Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘World War Two’ Category

“THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES” PLUS THE 2021 NONSENSE CONTINUES

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I saw a classic movie the other night: “The Best Years of Our Lives” It was a 1946 movie about three servicemen returning from World War Two and the difficulties they had re-adjusting to civilian life. Surprisingly, to me at least, it was quite watchable. I find it fascinating how some old movies become pretty much unwatchable after even a few decades, while others become timeless classics. Partly personal preference I am sure, but I am sure there are other factors at play. It was also interesting in that the movie took a very honest look at what we now call PTSD, these three veterans had serious issues. I’m sort of stuck on the idea that prior to 1980 or so most movies portrayed an idealised “Father Knows Best” view of American culture, so it was refreshing to see one with a more honest take. Unfortunately they all worked out their problems in the end and lived happily ever after, which is a far cry from the realities of PTSD.

Still, a movie I really enjoyed. As did the people at the time, it was a wildly popular movie, and won nine academy awards. Including the first time a non professional actor won an academy award, Harold Russel; and the only time a performer won two awards for the same performance, Harold Russell again. I guess it’s a good thing that a movie about people dealing with personal demons was so popular, even if the demons were unrealistically vanquished. It’s Hollywood, happy endings are what they are all about. Hey, even I, who recently lost all faith in humanity, liked it.

In politics: The utter ridiculousness of calls for Joe Biden to resign. It really is transcendentally absurd. 13 Americans die, and the GOP falls all over themselves claiming Biden is unfit to lead and should resign. Were there calls for Roosevelt to resign after Pearl Harbor? Reagan to resign after the Beirut Barracks bombing? Trump after Covid killed hundreds of thousands of Americans? Bush to resign after 9/11? Maybe, but not by mainstream leaders of the opposition party. This really shows just how out of touch with reality the GOP has gotten, because they refuse to accept Biden as the elected president, that somehow that translates into he’s unfit to lead. Give me a break. And whatever criticism one wants to aim at Biden, he successfully pulled off one of the greatest airborne evacuations in history, over 150,000 people evacuated in two weeks.

Not surprising, manufactured outrage is all the GOP has. They’ve been spreading a story that Biden repeatedly checked his watch during the ceremony as the US dead from Kabul were unloaded. No, he didn’t: Did Biden Check Watch 13 Times During Transfer of Fallen Soldiers? In fact he may once have glanced at his watch, though that isn’t even clear. No worries though, Fox News replayed the video at half speed to exaggerate the glance and make it appear more than it was: Fox News manipulates its own video to spread allegation that Biden looked at his watch during transfer of fallen troops. Kind of like how the British during World War Two edited a film of Hitler to make it look like he was dancing a little jig after the surrender of France. Of course Britain was at war with Germany at the time and making Hitler look bad was a very reasonable propaganda exercise. Um, is Fox News at war with America? Apparently, if they are happy to alter a film to make Biden look bad. Nonsense like this not only destroys the mainstream media’s credibility, it’s a big factor in tearing America apart and making it ungovernable. And Fox News isn’t the only one, but they led the way.

Sigh. A good article about China, Taiwan, and the US. More accurately, just how nation states are adamant about not letting provinces secede. The US paid a terrible price preventing the Confederacy from seceding, and if anything the Chinese are even more adamant that Taiwan is a part of China. For the US to go to war with China to prevent it reunifying with Taiwan is utter folly. Still, nations have gotten into stupid wars for no good reason throughout history, just hoping this doesn’t turn into one of those wars. Good read:  American Civil War and the Lesson for China and Taiwan.

And then some of today’s truly whacked nonsense. A man who no doubt thinks of himself as a patriot and a Christian calls for tens of millions of Americans to be literally starved into supporting Trump’s “Stop the Steal” lies: ‘You Get Nothing’: Josh Bernstein Calls for Democratic Voters to Be Starved Until Biden Resigns. This would of course include millions of innocent children, not to mention millions of Trump supporters. This is called “collective punishment,” and is a human rights violation and war crime of the first order, something only the most hideous authoritarian governments do. (cough) Nazis (cough.) And unlike the Nazi’s who would massacre villages for supporting insurgents, he’s talking about collective punishment for people exercising their right to vote. And once again I apologize for my prior claims that comparing Trumpism to Nazism was overblown, I was wrong.

And for dessert: Christian Preacher: If Trump Isn’t Reinstated, Your Wives May Be Raped. The title pretty much speaks for itself.  Thoughts and prayers to those impacted by Ida. And I am doing something about it, I write about Global Warming constantly to fight the fossil fuel industry lies that are making the consequences of Global Warming far worse than they needed to be. Hope all are having a good week, stay safe and dry everyone.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The Hitler jig photo, taken at the surrender of France to Germany on 22 June 1940. It was from a film that was altered to make Hitler dance a little jig, but I couldn’t find that online. Credit: Unknown, likely Public Domain under US copyright law, claimed as Fair Use in any case.)

Written by unitedcats

September 1, 2021 at 4:35 pm

AMERICA, LONG ROAD TRIP, GOOD LUCK FLAGS, AND WINDMILL MADNESS

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Over the past few weeks I’ve spent nights in Iowa, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, Oklahoma, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New York. A lot of driving was involved. Fortunately I like to drive, and apart from one marathon Western Oregon to Iowa in two days marathon, it wasn’t bad at all. Nice weather for the drive too, except way too hot in some parts. A friend speculates that through wildfires, excessive heat, and drought that much of western America is going to become uninhabitable in the following decades as Global Warming continues to devastate the planet. I hope he’s wrong, but he might well be right. In any case, I will resume blogging now as I am safely ensconced in a house for the near future.

