War! What Is It Good For? Quite A Lot, Actually…

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This argument keeps getting repeated because it sounds complex – but it’s actually simplistic bullshit. You can’t blame everything on some power conspiracy and the media.

Hitler needed to die. Saddam needed to be spanked. ISIS needs to be wiped off the face of the Earth.

Someone a lot smarter than me once said that ‘war is politics by other means’ – that at some point all the pretty words and good intentions will mean absolutely fuck all and that violence is the only way to achieve a better world.

To think anything else is childish and naive.

There are monstrous people and entities out there in the world that will not listen to reason… will not answer the call to be civilized… will not value human life and dignity – and the only way to fix the problem is to forcefully remove them from their positions of power since no megalomaniac will just step aside when you ask nicely.

Let’s examine my three examples from above.

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Adolf Hitler.

Yes… in many ways Hitler was the almost unavoidable result of the restrictions and penalties that were slapped upon Germany at the conclusion of The Great War (World War 1) – which in itself was a wholly avoidable conflict that sprung from complex and nefarious machinations by a several political entities… but it was a war that happened all the same, and Germany was by far the worst offender.

In short, the Allies reaped the whirlwind.

But… but… Hitler used this excuse to further his own agenda by co-opting the anger and destitution of the entire German population so that he could “cleanse” the world of people he did not care for: primarily the Jews, but also Gypsies, Negroes, homosexuals, those with mental or physical handicaps, etc etc etc.

Terrifyingly, Hitler and his Nazi pals would have succeeded if it hadn’t been for two things… a major blunder on his part, and something happening on the other side of the planet that he had no control over.

At the start of hostilities, Hitler signed a non-aggression pact with the Soviets – essentially promising Stalin that Nazi forces wouldn’t attack bona fide Russian territory as long as the USSR stayed out of Germany’s way.

It sounded nice on paper, full of flowery language that established Nazi Germany and the USSR as best of pals – but as with all promises, it didn’t carry a whole lot of weight with one of the parties: Adolf engineered the pact for the express purpose of gaining territory without worrying about Soviet resistance… and when the Nazis had conquered pretty much all of Europe, they tore up the pact and attacked Russia with everything they had.

During The Great War, the Russians had lost something like 14 million fighters – which lured Hitler into thinking that Russia would be easy pickings, but he failed to understand how much the Soviets loved their snow-ridden country, and how they would muster 12 million more soldiers to fight for their Motherland (8 million of which who would die).

Also in World War 2, the Nazis were allied with Imperial Japan – so much so that the two countries were constantly swapping gold reserves to prop up each others economies… despite the fact that Hitler held a great deal of disdain for Asians of all colours.

Unfortunately for Hitler, the Japanese decided to attack the U.S. of A. four years into his battle for world domination – which only enraged the Americans and brought them into World War 2 properly (they had supplied weapons to Britain and its allies for quite some time).

It became quickly clear that the Nazis were going to be fighting wars on both the Western front (the British, the Americans, the Canadians, etc.) and the Eastern front (the very angry Russians, who had more fighting men/women than the entire Third Reich) – which was a tactical situation grave enough to give any leader a moment of pause… but not Hitler: he doubled down on all fronts because he was not going to give up any of his ill-gotten territory, nor was he willing to give up the opportunity to commit genocide.

In the face of daily briefings by the German Wehrmacht that Nazi forces were getting their asses handed to them by the Allies, Hitler refused to accept reality – and it was at this point that it became clear that Hitler needed to die.

Hell, even members of his own Nazi party wanted Adolf dead – trying on a few occasions to do it themselves.

Thankfully, Hitler himself did humanity that favor by blowing his brains out after his wife Eva had poisoned herself – but only after realizing that the war was truly lost… which had been made evident by Allied forces breaching Germany’s pre-WW2 borders.

Could the bloody, wholesale violence of the WW2 conflict have been avoided? No chance whatsoever.

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Saddam Hussein.

Let me say from the outset that Saddam didn’t need to die – so I’m going to restrict this section to the First Gulf War (2 August 1990 – 28 February 1991) and not the latter Gulf War II that eventually lead to his capture and execution.

The First Gulf War was really the end result of the cessation of American-Russian Cold War posturing when the former Soviet Union collapsed.

You see, throughout the Cold War, countries in the Middle East were used as pawns by the American and Russian governments – sometimes to great effect, but mostly it was a draw… maintaining a power balance between Communism and The West.

For example, the Americans armed Iran with the best weapons the U.S.A. could export – that is until the Iranian Revolution overthrew the Iranian royal family (The Shah) in favor of strict Islamic rule.

Fun fact: to this day, the Iranian Air Force still flies F-14 Tomcats that were gifted to the Shah – despite that the Americans retired the aircraft from service a number of years ago, which means there are no new spare parts to keep those planes flying once they break down… not that the Americans would ever let Iran buy said parts.

Anyhow, Saddam’s Iraq vacillated back and forth between the Americans and the Soviets – essentially choosing whoever would give him the most toys for his military… which in the end was the Soviets: there used to be a running joke that Iraq had more Russian-made T-38 tanks than the USSR did.

By choosing to accept the Soviet “philanthropy”, Iraq alienated itself from The West – and the The West made good on this by drastically slashing the amount of oil Saddam was allowed to sell on the open market (yes… Iraq sold a lot of oil to their Russian benefactors, but Soviet currency wasn’t worth a whole lot).

When the Cold War drew to a close, The West continued to see Saddam as a nuisance and thusly kept the oil embargo in place.

At this point, Iraq was the equivalent of the spoiled brat who throws a tantrum when nobody pays them enough attention – despite their having every toy in the Sears Wishbook.

Seeing that he had more tanks than any of his neighbours, Saddam decided to invade Kuwait – not really for the territory, but for the oil wells that the Kuwaitis possessed… oil wells that produced a good deal of the crude that made the world run.

His reasoning was pretty simple: by controlling the Kuwaiti oil, Saddam could pressure OPEC (the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries – but you can call them the Oil Cabal) into lobbying their Western patrons for lifting of the embargo on Iraqi oil exports.

If Kuwait hadn’t had any oil, it’s highly unlikely that there would have been a military intervention by The West… but Kuwait did have oil, and that oil went towards powering big American SUVs, European diesels, Italian sports cars – while also being turned into the plastics Asian nations turned into manufactured goods.

With OPEC charging more money for less oil, a military coalition was formed to free Kuwait.

At this point, the war was still avoidable.

Saddam could have seen reason and pulled his forces back into Iraq – but he had surrounded himself with “yes men” by executing anyone who disagreed with him… which meant that there was nobody in his cabinet to point out that all his Soviet-made military hardware had a glaring flaw: The West had spent decades developing weapons and tactics designed specifically to destroy the Soviet military.

And so, Saddam needed to be spanked… to be forcibly shown the error of his ways.

Oh… and just in case you’re asking why Western forces didn’t warn Saddam about his out-of-date military, let me assure you that they made that very clear before shipping a single HUMVEE to the Middle East – warnings that fell on self-assured, deaf ears.

The rest is history: within 6 months, Iraq’s military was blown to bits… its military morale shattered… and its forces driven back inside Iraqi borders.

Despite being thoroughly beaten, Saddam was still defiant… ordering his war chiefs to mount continual attacks with what little armaments that they had left – and to set fire to the very oil wells that Iraq had invaded for in the first place.

If you can’t win the war, you might as well punch Mother Nature in the cunt, right?

It took a further month to negotiate an end to hostilities – and by that time, the Iraqi forces were pretty much stuck with throwing rocks at Coalition troops.

Was it all about oil? No: Saddam had shown the world his willingness to commit genocide by using chemical weapons against Kurdish rebels in Iraq’s northern territories – but it was mostly about oil… and Saddam’s monumental ego.

Of my three examples, the First Gulf War was the most avoidable… and the Second Gulf War was a crime committed by the American Republican Party (for which nobody was punished, by the way).

If Saddam had had a single, discordant voice of reason in his political cabinet, he might have been convinced that invading Kuwait was pure folly.

If the world hadn’t entrusted the pricing of oil to the OPEC Oil Cabal, there would have been less impetus for squabbling over Iraq’s seizure of the Kuwait oil fields.

However, we must also take into account the feelings of Kuwaiti citizens – who were, for the most part, overlooked in the conflict: a Kuwaiti person had every right to refuse Iraqi rule… the right of every sovereign nation to be free of harassment by foreign powers.

So, in the end, the war had to happen.

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Finally, we have ISIS.

The rise of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh was a foregone conclusion – the direct result of the Second Gulf War… which, as I stated above, I think was wholly avoidable.

By the very nature of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, rogue Islamic groups were not allowed to form in Iraq – since they would be seen as a threat to the ruling Baathist party… which necessitates the destruction of said Islamic movements by the elite Republican Guard.

There’s probably no way to determine how many Islamic factions were put down by the Iraqi government – what with most of its leadership dead and all – but with all that violence, a particular type of anger began to fester in one extremist vein of Islam… and unfortunately, it was the most dangerous.

You see, groups like Al Qaeda and the Taliban are all about strict adherence to Islamic tenets – but a very narrow interpretation of Islamic texts that can be lumped into a catch-all called Sharia Law.

