Showing posts with label history. Show all posts
Showing posts with label history. Show all posts

Monday, July 27, 2015

End of Empire

I stumbled into this series while aimlessly looking for the end of the internet. It is about the end of the British Empire. How they left all, well most, of their various overseas holdings and all that came afterwords. For historic and survivalist (great powers decline, we are arguably doing that now) purposes the end of the British colonial period interests me. This series, albeit incomplete on youtube, goes a long way to fill in my lack of knowledge about this very interesting period of time. Each episode talks about how events unfolded in a specific area.

Anyway if you have the time this series is pretty darn interesting. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Today is the 73rd anniversary of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Historically it is difficult to overestimate the significance of that event. It brought us into World War Two (though it was coming anyway) and is notable as a break in our pretty successful, thanks in large part to two oceans and weak neighbors, streak of other countries not attacking the homeland.

The lessons of preparedness and vigilance are ones we have a bad tendency to forget.

Monday, September 1, 2014

75 Years Ago Germany Invaded Poland

On September 1, 1939, the German army under Adolf Hitler launched an invasion of Poland that triggered the start of World War II (though by 1939 Japan and China were already at war). The battle for Poland only lasted about a month before a Nazi victory. But the invasion plunged the world into a war that would continue for almost six years and claim the lives of tens of millions of people.

As of the last time I checked the news Russia had openly invaded the Eastern Ukraine, not the Crimea but generally just marching west from the border. I'm talking columns of tanks and such. Putin vaguely mentioned that he could take Kiev pretty soon in the news. Honestly Russia is looking to reassert influence in their 'near abroad' specifically the western buffer states that give them time when some Euro's get frisky again. One could argue the western powers caused this by pushing NATO and the EU further east.

Pretty much the entire middle east is in a complete state of chaos. The old strong man states are barely hanging on, Iraq is over all but in name and Turkey is quietly hanging on, for now. Those ISIS/ ISIL folks are doing their best to set up the new Caliphate. Seriously I cannot think of a time the Middle East was a bigger mess.

I am not trying to belabor the point but things are looking bad.  Honestly to me it feels like the beginning of the 20th century when old tired powers were trying to hold on while the world order was being questioned by new up and comers. We all know how well that war went for everyone and that after it's brief interlude it was continued in the form of WWII. Arguably WWII (and the British) caused every war from Korea to the Gulf War.

Like the Chinese saying "May you live in interesting times."

Labor Day

I do not have deep thoughts about Labor Day. Organized labor did some great things for people and arguably was a major contributor to America forming a strong middle class and becoming a great nation. On the other hand in the last couple (or arguably few) decades Unions have lost sight of reality and one could say they have driven some businesses into the ground. The historically strong union areas of the upper mid west recent history read like an article about how to fail at business. I hesitate to say unions no longer have a place because I think they do. Also in other countries, most notably Germany unions are very strong and businesses do quite well. I do not know the answer to this and honestly don't really care.

Without getting muddled into the current state of unions; I greatly respect the sacrifices of folks in the first half of the 20th century. Those men who organized and stood up to exploitative and intentionally neglectful businesses in the face of clubs and bullets from hired guns as well as various levels of murderous thugs for hire with badges 'law enforcement officials' to be respected and treated decently. People like my uncles are able to make a good living for their skills and sweat in no small part due to their sacrifices. Maybe I should be more thoughtful about the whole thing but I am not.

I did not have to work today. It is approaching dinner time. I'm cooking ribs and having some Blue Moon. So it's a pretty good day here.

Hope you all have a great Labor Day.

Friday, June 6, 2014

D Day 70th Anniversary

It is the 70th Anniversary of D Day today. So long ago on this day in 1944 approximately 150,000 American, Canadian and UK soldiers attacked a narrow stretch of beach in France by sea and air. They hit a well prepared but not to heavily manned beach in what was probably one of the most chaotic and dangerous attacks to happen on the western front. While the numbers involved were less than some battles and far less than say Kursk it is worth noting that the term battle is used much more narrowly than the huge sweeping mechanized battles on the plains of Central/ Eastern Europe and Russia.

A family friend was an Infantryman who hit the beach that day. He didn't talk about it too much, except to mention that he saved 8 soldiers lives that day. The boats dropped them off in about 10 feet of water loaded down with gear. He grew up in California so swimming was second nature. He went back in with a knife and cut the packs off those men under water. Lessons: A) learn how to swim and B) if water is involved pack your ruck to float.

Allied KIA's from that single day are approximately 4,400. Roughly 5,000 (seriously) wounded make for about 9,000 casualties. By my rough head math we lost more boys on that day then in the entirety of the current Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns IN ONE SINGLE DAY! Granted the scale of the total battle and facing a peer type opponent in as close to total war as we have really seen large nations come is very different from modern conflicts but the casualties are still staggering.

