“to see more clearly to the end of the business”

242 years ago 56 men signed a document that made them traitors.  This incredibly brave and reckless act changed humanity.  We take their ultimate success as a fact of history.  For them it was far less certain.  Not all of them lived.  All of them suffered.  All of them fought.  And victory was ultimately theirs.

If I can manage to remember, every year we’ll take a look at one of these men and reflect upon their lives.

Thomas McKean – Delaware

Son of a tavern keeper whose parents immigrated from Northern Ireland.  He was a lawyer at age 21 and already on the move.  Like many of his contemporaries he bridged the gap between the law and politics.  In many cases he held jobs in both camps at the same time.

County attorney general, general assembly representative, judge, and ultimately assembly speaker were just some of the titles he held.  He married at 32 and spent ten years with Mary and had six children with her until her early death.

Often forgotten is that the Revolution was as much as civil war as anything else.  McKean was a member of the pro-independence faction of Delaware and spent many years prior to 1776 in the political fencing act with his neighbors who were pro-British.  He remarried in 1774 to Sarah and had four more children.  I would gather he ultimately had a hard time remembering his grandchildren’s names.

As early as 1765 he is already an openly active member of political organizations dedicated to resisting the power of the British crown.  During the crucial years came in 1774-1776 he’s one of the most fervent speakers pushing for Independence.

Immediately after his 1776 Independence vote at Congress he assumed command as colonel of a regiment of militia.  And so bizarrely it’s believed he didn’t actually sign the Declaration in 1776.  It’s thought he signed it many years later as one of the original voting members was permitted to do so.

He spends most of the war in Congress and is it’s leader at the time of the surrender at Yorktown.  He also began service as chief justice of Pennsylvania in 1777 and would hold that title for twenty years.  Apparently back then you could be the ranking judge of one state, represent another in Congress, and lead Congress, all at the same time.  I don’t think any of our jobs are hard by comparison.

He played a key role in the subsequent creation and signing of the Constitution.  By 1799 he settles down for the rest of his life not in Delaware but Pennsylvania and serves three terms as governor there.  He had a rocky time as state boss.

He seems to have had such a fervent view of things that he frequently quarreled even with friends and was known for his temper.  Yet maybe that was what was needed during those chaotic times of change?

John Adams said of him: “one of the three men in the Continental Congress who appeared to me to see more clearly to the end of the business than any others in the body.”

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Hostiles & Fort Apache – and how to properly capture misery on screen

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Misery seems to be the trend lately with just about anything you can watch on screen.  We’ve written about this a lot lately, including just a few days ago.  It’s everywhere.

Take two movies I watched on my last plane flight.  First off, The Last Jedi.  I remember Star Wars growing up, I loved it.  What fun.  So did we really need a Star Wars movie where Luke was sad, tired, and depressed?  Where Solo is a corpse?  Where all the other main characters are confused, angry, etc, etc?  Forget all the plot controversy, it was just an unhappy movie to watch.

The other airplane flick I caught was Hostiles.  This Western had a reputation as violent and covered with despair.  It was certainly that, the opening scene involves the murder of three children including an infant.

Overall, I didn’t hate Hostiles, I kind of enjoyed it.  But it’s not a great movie.  Why?  Because other than the awfulness, I’m not really sure what the movie was trying to do.  At the end of the movie I was asking myself: “What was the point of all that?”

Instead of running my mouth and complaining about all this malaise and darkness in our entertainment again, I’m instead going to contrast Hostiles with another dark movie in Fort Apache.

Granted, this is unfair.  Hostiles has some top name actors but they’re not legendary.  It’s directed by some random guy.  Fort Apache has two screen legends and probably the guy in the top three of directors all time.  It’s like comparing a rabid panther against a duck in a cage match.  But bear with me, because there are a lot of similarities between these movies.

They’re both traditional Westerns that focus upon the Army, specifically the cavalry.  Both have humanized and sympathetic portrayals of the American Indians.  Each has a substantial number of the main cast die on screen.  And they end with an intent that you reflect upon the misery you’ve just watched.

