Thursday, October 31, 2019

All Hallows Eve, Noch Einmal

Whilst trying to decide what to write about on this All Hallows Eve, I went a'searching for stuff I'd written in the past. Perhaps to expand upon or otherwise utilize in my constant quest to entertain y'all. Whatever I had in mind can't top what I wrote four years ago.

So yeah, rerun. Or as the Deutschers say: "Was? Noch eine Wiederholung?"

Aber natürlich...

Saturday, October 31, 2015

All Hallows' Eve

Snap-Apple Night (1833) by Daniel Maclise (Source)
Most, if not all, human cultures have festivals marking significant events during the year. The end of the harvest season, the winter solstice, the beginning of a new year, and the beginning of spring are all pretty common examples. Many of these events in Western culture were "Christianized" in the early years of the spread of that faith. Rather than take away a society's favorite rites, rituals and practices, make them part of the Christian tradition.

One such time was known by my ancestors as Samhainn. This marked the end of the harvest and the beginning of the "dark" part of the year, winter. (Winters in Scotland can be pretty bleak and dark from what I know. They can be that way in New England as well!)

I don't know much about Samhainn other than what you can find online. None of my living relatives ever practiced such a thing, we were all good Congregationalists and Catholics back in the day. Just wanted to mention the event as a tip o' the hat to my forebears.

Of course, what was Samhainn is now Halloween in these modern times. (Though as our culture continues to be denigrated and destroyed by idiotic progressivism, will Halloween still exist a hundred years from now? For that matter, will we retain any of our traditions? Will we slowly degenerate into some gray, soulless society which is about as much fun as a convention of Stalinists and Maoists? Geez, I hope not!)

Halloween, for those of you who didn't know, is a contraction of All Hallows' Eve, which is itself a contraction of All Hallows' Evening, which is the day before All Saints' Day, November 1st. So we're talking the 31st of October. (Just to clarify for those of you who have led sheltered lives or who perhaps are not familiar with Western culture.)

One thing I did not know (among the many thousands of things I do not know) is that there is something called "Allhallowtide", which includes All Hallows' Eve, All Saints' Day, and the 2nd of November, also known as All Souls' Day. Here's what I found on that -
Allhallowtide, Hallowtide, Allsaintstide, or the Hallowmas season, is the triduum encompassing the Western Christian observances of All Hallows' Eve (Hallowe'en), All Saints' Day (All Hallows') and All Souls' Day, which last from October 31 to November 2 annually. Allhallowtide is a "time to remember the dead, including martyrs, saints, and all faithful departed Christians." The present date of Hallowmas (All Saints' Day) and thus also of its vigil (Hallowe'en) was established for Rome perhaps by Pope Gregory III (731-741) and was made of obligation throughout the Frankish Empire by Louis the Pious in 835. Elsewhere, other dates were observed even later, with the date in Ireland being 20 April. In the early 11th century, the modern date of All Souls' Day was popularized, after Abbot Odilo established it as a day for the monks of Cluny and associated monasteries to pray for the dead. In the United Kingdom, the Church of England, mother church of the Anglican Communion, extended All Saints-tide to include Remembrance Sunday in the 20th century. W
As Buck was wont to say, "I had no ideer..."

Truly I did not, but it's finding little tidbits like this which make me love history. There's lots of it and most of it is interesting. Well, to an historian it's interesting and I consider myself to be one, though of the unpaid variety.

I have to say, I like the idea of having a day set aside to honor the memories of those who have gone before. I found this painting online and it moved me, deeply...

All Souls' Day (1888) by Jakub Schikaneder (Source)
There's something very evocative about this painting. The old lady stands in silent contemplation after she has placed a wreath on the tomb of a loved one. No doubt remembering the good times they shared, perhaps even the hardships they suffered together. It's a good thing, remembering those you loved and who have passed on. Since I became an adult (stop laughing WSO), this time of year has had this element of remembrance and sadness for me.

Now growing up I knew nothing of these things. I was young, immortal, and invincible! All I knew was that at Halloween I got to dress up in some sort of costume and go Trick or Treating. I mean free candy, come on, how special and cool is that?

Yes, there was always a Jack O' Lantern out on the front steps as well. Carved by my Dad, lit from within by a candle, and heavily guarded. Why guarded you ask?

