The Weight of History

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I realized the other day that I was born the same distance from the end of World War II as we are now from 9/11.

It seems like a weird idea.  After all, 9/11 happened yesterday, just about.  I remember the shock, and worrying about Dan (he was working in DC at the time) and bringing out the bourbon and frying doughnuts.  I remember months of not being able to think straight.

But WWII was ancient history when I was born, a thing of the past done and over with.  It helps process things like the holocaust when you feel as though they happened in the unimaginably distant past.

Yeah I grew up watching WWII movies, which were all in black and white, and where the decisions seemed obvious and simple.  I grew up in the sixties, with the idea of hallucinogenic drugs if not the reality (sure they existed in Portugal.  Heck, they probably existed in my circles, but I turned 8 in 1970 and if those existed in the playground, it was more than I could guess) the idea of space travel and a bunch of truly bad ideas that were all about overturning centuries old practices and ideas with the new shiny of what boiled down to a few really dumb syllogisms (we’re all naked under our clothes, man) and a lot of also very old, never worked anywhere, and dressing them up in new psychology won’t help (free love, man.)

I literally did not realize how close I was born to WWII because it was old history to me.  Dead and gone.  The harrowing uncertainty of the past had become history, written, cut, dried, judged, finished.  I was so uninterested in it I never opened my dad’s multi volume history of WWII.

And thinking back, it’s no wonder I viewed it that way.  Sure, my parents remembered WWII, but they were kids then.  (And since Portugal, which was even more broke than usual, and also really couldn’t go in on any side except the Axis without prompting an invasion by its old enemy, Spain, [which btw tells you that Portugal, national socialist though it was, didn’t align with the Axis intellectually, because otherwise it would have gone in, easily enough.  These things are way more complicated than we tend to think.  I mean FDR was also largely national socialist.  It was the spirit of the time.] was neutral, my parents memories were mostly rationing, and that time that people came around to glue film on the windows, to minimize the risk in case of bombing.  And they didn’t even know what kind of political brinksmanship led to that, except that the bombing expected was German.]  My grandparents were the ones of age to have fought in WWII, had the country not been neutral.  My grandfather did tell a story about a trip from Brazil when his boat was boarded by a German submarine crew, looking for someone or something, and if I got the gist of the story right, they really had a (British or American) spy hiding among them, whom they didn’t turn in.  (Grandad spoke English, and also he really didn’t have a fiction-writer bone in his body.  He couldn’t have embellished any story to save his life.  That comes from his wife, the storyteller.)  But I don’t remember the details very well, because I was very young and most of the referents he was using made no sense to me.  There was a type of coat my mom wouldn’t let me wear, because it reminded her of the emaciated Jewish refugees arriving in the train stations in Portugal during and after the war.  Not that she was hostile to them, but as she put it, the coat made her think of “famine and desperation.”

Sure the rationing made the country very poor.  National socialism did too.  (And you know, Bernie might be truthful about his national socialism, though I’d doubt the national part of it, because I remember he honeymooned in the Soviet Union, the weasel.  His hatred of “corporations” matches the regime I grew up under, and mind you, that kept us d*mn poor.  Particularly the insistence on keeping out multinational trade.)  My mom was one of those children who walked along the train line, picking up bits of fallen coal to use to cook with at home.  Being older and Portuguese, she wasn’t one of the children John Ringo saw, but she was their spiritual sister.  And she and her siblings gleaned the fields, after the farmers were done, to get potatoes, to supplement the household food.  (And grapes, and whatever.)  My dad came from a more stable/better off family, though the country itself was so broke that his father worked abroad for 30 years of his life, to send money home to keep them so.  But when dad got a scholarship to high school (at the time a paying thing,) his mom made him a book bag out of old cloth, because they couldn’t afford to buy him the normal leather ones.

But all these hardships were far in the past when I was born.  It never occurred to me how close they were, or that my brother, himself, was born only 9 years after the end — and the horrors — of World War II.

I was a child of the cold war.  We grew up knowing we were all going to be blown up, at any minute, by a dispute in which neither us nor our rather tiny country had any say.  Always, from earliest understanding in the world, I ran through plans to survive nuclear war, because I knew this would come in my lifetime.  (Yeah, I do know it might still, but it’s different, isn’t it?)  I grew up jaundiced and cynical, looking at the “Soviet Life” magazines and snorting, and passing the Gulag Archipelago under the desk to classmates, because it wasn’t legally forbidden, but heaven help us if our teachers found out we were reading it.  Say goodbye to that A and be harangued forever about buying into propaganda.

I grew up knowing that all the intellectuals thought communism was cool, that leftism was a positional good, that being patriotic was gauche, and that, nuclear war or not, communism would eventually win out.  Even those who hated it believed so.  It was so efficient after all.  Inhuman, but efficient.

And then the Soviet Union fell, and the sheer inefficiency misery and stupid of the regime leaked out.

And yet I remember, in my thirties, after the fall of the wall, reading my first Reason magazine and realizing with a shock that overpopulation and pollution, let alone the exhaustion of natural fuels, were nowhere near as close as I’d been taught to believe, that the end of the world in my time or even my grandchildren’s time, wasn’t inevitable, that there was hope.  It was both a shock and a breath of fresh air.

Why am I bringing all this up?

We all grow up caught in the tidal wave of history, only the wave of made of amber.  It pins us in place.  We carry with us a set of beliefs, thoughts, feelings, that are completely transitory, but feel like they’ll last forever, like they are eternal verities.

I was born in the after-shock of World War II, which was itself, and aftershock of World War I.  I grew up suspicious of nationalism, because people were suspicious of nationalism after World War I.  I grew up with leftism being a positional good, because communist (mostly Soviet) propaganda during and after WWII made it so.  FDR let the soviets cast themselves as the alternative to fascism, when they were no such thing, all to secure the cooperation of good old uncle Joe.  Sometimes you make pacts with the devil.  I’m not sure that one was needed or worth it, but then I wasn’t there, and for all FDR was a bastard I don’t think he hated America.  We had to wait a while for presidents who did hate America. So he did what he thought he had to do, and I can’t judge it.

And the patina of leftism as a social good hasn’t worn off yet.  All our intellectuals think that it’s inevitable some form of socialism will win out.  Except that Europe is choking on socialism and dying, and if it saves itself it will by renouncing it.  (And no, I don’t know if that’s possible.)  And the poverty and misery of leftism keeps pouring out, every chance, leaking, guttering, seeping through, becoming obvious despite their domination of the media that does its best to keep all that hidden.  It’s becoming very obvious.

We’re on the crest of yet another wave of history, where it turns, and curls under.

Go easy on the millenials, particularly the young ones.  They were taught to believe in a senescent philosophy that never worked anywhere. They suffered the shock of 9/11 but no one at all helped them process it.  They were taught to hate their country by the people who think that removing nationalism will remove war (“nothing to kill or die for” — I’m spitting on you John Lennon.)  They are taught to hate corporations by people who are as economically naive as the national socialists I was born under.  And no one has taught them the horrors of communism, everywhere it was tired.

Well, we’re on the turning of the wave.  And part of it is the leftist boomers getting old/losing their grip on the institutions they so carefully crawled through.  And part of it is the new media, and unbelievably dirt, vast, unimaginable secrets leaking out.

The kids will be all right.  It’s only about 100 years since Europe tore itself apart psychologically and Western civ decided that the way to stop this was to destroy itself.  And we’re already turning away from that.  We’re rebuilding.

Grandma’s grandmother was born just after the Napoleonic wars.  A hundred years and change isn’t much in human history.  It is much for HUMANS because we’re caught in our little bit of amber, and only see so far.  But human history, human ideas move slower.  They do move, though.  No movement, no trend — particularly dysfunctional ones — lasts forever.  Things self-correct.  Maybe it’s too late for Europe.  And maybe not.  Sure, there’s a lot of Arabs around, but a lot of them converted and became part of the weave of Europe before.  It’s not the genes, it’s the culture.  It could still turn around.

In biographies of Englishmen who fought the peninsular wars, I read how devastated the country was, till there was not a work-cow to eat, till fields were ruined, great houses and families destroyed.  After it came a time of lawlessness and fear, the tall stone walls of the village topped by broken glass, in a more or less vain attempt to keep thieves at bay.  Grandma’s house was built around that time, and so designed there was only one window in the lower floor, and it had a huge board that went over it at night, to prevent break ins.

Yet I grew up in a poor country, but one in which food was plentiful and where walls were decorative, and maybe five feet high.  Now mom and dad have raised the walls, and have security bars on all the lower floor windows.  And steel shutters that shut the house tight at night.

No trend is forever.  There is nothing as stupid as extrapolating present trends to infinity.  And none of us is given to see more than a little bit of the great waves of human history that come from an unimaginable, not-remembered time and carry on to a future none of us will see.

When you’re inclined to despair, remember, most of us were born very soon after World War II, after the two conflicts that ripped Europe’s heart out and ate it.  We’re still in the shock wave, in the concussion.  Even our kids and grandkids will still be affected by that great explosion.

But nothing lasts forever.  Even the most grievously maleducated generation in the history of the west will have events that change their mind, discover ideas and secrets that transform all.

And our function is to snatch brands from the fire, to take these great grandchildren of World War II and the fall of Europe, and teach them that yeah, their history is not immaculate, their country not without flaw.

But in the long march of history, the United States might be the last great hope of mankind, and Europe itself, ragged and soaked in blood is no more so than other continents, other cultures, and is perhaps better in, for the first time, having raised a lot of people above the poverty line.

The flag of personal freedom will rise and fall, as will the idea.  But respect and freedom for the individual are the only thing we found that breaks, for at least a short time, the cycle of “bad luck” and evil that afflicts humanity.

Carry it proudly, and give copies to your children or to young people whom you can reach.

It’s a long, long road.  None of us will see the end of it.  Battle on.

 

 

447 responses to “The Weight of History

  1. The wave of history… Like that. Of course you have to watch out for all the flotsam and jetsam it carries. The heavy bits will grind you to a pulp if you aren’t careful. As with the wave, history doesn’t care about what it carries or where it’s going. It just is.
    We are going to be seeing a lot more changes in the near and middle future. I can’t even hazard a guess about what’s going to happen next. Just know that there will be no flying cars though. 🙂

  2. I think one of the dividing lines between adolescence and maturity is the recognition that not everything which preceded one’s birth is ancient history. Life ought bear a warning sticker: Events in rear view mirror may be more complex than they appear.

    • William O. B'Livion

      Events far enough back in the rear view mirror will also have a high degree of similarity with the stuff on the horizon in the other direction.

    • “That’s before my time.”

      Just like Mozart, Elvis, the Beatles, Star Wars (yes, really!), Star Trek (yup, that too!), and.. well.. almost everything. Yeah, this or next year’s “graduating class” might not have known the 20th century at all… but it’s all around them just the same.

      “What 20th century?”
      “You’re soaking in it!”

      • My youngest son graduates from high school this year. He missed being a millennial baby by a week and a half. Just because he wanted to be stubborn. We spent that New Years Eve in the ER because my wife was going through Braxton-Hicks contractions that were pretty intense.

        He and his younger sister have only known the 21st century and sometimes, it really shows in their attitudes. Or, it could just be because they’re teenagers. YMMV.

        • There’s a weird generational chart going around that has restricted Gen X to a mere decade and makes *me*—40 year old me—a Millennial. Here’s a hint: if you’re going to make the Baby Boomers almost twenty years (which is the accepted practice), making other generations a fraction of that in the face of accepted actual generations of 20-25 years is not useful.

          Almost as bad as that person who “discovered” a fractional generation between Gen X and the Millennials and decided it they were called “Xennials.” First of all, that was described several years ago, and secondly, instead of that linguistic abortion, they came up with the useful “Oregon Trail Generation”, referring to the game most of the kids in that range got to play.

          • back in 1998, a teacher railed against the whole “Gen X” call for the class we were in. He stated that I and another person in the class were proper genexers due to our date of birth (born in 1968 and the other was about a couple years younger then me). Was a great english teacher and did his marking not just on grammar but on how well you knew the english language.

          • “Boomers,” “Gen X,” “Millenials” and all other generational labels are creations of the MSM, for the convenience of the MSM and ought be taken with the same seriousness as any other MSM claims.

            They are substitutes for thought and serve the same purpose as Marxist sorting of society into various classes.

          • To heck with that, they are not taking away my One Cool Thing of recognizing I graduated on the turn of the Millennium!*

            * my grand total contribution to graduating class plans was to suggest using the motto of the prior year, which had incorrectly identified itself as the first graduating class of the millennium, rather than using something like “going out on a high note!” or similar.

          • It’s only the accepted practice since the eighties. TRUST me on this. It used to be ten.

            • That makes more sense, honestly. I accept the twenty because that’s a literal generation—you could assume that kids would average out to about twenty years below the preceding generation. (Some more, some less, but 20’s a good round number.) But with talking about the Baby Boom and the Baby Bust, it makes more sense as a demographic marker.

          • Good Lord. My kids played Oregon Trail.
            Yes, for my generationlet they used Jones Generation because we supposedly “Jones for what the boomers have.” They’re full of shit. We came of age in the early 80s, and we’re Reagan’s Kids.

            • I’ve never “jonesed” for what the Boomers had; mostly I’ve resented them for f***ing things up and having to try and clean up after them, even though they have enough numbers to stop that from happening (in a political sense).

    • When I heard Andrew Cuomo refer to the Erie Canal as a great “natural resource” I mentioned this to an acquaintance. Who explained to that to liberals everything that happened before they born is “natural”, and everything that man tries to accomplish after they are born is an assault on nature. Explains a lot if you think about it.

  3. William O. B'Livion

    > I mean FDR was also largely national socialist.

    He absolutely was. Progressives in the US *largely* saw things in terms of ethnic/racial tribes rather than economic classes–because in America, if you weren’t black or Chinese, you were pretty mobile class wise. Also American Progressives were (until maybe the late 60s or 1970s) mostly a religious bunch.

    Also IMO *all* socialists are “National” socialists in that while they may argue for international socialism they expect that it be done their way, and expect (mostly) their nation to lead it.

    This was, I’m told, one of Mussolini’s issues with “International Communism”. It was really Russian Leninism/Communism driven out of Moscow and was intent on telling him what to do and how to do it.

    • Yes international socialism is always Russian nationalism, even when Russia was technically the Soviet Union.

    • That coincides with how groups pushed that war with Germany was so evil and dangerous. Until Russia was invaded and that mindset quickly died down.

    • The feedback loop between American “progressives” and European fascists is worth noting, too. Mussolini observed Woodrow Wilson’s authoritarian efforts during WWI and used what he learned in his creation of fascism. Fascism was touted by American progressives in the 20’s and up until Mussolini and Hitler started being overly friendly, and was taken as a guide for their efforts in “making government more efficient.”

      • Even in the 1970’s, when I first started to be aware of politics and THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO was making the rounds, I heard about “making government more efficient”. Hell the sapperheads in the political establishments of both parties were babbling about that into the 1990’s.

        My answer has always been “Yes, but an efficient gocernment is a serious menace”, which tends to leave a certain kind of damnedfool with his jaws gaping.

        • “Blah-blah-blah gridlock! blah…”

          But gridlock is generally the best case. Stasis, latchup… means the bastages are doing the least damage possible. “but but but.. they ..should Do Something…” “Yes, continue to leave us the Hell alone!”

          • Yup. Government gridlock is something to aspire to, not to fear.

            • Hmm. Like a car stuck in the mud in high gear. I think we can do better than that.

            • I’ll tell you how Odd my parents were; even before I was inter sted in politics, I remember them telling someone who was exercised about the voters’s habit of voting one party into the White Hiuse and the other into Congress, and the resulting gridlock “Yes, the founders intended that”.

              It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

          • Except where they should be repealing things. That I want done faster.

        • That depends on what you’re trying to make efficient. Getting bureaucrats to actually do what they’re paid to do? That’s one thing. Get laws passed faster? That’s another.

          • I have to disagree. Getting bureaucrats to do what they’re paid to do very often isn’t a positive thing. Often what they’re paid to do is something objectively unconstitutional and detrimental to our fundamental liberties.

            • Always phrase your question so that when answered “No.” it works to your advantage. As “no” is the Safe Answer for that lot.

              • That’s why I came around to supporting Gay Marriage. I started out pushing for Civil Unions. Then Imread about a case where some minor bureaucrat was declinging to put a bill in both names of a Gay MARRIAGE because it wasn’t the kind of marriage the rules refered to…but actually because he was a small minded little sphincter who got sexual pleasure from clenching up. And I realized that if Gay Marriage became to law of the land, the Gays were STILL going to face at least ten years of lawsuits to keep that kind of asshole from tellling them “no” for no objectively good reason, and if they were in ‘civil unions’ instead of marriages it would be a minimum of twenty years.

