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100 Years On – Gallipoli

When there is no good way through, when going straight forward gets you nowhere, you try to find a way around.  That’s exactly what the Allied powers tried to do in 1915.  In an effort to find a way around the stalemate of the Western Front, the Allied governments tried to force the Bosphorus Straits with a naval fleet in February 1915, but that effort was fruitless.  A plan for a land invasion of the Gallipoli peninsula was hatched.

Hopes to surprise and overwhelm the Ottoman Turks were dashed after initial, but bloody, success on the beaches.  Troops from across the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India, Great Britain, and France, were able to get onto the beaches, but their efforts to punch further inland were stymied by a well-led, motivated Ottoman defense.  Their effort quickly bogged down into the exact type of warfare that the planners wished to escape.

When the last Allied soldier left the beaches in January, 1916, each side had lost almost a quarter of a million men dead, wounded, or captured/missing.  The straits were still closed to Allied shipping, Turkey was still in the war, and the grinding down of human capital in the trenches, mountains, and swamps of the war continued for almost three more years.

While it is humbling to think of the men on those beaches, both invading and defending, it is even more so to think of their continued ability to fight on, to keep going, that strikes me the most.  It is men like these that I point at and say to my sons, “Be that.  Just be like that.”

Then and Now

As a kid, here were my choices for Saturday morning entertainment:

  • Anvils falling on coyotes and a cross-dressing rabbit making life hell for an anal-retentive duck.
  • A mouse and a cat attempting murder upon each other.
  • Robotic and human action figures shooting millions of laser beams but never causing more than minor property damage.

Here’s what I have this morning:

  • The last five minutes of an episode of a 1950’s Batman serial, followed by selected scenes from 1970’s white guilt “Aren’t you ashamed that you grew up in the suburbs instead of the urban cesspool we’ve plunked you down into?” movies.
  • A very nice man painting a very nice picture of a very nice bell pepper.
  • A 90 minute commercial for a blender that also works as an ice cream maker, juicer, paper shredder, flour grinder, and countertop log chipper.
  • Political commentary and yellow journalism masquerading as real news, on multiple channels, from multiple viewpoints.
  • Semi-interesting rerun of an art show of guy making happy trees.  (Boo found this fascinating.  Irish Woman, who is the one parent he has that can see more than 4 bit color, let him eat his breakfast in front of the TV for this one.

I gave up, enjoyed my coffee, and went back to reading a friend’s novel.

100 Years On – Great Crime

The Ottoman Empire, like the Austro-Hungarian, was an admixture of many peoples and religions.  Turks, Assyrians, Kurds, and Armenians, Muslims, Christians, and Zoroastrians, all of them made up a fractious empire.  On April 24, 1915, the tensions between the Muslim Turkish majority and the ethnic and religious minorities in the Empire broke, leading to the deaths of up to 1.5 million people.

Modern day Turkey, one of the successor states to the Ottoman Empire, vociferously objects to applying the term “genocide” to this horror.  To this day, Turkey and our own government refuse to acknowledge the systematic murder of men, women, children, and old people during World War I.

What brings one people to wish for the extermination of another?  Our history is replete with stories of mass murder and the destruction of entire peoples.  What is it in our souls that allow us to make fellow human beings “the other”, less than human, and deserving of all the suffering we can dish out, and to deserve to starve, to work to death, to take the bullet in the back of the neck, to be locked, naked and afraid, in the gas chamber.

Conversely, what is it about our governments that they will not admit the faults of our past?  It is only in the past fifty years that the worst abuses of the Indian Wars were acknowledged.  Germany has come to terms with its guilt in the Holocaust of World War II, but Japan still drags its feet.  The Turkish government, even in the face of overwhelming evidence, from victims and witnesses, as well as historical documents and forensic studies, continues to deny that what happened to the Armenians and other minorities was a genocide.

I’d like to say that we as a race learned from this, but I can’t.  Places like Lviv, Treblinka, Nanking, Warsaw, Berlin, Choeung Ek, Sabra and Shatila, Halabja, Dos Erres, Srebrenica, and Sinjar are testaments to our continued ability to treat human beings as disposable, as a corruption that needs to be burnt out of the world.  It’s an ability and an inclination that I’m afraid we will never lose.

Today’s Earworm

We are under a freeze warning tonight. We are getting up at 2 AM to light kerosene heaters and charcoal grills in an attempt to keep our cherry and apple crops from becoming Popsicles.

This is what will awaken us so that we can play with fire in the dark and bleary eyed.

If Irish Woman beats me for this, at least I can go back to bed.

Advice Request

Guys, need some advice on bicycles.

I’m thinking of getting a bicycle for fun and exercise.  It would mostly be used for riding on paths in the park with the kids and trying to get a little exercise.  The most I’d ride in a stretch will probably be 5 miles or so, but I’d be going over rolling terrain.