While the implementation of Sharia Law is both brutal, inhuman, and anachronistic – the jihadis that follow Al Qaeda and the Taliban have a fairly well-defined end game: possess a territory and rule it.

Yes, expansion of that territory is always an option – but global conquest isn’t the driving force, regardless of how much Osama bin Laden called for the death of Western infidels.

This is where ISIS differs: while they have the same adherence to Sharia Law, ISIS also wishes to conquer the entire planet… just so that they can usher in Ze End Of Ze World.

Yes, folks: ISIS is a Doomsday Cult Of The First Order – but this time around, the bad guys want the entire planet to drink the poisoned Kool-Aid.

When asked, an Al Qaeda jihadi fanatic will tell you that ISIS is much too fanatical for their tastes: while 72 virgins in Heaven sounds like a good idea, how are they supposed to get those virgins if the entire human race is dead?

And because of this fundamental goal… the whole foundation of their existence… it will be forever impossible to negotiate with ISIS: your desire to keep living is incompatible with their desire to kill you and everyone you love.

Fun fact: ISIS has taken possession of territory from other Islamic nations – and then proceeded to destroy Islamic historical sites located therein… purely because ancient Islam wasn’t Islam enough (which is a form of logic so preposterous as to defy explanation: Mohammed, source of all things Islam, wasn’t tough enough – despite ISIS waging war in his name).

Want another fun fact? ISIS agents specifically recruit mentally handicapped persons to employ as suicide bombers.

And of course, there’s all the raping and murder of children… but who’s counting? Certainly not the liberal Peaceniks who think these ISIS animals can be reasoned with.

I’m not a bloodthirsty guy.

If a sensible peace can be arrived at through non-violent means, I will always vote for that – but if you take away any hope for that kind of pie-in-the-sky resolution, then by His Noodliness, I’m 100% for shooting every single last ISIS jihadi in the face… or bombing their encampments into a fine, bloody paste.

Yes, we are reaping the whirlwind that the Second Gulf War set in motion… but that doesn’t mean we have to sit back and let these savages have their way with the world because some of you out there lack the intestinal fortitude.

That’s the thing about war: it happens whether you agree with it or not… especially when it’s for the simple right to exist.

Paris after the ISIS attack

Do I agree with all wars?

No.

There have been some really tragic, drawn-out conflicts that were mostly avoidable – mainly Korea and Vietnam.

Those two conflicts were such drawn-out affairs because of the Cold War… proxy battles between the United States and the Soviet Union (via its fellow Communist nation, China).

Let me be clear: the wars themselves were unavoidable as both the South Koreans and South Vietnamese had the right to defend themselves against the newly aggressive and Communist North, but the wars could have remained regional without international involvement.

However, The West didn’t see things that way: Communism was too dangerous to let spread, so major offensives were required to drive it back… with such large military operations only able to be waged by a military that built solely for that purpose – and The West had been predicting Communist invasions of Continental Europe pretty much since the end of World War 2, and therefore had a surplus of troops and weapons.

I should take a moment to point out that the Korean War was fought with weapons not much advanced from WW2, and hence the combat dragged out for years just as before – but this time, there was the real threat of nuclear exchange hanging in the air.

In the end, no real peace was attainable – and so the Koreans have been managing a cease-fire for sixtyish years… with the threat of war resuming being quite real.

Vietnam, however, was its own thing: military hardware had advanced (we humans never tire in our wish to kill each other more efficiently – right on up from the first caveman to use a club instead of throwing rocks, to the team who first conceptualized the MIRV nuclear warhead) and the Cold War had reached its most deeply entrenched period where both sides had developed firmly seated ideologies that dictated war being fought by third parties on behalf of The West and Communist nations.

The problem with the South Vietnamese was that the financially poor sub-nation wasn’t really equipped to fight Communism at a level of vigor the United States found acceptable – which, at least in the beginning, meant that France, Biritain, and America subsidized the South Vietnamese with weapons and professional soldier training.

But, in an effort to screw Atheistic Communism as hard as Jesus demanded, American boys were eventually drafted for Vietnam to fight a war that America hadn’t spent 20 years preparing for – which essentially turned the conflict into a meat grinder that chewed through 60,000 U.S. soldiers before it was realized that winning was not a possible outcome without using nuclear weapons.

And while Jesus hated Communism, Americans wouldn’t support Nuclear Armageddon – and honestly, they should have said “enough is enough” a lot sooner than their elected officials.

Yes… the tie-dyed, LSD-imbued, and Bob Dylan-powered hippy movement was a direct result of the Vietnam War – but, ultimately, guitars do not beat bombs.

(But rock guitars did win the Cold War – and to argue the point with Americans will just garner you a dismissive eye roll)

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The fact that ‘Born In The USA’ was anti-war is lost on American good ol’ boys.

So, yeah… war isn’t a simple concept.

People who blindly regurgitate anti-war sentiments are the same ones who are anti-gun – which is just as infantile as a mantra, but that’s an article that I’ve already written before.

The world is a big, ugly place.

It’s a place where there are far too many skin colours, religions, political ideologies, and even genders for there to ever be true peace.

Everyone – and I mean everyone – hates somebody… whether they want to admit it or not.

And with hatred comes war.

We’ve gone an amazing 70 years without a truly global conflict.

How much longer do you think that will last? Honestly?

And for the last goddamn time: War is good for business… Peace is good for business. Two sides of the same coin.

Boeing makes more money on airliners than it does on fighter jets.

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A Flame War With Dumb Americans

Below, you will find transcriptions of a back-and-forth that’s taking place betwixt myself and some good ol’ ‘Murican boys on a YouTube video – and it really does shed a light on how ill-suited Americans are to the global influence they wield abroad.

NOTE: The video on which we are commenting is someone’s copy of a National Geographic video about an Ohio-class ballistic submarine (SSBN), whereas the video is titled in such a way as to make you think it’s about a Los Angeles-class attack submarine (SSN) – which has raised the ire of people familiar with naval assets like myself.

— Here… we… go! —

Grandpa The Grey: However, when they launch their Trident Multiple Warhead Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, they’re ATTACKING someone… right? So in reality, even a boomer is used as an ATTACK sub. lol

Stormcastle: Boy… that’s some special kind of stupid. No wonder this internet is getting dumber.

John Ruggles: @Grandpa The Grey, let’s educate you a little bit. The US Navy (not combined with the Army as in the title of this video) currently has 3 types of submarines yet only 2 COMMON names for them. they have SSN, SSBN and SSGN. The letters stand for (in order as listed prior) Submersible Ship Nuclear, Submersible Ship Ballistic Nuclear, and Submersible Ship Guided-missile Nuclear. SSN’s, being the smallest are referred to as Fast Attack because compared to their big brother, they are small and agile like an attack dog. The SSBN and SSGN are called Boomers because the weapon they carry on board, in the past, made very big booms at very long ranges. The SSGN is the new type converted from older SSBN’s and refitted to carry a different type of weapon but since they are still the same type of hull, they keep the name.

Stormcastle: Or just make it simple for the ignoramus: if it’s named after a U.S. state, it’s a boomer… if it’s named after a U.S. city, then it’s probably a 688 fast attack… if it’s named anything else, it’s probably a Seawolf or Virginia – which, being small and agile, are ‘faster’ fast attack subs that can patrol shallower waters. I guess that wasn’t as simple as I figured in my head, LOL

Michael Rocker: Whatever the size of the Submarines in the fleet are they are still very capable of kicking the shit out of any ones Navy especially the Russians. Our tracking capabilities are second to none.

Stormcastle: @Michael Rocker, Typical American bullshit: there are quite a few subs out there that could sail through the middle of a USN carrier group and never be noticed – a Russian-made Kilo, for example. FFS, y’all need to stop being so full of yourselves. Also, unless you’re in the trade, don’t make grandiose comments you know nothing about save for what you’ve seen from watching The Hunt For Red October on Netflix.

+xc5647321 xc5647321: [comment removed by author – essentially saying diesel/electric boats are crap, which is why American boats are better]

Stormcastle: @+xc5647321 xc5647321, You don’t know what you don’t even know – and yet, you still like to spout off. While, yes, diesel/electrics have a range that’s somewhat limited compared to a nuke – “extremely limited” is pure stupidity on your part: a Kilo (which is pretty much the gold standard for the type, and is why I make note of it again) has a submerged, non-snorkel range of about 800 kilometers at prowling speed. You think I’m anti-American? No… I like you lot just fine when you’re not acting like you’re the greatest country on Earth – which just happens to be 99% of the time.

Yeah… your military tends to have most of the nicest toys – but there are areas where other countries will gladly hand you your asses on a platter.

I mean… you’ve lost in both Iraq and Afghanistan because all of your high tech weapons were beaten by cavemen who haven’t progressed much beyond the Bronze Age.

So, please… put your Yankee Doodle soapbox away and go back to the vids about deep frying turkeys and NASCAR where you belong.