                • I came to exactly the opposite opinion. I think the government should provide civil union contracts for anyone who wants them, and get out of the marriage business entirely. As far as I’m concerned, marriage should be purely a religious and spiritual commitment; if the government needs to be in the business of recognizing some sort of familial relationship, it should be civil unions for everyone.

                  • Ideally, I agree with you. However, governments have been mucking about with marriage for a long time, and only a very few have had the sense to extract themselves from the business. The idea that the government should butt out of something it’s been doing for a few thousand years looked to me like a non-starter, so I put my energy into the proposition that it should make its meddling as neutral as possible.

                    Then the Political Professionally Gay went and decided to use their new marriageable status to bully other people. Showing that there is no cause so petty that the Progressive Left cannot make a huge stink about it, to the disadvantage of whatever minority that claim to be supporting.

                    I swear, I’m gonna see the Gays stuffed back into the closet, and a padlock put on the door, if they don’t learn to get along with the neighbors. It won’t be fair, but it WILL happen.

                  • Hmm. Marriage has traditionally been tied to recognition of families and providing for children, on the one hand, and inheritance of property on the other, not just legitimizing a sex partner. I don’t think divorcing government from its historical interests will be that easy.

                    • I think that divorcing the state from marriage would be a bad idea.

                    • Did you just envision the divorce courts involved in every single family argument, ever, including inheritance, even if the person starting it isn’t even related?

                      *shudder*

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      And the Professional Gays (nice term) will be the loudest objectors to “taking marriage away from them”.

                      Which is how they’ll phrase any attempt to remove government from the term “marriage” from non-religious “marriages”.

                  • And I prefer the old way it was– a minimally invasive recognition of those relations which are able to produce new citizens whose rights have to be protected. Not legally required before the act of reproduction is engaged in, and in some areas can be recognized without a formal act, but otherwise the least invasive way to recognize that the sex act produces offspring, and those offspring come with obligations both to the parents and to society.

                    (Mostly, society enforces those obligations…at least in theory.)

              • Not when I’m answering your question. No, is never the answer, now the person asking likely will end up answering no, but not me. Good thing I was not a governmental employee. FWIW – I wrote software for 35 years. Pretty sure it is a requirement to write software.

            • This is the problem I always come up against whenever we get a new round of reports about bureaucrats spending their time surfing [rhymes with horn]. On the one hand it is an outrageous abuse of taxpayer monies. OTOH, it is likely less an abuse of taxpayers than if they were artisanaly crafting and enforcing regulations.

              I just think it is a job that can be done by the private sector at considerably lower cost.

              • Yes, the private sector will surf porn for no cost at all! Yeah, I know what you meant. At this point, it might just be worth putting all the bureaucrats on permanent paid leave till they age out and not hiring replacements. Organizational elimination by attrition.

                • I forget where I saw it, but supposedly some TV show (game show? Don’t recall any more) the host asked a guest what he did and the guest replied with a fancy sounding but meaningless (to most, at least) title. The host then asked what he actually did, and got the title again. Not sure how long this cycles but the host was a better interviewer than many alleged reporters and finally asked, “If I followed you around all day, what would I see?” Not sure there was any sensible response… nor how much of this is true.

                  • I much prefer the job description expressed here (keyboard warning: remove all beverages and food from mouth before pressing play):

                    Paraphrase: “So your job is to watch people work?” (The guy in question is a supervisor).

                    BTW, don’t just pause that video at the one-minute mark when the job description comes up. Keep going until about three or four minutes in at least. You’ll know the good part of the video when you hear it, I guarantee.

                  • My dad was a Program Management Consultant. Took me until I was a teenager to actually find out what he did. Basically, he coordinated different groups, so that a plane would come in, he’d make sure it got checked, that any repair orders went through, that the technicians for repair were available at the same time as the parts and plane space, that the money flowed the way it should, and so on.

              • Whenever I read about some bureaucracy being excoriated because records show they spend huge amounts of time looking at porn or playing games, my gut reaction is “OK, show me what they might be doing that would benefit society, and maybe I’ll work up some outrage. But I doubt it.”

            • Efficiency in business tends to be highly correlated to doing only what must be done. Some old piece of paper back in 1780s had a pretty efficient government in that sense

        • I’ve always considered an efficient government to be an extremely limited government. You know where every dollar comes from, where every dollar is going to be spent, exactly what it’s going to be spent on, and you don’t run up debts that can’t be paid off before you leave office.

        • Ah yes, the wonderful days of yore when balancing the budget was to be accomplished by addressing “waste, fraud, and abuse.”

          As if waste, fraud, and abuse were not the sine qua non purpose of government.

          • What’s a budget?

            • well you see, way back in the long long ago, the government used to have to figure out everything at once instead of writing a bunch of checks to chain things along for a few months at a time.

        • William O. B'Livion

          There are some things the government[1] “needs” to do. Roads, Crime Enforcement, defense of borders etc. Well, they either need to do them, or organize and arrange financing for private organizations to do them. Those things that government must do should be done as efficiently as practical.

          Those things government doesn’t need to do it SHOULD NOT STINKING DO.

          [1] There are some things that if you do them you are functionally “government”. If you have the power, money and authority to build and maintain roads, if you fund and organize police or armies you pretty much /are/ a government .

      • I regard Wilson as the very first Fascist. Anyone who has the legislature criminalize criticism of the regime cannot be considered a friend of freedom.

    • WWI pretty much killed international socialism as I see it. The idea was that there was the international group called “the proletariat” with a class solidarity that went beyond national boundaries. If the upper classes tried to force a war, the workers and the common soldiers from all countries would all see that they were the same and turn their guns on their oppressors rather than each other. Obviously, that didn’t happen. Turns out German workers are still German, French workers are still French, British workers still British, and they’re loyal to their countries above some abstract class. Even in the country where the war did lead to a revolution, it wasn’t because the common people of Russia recognized their common humanity with the common people of Germany–it was more because they were pretty sure that their aristocrats were betraying them to Germany.

      Mussolini’s insight was to acknowledge that: there is no such thing as a global working class and socialism ought to take that into account. Ever since then, there have been two types of socialists: those who admit that they’re nationalists, and those who insist that they aren’t but act like it anyway.

      • WWI mayhave killed International Socialism – there’s certainly an argument to be made – but if so it was a damned lively corpse in the ‘20’s and ‘30’s, at least in ‘inellectual’ circles.

        • A 70 year zombie, whose memetic ordnance is still going off.

        • A very lively corpse indeed. Not so much in Europe, but certainly in Asia.

          • *sudden mental image of the form of Chinese undead that is bound in burial clothes and has a prayer sheet still over the face, and moves by hopping along*

          • There are certainly Communists in Asia, but I think pretty much all of them are of the National variety, whatever they may call themselves. Just try to tell me that China and North Korea aren’t some of the most nationalist places out there. The Chinese Communist Party and the Kim dynasty don’t give a damn for the workers of the world or believe that the international proletariat is going to unite.

            (Okay, so the Kims and the CCP don’t actually give a damn for the workers in their own countries either, but the point is that they’re at least as nationalist as they are socialist).

            • Back in the 1920s and 1930s, they were a lot more international than they are now. The China-Soviet split beginning in the 1950s was considered a Big Deal; and China didn’t quit funding Maoist revolutionaries abroad until after Mao died in 1976. Ho Chi Minh was an early Leninist. Sukarno, in Indonesia, was always more nationalist than Communist, but quite a few of his associates and supporters were open communists.

            • I am unpersuaded that the Chico’s and the Kims started out as in any important respect separate. And if we are getting tough with the Norks now, it is almost certainly because Trump asked the Chico’s “Look, this rabid little rat-dog? It has your collar on, but is it really under your control anymore? Because it looks rabid. Do you mind if I do something about it before it bites me and we have real trouble?”

          • William O. B'Livion

            It’s also still racking up a body count in Central and South America.

        • Stalin didn’t disband the Third International until 1943, when he found it inconvenient to be begging the Allies for help against Hitler at the same time he was openly trying to overthrow them. Not that this was the end of the international revolutionary struggle; it just went undercover.

      • If the upper classes tried to force a war, the workers and the common soldiers from all countries would all see that they were the same and turn their guns on their oppressors rather than each other.

        See: The Christmas Truce (aka: weaponized propaganda)


        Of course, what united these soldiers was not their membership in the Working Class but as Christians.

        • I think the real thing that kept the International Nitwittery from getting any more foothold than it did was that the ‘Workers’ quite quickly realized just how many of the Nitwits were Posh Twits. The ‘Intellectual Classes’ came, disproportionately, from the children of the establishment, and were not notably less stupid than the aristocratic idiots that got the Great War started.

          The Hobby Revolutionaries may have shouted “We’re with you!” to the workers, but the workers reaction seems to have been to mutter ‘yeah, right’ under their breath and then get what they could.

      • Ironically, during the last years of WWII, the National Socialist became more internationalist while the Communist became more Russian.

    • National socialism says “socialism is great, and I’ll kick your ass if you say otherwise! (And just maybe I’ll conquer you to make our nation bigger, too.)”
      International socialism says “socialism is great, and I’ll start a revolution in your country to prove it to you! (And it will also make larger the amount of socialism that our nation controls, until it’s the whole dang world.)”

  4. Interesting. Have used my own distance from historical events as a reference to how events in my lifetime looked to today’s kids, but had a longer baseline. WWII was my parent’s and aunts and uncle’s war, and you thought nothing about meeting WWII vets. WWI to me was more like how you describe WWII, because that was the war of my grandparent’s generation. I grew up knowing WWI vets, including an old doctor who immediately recognized a gum condition we had was Trench Mouth because he’d seen it firsthand in WWI.* The Civil War may have seemed only a little more distant than WWI to you, but one family member who served almost lived long enough to meet me, and that sort of compresses things.

    I looked at it more as how we perceive those events. Ours has picked up on this; WWII is closer to them than many of their friends because they knew WWII vets and their friends never did. It’s so rare now that last year, when a nurse discovered my father is a WWII vet, asked if her children could meet him, because they had never met one (he agreed, and enjoyed talking with them). To those children, it would have been like a kid in the 1940s meeting a Civil War veteran. To ours, that is closer to how I grew up knowing WWI vets. What’s ancient history to many in their generation is not that far away to them, and that changes how the view it: These events were about those they knew, not some strangers in the pages of their history books.

    I’m not sure if what we live through sets our impressions in stone. You could say the ACW casts a long shadow manifested both in a strong cynicism about the government and attitudes toward how to wage war (Sherman wanted to make it so terrible that none in his path would consider it again, but they went “So that’s how it’s done” and took notes).

    *I escaped a bought with Trench Mouth, but had to use a hydrogen peroxide solution as a mouthwash, just in case. He had to sterilize all our cooking and eating utensils, too.

    • Grandpa served in WWI, Pa served in WWII. My older brother could have served in Vietnam. Folk of my generation had kids who served in Desert Storm. Big wheel keep on turnin’
      Proud Mary keep on burnin’
      Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river

      I was born in 1953, about equidistant between Potsdam and the Cuban Missile Crisis, with about equal comprehension of both. It take a while to catch up to when you are, much less get a good scan of the surrounding territory.

      • Grew up on WWII movies, and westerns; at least until I discovered science fiction and fantasy books.

        Father’s great uncle was in WWI and came back with PTSD (shell shock) such that any time he heard an airplane, he’d toss kids under beds, desks, tables, and cover them up to protect them until the plane was gone. Wife’s father went ashore at Normandy with his engineering battalion, and most of the way to Berlin. My father caught the Korean War (but got lucky the Navy stuck him on a destroyer in the Med.) I did Desert Storm, came back with horrible depression that took 6 months of counseling to get in control of it. Still never came all the way back to what I was before; but that might be just because any experience changes you.

        Part of that amber tidal wave of history is that most of us internalize early teaching as truth from authority (our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, religious leaders, and teachers) that we are exposed to while in the single digit ages. That’s our default, and even if we learn differently later in life, we still refer back to it as our base unless we consciously work at not doing that. Christian charity reinforcing socialist doctrine of giving your hard earned profits away (usually to someone selected by another authority telling you who deserves to have it.) Getting to the concept of I get to choose who gets something of mine, and how much, and nobody has the right to tell me differently still invokes guilt feelings on occasion.

        • There was a WWI vet in our community who had served in a noted outfit. Never knew the name. Last year came across a book of a tough unit that served with distinction in WWI and WWII, and wondered if that was the same one. Can’t even recall the name of that unit now.

          Had an uncle who was in one of the tanks that made it ashore on D-Day. He never talked to us about it, but did relive it – and talked – in his sleep.

          • I don’t always buy rocking chairs, but when I do I buy them from Woody’s Chair Shop in Spruce Pine, NC, where they’ve been handcrafting them for seven (possibly eight by now) generations.


            When Daughtorial Unit was still in single digits, Beloved Spouse and she happened to stop in at the shop when Mr. Woody opened up about how he had crossed Europe with General Patton, a man who had bo use for rocking chairs.

            • That would have been Arval Woody.

              “Arval Woody was hanging around his grandfather’s workshop by the time he was six years old, and he was learning how to sharpen tools and do carpentry by the age of sixteen. He remembered getting a job on the Blue Ridge Parkway around 1933, working for thirty cents an hour when he was about seventeen. He started as a water boy, and then worked on a two-man crosscut saw. As an Army Engineer in World War II, he fought in the Battle of the Bulge. `They kept me out of the battle zone a matter of yards, far enough that I didn’t have to walk on dead bodies. They kept me out of the battles to do repair work. And I really believe that is why I’m here today.`

              “Jobs were scarce after the war, so Arval Woody and his brothers decided to work in the family tradition. Their grandfather was still living, but he was nearly ninety-seven years old and was no longer working. Their father was in the sawmilling business and did not make chairs. Arval Woody got wood for making chairs from his father’s sawmill. He had figured out how to make chairs by observing his grandfather as a child, and he was able to put that knowledge into practice in business with his brother. In 1946, he and his brother built the shop where he worked for sixty years. At one point, four brothers worked there, turning out thousands of chairs a year.”

              Source: blueridgeheritag[DOT]com/traditional-artist-directory/arval-woody

              https://www.woodyschairshop.com/

              “The Woody family tradition of chair-making started in 1800 in what is now Mitchell County and thus began carving an existence from the great deciduous forests of early America.

              “Arthur Woody, who was the great-grandfather of present Chair Shop owner Jim Woody, carried on the family tradition, making chairs in a shop that was located just a stone’s throw from the present location of Woody’s Chair Shop. Since then, Woody’s handcrafted chairs have been made in the same shop the Woody Brothers built back in 1946.

              “Using responsibly-harvested woods native to the region, our chairs are created to last, using no nails or glue in the load bearing structure.”

            • For some reason that reminded me of a mechanic who ran a local service station. He had lost both legs in WWII. The way he told it, he was facing an enemy tank and they shot one leg off. In his shock and anger, he stuck his severed leg under one arm and climbed onto the tank. There they shot off the other leg. It was a miracle he survived. He used to laugh about it, because he put his leg under his arm and climbed onto the tank, and because he wondered what the tank crew thought about it.

        • If you think you still need any help–they’re even giving help for PTSD to Vietnam vets, and it helped my uncle a lot. He’s still a total pain, but his siblings and cousins assure me he was always a total pain, and he’s drinking a lot less and doesn’t do illegal drugs at all anymore.

        • I’ve sometimes wondered if there might be some way to give new troops useful instruction on how to avoid or handle PTSD before just dropping them into combat.

          Could be something as simple as canvassing vets for “things I wish I’d been told ahead of time”, though the Fed would probably spend years and billions on academic studies…

          I don’t think there’s anything that woudl be 100% effective, but even if it was 25% effective it’d be worth it. There’s a considerable investment in a trained, experienced combat soldier; it’s not an investment to be discarded lightly.

          • Don’t get me started on this subject, because you’ll hear a lot of things you won’t want to.

            In my experience? PTSD has one primary cause, and a couple of lesser contributory ones. The primary cause is that we’re not careful enough about selecting, assessing, and placing the people we recruit into the Armed Forces. The vast majority of the cases of PTSD that I know of personally? Those were in guys who I think should never have been in uniform to begin with. The military had no damn business whatsoever in recruiting them, putting them through training, or then sending them off to war. A lot of them were good, decent people, but just too damn fragile to be combat soldiers, or even to be put under a lot of stress.

