It’s all about the black swans- Kate Paulk


It’s all about the black swans- Kate Paulk


Fifteen or so years ago I was certain I was going to grow into crazy cat ladyness as the eccentric maiden aunt (for modern versions of maiden) with the household full of cats and – I hoped – a career as a writer.


Today The Husband and I are about six weeks shy of our twelfth wedding anniversary (there goes the maiden aunt thing – can’t exactly do that while married), with three cats (but not, sadly, for long, since the twenty year old fluffy kitteh has cancer), more work than either of us can manage, and something that resembles a trickle of income rather than a writing career.


It’s progress. The Husband is a bonus I never thought I’d get, and I’m on a completely different continent than the one I thought I’d be living on, but that’s a benefit that came along with The Husband. Most of my friends have happened since I moved over here, too, mainly because the writing side of things has brought that into play.


The point being that you never know. No matter what things look like circumstances can change with what, in retrospect, looks like blinding speed. A hundred years or so ago everything seemed to be meandering along more or less as normal with tension rising in all directions but always managing to get defused before it could blow up, then some twit goes and murders some other twit who just happens to be the Hapsburg heir, and the next thing you know the whole of Europe is trying to beat the shit out of each other, and most of the rest of the world gets dragged in one way or another.


Or twenty-five years or so ago and the Cold War is burbling along in the normal fashion with maybe some hints that Gorbachev might actually mean this whole glasnost and perestroika thing, and then suddenly the Berlin Wall is gone and the whole Eastern bloc gets a serious outbreak of freedom.


Things change. It’s the nature of things with a crapload of momentum behind them the change very slowly if at all, but a spanner in the works at the right time and place can totally derail that train of events in ways that are often as terrifying as they are exhilarating (and if you think the fall of the Berlin Wall wasn’t terrifying, you weren’t listening to the British or the French who seemed sometimes to be convinced that the moment Germany unified Hitler would reappear in a flash of hellfire and brimstone and start the next world war. They didn’t. They just quietly and efficiently took over the European economy with the consent of the rest of Europe and the eager assistance of the French government, all in the name of unity or something. Time will tell if that little experiment works out, but my suspicion is ultimately, no. The long and uneasy mostly-peace since the end of World War 2 (and yes, by comparison, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc., etc were basically pissing contests. Not chew up a generation of young men and spit out their bones meat grinders) might have created a generation or two who think that you can solve anything if you just talk about it long enough and mean it enough, but it hasn’t made humans any less tribal. When it comes down to it, we’re always going to want to favor our kind over that funny lot over there who don’t speak right and whose mother dresses them funny).


Er. Anyway. The point in that little ramble is – oh, wait, there’s multiple points. Let’s see… Something you think is completely stable can change overnight. All it would take is a lucky (unlucky?) meteor strike and all the political dynasties in a country are out of business (kind of like an Australian ad I remember fondly. About a breakfast cereal if I recall, with claims about the cereal being everything you could dream of, and showed a kid daydreaming about the Sweet Meteor of Death making a flaming landing on his school. Try getting that shown on American TV). Drop it on DC at the right time, and the question of whether we get to choose between Billy-boy’s sloppy seconds and the Establishment’s least likely to piss off the media at the next election is suddenly not an issue any more. And if I could drop meteors where I wanted, that would be so tempting.


Alas, I’m an evil genius, not a mad scientist. There is a distinction. And evil geniuses need mad scientists to aim their Sweet Meteors of Death properly (DC would not be the only temptation). Besides, I wouldn’t want my mad scientist to miss and land the thing on the wrong town. Let’s face it, New York is so close the karmic attraction would probably pull the thing there: it would be like trying to drop a giant monster anywhere in Japan that wasn’t Tokyo (I’m reliably informed by the Internets that the reason Tokyo has such an issue with giant monsters is a quirk of city planning. Apparently the city lights spell out “good eats here” in giant monster lingo. More proof you need to do your research, or possibly of the power of advertising). Anyway, Tokyo attracts giant monsters. New York attracts everything else. (Little known trivia: the towers were actually part of a top secret meteor repulsion plan. The antennae on top were supposed to focus giant lasers running up the elevator shafts to completely destroy any meteors or alien invaders. They weren’t intended to deal with giant monsters because they head for Tokyo).


Er. I’m an evil narcoleptic genius who’s just a little short on sleep. Let me try to haul this back to something resembling a point.


Things change. Fast. You don’t know what will hit next or what kind of mess it will make of your plans. So build in flexibility, be ready for anything, and figure out if you need to thank it or shoot it when it happens.


Oh, and the black swans? That’s the stuff that you can’t predict because it’s fundamentally unpredictable. Supposedly rare, but in Australia black swans are the norm – and yeah, unpredictable stuff that’s supposedly rare happens a lot more often than you’d think.

320 thoughts on “It’s all about the black swans- Kate Paulk

  1. “The long and uneasy mostly-peace since the end of World War 2 (and yes, by comparison, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc., etc were basically pissing contests. Not chew up a generation of young men and spit out their bones meat grinders)”

    Thank you, I get highly irritated with all the people who think that we have been in this terrible state of war and conquest (really? What sort of conquerors give their conquered countries back to their enemies after they spend a bunch of money and make some minor improvements?) ever since we elected a Bush president; and or soldiers are dying like flies.

    Sure it is the media narrative, but it just proves people are stupid. I mean the media goes on about the terrible casualties in Afghanistan whenever we lose two dozen soldiers in a month. But a months casualties in the Middle East was considered a good morning in WWII.

    1. The Left made up the supposedly high cost in American lives of the Iraq War by deliberately blinding themselves to the histories of every other American war save the previous Iraq War. This is coming back to bite Obama in the ass now as he tries to avoid suffering “high” casualties by 2003-2009 standards — which is of course IMPOSSIBLE.

      1. Avoiding “high” casualties by 03-09 standards is about as likely as fighting a war without civilians taking casualties. When you’re fighting a war mostly by standing back and lobbing bombs, the civilians will take higher casualties. And even higher when the enemy has the oh so charming habit of using their civilians as meat shields.

    2. Well, yes, the US casualties have only been about 150,000 of our finest young men, and some women too, but it grates that they were all lost due to massive stupidity, wholesale lies by the ruling class, false flag attacks (Vietnam) and manufactured threats.
      Every life lost in Afghanistan is a sacrifice to the idiocy of thinking that a primitive, clannish, violent Islamic country can somehow be changed into a first world democracy.
      Go ahead with that meteor on DC, London, etc. Unfortunately, a few good people will also get killed….

      1. We could probably have cut our losses by at least half in Afghanistan if we had adjusted our drug policy. No, not that drug policy, the other one, the one where we don’t buy up Afghan opium and leave it for the Taliban to finance their operations. It’s codified at 21 CFR 1312.13(f) and (g). It’s colloquially called the 80-20 rule

        I cannot imagine a politician surviving politically if they’re put on the spot to support 21 CFR 1312.13 with the likelihood of reform being a cheap way to strike at Taliban logistics. It’s amazing to me that journalists don’t regularly pot shot politicians for this. Buying up Afghan’s opium production and reducing Turkey’s quota for the duration of the war would have sent a powerful international signal for Turkey to step up and get involved in settling that war.

        This isn’t a partisan matter. Bush could have changed this and Obama could have changed this. I don’t think that it even requires legislative action. It’s entirely a matter of US law where we get our legal opiate raw materials for the pain killers we use.

        1. Outside of America synthetic opates are expensive.

          Currently the only legal source of natural opates in Turkey.

          You know, the ally that wouldn’t let us land tanks for the 2003 attack?

          You know, the ally that won’t help us against ISIS.

          Yeah. License Afghanistan to produce opium under the same regieme as Turkey and voila, they have a legitimate cash crop, corruption gets reduced etc. etc.

          1. Eh, as far as I know (from speaking to those who are over their, not by reading their legal codes) opium is a legitimate cash crop in Afghanistan. It may not be legal (at least according to you) but remember we are talking about a country that’s citizens are barely even aware that they even have a government; and most of them don’t acknowledge any authority higher than their tribe. It is treated and accepted as legal, and according to many of those I have talked to that were stationed there, it is the de facto currency.

          2. Tasmania, Australia, also has a legal cash crop of opium poppy farming. It is highly regulated through at least two companies that I can remember, Glaxo Kline Smith being one of them, Tas Alkaloids being the other.
            There are actual signs posted in the paddocks in regards to what is happening and being grown and the warnings posted by the Australian Federal Police (AFP).
            From my very rough memory, it has been grown in Tassie from the mid 70’s, and is a very good crop for the farmers

        1. The only time I’ve seen numbers that high was when they included wounded. I don’t remember seeing a breakdown between permanent and returned to service injuries.

      2. OK, hold it!

        Iran & Iraq 2001-present, total combat deaths 5281. Total dead and wounded all causes 57,614. You are off by one heck of a whole lot. Not an order of magnitude, but a factor of three, more or less.

        Now, one can argue the intelligence of the war. I happen to think that beginning to consistently teach the world at large that attacking us has unpleasant consequences is a good idea. Pity that we haven’t. I also happen to think that we will successfully build a democratic nation in the third world shortly after Lucifer and God announce a reconciliation. From the stage of an arena venue. In Las Vegas.

        But that you believe that as many as 150,000 of our young men and women were killed or injured indicates that somebody has been lying to you so persistently that you bought it.

        There have been more American war deaths in every war Wikipedia lists, except for the Philippine–American War of 1899-1902. There were more American war deaths in one day at Antietam. The “War of Terror” is piddling.

        1. Like I said, it’s basically a pissing contest. Or a dick waving contest. We’re not talking about “replace fields with graves” levels of deaths or even close.