Well, there was a certain set in town who loved to smash pumpkins (no, they did not grow up to form a band). The preferred method was to roll the pumpkins down one of the steeper streets in town. Okay, they didn't so much smash them as they did roll them. The trip down the hill would actually smash the pumpkin. But (you guessed it) I digress.

This certain set was generally composed of high school males. High school males with access to motorized vehicles and who had a certain penchant for high spirited antics (what in this day and edge might be termed anti-social behavior). At any rate, my Dad vowed to "shoot any sumbitch who tried to make off with my kids' pumpkin!"

I'm sure it was all bluster but Dad might have been serious. At any rate we never, to my knowledge, ever lost a pumpkin to a pumpkin roller / smasher. (Nor did we lose any pumpkins to future band members, just to clarify.)

 No, I never smashed (or rolled) a pumpkin. I find the practice abhorrent.

Now costumes, what did we dress up as?

For nearly every year, save one, my friend Bruce and I would dress up as partisans. Think guys who sneak around at night blowing up Nazi trains and rendezvousing with the British commandos who resupply them with guns and explosives in dark fields in France. We would go from door to door with our toy tommy guns, faces darkened with burnt cork, wearing subdued civilian clothing of a military cut. I doubt any of the residents of the neighborhood felt threatened by us as we collected our tribute. (We did think of it that way. In our young minds we were collecting for La RésistanceA bas les Boches! Vive la France!)

The evening would end at the elementary school where there would be a Halloween party. Back then the adults had the balls to actually call something what it was, not this pusillanimous crap we have nowadays. Dammit, we had Christmas parties too, not end of the year holiday parties!

The last time I dressed for Halloween was when we were stationed in Germany. A friend decided to have a Halloween party, a costume party no less! The Missus Herself went as a French maid, I was a German soldier, complete with authentic WWII helmet and camouflage smock. There was a contest for best costume.

Juvat would no doubt not be surprised to hear that the French maid won. Hey, I got one vote! (I also had the following said to me by our host, a captain and graduate of Texas A&M, yes he did the military side of things there: "Nice costume Sarge. Did you forget we're in Germany? Really a German from WWII? Are. You. Insane?" That last bit was rhetorical, everyone knew that I was a bit loopy. All those years of loud Dash-60s, roaring J-79 jet engines, and breathing fumes from jet fuel will do that to a fella. Ask Russ!)

One year a certain American lady of our acquaintance (wife of the JAG and she spoke excellent German) living in our little German village, convinced our Teutonic neighbors that we should "do" Halloween. The German parents (good Catholics all) were a little hesitant but the kleine Deutschen all thought it a wondrous idea. Come on, free candy! Sofort, lass uns gehen!

So one year, in the small village of Waldfeucht, in Kreis Heinsberg, in the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen, in the Bundesrepublik Deutschland, we had about ten American kids and roughly 30 German kids going door to door shouting "trick or treat" and holding out bags to receive their just due from their elders.

I mentioned to one of the wee Germans, "Uh, where's your costume, shouldn't you have a costume, ya know, a disguise?"

"Ja, ich versteh. I am wearing a costume Mein Herr! I'm pretending to be an American!"

Heh. I slipped the kid an extra candy bar, he earned it.

The kids don't come to our neighborhood anymore. They get loaded into soccer mom vans and get driven to the wealthier neighborhoods. Sure, the candy is probably better and it is probably safer and it certainly saves me the need to buy candy for the trick or treaters. Still and all, I kind of miss those days. The old days.

It's probably very politically incorrect of me, innit?

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The World

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

Something which has always bothered me about my religion (I am Protestant) is that we are expected, no, required, to disdain, if not actually hate, the world in which we live. It is all evil, there is very little good within our everyday existence.


Go back up and read that first line again.

Got it?