            You don’t hire a recovering alcoholic to be a taster at Jack Daniels, do you? And, a lot of cases I know of were just about as stupid.

            So, a lot of PTSD could be prevented by the simple expedient of making sure you weren’t putting already half-broken people into positions where we finish breaking them in combat.

            And, I say that as a somewhat-functioning sociopath who has a limited amount of empathy for people in general. I’m not a person bothered particularly by either death or killing; I’m mostly just pissed off at the waste of it all from a standpoint of duty to others. Many of these people simply do not belong in uniform; if you are a person who cannot cope with death and killing, in job lots, the military is not for you.

            That’s not a value judgement, either–I actually feel like the people who broke under the strain are probably better human beings than I am, for most civilized purposes. For the necessities and exigencies of war, however? They flatly do not belong there. Wearing the uniform is not a civil right; it is, instead, a civic duty to be performed by those who can cope with it.

            The other factors that go into this are that we really do a terrible job of preparing people for war and the killing of other human beings. Nobody wants to discuss the many elephants in the room with you, when you’re a combatant. You will kill, you will make mistakes, and some of those you kill will likely be your friends, fellow soldiers, or worst of all, innocent civilians. You can’t avoid that, and if you never talk about it before hand, guess what? The sudden reality of dumping a belt of 7.62 NATO into a minivan careening towards your convoy as though it were a Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device, and then finding out that no, it wasn’t, it was just a particularly unfortunate family (with kids) on a road trip with a really foolish driver…? Yeah; you don’t prepare people ahead of time for that scenario, you’re gonna see some spectacular PTSD results.

            It is literally possible to go through the recruitment process, initial entry training, and then be assigned to a combat arms unit in the US Army without anyone ever making it clear to you that yes, killing other human beings is part of the job. Ask me how I know–I am not ever going to forget that particular conversation, where a young practicing Hindu of the Brahmin caste came up to me and asked, in all seriousness, “Sergeant K, is it true that the targets we are shooting at on these ranges are supposed to be people?!?!”.

            Lord love a duck, but that poor young lady had somehow managed to get to me without anyone ever having made that point particularly clear to her, and she didn’t take it at all well, either. I mean for the love of all that is holy, how on earth do you not make the connection between an E-type silhouette and a human being? On top of that, the range we were at? It had the “Crazy Ivan” targets with 3-dimensional fidelity…

            Flatly, that particular awkward situation should never, ever have happened to me. Yet, it did, and it points to a profound disconnect in the US military, one that contributes greatly to the whole PTSD issue. If you can’t talk plainly and bluntly about what it is you’re expected to do, well… Yeah.

            You want to see pre-combat preparation done right, look at the Israeli “Purity of Arms” doctrine, and how thorough it is. You look at the equivalent in the US military, and all they talk about is how to behave once you’re captured, which is not very helpful when you’re a young private trying to puzzle out what the hell to do morally when your boss is telling you that killing civilians is not only A-OK, it’s positively fun. You look at half our problems with PTSD and with the troops committing atrocities like the Maiwand killings, and what you’re fundamentally going to find is that those young soldiers were not properly assessed, trained, or indoctrinated. When you don’t include clear discussion of killing, ordering others into deadly circumstances, and all of the attendant angst that doing that will cause, you’re just about guaranteeing massive problems with PTSD. And, that’s what we do, sadly. It’s an institutional/cultural failure, pure and simple.

            • Kirk, what you say here (and on other threads) comports so much with what I have read in military histories and “studies” that I just don’t understand why the MILITARY doesn’t see and implement the common sense things you and other soldiers KNOW.
              (Although I suspect it is part of the same phenomenon observed by my mother, a 25-year veteran of 7th Grade English classes — talk about hazardous duty, especially in the 80s just before she retired; whenever some big Educational Problem would be debated, she would declare, quite correctly, that the problem could be solved quickly enough if they would just ask the teachers what to do.)

              • It’s because the military is under civilian control in this country. The President is the CINC, Congress decides how much money we get, so they get to set the rules, including deciding what goes into the Uniform Code of Military Justice. If they want us to dress in pink dresses and wear pussy hats going into combat with Nerf swords and pillows, that’s all we can LEGALLY do. Yeah, it’s stupid as feces, and part of it is because most Americans are too sheltered from reality. So they tell their elected representatives they don’t think the military should be rottweilers, but should be bunnies instead.

            • “But Kirk, all soldiers must be 100% interchangeable parts. And even if they pretend they aren’t, S.O.P. says we must treat them that way.”

            • Kirk, you don’t know PTSD. It’s not like what the media claims and it’s damn well not from “fragile.” You go through the right crap, or the right crap long enough, and you will get some form of it. Guaranteed. Just what that crap may be depends on the person and that has diddly squat to do with “fragile.” It can range from mild to what the media loves to concentrate on, because the media is just as clueless about that as anything else.

              You want to know that PTSD is? It’s a survival reflex. Fight or flight. It’s responding to a trigger, and that trigger can be anything associated with the event, because our brains take fast shortcuts because just standing there puzzling it out can get you killed. That trigger is a learned response. And because such learned responses have served us well since Ogg learned a breaking twig meant a leopard was about to spring, they are quickly learned and can be hard to overcome.

              Hit that trigger, and your body starts to react. That’s familiar to anyone who’s ever had a panic attack or anxiety disorder – and PTSD is really in the same class. If you’re lucky, you know what that trigger is from the get-go. If not, you have to learn. But either way, you start to try to reprogram the old noggin in order to do away with or at least short circuit that learned response. Because in this sort of thing you have the learned response to the trigger and it can snowball. Believe it or not, you can learn that just because your body is responding to a trigger that you don’t have to have a panic attack/ anxiety attack/ PTSD episode and let it sort of wash over you without going beyond that initial learned response. That’s where therapists earn their money, because how a person gets to that point can varies.

              That starts to unknot other things associated with this, which all stems from the fear of having an episode in public. That can turn into a neurosis all it’s own, and can be worse than the initial cause.

              If anyone’s reading this who has panic attacks/ anxiety attacks/PTSD, know that it can get better. I know, because I’ve been there and done that, except they don’t usually call it PTSD when you’re a civilian. At least, not anymore.

              Fragile. Feh. I repeat again: Put someone through the right crap or the right crap long enough, and he will get some version of it. I’m reminded of my father-in-law, who pulled many a body out of ponds and rivers, and then one day he pulled out a body that was no different than all the others, and couldn’t go out again.

              • The other problem with PTSD is it’s almost always strongly linked to an extremely strong emotional state. Which is like using a cattle brand; it permanently burns in a scar. And each time you experience it out of control, it burns those scars a bit deeper. Flooding as a therapy doesn’t work well at all. Controlling it means like Kevin says, recognizing when it’s about to happen and short circuiting it, or using techniques to let it pass over and through you without sticking.

              • One of the things they learned about PTSD from Vietnam, which flies in the face of all the media myths about it, was that rear area troops were far more likely to get PTSD than front line combat troops.

                It wasn’t the violence which caused the PTSD, but being subjected to violence and not having a perceived way to respond to that violence. This follows what we see about PTSD in civilian life where the event most likely to trigger PTSD in civilians is rape. Again being subjected to violence without a way to counter that violence. I think the reason were seeing an uptick in PTSD with combat troops in the GWOT is IEDs. We now have violence being inflicted on front line troops in a way they cannot reliably respond to.

                • That would track well with the ROE issues, too.

                • Yes. PTSD usually happens in events with a perceived lack of control. I have a friend who got PTSD from an incident in which he kid choked in the back seat and she—in nurse training—froze up, pulled the car over, and started walking around with him at the intersection, not performing CPR. (Happy ending! There was an off-duty cop right behind her, who cleared the airway and got the kid breathing, and got a medal out of the deal.) (Well, happy aside from the PTSD and eventual deep depression, which she had to do ECT to correct. But as we tell her, we’d rather she was here with memory loss than not around.)

                  • Another thing pop culture gets wrong on PTSD is that time is an important part of the diagnosis. You have to be at least six months from the triggering event for it to be PTSD.

                    If you’re talking about reactions any closer than that it’s Acute Traumatic Stress. Now acute stress can morph into PTSD if there’s no help, but it’s not a given; and you can develop PTSD without having experienced acute stress, because brains are weird.

              • Do not try to tell me I don’t “know PTSD”, because I’ve been dealing with it or the repercussions of it since before I enlisted in the Army in 1981. My bosses had it, my peers developed it, and my subordinates suffered from it. I’ve watched legit “Vietnam flashbacks” happen, guys attempt suicide, and a host of other crap that I think more than gives me the right to hold an opinion on the matter.

                What I’m speaking to (mostly) in that post is the institutional causes of PTSD, the factors that the military fails to take into account or attempt to effectively ameliorate.

                PTSD is trauma-based, but the individual response to it varies enormously, enough that you really have to start making some inferences from those varying responses.

                Friend of mine watched an IED take out the vehicle in front of him, which was in the convoy position his was supposed to be in, but there was some joking and jockeying around, so the convoy order changed. The IED that went off totally destroyed the vehicle, and killed everyone on it. Eventually. In the immediate aftermath, my friend and his guys on their truck had to gather up the scattered remains, and what was still bleeding and breathing. It was, in short, a charnel house. Not a damn thing they could do about helping the dying, either–They could only watch as the hamburger that was their friends in the truck ahead of them finally bled out and died, which took most of a half-hour. Oh, and gather up all the little bits and pieces.

                Now, what’s interesting about that, in regards to PTSD? Of the eight guys who were with my friend, one guy had a breakdown almost immediately, and had to be MEDEVAC’d back to the states. Two or three more developed problems that manifested after they came back to the US a year later, and the rest were apparently unaffected by PTSD to any significant degree, that anyone knows about. Of the four or so identified PTSD cases that stemmed from that day, there was one eventual suicide, a prematurely ended military career (with God knows what, afterwards–They lost touch with the victim), and the other two pulled out of it.

                Of the four, the two who came out of it had strong support networks, and intact lives–No “broken homes” as children, no history of psychotropic prescriptions like Ritalin or Adderal, no history of personal trauma. The two who didn’t “come back”? Both of them had significant issues that the military should have screened for, and then either refused them enlistment or tracked them into some field where the odds of encountering situations where their buddies get turned into well-done hamburger aren’t as high as a combat arms soldier’s is.

                It isn’t a question of virtue, nor is it one of people being “proofed” against developing PTSD. What it is? A failure to recognize that there are key indicators that can be used to ascertain how well someone is likely to cope with the trauma.

                Just about every single case of PTSD where I knew the victim halfway well? They were all people I (and, other experienced NCOs) predicted would likely have problems, mainly because of poor coping mechanisms and a lack of a stable base in their personal lives. Every guy I knew who developed PTSD, and came out of it? Strong family support groups, strong religious support, and a background that didn’t include the usual markers like growing up in a divorced household, child abuse, psychological problems, or some form of drug use, whether prescription or illegal. You get guys with these high-risk indicators, and you’re almost always going to find a strong correlation with later inability to cope with the effects of PTSD.

                It’s not a question of whether or not the individual is going to get PTSD–You can pretty much find a point or a particular form of trauma that will cause anyone to get it. It’s like diamond-cutting–The crystal may be really strong in a particular orientation, but there will almost always be some line of fracture you can find to use in cutting it.

                The question I’m trying to get at actually is “Is this person likely to be able to cope with this, and survive it?”. And, the military is doing a terrible job of identifying those people who likely won’t, and avoiding putting them into circumstances where they will almost inevitably break and not be able to recover from it. At best, they’re going to be horribly expensive to treat, which is a waste of manpower dollars that is entirely avoidable on a macro scale.

                As well, the preparatory training and culture we need to minimize this stuff? It simply isn’t there. You try to bring up the trauma of killing, and what you’re going to suffer as the guy who gives the orders that get men killed to accomplish the mission…? Everyone in the room avoids your eyes, and won’t look at you, while talking loudly about other things. The entire culture in most military units militates against honest discussion of this entire area, and that feeds into why we have a lot of the problems that we do. You can’t discuss it, then you won’t think about it, and then when it happens? Yeah; oddly enough, people don’t develop the ability to cope by way of someone waving a magic wand over their heads.

                • Yet, if I read this right, you haven’t had it. If that’s the case, you are on the outside looking in. Nothing says you have to accept the opinion of someone who’s been through it. You might want to consider it, though.

                • My disagreement with you on the topic is that you seem to be saying we can somehow filter or train out the people prone to PTSD, and I’m one to say..

                  you can’t. it has always been there and likely always will be. There isnt likely to be any magical psychological tests to screen people for it beforehand, and if there IS, they are likely to suffer negative psychological aftereffects from… most of the ways you can test for it.

                  It is also very Very VERY likely that there aren’t enough non-PTSD prone volunteers and draftees to fulfill the requirements of a peacetime and wartime military respectively. What do you propose we do then?

                  • That’s why I said that even a 25% effective rate would be worth it. Because it’s better than just ignoring the problem like we’re doing now.

                • Know two guys that were in Balkans back in the 90’s (Canadians). One got his ass blown off (literally in this case), the other was an alcoholic in an alcohol prone area. The injured one was thriving the last I touched base with him. The other? Well, he’s been cut off by the rest of us that served.
                  I think the book “The Two Space War” touched on PTSD and how to reduce the effects on an immediate level. I read that the main author was basing the PTSD effect on lack of letting soldiers “Talk it out” after the immediate action. Don’t know if this was a good idea or not.

      • One grandfather was slightly too young to serve, and the other may have been slightly too old. The younger of the two survived the Spanish Flu.

      • William O. B'Livion

        My family got here in the 1920s. Some of them may have fought for Italy in WW1, but I wouldn’t know it.

        My uncle Pete was a Sailor in WWII. My father did time in Korea. My Cousin served at the end of the Vietnam era, but never made it over there. I was in the Marines at the end of the Cold War, the Army National Guard for Desert Storm 1, and the Air Force Reserves for parts of Desert Storm 2. Of course I had to get out of the military to actually go to war, but I got paid better. I have a cousin who is/was Special Forces for this fracas, at least until he got blown into a tree during a parachute jump. He survived, but he wasn’t in good shape.

    • Both Grandfathers served in WWII- one worked his way up to an officer rank in the Army Air Corps, the other was an “old man” of 30 who served as an NCO here in PNG.
      Dad was in the Air Force during the Cuban Missile Crisis over in at the airbase in Tripoli, and thankfully missed Vietnam.

      • One great-uncle with Patton, one great-uncle in the CBI (navigator over the Hump), adopted Grandfather with the 501st airborn, other grandfathers too old to serve and in vital war-work. Father and uncle in Vietnam. Grew up reading WWII history, USN and the Bantam pocket library WWII books.

        • I have a couple of great uncles on the maternal side who served in WWII, one as the belly gunner on a B-17 and the other a Marine in the Pacific. I don’t recall ever meeting them. My father entered the Air Force shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis, and did two TDY tours in Vietnam, one of them during Tet ’68, and one TDY in Thailand for the ’72 Christmas bombing offensive.
          I made three attempts to join the Marines between ’84 and ’90, but they Corps kept telling me “no” because of childhood asthma. The last time the waiver request made it all the way to some admiral’s office in Chicago.

          • Great-aunt served in WWII. Her unit was accompanied everywhere by riflemen guards, and she had combat stars from the times when they were not evacuated quickly enough from places that became combat zones.

            Last time family members asked the government what she did, we were told, “Don’t ask.’

    • I’ll always remember this one older fella who was my grandmother’s neighbor up in Erie, PA. He’d shovel her stoop for her when it snowed. The kind of little old guy in a plaid slope cap and earmuffs you find in the donut shops and diners in small cities and towns across the rust belt. Found out at some point that he’d been shot down over France in WWII and walked out to Allied lines by himself. Amazing.

  5. There was a type of coat my mom wouldn’t let me wear, because it reminded her of the emaciated Jewish refugees arriving in the train stations in Portugal during and after the war.

    Oh, gads, I can see that style of coat.

    Sort of like how my dad still can’t stand to have kool-aid type drinks in the house for the kids to drink.

  6. My Parents were ODDs. They made sure I knew about the Holocaust in somewhat shocking detail. I think they took the view that when a civilized world goes so insane it is something to remember and to be careful it never reoccurs.

    Most healthy people just did not want to look back on horror. The veterans of WWII wanted to move forward into the better world they believed they had sacrificed so much to obtain. The men who had fought in WWII certainly did not want to revisit what they had seen and experienced with their children. That was why there were veteran’s halls, a place where everyone else had seen the elephant.

    • Our family is currently reading through My Brother’s Keeper as part of weekly devotions. Because we must keep history in mind.

