Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘World War One’ Category

HAPPY HOLIDAYS ETC

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The year end holiday season is upon us. This will be my last post until after the holidays barring some news event I feel compelled to blog about. Knock on wood, it would be nice to go a week or two without rending my garments. And in that vein of thinking, I wrote a list of garment rending topics to quickly touch on in this post. And now, after a beer and fondue party, I will attempt to expound on them. The cheese fondue course was followed by a chocolate fondue course, so I am feeling no pain on multiple levels.

Australian fires. Yes, Australia is on fire. Two sad truths here, the first being that outside of Antarctica, Australia is the continent least suited to western style civilization, and such is making it even less habitable. Jerrod Diamond is where I got this nugget, so likely lots of codicils. Still, people have been living there for forty thousand years or more, and never found anything better than hunting and gathering. (Which is actually an underrated lifestyle.) And now, all the fires. Welcome to global warming, sad truth number two, which is exacerbating and increasing the droughts and such that are exploding the drier parts of the world. In our lifetime global warming is going to make large portions of the planet essentially uninhabitable, but we can’t do anything about it because it would hurt the economy. Go figure.

Generational conflict. So, yeah, some people are blaming the boomers for the state of the world. I chatted with one today. Yeh, right. (As an aside, love the English language, where a double positive can be a negative.) Give me a break in other words. Saying the boomers made the world today is like saying people in the past made the world we live in. Hardly a new or helpful observation. The world we live in is a mess, but hardly because a single generation screwed it up. Divide and distract is what the people running the world want us to do, so welcome to generational conflict. It’s not the hyper-rich families and corporations who have been running the world for centuries who screwed us over, oh no. It’s our parents and grandparents! A suggested fun topic with family over holiday meals.

And speaking of crazy pointless controversy, Merry Christmas! Apparently it’s a sin now in some quarters to say anything other than “Merry Christmas.” News flash, Christianity doesn’t own the calendar. So no one is required to say “Merry Christmas!,” nor is Christianity insulted in some way if one says otherwise. And if someone does get their knickers in a twist because someone wished them happy holidays or what not, it’s their problem. People wishing other people a good time is a good thing, duh.

This faux controversy is just a sign that the times have changed. When I was a kid, Christmas was treated essentially as a universal. It was just assumed and promoted in a million movies and TV shows that Christmas was an integral part of America, and the fact that millions of Americans didn’t celebrate Christmas was simply ignored. And we’re talking white, Jesus centered, heteronormative Christmas to boot. And now a lot of people would rather not be obliged to celebrate, or they want to celebrate it in their own way. None of which affects Christians who want to celebrate Christmas in any way, but lots of them like to pretend it does. And thus the faux “War on Christmas” was invented. Myself, I try to be polite to people in public. It’s worked so far, I recommend it.

Lastly. The 1914 Christmas truce, image above. World War One started in August 1914, And by Christmas the western front (where Germany was fighting France and England) was a line of opposing trenches from Switzerland to the Atlantic Ocean. 440 mi (700 km,) millions of men facing each other in a bloody struggle that had already killed half a million. There had never been a war like it. And on Christmas day in numerous places on the opposing trench lines spontaneous cease fires broke out. In many cases just so the dead could be retrieved. In many cases though the soldiers fraternized, even famously playing a bit of informal soccer. One of those historical events that was long forgotten, now resurrected by the magic of the Interwebs. All dead now, such is history.

And shamed by this spontaneous outbreak of goodwill between enemies, the leaders of both sides sat down and negotiated a peaceful end to one of history’s stupidest conflicts. Snort. No, they issued orders making damn sure something like this didn’t happen again, and on subsequent Christmas days the slaughter continued unabated. Phew, close one.

Happy Holidays all, have a great week whatever you are doing or celebrating.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: World War One newspaper front page. Credit:The Daily Mirror. I guess they’re still around, but I believe this image is now Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

December 23, 2019 at 7:41 pm

IN FLANDERS FIELDS

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IN FLANDERS FIELDS

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

— John McCrae,1872 – 1918

So it’s Veterans Day in the USA, Remembrance Day or Armistice Day in Commonwealth countries. Armistice Day was the day Germany signed the armistice ending the First World War. Signed on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The Great War. The War to End All Wars. A war whose bloodshed was unprecedented in the developed world, millions died in the trench warfare on the western front between Germany and England/France. Celebrating the end of such a war, or any war, is a good thing.

It was originally Armistice Day in the USA as well. In 1926 Congress voted to establish Armistice Day to “perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations, a day dedicated to the cause of world peace.” Then in 1954 in a fit of jingoistic frenzy, Congress changed it to Veterans Day. A celebration of war, not peace.