          And total combat deaths from 01 to the present? That’s much lower than one year’s traffic deaths (currently averaging in the order of 30 k a year in the US)

        2. The 150,000 number, judging by context, refers to American casualties (presumably deaths) in all wars since the conclusion of WWII.

          I am not interested in whether that number is accurate, because it is not a useful measure (sort of like knowing “yards gained rushing” or “shots on goal” for football (either kind) — in the absence of other contextual information it just doesn’t convey much.)

          The more reasonable measurement might be deaths/casualties (serious) in warfare versus deaths/casualties (serious) in training. Valid, rigorous training will necessarily produce deaths/casualties (serious); it comprises the background noise against which you evaluate the difference of wartime operations. It is the Delta which counts.

          Leave for another day the question of whether the Fort Hood deaths/casualties (serious) constitute wartime or peacetime losses.

          1. I would classify the Fort Hood deaths as a seperate catagory; “death from political mismanagement”. Youcan argue about one war or another forever. Telling soldiers they may not be armed on base is flat out idiocy. It’s like having a policy against tank gunners being able to drive the thing.

          2. Valid, rigorous training will necessarily produce deaths/casualties (serious)

            Paging Col. Kratman, Paging Col Kratman, I believe one of your peeves has finagled the lock and is heading out of the paddock…

      3. Lives lost to stupidity are a horrible waste – but I don’t think the number is that high unless you’re grouping a bunch of the smaller wars together.

        It’s still a tiny number in the scheme of things – less than the fatal traffic accident death toll in the US over 5 years.

        1. Haven’t looked at these stats myself, but generally tricks like including traffic accidents, suicides, and deaths after separation get rolled in.

          A lot of times you have to go through five or six sources before you FIND OUT that oh, they were including motor cycle accidents and dropped-a-desk-on-his-foot-in-San-Diego type “casualties.”

    3. I remember us losing two people one week during the Shiite uprising, and the press reporting casualties that week were the highest they’d been in months, without mentioning the numbers.

      1. Well, if you manage to go months without any casualties, two in one week is higher… of course, without the absolutes that sounds ever so much worse. Proof that scale matters.

    4. ” I mean the media goes on about the terrible casualties in Afghanistan whenever we lose two dozen soldiers in a month.”

      I haven’t seen that. The media’s death counter was suspended when Obama took over, and they seem to have been avoiding the topic as much as possible, as far as I can tell.

    5. The second world war did a pretty effective job of wiping out a generation’s worth of young men, on both sides. I’ve seen enough of the casualty figures and how they stand in comparison to the number of people involved.

      These days, I rather suspect the average US soldier is less likely to die in a combat zone than in a car accident back at home – but because we’ve had a long period without any of the total-involvement wars, the deaths we do get seem much worse.

      1. He’s less likely to die in a combat zone than he is to suicide when he got back because his officers and chain of command didn’t provide the necessary decompression time and reintegration.

        And yes, WWII vets didn’t have that deliberately built in, it was in the nature of the travel at the time. And no, Vietnam vets didn’t either and look how many of them turned out.

        Every single vet who was in a IED, bombing, or gunfight of *any* sort should be scheduled for (randomly) between 2 and 10 conuseling sessions, one each group and one non-group. That way it’s on *everyone’s* records. Then the psychs can suggest a few more if needed. That way they don’t have to *ask* for help, it’s shoved down *everyone’s* throats. Those who need a little more can get a little more lost in the noise. Those who need a lot more, well, we can sort them out.


        Yeah. So?

        1. I’ve heard that the evidence didn’t support the “Crazy Vietnam Vet” theory– the increased risk of suicide was 1.7, rather than 1.0, and the difference vanished after five years; I’d suspect that having stranger spit on you and people shun you when you’re already in need of decompression has some involvement in that– and I’d guess that this:

          would have information somewhere.
          The samples I saw for psychological were awful small, though.

        2. Mmmm… Some of what you’re saying resonates, but… It’s not the whole story.

          The biggest issue that I see, speaking as a now-retired professional soldier, is that the US Army flatly refuses to acknowledge that we are supposed to be in the business of killing people, and being killed in return. It’s a huge ‘effing blind spot–Not even the Marines are very good about talking about the issue. Every single damn time I tried integrating some kind of discussion into training about the effects of killing, everybody and their brother just got a weird look in their eyes, and refused to participate or allow me to do what I wanted. They’ll talk Code of Conduct, which is 99% about what you’re supposed to do when captured, but dear God, don’t you dare try to talk to the troops about when to pull the trigger, or what the likely effects of having done so will be on your psyche. Law of War? No problem… What to do when faced with the choice of shooting kids that are shooting at you and your buddies? Don’t you dare mention that, Sergeant K, or we’ll be hearing from people’s congressional representatives about how we’re training their kids to kill children…

          It’s not just the military; it’s also the civilian milieu that we recruit from, and from whence we get our civilian leadership. Nobody has clue one what they’re asking these kids to do, before they start a war, and nobody bothers to actually find out what those kids had to do in the combat zones while they are fighting them. Which is why there is such little preparation done before deployment, and why so little emphasis is placed on working through the issues upon redeployment. The senior guys like me are mostly functional sociopaths, in a lot of respects, either by acculturation or inclination–But, the younger cohorts that make up the junior ranks, the guys who are doing the lion’s share of the work? They’re a mostly a bunch of naifs. And, we don’t do what we need to in order to prepare them for the realities they’re going to face, nor do we give them the tools (mostly mental) or support they’ll need to have in order to return to civil life without self-destructing.

          In short, it’s a huge cultural blind spot for American culture. Hell, it’s not a damn spot, it’s a whole freaking quadrant. Nobody, but nobody, wants to talk about this stuff, or even discuss it openly. You bring it up, and you’re going to find out that there are a whole lot of people who don’t want to meet your eyes, even in combat arms units. Hell, I raised some of these issues in planning training, and one of my commanders wanted me evaluated for mental illness–“Nobody normal talks about killing people like that…”. Definite herbivore, that one. West Point graduate, I might add.

          Ninety percent of our issues around this, from the crimes committed at Yusifiyah and Maywand, to the prevalence of PTSD, stem from this issue. You take some kid from suburbia, put him through training that stresses the mechanics of modern war, never mentioning the very real moral issues involved, and then send him off to participate in a fairly ugly little counterinsurgency, where he has to make moment-by-moment decisions about who lives and who dies? That’s a perfect recipe for creating combat stress. And, then you add in the gleeful way we tear units apart upon return to the US, in order to build other ones that will deploy, shredding the bonds between primary groups and their leadership? Ye Gods and little fishies… It’s like we’re trying to break these young men and women. Deliberately.

          What aggravates the living hell out of me is that we know these things, intellectually, but the people who are actually running things and making manning and training decisions are completely oblivious to the effects of their decisions. I could rant on for hours, here, but the gist of what I want to say is that it’s not just a minor issue of tweaking some post-deployment policies. There’s a whole bloody culture of stupidity and denial contributing to this stuff, and that’s what really needs to be fixed. And, a goodly chunk of the issues go right back into civilian life, along with the civil leadership.

          1. There’s a documentary on Maywand – The Kill Team. Saw it during its very brief time in the (a?) theater a month or two ago. Turns out SPC Winfield is related to a friend of mine.

            Should check it out if you get a chance.

            1. I’ve seen it. I was at Fort Lewis while 5/2 was standing up, and watched what was going on. Couple of my former troops were sent over there right after we got back from Iraq in 2004, and I got to hear first-hand accounts of what they were going through. In my opinion, COL Tunnell was an unindicted contributor to what happened, along with the entire system that created that brigade and then willy-nilly changed it’s mission at the last minute. They were supposed to go into Iraq as a “fire-fighter brigade”, serving as a strike force for the drawn-down US forces and the Iraqi government. Instead, at the last minute, the Obama administration diverted them to Afghanistan to be a part of the “surge” for that theater. All of that contributed to what happened, along with the factors I brought up.

              What I find really scary is that those young men who SSG Gibbs influenced were so easily turned to committing evil. In the Army I grew up in, Gibbs would have been observed by his peers and dealt with, and those junior enlisted troops would have been far more likely to tell him to drop dead. Unfortunately, what we’ve got going in a lot of these units are a bunch of situations that are very much akin to “Peter Pan and the Lost Boys”, and if the particular person filling the role of Peter Pan has lost his moral compass, bad things ensue. Similar pathology to Yusifiyah–Only there, the toxic leadership wasn’t a direct participant in what happened.

              Same threads go all through the other major issues we’ve had with this through the years–If you look at My Lai through the right lens, you can see a truly unfortunate amount of congruency.

              1. The main places I saw people trying to deal with it was the Chaplain corps… but they were having their own issues. Various never seen combat types were horrified when they were talking to atheists about religion. There was a solid reason for this… in theatre the atheists were 2-3 times as likely to commit suicide as the faithful members of any religion, and had measurably harder times coping with the same kinds of things you’re discussing here. They were catching flack for proselytizing. (Apparently Congress has never heard the old ‘there are no atheists in a fox hole’) They tried, but they kept getting hamstrung even though it was their JOB to help deal with this sort of things before people fully broke.

                It was as hard on the counter intel folk as it was on the infantry boys, in different ways (KNOWING they were pointing something that would level a building at a school or fill in the blank and giving the target anyway because otherwise…). It didn’t help that there’s been a steady decline in the ‘you wait for your soldier and support him when he comes home’ mentality. It wasn’t a perfect system but even the support it used to offer. The thing I hear the most from the friends that seem to cry on my shoulder is ‘you’ve been there, you understand.’ Our civilians don’t remember and don’t understand the horror and more to the point, so many of them lack the imagination to actually understand ‘war is hell’. Too many of them don’t think anything could be that bad, even the ones that want to help that try to help lack any frame of reference and often get offended at the ‘you wouldn’t understand’ response. Too many don’t believe in Hell any more, and that’s extending to its more mortal reflections. If there is no Hell they don’t have to face it, and the people who have faced it get torn between the ‘I go out there so they don’t have to’ and ‘how can they think like that?’