I stumbled upon the following at, of all places, Wikipedia -

Comparing "Catholic imagination" to "Protestant imagination"

This terminology was popularized by the Roman Catholic priest Andrew Greeley who wrote:
The central symbol (of religion) is God. One's "picture" of God is in fact a metaphorical narrative of God's relationship with the world and the self as part of the world. ...The Catholic "classics" assume a God who is present in the world, disclosing Himself in and through creation. The world and all its events, objects, and people tend to be somewhat like God. The Protestant classics, on the other hand, assume a God who is radically absent from the world, and who discloses (Himself) only on rare occasions (especially in Jesus Christ and Him crucified). The world and all its events, objects, and people tend to be radically different from God.
Runar Eldebo, a Swedish seminary instructor and correspondent for Pietisten (an online ecumenical newsletter), provided a Lutheran slant on Greeley's distinction between Catholic imagination and Protestant imagination. Invoking Karl Barth, Eldebo wrote:
Protestant imagination is dialectic and makes people pilgrims. It is deep in conflict and antagonistic to the ingredients of a common, human life. Catholic imagination is analogical. It is founded in creation itself and views creation as God in disguise. According to Catholic imagination, God lurks everywhere. According to Protestant imagination, Karl Barth for example, God is hidden everywhere but found only in the revelation of Jesus Christ. Therefore, according to Greeley, Protestants are never at home on earth, they are pilgrims on their way. Catholics, meanwhile, like to dwell on earth. They enjoy life and are not in a hurry to get to heaven because God lurks everywhere, especially where you do not expect her to be.
American Catholic writer Flannery O'Connor illustrated the sacramental understanding of the world in her work "Novelist and Believer":
St. Augustine wrote that the things of the world pour forth from God in a double way: intellectually into the minds of the angels and physically into the world of things. To the person who believes this – as the western world did up until a few centuries ago – this physical, sensible world is good because it proceeds from a divine source ... When [Joseph] Conrad said that his aim as an artist was to render the highest possible justice to the visible universe, he was speaking with the novelist's surest instinct. The artist penetrates the concrete world in order to find at its depths the image of its source, the image of ultimate reality.
God created the Earth and everything in it. Some would argue that there is no evil in Nature, it is only Man who is capable of evil. If we are separate from the rest of Nature, and Genesis 1:26 - 29 gives me the feeling that we were indeed created to be above Nature...

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27    So God created mankind in his own image,
        in the image of God he created them;
        male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

...then this "hate the world" thing might be wrong. There are days when it feels wrong.

So I'm kinda thinking that I have a bit of that "Catholic imagination" thing going on. Perhaps it's genetic, as near as I can tell a large chunk of my ancestors were Catholic. My paternal great-grandfather (French-Canadian roots) converted from Catholicism in order to marry my grandmother. One of his sons (my Uncle Charlie) converted to Catholicism to marry my aunt.

The WSO became Catholic at her husband's wish, he wanted his children raised in the Catholic faith, as he and his brother were. When my opinion was solicited I indicated that if God had no problem with it, why should I? At least the grandkids would be attending church, that's not a bad thing, trust me.

Not all of the world is as beautiful, nor as delightful, as our own little corners may be. There are places where we humans have turned it into an open cesspool, or worse. Poverty drives a lot of that, stupidity and greed a lot more. There are people who want what others have, and that right there is evil, especially if they act upon that impulse.

The world is what we make it. Yes, there is great evil in the world, most of it is due to greed, nothing more, a bit more due to government stupidity. (A good example of the latter is here, that story stunned me it did. I'll never drive that section of highway again without thinking of that man. It's not far from where I grew up.)

Do what you can to make the world a better place, a good place to start is being nice to those around you. Kindness and courtesy go a long way.

In truth, love is all you need.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

When you've got nothing else, there's always a sunset or two.

Source: Airlinersdotnet  © Misha Popov
I feel sad for Sarge and his Clan du Départ.  I know he's grieving over a loss within his immediate family.  I offered my prayers, and I was sincere in that, yet I know a prayer or two won't take away any real hurt.  Unfortunately, only the usual remedy can allow a joyful spirit to re-emerge, that being time and the release through whatever emotional expressions might come their way.  I will sit outside in a while, watching whatever sunset comes my way tonight out here on the West Coast, and say another prayer for the Naviguesser, his family, and the other wonderful cast of characters within Sarge's extended household.

Contrails in the sunset

Sunset means an ending to one day, but that there's hope for the new one.  It’s the turning of a page. Like the metaphorical and psychological act of going through a some sort of door, but on a much larger scale. We can put the troubles of the day behind us and move on, perhaps even get some rest. 

It's a beautiful time of day, that starts when the sun sets and ends with the first stars coming out.  It's my favorite time, yet it’s not possible to fully describe the sense of wonder, awe, and especially the gratitude for being a part of such a miraculous experience.

If you're so moved, please keep the Clan du Sarge in your thoughts and help them soar.

