warriorsavant: (Composite)
Before we went skiing, Nom & I got ski clothes. (The kids already had snow pants and jackets.) Basically very warm clothing that you can actually move around in. At least, that was the plan. Nom found jacket and pants. I managed pants. The jackets, despite being labeled XL, were clearing Vietnamese sizes (which works for Nom, what with her being VN). Although the jackets just about fit me, the arms were too binding. In the end, I used my old field jacket, with two layers of long underwear, both or which were also Army issue. (The theory is for mildy cold, wear the lighter one; for medium cold, wear the heavier one; for extreme cold, wear them both. Sleeping bags have a similar modular concept.) It worked well. There's a reason you often see ex-Soldiers wearing their old field jackets; they're warm, highly durable, and they already own them. Cheap, good, clothing, even if not high fashion. This concept goes back hundreds of years. The reason doormen and such wear what look like old-fashioned military great coats, is that they generally were veterans, and did wear their great coats. Again, practicality, not fashion.

On the fashion side, ravensron used to wear Dad's old Ike jacket, because they look really cool. They were phased out of the Army because they only look really cool if you have a slim waste, and the pudgy REMF's who make the decisions didn't look good in them.

On the practical-but-looks-cute side, when Nom was pregnant with Hedgefund, her 3rd trimester was in winter. One option was to buy a brand-new winter coat that she would wear for 3 months out of her entire life. Not a good use of money. Second option was to wear my old field jacket. Since she's slender, and a head shorter than I; her heavily pregnant, and me in fighting form, were the same size around. Fit her great, nice and warm, highly durable, we already owned it, and she did indeed make camou look cute.
warriorsavant: (Three Musketeers)
"I like to feel a healthy breeze around my privates…" (very minor character from one of the Harry Potter books). Except it never gets down to -17ºC (0ºF) in Scotland; highlands, lowlands, midlands, outer islands, then or now; or they wouldn't have taken up wearing kilts. On the other hand, it was really just between house and car (in which I put a blanket over my bear legs) to and fro to my friend's house for his annual Robbie Burns Night.

Between everyone there, we had a total of perhaps 1.25 Scotsmen, but still great fun. Some food (limited what can be eaten on a keto diet; but a small amount of haggis won't ruin the diet). Some chat. Some scotch (just a wee dram… or four). Some poetry - actually my favorite part last night (even if I cheated and recited Dave Van Ronk). There was something fascinating about sitting in a cozy living room, reading poetry from 2-1/2 centuries ago, with people of 3 (4?) generations. The dark, warm, comfy feeling of being immersed in a warm, slow river of history.

Grab bag

Jan. 5th, 2019 07:14 pm
warriorsavant: (Meh)
Herein a grab bag of posts that I'd half-written, but didn't get around to posting. Have a number of half-formed ideas and half-written posts that I'm going to finish and post. I hate back-logs.

"Papa knows…" This soon?
Read more... )

Christmas? Bah humbug (belated, but so be it).
Christmas? Bah humbug (belated, but so be it). )

Back to the future (coin names).
Back to the future (coin names). )

Software updates at gunpoint.
Software updates at gunpoint. )
warriorsavant: (Composite)
These all involving excisions. All did well in the end.

1. A gentlemen who informed me right up front that he didn't like needles, wanted me to proceed, but said he thought he'd better lie down. Since either he'd suddenly turned albino, or else was about to faint, I thought that was a good idea. He apologized profusely. I told him not to, I was just appreciative that he had the good sense to lie down first, as I don't pick up people over the age of 5.

2. Another excision that I'd planned to take 15 minutes, took three times that long. When Evil Secretary mentioned that to me later, I pointed out that that wasn't bad for something I'd never done before. It was a nail surgery, building on what I'd learned when we brought in the world's top nail expert. Much of stretching one's self involves taking skills one already has, adding in new knowledge, then doing something just slightly different. Do that enough times, and one ends up with a vastly expanded skill set. It just takes a while, keeping calm, and thinking through problems when they aren't going the way one planned.