                Bah, I think I lost the point in the ramble. It’s not just that there is no way to talk about these things in the military, but that the cultural aspects that used to exist to at least a degree are broadly eroded.

                1. Thanks. I really appreciate the perspective. My family is military and I haven’t really been exposed to people who don’t have the “war is hell” attitude. I guess if you don’t believe that things can be that bad (that there is no Hell of any kind) it is difficult to understand what someone has been through.

                  My niece’s husband was in Afghanistan and was closer to where the Air Force dropped a bomb then expected. He really should be dead right now. He was telling stories like that at the dinner table and we were all just listening and (as far as we could without direct experience) understanding. I guess that doesn’t happen much.

                  1. There are places it’s still happening, usually more rural areas where there are several every generation that go off to the army or the navy or the marines or… The support is still spotty even at that level. And having family listen helps immensely.

                    But as a broad expectation? It’s not there any more, though there are signs of people trying to rebuild it. It’s hard to tell if they’ll have an impact long term. I’m lucky, my folks grew up in Korea after the Korean war so they grew up understanding the damage war does even if they didn’t see it themselves. I’ve also noticed the guys tell me very different things than they tell their buddies, and this dovetails into a part of the radfem trend that drives me bonkers. Just from my observation (so salt…), the guys who put their hides on the line or paint a target on a house of civilians because they don’t have a choice unless they want to watch the bad guys do yet more damage, and probably kill that family anyway, seem to NEED not just a war buddy, but a woman. Someone they’re romantic with seems to work best but female friend with no romantic ties can fill in with a shoulder and an ear in a pinch (which I’ve done.) I don’t know why, but I’ve seen it happen over and over again. The modern feminism seems hell bent on destroying that support system too.

                    1. One route is to look for VFWs that have a lot of Vietnam service ribbons in the parking lot. Even the guys who didn’t get blown up and come back (an uncle was MIA for several weeks– only survivor; he was a crazy vet before he joined, but his brothers all know how to help folks through it) are at least familiar with the stories, and effects.

                    2. This dovetails back in with what I wrote about women really not wanting heroes. Loving and caring for heroes is hard.

                    3. I think you may be a little off the mark not entirely but a little off. It’s not so much they don’t want heroes… it’s they don’t know how to deal with everything that goes with being a hero. We’ve cut that part out of large parts of our culture. The very simple (not easy, but simple) idea of being the one shoulder your hero can cry on without feeling he’s disgraced himself some how is foreign to them and strange. They don’t understand how important something like that can be. It’s a complicated issue, that means it has to be dealt with in a complicated manner by professionals, right? Simple words of ‘for what it is worth, /I/ am glad you are the one that made it home.’ Make a world of difference when they are sincerely meant, but their logic runs ‘it can’t be that easy can it?’ They don’t realize it’s simple but far from easy. I don’t think they understand that anything can be. At least not on a personal level. So they settle for something they can deal with. But drop a Hero in their midst and watch the reactions. It’s an interesting study.

                      Now realize these statements are for the females who have bought some of the modern feminist crazy without actually being certifiable nuts themselves.

                    4. OK, I think we’re talking past each other. I can’t separate the Hero from the aftercare. If you don’t want the one then you don’t want either.
                      “Dear John” used to be frowned upon. Not so much anymore. This is a symptom.

                    5. It is, another is soldiers getting married JUST to get the BAH and splitting the take with the girl because that’s how it’s supposed to work right? (Please do not step in the puddles of sarcasm.)

                      I make the distinction because it points to a solution (note, not THE solution. Just one more step.) 1) girls need to be told BEFORE they are women grown, that some problems require sympathy and a shoulder and a respect that carries through the entire thing, no matter what is confessed to. 2) There is nothing submissive or demeaning about supporting someone else. Such support is a strength, not a weakness. It is right and proper, it is noble. Unfortunately it’s going to be an uphill slog for it. These are women that want heroes. They need to be told that they CAN deal with the aftermath and that they need to. Where I’m at a loss is how to get that information out to the people who need it in a form they’ll believe.

                    6. Forgive the random, but this has been in my head for a while as a potential response to several posts here. (Where I first wrote it is a longish story.)

                      I will tell the tales that are needed to the people who need them.
                      I will tell the tales of truth, for it is often in myth and legend that Truth is most easily seen.
                      I will tell the tales of others with respect, for it is given to me to see they are remembered.
                      I will tell tales of light in times of darkness.
                      I will tell tales of joy in times of sorrow.
                      I will tell tales of warning in times of decadence.
                      I will tell tales of wisdom in times of folly.
                      I will tell tales of humility in times of arrogance.
                      I will tell tales of courage in times of danger.
                      I will tell tales of remembrance in times of grief.
                      I will tell tales of hope in times of despair.
                      Where people are down cast I will lift them up.
                      Where people are forgetful I will remind them of who they are.
                      I will remember that my duty is to the tale, the truth, and the people.
                      I will pray daily for the strength, the wisdom, and the skill to do my duty as a bard.

                    7. There’s an additional problem that, if the trooper’s wife is near a base, then the person she leaves her husband for is probably military himself– and may or may not be married.

                      Kinda destroys the notion that it’s expected, even if 95% of all the military are loyal to their girl or wife; just like with the poison feminists, people SEE the jerks.

                    8. That kind of “common” knowledge used to be passed from mother to daughter in a very informal way

              2. What I find really scary is that those young men who SSG Gibbs influenced were so easily turned to committing evil

                Gibbs isn’t interviewed in the documentary, as you know. The filmmaker was at the viewing I saw, and he stated that Gibbs and his representatives refused to meet with the filmmaker (which turned out to be for the best in the filmmaker’s opinion). Morlock comes across as a really great guy… until you actually start hearing what’s coming out of his mouth. Then he’s creepy.

                What’s the most unfortunate, though, is hearing the guy who blew it all open, the ironically named Stoner, saying that he wished he’d kept his mouth shut about the whole thing.

                As for the problems with the mentality of troops in general with regards to understanding that – as soldiers – part of their job description involves killing people –

                I think I first heard that issue brought up in the aftermath of the First Gulf War. Apparently a number of the troops involved were mentioning it at the time, and the news media reported on it. The exact complaint, if I remember correctly, was that the training for the troops had been perfect – i.e. the troops basically did their job more or less perfectly – right up until the troops realized that unlike in training, real people were dying as a consequence of their actions.

                1. As an aside, along the lines of inappropriate names…

                  I have to tell you, when I heard Morlock’s name… My response was “Really? Who the hell puts a guy with a name like that into a combat situation, and then expects good things to happen? It’s like naming your daughter Bambi or Tawni–You know she’s gonna be a stripper, going in…”.

                  Specialist Morlock. We’re just lucky he wasn’t found eating the poor buggers they killed…

                  1. Heh. True. I noted his name the moment he turned up onscreen. And iirc he was the guy telling Winfield things like (in response to a direct question from Winfield), “Yeah, we’re gonna kill you one of these days.”

          2. *blinks*
            Obviously things have changed since I went through basic and was in the reserves. Maybe it was being in the infantry but everyone got it on an intellectual level that our job was to Kill Commies. (Hey, Reagan was president.) We weren’t Hearts and Minds. We weren’t roads and dams. As one CO said “The idea is that when you pull the trigger HERE something dies down THERE.” Thankfully we never got to test this.

            Granted, when we got called up for Desert Storm there were a bunch of people who were deeply confused. They hadn’t join the army to go to war. They’d joined for the scholarship and pay.

            What is it people think the military does? Seriously, I want to know. If you’re going to give people guns, are they just going to shoot at targets?

            You may have finally given me a basic understanding of why our foreign policy (we have one, right?) is so screwed up.

            1. There was one woman who tried to weasel out of it by claiming her plans to have her daughter looked after had fallen through — her mother couldn’t do it. As soon as she was arrested, her mother looked after that daughter so she was lying through her teeth. Oddly enough, she didn’t get any punishment for it.

                1. She should have been shot for “Desertion In The Face Of The Enemy.” But command does not have the testicular fortitude to apply the full force of the UCMJ.

            2. “Obviously things have changed since I went through basic and was in the reserves. Maybe it was being in the infantry but everyone got it on an intellectual level that our job was to Kill Commies. (Hey, Reagan was president.) We weren’t Hearts and Minds. We weren’t roads and dams. As one CO said “The idea is that when you pull the trigger HERE something dies down THERE.” Thankfully we never got to test this.”

              See, here’s the thing about all this: It’s spotty as hell. I joined in 1981, and went on active duty in 1982, serving until 2007. When I first enlisted, there were still a bunch of Vietnam-era guys on active duty, and they were quite clear on what we were there for. But, the indoctrination/acculturation/training was entirely informal. The “system” did not formally discuss any of this stuff–You were supposed to simply pick it up via osmosis. The problem with that is, of course, that the informal system is not consistent, and once you remove the peer leadership and experienced “official leadership”, all that goes by the wayside. And, with the long peace that followed the departure of the Vietnam-era guys, a lot of this stuff was simply not passed on. I got it, but without the “I was there” credibility and/or authority, I had an extremely difficult time passing that sort of thing on. And, since it was never formalized… The “system” simply didn’t bother.