One highlight of the trip, the above flag. Spotted in a military museum in Idaho. I was somewhat dismayed to see it displayed. Why? Isn’t it a Japanese battle flag, war booty proudly and appropriately displayed in a museum? (Begging the question whether war booty is ever appropriate.) No, it’s not a battle flag. It’s a Good Luck Flag. These were flags carried by Japanese soldiers during World War Two. They would be presented to the soldier before deployment, and they were covered with written messages and prayers from family, friends, and loved ones. Almost every Japanese soldier carried one, it was a prized personal possession. Similar to how American soldiers might carry photographs of their families.

During the war the looting and collecting of these flags became popular among servicemen. Unlike swords or weapons, they could be easily carried and concealed, and a good number of them made their way back to the USA. That’s how I learned about Good Luck Flags. I read about a fellow whose dad was a veteran of the Guadalcanal campaign, one of the uglier battles in World War Two. His dad never wanted to talk about his experiences, but after his death his son found the flag and had it framed and hung in his home. He did in fact think it was a battle flag. Until a few years later when a Japanese reading guest asked about it. He asked the fellow if he knew what it was? Battle flag captured by my dad on Guadalcanal! Well, no, it was explained to him the nature of the flag.

Long story short, the vet’s son decided to do the right thing. The name of the soldier was on the flag, as were those of his wife and children. And upon contacting a Japanese consulate, he learned that his widow and children were still alive. So the vet’s son flew to Japan to return the flag to the dead Japanese soldier’s widow and family. And this is why I was a little perturbed to see one such flag on public display in a museum. It’s not really appropriate, this was personal property looted from the body of a dead Japanese soldier. And sadly the museum was aware of what it is from the label. I thought about what, if anything, I should do. And upon researching it, I discovered there is a group devoted to repatriating Good Luck Flags, the Obon Society. Their mission is to try and repatriate all personal items looted during the war in the spirit of peace and reconciliation. So I sent them the picture above, and they will do what they can, often working through state historical societies.

Another highlight of my trip was the billboard above spotted in Wyoming. I rolled my eyes so hard I might have permanently damaged them. I mean, give me a break. The idea that a few windmills “forever ruins” countryside is bizarre to say the least, especially when one considers that the anti-green energy movement is funded by the fossil fuel industry, an industry whose pollution, health costs, and ecological damage are mind numbing in comparison to wind power. This is America though, where “Right is wrong and wrong is right.”

And of course Trump signs and billboards are everywhere in rural America. I never experienced a personality cult before, at least a national one on this scale. To tens of millions of Americans Trump is their saviour, a saviour whose reelection was stolen from him by some sort of socialisist sino satanic plot. Food for future blogs. I’ll blog about Afghanistan soon, a Civil War battlefield I visited, the rise of unreason, and other fun stuff. And of course the plot I recently uncovered to control us all through chemically induced mind control. Contemporary America is still a blogger’s paradise.

Hope all had a good weekend, have a safe and cool week everyone.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image top: Japanese Good Luck flag in an Idaho museum. Credit: Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. Image bottom: Found on the internet, attribution unknown, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 9, 2021 at 8:11 am

CANADIAN CONCENTRATION CAMPS FOR CHILDREN, CRITICAL RACE THEORY, WW2 TRUTHERS, HISTORY, AND OTHER NEWS OF THE WEEK

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Fun headline recently: Canada: 751 unmarked graves found at residential school. This is the second such mass grave found in recent months, 215 graves were found earlier. Residential schools were government funded church run schools where native children were forcibly relocated in order to convert them into good little English speaking Canadians. The schools were expressly for the purpose of wiping out native culture and “assimilating” natives. The schools were by all accounts horrible places, with children dying regularly of disease and abuse, and then buried in unmarked graves. Apologists like to claim they are ‘unmarked graves’ not ‘mass graves.’ Whether you kill people all at once and shove them into a pit, or kill them periodically and shove them into individual pits makes no difference, it’s still a mass grave.

Horrors of the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries? Nope, the last residential school closed in 1996. Growing up in Canada I was exposed to a lot of racist attitudes towards natives, but I never imagined things like this existed. Now at least it’s coming out, but my image of Canada as some sort of positive force in the world is now finally and completely shattered. And the Canadian government’s more or less tepid response confirms it. This should be investigated and prosecuted with all the vigor of any gross human rights crime, but it won’t be. Baby steps I guess, it is good that things like this and the Tulsa race massacre are getting dragged out of the shadows, but we’ve got a long way to go.

In the US this is particularly the case, with the GOP and religious right fervently opposing even discussion of these sorts of crimes or the removal of monuments to criminals. That’s what the whole hysteria over Critical Race Theory is all about, preventing even discussion and education about the role that race played and plays in American. The evangelical right does this by pretending that CRT is about teaching white people that they are bad or guilty because of the color of their skin. And by pretending that removing statues of Civil War traitors is somehow erasing history. No, it’s about unwhitewashing history so people can understand and move on together. I mean, the paranoia in some quarters is frightening. Nick Fuentes: Making Juneteenth A Federal Holiday Is ‘About Furthering The Genocide Of White People’

It’s why I write, but I feel more pessimistic all the time both globally and nationally. Nationally it’s a mess. Biden is like Bush 41 was to Reagan, he’s an uninspiring copy of Obama. He’s basically undone a few of Trump’s more egregious nonsense, but otherwise it’s already clear he’s not going to rock the boat. And yet Biden is being portrayed as some sort of secret commie who is destroying America. Some of this stuff is just crazy: OAN Host Calls for Execution of Anyone Who Stole the Election and Tucker Carlson: Critical race theory will lead to the genocide of white Americans. These aren’t fringe people either.