Well, as a veteran, I choose to celebrate the day as a celebration of peace, not war. While I appreciate those who served, the fetishization of America’s military in support of our endless colonial wars I do not celebrate. America’s troops are not fighting to end war, they are fighting to create war profits. Hardly a thing to fight wars over, let alone celebrate. If American really wanted to celebrate its veterans, they would bring our soldiers home and end our destructive and self defeating overseas wars.

At least the veterans of World War One thought they were fighting for peace. All dead now, during the war or after. Their sacrifice was ultimately in vain, as the horrors of the Second World War eclipsed those of the first. And the wars go on.

God have mercy on us.

Poem written during World War One by Canadian Lt Col John McCrae, after presiding over the funeral of a friend killed in the Second Battle of Ypres. There’s actually a third stanza, but it’s unashamedly jingoistic so I chose not to reprint it.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A poppy field in Flanders. Credit: Unknown, used without permission, I got it from this site. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

November 11, 2019 at 2:49 am

BERNIE, WORLD WAR ONE, AMAZON FIRES, AND FORTIFIED SCHOOLS

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green-sky-c6f49480-4d18-4b7d-af26-65b5e91471f3

Maybe I should rename it Doug’s Cynical World. I do have hope for the species, in that I think extinction is unlikely. And there are good people in the world. And that’s about as far as it goes in modern America. I posted this story in my last post. People for the most part have no clue how easy it is to manipulate people. And with science being brought to bear (Yes, I have recommended this book before, read it and weep) on the issue, advertisers and political entities can shape people’s thoughts and even memories like never before. And few if any of these entities have the health, welfare, and betterment of humankind as their mission.

I did some volunteer work for the Bernie campaign, but I gave up on it. I like what he has to say, he has plenty of enthusiastic followers, but the same applied to Obama and Clinton. Both of whom moved the Dems even further away from their working class roots. And the Bernie campaign seems to be designed by coastal liberals, which means doomed to fail in the midwest. My current guess is that Bernie will be tapped for the VP slot, since the Dems have to have his followers if they want to ensure a victory over Trump. And then he can be safely sidelined, since the VP’s only job is to be a cheerleader for the POTUS. This assumes the DNC wants to win the 2020 election, which is far from clear to me.

105 years ago today the Battle of Tannenberg was raging. It was between Russia and Germany as Russia invaded Germany in the early days of World War One. It was an epic German victory, an entire Russian army was surrounded and destroyed with near 200,000 killed or captured. The German losses were trivial. Hindenburg was the big hero on the German side, going on to to play a big role in post war German politics. There is some doubt as to how much of the credit should go to him, but that’s a moot point by now. I mention it as an example of a crushing victory that was then overshadowed by subsequent battles, and pretty quickly all but forgotten. The Battle of Chancellorsville and the Battle of Stamford Bridge being two other good examples. Food for future blog posts.

World War One is officially history now by the way. About 65,000,000 served during the war, the last one died in 2012. The last one who saw combat in 2011. The last who served in the trenches in 2009. Tens of millions of people, locked in a life and death struggle. For many of them it was the defining event of their lives. For about ten million of them, it was the end of their lives. The War to End All Wars. And ultimately all for nothing, it was just the prelude to an even greater war. If that’s not depressing to think about, I don’t know what is.

In current world news, the Amazon basin is on fire. Well, Brazil’s new president did run on increasing agriculture and decreasing environmental protections. A politician who keeps his word, how did that happen? Oh, wait, a politician who keeps his promises to big business, never mind. It’s an environmental catastrophe, but at least it’s not depleting the world’s oxygen supply as many claim. I’d be upset, but that’s what they want. The whole freaking human race is an environmental catastrophe, this is just another float in the parade. There will be outrage for a week or two, then on to the next outrage. With both ruling parties of the US* determined to ignore environmental issues, nothing will be done until it’s way too late.

In America, schools are now being built with mass shootings in mind. My mind, formerly boggled, reels uncontrollably. We have failed as a people. On the plus side, 10,000 years and three dark ages from now, archeologists studying the ruins of early 21st century America will discover we started fortifying our schools about 2020. It will be the enigma of the age, numerous theories, each more clever than the last, will endeavour to explain why we did so. None will even come close to the truth. Our culture is sick.

Here in Iowa, fall is in the air. Some say it’s going to be a bad winter. Iowans complain about how cold their winters are a lot. Not sure why, it’s basically a Southern Ontario winter. IE the tropics of snowy winters. I’ll survive it, or not. If the former, more blogging! I really am working on the second installment of ‘Falling.’ If not, well, as Mark Twain said:

“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”

Have a great weekend everyone!

*No need for a link about Trump, who has abandoned all efforts to mitigate Global Warming and is rolling back environmental protections wherever he can.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Green Sky. Reminds me of an alternate reality I briefly visited once. Credit: Arnaud M. Used without permission, but he’s not a professional, and from what I can find he just wants people to share and enjoy his work.)

Written by unitedcats

August 30, 2019 at 2:43 am