Sarge, my best to all of you and I hope your sadness lifts soon and easily.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Up around the Bend

For some reason, Pandora was remarkably perceptive on which Classic Rock songs to present for our drive last weekend.  We had just hit I-10 when this song came on.

That was the first non-classical music album my Mom allowed me to buy with my lawn mowing money.  Which probably explains why 1812 Overture is one of my all time favorite pieces of music.  (Provided, of course, they use real cannons in the recording.)

So, juvat, why is that "Up around the Bend" appropriate?

Well, Sarge, Mrs J, MBD, SIL and I were headed to Big Bend.  I believe this was my 10th visit, Mrs J's 3rd, MBD's 2nd and SIL's first. 

There's an awful lot to like out there, and even at 10 visits I haven't seen it all.  And, unfortunately, I didn't remove anything from the list I hadn't seen.  Not for lack of trying, mind you, but Mother Nature gets a very big vote on what you can or should do.  It's even bigger when you're in a desert a hundred miles from the nearest medical facility.

Judgement is crucial.

But, it was a pleasant trip. I mean there's a lot of things to like about this drive.

I mean, as soon as I enter I-10, the speed limit is 75, about 10 miles later, it turns to 80 and stays that way til just outside El-Paso, about 500 miles.  Now, for those of you who grew up on being on time on target, that's 4 miles every 3 minutes.  So, we've got that going for us.

Also, in the above picture, you can see that traffic was absolutely horrible!  And the situation behind me is virtually the same.  (Yes, Beans, if you zoom in real tight, you can see a car and a truck on the cusp of that hill in the distance.  So, I was tailgating, sue me!)

Didn't need to but when we got to Fort Stockton, we filled up with gas.  Judgement, doncha' know?
(For the record, there is a gas station at the park headquarters, but it wasn't there the last time I was.  Oh...and it's about a dollar per gallon more expensive than in Fort Stockton.

So, leaving Fort Stockton on US 385, the traffic situation improved a bit.

Well....I washed the bugs off the windshield, anyways.

As one can see, the weather was quite nice.  Highly accurate truck thermometer was reading 82.  We arrived at the Gage Hotel in Marathon about 5:30, so about 4.5 hour drive and got checked in.  My first stay at the hotel was right after the new millennia started when I drove a group down in my limo.  The tour was led by a very famous former Dallas Cowboy defensive lineman, whose last name is also the name of a flower.  

No, Beans, not Pete Rose....for several reasons.

I had stayed in the original portion of the hotel, directly across the street from the railroad tracks.  Trains came through every half hour or so all night long, blowing their horn as they crossed the two intersections in town.  Which were the intersections about 200 yards to either side of my window.  

It was a long night.  But, I digress.  If you stay there, and you should, stay in the Portales suites.  Very nice, with a old west kinda style.  Waterfall shower heads (I think it's possible you could drown standing up).  Oh, and the town passed a law banning train horns after dark.

So, much better all round.
The view outside our door.

A hawk eyeing the Hors d'oeuvres.  He didn't get any, but a good looking bird.

 Walked over to the White Buffalo Bar and had something to clear the trail dust.
Macallan 12 did quite nicely.

MBD and SIL joined us after a while.

We didn't mind waiting.

In any case, dinner was next on the agenda.  I had a steak which was quite nice, although most of the other choices were a little too frou-frou for me.  Guys, we're in the middle of nowhere, leave the vegan stuff elsewhere.

After a post-dinner libation, we settled in for the night.

After breakfast, which was good, at a coffee shop that was selling bags of "Viva la Feminista" coffee, which was interesting, we hit the road again.

Due south for about 100 miles.

Traffic was again horrendous, however,  the Federal Government decided that the speed limit in the park was 45. BTW, that ridgeline is about 30 miles away.  Our first stop will be in the gap on the right side of it.  Those are the Chisos Mountains and we'll be headed to the Chisos Basin.

As one can see above, we are transiting desert.  One of the interesting things to appreciate here is the different microclimates.  Where that photo was taken, is not a good place to break down.  Yes, it's on the "main drag" of the park, but I think I saw one car in the 45 minutes it took to get from the front gate, to the park headquarters.  

But as we got closer and higher in elevation, the flora started to change, from tumbleweeds to now yucca and cholla.  Beware the latter.

