Tag Archives: WWII

What’s the point of taking over the world?

16 Jun

Ok, so I’ve been watching a couple WWII films lately and it’s got me thinking. It seems like that in all the films set in a location occupied by the Axis powers, you are likely to be shot at any time for anything. You could say something out of turn, look at someone the wrong way, or litter, and the next thing you know, the gestapo’s picked you up and shipped you off to a camp to die.

Seriously, what’s the point? What is the point of invading a country if you are just going to end up killing everyone? What? You want your front yard to extend from Paris to Aquitaine? I keep feeling like the bad guys in these films should stop trying to operate under the pretense of only killing those who are Jewish/resistance fighters, and should just get along with lining up entire towns of people and killing them. Eventually they would have the same result.

I just can’t imagine living in a society where you could be killed at any time. I know they exist and have existed, but I wonder if the films play up the theme of “instant death by firing squad imminent!” just for suspense. I don’t see how people could tolerate it. I’d think they’d realize that they were all going to be murdered sooner or later to make room for the master race, and thus would rebel to try and take as many of them down with them…

Too many chiefs, not enough indians

30 Jan

Today I’m running around preparing to leave in the afternoon for a medieval immersion event. Myself, along with a couple of other buddies, will be camping out in the woods for 2 days in full 15th century kit. No public, just us.

One of the things that I love about these types of events is that the “hierarchy” is really reduced. Sure there are the event coordinators in charge, but everyone there is from mix-match groups.

One of the problems my current group has, and that I think a LOT of medieval living history groups have is “Too many chiefs, not enough indians”. Lets face it. Life back then sucked. The social hierarchy sucked. There was a reason for the French revolution, and the execution of all the nobles. It was just really awful to be lower class.

Well the problem for the later period groups is the social pyramid. Unlike more modern groups where only the military hierarchy is really rigid and the social is more loose, the medieval hierarchy is extremely stiff. “You are a peasant! And you will serve my table, polish my armor, and generally kiss my ass! This is your place in life determined by GOD!” Yeah, not much wiggle room there. Nobody likes being stuck with the crappy impressions. Everyone loves putting on the expensive armor, picking up polearms, and looking badass.

Ideally, the system should work a bit like a Ponzi scheme. As long as the base keeps getting bigger things are fine.

If the group kept adding new members, at the same rate that current members move up from one kit level to another, the pyramid stays stable and just grows. Entry level people move up to level 2, level 2 people to level 3, etc. This would make it so people who were in entry kit level, who had to play the shitty parts of being a peasant, could at least look forward to building their kit up and getting to play something cooler.

Unfortunately, this is never how it really works in reality. The above method requires everyone to be working on their kits equally, and assumes a steady supply of new members. In reality people have lots of other things that need their attention. They can’t spend all the time working on their kit, and as everybody knows, it’s hard to get new people that stick. So what ends up happening is this:

Without a steady flow of new members, the pyramid stagnates. People who have put in the time and effort to move up to the next level are forced to stay in their current level for the sake of preserving the historically correct pyramid. This in turn breads resentment and increases the chance someone will stop coming out to events, which only further exacerbates the problem.

Eventually people will get tired of having to spend money to go kiss someone else’s ass for a weekend. It becomes a job that you put everything into, and don’t get what you want out of. These people will inevitably either quit the hobby altogether, or break off into splinter groups with them at the top. (In the 10 years I’ve done living history, I’ve seen this happen a LOT)

In living history individuality can be a great thing and a horrible thing. On one had, it is awesome to have unique items in camp; anything that makes you stand out from the rest of the people out there who might be doing similar but different stuff. On the other hand, the individuality has a tendency to make everyone a one man/woman show. Yes they all have to work as a unit, but people love you show off their stuff. While some groups might not be overly affected by this, it can turn into dick waving contests in other groups. (Which in turn also fuels splintering of a group into smaller groups where other people want to take their cool “stuff” and be the center of their own group.
I really don’t see any other option than the continuous cycle of group forms, group eventually breaks, splinters of old group form new group, only for that one to splinter and break. That is unless the group is pulling in enough new members regularly. Thoughts?

Dick Cheney and torture

22 May

Ah good ol’ Dick. I’d been thinking about writing this post for some time now, but after yesterday’s “dueling speeches” by the president and former VP I can no longer resist.