I really wonder if we have it in us to commit to such a fight knowing the best case is a huge amount of casualties and the worst is total disaster. Granted the kind of world domination type threat existed during the cold war but we have gotten so risk adverse as a military and even more so as a society. It is also worth noting that you could look at the situation in 1943 as pretty clear but 1937 wasn't so much that way. Actually as compared by multiple significant figures that situation isn't so different from Russia and the Ukraine/ Crimean right now.

DDay is a pretty interesting topic. You would do well to spend a little bit of time researching it. Back to normal posting tomorrow with the last Fighting Load Contest Entry. Voting will commence promptly on Monday.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Top 5 Afghanistan Books

1) Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the War against the Taliban. This book is not my favorite about Afghanistan but it is the best 'Afghanistan in 1 book' I have read.

2) The Bear Went Over The Mountain. A series of AAR type vignettes put together by the Russian Army. 

3) Charlie Wilsons War

4) The Other Side of the Mountain. A sequel to The Bear Went Over The Mountain but from the Mujaheddin perspective. 

5) Ghost Wars

I could consider the exact positioning of #1-4 but am pretty firm on the books themselves. That may of course change if I read something particularly awesome in the future.  

The Tribal Analysis Center has a lot of good stuff if you dig around a bit like Learning From History, The Soviet Experience in Afghanistan as well as their Research and External reference sections in general.  Also there is some good historic stuff on British experiences and tribal dynamics in the area.

Various honorable mentions:

Kill Bin Laden by Dalton Fury

The Kite Runner

The Places In Between by Rory Stewart

Anyway that should give folks who are interested some books to consider reading.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Real American Heroes #3 Jeff Milton

One of this interesting parts of moving around the country is learning the new regions history. Southern Arizona is filled with Wild West heroes, villains and gunfights. Today I want to expose you to Jeff Milton. Serving as a Texas Ranger, US Marshal, and in numerous other positions he was a lifetime lawmen and gunfighter.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thoughts on Insurgencies- What Made the Mujahedeen Successful

Thoughts on Insurgencies- What Made The Mujahedeen Successful?
I am going to try to discuss some of the reasons the Mujahedeen were so successful in Afghanistan against the Soviet’s. Some might draw parallels to the US experience here and I would say they have a case in some areas, though not in others. In no particular order here we go.
•    Rural Afghan’s are, particularly in the South and East of the country, strongly tribal in nature and very militaristic. When not fighting outsiders the tribes seem to, almost without exception, fight each other. It is about the closest thing to a cultural pastime as this country has.
•    They started out reasonably trained in small unit and individual tactics. Why, well I think consistent tribal warfare is the answer. This was probably the most helpful in the beginning because if you take anybody and toss them into a guerilla war after a year, should they be alive, they have some skills and knowledge.
•    They fought to their strengths and as such avoided their enemy’s strengths. Knowledge of local terrain coupled with hitting weak targets and vanishing worked pretty well. It helps when you can use the same hill Grandpa used to fight the British coming along the same road. This leads back to my last comment about training and knowledge.
•    Physical fitness. Between their rough lifestyle, reliance on foot transportation, moderate calorie intake and lack of medical care (that meant the sick and crippled were either useless in the village or dead) Afghan’s of military age were physically fit. They could haul butt up the side of a mountain carrying a medium machine gun after an ambush and leave the soviet’s panting at the bottom.

 [In my opinion physical fitness is the most lacking trait of American militia/ guerilla wanna be’s (I don’t mean “wanna be” in a derogatory way, just that since we don’t have a guerilla war going on it is kind of just a self imposed label instead of a title). Seriously if these guys spent half as much time exercising as they do arguing about what pouches to have on load out gear or which rifle to use in internet forum’s they would be much better off. I get particular amusement when somebody who is a disgusting fat body and probably hasn’t ran a whole mine this year talks about being a “light fighter” and using “hit and run tactics”. Many of these individuals are good, well meaning people and I probably poke too much fun. I hope that if any of them read this instead of taking it personal they look inward. If this side rant is hitting too close to home I recommend that you get onto a reasonable but ambitious physical fitness program and exercise some self control at meal time to get into fighting shape. ]