              There’s a huge void between “things as they think they are” and reality; the leadership thinks one thing is going on, and there is actually something else entirely that’s really happening. We have great written doctrine for things above the company/battalion level, but the nuts and bolts of what goes on down at the fire team/squad level? There is absolutely nothing on paper, no formalized system. And, what I’m talking about isn’t the field manual stuff, the doctrine–I’m talking about “How do I turn this mob of disparate individuals into a team? One that will fight for each other…?”. You’d think we had some kind of systematic process for running something like Basic Training, but the reality is that we don’t. When I went through, it was pretty easy to track what the Drill Instructors were doing with us–“OK, they’ve done X, now it’s time for us to be given some shared suffering/sacrifice, in order to build unit pride…”. Thing was, what I took for some kind of formal, systematic approach being taken, a la Starship Troopers, was actually purely something informal, passed on by Drill Instructor to Drill Instructor through osmosis and custom. Which, I’m afraid, was all too easily destroyed when the formal leadership got their noses into things, because the drill cadre couldn’t explain why the seemingly abusive process of running troops through the informal wringer was so crucial.

              There’s what’s on paper, and visible to the college over-educated types, and then there’s what is really going on. We’ve eroded the “really going on” to the point where a lot of kids are enlisting and going through training and never having it made clear to them what the bloody hell it is that the Army is all about. I think I told the story here of having a young lady come up to me on a rifle range, and inquiring of me “Sergeant K, are those guys messing with me? Are those green targets really supposed to be people…?” Followed by a major existential crisis for my Brahmin Hindu troop, who’d somehow never had it explained to her that we expected her to defend herself, at a minimum. Since she was a practicing and devout Brahmin… Minor problem. Cue the involvement of the chaplain, who was really, really confused by the whole thing, being a typical Polish Roman Catholic warrior-priest.

              The fact that we could recruit a practicing Brahmin, run her through Basic and Advanced Individual Training, have her in a Regular Army unit for roughly a year, and only have her faced with that whole “We kill people for a living…” thing sometime just before we were getting ready to deploy?

              My friends, I think that’s what we in the business call a “clue”, an “indicator”: We’re doing something profoundly wrong with our recruiting, training, and what the Army calls “Soldierization”.

              1. *blinks*
                I hadn’t heard the “Are those green targets supposed to be people…?” story. Did you ask what she thought they were supposed to be? Or why she was even given training with a firearm?

                As for the troop who, it sounds like, wouldn’t defend herself why did SHE think they were teaching her to use a tool that’s primary purpose is to kill/wound the enemy?

                When I heard that DI’s couldn’t scream at their troopies, I thought “Well, this isn’t going to go well.” Now I get just how badly.

                How do you separate the wheat from the chaff?

                1. It blindsided me just as much as it did her. She was, and let me be completely clear on this, a great soldier to have working for you in all other respects–Conscientious, diligent, totally on board with everything else. Great peer leader, in that if you needed something done, and you chose her to be in charge of a group of junior enlisted, she’d get the job done without so much as a squeak or issue. And, it would be done to standard, and then some.

                  Somehow, she’d never really processed what the whole “green suit, rifle, and guns” thing really meant. For her, it was all just part of the institution, and I don’t think she ever fully considered the implications. Until that one day on the range with us, that is.

                  I got to talking with her later on, and it was pretty apparent that the problem went right back to the advertising we run for recruiting. All the emphasis there is on getting money for college, getting training in some technical skill, and having an adventure. If you are a first-generation Indian young woman, seeking to make her own path in life (Mom and Dad wanted her to go to college for, if I remember right, becoming a doctor or nurse, and she wanted to be an engineer), the whole thing looks really reasonable as a course of action. Then, when all the recruiter talks about is building schools in Iraq, and the people running training don’t discuss the whole “We basically kill people for a living” thing… Weeeelllll…

                  I think you can begin to see where the problems start. I have to tell you, when you’re a career combat arms soldier, and then find yourself working in a headquarters unit with a whole horde of grass-eaters, the assumptions you have about who you’re working with become completely invalid. The folks running the training for support branch people? Yikes. They. Just. Don’t. Get. It.

                  Goes deeper into society, as well: The way we got here was through a process of deep denial about what the hell an army is, and what it does. If the politicians and civil leadership didn’t stick their noses into things, it would take the institutional Army a hell of a lot longer to lose its way in these regards. Since they do go sticking their noses in, we have the situation we have today, where even discussing this crap is anathema.

                  Think about it: When was the last time you went into church, and heard a sermon about necessary killing, and when it is permissible? Care to imagine what you’d hear, if you went to your priest/pastor/bishop with moral issues after a self-defense killing, even one that was fully and utterly justified?

                  Yeah, when you get done laughing, I think you’ll see my point. It’s a taboo, and one that we don’t deal with openly or at all adequately.

                  1. Unfortunately, running ads that say, “You want to kill people and break things? Does this normally get you in trouble with the law? Then join the Army!” would get people upset.

                    Not that I’m making light of the problem. That’s just what came to mind when you were talking about the ads that people normally see not really giving people the picture of what the purpose of the military is.

                    1. I’d be happy if they just didn’t emphasize the “what you get out of it” aspect.

                      Do a compare/contrast with our recruiting advertising vs. what the Brits do, and did in the past. Or, the Rhodesians–“Be a Man Among Men” is still a classic advertising blurb that many of my generation still find resonant. Hell, I had a Rhodesian recruiting poster up on my wall for years, with the Selous Scout carrying an FAL. Still very effective advertising, for all the now-unsavory connotations it brings up.

              2. I went through basic very early 2000 and we had several people get their wake up calls… but they got them AT basic. It was pretty consistent for most of the folk who went through when I did… Usually our city folk who signed up just for the college money. The country boys and girls knew at least what a soldier’s job was. We got yelled at and driven hard. Every day there were reminders we were being trained to kill people for a living and so the people back home wouldn’t have to. Everything from the cadences to each and every briefing was focused on and built around that concept. It was ONLY 14 years ago. That explains a lot about a couple of the guys I talk to. I hadn’t realized it had gotten so bad so quickly.

                1. Like I said, it’s spotty. What sort of training and acculturation you get is very dependent on who you had as a trainer, and where your initial assignments are. If you’re around a bunch of meat-eaters, it’s hard to make the mistake of thinking it’s not about killing. However, if the people you’re trained by are inherently herbivores, and your assignments don’t expose you to the more sociopathic combat arms types…? It’s all too likely you’ll think it’s the Peace Corps with funny clothes and stricter rules about discipline.

                  The issue extends into the combat arms, as well. Despite all the freaky-deaky stuff in bayonet training (i.e., “What’s the spirit of the bayonet? TO KILL, DRILL SERGEANT!!!!” and other similar platitudes), the discussion of what it is really like to take another life is never really something that happens. And, if it does…? Like as not, it’s peer-oriented. Which makes about as much sense as letting your kids learn about sex from their peers in grade school…

                  The Israelis do a better job with this stuff, not surprisingly. The inherent Jewish tendency to “over-think” stuff that we take for granted has run it’s usual course, and they’ve got a set of rules for it all that is very reminiscent of the Jewish dietary laws. Google up the term “Purity of Arms”, and read through that. After a bit, you’ll get why it is that the Israeli Defense Force has a somewhat lower rate of PTSD than we do. They integrate this stuff into training, and enforce the hell out of it. Rules of Engagement violations that we’d write off to the fortunes of war? The Israelis court-martial leaders for. In the US Army, if you had a negligent discharge during an action, and killed a civilian? The individual who had it might face disciplinary action, and his bosses might get censured. The Israelis? There are former lieutenants in the IDF who are in prison for long terms, who were merely in command when one of their men accidentally shot a Palestinian civilian during a house search.

                2. I know that we had a talk in the Navy boot camp about internalizing the results so you don’t freeze up– I can’t remember if it was a class or if AT2 did it, but we did have someone point out that we HAD to realize that we would be making people die, and if we froze then we would die.

                    1. My “What did I get myself into?” moment was when I stepped of the plane in Atlanta and got hit in the face with a wall of hot, humid air. I was 17 and hadn’t been out of small town Colorado since I was 6. The rest of it was what my sister likes to call “A Formative Experience”.

                  1. Y’all were fortunate in who you had running your training. I’d love to know if that was part of a formal POI, or if it was simply someone with some common sense doing the necessaries…

                    I’m really not kidding when I tell people that there are combat arms guys who’ve never had this kind of discussion, or only got it after they were already in counseling for PTSD. Friend of mine is a peer counselor for veterans, and some of the stuff he tells me just blows my mind, in terms of “What the hell were you thinking you signed up for…?”.

                    Some weird things can separate the sheep from the goats, too–I have some very vivid memories from a survival training class we took as part of the Sapper Leader Course back in the 1980s. When the instructor demonstrated the proper technique for killing a rabbit, the responses to watching that were… Educational. I’m not lying when I tell you that there were guys who passed out. What was worse was when they broke us up into three-man groups, and issued out the bunnies and chickens, and being within ear- and eye-shot of some of those other groups.

                    It does not inspire confidence to watch your senior leadership flub making a clean kill, panicking, and then beating the poor rabbit into a meat-flavored smear on the ground, while the poor thing is doing that bunny-screaming thing that sets your teeth on edge…

                    All I can say is “City kids…”. I grew up knowing many of my meals on a first-name basis, and being the proximate cause for their conversion into dinner. This background tends to grant one a somewhat more realistic viewpoint on the issues of life and death, vice someone who grew up thinking that meat comes pre-packaged on little styrofoam trays…

                    1. Bootcamp has a lot of sleep dep by design; even if there were a half dozen classes, there’s a really good chance that they wouldn’t remember it– especially if they were trained to pump’n’dump all through school. (The technical training I got, looking back, was designed to counter this– they made it very difficult to be sleep deprived and had review tests frequently. )

            3. The recruiting commercials seem to strenuously avoid the whole shooting end of the mission statement.
              The Navy also seem to have left out the “lawful” from obeying orders.I find this disturbing.maybe it’s a new organization as it’s now “America’s Navy” and not the United States Navy anymore.