So I guess I will try to get past my dismay and writer’s block by commenting on the news. George Floyd’s murderer got sentenced to 22 years. I’ve heard progressives claim he got off too lightly, conservatives outraged it was so much. I’m just glad there was a trial, there should be a trial pretty much every time a cop kills someone. My way of thinking has always been, would it be OK if the killer was a civilian? And all too often the answer is “Sheet no.” Qualified immunity needs to end, cops should be trained to not kill people. Bidens is adding more cops so, problem fixed? Snort.

A terrible building collapse in Miami. There’s actually footage of it going down, which I won’t link to  because it’s too horrible. It’s clear from the video, they did not all die quickly in their sleep. How did this happen? Safe to say the Swiss cheese model will unravel it all. A chain of events happened, and they all lined up like symbols on a slot machine. God rest their souls, and my heart goes out to friends and family, I can’t imagine. Hopefully after investigation we will learn something from this tragedy that will save lives down the road.

Like the Victoria Hall Disaster in 1883. 1500 kids were in a theatre to watch a magic show, and after the show hundreds of kids in the balconies tried to rush down to the bottom floor where candy was being tossed to the children (very few adults were present.) The stair down was blocked by a door bolted almost closed with an opening only big enough for one child. Likely to facilitate ticket collection. Long story short, there was a crush in the stairwell, and nearly 200 children died. A nightmare remembered to this day. On the plus side, a child in the town became so determined to prevent it from ever happening again, he eventually invented the first “push bar” door openers. The handles we have in almost every public building in the world, especially on exit doors, just push on the bar from inside and the door opens. This invention has saved thousands and thousands of lives.

Maybe there’s some really smart kid somewhere now so horrified by the state of the world that they are determined to fix it. And they will come up with a solution, a global push bar of sorts. A man can dream. Hope all are having a good weekend. #getvaccienatedcovid19 #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Photographic proof that World War Two was faked! Hell, if you’re gonna deny the holocaust, why not go whole hog? Actually, no, modern reenactment of the Battle of Osuchy, one of the largest battles between Polish partisans and Nazi troops during WW2. Will there be Trump rally reenactors someday? Credit: Adam Niedźwiecki, used legally: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)

Written by unitedcats

June 26, 2021 at 6:33 pm

WHAT DO AIS AND DATING SITE SCAMS HAVE IN COMMON? PLUS JUNE 22ND

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So I’ve been checking out some dating sites lately. They’ve come a long way since I last looked. And I’ve been there the whole time, I did computer dating in the late 1970s. And that was one computer nerd who wrote a program and advertised it locally, in Davis, USA. Worked for me, it hooked up my housemate to a girl I dated for years, was friends with for decades. Now, it’s much more sophisticated. And the scammers are as well. Well, scammers and sex workers. Neither of which I have a problem with. Hey, poor people in the second and third world want to scam gullible Americans out of their money, go for it. And sex workers can’t advertise openly and safely because this is Kristian Amerika, so they have to do so subtly on dating and rental sites. I digress.

So seeing as I have no interest in sending money to scammers or seeking the services of sex workers, I need to figure out how to filter out same. The sex workers are pretty easy, if their pics involve T&A shots with a sparse profile looking for hookups: sex worker. The scammers, boy, they have gotten a lot more sophisticated. The best ones have very real looking profiles. And when messaged, the responses can be well written as well. They tend to have a cut and paste look though, IE neat message, but only superficially at best a response to my prior message. And when I suspect a scammer, I ask a very specific question. Or better yet, say something completely nonsensical. Jeez, sent a nonsense response to one, got an obvious cut and paste message to the effect of “Wow, thanks for sharing that information with me.” Busted.

So, I realized I am essentially running a variant of the Turing Test on possible scammers. The Turing Test is basically the idea of interfacing with a subject via text exchange and determining if it is a human or a computer. Brilliant concept really, because it doesn’t concern itself with whether a computer can become conscious and self aware, it limits the question to, can a software program fake human responses enough to fool humans?

And we’re real close folks. We are close to the point where it’s going to be hard to tell if we are interacting with a person or software. Phone a business, will one be talking to software or a person? And think about this. How many professions are essentially ‘talking to people?’ The ones that can run remotely, a Zoom image or whatever works as well. The image of a person on a video feed is just pixels on a screen, all manipulable by software. AIs are going to put a lot of people out of work, every telemarketer on the planet for starters.

As for pixels on a screen, that’s what movies and TV series are, right? So why couldn’t an AI create movies? It’s just a more sophisticated chess calculator. Or series. There have to be an infinite number of possible ‘Simpsons’ episodes, right? So why couldn’t software write new ones? Think of it, every TV show or movie the gentle reader ever liked available with countless computer generated sequels/episodes. Young Sean Connery could star in thousands of James Bond films. Peeps will be able to buy software that will create movies or series to order.

Will this happen soon? IDK, technology was running ahead of application during the US Civil War, the gap has increased since then. Is there as yet some human component to creativity that AIs won’t be able to surpass? Maybe. One thing we can say for sure about the future, no one has ever accurately predicted it.

The past though, we can see how predictions went wrong. June 22nd 1941, eighty years ago today, Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Operation Barbarossa, the greatest invasion in history. Tens of millions would die as a result. Exactly three years later, June 22nd 1944, the Soviet Union launched Operation Bagration. AKA “The Destruction of Army Group Center.” Germany’s Army Group Center. The greatest defeat ever suffered by Germany, and the fifth bloodiest campaign in European history. No one predicted that, most thought that Germany would easily conquer Western Russia, and who knows what would happen then. A crushing German defeat with Soviet Armies steamrolling to Berlin three years later, couldn’t happen.