I’m going to focus on the endings of these movies because otherwise this post would be sixteen pages long.

Hostiles ends with Christian Bale’s character burying Wes Studi in his native land.  Then a stereotypical gang of racists comes up and demands Bale dig up Studi’s corpse.  A gunfight ensues in which everybody dies except Rosamund Pike, Studi’s grandson, and Bale.  Pike and her now adopted son go to Chicago, Bale is going to walk away, but ultimately gets on the train with them as it pulls out.  Roll credits.

Fort Apache ends with Henry Fonda getting most of his regiment wiped out in a foolhardy battle worthy of Custer.  John Wayne actually wants to duel his regimental commander at one point to stop it.  Then Wayne and Miguel Inclan (playing the Apache warlord Cochise) have a poignant conversation about the situation.  Cochise lets Wayne and his remaining soldiers live.  We end with Wayne now the regimental commander and when confronted with the myth of Fonda’s last stand by reporters, Wayne lets the myth live.  As in, Wayne lies.  Roll credits.

So what was the point of Hostiles?  Well, I think what they were going for is at the beginning of the movie Bale hates Studi and only his orders are keeping him from murdering Studi straight up.  Yet by the end of the movie Bale is willing to shoot his own kind to defend Studi’s grave.

Okay, got it.  But the problem is that’s all there is going on.  In the meantime there is the aforementioned on screen murder of three children, three women are raped (off screen), numerous very bloody battles, and the final scene in which pretty much everybody dies horribly.

So if all Hostiles has is Bale simply learns not to hate at least one Indian and his family, then what exactly was the point of all the murder, rape, violence, gore, etc?  Was it to set the scene and mood?  Was it to provide the action and shock that the writers and director seem to think a modern movie demands?  You could have told the story of Hostiles with maybe only one or two people gunned down.

That they didn’t do this means that any character progression in Bale, that he ends up a better person, is simply just lost amidst the gore, the awfulness, the constant death.  It’s why as the viewer I had to actually think about what the point of the movie was afterwards.  Because in the moment all you can feel is the violence shoved right in your face for two hours.

Contrast all of this with Fort Apache.  At it’s heart this movie is a study of Fonda’s character.  It’s about how an otherwise decent, hardworking man can be consumed by arrogance, racism, and narcissism that leads to the unforgivable sin where a military commander loses most of his men in a battle that need not ever have been fought.

It gets even worse with Wayne.  Wayne ends the movie by perpetuating the myth that Fonda’s actions were right, just, and glorious.  Then Wayne takes his regiment and leads them on the attack against the Apache.  All the moments Wayne had where he conversed with Cochise, where he knew Fonda was wrong are blown away by the simple act: Wayne is going to do his duty.

And thus you see the point of Fort Apache is the great wheel that was the Indian wars of the American West.  Everybody gets ground down in what in the end was a series of savage endless wars that lasted decades.  Decent guys in Wayne, Fonda, and Cochise trying to do the right thing, their duty, leads to death where alternatives were still available.  It’s brutal to consider.

Fort Apache accomplishes all of this without a single gory murder, rape, or scene where Wayne and/or Fonda are shown in some kind of vicious traumatic rage, or hatred, or crying or screaming like crazy people, all things in Hostiles repeatedly.  Yeah, this is a movie made in 1948 so of course it’s tamer, but the point remains valid.

I think television and movies are going down two trends.  The idea is that a tale must be an adventure theme park ride or it must shock you.  In both cases, the plot is a side concern.

The Jurassic movie recently came out.  I’m sure that film will make over $1B.  It has a plot that probably makes no sense, but that doesn’t matter.  People see this movie because it’s a theme park ride where dinosaurs eat people.

Where Hostiles could have really taken it’s time with a thick plot full of thought and motives, it instead spends most of its on screen time in the shock category.  And thus, its message gets lost in the darkness.

