Know Where You Stand

To create each intriguing scene, Taras identified and photographed locations where the many memorable events took place. Using photo manipulation, he blended the past with the present, bringing the old to the surface with the new.

(via My Modern Met and this isn’t happiness)

Soviet Ghost Town in the Czech Republic

Bozi Dar Soviet Base in Czechoslovakia, Arch

In 1992, Russia generously gave the already crumbling buildings and polluted, explosive-riddled land to the Czech government, claiming that the value of this piece of real estate would make up for the cost of cleaning it. It seems the Czechs had little choice but to accept.

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While I’m logged in here, I’d like to blatantly promote a project I worked on recently that I think is cool:

Heroes Get Hired book cover

Heroes Get Hired by Michelle Tillis Lederman

It’s a job-interview guide for military veterans and their partners, and though I didn’t read every word while I was working on it (I designed and coded the e-books and designed and typeset the print edition (not the covers)), I got the impression that it’s practical and well thought-out.

And it’s free to download in lots of formats (there are versions with video and versions without), or to view on the Web. Free, FREE, FREE!

So if you are a veteran (thank you!), please have a look; if you know some, pass it along.

And if you see any typos or formatting errors, drop me a note. I can fix those!

Speaking on behalf of all my fellow creeps

Headline of the day 2

Death Star Petition Gets White House Rebuff

i sing of Olaf glad and big

A tribute to those brave folk who just said, “No.” Courtesy of e.e. cummings.

i sing of Olaf glad and big
whose warmest heart recoiled at war:
a conscientious object-or
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In remembrance: Charlotte Bradshaw’s autograph book

My occasional annual Armistice Day commemoration.

Charlotte Bradshaw (1893-1920) was my great grandfather’s sister or put another way, my grandmother’s aunt. She was a nurse in Bradford during the first World War and had an autograph book, most of the entries were collected at the end of 1916 and the start of 1917. After the war she traveled to Australia on account of having weak lungs, she got homesick there and returned to England where she died of TB. There are a few entries here from that return journey. My father, Jim, recently had Charlotte’s autograph book scanned and we have worked together to make this website to commemorate her and the soldiers she treated.

“It’s not like fucking Lana Del Rey carved an upside down cross on her cheek and defecated all over herself on stage at fucking Bonnaroo.”

Bradford Cox clarifies “details from yesterday’s news story regarding the events of his recent Minneapolis show, at which he responded to a heckler’s request for the Knack’s ‘My Sharona’ with an improvised, hour-long rendition.”

(Thanks to Pete Ashton for the update.)

in the manner of smoke signals

I added this to the bottom of Casey’s marmot tweet-ucation post, but I felt it deserved its own: Teju Cole on what connects Downton Abbey, the IMF, Drones, and Virgin’s Upper Class

from the comments

Carole Corlew:

War correspondent Marie Colvin was a swashbuckler long before the black eyepatch. She performed daring feats for a living, then partied like a rockstar. She collected men easily and left them behind. A woman told me once that the French people in the Paris bureau could not understand Marie, “in French or English. Because of the New Jersey accent.” The remark puzzled me. Marie did not have an accent. She was a fast talker, and in the days before she contributed broadcast reports was something of a mumbler. I know now she was in a hurry. She had only a few years and was rushing toward her fate.

In fact, the story goes that when chided about her smoking habit, she insisted tobacco would not be the thing that got her in the end.


Lou Carr predicted Marie wouldn’t last as a foreign correspondent. He said she would end up back in Oyster Bay, married and driving around a station wagon loaded with kids. He was wrong. But maybe that’s where Marie is headed, across the way, with the 2-year-old boy whose so quiet death broke her heart a few hours before she joined him.

The Drouillard House

We often sat on the front porch of the homeplace after dinner, listening in the dark to “brother” — the oldest of mother’s siblings — talk the Bible into flesh and blood. Sometimes, the stories turned to the mansion down the road built for a southern belle who shocked Nashville society with her marriage to a Union officer in September, 1864.