•    A proliferation of small arms, particularly rifles. Every military aged male did not have a rifle but a heck of a lot of them did. Eventually they started capturing weapons and getting them shipped in by foreign backers but for awhile it was just rural Afghan’s and their rifles.
•    A cohesive and resolute group vision. Rural Afghan life is very traditional and tribal, especially in the Pastun areas to the South and East, and its values stood in stark contrast to what the Afghan communists and their Soviet backers sought to impose. They were, and the Soviets never quite got this, absolutely unwilling to compromise and would rather just fight.
•    There are probably more but a couple of these are already more generic of all guerillas than is my intent. Now let us not forget the two factors which had a massive impact on events and were largely outside of the Muj’s control.
•    Safe haven’s. In particular the ability to seek medical treatment, shelter their families, train, plan and recover in Pakistan had a direct and immeasurable effect on the war. The Soviet’s launched a few rockets and probably a few raids but in the big picture the Muj were safe to recover and plan in Pakistan and parts of Iran.
•    Outside Aid. Despite some fantasy ideas to the contrary it is difficult to keep a force fielded without feeding and equipping them. While guerilla logistics are pretty simple and light they still need weapons, bullets to shoot, explosives and food to eat. Being able to keep at least part (this improved as the war progressed) of their force through the whole fighting season was essential to building up cohesive organizations and conducting significant operations. Even if you want them really bad guns, food and bullets don’t just appear. Also as these wars go on for years stocking enough of anything except maybe shoe laces to get you through one is wishful thinking.
•    A long term vision. In a sound bite and paragraph quote world they thought in terms of seasons and years. The Muj were never going to win in a sense where they militarily forced the Russians out. They could however continually make it uncomfortable for the Russians to be here (I am in Afghanistan as I write this, oh irony) until their government decided it was time to throw in the towel.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Anniversary-Ted Nugent said it better than I could

Here is a teaser-
"America must continue to identify and eradicate these terrorist vermin. We must never surrender to complacency or apathy as we did before Sept. 11, as they are the weakest link in our chain of security. We must remain vigilant and on the offense. Where two or more of these terror cultists gather, they should expect us to drill a hole in their foreheads." Read the rest here.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Book Review: The Ascent of Money By Niall Ferguson

I got this book for Christmas from my brother in law. Didn't really get a chance to start reading it for a couple months and just finished it today on a wonderfully relaxed day. Onto the usual format.
The Good: Niall Ferguson is a heck of a writer with an ability to go deep into history and explain events and themes. He has also written a couple of other very interesting books. In his typical fashion it explains complicated subjects and also keeps things light and interesting through various anecodal stories that blend into the subject at hand. It is a real credit to the author that it reads more like a history book than a college text. I found this book particularly valuable in that it explains, in a way average laymen can understand the history of so many parts of modern financial life. It explains how they came to be as well as how they interact with eachother. It moves along in chapters that are logically grouped by theme (banks, bonds, stocks, insurance, housing, etc) and all wraps together very well.
One of the most interesting things is that it shows so many things are more cyclical or reoccuring than genuinely now. Finance is sort of like movies in that if you boil it all down there are only a few real unique plots.
Also it is very interesting that despite what some hard money folks like to say all currencies were not genuinely 100% redeamable in gold until the early to mid 20th century. It is however true that the long term stability of non redeamable currency is at best questionable.
The Bad: The writer is probably closer to Keynes than Friedman, let alone Mises. Sometimes it shows in his writing. However this does not detract from the overall quality or value of the book.
The Ugly: On the whole this book did a great job at explaining very complicated financial subjects in a manner where moderately intelligent laymen can understand them. However at times a couple sentences of explanation or background would have been very helpful. It is like the author occasionally forgot his audience is made up of people who like nonfiction books and had $16 in their pocket instead of Harvard finance majors.
All things considered I would suggest this book to anyone who is interested in our current economic/ financial system and how it came to be. I got a deeper understanding of many parts of it by seeing where, when and how it all came to be. It wasn't too expensive and was an easy read.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

As is appropriate I have spent some time today thinking about what I am thankful for. I have a lot to be thankful about for sure. I am very thankful that Walker is well and we are all able to spend this holiday together as a happy little family. While it has medically been a crazy couple months for us we all appear to be in good health. I am thankful that we aren't struggling to keep a roof over our heads and food in our stomachs. I am thankful that between preps and saving we can feel pretty secure about our overall situation. I am thankful that my sister is here and we are going to do some traveling this weekend.

It occurs to me that most of the things I am thankful for are directly or indirectly the result of my own choices. I/ we could make choices that created animousity and unhappiness in our home. We could choose to be idle or underemployed and struggle for basics like shelter and food. We could spend beyond our means and have constant worries about money. Of course luck is a factor. Right now lots of decent hard working folks are either unemployed or seriously underemployed and really struggling. If they live well within their means and have some savings they are better off but in a long enough under/ unemployment most everybody will start to have serious problems. Folks can make the right choices and have continual health issues.

