Anyway, here's a much-overdue Moment of Zen™ for you:
(click for full size)
Okay, no more Mr. Nice Blogger. Anyone who doesn’t realize our country is being governed by incompetents somewhere between Caligula and Nero (with golf replacing the violin) hasn’t been paying the slightest attention or, as many liberals are these days, is so delusional they are willing to sacrifice their children in a manner that would make even Aztecs recoil. Those latter people are what is known as “progressives,” a term so distorted and misapplied it could destroy the English language all by itself.
By happenstance, my paternal grandfather was a tank commander in the 3rd Armored Division in WWII. The 3rd AD landed in France at Omaha White beach starting on June 23rd, 1944. My granddad was assigned to the 33rd Armored Regiment, one of the units that drove ashore on the 23rd. He fought through the rest of the war, being shot out of three Shermans before being assigned as (I believe) his battalion commander's driver (in a M-5 Stuart light tank) in the last month or two of the war. His personal decorations were a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star, the latter being awarded for pulling the other four crew members, who were incapacitated, out of one of the aforementioned tanks under enemy fire. He came home with all of his fingers and toes, but carrying some extra weight in the form of shrapnel in his lower extremities. There is no doubt in my military mind, that he experienced all of the brutality and horror depicted in "Fury", and some that was not shown in the film. I guarantee that he was very familiar with the dying horses and clouds of flies during the summer of 1944 that "Gordo" talks about in the movie. That really happened. His unit liberated the Nordhausen concentration camp. He fought through the "Battle of the Bulge". He was there for the battles of Aachen and Cologne. And when it was finally over, he came home to my grandmother. He went to work for the United States Postal Service as a letter carrier and retired as Postmaster of the city of Monterey Park, California raising three sons along the way.He also had this commentary on the film:
I remember him sharing a few anecdotes of his time in Europe during the war. As a small child, I would listen intently to the stories. When I was older, especially after I had joined the Marine Corps, those anecdotes became very sobering. I had a hard time understanding why my granddad didn't clank when he walked, and wondered how he could sit comfortably with balls that big. He was a soft-spoken man that looked like an old-time college professor. I never heard him swear once. I only ever saw him drunk one time. I never saw him mad or melancholy. Never once did I hear him refer to the Germans he fought against as any thing other than "the Germans". Never heard "Nazi", "Kraut", "bad guys", "the enemy" or anything similar come from him when talking about his war time experiences. Never heard him reference the SS except in a historical context. If he harbored any special enmity toward them, I never knew of it.
There is plenty of historical data pointing to acts of brutality committed by both sides during the "War in the West", but these pale in comparison to what happened on the Eastern Front. While there are stories of something resembling chivalry between the Germans and the Western allies (Adolph Galland allowing the RAF to air drop a pair of prosthetic legs to RAF ace Douglas Bader after the latter was interred in a POW camp), quarter was neither asked nor given in the East. The Germans and Russians had a special kind of hate going on there. I think the recent "fad" of Hollywood depicting American soldiers shooting surrendering German troops or allowing German soldiers to burn to death strikes a sharp blow to the American sense of "fair play" that has been drilled into us since the end of WWII. It has been perpetuated in the myriad war movies made over a 60 year period. Were the scenes of Brad Pitt driving a fighting knife through the eye socket of a German officer and shooting a surrendering soldier in the back with a revolver brutal? Sure they were. Could they have happened in real life? Sure they could. Did they happen in real life? Probably. In the end, it was a movie. Historical fiction, not a documentary. Did these scenes offend me or make me question my own morality or shatter my noble illusion of the "greatest generation"? Nope. Would the movie have been just as effective in delivering it's message without those scenes? Probably.
My dad, who is a combat vet, has told me on more than one occasion, that if Hollywood made a war movie that ACCURATELY depicted what war was really like, people wouldn't go see it. A two hour movie would consist of ten minutes of sheer terror and utter confusion. The other hour and fifty minutes would be a bunch of guys wandering around, bitching incessantly, telling dirty jokes, farting, scratching, swearing, and grab-assing.
I went and saw "Fury" this evening. You were right, I wasn't disappointed, though I must say that there were several aspects that drove me nuts. All-in-all, I really enjoyed the film. It wasn't as violent as people had insisted it was; nothing in the movie was as disturbing as the demise of the Red Viper in GoT! Brad Pitt was very good and (much as I hate to admit it) Shia LeBeouf was exceptionally good. Since you asked, I will give you a brief run-down of my take on the movie:So, not too much outrage over the war crimes, check.