3. A very elderly lady with a melanoma on her back, who was mostly oriented (but not completely). She chatted almost non-stop during the procedure. Usually that's annoying, but for someone with my interest in history, it was fascinating to hear some of it, such as her father's having fought at Vimy Ridge (in WWI - look it up). Then, knowing that I'd been in the military, she asked me "which war did you fight in, doctor, the 1914 one or the 1939 one?"
warriorsavant: (Lucky Hedgehog)
If I understand it correctly (a big "if"), the core of Keynesian economics is counter-cyclical government spending. In good years, build up a stockpile of cash, in lean years spend it to stimulate the economy. Now, boys and girls, how far back can we trace the origins of the concept?

I'm going to say about 5000 years. (Maybe be off by a millenium, but no, did NOT add an extra zero or two). Ancient Egypt. Joseph and the dream of Pharaoh. "You’ll have seven fat years, followed by seven lean years." Since money didn’t really exist then (or only marginally), they banked up surplus grain.

Since then, governments mostly failed to do this properly. “In bad years, spend like a drunken sailor to stimulate the economy; in good years, spend like a drunken sailor anyhow.” Actually, as a former (sometimes) drunken sailor, I can say that is not an accurate analogy; when I ran out of money, I stopped spending. (As the saying goes, “some of it we spent on booze, some of it we spent on women, but most of it we just spent foolishly.”)

For the US, this miserable management of government finances and the economy really only dates back to the 1970s. Before then, even if hadn't heard of John Maynard Keynes, actually did pretty much follow the idea of counter-cyclical spending. The US was born in debt (revolutions are expensive), but mostly paid down the debt in good times, and ratched it up in bad times (war and economic depressions). Only under Andrew Jackson did the US eliminate the debt completelly (his one virtue as President). He was from frontier farming stock, who regarded having debt as an abomination.
warriorsavant: (White Lion - Jabulani)
I don't really like shaving. Not sure why. Many men seem to, but to me it's just one more thing that has to get done. I once considered lasering the hair, at least on my neck, but that hurts. I also once, as favor to an ex-, tried "manscaping," specifically waxing my chest. I have a fairly noticeable pelt (there seems to be a generational divide on men's body hair somewhere in the 40's right now). The esthetician didn't trim the hair first. Did two strips. I bounced off the ceiling and quit there. Yeah, I'm a wuss. Another reason I don't have tattoos (although do have a most lovely skull earring). BTW, years ago, a friend of mine was a Philosophy major (for his sake, I hope minored in making coffee or driving taxis or some other useful skill), with an concentration on Esthetics. Was thrilled when first went job hunting at how many positions were open for estheticians - had a rude awakening.

I digress. Anyhow I mostly shave with an electric razor; it's just easier. However since I don't like shaving, I usually don't on weekends/vacations, and electrics don't do well on a 2-, 3-, or more-day growth of beard, so then I use a blade. As a further aside, when I was a kid, and read Jack London novels, I couldn't understand how anyone could fight with a razor. I'd knew they didn't mean electric razors, but had never seen a straight razor, and couldn't figure out how one could attack someone with a safety razor. When I later figured out what a straight razor was, I wanted to try shaving with one, and my father sensibly pointed out that I'd probably cut my own throat. Common sense warred with pride, and considering how much I manage to hurt myself on far more innocuous objects (I swear that paperclip was a terrorist agent), I backed off on the shaving thing. I have once or twice had a barber shave me with a razor. The first time was on a street corner in Pakistan. I was both scary and luxurious.

(Yeah, that digression thing happened again. This was all going to be 1-2 sentances in a post of miscellaneous stuff.) When I started shaving, safety razors had a single blade. Then two-track razors came out, and the technology race was on. Now standard razors come with 5 parallel blades, which really do a better job of shaving. And are also pricey, and they keep changing the design, so you have to keep buying different handles, which adds to the price. I had about 3 handles lying around that you can't get blades for anymore. Along comes Harry's. Mail order blades (and accessories), for cheaper than the name brands, and even the house brand knock-offs on those brands. Tried one. In fact, did a side-by-side comparison with Gillette Fusion, and they shave the same, with Harry's having a more comfortable handle. The only annoying thing is that they ask you a bunch of questions before you can place the initial order "to serve you better." Yeah right, you data-collecting, butt-wipes. I generally answer those things randomly, so no real harm done, and it is a good razor for less money.

