and rationalize these aspects of the show somehow?

I think history will look back on this show and people will be like, why was this trash so popular? For example, remember Survivor, back in 2000 over 50 million people (50 million! when the US population was way smaller) watched the Season 1 finale. I was one of them. What the hell were we all thinking? I feel so ashamed and baffled.

Everybody is searching for any connection to other humans in this social media world. Once upon a time Friends and Seinfeld would routinely crank north of 30 million viewers each episode. Now almost no show can reach those numbers, not even Game of Thrones. So unless you love sports or politics, a lot of people are left searching for their water cooler topic, their connection to another human being. I think Game of Thrones became that topic. And in the process a lot of people tacked a lot of faith and emotions onto a show that simply didn’t deserve such a commitment.

This show will provide an ending that each individual viewer deserves. If someone loved Lord of the Rings but wanted more severed limbs and tons of sex, this show gave them what they wanted. If somebody was looking for high drama, meaning, purpose, or even joy, then they were foolish and are going to get the horrifying ending they deserve.

It’s always just been tits and dragons, folks. There are so many entertainment other options nowadays, with limitless shows to choose from, use your eyeballs wisely.

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burning away misguided expectations

evil Bond villain unveils plans for Opticon One Moon base

It must be nice to be the world’s richest man (until the divorce paperwork clears) because you can come up with all kinds of harebrained schemes. Going to the Moon is awesome, I find it offensive to humanity that we haven’t been there in five decades, but do we really need to go there? Probably not. Maybe all of that money should be better spent curing malaria.

But Bezos (hereafter Scaramanga) has an ego the size of Saturn. It’s rumored he finds it personally offensive that SpaceX and notorious emo nutcase Elon Musk are considered the better bet for space travel. Scaramanga’s Blue Origin builds smaller rockets, has less clients, and in general was considered less ambitious in its goals. No longer. Now it’s the Moon baby!

Scaramanga seems to think he can meet the US government’s deadline to get back to the Moon by 2024. This is the NASA deadline favored mostly by Mike Pence and previously announced. It’s also a fantasy deadline because the plan relies on a rocket and space vehicle that do not exist and likely will never fly, ever. In other news, NASA is a joke.

SpaceX is focused on the more mundane (and actually profitable) business of launching satellites into space. This leaves plenty of room for Scaramanga to lose money on his vanity project. And so if Scaramanga is serious, and the technology is viable, he sure does have the cash to make this happen. It’s probably humanity’s best bet for getting back to the Moon.

Don’t get me wrong, I wish the best for this. Humanity needs something awesome to do other than the latest version of the iPhone. It’s just weird that the potential arm of humanity that will take us back to the Moon after all this time is Scaramanga, funded by a company that’s ruthlessly trying to take over every aspect of human life to the point they’ve even conned millions to put a live listening device in their own homes. Amazon is the Giant Octopus.

And so, here’s what Scaramanga really has planned for his Moon Base, code named Opticon One:

– Death ray (of course)

– Space based delivery drone concept that takes moon rocks and delivers them to your door (for a nominal fee)

– Shameless harem of the world’s most gorgeous women who wanted to go to space (don’t judge, the man is now single)

– Subterranean strip mine of Moon minerals worked by non-union slave labor (we’ll throw some poor cute kiddies in there too for good measure)

– Second death ray (you don’t build your own Moon base without being ridiculous)

– Amazon Web Services cloud servers capable of storing knowledge of all humanity (such knowledge is needed for Earth’s new citizens)

– Conveyer belt of spheres filled with weaponized nerve gas capable of wiping out all human life (and kitties too, one of them scratched Scaramanga when he was a child)

– One ordinary average employee who works in quality control (and happens to have steel teeth)

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Bond: You’ll never get away with this, Scaramanga!

Scaramanga: [laughs] Oh no, you’ll see, you can’t stop me, Mr Bond. For you see, when I’m finished, humanity will … [dramatic music] purchase household cleaning goods online at 13% increased profit margins to my fulfillment centers! [uncontrollable raging laughter]

Bond: …

Scaramanga: …

[bond shoots Scaramanga in forehead; rescues kiddies and harem]

how not to conduct a coup

One cannot deny Juan Guaidó’s guts, even bravery, at taking the stand he has. I still don’t know how this man is still alive. Any number of deliberate accidents could have occurred by this point, to him or his family. Maduro’s drug trafficking gang regime is not exactly known for its restraint, having already used live rounds against unarmed demonstrators and raping the family members of defector soldiers.

Nevertheless when Guaidó appeared on television yesterday calling for a coup, I had a bad feeling about it all. I felt he was overplaying his hand, reckless, and doomed to fail. Which is exactly what happened. Guaidó seemed to not understand the basic law of coups or war, you need guns and lots of guns. Guaidó had only a few dozen soldiers, who are now hiding in the Brazilian embassy. Leopoldo Lopez, another key opposition figure who broke house arrest to appear in yesterday’s video, went to the Spanish embassy. Guaidó’s whereabouts are unknown.

What did he expect to happen? Well, here’s the insanity of it folks. This was the “plan”:

1) The chief justice of Venezuela’s supreme court Maikel Moreno was supposed to declare “legally” that the Guaidó led legislature was the legitimate arm of the Venezuelan government. This is the point that Guaidó has made all along, that Maduro’s election is fraudulent and thus by the constitution Guaidó is the legitimate acting president.