I don’t need all my entertainment to make me happy.  Dark movies have their important place.  But give me the Fort Apache kind any day.  That’s the way to do it.

it’s time to celebrate, unless you’re a broken egg

Great news everybody, celebration is in order.  For yesterday was the 200th birthday of one of history’s greatest thinkers.  But did Marx understand what his ideas would bring about?  That his philosophy would spawn history’s greatest monsters?

All throughout his writings Marx makes it pretty clear what he had in mind.  He certainly got the bloodbath, it just didn’t come with his expected results.  Because basically Marx (lauded as he is) didn’t understand the essentials of human nature.  One of which is: When you give one man, any one man unlimited power, regardless of motivation, the end stage is evil.

For all the people who are ready to shout ‘Nazi’ at Trump, it’s always astounded me that the same argument isn’t made on the Communist side.  As we’ve previously written, the death of Castro was a particular note.

I stand by every word of this:

Castro goes into my column as the consummate example of a guy who pours honey potion into your ear while he rams a stiletto dagger into your kidney.  The dude’s appeal to the bulk of humanity was all talk.  Castro talked a good game of social justice and equality.  Then he turned around and enriched his own personal elite and destroyed his country.  Depending on how you count, thousands or tens-of-thousands of Cubans were executed during his reign.  Tens-of-thousands more died at sea fleeing his utopia.  Also depending on how you count, perhaps 10-20% of Cubans left during the last five decades.  The equivalent number is if around 30 million Americans felt the country was so bad they moved to Canada, with the understanding that say two million would die during the journey.

The end result of Marx to me is not the idea of social justice or class struggle.  It’s the idea that humans can do just about anything to their fellow humans provided they use social justice as the justification of their cause.  That’s the great evil of Marx.  You can liquidate a few million fellow humans, but as long as your end goals were supposedly noble, folks will let you get away with it and apologize for your actions.  That’s an interesting construct, unless you’re one of the broken eggs.

Marx was a pretty smart guy with a lot of interesting ideas.  But, ultimately he didn’t understand the end game of his ideas.  You can have whatever motivation you want, but when all you do is place all power into the hands of the few, and then provide them with the false moral cover of utopian progress, there is no limit on how cruel and ultimately evil a person can get.  It’s why history’s two greatest serial killers are Stalin and Mao, and Hitler doesn’t even come close to their number of murders.

Marx wasn’t alive when all this happened.  So you can possibly give him a pass for what subsequently occurred.  He wasn’t around to potentially call bullshit to evil men who perverted his ideas and basically used them to do the same evil deeds as one would have seen from an 11th Century Khan.  But still, ideas are ideas and they have power.  Marx, and history, have to own up to what his ideas meant to the course of human history.  Not to blindly celebrate them without deep thought as to the terror they wrought.

This guy.

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we don’t delve into the mind of a madman while we help you plan your child’s upcoming birthday party

If you pulled six screaming children and two single supermodels from a burning car tonight while your own clothes were on fire, you’d still be less famous than the twisted scum that murdered more than 60 people yesterday.  This is what he wanted.  He wanted fame.  And yet folks are all about it.  He’s got that fame.  He wins.

Folks are all into getting inside the brain of this piece of filth.  What was his motive?  His reasons?  But if you remember back in 2015 when the psychotic German pilot also committed an act of mass murder via his airplane?  I wrote this.  I stand by every word I said.

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What was his motive?  Who cares.  He was evil.  That’s all that matters.  Fuck him.

But hey, just relax folks.  It’s all good.  You should just relax, because you have no choice.  No matter how you feel about guns or gun control or politics?  Your opinions, desires, etc, are all irrelevant.  You can either hide under a pile of coats or just live your life and hope you don’t get struck by lightening.

No politician or leader anywhere from either dysfunctional political party has any idea how to stop any of this from happening again.

If you are anti-gun:  Well, there are hundreds-of-millions of firearms on America’s streets today.  Even if you ban every gun purchase from tomorrow morning it won’t change anything.  Even the most fervent anti-gun types aren’t preaching confiscation as that’s too extreme.