Could an AI have written that plot? Maybe. Did an AI write that plot? Could we be living in a 23rd century computer game program on some kid’s Qpad? Am I a software routine writing a blog that will only be read by other aps? And do we evolve as a result? Hell if I know, but I’m going to explore the idea more.

So, yes. My blogging has been limited because of … personal … issues. I think I’m going to write about speculative weirdness to see if I can break through my writer’s block. Stay safe and sanish everyone. #getvaccienatedcovid19 #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Two destroyed German tanks during Operation Bagration, including dead German crew members. There are still people alive who remember the horrors of Germany’s invasion of Russia. I can’t imagine what they lived through. Credit: Unknown, public domain image under all known copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

June 22, 2021 at 7:55 pm

JUNE 6, 1944, THE LONGEST DAY

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A long time reader suggested some history posts instead of the GOP follies. It would be a nice break. And the timing is perfect, today is the 77th anniversary of the greatest seaborne invasion in history, Operation Overlord, the Allied landings in Normandy in German occupied France during the second World War. And I know a lot about it, as it was a famous battle in my favorite war.  I’ve probably covered most if not all of the following in previous blogs, but there’s always the possibility of a new reader or two.

So yes, D-Day was the largest amphibious landing in history. 24,000 paratroopers landed the night before, and 156,000 men (and one woman we know of) waded ashore on D-Day. About 4,000 of them died, another 6,000 were seriously injured. About a thousand Germans died, and thousands more were wounded. And several thousand French civilians also died. A pretty modest death toll for a single day of fighting actually. While thousands more would die in the weeks to come, it wasn’t a particularly deadly battle compared to numerous other battles. Hell, over 20,000 died in one day at the Battle of Towton, and that was in 1461.

D-Day also has the distinction of being the most carefully planned military operation in history. Years were spent preparing for it. All sorts of special weapons and equipment were invented for just this one battle. Hell, hundreds died in preparation for the battle. How many battles had over 700 dead preparing for the battle? Damn few, so D-Day might be the worst in history in this regard too. On the plus side, the double catastrophes in Exercise Tiger taught the Allies valuable lessons, and no doubt saved hundreds if not thousands of lives on D-Day.

And since D-Day was so well planned, it really couldn’t fail. While Ike (the overall commander) did have a message pre-written in case the landing failed, there really wasn’t any realistic chance of that. The German defences weren’t even remotely finished, the Germans had fallen for the Allies misdirection and concentrated their defences elsewhere, and overwhelming Allied air power and French resistance attacks crippled the German ability to rush reinforcements to Normandy. The Allies flew over 10,000 air missions on D-Day, the Luftwaffe, a 100 or so. No contest. The only real way the invasion could have failed is if spectacularly bad weather had set in for weeks after the landing grounding the Allies air power. None of this diminishes the accomplishments of those who took part in the invasion, it was a hard fought battle.

Some Americans love to claim D-Day was the “turning point” in the war. No, no it wasn’t. Stalingrad and Kursk were the turning points in the war. By the summer of 1944 the Russian juggernaut was rolling inevitably toward Berlin, it was just a matter of time. D-Day hastened the end of the Third Reich, and meant Western Europe and West Germany didn’t become Soviet occupied countries, but it didn’t affect the outcome of the war. D-Day was the beginning of the end for Hitler is a good way to think about it.

In the same vein Americans often think D-Day was an American affair. In “Saving Private Ryan” for example, the British are only mentioned once, disparagingly; and the Canadians aren’t mentioned at all. In point of fact, five beaches were invaded that day, two by Americans, two by the British, and one by Canadians. While America certainly provided the lion’s share of troops and weapons for the western Allies, only about 40% of the troops wading ashore on 6 June 1944 were American.

Lastly, a nice story. There were lots of specials about D-Day on the 50th anniversary in 1994. I remember one story. There was a kid from I think Nebraska who waded ashore on D-Day. He survived, and the war ended. He had some leave before returning to America. He decided to visit Normandy because he had been struck by how beautiful the countryside was. (Pretty much anyone who grew up in Nebraska will think that way about almost anywhere but Nebraska, but I digress.) Well, while there he met this nice French girl, and the rest is history. He was still happily living there as of 1994. And I bet he never had to pay for his drinks at local bars.

In any event, tonight I will drink to all that fought that day. God rest the souls of those who died. Well, all but the Nazis. I still think Nazis are bad, call me old fashioned. #getvaccienatedcovid19 #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: American dead on Utah Beach.  Note the body has been tagged with information about who he was, when and where he died, etc. Real people died that day, war really is madness. Credit: Probably Robert Capa.)

Written by unitedcats

June 6, 2021 at 12:23 pm

THROUGH THICK AND THIN

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There will be a Borders III post, but it’s going to have to wait a bit. And boy, turns out there’s a lot of people on Facebook who claim to be the Messiah. I’ll get a post out of that someday too. I know someone who lost their wife and kids to a cult once, self styled messiahs have an unholy attraction for some people. Today, I’m going to be all over the place. Or more so than usual I suppose. My staff consists of one useless cat at the moment. Working on a partnership though, she’s already been far more helpful than the cat.