As we progressed higher (the basin is about 5400'), the yucca thinned out a bit and Cedar trees showed up.

Pretty soon, that gave way to full grown trees.  The ridge line in the background is where the park entrance is.
There was a little pull out there with an artistic shot.  Mrs J is taking the previous picture as I snap this.  Unfortunately, the cell phone didn't quite pick up the colors correctly, the ridge was a much deeper shade of brownish red.
Finally arriving at the Chisos basin, (MBD insisting it's Cheetos Basin), we set out on our first hike of the day.  Hadn't gone too far when we came across this interesting yucca.  Not sure if it has any cultural or biological significance (although, undoubtedly, caused by global climate warming change cooling), just thought it was interesting.

And finally arrived here.  "The Window".  There's a bench here in the shade and we spent probably a half hour just looking at things.  I could feel my BP dropping.  

 All good things must end, so we headed back to the truck and started out for our next stop, which would be a "first" time thing.  Hiking Santa Elena Canyon.  But first we stopped in the Quick Stop and bought MBD some....Cheetos!

It's about an hour and a half drive from the Basin to Santa Elena, a combination of the speed limit and the fact that 45 is too fast in parts of it.  Along the way, I got a view of the Window I hadn't seen before.

 Yes, we're back in the desert.  After quite a bit more horrible traffic, we started to approach Santa Elena Canyon.

The canyon is just to the right of the road.  About 10 miles away.
Now the only other time I'd visited this area of the park, we were with our winemaker friends.  We'd planned on having a picnic lunch after hiking the canyon.  Being winemakers, a picnic lunch meant wine would be involved.  So, rather than leaving the victuals and libations unguarded, I, being the selfless person I am, volunteered for guard duty while, they and Mrs J hiked the canyon.

So....There I was* on a dangerous mission, to guard the treasure from untold devils in the heat of an early fall afternoon.  As time went on, I sought something to slake my thirst.  Alas, they, not realizing the selflessness of my actions, and the purity of my heart, took the wine opener with them.

I settled for water.

So, I haven't hiked the canyon...yet.  That was the objective of this trip.
Important Safety Tip: Mexico left, United States Right.  Don't cross the banks.
As we approached the target area, I noticed that the water level was a tad higher than the last visit.  Since the trail begins just to the right of the green vegetation, we knew that we would have to cross the small tributary in the lower right.  However, the last time we were here, that tributary was mostly dry.

Undaunted, we approached the problem. 

Unfortunately, we were outfitted for hiking in the desert, not wading rivers.  The long pants and boots, wouldn't do well.  These fine young Indians, not Native Americans, attempted the crossing.  We could see people on the trail, we knew it was doable.

However,  The young guy about to embark gets to the middle and sinks to mid-waist.  He continues across and climbs out.  His black pants were a slimy gray color.  

We elected to remain on this side and hike the canyon another day.

As we headed out of the park, MBD gets a phone call.  (Cells are a blessing and a curse, you don't have a signal when you need one, and do when you don't want one.)  There's a large hubbub at her company, (She's one of the officers), and they need her home ASAP.

So...we head back to Marathon, have a decent Barbecue Dinner accompanied by a very nice porter, and then settle down by the fire pit.  Those young enough to tolerate and not end up with a coronary or Glucose incident had S'mores.  I had Macallan.


The following morning, we saddled up and rode east for several hours, arriving at our homestead, safely.

Thus ended another fine adventure.  

Had to get this into the hopper early.  Little Juvat is back in the country for some training in Sodom on the Potomac.  Mrs J and I are flying out to spend the weekend with him and maybe visit a museum we haven't yet. 

More to follow. 

This was posted before I learned about Sarge's Familial Tragedies.  I know no more than the rest of you.  All I can offer are prayers.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

All That Lives Is Born To Die...

Like my buddy Glenn said the other day, you can always find a song to match your mood. May not be an exact fit, but the Dave Grohl quote covers that base.

We hear what's in our soul and what's in our heart.

That's the Way
Robert Plant & Jimmy Page

I don't know how I'm gonna tell you
I can't play with you no more
I don't know how I'm gonna do what mama told me
My friend the girl next door.

I can't believe what people saying
You're gonna let your hair hang down
You're satisfied to sit here working all day long
You're in the darker side of town.