If you are pro-gun: Well, I guess we are at the point where you need your own personal main battle tank.  For even if you were in Vegas carrying your own slung assault rifle at the concert, you were still out-gunned and out-positioned before the first shot was fired.

It might take half-a-century for America to come to grips with all this gun stuff, one way or the other.  In the meantime, you’re just a potential victim on your stroll through the park on a sunny day.

But hey, we at TAP are here to help.  So we created this handy diagram to help you intellectually plan how your kid’s birthday party should play out.  Please bear with us as we explain in detail how this is going to work:

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1) Family Picnic Area: Where you, your kids, friends, their kids, and other happy people eat a tasty home cooked potluck meal.

2) Emergency Dugout: When the shooting starts, this pre-dug four foot trench will serve as the bailout point for all individuals.  You’ll need to run drills at the start of the party with all participants.  It’s best to get in the face of the kids during these drills to ensure they know you mean business and you can properly simulate the stress and terror they’ll endure once the first person is struck by gunfire.

3) Bathrooms: You’ll need more than one bathroom, because all those kiddies will need lots of relief time after drinking that tasty sugary party punch.

4) Sandbag Bunker Sentries: You need to make friends with some folks who are heavily armed in their own right.  Become friends with cops, current or former military members, or former unemployed African mercenaries.  If you can’t become friends, you can hire a moonlight off duty police officer.  They set up shop in overwatch behind the sandbags and are thus in a position to immediately return sustained and disciplined fire against any threat.

5) Face Painting Booth: The little ones sure do love the colors and designs that expert painters apply to their faces.  I’m told boys want to be Groot and the girls a happy butterfly.

6) Counter Sniper Position: As we’ve seen demonstrated in Vegas and the south of France, the nutcases and terrorists are becoming ever more sophisticated in their attack methods.  Not even solid Bunker Sentry positions are enough to protect you.  You’ll also need to hire a trained sniper wielding a large frame rifle capable of disabling shooters at extreme distances, or disabling vehicles up to the size of a small delivery van or truck that’s being used to run over people en masse.

7) Baby Animal Petting Zoo: Nothing says fun like petting a baby lemur that’s half asleep.  Oh man, look at how closed the baby lemur’s eyes are.  He’s barely half awake even when you pet him.  Cute little dude.

8) Prepositioned Mass Casualty Aid Station: Let’s face it, even the best of well laid wartime plans go wrong.  You could have your fighting positions manned by Rambo and John McClain, but casualties are still going to occur.  So you’ll need an aid station on site that can treat the wounded while the police take 27 minutes to clear the shooter(s) and the medevac helicopter(s) can arrive.  It’s best to man this point with an experienced mass trauma surgeon.  Again, make friends with one if you can to keep your costs down.  Otherwise hire one off duty on a moonlight gig.

9) Clown Show: [insert joke here]

Enjoy the party!

Turkey – Ephesus

In 262 AD, having already raided large portions of Asia Minor, a Goth force descended upon Ephesus. Outnumbered (and by this point probably also outclassed) the Roman military was unable to offer any substantial opposition. The Goths sacked Ephesus and burned the Temple of Artemis to the ground. One of the Seven Wonders of the World ceased to exist alongside many other major structures within the city. It’s likely that a substantial portion of the population was killed, scattered, or enslaved. Ephesus never recovered.

It is as if aliens descended upon Europe tomorrow and sailed up the Thames or Seine to gut Paris or London alongside millions of people and all their major landmarks. Only in Aleppo could you find a rough template today to compare this to. Except that with Ephesus it was a factor of time. It has taken five years to lay waste to Aleppo, it’s people, and its historical landmarks. It probably only took a few days to burn Ephesus. All that’s left now is broken stone, rubble, and a ghost of what was once one of the major cities on Earth.

Trees grow on bare grass that was the ground floor of some rich trader’s mansion. The fallen columns of one of the greatest architectural masterpieces ever made were ground down for plaster to make lesser buildings. The written knowledge and cultural history of one of the great cities of history is so completely destroyed, so burned, so reduced to waste that it’s actually disputed which year (not which day or month) Ephesus was attacked by the Goths.