+xc5647321 xc5647321: [comment removed by author – asking where I live and what makes it so great – before assuring us he knows everything about naval matters because he has a “relative” in the service]

Stormcastle: @+xc5647321 xc5647321, Someplace without rampant racism… someplace with top-notch education (America doesn’t even rank in the Top 20)… someplace with free healthcare that doesn’t require citizens to sell their cars just because they have a broken leg… somewhere where cops are 95% less likely to outright murder people in the street… someplace where there aren’t more people in prison than there are people in school… someplace that has proud military traditions while also spending money on being actually human… someplace with a clean environment… someplace where corporations aren’t people nor can they effect the government… someplace that isn’t #1 in preventable child poverty.

Where could that be? Oh… about 20 or so countries around the world.

You have a “relative” in the USN? That’s nice. Apparently, I have a long-lost uncle who’s a Nigerian prince who needs someone to launder millions of dollars for him. Would you help?

+xc5647321 xc5647321: [comment removed by author – asking why I’m scared to say where I’m from if it’s so great]

Stormcastle: @+xc5647321 xc5647321, Not scared at all: CANADA… I was just pointing out that there are many places better than the U.S. of A. as far as quality of living is concerned. Yes, you Yanks have just about everybody outgunned – except for the Chinese, of course… and Americans gladly subsidize the Chinese military by shopping at Walmart. But, what’s the point of having the best military when it guards a shit way of life?

You asked why people move to America? To get rich, of course – as that’s what you export to the world, and is also why so many groups want you all dead: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness money.

Personally, I love all your military toys… but I just wish they were at the disposal of someone with a better sense of what it is to be human.

If – somehow – y’all elect Donald Trump as president, my point will be proven: given your “freedom”, the majority of Your Fellow Americans chose a greedy, racist, dumb-as-a-brick, narcissistic douchenozzle to have his finger on the launch button.

I only love your military because it generally keeps the worse guys in check – except for when there’s nothing for the U.S. to gain… like when Russia invaded Georgia (the country, not the state) or the Ukraine.

But, by God, if either of them had oil to make gasoline for your SUVs, y’all would have thrown a nice little war for each.

So, yeah… I love the U.S. Navy… just not a fan of the country from which it sails until you fix all of your problems.

motorcop505: @Stormcastle, The envy of the US is real with you. You rant and rave about others in an attempt to belittle them without success. BTW, if you ever actually traveled to Afghanistan or Iraq (or most 3rd world countries), you’d see how the people in those countries are so thankful for the US ejecting dictators like the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, and for the billions of dollars of equipment, food, and assistance we provide them with. That would actually entail putting your ass on the line to help others, and we all know that isn’t about to happen. Stick to your hockey and… Sorry, my mistake. I thought there was something else Canada was famous for (you know, like how the US created the Internet), but there isn’t anything.

Stormcastle: @motorcop505, To “belittle” would mean I was being less than honest – but I was being 100% truthful.

America is: someplace with rampant racism… someplace without top-notch education (America doesn’t even rank in the Top 20)… someplace without free healthcare – practically requiring citizens to sell their cars just because they have a broken leg… somewhere where cops are 95% more likely to outright murder people in the street… someplace where there are more people in prison than there are people in school… someplace that has proud military traditions while not spending money on being actually human… someplace without a clean environment… someplace where corporations are people and unfairly affect the government… someplace that is #1 in preventable child poverty.

If you disagree with any of those things, you’re both delusional and a moron.

I’m all for you having the best military, though… really I am.

Please, continue spending more than half of every tax dollar on warfare while your children starve and whole section of your society are legally mistreated.

Us here in Canuckistan will play our hockey and then go to the hospital and have 100s of tests done just for shits and giggles – before going back to school and learning more than any Murican who doesn’t have a diamond-encrusted trust fund.

Make fun of Canada all you want – it really doesn’t bother us in the slightest since we know our lives are better than yours.

Seriously… I came here to talk about subs, but man, y’all got me sidetracked with your JESUS LOVES ‘MURICA bumper stickers.

Michael Rocker: @KriegProductions [who’s tried to get the thread back on track a few times] What Stormy Boy leaves out about Canuck health care is that if you need surgery they can make you wait for months and a great deal of Cunucks come south of the border for health care if they can’t wait and their government will pay for it. One reason is if they need a transplant they would get put on the same list as an American rather than not get one at all up there. They also don’t have the same quality of surgeons like we have here.

Stormcastle: @Michael Rocker, Someone’s been drinking the GOP koolaid, LOL. About 5 years back, I was in a motorcycle accident and broke my left leg in 6 places – which required 2 rods and a whole Home Depot worth of screws… and within 2 hours of reaching the ER, I was in surgery getting it done. Being the curious sort, I looked up how much the whole ordeal (including tests, x-rays, MRI, etc) would have cost in the U.S…. and it topped $400,000!

In 2 hours flat, I had a surgery done that would have cost you nearly half a million dollars – and I never had to pay a red cent… not even for the ambulance ride.

Yeah… Canadians do travel to the U.S. for EXPERIMENTAL treatments that haven’t been scientifically proven to 100% deal with whatever issues they have.

And, yes, some Canadians do have to wait for specialized surgeries as there are shortages of some types of surgeons because the unethical medical types prefer to make millions of dollars in the U.S. instead of helping the people where they were born (as I pointed out up-thread, greed is your #1 export).

Nothing you can say about Canada hurts our feelings (we can have those checked by a medical professional for free, after all).

Well… you CAN poke at our Navy and it might smart a bit – leaky British subs and all – but it’s nothing we don’t know, and we generally accept it as a trade off for not being born into debt like our ‘Murican neighbors.

We’re healthier, smarter, and happier… while we read about American cities that are being straight up poisoned by their city officials just to save $100/day – and whose elected government in Washington won’t help them because most of the people in Flint and other similar places are black.

By all means, keep the marching band going and salute the Stars & Bars while thanking Jesus for your iPad (made in China).

I’ll sit here and cheer your Navy on as it stares down the Iranians. Oh, wait… the Iranians can just grab your guys whenever they want.

KriegProductions: I’m quite pleased with myself. 5/10, +2 for unintentional troll.

Stormcastle: @KriegProductions, Oh, I know. I do hate being suckered into this sort of thing – but patriotism isn’t just for Americans 🙂

KriegProductions: @Stormcastle, Eh. I was in the US Army. Interesting, but it wasn’t that spectacular. In fact, you could pretty much say it inspired certain criticisms that I have with it’s command structure.

Michael Rocker: @Stormcastle, Give it a break Stormy. Canada is not exactly perfect. First off Sorry that you fell off you bicycle and got hurt but the job of any hospital is to get you in and treated in a timely matter. I was talking about people who need transplants or who have cancer as well as knee or hip replacements. I know a couple of people who died while waiting for cancer surgery or a transplant because it wasn’t a medical priority. I was in an accident in my car when a guy with a Harley was on my side of the road going around a curve and if I tried to get out of his way I would not be here right now and over the side of a mountain. I wasn’t hurt but the guy who hit me lost his left foot. My car insurance paid for his surgery and amputation of his left foot. His leg was also broken in 3 places and he needed a ton of hardware CT’s and MRI as well as X-rays and I saw the medical bill sent to the insurance company and it was just a bit over $50,000 and nowhere near the $400,000 you were talking about.

Born in Debt. What a laugh. Canada is just as bad if not worse. Canada sends your tax money over to the UK to keep your Queen living high on the hog. The US took care of that during the revolution. Therefore the saying “No taxation without representation” came from. The UK didn’t represent us so why should we send our tax dollars there.

As far as the GOP Koolaid I don’t go anywhere near it. Why don’t you fix that province in your country that feels they don’t need to be a part of Canada and should only speak French. Most of the Francos like you hate the Anglo’s especially the ones from the US but never complain about taking US money which right now the USD is worth $1.40 and the CAD is only $0.72. Who is in Debt?

Your politicians are no better then anyplace else so don’t even think you are better than us. And who is this Jesus guy you are talking about? Is he your next door neighbor from Mexico?

Stormcastle: @Michael Rocker, Wow… you just had to go full retard, didn’t you? ZERO Canadian dollars go to Britain unless they’re in our pockets and we buy a chocolate bar at Heathrow. Canada has been a separate, sovereign nation since 1867 – but we remain part of the Commonwealth… and organization many countries continue to join even now.

We use a parliamentary system like Britain because it’s by far the most effective way to govern – and looking at your completely dysfunctional system only proves that by a factor of at least 100: your government can’t get anything done at all because of the constant Dem Vs GOP bullshit that’s caused how many government shutdowns in the past decade? Yeah… don’t throw stones since you live in a glass house.

An MRI alone costs $15,000 in the U.S. – and feel free to check that on your National Institutes Of Health website, where they track such things.

“Fix” Quebec? While, yes, they are a constant annoyance to the rest of Canada, they have every right to be here as much as us Anglophones – and that’s another way we’re better: we teach acceptance… where as Americans demand assimilation.

Exchange rates? Puhleeeeeze! That only affects us if we go to your side of the border, thanks… and we can do without Cheezits from Target (as we have all the Walmarts and Costcos we could ever need right here at home).