    • What your parents did is important, I think. It’s too easy for people to say, “Oh, that sort of thing would never happen!” And then they’re horribly horribly shocked when it comes out that sort of thing did happen. And it happened right under their noses, because they were too busy disclaiming that it could never happen, and ignoring the increasingly blatant evidence.

  7. The English teacher and I collude so that we teach “Animal Farm” and the start of the USSR at the same time, likewise “Night” and WWII. I think by the time they get out of our clutches, er, classes, the students have figured out that certain Bad Ideas really ought to be shunned at all costs.

  8. From my memory of some of the histories I seem to remember Mussolini’s “Third Way” e.g. Fascism was highly spoken of for a good chunk of prewar. I’ve idly wondered a few times how things would have shaken out if instead of France Germany had turned on Russia first. To what level of effort would Britain and France go for Poland. Crime against humanity wise Germany and Russia were like choosing between sux and strychnine for afternoon tea sweetener.

    • I’ve had an idea for an alternate history where the Soviets go conquering westward at the end of the 30s, and the traditional western allies have to fight with Hitler to stop Stalin. In many ways, it would be morally indefensible, having to look the other way while Germany was massacring its Jewish population, but would be it be so much more morally indefensible than the alliance with Stalin was?

      I’ll probably never write it, because the research would require far more delving into the darkness than would be good for my mental health, but I’ll toss it out there in case someone else wants to take it.

      • Ya. That’s the thing I keep wondering. But wouldn’t be the first or last (currently) lesser of evils or ‘evil that isn’t attacking us’ that US has dealt with.

      • it would be morally indefensible, having to look the other way while Germany was massacring its Jewish population,

        Meh, the West did it even without the excuse you suggest. Discussions of Antisemitism in Europe do not make folk comfortable. The French helped round up their Jews, the English weren’t letting any into Palestine (as the Jewish state in the M.E. was then called) and we can’t talk about what the Poles did.

        • …issued false baptismal certificates by the boatload, then argue on behalf of “Catholics of Jewish heritage,” and still had more than one in ten of their religious sent to the death camps, and an untold number of citizens killed for the notion they might be opposing the Nazis, yet still have the highest number of folks recognized as “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem, even after noting that since we don’t have the names of many of those killed with the Jews they were aiding?

          I know, it’s an allusion to the proposed law targeting those Nazi activists that want to blame the targeted countries for all atrocities done there, but there’s enough really bad (and inaccurate) accusations going around to choke a goat, and those chew-toys aren’t even any fun.

          *******

          Total subject change: That whole middle east mess is one of the huge reasons that, should we ever make a time machine, I am not to be allowed near it in any way, shape or form. So much trouble could’ve been fixed by them not being morons back then!

          • Just think how much trouble we in the West might have been able to avoid if in reaction to the rise in importance of Arafat (circa 1968 or so) we had said “Gee, this vermin spent the years 1939 to 1945 including with his tongue so far up Hitler’s bum he could taste the bratwurst. Let’s shoot the silly sonofabitch.”

            • Would’ve been nice.

            • Cue time travel stories where someone goes back in time to
              shoot the &&&& and gets back only to find that he was
              replaced by someone worse…

              • How do you think we wound up with Obama? Oops, I wasn’t supposed to talk about that.

              • Why do all of the time travelers want to go back and kill Hitler? Go back and buy some of his paintings for enough to let him set up a nice gallery somewhere. Or go back a bit farther and sneak some medicine to his father’s first wife so she lives and Schicklgruber never marries Hitler’s mother.

                (Yeah, as someone pointed out bn Twitter this might well have led to Germany going Communist instead, but I wonder if Communism might have kept Germany too poor to start a war.)

          • There was a lot of that, and it’s recognized, if not as much as it should be. But the Nazi camps in Poland were well supplied by Polish collaborators, and even from the Polish resistance Jews stood a good chance of being turned in to the Nazis, with the attitude, “they’re doing at least one thing right”. Not nearly as bad or as common as among the Ukrainians—and nobody was like the Lithuanians—but there were still plenty of Polish collaborators in the extermination of Polish Jewry.

            And afterwards? Surviving Jews returning “home” to Polish towns were as likely to be greeted with “you were supposed to be dead!” as with any welcoming attitude, and those who tried to reclaim property often found their former neighbors glad to retroactively help the Nazis repair that oversight. (The Kielce pogrom was merely the largest and most organized of such attacks. Hardly an aberration.)

            So yes, referring to Auschwitz et al. as “Polish death camps” is inaccurate and missing the point about who ran them. But the proposed law is trying to deny the Polish nation’s actual history and will get no sympathy from me.

      • Hm… if the Russians attacked at the same time the Germans actually did, that would get in the way of the routine mass killings; it might even have gotten in the way of most of the camps in Poland.

        If you’re looking for a hook, you could have either China or Japan hooking up with Russia– if you want an excuse to have Japan on the Russian side, the Germans did meet up with the Chinese before they made the Japanese alliance.

        While I like the poetry of China being on Russia’s side, in story terms the Japanese being on the other side works better. You won’t have to go into their actions.

        Or possibly have the Soviets managing to team up with both, with the Russians doing their “support the revolution” trick, and Japan and China divvying up their areas.

        • ” if you want an excuse to have Japan on the Russian side, the Germans did meet up with the Chinese before they made the Japanese alliance.”

          Actually, you’d also have to get past the fact that the Russians and Japanese were fighting each other over Manchuria from 1938-39.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battles_of_Khalkhin_Gol

          • Since the Japanese lost, that might work as a hook.

            • There was a lot of bad blood between the Russians and Japanese, mostly because the Japanese beat the pants off the Russians in the Russo-Japanese War. And the rest of the world cheered, which made it worse.

              The Russians still want those islands back, btw.

              • ….is there anything Russia doesn’t want back? Ditto China?

                • Bubonic plague? (And a couple of other things that apparently developed on the Central Asian steppes and spread east and west.)

                  • If they could get it to target the Unwanted Populations….

                  • I have to say, the way you implied that Temujin could be compared to a plague made me grin. 🙂 (And I actually have a lot of respect for the guy: from what I can tell, he only killed the people he thought really needed to be killed.)

              • Probably make more sense to bring in China with Russia, then, and have Japan either sit it out or go sort-of helping the allies because of their anti-communist agreement with Germany.

                That *might* make both of them have to at least pretend to behave during the war….

              • Russia annexing Alaska as the “bring the US in” stupidity?

          • the Rus and Japan fought (Russo-Japanes war), had something of an alliance (WWI), and fought again in short order (Soviet Japanese war), so who knows.

        • I hate to say it, but the Soviets DID attack Poland at the same time. Stalin and Hitler share blame for starting the whole wretched affair.

          • I was figuring on the switch being when Germany invaded Russia in June of 1941; the Final Solution mass killings started late winter of that year.

      • Depends. Hitler, et.al. might have decided to conscript all the adult male Jews and send them to fight the Russians rather than round them up for extermination. That would have allowed them to kill three birds with one stone.

      • I mentioned this, the other day: You want the Nazis as “heroes of civilization”, all you need to do is let the rest of the Europeans do as we’ve always said they should have done, and intervened to push Hitler out of power when he went for the Rheinland. More than likely, that would have collapsed his government, the generals would have sacked his ass, and the Germans would have spent the next few years in a state of confusion–Which was just what Stalin wanted.

        It’s a pretty good bet that Stalin’s end goal was an invasion of Western Europe, some time after he got all the damage to the Soviet military fixed. Likely in ’42, ’43. If that were actually the case, the invasion of Poland and the rest of Central Europe would have lit off a serious crisis in Germany and France, and I don’t think the respective client Communist party organizations in those countries would have had much luck in stopping the reaction. Odds are, the Nazis would have come back to power with a vengeance, and then been in a position to lead the resistance to Stalin, at least in Germany. With a little luck, they could have parlayed that into a wholesale “I told you so…” with the rest of Europe, and all those National Socialist movements in countries like Denmark, Norway, and elsewhere would have had a lot more credibility.

        From there? Who the hell knows? The Jews might have been forgotten about, but the odds are there would still be a lot of anti-semitism in the Nazi party, and what with the way that Communism was seen as a Jewish idea and movement in the first place…? Yeah; you’d have had atrocities by the Red Army, Jewish scapegoats up the ass, because you’d better believe that any Soviets like Ilya Ehrenberg would have been emphasized. In the ensuing confusion of war, and the response to the Soviet invasion? Whoever was running the Nazi party apparatus could have made the rounding up of the Jews and their summary executions be seen as acts of security, to prevent Fifth Column activities. The Communist efforts to disrupt defense preparations in France, a lot of which were performed by French Communists who happened to be Jewish…?

        I think you could actually write a pretty convincing counter-factual history with that, make the Nazis come out smelling like roses, and even make the Holocaust look like something that “…had to happen, in the best interests of civilization…”.

        That’s one hell of a scary-ass world, to tell you the truth. Imagine the US, without the Manhattan Project, due to the general discrediting of the Jews. What if FDR’s advisers were able (and, more importantly, wanted to…) to frame Einstein as some loon who was working with the Communists to get us to waste effort on a fantasy-land idea like a nuclear weapon…? Care to project the post-Soviet invasion world, then? Regardless of who won…

        • I wonder- with Hitler and his circle of cranks purged and dead, would Nazi Anti-Semitism have risen to the same level of mania for extermination?

          • Depends… And, why would they necessarily be dead, as opposed to imprisoned?

            Can you imagine a world where Heydrich is running a zombie Nazi party, after Stalin starts his run for the West? With the now-sainted Hitler as a syphilitic invalid, but still around to give speeches and serve as figurehead? Frame his physical problems as being caused by his “persecution and imprisonment”, make the French and others scapegoats and witting tools of Stalin?

            Doesn’t bear thinking about, does it? But… I think it’s at least plausible, given the factors of the times.

        • William O. B'Livion

          > It’s a pretty good bet that Stalin’s end goal was an invasion of Western Europe,

          There are some that make that case that Stalin was killed (more or less) because he was going to do that /anyway/.

        • Terry Sanders

          For something much milder, try Norman Spinrad’s THE IRON DREAM.

          **Spoiler alert**

          Hitler emigrates to the U. S., becomes an illustrator in the SF pulps, and uses that as a bridge to write MEIN KAMPF as a pulp post-apocalypse called LORD OF THE SWASTIKA.

          In an afterword by famous author/critic Norman Spinrad, he dissects the twisted psychology, etc.–the casually mentions that (without Germany’s Nazi period) the Soviet Union has been slowly but steadily been gobbling up Europe, and the U.S. Has been watching more or less apatheticly. He muses that it’s too bad working up a tide of national pride, anger, etc., isn’t as easy as Hitler made it sound…

        • WW2 breaking out in 1943 due to an aggressive Soviet Union would have potentially been a *VERY* bad thing. Let me explain why.

          In 1941, the Soviets were hamstrung for a few reasons.
          1.) They were caught badly off-guard. Stalin had been so desperate to keep the Non-Aggression Pact going that he is reported to have turned a blind eye to reports that were making it increasingly obvious that Hitler was about to turn on him.
          2.) Most of the good Soviet military officers had been kicked out for one reason or another. A few (Zhukov turned out to be the most important, to Japan’s chagrin) had been kept in the military, but sent to unimportant postings such as in the far east.
          3.) The Soviet tanks in 1941 were mostly a mixed bag of poor quality vehicles. Note that word “mostly”, though.

          Now how do those apply if the war starts due to the Soviets invading Eastern Europe in 1943?

          1.) The Soviets don’t get caught off-guard in this scenario, because they’re the ones starting the war. They might still have problems, but the problems probably won’t be as severe – at least early on.
          2.) This point is still a problem. It’s not until after the war starts that Stalin will start removing the more incompetent commanders and reinstating the good ones that he fired.
          3.) In 1941, the Germans had little trouble with classic Soviet tank designs like the T-26 and BT-7. There were, however, two tanks that caused the Germans ridiculous amounts of trouble – the T-34, and the KV-1. The Germans had guns that could penetrate the T-34, but only at close range. And even then, a certain amount of luck was required. The KV-1 flat out couldn’t be hurt by anything less than an 8.8cm FlaK gun (the dreaded “88”). The existence of the two tanks was a massive shock to the Germans, and caused them to rush and upgun their anti-tank guns (both mounted and towed), and their own new tank designs – the final versions of the Panther and Tiger tanks were pretty much direct responses to the T-34 and KV-1 (the Panther even looks a lot like a bigger T-34). In 1941, the Soviets had trouble because there simply weren’t enough of these two tanks to go around. But if the Soviets wait until 1943, then the tank units will be fully rearmed, and there will be more than enough of them to go around.

          And NO ONE anywhere in the world will have a tank that can pose a serious threat to either vehicle. Historically, the existence of these two tanks caused the Germans to upgrade their own tanks, which prompted the Western Allies to do the same. But without Operation Barbarossa, the Germans don’t upgrade. And the British still believe that their Matilda is just this side of invincible (in reality, a T-34 likely would have little trouble with it).

          • I agree with your analysis, with a couple of exceptions. One, we don’t know what Stalin would have done between the ouster of Hitler after the failure of his reunification of the Rheinland, which is our departure point, and when he decided to invade Western Europe.

            Chances are, he’d have performed some practice aggression against Finland still, and then there’s the question of what happens during the Spanish Civil War, absent our friend Mr. Hitler and his traveling band of thugs.

            Victory by the left-wing in Spain? The remilitarization of the Rheinland was in March, 1936. Opening phase of the Spanish Civil War, which German intervention played a key role? July, 1936. No Hitler, no movement of the Army of Africa to continental Spain, and from there… Projections go off the rails. Maybe Franco wins, maybe he doesn’t, but either way, we can assume that a Republican victory in Spain is going to recast the the whole picture in Europe.

            With a Communist state at their rear, how do the French behave? French tanks were arguably better than the German ones, just utilized less effectively. They could have updated and modernized more effectively, and if they’d rooted the Communists out of their government, which a victory in Spain would likely have motivated them to…?

            Too many imponderables. Hell, maybe Stalin has a stroke laughing at how Hitler falls on his face in the Rheinland…

            • Oddly enough, the discussion of what might have happened in Spain had the Republicans won the Civil War came up on another forum recently. And the general conclusion was that it would not have been the end of the Civil War.

              The Republican side was apparently made up of a lot of different little factions. And those factions were all united in their opposition to Franco. But most of those other factions hated Franco only slightly more than they hated their fellow “comrades in arms”. So once Franco gets removed from the equation…

              Also, the French tanks would have been no match for the Soviet ones. While they had better armor than German tanks, the guns on the tanks were lighter and shorter (a shorter barrel is better for anti-infantry high explosive rounds, which is why the French tanks had shorter barrels; a longer barrel is better for anti-tank work because it makes the shell move faster and thus hit harder). French tank guns likely would have had even more trouble than the Germans did with Soviet armor. And their own tanks would have been only slightly less vulnerable to the 76mm gun on the T-34. Further, French tanks tended to be slow. Most of them were designed with the idea that they would be moving alongside infantry marching on the ground. The T-34, on the other hand, was quite fast.

              Note that while French tanks were notorious for having a one man turret, iirc the original T-34 design did the same. But that’s pretty much the only area where I’m not giving the Soviets a leg up over a hypothetical French tank.

              Finally, based on what I’ve read, French industry just wasn’t up to the task. If the French had managed to come up with a revolutionary new design in September of 1940 (i.e. shortly after the historical Fall of France) that could somehow compete with the T-34, they still wouldn’t have been able to build enough of them to make a difference.

              • Just to reemphasize this point, it *CANNOT* be stated enough how much of a game changer the T-34 was. The T-34 combined a powerful gun with the first sloped armor (which deflects some of the force of an incoming anti-tank shell), and a powerful engine. It could hit hard, move quickly, and was very difficult to kill for anything aside from a heavy anti-aircraft gun.

              • Yeah, the T-34 was a big deal, tank-wise. However, comma, without the extensive tutorial and practical exercise provided by the Germans, one cannot assume that somehow, the Red Army of our counter-factual is going to somehow magically be as effective as, say, the Red Army of our 1945. For one thing, all those lovely logistics enhancers like those Studebaker trucks…? Not going to be available.

                The tanks are only a component of a much larger set of factors, and we can’t just write off the Poles, the Czechs, and the rest of Europe, either.

                • It should be remembered that the Germans pretty heavily wrecked Soviet industry in 1941. Entire factories essentially had to be packed up and moved east. The result was a heavy emphasis on combat vehicles in those factories when they finally started producing again. American Lend-Lease made up the difference in things like trucks.