Okay, enough of this hairy business, except to note that if I could easily transplant the stuff from where people don't want it, to where they do, I'd make a fortune. In the meanwhile, as the bald man said, "hair today, gone tomorrow."


Jul. 9th, 2018 04:37 pm
warriorsavant: (Signpost Ft. Benning)
Am reading a history called The Devil Soldier by Caleb Carr. Carr is best known for his excellent novel The Alienist, but he writes history too. The book is about Frederick Townsend Ward, who was an American mercenary commander in the Taiping Rebellion in China in the 1850-1864. It’s a period of time and a history that I knew nothing about. The Taiping were sort-of Christian converts (really had their own religion that was a mix of Christianity and their own thing) fighting the Imperial Manchu government. Seems the Manchus, although we think of them as the ancient line of Chinese Emperors, were essentially new-comers, being Tartars who conquered the place in 1600-something. For the Chinese, they were the interloping new-comers, since 200 years in China is like 15 years here. The Manchus were also corrupt, oppressive, and incompetent. Unfortunately, the Taipings weren’t any better. Ward was a soldier of fortunate who ended up forming a western-style organized and equipped, mercenary combat force that was apparently decisive in that civil war. The Imperial Government, since they had the Mandate of Heaven, were reluctant to hire lowly foreign barbarians to do their fighting for them. They also, despite having gotten their butts kicked in the Opium War (and repeatedly afterwards), saw no reason to change how they did business, organized, fought, or in any way changed their views that they were the center of the earth and everything they did was right. They would rather suffer 100 defeats than admit that any other way could be right, regarded any backing down as massive and unthinkable humiliation, and were masters of bureaucratic obfuscation. Much like their view that China was the center of the universe, it is a mindset I think the Chinese government still has, something to remember for anyone dealing with China today.
warriorsavant: (Default)
Or, I could have just titled this "various: mostly about family."

A small boast. The other day I had to do an excision on a 7-year old. I usually defer these until teen years when the child is ready and wants it, but the lesion was physically hurting her and mom talked her into doing it. I managed to do the local anesthesia (eg by injection) without her so much as saying "ouch" or otherwise seeming to be uncomfortable even once. Pinch the skin, keep talking to the patient ("talkesthesia" - which is not easy for me), and inject very, very, very slowly.

I don't know how I'd handle one of my kids going in for major surgery or other serious medical issue. For doctor's visits, Nom is the designated parent; I usually go too, but not always. For minor, but more-than-doctor's-office stuff, I'm the designated parent, and Nom sometimes goes also, but not always. Hedgefund, for all her fussiness has been fairly good with blood draws, ultrasounds, and other other more-than-doctor's-office stuff. Some of that credit goes to the staff at Montreal Children's Hospital, some she picks up from my attitude that medical things are normal, and some is she just has different things that do and don't bother her.

When Wallstreet describes / refers to something as "big," he always makes his voice BIG when he says it (eg "that big truck"). I don't mean louder, but he purses his lips, deepens his voice slightly, and makes the word resonate.

We have a Vietnamese landscape painting that belonged to Nom's paternal grandfather. Her father, who is a bit of a pack rat, had it at home and gave it to us when we moved to the new house. He had also tried to unload a bunch of other art on us which we declined. However this piece is a bit of family history. The grandfather had been in the Vietnamese Army, rising up to Colonel. He was initially in the Army under the French and a prisoner during the Japanese occupation, then when the country was divided in 1954, was in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). The painting was a gift from his junior officers when he was promoted to Colonel, out of their personal respect for him. I love history, and family history, and so am interested to know about this piece. Last night, I sat with FIL and asked him about the painting and about his father, which I think pleased him. BIL, other than having some self-identity as VN, doesn't care at all about VN history, culture, family history, etc (which is why we got that painting, not him). Nom cares, but not in an organized way. I am going to do a small write-up about the piece. I've done that for several items I've picked up over the years that are either antique, or have a personal/family story, or are otherwise unusual. I am doing this part for myself, but more so some day I'll be able to tell the kids about their great-great grandfather.
warriorsavant: (Infantry haircut)
Mort Walker, the author of the comic strip "Beetle Bailey," just passed away. He had been writing the comic strip since 1950, the longest tenure of any cartoonist. I won't say it was an accurate depiction of military life, but it had its moments. In 1954 the Stars and Stripes military newspaper stopped carrying the comic strip because "it would encourage disrespect for officers"...as a result of which 100 more newspapers started carrying it. Our hero's sister, Lois, then became a character in the "Hy and Lois" comic strip, and Beetle occasionally “visited" his sister and her family.