Moving right along, January 31 was a big day in history. I mean, every day has all sorts of historical events on it. (Except June 31, nothing ever happened on June 31, no one knows why.) However, January 31, a big day as in important well remembered events. This was the day in 1943 where German Field Marshal Paulus surrendered to the encircling Russians at Stalingrad, thus ending the greatest battle in history. Hitler had promoted Paulus to Field Marshal because no German field marshal had ever surrendered. Have I ever mentioned that Hitler was prone to magical thinking? Stalingrad was Hitler’s Pickett’s Charge, the war would only go downhill for Hitler from there.

On January 31 the VietCong launched simultaneous surprise attacks on every provincial capitol in South Vietnam, and even breached the American embassy’s grounds in Saigon. It caught America and South Vietnam by complete surprise, but it didn’t trigger the general uprising the VietCong had been counting on, and the Tet Offensive as it was called, was a tactical and strategic disaster, one from which the VietCong would never recover from. And in the USA, it was a political death blow for president Johnson, and significantly eroded American support for the war. That’s because some months earlier Johnson had announced … victory! The VietCong had been beaten, the war was all but over, the US could start pulling out. So yeah, a massive nationwide VietCong surprise attack pretty much destroyed Johnson’s credibility, and was in fact the beginning of the end for America’s misbegotten involvement in southeast Asia.

Well, those were the big two events, enough for January 31. Although in another historical footnote: Meet Eunice Foote, The Mother Of Climate Science Whose Work Was Ignored Because Of Her Sex. She was the first person to discover the role that CO2 plays in changing the temperature of Earth’s atmosphere. The greenhouse effect as it is called. Since she was a woman though, she wasn’t allowed to present her findings at the 1856 American Association for the Advancement of Science conference. A man got the honor and the credit 3 years later. Sigh. It would be over 100 years before she was recognized for her groundbreaking discovery.

In a medical breakthrough: Two more coma patients’ brains jump-started with ultrasound. Waycool. People sometimes come out of comas after years or even decades. The brain’s ability to heal itself is quite amazing. We are talking comas though, this would not have helped the sadly famous Terri Schiavo, she was in what is known as a persistent vegetative state. PVS is a horrible condition, the patient has normal sleep and awake cycles. They may laugh, they may cry, they may appear to be looking around. So it’s easy to see why friends and loved ones would very much cling to the belief that they are still alive and may recover. Alas, what PVS sufferers don’t do is communicate in any way, there is literally no one home. And while a few people who were misdiagnosed as being in a PVS have recovered, they were all showing signs of improvement after a few months. No one has ever recovered from an actual PVS diagnosis, the part of the brain that makes us who we are is irreparably damaged.

Moving from inner space to outer space (lame segue I know) here’s an interview with the professor who thinks Oumuamua was alien technology of some sort: Professor Avi Loeb: ‘It would be arrogant to think we’re alone in the universe’. On the one hand, he’s plugging his new book on the topic. On the other hand he does have a point regarding how the scientific community can be hostile and non supportive of anything related to aliens. A situation that’s unlikely to change until we actually find actual evidence for them, it’s way too easy for politicians to ridicule SETI, why attract attention from them?

And another scientist has come up with an explanation for the Wow! Signal. The Wow! Signal was detected in 1977 and has never been explained. Here’s another try though: Was the Wow! Signal Due to Power Beaming Leakage? Basically humans are starting to experiment with beamed power to launch spacecraft and such, and the Wow! Signal might well be “leakage” from aliens doing the same. It’s an interesting idea, and suggests we might want to observe that part of the sky continuously to see if it ever repeats.

Lastly, back on Earth. I, for one, look forward to Qbacca testifying at Trump’s impeachment trial: ‘Complete circus’: Lindsey Graham fears ‘QAnon Shaman’ testimony at Trump’s impeachment trial. All of Trump’s lawyers have quit at this point, it’s not clear who will represent him at his trial in just over a week. Apparently all he wants to talk about at the trial is his fantasies about election fraud. It’s gonna be interesting, if not a total circus. I don’t think Trump’s ever faced anything like it, this isn’t going to be a press conference where he can ignore questions, hurl abuse at the questioner, and storm out if he doesn’t like how things are going. He might try though, boy, won’t that be fun.

Stay safe and warm everyone. Just maybe things will settle down now and the Capitol Riot was peak insanity over Trump’s election fraud charade. A man can hope. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Field Marshal Paulus surrendering at Stalingrad. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license.

Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-F0316-0204-005 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

No changes were made in the image. Paulus actually survived being a Russian prisoner. Most of the nearly 300,000 men who surrendered with him didn’t. Stalin had in fact promised that Paulus’ men would be well treated, and did order so. Yeah, by this point the Germans had done terrible things in Russia, so Stalin’s orders were for the most part ignored. Paulus lived until 1957.)

Written by unitedcats

January 31, 2021 at 8:30 pm

HISTORY QUIZ!

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As per a commenter’s suggestion, a history quiz. No particular topic but since my main interest is military history, that will be the lion’s share of the questions. Ten questions, some trivia, some obscure, most because I thought they were interesting in some ways. (Basically this is just an excuse for me to tell stories about history. People do the most amazing sheet.) Pencil and paper required if one wants to be serious I suppose. Answers at bottom.Good luck, enjoy!