As for your insurance paying for surgeries, yeah… but who pays for the insurance? You! HMOs in your country are a nightmare to any civilized nation – as they’re happier when you’re dead. Oh… and how many millions of Americans don’t have any insurance thanks to idiot state governors refusing to use the evil Obamacare? How many are denied care because they’re poor (also a massive problem in the U.S. – no food stamps here, son).

Trying to assault the facts that I lay out just makes you look more stupid with every word you type.

Michael Rocker: @Stormcastle, Wow. Full Retard huh. I have never been called a retard more or less a Full Retard. Is that the best you can say. You sound like Pee Wee Herman saying I know you are but what an I.

So you have Walmart and Costco and now you are getting Loews Home Improvements just took over Rona. Now you have a new place to fix your leg.

LOL “Fix” Quebec? While, yes, they are a constant annoyance to the rest of Canada, they have every right to be here as much as us Anglophones – and that’s another way we’re better: we teach acceptance.” Is that why every year or so they want to vote to secede from the rest of Canada and be their own nation? The provinces east of Quebec have already have made plans to ask to become part of the US rather than having to drive through  Quebec because the only way they can make money is to charge outrageous tolls and taxes for truck driving through to go east or west.

You said it “we teach acceptance.

As far as taxes going to the UK

Queen costs us more than the Brits pay – Over the past 10 years, the Canadian cost of supporting the monarchy has more than doubled

http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/queen-costs-us-more-than-the-brits-pay/

Do I have your full on RETARD yet?

Stormcastle: @Michael Rocker, 1) Obviously, you’re not a movie buff – or you’d get the ‘full retard’ thing. 2) Still harping about the Quebec minority that wants to live with France? As I recall, there’s quite a vocal minority in Texas that thinks the state should leave the Union. 3) You didn’t read the Maclean’s article – or, if you did, you were unable to properly decode the English language used therein due to your inadequate education: it describes the cost of our parliamentary system that has offices duplicating the ones in Britain – which does indeed make it a trifle more expensive than theirs since Canada has a smaller population (37 million to the U.K.’s 64 million). The article does not indicate we pay for the monarchy – since we only do that when Queen Elizabeth is actually in Canada for state visits… something that even the U.S. does when she visits you.

Look, Mikey… don’t show up to a knowledge war when you’re woefully unarmed, mmkay?

This is why America is laughed at around the world: you think you know shit, but the stuff you know is *actually* shit.

For further proof, go over to Google and type in (with quotation marks for subject clarity) Ignorant American. Even Your Fellow Americans agree that the majority of you are idiots… even if they’re well-meaning idiots.

As I said pretty much all the way at the top of this flame thread, I like Americans just fine… just not when they pretend to have a brain. Y’all serve a purpose for us Canucks, after all: you kept the Ruskies from coming through Canada to get at you during the Cold War – which we really appreciate since nobody likes borscht.

****

Anyhow, I’m sure Michael Rocker will be back to spout more clueless ‘Murican jingoism, but I’m done battling someone with such an obvious handicap.

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Darwinian Motion

I want you to stop doing whatever it is that you’re doing right now and think back over the last 20 years.

How many times have you heard about kids being allergic to nuts or some shit like that?

Or how about going to visit a medical specialist for important tests and finding out that the office is a “fragrance-free zone”, and then get sent away because you committed the terrible offence of putting on goddamn deodorant when you woke up that morning?

And let’s not forget the endless parades of lawsuits seeking damages against major corporations simply because the plaintiffs lacked any common sense and used the company’s product (in ways the average person would be smart enough not to) and somehow managed to hurt themselves.

In any other species on Planet Earth, these things would result in the animal dying and being removed from the gene pool as a matter of Natural Selection – the #1 rule of evolution: that only the best and fittest examples should live to procreate, thus ensuring continuation and improvement of the species.

We humans (at least the educated type) have long championed the theory of evolution since Charles Darwin set it forth – and yet, we’re actively interfering with and preventing Darwinian processes from taking action inside our own species.

Ignoring Evolutionary actions in the bigger picture is what is leading to global overpopulation, and as we continue to re-order our society around these abnormalities – as opposed to just letting nature play itself out – we are actively damaging ourselves as a whole.

Before you call me a monster who’s in favour of eugenics, let me be clear: I’m not saying we should just stop caring for the sick or those with handicaps.

What I am saying is that we should – for the long-term survival of humanity – stop looking at the individual and start seeing how these people actually fit into our ecosystem.

By encouraging the assimilation into society of those people who would diminish the population as a whole, we are entering into a mathematical certainty where the future has greater numbers of abnormalities.

Of course, medical abnormality isn’t the only threat: stupid people present just as great a threat.

Instead of rewarding sheer stupidity with monetary gains via court settlements, we should be casting scorn at them and making these people social pariahs.

We should stop including warnings on products that any reasonably intelligent person would be able ascertain on their own.

CAUTION: THIS COFFEE IS HOT!

Really? Are you fucking kidding me? You boiled the water in order to expedite the quick release of oils from the coffee grinds, but somehow – in the 15 seconds since you poured the coffee into my cup from the carafe containing more boiling hot coffee – the liquid hasn’t magically cooled itself to room temperature or lower?

CAUTION: DO NOT STICK HANDS UNDER LAWNMOWER WHILE THE ENGINE IS RUNNING!

Wow! You mean that if I were to insert my hand into a space where there are metal blades flying around at 300 miles an hour, I’ll lose my hand or something?

Jesus H. Fucking Christ!

The people who can’t figure these things out on their own should be allowed to simply stupid themselves out of existence to keep them from spreading their mentally deficient genes in the form of children.

But no… we have to plaster everything with bright warning labels loaded with easy-to-understand typefaces and words in effort to keep Donnie Dumdum from drowning in a Porta-Potty – when we would have simply shaken our heads during generations and times gone by and accepted the fact that Donnie was too stupid to live.

As a society, we’ve taken to the assumption that every human on this planet is of the same value: that every child is a special and precious snowflake that should be coddled and protected from the natural deficiencies that Mother Nature visited upon them when, in fact, nature is simply seeking a way to balance the scales – despite humanity spending trillions of dollars to do away with any notion of a scale in the first place.

When we watch the news on television – or read about it in an issue of Time Magazine – we are confronted with scenes of suffering, hunger, sickness, and all-around strife in 2nd and 3rd world nations in Africa and the Middle East… and we’re urged by the talking heads and columnists to feel bad for these unfortunate souls because we’re better off and civilized.

The harsh reality is, of course, that what you’re seeing is a more balanced ecosystem – where the natural attrition of the physically/mentally deficient is let to go ahead with fewer impediments than would occur in our nice and comfy 1st world countries.

*

My View: “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”

First thing’s first: The Hobbit trilogy is NOT in any way going to be like the Lord Of The Rings trilogy – and that’s okay.

Where the three LOTR films were a tale of direness and doom, the Hobbit films will be decidedly more airy and light… and before you complain, that’s the way the actual book is.

Tolkien wrote The Hobbit as a book for younger readers, and as such, you won’t find the darkness and moral terror that the LOTR books brought to the table.

However, even as a “children’s” book, The Hobbit graces 300 pages or so in novel form – and when you factor in material that bridges the 60 years between The Hobbit and The Fellowship Of The Ring from Tolkien’s exhaustively written appendices for the realm of Middle Earth, there’s still plenty of material to craft out each of the Hobbit’s two forthcoming sequels.

Yes… Peter Jackson and the Brothers Warner are milking the franchise for your hard-earned dollars, but as long as the movies themselves are good, who are we to care?

Which brings me to why I’m here: is An Unexpected Journey any good?

Quite.

(BE WARNED, YE WHO READS PAST THIS POINT: THERE BE EXTENSIVE SPOILERS FROM HERE ON)

Again, I must stress the tonal differences between the two sets of movies: this movie might turn off those of you who can only tolerate fantasy genre films if they’re monstrously epic and carry the fate of the world in the balance – because there’s none of that in An Unexpected Journey.

Well… that’s not entirely accurate as there is foreshadowing of Sauron’s return to Middle Earth – mostly in the form of a parley between Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel, and Saruman.

However, for the majority of the film, we in the audience follow the adventures of Bilbo Baggins as he’s enlisted into the Company Of Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage from the first season of Strike Back – who’s character in that show had to be terminated at the start of the second season in order for him to play his part in The Hobbit trilogy).

During the opening minutes of An Unexpected Journey, we join Ian Holm’s elder version of Bilbo Baggins at Bag End – his lovely home under a hill in The Shire.

This sequence of the movie actually takes place mere hours before we were introduced to Middle Earth at the start of The Fellowship Of The Ring – and thusly concerns the preparations for Bilbo’s 111st birthday… and naturally brings back Elijah Wood’s Frodo Baggins (in a nice feat of continuity segueing) before his own tortuous adventure began.

Bilbo has finally sat down and put pen to paper in an effort to document his many adventures that have earned him a certain reputation amongst the denizens of Hobbiton – and we see in his eyes a mixture of fondness for the memories and a tiredness that carrying the One Ring around in his vest pocket for 60 years has inflicted.

Quickly, we’re transported backwards in time to find Martin Freeman’s younger Bilbo outside his home and enjoying some quality pipe smoking on a fine morning… only to be distracted by a tall shadow falling over him – a shadow belonging to none other than Gandalf The Grey.

