When one survives having seen certain death approaching, the memories of the experience tend to become hard-wired in one’s brain. Here’s my story, and I encourage readers to leave their own experiences, that we all may share the lessons learned along the way.
Back in the mid-80’s and early on in my Navy career, I was part of an alpine climbing group in Washington state. One weekend we summited Mount Ellinor, one of the shorter peaks in the Olympic Mountain range on the Olympic Peninsula west of Seattle, and we were transiting over to Mount Washington. It was an early summer day, the sky was clear, and there was little wind — perfect climbing weather. …
January 6th, 2021 will probably be remembered by most as yet another date that will live in infamy. Some will decry it as the day when the fragility of our democracy was broadcast to the world in real time, while others (myself included) will see it as hard proof of institutional racism at the very highest levels of our government; after all, we all know what would have happened if it had been BLM protesters who broke through the police lines and onto the floor of the Capitol building, and even into the personal offices of members of Congress. …
Operation Overlord, the landings on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, was the largest amphibious invasion in modern history, epic in every meaning of the word. Most Americans have been taught that this was the beginning of the end for Hitler’s reign of terror across Europe, that we were there to “personally shoot that paper-hanging son of a bitch” as General Patton so pithily promised in his speech before his Third Army.
But the key is the date D-Day took place: June 6th, 1944.
There is no doubt that almost every man and woman among the Allied nations would have heartily agreed with the general’s statement and would happily have bought tickets to watch the spectacle. By then, the decision among the Allies was “unconditional surrender” (which decision may well have prolonged the war). No cease-fire, no treaty, no letup in combat until the defeated surrendered without any promises of leniency or clemency by the victorious. …
First off, while religion has much to do with this subject, this article is not about religion itself, but about how one’s life changes when one no longer celebrates religious holidays.
In 1992 I joined the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ), and we do not celebrate religious holidays. I was 29 at the time and had always celebrated Christmas without fail. Every year (unless I was deployed in the Navy) I’d get that tree and decorate it, and buy what gifts I could afford. When I joined the Church, however, all of a sudden I didn’t do any of that. …
“Eureka!” said the microbiologist
What do you get when you give a molecular biologist (with entirely too much time on his hands) access to a supercomputer, AI programming, embryonic genetic material from a frog, and sufficient funding? No, you don’t get this guy. Instead, you get something much scarier:
One of the most well-known tropes of science fiction is the space elevator (the Wiki lists scores of sci-fi, manga, and anime stories that use space elevators as a plot device). At first glance, the reason is obvious: relatively cheap transfer of mass from Earth’s gravity well into space.
The key words, however, are “at first glance”, for even with the great strides in economical spaceflight made by Elon Musk’s SpaceX and his competitors, sending mass from dirtside to orbit is expensive:
When the space shuttle was in operation, it could launch a payload of 27,500 kilograms for $1.5 billion, or $54,500 per kilogram. …
Trump wanted to be president-for-life. In so many words, our military said “no”.
Imagine what it must be like, to be in command of the mightiest military force in human history, and to have a real opportunity to take control of the most powerful nation on the planet if one so desired.
More importantly, given such a temptation, imagine what it must be like to choose not to do so.
America’s military has roughly 600 total generals and admirals on active duty, but the hierarchical nature of the military means only a relative handful controls the rest. The Posse Comitatus Act notwithstanding, the Joint Chiefs of Staff could, if they so desired, combine forces to seize control of the nation at the behest of a sitting president or, for that matter, at their own command. This is probably what lay behind President* Trump’s repeated efforts to ingratiate himself to the military by doing what he thought the military wanted. …
Look first at the headline:
On Monday, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of Armenia signed a settlement to end the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, surrendering the disputed territory and acceding to other demands to stop the devastation of Armenia’s army by Azerbaijan’s drone-heavy armed forces.
Okay, so Armenia lost, had to give up a disputed province, and is standing down, taking time to lick its wounds, while Azerbaijan consolidates its hold on newly-won territory. Simple, right?
No. It’s anything but simple. The geopolitics of the region would give scholars of pre-WWI Europe a headache. Armenia gives up control of Nagorno-Karabakh, but is allowed a safe corridor for access to Armenian communities therein, and Azerbaijan is allowed a safe corridor for access to Nakhchivan, an Azerbaijani exclave otherwise completely isolated from Azerbaijan itself. …
Here’s the first lesson of salesmanship, whether in the corporate world or in politics:
It’s not what you sell, but how you sell it.
In other words, you can have the greatest idea since sliced bread, but if you can’t figure out how to market it, well, it won’t sell. Marketing is everything. That’s why most laptops and desktops run Windows instead of Apple today. The crappiest product on the planet will sell like hotcakes if properly marketed.
If there is one character in literature that should remind us of Donald Trump, it is Denethor from Tolkien’s “Return of the King”, if Denethor were much less literate and disturbingly ignorant of the world around him.
For those who may not be familiar with the reference, Denethor, Steward of Gondor, was being manipulated by Sauron, the Dark Lord of Mordor. To make a long story short, Denethor is old and bitter, and no longer trusts anyone around him, even those whose counsel he had valued in the past. He feels betrayed by all, even by his youngest son Faramir. …