          3. That… that staggers me. Not talking about the implications of killing is, frankly, a dereliction of the military’s duty to the soldiers to prepare them for their job.

            1. Oh, you have no idea how far it goes. You start to talk about this stuff openly, and nobody wants to meet your eyes. Even in the Army and Marines–The only people that “get” this stuff are the guys who had to do the same thing, and there’s just as much confusion and angst with them as there is with the victims. The so-called “adult leadership”? Clueless, the vast majority of them.

              We have the Code of Conduct, which is a reaction to what happened in the POW camps of the Korean War. It addresses very well what the institution expects of troops who become POWs. Unfortunately, there is f**k-all there to help some kid develop and use a moral compass for himself when faced with someone like SSG Gibbs, the asshole who was the ringleader in the Maywand killings. There’s nothing there for someone who finds himself in the middle of the My Lai situation, with toxic leadership urging him to commit an atrocity, and his peers gleefully joining in the killing.

              And, there needs to be. Oh, but there needs to be. And, not just to prevent atrocity and war crimes–This stuff is critical to helping someone overcome the trauma of going against a lifetime of conditioning not to take life, and it needs to be in place long before they have to pull the trigger, and long after. Society has to back these young men up before they go, while they’re there, and long after they return. You don’t have too many functional sociopaths out there who can work through and process these things by themselves, and that’s probably a good thing. Custom, values, and mores need to be in place to help the properly acculturated to break their conditioning, and then be able to fully rejoin society. Examine the customs of the Navajo, for example: Going off to war, there’s a ceremony demarcating the status of a young man, who is now “authorized” by his social/cultural matrix to break the rules by killing others; upon his return, he is run through a ritual purification process that sanctifies what he had to do, and lets him know that he is now a returned member of society, and that the rules are back in force. I had a young Navajo troop once, and discussing the whole thing with him, it really struck me how much more confident and at peace he was with the whole concept of going to war. What he did or might have to do in the House of War gave him no angst, no horror, because he knew that at his return home, they’d give him ritual purification and absolution. Supposing of course that he kept within the bounds of things, and didn’t commit atrocity or display cowardice in the face of the enemy. Of course, he came from a Navajo clan/family that had been sending young men off to war for generations–They’d been scouts for the Army, code talkers in WWII, and the shaman/priest who’d done his thing before sending his grandson off to war was a Vietnam veteran.

              The average young soldier or marine has nothing like that sort of socio-cultural support matrix. We need to build them one. Badly.

                1. Not in colloquial usage in the Army. “C’mere, young troop…” is a very common usage, one that has a hell of a lot in common with Mom using your first, middle and last names–You hear that terminology, and odds are, your ass is in trouble with some senior individual.

                  That’s another example of what I’m talking about: The “English as she is spoken” is very, very different than what’s in the books of official usages and terminology.

                  Etymologically speaking, I suspect that the usage came from people wanting a singular for the word “troops”, and then just dropping the “s”. I heard that usage the entire time I was on active duty, and I’ll fully grant that the “proper” one is what you’re saying. Despite that… The word is still used that way by a huge swathe of the Army. Don’t know about the Marines, Navy, or Air Force. Those branches not having cavalry traditions, I rather doubt they do.

              1. Part of this, in my opinion, is the ongoing emasculation of young men. Another part is that we, as men, no longer have those little demarcation ceremonies. No coming of age ritual to invest in us a man’s estate with all of the responsibility that entails. I think it’s a net loss to our society.

          4. You’re right it’s not the “whole” story.

            The biggest issue that I see, speaking as a now-retired professional soldier, is that the US Army flatly refuses to acknowledge that we are supposed to be in the business of killing people, and being killed in return. It’s a huge ‘effing blind spot–Not even the Marines are very good about talking about the issue.

            When I went through MCRD San Diego in 1985 it was made very clear to us that we were–consistent with the rules of war–there to break people and kill things.

            And yes, you are right that part of the problem with the soldiers coming back are because the system didn’t get their heads right before they sent them over. And yes, the DoD is too squeamish for their own good (as I said down thread “Paging Col Kratman…”) in many ways.

            I have a friend who did private security “over there”. He was in Israel for a year, then Iraq for ~10 months. While in Iraq he was on the streets daily, often in 2-3 “car” teams, unsupported (no air cover, no artillery on call). Getting shot at was routine.

            On 2 different occasions he pull RPG warheads out of the side of his car. Both times with the warhead still safed–always pray for stupid enemies.

            We had a chat about combat and killing and such after he got back, as he was the only person I knew & could talk to who’d been in a position to kill people.

            His opinion was along the lines of yours–that having your head right *before* the killing begins, understanding what and why and having a good philosophical and moral base to work from would mitigate a lot of the problems.

            Supposedly this was supposed to be a big part of the MCMAP.

            But we’ve *always* had problems with soldiers coming back from war, even when we were perfectly up front about the why and the what. Maybe not as many as now, but then again we didn’t bring back the same percentages.

            These days we are MUCH more likely to save a physically injured soldier, and get them home–missing pieces or not–than ever before.

            Back in…2006 I think it was, or maybe 2005, I went through a Air Force course in Oklahoma. One of the instructors had been a medic, and had responded to the bombing of the Murrow building. He, and his unit, were too late to do any good, but had shown up just in time to help get the babies out of the nursery.

            The dead babies.

            *Every* one of the folks who went down there was run through 2 group counseling sessions.

            My father was in the Korean war. AA unit, quad 90s. Had a couple of old-school stories about his time in Korea. None of them actually involved the killing bits, but somethings came out over the years.

            No counseling sessions, but he spent a month or two on a troop ship from Japan back to the states with very few duties. Being who he was he ran a card game.

            Knowing soldiers that was basically

            When I got back from Iraq–as a civilian mind you, so things were a bit different–I was in Ft. Benning turning in my gear in something like 28 hours after leaving my desk at the JNCC, and was home 24 hours after that.

            That PMC friend of mine? He was also back in the US and “home” within 48 hours of flying out of Baghdad. He took an extra week here in the states to go see his parents (vice his wife & kid) to de-compress. He had problems in New Mexico driving down two lane roads–he’d change lanes when going under and overpass. Took him most of the week to get that washed out of his system.

            That wasn’t a lot quicker than most soldiers. They’d go from war to the mall in 4-5 days. That’s not a lot of time to retrain reflexes (fortunately we’ve not seen a lot of problems from it).

            So yeah, you’re right, we’ve got to make sure the folks going over there have their heads right, but we’ve also got to find a way to sift out the guys for whom it was more traumatic. Guys who take the losses of comrades a little harder, or guys who are having more issues with the transition.

              1. Whenever someone mentioned a mad scientist during my childhood, I pictured the classic Dr. Frankenstein (NOT pronounced Dr. Frahnk-en-STEEN).

                Then, I learned about Tesla. Now, he’s my default image. For very, very good reason.

  2. About a breakfast cereal if I recall, with claims about the cereal being everything you could dream of, and showed a kid daydreaming about the Sweet Meteor of Death making a flaming landing on his school. Try getting that shown on American TV

    …actually, there was a Calvin and Hobbes newspaper comic strip featuring Calvin flying an F-15 Strike Eagle destroying his school, and then it cuts to the end of his daydream as the school bus arrives at the intact school.

    That was in the 80s, at least. Not sure about nowadays.

    1. Are kids still singing “mine eyes have seen the glory of the burning of the school” to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic?

      1. When (and where) I grew up it was “We joined the paratroopers cause we liked their underwear”

        1. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the burning of the school,
          We have tortured every teacher, we have broken every rule,
          We have crucified the principal as a dirty rotten rat,
          Our truth goes marching on!

          Glory, glory hallelujah!
          Teacher hit me with a ruler.
          I popped her in the butt with a rotten coconut,
          And she ain’t my teacher no more.

          1. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the burning of the school,
            We have tortured every teacher, we have broken every rule,
            We are marching down the halls, just to Hang the Principal,
            Our Troops go marching on.

            Glory, glory hallelujah!
            Teacher hit me with a ruler.
            Met her in the attic with a semi-automatic
            She ain’t my teacher no more!

          2. Must be from a different generation, we sang it:

            So I bopped her in the beanie,
            with a German submariney. …

  3. We can only hope for a Black Swan that takes out the government. More likely they’ll see the Sweet Meteor of Death coming early enough to save themselves and then mention it to us. Except . . . that would require a government capable of analyzing cause and effect, and I’m not seeing any of that. They would more likely see it as inconvenient and therefore obviously inaccurate, a scare tactic of the Tea Party.

          1. Oh. Oh, my. One article linked there claims that southern England will become too hot for growing grapes, and will only be suitable for “growing raisins, currents and sultanas, currently only cultivated in hot climates such as North Africa and the Middle East.”

            Growing RAISINS???!?

            1. Now you see why “The List” is such a source for parody.
              Currents grow nicely in cooler climes as well, I’ve not seen any wild here in hot Texas.

                1. funny thing about their list method. When I searched for the range of currants, they were listed often exactly as you quoted “raisins, currents and sultanas” as dried fruits. someone seems to think that dried fruits are grown that way.



                  1. Those might be the same people who think meat comes straight from creation in chop/steak form on a styrofoam tray …

                    1. Had a guy tell me we did not need farmers, and that he would continue to get food from the grocery store after they were all gone.