Now, I must take a moment to point out that while Gandalf still looks like he has spent 2,000 years in Middle Earth, the make-up and costuming for Ian McKellan somehow manages to make the wizard look a bit more youthful – I think mostly by making him appear a bit more plump while enlarging his wizardly hat… while attaching a fetching scarf that I don’t recall him wearing in Fellowship.

After a bit of dialogue that goes back and forth between Bilbo and Gandalf – which played out a bit awkward in places, but lifted up by Freeman’s excellent carriage of a confused Hobbit – evening falls and Bilbo sits down to a nice plate of pan-fried fish… only to be interrupted by the arrival of a Dwarf, and another, and another, and another, so on and so forth until Bag End is positively bursting at the seams with dwarven merriment as they proceed to eat poor Bilbo out of house and home.

You see, Gandalf had left a little bit of runic graffiti on Bilbo’s front door before he departed – a rune that seemed to mean something along the lines of “Meeting Place For The Association Of Hungry & Homeless Dwarves”.

After the re-appearance of Gandalf, and the arrival of Thorin Oakenshield (played with great subtlety by Armitage that minces nobility, stoicism, and world weariness), it becomes clear that Gandalf has come to enlist Bilbo on quest for treasure… one that lies under the Lonely Mountain – sometimes referred to as the Misty Mountain – in the former dwarven kingdom of Erebor, which was once the greatest city to ever grace Middle Earth.

There’s one small catch: the city and it’s ridiculously tall piles of gold have been usurped by the fearsome dragon Smaug.

It’s made clear that for their plan to succeed, the company of dwarves (and one  Mithrandian wizard) need someone that could sneak by Smaug… one who possessed a scent that the dragon had never encountered – and since dragons weren’t overly concerned with the halflings who lived in The Shire, it made sense to Gandalf that an adventuresome Hobbit would fit the bill quite nicely.

However, when it was made adequately clear (to great extent by one dwarf) that there was a more-than-fair chance that Bilbo could end up incinerated at some point during the journey to reclaim Erebor, Bilbo decides that he doesn’t want to indulge in childish fantasies that would take him far from home and place him in harm’s way.

At this point, the scene to which I lead this article with takes place… and I must say, it’s quite a marvellous bit of a capella and one of my few bones to pick with the film as the scene is cut short far too short (and I honestly hope that there is a longer recording that will be unleashed at some point in the future… as it is, the version on the current soundtrack CD is precisely the length seen up top).

Needless to say, Bilbo changes his mind and signs his name to the rather lengthy dwarven contract that makes it clear that 1) the dwarves that comprise the Company Of Thorin Oakenshield bare no liability should any harm come to him, and 2) he is entitled to one fourteenth of any treasure recovered on their quest.

And so begins his unexpected journey across the lands of Middle Earth, on an adventure of the likes that very few hobbits had ever been on – one that brings the company into conflict with all manners of creatures: orcs, goblins, trolls, and wargs.

It also brings these adventurers to the Elvish kingdom of Rivendell – the same Rivendell in which we first meet Lord Elrond in The Fellowship Of The Ring – and as with Gandalf, the movie accomplishes the goal of making Elrond seem younger (in spite of the fact that elves don’t age) by having him ride in on horseback after slaying a marauding party of orcs.

It’s here that I feel I should discuss the one issue that seems to have taken over these Hobbit films: the frame rate.

As you’ve probably heard – either with a positive or negative slant, depending on the critic – Peter Jackson filmed this Hobbit trilogy at 48 frames per second (meaning that for every second of movie on the screen, there are 48 separate frames going by) instead of the industry standard of 24 frames per second that has been around for about a hundred years.

What a higher frame rate brings to a film is a level of clarity – some have likened it to looking through a large window while a theatrical group enacts a play based on The Hobbit – that audiences have never experienced before.

A great number of people have said that the clarity is so distracting that they can’t pay attention to the story because they are overloaded with set and make-up details.

Personally, I find that to be total and utter bullshit – mainly because I’m a person who works with filmed media… and since I know what frame rate does, I know it’s advantages.

When you have a movie like The Hobbit, which has an abundance of fast-paced battle sequences and lots of running around,  you get a strobe effect  while the action goes across the screen: it can be challenging for the human brain to make sense of fast moving action at the standard 24 frames per second because it seems that the objects on the screen are stuttering as bits of movement are lost between each frame of film.

Logically, as you add more frames to each second of film, more of the action is captured and then displayed when you play it back at the cinema – which makes a battle between 13 dwarves and an entire city of goblins (which is already pure chaos) seem a lot less like a jittery sequence of photos, and more like the fluid dynamic that it really is.

More frames = more information… and since your brain prefers to make it’s decisions with the most information possible, 48 frames per second (or higher) makes much more sense than the archaic 24 frames that was established with the advent of movies with sound – because it was easier to apply a linear audio track to film that ran at that speed.

Many of you who have HD video cameras at home may have played with the FPS settings on your own – many of these cameras come with a 1080p/30FPS option – and have discovered that higher frame rates actually result in a better picture.

This image clarity lends itself even better to 3D films since your brain has to assemble two different data sets into one image simultaneously for the 3D to work effectively… and you may have experienced the difficulty that 3D movies have when the objects on screen start moving around erratically: you doubly notice that strobe effect that’s inherent to 24FPS film.

Add in the polarized glasses that you wear while viewing 3D films at the theatre which reduce the amount of light that reaches your eyeballs, and the data rate that’s going into your brain drops even further.

So, yeah… there’s a lot to be said for clarity.

And since the technology of today’s cameras, digital cinema projectors, and home HDTV screens all have the capability to show high frame rate video, the traditionalist’s urge to keep filming at 24FPS for no reason other than it’s just the way audiences have been used to seeing movies doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Your average HDTV screen now supports 60Hz – which means it can effectively display video at 60 frames per second!

So I can only hope that the eventual Blu-Ray video release of An Unexpected Journey is at 48FPS without having to pay extra – as the majority of cinemas around the world are only showing the movie at 24FPS… and I can tell you right here, the action sequences were jittery as hell in that format, as I was unable to attend a showing with 48FPS.

Anyway… back to my analysis of the actual movie.

There are great stretches of the movie’s nearly three-hour run-time where not a lot happens – where the scenery and cinematography take the place of narrative… but that’s okay as it gives you plenty of time to soak in New Zealand’s countryside, and to pay attention to all the little things that make fantastical events and characters actually gel in Peter Jackson’s films.

Every now and then, you may find yourself looking at your watch – mostly during dense expository – but rest assured that these moments are far in between… and are only natural when converting Tolkien’s material to the big screen as he was very fond of run-on sentences that could last entire pages.

I’m not a Tolkien nerd by any stretch of the imagination, so I can’t tell you precisely what was in the books that made it onto the screen – or what scenes or characters in the movie were made up by screen writers on the whole/were imported from Tolkien materials outside of the originating Hobbit novel.

What I can tell you is that not much screen time was truly wasted – if any at all.

I can say here – with absolute confidence – that every bit of casting for characters we didn’t already know from the LOTR movies was pitch perfect.

Every actor seemed to live and breathe their individual character, and played off the other people in the ensemble brilliantly.

Every dwarf was splendidly dwarvish… and Martin Freeman was note-perfect as the young Bilbo Baggins – so much so that you couldn’t even imagine another actor performing in his hairy foot prosthetics.

Of course, all of the returning actors and actresses bring their ‘A’ games as well – adding small flourishes here and there to make you believe that their characters are indeed younger… whether it be they are quicker with a smile, or a fit of eye rolling when darkness is suggested to be at hand.

Gollum is once again on the screen, and Andy Serkis is able to flesh the miserable creature out more completely than he could a decade ago: while the LOTR films employed early, Oscar-winning motion capture technologies to bring Gollum to life via Serkis’ physical acting, An Unexpected Journey allowed Serkis to use his own facial expressions this time around (instead of them being purely animated during the previous films) – which really helps bring Gollum’s tortured psychosis to the forefront.

In the end, my only quibbles with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – the frame rate issue, some make-up processes could have been a bit more refined between orcs and goblins, and that maddeningly short song about the Misty Mountain.

On the whole, I give An Unexpected Journey 8.95 stars out of a possible 10.

What’s maddening is that I have to wait a year for the next one! >.<

Thorin Oakenshield

The Battleship Age

As most of you out there know, heavier-than-air flight has only been around for a little more than 100 years – and before that, flying about was limited to balloons.

I don’t know if any of you are avid balloonists, but balloons are neither fast enough or precise enough in their movement to make a good platform for waging war – mostly employed as lookout platforms so you could see your enemy coming before he was close enough to shoot you with his musket.

Heavier-than-air flight changed the rules of war – you could project your military strength fairly quickly and precisely anywhere you wanted to as long as the plane/helicopter had fuel in the tank.

Embarrassingly, it took military strategists and planners a little while to catch on to this notion on any appreciable scale – roughly 20 years after the Wright brothers first sailed aloft into the wild blue yonder above the ground, though they had played with biplanes in The Great War in very picturesque air battles that spawned the likes of the Red Barron.

