Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

THROUGH THICK AND THIN

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It’s funny how memory works. I got a housecoat for Christmas, the first I’ve had in decades at least. (And how did I get to an age where I can say “decades at least?”) Putting it on this morning I suddenly remembered as a child I had a red housecoat. And I used to wear it and pretend I was a Redcoat, a British colonial era soldier. Something I haven’t thought about since I was a kid, but the memory was still buried there waiting for something to trigger it. I think I read once that smell was the best sense for triggering old memories, and a quick Internoodle search confirms it.

Speaking of Redcoats, 141 years ago today, over 700 of them had a really bad day. The famous Battle of Isandlwana, where an army of Zulu warriors surprised and overwhelmed a British force of over 1,000 regular and colonial troops. Warriors armed as seen above, vs trained British troops with modern rifles and cannons. It was the worst defeat of British forces to an indigenous force in history, over 1300 dead. Basically the British had wildly underestimated the Zulu’s capabilities, and had split their invading forces into a number of columns. And this particular column was more or less a reserve force, commanded by a guy who had no real combat creds. Who had set up camp without any thought that it might come under attack. So when the Zulu main army was spotted a few miles away, they had little time to set up proper defences before 20,000 guys with spears and a bad attitude showed up. This defeat ended the first British invasion of the Zulu Kingdom. They shipped an even bigger army south for the second invasion, that did the trick. Whew, can’t have independent African Kingdoms, it might give people the wrong idea. Brown people that is.

A few days ago was the anniversary, well, two anniversaries of the sinking of two British submarines. K-13 sank on 19 January 1917 and K-5 on 20 January 1920. The K-class submarines were an ill starred design, a number of them sank by accident killing hundreds of sailors, none was lost due to enemy action. Basically the K-class were big submarines designed to keep up with the battle fleet, the idea at the time being that submarines would take part in major surface warship battles. It was a bad idea that never worked well in practice. The feature of these subs that really got my attention was that they were 103 meters long (huge for a submarines of the day) but their maximum safe underwater depth was 60 meters. In other words if they dived too steeply, their bow would be at crush depth while their stern was still at the surface. The astute reader can guess why so many were lost accidentally.

In my continuing adult education program, I went to see Andrew Yang speak last night. I was impressed, in fact I may get a MATH hat. I already hung a MATH sign in my window. MATH is Yang’s thing: Make America Think Harder. Can’t argue with that, thinking appears to be a lost art in America. He makes a big deal about making giant corporations pay their taxes, because it’s insane that Fortune 400 companies get away with not paying any taxes. And he points out that giving money to poor and working class Americans and cradle-to-grave health care would be tremendous stimulants to the whole economy, not just the economy of the rich, the economy Washington has been stimulating for decades.

One thing he pointed out that really made me think, is that life expectancy has been dropping in the USA the past three years. The last time life expectancy dropped in the USA was over 100 years ago during the 1918 global flu pandemic which killed over 500,000 Americans. And no, life expectancy continues to climb in the rest of the developed world, can’t blame a global epidemic for this one. And if Trump was really doing the bang up job he claims he is, how does he account for this? How do his supporters account for this? And if it’s not Trump’s fault, what is he going to do to fix it? Snort. I’m not holding my breath.

And speaking of global pandemics, the Chinese Coronavirus continues to spread. It’s not time to panic yet, but it is getting a little worrisome. The ugly truth is that letting people travel all over the planet willy nilly is a really bad idea, and sooner or later it means that the next global pandemic will be completely out of control before we can do anything about it. Another one for the “We’re not really an intelligent species” file.

There’s still all sorts of stuff going on in the Middle East, but that’s for another day. Comments and shares appreciated.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Zulu warriors in 1882. Credit: Unknown, Public Domain under US copyright law. It is from a book whose copyright has expired.)

Written by unitedcats

January 22, 2020 at 1:21 pm

Posted in Elections, History, Trump, War

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