Stripes is not longer run by the military, and more recently (during my time) carried “Private Murphy’s Law,” which wasn’t all that much positive about military life, although maybe less negative than Beetle Bailey. The cartoon that I remember most of Pvt Murphy was when he gets his annual “compare what you are earning to your civilian counterparts” info sheet. He raises his hand, “Uh, Sarge, how much does a rifleman make in civilian life?”

They did send those out, saying that although you make xxx, also consider your free health care is worth yyy, and your PX privileges are worth zzz, etc. Actually a worthwhile exercise, because the benies added up (eg I didn’t contribute any cash to the pension I’m now drawing) but it also depended on if you used the PX/Commissary frequently, and how often you got sick. Not to mention it is a bit hard to calculate how much a rifleman makes on the outside.

Hmm, come to think of it, when we were deployed in 2002-2003 (start of Iraqi Freedom), the gate guards were civilian contractors. Another of then SecDef Rumsfeld’s brilliant ideas to downsize the military to save money - by paying someone 6-figures to do the work of an Army private.
warriorsavant: (Dr. Injecto)
I have two scientific facts to present today. The first is that everything is composed of molecules, which are built up (synthesized), from atoms. The second is that if this synthesis happens in a plant or animal, then God is happy, assigns an angel to dance around that molecule and bring great benefit to your body if you ingest it; whereas if that synthesis happens in a factory or laborary, then God is displeased, and Satan assigns a devil to sit on that molecule and thereby harm you if you ingest it.

Yeah, the second fact was sarcastic. Everything is made up of molecules, and they all exist in nature. Whenever someone wants “natural” treatment, I’m always tempted to state that I only employ supernatural treatments, and hope they don’t mind getting sprinkle with goat’s blood. That having been said, I rarely use the term “chemicals” instead referring to things as “molecules,” which of course, are much more healthy for people.

Molecules are molecules, your body treats them as such, and they have good and bad effects depending on the molecule and the dose, regardless of their origin. Whether evolution geared you to “process” certain substances is irrelevant. Plants can have good or bad effects on you or both: chocolate is yummy, strychnine kills you (although might be beneficial in low doses), digitalis can be life-saving or like-taking depending on dose. Which brings up the next key point ignored by naturalist and other mindlessly doctrinaire people: the dose makes the poison (Paracelsus, physician and alchemist, if you care). Entirely artifical substances can have beneficial effects, such as penicillin. Oops, penicillin is found in nature, named after the penicillium mold that makes it (however the penicillin you might be prescribed is produced synthetically to insure a purified, standardized, and we can have an adequate supply of it). Botox also found in nature. In high doses it kills you and/or gives you a plastic expression; in low dose it can treat many diseases (not just cosmetic). As for garlic, in low doses it tastes yummy, in moderate doses it wards off low-level vampires.
warriorsavant: (Books (Trinity College Library))
I love bookstores and libraries. To me, the central reading room of a great library is like the nave of a cathedral (icon is Long Room at the library of Trinity College, Dublin). The problem for me is that I get brain-lock. I want to buy everything, but since I can't, I'm almost afraid to buy anything. What if it isn't the best choice? Actually, these days I find myself going more mid-brow, both at bookstores and libraries. I confess I hadn't even been visiting libraries much past 2-3 years, partly because so busy (dang kids, they interfere with my reading and my drinking!), and partly because the library nearest us isn't very good. We recently inscribed ourselves in the library where we'll be moving, which is much better, but still rather disappointed in 2 of the last 3 books I borrowed from there.