                  However, without the emergency, the Soviet building schedule likely would have been more balanced. Would it have produced as many trucks as the Americans provided? That I’m not sure of. But the Soviets likely would have been building a bunch of their own. At the very least, even if the infantry had to walk, the supply network probably would have functioned (note that qualifier, though).

                  The thing to keep in mind, though, is that Nazi Germany wrecked most of Europe while using horse-drawn carts. The Soviets in 1943 would be threatening to do the same, but with much better tanks and guns. The Finns were able to keep the Soviets out using a combination of terrain and poor weather (it’s worth noting that the Finns eventually did sign a treaty with the Soviets). The rest of Europe didn’t have those advantages.

  9. Growing up in New York City I felt like I was the center of the world. I was born the year the Berlin Wall went up:1961. WWII was my father’s war. He didn’t fight in it, but he did get his first rabbinical post out of it. He substituted for a rabbi in Ohio who went to become a chaplain in the armed forces. My world was very much the east coast. In fact it was pretty much Boston to DC, centered on NYC. My mom and I went to Miami a few times when I was young to visit her mom.

    I never thought that the Wall would ever come down or the USSR would end. I never knew of Central Europe. It was East and West. Various countries lined up with one or the other superpower.

    • My timing and location is different, but yeah that divide felt like it would be there forever… and when it wasn’t… history didn’t end, no, but it sure seemed like the play changed acts at the very least.

  10. There is nothing as stupid as extrapolating present trends to infinity.
    And the flip side is the silliness of thinking that nothing will ever come ’round again, that “progress” will save us from history.

    A wise old man once said, “There is nothing new under the sun.”

  11. A friend of my sister’s inlaws, whom I met during his final year; a survivor of the Bataan Death March.

  12. Sure, there’s a lot of Arabs around, but a lot of them converted and became part of the weave of Europe before. It’s not the genes, it’s the culture. It could still turn around.

    And there are a lot of Catholics, and similar traditional-but-not-so Islamic forms of Christianity that are finding rich recruiting among Islam.

    I take great comfort in the wide-spread reports of Muslims walking up to Catholic apologists and saying something like “A lady showed up in my dream, dressed in blue, and said I should talk to you and you’d explain about her, and her Son….”

    • I’ve always said that taking over Europe or other major Western-dominated cultural areas would be the death of Islam as the Arabs know it.

      Islam is what it is currently largely because, well… To be blunt, the majority of Islamic believers are, to put it kindly, inbred as hell and not all that smart. They don’t question their Imam not because they’re that faithful, but because they aren’t quite bright enough to frame the questions in the first damn place, or recognize the contradictions in what they’re told. If the dominant population base of the Islamic world goes up another twenty-thirty points on the IQ tests, well… Islam as it exists is pretty much done for.

      Whether that would mean widespread conflict, a fusion of Christian and Islamic belief, or what, I don’t know. About all I can guarantee you is that if the Islamic snake tries digesting the European sub-continent, it won’t end the way they fantasize it.

      What it would look like: (not safe for snake philiacs or phobics…)

      • Hmmm… Didn’t realize that would show up as an actual image…

        Apologies to snake lovers and haters, who would be disturbed by this picture…

      • “They don’t question their Imam not because they’re that faithful, but because they aren’t quite bright enough to frame the questions in the first damn place, or recognize the contradictions in what they’re told.”

        I don’t think that’s a function of intelligence so much as that’s a cultural thing. If you’re raised in a tradition that says these are the answers and anyone who asks questions is shunned at least or a heretic at worst, you just aren’t going to be that curious. There’s no social need for that. We take questioning for granted because of the culture we’ve be raised in, where curiosity is an exploration of things that usually leads to answers instead of “don’t worry about that” or “stop asking, you fool.”

        Of course, that brings up what happens when Muslims move to areas where questioning is encouraged—and what usually happens is that you end up with Westernized Islam, which is pretty benign.

  13. So [FDR] did what he thought he had to do, and I can’t judge it.

    How DARE you not judge?!? Social Justice War DEMANDS that all of us judge, and judge more harshly the less we understand of the underlying context.

    How else are we to signal our virtue?

    • No no no no no…SJWar demands that the SJWs judge and judge harshly, but that everyone else just shut up and accept their judgments meekly.

  14. In similar fashion to how the later generation never knew World War II, millennials don’t remember the Cold War. No sooner had Lenin gained power in Russia than he began sending agents all over the world, like dragon’s teeth, to preach the glories of Communism and armed overthrow of bourgeois capitalist colonial regimes. Following World War II when Stalin established control of Eastern Europe, Mao took control over China, and the Korean war threatened to go nuclear, it seemed as if Communism was on the march everywhere. By the 1960s Europeans began adopting the Fabian Socialist gradual approach, and surrendered their colonial empires in great haste while, and partly because, class warfare and violent revolution were still being preached and practiced in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Modern discussion of the Vietnam war seems to entirely forget that Ho Chi Minh was no less brutal in his approach to opposition than Lenin, Stalin, or Mao, and American strategy there was mostly defensive and with one eye on avoiding escalation with the USSR. It wasn’t until the 1970s that concepts such as “detente” and “peaceful coexistence” gained popularity. Much of the opposition to Ronald Reagan came from fear that he would ignite the Cold War which seemed to be winding down. Also, It wasn’t until the Soviet failures in Afghanistan that the image of Soviet military might was revealed to be a mirage.

    • “What’s that tune you’re humming?”
      “Oh.. uh… let’s see… oh, er, yeah. Vietnam era protest song.”
      “Never heard it.”
      “The war has been over for a while… and there’s been a draft in your lifetime.”
      “Lyrics?”
      “Alright.. but that I know them doesn’t mean I agree with them.”

      o/`… I’m only 18, I’ve got a ruptured spleen, and always a carry a purse.. I got eyes like a bat, my feet are flat, and my asthma’s getting worse… o/`

      “Purse?”
      “It was a different world, alright? That sort of thing was considered a Big Deal then.”

      • Remember when the kids discovered Alice’s Restaurant.

        • You can have anything you want (except for Alice.)

        • Arlo Guthrie is reportedly a bit bemused that his song became a protest icon, since he wrote it to illustrate a silly occurrence. He’s also tried to be anti-ideological, since he sees himself as an entertainer. Definitely not the firebrand his father was.

          • If anything that song was anti-bureaucracy, not anti-war (the same argument holds for Catch-22.)

            I think Guthrie has sung some political songs, e.g., “Presidential Rag” —


            Nobody elected your family,
            and we didn’t elect your friends,
            no one voted for your advisors,
            and nobody wants amends,
            You’re the one we voted for, so you must take the blame,
            For handing out authority to men who were insane,
            [SNIP]
            you will be remembered, be remembered very well,
            You said you didn’t know,
            that the that the cats with the bugs were there,
            You’d never go along with that kind of stuff no where
            But that just isn’t the point man,
            That’s the wrong ,wrong way to go,
            You didn’t know about that one,
            well then what else don’t you know.

            Although this is another song that can be interpreted as criticism of bureaucracy, of leaders who hide behind bureaucrats. It may be political but it is not partisan, and it goes to the core of executive responsibility.

            • Here’s a different type of song from Arlo, recognizing sacrifice and loss:


              From the comments:
              “l spent 20 months, 3 days, 8 hours, 22 mins in Vietnam… no one give a shit when I came home back then…. it’s nice to hear some do now. Thank you Arlo ….. bien cancion”

      • Phil Ochs, author of that song, was most probably opposed the war because he thought we were on the wrong side.


        Ochs was a loud and proud Red who despised Liberals as squishes.

        • If he was a loud and proud Red why didn’t he move to Russia or Eastern Europe or Cuba?

          • Terry Sanders

            The Revolution had already happened there. Here, he was a Hero…

          • Because, to a loud and proud Red, it is the evil bourgeois capitalist imperialists than need to be violently overthrown. The pristine perfection of the benevolent dictatorship of the proletariat is not to be disturbed.
            (gag, cough, spit, rinse. Repeat as necessary. Amanda, why did you have to teach us this stuff?)

        • Interesting to compare the TV broadcast version to one I am more familiar with. I do now wonder just what a psychedelic fit would be.

    • Millenials have watched “The Americans” with those two cool KGB deep cover agents, who keep outsmarting the morally bankrupt FBI agent, so they totally know about The Cold War.

      Hollywoods recasting of history continues apace. Next, a hilarious sitcom set in 1930s Ukraine, “Informers get to Eat!”

      • I couldn’t get through the first episode, even though Keri Russell is a big plus for me to watch something…

    • Mostly wanted to damn near cheer at someone saying something about Millennials and actually getting the start date right.

      I’m in the first year or two of that generation, and I can still remember a teacher’s look of shock when she said something about the Berlin Wall and faced a bunch of blank looks.

      Even my memory of Desert Storm consists mostly of annoyance that stuff was interrupting my cartoons.

      • Heh. And here’s me, born in that weird little wedge between the Gen-Xers and the Millenials. I remember the tail end of the Cold War, and having to do duck and cover drills (though even then I thought “And this will help against a bomb…how, exactly?) and remember the wall coming down )I was 9, I was in fourth grade, and while the kids’ general reaction to the news being blasted all over the school was “Okay, cool” while our teacher burst into tears). I was heading into middle school during Desert Storm, and it was all patriotic stuff all over (I was in Oklahoma at the time, so it was Allowed even in school).

        On the other hand…My grandfather fought in Korea, not WW2, although my grandmother’s (much older) brothers had been in the Pacific during WW2. I never met them, though. My maternal great grandfather was too old to serve in WW2, but did move to California and work in the shipyards there. (And, according to my grandmother, lived a couple streets off from where that big spy ring was busted…) My paternal great grandfather, on the other hand, fought in WW1…but died shortly after I was born. No one in my family was of the right age for Vietnam.

        It is, truly, a bit strange to look out from one’s little bit of amber at the history before and after…

        • Unless you were in or close to the fireball, those drills did have value. Plus, how we took cover during tornadoes was practically the same.

          • Yeah, we did the drills for tornadoes, and that DID make sense. (And I lived in what is charmingly known as “Tornado Alley” for much of my childhood, heh.)

            Good to know about the actual bomb part, though. I always did wonder…

            • The big danger unless you were in near proximity was from flying glass due to the overpressure shattering windows. Getting down under desk would mostly protect you from that.

              • I feel a little deprived that I never experienced “Duck ‘N’ Cover” drills even though I entered school before those missiles entered Cuba. I can only assume two factors prevailed:

                1: The realization that by the time missiles were being targeted on my home state of West Virginia America would probably already be toast

                2: zthe supposition that Soviet missile landing in WV wouldn’t have noticeable effect

              • Once I figured it out, I was (and I remain) very annoyed that the one and only response drill that all the studies of all the bombing during WWII identified as both effective (if caught outside of a shelter) and easy to train was so thoroughly and completely discredited.

                Those who parroted the propaganda that it was silly to do anything were just dangerous useful idiots, but those who knowingly discredited duck and cover training were pretty darn monstrous, and will bear the blood on their hands if there’s ever a nuke, or even a meteor strike big enough.

                To reiterate: “Duck and Cover on the flash” is the absolute best defensive action a person can take to either a nuclear detonation or a meteor strike.

                • And as said, tornado and other things. “Duck and Cover!” is a Good Idea. Will guarantee unharmed survival? No. Will is vastly improve your odds OF survival? YES! And flash-to-bang time counting is good for ANY flash.. that includes “mere” lightning. (I wish I had photos of the TRENCHES made when a ‘near hit’ had the vertical antenna’s ground radials vaporize ground water, if not the copper.) And “shelter in place” was a hard lesson of WWI gas attacks. Run and you just breath it deeper.

          • We never did the duck and cover drills for nuclear war, just for tornadoes. But then again, we all expected to end up dead if things hit the fan. Minot hosts the US’s last duel nuclear base and is surrounded by 150 ICBM silos, so we figured we’d be one of the first places to burn.

          • We never did the duck-n-cover, because I suspect the teachers all knew we were going to be right under the things (SAC HQ and then Pantex).

            • Yeah, we didn’t do duck & cover. I was young and naive enough to think we weren’t going to be a major target, instead of realizing that a major state capital AND three military bases made my hometown one heck of a target.

              In high school, I saw a projected fallout map from a MAD attack, and there was a spot of bright red on my hometown, and a plume going east right past my house. Oops.

            • When were you at Offut?

              I didn’t go to school on base. We were lived off base in Bellevue around ’70-’73; I started elementary school there, but for the life of me I can’t remember the school’s name.

        • I was born in the wedge between boomers and xers. I feel your pain. we don’t fit either side.

          • William O. B'Livion

            I was born in 67 and *still* don’t fit either side.

          • That’s because the whole notion of a 20-year political generation is nonsense. The sample rate is too low. 10 years, perhaps 12, is the right number.

            • Agreed. The guys becoming teens, and the ones in their mid-twenties, they can share major touch-points although with rather different perspectives– but a 13 year old and a 33 year old?

            • Precisely. To roll me in with the generation that has fond memories of 68 (when I was learning to write) is stupid.

              • I’ve never felt like a Boomer, either. I honestly think that the generational thing ought to be based less on the dates of your birth, and more on the dates of your primary care-giver’s life-experience. The hand that rocks the cradle being the marker, y’know?

                Going by that, I’ve got more in common with the pre-WWII and WWII generation than not, because one of the primary inputs into my upbringing was my grandmother, born in 1898. She had my mom late, in her forties. If she’d had her kids when she was “supposed to”, I’d have been a pre-WWII or WWII-era kid when my mom was in her late teens and twenties. Which explains why I’m a couple of generations “off” from my age cohort, and have never, ever felt at home among them.

                • I once told a coworker my age and it came as shock. Figured I was *much* older. I get the idea he might have figured I could walk into the 1950’s, perhaps the 1940’s and maybe even the 1930’s and get away with it. I’m not sure I could pass in the 1970’s now, and I lived through those.

                • I, and my two sisters, were raised by our paternal grandmother, who was born in 1902 in the Indian Territory.

                  Now that I think about it, it explains a few things, like idioms we used that out age-mates didn’t generally “get”.

            • It comes down to the information age. A generation in 1930 could probably still be 20 years, as the touch-points remained stable for much longer.
              Once global information began accelerating trends, however, a decade is likely all the longer anyone will still be paying attention. And some generational breaks might very well be only 15 minutes long.

              • One other consideration is that “generations” do not arrive simultaneously across the Earth. Many a “generational” thing rose in California long before gravitating toward the East Coast megalopolis, and even longer before reaching the Heartland, as those of us of age to remember LSD’s progress could attest.

          • Sarah, Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964.

            • It keeps changing.

              Heck, the other day I saw some folks placing Millennials as 75-2000, and I’ve seen it for “born after 1990.”

              • I’ve hear millennials as ‘came of age at or after the turn of the century’ which would be born after 1980 or so.

              • 25 years for Millennials? These folk make no sense anymore.

                I much prefer the 20-year slices, with people on the edges being the boundary cases (who are largely ignored.) I’m tail-end of Gen X, have all of my siblings in that group, but don’t quite fit. (I really do like the Oregon Trail Generation as a tag for the boundary group there.) I graduated into a recession, as did my peers, and many of them got hit again when the housing bubble burst. But nobody hears about them, because it’s all about the Boomers and the Millennials and occasionally, maybe, Gen X. None of whom we relate to.

                (Interestingly enough, there are no Boomers in my family. My parents were both war babies and my eldest sister was born after the Baby Boom. War babies—another boundary group.)

                • It’s only all about the Millennials because the Boomers want to whine about their kids, but don’t want to blame their OWN parenting.

                  I much prefer 10 or so year chunks.

            • Nope. Again, 20 years is WAY too long. False results due to inadequate sample rate.

              There’s the Brat Boom decade group, from about 1946-1956. Then the Baby Bust decade group, around 1957-1966ish. Totally different. The Brat Boomers grew up in a nice, safe world, then got blind-sided by the race issues, sex issues, and Vietnam in the 1960s. The Baby Busters grew up in the turbulence of the 1960s, came to maturity in the Great Inflation of the 1970s.

              There’s a reason why the Baby Busters were Reagan’s strongest supporters. He offered us Hope…and we hadn’t seen that in half a lifetime.

            • No. They really weren’t. When I was a kid my brother — Jan 54 — was in the last years of boomers. As boomers aged they’ve been claiming more and more years.
              I remember in the Reagan years the boomers yelling at us for being materialist and not community oriented. In 68, I was learning to write. It’s not the same generation. Not even close.