Stuff I didn't like:
* The plot in general. By April of 1945, there would be NO EXCUSE for sending a single platoon of Shermans into harm's way, let alone without the support elements organic to an armored division: armored infantry (though there were some grunts in the beginning), artillery, reconnaissance, tank destroyers, anti-aircraft, combat engineers, maintenance, supply, medical etc. By that late date, there would have been more than enough men and material to make sending a single platoon of tanks out on the "mission" depicted in the film ludicrous at best.
* As usual, the Germans were depicted as inept, robotic entities. The gun crews manning the 7.5cm PaK 43s would not have missed those Shermans traversing open ground at such close range. The fact that they were SS troops makes it even more unlikely since even that late in the war, the SS still maintained a very high level of training and morale. The SS officers would NOT be wearing their early-war, "feldgrau" wool uniforms, complete with peaked officers caps. They would have been wearing the same stuff as everyone else, mostly a mix of uniform components. Due to the high level of Allied air activity at this point in the war (P-51s, P-47s, A-26s, B-26s, Typhoons and Tempests were roaming the countryside shooting, bombing and rocketing everything that remotely looked German, with impunity), a battalion of SS infantry and vehicles would not be moving down a country road in broad daylight, let alone singing the "Horst Wessel Leib" (at least I think that is what they were singing).
* Not too sure Fury's crew would be that dysfunctional. Guys that would have been together that long would have had their shit wrapped a bit tighter. Also not sure that they would have been sent a newby trained as a clerk-typist as an A-driver either. We were far from being that desperate for tank crewmen that late in the war.
* The sniper at the end of the movie just would not have been there, especially wearing a face veil (which was a beautiful, technical touch by the way).
* Too many tracers! At one point I thought I was watching the opening scene to Star Wars: Episode IV......
* I didn't see a single BAR in the movie! WTF???
Stuff I did like:
* The acting.
* The sound effects. The .50cals sounded like .50cals!
* The small arms. War Daddy had a Smith and Wesson 1917! The Germans were equipped with a believable mix of small arms. Nice to see only a few of them had Schmeissers.....
* The vehicles. Of course! The Shermans were all correct (as far as I can tell after one viewing). One M4A3E8 (Fury), one M4A1 76mm (W), and what were either two M4A3s or later production M4s, both sporting 75mm guns. The one minor issue was the use of T-84 tracks on "Fury" when they should have been T-66 or T-80 tracks. T-66 tracks are pretty scarce these days, but T-80s are pretty common. The T-84 track was used on Shermans post-war. I'll give that one to Hollywood. The knocked out vehicles at the beginning were well done, including a PzKpfw IV aufs H or J and a Panther (could have been CG, I suppose)! Some of the vehicles in the background throughout the film include an M-4 high speed cargo tractor towing a 105mm howitzer, an M-26 "Dragon Wagon" tank recovery vehicle, several "deuce-and-a-halves", what appears to be an honest-to-goodness Schwimmwagen, several SdKfz 251 halftracks (which could have been Czech OT-810s but as there are several original -251s in running condition I am betting hey are the real deal), and the requisite Jeep. The star of the show, as far as I am concerned, is the REAL PzKpfw Mk VI, known to one and all as the Tiger. The only running Tiger I in existence and someone finally managed to put it in a movie! That was worth the price of admission all by itself!
This is just a brief summary. There were several other, smaller items that bothered me, but I think the movie was really impressive overall. I'm sure I will go see it a couple of more times.
A petition to save Excalibur, the pet dog of a Spanish nursing assistant who has contracted Ebola, received more than 370,000 signatures before the animal was sedated and killed as a precautionary measure this evening. As his corpse was taken away in a van for incineration, a crowd of activists who had clashed with police during the day were reportedly shouting: "murderers!"Go read the piece and look at the pictures of the protesters in this Daily Mail piece.
I don't remember people clashing with police to persuade their governments to do more to help stop the spread of Ebola in Africa, where more than 3,400 human beings have died from the disease. Indeed, an online petition to persuade the U.S. government to fast-track research for an Ebola drug has so far received 152,534 signatures. By that measure, we care half as much about finding a cure for Ebola as saving a dog.
Why does communism get such a bad reputation?I responded:
Why is America so opposed to what I merely see as a different system of running things? I used to read Karl Marx as a senior in high school and his ideas don't seem all that "evil" to me. Am I missing something here. Why all the hate?
I understand that the rules of Quora state that I'm not allowed to answer a question only with a graphic, but this one pretty much says it all:Today Bill Whittle has a better answer (naturally) in his latest Firewall:
Karl Marx's failed attempt at economics and social engineering has been - directly or indirectly - responsible for the deaths of over 100,000,000 human beings - at the hands of their own governments. At the same time, capitalism has been responsible for lifting more people out of poverty than any other system ever attempted - to the point that Communist China (about half of that hundred million dead) has taken to it, albeit with strong restrictions.
If you don't "understand the hate" I suggest you read up on the history.