What triggered going to a bookstore was finding my stash of "lucky money." Vietnamese New Year tradition, the elders give everyone else a coin or small bill in a red envelope to bring luck and prosperity in the new year. I always felt that I should use it for something special, and put it away in a drawer - several years' worth when I came across it recently. Still not a huge sum, but enough to actually buy something. I metaphorically scratched my head, and decided a book was the ideal item.

I had a dental appointment, and I knew there was a bookstore nearby, so planned to stop there on the way home. Going into the store, I hit the brain-lock, and realized part of that was insufficient caffeine. Fortunately they had a coffee shop attached. Unfortunately it was a certain Seattle-based major chain, but drug addicts in withdrawal beggars can't be choosers. I ordered a cappuccino, and the counter clerk (I refuse to call them "barristas" - get real people) asked me something incomprehensible. After the 3rd repeat, I realized he was asking, "Name for your cup?" which still didn't make any sense to me. I've named my children (some silly legal requirement here). I used to name my computers, but got over that. Hedgehogs have names, of course, and they chomp your nose if you don't remember them. But I didn't see why I needed to name a coffee cup, especially a disposable one. Eventually he managed to communicate that he was asking my name, which he would then write on the cup, so they could call me out the huge crowd of… well, actually, I was the only person ordering coffee just then, but I suppose SOP.

Caffeine finally perking thru my system, I spent some lovely time browsing, and eventually settled on 2 books (more than my lucky money covered, but I had some standard money on me also). One was about Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan, written by a reporter who had been embedded with a unit, and one was a popular science book on astrophysics. (Only downside is that it was written by Neil DeGrass Tyson, who although is an eminent scientist, and very good at popular explanations of science, also lead the evil movement that down-graded Pluto from a Disney character planet.) Looking forward to reading them, as soon as finish the last book I'd borrowed from the library, which is about expeditions to find the remains of the Franklin Expedition (for the non-Canadians/non-Artic history buffs in the crowd: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin%27s_lost_expedition ) I'm a firm believer that if you have books and coffee, the world can't be too bad.
warriorsavant: (Quebec sait faire)

It is the 375th Birthday of the founding of the now-City of Montreal. On May 17, 1642, the city was founded by Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, who led French missionaries and settlers onto the island. (The First Nations would disagree with the term "founding" in this sense.)

There are all sorts of celebrations today and all year, none of which I'm going to be attending. I'll wait for the 400th anniversary, because (a) I like round numbers, 375 is lame, and (b) the kids will be old enough to go see the shows.

If you care: http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/montreal/montreal-375-festivities-1.4118794

warriorsavant: (Time)
An elderly female patient who I was treating for her 3rd skin cancer plus some precancerous growths. She also has antecedents of an internal cancer and lymphoma. She's survived all this and still going strong. I apologized for the discomfort (okay, pain) during the local treatment. She gave me a tolerant look. Her daughter laughed, "at 15, she was in the uprising in the Warshaw Ghetto; this is nothing."

I pointed out my print of Roman Vishniac, who photo-documented the now-vanished inter-war life in the old Jewish Quarter in Warshaw. The mother thought she recognized the street.