And when I'm out I see you walking
Why don't your eyes see me
Could it be you've found another game to play,
What did mama say to me.

That's the way,
Oh, that's the way it ought to be,
Yeah, yeah, mama say
That's the way it ought to stay.

And yesterday I saw you standing by the river,
And weren't those tears that filled your eyes,
And all the fish that lay in dirty water dying,
Had they got you hypnotized?

And yesterday I saw you kissing tiny flowers,
But all that lives is born to die.
And so I say to you that nothing really matters,
And all you do is stand and cry.

I don't know what to say about it,
When all you ears have turned away,
But now's the time to look and look again at what you see,
Is that the way it ought to stay?

That's the way
That's the way it oughtta be
Oh don't you know now
Mama said.. that's the way it's gonna stay, yeah

Thanks for all the prayers yesterday.

It means a lot. More than you can know.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

I Grieve...

Our family has suffered a loss...

The words just aren't there...

It's a long story, and not a simple one.

I may not speak of it again ever.

I don't know.

My son and his tribe need your prayers, the Lord knows why, you needn't know specifics.

My oldest child grieves, so do I.

I will say no more...

Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep
Mary Elizabeth Frye
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.

Friday, October 25, 2019

A Blast From the Past

Six years (and change) ago I wrote the following post regarding Syria. Anyone remember what it was like back then? I do. When I wrote this, I was pretty riled up. How much has changed? Other than a lot more dead people, not much.

One could argue that things are worse now, a lot worse...

Author's Note: I included the original comments.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


WARNING! In today's post I am intentionally not pulling any punches when it comes to certain "bad" words. So be forewarned. If ye be of delicate disposition, or are easily upset, come back tomorrow. Perhaps I'll have calmed down by then.

Alright, first of all, for the record, I agree, the situation in Syria sucks. Especially if you're Syrian.

You've got the guy in power, Assad, who inherited his power from his Dad. Doesn't sound very free or democratic, does it? He's not a likeable guy from what I understand. Powerful dictators seldom are. But he is the guy in charge in an area of the world where you don't get to be the big boss because you were elected. No, you get to be in charge because you (or one of your ancestors) tossed out the previous guy in charge. Or your Dad was the previous guy in charge. (That's the way most of the world works by the way. Freedom is neither common nor widespread on this here Big Blue Marble.)

Now on the other hand you've got a group who wants Assad gone. Because you see, they want to be in charge. As there is no possibility of them winning an election to be in charge, you go the other route. You take up arms and start killing people. Usually the people who are part of, or actually like, Assad's regime. Until Assad is no longer in charge or you give up because Assad is kicking your ass. The latter seems to be the case. Assad's boys are kicking the opposition's butts. Except those guys have not given up yet. They have a few cards yet to play. But what do they really want? Sharia law, the Caliphate. Yes boys and girls, they are not like us. Not even a little.

Both sides in this squabble are not nice. No Tom Jeffersons or George Washingtons here. Maybe a Robespierre or three but I digress.

Now let's introduce another factor into the game. A real attention grabber. Chemical weapons or, as we now like to call them, "Weapons of Mass Destruction". Which is a perfectly stupid fucking name for things which are truly, truly horrible. But it's a good name for the media. Probably because they can refer to certain classes of weapons as "WMD". Which makes them sound cool. (Only to other assholes, but I digress.) And they don't really need to explain what they mean. Which most of the people listening wouldn't understand anyway.

Traditionally, weapons of mass destruction are: nuclear weapons, chemical weapons and biological weapons. One of my old jobs in the military was decontaminating people and equipment who had been exposed to one of these categories of weapons. They are nasty things indeed. Referring to them as "WMD" really pisses me off. It's a euphemism for something that the more genteel types don't want to think about. It's not about destruction, it's about fucking killing our fellow humans! In big bunches!

What has been used in Syria are chemical weapons. Which can be in the form of a gas, a liquid or even a solid (think of powder). Typically they're delivered in one of the first two ways (gas or liquid). More efficient, you get a better spread and you kill/incapacitate more people delivered in those ways. In this case the chemical used was a nasty thing called Sarin, a particularly nasty nerve agent delivered, in this case, in a gaseous form.

So, the big question is exactly WHO released these chemical weapons? Why would you use chemical weapons in the first place?