It has been a pretty good Thanksgiving so far. Went to bed pretty early yesterday and slept till almost 10. Had a pretty relaxing morning just chilling out then Little Sis, Walker and I went to do some local sight seeing. It is pretty good holiday weather. Right around freezing with a bit of snow on the ground. Just enough to cover rooftops, trees and lawns giving the nice scenic winter look but not enough to muck up the roads and make it hard to get around. The food is cooking and we are all sitting around and talking. Shortly it will be coctail and appetizer time which is always fun.

We are having a sort of 'Orphans Thanksgiving' as always. Wifey cooks a bunch of food and we invite everybody who can use a place to go and feed whoever comes. Relatives, neighbors, co workers or whatever. It makes for interesting groups of people but is good times.

Well I am going to go and enjoy a lot of food, some great scotch and family.

Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday, August 19, 2010

End of Combat Operations in Iraq?

The last "combat" brigade left Iraq today. I wouldn't say this means our efforts in Iraq are over but it is sure a significant milestone. As for what will happen now, time will tell. I do think it is very important that we practice expectation management. If we expect Iraq to be a nice calm place with totally functional, completely democratic and honest institutions and great infrastructure like say Israel (the only example I could think of in the middle east) we will be disappointed. However if we expect sporadic bombings and localized violence, semi corrupt elections along party lines and haphazard infrastructure we might be on the mark.  I say that for a couple reasons.

It is important to remember that early American history didn't go so smoothly. There were small localized uprisings, the government went broke and stayed there more or less and our first government failed entirely. We had some real problems with pirates robbing our ships. Around 20 years after our nation was established the British stomped us pretty badly and burned down our capitol. (Would it be ridiculous and war hawkish to suggest we burn down Buckingham Palace to get even? Better late than never right?) A couple generations later we fought a massive civil war. For some reason we Americans have a short memory and an even shorter attention span. We would like to make Iraq into a wonderful place over the course of a few short years. If we manage our expectations and take a longer view the situation can be seen more realistically.

What does this mean? Well hopefully we as a nation can finally borrow a little bit less money to keep things going. Also we will have fewer brave young Americans at risk which is always a good thing. Getting out of Iraq will allow us to increase dwell time for soldiers. This will almost certainly help with some of the problems (prescription drugs and suicide are notable) we are currently facing. More focused training time at home station will allow for the retrofitting and replacement of equipment as well as training which are good things. Also this will let our nation focus almost exclusively on Afghanistan which is something that has needed to happen for a long time. I don't know what will happen there but it would be a darn shame if we let a lack of adequate amounts of men, weapons and equipment be the deciding factor.

These are sure interesting times we live in.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

quote of the day

"If the 20th century taught us anything it is that life is pretty cheap, and that the cheapest form of life, unfortunately is embodied in a refugee. Life is nasty brutish and short for a refugee and you don't want to be in that situation."- Jim Rawles on Coast to Coast Radio

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Future Is Not Set

Dollar to regain parity with Euro, if it still exists.

Belgians vote on future, united country in doubt. 

We need to not fall into a pre WWI mindset that history is set and all that can change is minor details. Seriously if you take a look at any period of (just to toss out a number) say 50 years in history some crazy stuff happens. The future is not set and things will change. Currencies will fail and borders will change and countries come and go all together. There will be conflicts.

I think that most notably sooner than later European nations and in particular Germany (man they really aren't happy about this Greek bailout madness and the Euro tanking) are going to collectively forget about the massive horrors and almost two entire generations of young men lost in WWI and WWII and give up on their whole recent pacifism kick. They may come to question the status quo in the tried and true fashion of war.

Just like the last 50 years (or any recent start point you choose) it is going to be a wild ride. Buckle up tight.

Our advertisers pay us so you don't have to. Please click on their links and check out what they have to offer. Seriously these folks sell some really cool stuff at very fair prices and it is worth giving them a look. A click a day will keep this place up and running. 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Book Buy!

  • Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics - Henry Hazlitt
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  • The Soviet-Afghan War: How a Superpower Fought and Lost - Michael A. Gress
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  • World Made by Hand: A Novel - James Howard Kunstler
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  • The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse - Fernando Ferfal Aguirre
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Saturday, February 20, 2010

I'm Back

Well I returned home safe and sound today. Had a wicked bout with a stomach bug yesterday but as I am mostly recovered today it seems to have been a 24 hour thing. Holland/ The Netherlands/ Dutchland was nice. Nice people, lots of bikes, dikes, windmills and great beer to boot. Been hanging out with Wifey and catching up on some of the blogs.

Talk to you all tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Check Ya Later

Come tomorrow morning I will be off for a few days. If things works out at all like I think they will it's going to be one of the few truly fun trips I have ever gone on for work. I have posts scheduled so you will not see a disruption. Wifey is going to approve comments to keep the conversation going.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

quote of the day

"What really happened? They didn't like us and they threw us out."
Simon Cowell giving a concise but accurate history of the American Revolution.
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