              • Don’t worry about being called a Boomer — it’s just a label and a label us no more the contents than a map is the territory. That it is a label stupidly applied, stupidly used and stupidly argued is a reflection on the labeler, not on you. It is a moronic marketing ploy by those who are eager to sell you out.

                Classifying by generation is simply one more technique for denying identity as an individual. Phook ’em all and the mopeds they rode in on.

                When you were born, what bin they want to toss you in, matters less than the fact that when the roll is called up yonder, you be there.

                • The amusing thing was “Gen. X” as nothing was the Single Great Alignment for the generation. Not sure if I count or was a too early… don’t care. But my take? Gee, you tell kids it’s alright to just be yourself, and then get annoyed when they DO? Leave and never darken our towels again!

              • My dad was born in 50, and he remembers not being considered part of the “boom.”

            • I flatly refuse to accept that last date… Kids born in ’64 were not participants in any of the rest of the madness of that generation, just unwitting observers of the effects as it all wound down. Aside from the fact that there’s no damn way you can say that their parents, likely born slightly before or during WWII, were part of the post-war baby boom, statistically. The returning GIs were mostly done having kids by about ’55 or ’60, and giving them another four years…? It may make sense on a calendar, but culturally…? Oh, hell no… I’ve got nothing in common with much of that crew, even the ones who went to Vietnam. There’s a certain amount of self-indulgent entitlement that you need, in order to be a stereotypical Boomer, and most of us in my age cohort just didn’t get that particular flavor of Soma in our baby bottles.

              • PRECISELY. Also, honestly, HOW could we be after-war baby boom. How long did those soldiers take to get home? Also, dad was a kid when the war ended.

                • I think the presumption was that being born to those who’d experience of the war created a commonality. Thus my older brother (1950) and kid brother (1959) comprised a “generation” even though their experiences of the Sixties were worlds different.

                  Utter nonsense, of course, of the sort which come of forcing data into a theory rather than doing t’other way ’bout. But so long as they force everybody to use that same damned hymnal nobody will notice the changed phrases.

              • My biological parents were born in ’45 and ’47; they were Boomers, I was born in ’65. Seems stupid to try and lump me into the same generation with my biological parents.

                (My adoptive parents were born in ’32 and ’42, but I’m still not a Boomer.)

            • At one point, it included 1966. Then it didn’t. Because…. ?
              I agree with Kirk about the parental influence. The generation of your care-givers is much more important than your actual birthdate.

              • Yes, I was telling my sons they’re actually sons of echo-boomers because MIL was very much a boomer, and I was educated by my precocious and much older boomer brother as much as anyone else. So I was an echo boomer, believing all the platitudes the kids now believe (with less communism, because I’d seen it, but it was reflexive anti-communism, and the rest of my philosophy was still Marxist from gun control to “greedy capitalists” like the kids now who are echo boomers) And then in my thirties the scales fell from my eyes (which I think we’re STARTING to see with echo boomers.) My kids were raised by jaded, disillusioned echo-boomers who’d seen the man behind the curtain. Sursum corda, there’s more of them being born.

        • Get off my lawn you whippersnapper! I’m tail end boomer. My parents were born in the 1920’s.

          • I’m tailer ender boomer. Mine were born in 1938.

          • I’m mid-boom (1952). Dad was the youngest of his family, born in 1917. He was drafted late in the war, and ended up as a draftsman in the Air Forces (his civilian job, go figure). Mom was the oldest kid, born in 1923. One sister built bombers for Douglas while her fiancee was invading islands in the Pacific. Kid sister’s husband navigated KC-135s in the early 60s.

            I don’t know if I should get off the lawn, or chase people away. 🙂

        • and having to do duck and cover drills (though even then I thought “And this will help against a bomb…how, exactly?)
          ————————-

          As others have noted, it helps. One particularly noteworthy story demonstrating that is the story of the Japanese guy who survived *BOTH* atomic bombings. He was apparently in Hiroshima on business when the first bomb was dropped. After the bomb dropped, he went home… to Nagasaki. He was there when the bomb dropped, and managed to survive that one as well. He also warned his wife that if she saw a bright flash of light in the sky, she should duck. When she saw a bright flash of light not long after, she threw herself into a ditch, which likely saved her life.

          If you’re in the fireball, yeah, you’re dead. But much of the devastation is due to a blast wave that shreds everything in front of it. If you can take cover behind something strong enough to survive the blast wave, then you have a higher chance of living through it.

          • I’m a first flight Gen-Xer (enough so that some people’s classification would make me a tail end Boomer – an “honor” I refuse to accept) and I don’t remember doing duck and cover drills in school. Despite spending my primary and secondary school years on or in the vicinity of SAC bases.

            Now since all those bases (Offut, Grand Forks, and McConnell) were in tornado alley, it’s possible I’m miss-remembering some duck and cover drills as tornado drills; since functionally they behave the same way.

          • Bryan Suit’s Dark Secret Place riffed on the Hawaii alarm by explaining how to survive a nuke dropping on LA– short version was to have two or three days worth of Stuff You Need To Live and a basic bug-out bag in your trunk, and get yourself into a level of a parking garage that put LOTS of cement and rebar between you and the boom.

            Then don’t leave for at least two days after the boom.

            (It was “hey, it’s 10 in the morning, you’re at work, and you just got the 10 minute warning for a nuke coming in. Don’t go to the freeway!” type thing.)

        • We’re about the same age then. We’re Ys, as in Y do you keep lumping us with Millenials?

          Here’s a scary thought: next Presidential election will have the first post-9/11 babies voting. My eldest is one of them.

      • Dang nabbit, you young whipper snappers are making me feel old! Stop that. And get off my lawn while you’re at it.

        The Berlin wall came down while I was in high school, and Desert Storm was during my freshman year of college (I still remember the outrage by some on campus about the war taking away from MLK day activities). I vaguely remember seeing reports about the fall of Saigon on the news when I was a wee tyke.

      • JFK’s funeral. I remember it went on, and on, and on. Yes, that young. Old enough to understand it was bad, young enough to want it over with already. This from a member of a family, who everyone down to small kids, attend funerals that are all day affairs, or longer. No parades, & last 1/2 day + (if it takes an entire long weekend) is the family gathering after funeral & interment.

        • There are times I am thankful I likely won’t be around to watch Obama’s funeral. I might be around at the start but I am confident the sanctimony, beatification, and ostentatious bewailing “our” loss will likely induce terminal apoplexy.

        • My parents went on their first date shortly after the assassination.

          (runs off the lawn)

      • “I’m in the first year or two of that generation, and I can still remember a teacher’s look of shock when she said something about the Berlin Wall and faced a bunch of blank looks.”
        I was a graduate TA in 1976, and recall the look on another one’s face after she left class one day, like she had seen zombies or something. She had been in school off and on for several years, and that day had asked her standard Poli-Sci Leading Question: where were you when Kennedy was assassinated? Blank stares, until one brave student answered, “We weren’t even born then.”
        I don’t think she ever recovered from the shock.

        • A sign of age I encountered some time ago. Made a quip about an 18 and a half minute gap… and found I had to explain it. It was no longer ‘a thing everyone knew’ anymore.

        • 1976 was only 13 years after the Kennedy assassination, so they should have been around. Or are you talking about something else.

          A question on my advancement exam last month had four photos of missile boats and asked which one had ceased production after the Tiananmen Square Incident. I was quite certain that 80% of the people taking the exam were either NOT AROUND during that incident, or were very young indeed at the time of its occurrence. (And I had absolutely no clue what the answer to the question being asked was. They were lucky I knew that they were missile boats.)

          • Six year olds aren’t noted for their awareness of that sort of thing; my mom would’ve been 8 or so, and her only memory was of her mom taking JFK’s picture off the wall and bawling.

      • With Vietnam, my dad chose one of the few MOS that would keep him out of the jungle – Air Defense Artillery. He enlisted in 1970. He went on terminal leave … early December 1989. In fact, we had just gotten to my grandparents place for Christmas (okay, and a solid chunk of time beforehand…) when the Rangers went into Panama. So, my dad also got to avoid going to play in the sandbox. My brother got to go play in Kuwait and Iraq and babysit the Seabees. Which is neat because our grandfather on Dad’s side was a Seabee during WWII while Mom’s dad was a Navigator on a B-17 in the Pacific,

        • Totally unrelated– WoWer?

          • Yep. Played for … a long time. *counts on fingers and toes* A full decade looks like. Main was a Human Priest but I had one of everything Alliance side. Got recruited for several competitive raiding guilds but I didn’t have the time to dedicate to it. I spent too much time on the road or had long commutes. I did manage to see most of the raids before the Burning Legion came back.

            • Was a paladin from Vanilla to the patch preparing for Cata, or priest/mage when we went horde; raid tankadin and every flavor of priest I could. (If you liked the old pali, the brought it back for Legion.)

              The “lore? What lore?” span kinda screwed up my sane gaming buddies, but I still remember it fondly, and with that name I had to ask. 😀
              They are fixing the lore a little, but kinda burned their bridges, and it is a time eater.

              • I would’ve loved to have taken pally tanking in raids. The group I usually ran with though needed the healing … badly.

                • My husband and I did tank/healer leveling pairs– and he would put his foot down at the burn-out potential if someone suggested we BOTH heal for raids.

                  • Lol. Yeah, I can see that. My wife decided she wanted to try playing. She leveled a pally (back in Vanilla) as a shockadin. Gave her a chance to learn everything without really being able to die. Then she went Ret and never looked back.

                    I loved raiding on my mage. Never managed to top the meters with her, but you weren’t going to out DPS a tankadin until they nerfed the ever loving snot out of Consecrate. 😢

    • Modern discussion of the Vietnam war seems to entirely forget that Ho Chi Minh was no less brutal in his approach to opposition than Lenin, Stalin, or Mao, and American strategy there was mostly defensive and with one eye on avoiding escalation with the USSR.

      And it is still being argued – see this from the blurb from a new (published last August) book from the Naval Institute Press, “WHY VIETNAM MATTERS; An Eyewitness Account of Lessons Not Learned” by Rufus Phillips:

      Describing what went right and then wrong, he finds that our failure to understand the Communists, our South Vietnamese allies, or even ourselves took us down the wrong road of a conventional war until it was too late – we missed the war’s essential political character.

      Haven’t read this yet, but I’m not sure I buy Rufus’ thesis – pretty much all the Johnson administration did was treat Wily Old Uncle Ho as a political opponent instead of a military one.

      But the point that the USSR (and China) weighed heavily on the minds of the Vietnam commanders and the political echelons back home, especially in light of what happened after that idiot MacArthur’s invasion of North Korea, is correct – they wanted to avoid at all costs ratcheting the war in Vietnam up to a direct US-USSR or US-China conflict.

      And the US military has been studying the US loss in Vietnam for half a century. Much of the reason we eventually won in Iraq (before The Might O threw it all away) was that generals who had learned the correct lessons on fighting a counterinsurgency got put in charge, and were supplied the resources they needed to actually win. And much of the reason we haven’t won in Afghanistan is that these lessons, there especially the ones about denying your opponent an untouchable sanctuary, were not applied.

      • And to tie into Sarah’s point today: That half a century of study of the lessons of Vietnam by the US Military is the same span of time as the buildup in Vietnam was from World War I.

      • Ordered from USNI. Thanks for the heads up!

      • they wanted to avoid at all costs ratcheting the war in Vietnam up to a direct US-USSR or US-China conflict.
        ———————-

        And then Nixon and Kissinger realized that they could probably peel China away from the USSR…

  15. Two thoughts:

    (1) It’s hard to think of how much time has passed since 9/11. For me, the memories are still immediate. I remember going to my friend’s room to ask if she wanted to walk to class with me and seeing the news. I remember the professor who insisted we must be wrong about the Towers having collapsed, it must have just been the antennas on top, because that would mean thousands of people would have been killed. I remember lunch that day, sitting in silence, and the confusion of the kids who’d been in class all morning and had no idea why everyone else was so quiet.

    It’s hard to believe its been more than 16 years since then, but of course it has. To my daughter, 9/11 will be more or less what the Vietnam war was to me: something out of history, something that still affects the older generation, yes, but not something with any sort of personal impact associated with it.

    (2) One of the great shocks of history I got was when someone told me that Queen Elizabeth’s first prime minister was Winston Churchill. In my mind, Elizabeth is very much a creature of the present, while Churchill is a man of the history books. The idea of the two of them intersecting in such a way…no, my mind still rebels at the fact.

    • Ma remember where she was when she learned of JFK’s being shot.
      I recall where I was when I learned of Challenger.

      • My memory of historic events starts with JFK’s assassination. There are earlier memories, but that’s the first of a national event.

      • I remember Challenger. I was very small (first grade), but as we were watching it live on tv at the time, and as at that point in my life I had “astronaut” on the list with “paleontologist” for “future career options”…

        And for 9/11 I was a 21 year old serving a mission for my church in Romania. We initially heard about it from students in our English classes (we taught free English classes as a community service), because they’d seen it on the news…or at least, caught garbled bits of it. It wasn’t until we went to the house of someone wealthy enough to have international news channels that we actually found out was going on.

        And for me, it ended up being…odd. My experience of 9/11 was very…detached? in a way, compared to my family that was still stateside. I didn’t experience the silence in the sky, and so on. (Though coming home was a totally different experience than flying out had been.) It was horrifying, of course, but since I was otherwise all but cut off from most news channels (no tv, etc when one is a missionary, save for dire emergency–such as finding out what was going on in New York), I didn’t know much about anything until I got home in December of 2002.

        It was interesting, on the other hand, the mixed reactions from the Romanians around us (being six feet tall and red haired, no one ever mistook me for anything but a foreigner, no matter how well I spoke the language, heh). Many–even most–were kind and sympathetic (if a little bewildered at American optimism despite the tragedy). But there were more than a few that mouthed the “all their own fault/imperialism/etc” stuff. The funniest incident was a taxi driver who went on a rant about how awful Americans were, then glanced at me and asked my companion (who looked Romanian but wasn’t) where we were from. His expression when she coolly replied “America” was a sight to behold…

        • 9/11 hit me hard for two reasons. One, I’m from NYC and I couldn’t get through to NY at all. the lines were all tied up. Two, My husband was working as a civilian contractor on an AFB (Maxwell-Gunter) which was locked down all day, They opened it for a little bit so dependents could get on base and civilians could leave. I didn’t know if M/G was going to be bombed also.

          • The couple whose apartment we went to to see the news had both of their daughters living in NYC, and they weren’t able to reach them for a good two days. (They both ended up being okay, thank goodness, but they had been uncomfortable close to the center of things.) It was tough watching what they went through.

            And then the anthrax thing happened, and I know at least two of my (and a bunch of other missionaries’) letters home were lost/destroyed, and there were a lot of parents state-side in a panic. After that, we were given permission to use email. (Hey, it was 2001. Email wasn’t yet *quite* as ubiquitous as it is now.)

            • I’m the husband who was working on Gunter. In addition to 9/11, we got one of the “anthrax hoaxes” and were pinned in the building until they did the field tests and pronounced it a fake. Watching APs in combat gear taking up positions to keep us IN was a sobering experience.

          • I had been laid off when dot-com (V1.0) imploded and was looking for work. I started up the computer and went to Illiad’s web comic (searches: User Friendly. Haven’t read it in ages.) and he had a banner comment about the towers. The rest of the day we spent watching TV. The next few weeks, the tentative job openings went away (mostly uncertainty, though one possible employer lost key people who were on a hijacked plane). I found work late November, and had to go through the security theater on a few trips to Europe.

            My parents were visiting stepdad’s kids in Virginia and Maryland, and were supposed to fly home on the 12th. Took a while to fly then.

            I was driving to work when Challenger went up for the last time. I was listening to AM news, and they did a quick break to say it launched, then another for the “Oh shit” events.

            • I was on a TDY in Germany when the Challenger went – an all-squadron programming conference. Early evening – I had the TV in the quarters on, while I was around the corner, putting on makeup. A bunch of us were going to the English-language movie-house in Landstuhl – the squadron exec was going to drive us in one of the vans. Listening to the Morning Show with half an ear … and then … oh, my.
              We did go to the movie, but we were all kind of shaken.
              The Kino in Landstuhl was one of those civilized ones where you could take your drink into the theater from the lobby bar. We all needed that, on that evening.

        • i was … 14? home on a snow day.

        • I remember Challenger; if only vaguely. I remember hoping that it didn’t kill the space program; I was very young.
          9-11 was big, scary and changed a lot of things and views. Far more scary for us as family was the Paris Metro bombings, because my Dad and brothers used it and they were there at the time.