But those World War One air battles were strictly that – air battles.

The idea of massive ground offensives launched from the air wasn’t something that had been well developed – beyond primitive concepts like the open-cockpit gunners dropping modified mortar shells over the sides of their planes.

Eventually, technology caught up with the desire to kill your enemies on an effective enough scale to start planning air raids and sorties where you could launch a campaign of “death from above.”

One of the most important advances in this area was the aircraft carrier, which has become the modern era’s capitol ship – the most important expression of your military’s might and war-making prowess.

The United States’ ranking as the #1 superpower in the world relies quite heavily on its fleet of carriers and super-carriers (example pictured above) that can mobilize an air force – that’s larger than the entirety of some small countries’ military –  anywhere there’s an ocean deeper than 50 feet.

But that wasn’t always the case.

Up until the early 1940s, the naval powers had another primary weapon – the one ship that was supposed to make you shit yourself when you saw it come over the distant horizon.

The battleship.

In today’s fast-and-lazy culture, you’ll catch people calling any warship that has guns on it a battleship – but the truth is that there’s nothing in active military service for any nation that even approaches the sheer power that a true battleship brought with it.

In today’s navy, the biggest ships – that don’t carry aircraft – are cruisers (9,000 – 10,000 tons)… and the bulk of them are guided-missile cruisers which are designed to strike targets on land from far out to sea.

Next one down on the size-chart would be your destroyer (8,500 tons) – which, as the name implies, is meant to destroy other ships.

Then you have your frigates (5000 tons), which are used mainly for ship-to-ship interdiction or antisubmarine warfare.

After that, you get to patrol boats (1,000 tons) and fast attack boats (500 tons or less) – and both of these are generally used by coastal defense agencies.

You can be forgiven for thinking those 10,000 ton cruisers were pretty hefty, but the pinnacle of true battleship design – the American 890 foot long Iowa-class – tipped the scales at 52,000 tons of deadly intent.

The defining quality of a battleship were their biggest (main) guns… and these were 16″/50 caliber (not .50) canons on the Iowa-class that were able to lob 2,700lb. shell on to a target up to 24 miles away – with the shell leaving the muzzle at 2,500 feet per second.

A proper battleship had at least 6 of these monstrous guns, and 9 in general practice, for attacking other battleships or land-based targets – and it was a really bad day if you found yourself on the receiving end of a battleship’s ire.

Battleships were the ultimate expression of their respective nations’ military power – the way in which an entire country’s people underscored their will to have things happen their way at any price.

Of course, that price was steep – both in the terms of the crew and servicemen who would die during battles, and in the amount of money the individual governments had to spend on their construction (in excess of $1,000,000,000 in today’s dollars).

$1 Billion U.S. dollars is a lot – $80,000,000 in 1940’s currency – and even more considering that at the time of World War II, the world was coming out of The Great Depression where cash wasn’t exactly just laying around.

I should take a moment right now to inject one thought: the American B-2 stealth bombers (above) cost a billion dollars each… which just goes to show how much the military establishment loves inflated prices – $1 billion for 52,000 tons of naval steel vs. $1 billion for 79 tons of stealth air power.

Anyhow, back on track.

The battleship came about as a natural evolution from the primitive ironclad ships that first sailed the seas in the 1860s – starting with France’s La Gloire and then became popular after their use in the American Civil War (beginning with the USS Monitor – whose turret is pictured above –  and the CSS Virginia) – growing from ships that were primarily wooden and were later sheathed in metal plates (clad in iron… ironclad) into ships that were built entirely from steel and pig iron from the keel up.

As much as a battleship was designed to dish out a pounding, they were simultaneously designed to take as much as they gave – with solid iron plating that averaged 11 inches in thickness to nearly 2 feet thick armor that  protected the machinery and men that fired the main guns.

The largest battleships that ever sailed the seas were the Yamato-class built by the Empire Of Japan (above) that displaced 72,000 tons – but weren’t very effective during combat due to their ungainly size: it took too long to get up to speed and then they were hampered by a very large turning radius.

Bigger wasn’t necessarily better, but the Japanese emperor still felt that a truly powerful nation had to have the largest battleships – despite the fact that Japanese aircraft carriers and their air wings were proving to the world that air power was the power of the future… which was evidenced by the attack on Pearl Harbor (pictured above) that drew the Americans into World War II.

(I suppose there could be a joke to be made about the Japanese overcompensating for… the size of their small country?)

By the time the last generation of battleships were commissioned, the writing was already on the wall – aircraft had advanced to the point where they could carry death and destruction many times further than the furthest point where a battleship could fire a shell to.

Plus, as giant metal islands, battleships were very vulnerable to aircraft attack because they were mainly designed to take fire from other surface ships and their thickest armor was in areas likely to take a lateral hit – meaning very little armor was in place to protect the behemoths from bombs and bullets coming down out of the skies.

That, however, didn’t mean that battleships couldn’t make a difference.

You really didn’t want to be on the receiving end of one of those 2,700lb. shells, whether you were on a ship (that whole ship-sinking thing) or supposedly safe in a bunker on land – either way, their explosive and kinetic energy were pure hell on Earth.

For this reason, battleships continued on in active military service well past World War II and the Korean War… going on to serve the Americans in both Vietnam and – finally – the first Gulf War (Missouri pictured above in the Persian Gulf).

Why?

A 16″ Mark 8 naval shell only cost between $500 and $1000 (depending on purpose)… which is peanuts compared to $569,000 – $1,450,000 cost of the Tomahawk cruise missiles that TV newscasters became so enamored with during the Saddam Hussein scuffles in the Middle East.

In the end, it became too expensive for the world’s navies to continue upgrading the venerable battleship so that they could continue to fight in the modern era – radar/guidance/fire control systems, missile systems, maintenance of the gigantic turbine engines that consumed 100s of tons of fuel oil per day.

So, now, all of the great American battleships from World War II – save for two that were sold for scrap, and the hulk of the Arizona exactly where she sank – are now sitting as museums, tied up to piers almost permanently (except for the occasional jaunt to dry dock to repair leaks) in what navy veterans hope to be a lasting reminder of the sacrifices made for freedom.

Only one other nation has preserved a battleship: Japan… and they’ve only saved one, and the Mikasa (above) was built in 1899.

It surprises me that the British haven’t held on to at least one of their battleships since the whole British Empire was ruled by naval power, which has given them a partiality to the Admiralty and it’s tools for warfare on the high seas – but their last King George V-class battleship (above), the Howe, was towed off to the ship breakers in 1958.

I suppose it’s a blessing that the American culture is so obsessed with their military and it’s history as it’s the only thing that’s kept 9 of these mighty ships at least partially alive – though a few of them are falling into disrepair (the USS Texas – pictured above – is quite prone to flooding as of late).

A lot of you may not think these throwbacks from a long gone era are overly important once you’ve aged past your school field trip years, but if you live in a free nation, you owe that freedom to the mammoth endeavors your progenitors embarked on before you were even born.

There is a misconception among a lot of Americans that the USS Arizona (above) remains permanently commissioned  – and while that would have been a nice gesture on the part of U.S. lawmakers, the Arizona wreck is maintained by the National Park Service… but does have the unique right to fly the  flag of the United States forever as if she was still an active service ship.

Oh… and that part from the BATTLESHIP movie that came out in 2012? You know… where they fire up the Missouri and go charging after the alien bad guys? Yeah…. that couldn’t happen: no fuel in the tanks, and who in their right mind would keep live ammunition – shells still in firing condition – aboard a museum ship that sees thousands of visitors on a regular basis?

All you need is a bored high schooler goofing off on a tour and wondering what would happen if they hit a shell really hard in a certain area – and then death, carnage, and major problems for a national treasure.

However, please feel somewhat authentic while playing your Battleship board game from Milton Bradley (old school) or Hasbro (new games): back in the old days, those big guns were sighted and ranged by human eyes – a spotter would look through binoculars while you fired on the opposing enemy ship and called out how close each shot was until the shells finally found their target.

Not quite the same as calling out a letter and a number, but still vaguely similar.

Preoccupied With The Occupation Of Occupy Wall Street

Let me say this first: the Occupy movement has already failed.

In the first handful of days at the Occupy Wall Street event, there was something interesting going on – there was a hopefulness that a message could be made loud enough to catch the much-derided 1%’s attention at the top of the capital food chain.

It seemed like a situation that could spark to a sort of Arab Spring uprising that would force changes.

But… the message was quickly lost as everyone (and their dog) who had ever had a grievance with the system of capitalism showed up with a cardboard sign.

Immediately, the movement became a hodgepodge… a cohesive mess of the needy that lacked any sort of focus.

Just as quickly as the Occupy movement spread to other cities, this terminal protest disease spread out to the new locations… and nobody seemed to notice or was willing to do what was necessary to heal the organized group organism.

Instead of a single, collective voice calling on the rich to change their ways, the Occupy movement mutated into something that required not just the ears of bankers and investment brokers, but the attention of every sort of executive that had ever been in contact with money: bankers, investors, insurance agents, HMOs, Hollywood types, retirement fund operators, school board trustees, mayors, execs at restaurant chains, dental surgeons, toy makers, taxi operators, and the list goes on almost indefinitely.