“Enhanced interrogation” is one of the most bullshit phrases I’ve ever heard. I mean, it’s so blatantly a new-speak euphemism it’s beyond me how some people can swallow it.

I find it very interesting that the one fall back position Bush republicans seem to have is “we kept the country safe! After 9/11 there were no successful attacks!!!” Yeah, well what about 9/11? Oh that doesn’t count? Let me guess, it was all somehow Clinton’s fault? What about all the time Bush spent playing golf and not reading the intelligence briefings before 9/11? The attacks did happen under republican watch.

Torture is illegal and wrong no matter what the Bush law team tries to come up with, no matter what they decided to name it. We executed Japanese war criminals after WWII for waterboarding. The really interesting thing that came out just recently is the story of how Alberto Gonzales was okaying torture months before the “torture memos” came out. He was doing this at a time when he was not attorney general, just Bush’s lawyer!

Check out this segment about it on the Rachel Maddow show.

Ali Soufan, the guy who first found uncovered the link between the 9/11 attacks and Al Qaeda was interrogating Zubaida and actually getting somewhere when he was pushed aside by a contractor, James Mitchell, working for the CIA. Mitchell, who had absolutely zero interrogation experience or training, developed a torture program that Gonzales signed off on.

Even if you accept the bullshit idea that just because a team of lawyers writes a magic piece of paper saying torture is ok, and that the US doesn’t need to abide by the Geneva conventions, the torture was going on before those lawyers wrote up that magical piece of paper.

I think a lot of republicans are very scared people. Dick Cheney, and the republican leaders know this and exploit it. I think he brought up 9/11 in his speech 24 times. He even opened by recounting the terror of that day. Am I scared? No. Yes there are people out there who want to kill us, but if we live in fear of them, they win. What Dick Cheney advocates is nothing short of destroying all the values we stand for in a misguided attempt to make us safer.

If we compromise on our values, then what do we have left? What have we then become? The terrorists will have succeeded in destroying America. Do I dispute that the people like Zubaida are bad people? No, but republicans like Cheney are so swept up in a blind, fear fueled rage that they think they are justified in stooping this low. They are so sure of their own righteousness that they can’t fathom anything they do as wrong. They see themselves as patriotic heroes, willing to do the dirty work to protect their country.

For this reason I don’t call them evil, but they are sorely mistaken. Their attempts at making us safer only give the terrorists a rallying point. It tarnishes our image in the world as “the good guys”. In a war of idea, this is crucial. The only way we can try to regain some of our lost image is to prosecute those responsible just like we prosecuted the Japanese war criminals.

Yeah, it may be hard to swallow, but if we don’t, then we have absolutely no right to claim that we are a nation of laws. By not prosecuting we will be saying that our laws don’t mean anything as long as you are sure enough of you’re own righteousness, and have a group of lawyers write up a magical piece of paper. What kind of foundation is that for justice?

Gott Mit Uns!

27 Dec

Earlier this morning I went with some friends to see “Valkyrie”. My extremely religious friend was unable to tag along, but I wonder if he would have given this any thought. When Hitler survives the assassination attempt (again) he goes on the radio and talks about how this is proof that god is protecting and guiding him, and by extension guiding Nazi Germany.

Hitler  used this to reinforce the idea that what Nazi Germany was doing was god’s will. At the time, to the average religious Joe, this might seem plausible. Hitler had survived “miraculously” and Germany had all of Europe under it’s dominion. Clearly some higher power was helping.

I suspect my religious friend would counter by saying “No, god was not helping the Nazi’s, he was helping us. We won in the end after all.” True, we did win in the end, yet 70,000,000 human beings died in the conflict. If it was god’s will for Hitler to be defeated, then why didn’t he just zap him and the Nazi’s out of existence? If he’s all knowing then he knew this was going to happen when he created everything. He knew the names and faces of every man, woman, and child that was systematically slaughtered at the hands of the Nazis. He knew how much grief and destruction the war would cause.

Why not just stop it? Since god had the power to prevent it and didn’t, then that means he wanted it to happen. He wanted us to go through it. What like a test? Murder 70,000,000 people just so we would learn a lesson? (This isn’t the first time he’s reported to have done this. See also Noahs ark) Are you going to sit there and tell me you’re comfortable with a god that lets atrocities like this happen, all for the sake of learning a lesson, whatever it might have been?

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God? –Epicurus