First of all, for military purposes you would use chemical weapons for area denial. Who would want to go into an area contaminated with (for instance) sarin? Uh, no one, that's who. Yes, you can enter the contaminated area wearing protective gear, like this:

But that stuff is cumbersome and uncomfortable. I know, I've had to wear that stuff for long periods of time. Your effectiveness (and enthusiasm!) wane pretty quickly under all that stuff. I cannot begin to imagine what it would be like to wear that stuff in the heat of a Middle Eastern summer!

The second military reason for using chemical weapons is to incapacitate a whole bunch of people all at once. Not necessarily kill them mind you, no, all you need to do is to render them incapable of resistance or make them go away. Think tear gas as used in crowd control. You want the crowd to knock it off, to go away.

Another reason to use chemical weapons is for the sheer terror unleashed by their use. Even military folks don't care for these types of weapons. This is a politician's weapon, something to use because it makes you look like a bad-ass. It's scary and terrorizes civilians. Point of emphasis here is that while military folks don't like chemical weapons, we are trained to deal with them.

It appears to me that there was no military reason for the Syrian government to use chemical weapons. From the accounts I've read and heard, they are winning this civil war. Why would they risk international condemnation for no apparent reason?

So what's another way to look at this? If someone uses chemical weapons, someone is going to notice that. People are going to be pissed off at whoever used the damn things. Who are these people who will get upset and make a big stink out of it? (Other than the victims and their relatives that is.) I'll tell you who, the Western news media. They love stories like this. (Well, unless it's someplace that's hard to get to and doesn't really have nice hotels.)

I guess the question everybody should be asking is "cui bono", who benefits?

Is that the question the triumvirate of asshattery in DC is asking? (That would be the oBummer, John "The Traitor" Kerry and John "Past His Prime" McCain. In case you were wondering.)

Nope, they've already decided that someone in Syria "did something bad". Therefore we have to punish them. And our head nitwit and his flunkies have decided that the Syrian government are responsible. Evidence? We don't need no stinking evidence!

But wouldn't this mostly benefit the folks trying to dump Assad? Wouldn't that be great if he gassed a bunch of his own people so that the bad-ass Yankees would go after him. Just like they (we) went after Ghaddafi in Libya? Wouldn't that be great for those guys?

Yes, let the Americans launch Tomahawks and bomb Assad's forces.

It all seems too pat.

And to me, anything which the oBummer wants to do stinks to high Heaven. And to have Kerry and McCain sign up for that as well? Something ain't right here people.

No American troops in, over or around Syria. That's my policy. It's not our fight. Yes, bad things are being done to people in Syria. But where were all these concerned assholes when bad things were being done to people in Darfur? Or any of a dozen or so other Third World places where there are no nice hotels or easy ways to get there? What about them?

I'll say it again.

It's. Not. Our. Fight.


  1. It's. Not. Our. Fight.

    I'll second that. Well said.
  2. Count me in complete agreement. Not that it will any difference, I sent the same message to the two Senators from my state.
  3. Thank you for saying that.I'm sure you've heard the old sayin'..."we aint got no dog in that fight", says it all here. You also said 'something aint right here', it sure ain't, what are the pols thinking? I know, I know they don't think.
  4. Hafez was an evil man. The current ruler was, I thought, perhaps a good man. Trained to be a doctor and ophthalmologist, he was recalled to Syria when the brother groomed to be king died. Are we advancing civilization by killing arab rulers? Egypt and Libya seem to be the fate of rulerless bits of geography. Have you looked at Somalia recently? We started the process there. Now that I think about it, it is probably for the best that al kida assassinated Shah Masood, otherwise we'd probably kill him.

    1. Egypt, Libya, Somalia, all with no one at the helm (it seems). I'm not sure we want to decapitate Syria as well. That part of the world is dangerous and chaotic enough. I have a bad feeling about getting involved there.
  5. Spot on, OLDAF Sarge!! We need to stay the hell out. These cultures just know how to kill and do not care how they do it or to whom! I read where Putin suggested it might be the rebel that gassed the civilians and not Assad as you also suggest. unless there is proof one way or the other, that is not a farfetched idea. Either way enough of this part of the world. If they threaten us or Isreal blow them the heck up, otherwise it is not our battle and no one ever wins over there anyway.
  6. Replies

    1. Speaking of Facebook, I sent you 1) a message and 2) a Friend request.
  7. Are you opposed to taking out the chemical weapons? No troops, just missiles, blow up the stockpiles so they can't be used again.