In a few quick and easy steps, the Occupy movement had gone from relevant (good) to super relevance (bad).

To have an effective message, it has to be concise and to the point… something that can be carried by the masses with a unified voice.

The Arab Spring protests succeeded in overthrowing the governments of countries like Egypt because every person who picked up a stone to throw at the government’s forces in the streets wanted the same thing:  they wanted the ruling party and it’s corruption gone – end of story.

It’s a model that could have made the Occupy movement truly revolutionary and the Western world would be on it’s way to change.

But, instead, the Occupiers maintain an incredibly fractured front with nearly every person at these protests wanting a different form of change… and it’s that kind of behavior that those in power can effective ignore pretty much forever.

It’s sort of like someone on Facebook creating a group that sets out to draw attention to one thing that would seem very important – let’s say the abuse of raccoon dogs in China – and then proceeds to flood the group with links about Nike sweatshops in Thailand, the amounts of trans-fats in KFC chicken, and the failures of the American political system.

That Facebook user meant well, but is left wondering why he or she doesn’t have anyone joining their online cause and it’s simply because they couldn’t stay on message.

It’s the same in politics: the politician who’s most likely to win is the one who has a set number of priorities and then hammers away at them on the anvil of the public stage  – instead of jumping around from issue to issue as each voter mentions a problem during the campaign.

In fact, in the brief history of the Occupy movement, there’s only been one time that protesters got to the verge of getting some concessions made.

Several days ago, a group of Occupiers from the Los Angeles movement managed to shut down one of the United State’s most important ports by sealing off the entrance: trucks that would normally have picked up goods made in China and hauled them away to Walmarts across the nation couldn’t get in or out due to the mass of protesters standing in their way.

This ‘stand in’ lasted for about 4 hours before the Occupiers drifted away to their usual encampments… which is quite unfortunate.

Four hours may not seem like a long time, but when you take into account the amount of freight that goes in and out of the Port Of Los Angeles, even seconds of inefficiency cost shippers and receivers millions of dollars in lost revenue because those lost seconds propagate forward through time and can eventually turn into minutes and then hours.

So, when you make a four-hour stand, the collective sphincters of shipping magnates and the companies like Walmart or Target – who depend on their goods being delivered on time – clamp shut hard and then those execs start sweating as they start seeing the money they normally make slow down.

If those Occupiers had maintained their presence at the Los Angeles docks, and then got protesters from movements in other port cities to do the same, the very people who the Occupy movement is supposed to be targeting would become very uncomfortable – and would start thinking of ways to assuage the angry mobs.

Of course, that would depend entirely on the commitment of the people in the Occupy movement since those billionaire executives would put pressure on elected officials (that most assuredly received campaign contributions from companies controlled by said execs) to crack down on these protesters via legal means through the deployment of riot squads or military personnel.

If the Occupiers are willing to be arrested, pepper sprayed, tased, shot with high-speed bean bags, hit with sound cannons, bombarded with tear gas canisters, and beaten with billy clubs – all in sufficient numbers to completely overwhelm the legal mechanisms that were deployed on behalf of the 1% – then they could indeed successfully create change.

Governments that are freely and democratically elected have no stomach for bloodshed in the streets, especially at the behest of billion dollar corporations that could afford to lose some money if it meant that people’s lives would get better.

But, no.

The Occupy movement lacks that focus… that honest desire to change things.

The extensive camps across North America have become love-ins for the economically disenfranchised… meccas for every hipster, Gen X slacker, unemployed teacher, and general malcontent that doesn’t have anything better to do.

For these people, the message is the act… instead of the message leading to an act – which is why Occupy will eventually fail.

Media outlets focus on the Occupy movement mostly because it’s become a sideshow, but also because it provides some political drama as various city councils try to cope with the public disruptions.

In fact, the media are the only people honestly paying attention to the Occupy movement since the 1% have decided the Occupiers present no threat to themselves and their money-making empires.

So let me say this to you, Occupiers of the world: change your strategy or go home.

If you’re not actually interfering with the 1% by removing money from their pockets, you’re of no real consequence.

Gather up… firm up your resolve… solidify your message… and declare war on the 1%.

Block access to major ports.

Physically prevent people from shopping at major retailers.

Stop buying Starbucks coffee on your way to the Occupy camps.

Take your money out of the major banks and commit to a local credit union.

Honestly threaten the 1% by taking away their money… instead of being a bunch of dirty hippies standing around clapping each other on the back for a job well-done when you actually haven’t accomplished a single thing.

In the words of my progenitors: shit or get off the pot.

Or… in modern vernacular: get real or fuck off.

Occupy This

The Frayed Ends Of The Nuclear Cord

For all it’s faults (byproducts that have to be sequestered for half a million years, for instance), nuclear energy is amongst the best ways to generate electricity known to mankind at this time – discounting any future advances in fusion or solar power generation.

Nuclear doesn’t generate the greenhouse gases that spew forth from coal and natural gas power plants… isn’t effected by cloudy days or winter seasons like solar… has no problems when the air is still and fails to turn the windmills… and it doesn’t reroute entire aquatic ecosystems like hydroelectric dams.

But yes… there is that need to protect humankind and all our friends in the wild kingdom from the nuclear waste on scales of time that are longer than civilization has existed on the face of the planet.

Regardless, nuclear energy’s benefits are vast and every facility constructed to harness the power of the atom is a boon to society as it generally means there are less coal-burning plants toxifying the air we breath.

The problems with nuclear energy fall into two categories: environmental, which I’ve touched on above… and political, which I’m going to talk about below.

Nuclear reactors can be harnessed for electricity generation, yes… but they also can be used to create fissile material like plutonium or enriched uraniums that are necessary to create an atomic weapon.

Generally speaking, the technology required to build a nuclear power station is only affordable to nations that are more or less responsible enough to be trusted with any nuclear weapons that they might create – countries with governments that subscribe to the reality that deploying such weapons in anger would not be in their best interest.

Even the two most volatile neighbor countries that have nuclear weapons – India and Pakistan – realize that exchanging atomic potshots at each other would never be a small, localized engagement… that other nuclear powers greater than their own would most likely intervene with punishments of either military or political varieties.

With India being aligned with the Western superpowers like the United States, Great Britain, and France (don’t laugh… nukes can be dispatched from Parisian bunkers), a marginal country like Pakistan – who’s alliances aren’t clearly defined – would likely be struck with thermonuclear warheads carried by ICBMs or cruise missiles fired by New Delhi’s friends in the event Pakistan somehow came out on top.

The biggest check in the nuclear weapons business is that both the United States of America and Russia have enough nuclear weapons to end human civilization as we know it (or possibly altogether), with China, Great Britain, and France following behind them… and this is clearly enough to discourage smaller countries from developing any sort or atomic weapon.

There would assuredly be dire consequences for launching any sort of nuclear attack – no matter how much you hate the guy you’re pointing them at.

However, reality isn’t a universal concept in some corners of the globe.

There are a few governments that are so removed from society that they have become pariah states – the ones that nobody ever invites to the New Year’s celebrations at the United Nations, and ones that are perfectly happy with their status.

In the context of this discussion on smashing atoms, I’m focusing purely on the communist nation of North Korea and the middle eastern country of Iran.

Both countries eschew the global community (and the realities embraced by it) and have created unto themselves their own version of reality… one that generally places themselves at the center of the universe and deludes the ruling parties into thinking they’re untouchable/invincible.

In the case of North Korea, Kim Jong Il and his buddies (I use ‘buddies’ loosely since there isn’t a person in the country he wouldn’t shoot – including family members) rule the land in an almost empirical manner that really hasn’t been seen since the great dynasties of history: it’s taught to every North Korean child that Kim Jong Il is in fact a God.

In fact, North Korea barely qualifies as a communist state, and it can be argued – I’d imagine quite successfully – that it’s more in line with the leadership of Egypt’s pharaohs… just without the bountiful empire: North Korean citizens are probably the poorest out of any of the developed nations.

Kim Jong Il is so crazy that even his biggest (read: only) supporter at the United Nations, China, keeps him at arm’s length… and even then, they barely touch Pyongyang with their fingertips while wearing eight gloves on each hand.

The fact that this nutbar has access to nuclear weapons is entirely indigestible – and quite hard to fathom when you take into account that North Korea has no real money to speak of to pay for any sort of research program… but I suppose you can afford just about anything when you don’t actually have to pay the people who work for you.

Kim Jong Il is a god, remember? Don’t do what he wants and he’ll smite your ass… and probably your entire family while he’s at it.

If there’s any consolation, it’s that his atomic weapons are very basic and shoddily constructed: when testing them, they have a tendency to fizzle – more of a runaway nuclear chain reaction than an actual detonation.

These North Korean atomic bombs are barely in the same class as those deployed by the United States against the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end World War II… and nowhere near as advanced as even Pakistan’s.

But even the most rudimentary nuclear weapons are devastating… either through their explosive force (see photo below) or through the mass radioactive contamination of the target area.