Relatives and friends of Mary Florence refused to attend her wedding to Capt. James Pierre Drouillard, an Ohio native and West Point graduate. So they moved west, to the hills and hollows of Cumberland Furnance, TN. Eventually they were accepted back into the Nashville fold. In the next century, mother’s friends lived in that home. The girls would drift slowly down the three-story spiral staircase, practicing for their grownup lives. So did I, once, when mother took me there.

So I always wondered about the girls as they moved along the stairway toward long-ago beaus waiting in the foyer. Did they see the faint outlines of a man in uniform standing in shadow? A wisp of a forever love conjured by bedtime stories and the embedded memories of a magnificent old home.

Will Israel Attack Iran?

As for the top-ranking military personnel with whom I’ve spoken who argued that an attack on Iran was either unnecessary or would be ineffective at this stage, Barak said: “It’s good to have diversity in thinking and for people to voice their opinions. But at the end of the day, when the military command looks up, it sees us — the minister of defense and the prime minister. When we look up, we see nothing but the sky above us.”

“It’s killing that is very distant but also very personal,” says anthropologist Neta Bar. “I would even say intimate.”

Chris Kyle is the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history. He was deployed to Iraq in 2003, and killed 255 people in six years.

A crowd had come out to greet them. Through the scope he saw a woman, with a child close by, approaching his troops. She had a grenade ready to detonate in her hand.

“This was the first time I was going to have to kill someone. I didn’t know whether I was going to be able to do it, man, woman or whatever,” he says.

“You’re running everything through your mind. This is a woman, first of all. Second of all, am I clear to do this, is this right, is it justified? And after I do this, am I going to be fried back home? Are the lawyers going to come after me saying, ‘You killed a woman, you’re going to prison’?”

But he didn’t have much time to debate these questions.

“She made the decision for me, it was either my fellow Americans die or I take her out.”

He pulled the trigger.

(via the browser)

Warning: Grenade Splasherz

This from my friend TigErrrrrrrr:

It’s funny how when you buy these 2-packs of Grenade Splasherz @ Von’s Grocery Stores (impulse items next to the GIANT $4.49 each size of Red Bull!!!) they carry this warning across the top label: “Do not aim or throw at anyone’s face.”

Much more fun is what it says across the bottom of the label: “Squeeze’em, Soak ‘em, & Throw ‘em!” :^) YAY !!!!!

Place the medieval techniques alongside those laid out in modern handbooks, such as Human Intelligence Collector Operations, the U.S. Army interrogation manual, and the inquisitors’ practices seem very up-to-date

The inquisitors were shrewd students of human nature. Like Gui, Eymerich was well aware that those being questioned would employ a range of stratagems to deflect the interrogator. In his manual, he lays out 10 ways in which heretics seek to “hide their errors.” They include “equivocation,” “redirecting the question,” “feigning astonishment,” “twisting the meaning of words,” “changing the subject,” “feigning illness,” and “feigning stupidity.” For its part, the Army interrogation manual provides a “Source and Information Reliability Matrix” to assess the same kinds of behavior. It warns interrogators to be wary of subjects who show signs of “reporting information that is self-serving,” who give “repeated answers with exact wording and details,” and who demonstrate a “failure to answer the question asked.”

A history of torture and interrogation in the Middle Ages, and how it compares to the standards applied in “The Global War on Terror”.

from the comments

Carole Corlew:

A ground crewman who worked on my father’s WWII plane told me their B-26 Marauder was known as the “whore of the skies.” I feel like I can’t say the rest of his quote on this family wire. It crashed a lot. So use your imagination. This was about 15 years ago, during a ceremony for a large marker with the names of the men associated with Flak Bait when it was displayed at Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum. This old fella said this to me right in front of Miss Nell, who smiled politely and said, “Okay, well now…” and took my arm and hustled ME off.

Daddy’s Plane

My daddy went to work at the aircraft firm of Chance Vought in 1935, I think, when he was nineteen or so. Jobs were hard to come by, but he was smart and mechanically inclined and he had a high school degree.