                    2. Their meat does, which means they were better than hunters, because it did not involve cruelty to animals.

              1. To be totally fair, the grape varieties used for raisins, sultanas, and currants are a bit different from your wine grapes. Our raisins here in the US are usually made from Thompson seedless, because eating grapes are eating grapes. The other California raisin grape varietals, to quote UC’s viticulture website, are mostly ‘Fiesta’ and ‘Zante Currant,’ and then there are a piddly few ‘DOVine,’ ‘Muscat of Alexandria,’ “Sultana” (false ‘Sultanina’), ‘Monukka,’ ‘Ruby Seedless,’ ‘Flame Seedless,’ and ‘Perlette.’ The old-fashioned pre-1920’s raisin grape was overwhelmingly Muscat of Alexandria, but hey, nobody wants seeds in their raisins.

                I’m pretty sure that UK wine grapes would have to be pretty cold-resistant, unless you’re talking the balmy Middle Ages when they grew a lot more oranges and grapes in Kent.

                1. currants are a gooseberry type of thing. very tart, but with the treatment my grandma K used, were very good as jelly, which was her preferred method of preserving them.

        1. Didn’t another one wonder on air if the Malaysian airliner was swallowed by a black hole? The only thing that would make it better if someone piped in to ask if the black hole was caused by global warming.

        2. when I typed that, I forgot which it was … the Asteroid or the missing Malaysia Air flight so I skipped it as both are probably posited as being the fault of AGW.

    1. Thanks, guys. I really needed more evidence that calling some people dumb as rocks unfairly maligns rocks.

  4. Plenty of people see black swans flying in. Most people tell the more perceptive ones to shut up, cover their ears, and look down to avoid seeing them. If you keep yapping about it they fire you or stop taking your phone calls or you don’t get invited to family dinners anymore because – Gawd, who wants to listen to all this Doomer crap over and over? My retirement account is doing great. Why are you trying to rain on my parade? After dinner we are watching Dancing with the Stars and if you can’t keep quiet so we can hear it go out on the porch or go home.

    1. By definition, no they do not.

      Black swans are the stuff you *don’t* see coming.

      The USG running out of money and collapsing isn’t a black swan event, it’s a reasonable projection of current trends.

      Aliens landing in DC holding a copy of The Wealth of Nations in one hand and Das Capital in the other, now THAT is a black swan event.

                  1. It’s – presumably – still fun and games for the cutters. The cut-ee, not so much. And damn you people.

              1. Nothing. It’s the ones that show up with the stilettos and fishnet stockings and disreputable corsets we have problems with.You know, the ones that wave a tentacle from some dark alleyway going “Yoo hoo, cutie-kins, ya wanna have a good time?”

                1. As I recall that in some cases when out and about they do make an attempt to appear humanoid, if only by donning an Edgar suit.

                2. “It’s the ones that show up with the stilettos and fishnet stockings and disreputable corsets we have problems with.”

                  Sweet transvestites from Transexual Transylvania?

              2. One of their ships beaned me & me love up out of a perfectly lovely field and performed perfectly unspeakable experiments upon us. Mind, I wouldn’t complain but ever since I’ve had hemorrhoids.

  5. I remember the USSR. Wasn’t afraid of it, growing up, was just aware that it was there and evil.

    I didn’t really believe the Year Peace Broke Out until the fall of the Berlin Wall, or rather the next day, when I read in the newspaper that of all the East Berliners who poured through the Wall to rejoice, about 99% went back over to East Berlin to their own beds when they needed to sleep.

    1. I had kinda sussed that Gorbachev might really mean it when the military held the coup.

      What exactly he meant, well that had to play out.

      1. I don’t think he ever *really* meant it. But at a certain point in time, I think he realized that there wasn’t anything that could realistically be done to stop it. 1989 was the year that *all* of it happened. At the start of the year, Gorbachev thought that he could get away with allowing Eastern Europe to tweak a few key areas. And that aside from those key areas, everything would still remain in place. But events quickly snowballed out of control, and all of the Eastern European Communist governments had been overthrown by the end of the year (though sometimes they were merely replaced by other Communists).

        Of course, Tien an Men Square also happened that year…

        1. Part of it was that the coup necessarily removed the hard-liners from consideration. If the opposition really vanishes, the political considerations shift enormously.

          Yeah, the Square was where I was wondering if it would really spread — ah, well, back to Business As Usual.

        2. Wasn’t the Berlin Wall fall due to out of contact or drunk officers and confused soldiers? Almost an accident.

          1. To be precise. An official was given the task of announcing they would open the border. The announcement didn’t say when, and when questioned, he said it didn’t say so, and so he thought it was immediate.

            East Berliners hastened to the wall, were furious they weren’t let through at once, and demanded it. The guards called for orders, the phone wasn’t answered, and the officer in charge gave the order to let them through.

            Taking sledgehammers to the wall also arose spontaneously during the hours after that.

            1. I would have said that taking sledgehammers to the awl was the natural and expected consequence of letting those people through. The only people in the world who like the godsdamned thing were hiding under their beds.

    2. Mary, yes. Growing up the default assumption was that sooner or later someone’s finger would slip on the MAD button and we’d all go up in a blaze of nuclear glory – if the USSR didn’t get everyone by stealth first.

      1. I personally was not afraid of that. Then, the first political thing I remember was Carter’s election. By the time I was old enough to grasp MAD, it wasn’t a burning danger to me.

              1. Instead of worrying about those bills you would get to go through puberty again. Do you think Middle & High School have improved since you first went through them?

          1. Bunch a damn punk kids.
            Just turned 63, it seems Dan and I share the same birth date.
            I do recall a night class professor carefully explaining how once a country went communist it never recovered. Cynical old fart, we got along famously, glad he was to some small degree proven wrong.

            1. Youngster! I’m near 70, a year or so PRE-boomer. And ticked as any of you kids that the prog-boomers have screwed things up so well! Ah well, if it hadn’t been one thing, it’d have been another.

        1. That puts me in the same general range. I’ll be 47 soon. And yeah, I felt the same way. Then reality smacked me in the face.

    1. I was stationed in West Germany, and got out of the Army a month before the Wall came down.

      I figured they were just really glad to get rid of me.

    2. I owned a piece of the Berlin Wall I bought in a novelty shop.

      However, there’s a *slight* chance it was just a chunk of concrete from down the street where the novelty company was headquartered.

    3. Sadly, I did know that there were pockets of totalitarianism far more virulent than what had been on tap in East Germany on almost any college campus, and in every newsroom in the country. I had kind of hoped that at least some of the disgusting little pseudo-intellectal pinkos would burrow quietly into the earth and disappear from the ken of man.


        1. Their support for communism derived primarily from not having to live under it. Such systems always look better when you imagine your view will be from the top.

          1. Don’t kid yourself; their support of communism stems from it being the only system yet devised that promises to put the kind of work-shy intellectual bums that accrete to any college in charge. They have an overpowering urge to tell other people what to do, and are at least on some level aware of their miniscule qualifications for leadership.

          2. Most systems look better when you imagine your view from the top.

            The advantage to our system is that even if you’re not at the top, the view doesn’t completely suck and that there’s nothing to really stop you from getting to the top except you.

      1. Well, when you hear over and over how the Russians were going to destroy our way of life, you start to believe them.

        When it turns out that there are threats much, much closer to home? Yeah, I was a bit surprised at first.

  6. One of the reasons for a black swan event is that everyone is bluffing on the equivalent of a busted flush, and after upping the ante as far as possible someone gets cold feet and stubborn and calls. Then we discover who-all has a pair and which depressed looking player actually has a respectable three of a kind.

    1. ..similar to the psychology of a preference cascade: everybody goes along with what they don’t like because they believe everybody else likes it – until just enough people learn differently.

      1. Very much so. The whole thing blunders on powered by spit and hope until someone notices the wheels fell off several years ago, and what’s powering it isn’t an engine.

      1. The surfin’ birds were cool. But what made it interesting was that, for a while, the birds and humans were using the same area in such a calm way – “Yeah, you’re at the beach and we’re at the beach, business as usual.” It was almost disappointing when the swans startled and flew off.

    1. Shucks — I was looking for a paramilitary tactical sea assault force.

      Of course, such a force might equally name themselves The Spanish Inquisition, because, you know …

    1. Remember the fable, there is always hope. It just shows up after a sh!tstorm of bad stuff rains down on your head first.

      1. Yes indeed. Half the trick is remembering that there is always hope. The other half is recognizing it when it shows up.

  7. Things had been troubled for some while by the time the poor fool, having failed in his initial assignment, accidentally managed to stumbled upon and murder the minor Hapsburg. Europe no longer had one connector. For a while every major ruling house was closely related by marriage. Victoria and Albert had been so prolific. What with England being so powerful what house wouldn’t want the tie? For a while the family in the family business had managed to keep a lid on things. But Uncle Bertie had died, and his peace went with him.

    1. Well, yes. They’d been simmering along for a good long while but never quite boiled over. And all those treaties that everyone thought were such a good idea to make sure nobody started anything stupid proved a disaster when they pretty much guaranteed that everyone got dragged into the mess once someone did do something stupid.

      Cue one pressure cooker exploding all over Europe.

    2. The thing was, the stuff that made WWI such a bloody charnel house were factors that were only in effect for a very short period. You can make a damn good case that WWI happened at the perfectly wrong time…

      Consider: Had it occurred during the period 1900-1915, Germany would have rapidly run out of phosphates with which to manufacture explosives. Being cut off from the guano of South America, they would have had to win in a very short period, or face inevitable defeat when they ran out of stocks. Two things saved them from this in the actual event: By sheer chance, when they invaded Belgium, there was a huge stockpile of guano on the docks, which they promptly confiscated. Then, the Haber-Bosch process had come along, and obviated the whole requirement for natural guano to provide phosphates for fertilizers and explosives. So, 10-15 years earlier, no charnel house war. Other technical factors also existed which were of similar importance to the way things actually happened.