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When you go back and look at places such as Ephesus I’m inclined to divide the history of the human race into two geographic categories. You either live in a town, city, or country that has been a doormat of history or you do not. Those that caught the doormat category, even to this day, have to overcome the problems that trace their roots back thousands of years.

Despite turmoil, wars, and bombing raids, London was completely destroyed only once in 60 AD by Boudica during her revolt. Paris has never been razed to the ground. Depending on how you count, Ephesus was demolished at least seven times over thousands of years. It’s hard to build a long standing, secure culture, language, commerce, and politics when somebody shows up once every few hundred years and devastates it all. I think this goes a long way to explain why Britain and France are relatively stable democracies while Turkey’s still attempting to discover its identity.

London had the Celts, Romans, Saxons, a few Vikings, even fewer Normans, all eventually melded into English. Ephesus by contrast had to deal with this journey through history:

Arzawans

Hittites

Mycenaean / Ionians

Cimmerians

Greeks

Persians

Macedonians / Seleucids

Romans

Byzantines

Arabs

Seljuk

Ottomans

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Good luck trying to wrap your brains around how all that is supposed to create a stable safe place to live for multiple generations. Sometimes a sustained melding of cultures can create a truly special blend of humanity that enriches a people. Think of the unique joining of Moorish and Christian that Spain traces its roots. But other times there is no blending, there’s just history’s great eraser that does away with the old, and sometimes never replaces it with the new.

Kemal Atatürk’s vision was that history would be undone, his country remade. He wanted to wipe away the chaos described above. Turkey would be reborn into something new. Whereas religion was the one great binding principle, Turkey would become an ultra-secular state. The Turks would even get a brand new alphabet. What people could and would wear would be dictated. Those who lived in Turkey would become singularly Turkish, one way or the other. The Kurds were oppressed and the Armenians simply liquidated.

In retrospect, it seems clear that this was never going to work. It relied entirely on the personality of one man, and the ability of those with guns to enforce it. Whenever things got out of hand the army would simply step in to preserve Ataturk’s legacy. Turkey suffered more coups than most African states. If the planet’s last hundred years or so have shown anything, it’s that you cannot build long term prosperity in a country where the chief method of civil institution is violence. Eventually things come off the rails. But in the interim, folks can generally muddle through.

So in this sense, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s rule is actually the direct successor to Atatürk’s legacy. In that he’s running the show simply because he controls the most guns. The recent coup, while dramatic and bloody, never had widespread military support. Erdoğan controls the army, so he controls Turkey.

Modern democracy and prosperity require many civil institutions that were built up over centuries such as freedom of speech, rule of law, freedom of the press, and so on. How exactly would these have emerged in Ephesus when every once and a while every civil institution was doused in flames?

I’ll roughly wrap up this line of thinking, because I want to talk about Ephesus’s golden age, by saying I’m not optimistic about Turkey’s immediate future.

In the short term it’s the Erdoğan Show. This week he submitted to parliament constitutional amendments to give him unchecked executive level powers. He will get them. He will get them because he wants to be Sultan and Atatürk II. He will get them because he controls the guns. And the guns control the voting, education, media, and just about every other aspect of Turkish civil society. The Erdoğan Show will continue until he dies. After that, what?

It just depends. Sometimes a country can right itself after incompetent one man rule departs. But even if everybody realizes the nightmare was indeed a nightmare, it’s hard to fix things. Just look at what Venezuela, another broken democracy, is going through even though Hugo Chávez is long since dead. Even if Turkey’s ultimate future is bright, I think Erdoğan will ultimately set back progress by fifty years. What comes after that, is up to Turkey’s people.

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The ruins of Ephesus are at the foot of Selçuk, the modern Turkish town. In ancient times Ephesus was on the Aegean Sea. But over the centuries the Cayster River silted up and now the entire area is several miles inland. If one takes a more nuanced view of history than I describe above, you can simply make the argument that Ephesus died out once it lost access to the Aegean and was no longer able to serve as a major port.