  1. How many times was Greenland colonised? Including successful and unsuccessful attempts. By human beings, just to be clear. The 47 failed penguin colonies don’t count.
  2. What exotic animal did Roman Emperor Commodus publicly slay in the colosseum to demonstrate his godhood? (No, I’m not making these up, people do weird sheet.)
  3. Who was Gil-Galad’s standard bearer at the siege of Barad Dur?
  4. How many tanks did Germany build in World War One? (World War One, not World War Two, where they built thousands.)
  5. What was the only daylight surface battle between battleships in World War Two?
  6. Everyone (well, primarily Americans I expect) knows about the first battle between ironclad warships, the Monitor vs the Merrimac during the American Civil War. What was the only battle ever fought between two fleets of ironclad warships? (Hint, no, it wasn’t during the American Civil War.)
  7. What weapon did a fully armored knight typically carry into battle during the late Middle Ages?
  8. When the British attacked the City of Buenos Aires during the 2nd Battle of Buenos Aires, how many directions did they attack from?
  9. What was the greatest defeat of an American army by native warriors during America’s conquest of the western Americas?
  10. When was the only time an entire American army surrendered to an enemy army?

ANSWERS:

  1. Greenland was colonized at least five times, only twice successfully. Pretty good for a remote barely inhabitable island. There were at least two failed North American native colonizations before the Vikings arrived in 980. The Viking settlement failed due to being cut off from Europe by the Little Ice Age. While the Vikings were there, the Inuit settled in Northern Greenland, the first successful colonization of Greenland. The Viking colony died out, but they returned some centuries later in the second successful colonization of Greenland.
  2. Emperor Commodus went nuts in his later years, deciding he was Hercules reborn, naming Rome after himself and other nonsense. He “fought” many gladiators in the Colosseum, though none actually fought him, they were all wise enough to know that submitting right away was their only chance of living to sundown. And Commodus was still sane enough to know that killing men who submitted to him in public wasn’t wise. (He had no such qualms about killing men in gladiator practice. Gladiators were slaves by the way.) This was all considered outrageous by the Romans, as if the US President decided to take up WWE wrestling. The animal he killed to prove his godhood? A giraffe. While very few Romans had ever seen a giraffe, they could tell it was just a helpless terrified exotic animal, the killing impressed no one. Though it further cemented opinion that the Emperor was losing it.
  3. Elrond! What, fantasy history is history, right? (Recounted in the Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkien.)
  4. Germany ordered only a 100 A7V tanks (see image)  during the course of World War One. The Allies built thousands. And only 15-20 of the German tanks were completed in time to see action. They didn’t change the course of the war of course, but they did get to be part of the world’s first tank battle.
  5. The Battle of the Denmark Strait. Two British battleships vs the Nazi battleship Bismark and cruiser Prinz Eugen. This is the one where the Bismark sunk the Hood with one shot, the flagship of the British fleet. One of the flashes in this film (taken from the Prinz Eugen during the battle blew up the Hood killing 1500 Brits. Three Brits survived.
  6. The Battle of Lissa, 1866, between Italy and Austria. A brilliantly led Austrian fleet defeated a much larger but incompetently led Italian fleet. IThe battle basically accomplished nothing except humiliating the Italians: The Italian fleet got home, its admiral declared he’d won a great victory even though two of Italy’s finest warships had gone down, and he was the toast of the town. He probably got laid, but that’s just historical conjecture. By the next day word got to Italy that no Austrian ships had been sunk, and the admiral’s partying days limply ended.
  7. A sword! No, of course not, what good would a sword do against a guy wearing steel armor? A hammer of some sort was their primary weapon, designed specifically to damage armor. The sword though was already steeped in mythology, and certainly was still widely in use, just not against guys wearing armor.
  8. 12. That’s right, they attacked a hostile city from twelve different directions. In 1808. This was part of one of Britain’s tragicomedy attempts to conquer Spanish colonies in South America. Britain made a number of attempts to seize the supposedly weak colonies from Spain’s decaying and definitely weak empire, all ended badly. In this case the British commander apparently thought the tiny number of Spanish troops in the city would be quickly located and defeated. And if the residents of the city had stood meekly by and watched, great plan. No, the residents, including quite a few actual militias (no bison horns, Chewbacca robes, or silly flags) didn’t particularly want to be part of the Spanish Empire (Argentina would be independent within a decade;) but the definitely didn’t want to be conquered and ruled by Britain. It ended badly for Britain, thousands dead all told and a humiliating surrender.
  9. No, it wasn’t Little Big Horn, that was just the most famous native defeat of American forces. It was in 1791, The Battle of the Thousand Slain, or as the less imaginative Americans called it, The Battle of the Wabash. Basically a poorly planned, poorly equipped, poorly supplied, poorly manned, and most especially poorly led American army marched into what was then the wilderness of Ohio to teach the natives a lesson for defeating an American army the previous year! Even the not particularly astute reader can guess how this turned out. 24 Americans out of about 1,000 made it back safely.
  10. The Siege of Detroit, during the War of 1812, America’s misbegotten attempt to make Canada the “14th colony” of the United States. Basically a brilliant British general psyched out the American commander, and tricked him into surrendering to a much smaller British/native army.

That’s that, some of this was from memory, if I made any egregious mistakes please excoriate me in a comment. I write history posts provoke thought and curiosity, not to recount history for academic purposes.  Don’t worry, more Trump antics soon enough. What a time to be alive. Future blog suggestions welcome. I hope everyone had a safe and warm weekend. I’m ready for spring. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Captured world War One German tank “Mephisto.” Australians captured it, hauled it back to Australia, where it’s in a war museum and is indeed the only German World War One tank still in existence. Photo taken in 1918 and is Public Domain under applicable copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

January 24, 2021 at 8:10 pm

VETERANS DAY 2020

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Veterans Day, 2020. One knows people are being hosed if there’s a day set up to honor them. Hosed, used, manipulated, whatever. America has fetishized war, the military, and veterans. Basically one or two days a year, and in other silly ways (I get veterans parking, woohoo!) America “lauds” its veterans. The other 365 days a year they send them to die in colonial wars whose only purpose is politics or corporate profits. The last war America fought to “defend our freedoms” was World War Two, and even it has caveats. Every veteran after that fought to make some president look good or promote the American Empire.