The Progressive utopia is the Loch Ness Monster of politics: a giant, air-breathing creature that never surfaces for air.UPDATE: Eric S. Raymond expands on the subject.
What kind of patchouli Senate is there in Washington and coming for the rest of us? Well, this kind: Let's say the you and your children are hiking in beautiful Olympic National Park. Oh, look! Moose antlers! If you or your child - who didn't shoot the moose, I hasten to add, you simply found the molted antlers lying on the trail - well, if you pick up the antlers - again, not leave the park with them, but simply Pick. Them. Up. Well, that's a five thousand dollar fine and up to six months in jail according to Federal law, 36 CFR 2.1 subchapter (a)(1)(i).To wit:
§ 2.1 Preservation of natural, cultural and archeological resources.You can bet someone has been prosecuted under this law. But at least it's not a felony!
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the following is prohibited:
(1) Possessing, destroying, injuring, defacing, removing, digging, or disturbing from its natural state:
(i) Living or dead wildlife or fish, or the parts or products thereof, such as antlers or nests.
As a teacher with six years’ experience, you might imagine that I would have been in my element as I chatted about the eight-year-olds in my charge and offered their parents encouragement and advice.And a little later in the piece:
Instead I was consumed with embarrassment. And no wonder. The father opposite me — a lawyer — was looking at me as if I was dirt under his shoe.
I had been telling him about the new drive to improve literacy standards in our school when he had interrupted me.
‘Can you repeat what you just said?’ he said. ‘I’m not sure I could possibly have heard you correctly.’
I had no idea why he was getting so agitated. To humour him, I repeated slowly: ‘I said that me and the headmistress are doing all we can to improve standards.’
I might as well have told him that we were planning to bring back the birch. Throwing his hands up in the air, he launched into a tirade that left me red hot with shame.
‘Me and the headmistress?’ he ranted. ‘Don’t you know it should be: “The headmistress and I”? How can you call yourself a teacher when your grammar is so poor?’
The stark truth is that most people educated in a state school in the Seventies and Eighties had little or no grounding in grammar. And many of us have become teachers. Scarred ourselves, we have passed the damage on.This observation dovetails nicely with the one made by former New York Teacher of the Year, John Taylor Gatto, when he wrote:
I’m convinced the rot started in 1964 when Harold Wilson’s Labour government came to power and abolished the 11-plus in many areas. Parents were told this was to enable primary schools to develop a more informal, child-centred, progressive style of teaching, with the emphasis on learning by discovery.
As a teacher, I can see this is rubbish. The belief that grammar could be ignored was virtually all pervasive until 1988, when the Conservative government introduced the National Curriculum.
I lived through the great transformation which turned schools from often useful places (if never the essential ones school publicists claimed) into laboratories of state experimentation. When I began teaching in 1961, the social environment of Manhattan schools was a distant cousin of the western Pennsylvania schools I attended in the 1940s, as Darwin was a distant cousin of Malthus.1964 in the UK, 1965 in the U.S. Coincidence?
Discipline was the daily watchword on school corridors. A network of discipline referrals, graded into an elaborate catalogue of well-calibrated offenses, was etched into the classroom heart. At bottom, hard as it is to believe in today’s school climate, there was a common dedication to the intellectual part of the enterprise. I remember screaming (pompously) at an administrator who marked on my plan book that he would like to see evidence I was teaching "the whole child," that I didn’t teach children at all, I taught the discipline of the English language! Priggish as that sounds, it reflects an attitude not uncommon among teachers who grew up in the 1940s and before. Even with much slippage in practice, Monongahela and Manhattan had a family relationship. About schooling at least. Then suddenly in 1965 everything changed.
Whatever the event is that I’m actually referring to—and its full dimensions are still only partially clear to me—it was a nationwide phenomenon simultaneously arriving in all big cities coast to coast, penetrating the hinterlands afterwards. Whatever it was, it arrived all at once, the way we see national testing and other remote-control school matters like School-to-Work legislation appear in every state today at the same time. A plan was being orchestrated, the nature of which is unmasked in the upcoming chapters.
Think of this thing for the moment as a course of discipline dictated by coaches outside the perimeter of the visible school world. It constituted psychological restructuring of the institution’s mission, but traveled under the guise of a public emergency which (the public was told) dictated increasing the intellectual content of the business! Except for its nightmare aspect, it could have been a scene from farce, a swipe directly from Orwell’s 1984 and its fictional telly announcements that the chocolate ration was being raised every time it was being lowered. This reorientation did not arise from any democratic debate, or from any public clamor for such a peculiar initiative; the public was not consulted or informed. Best of all, those engineering the makeover denied it was happening.
Thankfully, I had the good grace to quit teaching and take a job in the media.I can't think of a more appropriate place for her! Can you?