When the US entered WWII, my daddy was exempted from the draft on account of his working in a ‘critical industry’. Vought’s biggest customer was the US Navy.

After the war, Vought’s military contracts must have dwindled. Or maybe moving operations inland seemed like a good idea. Anyway, the company transferred 1300 key personnel from Connecticut to the right-to-work state of Texas. It was the biggest-ever US corporate move at that time. A Hollywood film inspired by the move even went into pre-production, and Spencer Tracy was said to have been cast. I imagine my mother in a Katharine Hepburn role.

The F4U Corsair (1940-1952) was Vought’s triumph.

The Japanese are said to have called the plane Whistling Death.

Occupy Portland has developed a tactic to keep a park when the police decide to enforce an eviction

Occupy Portland stumbled on a way to use the tactical superiority of the local police department, and by extension, the fluidity of the crowd, against them.

On December 3rd, we took a park and were driven out of it by riot police; that much made the news. What the media didn’t report is that we re-took the park later that same evening, and the police realized that it would be senseless to attempt to clear it again, so they packed up their military weaponry and left. Occupy Portland has developed a tactic to keep a park when the police decide to enforce an eviction.

The tactical evolution that evolved relies on two military tactics that are thousands of years old — the tactical superiority of light infantry over heavy infantry, and the tactical superiority of the retreat over the advance.

The whole article is worth a read, and nicely summarizes Occupy Portland’s serendipitous tactical breakthrough.

(thanks, Joel)

The Cake That Makes Our Family

Read between the lines of an old family recipe and you’re liable to read the story of the family itself. The scrawled marginalia and cooking stains, the collective memory of shared feasts—they might as well be alleles in the genome. Maybe it’s the chicken soup your aunt makes by the gallon during flu season, or the roast your mother overcooks every Easter. Maybe, if you’re lucky, your dad has taught you the secret to a perfect Old Fashioned, which he learned from his uncle, who learned it from his bookie. For my family, the recipe that defines us as a tribe, and whose origins best reflect our idiosyncrasies, is my grandfather’s babka.

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dueling banjos

Funk songs from Vietnam GIs

If you didn’t get a Christmas present from me, it’s because I’m waiting till the New Year to buy you East of Underground: Hell Below. (Thanks to Valerie for the tip.)

In 1971 the US was pulling troops out of Vietnam, and its bases in Germany were full of draftees at a loose end. “You were painting shovels, picking up cigarette butts – it was a lot of busy-work,” remembers former serviceman Lewis Hitt. “There was a longing by everyone, especially the draftees, to get home and go back to what you were doing before.”

This was the crucible in which were formed scores of raucous funk bands made up of servicemen, four of which have just been compiled by Now-Again Records. Adoring crowd noise was crudely dubbed on top of their records, which were then distributed in recruitment centres. These bands were used by the army to present service as varied, even hip. But the songs they cover – the bitter, suspicious likes of Backstabbers and Smiling Faces Sometimes – undermine any potential propagandising.

RIP Ken Russell (1927-2011)

It’s a trailer, so it is crude and brash and obvious and fails to convey the delicacy and elegiac tone of the film, but here it is: the trailer for Savage Messiah (1972), possibly my favorite of the late Ken Russell‘s theatrical releases.

tweet of the day

headline of the day

Army Wants Virtual Training to Really Hurt

Remembrance Sunday

From Derek Jarman’s film of Britten’s “War Requiem”.

Maybe it’s because my maternal grandmother died in the autumn of 1918. Or maybe it’s the set of cast-metal doughboys (my Uncle Mont’s toys?) I played with as a child. But the Great War has always felt closer to me than that other world war that ended a decade before I was born.

I posted this, inspired by the “War Requiem,” my first year as a flocker.

And I began to post remembrances each year thereafter.


Eleven Eleven (Martinmas)

Some Mother’s Son | The Kinks

Some shell cases on the roadside in the front area, the contents of which have been despatched over into the German lines.

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