          • I remember Challenger, but I know something’s off about the deal. We were supposed to be watching it in the classroom, but there’s no way we could have watched it live since we’re on the West Coast, three hours earlier, and the launch time would have been too early. So I don’t quite remember whether we watched a news report about it, or whether the TVs were in the classroom and not turned on, or whatever.

            I *do* remember hearing about Mt. St. Helens, oddly enough. Very specific memory of being in the car at my brother’s karate lessons, which were only for one year (a prize he’d won), and overhearing my parents discussing it. At the time I thought it was something that had happened a long time ago, but given the timing, it must have just happened.

            • would you have been in the classroom by 8:40 AM?

              • Huh. For some reason, I thought that was the EST of the explosion. So maybe I did see it live after all. (Third grade, but I wasn’t shown to have astigmatism until I was a teenager, so it’s possible that it was blurry because of distance, not memory.)

      • The Challanger… let’s see, I was finishing up lunch at school when two teachers walked by talking about something. I walked out and saw a cloud of smoke to the East, one different from the usual launch trail. We were close enough to see the launches.

      • I was watching Challenger live on TV. I swore for months (until the investigation revealed the O-ring fiasco) that the cause was in the main engines because the explosion occurred immediately after the ‘Go for throttle-up’ transmission.

        • I was in the drive-through at Burger King. Went into the office – an office full of flight test engineers. We spent much of the rest of the afternoon watching the TV and trying to figure out what had happened.

      • William O. B'Livion

        The two earliest things I remember news wise were men on the moon, and Nixon.

      • not there for the first, was doing a re-renovation in a house in New Orleans (iirc Octavia St.) for the second. House owner came running into the kitchen we were repairing and had us come watch on TV.
        For 9/11 I was fueling airplanes at New Orleans Int. airport

      • For me, Challenger happened in the middle of an exercise up at Wildflecken in West Germany, one that was peculiarly poorly thought out. I remember seeing the Stars & Stripes, while standing in the mess line the morning after, and I can’t honestly remember if that was the first I’d heard of it, or not. Either way, I was standing there eating green dehydrated scrambled eggs out of a mess kit, and reading the paper while it was propped up on the fender of an M151 jeep. The sun had come out for the first time since the beginning of the exercise, and I was standing there thinking how flippin’ ironic that was.

        9/11? I was the acting First Sergeant that morning, because the boss was doing something else. I had the news on before going into work, saw the first plane hit the towers, and went to work. During the morning ops meeting, the second plane hit, and we were suddenly pretty sure that it wasn’t a particularly unusual aircraft accident. I remember taking the morning formation, and telling the troops that they’d better get their shit together, because we were probably at war.

        Did PT, that morning, and then went home to shower and get ready for work call. Between dismissing the troops from PT, and that, they went into warglebargle panic mode, shut down post, and nobody was able to get back on base. I think the first day I was able to get back to work was, ironically, the 13th. We were literally having to meet, and throw stuff over the fenceline, in order to get stuff back onto the base. Which was ‘effing ironic as hell… I had the First Sergeant’s accountability book, ops notes, and all his paperwork with me, and I had to call in and have one of my guys come to the old back gate to North Fort Lewis, and throw it to him. I forget how the hell the First Sergeant got back on post, but it was comically stupid, with the overreaction to it all. We went from fat, dumb, and happy peacetime to issuing the troops full basic load of ammo, putting them on guard around the PX, and suddenly realizing that there were literally more holes in the fences around the cantonment area than there were units to watch them. It was almost funny, to tell the truth–The force protection folks had been agitating for years to plug all the holes, but they didn’t want to spend the money or “make life that difficult”. 10 September 2001, that was the mentality. 12 September…? LOL. Suddenly, all the money in the world was there for the asking, and they were “enhancing security” so hard that it hurt.

        • I was on my way to New Jersey to do some integration testing between our software and a mobile cell system that QualComm had put together to demo for the Army. We listened to radio on the drive up from Virginia. Sobering stuff. We almost had to suspend testing because QualComm had offered the system to the NYARNG for use in the city. I don’t quite remember why they didn’t accept it. I think they were already using equipment from a communications unit there.

          I ended up at Fort Lewis with the 1st Stryker Brigade fielding a new testing site for our software at the end of September. It was crazy trying to get on base, and then our training schedules were all messed up. They kept pulling our students off for gate duty and other essential activities. Even more messed up, though, was going back to our test site at Fort Bragg. With the highway running from Fayetteville to Spring Lake cutting through the post, they really messed up accessing the motor pools for our test units.

          For Challenger? I was sitting in Edward H. White Middle School in Huntsville, AL in 6th grade. We were watching it live on TV. At the time, I didn’t think about it much (the school). Now, looking back at it, I think it was a little appropriate to be sitting in a school named after a dead astronaut watching one of the current generation of ships explode. The universe’s sense of humor (black as it is) never fails to amuse me.

    • There are other things…

      WWII ended in 1945. The transistor was a lab curiosity in 1947. (“Yes, it was fought with vacuum tubes, slide rules…”)

      Moon landing was 1969. The microprocessor… the 4004.. saw production in 1971. (“So how did…” “Everything can be made out of NAND gates. They don’t need to all be on the same bit of silicon. Though things are faster that way.”)

      • “Yes, it was fought with vacuum tubes, slide rules…”
        And seriously cool mechanical computers that were still in-service for Desert Storm (Iowa class ships, iirc).

        I can’t get the pretty picture, but this is an introductory video from the Navy Mechanical Computer (All Parts) – Basic Mechanisms In Fire Control Computers. I highly recommend it. I had no idea these things even existed.

        • 80 column Hollerith cards and IBM electromechanical accounting machines and card sorters played a role in the Manhattan Project. Feynman’s autobiography (I think it’s the first) touches on that. Using different colored cards when a patch is made to the deck was a nice touch.

          • 80 column Hollerith cards and IBM sorting machines went over the beach at Normandy (big trucks) on D+10 with the US Army Machine Records Units. They ran the nightly report roll up and collation from all the unit roster reports (counting up KIA, WIA, missing and fit for duty) so the Army commanders and ultimately SACEUR knew how many bodies they had to throw at the Germans, rather than guesses and weeks-old hand tallies.

            Those guys and their big trailers containing the sorting and card punch machines leapfrogged along behind the front lines close enough that my wife’s Dad, a clerk typist, was woken up in the middle of the night, issued a rifle, and sent up the hill overlooking the road to wait for the Panzers when the German Bulge attack hit. He was very grateful they never got that far, but in the cold and dark up on that hill when all they knew was that everything at the front was going to hell, they didn’t know that.

            The accurate manpower reports enabled by those card sorters provided one more technologically-driven advantage over the Germans.

      • Senior Year HS History assigned Day of Trinity about the project and the test. I had a really hard time with the book when the opening paragraphs made mention of tubes and transistors.

        FWIW, the Richard Rhodes books on the A and H bombs are quite good. (First: The making of the atomic bomb, and the second is Dark Sun. The latter gets deeply into the espionage and the political fallout.)

    • Perhaps Neflix “The Crown” will help with that.

    • I remember watching funeral processions for MacArthur (1964) and Churchill (1965) with great wonder and scant comprehension. I remember watching Reagan’s procession with profound gratitude toward a merciful Lord that a Republican was presiding.

    • (2) One of the great shocks of history I got was when someone told me that Queen Elizabeth’s first prime minister was Winston Churchill. In my mind, Elizabeth is very much a creature of the present, while Churchill is a man of the history books. The idea of the two of them intersecting in such a way…no, my mind still rebels at the fact.
      Guess being a member of the Commonwealth we have a better grasp on that. My dad told me about going to school one day and singing “God Save the King”, next day singing “God Save the Queen”. Queen Elizabeth II has always been my queen I guess, seen all her big jubilees starting with her Silver Jubilee.

      • One of those differences between the Brits and us. When a POTUS dies in office, someone takes over, and nothing actually changes. When Queen Elizabeth dies, after the new sovereign is crowned- every British officer will have to swear allegiance to the new sovereign. Ours swear allegiance to the Constitution.

        • If only the judiciary were not hard at working making the Constitution even more malleable than a monarch.

          • I pledge allegiance to the bureaucracy of the United States of America and to the DNC for which it stands. 57 states, under DC, with taxes and social justice for all

    • $HOUSEMATE was in NYC that day… work had planned on $HOUSEMATE being not that far from WTC. A dialup line was held onto as it would NOT be recovered and was the sole outside link. I recall relaying bit to relatives “Alright. Sheltering in place.” sums it up.

      The fellow at work who said everyone needed to stop paying any attention to any news and get to work or the terrorists won? Didn’t last much long. “Thousands killed – Save MY bottom line!” doesn’t play well.

  16. Regarding Bernie being a National Socialist, he lies. He is a Socialist Nationalist.

    Just as with everything else in his miserable parasitical life, he’s gt that backwards.

    • Disinformation LIVES!

    • Maskirivka is a thing.

      • That’s maskirovka, of course. Hard to see that i instead of an o on the phone screen. And get off my lawn.

        • I was pissed about Hollywood screwing up Red October. The motivation for the defection and the description of Soviet Naval life were poignant and shocking.

      • It is, indeed. And, not generally studied here in the US.

        Anyone know of a decent translation of this:

        Den stora maskeraden : sovjetrysk militär vilseledning, Maskirovka,…
        by Lars Ulfving

        It’s in Swedish, and supposed to be the definitive study of the subject. I’ve got half a mind to order it, and then spend the time to puzzle through it with a decent Swedish-English dictionary, but if anyone has an idea of where to find a good English translation, I’d appreciate it. Back in the day, one would have hoped a publisher here in the US would have picked up on this, but these days…? Not so much.

    • William O. B'Livion

      IDK, I think he hates Jews.

  17. Wow, you’re ol- ah, slightly younger than me.

    • Someone at work some months back started asking everyone what their first (videogame) console was. Got a smattering of various expected answers. And then…
      Orvan: Pong.
      Him: On what console?
      Orvan: Pong WAS the console.
      Him: Damn, you are old!
      Orvan: Yeah, I used to babysit Cthulhu.
      * He all but falls over *

      • Obviously Orvan didn’t spank the baby enough. Spare the rod, spoil the elder god.

      • 11B-Mailclerk

        First game? Chess.

        Console? No, a folding board and a box of wooden pieces.

        ….

        What? Did you mean Avalon Hill? Then Starship Troopers.

        …..

        Why is everyone looking at me like that?

      • We were too poor to get Pong or any other video games until around 1984.

      • My first console was the Wii. Video games weren’t really my thing growing up. A friend had an Atari we played with on sleepovers. I did have a Coleco Electronic Quaterback game though. It got boring after awhile as every play resulted in a TD.

        • I came across mine when I moved from Texas year before last. Still worked, and I got a TD first play, and put the battery back into the smoke detector.

        • Now I think on it my first electronic game was this table-top football field, maybe 16X12 (been a long time!) on which you arranged little plastic football players then turned the device on, which caused the top surface to vibrate until the quarterback crossed into the endzone, “ran” out of bounds, was tackled (bumped into) by a defense player or simply fell over.


          First truly interactive game was Operation!

      • We got the kids a Pong early on (still regret giving it away in a garage sale!), but when their grandparents (evil people) bought them the first Nintendo, we hooked it up to our “spare” TV set because an essential part had gone out.
        They played very happily, until one day they came back from a friend’s house with wide eyes and informed us in some shock, “Did you know Nintendo has sound?!?”
        We made an early rule that they had to buy any games and platforms themselves, and Parents did not Play Games. Fights over turns got everyone sent to their rooms and the game turned off.
        I will never forget the first time I called one into the kitchen to do something chorish, and he yelled back, “I gotta die first.”
        That ranks with the shock I got when my kids made the finger-guns at each other and yelled, “zzzt zzzt” instead of “bang bang”.
        Oldest one went to the opening run of Star Trek: (now #4, then the only one) in his baby carrier.

      • Our first family console was an Atari. Our first family computer was a Vic 20. As I tell kids (these days), that stands for 20K.

        And it had a tape drive.

        • I don’t honestly know what my first videogame console was, because it was a console with four built-in games, rather than having a cartridge slot to change out games. I got my mom to return it and give me the money, then saved up my allowance for nearly a year to get the Atari.

  18. Paul L. Quandt

    Thank you, it was fun reading the stories of you youngsters.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

  19. My school years basically began in the 80’s, so we could even then see the shadows of Watergate and Vietnam, with the press trying as hard as it could to paint Uncle Ronnie with both brushes.
    Which is probably why the first Gulf War ended prematurely- no one wanted Vietnam redux, and we got that 10 years later.

    • It was also a shadow of the Cold War. The US has held the view of the shining light on the hill right from the get-go, but during the Cold War there was an emphasis on “We aren’t commies and we don’t do things that way.” You could get a whiff of it in how we handled things in Iraq and Afghanistan. A Swiss-like solution might have been the best fit in Afghanistan, with warlords as substitutes for cantons and the strong message “Don’t make us come back here.” But that doesn’t fit a decades to centuries US philosophy of governments.

      • Being as the Taliban are the creatures of the Pakistani ISI, supported, managed, and paid for by them…?

        What Afghanistan really needed was for Pakistan to get a thorough high-colonic cleansing, preferably via carpet bombing with B-52s. After that, then the whole question of what was going to happen in Afghanistan would have been academic. But, since the Pakis are the nuclear arsenal for Saudi Arabia, that wasn’t and isn’t going to happen.

        Your analysis is fundamentally flawed, because you overlook the actual facts of the situation, which is that the sole problem is resident in Pakistan. Deal with that, no more Taliban, and Afghanistan solves itself.

        It boggles the mind, when you think about it: We’re paying the Pakistani government massive amounts of military aid and other support, in order to allow us transit rights to Afghanistan so that we can fight their proxies, who we’re enabling them to afford… How stupid are we?

        That stupid.

        • Keep in mind that Trump has just threatened to cut of Pakistan’s funding…

          • Something that should have been done on 12 September, 2001. Along with a blockade, naval mining, and a complete isolation of the Pakistani regime until they turned over all responsible parties and their nukes. 9/11 proved they’re not responsible enough to have those, right along with the Saudis. We’re going to regret not pulling their teeth.

            I actually think that a damn good case could be made for a “just war” on the Pakistanis that included nuclear weapons. When you look at the incestuously tight relationship between their ISI and the Taliban, the way Massoud was taken out as a pre-condition to al Qaeda launching the 9/11 attacks, and everything else…? You can’t convince me that the ISI didn’t at least know what was going on, and what was being planned up in their little client state in the mountains. Just like you can’t convince me that those clean passports on the Saudi hijackers “just happened”. There was, at a minimum, both knowledge and collusion by members of the government in both nations. That’s an inescapable conclusion, just based on what we have open source evidence of.

            • I still think the Indians will end up doing that for us in the end just to get rid of their cross border terrorism problem.

              The wild card there is China’s growing relationship with Pakistan. If India and China ever cook up a detente, the Paki leadership should pack their bags.

    • I read articles in the early 1990s that insisted we didn’t have the logistics set up to go further than we did. Take it with a grain of salt.

      • If you’re talking about Desert Shield/Desert Storm, the primary reason we didn’t go further north into Iraq was due to the Saudis and others getting serious cold feet once they saw that a.) Saddam’s vaunted military wasn’t all that, and that b.) once they were taken out, there was nothing in between the Iranians and Saudi Arabia except us, and they didn’t want us around long-term, either. Which was when they told the US “That far, and no further, or we’re gonna cut you off at the knees, logistics-wise…”.

        You have to remember, the Saudis were scared of the Iraqis, thinking that there was going to be this huge war, and that the Iraqis were gonna kick their asses and everyone else’s. When that turned out to be wrong…? All of a sudden, they’re wondering why these infidels are necessary, and what the hell are they going to do about the secondary problem, the Iranians?

        The whole issue with Iran got started when the Saudis bought Carter, in my opinion, and had him cut the Shah off. They were expecting chaos, not the rapid consolidation of power under the Ayatollah. When they got the Islamic Revolution, and it appeared to have legs, well… Fallback was, sponsor Saddam, and support his efforts against the Iranians. That worked nicely for awhile, but after the whole thing was over, and the Iranians were still there…? The Saudis and other Gulf Arabs were wanting their money back. I think they were hoping that both the Iraqis and the Iranians would bleed themselves dry, and not be a problem for at least a generation or two. That didn’t work out, though, and we got the invasion of Kuwait.

        • Yeah, I think the article forgot to mention just why the logistics weren’t there. Thanks for the info.

        • I contend there was also a dea about oil prices – it sure seemed to me that we got a decade of steady and relatively low oil prices after the first gulf war, which suddenly went away. If part of the deal to go defend the House of Saud was that they would suppress oil prices for us, then that pattern makes sense, and that was another reason to pay attention to their stop-line.