A good first stop is the ruins of the Temple of Artemis which are a few hundred meters from Selcuk. What little is left is among the oldest of the places available for visitation. The temple underwent three phases. The Bronze Age shrine might be among the oldest on the planet. This original temple was lost to floods in the 7th Century BC and was replaced by the more recognizable Greek columned temple around 550 BC. In 356 BC a true fringe lunatic of a man burned it down. Starting in 323 BC it was slowly rebuilt to the final recognizable structure.

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Ruins of the Temple of Artemis looking northeast with Selçuk in the background. The single freestanding column is rebuilt from various wreckage they found. Imagine the size of the temple by contemplating a structure that fully filled the entirety of the basin in this photo with 127 total columns. Note the Ionic fluting on the fallen column blocks. Also see in the front of the shot the square holes cut into the eroded column blocks. Each column had a wooden centerpiece which they stacked column blocks through as they built up the height, in the case of Artemis, 60 feet high. The blocks were then fitted, sanded down, fluted, and decorated to give the column a single cohesive look meant to last for thousands of years. The problem with ancient Greek temples was they required wooden roof beams to support the marble tiles that typically sat atop. The intricate concrete roof construction one sees in say the Pantheon didn’t exist yet. This left most ancient Greek temples very vulnerable to fire, despite their stone base and columns. This was the cause of many Greek temples losses, as of course with Artemis as well.

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One of the many maps of Ancient Ephesus. To the left you can see the bulge emerging from the west of what was once the harbor inlet from the Cayster River that lead to the Aegean. The Temple of Artemis and Selçuk are off to the northeast. Note the extent of the city walls. Depending on how you count, Ephesus surely had over one-hundred-thousand citizens. Always a major city state during the Hellenic eras, it reached its cultural, economic, and political heights during Roman rule. For reference in subsequent photos, the Library of Celsus is #20. The Great Theater is #25. Harbor Street is #26.

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The Library of Celsus. A couple of things to keep in mind as you look at this. First, the façade is a complete reconstruction. Second, look back at the map. As impressive as the library is, it’s one of the smallest buildings that once called Ephesus home. Despite the building’s small size, the library was among the largest of the ancient world housing over ten-thousand scrolls. The interior was burned out by the Goth attack, the façade collapsed centuries later. How much more would we know of the ancient world if at least some portion of the library’s content had survived? Completed in 120 AD by a son to honor his father, both of whom where Roman counsels, it’s a structure that mirrored both its Greek and Roman roots.

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Grand Theater of Ephesus. Likely the largest theater in the ancient world, it could hold a crowd of 25,000 people. Greek theater was probably performed through its history and in the later Roman years people died there for the amusement of their fellow humans. I can’t begin to describe to you, but hope to loosely capture in pictures, just how big this place is. It rivals modern stadiums in its size and scale.

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From the Grand Theater seats looking west down Harbor Street. This must have been quite the view with all the buildings and the ships back in the day. The inlet to the Aegean and the Harbor Gate would have been at the end of this road.

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Backstage of the Grand Theater.

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Harbor Street. Not much is left, and so your brain is left to imagine what it would have looked like. All the way down to the harbor and the ships. The tens-of-thousands of people who walked this street and lived out their lives.

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ordinary average German citizen attains bestseller status

Can book royalties cross over to the next realm and enrich a person within Valhalla? If so, I’m not sure how this would play out. First off, I assume (I hope) that Hitler’s purpose in Valhalla is for archery practice. When he showed up on 01 May 1945 I figure the Jarls took one look at him and were like, “Ah, welcome friend, we’ve been expecting you for some time.” And Hitler smiles all sheepishly, hoping these weird next life dudes don’t really know who he is. But then four drunk thugs step up and grab him and he realizes he’s done. At this point he starts to whine like a little chipmunk, “Nein. Nein!”. They take him to the range and strap him to a post. Every day drunk thugs practice their bow skills on Hitler. He’s doomed for an eternity to die, be reborn, and die again each day. So if book royalty checks do show up, they’d probably just take the money and buy more mead with it. Hitler never sees a mark.