People like that put "first world problem" whiners in perspective.
warriorsavant: (Books (Trinity College Library))
Just finished a couple. Usually I read for pleasure voraciously. I'm so busy these days, that it takes me weeks to finish a book. (Besides the 139th reading of My Pretty Ballerina, etc.) I also read slower if the book isn't all that interesting (just interesting enough to keep me reading, but not steadily).
          Lawrence in Arabia by Scott Anderson. (Mentioned back Oct 11th that had started it. Told you not reading very fast these days.) Tries to steer a middle course between the opposing common views on T.E. Lawrence (a.k.a. "Lawrence of Arabia") that he was (a) a great hero versus (b) heavily over-rated. Anderson succeeds in that. He gives good background into the world in which Lawrence lived and fought, which is to say the Arabian penisula and environs during WW I. Anderson also touches on the lives of some contemporaries who were involved in that world, but otherwise unrelated, which makes more for the book being disjointed and less for its being multi-faceted. All this assumes his sources and his interpretations of them are any better than those of the 100's of books that have gone before, which he derides. He also spends lots of time making fun of the military, governments, diplomatic services, all of which are presented as totally hidebound and idiotic, unlike, of course, the brilliantly-insightful author.
          Panzer Leader by Heinz Guderian. Guderian was one of the apostles of mobile armored warfare, which we have come to refer to as blitzkreig. Others were the British J. F. C. Fuller and Basile Liddell-Hart, and the Frenchman Charles DeGaulle (yes, that DeGaulle). However, these gentleman had the misfortune to be in the service of the powers that had won WW I, and so said powers didn't feel the need to really learn how to fight any differently than they had. Guderian had been on the losing side, so they decided they needed to learn to fight differently. At the beginning of the war, the British and French had more tanks, and better tanks than the Germans (as did the Russians), but didn't use them properly. It is not rare in military history that the edge goes to the first side to learn to properly use new technology, not just to deploy it. Much of the work is tedious "the XXX Division attacked along the left flank…" Great source material, but boring to read. A part that I did find striking is just how big the militaries were at that time. Each of the major combantants probably had more men under arms than the five largest modern militaries combined. The interesting parts are his insights into mobile warfare, and insights into the Nazi German war machine. Despite usual beliefs about the hyper-efficient and adaptable German military, he presents the higher commands as quite hidebound (there's that word again) and too far removed from the action (literally and metaphorically) to understand and adapt. Some of this might be the tendancy in memoires of people near, but not at the pinnacle of power, to generally describe everyone as being an idiot except them. Hitler is presented as a very hypnotic individual, megalomaniac, with great plans, but gets too timid in carrying them out, and also too far removed form the front to understand the situation. Guderian acknowledges the evil of Naziism, but that isn't is focus or his point. He is describing events from a purely military consideration. Overall, a slow read, but a good one.
warriorsavant: (Infantry haircut)
Attended the Remembrance Day ceremony at the Cenotaph at Place Du Canada in downtown Montreal. I closed my office for 2 hours to be able to attend. Speeches were made, wreaths were laid, helicopters did a fly-over, artillery fired a 21-gun salute... all of which trivial compared to the 2-minutes of silence.

Two pictures )

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

warriorsavant: (Renovations)
Following my post about what a disaster this presidential election is going to be whatever the outcome, http://warriorsavant.livejournal.com/591659.html
had the following email exchange with an Army buddy, one who has a great knowledge of history as well (posted with his permission).

There's no doubt that both parties have forgotten who they are working for; my disenchantment (perhaps better to say the opening of my eyes to our political reality) came with Bush 41. He was running against Dukakis and I would have probably voted for Bush except that he had a fund-raiser in NYC - I forget how many $$$ per plate. A reporter asked a spokesman what that money got you - he answered that you got access to GHWB. The follow-up question was "how do people get access if they can't afford $$$ a plate? The answer - practically sniffed in disdain - was "they can seek access other ways". Right there I knew I no longer mattered. My  vote was window dressing on an elaborate charade; no-one in either party really gave two shits about me. So I voted for Perot. I was still registered Republican; voted for Perot again when GHWB ran against Clinton. Then Newt Gingrich became speaker of the house, and, nauseated by his smarminess and hypocrisy, I switched affiliation to Independent. After the 2000 hanging chad debacle I switched to Democrat. Upon return from Iraq I promised myself I'd never vote for any Republican for anything ever - and except for our last mayoral race in NYC, the Republicans have made it easy to keep that promise. Even there, I was voting against DeBlasio, not for whoever the Republican candidate was.

So, I understand anger - also alienation, and the sense of betrayal - you play by the rules your whole life and get royally screwed for it. But anger is a state of mind, not a plan. The Tea Party movement initially had promise - if it had become a "throw the bastards out" 3rd party instead of being co-opted by the far-right wing of the Republican party something may have actually changed. They ended up electing and re-electing the same lying frauds who were busily destroying the American middle class.