What I see in my mind is my old Schwinn 3 speed with a fat seat and straight handlebars. But, since it’s not 1979 anymore, I’m sure something like that isn’t exactly common.  Seriously, I’m not hopping rocks or doing the Tour de Kentucky, so I want a simple, straightforward bike.

I’m a big guy, with longish legs (6’4″, 32 inch inseam), so I’m probably looking at a 26 inch or bigger bike for comfort.

As for cost, I know I can’t go cheap and expect a good bike, but I’d rather not spend a house payment on a bicycle either.

Are there any brands that you all would suggest?  Any that you’d stay away from?

Spreading the Word

A friend passed this to me, and I thought I’d pass it along:

The author of the The Lonely Libertarian Blog, all around good woman, mom to 2 autistic daughters, friend to all in need, has found her laptop in disrepair. Help her replace it. It’s unable to type the letters T or H.

Hiswiserangel has been blogging since 2012, and I’ve enjoyed her writing and the comments she’s left at other blogs.  If you’ve got a few extra dukats jingling in your purse, please consider doing something nice for one of our own.

100 Years On – Gas!

100 years ago today, the German Empire unleashed a new type of weapon.  German soldiers released chlorine gas from thousands of canisters in front of German trenches near Ypres, and the resulting cloud of poison floated across to trenches held by French Colonial troops.  The injuries to the Morrocan’s lungs and eyes caused them to panic, killing or blinding thousands in minutes.  The resulting 4 mile tear in the front line could have been disastrous to the Allies, but the Germans failed to take advantage of it.

A new era in warfare had begun.

Gas, in many forms, soon became a common affliction to the men fighting on all fronts in the war.  Gas shells were added to the mixture in bombardments, and new forms, including phosgene and mustard gas, were developed and fielded.  They were one more tool in the kit of military planners who were desperately trying to find a way to punch through the lines and end the slaughter.  In their efforts, they unleashed a demon that haunts us to this day.

How horrible is living through a chemical attack?  If you’ve never been in a chemical suit, try imagining putting on something thick and bulky, then putting a heavy cloth hood with foggy eyepieces over your head.  To get the idea of breathing through the filters necessary to keep the vapors and droplets out of the lungs, lay both your hands over your nose and mouth, then try walking and running while breathing through the tiny gaps between your fingers.

Now, stay that way for hours, maybe days.  Go through your day, doing all the tasks of life while in this garb.  Every so often, have someone make you run for your life.  While all of this is going on, watch people around you drop, gasping and screaming.

And remember, failure to do this will probably result in either a fast, horrifically painful death or a long, lingering, painful death.  If you’re lucky, all you’ll get is blindness, permanently injured lungs, and scars over a massive portion of your body.

All of these agents are the boogiemen that have haunted the dreams of military planners for generations.  To see how horrific these weapons were, please note that during World War II, the European powers and the United States were willing to bomb and strafe civilians, were willing to develop and use atomic weapons, but none used chemical weapons.

Update – A few people have pointed out that the Japanese were quite liberal in their use of gas against the Chinese, and of course the Germans used gas to murder helpless victims at their death camps.  I think what I was trying to say was that the European powers, who had all had gas used against them in the First World War, were careful to not use it against anyone who might reciprocate.

Quotes of the Day

It’s another two-fer.  Both of these came to mind when I read the news today:

America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. — John Quincy Adams

The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none; or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities. — George Washington

Musings

  • Boo had his first ice skating lesson today.
  • He also had his first ass over teakettle, land like a sack of potatoes, clonk your head on the ice, fall today.
  • I comforted him by passing on wisdom from my youth:  The only people who haven’t fallen on ice skates are people who have never put on ice skates.
  • Next week, I will remember to bring his cycling/skating helmet.
  • I also need to teach him to not try to break his fall with his shoulder and cranium.
  • I got to witness Irish Woman going into total uber-mother beast mode when she saw him fall.  I was able to keep her from stomping out onto the ice to retrieve him.  She doesn’t know how to walk on ice and I can’t pick both of them up.
  • To the nice lady who tried to comfort Irish Woman when she was close to tears, thank you.  However, bringing up emergency rooms and concussions was probably a little counterproductive.
  • To his credit, he finished the lesson and wants to go back next week.
  • Who’s got two thumbs and will be digging up his back yard this weekend to try to figure out where the maple tree is getting into the drain pipe again?  This guy!
  • To the slimy piece of iguana crap at work who decided that my leftover steak, potatoes, onions, and peppers needed to be in your belly and not mine, I hope that the cholesterol is the final straw that breaks your coronary camel’s back.  May the fleas of a thousand Bolivian marmosets infest your sister’s armpits.  I hope your mother chokes on the rancid pickled herring that she has to eat because you skipped out with her Social Security.  In other words, I hope you enjoyed it, jerk.

Images of the Day

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