For those who were unaware, the copyright held by Bavaria on Mein Kampf expired last year. So folks could publish the book again. There was serious discussion about passing a law or twisting it to prohibit further publication of the book. Thankfully this didn’t happen and the book’s on the street again. To me, history should be in people’s faces. So I’m glad they let it publish again. Let Hitler’s book sit in open view. Folks should read it (somewhat) and learn. History can’t benefit humanity when we sweep it under the rug. There are important lessons to be learned. In the case of Mein Kampf, one of the most clear is that men generally tend to mean what they say repeatedly.

Regular readers of this degenerate blog know I sure do hate the mass destruction wielded upon people by the haters for even the most minor of perceived slights. But trends become trends over time. When Sultan Erdogan said over a decade ago, “Democracy is like a train, you get off once you have reached your destination,” it would appear he meant every bit of it. There is nothing Hitler put out post 1933 that he didn’t originally write down in Mein Kampf. His distain of and future overthrow of parliamentary democracy, his intent to lay waste to Russia and the Slavs, his hatred of the Jews, it’s all in there.

For example, take these very specific passages:

“…the nationalization of our masses will succeed only when, aside from all the positive struggle for the soul of our people, their international poisoners are exterminated…”

“If at the beginning of the war and during the war twelve or fifteen thousand of these Hebrew corrupters of the nation had been subjected to poison gas…”

Not much subtlety there. Hmm, I wonder what he hand in mind? It’s important to remember that at the time Germany was (and still is) a pinnacle of modern culture and technology. Germans were not dumb people. So in my mind a few things happened here:

1) They didn’t read his book

2) They read his book and didn’t think he was serious

3) They figured he wrote the book in 1926, and it’s 1933, so he’s hopefully a changed man

4) They didn’t care one way or the other, they wanted a winner to restore Germany from the gutter

All of these views were mistakes. And thus, we eventually get Hitler’s, “You, gentlemen, are no longer needed…”. And the journey was on from that point. It took twelve years to resolve the forces of that conflict. The roots of it began well before Hitler published his book, and in many ways he was just a catalyst. But also in many ways he was an extremely unique and powerful man. One wonders what would have happened to Germany and Europe had history’s fate not cursed the landscape with somebody so evil, so perverted, and yet so talented in the ways of organization and persuasive leadership.

* Because tis the inauguration season, and I hate all humanity, I’ll just throw out the caveat that nothing I’ve written above is meant to apply to Trump. That’s an entirely different situation. History has many of the same notes, but it’s a different sheet of music. Maybe I’ll write more about this later, but suffice to say, America has a far more mature and robust constitutional system than post World War One Germany, a country that had only experimented with democracy for about a decade before Hitler tore it down.

There’s a lot of the purging of history lately. A lot of smart people didn’t want Mein Kampf republished. Folks want to take former slave owners statues off the American street. I’m sure eventually somebody’s going to get around to fully censoring entire books from the school system because they offend four or five folks down by the Sizzler.

But to me, I applaud that Mein Kampf is out there. I’m glad it’s a bestseller. I want all humanity to read, learn, and remember history’s lessons. I want a former slave owner governor’s statue to sit right there. So that when a young kid asks his Dad who that statue guy is, the Dad can be like, “Well, he used to be the governor, he did some neat things, but he also owned slaves and didn’t free them so he was an asshole.” And then the son and Dad have a further good discussion about history.

manipulation and that guy’s castle

The new gig requires me to commute via train for the first time in over a decade. I suppose I’ll write more about this later, but given yesterday’s delays now’s not a good time. But lately on almost every train car wall or station ad booth are these new posters for the upcoming season of The Man in the High Castle. This is the second season of the Amazon show that I’ve heard is quite good. I’ve not yet swallowed the pill and donated my psyche to Amazon Prime so I haven’t seen it yet. It’s on my list though.