But anger doesn't get you anywhere. Embracing a candidate like Trump requires that you either embrace his message - which at its heart is vile (Obama is a Kenyan-born Moslem, hordes of Mexican rapists swarming across the Rio Grande, etc) and akin to that of the other demagogues who made the 20th century so "interesting" - or, you are willfully blind to his lying, fraudulence, hypocrisy and cowardice. You could say much the same about Hillary - I never voted for her husband - but at least she is experienced in government, competent, and sane. At best, Trump is a cranky, sleep-deprived old man - the embarrassing uncle who rants about "them" throughout Thanksgiving dinner. At worst he's an utter cynic who believes in nothing other than self-promotion, says whatever he thinks will please a crowd, and gives no thought to the consequences of his words. I'm not sure if it's Hezbollah or Hamas who has seized on his claim that Obama founded Isis to push their claim that it was all a CIA/Mossad plot just like 9/11. And the people they are talking to are the same ones who believe that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion are true. Words can get people killed.

I'm not sure where we go after this election. With such a large portion of the populace so utterly disenchanted I seriously fear for the future. I think it will take something catastrophic to change the system, and some people may welcome that - but they don't know how bad things can get. I've been to Iraq, you've been to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Haiti - so we've both seen failed states, and Syria is a good example of what a civil war fought with modern weapons looks like. I don't want to see that here, but with one candidate claiming that he can only lose if the system is rigged and the election stolen, there is a potential for violence. It's sad that perhaps the best we can hope for is to slip back into apathy if the economy is stable - bread and circuses for the masses.

I agree with your final thoughts regarding our political "elites". The Romans had some good thoughts that apply here, see Cicero- "Politicians are not born; they are excreted". But I forget who it was that lamented a people who preferred the safety of an easy slavery to the rigors of freedom.

Thank you. Good points. I will note, however, that it is equally the fault of the Democratic leadership that the Tea Party movement became co-opted by the far right Republicans (and thereby giving them power). The Tea Party was initially a vague anti-establishment ground swelling. There were many things they wanted/stood for, some of which the Democratic establishment could have agreed with. (Again note that they were not a unified force, so different ppl wanted different things.) Instead of doing the moral and tactically correct approach of identifying the points of agreement, supporting those points, and thereby getting the support of a broad swatch of disaffected voters, they just made fun of the whole movement (again, I’m especially thinking of that idiot Pelosi) and drove them into the arms of the far right.

Didn’t know you were a life-long Republican at one point, not that it matters now. GHWB might have been part of the disconnected elite, but he at least was competent as President, unlike his son, who was the worst - literally the worst - president at least in my lifetime.

Not sure who originated that second quote that you finish with. Loki in the Thor movie?

Oh, final note about His Whininess. He is as amazing as his supporters claim... he’s actually going to drive me to vote for Hilary Clinton.

Agree on the failures of the Democratic leadership. In the past they had  a talent for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by nominating the most un-electable person they could find. They also seem stuck in their own echo chamber, preaching only to the choir. Also agree on Bush 41. He was an intelligent man with experience in the world who did put his life on the line for his country. I don't know what the attrition rate was for naval aviators in the Pacific, but I'm pretty sure it was high (especially in large, slow aircraft like the TBF Avenger). Agree also on Bush 43 - I was astonished when he got a second term - his reward for blundering into an unnecessary war and doing his best to lose it. That alone soured me on having much sympathy for the Republican base. It's one thing to buy into the wedge issues the Republicans put up but to re-elect an incompetent who is getting thousands of Americans and Iraqis killed or maimed for nothing is a bit much. I actually knew someone at the XXth - now a retired full Colonel - who was certain Saddam was behind 9/11. Talk about drinking the cool-aid. Never mind Hillary's e-mails - I want to see what Cheney, Rumsfeld Rice & Dubya actually believed, vs what they told Congress and the American people.

In retrospect I think what drove me from the Republican party was not so much the perception of their catering to an elite but the utter hypocrisy of many of them - Gingrich being a prime example - a draft-dodging serial adulterer who presumes to lecture the nation on patriotism and family values? Puh-leeze! If I had a message for the GOP it would be "don't piss on me and tell me it's raining".
warriorsavant: (Books (Trinity College Library))
I love to read. Haven't had much time for it lately - well, actually have been reading a lot lately, mostly out loud, including The Cat in the Hat, Caillou, Aubergine... And those repeatedly. As for adult reading, the list has been limited, but some good ones in there. Before going on to that, a tip of the hat to Garrison Keiller, who will no longer be broadcasting A Prairie Home Companion, one of the most brilliant and touching radio shows from out of the heartland of America. Life in Lake Wobegon will continue in our hearts, but we'll no longer get to hear about it. Somewhere in the back of my mind, if I ever go back to writing Science Fiction, there will an equivalent Anasemble Broadcast show.