          • And I should note, that would explain the sustained economic boom of the Clinton years in spite of Billy-Jeff’s policies.

          • Many people give no thought to the way in which oil prices resonate throughout our economy and the world’s. Possibly more than anything else, Trump’s pro-development policies supporting fracking and development of ANWAR and other oil repositories are a boost to both our economy and our national security, providing a relatively cheap and uninterruptible source of fuel while depressing world market prices fueling (heh) economies of our enemies in Iran and Russia (and reminding folks like the Saudis that we can squeeze their danglies if need be.)

  20. There is nothing as stupid as extrapolating present trends to infinity.
    Or even three years. By 2020 BitCoin mining will be using all the electricity in the world. Too idiotic for me to bother finding a link, but it was a real headline a few weeks ago.

  21. any time i hear him speak i am convinced Bernie would either be completely harmless as president, or do more damage to our national economy than Obama.

    • This is me doing a face-palm… Just like with Obama, the real damage wouldn’t be done by Bernie, but by all the other attendant idiots he brought with him and gave power to inside the bureaucracy.

      You’re not electing just the President; you’re electing all of his appointees and the rest of the hangers-on. They’re the real danger, and why I think we really ought to be telling these clowns “Form your government; then run for office, once we know who the hell you’re bringing with you…”.

      • A lot of Trump’s staff are excellent.

        • Which is why I voted for him, and why I’m going to vote for him again. I don’t particularly like the guy, but… It is impossible to deny that he’s a godsend, here-and-now. I’d prefer that the Republic wasn’t in a state where he was the right medicine, but I am unable to deny that he’s apparently the proper medicine for the times. I wish we had some damn statesmen-like figures to do the job, but they’re apparently all off doing something else, and we’ve got what we’ve got.

          I can’t remember feeling this ambivalent about Reagan, but that’s possibly hindsight…

      • “You’re not electing just the President; you’re electing all of his appointees and the rest of the hangers-on. They’re the real danger”
        We are certainly learning that now, with all the Reveals about the DOJ/FBI/Steel dossier/DNC etc collusion.

        • And most of them, you don’t elect.

          A lot of people told me I was paranoid when I started pointing out in 2002 or so that George W. Bush wasn’t really in control of the State Department or anywhere else. They then turned around and wondered why he didn’t rein in said State Department.

          Elections at this point don’t much matter, between bureaucrats and judges.

    • As I put it to someone the other night, Obama concerned me, but his personality cult was what scared me.

      • Also a big part of my reason for voting against Mrs. Clinton. More cabinet officials like Eric Holder who would run interference for whatever illegal shenanigans she could pull? The very thought made me sick.

        • It ought be clear that Democrats do not think believe the rules apply to them. Look at the last administration’s flaunting of required record-keeping (how many private email accounts were there? Seems every cabinet member had one and, thanks to recently “recovered” Clinton emails we know that Obama also employed a sub-rosa account.) Can you imagine the news coverage of a Republican A/G whose contempt of Congress was so open? The list of abuses is too long to materially address.

          Trump could have staffed his administration from the ranks of NY’s mafiosi and we’d have seen less corrupt, more responsible government than Hillary’s clown car.

          • “Trump could have staffed his administration from the ranks of NY’s mafiosi and we’d have seen less corrupt, more responsible government than Hillary’s clown car.”

            They’d at least have been a bit more competent… And, probably more patriotic than Hillary’s lot. Remember “Lucky” Luciano’s help with the docks in New York, and his assistance with the invasion of Sicily…?

          • One of the exchanges between Strzok and Page that’s been captured is a conversation about finding a way to circumvent the rules that capture electronic conversations. The point is made, “Everyone else in government is already breaking this rule. Why shouldn’t we?”

      • “his personality cult was what scared me.”
        It’s personality cults all the way down …
        http://thehill.com/opinion/judiciary/371902-my-call-with-andrew-mccabe-proves-he-should-have-left-the-fbi-long-ago

        This is from Ari Fleischer, and you need to read the lead-in, but it gives the punch-line —
        “Based on my one and only experience with McCabe, it proved to me that he has a “circle the wagons and protect James Comey at all costs” approach that is inconsistent with the type of behavior our nation should expect from a man who, at the time, was leading the FBI.”

  22. I think this is one of the biggest problems young people face. What history they have been taught has a distinct SJW bias…and tends to taper off with World War II. The last 50 years are a blur to them.

    And those who fail to learn from history will get to repeat the course.

    • That’s actually, er, par for the course when it comes to history. I think they get pressed up toward the end of the year and rush through. I also suspected it avoided some fairly recent controversial issues. We did, at least cover WWII, but after that was essentially nothing, even though it was in our text books.

      My US History teacher in high school was notorious for The Notebook. Basically that dumped from WWII to the present into our laps to study. By the time I got to current events, I was so sick of the rushed approach that I made the “X” in Nixon swastikas to see if she noticed. She didn’t.

      (She almost didn’t accept the thing. I had to be out the day we were to turn them in, and at first she refused. I sighed and said maybe I could sell it to someone next year. She accepted my notebook.)

      • got somewhat lucky with my Government and World History teacher, who was a leftoid, but felt if you could not argue coherently for both sides of an issue, you did not understand the issue (and gave extra credit for arguing against your preferred position). Though being able to argue for smaller gov’t convincingly, he still ignored all the valid points and wanted to try again for the big progressive wants and desires (and this time it might just work!) even though they didn’t work previously.
        My most conservative teacher was not for a class, but study hall. it was our Spanish teacher (“I don’t teach you Spanish, I teach Mexican. You will learn more of this if you go with us on our class trip to Barcelona and they tease you”) and she could argue the History teach to a stand still.

        • I had an instructor in my MSEE program who didn’t like the text books, so he did his own notes and passed them out. I suspect this is similar, but with More Binding.

        • Some schools have you turn in your notes, for grading. Usually, you keep a notebook specifically for that purpose, and the teacher looks it over.

          As they said during the Sapper Leader Course, “It’s a technique…”.

          • We had that in Chemistry. At the end of every semester, there was a massive panic and various little notebook parties as everyone tried to organize their notebooks and get all of the stuff that they’d missed.

            We later realized that the teacher was smarter than we gave her credit for. If she’d said, “Okay, in order to study for the final, you should read over your notes and be sure to get any that you missed from another students. Look through your old labs and assignments and any important handouts,” we probably wouldn’t have done it. By saying, “Okay, I’m going to grade your notebooks on whether or not you have all the notes, labs, and assignments,” however…

        • It was a notebook that we had to fill out. Basically it was everything we hadn’t covered yet in US History. We had a list of things we had to do for each remaining section of the textbook, and that went into The Notebook. Then we had to turn it it on a specific day, not before and not later. It was a good bit of work, and we didn’t have a list of what she required before she handed it out, so we couldn’t get a head start. The list remained the same, but this was the days of mimeograph.

          We got a grade on The Notebook, but she never returned them, which we guessed was to prevent them from trickling down to the next class. So when when she initially refused to accept it and I said maybe I could sell it to a student next year, she didn’t like that at all.

    • The problem is not so much the exclusion of the post WW2 history (which would require them to show how big a failure was Communist Russia, Communist China, Communist Vietnam, …), but that they are skipping the first decades of the United States.
      I don’t remember the context now (Common Core discussions?), but some schools were only presenting history classes covering something like 1870-1945 or some such nonsense.

  23. Completely irrelevant and terribly off topic, but possibly amusing to our hostess…

    It seems that there’s a Jane Austen role-playing game launching on Kickstarter in a couple of days. http://storybrewersroleplaying.com/good-society

  24. I came of age in the ’80s. Reagan and the second peak of the cold war. KAL 007. Joined the Navy during this time.

    Nuclear war was again considered a serious possibility, if not probability.

    These days I routinely encounter people who honestly don’t understand the term “Soviet Union”.

    Later this year American youth will be allowed to drink who were not born during the time the Hong Kong was a British lease holding.

    My voice is scratchy from a cold, so feel free to tell yourselves to get off my lawn.

    • I feel sad for the Hong Kongers who were given to China.

      • Yup. China’s slowly trying to boil the frog there. Though it also has the potential to blow up badly in Beijing’s face. The locals are making their displeasure known.

    • “These days I routinely encounter people who honestly don’t understand the term “Soviet Union”.”
      I reflect sometimes, when reading Alternative Histories, that they only make sense if you know the original Real History to start with.
      I wonder now if some people don’t even understand that they are alternates?
      I know that the people getting their history from movies and tv (and a lot of books, sadly) are getting Alternate Versions of a sort-of Real History.

  25. I haven’t read the comments yet, but I just want to put this up because it’s such a great analogy, and really cool imagery. Thanks Sarah!
    “We all grow up caught in the tidal wave of history, only the wave (is) of made of amber. It pins us in place. We carry with us a set of beliefs, thoughts, feelings, that are completely transitory, but feel like they’ll last forever, like they are eternal verities.”

  26. Oh, on the topic of the picture Milady used atop the post:

    From Praia de Norte, Nazaré, Portugal.
    Yes, people surf stuff that massive. Go full screen to actually see the people surfing.
    Sent this link to my Dad who said he suffered waves like that during a typhoon off Sasebo. He also said a rogue wave like that almost washed him from the deck once, so I was almost not here.

  27. Side note. I’d always heard that phrase from that song as “Nothing to LIVE or die for.” Which may be somewhat more apropos than what it was actually written as.

  28. Two small historical World War II corrections and an interesting historical note:
    (1) The Masonic-atheist dictatorship that took over Portugal in 1910, and which had socialist elements, was overthrown in 1926. This led to Antonio Salazar’s Estado Novo, which was nationalist, pro-religious, and anti-socialist. It was also an authoritarian police state, but not, strictly speaking, fascist. The Communists almost took over Portugal in 1972-74, but they failed. Unfortunately Portugal did go socialist under Mario Soares.
    (2) Salazar was an ally and strong supporter of Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War. Spain was not an enemy of Portugal. Spain also stayed neutral during WWII, much to the annoyance of Hitler and Mussolini. IN 1941 Hitler made plans to invade Spain and take Gibraltar (Operation Felix). He invaded Russia instead — mistake! Portugal was also more or less neutral, but in 1944 Salazar invoked the Windsor Treaty of 1373 (!) and allowed Britain to use the Azores as a base for anti-submarine warfare. This was a critical step in the Allies’ victory over German submarines in the Battle of the Atlantic.
    (3) According to Winston Churchill’s history of the war, there was in incident in Lisbon after the fall of France. A German spy saw an overweight Englishman smoking a cigar boarding an airline flight to London. The German government assumed that it was Churchill, and a German fighter plane from a French base shot the neutral airliner down over the Atlantic, killing everyone aboard. Portugal (and probably other neutrals like Spain and Ireland) raised Cain over that violation of neutrality. (And of course the fat man wasn’t Churchill.)

    • Under “the communists almost took over Portugal but they failed” do you want to bet? They took over for a full six months in I believe 78. ( was young, things are confused.) Socialists were THEN the right most party allowed.
      You wanna bet that Salazar was anti-socialist? Based on WHAT? Sure, he was a nationalist and therefore against the socialists who were internationalists. HOWEVER, sir, I read my mom’s school books. Mr. Salazar, they said, in his kindness, had created a state that would look after you from cradle to grave. ALSO he created national health.
      Not socialist? Bah. Just because you call yourself a potato doesn’t mean you’re not a full turnip.
      So, he was nationalist and created a socialist regime. Um… how are you going to split that hair that?

      • It was 1974. The Communists were in power for a few months, yes. But they couldn’t make it stick, hard as they tried.
        I’m not splitting hairs either. The term “National Socialist” is customarily used to refer to the National Socialist German Workers’ Party — Nationalsozialistisch, or NAZI for short. Salazar was not a Nazi.
        Salazar’s Estado was more of a Bismarck-style economy — private-enterprise corporations dominating the business world but a government-run social security system. (Prince Otto von Bismarck was the inventor of social security.) Call it socialism by all means, but not Naziism.
        What got me into the discussion was seeing Spain called an enemy, when in fact Franco was a close ally of Salazar. However, if Operation Felix had been carried out, Portugal would have been in serious danger of invasion by Germany (not Spain).

        • No, it wasn’t 74. It was 78, when the guy whose name I can’t remember was running tanks through the streets of Lisbon.
          Sigh. Spain is an ancient enemy of Portugal. A much larger, stronger country.
          “Ally?” Really? Franco was fully on the side of the Axis. Portugal wasn’t. This isn’t a discussion. I don’t know where you’re getting your information, but sir, you’re talking about things I lived through.
          BAH.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            I’d suggest that Franco wasn’t on the Axis side. He was on Spain’s side and Spain couldn’t afford a war against Hitler. The “closest” IMO that Franco could be said to be on “Hitler’s side” is when he sent forces to fight the Soviet Union. Even there, it could be argued that Franco was “getting rid of potential trouble makers”.

            Of course, this Shonkin is an idiot. 😈

            • yes, but let me point out that in Shonkin’s world Germany could attack Portugal without Spain’s help and connivance.
              He’s also going against my parents’ recollections of who they were warned against.
              For a BONUS he also thinks he can say two heads of states were friends because they acted friendly to each other.
              He also named as the moment Portugal came closest to the communism the moment of the revolution, not the moment when the Maoist party, the MRPP, was de facto or de jure in power and when the home base of every party to the right of socialist was being firebombed.
              IOW what he knows is at best what the foreign press reported/is in encyclopedias and history books, which is to say about as real as Dan Rather’s memo. I have a fried who used to work for the State department, and he’s the only person I can discuss this with without people going “but wait, the books say…”
              Seriously, yesterday in one of my groups, we were talking about when someone says something, and you want to give them a college course’s worth of info, which is what he needs to get what you’re saying, but you have neither the time nor the patience. That’s how Shonkin makes me feel. I think this is weaponized autism. He knows what he read, and he’s read a lot. I will choose to believe mine and my parents lying eyes, though. Disobliging of me.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Shonkin is getting what he deserves. 👿

                IMO Franco gets “shit” that he didn’t deserve. Especially when I read about the shit his opponents in the Spain Civil War did to people on their side.

                Orwell went to Spain to fight the “fascists” and witnessed what the Communists did to their own “allies” who weren’t “left” enough.

                • Franco was not as bad as the communists (who is, really?) but he was not a good person. Even in Portugal under national socialism this was the view. Yeah, sure, the best person had won, but he was not a GOOD person, and we heard of stuff that went on.
                  HOWEVER he was “predictable” which the communists weren’t.

                  • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                    “Not a Good Person”. Agree.

                    But you have to admire somebody who set up the return to democratic rule for Spain after his death.

                    • And he got away with “using” Hitler, and then blandly declining to join the Axis during WWII when everyone (including doubtless Hitler himself) thought that sure, their good buddy Franco would join in the fun.
                      I’ve always rather thought that the reason the US kept on rather friendly terms with Franco (to the disgust of socialists everywhere) was that we were mildly grateful to him for not allying with Hitler and Mussolini when he had the chance, and practically everyone expected him to do so.
                      No – he was a professional soldier, his first and only priority was the good of Spain, and I’ll bet he sized up Hitler from the first as a lucky politicians with delusions of military adequacy, and thought, “Oh, HELL, NO!, Adolph, I’ll sit this one out, if you don’t mind.”

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      There were reports that Hitler didn’t enjoy the private conversations he had with Franco.

                      Of course, Franco, while wanting the British off of Gibraltar, didn’t want to attempt it when Hitler tried pushing him into doing so and Franco never accepted Hitler’s offer to use German troops to capture Gibraltar.

                      Oh, while Spain didn’t have a Jewish population, Franco was more than willing to allow Jews to pass through Spain while escaping Nazi territory. 😀

                  • The same point might be made about Pinochet. Or Trump, for that matter. In this world we are generally given choices between evils and must guess at the lesser. I find that the party posing as good is often the greater evil.

        • And you are splitting hairs. Salazar was as socialist as FDR.

    • NOTE I said and pointed out that Portugal did not support the Axis in WWII. I know that. I’ve gotten into fights over that, because people are stupid.

    • One of the casualties on that very flight was the actor Leslie Howard, who had played Ashley Wilkes in Gone With the Wind.
      He was British, and an outspoken anti-Nazi, which sparked rumors then and since that he was the target of the shootdown of a civilian airliner. Most sober historians seem to think it was an unfortunate coincidence.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leslie_Howard_(actor)

      • I always (well, once I’d seen it) liked his performance as the Scarlet Pimpernel.


        Sink me, the place is a mausoleum.