      Now, if the war had been delayed by a decade, or two–What then? Well, for one thing, portable radios would have been available, along with much more motorization. In all likelihood, the trenches wouldn’t have happened, because the imbalance between defense and offense wouldn’t have been present. As an example, some calculations have shown that if the Germans had had trucks with which to bridge the gap between the front-line advancing elements and the railheads, then they would have been able to overcome the French defenses on the Marne. Likewise, had the French had the required mobility assets, the Germans might never have been able to pull that one off. Given the delusional state of the French military leadership, my money would be on a “Blitzkrieg 1925” being the most likely result.

      WWI hit at the perfect time for it to turn into the butchershop that it did. Earlier, and we’d have reprised 1870. Later, and it would have been 1940, all over again. Either way, no mass killing fields.

  8. “…be ready for anything, and figure out if you need to thank it or shoot it when it happens.”
    I’m a paranoid veteran, and I endorse this comment. 😀
    The important thing to remember when we start feeling to end-of-the-world-ish is that, in the cases of the Roman and Soviet empires, the peoples didn’t all die in cataclysms or starve to death. Economies changed, empires stopped being able to interfere with far-flung populations, and (quickly or over time) city-states and tribal groups just started doing their things their own way and stopped checking in with their former capitals. When the paychecks to the soldiers quit coming, the soldiers quit walking the parapets, and local groups started running things.
    By the same token, if things get really bad in the US (economically speaking), the paychecks to the soldiers will quit coming, and the soldiers will seek other ways to support their families.

    All in all, I’d say we’re far more likely to see our nation metamorphose into its next incarnation in that way than we are to see FEMA camps and things like that. Just keep your powder dry, be able to grow and can your own food, and know your neighbors.
    Also, don’t live near places like DC, LA, NY, Chicago, etc. Too much population density makes places like that for terror and a hotbed for a viral breakout, and it’s hard to procure supplies if the aqueducts or the power lines stop working.

    1. All very well to say: Don’t live near a big city. Some of us need to. Access to airports and medical care. Not all of us are mostly healthy, 35 and able to live in the country.

      I have a backyard and I know my neighbors.

      1. If you have enough backyard to grow a garden, you’re probably doing OK. I’m not advocating we all live on one acre minimum lots, as desirable as that would be. 😀

          1. it’s big enough for a couple trees, my dog, my bbq and enough room for said dog to run around in.

            1. FWIW, water is a pretty big matter of importance– things get tough, the stuff people do that’s dumb and damages the distribution system might make it impossible to GET the water to make your dog run a functional little garden.

              1. We have considered the water situation. Especially since we often are in a “drought”. We’re not desert just a mite dry.

          2. You might check to see if your municipality offers an online plat map tool. I found one for Brenham, and my lot turns out to be 0.22 acres, with a perimeter of just over 400 feet. Were I significantly in to gardening (I grow tomatoes and green onions at best) I could probably grow enough to feed myself. I’d have to cut down a nice big red oak though, and I’m too lazy to garden anyway:-).

    2. Interesting to think we could end up back in scattered city-states. I don’t think it even requires a disaster. The increasing possibilities of working on line combined with the increasing danger in urban areas may be all it takes to shift those walled and gated communities further from urban chaos, taking a fair amount of offices, shops and light manufacturing with them.

      1. I’d hate to try sacking ANY US city, just knowing how many LEGALLY owned firearms there are estimated to be, but you do raise a good point.

        1. Piffle. The barbarians sacked Ferguson, Missouri, just this summer. Large portions of Los Angeles are sacked at least once a decade.

          Of course, if you want to see really thorough sacking, done professionally, you have to look to the city administrations of Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago and Washington D.C. — just look for the union label.

    3. As I said in another forum where you may or may not also be, humans are *horrible* at risk analysis and planning. For most of us the *biggest* risk we perceive is the *last* risk we read/heard/talked about. Most of us lack the tools necessary to do the analysis and prioritization necessary.

      Otherwise we’d *never* get in a car, we’d drink exactly one ounce of alcohol in some sort of carrier per 100 pounds of body weight every day (and no more).

      Much of what people call “Black Swan” events aren’t. We can see meteors and financial collapse coming. Yes, the yellowstone volcano is warming up. Yes, eboli. Yes, there *will* be a nuclear device set off in a major city or two[0].

      All of those require much different preparation and only cover the spectrum of major disasters (well, except the financial collapse, idk if that qualifies as a “disaster”).

      Also, don’t live near places like DC, LA, NY, Chicago, etc. Too much population density makes places like that for terror and a hotbed for a viral breakout, and it’s hard to procure supplies if the aqueducts or the power lines stop working.

      This is really good advice if you think there will be a sudden disaster or a sudden collapse.

      It is not nearly as good advise if you think it will be slow downward spiral, or a gradual dissolution and you don’t already enjoy small towns.

      I’m in the “gradual dissolution” camp as historically catastrophic civilization ending events are rare and dispersed.

      In the “gradual dissolution” scenario small towns are going to get *really* crappy (ier?) when as distribution systems break or get more expensive. If we have a major epidemic the bigger cities will be harder hit initially, but they’re going to be better taken care of (after all it’s where the elites live). You’re going to have harder and harder times finding what you need in small towns. And this “finding what you need” applies to things like medical specialists and MRIs. And parts for MRIs.

      In the “sudden disaster” scenario, unless you pick the right small town you’re going to be cut off from aid–it’s going to go to the big cities, then the small cites, then the big towns etc.

      After all, that’s where the voters are, and that’s where the POPULATION is.

      As the saying goes–Amateurs study tactics, Armchair Generals study Strategy, Professionals study logistics. You want to live at the intersection of “risk” and “stuff getting shipped in”.

      Living in an suburb where you can set up a few raised beds for gardening and a couple fruit/nut trees and maybe a few rabbits or chickens will allow you access to the sorts of work/jobs and resources that larger cities will have, the “grid” will last longer there (and it’s almost as easy to be able to detach from the grid or to make your home MUCH less reliant on it).

      Viral breakouts aren’t really the problem that the movies or the idiots on the news would have you believe. There’s a HUGE difference in the sanitary conditions of a modern US/European city and the rest of the world.

      Plus living a small town doesn’t protect you from the virus unless it’s a small, *isolated* town. And then who brings in the food?

      [0] Will means it *will* happen. Tomorrow, 300 years from now, >shrug<. One city, 100 cities? Who knows?

      1. “humans are *horrible* at risk analysis and planning.”
        A great book on this is “Fooled By Randomness” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. One of the examples (if I remember it correctly) was people estimating the chances of dying while flying. Ask them what the odds are of dying in the air, they’ll put it at some high number (say, 1 in 10,000). Give them a specific threat (getting blown up in the air) and they estimate downward (say 1 in 400) even though the second is a more specific incidence than the first.
        Really, it’s a miracle people function.

      2. Ironically, both the cars and alcohol examples show that you didn’t analyze risk to reward, and then there’s the issue of bad information/faulty information. (Remember the joke about hearing most accidents are within twenty miles of home, so you move?)

        1. I have done the risk/reward, and so I ride a motorcycle.

          But more seriously there’s something post analysis called “risk mitigation”. I mitigate the risks of driving by being aware, keeping my vehicles in good condition, not driving when I’m too tired or when I’ve been drinking, and by practicing mindfulness while driving (e.g. keeping my mind on what I’m doing and ONLY what I’m doing. No changing the radio station, no txting, etc.).

          When possible I also use alternate means of commuting. If there’s a train available i take it. When possible I’ll ride my bicycle, which mitigates other sorts of risks.

          1. Risk mitigation is one of the factors that makes for faulty data– one that makes for bad is comparing only commercial flights vs ALL estimated vehicle trips by miles driven; I’d say a more fair comparison would be accident risk per driver per trip, but that has the problem that it’s really hard to get anything but an “input as results” answer there, both because of small private airplanes and because…well, I think that I do a lot of runs to the grocery store. Maybe once a week. I’ve had people brag about how they’ve cut down their trips by doing no more than one a DAY, in addition to driving to work and out for dinner. My parents don’t do a trip just for groceries more than once a month, and that’s only in months that they don’t stop by Costco when they’re on a parts run.

          2. Having commuted by bicycle- that adds all kinds of risks. Wear all the reflective vests you want, have your helmet on, have all your lights in place, and some idiot will still claim they didn’t see you. Speaking from experience.

    4. Well, thank you! It takes a pretty hefty disaster/event to shatter everything. Most people kept on doing more or less the normal routine right through the world wars, after all. It got harder, and food got scarcer, but there wasn’t a sudden loss of everything except in a relatively small number of places – all of which quickly found ways to keep going.

      I dare say having one’s city bombed out and/or invaded has a tendency to shift priorities a little. No looting of luxury goods there, not when staying fed matters more. The occupying forces did the looting of luxury goods.

      1. Yeah but— remember that any disaster is a disaster for the people it happens to. Have your block and most of your nearest relatives wiped out by a tornado and YOU have a disaster. It may not cause civilization to collapse, but YOUR life certainly does. It’s no comfort to YOU that Chicago is fine when you have lost your home and family.

        This observation is also a good counter to an ‘anti-prepper’ attitude. MOST of the daily, up close, PERSONAL disasters, can be eased with preparation. Sudden or long term illness, loss of income, house fire, etc are all made easier if one has taken steps to prepare. And the preparations have usefulness against the BIGGER disasters too.

        It’s easy to focus on big, unlikely events, but for most folks, the disaster that most effects them will be much closer to home.


  9. …it would be like trying to drop a giant monster anywhere in Japan that wasn’t Tokyo (I’m reliably informed by the Internets that the reason Tokyo has such an issue with giant monsters is a quirk of city planning.

