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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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

ordinary, average, human experience

Boss tells you to do something. You do it. Boss comes back, apologies, and says they wanted something different. Boss walks away. Boss then comes back, and yells at everybody for doing it wrong in the first place. Boss then sends an inflammatory e-mail to all impacted colleagues demanding said product now and asking why it’s late.

I would gather for most, this is not an uncommon experience.

You know, in so many different ways, part of me wants to take us back to the stone age. Back then, things like this could be handled so much more simply. I could just challenge the boss to a fight to the death. Only the strong, wise, or guileful got to lead. Now, anybody can lead, and be permitted by society’s ‘rules’ to fail and fail again and lead for years and years thus increasing the overall misery of others without consequence.

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Give me back my drunken club fights!

“modern culture gives us the right to criminal stupidity,” claim parents of poor unvaccinated kiddies

You know the thing about the hierarchy of needs is once you take away the hardest ones of rent, food budget, Netflix, running water, booze, etc the list becomes pretty short.  Do you really need a doggy or a kitty?  No, but a lot of people do it because it feels good.

But also, the absence of any hierarchy gaps can get pretty destructive.  Do people really, really need to bathe in national politics as much as they do?  No, your local mayor is way, way more important to your daily life, but folks will swim all in the Mueller report today because they can afford to.  After all, it’s not like they’re worried about sleeping tonight without HVAC available.

And when the hierarchy is almost entirely addressed, I do believe modern culture also allows people to go down the path of the criminal insanity.  Circa 1437 you could die from just about anything.  The idea of a measles vaccine would have been the equivalent of planting a rocketship in your sheep pasture.

Yet because one goon scientist published a report that said MMR is bad for you (a report that’s now been completely and utterly disgraced) it’s spawned one of the most bizarre movements in modern human history.  It’s like these people want to take their hierarchy backwards.  Once, you could be vaccinated against an untimely death.  But who wants that?  You can just do without it!

So, I guess, you can also do without:

– Cleaning drinking water: There are chemicals in their tap water, they probably cause cancer, or autism.  Sure, billions of other folks on the planet have to drink filth water and they don’t.  But still, better safe than sorry.  Their best bet is to only drink water straight from a mountain stream.  Don’t filter it in advance either, those filters probably also cause cancer.

– Shelter: Death from exposure is underappreciated.

– Science: The anti-vaccine crowd seems to be an amalgamation of both wacko ends of the political spectrum.  And so: To the anti-vaccine left, what do you think science says about global warming?  And so: To the anti-vaccine right, what do you think science says about the ability for certain chemical reactions to induce explosions that kill ISIS terrorists?

– Polio vaccine: FDR didn’t get it.  And he’s considered one of the greatest people in human history.  What’s not to like?

– Cars, trains, buses, bikes, etc: Technology, progress, etc are things to be rejected, apparently.  So just to be safe everybody can/should only walk anywhere they need to go.  But this will be difficult to accomplish as since nobody has any vaccines their bones will be dust by age 27 ala Circa 341 BC.  But it’ll be worth it!

– Electricity: There was once a time in human history (say 4800 of the last 5000 years) where nighttime was so dark, so dangerous, so unproductive that humans had to live with the concept of “second sleep“.  Since electricity has been tied to any number of dangers, such as cancer, autism, mind control, appendicitis, night elves, high cholesterol, etc, we should break all our light bulbs and live by candlelight only.  But, so you know, candles also cause cancer.  Sorry.

– Clothing (of any kind): Cancer.

– Agriculture: Have they tried to live the life of a true hunter-gatherer?  If they haven’t, they’re missing out on all the fun of a grinding, unspeakable struggle where if they fail at even one day’s hunting and gathering, they’re finished.

– Blogging: Someone, please, help me!

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Sheltered enough to permit raw stupidity (poor, poor kiddies)

Notre-Dame matters and it doesn’t

Notre-Dame de Paris has stood for over eight hundred years.  During that time, Paris has been sacked, occupied, or bombed four times.  During the Hundred Years War, The Revolution, the Franco-Prussian War, and the Nazis.  Notre-Dame had rough moments, but essentially stood firm.  Now’s it’s gutted by flame.  What society and culture could accomplish and protect over eight centuries, we cannot.

In separate but unrelated news, the Washington Monument’s reopening was delayed until this August.  It was damaged in an earthquake in 2011 and has been mostly closed since.  It took America less than four years to win the Second World War.  It will take over twice that length of time to repair a single monument.

Here are two clear shining examples of the failures of modern society and government.  We have fancy little smartphones in our pockets, we can access all the knowledge of humanity, but we can’t seem to do anything right anymore.  This is more than just failed government, it’s society’s failure in general.

Does Notre-Dame even still matter?  I think like probably 13% of French attend church each week.  I wonder how many Americans beneath the age of 25 could write say one page about George Washington and why he’s important?

We’ve lost the big picture, we’re without purpose.  Notre-Dame defined a civilization.  The smartphone is ours: and it’s shallow, baseless, and ultimately nothing more than future environmentally damaging landfill.

In this sense, Notre-Dame matters because it reminds us of what we lost, and what we can no longer even protect.  But in another more dark sense, Notre-Dame doesn’t even matter.  Let it burn to the ground, and in the end sadly nothing about us is going to change.

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why does the planet always have amnesia?

I’ll not be seeing Captain Marvel, I just don’t care.  I can’t remember the last Marvel movie I saw.  I think it was Guardians 2?  Was that the one where Kurt Russell dressed as a cult leader?  I barely remember.  I’m so over faceless superhero movies.

What’s the big deal with Captain Marvel?  That we finally get a big sci-fi movie with a female lead?  Why does the planet always have amnesia?  It must be a biproduct of only knowing what a tweet tells you to think.

Hey remember Weaver in Aliens and Hamilton in Terminator?  If you don’t, go watch these movies again.  If you haven’t seen these movies, shame on you.  These actresses and these movies are awesome.  These movies are like decades old by now.

Having not seen Captain Marvel (a movie written by a faceless boardroom of suits), I know Aliens and Terminator are superior.  And that Weaver and Hamilton are better actresses.  So, whatever Disney, who cares.

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Damn I love those movies.  Maybe I’ll watch them again and review them for this degenerate blog?  Nobody wants this, so we’ll probably do it.