Here is an example of one of the rarer posters they’re using:

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I use the term rare, but I’d say north of 80% of them are this other poster:

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I may have a demented brain but the first thought I had when I saw this poster for the first time was the guy behind this marketing campaign is a genius. I want to conscript his talents to solve some of my more pressing life’s problems, like how to get my dryer to function more efficiently. For you see, I’m entirely certain that the 60 million Americans who voted for Hilary upon viewing this poster are going to immediately associate this visual concept with Trump.

You’ve got New York, you’ve got Nazis, you’ve got a motto about changing the future, and no other extraneous information presented to contradict this initial impression. For example, they could have shown an Imperial Japanese guy in the lower left corner too, but that would take away from the implicit message. Also, if you look very closely as I did this morning, there is a man in Lady Liberty’s head. Face-to-face with this poster, I swear it looks about as close to Trump’s face as they could make it without it being overt.

Again, I haven’t seen this show, but I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with Trump or anything related to the election. But advertising is about impressions. Once those 60 million folks decide to go check out what The Man in the High Castle is, at least some portion of them will decide to stick around and actually watch the show. I wonder how many of them will also realize that in doing so, they were being skillfully played by the Giant Octopus in Amazon.

Manipulation is a creepy thing. I’d like to think I’m not paranoid, but perhaps I am. Or perhaps I’m just insane. Or both. Every news article I read, or ad I see, or whatever, I’m constantly asking myself what the hidden message is. Because like it or not, impartiality doesn’t exist, if it ever did. Somebody wants you to do something or think a certain way for their own (or their cause’s) benefit. Free person that you are, you have to be watchful.

As another example, I’m sure most of you saw this news and social media push of the Santa who had a young boy die in his arms. What a heart tearing story for the Christmas season. Well, it turns out that it probably wasn’t true. But if you’ll remember, this was front page news earlier in the week. On only in a few places will you find the retraction. So a whole ton of people who read and believed, are never going to find out that they were played by this maniac.  I only found out it was fake because I read Deadspin for NFL purposes and this was on the margin.

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Unrelated photo of manipulator

Hey speaking of Nazis and manipulation, also in the news today was that Austria has decided to forcefully procure Hitler’s birthplace.

I guess there’s a lot of history behind this place and the lady who owns it. But for years it seems the Austrian government was paying her straight cash in an effort to prevent various modern Nazi groups from renting it to hold séances with Hitler’s ghost. So now Austria will seize it, buy out this lady, and do something with it. I’m sure they’ll either blow it up or turn it into a memorial for all of Hitler’s victims. Either option works for me, I guess. I mean, it’s just a building. It’s not actually Hitler, so who cares?

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If you ask me, let’s manipulate the shit out of this place. Oh, the modern Nazis want to use it for their rally? How about we let them. The following manipulation shall occur in designated order:

1) The Austrian government announces the property has been purchased by an obscure billionaire known only as Herr Schmidt.

2) Herr Schmidt announces on clandestine Nazi message boards that he actually worships Hitler and the property is thus now open for visits by the faithful.

3) Special keys are handed out via covert mail for those diehard Nazis who wish to visit. They are provided instructions on how to access the property.

4) When they get inside the house, various patriotic Nazi signs direct the acolytes to the special room. For example, they could just repurpose the High Castle poster with Lady Liberty. And various signs reading, “This way to worship our Fuhrer.”

5) And they all get inside the special room, and it turns out it’s just a place with a bunch of chain guns.

6) We get robots to clean up the room.

7) Repeat as required, until no longer required.

And thus, the world would be rid of the extremely small portion of humanity who are so worthless that they still believe in a Nazi message that was destroyed 70 years ago. So let’s give the Nazis what they want, and we’ll just use the house for this other purpose. It’s win-win.

The dude in the castle is not Hitler or Trump or fake Santa whatever, it’s Herr Schmidt. We are Herr Schmidt. We carry on the legacy of the war 70 years ago that made sure The Man in the High Castle concept never happened.