So yeah fellow veteran dudes and dudettes, your service is appreciated. With the exception of WW2 vets, a few of which may still be reading this, you got duped. I served myself, joined with high ideals, found I’d joined a deeply misogynistic muslim-hating gang whose mission was to travel around the world and murder people. I was disillusioned to say the least, though if I had it to all do over again, I would have joined the army instead of the USMC and served 20 or 30 years. Life is complicated. And I did meet some great people in the service.

Hell, I was a Nazi bigot before I joined the service. Actually living and working with people of all faiths, colors, etc., I learned “A**holes come in all colors.” We had four drill instructors in basic training. Two white, two black. First guy, black guy, can’t remember his name. He was something else, mean mofo, the only DI (drill instructor) that physically abused me, he started kicking me one day because my push ups weren’t up to his standards. No big deal though. The other privates (recruits) connected with him. He didn’t last, showed up drunk one night while off duty and got into a fistfight with a private. He got replaced, I wish him the best.

The Senior Drill Instructor, white guy, Staff Sergeant Sisk (weird what details one remembers from four decades ago,) was a good guy but ill suited to be a Drill Instructor. OK guy though. I’d have a beer with him if I ever ran across him. 3rd DI. Black fellow. Dumb, as in modest IQ black guy from rural Georgia. Vietnam Vet. Sergeant Allen. And he was a Marine to the bone, probably the most Marinest Marine I ever met. If he had your back, you were covered. One of the most impressive human beings I ever had the privilege of knowing.

Last guy, white fellow, Canadian like me. He was a sick fuck. He liked hurting the privates. IE he liked hurting people. His one trick I remember was to bend people’s fingers back to the point of excruciating pain. He was a sadist. And he got brought down. We were very much taught to overlook excesses in the name of taking one for the team. Hazing was OK, like the guy kicking me. What this guy was doing was beyond hazing. Some officers showed up one day and asked us if any of the accusations against him were true. People spoke up, and he was gone.

Bigotted as I was, it sunk in that somebody’s skin color tells one nothing about how cool they are, or aren’t. And pretty much everything in my life since has reinforced that. People are people, some good, most OK, a few a**holes. And only getting to know them will tell which is which. So I applaud the service and how it can be good for people’s personal growth all else aside. (Aside: My fantasy zombie apocalypse team is diverse as fuck.)

And that’s where my thinking sat for decades. I wasn’t wrong. There’s another layer though. Sargent Allen told us a bit about Vietnam. He’d volunteered with two friends on a buddy program, where they all went through basic training and their first post together. One of them was killed. Allen told us the story, firefight, his friend got carried away, was shouting “I can see them, I can see them!” while standing and shooting. Actually being able to see the enemy is unusual in modern warfare. His last words, since if he could see them, they could see him. Sargent Allen even showed us pics of his friend’s body or body bag.

And this is where it gets ugly. Sargent Allen said that after that, on every patrol, him and his surviving buddy made sure they killed at least one local. That’s called a war crime. It’s called murder. One of the coolest and most honorable dudes I ever met, by his own admission, was a serial killer. And he got away with it because he was fighting in a war. How the hell does one process something like that?

War is bad. That’s all I got. Stay safe everyone.#StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: That’s me. 1978? Credit and copyright: No idea. Probably a government photographer, in which case Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

November 11, 2020 at 9:13 pm

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I will have such revenges on you both  

That all the world shall—I will do such things—      

What they are yet I know not, but they shall be      

The terrors of the earth. You think I’ll weep?       

No, I’ll not weep.

The 19th anniversary of 9/11, when four American airliners were hijacked and flown into civilian targets in the USA, the most infamous being the Twin Towers in New York City. I was in rural Oregon at the time. Had strange dreams that morning, I think events like 9/11 ripple outwards in ways we don’t understand yet. If we can build a device that can detect the collision of black holes billions of light years and ago away, something like 9/11 that must pop all over the planet. 

That being said, what else to say? My biggest memory? The horrifying sick feeling in my stomach as in the days to follow two things were already becoming clear. America wasn’t going to learn anything from this terrible crime, and no one would be held responsible for this utter failure of our nation’s defences. And that a paroxysm of American violence and hatred was going to follow. Sadly I’ve been proved true in spades on both counts. The last time an American leader screwed up and paid the price was Benedict Arnold. And our endless crusades in the Middle East were normalized by 9/11 and continue today.

I say crusades very deliberately. I see America as just a continuation of the Roman Empire, it broke up in the Dark Ages, various factions arose, Christian monotheism became the state religion. The factions fought among one another and were finally unified in 1945 when Japan and Germany surrendered. So by crusading, I mean the medieval Roman Empire sent armies into the Middle East, mostly looting under the guise of religion. They even established a Christian state in Palestine, it lasted like 100 years. No real difference from Israel and America’s Middle East wars starting with Gulf War One.

On to the obvious, Covid-19 is dealing America a 9/11’s worth of death a week, with no end in sight, and the Trump regime has yet to mobilize the nation’s resources to defend against it. In a weird ironic way, I think our reactions to 9/11 and Covid-19 should have been reversed. 9/11 was terrible, but it was a crime committed by a tiny band of extremists, Terrorism before and after 9/11 was a minor threat to Americans, and one we had plenty of defenses against. Covid-19 we should be mobilizing the awesome power of the Federal Government, thank you Lincoln, to defend against. We’d save thousands of lifes a week. 