Now (drum roll please), my little list:
Erik Larson's Dead Wake (courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] eattheolives)
David O. Stewart's Madison's Gift (courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] oxymoron67)
J.K. Rowling's stage play of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (courtesy of my being a nerd)

Dead Wake is about the sinking of the Lusitania. It is gripping reading, with almost the classic definition of a Tragedy, in that you know what is going to happen, you follow the twists and turns with agony, hoping it won't, but knowing it will. One insight, that Larson writes in the Afterward he had had, was that the US didn't immediately go to war right after the sinking. In school, that was rather the impression we got, but in fact it was almost 2 years later. I never thought WW I was our business, but the US got sucked in by a combination of British cleverness and German stupidity. Regardless, one feels for the passengers on the Lusitania, and gets a fine feeling for the background of the tragedy.

Madison's Gift is not as well written. In fact, it's rather slow going, but it too gives interesting insights into a historical period, and into one of the less-well-known but key players, James Madison (political theorist, 4th president and one of the Founders of the US). Worth a read as a history buff.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is also worth reading, but very different from the books. First, it's the script of the 2-part stage play, so you have to imagine it's being staged (some requires very good staging to get the effects described). Second, Harry et al are now adults, with the protagonist being his son. There's lots of father-son/intergenerational issues brought out. Definitely enjoyed it, but not as much as the original books, especially the first one.
warriorsavant: (Cafe)
We had to meet with a contractor, and since didn't need to bring rambunctious toddler and now-crawling baby to a construction site, we got Nom's parents to watch the kids. Since they had so agreed, we decided to do the day as the urban, sophisticated adults we like to pretend we are.

After the meeting, we went to the Musée des Beaux-Arts for the Pompeii exhibit.
They all die,

It was a good exhibit. I'd been to Herculaneum (basically a suburb of Pompeii) many years ago, but didn't remember that much. Most of the exhibit focused on life in a major Roman city during the early days of the empire. Seemed like life was pretty good if you weren't too poor (well, I guess that covers most times and places, but Pompeii was a fairly wealthy port city). It was a good balance of artifacts and narrative. Details here http://www.mbam.qc.ca/en/exhibitions/on-view/pompeii/exhibition/

After that, briefly cruised through an exhibit of Toulouse-Lautrec. Nothing much new there, but I enjoy his work and depictions of the period. Some was more political than I'd realized, including a book cover that basically presented Kaiser Wilhelm II as a horse's ass. A few years back there was a store here in Montreal called L'Affichiste (basically a hobby business of the owner) selling originals of advertising posters from 1890-1920's that have been reproduced so many times.

We finished with a leisurely lunch at Europea, one of our favorite restos, to which we hadn't been recently. We were doing "cheap chic," in that we had a coupon and didn't have any wine. I'm sure they lose money on people like us, but I always tip slightly better than the actual cost would normally justify.

They start with tiny nibblies (uh, pre-appetizers) of beef jerky which tastes like ambrosia, blue cheese "lollipops," and truffle-oil popcorn. Then the actual appetizer of lobster bisque "cappuccino" (it isn't, but it is served in a cup as if was, and is the richest bisque you ever tasted, with a foam you can only dream of for real cappuccino)*. For my first course, I had the duck tartare, and Nom had the calamari tagliatelle. All very odd-seeming ingredient combinations, but they really worked. For the second course, I had caramelized scallops with green sprout risotto. I'm really glad I had it, but a little to outré even for me. Nom had essentially meat and potatoes, but absolutely perfectly done. Sometimes we'd like to eat like that every day, but in truth, it would be too rich, and best reserved for special occasions.

*Quoting actual listed menu for the purists in the crowd: )


Jun. 6th, 2016 11:17 am
warriorsavant: (Infantry haircut)
Today is the 72nd anniversary of the most complicated military operation in history. A moment of solemn reflection please, for the American, British, & Canadian Soldiers who stormed ashore on that day.


warriorsavant: (Default)

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