    1. Opposed is not the word I would use. I am, let us say, "conflicted" over firing Tomahawks into Syria. There are no guarantees of destroying their stores of chemical weapons with that method of attack. That's if it can be proven that Assad's forces actually used the chemicals. What if it was the anti-Assad forces? Is our goal to deny the use of these weapons to both sides? (Not a bad goal but unattainable in my view.)

      Many seem to have forgotten that dropping ordinance on other countries is an act of war. It all seems so antiseptic to launch missiles from platforms at sea, you just push a button. No "boots on the ground", no friendly aircraft in harm's way.

      But those missiles invariably cause collateral damage. You will have dead civilians. Even if, after hitting the chemical stockpiles, there is no inadvertant release of chemicals due to the missile attacks. (A possibility, no matter how remote.)

      It's messy. Yes, it's outrageous. But according to various sources, since this war started, between 83,260 and 110,370 Syrians have been killed. That's killed, not wounded. Roughly half of the dead were civilians. You can bet there are a lot of dead women and children in that count. A lot. How many were killed by the chemical attacks? For argument's sake, let's say 1500 dead.

      So we're pissed about those 1500, not the other 100,000+. Why? Because chemical weapons are the boogey man. They are nasty weapons and a horrible way to die. But seriously, is dying from artillery fire any less nasty? Then let's bomb their artillery ammo stockpiles as well.

      The situation over there is a mess, we need to keep our distance. I think we'd all be happier if Syria did not have chemical weapons. Hell, it would be great if nobody had chemical weapons. But that genie is out of the bottle.

      Attempting to take out Syrian chemical weapon stockpiles with Tomahawks would be, IMHO, grandstanding. And would also probably prove to be ineffective. Do we even know where these weapons are stored?

      Like I said, a mess.

      But if we could do it? Realistically? Then no, I'm not opposed. But we can't, so perhaps I am opposed, knowing that it would be ineffective. You see what I mean?

  8. Well fumed, Olaf.

    Much bitching in the Britpress too, with both the left and the wobblies in the middle trying to rubbish the PM's `defeat`. Personally, that's the sort of democratic `defeat` I can live with under these circumstances, in fact I'd go so far as to call it a technical victory - technical because it still leaves the question of gassed and poisoned civvies and the origins of those chemical munitions, currently leading the trail back to the big bad one without a chin.

    I happen to believe that the vote in Parliament spoke large about my country. We are allies of America and from my perspective I mean an ally of the American people, regardless of who is the CinC, that is a given. But whatever happens, our forces and Government will be involved, in many and various places, albeit not releasing munitions (openly, anyway), but we are not awesome-big and powerful like America. Yes we have our global nuclear deterrent and our armed forces come pretty close to the top of the league in terms of training and resolve. Our SF are, pound for pound, up there with the hardest hitters and, I would argue, the best you could buy. But, I reiterate, big we ain't eg. we were heavily reliant on the huge US tactical logistical support when we stuck our bayonets into Libya - and what a fucking mess that still is. Anything `arab` is messy, even when it involves those who claim to be friendly - and I mean no cheap insult when I say that.

    1. Great observations HD.

      Your comment regarding your SF? Spot on, I would rely on your guys anytime, anywhere. (We Yanks tend to salivate over the SAS, forgetting that there's also the SBS, the Special Recce Reg and the Support Group. All good lads to have your back in a fight!)
  9. Stay the hell out? Not a chance.

    Obama needs a diversion. Economy tanking, scandals, unfathomable ineptitude. Nothing like a splendid little war for that. He wants this just like y'all wanted that Red Rider BB Gun for Christmas......he WANTS it. The vote does not really matter. It is high theatre for the low information voters. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan would say "Boob bait for the Bubbas". If Congress approves he bombs away and struts like a peacock. If Congress votes against, he pontificates about those Republicans, claims he has to protect the country and be above this partisanship ergo, bombs away and struts like a peacock.

    It is almost comical that I believe the Russian leader more than my own......let Allah sort this out.
    1. I see that, large, Rumbear.As I posted in another friendly place today, I believe the military is there to save the arse of a Nation, not the arse of a politician.
    2. We really are at the point of bread and circuses aren't we?

      I'm afraid you hit the nail on the head Rumbear.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.