Click Me
Click Me

In  terms of instability, North Korea is like the guy who was arrested for killing his neighbor because he though the neighbor was telepathically raping his wife.

Nothing said by Kim Jong Ill or his government makes any sense, and North Korea has no qualms about threatening anyone with total and complete destruction… promising a war that will end Western civilization – despite lacking any way to follow through on these threats, even when including the estimated 5 to 8 nuclear weapons that Pyongyang possesses.

The North Korean military may have one of the largest standing armies on the world when compared to it’s national population, but the equipment they are outfitted with is barely any more advanced than it was during the Korean War in the 1950s – at best, it’s equivalent to Soviet designs from the mid to late 70s.

This irrationality is alarming for two reasons:

1) Technically, North and South Korea are still in a defacto state of war since the Korean War ended in a cease-fire treaty – a truce that’s been in place ever since… if only barely on some occasions – and that war could pick up at any time, and that becomes more and more likely as North Korea becomes more and more impoverished.

2) Pyongyang has made no secret of it’s willingness to help political entities that have similar designs to destroy the West… and has routinely shipped weapons and military equipment to those ideological comrades, and it’s not a stretch of the imagination that North Korea would share nuclear weapons technology – or even a finished atomic bomb – with those same comrades.

The only silver lining in the North Korean situation is that ships leaving North Korean waters are some of the most scrutinized vessels afloat: any tub that can carry anything bigger than a refrigerator is fair game for random inspections by South Korean and American naval assets – which makes shipping nuclear weapons, fissile material, or technology to create either of those things by water not really a winning strategy.

This of course doesn’t rule out shipping illicit weapons by land or air…. but similar searches are carried out against trucks leaving North Korea by Chinese and Russian agencies (how effectively, nobody in the West can say for certain), and all air cargo from North Korea is thoroughly screened at airports abroad.

There is only one destination outside of North Korea that North Korean ships and aircraft are welcome – and it also happens to be the other rogue nation with nuclear ambitions: Iran.

I’m sorry, Tehran… were you hoping I’d forgotten you?

Nope.

In many ways, you’re worse than those nutjobs in Pyongyang – mainly because, even though you’re batshit crazy, you’re also very focused on the destruction of those you hold in ill regard.

In Iran’s case, that’s most notably Israel.

There isn’t a day that goes by that Iran’s puppet government and it’s religious masters don’t call for the total destruction of the Jewish state, and it works on a daily basis towards that goal by funding terrorist organizations that operate in Palestinian territories.

If that wasn’t problematic enough, the Ayatollah also sends money to terrorist outfits – including Al Qaeda – that attack other Western nations that are allied with Israel.

And while the Ayatollah isn’t necessarily as committed to destroying the West as Osama bin Laden was, his plans call for weakening the resolve of Israel’s allies by hopefully making it more bother than it’s worth to the United States, Britain, and others.

It’s this fanatical devotion to destroying every single Jew in the Middle East (and everywhere else in due time) that makes Iran more dangerous.

While North Korea is more reactive – as in it puffs itself up and makes threats when it perceives itself to be threatened – and can be calmed down with offers of candy (financial and food aid), Iran is completely proactive in it’s plans… spending nearly all it’s money on weaponry and armed forces.

It should be noted than Iran has a lot of money to use for it’s own military and the funding of terrorism around the globe, and that money comes from the export of oil to the countries that need it – both the export of Iran’s own oil assets, and money from neighboring countries’ oil sales who are agreeable to the Iranian way of things… primarily certain factions inside Saudi Arabia.

While Western nations don’t conduct a lot of oil business with Iran, countries like Russia and China don’t make that distinction and gladly take any oil Iran can send their way to fuel their own economies.

Russian and Chinese weapons technologies have also readily been made available to the Iranian government, and this is why the Iranian military possesses weaponry that’s equal to the West’s technology of the late 1980s to mid-1990s.

You may not think weapons circa 1989 to 1995 would be all that dangerous to Western targets using weapons made in this millennium… but keep in mind, those Iranian weapons are equivalent to what the U.S. defeated Saddam Hussein with in the first Gulf War – so they aren’t to be ignored by the wise.

With all that oil money, Iran has been able to afford a fairly modern nuclear energy program – one that Tehran insists is for purely peaceful purposes and that they’re not at all interested in making fissile material for making atomic weapons.

You know what? Put a kid in a room with both a dart gun and a target to shoot at, he’s going to shoot those darts at the target the second you turn your back – no matter how much you tell him not to, and how much he denies his intention to do so.

The fact of the matter is that Iran has far more centrifuge units required to enrich uranium than are needed for the modest civilian-purposed nuclear reactor that Tehran claims is the only beneficiary – and these enrichment facilities are spread far and wide throughout the country, with some of them located underground in hardened facilities that would be problematic to destroy.

If you’re producing far more enriched uranium than you could possibly use in your nuclear electricity generation reactor(s), then that surplus uranium has to go someplace… and the two options that come to mind aren’t acceptable: a covert weapons program, or for export to other political entities that also have covert nuclear ambitions – Al Qaeda, for example.

The nuclear situation in Iran puts Israel – and by extension it’s Western allies – in a bind: while Iran potentially acquiring nuclear weapons capability is completely unacceptable, unilaterally attacking Iran in a pre-emptive strike would be heavy-handed and most likely to ignite a war that would spread like wildfire across the entire Middle East – and the forces of the Western allies are already exhausted from a decade of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Which leaves Israel to act on its own – and one must also keep in mind that Israel has an arsenal of nuclear weapons of it’s own if the situation got out of hand.

However, while Israel might have enough thermonuclear devices to level Tehran and a few other Iranian cities, the fact is that Iran is the 2nd largest country in the region… and Israel is the smallest, and therefore extremely susceptible to being destroyed in a single nuclear strike.

There’s also the small matter of delivering those nuclear weapons to Iran as – as far as anyone in the West knows – all of Israel’s nuclear devices are in the form of gravity bombs and not mounted on long-range missiles, meaning that Israeli attack planes would have to fly through potentially hostile Lebanese, Syrian, Turkish, or Iraqi airspace before even getting to Iran.

The same holds out for any non-nuclear intervention raid Israel might want to stage against Iran in hopes of derailing the Iranian nuclear program like they did when they pounded Saddam Hussein’s atomic facilities into dust back in the 1980s – there’s just too much territory to cover from Israeli airfields to targets in Iran unless those Israeli pilots commit to a one-way suicide mission… and I wouldn’t put that past the Israeli people as they know the value of sacrifice and are a hardened people after decades of being under attack from all sides.

And yet… all the logistics of attacking Iran pale in comparison to the destructive potential of either the Islamic Republic Of Iran Army, The Army Of The Guardians Of The Islamic Revolution (the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard), or any other Iranian military body – or any paramilitary body the Ayatollah deems satisfactory enough to share with – possessing nuclear weapons when they are ideologically tuned towards destroying Israel and the Western world.

The situation is untenable and will need to be resolved prior to Iran developing nuclear weapons technology – and that time isn’t all that far into the future.

Am I being an alarmist?

No.

Everything I’ve said here is absolutely true and cannot be argued by anyone outside North Korea and Iran.

The world has been under the illusion up until now that only the big players could afford nuclear weapons, and to be honest, global opinions should have changed once India and Pakistan developed the Bomb.

But we’ve fooled ourselves into complacency again… that we can send strongly worded letters to Tehran and Pyongyang and they will simply throw up their hands with a smile, saying “Well…  it was worth a try, right?” before packing their whole nuclear infrastructure up in crates and shipping it to Russia for disposal.

Without total regime changes in North Korea and Iran, localized or global nuclear attacks aren’t just probable – they’re an almost forgone conclusion because both countries stand today as spiteful (in Pyongyang’s case), hateful (Tehran), and wholly irrational states.

Kim Jong Il and his son to follow him will continue to develop their primitive atom bombs into more effective hydrogen bombs by working their researchers to death at gunpoint while the citizens throughout North Korea – who depend on the government – starve to death in the streets (while Pyongyang’s resident god drinks Hennessy and collects expensive toys).

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his boss, the Supreme Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, will continue on their path to nuclear weapons while they continue to hate on the Jewish people and deny the Holocaust – which was the reason the state of Israel was formed in the first place from land ‘donated’ from the surrounding Arab states – in the face of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary.

To me, that’s the sure sign of Tehran’s insanity and the reason they can’t be trusted: to completely deny the Holocaust when it was thoroughly documented by both the Allies when the camps were liberated, and by the Nazis themselves with their meticulous records of the methodical extermination of the Jews who they deemed as sub-human… and the continued existence of facilities like Auschwitz  and Dachau to remind humanity that the Holocaust was real.

It’s the equivalent of Ahmadinejad looking up and telling the world that the sky is in fact purple and that we’ve been duped by the Jews into thinking it’s blue… which I’m pretty sure he’s already claimed once or twice in his hateful stand-up comedy routines at the United Nations headquarters.

Folks… these are people who can not EVER be trusted with the nuclear genie.

You should be alarmed… you should feel a sense of panic.

These people aren’t going anywhere and won’t change their ways unless we make them.

And believe me… they’re not going to blink when we send them angry emails from the United Nations’ Gmail account.

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