So yes, it’s really weird that we’re paying huge tribute to 9/11 while we more or less ignore a much more dire ongoing death march. And not even thinking about the pointless carnage the “Global War on Terror” has wreaked. What can I say? I honor the dead on that terrible day, I’m sorry for all the loss. A nightmare for those involved. And the best way to honor their deaths, let’s stop promoting violence as a solution to complex social problems. 

The hippies and pacifists and such were all right, as such it is my inspiration for the meme above. The lesson of 9/11, killing people doesn’t help. Sit down at a table and work things out like adults. We are an intelligent species, right? There are better alternatives? 

Weird day, weird times, where will we be on the 20th anniversary of 9/11? I hope all reading will be safe and sound. Stay safe everyone. Likes, shares, etc. appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #InsanusTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Quote: King Leer. Image: A meme I made, Public Domain.)

Written by unitedcats

September 11, 2020 at 6:56 pm

THE PHONEY WAR

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Being a student of history is particularly of interest in these troubled times. Late April, 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic to be specific. A parallel that struck me to our times was the Phoney War in 1939/1940. It was called this because after Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, while England and France declared war on Germany, there was no major fighting on the Germany/France border for months. The “Western Front” in World War One, where millions had died. There was one minor inconsequential action, and there was fighting in other parts, but for the most part the war hadn’t really begun yet. I’m sure a lot of people were like, phew, maybe this won’t be so bad. Do I need to even carry my gas mask to the grocery store? The horrors of World War One, millions dead, were still fresh on people’s minds, no one wanted to see that again. Calling it The Phoney War was in some ways reassuring to people I am sure.

Then in May 1940 Germany attacked on the Western front, defeating the French and English armies in ten days. By June victorious German armies were marching through Paris, photograph above. The Germans had accomplished in weeks what they couldn’t do in four years of bloody trench warfare in World War One. And yeah, it was no longer a phoney war; The Blitz, the German conquest of the Balkans, invasion of Russia, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor all followed apace.

Wait, the discerning reader may be thinking, why did France and England just sit and do nothing for half a year while Germany was busy invading Poland? Didn’t they have large armies, while Germany had only been hastily constructing its new army for a few years? Yes, yes they did. The Allies had more troops and tanks than Germany. And not only did they have more tanks than Germany, they were better tanks than the German tanks? German tanks couldn’t even penetrate the armor on the heavy British tanks!

Why not indeed invade Germany indeed? It’s a good question, and no doubt historians will be debating the finer points of it so long as there are historians. The main reason though was that an attack on Germany wasn’t part of the plan. In World War One Germany had marched through Belgium and invaded Northern France, causing death and devastation of almost unthinkable magnitude. No matter what happened, France wanted to avoid a repeat of that. So they had prepared for that scenario only. France built a huge and expensive fortified line along their border with Germany, the Maginot Line. And massed their armies to pour into Belgium to meet the invading Germans there. It was a good plan, they were well prepared for it, and by God they were sticking to it.

Unfortunately, preparing to refight the last war is generally, well, not the best idea. Normal human thinking though. We do have a hankering for the safe and familiar. I mean, the Allies “won” World War One, why would being even better prepared to fight it again be a bad idea? Well, and again the discerning (or historically informed) reader might know the answer, because the Germans decided that they were going with a new plan, since the World War One plan had been such a bloody failure. Between the Maginot Line and the open fields of Belgium was a huge rough forested region known as the Ardennes. The roads through it were few and poor, so it was only lightly defended by the Allies. Even if the Germans did attack there for some reason, the terrain would slow them down and the Allies could rush troops there to stop them.

So in May 1940 Germany attacked into Belgium, quickly breaching the fortified defenses Belgium thought would slow the Germans. (By using the world’s first parachute troops.) The French and British armies marched north into Belgium to meet them. The Germans, while attacking through Belgium in the north, mainly attacked through the Ardennes in the middle, north of the Maginot Line. And moving far faster than the Allies expected, for unlike them the Germans had concentrated their tanks into large formations that could move quickly and easily go around or through what troops could be mustered to stop them. In ten days the German tanks had reached the English Channel and the huge French and British armies in Belgium were surrounded. And cut off from supply, which is a death knell for modern armies. And the rest is history, as John Wade said in 1839.

Why do I compare The Phoney War to today? Because we’re kind of in a similar global situation. The declaration of a global pandemic in March was Germany invading Poland. And the Battle of France is yet to begin. People at the time knew things could get very ugly, though no one expected the horrors of the holocaust etc. Here in rural Iowa, some days I can almost hear it, a rising wind, the coming storm. Life superficially goes on as “normal,” but it’s not the same as the old normal. Like waking up one day and realizing the sky is still blue, but not the same blue one knew all their life. I digress. Some bad things are happening, now as then, but the big horrors, not yet.

I walked to the grocery store for the first time in months today, I may yet get some return to physical mobility, God* and physical therapy willing. It was really nice. Yet when I got to the store, I stopped in the parking lot to don my mask and deploy an alcohol wipe to treat my shopping cart. Sadly few people in the store were wearing masks, of the staff just the pharmacist, and he looked frustrated. Not normal, not happy. I bought beer though, I wonder how long I will be able to just walk a bit and buy beer?

We’ll see. History in the making, and it’s just begun. Stay safe and sane everyone. Comments and shares appreciated. #StaytheFHome

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: German soldiers parade on the Champs Élysées in Paris, France, on 14 June 1940. Credit: Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1994-036-09A / CC-BY-SA Used legally: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license.)

Written by unitedcats

April 29, 2020 at 8:36 pm