2) Using this legal decision as his basis the Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez was then supposed to throw his weight behind the opposition and order the armed forces to shift their support to Guaidó. There are unconfirmed claims that other key regime figures such as the head of the domestic intelligence agency were also in on the plot.

3) It seems the key details of this plan were brokered between Guaidó, the coup plotters, and the US National Security Council. As in, John Bolton himself. We know this because Bolton laid out the plot itself in the last 24 hours, essentially explaining how the coup he engineered had failed. Bolton apparently still seems to think he’s a Fox News contributor and not a functioning government leader who should know when to keep his mouth shut.

4) What this means is the plan was never about soldiers fighting for Guaidó, or street demonstrators overthrowing the regime, but instead focused around what amounts to a palace coup where the main effort, the chances for any success, rested entirely on the personal decisions of hardcore Maduro regime loyalists.

That’s just about the dumbest plan I’ve heard all year. If that’s how this actually played out, then Bolton is an idiot. And Guaidó is either naïve, desperate, or stupid.

a) What would possess them to think that two of the most hardcore of Maduro loyalists in Moreno and Lopez were suddenly going to change hats, when their fortunes, their freedom, and perhaps their very lives depend on Maduro remaining on power?

b) Russia and Cuba have actual armed forces on the ground in Venezuela to support the regime. Their mission is to ensure the regime’s survival. For better or worse, the number of guns Bolton had on the ground is zero.

c) The Venezuelan armed forces and their paramilitary gangs have used live fire against unarmed civilians before. When this was always going to remain the case, and since Guaidó and Bolton essentially had zero guns of their own? So, … ???

Here is singular example of why one should not put their trust in the USA. Regardless of what political party happens to be in power, it’s not a wise bet. America’s enemies are serious. America is not. Bet on evil folks, it’s going to keep winning for a while.

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Keeps winning

human scum still alive

I prefer my evildoers to be comical or true believers. These are the bad guys one can get behind.

On the comical end of the spectrum are Bond villains, Indiana Jones Nazis, or say Maduro (a bumbling idiot of a former bus driver who hangs onto power because his vice president and generals are addicted to drug trafficking money). There was actually a Venezuelan propaganda video where Maduro was driving the slums talking up his record and in the background is a building with graffiti calling for his downfall. Not only does Maduro fail to notice this, but they were actually stupid enough to leave this in after editing. Now that’s a level of comical dumb I can get behind in my bad guys.

On the true believer end of the spectrum I like my villains to mean what they say. This provides the clearest indication for the rest of us as to how one can conduct their lives. For example, Hitler shot his own wife and himself rather than be taken. Dude was pure evil, probably mostly insane, but at least meant what he said. Or take the currently popular Thanos (I don’t watch these movies but it’s hard not to know what happens) who follows through on his evil plans all the way to the end, and on multiple occasions, dies to the bitter end for them.

Contrast this to bad guys who are total losers, they neither provide comic relief nor the pleasure of a true bad guy. For example, take Stalin, for all his crimes (more bodies than Hitler) what he essentially boils down to is a coward. Granted, we must take the story with a grain of salt as the tale is from his daughter (who had a mixed relationship with him at best) but at the very end Stalin apparently dies in bed but as a broken man full of fear in his eyes at the prospect of death. Hey man, I get it, nobody wants to die, I’d be scared too. But when you clock a body count in the tens-of-millions, you’d better have more of a gut when your time comes.

Or take another example with our current human scum of the day in Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who is apparently still alive after five years of war. For those who aren’t aware, ISIS is finished as a landholding organization. What remains is a true stateless terror cell. al-Baghdadi made his name calling for an apocalyptic vision of his false view of Islam where the end was near and the apocalypse would rebuild humanity in a new era, his world. I’m paraphrasing but that’s what this guy sold to the planet. It was this vision that brought tens-of-thousands of foreign fighters from across the globe to fight for ISIS.

But oh dear, oh so sorry folks, because I guess al-Baghdadi didn’t really mean it after all. Shocker. If al-Baghdadi really believed any of that, he’d be a corpse in Baghuz either dead by his own hand or any number of lethal means from the Syrian Defense Forces or their Western allies. Instead he’s slumming it up in some false tent / film set like a total loser. I mean, just look at this guy, he looks like a roadside panhandler. All he needs is a cardboard sign with third grade handwritten scrawling: “unemployed false prophet/jihadist – need money – homeless veteran – please help – God bless!”.

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It’s like bin Laden. For all that dude was and claimed to be, he died in a purpose built cult compound mansion surrounded by his PlayStation and his (ultra large) porn stash. What a total loser.

al-Baghdadi’s time is coming, it’s just a matter of when. But like bin Laden he’ll go out as a complete fraud. An evil man for sure, but one who was never comical, serious, or even competent. It’s a testament to the flaws of humanity that such pathetic creatures manage to mayhem as much as they do.

What’s the real lesson from al-Baghdadi’s brief, violent reign? That he was good at it? Or rather, as I believe, that his foes (the criminally incompetent Syrian and Iraqi governments) were just even more incompetent / fraudulent.