Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Other Side

Saigoneer has some excellent photos of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces from all years of the American War in Vietnam.  Two are particularly striking.  The first is of local militias firing at US warplanes.  They are firing what look like SKS rifles, a a 10 round, semi-automatic weapon, against a jet bomber.  I give them credit for determination.  That characteristic, determination, is woven throughout the photos, whether it's hauling supplies down the Ho Chi Minh trail, performing surgery in an underground bunker, sighting a mortar, or female guerrilla fighters at the ready with their weapons. 

The second striking image is of a US plane heading directly for a impact, trailing black smoke and its pilot parachuting into life as a prisoner of war.  Here, too is a reminder of that determination.  All along the images reveal low-tech, sometimes primitive technology.  Yet in the end a mighty force is brought down by the determination of its less powerful adversary.

It's a timeless story. 


I couldn't figure out a way to make a copy that would do the image justice.  You'll have to go there yourself or just take my word.

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Steady State

From the obituary of John Downey, a CIA operative held prisoner as a spy in China from 1952 to 1973:
"When you talk about 20 years in a lump sum, it sounds like a big deal,” he told reporters. But, he said, β€œOn a day-to-day basis, you just learn to go along.”
And we complain when the internet goes down.

Godspeed, Mr. Downey.  Thank you for the perspective.

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fall Velo News

Yesterday I rode my bike for the first time since my hip surgery eight weeks ago.  The ride was a short 14 miles along the Oly-Woodland and Chehalis Western trails but it felt wonderful to be on the move again.  My new hip worked perfectly and without the pain of its predecessor. 

The day was sunny and cold, a big change from my last ride in September.  The weather then was pleasantly warm, the trees filled with green leaves.  These days the landscape is beginning to look more winter than fall. The bare trees almost, maybe do, equal the ones still holding their now mostly brown leaves. 

I didn't get out until 2:00.  It was cool enough then but by 3:00 the the day was that much closer to sunset 4:37) and I could feel an noticeable drop in temperature, especially in the dark, heavily wooded sections of the trails.  I was happy to be on my way home. 


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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Violence Against Women and Rented Mules

This quote stuck out like a sore thumb in the original story so it's no surprise that the disavowals and requisite apology came quickly.  That Virginians are quick to disown violence against women is comforting.  I am disappointed, however, that no one spoke against beating rented mules.  Or any animal for that matter.

Our fellow creatures on this planet deserve the same respect as homo sapiens


Friday, November 14, 2014

Meanwhile On the Ground

From an eye level view of life under the Islamic State:
Every day they [IS members] increase in number, hold new positions and consolidate their presence, undeterred by the air strikes from coalition forces which do nothing to change things on the ground. It it is actually our reality which has changed and become even more horrific.  (emphasis added)
Airstrikes don't mean much if no one is on the ground to take advantage of the bombardment.  Otherwise it's all just another pointless military charade in the Endless War.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day Backstory

Answering a Question

The first man I killed was small and
hidden in the tall grass.

Being a killer forever changes you.
Even if you learn to be kind and considerate and civilized
that part of you is always there
hiding down inside
awaiting a chance.

A normal person doses not wan to kill and
will avoid it at all costs.
The military won't allow you to remain normal.
It doesn't matter if you think
you are smart enough
not to get caught up in theri lies.
They will change you.

Don't be sucked into the biggest myth and lie
that killing and dying for your counry is somehow heroic.

Really be all that you can be.

--from Grave Lines by Larry Kershner.


Sunday, November 09, 2014

Remembrance Sunday

Britain remembered its war dead today with wreath layings at The Cenotaph in London.  Today's ceremony, Remembrance Sunday, comes three days before the anniversary of the November 1918 Armistice that ended the war.  his is the first I've heard of Remembrance Sunday which means either I am uninformed about British ceremonial customs (very possible) or this is a one-time event since it comes during the first year of the World War I centennial.

Be that as it may, today's wreath-laying, combined with the poppy display at the Tower of London is a fitting remembrance of the almost 900,000 British and Colonial troops who died in The Great War.  Compared to the art and presence of the of the display and British flare for ceremony, American Veterans Day ceremonies will seem kind of pale.  Maybe when the country begins noticing the WWI centennial in the years marking our own entry into the war in 1917 we will do something to match today's event in Britain but all of the eVeterans Day events I am aware of seem pretty routine (along with much of the nation noting the day's significance in passing, if at all).

November 11 has less meaning for me as Veterans Day than it does as Remembrance Day and Armistice Day, its original name.  I don't gainsay veterans recognition for their service and sacrifice, a debt we can should never forget.  But recognizing veterans is only part of the story.  We must also remember how ill-advised were the causes for which they have served.  Maybe World War II was The Good War but it would have never happened but for the vindictive Versailles Treaty ending World War I which itself was certainly pointless.
The many wars and interventions since 1945 reflect a flawed and paranoid American view of the world that buggers our national values and squanders our wealth and our blood. 

That's why we should remember more than our veterans.

At The Cenotaph

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