    As an consumer of Anime I think I can shed a bit of light on this issue. It is Tokyo Tower. Tokyo Tower gives monsters monstrous headaches. The eventually go mad and are driven to destroy Tokyo Tower. (As well as anyone or anything that get in their way of destroying Tokyo Tower.)

    1. The root causes are further back. Those that are now the emperors of Japan once dealt with aboriginal inhabitants of parts of modern Japan. The resentments of these extinct peoples created or empowered Yasunori Kato. Kato later, among many other projects, was an engineer on the Tokyo Tower, and purposefully caused what you describe to happen.

      Kato is very interested in the complete destruction of Tokyo.

      Kato realized that Tokyo harbor is convenient enough that it would be hard to really destroy the city so long as significant sea trade exists.

      So he is taking a sabbatical while various measures work, so that he can think about civilization enders and the extinction of humanity.

          1. No, the giant mecha are invariably a *response* to the aliens, time travelers, monsters, and magical girls.

            1. Kato was deeply involved with Meiji through Showa efforts to change the nature of the Japanese people. He was trying to promote disaster on a scale to end Tokyo. Hence the eugenics projects to make mecha creators and operators.

    2. It wasn’t a tsunami that devastated Japan. It was really a monster attack. The tsunami story is for the insurance companies. There was a similar con after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

      1. Well, yes. Insurance assessors have no souls. There’s no way they’d accept a giant monster attack. Tsunamis and earthquakes, they can handle.

  10. But the most likely thing to topple civilization–and I don’t consider what exists in the middle east or third world to be civilized–will be the unknown unknown….

  11. It always blows my mind when people who talk about Black Swans but don’t understand what they mean. “Absence of evidence doesn’t imply evidence of absence.” Just because something has never happened before doesn’t mean it never will. I wish more people would read Taleb’s books.

    1. Actually, absence of evidence IS evidence of absence. How strong it is as evidence varies from situation to situation, but it is evidence — though not proof.

      1. Too many people take it as proof, though. They’re seriously believe because SOME BIG UGLY THING has never happened, it can’t. Murphy was (if I recall correctly) an aerospace engineer. His law wasn’t being pessimistic, it was saying “So let’s cut down on what can go wrong.”

        And don’t get me started on “Proven Science”… 😛

        1. Or ‘Settled Science’. That one… grrr.

          Look, I don’t care HOW good your models are, how well they pose, how nice they look after you photoshop their curves and adjust the lighting… wait, wrong models.


          The point is that REALITY and MODELS are NOT the same thing. And if Reality diverges from the model, it isn’t Reality that’s wrong.

          1. “It does not, in the conventional phrase, accept the conclusions of science, for the simple reason that science has not concluded. To conclude is to shut up; and the man of science is not at all likely to shut up. ” G. K. Chesterton

          2. How can you say wrong models? They are much more worthy of close attention than the hockey stick specials.

        2. Oh, yes. It’s the first rule of designing a GUI* if you’re a programmer — do not let the users enter the data wrongly.

          * Graphic User Interface. Pronounced gooey.

          1. Just try to tell that to the damn programmers. “We’ve never done it that way before.”

            Tester: “Look, I can deal with letting users shoot themselves in the foot. But do we have to load the gun for them, hand it to them, and help them aim and fire it as well?”

              1. The ones I work with are usually being told to write the app, and that the business people will settle on what the specs should be sometime after the production install.

                1. What kind of idiots expect the programmers to do a good job under that situation???????

                  1. The same ones that expect that a computer program be able to ‘anticipate when someone with access privileges is about to access a financial database and should give the authorized person pre-approved access BEFORE said person presses a button so there’s no wait time.’

                    (Yeah, I’m getting lots of F.M.L. fodder lately.)

                  2. What makes you think good programming is relevant to what they want?

                    To quote a Hollywood mogul: “I don’t want it good, I want it Tuesday!”

                    1. Worked one shop that bragged how sales would go out and sell something, then the programmers would sit down and write it.

                    2. I worked in the IT shop for a retail operation where somebody in marketing had this “great idea”.

                      They were told to check with IT to see if it was possible (IIRC it wouldn’t have been) but before they asked IT they started working on the advertisements to promote this “great idea”. [Frown]

                  3. To be fair, I’ve always found it easier to write the documentation/requirements after we went live because that way, they might actually match. One of my favorite sayings from when I was a consultant was “Donde esta el requirements document?” I actually told a BA I had just met “I love you” when she handed me actual, honest to God, easy to understand requirements. That was 10 years ago and I still get a little misty.

                    1. I once had an end user apologize to me for giving me a requirement that turned out to be in error.

                      I remember because it was so anomalous.

                      Along with the program that went into testing and I got no bug reports — even though they were using it. The requirements had all been right.

  12. …and if you think the fall of the Berlin Wall wasn’t terrifying, you weren’t listening to the British or the French who seemed sometimes to be convinced that the moment Germany unified Hitler would reappear in a flash of hellfire and brimstone and start the next world war.

    This reminds me of the joke circulating on usenet about that time:

    Q: Where will they locate the capital of newly-reunited Germany?

    A. Paris

    1. -giggle-

      Which reminds me of the joke about what happened when France first heard about East and West Germany uniting.

      They surrendered in advance.

      1. Well, the Germans did conquer that part of the world so often the locals were in a state of “If it’s Tuesday we must be German territory”

  13. “And if I could drop meteors where I wanted, that would be so tempting.”

    Small request, if you do manage to obtain this ability, could you give some of us in the area a few hours warning? I’d like to be able to grab my cat, my books and my family and get the flock out of Dodge.

    “Apparently the city lights spell out “good eats here” in giant monster lingo”

    Arrg. I forgot the rule about drinking while reading Kate’s post. –sighs and reaches for paper towel –
    Fortunately it missed the keyboard and monitors this time.
    And here I thought it was like a Monster convenience store, everything you need in one place.

    1. Certainly! It would only be fair. And… um… sorry for the spray effect. This is just what happens when I start rambling.

  14. I can agree with the concept of slowly sliding into degeneration; true that the elites in the large metropolitan areas will get their groceries no matter what. However, don’t sell the small towns and cities short. As things degenerate, people will begin moving to the areas of lack. Truck gardens, small machine shops, welders, conversion from gas to steam engines to use the natural energy available are already growing and though the people in the cities, think poor people of Paris may have problems the rural area won’t do much more than burp. Hardship will be ‘no New York TV.’ Refineries and mills and a lot of manufacturing are rural. OK, time to quit brainstorming the future.

    1. Around here, we might actually end up with fresher produce. All the local farms get harvested, the produce gets sent off to the big distribution centers, then shipped back here.

      1. None.
        Their non-pacifist neighbors, on the other hand, will fight to the death to keep the only people who know how to farm on a large scale without gasoline-powered machinery alive and kicking.

  15. Since just about everything has been predicted I will settle for a definition of Black Swans which works out to only nut cases and people with no voice or power seriously considered it.

    1. Which doesn’t make it impossible – Germany was a civilized first world nation and in the space of a decade turned into an extremely organized hell-hole of a dictatorship, largely due to one evil bastard with a funny mustache and a gift for catching a crowd’s imagination.

      1. It is largely overlooked by the post-war generations that part of the horror of the Nazi predations was that they occurred in what was viewed as the acme of Western Civilization, the foremost scientific and cultural representative of world culture. On ereason the Japanese horrors were discounted is that well, they were japs, weren’t they? Couldn’t expect much better from those heathens.

        Germany, OTOH, gave serious minded folk cause to doubt the direction of Western Scientific Progress. Fortunately for Western Scientific Progressives, serious minded people have been in short supply since then (if ever they were abundant) and are easily shouted down.

        1. And they’ve been able to successfully downplay the subsequent horrors in the various Communist countries.

          1. And forgotten all those lovely commie jokes. “What’s the definition of a Russian string quartet? A Russian symphony orchestra after its tour of the west”

      2. The hight od German civilization prior to WWII has been broadly exaggerated. The Kaisers were a series of swine, and the military classes treated everybody else like dirt. Yes, the educated upper classes produced fine engineers and scientists, but everyone lower down was likely to feel shat upon, which is why we had such extensive German immigration before WWI. All the smart people were getting the hell out.

    1. It isn’t that they think it something to mock so much as they think Rumsfeld somebody to mock, and so will grasp whatever stones are at hand.

      Look at the codswallop they praise from their elect — the selection is embarrassingly abundant from Obama (him & her) to Biden to Clinton to Reid and Pelosi without getting into Friedman, Krugman, Dionne and their ilk — and despair.

      “I am great OZYMANDIAS,” saith the stone,
      “The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
      “The wonders of my hand.”

    2. Kinda how like Romney’s 2012 comment about how his office treated women better than Obama’s office did was successfully used to attack Romney?

    3. Pot smokers’ brains don’t work right. This makes it easier to for them to mistake a working brain for a defective one, or vice versa, to mistake someone with similar damage for someone functional.

      Add in folks who simply do not think and are easily swayed by crowds…

  16. A couple of things-
    In re the twin towers designed to shoot laser beams, when cell phone towers first started popping up and (most) people didn’t know what they were, I convinced a whole lot of people they were part of Reagans Star Wars defense system.

    I served on SSBN’s. We knew what our mission was. Destroy the enemy after he had killed our loved ones. High up civilians and shrink types were always worried that the men in the silos and on the subs wouldn’t turn the keys if the time came. They didn’t understand us- we would. Without hesitation or remorse.

    My eldest is Army. Knew from dinner table talks growing up that his job would be to kill people and break things should it become necessary. He’s been there, done that, and has no problems with it. He believes in Patton’s words, that it is better to make the other poor son of a bitch die for his country (Belief, religion, whatever).

    And one lesson learned growing up was- liberals have always been wrong about Communism and communist governments, which means for the most part, they have always lied, because the truth was known.

    Islam delenda est!

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